The moment those lines on a pregnancy test tell us we’re going to have a baby, we might be in shock, elated or confused. But after the initial emotion sets in, there’s one that every parent-to-be feels: overwhelmed.
Being the first of my friends to fall pregnant and with no babies in the family, I didn’t have a clue about how to get everything ready for a child! Luckily I had many helpful people around me who gave me some useful tips.
Also, never underestimate your intuition! It helped me no end.
Here are some ideas to help you prepare for childbirth and life with a baby. Remember that you don’t have to do everything on this list and you have 9 months to prepare, by then everything will seem more clear.
1.The first thing to do is to visit your GP.
They will confirm the pregnancy and will work out your estimated due date for you. They will also answer any questions you may have and I’m sure you have millions! You may be given an information pack as well.
2. Think about when the best time will be to announce your pregnancy.
This is a completely personal decision and you may not even want to publicly announce it, keeping it quiet with the people who are close to you.
A lot of people wait till the 12 week scan, just so they can make sure everything is alright and they can find out their confirmed due date.
3. Breast or bottle? Look at the advantages and disadvantages of both.
Don’t let other people pressure you into either option, do what feels right for you. It’s alright if you change your mind at any point as well, parenting is about being flexible after all!
Here’s a video about breastfeeding that I filmed with Little Lullaby and other young mums:
4. Cloth nappies or disposable nappies?
A lot of people decide on disposables in the early days but after you’ve settled into parenthood cloth nappies can be a great option if you’re on a budget.
5. Where will you want your baby to sleep?
Experts say it’s safest for your baby to sleep in a cot or moses basket next to your bed for at least the first 6 months.
6. Home birth or hospital birth?
A home birth may seem scary at first but if you feel comfortable in your own home, are a low risk pregnancy and aren’t the biggest fan of hospitals, a home birth could be a good option.
If you feel like you may want some pain relief or like the idea of having experts like lactation consultants available then a hospital birth may be for you.
7. How about pain relief?
This is a difficult one to consider as you never know how it will feel until you’re in labour. Research different options and what they do so you know what’s available at the time.
8. Remember that childbirth is unpredictable.
Try not to get your heart set on anything as you never know how your labour will go. Instead write a birth plan, or a birth mind map and try to keep an open mind.
You may even change your mind during labour. For example, you might think you wont be able to go without pain relief and then end up having a completely natural birth.
9. What would you like to happen after you’ve delivered your baby?
These are decisions that are much easier to predict and control.
10. Would you like to have skin to skin with your baby as soon as possible?
Skin to skin is one of the best ways to initially bond with your child and it also helps to regulate temperature, heart rate and breathing.
11. Would you like to delay cord clamping?
Research shows that at the time of birth your baby only has about 66% of their blood supply. 4-5 minutes later after the cord has finished pulsating, they have nearly 100% of their blood supply again.
12. Will you opt for your baby to have the vitamin K injection?
This helps to prevent a rare disorder called haemorrhagic disease of the newborn — you can speak to your doctor about the best injections for you.
13. Write a list of things that you would like for your new baby like nursery decorations or a baby carrier.
Companies like to bombard parents to be with endless products promising the best for your child. In reality, there is very little they actually need. There are some good lists available on the internet of the necessary items.
This will also be good to consult when people are asking what to buy for presents.
14. Go shopping.
There’s no need to go shopping immediately, especially if you’re on a budget (although I did find myself wandering into the baby section whenever I went to a supermarket…).
I would recommend waiting till after your baby shower so you can see what’s left to buy after all the gifts.
15. Begin to consider your long-term plan.
I know at this point it seems far away but once your baby is here, time will go so quickly. As young mums, we don’t often have our careers established yet so you could use this as an opportunity to consider what it is that you really want to do.
If you decide to go back to college, there are often grants and loans you can apply for to cover the costs of childcare.
16. Have a baby shower.
A baby shower is a lovely way to celebrate the impending arrival with you closest friends and family. You could play lots of games or make it more relaxed with lunch and talking about all things baby related.
17. Go on a ‘babymoon’.
Before your baby arrives, have one last getaway with your partner or friends where you can fully relax and take time for yourself.
18. Find out about any antenatal classes available in your area.
I remember being nervous about being a young mum and going to antenatal classes full of older mums, but when I got there I realised I had nothing to worry about.
Everyone was in exactly the same boat as me and no one judged me for being a young mum-to-be. There may even be antenatal classes especially for young parents in your area.
Try searching on the NHS antenatal class page to see what classes are near you.
19. Find out if there are any groups you can attend while you’re pregnant.
Positive birth groups are a great place to start. To find out if there are any in your area, visit The Positive Birth Movement website.
If not, find out which groups you can attend once your baby is here. Being a new parent can feel isolating sometimes so it’s important to have a support network of other mums to talk to and to share experiences and advice.
20. Prepare meals that you can freeze and then eat when your baby arrives.
Considering they only poo, wee, eat, cry and sleep in the early days, newborns manage to take up a lot of your time!
Eating well is important in the early days to replenish your energy but it’s hard to find the time or energy to prepare even simple meals sometimes, so this is a good way to prepare while you’re still pregnant.
21. Stock up on toiletries.
The last thing you want is to run out of baby wipes or loo roll when going into town takes a lot more effort than it did before.
22. Do some baking.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, walking anywhere was a mission and as I didn’t have a car, I did a lot of baking to keep myself occupied. It made me feel like I hadn’t wasted my day and it certainly made me popular with the rest of the family!
You could even get involved with Bake It For Babies, organised by The Lullaby Trust (the charity that runs Little Lullaby)!
23. Treat yourself.
Go for as many meals out as you like, go for a spa day, book a massage or get your hair done! After all, if there’s any excuse for some self care time, it’s while you’re pregnant.
Look after yourself as much as possible, you’re growing a life right now so you definitely deserve it.
And when the baby comes, read my guide to looking after yourself when you’ve just had a baby.
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