By Heather Irwin
Listen to your momma. Chances are she can lend some ideas and tips about her own experience that might just come in handy. She raised you, after all. Ask other moms for advice as well. "You can ask an 80-year-old woman about having kids, and she'll probably remember everything vividly," says Debbie Merritt, a doula at the Women's Health and Birth Center in Santa Rosa.
Let well-meaning friends and family shower you with developmental gifts and extravagant outfits your baby will wear exactly once for a picture. Studies show that most of this stuff doesn't make a squat of difference. Shower kids with love and attention instead; give them a toilet paper roll and some blocks. Spend the money you've saved on yourself, or save it for your kid's therapy later. Remember: no matter what you do, it will somehow all be your fault later.
The doula question. If you have a great relationship with your obstetrician or midwife, save the money and hire a breast-feeding consultant instead. If you're a little unsure, have a queasy or unsympathetic partner, or just want someone around who will be totally focused on you during the birth, I can't recommend doulas highly enough. It's an empowering, bonding experience.
It feels good in the early stages of your pregnancy to chat or read stories from other moms. But beware of getting too engulfed in the chatter. You'll likely read more horrifying birth stories than you really want to and get sucked into a vortex of drama and insecurity. Trust your intuition, read reputable, humorous books, like The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine. They'll keep you laughing and give you advice and insight. Finally, always call your doctor if something is upsetting you, rather than seeking advice online.
The one thing moms-to-be often forget is to take care of themselves first and foremost. Now isn't the time to start a rigorous exercise regimen, but it is time to eat right, pamper yourself and keep your body flexible and healthy. Join a local gym that offers water aerobics for moms, take a prenatal yoga class and get a manicure, pedicure and massage as often as your wallet will allow. If you can't afford it, just walk every day and take a bubble bath (not too hot) every night, carving out time just for you. You'll feel better and will get into the habit of taking the "me time" you'll need after baby comes.
From the October 5-11, 2005, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.
© 2005 Metro Publishing Inc.