As a pregnant woman, you’ve probably been overwhelmed with information from the moment two lines popped up on the test. Well-meaning family and friends, books and magazines, doctors, and social media—everyone has advice about something everywhere you turn! With so many different opinions, how can you decide what’s best for you and your baby? MOGA is here to help! We’ve put together this practical guide to pregnancy that’s full of helpful information you can trust. Keep reading below to learn more!
Making the most of your pregnancy
You can do several simple things to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a happy start to your baby’s life. Getting early prenatal care is at the top of that list! During your initial visit with us, your doctor will confirm the pregnancy and screen for certain conditions that could cause complications. Our expert team will continue to provide you with comprehensive care throughout your pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
Prenatal vitamins are also important during this time, as they play an essential role in bone, vision, and brain development. Taking these regularly will guarantee your body and baby are receiving all the necessary vitamins and nutrients, including folic acid, iron, calcium, and DHA. You can supplement this by maintaining a healthy diet full of nutritious foods. Make sure you’re getting enough protein and calcium, and remember that pregnant women typically only need an additional 300 calories per day.
What you put in your body during pregnancy can affect your developing baby. We recommend avoiding alcohol and limiting your caffeine intake, as the first can adversely affect your baby’s brain or spine while the latter has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage. Regular exercise can help you manage some of the discomforts of pregnancy and improve your mood, but be sure to listen to your body—the first and third trimesters are often accompanied by fatigue, so take it easy if you’re feeling tired.
Set the stage for a successful labor experience
Knowledge is essential for making informed decisions during pregnancy and childbirth, but the sheer amount of information available can sometimes leave you feeling overwhelmed. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get your mind and body ready to give birth without driving yourself crazy! Sticking to the essentials will allow you to spend more time enjoying your pregnancy and enhance your birthing experience when the time comes.
One easy way you can strike a healthier balance is by taking a childbirth class taught by a registered labor nurse or a certified childbirth educator. If you have a partner, they should attend these classes, too. They will cover:
- how to identify the signs of labor and what happens to your body as your baby makes their way into the world.
- how to address any fears or concerns you have about your pregnancy, labor, or delivery.
- how your partner or labor coach can help support you during labor.
- different options for handling pain, including breathing techniques, relaxation, and visualization. Many childbirth classes will also cover the pros and cons of medications commonly used in labor, such as epidural blocks.
- the basics of possible complications and medical interventions that can influence your labor and birth
- a primer on newborn care, including breastfeeding, diapering, bathing, and choosing the right pediatrician for your family.
Birth is a transformative experience that can be complicated and emotional. Ensuring that you’re well-informed and surrounded by people you trust is an important part of achieving the best possible outcomes! Research has shown that where a woman gives birth can have more of an impact on her birth outcome than any health condition. With that in mind, allow yourself plenty of time to consider what kind of labor experience you’d like to have and what your options are for who will attend your birth and where it will take place.
Thinking about how you’d like your labor and delivery to go can help you feel more confident, but keep in mind that any birth plan should be flexible. Understanding that your “plan” is more about your “preferences” is key to managing your expectations! When you map out the things that are most important to you, consider the following.
What type of support would you like during labor?
Who will be providing you with labor support?
Would you prefer to move around and try different positions?
Are you open to using drugs for pain relief?
Who do you want to cut the umbilical cord?
Are you planning to breastfeed?
When you choose MOGA, our team of expert providers will be happy to help you figure out what your preferences are and which ones are worth including in a birth plan. Remember: labor and delivery are just the beginning of your journey into parenthood! Aside from the huge emotional adjustment that comes with any new baby, you’ll also be facing a variety of physical and emotional side effects in the postpartum period.
Getting through the postpartum period
While much of your focus and energy in the first weeks and months of your baby’s life will be on them, you will need to take care of yourself as well! Fully recovering from pregnancy and childbirth can take longer than you think. Many women feel mostly recovered within 6-8 weeks, but it may take more or less time for you.
The most common physical symptom you’ll experience after birth is a bloody discharge called lochia. This looks similar to a menstrual period and can last up to 8 weeks after delivery. You can also expect to feel some uterine cramping in the days following the birth of your baby. This happens as your uterus shrinks back to its pre-pregnancy size, and the cramps may be stronger when you breastfeed.
During the postpartum period, your body and hormones will be adjusting. You may feel more emotional than normal or find it difficult to think clearly. The best thing you can do as you recover from pregnancy and birth is eat well, stay hydrated, rest, and give yourself a break—it’s normal to need more support as a new mother!
That being said, reach out if you begin to have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby. Postpartum depression (PPD) occurs in around 1 of every 8 women, so you’re not alone! Other signs that you may need help include anxiety that keeps you awake and makes your heart race or overwhelming feelings of guilt and worthlessness.
Feeding your baby
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months of their lives. The first milk your body will make is colostrum, a thin liquid with a cloudy color that contains valuable antibodies. Colostrum helps establish your baby’s immune system and is sometimes referred to as “liquid gold” for that reason! The rest of your milk will typically come in within 4-7 days, which may cause your breasts to swell. Feeding your baby frequently will help relieve this swelling and reduce your chances of developing clogged milk ducts or mastitis.
Feeding your baby when they’re hungry instead of on a schedule is generally best for breastfeeding success. On average, however, a newborn should have about 8-12 feedings over 24 hours. This breaks down to roughly every 2-3 hours, but feeding patterns can vary widely. It’s normal for newborns to “cluster feed” in the first few weeks. You may feel that they’re eating almost constantly, but don’t be alarmed—your baby’s stomach is very small in the beginning and can only hold a tiny amount of milk. As your milk supply increases and your baby gets bigger, the breaks between feedings will get longer.
Not everyone can—or wants to— breastfeed. Feeding formula from a bottle will require keeping a close eye on how much and how often the baby eats. If you aren’t planning to breastfeed your baby, discuss this with your pediatrician ahead of time. They will be able to help you decide on the best formula for your baby, as well as how much they need and how often you should feed them.
Essential baby gear
There may be an endless array of baby products on the market, but when you get right down to it, all your newborn really needs is nourishment, a place to sleep, and several packs of diapers. Being able to discern between the essentials, the “nice-to-haves,” and the unnecessary items will save you time and money in the long run! Below you’ll find our recommended list for basic baby essentials.
- Crib or co-sleeper
- Crib mattress
- 2 fitted crib sheets
- Several receiving blankets
- 2 waterproof mattress protectors
- Multiple packs of newborn diapers
- Multiple packs of wipes
- Diaper rash ointment
- Waterproof changing table pad
- 2-3 changing table pad covers
- Diaper pail or trash can with a lid
- Baby bath wash
- Baby shampoo
- Baby comb and brush set
- Nail scissors/nail clippers/nail file set
- Cotton swabs
- Cotton balls
- Multiple bodysuits or onesies
- Multiple pairs of pajamas or sleeping gowns
- Bunting or snowsuit if your baby is born in winter
- Several pairs of booties or socks
- Newborn car seat
- Diaper bag filled with diapers, wipes, and a spare outfit
- Several pacifiers
- Infant thermometer
- Petroleum jelly
- Infant Tylenol
- Nasal aspirator
There are also certain products you’ll want to have for formula feeding or breastfeeding. A comfortable nursing pillow, supportive bra, and nursing pads are a must if you plan to breastfeed. A breast pump and storage containers should also be considered if you will be pumping milk at any point. If you’re going to use formula, you’ll need several bottles, your chosen formula, a bottle brush, and a sterilizer.
MOGA is here for you throughout your pregnancy journey
We love welcoming new babies into the world, and it’s an honor to play a role in your very special journey. MOGA has an experienced team committed to providing you with compassionate care throughout your pregnancy and helping you achieve the most optimal birthing experience possible! To learn more about our services for expectant mothers or schedule an appointment, make an appointment with us by calling our office or scheduling one online through our website.