When you’re expecting—or expecting to be expecting—there are so many little things to research about, plan for and cross off your checklist before the baby arrives. Whether it’s sticking to a diet that will nourish you and your bundle of joy, narrowing down the right OB-GYN and medical professionals to guide you each step of the way or designing and setting up the perfect nursery, there are plenty of critical (but exciting!) aspects of the pregnancy journey.
Whether you’re just considering whether you want to have a child or you’re already into your term, this simple guide will help you make sure you’re prepped and know what to expect for various aspects of your pregnancy. Listen to today’s episode of the Gwinnett Podcast as we break down five important steps and help prepare you for a wonderful pregnancy until your bundle of joy is here!
- Discovering the Right Doctor for You
Your choice of an OB-GYN is entirely personal. Get references from family and friends and meet with a few. You want one with a good bedside manner who communicates well and shares your ideas about the birthing experience.
Some obstetricians have midwives on staff Research shows that midwives are less likely to propose unnecessary interventions at the birth unless they are medically essential.
Make sure your OB-GYN and/or midwife is listed on your insurance plan and will deliver at your chosen hospital.
You’ll also need to find a pediatrician. Since your relationship with a pediatric practice represents a long-term commitment, choose wisely. Again, your best bet is word-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends.
2. Staying Healthy
You are eating for two. When you maintain a healthy, balanced diet you are giving your baby a healthy start, too.
Follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding vitamin and mineral supplementation and what to eat and drink (or not). Avoid smoking and alcoholic beverages. Got an exercise routine? Enjoy a favorite sport? Keep it up, but clear it with your doctor just in case. It’s probably best to put off bungee jumping for the next nine months.
3. Making Room for Baby
If you’re even minimally creative, or have a flair for design, you’re likely envisioning the perfect place for baby – down to the color of the window curtains and what kind of teddy bears, butterflies, kittens, or kites you want floating above the crib either as a mobile or decorating the ceiling.
The good news is that warmth and love and caring attention to health are much more vital to a newborn’s happiness than that lavish room you saw on Pinterest. Newborns don’t need fancy cribs or designer clothes. (Some very responsible parents I know actually nestled their newborn in a dresser drawer by their bedside for the first few weeks. Today, he’s a graduate student at Harvard. Who knew?)
Besides a safe, warm sleeping area, all you may need are a changing table. a conveniently located wastebasket to discard dirty diapers, milk bottles. a breast pump, plenty of burping pads for over-the-shoulder spit-ups, a baby carrier or sling and formula if not breastfeeding.
4. Exploring Birthing Options
You’ve heard all the birth stories, from babies that pop out in the back of taxicabs to the agonizing 36-hour labor. Neither of these scenarios are the norm.
Of course, you can’t prevent nature from taking its course, but you do have options as to how you’d prefer to deliver your baby.
Whether you want a home birth or hospital delivery, and whether you are aiming for natural childbirth or a scheduled C-section, the more knowledge you have, the more relaxed you’ll be when your baby wants out.
Read books. Listen to other moms’ stories. Discuss options with your OB-GYN. And definitely enroll in a childbirth education class. Local hospitals may offer them year-round, and some may be available online.
Ideally you should attend classes with the person who will be with you at delivery. That person will be your calm and patient guide, so you want to make sure they can help you through the big event the way you want.
5. Choosing the Right Hospital
Delivering your baby in a hospital gives you immediate access to labor and delivery professionals, nurses, and doctors and advanced medical equipment. Even if your delivery is smooth as silk, it’s comforting to have these resources at hand.
Larger hospitals have women’s centers, often in a separate wing, with specially trained labor and delivery staff who provide a high level of expertise, comfort and understanding to ease your birthing journey. They may also have birthing rooms that allow you to walk around during labor and even sit in a bathtub.
Some hospitals allow a quiet post-birth mother-and-baby bonding hour. Skin-to-skin contact, listening to your heartbeat, and feeling your warmth helps your baby adjust to life outside the womb and tune into your voice and touch.
Another benefit to a hospital birth is breastfeeding instruction. Having a certified lactation consultant by your side will give you much-needed confidence that your baby is getting enough of the perfect nutrition that breast milk provides. That nutrition includes antibodies that protect against infection. Another benefit to breastfeeding is that it helps your uterus shrink to normal size. Besides, it’s free.
Tour the hospital in advance so when the big day comes you’ll know the fastest route to get there and where to park, and you know your way around the labor and delivery area. The staff will give you a list of personal items to pack and have ready. Key among these are your photo ID, your insurance card, your cell phone and charger and a camera.
Keep that frilly outfit from Grandma at home! Your hospital will provide you with the basics to care for your newborn after the birth, such as diapers, wipes, a t-shirt and formula if you are bottle-feeding. For the car ride home, you must have a properly installed newborn car seat.
A Final Word
Just remember that childbirth is natural. Women have been having babies for tens of thousands of years and chances are excellent for a wonderful outcome for you and your bundle of joy.