Becoming a parent is considered to be a joyful life event. The reality can be very different. In the early weeks and months of life with a first baby, parents must learn and master new skills including nappy changing, breast or bottle feeding and settling a crying baby, usually while experiencing very little sleep.
A new family member often means parents need to make a few changes in their lives. For many, these changes can be challenging and unexpected. The transition to becoming a parent is a major change and you need time to adjust.
Preparing for birth
After the baby arrives, your life is going to change. It helps to make some preparations in advance.
Talk to other mothers and your healthcare team
Talk to other mothers about their labours and births. Talk to your midwives and doctor about the type of experience you might have. You might find it helpful to go on a tour of the birthing suite. Think about who you would like as your birth partner or companion.
Think about childcare arrangements for your other children and make preparations for when you are in hospital.
Make a list of the things you may need for your baby. Prepare a safe place for your baby to sleep at home. For at least the first six months the baby should sleep in your room.
Try and get things organised at work a few weeks before your maternity leave starts, just in case you go into labour before your due date.
Ask for help
Ask family and friends for help, especially during those first few weeks with a newborn. You may find it helpful to prepare food in advance and freeze it. This can simply be reheated after the baby is born
Mental and emotional preparation to give birth
Having a baby is an emotional process. Your mental wellbeing needs as much attention as your physical health. There are many people and services to prepare you for giving birth and support you afterwards. These include your midwife, public health nurse, obstetrician, GP, family and friends.
If anxiety is your prevailing emotion and it is affecting your life, get help. Talk to your GP, midwife or obstetrician.
Prepare a birth plan and alternatives that you can give to your midwife. Attending antenatal classes will also help you learn what to expect during labour and birth and having a new baby.
Mentally rehearse what labour might be like for you but be open to the unexpected. Some women find visualisation techniques help during labour such as picturing a flower opening with every contraction.
Pregnancy yoga, pilates or hypnobirthing classes can help you learn breathing and relaxation techniques. Surround yourself with support. Find people you can trust to talk to.