- First and foremost, think about your diet. Do some research beyond what I tell you, but here are some basics. Eat lots of veggies, cooked and raw, of all colors but most especially those of the green leafy variety (um, duh). Seriously limit sugar and "white" carbs (white bread, white rice). Eat an egg a day and do some research into what constitutes healthy fat (like NOT canola oil or anything hydrogenated, I recommend coconut oil and olive oil and BUTTER!). Ingest something probiotic everyday (yogurt, a supplement, fermented foods, etc). Stocks are your friend (homemade stock, not store bought) and may be especially soothing if you suffer from morning sickness at first. Eat dairy every day if you tolerate it well (full fat dairy is best!). If you are a vegetarian (or a vegan) give some serious thought to eatting meat or at least eggs and cheese while you are pregnant. Saturated fat and cholesterol are the building blocks of the new life you are creating. And last, aside from binging on sugar and processed foods, if your body wants something, eat it! I know that there are LOOOOOONG lists of foods out there that you should avoid while pregnant. Use common sense, of course, but as her midwife told a friend of mine (concerning her prego sushi cravings)- more people get food poisoning every year from Fast Food (which isn't on any of these lists, sadly) than they do from sushi.
- Find a care provider. Another Duh. But remember that your local OB is not your only choice. You can also choose to see a midwife during your pregnancy (assuming you don't have any risk factors- your midwife will evaluate your risk at your first appointment to make sure you're a good candidate). You may also choose to deliver at home, in a birth center, or in a hospital. I had one hospital birth (which was okay) and one birth center birth (which was amazing, and we were home 3 hours after birth!). My main reason for not being interested in a home birth- by the time I was considering alternative birthing I had already given birth once, and I had seen (and heard about... repeatedly, from my husband) the amount of ... stuff... that came out of me. I didn't want that in my house. However I believe I have more amniotic fluid than the average woman... at least the reaction of every medical professional I have popped in front of has given me that impression. But for many others the option of a home birth is very attractive. It's a very personal decision. But it's also an important one- see my post on mother mortality. Believe it or not, mothers who receive their prenatal care and initiate delivery under the care of a midwife are LESS likely to have complications or die during delivery. And it costs a lot less. AND most insurance does cover it.
- Choose a birthing method. At least three or four months before your due date start looking into birthing methods. These are usually methods that aid you in having a healthy intervention free birth. I suggest the Bradley Method or Hypnobabies. I used Hypnobabies with a good amount of success, but having done a lot of reading about Bradley (and my friend becoming an instructor), if I were to become pregnant again I would use Bradley. Both methods are all-inclusive pregnancy and birth courses that focus on deep relaxation throughout labor and birth to allow the body to do most of the hard work.
- Get into a fitness routine. I am hardly a fitness guru, but especially during your first pregnancy it can be easy to become complacent. During your first trimester you tend to be tired and plagued with tummy troubles, headaches, back aches, and general crankiness. It is easy to get into a habit of not moving every time you get the chance to not move. And many women still live under the impression that women need to sit around with their feet up during pregnancy. News flash- your body is meant to take care of a toddler while being pregnant, which includes lifting/carrying 20-30lbs, lots of walking and standing, and a little chasing. And anything that you do before pregnancy on a regular basis you can do during. If you are already pregnant and were inactive before stick with easy low impact activities like walking, yoga (prenatal yoga is best because it is mindful of your more easily strained joins), or swimming (be very careful with breathing).
- Start thinking about your birth plan and research the decisions you will have to make. What do you want the setting to be when you're laboring? Do you want other people to be around, or just your husband/partner? What medical interventions are okay, and what do you want to avoid? What shots do you want your baby to have? I would suggest looking up "birth plan" on the web and reading samples. There are also forms and lists of questions available to guide you. I also recommend using assertive language- for example, say "I will labor in a calm, relaxing environment" instead of "I would like to...."
- Make plans for just before and after baby is born. What do you need help with? I highly suggest making meals and freezing them and having plans for at least two weeks of meals. Do you need to line someone up to help with laundry or cleaning? Do you want to hire a nurse or doula (there is such a thing as a postpartum doula) to help you after birth with the baby?
- Start researching baby care. So many people read all about pregnancy (which, if you take care of yourself, is a no-brainer) but don't read anything about baby care, which is when the real work begins. For a minimum of reading I suggest Dr. Harvey Karp's The Happiest Baby on the Block. Beyond that it depends on your parenting philosophy. Oh, you are pregnant with your first, you probably aren't quite sure what your parenting philosophy is... (Read more about parenting style, and why you should start learning but refrain from making any hard and fast decisions). Anyway, for middle of the road, general baby behavior insight I like The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. Yeah, don't flame me. It has a bad wrap with hardcore APer's. But it's not as bad as many make it sound. The author advises a E.A.S.Y. routine (EASY stands for Eat, Activity, Sleep, You). I don't like her attitude towards baby wearing (which, if I remember correctly, was really hypocritical) or co-sleeping, but I maintain that the routine can be maintained and beneficial to both baby and mother even if you are super AP and cosleeping. Another good book suggestion is the Your Child At Play Series, which gives some great insight into what your baby does and why.
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