Mid-January is when the most number of UK women discover they’re pregnant.
This comes hot on the heels of January 2, which has been dubbed National Baby Making Day because it’s the most popular day for couples trying to conceive.
If you’ve followed the national trend and find yourself expecting this year, now is the perfect time to start prepping for the big day.
1. Understand the first signs of labour
Some of the most common early signs that your baby is on its way are obvious, such as painful contractions or your waters breaking.
However, some signs are closer to normal pregnancy symptoms, such as backache or having a strong urge to go to the toilet.
Read our article on the signs and stages of labour to find out how to recognise the difference between Braxton Hicks and the real deal, when to call your midwife, and more.
2. Pack your hospital bag
When you go into labour, you don’t want to find yourself frantically chucking a random assortment of items into the closest carrier bag.
Even if you’re planning a home birth, it’s worth preparing a bag just in case you end up needing to go to hospital.
The most popular hospital bag items include labour essentials, such as a nightie, drinks, snacks and a blanket for your baby.
3. Make arrangements for dependents
Have a plan for who will mind older children when you go into hospital, especially in the middle of the night.
Ensure children know about this arrangement beforehand so they’re not fazed, especially if it’s someone unfamiliar.
Make sure the adult in charge has a child car seat if they are doing the school run or bringing the child to hospital to meet its new sibling or siblings.
Have pets? Make sure someone can look after them or pop in and feed them, especially if your labour looks like being a long one.
4. Get your birth plan ready
Your birth plan is useful to have ready ahead of time so you can share it with your midwife and birthing partner so they know what’s important to you during the birth.
It can be a full, detailed guide or simply a few key points to outline what you’d like to happen during the different stages of labour, through to the first hours with your newborn.
Even if the birth turns out differently to what you’d anticipated, medical staff and your birth partner can help you retain as much of your original vision for it as possible.
Birth doesn’t always go to plan so find out what to expect if you’re recommended inductions and interventions in labour.
5. Know your birth rights
Giving birth is a very personal experience, so it’s important to know what choices you’re entitled to make about the care you receive.
Did you know, for example, that you can change your mind about where you want to give birth, even when you’re in labour?
You are also free to make choices about your own pregnancy and childbirth, even if your caregivers don’t entirely agree with you.
- Read more on what to expect during pregnancy and birth – including everything from where and how you give birth, to the medical treatment you receive during labour.
6. Prepare your birthing partner
During labour and birth, it can be a great help to have someone you know and trust by your side, who knows what you want and how to support you.
Whether it’s a partner, parent, friend or doula, your birthing partner can help you with breathing, relaxation methods and massage, as well as offering emotional support.
They can also be your advocate, speaking up for you as and when you need it, especially if powerful contractions are making it hard for you to talk for yourself.
- What is the role of a birthing partner? Read and share our top tips to help your birth partner prepare for this important role.
7. Fill up your car
If you’re planning on travelling to a hospital or birth centre by car, make sure it has plenty of petrol/diesel/electricity to get you there, so that you’re not caught short on the day.
Collect loose change and keep it handy, as you may need coins for the car park and vending machines.
If you’re going to the hospital or birthing unit by taxi, check ahead of time that your local firm takes women in labour.
8. Learn to fit a baby car seat
Make sure you have a car seat that’s suitable for a newborn – you’ll need one to bring your baby home in if you’re travelling by car.
Practise attaching it a few times in advance, too, so that it’s not all new to you when you come to put your baby in.
If you’re bringing home twins, make sure ahead of time that both seats fit in your vehicle together.
Watch this video for our expert tips on putting your newborn in their car seat.
9. Start buying essential baby products
There are so many baby products out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed – or to panic buy everything, especially as your due date gets nearer.
First things first, double-check that you have the essentials. In February 2017, we asked more than 1,000 parents about the baby products they couldn’t live without.
The top five list is:
- Cot mattress
- Stair gate
- Video baby monitor
- Baby change bag
- Audio baby monitor
- For the full list, check out parents’ 10 most useful baby products.
10. Get ready for sleepless nights
As any new parent will testify, sleepless nights with a newborn are one thing you can’t easily prepare for.
But there are some things you can do to make those long nights a bit more comfortable and manageable.
Consider investing in a TV streaming service subscription – find out whether Netflix, Amazon Prime or Now TV is the best TV streaming service for you.
Stock up your cupboards with snacks, drinks to stay well hydrated (especially important if you are breastfeeding) and simple meals.
Check out our baby safe sleeping tips so you and your little one can both rest easy in between the night feeds.
11. Learn the breastfeeding essentials
If you’re planning to breastfeed, it helps to know what to expect in the first few days with your baby.
Our advice on getting started with breastfeeding is your first port of call for tips on latching on, breastfeeding positions and recognising your baby’s feeding cues.
12. Get top tips for parenthood
Whether you’re early on in your pregnancy, approaching your due date or you’ve just given birth, we have advice to help you through the process of becoming a new parent.