Your guide to anxiety as a first time mom- how to navigate that first year
Almost 6 years ago, I was preparing to become a mom for the first time. I recall such a mix of emotions. From joy to excitement, to apprehension and back again! It was a time of great preparation, planning, gifts and baby showers. At one of my baby showers a notepad was passed around upon which my family and friends could share advice about being a first time mom. There were some little gems of advice passed down to me that day and I have chosen a few to pass on to you…
“Trust your instincts, you will know what your baby needs”
Unfortunately there is no universal “learner’s guide” to being a mom. Somehow you will “just know”. And you have to trust that what your instinct is telling you, will carry you through. And even if you make mistakes, that is OK! You will soon realize that perfectionism will fly out the nursery window and being “good enough” will become your new goal.
Try not to overthink things, the solution is normally a lot simpler than you imagine. Avoid panicking every time your baby is sick. They are allowed to be sick. Their immune systems are brand new and need to be developed. Rather spend time getting in tune with your little one’s needs. Without words, your baby will need to communicate their needs in other ways. You will learn the art of guess work and putting pieces of the puzzle together. So trust your instinct and let “this too shall pass” be your go to mantra.
“Enjoy every minute and savour every moment, time goes by so quickly”
This is so true. Before you know it, you will be singing Happy Birthday while your little one blows out their first candle. Don’t look back on that day saying that you should’ve enjoyed their first year more and worried less. Make a decision now to be mindful and make the most of every moment.
Although at times difficult, aim to approach anxiety provoking moments practically and rationally rather than emotionally. Focus on probabilities rather than possibilities. Don’t panic and practice patience. One of my lecturers at university always encouraged us to “trust the process” within therapy. And I think this can be applied to motherhood too. More times than not a temperature spike, congestion or constipation will in their own time work themselves out (literally!).
“Be kind to yourself and sleep when the baby sleeps!”
Have realistic goals of what type of mother you want to be. Set your own standards and avoid comparing your journey to others. Although it might appear to you that other moms are coping better than you or are doing a better job, behind the scenes they are also shedding tears of tiredness and having moments of doubt and desperation. These reactions are normal, expected and part of the process.
Try your best not to forget about YOU in this whole equation. A tired mommy is an insecure and anxious mommy. Get rest, eat healthily and exercise. End off your day with a positive affirmation, holding your baby in front of you whilst saying: “Yay! We survived today! Well done to us!”
“The whole world is going to give you advice, choose wisely who you are going to listen to!”
Firstly, don’t hesitate to ask for help or advice BUT, always remember each baby is unique, with their own little personality, body and mind. One mom’s experience will never be the same as another. Support will come in many forms through family, friends, your religious community, mommy groups or even the lady in the checkout queue! Choose someone you truly trust or a qualified professional as your primary source of advice.
There’s a beautiful illustration I recently came across. It’s of a mother looking at her child with concern, thinking to herself: “Am I good enough? Do I do enough”? The child is gazing back at her with unconditional admiration thinking: “I adore her. She is my absolute world”. We need to remember this at all times, that in their eyes you are perfect and that is all that counts.
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