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Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

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Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.

Slide background

Learn from the first-hand experiences of others.


person found Jennifer's experience helpful.

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My husband and I tried for three years to get pregnant. I couldn't wait to have a baby of my own, but it wasn't until I broke my back and was forced to quit my job and stay home full-time that we conceived.

From the beginning of my pregnancy, I was determined to enjoy the experience. After all, it had taken so long to get pregnant that I wasn't sure I'd be able to conceive again. Yes, I was tired, sick, bloated, and moody, but I truly enjoyed the experience, knowing it could be my first and last pregnancy.

However, I wasn't confident in my ability to care for a child. I had never babysat or cared for an infant. I didn't even know what baby cereal was. And don't get me started on diapers. I was determined to use cloth diapers, even though I had never even changed a diaper, cloth or plastic.

Choosing a doctor was challenging, too. I envisioned having my first baby in the comfort of my home, but my husband insisted on a hospital birth. We compromised by choosing a midwife practice associated with doctors and affiliated with a hospital that accepted our insurance.

In addition to practical care, I questioned how a baby would influence my marriage and our active schedule. Would we still enjoy regular date nights or be able to attend church?

Also, what would happen if I messed up our child? I read every book I could find because I thought I had to "get it right" or I'd ruin my child, and I did not want to do that!

If I had to do it over again, I would have relaxed! I wasted hours stressing about all the details. The doctor was one of those details that I worried about, but our choice turned out fine, and I really liked the different midwives I spoke to during this pregnancy.

I also worried about the birth and wondered if I'd know when I was in labor, if I'd survive the pain and if my baby would be born okay. It turns out that I survived the birth, like billions of women before me, and I actually enjoyed it. I know that sounds strange, but I cherished each moment of the experience since I feared it could be my last time to actually give birth to a child. Sure, it was intensely painful, but I relaxed at home with my cats and soothing music before spending two short hours in active labor at the hospital.

I also would have bought less stuff. I didn't need all the bells and whistles, including the cloth diapers. They were a big mistake because I had so little experience with babies. During our first hour home, my baby cried non-stop, and I couldn't figure out how to get the cloth diaper on my screaming, squirming child. In retrospect, I would have saved the cloth diaper option for after I was comfortable with my child. Like the diapers, the multiple infant outfits, bath accessories, and toys were also unnecessary splurges my baby didn't need in the very beginning.

For all new parents, I offer five key pieces of advice. Of course, you can take it, leave it, or modify it to suit your needs. I know I received tons of advice, and ultimately, the decisions new parents make have to fit them and their child.

1. Enjoy pregnancy. It's a short nine months, even though it might not feel that way when you're experiencing heartburn, swelling, pain, and all the other discomforts associated with pregnancy. Before you realize it, your baby will be here, and all the physical pain will be forgotten, so cherish every movement, milestone, and moment.

2. Take time as a couple to enjoy this season of life. Sleep in, go on dates, and focus on the hobbies you enjoy doing together. You can prepare for your baby together by attending doctor appointments and Lamaze classes or prepping the nursery and choosing names, but remember to focus on your relationship too, because this time is precious for just the two of you.

3. Learn as much as you can about infant care. While every baby is unique, you'll want to know the basics before you bring your baby home. Practice changing diapers, feeding, and bathing a friend's baby or volunteer in a nursery.

4. Exercise! You deserve to be healthy as you nurture your baby, and a fit body is better equipped to handle pregnancy, birth, and recovery.

5. Ask for help. It's okay to hire a cleaning crew so you can rest, and you can encourage helpful neighbors, friends, or family members to paint the nursery or prepare meals that are easy to freeze and then defrost in the weeks after you bring baby home.

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