Prenatal Vitamins? Check. Hospital bag? Check. Baby seat for the car? Check.
Getting ready for the birth of a new baby can seem like an overwhelming task! There is much to do and so much to know. Take it one trimester at a time and always consult with your physician to ensure you and baby are healthy and prepared for the journey that lies ahead.
First Trimester. The first trimester of pregnancy is all about laying a solid foundation. One thing you can do from day one is to boost your nutrition: take a daily prenatal vitamin and make sure that baby-building nutrients like folate, calcium, vitamin D and protein are all on the menu. If, like many Hawaiʻi residents, you don’t tolerate dairy well, try other calcium-rich foods including seeds, salmon, almonds, dark leafy greens and edamame. It’s also time to cut out a few things, such as alcohol, smoking, sashimi and poke.
Second Trimester. Many pregnant women find their morning sickness and exhaustion fade in the second trimester, giving them more energy. Use this time to gather whatever baby will need—from newborn diapers and clothing to bathing, bedding and feeding supplies.
Another important task for this period: create a birth plan. Writing down what type of delivery you want, what you plan to do for pain relief, feeding preferences for your newborn and any other special requests that will be valuable for your health care team when you go into labor. ʻOhana is always important, so make sure you decide who you want with you during the delivery and get approval ahead of time as there may be rules on the number of family and friends allowed.
Third Trimester. The big day is fast approaching! Take a tour of the birthing facility during the third trimester so it’s fresh in your mind when the time comes. Find out where to park, where the entrances are and what to do once you arrive. You may also be able to pre-register. Pack your birth bag with essentials for the hospital, including comfy clothes like a robe, toiletries, your birth plan and any prenatal medical records you’ll need.
Quick Tips for Parents-To-Be:
Educate yourself. Ask your health care practitioner about resources for expecting parents, including prenatal, childbirth and newborn care classes.
Include older siblings. Let your keiki practice their big brother or big sister skills with a baby doll of their own and read “new baby” books so they know what to expect.
Arrange caregivers. Make sure you have ironclad arrangements for the care of any children or pets while you are at the hospital.
Safety-Proof Your Car. Buy and install your infant car seat well ahead of time. Keiki Injury Prevention Coalition offers free car seat check-ups statewide so you can make sure your seat is installed correctly.
Choose a pediatrician. The first checkup happens in the hospital within a day of birth, so it’s easier if you have your pediatrician selected before you go into labor. While you’re at it, schedule your first postpartum checkup. After the birth, everyone’s focus will be on the baby—but mom’s health and happiness are just as important.
Janelle Dunkirk is the assistant program director for Early Intervention and Family Strengthening Programs at Parents And Children Together, a Hawaʻi‘i nonprofit providing social services and early childhood education to nurture the relationships that matter most for children and families. For more information, visit pacthawaii.org