Congratulations on your pregnancy!
You're officially growing a baby. Now pause for a moment to process how amazing your body is! You may be wondering what you're going to be in for through this pregnancy and beyond. There are many books and online resources which will tell you week to week what to expect, but before that, marvel at the fact that you created a new life and it lives inside you. It is yours and whatever you do, now until you birth your baby, the two of you are experiencing together. Luckily making a baby is a slow process which gives you plenty of time to prepare, relax, have patience, and look after yourself.
Everyone's experience of pregnancy is unique, and every pregnancy is different. Your body is going through so many simultaneous changes, all happening without you needing to think about it. With this, your body's senses seem to be heightened, and your awareness is drawn inward. Your brain is remodelling to strengthen your emotional centres, preparing you for caring for your baby. These changes are your body's and nature's way of putting your baby's wellbeing and growth first, giving them the best start in life.
Most of your body changes are only temporary in the scheme of your life, but your mind and spirit will be changed forever. The personal growth you experience is all part of your transformation, your rite of passage into motherhood, your evolution. This is why life will never be the same again. Embrace your new purpose, because you’re about to be the most important person in the world to your baby. The feeling will be mutual.
It’s the time to nourish and look after your body like you have never done before. Look to eat a wide range of foods, reduce your exposure to environmental chemicals, and nurture your mind, body, and spirit. Take this time to prepare your home, mindset, and lifestyle to welcome your baby into your world. You will need to learn new skills, including birthing skills, breastfeeding skills, and safely set up the various baby equipment. There's a lot to learn, but you've got time. You've got this.
Do you believe the sayings, 'you are what you eat' and 'you only get out what you put in'?
What you choose to put into your body influences your body and life in many ways. Apart from needing food for energy, it is now understood that your microbiota is influenced by what you eat and can influence what you choose to eat.
It is never too early to start improving your diet and lifestyle. From 3 months (up to ideally six months) before getting pregnant, you and your partner can prepare your body to improve your diet, health and energy levels. This is especially worthwhile for women, to improve the health of the egg/s, placenta, and the womb's lining. As a pregnant woman, your body will prioritise nutrients to your baby, so having a store of nutrients in your body from a consistent nutrient-dense diet will be protective for your own health and that of your baby over the long term.
As your breasts prepare for breastfeeding, so can you by forming realistic expectations of the effort and time it takes to learn the skill of breastfeeding with your baby and forming a plan for success.
Many traditional cultures believe that the pregnant body is in a hotter state which means that colder foods are tolerated well. The postpartum body then moves into a colder state, needing warm foods and drinks including broths to promote good health. Regardless of if you eat hot or cold foods, during each stage of pregnancy is the time to focus on nutrients, the quality of your food sources, and preparing and storing your food to reduce your intake and exposure to toxins.
Your food and activity levels form a cycle of energy in and out that can easily get out of balance. Your body will tell you what it needs. Slow down, listen and follow as best you can.
During any time in your life, sleep is an important activity for your immune system and overall health and vitality. Sleep, rest, and relaxation is easy, enjoyable, refreshing, energising and free.
Even though we all know it is important, other things are often prioritised above the need for sleep. You wouldn't spend at least a third of your life sleeping if it weren't an essential activity. We know that sleep is important because of the higher incidence of health problems in people who treat sleep as an optional activity and don't get enough sleep. This is true in pregnancy, since getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night is a stillbirth risk factor.
There are so many important functions that your body and mind does automatically and subconsciously during sleep. Sleep aids in a strong immune system, hormone regulation & stress reduction. During sleep, the garbage or waste cells are cleared from the brain and body through the lymphatic system. Sleep helps balance the hormones cortisol, serotonin, and melatonin and promotes clearer thinking and enhanced brain function. It's amazing how much we are 'doing' when we sleep.
During pregnancy, your body prepares for motherhood and devotes a large amount of energy towards growing and protecting your baby. In early pregnancy, raised levels of progesterone can make you drowsy and also disturb your sleep. You are also preparing your body and mindset for birthing & motherhood with changes to the brain, breasts and pelvis - all this is especially tiring.
Towards the end of your pregnancy, it can become harder to get comfortable in bed to have a good night’s sleep. It is important to learn the safer and more supported positions you can sleep in. Other sleep stealers can be heartburn, joint laxity/pelvic/lower back pain, restless legs, cramps (thought to be caused by low levels of calcium and potassium), snoring, baby movements and needing to go to the toilet. It is also common to have vivid and strange dreams related to hormones, anxiety, and excitement about the pending life change.
Pregnancy is a great time to make changes to your life, routines and sleep environment to improve sleep for your sake and your baby's as they grow. Now is the time to consider where and how you would like to set up a sleep surface for your baby for their first months and then in the future. Knowing how to prepare your mind and body for sleep can not only benefit you, but the benefits flow onto your children with you becoming the role model and teacher, promoting sleep for your growing baby.
"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity" (WHO).
For the most part, healthcare services are set up to help restore people to a healthy state or manage symptoms when disease or infirmity are acutely or chronically present. Health services are a great resource to help you when things aren't right, to understand symptoms, gain a diagnosis and find out about and access treatment options. Primary healthcare services including doctors, nurses and allied health services can work alongside complementary or alternative therapy services to restore you back to health and then help you with advice to maintain your health.
True health is the result of finding your balance. You are the one in charge of managing your health and wellbeing by the choices you make every day. Every activity we do in life affects our health somehow, what we eat, drink, sleep, work & leisure pursuits, social interactions, how we care for our bodies etc. An excess of anything, or an absence of any essential elements will throw you out of balance and if you don't correct, will lead towards disease or infirmity. It is up to you to check in with yourself, learn about your body, mind and spirit to adjust course to re-balance when needed.
Although pregnancy does not make a woman 'infirm' in itself, growing a baby is complex work which causes any number of symptoms and the need to access maternity care services. The monitoring that occurs throughout your pregnancy helps identify when symptoms or test results fall outside the normal range and may require further testing or treatment. Visits with health care professionals also serve to prepare you for the birthing experience.
The process of growing a baby is so complex that there are still things we don't understand or comprehend about the entire process. Without any conscious thought, our body can make a baby. On both ends of the spectrum, some people have so little pregnancy symptoms that they can in rare cases go through entire pregnancies without knowing they are pregnant (can you imagine?!). Others have such extreme symptoms such as hyperemesis gravidarum that they are practically disabled during their pregnancy. For most, their body shape changes are gradual but dramatic: body fat increases, your uterus grows and pushes on your abdominal organs, your skin stretches, & your breasts prepare for breastfeeding typically growing 1-2 cup sizes. It will be worth taking time to get to know what changes the average pregnant body experiences.
As you go along your pregnancy journey, expectant Dads face much uncertainty around how relationships will change and their transition into fatherhood. They would benefit from being included in any antenatal or birthing preparation classes, as well as accessing Dad specific support and resources.
This is such an important time to focus on your health and change your lifestyle towards healthy habits. It is also a time of great learning, preparation and choices. There will be so many decisions you make along the way based on the knowledge you have at the time. As you learn more, you can make different choices. It is an evolution as you become a parent and start to develop competence along the way. There are no perfect parents, just loving parents trying to do the best for their children.
Broadly speaking, personal hygiene covers many of the fundamental self-care activities you perform in your daily routines to maintain a healthy body.
During pregnancy, looking after your own health and wellbeing becomes a top priority for the sake of your baby. It is also a challenge in that you need to change some habits to meet your changing body's needs. Pregnancy is the perfect time to set yourself up in routines, including self-care practices that are quick, effective, and will work with your baby in tow.
It is a great time to take stock of the products you use on your body and in your environment. If in doubt about a product's safety or anything in your environment, take the precautionary approach - don't use it, throw it out, wear personal protective equipment, or get someone else to handle it. For example, hand hygiene practices aim to clean your body to reduce your exposure to potentially harmful/disease-causing pathogens. Unfortunately, using antibacterial and antimicrobial products in 'the fight against germs' can interfere with and undermine your skin's natural balance of bacteria. The overuse of these products has resulted in the emerging problems of antibiotic resistance and increased asthma and allergies (especially in children). Like anything in nature, a balance needs to be achieved by finding ways to reduce your exposure to anything potentially harmful whilst supporting and strengthening your body's natural defence mechanisms.
Check out the following related topics to find out what you need to know (including tips)...
There may be both your work responsibilities and your most important job, preparing to become a parent. There’s a lot to do in preparing your mind, body, lifestyle and home for a healthy pregnancy and your new baby life. This is a time to think and be realistic about how your life will change when your baby arrives and start to do things that boost your happiness and health. You could be learning new skills to prepare for parenting, such as learning how to photograph children (very similar to pet photography), so you can capture all the precious moments. It is also a time to do the mental preparation for becoming a parent by reflecting on your own upbringing and getting clear on your family's core values.
You will naturally enter a strong nesting phase during your second and third trimesters to get your home in order ready to welcome your baby. This is a great time for a declutter and simplifying your life to make physical and mental space for your baby. You will be looking around your house and outdoor spaces with fresh eyes evaluating everything and every space for family friendliness, safety, and hazards. Kidsafe has a great resource for parents, a Home Safety Checklist for every room in the house and outside. It will serve you well to get comfortable with regularly going through your things to decide what to have within reach, store away, give away, sell or throw as you will be doing a lot of this as your baby progresses through each stage.
If you are thinking about what playthings to buy your baby and feeling overwhelmed, check out the book Retro Baby: Cut Back on All the Gear and Boost Your Baby's Development with More than 100 Time-tested Activities.
To get yourself ready for getting out and about with baby, make sure to get yourself a comfortable and easy to use nappy bag. Explore the range at The Stork Nest, Amazon Au, or the Baby Bunting eBay Store.
Once your belly starts to show, you might notice your skinny jeans just aren't going all the way around you anymore and your short tops just aren't covering your new curves the way they should.
Changes in your body shape will ultimately prompt you to look through your wardrobe to see what is going to stretch with you and accommodate your growing curves, what needs to be put to the back of the wardrobe for now, and what items of clothing you will need to get to serve you through each stage.
A good fit is important not just for your comfort, but also for your health. When you notice that your clothing is putting pressure on your bump and areas of your skin causing red marks, these are signs that the free circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids are being affected. Check your skin after removing your clothes using mirrors for hard to see areas. If there are red marks, look at looser options next time with what you already own or it could be shopping time. Check out the range at Soon Maternity, eBay & Amazon Au.
It can be so exciting picking out cute tiny clothes as you prepare for your baby to arrive. Seeing those tiny socks and outfits make everything seem real, that your baby will be shortly fitting into those impossibly tiny clothes. To find out more about choosing baby clothes, check out the next stage's information in the 'Clothes' tab.
Some of the biggest ticket items that you will buy for your baby are those that help you carry or drive your baby from place to place.
Doing your homework and really considering what is going to best suit your family's needs will pay off in the end. Products that fit your needs have the potential to make transporting your baby around your local area, shopping centre or when travelling, that much easier. You may even find yourself buying more than one type of pram, carrier or car seat over the course of your pregnancy and early parenting years, so knowing what you are looking for will ultimately save you time and money.
It can be very exciting during the second half of your pregnancy to explore and buy a pram or stroller, car seat and a carrier. When you buy the pram or car seat, suddenly it seems real that your baby is almost here.
There are many ways to transport your baby, so you need to be realistic with yourself about where you will want to be taking your baby, for how long and how often.
There are many possible methods for transporting your baby short distances and long distances. Look for products which fit your lifestyle, what your body can manage to push/carry/lift, local environments, and where else you will need to take your baby. You can use any combination of the following at different times:
- carrying (in arms/sling/carrier) - Carrying your baby has many benefits for both you and your baby. Using a long piece of fabric to wrap your baby onto your body is a traditional practice for good reason. There are lots of carrier and sling options available to give you a hands-free option for walking around with your baby. It is worth investing in at least one of these. See our Discover Baby Carriers & Baby Carrier Buying Guide from the next age stage onwards.
- car or public transportation - To travel in a car, you will need a child car seat. If you plan on taking your baby home from the hospital in a car, the seat needs to be installed well before your estimated due date. For travelling on public transportation, a small to medium-sized pram and/or carrier can be great options.
- Pram or stroller - For your newborn, you may want to get a pram or pram/stroller combination which is has a bassinet lay flat style space for your baby to sleep in and face you. Pram/stroller combination seats can be converted when your baby outgrows the lay-flat seat, into a more upright seat. Once they are over 6 months old, they can sit up in a stroller seat and can safely ride in a jogging stroller. When it comes to looking around and choosing what is going to suit you, it all gets very confusing because there are so many brands and so many models available. You need to know what you want and need before you can begin to narrow down your search.