Congratulations! Now that you're pregnant, you might be wondering how to prepare for your baby, and where to start! Follow this handy guide, divided into the three trimesters, to help you get ready for your baby...
FIRST TRIMESTER (WEEKS 0-13)
Make an appointment with your GP
One of the first things to do when you get that positive pregnancy test is to make an appointment with your GP. At this appointment, you can officially confirm your pregnancy, check that any medications you may be taking are safe, and get a referral for the midwife/maternity hospital.
Take folic acid
If you’re not already, start taking a folic acid supplement, as it helps to protect your developing baby against brain and spinal cord problems such as Spina Bifida. Taking an official pregnancy supplement that includes folic acid is best.
Smoking during pregnancy can put you at higher risk of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and premature labour. It can also affect how your baby develops in the womb.
Cut out alcohol
The HSE recommends that women cut out alcohol completely during pregnancy, as it’s impossible to know how much might be safe. Alcohol can pass through the placenta to the fetus, which may lead to developmental damage.
Learn what to eat and drink
Cut back on caffeine, and avoid foods with a higher risk of bacteria or toxins such as shellfish, rare meat and undercooked eggs, raw fish, unpasteurized cheeses, and swordfish (which contain higher levels of mercury). It’s also best to avoid pâté and deli meats, which could contain listeria, and liver products, which have concentrated levels of Vitamin A.
Get relief from morning sickness
To ease the symptoms, eat little and often. If you’re unable to keep anything down for extended periods of time, you may be suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum and should see your doctor for advice.
Learn the warning signs
If you experience bleeding, severe cramps, back pain, severe nausea or swelling, it is important to call the doctor or midwife. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
SECOND TRIMESTER (WEEKS 14-27)
Buy a maternity bra
Your breasts will change a lot during pregnancy, so it’s a good idea to get bras properly fitted regularly. You might find that non-wired maternity bras are more comfortable.
Moisturise your belly
This can help to minimize stretch marks. You might also like to take photos of your bump as it grows.
Begin antenatal classes
During pregnancy, it’s important to prepare (with your birth partner) for delivery. Some classes may book up quickly, so plan ahead.
Visit the dentist
During pregnancy, all those hormones can affect the gums, so you should visit the dentist and hygienist more often than normal.
Arrange your maternity leave
Make sure you tell your employer that you’re pregnant, and start making plans for when you will start maternity leave.
Budget for baby
Babies can be expensive, so if you haven’t already, it’s time to sit down with your partner and work out a budget and try to save a little extra each month.
Keep up the exercise
Regular gentle exercise can help you physically and mentally through pregnancy, but you might need to adapt to a more gentle routine. If in doubt, exercise to a level where you could still hold a conversation, and avoid high impact. Plus keep up your pelvic floor muscle exercises!
Make a list of what items you’ll need
Research what you’ll need to purchase for baby’s birth. Try not to leave everything to the last minute. Here are a few things to think about:
Baby’s sleeping space: Whether you purchase a Moses basket or cot bed, it’s important to follow baby sleep safety guidelines. It’s recommended that for the first six months of thier life, your baby should be in the same room as you when she is sleeping. A good option here is something like the Kangu Crib which allows you to keep your baby nice and close to you at night and move around the house for naps.
The most important feature for a cot is that it must pass safety regulations. Once your baby is six months old, you can move her into a cot or crib in her own room. Check out the beautiful Sarah Cot for only €150. It has a simple design and will make an elegant addition to any nursery.
Car seat: Choose the right car seat for your baby and car and make sure that you know how to fit it correctly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
The pram: Have you purchased your baby’s buggy? Choosing the right pram or pushchair is a major decision. It’s important that the model you choose suits your lifestyle.
Consider a travel system: Travel systems are really convenient – baby can easily be moved from your car to the pram without disturbance. The Venti Travel System (€449) was voted the Best Travel System at The Maternity & Infant Awards two years in a row.
Bath Unit: To bathe your newborn baby, it’s recommended that you use a small, plastic baby bath. Check out the Baby Elegance Bath for only €115. It is a multi-use station for you and your baby, where your little one can change nappies, take a bath and have enough storage for all her bath time accessories.
All in one package: Check out Baby Elegance New Baby Bundle which includes 21 things you’ll need to welcome your baby: A travel system, tote bag, pram hook, high chair, bath, cot and Moses basket just to name a few. All for just €999.
THIRD TRIMESTER (WEEKS 28-40+)
Wash your baby's clothing and bedding
Wash anything that will go near your baby's skin with non-biological liquid detergent, to remove any irritants.
Pack your hospital bag
You might find it easier to divide this into three – one for labour, one for while you’re on the ward, and one for baby. Your birth partner might want a few supplies too, like change for parking meters, a phone and charger, and a spare t-shirt.
Prepare for breastfeeding
If you haven’t already started, you might like to go to breastfeeding classes.
Work out how to use your baby gear
You don’t want to be fitting a car seat, putting on a sling, or erecting a buggy with a newborn in your arms. Practice makes perfect! Now is also a good time to assemble the gear that can be tricky to put together, like the cot or baby changing unit.
Stock up on food supplies
Your family will be exhausted when you first arrive home from the hospital. A few home-cooked meals waiting in the freezer can be a great relief for those early weeks.
Make sure your home is clean
Enlist the help of your partner or a friend to give the house a once over before baby’s arrival. You’ll feel a lot better returning home to a clean house, and it will allow you time to spend with baby and rest where possible.
Make a plan for when labour starts
How are you getting to the hospital? If you have children already, who will babysit them? Is there anyone you need to contact? Formulating a rough plan and making sure your birth partner or doula know your birth plan can help reduce stress: Things may change if necessary, but it feels good to be as prepared as possible.
Don't panic if you go past your due date
After the big countdown, your due date might come and go. But don’t worry, it’s a common situation!
And most importantly
Look after yourself, and try to enjoy the experience. Each pregnancy is unique and might have its challenges, but try to appreciate yourself and the amazing thing your body is doing.
During these last few weeks, you’ll have to make sure you have absolutely everything ready for your little one’s arrival.
Newborn necessities: Get six pre-washed baby grows, six pre-washed vests, one pre-washed baby towel, one packet of newborn sized nappies, two cotton cellular baby blankets.
Safe changing station: You can use a special nappy change unit or even the floor. Buy a changing pad that is contoured, so there is no risk of baby falling off a raised unit.
Click here to see what is absolutely necessary for the first few months with your baby and what things are just nice to have.