You’ve been through months – if not years – of trying to have your own baby, and now you can see a light at the end of the tunnel. While you’re patiently waiting for your dream to come true, there are a few ways you can make the most of this time to prepare yourself for parenthood.
There’s no mistake – you’ve been down a hard road. You know what disappointment feels like. After such an experience, it’s important for intended parents to use this time wisely. Work through the difficult emotions, gather around your support group, and take some time to take care of yourself. You’ll be glad you did when you have a new baby to take care of.
Here are some tips on how to take the best possible care of yourself before your baby comes home.
1. Find your support group.
There are thousands of other couples and individuals who have been through – and are going through – the same exact thing. Right now, you need people who have been there and who understand. Reach out to a local support group or jump online to commune with others who are going through the same thing. By being there for others and by reaching out, you will realize that you are not alone.
2. Get all those final questions answered.
Get some peace of mind by asking any and all questions to your agency. Questions like, “where we will go after the delivery?” “What kind of relationship will we have with the surrogate mother after birth?” “Will the surrogate mother have a bond with the baby?” If you have any fears or anxiety, it’s best to be honest with the surrogate and the agency. Transparency, communication, and kindness is key.
3. Go see a therapist
Sometimes, we all can benefit from a professional, calming space where no judgements are made. A place where we can feel free to express complex emotions. Psychotherapy is a great way to release your fears, work through your emotions, and mourn the pregnancy experience you never got to have. It can work wonders for your mental health, so you can be the best parent possible when your baby comes home.
4. Practice mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness – the basic human ability to be fully present – has amazing health benefits to calm your mind and body. Meditating on a regular basis can decrease stress, lower anxiety and depression levels, lower blood pressure, and aid in emotional regulation. Yoga is a great way to get regular mindfulness meditation into your schedule, which can help you feel physically healthy to aid in the mental and physical benefits.
5. Eat healthy and get plenty of exercise
What you eat can have a profound impact on your mood. Without the right nutrients, you can experience more anxiety, lethargy, fogginess, and depression. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and eat plenty of dopamine-building foods such as fish, poultry, eggs, leafy greens, and legumes to boost happiness hormones.
Furthermore, exercise releases endorphins, which trigger positive feelings in the body that can make you feel euphoric, positive, and energized. Exercise is proven to reduce stress, ward of anxiety and feelings of depression, boost self-esteem, and improve sleep. It also strengthens your heart, increases energy levels, lowers blood pressure, improves muscle tone and strength, and helps reduce body fat. It’s important to be the healthiest “you” possible for when you have a little one to care for!
6. Keep a journal
Understandably, you may have a lot of complicated feelings that are difficult to verbalize. A journal is the perfect way to release these feelings. Writing in a journal can help heal you emotionally and psychologically. Dr. James Pennebaker, author of “Writing to Heal”, says, “When we translate an experience into language we essentially make the experience graspable.” It’s a great way to rise above the difficult experiences and process what is happening.
7. Practice daily gratitude
In that same journal, keep a daily gratitude list. It’s easy! All you have to do is to write a daily list of things you are thankful for. It can be your home, your spouse, your dogs, the beautiful weather, your wonderful job, and the amazing opportunity of surrogacy. There’s always something to be thankful for! Science shows that gratitude improves mental health, self-esteem, mental strength, and the ability to empathize with others – all things that are helpful in the surrogacy journey.
8. Reconnect with your partner
If you’re going through this journey with a partner, it can take a lot out of you both. Take some time to reconnect with each other – go on a weekend trip, go on a fancy date, or spend some time doing what you both love doing the most. It will strengthen ties and give you both a more stable foundation to handle anything that comes along. Remember: you’re a team! You’re in this together! Chances are, your partner is having much of the same feelings you’re having. Go have some fun together and focus on being a couple for a while. It will do you both some good.
9. Have empathy toward your surrogate mother
Empathy is when you understand someone else’s perspective and experience their feelings yourself. To put yourself in the shoes of the surrogate will do wonders for your psyche. It will allow you to see the big picture – and that you both have the same goal – to bring a healthy baby into the world.
Practicing empathy lowers stress, improves overall health, reduces pain, and helps us feel connected to others. It enhances relationships by reducing the negativity between people.
10. Get enough sleep
It’s hard to be mentally or physically healthy at all if you don’t get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep battles off depression, keeps your heart healthy, lowers the odds of getting hurt in an accident, improves cognitive functioning, boosts your mood, bolsters your relationships, and improves your sex life. Getting enough sleep can really help strengthen those relationships that you’re going to need for emotional support!
11. Put self-care on the schedule.
It’s so easy for self-care to fall off the radar because it can feel like other things are more important than taking care of yourself. Here’s a tip: nothing is more important than taking care of yourself. If you don’t first take care of your needs, then how can you take care of anyone else’s? Start your parenthood journey off right by tending to your needs and becoming the happiest, healthiest version of yourself possible. After all, what better gift to give your child?