Great Expectations

Pregnancy often inspires others to treat you with a host of well-deserved perks.

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Newly pregnant? Many women, from the moment that test comes back positive, already notice a tighter fit in their jeans. Others, energized with incredulous anticipation, don’t sense their expanding bellies until months later.

Either way, pregnancy is a time of great anticipation. Each change in your physique is a reminder of the awe-inspiring miracle of the human reproductive process. As you feel those first few tiny kicks bubbling up within you like baubles of love, you are overcome with pleasure at the preciousness of the new life you are nurturing.

It’s not just your blossoming belly that precedes you during pregnancy. You may enjoy a renaissance of spirit. You are intimately engaged with one of nature’s most fundamental life forces, and it shows. Maybe that’s why some pregnant women take on a rosy glow and feel a surge of renewed energy and enthusiasm for staying active.

In return, pregnancy often inspires others to treat you with a host of well-deserved perks.

For instance, people open doors for you, let you in the front of the grocery store line, help you carry stuff, make room for you in elevators and give up their seat for you on buses and trains. You have a valid excuse for pigging out. Your friends won’t think you’re weird for turning off your cell phone to take afternoon naps. Strangers find it easy to start a conversation with you, if only to ask how far along you are.

Don’t hide your growing girth. Celebrate it! An ideal way to do that is to maintain optimal health, plan for a safe delivery and arrange your life so that you can cherish every moment of your newborn’s first few weeks at home.

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5 Ways to Prepare for Your Pregnancy

1.Discovering The Right Doctor For You

Your choice of an OB-GYN is entirely personal. Get references from family and friends and meet with a few. You want one with a good bedside manner who communicates well and shares your ideas about the birthing experience.

Some obstetricians have midwives on staff. Research shows that midwives are less likely to propose unnecessary interventions at the birth unless they are medically essential.

Make sure your OB-GYN and/or midwife is listed on your insurance plan and will deliver at your chosen hospital.

You’ll also need to find a pediatrician. Since your relationship with a pediatric practice represents a long-term commitment, choose wisely. Again, your best bet is word-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends.
 2. Staying Healthy

You are eating for two. When you maintain a healthy, balanced diet you are giving your baby a healthy start, too.

Follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding vitamin and mineral supplementation and what to eat and drink (or not). Avoid smoking and alcoholic beverages. Got an exercise routine? Enjoy a favorite sport? Keep it up, but clear it with your doctor just in case. It’s probably best to put off bungee jumping for the next nine months.

3.Making Room for Baby

If you’re even minimally creative, or have a flair for design, you’re likely envisioning the perfect place for baby — down to the color of the window curtains and what kind of teddy bears, butterflies, kittens or kites you want floating above the crib either as a mobile or decorating the ceiling.

The good news is that warmth and love and caring attention to health are much more vital to a newborn’s happiness than that lavish room you saw on Pinterest. Newborns don’t need fancy cribs or designer clothes. (Some very responsible parents I know actually nestled their newborn in a dresser drawer by their bedside for the first few weeks. Today he’s a graduate student at Harvard. Who knew?)

Besides a safe, warm sleeping area, all you may need are a changing table, a conveniently located wastebasket to discard dirty diapers, milk bottles, a breast pump, plenty of burping pads for over-the-shoulder spit-ups, a baby carrier or sling and formula if not breastfeeding.
 4. Exploring Birthing Options

You’ve heard all the birth stories, from babies that pop out in the back of taxicabs to the agonizing 36-hour labor. Neither of these scenarios is the norm.

Of course you can’t prevent nature from taking its course, but you do have options as to how you’d prefer to deliver your baby.

Whether you want a home birth or hospital delivery, and whether you are aiming for natural childbirth or a scheduled C-section, the more knowledge you have, the more relaxed you’ll be when your baby wants out. Read books. Listen to other moms’ stories. Discuss options with your OB-GYN. And definitely enroll in a childbirth education class. Local hospitals may offer them year-round, and some may be available online.

Ideally you should attend classes with the person who will be with you at delivery. That person will be your calm and patient guide, so you want to make sure they can help you through the big event the way you want.

5.Choosing the Right Hospital

Delivering your baby in a hospital gives you immediate access to labor and delivery professionals, nurses and doctors and advanced medical equipment. Even if your delivery is smooth as silk, it’s comforting to have these resources at hand.

Larger hospitals have women’s centers, often in a separate wing, with specially trained labor and delivery staff who provide a high level of expertise, comfort and understanding to ease your birthing journey. They may also have birthing rooms that allow you to walk around during labor and even sit in a bathtub.

Some hospitals allow a quiet post-birth mother-and-baby bonding hour. Skin-to-skin contact, listening to your heartbeat and feeling your warmth helps your baby adjust to life outside the womb and tune into your voice and touch.

Another benefit to a hospital birth is breastfeeding instruction. Having a certified lactation consultant by your side will give you much-needed confidence that your baby is getting enough of the perfect nutrition that breast milk provides. That nutrition includes antibodies that protect against infection. Another benefit to breastfeeding is that it helps your uterus shrink to normal size. Besides, it’s free.

Tour the hospital in advance so when the big day comes you’ll know the fastest route to get there and where to park, and you know your way around the labor and delivery area. The staff will give you a list of personal items to pack and have ready. Key among these are your photo ID, your insurance card, your cell phone and charger and a camera.

Keep that frilly outfit from Grandma at home! Your hospital will provide you with the basics to care for your newborn after the birth, such as diapers, wipes, a t-shirt and formula if you are bottle-feeding. For the car ride home, you must have a properly installed newborn car seat.

A Final Word

Just remember that childbirth is natural. Women have been having babies for tens of thousands of years and chances are excellent for a wonderful outcome for you and your bundle of joy.

Thanks to Northside Medical Health Systems for contributing information to this article.


Originally published at Gwinnett Magazine.

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