Once the excitement of your baby’s presence has set in, and your pregnancy progresses through its beautiful and sometimes challenging phases, there are many important tasks to focus on as you prepare yourself for “go-time.”
As any mother who’s been through this before, I know that the more informed and organized you are, the easier things can play out.
Here is a simple list of things to think about during your pre-baby months that are worthy of some apt attention and a little strategic planning! They are important things, not just for your baby – but for your mental health as well.
- Who is on Your Medical Team? Having a good medical team is pretty critical. As such, you want to make sure the right people and places will be surrounding you and providing guidance through your journey.
- The Baby Doctor – You want your doctors to be a good fit for you as they will be supporting you throughout your pregnancy and during birth. You should try to get referrals from friends or family members if you can – because the right OB/GYN practice can make all the difference during prenatal care. Relying on the expertise of a trusted doctor will also make you feel as secure and comfortable as possible when it’s time to deliver your baby, which veteran moms know is really important!
- Hospital – If you will be delivering in a hospital, you will want to take a tour of the maternity ward and delivery room ahead of time, allowing you to calmly know what to expect when you’re in labor. Make sure the facility is a good one; find out if there are private or shared rooms. Knowing in advance what your surroundings will likely be can really be helpful!
- Pediatrician – You will also want to select a pediatrician for your baby before his/her arrival on the scene. It is definitely a decision worthy of some pretty discerning research. You potentially will be spending many years relying on the good medical advice that comes from this office!
What’s Your Birth Day Strategy?
When considering options for delivery, it’s important to understand your choices may more accurately be described as guidelines – to be explored in advance with your healthcare providers. Because of all the variables of delivery, it is better to think of things as subject to change!
- Delivery Options – In the months before baby, consider your birth plan. A birth plan includes all the options you need to learn about and understand before your due date relating to the actual birth of your baby and the time just following. There are so many birth methods for moms today and gathering information to suit your preferences and personal needs can really help you manage anxiety as your baby’s arrival nears. Will you have a natural birth, or is caesarean an option or necessity for you? Will you give birth in a hospital or at home? Will you have a mid-wife?
- Pain Meds – As you consider birth, you will need to make decisions about pain medication. Read up on all choices, in case you change your mind on the day of delivery. This way, you won’t be surprised by any risks or side effects should your plan go off course, or if you end up requiring an epidural or general anesthesia for an unplanned caesarean. Make sure you discuss your preferences for pain management with the doctor who will be delivering your baby. As well, consider taking some Lamaze classes with your spouse. I found them super helpful. Even with pain medication, it’s a helpful class to have had under your belt!
- Breast or Bottle Feed? After your baby is born, you will need to answer the question of breast feed or bottle feed pretty much immediately. This is a big decision and there are many other choices that spring from this following delivery. For example, will you want the nurses to do some feedings if you choose formula (not a bad idea as far as resting up is concerned)? Will you want to rent a breast pump to take home if they have them available? If you are breastfeeding, will you wish to work with a lactate consultant? To help you make the decision on what will be best for you, read up! You can begin with articles like Why Breastfeed Your Baby? on this site.
- Other Hospital Stay Considerations – Consider as well, who you will want with you in the delivery room and who might ask to visit you in the hospital after you have your baby. Some parents prefer to limit this group to immediate family and close friends only, as mothers are often tired and overwhelmed during this time, healing and bonding with baby. Other considerations for prospective parents include things like will your baby be circumcised? If you would like to read more about the basics of this procedure, you can consult the article, Circumcision Basics on WebMD. Additionally, you may want to research the benefits of banking your baby’s cord blood after delivery. This can be an interesting and advantageous option for you and your newborn. For more information consult websites like Cells for Life if you live in Canada or ViaCord or CBR Cord Blood Registry if you live in the United States. It is a simple process, but will need to be in place before you go into the hospital.
Help After Baby – Plan to Get Help
After the baby is born, it is time to bring in the troops, if you have access to help. You will want to consider the following as you plan for the weeks immediately following baby’s arrival.
- Baby Back-Up – Who will be your reinforcement when the baby gets home and how long will they stay? This is the time to schedule your mom or close friend to be available to help out during the first week – and provide whatever assistance you might need. Have a schedule mapped out in advance so there are no surprises. Consider that you will also need them to go when its time.
- Set Boundaries in Advance – Limitations are important when you have a baby. If you think out-of-town company may be overwhelming in the first week or even few weeks, you may want to try some damage control before the fact by setting up reasonable plans for baby meeting. Don’t be afraid to say what is best for you, as right after the baby is born, you may not be your best.
- Consider or Prepare Easy Meals – As you get close to go-time, consider cooking and freezing some meals in advance or getting a good crockpot book. You will want some healthy meals fast and at the ready to support you as you learn the ropes. Remember that being flexible and understanding that things don’t have to be perfect is a good outlook to adopt.
- Address Daddy’s Schedule – Additionally, you will want your baby’s dad to request some time off from work for the birth and perhaps some time after, so he can both support you and bond with baby.
- Work and Daycare – As well, you will want to consider your work situation. If you will be returning to work, what will your daycare be at that time? You will want to check out facilities. The most important thing is that you feel wholly comfortable with your options before the baby arrives. This issue can sometimes be a great source of stress for expecting parents, but remember, you really can work everything out with a little diligence and care.
Baby Gear: What Do You Really Need?
This topic is an exciting one and can be addressed as you register for your baby shower. Deciding on what gear you will need is fun, but can also be pretty important. Keep in mind that you really only need the basics. This pretty much includes a car seat, a crib, a good stroller, and a high chair or baby chair. Add to that some essential supplies like diapers, baby lotions and baby rash cream, crib sheets, and layette and you are good to go. Everything else is gravy, and may even be best decided after baby comes. You really do find what works best for you and baby in the moment. But take recommendations! Good products can really help you along the way.
Expecting the Unexpected
Here’s the thing. With any birth story, you need to expect the unexpected. Sometimes things go very smoothly, but many times, and this is just some straight truth, girls, things go a little askew. When this happens, you must be able to adjust to the fact that we are not always in control when it comes to matters concerning baby. Truthfully, this may be how it feels from here on out – or at least for a while!
But the point is, that although you have made all these wonderful plans and have certain expectations of how things will go during birth and beyond, you must also be prepared to roll with things when you need to. Everything can’t go perfectly smooth, and oftentimes, does not. But, you can handle any situation, so by expecting the unexpected, you’ll be in a really good place to live and learn.
Toward this effort, do some minimal reading up on possible alternatives to your alternatives: like what it is like to get an epidural (if you have chosen to go the no pain meds route), or what it is like to have a caesarean (even if you really want to have a natural birth). Just give yourself some permission to re-route, might a Plan B become necessary.
What’s Your “Get-Back-to-You” Plan?
After baby comes, it might take a bit of time to find yourself again, especially if this is your first go-round. This may include things like feeling a loss of freedom, being exhausted all the time while trying to function, perhaps feeling a little out of sorts, and even being upset about that baby weight you can’t lose. All this comes alongside the greatest joy and love you may well ever feel. In order to be prepared for more than a bit of emotional turbulence, try to be very healthy during your pregnancy. You want to be as physically fortified as possible going into your game day as possible.
Gaining too much weight during pregnancy may make it a bit harder after to return to your old self. Make sure once the baby comes, you exercise and continue eating healthfully so you can be at your best. Get enough sleep and ask for help as you wait your baby’s arrival. You might want to read my article Power Tips for New Moms | Owning Your Unique Motherhood on HubPages.com. Remember, life is hard for moms and having a new baby takes a lot of patience and adjustment. You’re going to be great, but nurturing yourself has to be pretty high on the to-do list.
If at any time, you think you are experiencing a bit too much sadness after your baby comes, you should contact your doctor immediately, or tell someone that can get you the help you need. Joy is a common emotion after a baby is born, but sadness can be normal, too, so if it rears its head, you can be ready with the knowledge you are not alone.
After Baby – Play to Win
There will be crying, there will be less sleep; it will be hard to go out sometimes. But you will have your baby to make all this difficulty just a mere distraction to the love you have gained. The sooner you and your spouse embrace life with your new family, the faster you will become pros. Plan to go out, know your stroller and your car seat will be one of your greater assets and look into what baby classes might be fun to take with your little one.
There are a lot of fun activities out there for mom and baby. Explore things you might find interesting as you await baby’s arrival. And remember, while you have time to dream of the days you will be carting your child in tow, plan to take time for yourself and your spouse, too! Building a strong mommy/daddy relationship will be one of the best things you can do for your baby. These things are critical and help you to be a better nurturer, before and after the baby is born. Good luck – I know you will be great!
Author Bio: Amie Butchko is a busy mom, wife and freelance writer who tackles issues of parenting, education, medicine and religion as well as does business writing for clients. She lives in Warwick, NY, with her husband and three kids. You can view some samples of her work at http://amiebutchko.hubpages.com/ or visit her website at abwebedits.com.