Welcoming a baby into the world is one of the beautiful moments a parent will ever experience; the newborn smell, how they curl up right into your body like they were still in the womb, and the sounds! Their little squeaks, tiny cries, and quiet breath. With that said becoming a new parent feels different, and has moments of difficulty for everyone – don’t feel bad if things don’t come naturally to you or you aren’t overwhelmed with joy right away.
There is much to be discovered when becoming a new parent, and being prepared for parenthood is essential. Outside of enjoying newborn snuggles, there is a lot that comes along with beginning this new journey that isn’t always openly talked about, and it has nothing to do with ‘the best baby swing’ or ‘5 ways to swaddle a newborn’.
There are choices that are worth exploring when it comes it testing,scans, which healthcare professionals you use, and where the birth takes place. In Canada, some birthplace options include: in a hospital with either an OBGYN or a Midwife, at home with a Midwife, or at a birthing centre. The scans, tests and medications administered to mom and baby while pregnant and after giving birth are also something to become familiar with. As these options will vary person to person it’s best to discuss all your options and what’s best for you with your primary healthcare provider.
Postpartum healing and care
New parents can become obsessed with caring for their baby and forget to care for themselves. Sleep deprivation and lack of support can make finding time for self-care even more challenging. Eating properly, staying hydrated and moving your body in a safe way will allow you to be at your best – for you AND your baby.
How you will be getting to and from well-baby appointments, who will be making meals, waking up for night feedings, and so on, are things to plan for. Having a plan in place makes the transition into parenthood a little easier.
Your general practitioner will see you for a 6-week postpartum check-up to ensure your body is healing properly after giving birth, but further care during the post-partum period can be beneficial. Some services that could be helpful to new parents include a doula, pelvic floor physiotherapy, and mental health support if you’re not feeling like yourself.
Expectation vs Reality
Babies are unpredictable! Having a plan is great but be flexible and ready for change. –Be aware of what hopes and aspirations you might have for your new life with baby and take some time to think about what it would be like with a different outcome or two. Becoming pregnant could take longer than expected, you might have been hoping to have an epidural but discover it isn’t an option for you, or the childcare you had lined up is no longer available. These are a few examples of unforeseen circumstances that would benefit from having a plan B.
Boundaries with family and friends
It can be difficult to imagine what these boundaries might look like for you without yet experiencing parenthood, but talking with other parents about their experience can be insightful. Think about who you want to be present at the birth, if and when you’d like visitors, who the visitors will be, and how you’ll respond to well-meaning friends and family who give unsolicited parenting advice.
Explore what parental leave options are available for both parents, if applicable. Having childcare options, leave or work-from-home accommodations in place before baby arrives can help you feel more comfortable. It will also give you a sense of what future childcare options and decisions may look like down the line. If you will require childcare, get on a waitlist early and schedule centre visits as daycare centers can be difficult to get into.
Embark is Canada’s education savings and planning company. The organization aims to help families and students along their post-secondary journeys, giving them innovative tools and advice to take hold of their bright futures and succeed.