Preparing yourself for a baby
So the horror stories of late night feeding sessions and constant diaper changes have worked to put you into panic mode in the last few months of your pregnancy? Fret not!
There are some simple ways to prepare yourself for the daunting tasks of early parenting that will help keep you sane while making sure your new baby is well cared for.
Sleep whenever you can!
Starting from your last trimester, try to go to bed earlier and take naps whenever you can. This will ensure you have enough energy for the labour process itself – which may start at any moment! The last thing you would want to go through is to feel so tired that you cannot pull through the hours of labour that will be required of you. Just experiencing contractions will already sap you of your energy, let alone when the time comes for you to push!
In the early weeks of your baby’s arrival, try to sleep whenever you can. Let someone else deal with the housework. If there is no one else to take over, just leave it be until a time when you can cope with it. The top priorities at this moment are your recuperation and your newborn. The housework is not going to feel unloved or uncomfortable, but you may be putting your health at risk if you try to juggle new mothering tasks, menial chores and your much needed recovery.
What is totally necessary at this point is to spend time bonding, feeding and changing your baby. You should also take care of yourself by eating nutritious meals regularly – especially if you are nursing your baby. Remember to sterilise your baby’s bottles and pacifiers regularly as well. Other than that, everything else can wait!
My favorite part of breastfeeding is that there are no bottles for me to sterilise as I would latch my baby on directly. Less work for me, and more time to rest!
Early preparation can save you from agony
Make sure all the baby’s items are conveniently placed in the baby room around your 37th week of pregnancy. Diapers and wet wipes should be within reach. All those cute baby clothes should be freshly laundered and kept near the changing table. In the early weeks, your baby will require many changes throughout the day due to spit up, diaper leakage and even spurting of milk from your newly upsized breasts.
The last thing you would wish for is to panic in the event of an “accident” (where your baby pees or poops suddenly during a diaper change) and your hands are covered in offending waste and there is nothing within reach to clean it up! (Trust me, this happens more often than you’d like it to.)
Sitting down with your partner during your late pregnancy to discuss “parenting strategies” is also a very good way to avoid being overwhelmed by sudden arrival of your baby. Most parents – particularly those who have no extra help during the first weeks – go into a slight state of shock with all the needs of a newborn that everyone becomes easily irritable and cannot think straight. Setting ground rules before the baby is born means that there will be a plan to stick to should things spiral out of control.
The plan should include:
• An emergency contact should both parents be unable to cope. This would usually be a close friend who is also a parent, or your own parent.
• A method of “time out” when both parents feel overwhelmed by the new duties.
• A roster for both parents. For example: Daddy can do the laundry until Mummy recovers.
• Methods to let Mummy rest and recuperate. For example: Daddy can take a week off work immediately after the birth to help out, or Daddy can watch the baby over the weekends while Mummy sleeps in.
• Coping methods when the baby refuses to sleep and/or cries constantly.
• If applicable, who should help take care of the older children in the family.
It would also be wise to make arrangements for the baby’s first month party during your late pregnancy by calling different companies to ask for quotes and to clarify terms and conditions. It will be difficult to even stay awake once the baby is born, so having all the necessary information on hand would mean the amount of preparation time would be greatly reduced.
Teamwork is the key to success
It took two people to get pregnant, so it is only fair for both partners to take on the tasks of parenting. Even if Daddy cannot breastfeed, he can still help in many other useful ways like rocking the baby to sleep, taking over the house chores, preparing simple meals and changing the baby.
A new mother would usually feel “weird” about her new body and what her breasts are now capable of. She would probably be experiencing pains and aches all over and this is the time when Daddy should step in to provide his support. Done well, this transition period can create a strong bond between both parents and make the parenting journey in future easier. Bear in mind though, no insensitive comments from the husbands please!
Husbands take note!
My husband had jokingly told me I was “like a cow” when my milk came in, and the image of my flabby postpartum self looking like a cow certainly didn’t sound like a compliment. Coupled with unstable hormones post-birth, I had wasted a good 30 minutes crying over it! We women can be an unstable lot after a traumatising event like birth, so we would need all the love and support you can offer.
If you are fortunate enough to receive help from parents, in-laws or domestic help, it will also take teamwork to ride through the tough early weeks. When the work is split amongst a few adults, everyone can have enough rest and the baby will still be well cared for.
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