Having a baby for the very first time can be daunting – not only the baby birth process but also taking care of your baby’s needs and the adjustment that the whole family will have to make. Here are 10 ways to prepare for your baby’s birth, both practically and emotionally.
1. Learning the Basics of Baby Birth
In a way, you may not have to be prepared because whether you prepare or not, your baby will arrive when it’s time! However, for some parents, taking classes on how to breathe during labour, recognizing the stages of labour and being told what to expect and the pain management options can help them prepare emotionally. It is also a good way for the couple to bond and strengthen the marriage before the baby’s birth.
2. Finding a Doctor You can Trust
Depending on your budget, you may want to ask your friends for their recommendations of gynecologist and pediatrician and how they are like. There are monthly visits to the gynecologist and very often, involve close examination of your body. Find a doctor you can trust and communicate well with so that each visit will be peaceful instead of being fraught with anxiety. Likewise for your choice of pediatrician – if you suspect that your child may have allergies, you may want to start off visiting a pediatrician with an interest in this area.
3. Learning Baby Care
If you have the time, it is good to attend a baby care class with your spouse to learn together how to handle, bathe and feed a baby and change her diapers. Even though it is likely that you will figure it out soon enough, don’t take for granted that your spouse is fully able to cope when the time comes. Decisions such as whether to pay for cord blood banking and to circumcise is also best made earlier. Going for baby care class also allows for couple to communicate on their expectations of each other in terms of time and changes to lifestyle. It is best to go through all these before the baby is born to minimize conflicts in a stressed and lack of sleep situation.
4. Booking a Lactation Consultation
It’s strange when it comes to breastfeeding – it’s supposed to be a natural thing to do but yet, there are a whole lot of techniques to it. Proper latching, checking that your nipples are unclogged and learning what to do to encourage milk supply and prevent engorgement is all new to first-time moms.
5. Seeking More Help
You may think you can do it all and be independent, but don’t forget that rest is also needed in order to care properly for your baby and get enough breast milk. If you are uncomfortable with seeking help from your extended family (in case of family conflicts), turn to friends and paid help. It is good to at least get help in the first month of your baby’s birth when you may be encountering problems after birth like hemorrhoids and pain. Don’t delegate too much of baby care but instead ask for help in areas of meals and laundry or care for your older child.
6. Preparing for the Day
Have your baby bag packed, your spouse on standby to drive you and get plenty of rest beforehand. Of course, book a room for your delivery! Some popular hospitals are fully booked and you may end up having to work with the logistics of going to a hospital where your gynecologist is unable to turn up on time when you need her.
7. Getting Baby Stuff
This is the fun part. Have ready all the baby essentials like cot, car seat, bath tub, diapers, wipes, sterilization and baby food making and feeding kit and clothes. If you’re investing in new ones, be sure to get them a few weeks earlier to allow for ‘airing’ – where any potentially harmful fumes can diffuse before your baby is home.
8. Planning Contingency
Don’t expect everything to be smooth sailing – both mother and
baby may have health conditions related to pregnancy or birth.
Your extended family may not be able to cope as well as they think, especially for aging grandparents who may have overestimated their energy level. Talk through with your spouse on whether one of you is prepared to take extended leave or whether you can move to another apartment to stay if staying with your parents or in-laws do not work out.
9. Talking about Money
Everything is a financial cost, from baby gear, essentials to doctor’s consultations and infant care. Work out a budget beforehand and agree on the spendings; you may suddenly find that paid help is not affordable if you also would like to place your baby in infant care. Or you may decide to start asking for hand-me-downs instead of thinking you can get everything new. Finances can put a strain to the marriage and increase the stress level of the parents, on top of the baby care. Saving for the baby’s education and getting insurance for the child should also be talked through.
10. Preparing Yourself
A healthy and calm mother benefits the baby with research associating pregnancy stress with compromised baby brain development and lower immunity. Eat healthy (with omega 3 for baby’s brain development), exercise for a smoother delivery and relax. Think positively and work on the marriage – it’s very easy for a marriage to be strained and cracks to start showing when the baby arrives. If you have any unresolved problems in your marriage or in your life, it is best to deal with these especially if you foresee having to deal with them when your baby is born.
A baby is a whole new experience for the family, prepare for it and enjoy your baby.