Being a first-time mom can be overwhelming, but thankfully, you have nine months to prepare!
Literally anyone and everyone will be quick to advise you on all the items you need, the best ways to parent, and a never-ending list of tasks to accomplish before your bundle of joy arrives. Take a deep breath! Preparing for your first doesn’t have to be complicated, frustrating, or stressful. But if you are pregnant for the first time, there are a few key things we recommend doing in advance of your due date to enhance your overall experience and make the time more enjoyable.
1. Plan a Babymoon
A lot of people who don’t have kids are always quick to say that you can’t do anything with children in tow, or that your level of convenience plummets once you have them. While this might be true to a certain extent – there’s really no reason you can’t travel or do the things you did before with your kids – don’t view your babymoon as the last possible opportunity for you and your spouse to ever have a romantic trip alone again.
Rather, it should be seen as a celebration. You’re celebrating your relationship and the love you have for one another, as well as your new arrival, and what better way to do that than through a relaxing vacation? Whether you go all out and fly across the world, or take a short weekend trip to the mountains or the beach, a few days in a romantic destination can become one of your most treasured memories before the two of you become the three of you.
2. Go to a Movie
Whether you bring your husband or a girlfriend with you or even decide to go alone, take advantage of your free time and see a movie. Even though theaters are being phased out in favor of at-home streaming options (which you’ll probably spend plenty of time doing once baby gets here), there’s still something special and even reminiscent about dedicating an afternoon or a date night to seeing a dumb comedy or action flick and paying too much money for popcorn.
3. Spend the Day Alone
Whether you spend the day in bed, shopping, or getting a mani-pedi, take at least one day before baby’s arrival just for yourself and do whatever your heart desires. Soon, your every waking moment will be dedicated to someone else, and while that beautiful, exhausting experience is the way nature intended, these days will be few and far between in the future. Check out a lunch spot you’ve been wanting to try, or peruse a bookstore, all by yourself. Spread a blanket out in the park or take a long walk, if you can manage it. Spend the day with yourself; it won’t be just you for too much longer.
4. Relax in a Bubble Bath
One of the most common new mom comments we hear is how hard or nearly impossible it is to bathe with a newborn in the house. You can’t take your time like you used to in the past, and you’re constantly listening for a hungry or diaper-change cry. Before baby gets here, take at least one long, indulgent bubble bath and soak it up while you can.
5. Read a Book That Has Nothing To Do with Pregnancy
During my first trimester, I devoured every baby-related book I could get my hands on, so much so that I quickly got burnt out on pregnancy information and advice. Take a break from all the pregnancy content and spend your last baby-free months or weeks plowing through your Goodreads list which has been sitting dormant for far too long. (Just me?) It might be a tacky romance or a popular new thriller everyone’s talking about. You probably won’t spend the majority of your child’s newborn days looking for something new to read, so enjoy it.
6. Get into Nesting Mode
Nesting is known as the overwhelming instinct to clean, shop, and organize moms-to-be usually feel toward the end of their pregnancies. Nesting might be different for everyone, but it usually looks like deep-cleaning your home in preparation for baby’s arrival. You could catch up on laundry, making sure all of the clothes you need after you come home from the hospital (for both you and baby) are clean and ready to go, and making sure your freezer is stocked with meals your spouse or other family member(s) can quickly pop in the oven while you’re busy with other newborn-related things.
7. Pack Your Hospital Bag
Part of your nesting instinct might include packing your hospital bag, which most mom and pregnancy sites agree you should have packed and ready to go around weeks 35 to 37. Make sure hubby’s bag is packed too! There are a lot of lists and articles out there as far as what to include in your bag, but your best bet might be to ask your close friends and family members who are also moms what was absolutely essential to them during labor and delivery, and perhaps more importantly, what wasn’t essential in their bags. You might feel the need to overpack since it’s your first time, but no one wants to lug multiple suitcases around in the middle of labor.
8. Schedule Maternity Leave
If you’re a working mom, be sure to schedule your leave well in advance of your due date. Especially if it’s your first baby, he or she might show up early, on time, or even late, as is usually most common. This means that unless you’re scheduled to be induced, baby could come at any time, so be prepared. Well before your due date, make sure your maternity leave dates and length of time are filed with your supervisor or HR person, and that each relevant co-worker who needs to know has the information as well. You should also look at how much paid time if any you receive through your employer, as well as any other time you’ve accrued. Be sure to check dad’s paternity leave too!
9. Write a Birth Wish List
Home, birth center, or hospital? Medicated or unmedicated? This task definitely requires you to do your research in advance, especially if you’re planning an unmedicated birth.
Some sage advice I received from my pregnancy care provider was to make a birth “wish list” instead of a birth plan. A birth wish list is flexible and can accommodate for every surprise or eventuality throughout the labor process (think of a flow chart) whereas a birth plan is much more rigid, meaning that if what’s on your birth plan doesn’t work out either for your health or baby’s health, you might feel tempted to see your birth experience as a failure and feel disappointed. Whatever happens, trust that your birth experience will not be a failure, no matter what. Just look at what you’re getting out of it.
10. Decorate a Nursery
Even if you plan to have your baby in your room for the first few weeks or months, they’ll need a place of their own eventually. Decorating a nursery can help you express your nesting instinct, as well as get your creative energy out. You can also get dad in on the action too, especially if there’s painting or other pregnancy-unfriendly decorating that needs to be done. Creating the space you’ll soon bring your little one home to can be a special experience for both mom and dad, and make your baby’s imminent arrival feel all the more real.
Being pregnant for the first time is an emotional experience. There’s so much pressure on you from all sides, whether it’s family, friends, or social media, to do what everyone else thinks is right for your baby. But don’t let that pressure take away from the joy of the experience, especially because it’s your first time. No matter what Instagram or your mother-in-law may advise, you know what’s best for your baby, and taking part in these tasks can be a fun, memorable and even productive way to commemorate your first pregnancy and the growth of your family.
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