You’ll get a lot of advice about to what buy before the arrival of a baby. In fact you will get so much advice you will most likely have at least one episode of total panic and overwhelm. As a society, we are great at helping others consume, but we are not great at helping people feel.
That’s why the the most important thing I tell every client before having a baby has nothing to do with consumption. It has to do with processing the complex emotions that come with having a baby. So what does that look like?
My advice: write a letter to your post-baby self during pregnancy.
The first three months post baby are a hormonal whirlwind. On top of crashing hormones, these months are physically and emotionally limit pushing. Babies are wonderful but they can also feel extremely scary.
Motherhood is so overwhelming, but by thinking through your beliefs and principles when you are clearheaded, you may be providing yourself a road map back to reality when you lose your way.
It is so hard to think rationally and logically in the “fourth trimester”. In my letter, I reflected on topics I knew people struggled the most with postpartum. It served as a reminder for how I felt about those topics when I was thinking rationally.
My letter talked about the following:
- My birth plan- what do I believe about child birth? Do I really think it matters how this baby arrives, as long as it’s healthy? Will I judge myself for what is medically recommended?
- My breastfeeding beliefs – if I fail, what does it mean? Do I really believe it can make/break my bond with the baby?
- Thoughts on my marriage & husband – do I think it’s important to carve out time for dates/being together without the baby? Do I think this person is a good, loving father who is capable of taking care of our family?
- Thoughts on my career– what do I think matters in terms of my career and happiness? Is important that I go back to work quickly? Is it important that I go back to work when I am ready? What if I am not ready for a long time?
- Thoughts on my body- am I supposed to rush in to weight loss? What is really important to me? Is it important to fit in to my jeans immediately, or to take care of my body so that it truly heals?
- Thoughts on myself, as a Mother- is there a way to do this right? Is there room to learn, to grow? Am I supposed to be perfect at this right away? Is there such thing as perfect? What does that look like for me?
- Thoughts on childcare- what are my beliefs about delegating help? Do I want extra support in the form of childcare? Is it important for me to limit caretaking to family?
I come back to this letter almost weekly now, eight months on. However in the first few weeks, I would refer to it several times a day. It anchored me to my principles. My hope is that by completing this, you’ll have one more tool in your maternal mental health tool box.
If you gave this exercise a shot, were you surprised by what you wrote? Did you find this useful postpartum? Comment below.