Article 1: WHEN I STILL HAD TIME FOR ME
Have you ever heard of other mothers telling first-time pregnant women, “Oh, enjoy your alone time while it lasts?” Sounds annoying, doesn’t it? I mean how much time can such a tiny human being take from your day?
Unfortunately, it is so true. From the moment the baby is born, you will feel as if you are stuck in a black hole in space where time moves so fast, before you know it, hey! The baby is already up and running to school. Alright, maybe I am exaggerating, but really, if you’re currently pregnant with your first baby and reading this, firstly, I would like to say congratulations, and secondly, I also would like to tell you that you have to appreciate whatever quiet time you have with you right now.
Having a baby is a lot of hard work, but it is also very worthwhile, especially when you get to wake up to see your own cute little mini-me. It is worth your every drop of blood and tears when you get to watch their every milestone. It is tiring, yes, but masyaAllah, how you will grow to love like you’ve never loved before!
Deciding to have a baby is a bit like deciding to sign up for a marathon, with the delivery and the subsequent months postpartum being the actual marathon itself. Before that, you need to train regularly and prepare yourself mentally to ensure that you do not run out of wind on the actual event and you know how to pace yourself so that you can finish off strong, happy and healthy.
Know that once the baby is out, your time for yourself will be drastically reduced. Simple tasks like deciding to go out, for example, will suddenly take twice or triple the time it used to take. Say you take an hour to shower, iron your clothes, get dressed and put on makeup; after you have the baby, at the very beginning, you will suddenly have to take two hours. And you will only be able to take speedy showers and have to learn to apply makeup in half the time or not wear any at all.
And that is only mental preparation for after the baby is out. What about preparation for labour?
Remember when I said labour is the actual marathon? Yes, you need to be prepared that it might be long and painful, especially if it is your first time giving birth. Singapore has one of the highest rates of women undergoing C-sections in the world, and for most of these cases, they are actually unnecessary. As much as possible, where medically possible, try aim to have a natural labour because recovery time is much faster and risks of complication are a lot lower.
That means, in a country where doctors are prone to giving you the option of C-section a bit too easily, you need to do your homework. You need to know how to pick the right hospital and obstetrician, learn about the different stages of labour, when to actually go to the hospital, learn how to come up with a birth plan et cetera – it is a lot of work and mental preparation!
We will touch more on the technical aspects of all these in the next few articles.
Spiritually, as Muslims, most of us would want the child in the womb to develop well and grow up to become a pious person. And because the baby is inside the mother for nine months, whatever speech and emotions that the mother experiences and projects will affect the baby.
The baby’s hearing develops quite early in pregnancy, so a mother-to-be needs to be more aware of what she is doing and try to avoid speaking in an angry manner or using undesirable words. It has been suggested in studies that a child who is born to a mother who experiences more angry emotions during pregnancy grows up showing more anxiety than a child whose mother was more relaxed and calmer during her pregnancy.
In terms of what is best to expose the baby to while in the womb, of course the best thing to let the baby is hear is verses of the Holy Quran. Western researchers have found that putting on classical music for the baby while still inside the mother can stimulate the connections of the neuron cells in the brain; well, it has been found that reading and listening to the Quran has the same effect or provides even better stimulation than listening to classical music. Subhanallah, for what better music is there in the world than the Words of Allah?
Hence, for those of you who are fluent in your recitation, increase the frequency of your recitation of the Quran during pregnancy. For those of you who need brushing up, fear not! It is now so easy to look for the surahs recited by different imams and sheikhs on YouTube. However, do not neglect learning and improving your tajweed and reading because that will bring many benefits to yourself and your family.
Alhamdulillah, in Singapore, there are many Quran classes that you can sign up for and it is quite easy to look for them too. Islamicevents.SG is one website that allows you to look for a suitable class for you, and not just for learning the Quran, but other aspects of the religion as well!
Both you and your husband have to re-do the budgeting for the family because you will have to adjust many things once baby is out. In fact, you will be spending a lot of money even during the pregnancy because those prenatal check-ups are not free!
My advice is: always, always go for the option that is within your means. If you can afford it, alhamdulillah, by all means, go for a hospital and a doctor that have good reputations. However, if your family is not that well-off, going for the subsidised route is still really not that bad. I mean, this is Singapore and there is still a certain expectation on the quality of healthcare that we can get from subsidised wards in public hospitals.
I know that the ‘in’ thing right now is to find a private doctor who really supports natural delivery and to get a doula who can walk through the whole process with you, but let me repeat myself: if you cannot afford it, do not fret. You can still do your own mental homework on what to expect during delivery and still get quality healthcare in a subsidised ward.
Specific du’as to read after prayers
No one can deny the powerful impact of a parent’s du’a on a child. In the Quran, there are many stories of Prophets making du’a for a pious child even before their wives became pregnant – surely these are lessons for us to learn from.
Consider the du’a that Prophet Ibrahim made for a child, a du’a that has been recorded in the Holy Quran and surely serves as a reminder and lesson for all of us:
رَبِّ هَبْ لِى مِنَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ
Rabbi hab lee mina assaliheen
My Lord, grant me [a child] from among the righteous. (37:100)
Allah SWT accepted this supplication and granted Prophet Ibrahim a pious child in the form of Prophet Ismail. It is such a short du’a but one that is worth making after every prayer. As much as possible, make du’a for yourself, your spouse, parents and children after every solah for Allah loves His servants who ask Him for help.
Another du’a that you can also recite is the du’a of Hanna who is the mother of Maryam AS. Again, the fact that this du’a is written in the Quran means that it is a du’a worth learning and memorising.
إِنِّىٓ أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا مِنَ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنِ ٱلرَّجِيمِ
Allahumma inni u-idhuha [hu] bika wa dhurriyyataha [hu] mina’sha-shaytani’r-rajiim(i)
“O Allah, I put her [him], and her [his] progeny under Your protection from Satan, the accursed” – (part of Qur’an Surah 3:36).
Read about the upbringing of great role models in Islam
It is very important to have a role model for us to learn and draw inspirations from. In Islam, there are many great people whom we can try to emulate in terms of characteristics.
If you are carrying a boy, for example, read more about the upbringing of the Sultan Muhammad Al-Fatih The Conqueror. A large part of his success and humility as a ruler comes from the extraordinary upbringing that he had. Sayyidina ‘Ali is also another example of a child who was brought up in the best household (the household of Rasulullah SAW) and hence grew up to be a righteous and pious man.
If you are carrying a girl, you may read more on the upbringing of two of the best women in Islam – Maryam AS, who has been honoured by being chosen by Allah over all other women, and Fatimah RA, who, just like Sayyidina ‘Ali had the privilege of growing in the best household and had the best role model in the form of her father, the Prophet SAW himself.
Indeed, a child is like a blank canvas and his upbringing and surroundings will shape him into the person he becomes in the future, so ensure that you are fully prepared to do the best in order to bring out the best in your child.
Of course, Sayyidina ‘Ali himself said that we have to educate our children according to their times, so it is also equally important to be open-minded and receptive to new studies that show how best to raise a child in modern times. Alhamdulillah, there are many books that share specific practices on how to raise a Muslim child in modern times.
These are some of the books:
- CHILD EDUCATION IN ISLAM by Dr Abdullah Nasih Ulwan
- Educating Your Child in Modern Times by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf
- Our Precious Sprouts by Muhammad Al-Jibaly
Ultimately, a person’s destination in life is determined by Allah SWT, but it does not mean that the parents can leave everything up to fate without putting in any effort.
The Beginning of an Exciting Era
You and your husband are about to embark on an exciting era, one that is full of uncertainty and will test your patience and faith. Nothing in the world will change you quite like motherhood does, but that change will insyaAllah make you stronger, both in terms of character and having trust in Him.
About the writer:
Sis Suliyati is the founder of @MuslimParents.SG, a Muslim parenting portal that runs parenting classes and courses as well as kids-friendly Quran classes for parents. Coincidentally, MuslimParents.SG is also conducting an online course on learning from the upbringing of Maryam AS and Fatimah RA in raising daughters. For more info, follow us on IG and FB
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This article is sponsored by Aqiqah.SG