Congratulations on expecting a child! Lately I have had multiple expecting family and friends ask me for suggestions.
One idea is to be careful with what you read. Some pregnancy books like "What to Expect When You're Expecting" tend to focus on what could possibly go wrong but likely won’t. I find it more helpful to focus on how the baby is growing. The Dr. Sears book “The Pregnancy Book” is good. On the bookshelf you can have a couple of books for questions once the baby is born. If you like “The Pregnancy Book” then get “The Baby Book” and/or “The Breastfeeding Book” for once the baby arrives. Other books than can help calm you during pregnancy are Momma Zen, Mojo Mom, and Buddha Mom. If you can stay relaxed that is good for the baby. If mom-to-be is too fearful and anxious she releases stimulant hormones that cross the placenta and negatively affect the fetus (Berk, 2013). (I will put up two other posts about the prenatal periods and the stages of labor. Only read these if they are helpful to you and not stressful.)
It is great to have a birth plan, what you would like to have happen during the birth. This can include where you want the birth to take place, who you envision being there, as well as lighting, music, massage, etc. However, things do not always go according to plan and just be prepared for that possibility. The most important thing is the health of the mother and baby. It is interesting to note that what women want with their first birth is often different from what they want with their later births. Experience can be a great teacher. Certain birthing positions may speed along your labor, such as walking or sitting, more than lying down. You will learn what works the best for your body. If you give birth in a place that allows you try different positions that would be ideal. Find a doctor or midwife you really connect with. Communicating effectively with and being able to trust that person is more important than how nice the room is or how big a tub they have.
Once you give birth if you don’t have a lot of support from a mate, family and friends it can feel very isolating to spend 24/7 with your new baby, especially if you worked before the birth. I recommend reaching out to your local La Leche League and if or when needed, getting a lactation consultant for help with feeding issues. You would think this is natural and easy but it is often much more challenging than you would think. Also, reach out to your local Mom’s club and Facebook groups that have children the same age for park playdates. When friends bring over a dinner those first few weeks this is the most amazing gift because you will likely not be cooking for yourself during that time. The more support the better.
Sleep is going to be one of the hardest parts of having a newborn. They say to sleep when the baby sleeps and this is true but simplistic. If you are breastfeeding then at the beginning you are feeding your newborn every two hours. Sleep deprivation is real. If you can pump then you can get a little break. The books on sleep I’d recommend are "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" and "Good Nights”. A small textbook on infancy that includes physical milestones, reflexes, etc. is “Infants, Toddlers, and Caregivers.” Another nice, calm, easy read is “Dear Parent.”
No one is prepared for the huge change of having a newborn. If you are reading this and searching for more information then I have no doubt you will be a great parent because you care and you are open to learning more. Email me if you have any questions along the way. Best of luck and congratulations!
Berk, L. E. (2013). Child development (9thed.). Pearson, New York City, NY.
Gerber, M. (2003). Dear parent: Caring for infants with respect (2nd ed.). Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE), Los Angeles, CA.
Gonzalez-Mena, J. & Eyer, D. W. (2007). Infants, toddlers, and caregivers (7th ed.). Mayfield, Mountain View, CA.
Gordon, J. & Goodavage, M. (2002). Good nights. St. Martin’s Griffin, New York City, NY.
Kramer, J. (2003). Buddha mom. Archer. New York City, NY.
Miller, K. M. (2007). Momma zen: Walking the crooked path of motherhood. Trumpeter, Umhlanga Rocks, South Africa.
Pantley, E. (2002). The no-cry sleep solution: Gentle ways to help your baby sleep through the night. McGraw-Hill Education, New York City, NY.
Sears, W. & Sears, M. (1997). The pregnancy book: Month-by-month, everything you need to know from America’s baby experts. Little, Brown and Company. New York City, NY.
Sears, W. Sears, M., Sears, R., & Sears, J. (2013). The baby book, revised editions: Everything you need to know about your baby from birth to age two. Little, Brown and Company. New York City, NY.
Sears, M. & Sears, W. (2018). The breastfeeding book: Everything you need to know about nursing your child from birth through weaning. Little, Brown and Company. New York City, NY.
Tiemann, A. (2005). Mojo mom: Nurturing your self while raising a family. Spark Press.