Once you’ve announced that there’s a baby on the way, it can feel like a lot of people get involved. Your doctor has advice, the grandparents-to-be have strong opinions, and random acquaintances will show you their stretch marks. Shut out all the noise when you need to, and check in periodically with your own thoughts and feelings. These are some important things to consider when you’re pregnant so you can protect your baby—and yourself.
Your Physical Health
If you’ve always been a healthy eater and in top shape, you’ll just need to make some modifications to your habits to include a baby’s needs. Consult with your doctor about how to keep exercising safely, and keep track of your weight gain. If you’re not adding enough nutrition for the fetus, you’ll have to up the calories. It can be hard to watch your body morph into a strange shape, but any mother will tell you that it’s worth it. Afterward, you might not be able to regain your pre-pregnancy shape, but you can get pretty close to it—and you might look even better.
Now, for the rest of you who prefer to spend pregnancy on the couch binge-watching “Gossip Girl” and the reboot, you’re going to have to put in a little effort. You’re going to be very tired. You’re going to feel clumsy as your center of gravity shifts. You’ll mis-calculate your distance from doorways, bump into clothing racks, and want to beach yourself like a whale. But all the things you’ve always known you should be doing are now critical for helping the baby grow. So, take these priorities seriously:
- Exercising daily
- Eating well
- Giving up caffeine
- Sleeping as well as you can
- Protecting your back
- Letting go of stress
Your Mental Health
Along with the joy of pregnancy comes a distinct feeling of terror. What might go wrong? What are you doing wrong? What signs of doom are you missing? What haven’t you bought yet? What’s missing from your checklists? If you choose the wrong name, will the baby be mocked mercilessly in school with awful nicknames? What if you’re a really bad mom?
It’s a lot to think about. Truly, the answer to all of them is probably, “It’ll be fine,” but that might not be the answers you hear. If you’re getting a lot of unsolicited horror stories about complicated deliveries, it’s OK to draw some boundaries and just tune them out. Your baby’s arrival won’t be like anyone else’s. It doesn’t make sense to worry about possible problems that might never come up, so save your mental energy for information that does help you. Step away from Google if you find yourself obsessing over pregnancy minutiae. Stick to one reputable parenting website that you trust, and join a responsible online forum for any questions. Your time is probably better spent listening to some soothing music.
Your Personal Space
There are some perks to being pregnant that you’ll enjoy. Someone might give up their seat on a bus for you, or let you cut in line at the grocery store. Your partner might insist on treating you like a fragile princess and fluff your pillows for you. Enjoy the pampering while it lasts.
But at some point, your belly will start getting more attention than you. Strangers have a way of wanting to touch your stomach as though you’re a Buddha statue to be rubbed for good luck. For this reason, social distancing has been a boon for many pregnant women. But if you see someone approaching with their hands outstretched, take back control over your body. Gently move out of the way, or turn the tables and have fun with it. Touch their stomach back. Or look confused and say, “I’m not pregnant.”
Your Baby’s Future
You’re probably on top of most of the important things to consider when you’re pregnant, but you should look toward the future, too. This child will be the most reward responsibility you ever have, and it will last a lifetime. The sooner you start preparations for your baby’s years growing up, the easier it will be to build toward a secure foundation for their adulthood. You can’t guarantee they’ll have a perfect life, but you can give them what you can by:
Saving for College
Start a fund like an Education Savings Account or Education IRA and get into the habit of contributing to it every year. Then you won’t miss the money. You can do something more casual by setting up a savings account for any money the baby gets from family or for celebratory milestones. Even if you set up an automatic withdrawal of $20 from every paycheck, it will add up and be there in case of an emergency.
Saving Cord Blood
Every day, researchers are testing new ways to use stem cells and tissue from the umbilical cord to treat future diseases. If you decide you want your cord blood stored, be sure to let your doctor know, and they will be ready to act quickly after the delivery of your baby.
Creating a Will
No one wants to think about the possibility that they might not always be around for their children. But making your wishes known officially can give you peace of mind. It might even make you feel more secure knowing that you’ve named the loved ones that you’d like to raise your children, and that you’ve updated the beneficiaries for your assets. You don’t have to draw the process out; just update the basics and forget about it.
You have a lot to think about, so draw up your checklists and start tackling the items one at a time. The good news is that decisions like cord blood and tissue banking only need to be made once. You can contact New England Cord Blood Bank for any questions you have or to enroll in a plan at any time before your hospital stay. In the meantime, focus on the positive and enjoy this time with your growing baby.