What I Wish I Could Have Told My Pregnant Self

You know how hindsight is 20/20? I wish I had a way to talk to myself when I was pregnant with my first child. There’s so much I want to share. You know what I’d say? THIS!

By Hilary Bernstein, Contributing Writer

This post is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical conditions; talk to your doctor or midwife about pregnancy, postpartum and newborn concerns.

You know how hindsight is 20/20? I wish I had a way to talk to myself when I was pregnant with my first child. There’s so much I want to share. You know what I’d say?

I know how scared you are. I know you know absolutely nothing about bringing up babies, but that’s OK. Relax. You’re going to be a good mommy. You’ll figure things out – that’s what moms do.

About doctors

It’s great that you’re obsessing so concerned about natural childbirth and if you can do it or not. But relax a little. Yes, you’ll need to know relaxation techniques. (Read and practice your Bradley books!What I Wish I Could Have Told My Pregnant SelfBut each birthing process is unique and you’ll never be able to prepare for exactly what happens.

Find a different doctor. You shouldn’t have to prove to your OB that you can get through labor and delivery without an epidural. If she’s not supportive and only wants to do things the way she’s “always done things” do yourself a big favor – find someone who is a little more cooperative.

What I Wish I Could Have Told My Pregnant Self {KeeperoftheHome.org}

Speaking of doctors, look carefully into pediatricians. I know you don’t want to take the time. I know you think that any doctor would be fine. And I know you want to trust your friends who are moms. But you are going to have different opinions on issues like vaccines.

If you can find a pediatrician who practices integrative medicine, you’ll be very pleased. If there’s no one like that in your community, try to find a seasoned doc with a laid-back personality. (They’re out there.)

About sleep

You know how I’ve encouraged you to relax? I’ll say it again. Relax. Please don’t get worked up about sleep schedules. [Tweet “I don’t know why anyone coined the phrase “sleeps like a baby,” because babies don’t sleep.”] At least not reliably.

You are going to be really, really tired. That’s OK. Give yourself at least one month to rest. There are times when you won’t know how to make your baby stop crying. If those piercing wails are literally driving you crazy, it’s OK to put him or her in a crib and walk away for a couple minutes. (And if you’re feeling really out of sorts, please talk to your doctor about it. He or she will be able to help you.)

What I Wish I Could Have Told My Pregnant Self {KeeperoftheHome.org}

Even though everyone and their sister will ask you if your newborn is sleeping through the night – and then give you advice how to get your baby to sleep for 12 hour stretches – learn really quickly to smile and nod.

For some reason, everyone who sees your baby will fixate on the sleep issue. Your baby will sleep someday. I promise. (It will happen in a year or so.) Being a bad sleeper doesn’t mean your baby is bad – or smart or not so smart or anything. He or she is just a bad sleeper for right now.

Please don’t be terrified of co-sleeping. I know you have read so many parenting books and you don’t want to mess this up – you want to parent by the letter. But relax and be careful. Letting your child cry it out in another room is torture for everyone – you, your spouse, your baby and your neighbors. Your baby just wants to be close to his or her mama.

You know how you are nurturing him or her right now in your womb? Your baby loves that. Your sweet baby only knows how to be close to you. That’s how God has designed things. It’s beautiful. Please try to tune out the very westernized notion of putting your baby in a crib in a separate room and expecting him or her to sleep all night long like you and your exhausted husband.

Invest in a bedside co-sleeper bassinetWhat I Wish I Could Have Told My Pregnant Self so you can keep your little one right beside you. You won’t have to worry about a monitor, and you’ll hear when he or she is hungry. And you won’t have to get out of bed and stumble down the hall in the middle of the night.

What I Wish I Could Have Told My Pregnant Self {KeeperoftheHome.org}

About spoiling

You may read about the idea that you can spoil your baby – or you might hear it from others.

But Mama-to-be, you can not spoil your baby.

You’ve heard all these notions that you can spoil your child through demand feedings and a lack of sleep schedules and cuddles … those notions are wrong. God designed babies to crave their mother’s milk. God designed babies to need their mamas. And God designed mothers to long to be close to their babies and nurture them. That’s part of the beauty of motherhood.

Don’t be afraid to follow your God-given instincts. Relax. You won’t spoil your baby. Kiss that baby as much as you want. You’ll never say “I love you” too much.

What I Wish I Could Have Told My Pregnant Self {KeeperoftheHome.org}

I promise this season of life is going to go by in the blink of an eye. Your boobs will get sore. You will be tired. You won’t know how you can endure one more minute of wailing. You’ll think it’s absolutely ridiculous that the one accomplishment of your day is finding time to take a shower. You won’t understand how you have to muster up enough energy to cook dinner. But this time will not last forever.

At the risk of ruining some surprises, when you bring your son home (Yes! That baby wiggling, wriggling and kicking right now? He’s a boy!) from the hospital, within the first 15 minutes you’ll watch a school bus drop off the neighborhood children from school. You will weep. You’ll look at your newborn, sleeping soundly in your arms, and you’ll know that before you know it, you’ll be sending him off to kindergarten. You’ll cry so much that your tears will fall all over that precious baby’s face.

You know how hindsight is 20/20? I wish I had a way to talk to myself when I was pregnant with my first child. There’s so much I want to share. You know what I’d say? THIS!

And you know what? Your motherly instinct is right. That wee babe will be starting school before you even know it.

You’ll wonder how the time passed so quickly.

You’ll wonder why you didn’t relax a little more and spend more time just soaking in the miracle of newborn babies.

You’ll long to hold that teensy little one in your arms again.

You’ll wish you could still breathe in the wonderful fragrance of a new baby.

And you’ll be grateful for motherhood and how God has given you the privilege to watch the miracle of how this one very special child will grow and change and mature.

If you’re a mom, what advice do you wish you would have known when you were expecting your first baby?

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  1. There is a lot of good advice in this post. I’m currently expecting our fourth baby. And the only thing I would also ad is that we should not fret if we cannot “get-it-together” in that first month, or even the second month or the sixth month. It is excellent advice to rest that first month, but also give yourself a whole lot of grace in the months that follow. If you can’t get out of the house in 15 minutes don’t sweat it. If the laundry piles up, relax. The chores and the business of life will always be there. But these fleeting moments with your new baby really do speed by. Sooner than you think you will figure out a routine, and then it will change. That first year ebs and flows and changes so much. It is not worth the fuss to set up a hard lined schedule. Yes, grace for yourself and your family for that first year.

    1. I completely agree, Rita! And I forgot to mention that I did give myself a lot of grace and didn’t feel like I finally got into a groove until my babies were at least six months old. After that milestone, life seemed a little easier … or at least by that point we all finally adjusted to each other.

  2. Amen to all of that! 🙂 I’d also tell myself to soak up only having one baby and that I don’t have to entertain her all day. It’s ok to sit next to her in the swing and read for a bit. Goodness knows the second and third kids won’t get nearly as much attention and they turn out just fine :).

  3. I would add: let go of what you cannot control. I read all kinds of blogs during my pregnancies. I would love to have had an all natural labor, then breastfed, cloth diapered, stayed home, baby carried, and always respond to every cry.
    But I got gestational diabetes which changes the game a lot. I work full time and daycare doesn’t take cloth diapers. I hated breastfeeding and so did my babies and my back problems made baby carrying my husky little baby impossible. I prop up bottles when I’m overwhelmed.
    It took me a long time to not feel guilty about this stuff. Sometimes you just aren’t as perfect as you’d like to be and sometimes life throws you curve balls. Make peace with this. If you’re doing what you can and you’re doing it out of love, you’re A-OK.

  4. For myself, put down all of the birthing books. Don’t worry so much; you will be fine! The REAL challenge comes when you’re sleep deprived, having trouble feeding your child, and your hormones are raging. Take the time to read more about post birth life for you and Kiddo and figure out what’s normal and what may require medical attention.

    “Schedule” one tiny trip out of the house every day, even if it’s just a walk around the block with Baby. Don’t try to do too much, too soon though; traveling with a newborn can be exhausting.

    And be nice to the husband! He’s tired too!

  5. I agree, especially with the co sleeping. With my first daughter I thought it so dangerous… And then I was walking like a zombie for months because I would spend my nights walking to her bedroom, stirring out of sleep, then failing to fall asleep when I could because I was too awake… I was still nursing my second child when I got pregnant with my third, a bedrest pregnancy which meant no getting up to nurse lo#2, so I was forced to cosleep, and guess what, best sleep ever!, I was no longer exhausted all the time, I was still nursing and minding my baby without pushing my body through multiple ups and downs. Needless to say that with #3 cosleeping was the rule. It’s crazy to think that I was so much more rested bringing up 3 kids than only 1!

    1. I thought it was so dangerous with my first, also, and wouldn’t dream of trying it … even though he screamed every night and just wanted to be near me. I started with my second as we were going through an awful move and I just couldn’t get out of bed to walk down the hall for feedings every few hours. It was started out of sheer exhaustion and desperation, but then became such a joy.

  6. I am keeping my sweet niece, and her parents are So.Much.Different than I was. I was like your post. And even then… Omgod. It’s just not enough time with them little. And I look around me at all these mommas who want so.very.much to do the *right* thing that’ they’re missing out on the thing that’s right in front of them! I know that everyone makes the best decisions for the family and everyone makes the best decisions they know how for their babies. I know… I just don’t get it. It’s soooo different now then it was when I was a new momma.
    Like sleep training? I had never even HEARD those words. Like some kind of bed time boot camp. 🙁 Why oh why put both of you through *sleep* training…. And feeding training? I just don’t really get it.
    Thankful my pediatrician said for me to feed him when he was hungry, let him sleep when he was sleepy, didn’t blink an eye when his routine matched my own work schedule. (Yes. My 1 year old WAS up until midnight some nights (11 mostly) and yes, he DID sleep until 9am. Because I worked 10am-8pm. And why oh WHY would I have never wanted to see my baby? What good would being momma be if the ONLY person so see him awake was the sitter?)
    Sleep training seemed so cruel to me. Standing outside the bedroom, both my niece and I sobbing. She didn’t understand. She just wanted to snuggle back on my chest where she slept soundly. I did it–the sleep training, because she wasn’t mine. I nearly stopped watching her over it… but it made me so thankful for every night that my own kidlet slept snuggled up to me. And when he was old enough and ready, he moved on his own to his own bed. It wasn’t a fight. And it didn’t scar him or leave him damaged.
    I know someone who literally held her 12 month old up dangling her over the potty because she was NOT going to buy another package of diapers. I just don’t get what we’re doing to our kids, i guess. I just don’t get it. As a society, we have babies and then refuse to let them be… well, babies. 🙁
    I’m thankful that 15 years ago, this wasn’t how we parented. I won’t ever regret a morning waking up next to Eli. Or when he finally decided to stop hiding his Bob The Builder briefs and used the potty. (he was almost 3 1/2. Until then, every time I bought a package of underpants, they all disappeared. he wasn’t having any of that potty thing… LOL)

  7. I am currently expecting our 2nd little baby, and something that I would love to say about the actual “expecting” part, is that I have learned (and am still currently learning) how to really enjoy the different phases of the pregnancy to their fullest. This even includes the first couple of months where one might just not feel that great to be completely honest. Everyone’s body is different, however maybe for the most part, you have found out that you’re pregnant, and if you’re really excited about it, it’s wonderful news and a beautiful thing. Then, slowly but surely, the ugly monster of unassured feelings may creep in…Doubt and concern whether you’re doing things correctly, taking the proper care, and/or how you might feel about your physical image. It can be difficult for me in this phase of the pregnancy (I am currently 8 weeks) to appreciate the fact that I am witnessing a miracle when I cannot “see” or experience too much of what is happening. This is an incredible thing, truly a privilege and an honor, and there is grace in figuring out how to “do it all” correctly in regards to expecting. One thing I most recently learned, is that just as things in life can be so unknown, so is pregnancy… A child is being created and formed without the luxury of our seeing every moment on screen. We can do the best that we can to eat well, get rest, exercise if need be, and relax. Embrace the beautiful phase that you’re in whatever it may be!

  8. My 4th baby love is turning 4 weeks tomorrow! Is there no better advice for a new mother than to Trust Her Gut & to utilise her all important critical thinking skills in observing and meeting her unique child’s needs? Each of my children are so different from eachother in what soothes them, what feels scary and what feels comforting, etc. But one thing is certain, they ALL benefit from having a mommy who accepts them as they are and guides them with love.

    Caring for 4 small children is not easy when they all need me at once! I would tell my latest pregnant self that it is not my responsibility to make everyone happy, only to never renounce doing things in love.

  9. I wish someone had discussed circumcision with me – that it’s not necessary, that at least half of my son’s peers would be intact, that no matter what numbing cream or shot is used the pain is so excruciating that most babies scream until they stop breathing or pass out. I wish someone had told me the functions of the foreskin – moms need to know what they’re choosing to cut off. I wish someone had told me how much money doctors make on them, and that despite that, no medical society in the world recommends it.

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