Birth Blog

Being Pregnant is Like Being Engaged

by Julia West on October 10, 2013

Lately a steady stream of wedding invitations has flooded our mailbox. I can’t help but smile when I open the cards and see sweet photos of engaged couples so excited and in love. (Shout out to my baby sis getting married this week!) The time that couples are engaged is so unique- nearly every day and every conversation between them circles back to preparation and excitement for the next phase of life. The anticipation of the “big day” keeps things interesting and emotions high. I love weddings and how they provide an opportunity for families and friends to celebrate the love of two people. But, I know it can be hard to focus more on the commitment than the materialism and details of a wedding. Truly couples should prepare more for the transition after the wedding, ways to grow together and build a strong marriage, much more so than colors and flowers and cake flavors.

Hands 1 Black & White

It hit me recently how the span of an engagement relates to the few months of pregnancy. The same general excitement, counting down to the date on the calendar circled in red, the way every conversation tends to include something about the next phase of life… And also the tendency to focus more on the materialistic needs and wants. Just like I love weddings, I love celebrating at baby showers and tiny baby outfits and nursery themes, but there is so much more that requires preparation. There are helpful books about parenting and sleeping arrangements and even schooling… but the first decisions a couple makes as a parent are about mom’s health and the health of their baby.
During pregnancy, labor and the immediate postpartum period, health is the number one priority. While there are some things that a mama cannot control (as with any phase of life,) the parts of her health that she can control require her attention. Here are a few things expectant moms can focus on during pregnancy:

What she eats matters. There may be some wild pregnancy cravings, but mamas should view food as fuel for her body and her baby. She should focus on plenty of nutritious, whole foods and fewer starchy/sugary/processed foods.

She should stay active. It’s good for mamas and babies to stay toned and ready for the marathon that is birth.

Sleep well. And often. My midwife encouraged me take frequent naps and do all that I could to get a full night’s rest. My body was growing another human, after all- that’s serious work!

She should PLAN for her birth. Many moms may put all their trust in their care provider and then are disappointed when a birth did not go as they hoped or planned. A great childbirth education class can help you know your options for care providers, testing, birth place and pain management. Birth Boot Camp teaches what you can control and how to handle the situations that you cannot control. Moms should know the effects of unnecessary interventions before the decision is upon them.

Prepare for a successful breastfeeding relationship. For some women, nursing comes easily, but for others it can be a real challenge. Know the resources available to you and get the support you need to give your baby this perfect nourishment.

While decorating a nursery and picking out a diaper bag is definitely a fun celebratory part of welcoming a new baby into the world, it should not take the time and energy away from the real goal: the healthiest baby and mama possible. Doing all you can for your health will help you get the best start in those early days. Those decisions will have a much longer impact than the wedding nursery theme. And she can take the time to read the parenting books during the hours spent nursing in the first few months.

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