A-Z of Things to do When Expecting your First Baby: Part I
Expecting your first baby is a fabulous time. Okay, okay there’s the morning sickness, incredible tiredness and, towards the end, sheer discomfort; we all know that. But it is also a time of great hope and possibility.
Many people wait a long time to have their first baby, and the sheer delight of knowing that the day is growing close when he or she will arrive, is enough to outweigh any of the physical ailments. On top of that, people love pregnant women and even previously grouchy neighbours/relatives/co-workers will often be transformed on seeing your growing bump (they may also want to touch it, that is a whole other discussion.)
Some of the most popular searches on eumom involve things to do when you are expecting, to mark the time or just things that you might not be able to do as much once the baby arrives. So, with the benefit of hindsight, here is part one of our A-Z of things to do when you are expecting your first baby. Enjoy and let us know in the comments if you would add anything!
A: Arrange regular date nights –anything from nights out to dinner to nights in on the couch with your partner. The first few months post-baby can come as a bit of a shock to the romance system so stock up now.
B: Birth preferences are a great thing to have as you prepare for your first baby, and are advocated by many midwives and healthcare providers. While flexibility and an open mind are essential as your prepare for labour, educating yourself and knowing what you would prefer in terms of pain relief and birthing options is to be highly recommended.
C: Celebrate your bump! Not so long ago, women were made to feel hugely self-conscious about being pregnant with smocks and staying at home for the duration of the day. Now there are fashionable clothes and photoshoots and everything and, although for many it may not be the time you feel the most fabulous (those surging hormones have a part to play here too), it really is a most beautiful thing that your body is doing. And, in time, you’ll be surprised how wonderful it is to look back on your growing shape. Keep a scrapbook, get your partner to take pics every month, buy a home bump cast kit, get a professional photoshoot, whatever. Just appreciate and celebrate your fabulous, life-giving bump in all its glory.
D: Drink raspberry tea, walk the legs off yourself, eat sizzlingly hot curries and do the deed as soon as your due date comes into sight. Although there is no evidence that any of these old wives suggestions help at all (although anecdotally at least that last one seems to be something of a trade secret!) it’s all part of the craic and gives you something to focus on as you count down the days/hours/minutes/seconds. Just try not to overdo it on the raspberry tea or you won’t even be able to smell it again without feeling sick. Take that one from me.
E: Enjoy long lingering brunches and lunches at the weekend in your favourite place (or at home!). Read the papers – all of them – chat, catch up on all the gossip and generally annoy the waiters by refusing to leave. Anyway, if they think you’re annoying now, wait until you’re taking over the place with a buggy and there’s food being flung through the air in another year or so…
F: Freeze dinners, as many as you can. One girl I know even bought a chest freezer for this purpose – now that’s organisation! When you get home from the hospital, things are so crazy that cooking – or shopping for that matter, even if you can do it online – will be way down your agenda. It is vital that you build yourself up at this time, however, especially if you are breastfeeding which can use an extra 500 calories a day. So having a store of nutritious meals and sauces on hand will make all the difference. And if your partner is a particularly reluctant cook, now could be the time to coerce (we mean threaten) them into learning a recipe or two so that they can help out in the future.
G: Go to the cinema. As much as you can. Unless you have a string of willing babysitters, it becomes difficult to justify spending a few hours away on the cinema, especially when you might be mad for adult conversation. So go now. The second trimester is a particularly good time for movie-going when you are not yet uncomfortable and don’t have to run to the loo every 10 minutes. And, needless to say, popcorn is a must!
H: Have as many crap TV marathons as possible. I watched the whole of Friends from start to finish at least once (at very least) when I was pregnant. Lying on the couch watching rubbish just isn’t feasible with a baby (except perhaps in the early days of breastfeeding when doing anything else isn’t really feasible). Contemplating watching the Home and Away omnibus on a Saturday morning? Just do it. And if you get really lucky, a big sporting event like an Olympics or Grand Slam tennis tournament might come along when you are pregnant. Watch it all.
I: Inspirational mamas are all over the interweb and Twitter machine. Follow the ones you like and get the benefit of their experience and knowledge.
J: Join an online birth month group on eumom. Having a network of people going through the same thing as you will make a huge difference, both when you’re pregnant and when the baby is born. And with them all going through the sleepless nights stage at the same time, you are always guaranteed that someone will be online in the middle of the night when you have a question to ask!
K: Keep a diary of your pregnancy. Jot down a record of your earliest symptoms, how you feel as you are going along through the trimesters, the first signs of labour (real and imagined!). You might think that you could not possibly forget all these things but, trust us, you will, and faster than you would think. And it will be great to have to look back if you decide to try for a second baby… Or a third, or fourth…
L: Lie in as much as is humanly possible. Soon you will think that eight o’clock is a lie-in. This is not a joke.
M: Meet up with your friends as often as you can. Go for walks, have them over for dinner, go to gigs… It can be very hard to meet up when the baby is small and even when you have play dates with friends who also have kids you don’t get the same sort of quality time as you’ll both be trying to keep one eye on the bambinos. This won’t last forever, of course, but definitely meeting up as much as possible when you are pregnant will help to keep you in the loop until you are back in the social swing.