With so many things to think of, you and your partner will benefit from having a clear plan that allows you to stay organised and well-prepared throughout your pregnancy.
1. Getting pregnant
If you’re ready to start trying to conceive a child, the first thing to do is to visit your doctor for a preconception/conception consultation. Your doctor can give you advice on any related health issues specific to your medical history, as well as information on how to eat well, take care of yourself, and prepare for your pregnancy.
The three-month period preceding your pregnancy is known as the preconception time. This is an important period to plan for because it’s during this time that you can make the necessary changes to help with improving fertility, reducing the risk of problems arising during pregnancy, and supporting your recovery period after giving birth.
Dietary changes during this period can also be helpful for fertility and health, and you can check with your doctor about taking supplements and adjusting your diet. For example, supplementing your daily diet with folic acid, eating well, quitting smoking, and eliminating alcohol during the preconception period can all help with better birth and health outcomes for you and your baby.
The best time to try conceiving is usually within one day or so after ovulation (when the egg is released from the ovary). Your doctor can give you more advice on the best time to get pregnant, so speak with your healthcare professional.
2. Healthcare and insurance
Look into upgrading your health insurance policy to include obstetric benefits as soon as you begin planning to become pregnant. This is because standard waiting periods – which can be up to 12 months time – might apply for certain services or products. By planning ahead, you can ensure that you’re covered for all of the services you’ll need, from pregnancy and obstetrics to covering your newborn from the moment they’re born. Consider everything from hospital accommodation to theatre and labour ward fees.
Ensuring that your baby is insured from birth in case they need hospital care is the best action to take to safeguard you from having any financial stress during this time. If you already have health insurance, you’ll probably only need to switch from singles or couples cover to family cover to add your baby to your policy, but it’s best to always speak with your health insurance provider to confirm what steps are necessary for your policy.
To speak with the health insurance experts about your health insurance policy, contact CUA Insurance today.
Make sure you also enrol your newborn with Medicare so you can claim for other procedures that may not be covered by your health insurance, such as outpatient services.
3. Start a baby diary
Once you’ve decided to try to conceive, it can help to start a pregnancy and baby diary so you can track related medical appointments, vaccines, and any other activities and milestones. Whether you choose use an old-fashioned paper diary or an app on your phone, you will probably find your baby diary to be invaluable for both tracking things and preserving memories of this special time in your life.
4. Diet and good health during pregnancy
One you have conceived, the first weeks of fetal development is a critical time. According to experts, 80% of your baby’s organ development would have occurred by the time you miss your first period. This means your baby’s heart, face, and limbs have already formed. Always check with your doctor or OB/GYN for specific advice if you have any doubts.
5. Baby and nursery gear
Do a little research before you start stocking up on baby and nursery gear so that you can separate optional items from those that are essential, and shop smarter. Nappies, cribs, and car seats are essential, while items such as wipe warmers and designer outfits are probably optional. Before you shop, make a full list of everything you’re going to need, check out prices, and compare brands and styles online.
6. Budgeting and finances
Budget ahead for the costs associated with your pregnancy, birth and baby, especially since these can be more than you might expect. By budgeting, you can more easily research costs to find more competitive deals and prices.
You’ll need to budget for baby gear and supplies, maternity clothing, and medical and consultation costs. Don’t forget to account for income changes due to taking leave, along with any additional incomings with government benefits such as the Family Tax Benefit, Parental Leave Pay, and Dad and Partner Pay.
7. Parental leave
You and your partner can benefit from working out when you’ll be taking leave and returning to work well in advance. Planning your leave period is also important because your employer will need to sign off on the leave. And by applying early for leave, you can manage your pregnancy period much more effectively to ensure it’s stress free.
Whether you’re staying at home for a significant period of time to look after your baby or heading immediately back to work after birth, you should have some sort of childcare arrangement ready as an option, especially for emergencies. Whether it’s the grandparents, a local childcare centre or a home-based childcare provider, you will benefit from having a backup carer arranged beforehand even if you’re planning to care full time for your baby.
9. Preparing for lifestyle changes
Take time during your pregnancy to become aware of the lifestyle changes you’ll be facing, and to adopt a new mindset that will help you prepare for welcoming a new member to the family. Many new parents experience pregnancy and the arrival of their baby as a miracle, but at the same time it can be an emotional rollercoaster ride and highly stressful if you’re not prepared for the emotional and physical changes.
While pregnancy and a new baby can affect everyone differently, it can greatly assist you and your partner if you sit down and list all the physical, lifestyle, emotional, and financial changes you’re facing. Having done so, you’ll be better prepared to deal with the late-night feedings and reduced sleeping time as well as the emotional changes you might experience.
10. Newborn 101
Take some time out before your baby’s arrival to take a Newborn 101 class. While you can’t prepare for absolutely everything, taking a newborn class gives you a solid foundation in all the baby-care basics such as nappy changing, bathing, and feeding.
11. Choosing a paediatrician
It’s also a good idea to find a paediatrician before birth so that you already have a go-to medical expert when your baby arrives. Your paediatrician can give you advice on vaccine programs, baby diet, and any other questions you might have.
12. Outline a birth plan
You (or the partner giving birth) should write out a birth plan, which is a document that outlines all your preferences relating to medical care during birth. For example, you can list your preferred pain relief options, views on a c-section, and preferred options on other key aspects of giving birth. Birth plans can be as detailed as you like.
13. Organise a hospital bag
Prepare your hospital bag well in advance, as some babies choose to arrive earlier than their parents might expect. Both parents should pack an individual hospital bag so they have everything they need. Items to include range from maternity bras and moisturisers to comfortable socks, toiletries, and books or other entertainment.
You’ll probably want to have your nursery painted, decorated, and furnished well ahead of time. As well as furnishing it with a crib and shelving, you’ll want to make sure you’ve baby-proofed it for when your baby starts crawling and walking. Use safety covers on electrical outlets, secure windows, and remove old paint if it contains lead. Do a temperature check and keep the space heated or cooled if necessary.
15. Baby car seat
You’ll need to bring your newborn home in the car, so ensure you have a suitable baby car seat. Well before your due date, find a standards-certified baby carrier or capsule and check that it can be anchored and secured into your car as instructed by the manufacturer.
16. Coming home: the first three days
Most newborns are ready to go home after two or three days, and with the homecoming comes the changeover: you are now completely in charge of caring for your baby. If you’re a first-time parent this can feel a little intimidating, but keeping a few things in mind - along with having completed newborn classes - means you have most if not all of the knowledge you need to care for your baby.
Good hydration, a healthy appetite, and infection are some of the basics for looking after newborns. Check that your baby is well hydrated and check with your paediatrician about signs of dehydration. Infection is also another thing to look out for – fever, dropping temperatures, poor sucking, or loss of appetite can all be signs of infection.
Having a baby involves much more than simply getting pregnant and the physical act of giving birth. If you have everything planned well from the outset, it’s more likely you will enjoy a stress-free pregnancy and be well prepared for taking care of your newborn from the day of their birth.