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Baby on the Way? Now What?

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Congratulations! You’re having a baby! What could be more exciting than anticipating the arrival of a little nugget of joy?

Although you may live a pretty healthy lifestyle, taking care of yourself has never been more important. It’s no wonder everyone from your Aunt Angela to your well-meaning manicurist spews fountains of unsolicited advice your way. Paying attention to your wellbeing during pregnancy is vital for a healthy baby, so thank everyone for their wonderful words of baby wisdom, and reign in the pregnancy myths and facts by arming yourself with good information.

Prenatal Care
Hopefully, you have taken care of yourself since long before you got pregnant. Knowing your own health risks or medical conditions even before your baby is conceived is important. Some foods, lifestyle choices and medicines can be harmful, so make sure to have a thorough health exam by your doctor before trying to get pregnant.

Finding out you are pregnant is exciting, but you may be a little angst-ridden. Choosing an obstetrician is important, so ask friends and family for recommendations. See your doctor at the first knowledge of a pregnancy for the best prenatal care. Even if you have had children before, regular doctor’s visits will keep you and your baby’s health at the forefront, not to mention being a great way to bond even more with your partner.

Typically, you will deliver your baby at the hospital where your provider has privileges, so keep this in mind when choosing your doctor or midwife. You may want to do your research ahead of time to make sure the hospital suits your approach to labor and birth.

You’ve got a big day ahead, so why not prepare for it? Taking classes on childbirth isn’t the real thing, but it certainly will prepare you for what lies ahead. While many moms-to-be opt for birthing classes at their hospital, you can also register for sessions from private organizations. Check into other classes that may be helpful; everything from fit pregnancy and breastfeeding to sibling classes might be beneficial for your growing family.

While pregnancy may seem like a green light for gorging on whatever is in your pantry, there is no more important time to eat nutritiously. While an occasional chocolate milkshake-pickle combo (no judging here) is okay, eating a variety of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains ensures a more balanced diet; this will keep you feeling good and hopefully back to a healthy weight once baby is born. And don’t forget the water. Drinking plenty of fluids will fight dehydration, which can lead to cramps, headaches, nausea and even preterm labor in the final trimester of pregnancy.

Exercise is more critical now than ever before. Unless your doctor tells you not to work out, you should aim for at least 30 minutes a day. Now, if you weren’t taking kickboxing classes before you got pregnant, this is probably not the time to start. But doing familiar exercises, walking and performing other low-impact exercise will be beneficial for you, your baby and your peace of mind.

Be careful when it comes to well-intentioned friends and family doling out baby advice. Pretty much everyone is an expert; even men who have never had a baby are raring to educate you on their baby wisdom. If you get bleary-eyed from all the old wives’ tales, just blame it on your obstetrician. Starting with the phrase “My doctor says” is a nice way of telling someone that you are paying a professional for superior advice. Hopefully, that keeps everyone quiet at least until baby actually shows up.

Take Your Time
Not every woman feels good during pregnancy. As a matter of fact, most women will say they have felt stress over everything from preparing for baby to finishing everyday tasks. It is very normal to feel anxiety with the arrival of a bundle of joy, but too much stress can affect you and the baby. Take some time for yourself to unwind and regroup. Get a massage, meet a friend for lunch, leave work early and hit your favorite yoga class, have sex with your partner or just take a nap. All of these things (and you will think of more) will be a welcome release.

No one is a perfect pregnant person, so expect some super successes and a few failures over the next nine months. Remember to not be too hard on yourself. When we actually reflect on what is happening inside of us and the growth of that tiny little miracle, it is truly a terrific triumph. Stop and smell the roses and relish the next nine months. ■

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