A Checklist For Moms-To-Be


By Sujatha Rajagopal

Important little details, from trimester one to delivery day

Discovering that you are pregnant can be one of the most exciting, yet confusing, period in your life. Once you’ve done the most obvious — find a doctor to take care of your pregnancy and childbirth needs — you may feel at a loss as to what to do next. Your mind is probably besieged by so many questions: What should I eat? When should I start shopping for maternity clothes? What will I need during my hospital stay?

We hope the following guidelines will help take away some of the guesswork.

Trimester One

Eat healthily, drink aplenty: It is never too early or late to start pumping more wholesome nutrients into your diet. Try to eat as much of fresh fruit and vegetables as you can. Eat plenty of iron-rich food too, such as whole grains and beans. Opt for more low-fat protein from lean poultry and seafood and complex carbohydrates from brown rice and whole wheat bread. Finally, try to cut down on high-fat, high-sugar and salty or cured food. At the same time, don’t forget to drink at least eight glasses of water a day to reduce the risk of swollen ankles and feet.

Ask your doctor which multivitamin is right for you:
Ideally, you (and your baby) should be able to get all the nutrients you need from your daily diet. But pregnancy brings with it problems like nausea, vomiting and exhaustion, which tend to affect appetite. A multivitamin tablet or capsule therefore, can be rather convenient. Apart from folic acid, do ensure that you are getting sufficient antioxidants, calcium, zinc and iron. Always consult your doctor before buying nutritional supplements on your own.

Buy a few good pregnancy books: Each week of pregnancy brings with it slight changes inside your womb. Wondering what’s going on? Don’t wait for monthly ultrasounds to find out. Most major bookstores carry numerous titles on pregnancy and childbirth, so invest in one or two and dive in!

Get yourself a good calendar: Preferably one with large date boxes. Pregnancy makes remembering dates a necessity. Some important dates to record include your due date, dates for prenatal appointments and scans, dates for special tests if any and of course, that all-important date when you feel baby’s first kick.

Think about starting a pregnancy diary: This can be a special journal set aside for you to pen your daily thoughts and pregnancy experiences. Or it can serve as a book of letters that you write to your baby, telling him how you spent your nine months while awaiting his arrival. Or it can serve as both. Ask hubby to take a picture of you each month as your belly grows and put these snapshots in as well.

Trimester Two

Start budgeting for baby’s arrival: A little baby consumes a lot of milk, uses about 10 to 12 diapers a day, and needs other essentials like feeding bottles, toys, immunizations, well-baby check-ups and so on — all of which cost money. On top of that, you’ll need to start shopping for baby furniture too. By working out your finances sooner, you will be better prepared for any emergencies.

Start looking for childbirth classes: Sign up in advance if you want to know more about birthing positions and breathing exercises. Also, consider getting lessons on caring for infants or infant first-aid.

Exercise: Now that most pregnancy discomfort like nausea and heartburn should have abated, it’s a good time to start exercising regularly. Look for yoga, dance, aerobics or swimming classes designed for pregnant women. If cost is an issue, find a pleasant park close to where you live and take a leisurely walk at least three times a week. Or use housework as your exercise opportunity. Blast some music while you dust, vacuum and mop, but remember to take it easy.

Review your company’s maternity policies: Verify when and how to apply for maternity leave and other details like how much you can claim, whether your employer practices childcare relief policies, how much emergency leave you can take and so on. It is also a good time to discuss and plan out work responsibilities with the person who will take over while you are on leave.

Shortlist baby names: You would probably already know the sex of your child at this stage, so it’s a good time to start writing down some of your favorite names. You can always decide on the right one with your partner later.

Shop for baby: Start looking around for baby’s clothing, feeding bottles and toys. Once you’ve determined whether your child is a boy or a girl, you might feel like doing a few gender-specific things like getting the nursery painted blue or buying a pretty pink frock. Be sure to read the article on Baby Essentials for more ideas.

Shop for you: For most women, now is when pre-pregnancy clothes start to feel a little tight, especially around the belly. Here is what you should get:

  • Fashionable maternity wear: loose-fitting blouses and tees, side-tab trousers and skirts with underbelly support, and denim dungarees.
  • Comfortable lingerie: well-fitting bra (usually a size bigger that what you usually wear), maternity underwear, stretchable tights or shorts. Buy a few nursing bras closer to your due date for use after baby is born.
  • Other clothing: Roomy nightshirts or pajamas, a larger sweater.
  • Other essentials: Support stockings to prevent varicose veins, pampering toiletries, well-padded cushions or pillows.

Trimester Three

Make your home safer:
One of the first things you should do now is place a non-slip mat under rugs and carpets so that you do not accidentally slip and hurt yourself as you grow heavier with child. Also, invest in a first-aid kit and a fire extinguisher and smoke detector. Keep hospital and other emergency numbers right next to your telephone.

Organize your memories: Once baby is born, your hands will be too full to begin organizing all the new photos you’ll be taking. So start now. Buy some photo albums and photo-editing software, and consider signing up for free online photo-sharing tools. You can also start buying the supplies you will need to put together a memory box or scrapbook (see Collecting Little Memories). You can also start preparing baby announcement cards and envelopes.

Find out more about labor pain:
Read up about Braxton-Hicks contractions, a key culprit in causing false alarms. You could also consider practicing the breathing exercises that are used during labor. Ask your doctor or childbirth coach for advice.

Confide your doubts and worries in your spouse: It is easy to get carried away with your anxiety about childbirth and parenting. Don’t forget that your spouse may be having the same concerns. Have a quiet moment together at least once a week to discuss your worries as well as thoughts and plans for the future.

Familiarize yourself with the labor ward: Ask your doctor if you can have a tour of the labor ward and delivery room. Ask about what you’ll need to do and the forms you’ll need to fill up on admission day. Find out where the nursery is. Enquire about the special neonatal wards and visiting rules just in case your child needs to be placed under close observation after delivery. Start writing a birthing plan if you have specific requirements during delivery.

Be good to yourself: Childbirth and the weeks to come may drain you emotionally and physically. So have the time of your life while you can. Vent out any pent up emotions with your mother or friends. Get a pregnancy massage, a manicure or pedicure. Have romantic dinners with your hubby, watch a movie together, have a baby shower… have fun!

Start getting ready for baby: Ensure that all the necessary baby furniture is in place and stock up on formula, bottles, diapers, baby wipes and other baby essentials. And yes… decide on a name!

Make arrangements: If you have other children, look for reliable day and night care as well as someone to cook and clean while you are away. Decide who will be with you during labor and how you are going to cope with meals and housework after your discharge from the hospital. Stock up on dry and canned food. You can also prepare meals ahead of time and freeze them.

What to pack for the hospital

It’s a good idea to pack your hospital bag two to three weeks before your due date, just in case baby intends to arrive earlier. You will need the following during your stay:

  • Your identification card or papers and prenatal health records.
  • A nightgown or two, although most hospitals provide a comfortable hospital gown.
  • Nursing bras for breastfeeding.
  • Maternity sanitary pads and underwear.
  • Socks and slippers to warm your feet.
  • A favorite pillow and blanket to make your room or cubicle feel more like home.
  • A photograph of your family for reassurance or even as a focal point during childbirth.
  • Some pregnancy-safe massage oil or aromatherapy oils to calm your nerves.
  • Personal care items like lip balm, toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, shampoo, hairbrush and face and body moisturizers.
  • Snacks for you and your partner in case you’re both too weary to walk to the hospital cafeteria.
  • Spare change for hospital vending machine snacks or drinks.
  • CD player and your favorite CDs as well as a book or magazine to wile away the time.
  • A camera, some lipstick and face powder for Kodak moments.
  • One or two newborn outfits for your baby as well as mittens, booties and a receiving blanket to keep her warm. Diapers will usually be provided.
  • Clothes for use when you are discharged. You may not be able to fit into pre-pregnancy clothes so pack a set of maternity wear just in case.
  • An extra duffel bag to bring home gift hampers and possibly, various formula or diaper samples that are usually given away at hospitals.
  • A baby car seat.

Pregnancy can be an emotionally uncertain time for you and the rest of your family. For health issues, always ask your doctor if you are unsure about anything. Otherwise, tap into the wealth of resources available from your local library, bookstore or the Internet. Speak to your mother or a friend with kids for a better idea of what’s in store during these nine months. Being prepared will help to answer all your questions. Also, don’t forget to take this time to enjoy life! It’s not always that you are pregnant!


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