Some women imagine their lives as mothers long before getting a positive pregnancy test. This includes deciding how many children they want to have, their children’s names, and what their dream nursery will look like.
As soon as she sees that positive pregnancy test, adrenaline may be rushing, and excitement is definitely in the air. The excitement will make her want to jump in and start planning things out, almost immediately. And one of the first things she might start thinking about it the nursery. Setting up the perfect nursery adds to the realness of being pregnant. She might draw inspiration from movies or magazines, or even store displays. But before she gets to choosing paint colors, nursery themes, and picking out baby furniture, there are so many other important things to think about! Things that will make for a better pregnancy experience, a smoother labor and delivery, and an easier time adjusting to life with baby.
Depending on how far along she is when she finds out she is pregnant, she has a good 7-9 months before baby comes. That means there’s plenty of time to get the little one’s nursery in order. Here is a list of things moms should think about, before getting to the nursery.
15 Healthy Mom – Healthy Baby
The number one thing that should trump all other priorities is taking care of mama’s health!
The first trimester is arguably the most important one for your little bean. All of the body’s major systems are beginning to develop, and getting the right amount of nutrients is essential to the process.
Say goodbye to drinking and smoking and say hello to nutrient dense foods like dark leafy greens, avocados, and nuts. It’s important to make sure you’re eating well, as all the nutrients you consume are passed through the placenta to your developing baby. It has been suggested that women who are planning to become pregnant should start a regimen of vitamins, especially folic acid and B vitamins, before even becoming pregnant.
Establishing healthy habits in early pregnancy may also ease some of the not-so-pleasant symptoms that come along with being pregnant. Eating well and eating often can ease any morning (or night time) sickness you might experience. And keeping some level of physical activity like taking a brisk walk or even daily stretching, can help alleviate any discomfort in your hips and legs caused by an expanding uterus. This is especially true when your expanding uterus (and baby) starts putting pressure on that pesky sciatic nerve.
Taking care of yourself, means taking care of baby!
14 Maternity Leave
Having a baby is hard work. Naturally, moms want need time off to recover from giving birth and to bond with their babies. There’s a lot to figure out about what your maternity leave will look like. Some moms bounce back to work 2 weeks after giving birth (by choice or by financial necessity), some go back after 6 months, and some even a year later! Some even take the leap and choose not to go back to work indefinitely.
Unfortunately, finances play a big role in deciding on your maternity leave. Do research on state laws pertaining to the Family Medical Leave Act and Paid Family Leave benefits.
Approach your HR department and ask any questions you might have about the company’s maternity leave policies. And most importantly, talk to your partner about what will be best for you and your family. Consider whether or not your household can maintain itself if you take more time of work, and whether or not you want to take extended leave.
Your opinion on maternity leave may change when you’re in the thick of it. Some moms find that they want more time off, and some have the urge to go back to work sooner. And that’s okay too!
13 Childcare: There's A Long Waiting List And It's Expensive
This topic ties into your maternity leave plans. If/when you decide to go back to work, you have to think about your options pertaining to childcare. Do you have a family member or friend who can help out? Is there a perfect daycare or preschool you have in mind? Can you afford your dream daycare/preschool?
These days childcare can cost a pretty penny.
Some dual-income families allocate one entire paycheck toward covering the cost of daycare, which in some states can be over $1,000 per month – per child. That’s two-thirds of a rent or mortgage payment in some cities.
This isn’t a problem for some families, but for others, they make the decision to become single-income households because of it.
If you and your partner decide to go the route of daycare, you have to consider whether or not your intended daycare has a waiting list. Yes, daycares and preschools have waiting lists. The fight for a spot at a good childcare center starts at the first positive pregnancy test, for some families. Wait-lists are so long that parents are often handed a wait-list form instead of an official application.
Even if you are unsure of what your childcare plan will look like, it doesn’t hurt to look into your options as far as professional childcare goes.
12 Deep Clean The House
In general, there’s something calming and satisfying about sitting on your couch in a freshly cleaned and vacuumed living room. This will especially be true when chaos hits your home in the midst of adjusting to life with a new baby.
If you’ve been meaning to vacuum under the couch, clean behind the fridge, or declutter your closets, now is the time to do it!
After the intensity of those first trimester symptoms wane and your hormones begin to even out, use that mythical second trimester energy boost to get things done around the house. The urge to clean and organize the house sometimes comes easily to expectant mommas, thanks to nesting. While you are cleaning and getting your home in order, remember to not overexert yourself, take breaks when needed, and to ask for help when you need to move heavy items, like the couch or the fridge. This is also a good time to make note of any household necessities you might want to stock up on before baby comes.
Giving your house a good deep cleaning before giving birth will make maintaining cleanliness much easier for you and your partner. It also means that you will spend less time cleaning, leaving you with more time to soak up all those baby cuddles.
11 Baby Proofing The House
You won’t reap the benefits of baby proofing the house for months to come, but when the time does come, you’ll be glad you took the time to do it. There is nothing more panic inducing than realizing your baby can suddenly get into something that they couldn’t get into just a few days earlier. And yes, they grow and develop that quickly!
At the very least, take care to baby proof important areas such as the stairs and the laundry room, and cabinets that you store cleaning products in, like under the kitchen or bathroom sink.
There are multiple different ways to baby proof cabinets and drawers, so look into what you think will work best for your house.
The latest (and coolest) way to lock up your cabinets involves a magnetic latch system. Or you can go the old school route with the plastic hook system.
Take care to move, tidy up, or conceal any wires (for computers, TVs, etc.) and to secure furniture to minimize the potential of things falling (or being pulled) down to the floor. Other ways to make your home baby friendly include installing doorstops – to prevent little fingers from getting jammed, corner covers – to hide sharp corners they might bump into when finally mobile, and outlet covers – babies will still try to play with these once they are able, but better safe than sorry!
10 Choose The Right Doctor
If you’ve seen Knocked Up, you’ve probably giggled or rolled you eyes at the process that Alison goes through to find her doctor. But finding the right doctor is actually really important and can make a big difference in your pregnancy.
You want to feel comfortable and safe with your doctor, and sometimes that might involve meeting with a few of them before deciding which one you want to guide you through your pregnancy and delivery.
Different doctors have different approaches to patient treatment. Some questions you should ask yourself when choosing your OB include: What is their bedside manner like? Are they attentive? Do they answer all of your questions? Do they take your concerns seriously? What about their nurses and office staff? All of these can be contributing factors to a good or bad pregnancy experience.
Talk to other mothers, read reviews, and have consultations before committing to a healthcare provider. And if at any point you no longer feel comfortable with your doctor or their practice, don’t be afraid to reach out and find another one. While pregnancy is an exciting time, it can also be a scary time, and having the right healthcare team behind you can really make a difference.
9 Be Open About Your Birth Plan
We hear about birth plans all of the time. And it’s definitely good to have one. Having an outline of how you would like your labor to go ahead of time can make for a smoother delivery. Find a hospital that you like (and one that your OB delivers in), consider who you want in the delivery room, and whether or not you want an epidural. But it’s important to remain flexible, because as they say, sometimes not everything goes according to plan.
You might find that the all-natural, un-medicated birth you had in mind isn’t really for you, and you want need medicinal pain intervention. Or that the water birth you pictured is more uncomfortable than you expected. And sometimes there are medical reasons to change your plan, like having a hospital birth versus a home birth or the need for an emergency cesarean section.
Having a birth plan is helpful for your healthcare team. It gives them an idea of how to help you through the process.
But like most areas in life, you never truly know how your delivery is going to play out. Have a plan but leave some wiggle room for adjustments, and you’re sure to have a smoother labor and delivery experience.
8 What’s In A Name?
One of the most exciting parts of welcoming a new baby into the world is picking out his or her name. There’s so many things to consider when choosing a baby name, and you’re bound to be getting opinions from every direction. It’s especially hard to choose a name when there so many to choose from! There are books and websites dedicated just to baby names.
Today, names tend to be unique or unusual, unless they happen to be family names (I.E. naming your baby boy after your grandpa, Joe). And if you choose a name early in your pregnancy, you have to decide if you’re going to let other people know what it is, or keep it to yourself until birth. Sometimes when you choose a name early, the more you say it or see it, the less you might like it.
Thinking and talking about baby names in early pregnancy will get you and your partner on the same page when it comes to a name, and will give you confidence in the name(s) you agree on.
It’s good to keep a short list to choose from, when the time comes – your intended Liam might turn out to look more like a Peter.
7 Hospital Essentials
Your doctor or hospital will usually give you a check list of the common things people bring to the hospital with them. It’s generally comprised of pretty ordinary stuff like a change of clothes, stuff for the baby, your toothbrush, etc.
Your time in the maternity ward will be exciting, exhausting, and maybe just a little bit uncomfortable. While you’re packing the essentials, consider throwing in a few comfort items too. Some comforting things for mom might include: a robe, cozy socks or slippers, and a good supportive pillow – those hospital pillows have taken a few beatings and are often limp. Things for mom’s partner include snacks, a sweater, and some entertainment. Snacks are always good to have, no matter where you are, but they especially help dad out when it’s ‘go time’ and he might not have had a chance to eat lunch.
Every labor is different, some lasting less than a few hours and some lasting up to 2 days!
Sometimes there’s not a lot for dad to do while waiting for push time, so entertainment can be useful, providing a distraction from the anticipation.
Depending on your hospital’s policy, you could be going home within 24 hours of having your baby, or you could be there for a couple of days. Having a few comfort items can ease your stay, no matter how long it is.
6 Fed Is Best
There has been an ongoing debate about the best way to nourish your newborn, and the conclusion is: Fed is best.
While there is a lot of information out there about how breastfeeding is the most favorable route, you have to consider what is right for you and your baby.
And if it doesn’t work out the way you planned, there is no shame in that.
The fact of the matter is, some babies have a hard time taking to the breast, no matter how many hours or techniques you try. Some women don’t have the time or energy required to be a pumping mom, either. A pumping schedule for a newborn is generally 10-20 minutes, every 2 hours. It’s a lot to keep up with. Bottle feeding allows dad, grandma, brother, or friend to take the reins during meal time, giving mom a much needed break. Bottle feeding also helps when it’s time for mom to go back to work.
In the end, it is your choice. Don’t let others make you feel like what you’re doing is wrong. You’re the only one who knows what’s best for you and your baby. Whether it is breastfeeding, pumping, or formula, remember that fed really is best.
5 Bond With Your Partner
They rarely tell you how your relationship might change after you have your baby. Crying babies and sleepless nights are often the culprits of grumpy moods and unintended arguments. Taking the time to connect with your partner before baby arrives can help strengthen your bond and prevent some of those petty fights caused by exhaustion.
We’ve all heard of the ‘babymoon’ (and maybe rolled our eyes at it), but it’s actually a really good idea for soon-to-be parents.
It’s the calm before the storm that allows you to check in with your hubby, and lets you reassure each other when it comes to any anxiety or concerns you might have about becoming a parent.
Your babymoon doesn’t have to be a big luxurious affair like we often see on Instagram (i.e. fancy beach resorts). It could be a short drive to a neighboring town, a cabin in the mountains, or even just a weekend at a local hotel, doing something you both love. As long as you are with your spouse, making a conscious effort to connect and enjoy each other’s company, it’s going to benefit your relationship once your bundle of joy is in your arms, wreaking inevitable havoc.
4 What’s On The Menu?
You’ve just come home from the hospital, baby in tow, and you are now about to tackle life adjusting to the unpredictable needs of a newborn. There’s going to be an endless stream of diaper changes, feedings, and sleepless nights. Sure your partner is there to pick up the slack in places you might traditionally take care of, like mealtimes, but they’re adjusting to their new life, too!
Preparing some easy to prepare foods will save you both time when it comes to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Easy and freezable meals can really consist of anything.
Popular dishes include lasagna, enchiladas, and chicken pot pies. There’s so many different things you can make ahead of time and freeze. Pinterest is full of interesting ideas to try. Another plus to making freezer meals is that it will save you money, because you won’t have to order out!
Another way to make sure you, hubby, and older kids are fed, is to accept help from your family and friends. When people come to visit you, they will undoubtedly ask if you need anything. Don’t feel shy about taking them up on that offer, and having them pick up some food for you. Most people are more than happy to do so!
3 Self-Care Is Crucial!
Right now there is a big emphasis going around on how important self-care is in general, and that doesn’t change when it comes to pregnancy. It may be a time when self-care is needed even more. Stress is not good for momma, and certainly isn’t good for baby.
Life is going to rapidly change once your little one arrives (if it hasn’t started changing already). Worry and stress during pregnancy can negatively affect you and your baby.
And while you might be understandably excited (and nervous) for what the future holds for you and your new baby, it doesn’t mean you should let it consume your every thought. It’s perfectly acceptable to take some time to pamper yourself before the time comes, because you might not have as much time for self-care once baby is in your arms.
Taking care of yourself could be as simple as letting yourself take an afternoon nap or giving yourself 5-10 minutes to breathe mindfully. It could also be as elaborate as a day at the spa for a prenatal massage and facial.
Allowing yourself to slow down, relax, and destress can improve or enhance your overall pregnancy experience. Self-care looks different for everyone, so make time to do the things you love that help you relax and unwind.
2 Visitation Rules
There’s a lot of excitement in the air once your baby makes his or her first appearance. You’re likely to get calls and texts asking when grandma, friend, or even neighbor can come visit you and meet your new babe. While it’s amazing to know that others are sharing in your excitement, sometimes that last thing you want is to have a revolving door of visitors while you’re trying to bond with your partner and your baby.
In the hospital, some women have visitors before they have a chance to wash their face, and sometimes it’s a welcome visit and sometimes it’s not.
But moms often smile through it, not wanting to offend or be rude to their excited visitors. But if there is an appropriate occasion to be selfish stern about what you want, post-childbirth is definitely the time!
Whether it’s in the hospital or at home, don’t feel badly about setting boundaries for who can come visit, and when they can come visit. Let inquiring potential visitors know you need some private time with your family, and tell them that you will let them know a good time for them to stop by. You’ve just gone through a major physically exhausting ordeal, and you deserve some peace and quiet.
1 Fostering A Support System
Following the same sentiments as bonding with your spouse, take the time to reinforce your relationships with friends and family. It’s often said that friendships tend to dissipate once you have children – which is understandable. Your priorities change and there might be less time to catch up other people, but that doesn’t mean you should be left with no social outlet or interaction.
There will be times when you need adult interaction, to vent or just to talk, and that’s completely normal. You needed that before you had a baby. Before baby comes, check in with those around you and build strong bonds you might need to count on in life after baby. Taking the time to maintain a few close friend and family relationships can make all the difference in life after pregnancy.
If you feel you need to expand your social pool, there are support groups and mommy and me classes that are worth looking into. You can get support on issues pertaining to breastfeeding and parenting techniques, and make friends along the way. Friends who know what you’re going through, because they’re going through it too. There’s even a mommy friend finder app, Peanut. It’s kind of like Tinder for moms, which could also be fun to use on your quest for a good support system.
Resources: Americanpregnancy.org, fitpregnancy.com, babycenter.com