From thinking of baby to baby at home

Pregnancy and all that comes with it are processes that are at times indescribable. The emotions and feelings associated with this time are as diverse as every pregnancy is to every woman. From amazing highs to profound lows, pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and birth have serious transformative qualities. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about all that it entails, this article is your go-to guide for an expedited intro into pregnancy and all things associated.

Preparing for pregnancy

Ready to jump the wagon on some serious baby making action? It makes sense to prepare your body for this upcoming transformation and create the best possible environment for your little one to grow in. Being prepared also does wonders for your overall health during pregnancy. Schedule a checkup with your healthcare practioner, plan out how to stop birth control, kick unfavorable habits aside and boost your healthy food intake.

Track your most fertile period

Been trying to no avail? It might simply be that you’re having sex at the wrong time. There are various tools on the market for tracking your ovulation. Know your cycle. Plan accordingly but do leave some space for spontaneity. After all, baby making should be fun!

When the road is difficult

If pregnancy cannot be achieved after one year of trying, or when two or more failed pregnancies are experienced, then infertility comes to play. There are various reasons why this might be. Scientific advances in fertility treatments are there to assist you in achieving your dream.

Reading your pregnancy test

The long-awaited day is here and you cannot wait to test! With home pregnancy tests, there are two versions: digital and the traditional two-line version. There are tests that are more sensitive to early testing and can be used a few days before your period is expected. For other versions of the test, you will have to wait until your expected period date or a few days after.

Announcing your Pregnancy

The test is positive and you cannot wait to share the great news with the world. Or maybe you wish to wait it out until you’re quite sure of a successful pregnancy. Either way, the choice is yours and you shouldn’t feel obliged to share the news. Many couples wait until the 12-week mark to announce their pregnancy, others prefer to wait until their baby’s health is given the all clear at the 20-week anatomy scan.

Dealing with pregnancy discomforts

The elation of pregnancy can be quickly dampened with the onset of those well-known pregnancy symptoms. From morning sickness that seems to last for whole days, exhaustion and countless trips to the bathroom, to back ache, constipation and breast discomforts, the list can be quite endless. It remains imperative to monitor your health and speak to your healthcare provider in case of any concerns.

Your developing baby

Pregnancy lasts around 40 weeks, and the count starts from the first day of your last period. Every week presents new milestones for your baby. At four to five weeks, your baby’s brain, spinal cord and heart have already started to form, and by eight weeks so have all major organs and body structures. By 12 weeks, an ultrasound can help you discover your baby’s gender and by 16 weeks your baby already has a sucking reflex. Those first flutters appear at around the 20-week mark, turning into fully fledged kicks by the third trimester. By the end of 37 weeks, your baby is fully developed and ready to be born!

The first ultrasound

During an ultrasound, a plastic transducer is used to transmit high frequency sound waves through your uterus which send back signals that convert into images of your baby. The first ultrasound exam is done transvaginally and usually takes place at around 6 to 8 weeks of pregnancy. During this test, your healthcare practitioner will listen for your baby’s heartbeat and estimates the baby’s gestational age.

The anatomy scan

The 20-week anatomy scan can be quite a nerve-wrecker. Other than finding out the sex of your baby (if you so wish), detailed measurements of your baby are taken. The brain, face, heart, spine and other major organs are thoroughly studied to rule out any health issues. It is very probable that your ultrasound technician will be fully focused on the screen without offering any explanations throughout the examination. Nonetheless, do not hesitate to ask questions.

The 3D/4D scan

3D and 4D ultrasounds are optional and not necessarily covered by your insurance. They are similar to regular ultrasounds but the image they create is three-dimensional or video-like in the case of 4D. This scan allows doctors to spot any defects that might have been missed by the anatomy scan. It’s also an opportunity to see your baby’s face for the first time and makes for some stunning photos.

Shopping for baby

Can’t help yourself when visiting the mall? Shopping for baby is an experience in itself and overdoing it on the clothing side is very much a normality. Remember that babies grow up very fast and many a times will only wear an outfit once or none at all. Stock up on the basics but limit the not-so-comfy but totally cute outfits. Make a list of the items you’ll need and see if relatives would be willing to help cross some out.

Preparing the nursery

The nursery is a place where most of your time will be spent in the early days and also beyond. Having a space that is both baby proof and calming for you is a worthy investment. The nursery should be a peaceful place that is comfortable and easy to use and in which lighting can be easily dimmed. The nursery is, after all, your baby’s warm cocoon, their first environment following the sweet confines of the womb. Choose a crib that meets all safety regulations to ensure optimal sleep safety and a changing table that does not require dexterity for use.

Breast vs Bottle

The Breast vs Bottle debate often rears its head and its not always an amiable one. Choose an option that will work best both for you and for your baby. Whilst it is one of the most important decisions you will have to make, it is also a very personal one. Major health organizations recommend breastfeeding as the best choice for babies as it helps defend against infections, protects against a number of conditions, and prevents allergies. Nonetheless, breastfeeding does not always work, and when a solution is not possible, formula is an alternative. Weighing the pros and cons of each feeding method will help you reach a decision.

Accepting your body

Pregnancy transforms your body and accepting and loving your body image will do wonders to your overall positivity. You may not be particularly fond of how you’re looking but remember, your body is achieving great things! Stop comparing to other women: yes, not everyone gets stretchmarks, or acne, or look as if they’re about to give birth at six-months in. Pregnancy is a personal journey, one that should see you embrace your body’s newfound strength.

Preparing siblings

Preparing siblings for the birth of a new brother or sister is a task in itself and this greatly depends on the age and maturity level of older children. Questions will very probably abound; answer these as they come up and also present other questions and information for them to feel more involved in the process.

Preparing for birth

For many women, thinking about the birth is overwhelming. Whether feeling eager to experience the birth process or fearing it, what is of importance is being prepared. There are many things that can help in reducing your pain and stress during delivery. From epidurals to breathing classes the most important thing is being prepared and knowing your options. Cesarean, epidural, episiotomy, pitocin, spinal block, APGAR score, amniotic hook, hemostat, forceps, early labor, active labor, first stage, second stage and third stage; these are just some of the terms and tools relating to your delivery that you should learn about before the special day. The point is there is a lot to know and it is wise to learn about all the options available to you including alternative options such as hypnobirthing. Other considerations you should definitely be thinking about are things like your preferred place to birth, be it in the comfort of your own home, a birth center or hospital. A doula can be a great help in preparing you for your birth as well as being part of your special day for support and guidance. Drawing up a birth plan is a great idea but be mentally prepared to stay flexible in case something comes up that requires a deviation from it.

Signs of Labor

The last month of pregnancy may feel like the longest ever. Eager to meet your baby and most probably feeling big and highly uncomfortable, every ache and pain makes you think that birth is imminent. If you’re a first time mum, you may be feeling unsure on how to recognize labor pain. An increase in Braxton hicks, your bump feeling lower, nausea or loose stools and losing the mucus plug are all signs that the baby is close.

Giving Birth

Giving birth is an unforgettable experience. Nothing matches the elation of holding and meeting your baby after nine months of pregnancy. Be it a caesarean section or a vaginal birth, it helps to be informed on the processes of each.

Returning Home with Baby

The big day is here and it’s time to take your baby home! Ensuring that you’re well prepared beforehand will ensure a smoother transition between hospital and home and a calmer start to life with your baby. There are various items which can be regarded as a must for those first days at home. Stock up on diapers, wipes, nappy rash cream, temperature-appropriate clothing, bibs and burp cloths. Prepare bottles, formula and a sterilizer if you’re planning on formula feeding. A nursing pillow, nursing bras, nursing pads and a breast pump come in handy; nipple cream is a life saver during the first days of breastfeeding. As a new mum, you will need maxi-pads, comfortable underwear, ice packs to ease soreness in case of tears, wipes and cream to treat hemorrhoids, and comfortable clothing. A night light that can be dimmed accordingly is a must for those night-time feeds.

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