When people began to find out I was pregnant, advice about the next few months and decades alike was directed at me nonstop. Solicited or not, from stranger to bestie, tips and recommendations were inescapable. If knowledge was power, I should’ve felt stronger. In reality, though, I easily found myself exhausted and overwhelmed.
Some of what I learned, though, was so helpful that my pregnancy was pretty fantastic. The lessons made the transition to parent better than I could have anticipated. So in hopes of helping others, I’m sharing the best pieces of advice I gathered. These tips are based on not only my experience, but really on the wealth of information passed along to me by all those seemingly meddlesome people. If there’s any one theme that’s most important among them, it’s that arming ourselves as expectant parents with mentally fit, healthy outlooks is the key to taking care ourselves and our families.
1. Remember perspective. The majority of the comments you hear come from a place of genuine excitement, interest and caring. Though verbal filters seem to disappear and no topic seems off limits, everyone giving you advice is doing so because of a newfound sense of connection or community. No matter how nonsensical, indelicate or even infuriating, try to remember the intent behind the words is usually quite kind and special.
2. Discover preferences. Now more than ever, it’s important to get to know yourself as well as possible. Pay attention to what makes you feel better, so you can articulate it to your partner, family, friends – anyone offering to help you as resources get thinner as times get tougher. Certain foods? Time alone? Exercise? Hobbies? Aromatherapy? Baths? Figure out what environmental, mental and physical things make you feel most safe, collected and energized. Later on these preferences and people should be a part of what makes your stress most manageable and, thus, makes you able to better fulfill the responsibilities of your many roles, especially your new role as a parent.
3. Increase flexibility. Keep your mind open to the many different ways you can interpret and manage the situations you find yourself in. Find opportunities to give yourself fewer limits and more options when troubleshooting physical and philosophical problems. For instance, if you worry about how you’ll deal with diaper leaks, try making sure everything around your changing area will be useable with just your one free hand. From diapers and routines to caregivers and lifestyles, practicing creative and critical thinking now will help you remember to take a moment to quickly collect yourself and act effectively in the face of new decisions and stress later on, when it matters most.