As mothers, hindsight makes it easy to look back on our choices and see what we would do differently. Mothering is such a learning journey, and I have gained so much knowledge along the way. I am now 23 weeks pregnant and I am able to put that knowledge to use in preparation for my next child. Making informed choices is an incredibly empowering part of parenting, so with that in mind, here is a list of things I know now that I wish I knew then:
- Trust your instincts above all else
- YOU decide how you birth. YOU can say NO to things that make you uncomfortable. You can wait to make a decision until you have all the information. Doctors are humans too, full of opinions and sometimes make mistakes, just like the rest of us. Do what you feel is right. Trust your instincts.
- Plan to succeed. Mental state is more than half the battle. If you want to breastfeed, ditch the formula and bottles, get them out of your house. No need for “back up.”. These things are booby traps that make it easy for women to fall back on when things get tough. Breastfeeding is not always easy, but it is always worth it. If you end up needing alternative baby food, you can find it when the time arrives. Don’t set yourself up to fail. KNOW that you CAN do it!
- You don’t need all the baby stuff. Co-sleep (no need for crib), baby wear (no need for stroller– we’ve used ours maybe twice in 18 months), breastfeed (no need for bottles, cleaning supplies, clean water, etc.), cloth diaper (no need for stacks and stacks of cardboard boxes full of different size disposable diapers to fill your garbage and later, the landfill).
- Hand-me-downs are the greatest! You baby will only wear items for a few months, and newborn clothes do not typically get too dirty. Take in all the hand-me-downs you can. You will not regret it.
- Do not feel like you have to have company as soon as your baby is born. That is YOUR time to bond with your new family. Enjoy it. Everyone else can get their time in later. This is your moment.
- Do not worry so much about your household chores. They will still be there tomorrow. If you feel tired, rest. If you want to go out with friends one last time, do it. You can clean later. Enjoy your last moments of pregnancy as you choose. Do not let a messy house become overwhelming and consume you.
- REBOZO workshop! Rebozo is a Mexican midwife technique that supports women during labor. It is amazing. I can’t say this enough times. It will change the way you see birth and it makes everything so much more intimate for both you and your partner. This workshop is excellent for anyone involved in the birth. I took this workshop with Gena Kirby and she is nothing less than inspiring and amazing! I highly recommend it. You can watch a video of the technique here.
- Look into Hypnobirthing, Hypnobabies, Bradley method, or similar childbirth education class. Learning labor and birth coping skills is essential.
- Yoga ball is excellent for labor. Yoga is also excellent for labor. The more active you are while pregnant, the easier your labor will be, generally speaking. Buy yoga ball here.
- Take time to envision the birth you desire. Setting your mental state in a good place, thinking about how you want things to happen, and writing these things down will be a huge help during labor. Write down birth affirmations and keep them where you can read them in labor. Hang them on the wall, put them on your mirror, hang them around the house.
- Take baths. Feel free to add essential oils for their healing properties.
- If you don’t know what a Blessingway is, check them out. It is kind of like a baby shower, but it’s more of a mother shower. It’s a way to celebrate a mom’s journey into motherhood, to honor her sacred experience. It is also a great way for a mama-to-be to have a connection with loved ones that she is physically far away from.
- See a chiropractor. Chiropractic care during pregnancy is AHH-MAZING! And it can help with so many potential pains and issues that may arise, as well as prepare your body for birth.
- Dress comfortably. If this means ditching the bra and panties, wearing only dresses, yoga pants, or whatever you are comfortable in– do it! Uncomfortable clothing can cause cramping while pregnant.
- Hire a doula! Labor support is so important, and other female support is irreplaceable.
- The more you walk, the less your feet swell. Increasing blood flow by exercise is so very important. If you are a runner, keep running.
- Check out www.empoweredpapa.com
- Check out www.daddyscrubs.com
- Cook and freeze. Cook and freeze. Repeat. If you do this while you are pregnant, it will make the first few months much easier. It will come in handy when you are too tired to cook, don’t feel like going out, and want healthy food. Yes, some people will probably bring you dinner, but those meals will eventually run out, and they will run out before you get all your energy back. My frozen, pre-made meals were life savers!
- Eat well. Proper nutrition and avoiding toxic food during pregnancy is essential to your and your baby’s health. Learn more about holistic nutrition here.
- Nettle infusion, Motherwort infusion, and Red Raspberry leaf infusion are excellent while pregnant. Buying these herbs lose leaf and making your own at home is super simple and much more effective than capsules or prenatal vitamins.
- Chamomile tea is great for helping you sleep if you get pregnancy insomnia.
Things to Do:
- Order an amber necklace for your new baby. I recommend unpolished, raw amber. We have the Baltic amber necklace and it has been a huge help.
- Make a meditation music playlist for labor. Put as many songs on there as you please. It can be whatever style music helps you find your happy place. I suggest changing it up some, that way if your mood changes, you can skip songs as needed.
- Spend lots of date time with your significant other. The bonding time before baby can be amazing. Read together, go for walks, hold hands. Remember how this baby came to be. <3
- Write a letter to your future son or daughter.
- Take tons of maternity photos. You will miss your belly when it’s gone.
- If you hike, keep hiking. Staying healthy will make your labor and delivery smoother and will keep your swelling to a minimum.
- Have fun with your baby room, or create a special place for your baby if you plan on cosleeping and forgoing a nursery. I invited a few girl friends over and we hand painted a woodland theme on the walls. My son loves it, and the time/memories I made with my friends are irreplaceable.
- Make your own wipes. It is super simple and will save you tons of money without increasing your laundry much. It’s like washing a load of wash clothes or dish towels. Wipe solution is also super simple. You can just use water if you choose. Or you can add essential oils, coconut oil, etc.
Things to watch:
- The Business of Being Born by Ricki Lake
- More Business of Being Born by Ricki Lake
- The Birth Story by Ina May Gaskin
- The Timeless Way birth documentary
- Birth Day, a Sage Fem Films production
Things to read: (What to Expect When You’re Expecting is NOT the best book for pregnancy. Instead, check out these books)
- Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
- Birth from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz
- Hypnobirthing by Marie F. Mongan
- Susan Weed’s Wise Woman Herbal Guide for the Child birthing Years (full of great herbal infusions for every occasion)
- Childbirth Without Fear by Grantly Dick-Read
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskins
- Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds by Cynthia Gabriel
- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Diane West
- And last but not least, toss some humor in your pregnancy with this fantastic book, compliments of my mother-in-law: Porn for New Moms: From the Cambridge Women’s Pornography Cooperative
Things to know:
- Research circumcision. There are so many myths in the U.S. about male circumcision, and you will be shocked about what you learn when you fully research this topic.
- Delay cord clamping until the cord stops pulsating. This blood is vital to your baby.
- Research vaccines. There are two very different sides to this issue, and parents need to be fully informed.
- Postpone the bath, weighing, and other unnecessary things. Get that immediate skin-to-skin time. It has proven to be essential to the bonding and breastfeeding relationship between mama and babe.
- Skip the eye ointment unless you have an STD that can be transmitted to baby.
- Induction is *usually* not necessary. Unless there is a medical reason, please don’t choose induction. The last few weeks and days of a baby’s gestation are very important to development.
- Cloth diapers are wonderful, and much less confusing than they can seem at first. If you buy one diaper a week while you are pregnant, you will have one amazing stash by the time your little squish arrives. Money saved, environment saved, you don’t take trash out as much, and they give baby more padding for falling. Cloth diapered babies also typically potty learn earlier than disposable diapered babies.
- Herbal sitz baths are a great tool for healing after birth.
- Placenta encapsulation!!! I can’t stress this enough. It helps with so many postpartum issues and is relatively easy to do yourself if you choose.
- Baby bath tubs might be a waste of your money. Bathe with your infant. They won’t be that small for long and the skin-to-skin is so important. Not to mention, storing all the unnecessary items, like the baby bath tub, becomes quite annoying.
- Homeopathic arnica and chamomile tabs are excellent for both mama and baby. Arnica is a natural pain reliever. Chamomile helps with teething, sleep and tantrums. Hyland’s brand makes great sublingual tabs.
- Hibiscus water is excellent for you. It contains a ton of vitamins and is full of great nutrients for pregnancy and breastfeeding. You can order hibiscus petals online and make it just like tea. YUM!
- Olive leaf– it is a great natural medicine for sinus issues and all kinds of illnesses, and is safe while pregnant and breastfeeding.
Websites and Blogs:
In this age of technology, making online friends can be a tremendous source of support. It will be so nice when your baby arrives and everyone else is at work and you have a mommy question. I have learned so much from wise women who I’ve never actually met in person. We are blessed to have such a wonderful community here. Find your mama tribe! Much love and good luck on your mothering journey!