The moment you find out you’re pregnant is the moment your life changes forever. No longer is life just about you and what you need to do to keep you healthy, happy, and safe. Now your life is about something “other.” That “other” is inside of you now, protected and nourished by the natural functions of your body.
However, in a relatively short period of time, that “other” will be birthed into the world as a helpless newborn baby, and he or she will be totally dependent on you for survival and love. Even as you’re still reeling from the news you’ve created a life; you’re probably already wondering what your next move is. What happens now? When should you start preparing for your child’s arrival?
The truth is, there needs to be a lot of preparation when expecting a little one. Our best advice is to sit with the knowledge you’re going to be a mom soon (or a mom again) and try to take it easy for the 1st trimester. Focus on self-care during this time and save your strength for the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. Once you’ve crossed the 14-week threshold, you can start diving in and making preparations for the baby’s arrival.
During the 1st trimester, it’s a good idea to see your doctor for confirmation of the pregnancy, choose an OB-GYN, and make sure your health coverage offers what you’re going to need. Also, keep in mind that many women start to experience pregnancy symptoms during the 1st trimester due to hormonal surges and rapid body changes.
- Morning sickness
- Food aversions
- Extreme fatigue
- Food cravings
- Body changes
- Gums that bleed
- Breast tenderness
- Skin discolorations
- Problems with pooping
- Frequent need to pee
Focus on resting and creating good habits during this period that will help carry you through the rest of your pregnancy. Start and as go on you’ll find those good habits will serve you well as your body gets bigger, and the baby becomes more “real” in your mind.
Diet tweaks are often necessary, such as limiting caffeine and eliminating alcohol. It’s good to incorporate some daily walking and stretching as well to keep your body physically strong, if you don’t already have a fitness routine. The 1st trimester is also a great time for reading up on pregnancy with your partner, so you both know what to expect in the coming months.
The 2nd trimester is where most women will start prepping for the new arrival. Think of it as a “preparing for baby timeline.” You will likely start to feel significantly better during this trimester as pregnancy symptoms ease off or vanish completely. You also might start noticing an actual baby bump now, instead of feeling as though you’ve got a bad case of PMS bloating.
Some women find that making a list helps prioritize what needs to be done before the baby arrives. Sit down and plan out things you will need to do, like shopping, organizing, budgeting. Assess your financial situation and start setting aside funds to help foot expenses for once the baby is born, so you have a bit of cushion. You don’t want to stress over bills getting paid, and money coming in during a time when bonding with your baby will be priority number one.
Some women like to write out a birth plan for the day the baby is born. It’s important to decide on details, like where you want to have the baby, who will be delivering your baby, and who you want present with you during the birth. Take a tour of the birthing facility, and discuss alternative options, like birthing pools and having your baby at home. You also need to decide if you want to go all-natural or if you plan to use pain management medications, and what your wishes are should a c-section become medically necessary.
An excellent idea is developing a schedule or plan for who will handle household duties like cleaning, shopping, and making meals during those first few weeks post-birth. If you have other children, you’ll need to arrange care for them while you’re in the hospital. Talk with your partner and any family members who may step up to help out regarding schedules and tasks, and don’t forget to let your job know you are expecting, so arrangements can be made at work,too, if applicable.
The second trimester is also a great time to start making a list of the must-have baby items you’ll need, like:
- A diaper bag
- A crib or bassinet
- A carrier seat
- A baby bathtub
- Baby blankets and towels
- A couple of newborn outfits
- Baby dresser and changing table
- Bottles and feeding accessories
Keep in mind that if you have a baby shower, you’ll receive many of these items as gifts. It’s good to make a list, but you might want to wait to shop until after the shower, that way you’ll have a better idea of items you still need, and what you can cross off. And, make sure to save all monetary gifts for the later essentials, such as baby proofing your home and any other items you deem necessary for the wellbeing of your child.
During this stage of pregnancy, this is where things ] start to ramp up. Your belly becomes even more prominant than you initially thought it could, you may start feeling what’s often called the “nesting instinct” as you get the nursery ready, clean and organize your home, and stock up on baby items you still need. Some moms like to take classes during this trimester, like Lamaze classes, childbirth classes, and even classes like infant CPR to help feel more prepared.
The third trimester is also a great time to start packing a bag for you and your partner during your hospital stay and packing the baby’s diaper bag with essentials he or she will need before coming home. You want to have all bags packed and ready to go at least 3-4 weeks before your expected due date. Baby’s tend to come on their own timetable, even with the most well-laid plans. Sometimes they arrive early, and sometimes they take their sweet time. Better to have your bags ready to go well in advance, so you have one less thing to worry about.
Take this as a great time for meal prepping. You can make meals that you can put in the freezer for easy reheating once you’re home with the baby. Even though you’ll often have family or friends to help out, it’s nice to have some backup meal options in the freezer that you can thaw out and warm up.
If you’re planning on breastfeeding your new baby, this is an excellent time to read up and potentially take a class about breastfeeding. For some moms, breastfeeding is a breeze, but other moms can face some struggles. Knowing you have a support network with an expert and other new moms to reach out to can be extremely comforting if breastfeeding doesn’t come as easy as you’d hoped.
The third trimester can sometimes feel like the longest leg of being pregnant. Not only does your belly get significantly bigger, but you may also have a re-emergence of pregnancy-related symptoms.
Some women experience things like:
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue and trouble sleeping
- Feeling uncomfortably full when you eat
- Heartburn and indigestion symptoms
- Mild swelling of the feet and hands
- Sharp, shooting pains in the pelvic area
- Aches and pains in the lower back and hips
- Shortness of breath (everything is so cramped!)
All of these symptoms serve to remind you that the baby is almost ready for the big debut. Try to be patient during this stage and cut yourself some slack. If you need to put your feet up and rest, put your feet up and rest. If you need an extra nap or two during the day, don’t be ashamed to take one. If you find yourself not feeling as hungry as normal, it’s okay to skip a meal. You’re not starving your child.
Listen to your body during this final trimester, because it’s doing a miraculous work as it prepares itself for labor and birth. By listening, you assist in giving yourself exactly what you and your baby need most before birth.
Remember that there is no way to know definitively when to start preparing for the baby’s arrival. Follow your instincts because your body always knows what to do when given half a chance. And if you have anything out of the ordinary happen, that causes you concern, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call your OB-GYN. They can help guide you on the next steps to take if you’re feeling uncertain about something.