One of the biggest issues with how today's maternity care goes is patients aren't fully informed. That's why the unnecessary c-section is astronomical in this country. Here are five planning mistakes pregnant women make prenatally. Know better, do better!
5. Not focusing on only the essentials.
I know, I know. All of the baby items are sooooo pretty and everyone tells you “HAVE to have this item” or “THIS item is a must” but in reality, you. do. not. need. that. much. stuff.
I’m not saying to convert 100% to minimalism and only get a crib, carseat, and one onesie. But you definitely don’t need 50 swaddles, 25 newborn onesies, and three different bouncers. Not to mention babies are picky! You may register for or buy a set of 5 Avent bottles but when Baby gets here, he or she may hate the Avent bottles. It's best to wait until baby arrives and see what exactly it is that you need and what their preferences are.
4. Not adjusting your expectations.
Perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect sleep, perfect relationship, perfect body. FORGET IT ALL. I’m not saying to let yourself go purposefully but by all means cut yourself some slack! You just birthed a human! Even Blake Lively spoke out a few months ago stating that it took her 14 months to lose the 61lbs she had gained in her last pregnancy. Expecting perfection or for life to be how it was pre-baby is only asking for you to be disappointed and potentially lead to postpartum mental health issues.
3. Not planning for all outcomes.
This is in regards to birth and what happens with baby. Those of us that want a med-free vaginal birth don’t exactly like even thinking about a cesarean but you need to plan for all outcomes. If anything, just have an idea of what you would do and how you would feel. What are your thoughts on and preferences for a cesarean? How will you feel if you can't handle the pain and end up getting an epidural? What if you really wanted an epidural but labor progressed so fast that you couldn't have one?
Another topic no mom likes to think about is if baby ends up needing to go to the NICU. How will you handle it? What are your hospital’s policies for NICU families? For example, the hospital where I gave birth allowed me to stay as a cesarean recovery patient for three days and then they offered an additional three days stay for NICU parents free of charge which was great because we were able to stay at the hospital with him, even though in separate rooms most of the time. It was great because we did not have to drive from home to the hospital all day every day. Hospitals will also sometimes have larger rooms in the NICU that parents can in stay with their babies. Know your options and don't assume you won't need them.
2. Not building a solid support system.
More and more families are moving away from immediate family and are “on their own” today. It really does take a village to raise a family and sometimes we don’t have our grandmothers, mothers, or aunts (dads, grandfathers, or uncles too!) around to help us out. Finding your tribe is beyond important. Motherhood can get lonely! Being virtually connected on Facebook and Instagram is fine and dandy but you need in person support as well. Don’t know where to look? Check out local groups such as La Leche League meetings, childbirth classes, Mom and Baby groups, etc. to find like minded mom friends.
If you are close to family and they are willing to help, great! But also set clear boundaries. Make sure those who visit are ready and willing to help out and not expecting to be catered to by you. It is also important to voice when you need people to leave or not come over. It’s not rude and it’s not being mean, it’s taking care of you and baby and the healing process!
1. Not planning for postpartum mental health.
You should also talk with your healthcare provider while your still pregnant about postpartum mental health and how to recognize and combat it. Research your options for treatment and decide what you are ok with and what you are against. Know the side effects for you and baby if you choose medication. Have a plan in mind, should the need arise.
Also, discuss with your healthcare provider on what their time frame for postpartum depression is. I know that sounds funny and you’d think it would be consistent across the board but different providers view it differently. Do they consider it 6 weeks, 6 months, 1 year after birth? This will help you know if you should go see your OB or Midwife, PCP, or counselor should you need to talk to someone. It also doesn’t hurt to have a counselor already picked out, but it's best to make sure they specialize in postpartum mental health.
If you'd like assistance planning your postpartum, let me know. It's one of the add-on services that I offer!
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Allesanda received her Bachelors in Behavioral Science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in December 2013. She now lives in North Texas with her husband and children. As a doula and educator of infant sleep and eco-friendly living, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.