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Only you can know if you’re emotionally ready to have a baby. But checking in with yourself is a smart way to start your journey to motherhood.

Prepare for the Unknown

Pregnancy is different for everyone. You can’t know exactly how the experience will be for you. And that’s OK.

“Just because you don’t know what’s coming doesn’t mean you aren’t ready for it,” says Kristi Angevine, MD. She’s a board-certified OB/GYN in Chattanooga, TN. “You just have to know that it’s going to be entirely new.” 

When you prepare to be a parent, it means being open to whatever may come, Angevine says.

“You can ask for people's stories, gather advice, and scour books and web sites, but you won’t know what it’s like until you’re there.”

Start by accepting that you can’t know everything. It may help you relax and enjoy pregnancy more.

Lifestyle Changes

Think about why you want to be a parent. How might having a baby change your day-to-day life?

“Your time will not be your own. If you’re not ready to give that up, you might want to wait,” says Jan Rydfors, MD, creator of the Pregnancy Companion app.

You might also need to start new habits to stay healthy for your child. If you usually have a few drinks or smoke cigarettes to deal with feelings of sadness or stress, now’s the time to stop. Smoking, drinking, and drugs are harmful for a growing baby.

For many moms, a focus on your baby’s health comes naturally with pregnancy and parenthood.

“Most of us are somewhat self-centered when we are young. As we grow up, this trait fades,” Rydfors says. “When you have a baby, there will be a dramatic shift in what’s important in your life and you won’t think about your own needs as much as you used to.”

Use a Support System

Even if you feel emotionally ready now, pregnancy can sometimes throw your feelings out of whack.