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Excitement, anticipation, and fear are a few feelings that mothers experience in the nine months before bringing home their baby. (and there are more that are going to follow!) Moms can prepare for the new arrival in four different areas. We’ll go over them all in this post.

Each woman experiences pregnancy differently, and with each subsequent pregnancy, it is different. When trying to compare or figure out the plan, just know that there are things that can come up and happen.

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Physically (always consult your physician before starting an exercise plan)

Your body needs time to get prepared. Never has your body faced a challenge equal to that of labor and delivery! It’s like running a long race and then a sprint at the same time.

Pregnancy changes your hormones and your body composition! What you thought your body should be like will be no more. One miracle from all these changes is the increased flexibility we are given, which allows us the ability to carry a child and to release it on D-day! (Thank goodness for that!) Regardless if the birthing process is natural or managed your body will use EVERYTHING it has to complete the task of delivery. It really is a beautiful process but it also takes time to prepare. So prepare!

Walking is the best exercise to help elevate the uncomfortable changes during pregnancy, such as constipation, and to tone your muscles. You’ll be amazed at how it will make your legs feel so much better, too. The great thing about walking is you can do it anywhere, anytime, and it is virtually free! (and you’ll want to be saving all that extra money for those diapers!) You will need to invest in comfortable, stable shoes! This is a must as you need good support, too.

While pregnant it is especially important to listen to your body and if you need to rest, REST! It’s important to listen to the signals that your body is telling you. Walk what you feel you can, and know that a little is better than none at all. Baby steps are just that…and can be taken every single day.

Prenatal yoga is also a great way to prepare for labor and delivery. Find out of there are any offerings in your area. Yoga promotes stamina, relaxation, stress reduction, muscle strengths, and flexibility. Plus, it’s a great way to help you focus on mental clarity as well.

Practicing kegel exercises and squats can promote an easier delivery and recovery. (and this is something that you can literally do all the time) Yoga is also a great way to begin bonding with your baby! Working out doesn’t have to be all sweat and hard-core activity. You can find pre-natal yoga DVD’s online or in book stores; also check your local YMCA for classes.

It is also important to realize that when most of us leave the hospital we still need maternity clothes. Many people think that they won’t, but don’t put that stress and pressure on yourself. Very few people that I have known have worn their pre-pregnancy clothes home from the hospital. It can happen, but don’t count on it. When packing your bag include a few outfits that are comfortable, and that make you feel attractive.

Mentally

Family and friends can feel like paparazzi with the new arrival. They’ll want to come over all the time. Just as important as your delivery plan, is your plan to bring the baby home. This is somethign that you need to start talking about early.

Begin talking to your partner about what you envision, keeping in mind that you may be exhausted and a little anxious about how to take care of the new baby. It’s okay to ask for help. It is okay to set boundaries until you are ready for visitors. You have a right to say “no”.

Becoming a parent changes many aspects of your life, including your marriage. Keep this in mind so you don’t put your marriage on the backburner. Until this point, there had been a balance of two, and bam a VERY needy third party enters. It’s a quick and sudden change for sure that shifts the entire dynamic.

It is very normal to experience stress when starting a family, your whole life changes. Everything you thought you knew will be different. The key is to talk to your partner about your feelings before and after the arrival. Don’t hold them in. Ask for help!!!! And the sooner the better!

Begin learning all you can about what to expect. Talk about it all and understand that change is going to happen. Once the baby comes, form a relationship with your pediatrician so that you feel comfortable asking questions. This is really, really important.

Before the baby arrives try to map out a plan for rest and relief. You have to worry about taking care of yourself. As a new mom you may think you have to be superwomen, you don’t! Your focus needs to be on your health as well. Begin splitting household chores, talk to friends and family about helping you with other children or other major responsibilities. Again, it’s okay to ask for help! Take time to learn about postpartum depression. Educate yourself on the signs so that you can be aware. If you feel like you are experiencing any symptoms talk to your doctor as soon as possible!

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Environmental

For most parents, once they find out the gender of their baby, it is full throttle to prepare a special environment for the baby. It’s a lot to try to plan and figure out in a short amount of time. This can be exciting and stressful. Those emotions are all too common. What color to paint the room, what theme to do and what furniture is needed are often the questions that arise. And all these questions have to be answered and handled by you. But guess what? Babies need very little to be happy!

A few things you will need to get started: a crib or bassinet, sheets(a least two pairs), a waterproof mattress pad, a soft blanket, diapers, wipes, Vaseline, a baby bathtub, soft wash clothes, burp rags and a lot of easy to remove and put on outfits. That’s literally it. Usually, when you leave the hospital you will have a goody bag with a few of these items, but these will not last long. You’re going to want to stock up to be prepared for the future. The most important piece of environmental preparation is purchasing a car seat. DO NOT SKIMP ON THIS.

Research and price car seats before the baby arrives as the hospital will not let you take the baby home without one. You need to get one and get it installed correctly. In most areas hospitals and organizations offer classes on installing car seats. If not, see if the local fire department offers something like this as well. The first time you try to install a car seat should be well before the trip home from the hospital. This is so important.

Financially

It is also important for mothers and their partners to begin preparing for the financial changes once the baby arrives. Babies cost a lot of money and you don’t want to find yourself in a tough situation. Most parents expect the cost of feeding, diapering, and clothing your new baby. Those costs are to be expected.

Before the baby arrives you can begin to put money aside for supplies and unexpected cost. Things can and will come up that can be big expenses. We all have different financial situations, so any amount is better than none. Even just an extra $20 a month can make a huge difference over time.

When shopping, look for great deals on diapers. Stores always have some sort of sale going on so this is simple to do. Diapers are the easiest item to pre-buy because all babies use them. Just pay attention to the sizes. Look for sizes other than newborn; your baby will be in diapers for some time and will not wear the newborn size for long. Sizes can also vary by company so find the ones that work best for your child. Begin thinking about the cost of childcare, maternity leave, possibly the loss of two incomes and medical bills. Try not to stress, but plan on getting financially stable.

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All the planning in the world can not prepare you for the greatest event you are about to experience! You’re about to welcome a new baby into your lives! Planning can ease your anxiety, stress and make the journey more rewarding. And when you plan ahead, it lets you focus on the birth of your new baby!