Published on January 20th, 2020 and Updated on June 10th, 2020
Congratulations! You’re expecting! But just what should you be expecting in the next nine months? You’re probably feeling shocked and elated as well as a little terrified. And despite everyone telling you that you’ll know what to do when the time comes and that motherhood will be the most rewarding experience, you might still have doubts.
That’s okay. Being responsible for growing and raising a child inevitably comes with mental and physical hardships. Before you devolve into a Google spiral and start spouting statistics that prove you’re doomed: take a deep breath.
We’re going to take you through this step by step. Because what you’re feeling isn’t new—women have traversed this terrain for millennia, and behind them, they’ve left nuggets of wisdom so you can be prepared when your baby is born.
Bonding With Your Baby
Okay, wisdom nugget number one: Embrace the fact that you will soon be a mother. It might be challenging to visualize initially, but the good news is, you can begin bonding with your baby even before you’ve begun to show.
How to Build a Bond
There are quite a few activities that you may begin implementing to build a connection with your baby:
- Talk – Babies begin to hear by the 18th week of pregnancy and recognize your voice soon after. Newborn babies will actually remember what you sound like and turn to you after birth instinctively. From communicating your love to regular conversation, this is a great way to establish trust between you and your child.
- Sing – Luckily, your baby won’t be an X-Factor judge. So whether you choose to aim for notes you wouldn’t dare in public or hum a random string of words, your baby will be none the wiser. Feel free to put on classical music if you’re karaoke-shy. It’s a great way to soothe your baby.
- Rub – Gently massage or place a hand on your stomach. When you feel their pro-league karate kicks beneath your palm, there’s no way to deny the fact that there’s a professional athlete in there. And all athletes deserve a gentle rub.
Above All: Show Them Love
We’re not the only ones who find value in bonding. Research shows that prenates can sense their parents’ love.
Carista Luminare-Rosen, Ph.D., founder and co-director of The Center for Creative Parenting, author of Parenting Begins Before Conception, says that “prenates can see, hear, feel, remember, taste, and think before birth.”
Although you may feel silly at first, you are communicating with your child and helping them develop their very first insights into the outside world. And that very first insight could be love.
Discover Your Baby’s Gender
Another excellent way to kickstart your relationship with your little bundle of joy is to use a gender prediction test to discover your baby’s gender. If you’re wondering when you can find out the sex of your baby, SneakPeek allows you to do so earlier than ever before. As early as eight weeks into your pregnancy, you can know whether you’re having a beautiful baby girl or boy. It’s as easy as one, two, three:
- Order the kit online.
- Follow the kit’s instructions to provide your DNA sample.
- Ship it back and receive emailed results.
What’s so special about SneakPeek? You can know your baby’s gender within 72 hours!
Why Find Out?
Knowing the gender can help you begin to cultivate a connection with your child because you’ll be able to think and speak about your baby specifically.
Here are some more advantages of discovering your baby’s gender in advance, including having the option to:
- Decorate the nursery. Perhaps you have two different grand visions in your head about how the nursery should look depending on if you have a daughter or son. With an early gender blood test, you can start those ceiling murals early.
- Throw yourself a gender reveal party sooner than ever before. “It’s a boy!” “It’s a girl!” Celebrate those three magical words with friends and loved ones by throwing a gender reveal party.
- Purchase gender-specific baby clothes or toys if preferred. Keep your baby prep on track by getting the shopping spree done earlier.
- Prepare an older sibling. If you have little ones already, you can help them picture their new little brother or sister and make the experience more real for them.
- Pick a name. You’ll have more time to consider the perfect name for your son or daughter.
Building the nursery, buying tangible items your baby will wear or play with—these are actions that can help you accept your pregnancy and jumpstart your journey into parenthood.
Thomas Ivester, MD, clinical instructor in maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, confirms that “bonding during pregnancy gives a mom a better sense of responsibility in caring for herself, and by extension, the baby.”
If you’re a planner by nature or just super curious, head over to SneakPeek to learn if you’re having a baby boy or girl. And if you’re looking for more insights, check out our pregnancy tips for first-time moms.
Preparing and Planning With Your Partner
Beyond the bubble of you and your baby, there’s still more for you to do outside. It may seem like the work never ends, but this is where your familial resources can keep you sane.
Put Your Partner to Work
Unfortunately, you can’t alternate each trimester with your partner. You may be the lucky one who gets to experience the physical labor, but they’re there to help with the emotional labor.
Remember that this isn’t only a life-changing experience for you but also your partner. It’s best to communicate openly throughout the pregnancy and check in with each other so you’re on the same page about plans and what to expect. Being in tune will help prepare you to be fantastic parents together.
Points of Discussion
To avoid any communication complications, discuss the following topics together to develop a plan of action to take care of your little one:
- Medical decisions – Not only should you discuss the big decisions like C-section or circumcision, but you should both know exactly what birth plan you desire. In the event that delivery gets chaotic, your partner should be able to advocate for what you want.
- Infant duties – Once the diapers start, they won’t stop. Try to hash out the scheduling for who’s going to be in charge of feeding and diaper changes. Being open about availability and workload will prevent burnouts and disagreements later on.
- Sleeping arrangements – Co-sleep? Baby bed share? Getting the crib talk going before the delivery date will be better for your baby and your relationship. You’ll both want good nights’ rest.
- Childcare – Not every family has the same needs or means. And the question of should you be a working mom is a personal one. If you need an extra hand or two through childcare services, arrangements should be made before they’re needed.
Your partner is there for the good, the bad, and the ugly. Don’t hesitate to include them in this tough process. For more things to consider as a team, review all the Things to Do Before Baby Arrives.
Thankfully, there are countless resources both online and in-person to educate yourself on anything from accounting to physics to motherhood. Ease the anxiety of the unknown by taking advantage of:
- Support groups
- Online forums
Back to School
Parenting is a never-ending learning curve. Seek out ways to help you prepare in advance. For example, enrolling in birthing and breastfeeding classes can be immensely helpful.
It’s natural for things to not come naturally.
That’s why receiving instruction from highly informed educators can spare you some stress and trepidation while raising a child.
An added benefit is that you and your partner can attend classes together so that the two of you and your infant can begin to experience life as a unit. Ultimately, the calmer and more ready you are, the smoother the transition to a bigger family will be.
Committee of Moms
As comforting as your partner is, there’s nothing quite as validating as being surrounded by others who can relate to your worries, frustrations, and who have experienced pregnancy firsthand. Your partner can walk you through breathing techniques, but they aren’t the ones who’ll curse the heavens because putting their shoes on has become too difficult or burst into tears because of a car commercial…
Look into local mom-to-be support groups and attend sessions regularly. Having a community of expectant parents to share knowledge and vent can provide invaluable emotional support that you didn’t know you needed. You also might exchange phone numbers, discover long-life friends, and begin plotting how your children will end up married.
Moreover, you are not the first, and definitely not the last, mom to turn to online resources. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. The best insight and tips might be found when scouring pregnancy message boards like the ones on Facebook Groups, WhattoExpect, and BabyCenter.
On discussion forums you can:
- Ask the question you may be too embarrassed to in person.
- Discover how common your concerns or hardships are.
- Continue to build a support network.
- Share and access resources without cost.
Plus, most women will continue to have questions after the delivery. These message boards can be a continued resource for years to come.
Take it Easy | Focus on Your Health
As a final tip, know that your body is already hard at work, so the least you could do is try to avoid overdrive mode. Now is the time to let your partner, loved ones, and doctors help you out. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” will never feel more real than when you’re pregnant.
When all is said and done, your health should also be a primary focus, so take care of yourself. Your health is your baby’s health. You’re not merely eating for two but also thinking and feeling for two. Since your baby can sense your emotions and respond to your state of being, you want to cultivate a soothing, positive environment for your little bundle of joy to thrive.
So, center yourself. Inhale for five seconds. Exhale for five seconds. You got this. You really do.
If you’d like more insight into what you should expect before your baby is born, consult our pregnancy checklist to see how you should be progressing through your pregnancy!
Healthline. When Can a Fetus Hear? https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/when-can-a-fetus-hear
Cafe Mom. 15 Things Couples Need to Discuss Before Mom Gives Birth. https://thestir.cafemom.com/pregnancy/213403/talk-about-before-having-baby/240867/the_duties/1
WebMD. Bonding with Baby Before Birth. https://www.webmd.com/baby/features/bonding-with-baby-before-birth#1