So, you're having a baby, are you prepared?

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

Welcome to the club – if it’s your first. If not, this may just be a reminder. There is going to be so much going on with you during this phase of your life and so it is really important to give yourself and those around you the time to prepare.

These early stages of growth should be for you to enjoy but let’s face it, every woman is different and depending on what your body is experiencing right now it may not be all sunshine and roses. Pregnancy journeys can differ with some having complications at an early stage or even throughout all three trimesters (and not to forgot the fourth).

So, I'm sharing a few tips that I have been using myself to remove the stress that may come with pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood.

  • Mental Preparation

Do you know that your uterus will grow to be approximately the size of a watermelon during pregnancy? That in itself needs some mental preparation. Of course, we know that you are the holder of the baby, the one that nurtures and curates it; but I think sometimes we can forget to put into perspective just how much our body is going to change. This for some women can cause anxiety and body image issues such as a lack of confidence and sometimes even resent for the situation. These are emotions to be honest about and communicate with those around you who you trust. This may not necessarily be family or friends but a trusted professional such as a doula or a birth support group. Here at MEA we have a number of groups that you can sign up to join in the near future.

It is completely normal to ride the wave of an emotional rollercoaster during this time so rest assured it is something we all go through but no journey is comparable to any other.

You’ll be taking care of another human being – what a gift. This child will be yours to treasure and invest in, shower with love and guide the best way you know how. Do not take it all on at once, there is no right way of parenting, speak up if you need help there are plenty of support agencies available and the most important thing right now is you. Be kind to yourself and know that if you are not well baby will not be either. Try not to be influenced by others and their opinion of what you should be feeling and doing during your pregnancy and postnatally. This is your journey, your baby (and your partner if you have one) but more importantly your body so now is the time to devote some time for you.

  • Physical Preparation

As mentioned above your body will change in so many ways. Physical changes during and postpartum will become a reality so it should be a focus for those around you to put you first and recognise that the activities you used to do before you may not be able to do for a while. If you are currently in a relationship another thing to be aware of as a possibility is your sex drive aka your libido may increase or decrease. The best thing to do here is communicate. This is a time of adaptation for both of you right now, you may want more affection but sometimes you do not want them anywhere near you especially if you are feeling irritable, this is completely normal – communication is key.

Self-care should be at the forefront and it doesn’t need to be costly. If you can get some specialist pregnancy massages in – great otherwise a nice candle lit bath with some music or an evening in with your favourite goodies is just fine!

Try to keep your body moving during the pregnancy, I know it’s not always possible as your body grows but trust me it will help the delivery and keep your hips supple for the growth and delivery of your baby. I myself have had to face up to the idea that I am not who I was 5 months ago, the flexible yogi that once was me seems like a distant memory!

  • Financial Preparation

Don’t panic, don’t believe the hype or the glamour Moms out here who are spending £3000 on little shoes for their barely 1 month old out here. Your baby needs the simple things in life. Nappies will be a must of course. Look at the options out there, the big brands are not always the ‘go to’, it is all about affordability, comfort and quality, think about reusable nappies as well – good for the environment if you are thinking of going green.

Draw up a list of things to consider as essentials for your new arrival.

· A few baby hats – cover the little one’s crown that soft spot also known as the fontanelle is going to be so sensitive right now.

· 6- 8 baby-grows depending on the season he or she will be born. Think about the material for example; cotton or something thicker like a thermal or fleece.

· Vests – short and long sleeve depending on season again.

· Socks keep those little feet warm.

· Hand mitts to prevent baby scratching him or herself.

· Towels.

· A baby’s bath.

· Where will baby sleep? Start looking at options: Moses basket, cot, cot bed? Compare prices and remember babies grow quickly!

· Bedding to support the choice of where the baby will sleep. No need to go overboard just a few sheets will do.

· How will you cover the baby? Fleece blankets, cellular covers get professional advice on temperature for safe sleeping.

· Car seat – in case you have the baby in hospital, you cannot take the baby home without one.

· Pushchair – I find it fun looking at options – won’t be buying one until after the baby arrives but the choice is yours.

Have you heard of a MATB1 form? Have you thought about your maternity leave dates? What about your partner - when will his leave commence? Has he told his employer he is expecting a new addition to the family? Have you?

Be in the know about your maternity package or allowance so you can prepare for the financial changes.

  • Fourth Trimester

So, you have the three trimesters that everyone talks about. However, the fourth is about you postnatally. While everyone is doting on the baby try not to forget yourself or allow others to focus on the baby and forget your needs. Post-natal depression is a real thing and not everyone has a bond with their baby after the delivery, some women take time to adjust. After nine months of carrying this little growing human you could not see (apart from at scans), when they arrive it can be overwhelming for some and reality can hit hard. Again, be kind to yourself and leave room for imperfection, easier said than done sometimes but hopefully you would have prepared for a multitude of situations via the support systems around you and the real conversations at Maternity Engagement Action, pregnancy, baby and parenting groups and your support systems.

Get your support system prepared, write down ways in which friends/family can help you such as cooking, cleaning, bringing flowers, gifts for you, school runs anything else that you feel is going to make your life easier and help you spend time with yourself and bond with your baby(ies).

Most of all enjoy it if you can. If you are struggling please contact us and we can signpost you for help and support.

For more information or signposting feel free to contact us.

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