Prepare for Baby: What to DO Before B-day
One of the most infamous aspects of pregnancy is the famed “nesting instinct.” I always appreciated the comparison to birds and the obvious animalistic connection. (That’s sarcasm.) But my feelings about the name aside, I have to say there is a strange pull to prepare that seems to accompany the last stage of pregnancy. It is possible that it even borders on the irrational side. My husband seems to feel a need to increase adult supervision (a well-thought plan in all honesty) and to hide power tools, paint brushes, ladders, and anything he deems excessive. For some women, it’s a compulsion to clean like they’re disinfecting a surgical room, and for others, it’s nursery-related. For some women, it’s simply a long to-do list that has no rhyme or reason to its contents. This instinct seems to give a surge in energy and a complete lapse in judgment about what we can do. So to help calm the crazy and put things in the proper perspective, here is what really needs to be done before the baby comes.
Regular prenatal check-ups are a fundamental aspect of a healthy and trustworthy pregnancy. Understanding their importance can greatly benefit both the expectant mother and the developing baby. These check-ups are typically scheduled throughout the course of pregnancy, starting early in the first trimester and continuing until the baby’s birth. Here’s why they are essential:
- Monitoring Pregnancy Progress: Prenatal check-ups allow healthcare providers to monitor the progress of the pregnancy. They track the unborn baby’s growth, the mother’s overall health, and any potential complications that may arise.
- Detecting and Managing Complications: Regular visits enable healthcare professionals to detect and address potential complications early on. Conditions like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and genetic abnormalities can be identified and managed more effectively when detected promptly.
- Ensuring Proper Nutrition: Healthcare providers can offer guidance on proper nutrition during pregnancy, ensuring the mother gets essential vitamins and nutrients necessary for the baby’s development.
- Addressing Maternal Well-Being: Pregnancy can bring about physical and emotional changes. Healthcare providers can address concerns about weight gain, mood swings, fatigue, and other issues, providing support and guidance.
- Preparing for Labor and Birth: As the due date approaches, healthcare providers can discuss birth plans, and pain management options, and provide information on what to expect during labor and delivery.
Maternity and Paternity Leave
Maternity and paternity leave are crucial aspects of preparing for the arrival of a new baby. It’s essential to understand the options available and navigate workplace policies and benefits effectively. Many countries have legal provisions for maternity leave, ensuring job security and income for expectant mothers. Paternity leave is becoming increasingly recognized, allowing fathers to bond with their newborns and support their partners during this significant life transition. Employers often offer varying durations of paid or unpaid leave, and understanding these policies is vital for planning. Exploring these options and communicating with HR departments can help expectant parents make informed decisions about their time off, ensuring a balance between work and family during this special time.
Preparing the Home
Preparing the home for a new baby is a crucial step in ensuring their safety and well-being. To baby-proof your living space effectively, start by identifying potential hazards at your baby’s eye level. Cover electrical outlets, secure cords and cables out of reach, and use safety gates to block off staircases or rooms with potential dangers. Furniture should be anchored to the wall to prevent tipping, and sharp edges can be cushioned with corner protectors. Lock away cleaning supplies, medications, and other hazardous materials in childproof cabinets.
When setting up the nursery, prioritize a comfortable and safe environment. Ensure the crib meets safety standards with a firm mattress and fitted sheets. Remove any suffocation hazards, such as pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals, from the crib. Install window blinds with cordless designs and use safety latches on drawers and cabinets. Keep small objects out of reach, as babies tend to put everything in their mouths. Lastly, install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in the home, and familiarize yourself with basic first aid procedures. Baby-proofing takes effort, but it’s a crucial step in creating a secure and nurturing environment for your little one.
Emotional preparedness is a significant aspect of the journey to parenthood, and it’s essential to acknowledge the wide range of emotions that can accompany this life-changing experience. Bonding with your baby is a beautiful, yet sometimes challenging, process. Many parents feel an instant connection, while others may take more time to establish that strong emotional tie. It’s perfectly normal for feelings of love, joy, and even anxiety to coexist. Spending quality time with your baby, such as skin-to-skin contact, cuddling, and talking to them, can strengthen this bond over time.
Coping with stress is another critical aspect of emotional preparedness. Parenthood can bring about stressors related to sleep deprivation, changing routines, and the sheer responsibility of caring for a newborn. Communication between partners is key, as it allows for shared responsibilities and emotional support. Don’t hesitate to seek help from friends, family, or professionals if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Remember that self-care is essential; taking breaks, practicing relaxation techniques, and seeking moments of solitude can all contribute to emotional well-being.
Additionally, understanding that it’s okay to experience a wide array of emotions and that seeking help or counseling is a sign of strength can make the journey into parenthood smoother. Building a support network, including other parents who have experienced similar emotions, can also be invaluable. Ultimately, emotional preparedness involves acknowledging and accepting the complex feelings that come with parenthood and taking steps to ensure your emotional well-being throughout this transformative experience.
- Create a Baby Budget: Start by reviewing your current financial situation and creating a dedicated budget for baby-related expenses. This budget should cover both short-term costs (like medical bills and baby gear) and long-term considerations (such as childcare and education).
- Healthcare Costs: Understand your health insurance coverage and anticipate medical expenses related to prenatal care, labor and delivery, and postpartum check-ups. Consider setting up a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to save for these costs pre-tax.
- Baby Gear and Supplies: Make a list of essential baby items, such as a crib, car seat, stroller, diapers, formula (if not breastfeeding), clothing, and baby hygiene products. Look for sales, discounts, and second-hand options to save on initial costs.
- Emergency Fund: Build or strengthen your emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses that may arise during pregnancy and after the baby’s arrival. Aim for at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses.
- Financial Assistance: Look into government assistance programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which can provide support for low-income families.
Consider your birthing options. There are several birthing options available, and the choice often depends on individual preferences, medical considerations, and the guidance of healthcare professionals. Here are some common birthing options:
- Vaginal Delivery:
- This is the most common method, where the baby is born through the birth canal. It may involve various techniques, such as natural childbirth or assisted delivery with forceps or vacuum extraction.
- Cesarean Section (C-Section):
- In a C-section, the baby is delivered through an incision made in the mother’s abdomen and uterus. It is recommended in certain medical situations or when complications arise during labor.
- Water Birth:
- Some women choose to give birth in a specially designed birthing pool. The buoyancy of water can provide pain relief and a calming environment during labor.
- Home Birth:
- Giving birth at home with the assistance of a midwife or a qualified healthcare provider is an option for low-risk pregnancies. It allows for a more personalized and intimate birthing experience.
- Birthing Centers:
- These centers offer a middle ground between hospital and home births. They provide a home-like setting with medical support available if needed.
- Natural Childbirth:
- This approach involves minimal medical interventions, focusing on natural pain management techniques like breathing exercises, movement, and massage.
- Epidural and Pharmacological Pain Relief:
- Some women opt for epidural anesthesia or other pain-relief medications during labor to manage pain and discomfort.
- Induction and Augmentation:
- Induction involves stimulating contractions before labor begins naturally, while augmentation involves enhancing labor that has already started.
It’s important for expectant parents to discuss these options with their healthcare providers, attend prenatal classes, and create a birth plan that reflects their preferences and values. Each birthing option has its own considerations and benefits, and the decision should be made based on individual health, circumstances, and informed choices.
What Exercises Are Safe During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, it’s crucial to engage in exercises that are safe and beneficial for both the mother and the developing baby. Gentle and low-impact exercises are generally recommended.
- Walking: One of the safest and simplest exercises. It’s low-impact and can be done throughout the entire pregnancy.
- Swimming: Provides a full-body workout without putting stress on the joints. It also helps relieve swelling and discomfort.
- Prenatal Yoga: Specifically designed for pregnant women, it focuses on gentle stretching, breathing, and relaxation. It can help improve flexibility and reduce stress.
- Low-Impact Aerobics: Low-impact aerobics classes designed for pregnant women can help maintain cardiovascular fitness without putting too much strain on the joints.
- Stationary Cycling: Provides a good cardiovascular workout without the risk of falling. Make sure the seat is comfortable, and the handlebars are adjusted correctly.
- Pilates: Prenatal Pilates can help strengthen core muscles, improve posture, and enhance flexibility. Ensure the instructor is certified in prenatal Pilates.
- Modified Strength Training: Using light weights or resistance bands can help maintain muscle tone. Avoid heavy weights and focus on proper form.
Always listen to your body, and if you experience any pain, dizziness, or discomfort, stop the exercise and consult your healthcare provider. Additionally, if you have any pre-existing conditions or complications, your healthcare provider may provide specific recommendations tailored to your situation. Regular check-ins with your healthcare provider are essential to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.
The Ultimate Pre-B Day To-Do List:
- Set up the crib/bassinet
- Wash baby clothes – at least the ones you’re going to need in the first week. I recommend waiting on the other sizes and going mainly for the newborn size. If you don’t know the sex of your baby (like we don’t), either wash both boy and girl clothes, or just the gender-neutral ones. Keep tags on all new clothes (if possible) until after your baby is here.
- Stock your freezer and fridge – not just with groceries but meals! Don’t forget to stock the pantry with easy-to-make boxed meals and breakfast cereals. It’s all about simplifying!
- Create your birth plan and make several copies, but read and prepare for anything.
- Create your backup plans – these are the life plans surrounding the birth.
- Who will the kids/pets stay with?
- Who will take you to the hospital?
- If your spouse is working, what will you do?
- Arrange school pick-ups and notifications.
- Who’s coming to help, and when? How are they getting here?
- Organize the help – you’ll have lots of offers, so take them! Arrange for meals to be brought in, child care, and help with cleaning or daily life if needed.
- Research and take childbirth classes – usually 8 weeks in advance.
- Schedule a tour of the hospital and get acquainted with its policies and procedures to avoid surprises. This is also a great time to arrange admission and skip paperwork during contractions or your afterbirth exhaustion.
- Pack your hospital bag.
- Bring hospital snacks for you and your parenting partner
- Review labor stages and relief methods.
- Post phone numbers for doctors, the hospital, and advice lines in a visible location, and program them into your phones.
- Practice for labor as best as you can.
- Research insurance policies and what you need to do to add the new baby.
- Create a list of names (sometimes the one you picked out just doesn’t fit, so have some backups).
- Put a few towels in your car in case your water breaks before you get to the hospital.
- Be familiar with where your hospital is and possible alternate routes. Stay tuned to traffic and weather forecasts as you get closer to B-day to avoid timely detours or getting lost.
- Have your car seat ready to go, either installed or just accessible in a hurry.
If you get this all done and still have the itch to clean, rearrange, or refinish, go for it. Just remember to take it easy and rest often. As a rule of thumb I always ask myself “Is my husband going to flip if he finds out I’ve done this?” if the answer is YES, I try to restrain myself because it usually means I shouldn’t be doing it while 9 + months pregnant. If you really want to do it anyway, at least give him the courtesy of alerting him beforehand and inviting him to join you.
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