We're pregnant! Now what? 9 months can seem like a very short time to prepare the arrival of a newborn, but thankfully we learned it doesn't all have to be perfect for the baby to arrive! Your child will come when the Lord says, regardless of whether or not you've completed all your pre-baby to-do lists (trust me, I know!). I realized that I was making myself a bit crazy with my lists and was spending time on tasks that weren't quite as important; like telling my husband we HAD to go buy the hanging closet organizer for the little guy's extra clothes, instead of sitting down and talking through our plans for labor and delivery (note: you should definitely plan for the birth of the baby before planning how to organize the baby's size 12 - 18 month clothes). Once I prioritized, I was able to devote more time to what really mattered most to us... having a safe, healthy birth of our son, not the ordering of clothes in his drawers or whether to shelve his books by author or genre :)
As new parents, Matt and I wanted to be confident that we were preparing for our baby in ways that we felt would be best for him as this was most important to us. We prayed, researched, and spent many hours in conversation as we eagerly awaited our son's birth day. It is my hope that anyone reading this who is expecting a baby of their own will be encouraged to re-prioritize their to-do lists, dig a little deeper when it comes to making decisions about labor and delivery, and above all, spend more time in prayer with the Creator of your little one. Below are what we considered the more important things we did in preparation for baby Matthew.
*The Bradley Method - Natural Childbirth
This was one of the best decisions we made that educated and prepared us for a natural labor and delivery. I happened to be watching an episode of The Duggars (don't judge - I'm a huge fan!) and learned about the Bradley Method when the show featured JimBob and Michelle taking one of the classes. I googled it, read about it, and was intrigued with the 12 week class content. I bookmarked it in my favorites several months before we even got pregnant. I'll be honest and say that natural childbirth was not a road I thought I would originally take - contractions sounded scary and painful - until I began doing some research that began pushing me in the natural birthing direction. Like I said, it intrigued me and something deep inside of me gave me the feeling that it was possible and it was the best way. I was still riding the fence though when I registered us for the class as I wondered whether or not I could handle a natural childbirth. Matt was very supportive of taking the course (it is very husband-centered which also appealed to me), and we soon learned to look at labor and delivery in a whole new way. We saw natural childbirth as the absolute best way to bring a child into this world and the Bradley Method prepared us through research, techniques, exercises, and support of instructor and classmates. Contractions were no longer "scary" and "pain" had a completely different meaning. It was a lifestyle change for us and I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone - whether you're set on having a natural birth or just beginning to consider it.
*A Birth Plan
There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to breastfeed my little one (breast is best!). I remember babysitting different babies while I was in high school and as I would hold them close to feed them their bottles, I would imagine what it would be like to feed my own child one day. I was aware of just how amazing it was that God designed a woman's body to provide all the nutrition her baby needs and I couldn't wait for that experience. I knew it could be hard work to nurse a baby and in preparation I had the full support of my husband (so important!), breastfeeding items here at our home, bookmarked great breastfeeding websites, and noted when the local La Leche League met each month in case I needed extra support. I could probably write an entire post on breastfeeding alone because I feel so strongly about it and most likely will in the future, talking about my personal challenges, the myths, and benefits of one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. And while I realize breastfeeding isn't always attainable for every mother due to certain circumstances, much of the time it is possible with the right knowledge and support. Check out these sites for more information: Reasons to Breastfeed, Dr. Sears, KellyMom, and Best for Babes.
I remember specifically telling Matt in the car one day while we were dating that I was not going to cloth diaper our children because I didn't see the point in going through the extra hassle they caused. You see, we had just come back from visiting his family in Ohio where I met his sis and sis-in-law, both who cloth diapered their little ones and I didn't see why they went through the trouble. Let me just clarify that what I said back then was in complete ignorance. Diapering is just another area of our life where we've come to question why we do things a certain way and ask ourselves, is there a better way for us? In our desire to live a simpler life, cloth diapers just happened to be a smart choice after we took the time to get past our lack of knowledge in the area and research for ourselves. Both of us knew that me becoming a stay-at-home-mom was a strong desire we shared and saving money on disposable diapers was one way to cut costs to make that desire a possibility. We also wanted to forego any chemicals contacting our baby's skin and keeping diapers out of the landfills was a bonus. I had so many questions prior to the baby being born about cloth diapering and am very thankful for both of my sisters-in-law who were open to answering and sharing their diaper knowledge. I love cloth and hope to post one day soon about what we've saved since we made this personal decision.
As I mentioned before, we felt these items listed above were what was most important for us in our preparations for Matthew's birth. When researching we made sure to look at both sides of things before reaching decisions and felt peace as we waited on our little guy's arrival. I'm not saying go out and do what we did, but I do encourage you to make yourself knowledgable of what choices you have when it comes to having a baby of your own - as they can greatly impact the well being of your child. Choosing to learn and ask questions is always a good idea! Seek the Lord's wisdom first as He already knows all about the new life you're birthing into the world and save those silly to-do lists for after you've tackled the important tasks :)