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Can you ever really be prepared for the birth of your first baby?

Bringing a new life into the world is scary business. Trust me, I know.

As a soon-to-be new Mum, you’ll be spending the majority of those long, slow nine months wondering how on earth to prepare yourself for the birth.

Let me guess, you’ve already read 20 parenting books – each one adding yet another layer of confusion and anxiety.

Bringing a new life into the world is scary business. Trust me, I know. In the months leading up to the birth of my first-born, I spent many long nights awake, driving myself to despair with the thousands of questions whirling around in mind:

“Do I have what it takes to look after this baby?”

“How can I protect him from everything evil in the world?”

“How can I protect him from everything evil in the world?”

“How will my beloved niece react when she realises she’s no longer the sole object of my affection?”

“How is it going to affect my relationship with my husband? Can our relationship handle the financial strain of a new family member?”

And let’s not even get started on the birth itself. As I left for the hospital that morning, I still wasn’t convinced I’d ever be able to get the baby out. I mean, have you ever tried to push a tennis ball through a keyhole?

I don’t think you can ever be really, 100% prepared for the birth of your new baby, particularly if it’s your first time. Anxiety and doubts are normal, and continue way beyond the birth. However, I do believe there are a few things you can do before the big day arrives, to make things that little bit easier. Here are five of them:

1. Know your birth plan.

If you’re anything like me, the birth itself will present one of the biggest anxieties. It doesn’t matter how many birthing books you read, classes you attend, or girlfriends you have to reassure you – there are just too many unknowns.

Whilst you can’t eliminate the fear altogether, having a solid birth plan will help you prepare mentally, and communicate your plans with your medical team. When the time arrives, you’ll be able to focus on the task in hand – safe in the knowledge that your midwives and doctors are singing from the same page. Although unplanned interventions are less common these days, it’s important to be aware that things don’t always go to plan, so have some flexibility with your birth plan. Research C-sections and epidurals, even if you don’t intend to have them.

"Research C-sections and epidurals, even if you don’t intend to have them."

Above all else, discuss your plan in-depth with your birthing partner. One of my biggest fears was being too incapacitated to make decisions. Knowing my partner was fully prepared to step in helped me relax as the big day approached.

2. Establish your support network.

Throughout my pregnancy, despite friends advising me otherwise, I was certain I’d be able to handle everything without any outside help. On the one hand, I was faced with all those crippling doubts keeping me awake at night. But on the other, I was absolutely convinced that, as soon as my little cherub arrived, I’d transform into Super-Mum. Sleepless nights? I can deal with that! Endless crying? No problem! How hard can it be?

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Whatever you do: don’t fall into this trap. Having a baby is hard work, and the sleepless nights soon start to take their toll. Develop your support network as your pregnancy progresses, and don’t feel ashamed to call upon your friends and family when you need them.

3. Get your baby's room ready.

I’ve always been a last-minute kind of person, and I certainly wasn’t going to change a habit of a lifetime just because I was pregnant. Isn’t hindsight wonderful?

Once you reach your third trimester, no matter how prepared you feel, you’ll be hit with a never-ending list of tasks you want to finish before baby arrives. Ideally, you should start getting your baby’s room ready way ahead of schedule. This will give you plenty of time to decide upon the design, ensuring you have the perfect setting for your baby’s first couple of years.

"Once you reach your third trimester, no matter how prepared you feel, you’ll be hit with a never-ending list of tasks you want to finish before baby arrives."

Decorating your baby’s room is an important psychological step for you and your partner, helping you prepare for the new addition to your family.

4. Buy the essential in advance.

If I’ve learned one thing as a first-time parent, it’s that babies don’t wait around for you to get everything organised. Instead, they turn up whenever they feel like it, and expect you to have everything ready when they do!

Not having the essentials ready before the birth adds an unnecessary layer of stress, to what is already one of the most emotionally demanding events you’re likely to experience.

Clothing, nappies, breastfeeding equipment, bedding, car seat, and bathing products - these are just a few of the items you’ll need to stock up on. If you think you’ll need it within the first month, buy it early.

"Clothing, nappies, breastfeeding equipment, bedding, car seat, and bathing products - these are just a few of the items you’ll need to stock up on."

5. Pack a bag.

As well as ensuring you have everything ready at home, get prepared for the birth itself. First-time babies are less likely to arrive on schedule – with research suggesting they’re more likely to be early or late. You won’t know which until it happens, so make sure you’re prepared to just grab your bag and go!

You don’t need to take much with you, but make sure your bag contains:

Your ID and any necessary insurance documents,

  • A copy of your birth plan,
  • Some money,
  • Snacks,
  • Night clothes,
  • An outfit to travel home in.

Don’t forget, your body takes time to adjust following the birth – so pack clothes you would have worn when you were around 3-4 months pregnant.

As a first-time parent, did you forget to do any of these? What’s your number one tip for soon-to-be Mums?

You can read more from Jess on http://parent.guide/

Like this? Try these: 

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There are a lot of things you shouldn’t say to a woman who just gave birth.

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