As Mother’s day approaches, it got me thinking about all the things that as a first time mom you are clueless about, and if I was back in that same place in time, what do I wish I had known and done differently?
As I compiled a list, I’m glad that I did research and made some decisions early on, so when it was time to take action, I knew what to do. Looking back, I still feel good about those decisions today, so that’s a good feeling.
As I write this list I’m thinking how it can be helpful to first time moms who are still pregnant; however a lot of these topics will come up in the early years as well so if you already had your baby, this list might still be helpful to you too.
For all of these items, I suggest you think about your values, what really feels good to you in your gut (go with your first instinct), and discuss them with your partner. Ideally you will both be on the same page by the time baby arrives.
Co-parenting can be hard at times because you and your partner will not always agree on everything when it comes to raising child, so keeping the lines of communication open is very important at all stages of parenthood.
If you find yourself in a situation where you feel strongly about a topic, and your partner disagrees, try to talk this through by listening to each other’s point of view, in a calming manner. It can be hard to realize your partner doesn’t see your point of view, and it can be so easy to get frustrated and upset.
If needed, take a break from the conversation and revisit it at a later date when you both had time to step away from the discussion. This time will allow your feelings to simmer in each other’s minds, and hopefully when you revisit the topic you will be able to compromise in some way that feels good to both of you.
Just remember that there will be many family members and friends giving you opinions on what you should and should not do with your child regarding these topics, but ultimately only you and your partner know what is best for your child. So try to remember this the next time someone tries to persuade you to do something you feel uncomfortable. Always follow your mama instinct!
Without further ado, here is my list of 10 things to research, think about and decide with your partner as soon as possible so you can focus on your precious bundle of joy once he/she is here!
- Vaccines – heated topic all around. I suggest reading Sears’ The Vaccine Book and deciding what is best for your child and family. If you decide not to vaccinate, find out the requirements for your state when your child attends daycare or preschool.
2. Circumcision – if you are having a boy, your doctor (in the United States) will ask if you want to have him circumcised or not. The procedure usually takes place in the first week after the child is born. The procedure has been a common practice in the United States but it has significantly declined over the years as parents are choosing to not circumcise their children. The practice is rare in Europe and other parts of the world, so I recommend researching this topic carefully and make the best decision for your family. You can watch videos like this one of an actual circumcision, see the equipment used, and learn about benefits vs risks.
3. Sleep Training – regardless if you decide to sleep train your child or not, it is a good idea to know ahead of time what it is and how it works, and if this is something you’d want to explore if needed. You may also want to hire a professional to help your child with sleeping; just know there are options out there.
4. Breastfeeding or Formula – it is nice to decide on one right away, but it doesn’t mean you might not change your mind once baby is here. As always, research the pros and cons of each and figure out which one you want to commit to. For me, I decided to breastfeed and was adamant to make it work.
On my son’s first day of life, I was faced with something I wasn’t prepared to, which was having lactation consultants hand me nipple shields to “help” with latching. I was totally unaware of what that was, and thought they knew what they were doing. I will write a blog on this topic another time because there’s so much to it, but my advice at this point is to not use it at all costs. Your child can learn to latch and you will save yourself a lot of heartache.
When breastfeeding, you are creating a special bond with your child, and this time you spend together is precious. The milk is also always ready to go at any time: perfect temperature and quantity, and free. You will also be the only one who can feed the child, so you must be available at all times. Also, if you return to work, you will need to pump at work to keep up with your milk supply and make bottles for daycare. And don’t forget all the night feedings J
With formula, you can have your partner feed your child at times, and you can even take turns in the middle of the night. Anytime you need a bottle you will have to prepare it. Formula can also be pricey. Just some things to consider when making this decision. Also, there are non-gmo soy formulas available but I wasn’t able to find out if they are actually vegan.
- Cloth vs Disposable Diapers – I actually did a combo of both, even though initially I had planned to only use cloth diapers. I highly recommend this combo rather than just one approach, that is if you choose to use cloth diapers. It is definitely the greener way to go, but sometimes I needed flexibility and that’s where the disposable diapers came in.
Care was very easy for the diapers. I used our high efficiency LG washer and it did all the work for me. You will need to purchase a few other items for cloth diaper upkeep, such as a sprayer, pail liners and wet bags for out of the house changes. But keep in mind kids are in diapers for a few years so you will get a lot of use out of your investment.
We used disposable diapers at daycare (mostly because I didn’t know if they would properly care for the diapers so I didn’t want to risk them being stained or having to strip them later), when traveling, and if I needed a break from doing laundry.
- Co-sleeping – you can choose to have your baby in your bed or right next to your bed in the infant stage. Research the ways to do co-sleeping safely if you choose this route and what will ultimately work for your family.
7. Pediatrician – you will want to have a pediatrician who is on the same page as you when it comes to your values and how you want to raise your child. Take your time and during pregnancy meet a few different pediatricians to ask them questions and get a good feel for them. Of course you can always change pediatricians later, but you will want someone you trust for after birth, and hopefully they will continue to be your trusted doctor for years to come!
When my husband and I were first interviewing pediatricians, the first one we met with told us we could not, under any circumstances, raise our child vegan. Right there and then we knew we had to keep looking! We thanked him for his time and we let him know we wouldn’t be a good fit. No need to go further in situations like this J
- Baby Gear – It’s true that babies grow so fast and many times items can go unused. However, there are a few items that I realize now were a great investment and you should get the highest quality you can afford for them, since you will use them again and again:
- Car seat with 1 extra base for second car
- Diaper bag – also when choosing a diaper bag, get something in a style you love, not based on your baby’s gender.
- Self-Care – I had the great idea of using vitamin E oil with my daily lotion on my belly since the first day I found out I was pregnant, and I’m happy to report that I did not have any stretch marks, even with my massive weight gain of 50 pounds. However, I neglected to do the same for the rest of my body, not realizing everything was going to balloon. So I highly recommend this combo but rub it everywhere! You won’t regret it!
Also, invest in high quality maternity clothes that you love. I somehow thought I would only use maternity clothes for 9 months. Well, I used them for 2 years after, for a total of 3 years, since I was so slow to get back to my pre-baby weight. So yes, invest in high quality pieces because you don’t know just long how you’ll be wearing them! Think comfort and style when choosing your maternity gear. And when selecting tops, choose nursing shirts, a.k.a. shirts that allow you to expose the breast for nursing, but nothing else.
- Baby’s Name – You will want to have your baby name ready to go by the time you go to the hospital, or at a minimum, a couple options you love, and then you can pick your baby’s name after you meet him/her (we did the latter and we are glad we did). This does not mean you have to tell anyone your chosen names. In fact, it’s probably best to keep them secret until you officially name your child, so you don’t fall victim to people’s opinions on a choice that is very personal to your family.
If you and your partner have a different last name, you will want to discuss ahead of time how you will address the issue. Again, this is a decision between the two of you; even if you know feelings might be hurt, do what you and your partner feel is best for your child.
I hope this list is helpful to you, and if you are interested in hearing more in any of these topics, feel free to let me know and I can expand the discussion for future blogs.