The test came back... and it's positive! This is exciting news, there's a bun in the oven! Whether it was unplanned, planned or eagerly worked on for years with patience and IVF, a new baby is always exciting news. After telling everyone and enjoying that rush of excitement, things settle down a little and the morning sickness rolls through. Since mama-to-be is already in bed laying around doing nothing (except trying not to throw up,) we might as well do some research on our new pregnancy and what to expect.
After endless books, articles, and websites, we start to wonder if we're in over our heads and how we will ever successfully have this baby?
The amount of decisions new parents have to make before baby arrives is a staggering amount, and often leaves one or both paralyzed with indecision and shock. On top of that, mom can't drink any of her favorite wines and loosen up enough to make decisions like she would prefer. So, in the end, both parents are forced to make these tough calls, sober. Taking it one step at a time, and discussing each issue calmly and thoroughly, is highly recommended. Talking to others parents, trusted friends or experts can help clear up any issues. For the rest, here's a short list of some of the top decisions that have to be made. The best time to make these decisions are before the baby is born, and not when mama is unable to speak from painful contractions or heavily medicated from epidurals.
15 Wipe It Off Or Rub It In
Newborn babies are born covered in a thick goopy layer known as vernix. The primary function of vernix is to protect baby's delicate skin from the acidic qualities of the amniotic fluid and keep the growing baby moisturized. When giving birth, the vernix acts as a lubricant to help baby slide out of the birth canal easier.
The real question here is: should we wipe it off? For the most part, it's safe and perfectly okay to leave on. It will naturally absorb into baby's skin and vanish on its own. It can, however, give a baby a slimy look and get everywhere—sticking to anything that touches the baby. Plus, if it has a brownish or greenish tinged, it means baby probably had their first bowel movement in the womb and rubbed off on the vernix, and will probably have a hint of a smell to it. In that case—definitely wipe it off.
14 The Cord Of Life
The umbilical cord is the long fleshy tube that connects the baby to the after birth. The after birth is the temporary organ attached to the side of the uterus, which processes everything for the baby from food and water, to waste and blood. The cord is just as vital to the baby's development an growth as the after birth. But, after he's born, the cord brings up several questions. Clamping immediately or delaying clamping is an aspect to decide before the birth.
Delayed cord clamping can give baby extra blood and nutrients, which baby will need. But, sometimes, if the baby is in distress, the cord comes off sooner rather than later. Once it's cut and done, the question of what to do with the cord still remains. Most opt to either donate it to a blood bank or toss it. Unlike the after birth, no one fancies a meal of the cord.
13 Snipping Can Wait?
We've just had a new baby boy! It seems as if the first question on everyone's mind is if he will be circumcised. The process of the medical procedure is pulling the fold over the head of the little manhood, and then cutting it off, leaving an un-hooded, bald head behind. The procedure is becoming less common than it used to be, but parents still need to decide ahead of time if they want it done or not.
While we used to think otherwise, there are actually no known health or sexual benefits of circumcision. What's more, baby boys are not generally given any pain medication or numbing creams for this very painful procedure. It also leaves an open wound which needs to be cared for and can easily become infected. Some scarring will occur and this can stunt growth and may be painful to get it up in the future.
12 Poking And Proding
One of the very first procedures done to a new baby in the hospital is a hepatitis B shot and a vitamin K shot. The ingredients in this vaccine and other vaccinations can scare many new parents. The parents' reaction is not an uncommon one and it's hard not to feel bad for the little bub with a painful leg. After all, we just spent nine months organically growing a natural baby. To our eyes, this tiny new human is the purest thing we've ever seen. Injecting heavy metals and toxic chemicals into such a pure creature can shock us in moments like this.
Choosing to wait until a baby is a little older can often help relieve some of this reaction—but not always. There is no evidence that delaying vaccines makes them any less likely to harm the child. And while many sources like to claim vaccine injury is rare, VAERS and the $3.5 billion + dollars the government-run Vaccine Injury Compensation Fund has paid out says otherwise.
11 Just A Vitamin?
Aside from the hepatitis B shot, hospital staff will want to administer a vitamin K shot to a baby as well. This is to help the baby's blood clot, which could come in handy should the baby be one of the very rare cases that develop bleeding in the brain. It also is intended to act as a sort of insurance should our car be involved in a wreck on the way home. Babies don't begin producing their own natural vitamin K until day eight and, therefore, their blood can't clot until then.
The ingredient list—which includes neurotoxic aluminum that can cause seizures and death— is concerning for some parents. Another fearful factor is this vitamin k vaccination is a synthetic vitamin. The vaccination contains over a hundred times the amount of vitamins which a baby naturally requires. Oral vitamin K is a safer option, along with mom dosing up on leafy greens for natural vitamin K before giving birth and breastfeeding.
10 Can You See Me Now
Another routine procedure, following a hospital birth, is to smear a baby's new eyes with a goopy eye ointment. This ointment is an antibiotic intended to prevent the baby from going blind from contact with Chlamydia or gonorrhea in the birth canal. If mom has tested positive for one of these diseases, then it's usually a safe bet to have this procedure done on the baby than to opt out.
But, if we've tested negative and are in a long-term monogamous relationship, we can safely refuse this procedure and go back to cuddling our new baby. If we do proceed with the ointment, it's a good idea to have it delayed for a short time. This way, mom and her baby have a chance to gaze lovingly into each other's eyes to bond, before baby's eyesight becomes all blurry from the ointment.
9 Where To Give Birth
When most couples find out they are pregnant, many automatically assume the baby will be born at the nearest hospital. It can come as a complete shock when one spouse—usually the pregnant one who, coincidentally, and has the final say—will announce they want to experience a home birth, a water birth, or even an unassisted birth.
Sometimes, a compromise can be reached where the couple goes to a birthing center, or they keep the nearest midwife on speed dial, for reassurance during an unassisted birth. Each option has its own list of pros and cons too lengthy for this list to fully dive into, so homework is highly recommended. It's important that we decide this before the baby comes and that we lovingly listen to our spouse's reasonings and concerns regarding their opinion.
8 Water Baby
The rise in popularity with water births has officially landed. Water births are great, but there is a chance mom might change her mind once she's in active labor. The benefits of a water birth outweigh the risks. There are cases where a water birth isn't advised — such as if the mother has herpes or if she's at risk for pre-term labor, carrying multiples and breech baby. The benefits include creating a similar environment to what the baby is used to and, therefore, reducing the stress of the birth.
The right water temperature can also help reduce maternal pain if the birth is unmediated, and the water can buoy up mom a bit. Also, it eases contractions and softening the perineum to prevent tearing. Some women will labor in the water for awhile before getting out to deliver while others deliver in the water.
7 Tick Tock, Time For Baby
Pregnancy comes with a due date that is fairly accurate nowadays, which is good news for those of us actually pregnant. Otherwise, we'd go crazy making and carrying that baby for seemingly endless months. And, amid all the other decisions to be made, one is to decide how long to go past our due date and if we want to schedule an induction or a C-section.
For medical reasons, an induction or C-section might be necessary. But, if it's being considered mainly for convenience—whether the doctor's, the hospital staff's, the mother's or the father's—then an induction or scheduled C-section might be better skipped. Inductions can be harder on the body than natural labor. Recovery time from a C-section takes twice as long with a lot more pain involved. Some discussion will need to take place between mom, dad, and the OBGYN.
6 Time To Sleep
Another decision parents should decide before birth is where the baby will sleep once he is brought home. Many parents choose to co-sleep and that concludes that discussion. Sometimes, one parent will want to co-sleep and the other will be uncomfortable with that idea. Whether that's due to concerns of SIDS, rolling over onto baby or lack of spousal cuddling remains to be seen. Research shows that SIDS is reduced with co-sleeping. It's also easier on mom to simply roll over and pop a breast into baby's mouth.
In addition to these factors, the cuddling that takes place between all three family members is beneficial as well. There's nothing quite like waking up to see a new baby starring at mom or dad. If the baby is formula feed, then scooping up a hungry baby while warming up a bottle is an easy breeze!
5 Who Does What
The division of baby duties sounds like it would be an easy discussion to have now versus when we're sleep deprived and in need of strong coffee. If mom decides to breastfeed then, automatically, she will be handling all of the feedings at every meal. Which frees up diapering, bathing and cleaning up various baby-related messes for dad. The amount of diapers a newborn baby produces is astonishing to new parents, so it's recommended that this chore be evenly divided using the "Tag, you're it!" method.
Bathing and tummy time are good bonding moments for dad and baby, especially if mom is already bonding at every feeding. Once mom's milk is established, she can start pumping and dad can then feed the baby a bottle of breast milk, which gives mom a break.
4 Where Do We Go On Sunday
We met, fell in love and got married despite vast differences in religion and personal beliefs. It's been smooth sailing but now there's a baby on the way and the question of which religion to raise the baby circles around. For some couples, the more religious spouse decides to raise the baby in their religion and the other half goes along with it, thankful they don't have to tackle such a responsibility.
Some couples are equally involved and devout. Babies can be raised in two religions, but in these situations, it's important that the parents don't try to compete and win the child over to their side. This will only cause confusion and stress for the baby as they grow up and could potentially turn them off both religions forever. Some religions require a baptism be performed a short time after birth.
3 Cover That Butt
Another topic for parents to decide, before the baby comes, is the question of cloth diapers versus disposables. Parents in the first two years can spend anywhere between $2,000-3,000 on disposable diapers. Cloth diapers are a one-time purchase (with size upgrades for those pesky growth spurts) and can cost on the higher end of $800-1,000 if we're washing them ourselves.
They can cost less if we're thrifty but could cost more if we use a diaper cleaning service. However, cloth diapers are less absorbent than disposables, and we do have to wash some fairly messy diapers—an extra step in the process. Cloth diapers are also better for the environment long term. Both have their pros and cons and for now, they're holding their own pretty steadily in the debate.
2 Breastfeeding Vs. Bottle Feeding
The debate rages strongly over the decision to breastfeed a baby or give them formula. We've all heard the “breast is best” line. Most people do agree, but some women can't breastfeed their babies for personal or medical reasons and must turn to formula. Or these women give breastfeeding an honest to goodness try and find that it's not a good fit for them and baby or—after a reasonable amount of time—decide it's not worth the physical pain.
Some moms supplement their milk with a formula, which lets dad get in on the feeding action and the baby does just fine. Ultimately, it is primarily up to mom as to whether or not she decides to breastfeed the baby. It's something to discuss before baby, though, so there's enough time to acquire the necessary items needed for either route.
1 The Name Game
Finally, the biggest decision is what to name the baby. Some parents don't decide immediately after the birth, but most will go into labor knowing exactly what they'll call their new baby. While it's arguable that mom should have the final say in the name since she's the one giving birth after all, both parents should agree on a name. Lots of compromise will be required.
There are fun name games to play which can help smooth along the process. Google gives access to thousands of name options and spellings which can be mind-blowing—to say the least. When all is said and done, we have to be able to love the name and scream it in rage as they get older, so choose wisely.
Sources: Parents, BBC, Circumcision Debate, The Healthy Home Economist, The Healthy Home Economist, Mama Natural, The Unassisted Baby, Mother Mag, American Pregnancy, Mama Natural, Fatherly, Ronit Baras, The Bump, Kids Health