Friday, 26 April 2013

I am pregnant, what on earth do I do next?

Oh my goodness. You are pregnant.      Congratulations!

Whether your new addition is planned or not it can often be daunting on what the next steps are in ensuring you able to keep afloat once the baby arrives. Not to mention all the costs of scans and blood test before hand and if you decide to go with a private doctor there's another few grand to kiss good bye to.

Now really, it doesn't have to cost a whole lot to have a baby in the public system. Providing you do your research there is a pretty good chance you could have an experience just as positive as if you had chosen a private obstetrician.

So lets nut out some of the pros and cons of both


You get to choose your own obstetrician.
You get a private room at the hospital rather than be in a ward
You get to know the midwives assisting in delivery way before you give birth
Certain medications throughout your pregnancy may be claimable
You may feel “safer” being in a private hospital
You have a higher chance of your partner being able to stay with you at the hospital
You can chat in more detail with doctor and midwives and have more of a birth plan
You are unlikely to be sent home if you are in early labour

You pay a whole lot more (out of pocket is usually around $2000-$3000 once you have claimed)
You are not guaranteed to have your obstetrician at the birth
Private hospitals often have a higher rate of c sections and assisted births
Most private obstetricians often do stints in the public hospitals too



Way cheaper! Other than the costs of your scans and your visits for care during pregnancy which are partially claimable on medicare you pay basically nothing especially in the obstetrician or GP bulk bills.

Opportunity for a student midwife. With this if you are nervous about this pregnancy try to get a student nurse early on so they can come to your appointments with you and really get to know you before the birth. It could end up being a lasting friendship.

Get to meet other new mums on the ward
Still get great treatment with great doctors and midwives
Midwife is more likely to deliver baby than an obstetrician so higher chance of female staff during delivery. Remember midwives are trained for delivering and they do a fantastic job.

No choice of doctor
Partner may be unable to stay the night depending on the hospital
May not have a private room

SO.... once you have made that choice its on to the rest!

If you are on a budget don't go out feeling like you have to spend a million bucks to get the nursery “just so.”

Chances are that this little baby will be in your room for the first few months anyway so don't stress too much about paint colours and trimmings for nurseries.

Baby needs are basic.
They need:

A car seat that meets Australian Safety standards and is suitable for a newborn. You can get capsules that last them up to approximately six months or you can get a carseat that is adjustable from newborn all the way through to 4 years of age in one seat.

Clothing. Singlets, summer onesies, winter onesies (depending on the season the are born) beanies, mittens, bibs. You will probably need about 5 of each clothing item apart from beanies and mittens which you can probably get away with two of each. General rule of thumb is dress baby as you would yourself and add one layer. Lots of people make the mistake of heavily layering their baby and making them too hot.

Bed: Some like the idea of co-sleeping and others want the baby to have their own bed. Either way choose something that is safe for baby. Eg if you want to co-sleep there are special beds called tetra beds and a few other varieties, that allow baby to be next to you in bed but enough barrier to help prevent you rolling on them. None however claim to stop you rolling on them it it JUST a preventative measure so think carefully about this decision. Whatever bed, cot etc make sure you get a good quality mattress for it to support baby's back.

Bedding: Baby wraps are a godsend with newborns as they make the baby feel secure and sleep better and also reduce the risk of SIDS. ( Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) A couple of decent soft blankets make sure that they are big enough to be tucked in to the edges of the cot so they don't ride up and suffocate baby. Sheets for cot or bassinet. For babies that get collick (most will around the one month mark) having a grow bag which is like a sleeping bag that they wear will help keep them warm even if they thrash around a bit from the tummy pain.

Food: Chances are that you will be breastfeeding, however if you choose not to or are unable to for whatever reason you will need bottles and sterilisers. Bottles for a newborn do not need to be big. Babies are only going to have maybe 100mls of milk/formula at a time if that depending on their birth weight. You will need at least two to three bottles to make sure you have clean or sterilised one at all times. Bottles can be sterilised in fancy sterilisers from the baby shop or boiled in a saucepan with a steriliser tablet. You will also need to find a formula that is suitable for your baby. Keep in mind that whatever formula you choose will be the one you need to continue using. Switching formulas can make babies ill so pick one and stick with it. The only reasons that would justify changing was that if your baby was having a bad reaction. An example of this could be reflux, lactose intolerance or constipation. For all these you will still need to consult a pharmacist or GP. All water used in bottles should be cooled boiled water. Having a supply stored in a bigger bottle will help you stay organised.

Nappies. Yes, you will use a LOT of these but that doesn't mean you should rush out and buy them in bulk. Depending on the size of your baby, newborn nappies may be to small or too big. They are the ones you should probably start with unless your baby is premature to which you will need prem nappies from a specialist baby shop like Baby Junction. Just buy one box to start with as there are usually 90 or so nappies and that should last you at LEAST a week or two and then if you know bubs is going to fit in them for a while get someone to run out and get some more. An endless supply of baby wipes will be needed so don't skimp on them or the nappy rash cream. If you can afford it go with a product such as Sudocrem and trust me your baby will rarely if at all, get nappy rash. I like to go by the rule of “baby bum war paint” meaning the bum should be white and covered by the cream. Nappy bags are optional.

Obviously you will need somewhere to bath your bub but a sink can do the job as well as a baby bath while they are small. It is possibly better for your back too. You will need some cleaning items such as a facewasher, babywash, hairwash and a soft towel. After bathing baby it is a good time to clip their nails while they are soft so get yourself some baby nail scissors/clippers. 
Newborns don't do a lot for a while so toys are not a major requirement. Maybe have things like playmats for tummy time with bright colours but hold back on the soft toys and blocks for now. You will also definitely need some cloths suitable for burping babies. Don't mess around with the handkerchief size ones, get something that is no less that an A4 size of paper. Generally I would get some extra wraps or cloth nappies to use especially in case the baby goes through a really bad reflux stage which can be quite common. A thermometre is very important for checking fevers and have some baby Panadol on hand.

Pram: Newborns must be flat on their backs to ensure proper spine and neck support so choose a pram that has a bassinet or that can be folded completely flat for the baby to lie down. Choosing one with a large hood is good for rain protection but also if you are out and about to help cut down on noise and light to allow baby to sleep while you do the shopping.

OK now as a mum you will need lots of stuff too. It's not that exciting or great to talk about but regardless- you will need them.

Your own pillow. It can make all the difference for you to be comfortable as hospital pillows are not always the softest

Clothing you can take off or open up for skin to skin contact when baby is born

Lots of pairs of underwear. When your water breaks you will be given pads to help soak it up but hospital ones are not that amazing so you will probably go through a few pairs of undies.

Tennis ball. Regardless of getting an epidural or whatever pain relief you choose, it may not completely block out all pain. Having a tennis ball to rub/roll into the areas where you feel pain will be a massive relief. Massage oil for back rubs are also good.

Essential oils, candles etc. Be aware though that you need permission from your midwife/ hospital for these. Your midwife/obstetrician could be pregnant herself and there are certain oils and scents that can be dangerous to her own pregnancy.

Music and music player. Not all hospitals provide CD players or radios so its best to find out before you get there. An ipod is nice and small and means that no one else needs to listen to your music for the five, ten, twenty plus hours you are in labour.

Birth plan. It is important to have it written down and discuss with your birth partner what is and isn't ok. For instance if you do not wish to have a c- section unless in an absolute emergency they need to know that. While you are probably going to be able to make the decision yourself, labour can get very tiring and sometimes it is difficult to get your point across or explain something when you are exhausted or in extreme pain. You cannot however expect everything on your birth plan to go to schedule as babies do not care about shedules. They come when they want and sometimes you won't have time to do things the way you wanted or it may not be safe so it is vital that you are flexible with your plan.


Breast pads. When your milk comes in, chances are you will not be able to go out in public without these little things. We don't like to think about it but yes, your breasts will probably leak and you want to have them covered!

Maternity pads. Sounds wonderful right? But after birth you will bleed, possibly up to six weeks so its better to be prepared ahead of time. You don't want to go out to the shops if you don't have to when you are tired as you are going to be.

Maternity bras. You may or may not choose to use these. Often women just wear sports bras or “miracle bras” that are stretchy and can comfortable be pulled down for breastfeeding.

Supportive well fitted undies. If you have a c section you will probably prefer a low cut undie so that the band does not put pressure on or irritate the scar from the surgery. Either way your tummy will begin shrinking after birth so having supportive undies can make you that little bit more comfortable.

Water bottles EVERYWHERE. If you are breastfeeding you will be thirsty ALL THE TIME. Make sure you have easily accessible water bottles around the house so that you have it to hand, especially when feeding.

Flexible clothing. You won't walk out the hospital with a flat tummy. It takes time for your uterus to contract to get your belly down. While breast feeding helps speed up this process it is still important to make sure you have clothes that you are comfortable in and can move with your body. Also comfy footwear like ugboots are great because you can wear them out without looking too bad.

Pain relief. Natural or otherwise it is up to you, A wheatbag is a good thing to have around for little aches and pains but for the stronger pain have something such as panadol in the house.

Record book. Could be a whiteboard, notepad or a specially designed book but its a good idea to have one. This is to put in when baby fed, how long, which breast, how long they slept and if they passed waste. This kind of record is especially important if your baby becomes sick or loses weight as it can help a doctor pinpoint what might be wrong if they have an idea of the behaviour of the baby up until they were sick.

Emergency number list. Keep it on your fridge and programmed in to your phone as a back up. Have the nurses hotline, the hospital you had your baby at, local GP, etc. While you would hope never to have to use them often we do and its best to have them nearby. Having it on the fridge means that your partner/ helper can immediately find them and call on your behalf if you are dealing with the child.

This is in a nutshell of what you are going to need. As far as designer prams, furniture and clothing, that is entirely your choice but none of it is necessary. There are plenty of ways to get your baby stuff on the cheap and save money.

They don't need:
A state of the art stroller that weighs so much you get a slipped disk pulling it out the back of the car
Brand name/Designer clothing. Chances are they will wear it for 5 minutes and spew on it and then need something else anyway.
Designer furniture. Just make sure that whatever you buy be it a cot, cradle bassinet etc that it meets safety standard requirements and doesn't contain a paint with a heavy lead content

So all the best on your journey to parenthood. May it be a stress free, healthy and happy time for you!

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