You have a baby on the way! Over the coming 9 months you are going to be busy.
There are so many things to start thinking about and planning for, like:
- Attending antenatal appointments to support the care of you and your baby
- Making connections with services who will support you on your journey into parenthood
- Making preparations as you get ready to welcome your new baby, all whilst balancing your busy daily lives
Throughout this time you may naturally experience a rollercoaster of emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and worry – that’s ok!
Take time over the coming months to connect with your baby and consider what it is like for baby in the womb:
- What can baby hear, smell and feel – how do your emotions impact on your baby?
- How is your unborn baby growing and developing?
For a week-by-week guide to their growth, you can explore the NHS Start for Life site.
Taking time to relax and connect will strengthen the relationship between you and your unborn baby. Maintaining healthy sleep habits is essential for health and well-being during pregnancy both for parents and baby.
It is important to acknowledge that whilst these exciting preparations are being made, there are often a number of factors which may impact on these times, including:
- Financial implications
- A sense of overwhelming responsibility
- Feeling generally overwhelmed
Take time to discuss and share any worries or concerns you may have with your friends, family, midwife and partner or co-parent (if you have one). Building these support networks is beneficial both during and after pregnancy.
It is important for parents to take time to look after their mental health and well-being. Think about the things you do in your everyday life to keep happy and healthy, both during pregnancy and once baby arrives. This could be reading, walking, swimming, meeting up with friends or listening to music.
Exercise for mothers during pregnancy is a great way to help your body adapt – gentle exercise is good for you and your baby and will help to prepare your body for labour.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
The NHS Healthy Start campaign has lots of information about the importance of eating well, gentle exercise, folic acid supplements and avoiding smoking and drinking.
If you have a partner or co-parent, take time with them to do things together to support a healthy relationship where worries and times of joy can be shared to embrace these treasured months ahead of the arrival of your baby.
Planning for labour
As your pregnancy progresses, you will start to think about the kind of labour you would like to have. Maybe start thinking about birthing partners - who would you like to be with you at the birth?
Do you know how labour begins? What have your friends told you about how their labours began? It is great to have a support network you can talk to, although remember every labour is different!
If you are unable to attend a local antenatal class in person, you may be interested in the Solihull Approach Parenting online antenatal class (please note there is a charge to take the course online).
What are some of the things you could be doing at home during the early stages of labour to help you relax?
You will also have a choice about where to have your baby.
Have you been to visit the hospital/Midwife Led Unit, or perhaps you are planning a home birth? Contact your midwife or your local Children’s or Family Centres to find out about antenatal classes/support in your area.
If you are entitled to maternity leave, you are also entitled to paid time off work to attend appointments and antenatal classes. Find out more from Citizens Advice: Rights while you're pregnant at work.
Role of health visitor
A health visitor is a qualified nurse or midwife who has had extra training and will support you and your children from 0-5 years with health. Your health visitor can be seen at your home, child health clinic, GP surgery or health centre, depending on where they're based.
It’s never too early to start preparing a safe sleep space for your baby’s arrival. Your new baby should sleep in the same room as you for the first six months for sleep day and night. Lullaby Trust has prepared a practical guide to read before your baby is born and share with others who will also care for your baby. It contains information on:
- What your baby needs
- What not to buy
- Safe co-sleeping
- Premature and low birth weight babies
- Slings and baby carriers
There are a number of free short courses you might also like to explore:
- Understanding pregnancy, labour, birth and your baby
- Understanding pregnancy, labour, birth and your baby: for women couples
- Deall beichiogrwydd, esgor, genedigaeth a’ch baban (Understanding pregnancy, labour, birth and your baby: Welsh)
- فهم الحمل والمخاض والولادة وطفلك (Understanding pregnancy, labour, birth and your baby: Modern Standard Arabic)
- Zrozumieć ciążę, poród, narodziny i Twoje dziecko (Understanding pregnancy, labour, birth and your baby: Polish)
- حمل، درد زہ، پیدائش اور آپ کے بچے کی تفہیم (Understanding pregnancy, labour, birth and your baby: Urdu)
You might also find the following useful:
- Five to Thrive - The building blocks of brain development
- NHS Healthy Start - The national scheme provides a prepaid card for free vitamins and fresh fruit, vegetables and milk.
- NHS Guide to Pregnancy
- NHS Start 4 Life Guide to Pregnancy
- Solihull Approach Antenatal Parenting course
- NHS: Having a baby if you're LGBT+