Congratulations! You just found out your pregnant! The immediate flow of questions, How are we going to tell everyone? When are we going to tell everyone? Is it a boy or a girl? What will we name them? What do I need to buy? can be overwhelming, but just like calling your doctor or midwife is a must, there are some spiritual things you need to do immediately as a Catholic mother.
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1. Thank God. This tiny baby inside of your body is a beautiful soul God has made and entrusted to your care. Spend some time thanking God for the magnitude of this gift!
2. Consecrate your baby to the Immaculate Heart. I recommend renewing this at Baptism after the baby is born, but go ahead and consecrate them now, asking for the special grace of Baptism for your baby. Below is a good consecration to use, from a pamphlet from Angelus Press. I recommend eventually buying the pamphlet, because you can right down their name and dates when you renew the consecration at their Baptism.
Blessed Virgin Mary * Queen of Heaven and Earth, * to your Immaculate heart, * the channel of all graces, * we consecrate this child, * whom we have received from God’s goodness.
We offer him to You * that you may present him to your Divine Son, * that you may take him under your loving maternal protection, * that you may preserve him from dangers, * that you amy keep him from all sin, * that you may lead him to grow in piety * and in all virtue * so that he may always be worthy * to call himself your child.
May he grow daily in wisdom and grace, * may he go through life having you always as his refuge and Mother. * May all virtues shine in him * and may he never offend your maternal Heart.
May the Eternal Father always look upon him with delight * and see in him * a ray and reflection of your Immaculate Beauty. And as today he gladdens our home, * so may he one day gladden the Eternal Home * which we pray will be his. Amen.
3. Ask a priest for the traditional blessing. Some priests might answer this with a simple blessing, but politely ask for more (or find a different priest!). There is a blessing specific for pregnant women and their unborn children. I like to get this done as soon as possible, because those first few weeks can be so touch-and-go.
4. Have a Mass said for your baby. This is what St. John Vianney advised, and as usual, it is spot on! You can use it as your almsgiving for the consecration, just as the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph gave two turtle doves.
5. Pray for the grace of Baptism. It's uncomfortable to talk about, but we have to acknowledge the very real Church teaching that only the baptized can be assured of the Beatific Vision. Now, we certainly know that a baby who dies unbaptized won't go to Hell, but instead Limbo, and there they will be perfectly happy. This is a great comfort to many mothers grieving the children they lost in utero. However, it's still a good idea to pray that your baby will receive Baptism, and to pray for this often. You can do your part, too: plan to have the Baptism as soon as possible after birth (St. Alphonsus Ligouri says within 10 days, but others say within a month) and have you and your husband prepared to do an emergency Baptism at the hospital or a conditional one should you miscarry. This is not fun to think about right after learning you are pregnant, to be sure, but we have to remember our most important job is to get our babies to Heaven, and that starts now!
Eternal God and Father, who has instituted the sacrament of marriage, and blessed us with the precious gift of family and fertility, I thank you with all my heart for the mysterious gift of this child within me, whose soul is already eternal and complete, even as the little body grows and forms.
Everything I am and everything I have comes from you and depends on you. In your love, sustain this fragile life within me, even as you have sustained me through the years. Make my body a safe and nurturing environment for your new child, until I welcome this new life into the world.
Jesus, savior of my soul, during your own life, you yourself were once so utterly dependent on your mother’s womb for the protection it offered. When you were grown, you showed us your special love for children, taking them into your arms and calling us to turn and become like they are. Take my own child into your arms. I consecrate this child to you with great confidence, entrusting what is closest to my own heart to your own most sacred heart.
Be kind to me, Lord, at the moment of this child’s birth, and guard both of us from harm. Mother Mary, conceived without sin, be with me, guiding me, as I begin the great work of caring for and raising this child, who belongs in the end, not to me, but to your Son. Teach me to love this child with your own perfect motherly love, and keep us both in your care until we reach our final home.
O strong and holy St. Joseph, and you, our Guardian Angels, guard my family and lead us together home to Christ, where we may eternally praise and thank him for the gift of our lives. Amen.
7. Grow in virtue. More than learning a certain parenting style, sleep philosophy, or how to give birth naturally, your babies need you to learn virtue. You baby needs a holy mother. Use this time to learn mental prayer if you don't already (start with The Ways of Mental Prayer for more information) and to really work on the active purgation (first rooting out mortal sin, then intentional venial sin, ridding yourself of vice and attachments, and growing in virtue: The Introduction to the Devout Life is a great place to start). Check our post here for more on the basics of growing in holiness.
Alright Catholic Mommas, anything I missed? Next, check out my post on how to prepare to be a stay-at-home mom!