You’re having a baby! If you have no idea what to do next, you’re not alone. MH fills you in on the most important things to put on your list
WORDS EIMEAR ELKINGTON
Congratulations! You’re having a baby! While you’re over the moon about your newly discovered news, you may also be wondering what exactly you need to do next. Well, besides filling the husband in, here are the most important things to put on your list.
Choose a Prenatal Clinic and Book Your First Appointment
You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your doctor and obstetrician over the next nine months, so it’s important to find physicians you have a good rapport with. If you don’t have a regular doctor, try visiting a few clinics to see which suits you best – think about the doctor’s qualifications and bedside manner we well as the location and opening hours of the practice.
Once you’ve decided on a doctor, it’s time to schedule your first prenatal appointment, which will generally be conducted 10 to 12 weeks into your pregnancy. This important first appointment may take over an hour and your doctor will discuss your medical history, take your measurements, and give you information about your pregnancy and lifestyle.
Get Your Body in Tiptop Shape
A healthy lifestyle is crucial during pregnancy for both yourself and your growing bub. First things first, ensure you’re getting enough folic acid into your diet, which is an essential nutrient for your baby and can prevent diseases like spina bifida. Also consider taking a prenatal supplement to fill any nutritional gaps and ensure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you need. Both prenatal vitamins and folic acid supplements can be purchased from any good pharmacist.
If you’re not already, start to include lots of fruits and vegetables into your diet, as well as whole grains and lean proteins. Variety is the spice of life and by eating a wide range of fresh foods you’ll help ensure your developing baby is receiving all the nutrients they need. As well as healthy eating, make the time for some light exercise every day. Avoid any contact sports, or games that risk falling, and opt instead for walking, swimming or relaxing yoga. Exercise during pregnancy will help you keep fit, relieve stress and minimise excess weight gain. It will also help you sleep better, which is important during pregnancy – aim for eight hours every night.
Learn How to Avoid the Pregnancy No-Nos
There’s no need to panic, but there are certain foods and products that can be harmful during pregnancy and should be avoided. These include cold meats, uncooked seafood and soft cheeses (as they may harbour harmful bacteria), and overly caffeinated beverages like Coke Light and espresso. It goes without saying that you’ll also need to ditch the alcohol and cigarettes, and be aware that any cigarette smoke, even passive smoking, can have a detrimental effect on your growing bub.
You’ll also need to be careful with any medications you’re taking during your pregnancy, even over-the-counter products. Consult the label for any warnings for pregnant women and check any concerns with your pharmacist or gynaecologist. Make it your mission to be informed about what you should and shouldn’t be consuming during your pregnancy, and if in doubt always get professional advice.
Prepare Yourself for the (Not So Fun) Symptoms of Pregnancy
Your body undergoes massive changes during pregnancy and this can result in strange, and sometimes unwanted, side effects. Some of the common pregnancy symptoms include morning sickness, fatigue, cravings, breakouts and itchy skin. Every pregnancy is different and no two women will experience exactly the same symptoms, however it’s worth investigating some skin saviours and nausea remedies that work for you – just in case!
Figure Out Your Finances
One thing is for sure – babies are expensive! They’re worth every cent of course, but it’s wise to pay attention to your financial situation early on. Sit down and work out a budget, remembering to consider all your necessary first-parent costs like prams, cots and baby clothes as well as ongoing baby costs like nappies, baby food and medical visits. Have a conversation with your partner about how to accommodate these additional costs and consider making budget adjustments now.
Decide When to Break the News
One of the most exciting parts of a new pregnancy is sharing the news with family and friends. As for when to spill the beans? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer – some people can’t wait to share, but many others wait until the end of the first trimester (when the risk of miscarriage drops and you can be more sure your pregnancy is progressing normally). Whatever you decide, make sure it’s a joint decision with your partner and think about how you might share the news – in person, over the phone or via a Facebook post.
When you’ve decided to tell everyone your big news, don’t forget about your HR department at work. They’ll be able to fill you in on your rights and obligations for your job and give you all the details you need about maternity leave.
Get Your Partner Involved
Never underestimate the power of honest communication with your partner. Many future dads can feel just as scared and overwhelmed about having a baby as you do, and it will bring you both closer to have open and sincere discussions throughout this journey. Talk about your fears and your emotions and explain all the physical symptoms too – making your partner feel included will improve the experience for both of you.
Make time to discuss with your partner some important parenting decisions – will you find out the sex of your baby, will you bring your child up in a religious faith, will you educate your child in a certain way? Having these conversations before your baby is born will ensure you’re both aligned from day one. Most importantly – laugh and get excited together about the beautiful new life you’re creating.
Brainstorm Some Baby Names
For many women, deciding on a name is one of the most exciting parts of having a baby! Will you pick a traditional name, a family name or even made-up a name? Sit down with your partner or a friend and draw up a list of possibilities, remembering to consider how well it matches with your last name and how easy it will be to pronounce. It’s fun to have a few names in mind, but many women feel they need to meet their little one before making the final decision – especially if you don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl!
Load Up On Information
Having all the information you need may help put your mind at rest and ease any pregnancy nerves. We’re here to help you with all your mothering needs, and be sure to check out pregnancy apps and free online resources. It’s also a great idea to join a birth club in your area too; no one understands the joys and challenges of pregnancy quite like other expectant mums.
Enjoy the Journey
These next nine months are going to change your life more than you could possibly imagine. There will be challenges, there will be sleepless nights, but there will also be achievements and highlights and so much love and joy. Make time to sit back, relax and enjoy the process of being pregnant – your body is creating an amazing miracle and it deserves some credit. Consider also making a pregnancy keepsake – a journal, blog, or photo series to help you document your thoughts and feelings throughout the process of becoming a mum.