Congratulations! A new baby is something so many people dream of, and is a little miracle all of its own. But it does take a lot of preparation to be ready for your bundle of joy. Regardless of whether this is your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 8th baby, the whole pregnancy is still a magical thing, and the whole process is amazing and tiring and emotional. The first baby might be more so, purely because everything is brand new. But you’ll find that no two pregnancies are the same. And it doesn’t matter if the baby is a surprise if it was planned, fought for or adopted, there are things you need to be doing to prepare for the new member of your family.
Read the books straight away. You don’t need to know how to deliver the baby, but having an idea of how you baby is growing can only be beneficial. And the sooner you can start preparing for the actual birth the better. You can learn so much from the books, from how to connect with your baby while they are still in the womb, and how to care for yourself. Partners should be paying attention too – while mom is growing and looking after baby, it’s your job to be looking after her. Just remember that every birth is different, and you will learn tips and tricks over the coming months (and years) that they can’t tech you in a book. Besides, there is no such thing as a textbook baby.
Nothing can help you more to prepare than some hands-on experience. Take the birthing classes and learn how to be a fantastic birthing partner or techniques to cope with the pain. Also, take pregnancy fitness classes – water classes and yoga are great for dealing with the aches and pains of pregnancy, and you can keep them up with baby after. The general advice from midwives when it comes o exercise is that if you are used to exercising a lot, then you won’t have any issues, you will have to change how you do things – but for the most part, you can follow Serena Williams’ example and keep doing what you love. And if you don’t exercise normally, don’t put your body under any strain – water classes are great as the water supports you and baby while you’re moving, but if you’re worried, just ask your midwife.
It is time for you to look at what you are eating and drinking. There shouldn’t be a need for supplements in a healthy mom, but for some, particularly ones with allergies like dairy, or dietary choices like veggie and vegan, you might have to take some tablets to up the vitamins and minerals in your body. Your cravings, if you have them, will kick in around the third trimester, so up until that point, you should be eating as normally as you can. Morning sickness doesn’t make it easy, but if it is bad enough that you can’t eat properly at all, your doctor can help with medication. Regardless of any of this, you do need to cut out (or down) the caffeine and amp up the healthy eating. There is so much evidence that alcohol can harm the baby and it is strongly advised that you stop drinking alcohol from the moment you find out you are pregnant. The same goes for cigarettes – try and quit as soon as possible.
Depending on your work, there might be an element of risk for baby if you continue, even straight away. For women who work in the public services, or do a lot of manual labour, it will be advised that you take a step back for the duration of your pregnancy. That does not mean that you won’t be working, you just might be placed in more of an admin role for a while. Most companies will also have to risk assess pregnant women. Talk to your line manager and find out your company policy, and find out your rights with this maternity and paternity guide. You’ll have your due date and the dates for your appointments, so just get everything booked off and in place as soon as possible and you’ll feel a lot less stressed about it.
Around the third trimester, the nesting hormone kicks in, and you will want to get everything ready for baby. But doing things like painting a room is out of the safety bounds for a heavily pregnant woman. So get that bit sorted before this point. Leave the building of furniture for when you can do it together. Just because you’re pregnant does not mean you can’t cope, but you do need to think about what is safe for baby too. Besides, when you’re in your third trimester, you’re not going to want to move that much. A much more desirable job is putting away all the baby clothes, the millions of muslin squares, and putting all the finishing touches to the room. For first time parents, in particular, building a nursery is such a great bonding experience, and can help you both to feel more ready. And if you have other children, getting them involved in building the nursery can help them feel more involved and more at peace with the idea of a new baby. This can be a very tricky time for kids, particularly smaller children who don’t fully understand why this little pink thing is coming into their home and taking a lot of mommy’s and daddy’s attention. So getting them involved in each step can help them get used to the idea, and feel like they have a say in things too.
Luckily, through gifts and your manic shopping, you should have everything you need for baby. But as a tip to new parents; buy more burp cloths, buy more nappies, and buy a range of sized clothes – most gift-givers will buy a load of newborn outfits and baby grows, but your baby is going to grow out of them far sooner than you think, so make a progressive wardrobe. It is also an idea to buy a couple of premature sized clothes, but to keep the tags on. You don’t want to tempt fate, but you also want to be prepared, especially if you have had premature babies in the past. Get ready for future months and get in teething rings and sensory toys. And be ready for midnight feeding with a feeding chair. Do the research and see which ‘must-need’ products aren’t needed at all. The Bump has a ‘what to, and what not to buy’ guide for new parents.
On the topic of baby feeding – have you thought about whether you are going to be breast feeding or not? Midwives will advise you to try, but it isn’t the end of the world if you choose not to, or even if you find it too hard. Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, and you shouldn’t feel pressured into it. If you are determined to breastfeed, then fantastic. It’s advised that you feed solely from the breast for the first three months so that the baby doesn’t get confused when switching between breast and bottle all the time, but after that, you can express, and your partner can take over half of the feedings. Get in a supply of nipple cream for when they get sore from feeding, and get in an expressing machine and know how to use it before you have to do it for real – you don’t want your first time to be when baby is crying, and your partner is out. If you’re bottle feeding from the getgo, practice making formula and knowing what is the right temperature for baby. This is more of a tip for first-time parents, and seasoned parents will have feeding down to a T. Regardless on how you are feeding, your breasts aren’t going to know what decision you have made and will keep producing milk, so get in those very attractive pads to mop up any leaks.