10 Challenges in Preparing for a Baby
Alex Olsen is a 34-year-old expectant mama, preparing to welcome her first baby in February 2018. Alex lives in Sydney with her husband. Alex thinks they’re having a boy; he thinks they’re having a girl. Watch this space!
At 32-weeks pregnant, I think I finally have a reasonable handle on this whole ‘being with child’ thing. But now that we’re firmly into the third trimester, cue the uncertainty (and mild terror) surrounding the labor and, oh yes, the actual child-rearing part.
While preparing for our firstborn has truly been the most wonderful time, there have also been many unexpected challenges.
You never stop worrying
Before conceiving you might imagine that falling pregnant is the tricky part; once those two pink lines appear, you can kick back and enjoy nine blissful months of pampering, getting the nursery Pinterest-ready, being showered with attention and eating whatever you please. In reality, the mothering instinct kicks in early, and you’ll likely spend the whole pregnancy analyzing every strange niggle out of concern for your baby’s wellbeing (and then we’ll worry every day after that for eternity).
Appointments, appointments and more appointments
Preparing for baby’s arrival means firstly ensuring that he or she is growing safely in their bed-womb. Pregnancy information overload sets in at your first antenatal appointment. After that, your calendar will be filled with check-ups, scans and classes – on repeat – and it can feel overwhelming. The good news is, you’ll get to know the hospital like the back of your hand – no fear of getting lost on delivery day!
All the baby gear
One of the most daunting aspects of prepping for the new arrival is figuring out all the gear you need. From swaddles to monitors, breast pumps, car seats, prams and everything in between – you’re certainly in for a learning curve. Don’t let the overwhelm throw you off. Start your research early in the second trimester. Find a master list online and ask your parent friends and online pregnancy groups for recommendations – it will all come together eventually (says the woman who still hasn’t bought the cot).
Deciphering maternity leave
For something that sounds so great, they really make it a challenge to figure out. In addition to government policies, all workplaces have different arrangements when it comes to maternity and paternity leave, so it pays to understand your situation early.
Talk about a big decision! My husband and I have finally whittled down a list of names and have settled on a name for a boy and a girl (…we think). We’re keeping the names to ourselves. Be wary of sharing your shortlist before boo’s arrival – unless you’re prepared for opinions on your carefully curated list. My Mum has mentioned a few ‘horrible’ names, in hopes we won’t follow suit. I’m sure she thinks we’re going to name our child Windfarm Glitterbomb. I’ve heard of grandparents putting in requests, and even forbidding certain names they don’t like! Just remember – your parents have had their turn to name babies, so if you want a little Windfarm Glitterbomb*, that’s your prerogative. *Please don’t though.
Figuring out how to look after the baby
Soon enough, this pregnancy journey is going to result in a little earthling, and we’ll need to keep he or she alive! I take comfort in knowing that the nerves are a normal rite of passage. You accept that it’s going to be terrifying at first, but that you’ll get the hang of it. I can’t speak highly enough for attending some classes to take the edge off, and reading a couple of good books, too (I personally am loving Happiest Baby on the Block).
No vax, no visit
Until babies receive vaccinations at 8 weeks it’s recommended that any visitors should be vaccinated against whooping cough. Some expectant parents have to deal with uncooperative family members in this respect. At the end of the day, you’re entitled to be precious about your newborn, and to do what’s best for your baby, so stay firm with your wishes.
Let me eat cake
You learn early on about the importance of a clean diet to nurture the growing fetus so it can enter the world with the best possible start. This is easier said than done, especially when combatting morning sickness, fatigue, cravings, emotions and other complications. You’ll hear us pregnant women announcing that the baby wants pizza and ice cream… but I suspect baby actually wants broccoli, the little killjoy!
I love my pregnant body, but I certainly don’t feel that way every day. It’s an adjustment seeing your body change (on top of all the discomforts that come along with it). Unfortunately, people can be insensitive when it comes to commenting on pregnant women’s bodies, which can be tough. On top of this, I’m sure many expectant mothers would mirror my anxiety about their body after birth, when this tight bump ‘deflates’. Despite this, I hope that if you’re an expectant Mum, you’re surrounded by people telling you how great you look, and what a wonderful job you’re doing in nurturing a little life.
Saying goodbye to your child-free relationship
My husband and I are so excited to welcome our first baby. But I’ll admit, there's been a few bittersweet moments of realization about the end of the era of ‘just us two’. But we also know deep down that our son or daughter will only enrich what we already have. In the meantime, treating ourselves to a babymoon was the best decision ever, and I believe babymoons should be prescribed to all parents-to-be!
Despite all the challenges in preparing for a new baby, it truly is one of the most special times I’ve ever experienced, and I’m so grateful. I know that every challenge will be worthwhile once we meet our little bundle next year!