I am Pregnant; what’s Next? 5 Things You Should Focus on for a Successful Pregnancy Journey
From the time you notice your very first symptom or see the two pink lines on the test, both your body and your whole life begin to change. You start to experience a lot of new things, both physically and emotionally as you adjust to the idea of being pregnant. And while it may seem intimidating, there are things you can do to set yourself – and your baby – up for a healthy and successful pregnancy journey.
If you are a first-time mom or need some refresher and guidance on what to expect and how to best take care of yourself during pregnancy, here are five things you should focus on:
Contacting the Right People
Knowing you are pregnant can be both exhilarating and scary at the same time. You might have a lot of questions running through your head, such as “What do I do now?”, “Who can I talk to?”, and “Can I really do this?”.
The first and most crucial step is to connect with a healthcare provider you can trust. This is especially the case if you are having your first baby and you are clueless about what to do and expect.
Who to See for Prenatal Care?
There are two common options for pregnant women when it comes to choosing a healthcare provider – an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) and a certified midwife (CM). Both are equipped with the education and training to provide high-quality prenatal care and eventually, deliver your baby.
The main difference between the two is that an OB-GYN is a medical doctor who specializes in women’s reproductive health, while a midwife is a trained professional who focuses on low-risk pregnancies and offers unmedicated birthing options.
For high-risk pregnancies or those with medical complications, an OB-GYN is the best option. However, midwives would be perfect for women who prefer a more natural and home-like birthing experience.
It is important that you feel comfortable with the healthcare provider you choose as you will be sharing a lot of personal information with them throughout your pregnancy. Take the time to do some research and ask for recommendations from family and friends before deciding.
Making Sure You’re Getting the Right Prenatal Care
Once you have chosen a healthcare provider, the next step is to ensure that you are getting the right prenatal care. This means going to all your scheduled appointments, taking your prenatal vitamins as prescribed, and eating a balanced and healthy diet.
It is also important to be honest with your midwife or OB/GYN about any discomforts or concerns you may be feeling, no matter how trivial they may seem. They are there to help you have a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
Planning Your Pregnancy Journey and Childbirth
As mentioned, pregnancy not only brings changes to your body but also to your life. Therefore, it is important to take the time to plan and prepare for your pregnancy journey, your childbirth, and your new life as a parent.
Making a Birth Plan with Your Partner
One of the first things you need to do is sit down with your partner and discuss your preferences for the childbirth process. This is what is called a birth plan.
Some of the things you need to consider and discuss are your preferred birthing method (vaginal delivery or cesarean section), pain management during labor (epidural or no epidural), and who you want to be in the delivery room with you.
You may also need to decide on a pediatrician or family doctor for your baby and make sure that they are part of your health insurance plan.
Choosing Where to Give Birth
While your midwife or OB/GYN will usually have their own hospital or birthing center that they work with, you have the final say on where you want to give birth.
Due to health concerns and other reasons, some women prefer to give birth in the comfort of their own home. In fact, figures show that home birth rates in the United States have grown to almost 20% in 2020. This is associated with the restrictions and dangers brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, home births are not for everyone. Some women feel more comfortable and safer in a hospital setting, especially if they are considered high-risk pregnancies.
Making the decision on where to give birth is a personal one but you should discuss it with your partner, as well as your midwife or OB/GYN because they will be the ones taking care of you during labor and delivery.
Getting Equipped with Knowledge & Training
Despite having regular consultations with an OB/GYN or a midwife, and scouring the internet for information, some women still feel like they need more knowledge and training before their big day. This may be more common for first-time moms but even those who have given birth before may still feel this way.
Fortunately, there are now a number of classes and consultations tailored to the specific needs and concerns of both pregnant women and their partners. These services are provided by hospitals, birthing centers, and even some private organizations.
Attending Maternity & Lactation Consultations
Knowing the specifics of pregnancy and newborn care can be quite tricky. From finding the right doulas, shopping for the necessary supplies, and learning how to breastfeed, there is just so much to think about and prepare for.
Lucky for you, there are now a number of maternity and lactation consultations that you can attend. A maternity consultation is usually a one-time, one to two-hour session where a pregnancy expert will walk you through everything you need to know about pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care.
Meanwhile, lactation consultations are private sessions facilitated by an RN lactation consultant. These sessions usually last for one to two hours as well and focus on everything related to breastfeeding, from latch techniques to proper milk production and storage.
Joining Pregnancy and Parenting Classes
If you want to meet other pregnant women or parents-to-be as you learn more about the intricacies of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting, then signing up for educational classes is a great idea.
Pregnancy classes such as natural childbirth and prepared childbirth classes are designed to educate and empower pregnant women, as well as their partners on the birthing process. These courses are often divided into several sessions, lasting for around one to two hours each.
Meanwhile, parenting classes focus on everything you need to know about taking care of a newborn, from changing diapers and bathing to soothing a fussy baby. These classes are usually one-time, two to three-hour sessions. Some centers also offer support group sessions for mothers who just gave birth.
Finding the Right Help & Support
Another major change having a child will bring is the need to find reliable help and support, especially if you are a first-time mom.
You will need all the help you can get, from your partner and family to a trusted group of friends. You may also want to consider hiring a professional postpartum doula or a babysitter. This is especially helpful if you are having a challenging time breastfeeding or if you are having a tough time adjusting to life with a newborn.
Looking for the Right Newborn Care and Babysitting Services
Some families only need help during the first few weeks after childbirth, while others may need help for several months or even years. Hence, to suit every family’s unique needs, there are now a variety of newborn care and babysitting services of which you can avail. Some of the types of service providers include the following:
A Newborn Care Specialist or Baby Doula
Also known as a night nanny or a postpartum doula, a newborn care specialist is an experienced care provider who helps in organizing the household, preparing the baby’s food, and taking care of the newborn. At the same time, the mom gets some much-needed rest.
They usually stay for a set number of hours, anywhere from six to twelve, and can be hired on a one-time basis or on a regular schedule.
Some families need more assistance as their children grow older and become more active. If this is the case, you may want to consider hiring a babysitter.
Babysitters have also experienced care providers responsible for taking care of children while their parents are away or need an extra set of hands. They have experience in childcare and are CPR certified.
There are three main types of babysitters namely, live-in, or at-home babysitters, hotel babysitters, and even babysitters. Your choice will depend on your family’s needs and preferences.
A Family Assistant
If you need help in both childcare and managing your household, then hiring a family assistant is the best option for you.
Apart from taking care of your children, a family assistant is also responsible for running errands, doing grocery shopping, and even light meal preparation. They can also help in accomplishing administrative tasks for parents with small businesses.
Families usually hire family assistants regularly, although there are also those who only need their help for a specific period, such as when the parents are expecting a new baby or when they are going on vacation.
Preparing You and Your Baby for the Big Day
Got your plans all set? You are almost ready to welcome your bundle of joy into the world!
But, of course, one of the last and most important things you need to do is to prepare yourself and your baby for the big day.
Here are some things you can do to get ready:
Knowing What to Expect During Labor
Labor and delivery can be a painful and overwhelming experience, so you must know what to expect.
Ask your doctor or midwife about the various stages of labor and the signs that will tell you when it is time to go to the hospital. You may also attend a labor rehearsal class towards the final weeks of your pregnancy to practice different labor positions and learn in-depth about the pain management, breathing, and relaxation techniques that you can use when the time comes.
Making a List of Things, You’ll Need for Baby’s Arrival
You will need a lot of things for your baby, from the basics like clothing and bedding to the more specific items like a breast pump and a newborn car seat.
To make sure you do not forget anything, it is best to create a list of all the things you will need and start stocking up a few weeks before your due date. You can also ask friends or family members who have recently had a baby for recommendations on the best products to buy.
Some Tips for a Successful and Enjoyable Pregnancy Journey
Despite all the aches, mood swings, and physical changes that come with pregnancy, it is still one of the most amazing journeys you will ever take in your life.
To help you enjoy every moment, here are some tips:
Communication is Key
While it is you who is carrying the baby, remember that your partner is also going through this journey with you. Be open and honest with each other about your thoughts and feelings to ensure that you are on the same page.
This is also important when it comes to making decisions about your pregnancy and delivery. Discuss everything with each other and with your healthcare provider to make sure that you are both comfortable and in agreement with the plan.
Pregnancy does not have to stop you from doing all the things you love. Unless your doctor tells you to, there is no need to put your life on hold just because you are expecting. For example, if you enjoy walking around the neighborhood in the mornings, you can continue doing so as long as you are comfortable and you do not push yourself too hard.
You can also join a prenatal yoga or swimming class to help you stay active during pregnancy. Just make sure to get your doctor’s or midwife’s approval before starting any new exercise routine.
Be Available for Relaxation and Rest
Pregnancy can be stressful, so it is important to find ways to relax and destress.
Take some time for yourself every day to do things that make you happy, such as reading, listening to music, or spending time in nature. You can also consider getting a pregnancy massage to help you relax.
Be Prepared for Unexpected Changes
Not all pregnancies are the same, so do not be surprised if yours does not go exactly according to plan.
There may be times when you must change your diet, exercise routine, or even your birth plan due to unforeseen circumstances. The important thing is to be flexible and to go with the flow. With the right healthcare provider, open communication with your partner, and a support system of family and friends, you will be able to get through whatever challenges come your way.
Here is to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy Journey!
Entering motherhood can be one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences of a woman’s life.
From the first pregnancy symptoms and the initial excitement of finding out you are pregnant to the joy of feeling your baby’s kick and the anticipation of finally meeting your little one, there are many amazing things about pregnancy. So, as you venture into this new and wonderful phase of your life, remember to cherish every moment.
Congratulations and best wishes for a happy and healthy pregnancy journey!
I am Pregnant; what’s Next
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