When you find out you’re pregnant, “New Year’s” resolutions become the order of the day, whether it’s March, August or December. Maybe you’ve vowed to start exercising. Or eating something resembling a vegetable now and then. Or to stop fretting about your financial situation and actually take action about it—this time. After all, what better reason do you have to finally get your act together than that new life growing inside you?
“Pregnancy is an ideal time to set goals for self-improvement,” says Mike Dow, Psy.D., a Los Angeles-based adolescent, family and parenting expert. “First, you must take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of your baby. And second, you’re preparing to become a mother, and being able to achieve your goals is going to help you be a better parent.” Sounds good, you say, but what about all those other times you’ve set goals and failed to achieve them—or to make them last long term? The problem, experts say, isn’t your misguidedintentions or your lack of willpower; it’s your approach.
Just think about the old joke that says insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. To actually help make this time different, here are seven important goals for your pregnancy, delivery and transition to parenthood, along with expert advice on how to achieve them and stick with them after your baby is born. If you need a little extra motivation, remember this: Hard-earned goals are a lot like babies—once you meet them, you’ll really want to keep them.
Goal #1 Strengthen Your Relationship
Why it’s important:
Because the things that attracted you to your mate can actually work against you when the baby arrives. “People marry each other because they’re complementary,” says psychiatrist Foster Cline, M.D., co-founder of the Love and Logic Institute in Colorado. “But when the baby is crying, the wife’s sweet, understanding nature—which the husband loves—means she’s going to be constantly popping up and attending to the baby. The more practical husband might think that attention could just lead to more crying, and the next thing you know, there’s conflict.”
Make it happen:
It sounds clichéd, but you need to discuss your concerns with your partner before the baby is born, Cline recommends. Be specific: When it comes to crying, how are each of you going to handle it? What about middle- of-the-night feedings? The time to negotiate parenting roles and practices is not during a meltdown (yours or your baby’s). Keep it going Look for opportunities for closeness. “One really nice thing is for the husband to sit with the wife when she’s breastfeeding,” Cline says. “It can be a wonderful bonding time.”