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It's a good job that pregnancy lasts roughly 38 weeks, because a new baby requires an awful lot of planning! What should you be doing to prepare yourself and your home for your little one?

Whether you are a first-time mom or a veteran, you can always do with some help. These tips should help you get ready. 

First trimester

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Though you've only just found out that you are expecting, there is plenty to do in this early stage. Was your pregnancy planned? Then you have probably made all the recommended lifestyle changes already you have been on folic acid to prevent neural tube defects, quit any unhealthy stuff you might have done before (smoking, drinking, fast food), and started focusing on a healthy diet and regular exercise. If you got pregnant unexpectedly, you're not alone roughly half of all pregnancies are unplanned. Start taking folic acid now, and make sure to stop smoking and consuming alcohol immediately if this applies to you. Eat sensibly, and engage in physical activities regularly. Next up, you'll want to think about a prenatal care provider.

Depending on where you live, you may be able to choose if you want to be cared for by your family doctor, an obstetrician/gynecologist, or a midwife. The first trimester isn't too early to seek care pregnant women generally have their first ultrasound during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and urine and blood tests are also performed at this stage. During the first trimester, you and your partner will also have to decide when to announce your pregnancy. May people prefer to wait until the pregnancy is past its 12th week, because the risk of miscarriage goes down drastically at this point. Telling people you are pregnant may be exciting, but in the case of your employer it can also be a bit scary.

Second trimester

During the second trimester, most women start to feel better. Those tricky first-trimester symptoms gradually fade away, so you can wave goodbye to morning sickness and heavy fatigue. That is just as well, because this is the ultimate time to prepare for your baby. During your third trimester, you are likely to feel tired again, and you might be so big you don't feel like running around much. So:

  • Redecorate the room that will be the baby's nursery, or get a corner of your bedroom in order for the baby. Purchase any big-ticket items you need now think crib, cupboard for your baby's clothes, and stroller.
  • Go shopping for baby clothes! You will be able to find out what the sex of your baby is at around 16 weeks (if s/he's in the right position), if that would influence your clothing choices. Always get a variety of sizes, because you never quite know how big or small your baby will be. I'd say to buy enough clothes to last your baby for a week or more. You will be doing lots of laundry if you don't have enough clothes.
  • Think about your diapering options. Cloth diapers are a viable option again these days, but there are so many choices that you'll want a few months to think about that.
  • Start thinking about your labor and delivery options, and discuss them with your healthcare provider.
  • You don't have to wait for your baby that much longer! Start thinking about maternity leave. Apply for any benefits you may be entitled to, check your insurance policy, and definitely talk about what life will be like after the baby gets there. Are you going back to work, or will one of you be staying at home full-time, at least for a while?

Third trimester

You're nearly there! Time for the finishing touches! Prenatal care may take up a lot of your time at this point, and you will be getting more and more Braxton Hicks contractions. One day, they'll turn out to be the real thing! Here's what you need to do during your third trimester:

  • Tour hospitals, birth centers, or make your final agreement with your homebirth midwife. Ask any and all questions you have about your impending labor and birth.
  • Fill in any paperwork you need to, such as registering for your hospital or getting your maternity leave in order. Find out what you need to do to register your baby's birth.
  • You'll probably be attacked by the nesting instinct. Clean your house, and make sure you have your final baby supplies in order while you are at it. Bath stuff, diapers, formula if you plan on using it, and food for you too. Nobody with a tiny baby feels like cooking, so freeze meals in advance.
  • Pack your hospital bag or make sure homebirth supplies are ready.
  • Figure out who you would like at your baby's birth, and invite anyone you want there. Are you planning on having someone (your mom, mom in law, sister, etc) over to help you during the first few weeks? Get everything organized. Are you planning on having a quiet first few weeks? Gently tell people you're having a babymoon no visitors expected.
  • Unless you are giving birth at home, test drive the route to your birth location in heavy traffic and more quiet times, to figure out how long you need to get there.

Finally, wait for your labor to start. Your labor could start with contractions that get ever more regular, or with your waters breaking. Ask your healthcare provider what to do. Generally, you're advised to call your midwife or head to the hospital when your contractions are four minutes apart but each healthcare provider has a different policy, and it also depends on how far your hospital is. If your waters break, jump into action right away.

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