Are you worried that you won't have a clue about how to be a good mom when the time comes? You're likely more prepared than you think. Being pregnant teaches you plenty about being a good parent, so keep an eye out for some major lessons even before your baby arrives.
Live in the moment Consider this fact: Only about 5 percent of babies are born on their due date. The rest come in their own time -- without a thought to their mother's schedule or the obstetrician's predictions. Being okay with that kind of unpredictability will take you far as a new mom. "I was sure I would exercise and stay fit through my entire pregnancy," says Gillian Freeman, mom of 1-year-old Josephine, in Amherst, Massachusetts. "Then morning sickness made me realize I wasn't in control of this ship! Letting go of control and expectations prepared me for motherhood in a huge way. Sometimes the most awe-inspiring moments happen when you least expect them."
Breathe deeply If you want to be able to handle motherhood like a pro, you've got to learn to keep your cool, even through the craziest moments. "Being pregnant is stressful, so I had to learn to clear my mind of worries and just focus on my growing baby. Practicing prenatal yoga really helped with that," says Jennifer Estaris, mom of 4-month-old Maiella, in Santa Monica, California. "Once the baby comes, though, you're really tested to your limits," she says. "Knowing how to center yourself and find peace is the only thing that will get you through sometimes!"
The internet is not a doctor We've all been guilty of Googling strange symptoms in the middle of the night, but getting obsessed with these online "diagnoses" can make you do some crazy stuff. Just ask Lorianne Wantanabe Killeen, mom of 9-month-old Cody, in Los Angeles, who was leaking fluid in the weeks leading up to her delivery. "Even though my doctor said there was no problem, I couldn't shake the scary stuff I'd read online about how I might be miscarrying. I drove to the hospital and checked myself in!" Turns out, she was fine and labor didn't come for three more weeks. "When it comes to medical advice, I know now how insane the Internet can make you -- and to trust my pediatrician!"
Snacks can save your life On-the-go nibbles are the best weapon to ward off both pregnancy exhaustion and kiddo hunger attacks. Michele Gupta, of Kent, Ohio, mother of Shelby, 8, and Addison, 3, learned this lesson out of sheer necessity. "When I was pregnant, my purse was always stuffed with these special hard candies that I'd suck on to keep my energy going and my stomach calm," she says. "And now with my girls, I know I could get stuck in traffic on the freeway or even have to wait a long time at a restaurant and need their favorite crackers to keep them from screaming their head off!"
Tune out the noise If there's one thing today's moms have plenty of, it's opinions. Whether they're complaining about another mother's choices or their own frustrations, random parents' outbursts can make it hard to trust your own choices. "After trying to get pregnant for a while without success, my husband and I turned to IVF to have our two sons," said Molly Walsh, mom of 2-year-old Finn and 5-month-old Pax, in Marin, California. "Of course everyone had something to say about it, but the thing is that pregnancy is a personal journey for each person. You can't take anyone else's drama to heart. Now that I'm a parent, if someone wants to vent to me -- and they often do! -- I just let them rant and know it has nothing to do with me. When I think about my two beautiful boys and how fortunate we were to have them against all odds, it's easier to keep things in perspective."
Originally published in the November 2013 issue of Parents magazine.
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