My own pregnancy roller coaster went a little bit like this: The test is positive! Hooray, we’re pregnant! Can’t we get this kid delivered overnight?! Oh. My. God, we have so much to do! And less than 9 months to do it in!
Our grandmothers were blessed with a simple trip to the doctor and a confirmation 10 days later with a polite, “See you in nine months.” Today we’re slammed with monthly, bi-monthly and eventually weekly doctor or midwife appointments, several rounds of bloodwork and ultrasounds, and let’s not forget the bevy of paranoia-inducing information from family, friends, books and the infamous court of public opinion known as the Internet.
Whether you’re a pregnant mum or an expecting dad, here’s what I’ve learned that will spare you feeling overwhelmed so you can skip straight to the joys of pregnancy.
36. Study various birthing methods so you can decide what’s right for you.
Doctor or midwife? Bradley Birthing? Hypnobirthing? Lamas? Do you want an analgesic or an epidural if the pain becomes overwhelming? If your water breaks before your contractions start do you want to wait it out at home or just head to the hospital? How long do you want to wait before labor is induced? C-section, yes or no? This is your baby and how they get out of your body is your decision. Seek out reliable expert advice, hit up YouTube for some videos of first-hand experiences, and make this one of the discussions you have with your partner and your healthcare provider early on.
35. Introduce yourself to the contradictions of parenting advice.
Welcome to the court of mommy opinion. You will be found guilty at least 50% of the time. Brush it off now. Your mommy instincts are going to kick in pretty quickly once you’ve learned you’re pregnant and they’ll only grow stronger with your baby’s development. To be sure, there are things to learn, but in the end you’re the mom. Trust your gut.
34. Make a Honey-Do List for your Hubby.
Now is the time to get anything and everything you want done around the house completed without complaint. All that stuff he’s been pushing off for ages is going to become high priority as he realizes he’s got 2 people to take care of now, not just a grown woman with a mind of her own.
33. Establish a flexible fitness routine.
Exercise is essential for pregnant women, especially desk jockeys like myself who habitually blew off the treadmill or the gym in favor of taking a post-work nap. Your energy levels will ebb and flow during pregnancy so establish a routine that will work with you and your changing body. Already working out, or concerned about what you should or shouldn’t be doing? Talk to your doctor. A few key concepts you’ll hear repeated over and over: 30 minutes of cardio daily and no lying flat after 20 weeks.
32. Cultivate a spiritual practice.
Pregnancy is a spiritual experience. If you haven’t talked to God in a while, take this time to get in touch. It can be as simple as getting outside for a few minutes and just saying thank you for the life growing inside you. There are a series of short meditations available on YouTube that are great stress relievers for pregnant moms. Whatever you choose to do, make it a point to maintain your practice once the baby has arrived. You’ll need those 5-10 minutes of quiet to stay on track in between feedings, changings and playtimes.
31. Celebrate this momentous change with your best girl buddy.
You have reached a huge milestone in the life of a woman. There is no better way to celebrate this empowering experience than to surround yourself with some serious girl support. Grab your mom, mother-in-law, best friend, or co-worker and celebrate either before or after the all-day-sickness dissipates.
30. Go shopping!
I became incredibly budget conscious when we found out our little one was on the way. Suddenly I’d start denying myself even the simplest of things because I kept thinking, “We’re going to have to buy diapers!” Give yourself a break that won’t break the bank. Even more importantly, don’t turn the gift of your pregnancy into a reason to judge or deny yourself. You are creating life. You deserve a treat.
29. Start and keep a journal about your pregnancy.
Your child will thank you later. Especially if she starts digging through her boxes to find the baby calendar you kept for her. “So, when did I start rolling over? Walking? Hm…”.
28. Play with your growing baby.
Every day. They say first time moms start feeling their baby’s movements anywhere between 16-20 weeks. My first real movements (not flutters) came during an incredibly stressful moment at work. Suddenly, my baby decided it was time to tap dance. “Are you trying to cheer me up?” I asked. What a great kid. We’ve been playing ever since.
27. Get your hair done.
Pregnancy vitamins turn you into a yeti and the bigger you get, the less likely you’ll be inclined to sit in a stylist’s chair for hours on end. While the jury is still out on exposing your baby to chemical treatments while in utero, you’ll be happy you got that haircut before your little one decides to start using your bladder as their favorite squeeze-toy.
26. Shop for your mommy body.
Get maternity clothes. You don’t have to buy an entire wardrobe, but unless you carry super-small you’ll need new things, particularly in the bra and pants departments. So go shopping!
25. Schedule dates with your baby.
Stop everything you’re doing to prepare and remember there is an unseen little one in the room that loves your attention. Take time to read, talk, sing, play music, or go out shopping for baby clothes. Yes, you’ll get tons of them at the shower, but these will be the items you two picked together.
24. Build your baby music playlist.
My kid isn’t listening to Raffi. We have, however, developed quite the proclivity for Mozart and the Beach Boys. Start them young and spare yourself the headache of kiddie music. Barney is dead for a reason.
23. Take a class.
Most hospitals offer first-time parenting classes and birthing classes abound. Even if you don’t think you need that much knowledge floating around in your head, classes are a great way to meet fellow expecting parents, trade war stories and strike up some new friendships.
22. Ask your mom how she did it.
Please don’t get all of your advice from a book. Google hasn’t, nor will it ever change a diaper. Whether it is your mom, your aunt, your godmother, whoever, find a trusted female who’s been there, done that for the really important questions and the reminder that generations of babies were raised before manuals came about.
21. Explore a new hobby with your partner that you can enjoy after the baby arrives.
Remember all those wineries you’d visit on weekends? Or those awesomely loud concerts you’d go to every Friday night? Time to find a new way to bond. Preferably one that allows you to get in bed at a decent hour.