1st Time Mother’s Guide To Pregnancy & Preparing For Baby
1st Time Mother’s Guide To Pregnancy & Preparing For Baby
My twinkettes are 5 years, 10 months & 4 days old.
So you’ve done it. You have gotten a positive pregnancy test, and you are over the moon about it. A huge congratulations to you and your life partner. You may be feeling some fear and anxiety, especially as a first time mom, but I think a tad of it goes along with every pregnancy in general, no matter what baby you are on. It’s just certainly much more pronounced before you know what to expect, which is completely normal. You are NOT alone!
Here are some very important things to do during your pregnancy to ensure the best outcome for you, your baby and your future lives in general. This is geared mostly towards 1st time mom’s, but some repeat moms who started over again some years later may also benefit. I know I forgot a lot of stuff in the 9 and 1/2 years between my 2nd son and my 1st daughter.
1) Find a great doctor with a wonderful bedside manner, and one who also delivers at the hospital, if possible.
This may sound easy, but not so much. Not all doctors have this great bedside manner. And also, not all ob/gyn doctors deliver in hospitals anymore. There is a rise in residents delivering babies, so do ask this question going in. I have been through both scenarios, and I had my best, most relaxing birth experiences with the doctor I came to know and trust. If you don’t feel comfortable from day 1 with your doctor, and if they do not respect your opinions about things, including the hopes to fight for your birth plan if you have one, than move on to the next doctor. It’s a huge relationship, and it can make the difference between a happier more confident pregnancy and a more intimidating one. I know this well.
2) Always get proper pre-natal care and get all recommended tests done.
Don’t miss any of your prenatal appointments. You baby relies on you while inside of your body, so it is your job to keep up on his or her care, and also get the necessary ultrasounds, blood tests/ screenings, glucose testing, stress tests if needed and internal exams. Things that help ensure safety for him or her and some for the both of you. Lack of good prenatal care can lead to pre-term labor, pregnancy loss and unknown medical/ chromosomal conditions or birth defects that could have been detected much earlier. Some issues are even helped while your baby is still inside of the womb.
(Bad news about baby is far more rare than the flip side of things of course, but if any of these things DO happen, you do want to be in the know prior.. no surprises.)
3) Plan ahead. Don’t wait until the last minute to do important things such as:
a) Preparing a nursery.
You want to enjoy this, not be so large and tired that you can’t be a happy part of this very fun venture.
b) Pack your hospital bag early.
The big day might come sooner than you are expecting. Leave the bag in the backseat of the car if you wish. Some people are in such a rush they forget the bag at home. Don’t know what to pack? Read my article on what should be in your hospital bag.
c) Buy baby necessities (what you can buy) before the birth.
You don’t want to be running out buying things with a newborn. And you know it will all be at retail prices when you are rushing after the birth. It is called desperation 😆 . You want to be able to relax at home and enjoy your baby, having most everything you need handy. For newborn essentials for baby help, click the pink link to see an article I wrote years back. It will definitely help 1st timers, whether having twins or a single baby.
d) Think of baby names with your partner ahead of time.
Not doing so will lead to a nameless baby and possible baby name regret down the line. Keep the lines of communication alive on all fronts, throughout the pregnancy, and get that name ahead of time, or at LEAST narrow it down to one or two names to pan over. With our twins it was a process that was grueling, as we were preparing to leave the hospital with our babies still without names. (Not my fault, his, but force your man to open up about this early on.)
e) Know your fastest way to the hospital.
Plan the quickest route to the hospital, and go over it several times to ensure you don’t end up on the Discovery Health Channel 😛 . Nobody wants to get lost or misguided while in the throws of labor. Moms should drive the route too, just in case your hub is at work, etc. You need to know what you are doing ‘in case’ anything pops up, which can, so pay attention. Most of the time things work out OK, but being totally prepared is always best. You can also have some back-up drivers prepared also. Friends, family, etc.
4) Live life in a way that is healthy for your baby-to-be. Things to do are as follows:
a) Do not smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol.
9 months never meant so much for your baby’s health. He or she is depending on you to keep her sheltered from dangerous substances, including other drugs as well. Even steer clear of second hand smoke. That’s a plus for you both.
b) Take pre-natal vitamins with Folic Acid and DHA for brain development.
If you were trying to conceive having prenatal vitamins already in your system also helps, but do take them throughout the pregnancy at least, even beyond to help you out after the baby is born. The doctor does have supplements that include a stool softener in them in case you get backed up, which is a common pregnancy symptom. (Constipation.) The iron is important, so ask your doctor about this option should you need it. I know I did.
c) Drink plenty of water.
It is really good for you, you do NOT want to be dehydrated while pregnant, but it also helps the baby in keeping the amniotic fluid he or she is swimming in more plentiful. Plus, water helps flush out toxins in the body, and helps your digestive system move at a more regular pace.
d) Try and eat better than usual, unless you usually eat pretty healthy anyway.
You can succumb to your cravings sometimes, but you want to take in more than just empty calories. DO take your prenatal vitamins of course, but getting real nutrients through proper food helps with brain development for baby and more. Smart eating helps your baby and it also helps you to recover during the postpartum period more easily. You will lose weight faster and bounce back quicker. Curb your urge for certain foods that can be dangerous to pregnant women, such as Sushi, which for some reason I always crave during pregnancy. It can be dangerous. Too much fish (mercury) is also not good either. Eat smart, and you will give yourself and your growing child many benefits.
e) Be street smart.
Avoid dangerous places and situations (as many as you can assess) where there is a possibility of increased danger that could lead to falls, injuries and more. I fell on ice during my 3rd pregnancy. All was well, but I did get checked out by my doctor. Fortunately, it was early on in the pregnancy.
5) Take care of your body during pregnancy
You want to take care of yourself both inside and out. Exercising, on even a low to moderate level, helps keep your body strong for the pregnancy, labor and the pushing phase of things. This makes you less likely to need a c-section in some cases, and aids in a quicker postnatal recovery, which is what every woman wants. Plus, getting back into your skinny jeans faster never depressed a new mom, did it?
6) Don’t take any medications that your doctor is not aware of.
Certain medications can cause birth defects and pregnancy loss. If you are on medications, do put a list together and take it to your 1st prenatal appointment. Don’t just go off any necessary meds without speaking to a doctor first. Some medications are dangerous to do this with. Just make sure he or she knows about any of them, and if altering or weaning of a particular substance is needed it will be discussed at that 1st appointment. Like me you may be sent to a genetic counselor to discuss whether the pros and cons outweigh any risks, however, many times the doctor is capable of telling you himself. That just occurred with my 1st son. Doctors seem to have more knowledge about these things now.
7) Track your baby’s activity during your waking hours.
No, this doesn’t mean you have to stay up all night with your hand glued to your belly, but do be aware of your baby’s activity during the day. There is something called fetal kick counts. Sometimes these things can scare a woman. I personally bought an at home doppler, which for a minute a day really helped put my mind at ease. You can rent or buy. I was glad to buy and had a future pregnancy. They aren’t that expensive.
If you feel like your baby isn’t kicking and moving around as much as you are used to, you may wish to put in a call to your doctor. Don’t panic yourself. In most cases the baby is fine. They sleep a lot and their patterns for this can be impossible for you to follow, but it is very important to note if you do not feel fetal movement for a pronounced period of time during any specific day.
There is something called a kick count, but sometimes doing that made me a little bit edgy. Doctors do recommend them after a certain point in the pregnancy though. If you wish to know how to perform a fetal kick count, click the pink link.
8 ) Prepare yourself (and your partner) mentally for baby
Yes, you may have the nursery ready and your bags packed, but have you prepared yourself for the task of becoming a new mom? I know with my 1st I must have bought and read (no Internet) 50 books about pregnancy, birth and the beyond. You really can only prepare yourself so much that way, but with the world at your fingertips with the Internet now you can really learn A LOT about babies and childcare. Just don’t become overwhelmed. There will always be something that pops up that you are not prepared for, but you will make it through just fine. Don’t expect perfection from yourself nor your partner I might add, and everything will turn out fine.
Before your child is born you have no clue what love is. It was THE MOST special experience of my life when my son was born, and he was unplanned, and no matter how prepared I thought I was, there was always something I needed to go out and buy and a situation I wasn’t quite expecting. But I had faith in myself, and the experience was BEYOND beautiful, and I was only 19 years old. I can only call it magical. Becoming a mom for the 1st time is like nothing else in the world. Thinking about it 21 years later still brings a smile to my face and tears to my eyes at how fast it all went by.
Mentally prepare yourself and your partner for what life will be like after baby. Talk about a game plan for still getting to spend some time together and maintain what you had prior a bit, which I think is SUPER important. Talk about his and your perspective parenting techniques, make compromises along the way, talk about working as team players with the care of the baby, and remember that nobody is perfect. Not you, not your spouse.
Hang in there and this will truly be the most incredible experience of your life. I assure you of it!
9) Steer clear of stress whenever you can, and get your rest when you can as well.
Pregnancy is not the time to be taking on new and stressful business related tasks at work, or climbing mountains. Nor is it a time to allow people to upset you, as they will be putting their 2 cents in, especially with your 1st baby. I say if they are not beneficial during this time to you, than they are not worth the stress to your baby nor yourself and avoid these stress creators during your pregnancy. This is healthy for both you and baby, and also it just helps you to maintain the joy that should be involved in this experience. Some people and things are not worth your time and energy right now. You have more important things on tap. Don’t let anybody mess with the joy that you deserve!!
10) Don’t over-think your birth experience in ANY negative way, regardless of the outcome.
I don’t mean do not fight to have your baby the way you ‘dream of’, but know that if you end up caving in for drugs because you have never been through this before, and it’s easier to say than to do, you are NO LESS of a woman or a mom AT ALL!!! I don’t even know where the idea for that comes from! And if you end up needing a c-section, same thing. Even women who plan their c-sections.. come on! You are a MOM!!! (Case closed!)
No matter how your baby arrives into this crazy world it is sure to be special and incredible. A perfect, healthy baby is all that matters! Again, I’m all for having a birth plan and trying for what you want, but if it doesn’t work out PLEASE do not come down on yourself. Do not let it cloud the most exciting experience of your life.
The beautiful end result is always the most important part of your birth experience.
I personally wanted drugs with my 1st but there were issues that should have required a c-section, but I did not get one. I blame the hospital for that. Sure I didn’t want one, but the situation did warrant one. (That was 21 years ago.. don’t get scared. Times have changed.) I did not get any drugs, but not because of ME. The 2nd I had a doula and was fine. I have an exceptionally high pain tolerance from having labor like pains from IBS, so I can tolerate quite a bit. When I was 29 I decided to go total epidural, and I didn’t feel ANY differently about myself for it. I just felt like a more relaxed experience. I loved it in all honesty.
My twins were coming so fast, despite one breech I did not get any intervention. I also did have a vaginal birth, so don’t expect that you can’t get one with one baby or twins. I don’t feel any more or less proud of myself or my experiences having done them one way or the other. I got to try them different ways. Just so you know you should adapt the same mindset too! True labor only lasts so long, but the labor of love lasts an eternity!
A happy & healthy baby (or babies) to you! God bless!