This is the information I really wish I had, and desperately needed, when I was pregnant. (This is a picture of me the night I went to a Police reunion concert six days before my due date!)

I remember the first time I became pregnant. As an “older mom,” (I was thirty-five) I was very concerned about how my little one was doing and became obsessed with learning as much as I could about each stage of the in-utero process. Through the experience of losing two pregnancies to miscarriage, giving birth to two boys, and learning what I have as a parenting educator and counsellor, I have discovered what is important and what can be ignored while pregnant.

There are certainly a lot of things we can worry about as pregnant women, aren’t there?! With each little twinge of our bellies, we wonder if that is a kick, a hiccup, or signs of trouble. I just asked my husband, who is a family doctor, what his best advice for expectant parents is, and he replied, “You just have to trust (and don’t smoke and do eat well).” He’s right.

I’d say my best advice is to prepare for life as a parent while you are pregnant. The people I speak with who struggle after their baby is born often look at me through desperate eyes and whisper, “I didn’t sign up for this.”

I don’t want to scare you, but I do want to prepare you for life as a mom or dad—I want you to know what “this” is going to be like. The more prepared you are, the more you will be able to thrive during the rough parts. There will be days when you feel a love for your baby that you never thought was possible, and there will also be days when you cry yourself to sleep. I want to help you so the crying days are rare.

These are the things I wish I knew when I was pregnant for the first time:

Plan to be sleep-deprived.

Being sleep-deprived is not something you can prepare for in advance, and for me, was one of the hardest parts of being a new parent. I was certainly used to have seven or eight hours of solid sleep before my babies were born so waking up every two hours or so to nurse was incredibly hard. I remember feeling like a fog had just settled over me, that I couldn’t shake.

You may have heard to, “sleep when your baby sleeps,” and you are really best to do this. When you are getting up in the night, I invite you to let go of a lot of things that you’d like to do during the day. Take more off your plate and don’t start new things. Have very low benchmarks for what you will accomplish each day. I just got used to things being “good enough” and “clean enough.”

Choose pregnancy resources that aren’t alarmist or scary.

One of the most popular pregnancy books is, What To Expect When You Are Expecting, but I don’t recommend this one. It is far too specific and far too alarming! If you believed everything in there, you’d likely be in your OB/GYN’s office every day in a panic.

Here is the book that I DO recommend for pregnant women: The Mother Of All Pregnancy Books by Anne Douglas. I also recommend Baby Care Basics by the paediatric team at SickKids Hospital for when your baby is born.

Learn about baby and toddler sleep.

It is common for new parents to be confused and have many questions about sleep. The topic of sleep is one of the most contentious and hotly debated ones out there! I bet that your friends and family members have very strong opinions about what you should and should not do to make sure everyone is getting enough sleep.

I strongly suggest you and your partner learn about sleep while you are pregnant so you can quickly pick up on sleep troubles and avoid many of the bad sleep habits parents unintentionally develop. One sleep educator told me that the biggest reason children have troubles sleeping through the night is that their parents haven’t learned how to facilitate good sleep and inadvertently do things in the spirit of helping that actually sabotage peaceful nights.

For great sleep resources, I like this book: The Happy Sleeper by Heather Turgeon & Julie Wright and this website: Good Night Sleep Site.

Parenting can sometimes be hard—asking for help is critical.

Please don’t let yourself struggle. Also, please don’t believe you have to do it all to look strong or capable. Ask for as much help as you need. You will be the parent you want to be if you feel rested and that your bucket is full.

Have conversations with your partner about what “discipline” will look like in your house.

How you respond to your child’s behaviour is very important. We know that harsh punishment and coercion-type parenting (spanking, yelling, and time-outs are included here) actually makes things worse. The reason is that when you try to curb a child’s behaviour by forcing them to change what they are doing, you haven’t taught them emotion control, problem solving, or how to use their words. Knowing how to coach your child to do these things is really important to raising a happy and well-developed child.

Learning how to handle tantrums, outbursts, and defiance in a positive way very early on will make a drastic improvement in your experience as a parent. When you feel educated and prepared about what to do, your child’s actions won’t have such a negative effect on you. It is also very important that both parents are prepared and on the same parenting page. It is very confusing for a child when one is using positive discipline and the other is not.

I am obviously biased, but I recommend these resources for new parents, which I have created:

My eBook (which is a full-length book) called Taming Tantrums: A Connect Four Parenting Approach To Raising Cooperative Toddlers.

My smartphone App called Taming Tantrums, which as of today, is #1 in the worldwide iTunes Education Chart. Click here to download the iPhone version and here for Android one through Google Play.


I also recommend this book: The Happy Kid Handbook by Katie Hurley

These Facebook pages are very helpful:

Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond

Positive Parenting Connection

And mine: Andrea Nair – parenting educator


Again, I don’t want you to feel discouraged or down—I want you to feel prepared and capable. You have time while you are pregnant to read through these things and make some decisions that will really help you enjoy your experience as a parent.

If you happen to live in the GTA, I’m going to be at the BabyTime Show in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (North Building) Friday, Nov 6th through Sunday, Nov 8th (10am to 6pm each day). Come visit me at booth #306, called “Ask The Expert,” to get answers for all your parenting questions!