Pregnancy Planning – Are you thinking about having a baby?

Pregnancy Planning

Planning for a baby and getting ready for pregnancy is perhaps the biggest life-changing step you are ever going to make. If you have a baby on the mind, then it probably means you are at the stage in your marriage and life where you are ready to take the plunge. You are thinking about starting a family soon, then it probably also means that you are mentally prepared to take your life and relationship to a whole new level. But now that you are mentally prepared is your body really prepared to take the big step? Let me tell you this while the decision of having a baby can be frightening overwhelming, having the right information can save you from a bumpy ride and make the journey rather smooth.

Creating and growing a life inside you takes a great deal of responsibility on the mother’s part. A mother needs to provide the unborn baby with a healthy environment required for its healthy growth and development. So let me share with you how I prepared myself and embarked on this beautiful journey.

Getting ready for a baby!

The 3 key steps in planning for a pregnancy involve:

1) Preparing your mind for pregnancy

As I already said, being ready mentally marks the first and the biggest step towards starting a family. Having a child, without a doubt, is a lifetime commitment and calls for responsibility on the part of both the partners. So it’s time you thought it through. If either of the partners is unsure or having second thoughts about it, it’s important to reconsider your decision. Having a baby should be a mutual decision involving the consent of both the partners and both should be equally committed to being parents. Therefore, it is very important to have an honest discussion and be open about each other’s thoughts on having a child. Neither should you force or get pressurized yourself or even resort to emotional blackmailing and stuff. If both partners aren’t unanimous over the decision, it is best to hold it off for some time.

2) Preparing yourself financially

Starting a family also calls for considering your money matters. Prenatal checkups, prenatal vitamins, medicines, tests, procedures and other medical bills can account for a major part of your salary. So it is best to be prepared for it beforehand so as not to put an unnecessary delay on anything. Opting for a good health insurance (if not already) is always a good bet to cover your prenatal expenses and lift some of the financial load off your shoulders.

3) Preparing your body for pregnancy

So now that you are mentally and financially ready, it’s time to take the next big step which is getting your body ready for the life that you are going to grow inside you. Here’s how you can do that:

(a) Scheduling a pre-conception visit

Visiting a good gynaecologist from the very beginning is a good idea to start a healthy pregnancy. A pre-conception check-up involves reviewing your personal and family medical history by your doctor. The practitioner will take a detailed account of your personal health, any kind of medication you’re taking which may be unsafe for the pregnancy and also about any unhealthy habit you have, such as smoking, drinking, etc. She would discuss with you about the tests and immunization which need to be done and also recommend you prenatal vitamins. Choosing a good and trusting doctor plays a key role in planning for a baby because only a good and experienced doctor can make you at ease and guide you properly through your journey.

(b) Starting on prenatal vitamins

Ideally, it’s said that starting on a folic acid supplement of 400 micrograms (mcg) a day, 6 months before you plan on conceiving is very crucial to carry a healthy pregnancy. But if not started earlier, at least 1 month prior to conceiving is a must. This not only prepares your body for conception but also prevents your baby from having certain birth defects, including a neural-tube defect like spina bifida to a great extent.

(c) Following a healthy lifestyle

Since you are trying to conceive and nurture a life inside you it is utmost important that you maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s time you stopped your unhealthy habits such as smoking or drinking, cut short your caffeine intake, and check binging on junk food. Instead, it would be great if you started making healthy and nutritious food choices very early in your journey so that your body gets packed with the necessary nutrients you need to sustain a healthy pregnancy. Try to incorporate a balanced amount of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and milk and milk products in your diet. If you are a non-vegetarian intake of eggs, poultry, meat and fish are also a great choice. But it should be borne in mind that milk, meat and fish should come from a pasteurized source, disease-free animals and non-contaminated water respectively. You should also give doing yoga and/or moderate exercise a thought for a well-rounded fitness and a healthy body. You should also avoid working in a hazardous and unhygienic environment to avoid infections.

(d) Trying actively and tracking your cycles

If you are on birth control pills it’s time to stop those and bid adieu to any other kind of contraception you might have been using, and actively try (meaning every other day). Women on pills may take a month or two before they start ovulating again. Although some would prefer a more calculated approach of keeping a track of the ovulation dates and fertile window, I suggest it’s best to actively involve every other day if your cycles are sporadic just like mine. While keeping a record of your cycles is equally important to get a clear picture of your fertility days, doing it every other day increases your chances of conceiving. But it does not mean you have to mechanically do it. It should involve love and passion and you should enjoy it. It isn’t called “lovemaking” for no reason.

(e) Aiming for a healthy weight

Women with a higher or lower body mass index (BMI) may find it a little difficult to conceive. Starting off with a healthy weight right from the beginning not only helps you in conceiving more easily, but it also helps you to avoid weight-related complications in pregnancy and prevent you from delivering a premature or an underweight baby. Women with higher weight are also associated with risks of high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, etc. So weight goals should be kept at aim right from the start.

(f) Keeping updated on immunization and vaccinations

It would be a plus point if you are updated on your immunization of flu shots, chicken pox, rubella (German measles) etc. It would help to avoid any complications during pregnancy which might lead to miscarriage, birth defects or stillbirth.

So these are some of my experiences and learning which I am happy to share in the hope to guide you and prove helpful in your journey towards a happy and healthy pregnancy. Making a right start at the right time can help you get the right results. But make sure to follow and maintain the same healthy lifestyle during as well as post-pregnancy. This is the second post of my pregnancy series. Don’t forget to read my previous post on Discovering being pregnant with those “two pink lines”.

Love,

Mrs. Sunshine

Do you have a baby in mind?

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5 Top Ideas on How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day as a New Parent

Reinventing Romance as a New Parent!

Valentine’s Day is up and you might be reminiscing those times when cupid struck you and your heart was filled with unfathomable love for your spouse. But when you thought your heart was already filled with so much love, you got hit with the cupid yet again, and this time with a breathtakingly amazing little miracle that you made. Having a baby in the picture definitely changes the whole dimension of the love that you already knew giving it a new meaning, definition, and perspective.

Valentine’s Day as a new parent is a great opportunity and the perfect excuse to pause, unwind and rekindle the lost romance. But romance might be the last thing on your mind from the exhaustion of caring for the baby and tending to their needs. But behold! This Valentine’s Day is more special because it’s not just the romantic love that you are celebrating, but also the eternal love that you feel for your little one. And only because you feel exhausted just by the thought of going out or you don’t have time to plan anything lavish, or you have a tight budget, it shouldn’t stop you from spicing up the day and putting the romance back into your relationship.

Here’s a list of Valentine’s Day ideas for new parents just like me to make this day special and memorable not just for you, but also for the baby in the comfort of your home:

Exchange Gifts

Now, who doesn’t like gifts? I’m sure all of us do. But you don’t need to go overboard to show your love and make it special. A gift need not be a very high priced stuff and cost a fortune. The idea is to remind your spouse that he is loved and cared for. So a thoughtful present instead should be more appropriate. You can be creative by involving the baby and use the baby to make some amazing gifts for both of you with minimum effort. You can try moulding dough, clay or ceramic to prepare a keepsake for both of you and commemorate the day by imprinting your baby’s handprints and footprints. It can be a fun and enjoyable experience and a perfect gift for Valentine’s Day. What better way to gift each other something by your little fellow and from your little fellow?

Click Pictures

Who said Valentine’s Day couldn’t involve the baby? Valentine’s Day may seem cliché to some, but it’s the perfect opportunity to click some candid photographs with the baby and give your relationship a new boost. You can be innovative and creative with your ideas to get some amazing shots with the baby, which you can add to your collection and make memories. If you are down on ideas, taking ideas from the internet can be a good option.

Dinner Date

We all have been on dates before having the baby, but a date after the baby might seem a far-fetched idea. Rest assured, you can still make it happen with a little effort. You can elevate the fun by cooking your favourite foods together after the baby falls asleep and enjoy each other’s company. But if you do not want it to be elaborate instead of cooking you can still order some take-away from your favourite restaurant and have a candle-lit dinner. Just a change of lighting and some soothing, romantic music can set the mood for the night.

Movie Date

I am sure it must have been a while since you watched a movie together. With a baby in the picture and all the sleep deprivation the idea of a movie can seem a bit elusive and be getting a good night’s sleep can be more alluring. But it is Valentine’s Day guys and it’s your first Valentine’s Day as a new parent; give your relationship a little spice up by playing this little game. Both of you can write 5 movies each on small chits (movies can be new releases, all-time favourites, romance classics etc.). Now fold the chits and mix them up. Toss a coin to decide who gets to pick the chit. Now when you have a movie chosen, settle in for a cosy movie date snuggling under a blanket with a bowl of popcorn, piping hot coffee and maybe some chocolates.

Talk and Reconnect

Even if you don’t have the time and patience to go through a whole movie you can still add a little love and tenderness to the day by just having a heartfelt conversation with your spouse. With the endless nights of sleep deprivation the daunting new responsibilities as a new parent, it can be quite frustrating and you might end up adding stress to your relationship. You can take this day as a chance to reconnect with your spouse by getting cosy and speaking your hearts out. You can appreciate each other, talk about your future together with the baby and about your relationship and personal goals. You can also travel down the memory to your first date or even plan your next vacation. The idea is to reignite the lost spark.

So here’s my list of Valentine’s Day ideas for all the busy, sleep deprived and exhausted new parents out there. Having a baby shouldn’t come in the way of celebrating love. In fact, a baby gives you all the more reasons to celebrate than you already had. Now, I’m not going to choose from these ideas above, rather I’ll put to use all these ideas to make my day more interesting and special. What are your ideas for celebrating Valentine’s Day as a new parent?

Love,

Mrs. Sunshine

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5 Essential Newborn Tips from a Bewildered New Dad

The First Look!

How does it feel when the nurse hands you a bundle wrapped in new responsibilities? Congratulations, you’re a Dad! “Overwhelmed” couldn’t even begin to describe the mixed bag of emotions a New Dad feels. It doesn’t matter if the baby was planned or “accidental”, the truth is, the first few weeks of bringing home a newborn is daunting at both physical and emotional levels. Parenting is a daunting task and more so for the first time parents. New Dads are typically bewildered and confused, and find it difficult to process that they are actually a father, even after an eternal nine-month long wait. The news usually takes time to sink in.

Mr. Husband was in a state of utter bewilderment when our tiny human was handed to him. One can fairly get an idea of the extent of Mr. Husband’s bewilderment from the fact that each time when someone asked him how old the baby was, he would look towards me, pleadingly, asking to save him from embarrassment. Because, precisely, my man here doesn’t exactly know how old our baby is; leave alone expecting of him to remember baby’s vaccination schedule. Poor soul! How he wished the baby came with a user manual.

While to new moms parenting comes rather instinctive and intuitive since they are said to be “programmed” for this, for clueless puzzled New Dads it’s more of an on-the-job-training. Mr. Husband had to learn the basics, step-by-step.

So while Mr. Husband was uninformed and unsure about the whole parenting thing, it actually helps to make a difference by being a know-it-all-Dad. Here I’m listing 5 pieces of the solved puzzle from the firsthand experience of fatherhood from a New Dad.

The First Hold!

New Dad Puzzle No. 1: Why don’t I feel love for my newborn?

It’s said that motherly love is mostly instinctive whereas fatherly love is a learned behaviour. Mothers feel instant love for their newborns since they have been growing and nurturing them in their womb for nine months. But a New Dad may not feel the connection instantly. Though it’s common, to some New Dads it doesn’t come naturally. They find it difficult to admit and comprehend the lack of emotion and find themselves wondering if something’s wrong with them. Some New Dads even find themselves drowned in guilt and self-pity for not doing it right. But there’s no shame in admitting if a New Dad has problems bonding with the baby.

The Story:

For us, Mr. Husband felt that instant connection with our baby when he first saw Shaarav. They hit it off instantly. His bond to Shaarav is even stronger than mine. All thanks to me that I kept asking him to talk and sing to the baby bump throughout the pregnancy. He felt the connection built for the first time when he felt Shaarav kick in the womb. Shaarav had been responding to his Papa’s voice ever since. He would respond with an immediate kick or nudge whenever his Papa talked to him. Mr. Husband couldn’t thank me enough for this. But still, at times I could see hesitancy and puzzled expressions on his face which he needed little guidance with.

New Dad Tip No. 1:

Don’t despair if that instant love doesn’t happen. You can totally give a rest to the societal pressure of immediately falling in love with the baby as soon as you look at or hold the baby. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. In order to foster bonding with your little one, the physical touch and skin-to-skin contact is the most important. Talking and singing to the baby making eye contacts, particularly helps in a good bonding experience. The love gradually develops as you become an involved father engaging yourself in burping the baby, changing diapers, and rocking the baby to sleep. You are eventually, very certainly, going to fall for their cute angelic face, those bright, twinkling eyes and, boy oh boy, those perfect toothless smiles. And it won’t be late when you will find yourself basking in the glory of your own “masterpiece”.

Mastering the art of holding a newborn!

New Dad Puzzle No. 2: How to hold these tiny creatures?

Holding these tiny human beings can be utterly terrifying and extremely intimidating. They are so tiny when they are born and in a couple of days, they shrink even more, and more so when the baby has a low birth weight baby or is born prematurely. Newborns have a soft and delicate head with no control on their neck whatsoever and need constant support to avoid injury.

The Story:

Though Shaarav was a big baby compared to others, in spite of it, Mr. Husband was petrified to hold him. When the nurse tried to hand over the baby to Mr. Husband, he froze and just stood there for some good 10-15 seconds gaping at the nurse with his mouth wide open. I believe his jaws could have touched the floor had he not come to his senses in another 5 seconds or so. He had this bewildered look on his face as if saying they were committing a sin by asking him to hold this fragile thing. How could they? It was quite a scene and though my stitches hurt, I still had a hearty laugh. It was hilarious. I remember he had difficulty picking up the baby. And when the baby was handed to him, he would first take positions (deciding which side he wanted the baby’s the head to be) but after that, he would be just fine. Once he mastered the art, rest is history.

New Dad Tip No. 2:

The most important thing in holding a newborn is to cradle the neck and head in a comfortable position to give them support. Just don’t shake, throw or drop the baby. Put your common sense to use. Rest you must be fine and live to see another day and tell another story!

Their tenderly talking sessions!

New Dad Puzzle No. 3: How to soothe a crying baby?

Newborns can cry for various reasons and crying is the only way they know of to communicate and express them. So if they are hungry, or feel sleepy, or need to be changed or are tired or are sick, they are going to communicate by crying (read howling). Small babies can be quite a howler.

The Story:

Shaarav was a howler when he needed a change and Mr. Husband would wake up from sleep with a pounding headache all confused and annoyed. God bless him! But Shaarav has always been a very calm and happy baby and he seldom cried even as a baby. But on occasions that he did, he was difficult to calm and Mr. Husband, unable to comfort him, would just hand him to me to soothe. You see babies are intelligent creatures. They are brilliant at picking up emotions and sensing your fear. Babies are able to “mirror you” as they spend a large amount of the little time that they are awake in studying faces and expressions, especially their parents’. Babies use all their senses to identify and differentiate other people from their caregivers.

New Dad Tip No. 3:

Don’t take it personally when your baby begins to cry just looking at you or the instant you hold him.  While it’s a good idea if you want to hoard on earplugs, it’s even better to know the tips and tricks of calming a cranky and crying baby. You need to show them that you’re confident, even when you’re not. Babies particularly begin to relax once they begin to feel your growing confidence. You might as well try rocking them gently as most babies love motion. Shaarav would also feel comfort from tenderly talking and enjoy the “one-sided” conversations.

I so love my boys!

New Dad Puzzle No. 4: How to change those dirty diapers?

For the first three months, there will be poop, lots and lots of it – in different colours, in different textures, in different smells, also in different quantities and probably in different sizes too. It’s always good to be prepared and stock up on diapers if that’s what you are going to use. Now changing diapers or even nappies for that matter can be really tricky when you have a squirmy and wriggly baby in hand. It might get messy if you are not careful. They can sweep their hands whenever and wherever they like.

The Story:

Since I had a c-section and was on analgesic I could not move. Each time the baby pooped Mr. Husband would run to call the nurse on the charge to clean him up. Alas! The nurse had enough and gave him a good scold (giggle)! She challenged his fatherhood and he took that as a challenge to master the messy art. There was once this very famous incident when as soon as Mr. Husband opened Shaarav’s diapers for changing him, Shaarav let out a massive poop-explosion and Mr. Husband was all covered in poop. That was epic! I’m sure he has lots of poop stories to share with Shaarav when he grows up!

New Dad Tip No. 4:

So to avoid all the mess, before changing the diaper don’t forget to place a changing mat beneath as you never know just when you are busy cleaning up the puddles you can get a downpour. Give your baby something sensory to hold, such as a musical toy, lighting toy or pacifier so that his hands are busy while you change without messing up. Trust me on this.

I live for moments like these!

New Dad Puzzle No. 5: How to make a newborn sleep?

Newborns spend about 16-18 hours sleeping. But yet it can be quite an uphill task to get an over-stimulated baby to sleep. Babies can both be heavy and light sleepers. Babies are used to living in close and dark quarters of the womb, and imitating the same helps them to relax and aid in making them sleep.

The Story:

I don’t understand what it is with Shaarav and Mr. Husband that they enjoy each other’s company a lot. I mean “a lot”. Although Shaarav is a light sleeper and tends to wake up at the slightest noise, he still manages to sleep peacefully beside Mr. Husband despite him being a heavy snorer. Take note, when I say a heavy snorer I really mean a really heavy one. I have countless pictures of them sleeping skin-on-skin on his chest. Shaarav loved being rocked though, but hated being swaddled and wanted his hands free at all times.

New Dad Tip No. 5:

Shaarav typically found comfort in the warmth and closeness and motion. He snuggled up cozily as he relaxed. So it would be a good idea to gently rock the baby to sleep while cuddling them as close to yourself as possible. Swaddling the right way can also come handy for those babies who like being swaddled. Creating white noise also helps as babies are used to hearing the humdrum of the heart and other organs working during their stay in the womb.

Basking in the glory!

The Takeaway:

Gear up guys! Fathering a newborn is definitely the most gruelling, demanding and messiest task you will ever do. You can only find solace from the fact that the adventure of fatherhood has just begun and the best is yet to come. Just remember, everyone has some bad days and that shouldn’t stop you from being the amazing dad that you are. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent and there’s something wrong with your parenting. You are the Best Dad your child could ever have and nobody else can do this any better for your kid. Be proud! The time you spend with your little one enduring sleepless nights, changing smelly diapers, and rocking them to sleep truly defines and demonstrates a Dad’s love at its best. Be prepared to fall only to rise stronger. And enjoy every moment you can, including the bad ones, because whatever you do, you can never bring back this time once they are gone! And if this comforts you any, just so you know, you are not alone!

Love,

Mrs. Sunshine

The adventure has just begun!

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