From the pages of the Baby & Child Care Encyclopedia: Chapter 1, Prenatal 101
As you reach the last few months of your pregnancy, you’ll begin to prepare for the big day. It’s best to do this relatively early, as some women will go into labour sooner than expected. Here are a few ways to get ready to welcome your new little one.
Join a Prenatal Class Even if you feel confident and well-informed, a prenatal class can be helpful for both you and your partner. You’ll meet other pregnant women and expecting couples, learn breathing and relaxation techniques for delivery, discuss your pain management options and receive valuable information on baby care, growth and development, and postpartum maternal health. You may also consider a First Aid or infant CPR certification (some prenatal classes even include this as a component).
Research Maternity Leave It’s important to have a strong understanding of the time you’re entitled to take for maternity leave as well as how much income you’ll have access to while away from work. Your partner should also look into their parental leave options in order to plan with you. You may want to start saving some money each month to compensate for any lost wages; some workplaces will top up your maternity leave pay for a period of time, but there is no requirement to do so and every employer has their own policy. Be sure to discuss your maternity leave with your boss and co-workers in order to plan a smooth transition, and establish your last working day and expected return date.
Find a Paediatrician Be sure to have a family doctor or pediatrician lined up to care for your little one in advance of your due date. Your baby’s first visits will happen within the first days and weeks of their life, and you don’t want to be searching for a doctor while caring for a newborn.
Set Up a Nursery Your baby’s nursery might be an adorable room with all the bells and whistles or a simple crib next to your own bed—in those early days, all they need is a safe place to sleep. The rest is a matter of personal preference. All you’ll really need is the basics: a bassinet or crib, diapers and wipes, clothing and receiving blankets, a car seat and a stroller. If you plan on bottle feeding, whether breastmilk or formula, consider purchasing a breast pump as well as bottles and sterilizing equipment. You may want to purchase a gentle, scent-free laundry soap and baby toiletries such as shampoo, lotion and diaper cream. Other nice-to-have items include a baby carrier or wrap, a baby bathtub or seat, a play pen, a bouncy chair or other rocker, a high chair (for later on), books and infant toys.
Install a Car Seat You’ll want to properly install your car seat well before the baby arrives (they won’t let you leave the hospital without one, in some areas). You can do this yourself by carefully following instructions or you can hire a professional to install the seat for you. Some community organizations offer free car seat clinics. Check with your local municipality, to learn about options in your region.
Consider Breastfeeding Fed is best and there’s no shame in formula feeding, but there are countless benefits to breastfeeding if you choose to go this route. The act of breastfeeding your child stimulates contractions after childbirth and helps your uterus return to its original size and position. It also helps with bonding and lowers your baby’s risk of allergies, asthma and other ailments. Breast milk is great for a baby’s immune system and gives them the nutrients they require as a newborn, an infant and beyond (incredibly, your breast milk changes as your baby ages to give them what they need). Breast milk is easy to digest, so breastfed babies typically have less colic and digestive issues. Breastfeeding also lowers the risk of cancers of the breast, ovaries and uterus. Plus, it’s an environmentally-friendly and affordable way to feed your child!
Prepare for the Big Day Don’t leave details to the last minute—when contractions hit, you’ll want everything in order. Pre-register at the hospital where you plan on delivering, if you can. Plan your route to the hospital (take traffic, expected weather and potential construction into consideration). Decide where you will be parking your vehicle and know which doors to enter when you arrive at the hospital. Pack your hospital bag and keep a copy of your birth plan on hand. If you are planning a home birth, you should still be aware of the quickest and easiest route to the hospital and have your hospital bag packed in case of emergency. Make sure you have a full tank of gas, too!
Sleep When You Can Pregnancy can be exhausting, but having a newborn baby at home isn’t any less tiring—catch as many zzz’s as you need before your little one makes their appearance. If you can squeeze in an afternoon nap, go for it. If you find yourself exhausted by 8:00 p.m., go to bed. Your breasts may be tender to sleep on, but a soft bra may help. Cut back on drinking fluids in the late afternoon and evening to help eliminate frequent trips to the bathroom.
Have Sex In a straightforward pregnancy with no history of medical issues, intercourse can be a part of physical intimacy with your partner right up until your water breaks. Some women experience increased sexual appetite in pregnancy, while others have decreased interest. Changes to the body, uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms and hormone levels often affect one’s degree of sexual interest. No matter what, these feelings are normal and you should do whatever works for you and your partner.
- Prenatal 101
- Breastfeeding and the First Three Months
- Starting Solids and the Toddler Years
- An Age-by-Age Guide to Sleep
- Family Nutrition
- Kids and Mental Health
- When Your Child is Sick
- Safety and First Aid
- Milestones, Checklists and Charts