Preparing for baby

Soon I will give birth to our baby daughter! Since she is in breech position, a caesarean is planned. For me as a planner, I’m quite happy to know when we can welcome our baby! In the past few months, we’ve been preparing for this life-changing event and here I share what we feel is most important.

My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for a few years now. Our journey has been tough, and we are super excited to have been blessed with a healthy pregnancy this year. We’ve been fortunate to have had a few months together getting ourselves and our home ready for the impending birth.

Here in the Netherlands, we get sixteen weeks pregnancy/maternity leave. I took six weeks off ahead of the due date, plus three weeks vacation. In the beginning of my leave I was very stressed about all of the things that needed arranging, but as soon as I got the essentials done, I was able to relax and prepare mentally for becoming a parent.

Being pregnant and giving birth to a baby are huge life events. You can make it as complicated as you want: do whatever suits you, your relationship and your lifestyle. Listen to your heart. Here’s what I found to be the most important for us throughout the pregnancy.

Taking care of yourself

During this precious time, prioritizing your own and your baby’s mental and physical health is most important. If you have a chance to take plenty of time off work before welcoming your child, it will be beneficial. Before I went on leave, I thought I’d have tons of time to go to the museum, visit specialty shops, work on my blog… None of that materialized. My husband made me realize that I should not pressure myself into doing much at all, apart from resting and taking care of myself.

Photo shoot at 34 weeks pregnant - by Edwin de Kemp
Photo shoot at 34 weeks pregnant – by Edwin de Kemp

Exercise

From about week 20 onwards I regularly went to prenatal yoga classes. You do exercises to prepare for labor and can connect with other mommy’s to be. Once I knew I was going to have a caesarean I changed my routine to only attend gentle yoga classes for relaxation. To be honest, by then I was rather fed up with sitting on hands and knees rotating my pelvis in prenatal yoga. During my leave I also liked to go to yoga classes with live music, because I noticed baby responds to that.

Apart from yoga, I swam, cycled to run errands and walked in moderation. I became slower and slower as my belly grew! In any case, be it a natural birth or a caesarean, it is advisable to stay fit. It will benefit you during labor and recuperation.

Food, drinks and cravings

Pregnancy diet boils down to:

  • No smoking
  • No alcohol
  • No raw meat, fish, eggs or dairy products (only pasteurized dairy)
  • Coffee in moderation (one or two cups max a day)
  • Continue to drink plenty of water even if you need to pee often
  • Eat fiber-rich food to keep your digestion going
  • Have multiple smaller meals and avoid too oily/sour foods to alleviate possible acid reflux.

Yes, I miss sushi, but there’s still plenty left to eat. I like to maintain a healthy diet which focuses on vegetables and variation. I craved sweet things mostly. Over the summer, the ice cream parlor was my local hang out. Give into your cravings now and then, but don’t go overboard. I had the feeling baby got a bit restless after I had eaten a lot of sugar. Twizzlers: I’m looking at you.

Couples’ time

Having a baby will change the dynamics in your relationship. Some suggestions I got over the course of the pregnancy for acknowledging your love as a couple:

  • Write down what you love about each other and read it again when you’re sleep deprived later.
  • Perform a ritual to celebrate yourselves as a couple before becoming a family. This could be going for a long walk on the beach or having a babymoon. Whatever suits you!

Pregnancy shoot

Take photos of yourself and your growing bump regularly and get your partner in on the action too!  We had a pregnancy shoot with photographer Edwin de Kemp when I was 34 weeks pregnant. It’s so easy to let time pass by without documenting what is going on. Don’t let it happen! 

Preparing the nursery

This was the most daunting task for me and I found it quite overwhelming. Not only do you need to buy a lot of stuff for this little person coming into your lives, you also have to check every little detail. Instead of just buying a mattress for the crib, you need to investigate which one is ergonomically best and safest. Also, people will give you (unwanted) advice about what is best for your baby as in “you need to get this,” or “you must do that”. I vowed to listen only to a few professionals around me for recommendations, and accept the rest as well-intended suggestions.

The crib is ready for baby!
The crib is ready for baby!

The basics for the nursery:

  • A crib
  • Sheets and blankets
  • Changing station
  • Diapers, wipes and hydrophilic cloths (those are said to be multifunctional)
  • A baby bath
  • Stroller
  • Clothes in various sizes.

We went to a baby store and then ordered everything online once we had a chance to reflect on what we wanted to get. Only then I could find peace of mind and think about decoration or non-essential items. Have a look at my baby prep Pinterest board for inspiration.

Preparing your home

I was so thrilled to finally have time to deep clean and declutter our home! Some people might do this for spring cleaning, but we were never so organized before.

Now we got to:

  • Declutter and clean the kitchen cabinets from the inside and outside.
  • Replace the curtains I fell out of love with and Titus hated from the moment he moved in.
  • Clean the windows: Titus did this since I was already quite far along.
  • Wash the cushion covers and vacuum the sofa.

Martha Stewart is the go-to source if you need any suggestions on cleaning and organizing. For decluttering, Marie Kondo is your gal!

KonMari style drawer: onesies, socks, little trousers and shirt and pajamas are all neatly organized.
KonMari style drawer: onesies, socks, little trousers, shirts and pajamas are all neatly organized.

There are still a few things I would like to do in and around the house, but Titus keeps telling me to take it easy. If the bathroom is not deep cleaned, we will live.

Other things to think and talk about

  • Naming your child. Obviously. Make a shortlist, say it out loud, write it down and see how it goes with your last name. Up until this point we have one favorite and one second option, depending on what we feel will fit the child best once we see her. 
  • Announcing the birth: have a card designed, think about the wording and tone of voice.
  • Finances and insurance.
  • Daycare.
  • Going back to work after your maternity leave. 

Listen to your instincts

It is most important to listen to your body and your instincts. Even if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy, gestation takes up a lot of energy. Don’t go into lethargic mode, but balance your activity to your mood and fitness level. Want to spend all day watching Netflix? Go for it! Cravings: indulge in moderation!

Finally: pamper yourself. Go to the hair dresser, have a pedicure, see a beautician. Do whatever feels right to you. Your life will change drastically soon. Enjoy!


Top photo: an upside down Ikea rack to show off some cute clothing items.

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