Parenthood is challenging (but oh-so-rewarding!). The major decisions you must make as a parent start before the baby even arrives.
You have the fun pregnancy decisions like what color baby bath towels to buy. Then you have the more challenging pregnancy decisions like what you want in your birth plan.
Try easing some of the decision-making stress by tackling harder decisions sooner than later, and trying to space them out so you’re making the difficult pregnancy decisions one at a time.
Below are some of the big pregnancy decisions you’re going to have to make (if you haven’t already).
1. Primary Caregiver
Who will be your primary caregiver during your pregnancy? This is one of the most crucial pregnancy decisions because your health, your happiness, and your baby’s health are involved. The way you birth will have repercussions through both of your lifetimes so choose carefully.
Find someone you trust. Find someone who empowers you, who makes you feel confident and capable and worthy of support and care. Find someone who makes you feel like your fears and desires matter. If your current caregiver doesn’t make you feel that way, switch! Now!
2. Where To Give Birth
At home, at the hospital, or in a birthing center? Do your research and make your wishes part of your birth plan. Everyone needs to be on board or they shouldn’t be attending your birth. You can check forums and ask friends their experiences giving birth in these different places to help you with your decision.
Check online forums and ask friends to tell you their birthing stories. More importantly, choose the place where you will be most comfortable. Like all other mammals, human women give birth most easily in familiar environments with little to no observation. (source)
3. Plans After Maternity Leave
If you’re currently working, will you be going back to work after Baby arrives? Who will care for Baby when you return to work?
These are decisions that can be made once Baby arrives, but preparing yourself mentally and financially during pregnancy will help the transition. Start putting a little more money in your savings, if possible, and start asking around for great daycare.
4. Gender Awareness
Do you want to know the gender of your baby? You and your partner could have some disagreements on this one, so it is good to discuss early on. Not knowing is a fantastic surprise. Knowing may help you prepare better.
Keep in mind that knowing the gender means the gender socialization will begin even before Baby is born! If you don’t want your girl surrounded by pink tiaras or your boy inundated by blue dump trucks, let folks know before your baby shower. Either way, talk it over and weigh the pros and cons with your partner.
5. Childbirth Education
Which books will you read? Which classes will you take? How will you physically prepare for birth – yoga, walking, swimming?
Three are countless books available, and hospitals and birthing centers make different classes available for parents-to-be. The most important thing – choose books and classes that empower you! That make you feel excited and confident about birth! A happy Momma = a happy baby.
6. Pain Management During Birth
What types of natural pain management methods will you learn and practice (meditation, mindfulness, movement, dance, breathing, etc.)? What types of medical pain management methods are you open to, if any?
Now is the time to do your own research on the benefits and risks of medicinal pain relief to weigh them for yourself and the baby. Put your preferences in your birth plan but be open to changing your mind. As the birth gets closer you may feel differently.
7. Birth Attendants and Guests
Who do you want to be present with you during Baby’s birth? Your partner? Other family members? A very close friend? A doula? A midwife? Your midwife’s assistants?
You will want to find out your hospital or birthing center’s policy on how many people can be present at the birth. Make sure to only invite people you’re totally comfortable with. Birth and labor are all about you and Baby. What makes you comfortable is the highest priority. Anyone and anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, or less-than-confident, is OUT!
8. Breast or Bottle
How will you feed Baby once they’re born? How strongly do you feel about one over the other? This decision could change after the birth, but it is a good idea to have a plan beforehand.
Whatever you decide, make sure the decision is the best one for you and your baby – not just you and not just your baby. Also, once you decide, do your research! Whether you’re looking for the best breastfeeding diet or the best formula, this is one of those pregnancy decisions that justifies lots of reading and research.
9. A Pediatrician
Don’t wait until your baby is born to find a great pediatrician. You’ll need an appointment with one soon after Baby’s born for newborn check-ups and some pediatricians may not be taking new patients.
Get referrals if you can and schedule a quick prenatal consultation to get to know the doctor a bit better. As with all your care providers, make sure they make you feel safe, comfortable, and confident as a parent. Otherwise, keep looking.
10. Postpartum Support System
Who can help you during the newborn months? Who can you call when you need support, encouragement, or a shoulder to cry on? Who can you call for advice? Who will help you care for the baby and give you a break from time to time?
Start asking for help now. From requesting freezer meals as baby shower gifts to asking your best friend, and fellow mom, how late is too late to call for advice, you deserve all the help you can get.
Aaand the most important thing: Enjoy every second with your little one.
Any important pregnancy decisions we missed? Share your advice in the comments…
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