You wait, watching the lines on the test with trepid anticipation, until you get the confirmation: you’re pregnant. It’s one of the most exciting moments of your life, if not the complete highlight, and you’re ecstatic with joy.
Until you realize both an equally happy and horrifying truth: you’re going to be a parent! You can’t wait, but you’re also worried. Will you be a good parent? How will you deal with the sleepless nights? Can you afford it?
Before you let your mind wander into a completely unhelpful line of questioning, breathe. Relax. It’s going to be okay! In this guide, we’ll take you through the necessary steps of pre-parenthood.
Learn Together and Communicate
Becoming a parent involves a lot of reading; you’re taking in lots of new information that’s difficult to ingest all at once. It’s important that you take your time, do a little each day, and try not to overwhelm yourself with hundreds of baby books.
It’s important that as parents, you have a similar vision for the journey, and that you learn together. Learn to communicate, open up channels of communication, and don’t be afraid to disagree and talk things through.
One idea is to join parenting and childbirth classes together. It’s a great way of learning in a structured environment, and it’s also an opportunity to meet other parents-to-be.
Equally Shared Parenting
Whether you are together or apart, a child is the responsibility of both parents. It’s not only the fairest setup, it’s also better for the child. For example, it helps create a stronger emotional bond between the entire family, and helps both social and cognitive development.
Make agreements about what you expect from each other, and work out how you will practically arrange life for both yourselves and the child. And remember that each parent also deserves some time alone; make an effort to make that happen, even if it’s for a short time just to decompress.
And remember, dads are there both for equal responsibility, but also for equal involvement. Try to move away from gender-based traditions; for example, why not run a baby shower for dad? It can either be a joint even with the mum-to-be, or something that shines the light fully on the dad.
Build a Support Network
You can’t do it alone, no matter how resilient, strong, or motivated you are. Parenting is hard. And that’s okay. You don’t have to endure (or enjoy!) the journey all by yourself.
Try to build your support network during the pregnancy. Family and friends will always be willing to help when they can, so ask where necessary. And if you’re expecting help from your parents, have a frank and open discussion about this before the baby arrives. You may find you’re not all on the same page; it’s important to discuss this from a position of love and honesty.
In addition, try to connect with other parents also. For example, through the aforementioned classes. There are also plenty of local meetups planned via apps and websites, so have a look at those, too.
Focus on Your Health
When your baby arrives, you want to be in tip-top health. This will not only help you in terms of energy and overall feelings of wellbeing, but it’s also better for your baby. For example, if you’re a smoker, it’s very important that you quit as soon as possible.
In addition, try and improve your diet by increasing your water intake if needed, eating more fruits and vegetables, and ditching ultra-processed foods. Try to add foods known to help with digestion and the immune system.
It’s also a good idea to insert some exercise into your schedule. If you’re not used to it, start with a short walk every single day. For example, after you finish your lunch or dinner (it helps with digestion!).
Pack for Your Hospital Stay!
Our final tip is for right before your baby is due. Just like with a holiday, you don’t want to pack at the last minute. Instead, you want your bags packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Babies don’t always stick to due dates!
You will need two distinct ‘sets’; one is for the labor itself, and the other for the stuff you will need after the baby is born. And yes, that includes baby clothes for the newborn!
Before you go, just remember that it’s normal to be overwhelmed. Stop beating yourself up about it, and don’t think you’re being a bad parent if you don’t know all the answers. Approach the process with love, mutual support, and our little guide, and you’ll be just fine.