Preparing for parenthood

Baby on the way

 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!

Ultrasound of baby in womb

Take time over the coming months to connect with your baby, 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 Start4Life site.

Taking time to relax and connect will strengthen the relationship between you and your unborn baby.  Maintaining healthy sleep habits are 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: work, financial implications, tiredness, a sense of overwhelming responsibility, or feeling overwhelmed generally.  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, taking gentle exercise, taking folic acid supplements and avoiding smoking and drinking will contribute to a healthy pregnancy and labour. 

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.

Labour

As your pregnancy progresses you will start to think about the kind of labour you would like to have – 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!

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If you are unable to attend a local ante-natal class in person, you may be interested in the Sollihull Approach Parenting online antenatal class – (please note there is a charge to take the course online).

What have your friends told you about how their labours began? Although, remember every labour is different! Maybe start thinking about birthing partners - who would you like to be with you at the birth?

What are some of the things you could be doing at home during the early stages of labour to help you relax?

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You will also have a choice about where to have your baby.

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Have you been to visit the hospital/Midwife Led Unit, or perhaps you are planning a home birth? – Contact your mid-wife 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 here.   

Additional resources

NHS Healthy Start - The National Scheme providing vouchers for free vitamins and fresh fruit, vegetables and milk. (there is currently a big national campaign to increase the uptake for this scheme so really need to include)

NHS Guide to Pregnancy

NHS Start 4 Life Guide to Pregnancy 

Solihull Approach Antenatal Parenting course - The link to the practical online Solihull Approach AntePicture assets: Please list and describe the images to accompany the written content.


    Five to Thrive - Relax

    Pregnancy can be a stressful time but taking the time to relax and feeling your baby kick can add to your attachment with baby and help you get attuned with your body.

    You could:

    • Take a bath to help your body relax and unwind
    • Read a book
    • Watch your favourite programme on TV
    • Take a nap when you can
    • Go a walk

    Talking

    When you talk, sing or read to your unborn baby you are helping get their brain ready for talking, singing and reading. Your baby already knows and loves your voice and those of others who talk regularly to them, and will find these calming when they are born. You could:

    • Regularly talk to your baby - a running commentary on what you are doing is good
    • Sing nursery rhymes or songs - your baby doesn’t care how good your voice is - they love it anyway!
    • Read out loud when you are reading to yourself