Pregnancy has its good and bad points, the most obvious benefit being the end result (you know, the baby). Some women hate being pregnant, some women love being pregnant, most find it a mixed bag. But as hard as some of the hard parts can be, there may be a silver lining. (In addition to the baby.) The challenging parts of pregnancy might actually serve a purpose: helping you get ready to become a parent.
Here are five not-always-so-fun things about being pregnant that can actually help you to be a better parent once your baby is born.
1. Interrupted Sleep
Sleep problems in pregnancy are really common. Wakefulness can be hormonal (pregnant woman have sleep cycles that are more easily interrupted), psychological (there’s plenty to worry about) or physical (no shortage of discomforts to wake you up in the night). One theory is that this less-sound sleep is a way of training the body to deal with middle of the night feedings and frequent wakings of early parenthood.
Giving things up is part of pregnancy. The ever-growing list of no-nos makes pregnancy a time of learning to live without some of the pleasures you may have taken for granted before getting pregnant. Even something as simple as meeting your own needs can be fraught. Though the details change when the baby’s born (or for some women, after breastfeeding) being a mother does involve changing priorities.
3. Difficult Choices
Some of the choices you encounter in pregnancy are as difficult as any you might come across as a parent. Deciding whether or not to undergo prenatal testing, whether to circumcise, or even what to name your kid. This can be a kind of awakening. You have entered the new high stakes world of parenthood.
4. Learning To Negotiate
You and your partner might not always have the same opinion on all those difficult choices. Reconciling different ideas is a crucial part of co-parenting. Pregnancy gives you a head start on that process. Setting up a positive line of communication between partners about hard questions will be really valuable later. The hard questions keep on coming!
5. Identity Change
The transition from nonparent to parent is a radical life change. Pregnancy is sort of the bridge between these identities. You go from seeing the world through your own eyes to thinking in terms of family. The way you think of yourself changes, too, sometimes in complicated ways. Pregnancy can be a time to gradually start making this shift, imagining yourself as a mother before you actually enter the role on a day to day basis. As you process all the new experiences and emotions, you’re actually changing: becoming a mother, whether you can feel it or not!