In Spanish, we say that “kids are not born with a manual under the arm,” and that couldn’t be more true. Becoming a mother is like becoming a new person. Having someone else as your full-time responsibility, 24-7, 365 days a year, is one of the most wonderful and constant lessons a person can experience. It's amazing how such a cute and small person can teach you so much about everything. They can show us how love grows to dimensions we never thought possible, as emotions go in all directions.
After giving birth to three wonderful kids and talking to moms with kids of different ages in different parts of the world, I’ve realized that the perfect mom does not exist. We do the best we can all the time—and, yes, we do so many things wrong. But that is life. We are humans, and we have no idea what we are doing. We simply learn along the way. Being there, talking, expressing, taking care, sharing, hugging, kissing…expressing love—that is what makes us the best of moms, and that is what matters.
I became a Rebirther—a conscious breathing technique that helps to heal birth trauma—when I was 18 years old, and that opened my mind to the importance of being conscious of what it is to become a parent—how every decision since the moment of conception could define the life of the child we are creating.
Years passed, and my husband and I decided to become parents. In my experience, our thoughts and words are manifested, so after reading from many specialists and studies, I believed the manner of the baby’s conception was crucial. The life I was creating inside of me was going to be a reflection of my emotion-thoughts, so every time we made love, we were conscious to keep deep emotions and total love at the forefront of our experience.
After conception, the first months are all about adapting: some of us get sick, some get emotional, but all of us start to change from the moment we know we are pregnant. Food habits, exercise, thoughts, stress, work, life style—it all changes.
Physically, our body has a new strange agent, so we feel sick. I’m sorry to say, there is no special remedy for this. We need to find our own ways to make it better. Listen to your body and try to look for what it needs to pass the sickness the best you can. Eating better is so important— a half dose of Cacao, and of course seeds, fruits, vegetables, have been helpful to me throughout my pregnancies. Healthy nutritional habits will certainly help you during yours.
Exercise is another very important habit to have throughout the journey. Good posture, cardio, and daily stretching are all tremendously helpful. Remember that you will be carrying extra weight, affecting your bones and muscle. Labor can also be long and exhausting, so adopting good habits early on will make the whole process much easier.
If you have a stressful job, start looking for ways to make it quieter for yourself. A stressed mom is a stressed child, and believe me you don’t want that. So get all the help you can and make it more quiet. This will also help you connect with yourself and the baby. Find moments of connection, meditate, and practice your ritual. Walk, read, laugh, rest, and share with friends, family, and your partner. Anything that connects you with happiness and relaxation is good.
By now, our body is getting bigger, and the baby is showing to the world. We may know the sex, ponder names, and become more focused on the birth to come, Things are getting real, and the time is flying. We must start to decide where and how we would like to have the baby.
I had it clear, and so did my husband: we wanted a home birth. Unfortunately, our jobs where we lived at the time of our first baby’s birth made it impossible. We looked for a doula—a woman that assists in the birthing process—and started seeing which of the hospitals in the area were more respectful with our way of viewing birth. Doulas don’t tell us what to do, that's all our decision. They give us all the information we need so we can decide what we want in the next few months for this new experience and our baby. That makes us feel powerful at birth time. Being able to make our decisions during labor makes that moment ours, knowing what is happening at all times is a bliss, no matter the kind of birth we decide for our baby it’s our choice and doulas will provide all the info we need. Working with a doula is a very rich experience.
As the pregnancy comes to term, we just need to rest. I think this is the healthiest habit for a future mom: sleep! For some women, sleeping is difficult at the end because they don’t feel comfortable in the posture with a big tummy. I had a friend that made her bed in the bathtub and slept wonderfully there. There are some breast feeding cushions that are perfect because you can adapt the whole body to them. They are also very useful when feeding the baby in the future.
Take long cardio walks more than ever—not meandering while shopping, but a brisk walking pace. Nature is a magical place to do it. Don’t forget that labor can be a very long and tiring moment. Having good training will help. Yoga is also an ideal exercise as it works different parts of the body.
The baby is finally here! When the child comes into the world, there’s a book I just can’t resist recommending, as it was a real lifesaver for me. Maternity: coming face to face with our own shadow, by the psychologist Laura Gutman, reveals what happens emotionally when the baby arrives—not only for the mother, but also for the baby and the father. It helps put emotions in their place, and helps us understand why we feel how we feel.
There are no recipes or perfect ways: each family is a world, and every single baby is different. You will be met with all kinds of advice, even from perfect strangers, but you must let your intuition guide you.
Is there a foolproof recipe to being a good mom? Yes.
Parents only give and kids only receive, after all.