Too often, parents-to-be want everything to be perfect before baby’s arrival. Better jobs, bigger homes, and more money. But it’s really not necessary. Babies pretty much only need milk, diapers, and a place to sleep!
So there is no perfect time.
There are a few things, however, that I do suggest you look into or get out of your system before getting pregnant. Here they are:
Midwife or Obstetrician
Even though I had a lot of time to prepare before getting pregnant, I must admit I didn’t think things through completely. Not being a doula at the time, I just assumed that everyone had an OBGYN. Since I didn’t want a homebirth, I didn’t even look into midwifery care at all and didn’t realize midwives can catch babies in the hospital too. And though I often didn’t like the care I was receiving, I continued with this model for all three of my low-risk pregnancies.
Now, were I to get pregnant again, I would do things differently. If possible, I’d love to be followed by a midwife and either birth at home or at a birthing centre. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should do the same, but I do urge you to look into your options and make the right informed decisions for you and your family.
One important thing to remember, especially if you’re in Montreal, is that you can’t really decide to have a midwife during your pregnancy. The waiting lists are so long in some places that you have to call the same day that you pee on the stick and see the plus sign! No joke. Otherwise, your chances of getting in are very slim. So, it’s best to make this decision before you get pregnant.
Hospital culture and reputation
Every hospital is different. They may have similar equipment and protocols but the cultures vary from place to place. Some hospitals are considered high-risk, where you go when you are having a difficult pregnancy and need to be monitored closely. Other hospitals are known for encouraging natural birth. Some have the Baby Friendly status, which is focussed on breastfeeding, while others don’t.
Choose a hospital that reflects your values and the type of birth you want. If you want to have non-medicated bath, check out the various tools that you’ll have at your disposal. Find all of this out before your choose your caregiver – not during labour!
Know your cycle
When I started trying to get pregnant, I was 35 years old. And while I knew about periods and ovulation somewhat, I wasn’t that in tune with my body or my cycle. I had been on the pill on and off for 18 years, so never really had to deal with them. Learning about fertility was very helpful in knowing when I was ovulating, particularly since I had a longer cycle than the norm.
Of course this goes without saying. It’s a great time to curtail any smoking, drinking or drug habits. Your caregiver can provide the appropriate ressources. Eating as healthily as possible is also a great way to begin pregnancy. That expression ‘I’m eating for two’ won’t really apply unless you’re eating celery and carrot sticks!
Take your Folic Acid
Most women, once they are pregnant, will go to the pharmacy and pick up the usual prenatal vitamin. But it is very important to take the vitamin folic acid before getting pregnant.
Why? Women who take folic acid lower the risk that their baby will be born with a birth defect called a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida. And since neural tube defects occur 25-29 days after you get pregnant, you may not even know you are pregnant and will miss out on the folic acid!
Click here to find out more about this: http://www.motherisk.org/women/folicAcid.jsp
Take a long trip
I asked my husband what his thoughts were on the subject and, without a doubt, he said travel. To far away, exotic places. Because it’s probably going to be a long time before you take a long adventurous trip after baby comes. Now some brave souls still manage to travel across China with baby on their backs, however, I believe the majority of people wait until the kids are older. Does this mean you won’t travel? No, just maybe not to far away, exotic places.
Have lots of girls’ weekends
I think it’s true that your immediate circle of friends changes when you have a baby. But, I think your BFFs will always remain just that. You may see them less than before, and your activities may end up including baby and hubby. And, if they don’t have kids, they may not appreciate all the diaper talk. But you can still count on them for a shoulder to cry on, or if your lucky, some babysitting.
So, before you become a Mom, see your friends often. Go on vacation together, go dancing, wear a bikini, party it up! Make lots of exciting memories that will keep you going during those long nights ahead. One of my favourite trips before I got pregnant was a girls’ weeklong getaway to Venezuela. We still talk nostalgically about it 10 years later!
Go Bungy Jumping
Now maybe this is too daunting even if you don’t have kids (or maybe not). But the idea is to do all of the risky things that are on your bucket list before you take on the sole responsibility of another human being. Funny how when you become a parent, all of a sudden there is so much more at stake.
Eat lots and lots of sushi
I swear that the number one meal that women request after giving birth is sushi. Depending on your caregiver, sushi is often one of the foods on the restricted lists due to its high levels of mercury and possible bacteria that can make you ill. McDonalds seems to be the second most requested meal after birth, but while I suggest you go to town on the sushi, I’d keep the Big Macs in check.
And finally…have lots of sex!!
That’s right! Practice makes perfect, so they say. Need I say more?
There is no perfect time to have a baby. But if you are planning, might as well plan well.
Would love to hear what you have to say! What would you add to this list?
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