I won't pretend that relationships with mothers can't be complicated, to say the least. I also won't pretend that one's own pregnancy and motherhood can't complicate preexisting complications. However, if you're in a place with your mother where you have a good, mutually respectful relationship, I think there are questions you should ask your mom before giving birth.
I'm #blessed to have a #blessed relationship with my mom. She also happens to be one of those people who gives off a very strong "motherly" vibe to pretty much everyone. Just think "real life Molly Weasley" and that's basically her. So not only is she my mom, but even if she weren't she would be a really good person to ask about all things pregnancy and motherhood. We usually talk a lot, but when I was pregnant with my first child the texts and calls doubled.
"Mom. The baby moved, but it wasn't like, you know, a kick. It was more like a jostle. Is that normal?"
"Mom. Should I be worried that I ate half a jar of peanut butter today? Is that, like, bad?"
My constant stream of half-worried-but-mostly-curious questions would usually result in her saying, "It's fine" in a soothing, self-assured way that eased my nerves. As a necessary and always interesting follow up, she would tell me a story about about one of her five pregnancies, just in case there was an ounce of doubt in my mind.
I got a lot out of those conversations, so I recommend you start some of your own with your own mom and with the following questions:
"Can You Please Make Me, Like, 47 Freezer Meals?"
Let's just skip the social niceties and cut to the chase, shall we? When it comes to acts of service and favors, new parents need three things: food, food, and also food. They do not have time to prepare or necessarily even procure this food themselves, and so they rely on friends and family to keep them fed for the first few weeks. Fortunately, if your mother is anything like mine, food is love and love is food and she will be more than willing to provide sustenance. So just go ahead and ask her so she can get a head start on helping you prep.
"What Was Your Birth Like?"
Of course not all mothers actually give birth. However, if your mom also happens to have been the woman whose uterus you resided in, go ahead and ask her what that was like. Why? Well, for starters, I believe that not enough women actually talk to each other about birth unless they've already done it. In general, it's a good thing to know about, but it's also beneficial that you glean wisdom from a variety of sources if you ever decide to take a bash at it. Secondly, a lot of women wind up having similar birth experiences as the women related to them (hello genetics, my old friend). Last but certainly not least, don't you just want to know? It's good bonding time!
This is, of course, assuming she did not regale you with the gory details of your own birth every birthday and Mother's Day. If she did, don't you complain, as that is her goddamn right.
"What Surprised You Most About Birth And/Or New Motherhood?"
There's always going to be some aspect of this whole baby and parenting business that catches you off-guard, no matter how much experience you have or reading you do. Still, it can't hurt to try to prepare for as many unknowns as possible. Chatting with your mom about what she didn't expect can help you have a better idea of what to prepare for.
"What Was I Like As A Baby?"
This is both for practical reasons (because, again, genetics can come creeping up on you) and simply to gain more general knowledge about how babies can be. It's also nice to watch your mom remember interacting with you as you will soon be interacting with your own little one.
"How Did You & Your Partner Co-Parent Effectively? If You Didn't, Why Not?"
Obviously if your mom didn't parent with a partner (or if you don't plan to) this is less relevant. However, if both you and your mom have a person in your life who will be (ideally) as involved as you in raising this child, it's a good idea to go in with eyes wide open. After all, parenting is something that requires considerable mental prep and has a steep learning curve. Trying to coordinate that with another person adds yet another level of difficulty to an already tremendous challenge. So if your parents worked well together, what specifically made that work? What took work? If they didn't work well together, why not? What made communication and cooperation difficult. This may well be a tough conversation, but it's definitely one worth having.
"Can I Have Your [Streaming Service] Password?"
Don't get it twisted: you're having a baby, but that doesn't mean you stop being your mama's baby. By definition, you will be mooching off her as much as possible for as long as possible. Hulu, Netflix, and HBO Go? We're Millennials: the gig economy doesn't pay for all that luxury. And even if you can afford it, I mean, why bother? You know your mom will hook you up.
As the parent of a newborn, you're going to be binge-watching a lot of TV. Get those passwords now.
"What Do You Think Worked Really Well For You?"
Chances are your mom is going to give you a ton of advice anyway. Unsolicited advice can be a ridiculous annoyance, so just go ahead and ask her. Not only does the ol' girl probably have a trick or two up her sleeve that will come in handy, but maybe, just maybe, directly asking will mean she'll get it all out of her system and you won't be bombarded with information you didn't ask for that is varying degrees of helpful.
"What Would You Have Done Differently?"
Again, this could be another difficult conversation, but one you can potentially get a lot of insight from.
"Would You Please Help/Not Help?"
Whether you want your mom to come stay with you to help out as you get the hang of things, or you need her to stay away while you get settled, have that conversation before you give birth. If you want her help, don't just presume she's going to drop everything to rush to your side: she has her own thing going on. Ask her and ask nicely and be thankful for what she is able to do. If you think your mom is going to go overboard in her desire to "help" and just wind up overwhelming you, let her know you want some one-on-one baby time before anyone comes over. Or that you need time to figure out what kind of help you'll need from her. Establish clear, explicitly stated boundaries and ask that she respect your wishes.
No matter what you need, there's a totally low-key, easy way to go about facilitating support. However, once you've popped out a baby and are tired and full of powerful hormones is not the time to attempt low-key anything.
"Can You Rub My Feet?"
Because, chance are, your mommy is one of the very few who will willingly rub your swollen, sweaty trotters. You're her baby, after all.