Tip 21. Look into using a doula during labor. Your doula is basically a support person dedicated to focusing on you and your needs throughout your entire pregnancy. Some will help with postpartum care like diaper changes, swaddling, and other baby basics.
Use of a doula allows your spouse or significant other to focus on the experience of the birth with you, as the doula gives you the encouragement and support you need. They should be informed of your birth plan so they can help keep you on track and make sure things are being done as you want them, as well.
Tip 22. Know the early signs of labor and other symptoms that require you to contact your doctor. You’ll experience Braxton Hicks contractions, which are basically practiced contractions, throughout your pregnancy. They are an irregular and painless tightening of your uterus, and they become more intense the closer you get to delivery.
If the contractions start to get painful and are coming at a regular interval, you’ll want to contact your doctor. Other warning signs you should not ignore are vaginal bleeding or leaking fluid, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, decreased activity of the baby, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations.
Tip 23. Pets should be prepared for the arrival of a new baby. If they’ve developed any bad habits recently like jumping or biting, break them of those habits before the baby arrives. Make sure they are up-to-date on vaccinations.
When the baby is born, you can wrap him or her in a blanket for a few hours. Have your partner bring the blanket home for your pets to smell, which allows them to get used to the new baby’s scent before you and the baby come home from the hospital.
Tip 24. Interact with your baby before he or she is born. Your baby will be used to the sound of your heart beating early on, but they’ll also be able to hear outside noises between 23 and 27 weeks. Talk and sing to your baby to bond with him or her before birth.
Between 29 and 33 weeks, your baby can hear higher-pitched sounds and may even be startled by loud noises. Studies of newborns show that they respond to sounds and voices they hear in the womb after birth by appearing more alert and active, so chatting with your baby will help him or she quickly form a bond with you.
You can play with your baby by tapping your belly to see if you get a kick back in the same spot. Or, shine a flashlight on your belly, play music, and have your partner and any other children talk to the baby, too.
Tip 25. Heartburn can get worse as pregnancy progresses, but there are a few things you can do to ease it. Eat five or six smaller meals instead of three big ones during the day. Avoid fatty, fried, spicy, and citrusy foods. Carbonated beverages can cause heartburn, too. Avoid eating a couple of hours before you go to bed, and try drinking water after your meals instead of during them.
Antacids like Tums are usually safe for pregnant women, and they’ll even give you a little extra calcium.
Tip 26. Take advantage of your natural nesting instincts to get some last minute cleaning and organizing done. However, don’t overdo it since you’ll need some of that energy for labor.
Tip 27: Have your to-go bag ready by the door. There are plenty of lists online for what you should include in your bag, but there are some essentials you should have. You’ll definitely want to take a shower after labor, so have a shower kit in the bag. A change of clothes for you and your partner is nice, and you’ll probably want a cute “bringing home baby” outfit. Diapers and wipes for your newborn are helpful, though the hospital often provides those, too. Have your camera charged and ready, and pack extra batteries just in case.
Tip 28: Once labor begins, expect the unexpected. You may hardly feel your contractions, or you may be writhing in pain while only three centimeters dilated. There may be no time for an epidural, or you might end up getting one when you swore you wouldn’t. Labor can happen a few days before or a few days after the due date. You could have your baby in a car! You just never know what’s going to happen when you do go into labor. so, be open to the experience.
Once it’s all said and done, write it all down so you have an accurate record of the birth story to cherish forever.
Pregnancy is an amazing and miraculous experience, but there are many things that come along with it that you’re often not prepared for, especially the first time around. We hope this guide helps you navigate and even enjoy the changes your body is going through.