Motherhood changes everything. It can be the most challenging thing you’ve ever done but also the most rewarding. There are many, many things to do and prepare for before your baby arrives, and it’s a good idea to start doing them as early as possible.
This post will cover all the first-mom necessities from monthly visits with your doctor to getting enough rest and everything in between!
Please note that this article is only meant for parents of one child. If you are expecting more than one child, please chat with a doctor or specialist about what you should expect before your second (or third!) child is born.
Chad and I spent about six months preparing for our daughter’s arrival, but we had the benefit of an experienced mother doing everything she could to make sure her first child was delivered safely. If you are expecting your first child, prepare to feel like you’re reading a foreign language! This is a short summary from my experience so that you know what to expect and can be proactive getting ready for birth:
Monthly Dr. Appointments
During pregnancy, it’s important to get monthly visits from your doctor or midwife. In addition to routine exams, you will be given information and materials about labor and birth, breastfeeding, and many other topics. If your baby is late, early, or otherwise different than the average baby’s gestation age (37-42 weeks), your doctor may do additional tests to make sure that everything is okay. We actually had two ultrasounds scheduled for our first child but didn’t end up needing either one!
What to Do:
Go to all of your appointments . It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any questions or concerns at the moment…you would not believe how much information you will get from simply going in and talking with your doctor. That being said, if you do have concerns or questions, definitely go in and talk with your doctor. It’s much easier to get answers and plan for birth when you’re early in your pregnancy than it is later on. For example, we had planned on a natural birth (without pain medication) and had done a lot of reading on the topic (and even discussed our plans with our doctor quite a bit). All of that preparation paid off because when it came time for labor, I didn’t feel stressed or scared because I knew what to expect and what to ask for when I was in labor.
Take good notes . Your doctor, midwife, and other medical professionals will give you a lot of information. You will be given tons of pamphlets, booklets, and other materials about labor and birth. Take all of it home with you so that you can read it again later to get more information.
Ask questions! It’s natural to feel overwhelmed with all the new information but there are many things that I learned by simply asking my doctor questions. At my first appointment I didn’t know what they meant when they said “placenta previa” (something that I had read about in preparation for pregnancy). I asked my doctor and she told me about the condition and how it could affect birth. I got the answers to many other questions from my midwife too! The little things add up and knowing them helps you feel prepared for labor…and birth!
The first trimester is all about getting ready for your baby’s arrival. Your body will go through many changes to prepare itself for labor, water breaking, birth, etc. If you aren’t getting enough sleep during this time, you will be tired throughout your pregnancy. During pregnancy it is important to get at least nine hours of sleep most nights of the week. You won’t be getting a lot of sleep after your baby is born either (especially during the first two months), so make sure you’re using your time wisely now.
What to Do:
Go to bed early and get up early . We all know that getting up early can be hard…but it pays off when it comes to rest. Even if you go to bed earlier, you may find yourself tossing and turning because, after all, you are pregnant! If this happens to you, try sleeping in an extra hour instead. This helps me get enough sleep.
Get plenty of sleep on the weekends .