Finding out that you’re pregnant can be a wonderful and stressful time. ‘What actually happens now that I’m pregnant’ you may wonder?
While there is an initial rush of excitement (creating Pinterest boards for nurseries and Googling ‘how big is my baby at 12 weeks’ anyone?!), expecting parents can often feel nervous or anxious. Which is, of course, a very natural response! Everything is new and there are many unknowns when you first find out you’re expecting a baby.
Even as a midwife I felt this way – and I at least had an understanding of what was happening to my body. Regardless of how little or much you know about pregnancy, it’s a time of huge changes both physically and emotionally.
You may be feeling scared about giving birth. Or worried that you won’t know what to do with a newborn. Perhaps you’re thinking about how you’ll manage to have a baby while maintaining a career and your relationship with your partner.
Regardless of how you feel, it’s important to remember every emotion is normal. And importantly, there’s no such thing as a stupid question! Everyone has at least one question that they’re too afraid or too embarrassed to ask. Rest assured, as a midwife I have heard it all before and I’m sure other healthcare professionals will agree with me! Ask away, we are only too happy to answer even the most obscure questions to help put your mind at ease.
I’ve rounded up five of the most common questions first-time mums have when they first find out they’re pregnant. Hopefully, the answers will help you feel a little more prepared as you embark on this exciting new journey to parenthood
1. OK, I think I’m pregnant. Now, what do I do?
First thing is first, book an appointment with your GP. Your doctor will confirm your pregnancy and guide you on the next steps regarding your healthcare options going forward as well as inform you of any routine tests that you’ll need to have.
While many chose not to tell friends and family until around the 12-week mark, those first few weeks and months of pregnancy can be overwhelming for first-time parents. Pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, tiredness and heightened emotions are very real and it can be useful to share how you’re feeling with a trusted close friend or family member.
If you’re worried that what you’re feeling or thinking isn’t normal or it’s impacting your ability to function normally – reach out to a healthcare professional. Help is available and the sooner you reach out, the sooner you can manage any problems you’re facing.
2. Can I actually prepare myself for the birth?
Childbirth is a normal physiological process but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of fear, apprehension and myth surrounding the process. After all, it’s kind of hard to know what childbirth is really like until we are experiencing it first-hand!
One of the best ways to get informed about all of your options when it comes to labour, pain relief and the birth of your baby is to take prenatal classes. Spare yourself the confusion and overwhelm of falling into a Dr. Google spiral, trying to sort fact from fiction when it comes to childbirth and educate yourself with current, evidence-based information.
Fear of the unknown can be one of the biggest causes of worry and confusion, particularly when it comes to childbirth. Many women have concerns about the pain of childbirth, their pain relief options, recovery and those first few precious hours and days after their baby arrives.
All of these fears and questions are completely normal and very common. It’s impossible to know what you’re in for if you’ve never done something before! However, one of the best ways to help remove the fear and prepare yourself and partner is by arming yourself with knowledge. Do your research and investigate which type of childbirth education is right for you and your partner and which option will help you to feel confident and empowered.
I think I know of a pretty good childbirth course 😉 check out Birth Beat’s online prenatal class here to see if it’s right for you.
3. How will I know I’m in labour?
Many first-time mothers have questions and concerns about knowing when they’re actually in labour and when to go to the hospital. Don’t worry, it’s very rarely as dramatic as they make it out to be in the movies! There will be initial signs that labour is impending such as:
- A sudden burst of energy and the urge to ‘nest’ which may include cleaning, tidying, cooking and generally preparing your home to welcome your new family member
- Braxton Hicks – usually painless tightenings of the uterus which come in sets but dissipate soon after
- More frequent or loose bowel movements
- Less movement from the baby as they’re really starting to run out of room!
- Waters breaking, this may or may not be followed by contractions
There are three stages of labour, each with unique processes and sensations. Childbirth classes help you to understand each stage, learn what to expect, at what point you should go to the hospital, your options in terms of pain relief and what you should know if there is any need for medical intervention. Having a thorough understanding of each stage of labour and exactly what is happening to your body and your baby will help alleviate any fears throughout the process and prepare you for your best birth.
4. How can I help my birthing partner (husband, partner, friend, family member) prepare? Can my partner really help me during labour?
It’s quite common for partners to feel inadequate or unnecessary during childbirth. It’s can be hard for them to know how to help or support you while you’re in labour. At times, it may be actually be confronting for them if they’re not sure what is happening. Rest assured though, with the right preparation, their presence and support will be extremely valuable.
One of the best things your partner can do during in labour is to be calm and offer their complete support. In order to be a helpful and calming influence throughout your labour, they need to be educated so that they too understand the process, know what to expect and what practical steps they can take to comfort you and provide reassurance.
Childbirth classes such as Birth Beat give birth partners the knowledge they need and explain why gestures such as; getting water, heat packs, offering gentle massage and watching for language cues from their partner, are all important. Knowledge can empower partners which enables them to be more relaxed, in turn having a flow-on effect of making you feel relaxed and supported, all of which are helpful during labour. Best of all, Birth Beat classes can be taken from the comfort and privacy of your home, something many partners, particularly men, prefer to the traditional face-to-face classes in a room full of strangers.
5. What happens after the birth and we take our baby home?
In the excitement and build up of pregnancy, preparing for your gorgeous bundle of joy and choosing baby names, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there will be a tiny human needing your complete care and attention at the end of pregnancy. It sounds silly, yet so many first-time parents feel a sense of ‘what do we do now?’ once they’re home from the hospital and, it’s completely normal.
Your healthcare providers, community midwives and/or GP are a wealth of information who can also direct you to trusted resources regarding the health, wellbeing and care of your newborn. Supportive friends and family are also wonderful when you’re having doubts or questions – but remember, there are a lot of ‘opinions’ out there when it comes to babies. Not all of which are helpful or factual!
Like preparing for birth, it helps to prepare for parenthood by arming yourself with practical, evidence-based information. Birth Beat contains an entire module on Newborns – covering everything from what to expect in those first precious moments after birth, breastfeeding basics, sleeping and settling tips. Having this knowledge before you actually need it and having the ability to watch and re-watch on demand will provide you with confidence and knowledge so that you’re as ready as you can be for your beautiful new bubba.