So you just found out you are pregnant. Congratulations! You are probably feeling a mix of emotions all at once-shocked, happy, excited, scared and a little nervous. Let the news sink in for a minute. Take a deep breath…Let it out. Woo-sah! Now, you will probably want to get on the phone and call your family and friends (after your significant other, if they don’t already know) and share the good news. Once that is done and out the way, here comes the fun part, not really, but it is definitely necessary….A Pregnancy Plan!
Your Pregnancy Plan-9 months and counting down…
This is a list of things you need to do to prepare for your baby and questions you need to ask yourself. Please keep in mind that they aren’t in any particular order nor is this list exhaustive:
1. Do I have a place to bring the baby?
You need to make sure that you have a stable home to bring the baby home to. When I say stable, I am referring to a place where you can stay for a long period of time, not a place where you have to move each week or every month, etc.
2. Do I have income or a job to support the baby?Do I have financial support from the father and others?
You need to SAVE, SAVE, SAVE now for the baby care items you will need. Make a budget that includes everything you will need for the baby, things you will need for yourself, medical expenses you will incur to have this baby, etc. Go online, go to the store and price the items that you will need to get an idea of how much you will need to save overall. Try to pick up one item every chance you get if you don’t have the money all at once. Don’t wait till the last minute. You will thank me later. Just a note, if you and your child’s father are not together and he is not supporting his child, then make sure to file for child support once your child is born. Children are expensive and will need things regardless if you have the money or not, so plan ahead. Stockpile what you can now of the baby care items you will need the most. Also, if you are going to take maternity leave and your job doesn’t offer any kind of paid time off, make sure that you save up 4-8 weeks’ worth of expenses. You don’t want to have to worry about how you will pay the bills when you are recovering from child birth.
3. Do I have a support network?
I can’t stress enough how important a support network is now and after you have your baby. You need to surround yourself with positive people who will be there to support you when you need them. A support network could include; significant others, friends, grandparents, in-laws, siblings, extended family, co-workers or even your neighbors. The transition from being single to having a child can be rough. It’s not about you or your needs primarily anymore. Your baby’s needs come first. So you will definitely need support-people to talk to when you are having a rough time, when your baby won’t sleep, when your baby is still crying after you have tried everything, or when you just need advice and someone to talk to. You don’t have to go through this alone. Also, there are so many mom support groups around the area or even online.
4. Do I have everything I need for the baby?
I would suggest having a baby shower (if you can) first before going out and purchasing things. This way it will cut down on the costs of what you have to buy. Baby showers are also helpful because most first time moms don’t really know what they need, so other moms will get baby care items that they found helpful or that they needed themselves for their babies. Also, don’t believe that you need to buy out the whole store. This is the hype the marketing companies want you to believe-that your baby needs everything. Not true! Babies grow so fast that you end up not even using most of the items. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to prepare for your baby. I would suggest checking out FreeCycle, Craigslist, Unique Thrift Store, and Totswap for some or most of the baby care items you need if you don’t mind gently used items. Some resort to registering for a baby registry services to buy new items which isn't cheaper. I can tell you from personal experience that I bought my son a lot of brand new items that he never wore or used. I have no problems with second hand items now. You can save so much money going that route especially if you are a young mother and funds are tight. Also, watch for coupons to get diapers or other baby care items on sale.
5. Do I have a pediatrician picked out for my baby?
You need to start looking around now for pediatricians. I would start by getting referrals from your family and friends on who they use. That is what I did since I was a young mother having my first child.
6. Do I have a doctor for my care during and after pregnancy?
Get maternity care A.S.A.P. to ensure that you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. You want to make sure you are taking your vitamins and making healthy choices when it comes to your diet. You want to be in a stress-free environment. You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of the baby growing inside of you. Babies take a lot out of your body and affect your teeth, bones, skin, etc. So it is important to take it easy during this time. Just remember that everything you do or don’t do affects your unborn child.
7. Where do I want to deliver?
You need to figure out what hospital you want to deliver at. Most times when you choose a doctor they will let you know what hospital they deliver at. Make sure you contact the hospital to fill out the admission paperwork. Do this ahead of time so you don’t have to fill out paperwork while you are in labor. It is just one less hassle. Also, contact the hospital you choose to deliver at to get a tour of the labor and delivery floor. Make sure to keep a list of questions so you don’t forget to ask.
8. Do I have a birthing plan?
Do you want a natural birth or do you want to be given medicine for the labor pains? Do you want to have a home birth or deliver at the hospital? Do you want a Doula or birthing coach?
9. Do I have my hospital bag packed?
I would have this packed a couple of weeks or a month or so in advance of your delivery date because you never know when you might go into labor and need it. Make sure to have your outfit to come home in, toiletries, undergarments, blanket for baby, outfit to bring baby home in. Also, make sure the baby’s car seat is installed in the car beforehand. That is one less headache later when it is time to come home.
10. How long will I be out on maternity leave?Will I even want to go back to work after having my baby?
You have to figure out how much time you want to take off from work to be home with your baby. You need time to recover from the birth of your baby and also to bond. Check with your job to see if they have a child birth policy that gives you paid time off. Some companies give 4-8 weeks of paid leave. Some women decide to become stay-at-home moms after having their babies. It all depends on your finances and situation if you can do that.
11. Do I have childcare set up for when I go back to work?
I would first take to family and friends on who provides their childcare. Check out my resources page for helpful resources. Good childcare is not cheap. You will want to set up visits to go tour potential childcare facilities to choose the best one for you and your child. Make sure to write down a list of questions you want to ask. Take someone with you for support if you need to. It is helpful to have someone there to bounce ideas off of. This is a major decision on who will help your child grow.
12. Have I read any books on having a baby or what to expect during my pregnancy?
I know that when I was a first time mom that I didn’t have a clue. I remember asking my mom how I would know that I was going into labor. She told me that I would just know. I would suggest reading anything you can get your hands on at the library on pregnancy and childbirth. A great resource is What to Expect When You Are Expecting. and my own week-by-week pregnancy journey page. Your body goes through so many changes and it is helpful to have some kind of idea what to expect. You want to know that you are not weird and you are not the only one going through this. I would also suggest talking to other moms and asking about their experiences.
13. What kind of parent am I going to be? Will I be laid back or strict?
You need to know that there is not a right or wrong way to raise your child. You will have so many people trying to give you advice on what you should do when raising your child. But at the end of the day how your raise your child is up to you. The important thing is to balance being laid back with discipline. Start out on the right foot with your child because it is hard to change bad habits once you have started them. Kids need structure and actually crave it. I have always said I wished kids came with instruction manuals because they sure know how to test and manipulate you. If kids see a weak point in your armor, you best believe they will aim in on it and attack! Lol.
14. Do I have names picked out?
This one is pretty straight forward. Nowadays, they have so many baby books and online resources to help with picking out a name for your baby. They will also have you fill out paperwork at the hospital to apply for your child’s birth certificate, so it helps to have a name picked out and ready to go.
15. Do I want to breastfeed or bottle feed my baby?
This is a really personal decision. I personally breast fed my children for a few months for the health benefits. Breastfeeding your child helps build your child’s immune system. It is also helpful in bonding with your baby. There are so many formulas on the market for your baby if you choose not to breastfeed. Make sure to check out WIC, if you qualify, for help with buying formula.
Remember, a little planning goes a long way. It will be one less thing to stress about when your baby arrives. Now, relax and enjoy your pregnancy. Nine months go by pretty quickly, and before you know it, you will be welcoming your new baby into the world. So what’s the harm in having a pregnancy plan?
Did you have a pregnancy plan? Was it helpful? Do you have any helpful tips for other young moms? I would love to hear from you! Please leave me a comment.