You are having a baby. You may be excited. You may be surprised. You may be anxious and fearful. You may be questioning if you have what it takes to be a good mom. In our culture, we assume all women feel excited and are naturally cut out to be mothers, and that pregnancy comes easily. And for some women, that is exactly the case. But it is not so for everyone. So... wherever you are in terms of your readiness to have a baby and how you are feeling about becoming a mom - it is okay.
Some worries or fears you may have:
It is normal to feel anxious and unsure when you are doing something new for the first time, especially something as significant as giving birth and caring for a baby. It is important to be prepared with information to help you develop realistic expectations. This is one of the biggest challenges with the women I work with - they have expectations that are impossibly high and then feel like a failure when they cannot meet them. Once I can help them understand that the problem is with their expectations and not with themselves, they can begin to relax into motherhood more smoothly. This is a time to be kind and gentle with ourselves. But new moms are notoriously bad at that!
As you prepare to become a mother, here are a few things you need to know and remember:
As you prepare to expand your family, it is natural to feel a range of emotions from excited, curious, anxious, or perhaps even fearful. As you add more children to your family, the dynamics, energy and attention will naturally shift - and with that can come growing pains for all involved. And of course, there is the reality that more children = more work. And you can be left asking yourself; "how will we do it all?"
The good news is that families all around you are surviving having more than one child, and we can learn from them. You may find it helpful to ask family and friends what helped them to cope with the demands of more than one child.
As with Moms to be, having realistic expectations is critical. It is impossible to think that you can do everything the same with a subsequent baby that you did for your first baby. You will be balancing more than one child so you need to accept that even though it is different, it is still okay. Many moms feel guilty that they are not giving subsequent babies enough time, attention or interaction. The reality is that you cannot, and it is okay. I always encourage moms to consider the special attention subsequent babies get from their older sibling or siblings, that is a cool experience first babies didn't have.
Help and support are also essential in managing the demands of a growing family. We live in a culture that encourages self-reliance and independence but this is a time when we need to set those values aside, as growing families need practical help with childcare, meals, and household tasks. It may feel uncomfortable to ask for help, but doing so will ease your transition.
This is also a time to remember that you matter and you need time for yourself. You cannot be expected to perform and be on-call 24/7. However, many mothers set themselves up for just that and then wonder why they feel overwhelmed and irritable. I encourage weekly breaks for time just for you. It may be to nap, take a bath, go for a walk and meet a friend for tea. It doesn't matter what it is as long as it is time that feels like it fills you up in some way. Doing errands doesn't count as you time!
You may be worried if you had a previous experience of Postpartum Depression (PPD) and you are expecting again. It is scary to think about going through that again. The truth of the matter is that there is a 50% risk of having PPD again after a previous experience. However, with therapy support during pregnancy, you can be assisted to develop a postpartum plan to mitigate PPD symptoms, and to intervene quickly if they should develop. For more information about Postpartum Depression, click here.
The key to feeling well and enhancing your coping as next babies join your family is to reach out for support if things are feeling tough, or you just don't feel like yourself. Talking with a therapist trained in working with the emotions and adjustments of postpartum can calm and comfort you at a time when things may be feeling out of control.
Reach out today so you can feel better.