This is the beginning of your beautiful and complicated relationship that you will have with yourself as a mother.
Congratulations on making the life-changing decision to become a mother!
You are about to embark on your journey toward conception. It may be smooth and predictable, or it may challenging and baffling. Or, most likely, it will be somewhere in between.
But no matter how your path toward conception unfolds, one of the most important things for you to focus on right now (other than the making of your baby) is nurturing and strengthening the relationship you have with yourself.
In preparing to become a mother, you will be required to devote a large amount of space in your body, mind and heart to creating and caring for your child to be. This is also the beginning of the beautiful, complicated and forever-evolving relationship you will have with yourself as a mother. Now is the time to think about how you want that relationship to be.
We all come into motherhood with an established relationship with ourselves. We know how we treat ourselves, and hopefully we treat ourselves with love, care and compassion. But what we don’t necessarily know is how we will treat ourselves when we even begin thinking about giving life to another human being who shares part of our DNA and for whom we are solely (or jointly) responsible.
There is no other relationship that will ask more of you or stretch you physically and emotionally in the way that motherhood will.
As a mother of four children and the author of The Self-Care Solution: A Modern Mother’s Must-Have Guide to Health and Well-Being, for which I researched self-care practices and interviewed hundreds of mothers, I would like to share with you what I wish someone would have told me when I, like you, first dreamed of becoming a mother.
Entering motherhood with self-awareness, self-love and self-respect is essential to your ability to ride the waves of motherhood (the joy and pain, and everything in between) with the confidence you will need to be the amazing mother you aspire to be.
There may be times when you feel that you have to choose between caring for your children, your relationship or yourself. But while you cannot give your attention to all these areas at the same time, it is not only possible but crucial to your health and the health of your family that you be intentional about integrating all three elements in your life.
These mantras will serve as the grounding you need to stay centered and true to yourself as you embark on your exciting journey of motherhood:
- I am very important.
- My identity, separate from my role as a mother-to-be, will always be important.
- My health, my happiness and my needs are important. I need to take care of my body, my mind and my spirit as I create, grow and raise this child-to-be, who will need me in more ways than any other human being has ever needed me, and who I will love unconditionally.
- I will honor myself physically, emotionally and relationally as I transition from woman to mother because my overall health and well-being, as well as my ability to mother my child, depend on it.
I urge you to keep those reminders near you for a very long time.
But right now you are at the “twinkle in your eye” stage, and what a beautiful place to be! You are ready to get this process going, which starts with asking your body to cooperate with your desire to conceive a child. Again, your body may oblige right away or it might take a little longer, but throughout the conception process I urge you to repeat the following messages to yourself on a daily basis:
- I will treat myself and my partner with loving kindness and compassion throughout this process, and beyond.
- I have a right to want this baby.
- I will not, however, attach my self-worth or self-love to whether my body will support my desire to conceive.
- If I do have issues with conceiving, I will seek the emotional support I need, and stay true to myself when making decisions about fertility or adoption options.
- I will treat my body with care, love and kindness so that I do my best to provide a healthy place for my baby to be conceived and reside for the next nine months.
- I will love, respect and honor myself and my body, which will grow and change throughout this process (that could involve infertility treatment), and I will stay true to my body’s signals of hunger and satiation.
The process of conceiving a baby is the time when you begin to formulate how you want to live the rest of your life as a mother. It is time to secure your commitment to your own self-care.
As writer S.C. Lourie explains, “Thinking about yourself first is often a blessing for your tribe, too, because when you look after your heart, whoever is in your heart gets automatically looked after too.”