Yay, you’re pregnant! The journey of pregnancy is an exciting one, but with everything in life, there are things you can do and things you should probably wait to do until after you deliver. What’s most important is all of these things play a crucial role in making sure you have the healthiest and most joyous pregnancy experience ever. With this list, you will be able to create an action plan on things you should start doing and things you should not.
Lifestyle Choices Matter.
“First, I tell anyone who is wanting to get pregnant to purge bad habits like smoking, drinking, and bad eating, and that includes dads, too,” says Meghan Bardwell, Community Childbirth Educator at Woman’s Hospital. Taking a prenatal vitamin can help you get vitamin D, folic acid and other pregnancy essentials. If you eat a rainbow of different colors and types of foods, you are helping your baby’s outcome without realizing it.
“We recently learned that what you eat can shape your baby’s attitudes toward foods and their preferences, and in the third trimester, your amniotic fluid tastes like the foods you eat so the baby is exposed and eager to eat them,” says Bardwell. This is a great opportunity for you to try a few new dishes yourself. Also, stay hydrated as best as you can.
During pregnancy, even some healthy options like fish can be bad. “We want to try to limit seafood to 12 ounces per week because sometimes, they can have a high mercury content, and we want to have no sushi or deli meat unless it is piping hot,” says Bardwell. When it comes to eggs and cookie dough, you will have to say “no” to those as well for now.
Doing the right things at the right times can make all the difference. “Make an appointment with your physician beforehand to figure out ovulation if you are trying, and have rapport so you have a relationship with him,” says Bardwell. There are classes such as Pregnancy 101 at Woman’s Hospital which are geared toward parents in their first trimester that reviews side effects and tips for tolerating them as well as preterm labor and what is and is not normal.
Take It Easy.
Remember, this is not the phase of your life to become Superwoman. “I recommend sloughing off any extracurricular duties you do not have to do and realize that your body is going through an enormous change emotionally, physically and hormonally,” says Bardwell. It is okay to take a nap, and you should listen to your body.
Staying active is person-dependent, but it can be nice to do light to moderate activity. There is a class at Woman’s Hospital called Fit for Birth that ties in strength training, cardio, and gets your body ready for the work of labor. Always check with your doctor first. It used to be said that if you did not do a certain activity before becoming pregnant, you should not begin, but the times and rules have changed. “Recent studies show that adding in light walking, swimming, or something low impact most days for 30 minutes is beneficial for moms to keep blood pressure down, swelling down, and increase blood flow,” says Bardwell.
Dads need to know what to expect and be understanding. “Realize that mom’s hormones are on a rollercoaster and her body is physically changing; hormones are changing; and mood swings, tiredness and forgetfulness are common,” says Bardwell. By being hypersensitive, men can encourage their partners to feel better about their bodies and remind them why they are going through the process.
“She will probably cry over random things and get fussy, angry and short-tempered, but that will subside,” says Bardwell. Dads can be one of the best cheerleaders, but he may need some extra attention as well. Planning a date night may be just what you need. “The calmer and more confident dad is in his parenting and partnering ability, the more confident and at ease mom will be,” says Bardwell.
As you are counting down the days, you will experience many emotions and want to make sure you have covered all of the vital tasks before delivery. “Find a doctor for your baby and consider asking your doctor for a referral to a pediatrician who best suits you and your baby’s needs,” says Sean Ellis, Public Information Officer at the Louisiana Department of Health.
The pediatrician can help guide you, answer questions as they arise, and even help make the time fun. “Take time to go shopping, as the baby will need a car seat to get home from the hospital [in] because it is the law,” says Ellis.
You will also want to pack a hospital bag ahead of time. “Include comfortable clothes, toiletries and any other items that will help make you feel comfortable,” says Ellis. A few must-haves include a receiving blanket, the baby’s going home outfit, and the car seat, so you can take your new little addition home.
Ready or Not, Baby Is Here
Roles shift for all. “When you leave the hospital, you are no longer husband and wife, you are mom and dad,” says Bardwell. When you know what is normal versus not, it can be easier to accept changes as they come.
“Remember, this baby was brought here in love, so you want to keep communication open if you feel like your partner is on edge and not attack but come from a place of concern,” says Bardwell. Continue to ask what you can do, make sure you have support along the journey, and remain calm. Remember that parenthood is bound to come with some surprises that you cannot always be prepared for. Your mother and your grandmother did it. You can do it, too.
“Keeping up with foods that I could and could not eat was difficult at first, but over time, it became second nature. As soon as I delivered my son though, I was ready for sushi and a chicken shawarma salad.” –Kayla Valenti