Congratulations! Becoming a parent brings joy and change.
Becoming a parent is fun and scary at the same time. Future moms and dads may feel excitement, joy, pride, fear, worry, and insecurity. All of these feelings are normal. This is a very important time for you and your partner. You will need each other’s support and encouragement as you start this new and exciting adventure called parenting.
Having a baby, especially your first, is a time of many changes. Most first time parents don’t know what to expect for the big event — or how the new baby will impact their lives.
If you will be raising your baby alone, you will have added pressures on your time and energy.
- You will need to figure out how to juggle responsibilities of work or school and family.
- Your new baby will bring new joy, but also new pressures and worries. It’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed.
You’re not expected to figure everything out overnight. You’re not alone in how you feel. This time of adjustment will pass.
It’s a good idea to talk with your partner about the practical side of raising your baby. Who will do what to raise your baby? How will you share caring for the baby with your partner?
- Who will care for the baby each day?
- What, if any, religion do you want your child to be raised with?
- Were you or your partner abused during childhood? How did it affect you? How do you think your past abuse will affect your parenting?
- What changes do you think you’ll have to make to give a new child a great start?
- How will your life be different once you’re a parent?
- What kind of discipline will you use with your child?
- How are your finances? Have you started to save money to raise your baby? Have you figured out how much it will cost to raise your baby? See the “Cost of Raising a Child Calculator from USDA“
Even though you may not be showing, important changes are happening in your body at this stage of pregnancy. Your stomach may begin to get a little bigger and it may be harder to fasten your pants or belt. You might feel tired and have to go to the bathroom more often than you used to. You probably will not be able to feel your baby moving yet. This is all normal and part of having a baby grow inside you.
Remember, every woman and every pregnancy is different. You might feel many of the physical signs of pregnancy such as morning sickness or nausea, breast tenderness, tiredness, constipation, or you might not feel any of them. Pay attention to your body and if you have any reason to believe things are not right, see your doctor right away.
There are lots of medical issues that people worry about once they become pregnant. Be sure to ask your doctor about them. Some questions may be about things your friends or family members have told you like:
- Toxoplasmosis- This is a rare, but serious infection that a baby can get from the mother during pregnancy. People usually get toxoplasmosis by eating raw or undercooked meats, drinking unpasteurized milk, and handling the feces of cats. In newborns, this infection may cause vision or hearing loss, learning disabilities, seizures, or death. The effects on babies are more severe if the mother gets infected early in the pregnancy.
- Having a baby after 35- Most mothers 35 and older have healthy babies, but some older women have a higher risk of miscarriages, high blood pressure, diabetes, and Down syndrome. It’s important for all women, including those over 35 to keep regular appointments with their doctor during pregnancy in order to monitor their health.
- Gestational diabetes is diabetes that happens when you’re pregnant. Even women who have no history of diabetes may develop diabetes when they’re pregnant. Your doctor will check for this at your first doctor’s visit. Women who have gestational diabetes are extremely thirsty and hungry, very tired, and have a high blood sugar count on a diabetes test. Doctors can help future moms with this condition and help them have a healthy baby.
- Preeclampsia- after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but sometimes earlier, some pregnant women have severe high blood pressure (hypertension). This condition is known as preeclampsia and can be mild or severe. Signs of severe preeclampsia may include sudden and rapid weight gain, blurred vision, severe headaches, nausea and vomiting, intense pain in the upper right abdomen. The most common treatment for preeclampsia is to deliver the baby if it is safe to do so. If the baby has not developed far enough, the mother may be placed on bed rest. There is no proven way to prevent preeclampsia.
For most couples, sex is an important, special part of their relationship. Having sex will not hurt your baby, unless you have been told otherwise by your doctor.
During pregnancy, there are usually changes in your interest in having sex and the pleasure you and your partner get from sex. Being tired, nausea, vomiting, changes in body shape, and fear of hurting the baby are all things that affect how couples feel about sex during pregnancy.
Some partners might feel jealous because the mother-to-be is getting a lot of attention. These feelings may affect your partner’s sexual interest. You should talk openly and honestly with each other about these feelings.
Remember to keep the lines of communication open about your sex life, as well as other issues. Talking it out can solve problems and bring you closer emotionally. If you have questions or concerns, discuss them with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to give you advice and tell you if there are any medical reasons not to have sex during your pregnancy.
There are some decisions you will have to make regarding your childbirth, including where to deliver your baby. Depending on where you live, you might be able to deliver at a hospital, a birthing center, or in your home. If you want to deliver at a hospital, find out if your doctor delivers babies at the hospital on your insurance plan.
Visit the hospital before you give birth to get familiar with it and avoid misunderstandings:
- Take a tour of the hospital to find out about their procedures.
- Ask your doctor to tell you about his procedure for a regular delivery.
- Ask questions; don’t be embarrassed that you may not know something about the birth.
Another decision to make is how you want your baby to be born. Will it be natural childbirth? Whether you choose this type of childbirth or not, taking a childbirth class will help answer questions about giving birth. Childbirth classes may be offered by your hospital, a community agency, or community college.
Depending on your doctor, you may be able to make some of these decisions:
- Who you want to be in the room with you during labor
- What type of position you want to be in for pushing
- What type of atmosphere you want in the room, like lighting or music
- What you want to eat or drink during labor
- What kinds of medicine you want to use
When women first get pregnant they might feel like they are riding on an emotional roller coaster. They feel joyful and excited one minute, fearful, and anxious the next. These mixed emotions are common. Future moms might have:
- Mood swings
- Trouble thinking clearly
- Sudden moments of sadness and irritability
- Fear and worry about the pregnancy and becoming a parent
Hormonal changes and physical changes in women’s bodies can cause them to feel tired and touchy. Even though partners are not pregnant and are not having the same hormonal and physical changes, they may have similar feelings. Try to be patient with each other and realize that many couples have the same feelings when they are expecting a baby.
You can deal with these emotional changes by:
- Getting enough rest, eating well, and going to your doctor appointments.
- Talking with someone about your thoughts and feelings to help with tension and stress.
- Exercising, meditating, or doing yoga for pregnant women.