Preparing for a Baby: 22 Tips for First-Time Moms

Congratulations on your pregnancy!
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Congratulations on your pregnancy! Discovering that you're pregnant for the first time is one of the most thrilling moments in life. But then, after the initial excitement, fear, shock, and confusion creep in. Why shouldn't you be frightened? This is a major milestone in your life, and fear is normal. You see, pregnancy may change your priorities and values, and expectations may shift, sometimes dramatically. This change may take your partner, family, colleagues, and friends by surprise. Worry not. You just need to be ready. Preparing doesn't have to be overwhelming.

With a bit of organization and planning, your transition into motherhood will be seamless, and you'll be able to enjoy this special time. Read on for some brilliant tips for first-time mothers.

1.    Start taking your vitamins.

As soon as you discover you're pregnant, start taking your vitamins. Eating healthy is a great idea during pregnancy, but taking prenatal vitamins helps to cover any nutritional gap in your diet. Prenatal supplements contain vitamins such as iron, calcium, folic acid, and iodine. They help to prevent defects such as spina bifida. 

2.    Choose a healthcare provider.

Don't wait until you're six months pregnant. Choose a midwife or OB-GYN to walk you through the journey, if you don't have one already. Good for you if you have a family doctor who does obstetrics. Consider factors such as insurance coverage and proximity to your home when choosing a healthcare provider. Proceed to schedule an appointment with the healthcare provider you've chosen.

3.    Set up a nursery.

Start gathering baby essentials as early as possible. Furniture delivery can take up to 3 months, so order by Month 5. Get a changing table dresser, bassinet, baby bathtub, and bed linens. Additionally, buy diapers, bibs, wipes, receiving blankets, and baby clothes. By the fifth month, you should have taken an ultrasound to determine the gender of the baby. That way, you'll know the kind of baby clothes to buy. Check out for amazing baby clothes. 

4.    Write a birth plan.

You should write down some notes that tell your OB-GYN the kind of birth you'd prefer. What type of relief pain do you want? Would you like delayed-cord clamping? Would you like to have a skin-to-skin straight after birth?

5.    Talk with your partner.

Discuss with your partner before the baby arrives. Don't assume they know what their role is during pregnancy, labor, and birth. Let him know what you expect of him. Also, it's good to discuss how you'll divide your chores after birth.

6.    Plan your finances.

Children are expensive. That's no secret. You should set up a budget, not only for the first few months of your child's life, but also long-term. Think of long-term expenses such as education and extracurricular activities. Open a savings account for your baby and make monthly contributions. You can request other family members to chip in.

7.    Plan your childcare.

Raising a child isn't easy and requires money. Ultimately, you'll want to resume your job. You thus need to start planning your childcare early. There are several options, including nannies, home daycares, daycare centers, and care provided by a close family member. If you're not sure which method suits you best, consult other family members.

Useful resources: 

8.    Do essential home repairs.

You don't want to be replacing light bulbs and patching holes on the wall when you have a newborn. Do all the minor home renovations and repairs before the baby arrives. You can hire a handyman if you and your partner aren't handy.

9.    Talk to experienced moms.

Experienced moms offer the best advice on living with a baby. It may be your mom, friends with children, or other family members. Don't be afraid to ask questions regarding pregnancy and parenting. There's no shame in asking.

10.  Pet-proof your home.

Pets are curious, and the arrival of your baby can be a shock for them. Pet-proofing your house ensures your pets and your baby live happily together. Your pet shouldn't sleep in the same room as your baby. Use a stair gate to make a room out of reach for dogs and a cat net to stop your cat from getting into your child's pram or cot.

11.  Wash your baby's bedding and clothes.

A newborn's skin is very delicate. Thus, you should wash their bedding and clothes using a non-biological detergent before you use them. It reduces the risk of irritation and is gentle on the baby's skin. 

12.  Cut yourself some slack.

It's normal for first-time moms to doubt their ability to parent effectively. Everybody makes some parenting mistakes. You'll make them, too, because you're not a perfect mom, and the perfect mom doesn't exist anyway. However, do children need perfect parents? No, they don't. Children need loving and caring parents who are striving to be at their best - parents who acknowledge their mistakes and keep on trying.

13.  Manage relationship stress.

Having a child is probably the biggest change you'll ever experience. Changes in pregnancy and parenthood can cause relationship stress as you try to deal with your life and roles. Try to spend as much time as you can with your partner. Have honest discussions about hopes and fear.

14.  Use your support network.

It's normal to focus inward as you prepare to give birth, and you might feel exhausted after a long day to socialize. However, don't shun your family and friends completely. Friends and family can be your source of support during pregnancy and after birth. Too tired to get together in the evening? How about you have lunch together or a Saturday afternoon movie? It's good to maintain relationships, and don't be afraid to ask for help as the D-day nears.

15.  Practice Kegels.

Kegel exercises are effective in strengthening pelvic floor muscles. These muscles support your bowels, bladder, and uterus. Kegel exercises are simple, but can help you give birth easily and avoid problems later with urinary incontinence. The good thing is that no one can notice you're doing Kegel exercises. You can do them while sitting in your car, standing in line at the grocery, or at your desk.

16.  Wear sunscreen.

The skin becomes more sensitive to sunlight when pregnant. You're therefore susceptible to chloasma, sunlight burns, and dark, blotchy spots on the face. During sunny days, apply sunscreen and remember to wear a hat and sunglasses.

17.  Take care of yourself.

Whether solicited or unsolicited, you'll receive a lot of advice throughout your pregnancy. But then, remember, not everything that worked for your friends, colleagues, or family members may work for you. Amidst all the advice you'll receive, remember to take care of yourself. Your body is working overtime during pregnancy. This increases physical fatigue, which may result in the worsening of symptoms of emotional overload. To make it easy:

  • Spend a few minutes every day to nurture yourself.
  • Take a nap.
  • Try yoga.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Eat some healthy snacks.
  • Meditate.
  • Get a prenatal massage.
  • Get enough sleep and maintain a consistent schedule. 

18.  Test for gestational diabetes.

It's recommended that pregnant women get tested for gestational diabetes around Week 26. You should be tested earlier if you have a history of diabetes or you're overweight. Gestational diabetes can cause complications, such as fetus overgrowth. If you're diagnosed with it, you may have to use insulin or take some oral medication. However, some women manage it by exercising and nutritional changes.

19.  Buy a car seat.

You can't drive off from the hospital if you haven't installed a car seat that meets the current requirements. That's the law. Your local police or fire department can help you learn to install one correctly. 

20.  Enroll in childbirth and infant care classes.

Contractions, breathing, and comfort measures, oh, my! Childbirth education class will teach you everything regarding labor and the birth process. It helps you approach this special day with confidence. Infant care classes cover things such as changing diapers, swaddling, breastfeeding, bathing a newborn, and settling. Additionally, you should take an infant CPR class. You can search for infant CPR classes near your area.

21.  Pack your hospital bag.

You're in the eighth month now. Your labor can start anytime. Pack all your essentials in your hospital bag. Pack everything you'll need for labor and after birth, including nappies, your clothes, baby outfits, and items to keep you comfortable such as an iPod.

22.  Sit back and relax.

You're in the 9th month, and everything is set if you go into labor early. As the due date approaches, find a comfortable chair, sit, relax, and enjoy the calm before the storm. 

Pregnancy is a major milestone in life. Use this time to address any fears, establish a support circle, and prepare to get into motherhood.

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