I don’t know about you, but when I first became pregnant I was aware that meant I was going to have a baby, but I never really connected that it also meant I was going to be a mum. I mean, of course, I knew I was going to be a mum, but I hadn’t connected with what that actually meant.
I knew I would need to look after and care for my new baby, but beyond that, the rest was a mystery.
Are you the same?
Obviously, you know that you’re growing a tiny baby who you can’t wait to meet, but beyond that… who knows!
I was desperate to get started with being a mum as soon as possible; after all, I’d waited to be one since I was 12!! But I had no idea what to do…
None at all…
So, I rubbed my tummy and sang but beyond that I was stuck.
It wasn’t until I started creating the Oliiki app that I started researching pregnancy and the impact that you can have on your baby’s life outcomes that I realised what a missed opportunity this time was.
What I hadn’t realised back then was HOW important these early days are for your baby’s lifelong development and I also didn’t realise how much of an impact I could have on my baby’s life outcomes! As the old saying goes, ‘if I’d known then what I know now…’
So I wanted to share my three top tips with you today about how to become a great mum from as soon as you’re pregnant.
#1. Parenting starts now!
Parenting starts now. This wasn’t something, as I say, I had considered. And probably most people would disagree with me still about this… but you see, I think parenting starts with you. Parenting is usually two people who met each other, fell in love and decided to create a baby. During that process you probably never sat down and thought, ‘I must find out what my partner thinks about the way we will manage the behaviour or our children, or what type of parent my partner wants to be,’ etc.
What we probably HAVE done is decide that the other person is lovely and that they will make a great parent for our child. We probably then had an idealised idea of how they would react and behave with their baby (we probably never thought through what they’d be like with a teenager) And quite possibly in that vision of our partner with the baby was of them throwing the happy, smiling baby in the air and catching them, with the sun behind them and everyone is happy and smiling… the reality might not be quite like that all of the time!
Often we only find the answers to the unasked questions in the moment - the moment when you turn to each other and expect the other person to react one way - the way you planned and dreamed for them to react – and they might actually react in a totally different way.
That can lead to resentment, anger and upset.
So I urge you, to right now, try to have those conversations that push you both a bit, try and talk about different situations that you might well come up against as new parents. Explore what each other thinks and feels. If you want help with this, the Oliiki app is full of ideas. The more you learn about yourself and your partner, the better the outcomes for your baby will be will be and the better you will get along as a partnership.
#2. Engage with your bump - it's never too early!
The science of the first 1000 days (from pregnancy to two years old) shows us clearly quite how important this stage is for your baby’s life outcomes, in all areas of life. The experiences you give your baby now impact on their educational outcomes, their health, the amount they earn, even who they are likely to marry and the type of job they are likely to get.
The amazing thing is that it’s easy to make a really positive impact.
It’s in the small daily interactions that you have with your bump, and then your baby, and then your toddler that you make that impact.
Those interactions don’t need to be huge, but they do need to be intentional. And when you understand your baby’s current learning needs as you are doing each activity, you can be so much more intentional about what you’re doing. What you don’t need to be doing is some major activity worthy of an Instagram picture.
For your baby, simple activities really are filled with massive learning opportunities and it’s how you interact with your baby that makes all the difference. If you want help with this, the Oliiki app gives you those simple daily activities to do from conception right through until your baby is two - that’s the full 1000 days.
When you are intentional in the activities that you do with your baby, right from the beginning, you are building the skills your baby needs to succeed. When you build skill on skill, you create a really strong foundation for learning. By learning, I mean in every way! Your baby needs to learn EVERYTHING… from how to be a successful communicator, to how to build strong relationships and feel secure; from understanding what 3 looks like to understanding the difference between a puddle and a river; from being able to pick up their rattle and shake it, to understanding how to solve complex problems in life. All of the play that we do with our babies in these early days is building the basis for these skills, and the more we focus on it, the more intentional we are, the better the outcomes will be for your baby.
#3. Look for the quick wins
Looking for the quick wins is so important, particularly now. This is a time of lots of firsts and lots of unknowns, so you need to find your successes every day. When you find those successes and celebrate them, you are giving yourself a tiny dose of feel-good hormones. When you do that, you feel better. When you feel better, you feel more successful and success breeds success. So, the more success you have, the more you’re able to feel successful, the more success you will see, and so the cycle continues. When you feel successful, you are able to be a better mum to your baby. Those tiny successes might be just that - tiny. So it might be that you didn’t feel sick for 20 minutes in the day, or that you got through until 3pm without an extra sneaky biscuit, or that you managed to do a pregnancy yoga class, or, in fact, that you managed to sit down with your feet up and have a cup of tea and read a magazine… all of these are tiny successes! They are so tiny that we often don’t notice them. But when we DO notice them, that’s when we give ourselves (and our baby) a tiny little magic boost! So, what have your tiny successes been today?
#4. The Oliiki app is built to help you with this journey
So if you are wondering what you should be doing for and with your baby now, and if you’re thinking that you aren’t sure what your tiny successes are, or if you thinking that you’ve no idea what to talk to your partner about, why not download the Oliiki app from the App store or Google Play store? We’ve done the thinking for you and ensured that it’s all grounded in research and science so that you don’t need to worry - you can just settle back and start finding your tiny wins as you chat to your partner about becoming parents. And all of this will help you to become a great mum before your baby is even born!