Showing posts with label Childcare. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Childcare. Show all posts

Pregnancy By The Months

What Happens in the First Month of Pregnancy?

Pregnancy is divided into 3 trimesters. Each trimester is a little longer than 13 weeks. The first month marks the beginning of the first trimester.

Gestational Age
Pregnancy is measured using “gestational age.” Gestational age starts on the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period (LMP).

Gestational age can be confusing. Most people think of pregnancy as lasting nine months. And it’s true that a woman is pregnant for about nine months. But because pregnancy is measured from a woman’s last menstrual period — about 3-4 weeks before she is actually pregnant — a full-term pregnancy usually totals about 40 weeks from LMP — roughly 10 months.

Many women do not remember the exact date of their last menstrual period — that’s OK. The surest way to tell gestational age early in pregnancy is with ultrasound.

Weeks 1–2

These are the first two weeks of a woman’s menstrual cycle. She has her period.  About 2 weeks later, the egg that is most mature is released from the ovary — ovulation. Ovulation may happen earlier or later, depending on the length of a woman’s menstrual cycle. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days.
After it is released, the egg travels down a fallopian tube toward the uterus. If the egg meets a sperm, they combine to form one cell. This is called fertilization. Fertilization is most likely to occur when a woman has unprotected vaginal intercourse during the 6 days that lead into ovulation.

Weeks 3–4

The fertilized egg moves down the fallopian tube and divides into more and more cells. It reaches the uterus about 3–4 days after fertilization. The dividing cells then form a ball that floats free in the uterus for about 2–3 days.
Pregnancy begins when the ball of cells attaches to the lining of the uterus. This is called implantation. It usually starts about 6 days after fertilization and takes about 3–4 days to be complete.
Pregnancy does not always occur. Up to half of all fertilized eggs pass out of women’s bodies during regular menstruation before implantation is complete.
Learn more about how pregnancy happens.

A Woman’s First Signs of Pregnancy
For many women, the first sign of pregnancy is a missed period. Most pregnancy tests will be positive by the time a woman has missed her period. Other early signs of pregnancy include fatigue, feeling bloated, frequent urination, mood swings, nausea, and tender or swollen breasts. Not all women have all of these symptoms, but it is common to have at least one of them. 

What Happens in the Second Month of Pregnancy?

The ball of cells develops into an embryo at the start of the sixth week. The embryonic stage of pregnancy will last about 5 weeks. During this time all major internal organs begin developing.

Weeks 5–6

  • The embryo is less than 1/5 inch (4–5 mm) long.
  • A very basic beating heart and circulatory system develop.
  • Buds for arms and legs develop.
  • The neural tube begins forming. The neural tube will later form the brain, spinal cord, and major nerves.
  • The bud of a tail develops.
  • The umbilical cord begins developing.
Pregnancy Week 6

Weeks 7–8

  • The embryo is 1/4 to 1/2 inch (7–14 mm) long.
  • The heart has formed.
  • Webbed fingers and toes develop.
  • The arms bend at elbows.
  • External ears, eyes, eyelids, liver, and upper lip have begun forming.
  • The sex organs are the same — neither female nor male — in all embryos until the seventh or eighth week. If a gene triggers the development of testes, the embryo develops as a male. If there is no trigger, the embryo develops ovaries and becomes female.
Pregnancy Week 8


The second month is often when pregnancy symptoms become very noticeable.  Common discomforts like breast tenderness, fatigue, frequent urination, heartburn, nausea, and vomiting usually get worse. A woman’s body produces extra blood during pregnancy, and her heart beats faster and harder than usual to carry the extra blood.

What Happens in the Third Month of Pregnancy?


Weeks 9–10

  • The embryo develops into a fetus after 10 weeks. It is 1–1.5 inches (21–40 mm) long.
  • The tail disappears.
  • Fingers and toes are longer.
  • The umbilical cord connects the abdomen of the fetus to the placenta.  The placenta is attached to the wall of the uterus. It absorbs nutrients from the woman’s bloodstream. The cord carries nutrients and oxygen to the fetus and takes wastes away from the fetus.
Pregnancy Week 10

Weeks 11–12

The fetus is now measured from the top of its head to its buttocks. This is called crown-rump length (CRL).
  • The fetus has a CRL of 2–3 inches (6–7.5 cm).
  • Fingers and toes are no longer webbed.
  • Bones begin hardening.
  • Skin and fingernails begin to grow.
  • Changes triggered by hormones begin to make external sex organs appear — female or male.
  • The fetus begins making spontaneous movements.
  • Kidneys start making urine.
  • Early sweat glands appear.
  • Eyelids are fused together.
Pregnancy Week 12


Many of the pregnancy symptoms from the first 2 months continue — and sometimes worsen — during the third month. This is especially true of nausea. A woman’s breasts continue growing and changing. The area around the nipple — the areola — may grow larger and darker. Women who are prone to acne may experience outbreaks.
Women do not usually gain much weight during the first 3 months of pregnancy — usually about 2 pounds. Women who are overweight or underweight may experience a different rate of weight gain. Talk with your health care provider about maintaining a healthy weight throughout pregnancy.

Most early pregnancy loss — miscarriage — happens in the first trimester. About 15 percent of pregnancies result in early pregnancy loss during the first trimester.

Learn more about miscarriage.

What Happens in the Fourth Month of Pregnancy?

The fourth month marks the beginning of the second trimester.

Weeks 13–14

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 3 inches (8 cm).
  • The sex of the fetus can sometimes be seen by looking at external sex organs on an ultrasound.
  • Hair begins to grow.
  • The prostate gland begins developing in male fetuses.
  • Ovaries move down from the abdomen to the pelvic area in female fetuses.
  • The roof of the mouth is formed.
Pregnancy Week 14

Weeks 15–16

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 4.5 inches (12 cm).
  • Hundreds of thousands of eggs are forming in the ovaries in female fetuses.


Some of the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy begin to be relieved during the fourth month. Nausea is usually reduced. But other digestive problems — heartburn and constipation — may be troublesome. Breast changes — growth, soreness, and darkening of the areola — usually continue. It’s common for women to have shortness of breath or to breathe faster. Increased blood flow may lead to unpleasant pregnancy symptoms, such as bleeding gums, nosebleeds, or nasal stuffiness. Pregnant women also may feel dizzy or faint because of the changes to their blood and blood vessels.

What Happens in the Fifth Month of Pregnancy?

Weeks 17–18

  • The fetus has a CRL of 5.5–6 inches (14–15 cm).
Pregnancy Week 18

Weeks 19–20

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 6.5 inches (16 cm).  
  • Lanugo  — a fine downy hair — covers the body. 
  • The skin is also covered with vernix caseosa, a greasy material that protects the skin.
  • A uterus has formed in a female fetus.


Women usually feel fetal movements for the first time during the fifth month. It may feel like flutters or butterflies in the stomach. This is called quickening.
The pregnancy symptoms of the fourth month continue this month. Heartburn, constipation, breast changes, dizziness, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, and gum bleeding are common. Breasts may be as much as 2 cup sizes bigger by this time.

What Happens in the Sixth Month of Pregnancy?


Weeks 21–22

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 7 inches (18–19 cm).
  • Bone marrow starts making blood cells.
  • Taste buds begin to form.
Pregnancy Week 22

Weeks 23–24

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 8 inches (20 cm).
  • Eyebrows and eyelashes usually develop between weeks 23 and 26.


Pregnancy symptoms from the fourth and fifth month usually continue. Shortness of breath may improve. Breasts may start producing colostrum — tiny drops of early milk. This may continue throughout pregnancy.
Some women have Braxton-Hicks contractions. They feel like a painless squeezing of the uterus or abdomen. This is the uterus’s way of practicing for labor and delivery. Braxton-Hicks contractions are normal and not a sign of preterm labor. But women should check with their health care providers if they have painful or frequent contractions or if they have any concerns.

What Happens in the Seventh Month of Pregnancy?


Weeks 25–26

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 9 inches (23 cm).
  • The fetus develops more and more fat from now until the end of pregnancy.

Week 27–28

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 10 inches (25 cm).
  • Eyelids are usually fused together until about 28 weeks.
Pregnancy Week 28
A woman’s uterus continues expanding. Back pain is common. Pregnancy symptoms from earlier months continue. Dizziness may lessen.

What Happens in the Eighth Month of Pregnancy?

The eighth month marks the beginning of the third trimester.

Week 29–30

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 10.5 inches (27 cm).
  • Testes usually begin descending into the scrotum from the abdomen between weeks 30 and 34 in a male fetus. This is usually complete by 40 weeks.

Week 31–32

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 11 inches (28 cm).
  • Lanugo starts falling off.
Women often start feeling tired and have a more difficult time breathing as the uterus expands up. They may get varicose veins — blue or red swollen veins most often in the legs — or hemorrhoids — varicose veins of the rectum. Hemorrhoids can be painful and itchy and cause bleeding. Women may also get stretch marks where skin has been expanded. Braxton-Hicks contractions, heartburn, and constipation may continue. Women may urinate a bit when sneezing or laughing because of pressure from the uterus on the bladder. Hormones may make hair appear fuller and healthier.

What Happens in the Ninth Month?


Week 33–34

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 12 inches (30 cm).
  • The eyes have developed enough for pupils to constrict and dilate when exposed to light.
  • Lanugo is nearly all gone.

Week 35–36

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 12.5 inches (32 cm).
  • The fetus is considerably fatter, and the skin is no longer wrinkled.
The growing fetus places more and more strain on a pregnant woman’s body. Common pregnancy symptoms continue through the end of pregnancy, including fatigue, trouble sleeping, trouble holding urine, shortness of breath, varicose veins, and stretch marks. Some fetuses drop down into the lower part of the uterus during this month. This may relieve the woman’s constipation and heartburn that are common earlier in pregnancy. But some fetuses do not drop down until the very end of pregnancy.

What Happens in the Tenth Month?


Week 37–38

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 13–14 inches (34–36 cm).
  • The fetus has a firm grasp.

Week 39–40

Many women give birth around this time.
  • The average newborn weighs 7–8 lbs. and is between 18–22 inches (46–56 cm) long with legs extended.
  • Almost all of the vernix and lanugo are gone. It is common for newborns to have some lanugo that disappears over the first few months of life.
Pregnancy Week 40
By the end of pregnancy, the uterus has expanded from a woman’s pelvis to the bottom of her rib cage. Pregnancy symptoms in the tenth month largely depend on when the fetus drops down into lower part of the uterus in the pelvis.
Shortness of breath, heartburn, and constipation usually improve when the fetus drops. But the position of the fetus lower in the pelvis causes frequent urination and trouble holding urine.
The cervix will begin to open — dilate — to prepare for delivery. This may happen a few weeks before delivery, or it might start when a woman goes into labor. A woman may feel sharp pains in her vagina as the cervix dilates.
After the newborn is delivered, the placenta and other tissues also come out of the woman’s body. This is called the afterbirth.
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Planned Parenthood

Bonding with baby before birth

The human becoming inside you has the ability to learn, feel and respond to its environment and to the touches and messages it receives from the outside world.
Bonding with baby before birth
When I was a little girl I had an imaginary friend. She came every where with me and I even made space for her in the car. She slept in my bed, bathed with me and in fact was ‘one of the family’, being acknowledged by my mother even though I was teased horribly by my brothers.

When I discovered I was pregnant for the first time – I once again experienced the feeling of having an unseen person with me all the time – but this time it was for real.

When my daughter was born I had this incredible sense of knowing her already. Perhaps my imaginary friend was my future baby waiting in the wings for the time when she would start to make her way into the world.

I believe that bonding starts long before birth – very soon, in fact after conception. 21 days after conception your baby is the size of a grain of rice and the heart has started beating strong and steady under your own heart.

Most women are not even aware that they are pregnant and yet others feel a change in their bodies very early on. A woman’s body starts to make huge adaptations to accommodate and protect this new life - within hours of fertilisation.

Once a pregnancy is confirmed and you are given the news – it can seem quite surreal. You are now “with child” and although you know something massive has happened, you don’t yet feel all that different. In 280 days or so, this speck of life will develop into a 3kg (more or less) baby girl or boy.
As you move through the first trimester, it is normal to experience emotional highs and lows. The thought of getting through the pregnancy, birth and then the lifelong challenge of raising a functional, happy child seems overwhelmingly daunting. But never fear – each child comes into the world for a reason and if this baby has been given to you to love and cherish – accept the honour, privilege and blessing of your gift.

What is pre-birth bonding?

Bonding with your unborn means creating a relationship with your child from the minute you know s/he is there. These moments of interaction – be they words spoken to your child, a thought about your child, or a touch of your abdomen intended affectionately for your child, are the first steps in building the bridge towards a healthy development of that individual.
Bonding is a 2 way process in which mother and child build a close attachment. Bonding before birth is the optimal time to begin building the relationships that will encourage baby’s independence, trust, and self worth - as well as family strength, understanding and love.
The strength of this bond depends a lot on how the mother looks after herself and her baby during pregnancy. And this does not only apply to mothers, but to fathers as well. Babies come into this world needing nurturing, food and love, which a mother supplies.
Fathers on the other hand supply protection to both mother and baby, and that is why 2 parents are needed – because human babies are defenseless and helpless for a very long time.

Bonding during the 1st trimester

I remember the day I was told I was pregnant. I was ecstatic and after telling my husband I sat still for the longest time trying to get my mind around it. I remember saying out loud “Well little person – it’s you and me together for the next 9 months – ready or not here we go”.
I did not feel foolish or shy that I was speaking to a blob of cells – I felt the presence of a miracle deep within my body and I was so proud.

But it isn’t like that for everyone. And that does not mean there is something wrong with you. We all conceive in different circumstances and if your pregnancy has been a bit of a shock or has happened at a time in your life where you may not feel so stable – take heart.
Most of the time love “grows on you” just like the pregnancy does.

Talk to your child

In the beginning, start by talking to your child – like you would if she was sitting next to you. Talk with your child on a daily basis. Be aware that as each day passes your child is becoming increasingly aware of its environment and its being.

The first trimester is the most crucial time in your baby’s development and a time where you have to be good about looking after yourself and getting rid of bad habits like smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs of any sort. This already shows that you care and that it matters to you that you build a strong, confident body for this baby.

Sing to your child

Towards the end of the first trimester begin singing and reading to your child. Start taking time out everyday if possible to focus completely on your baby, especially just before you fall asleep and first thing in the morning on waking.

Bonding during the 2nd trimester

Touch your belly when your baby begins to move

About halfway through the second trimester you will begin to feel your baby move. What an awesome moment. Respond by touching your belly with gentle prods or shaking and jiggling your belly. Not only is this good for your baby emotionally, but is also fantastic for development of the nerve pathways to the brain and you are stimulating the sense of touch which is the first sense to develop (at 5 weeks gestation).

Share your delight with your child

After every scan you have, share your delight with your child. Tell her how well she is growing and how proud you are. Your baby is already getting used to the sound of your voice and the foundations of her language are being laid down every time you talk – you speak her ‘Mother Tongue’.

Read stories and sing to your baby

At 26 weeks the auditory nerve is fully functional and the little bones in the ears (the ossicles) are fully developed – adult size. If you have not already begun to, now is the time to start reading stories and singing to your baby.

Encourage dad to get involved. Babies learn to recognize their father’s voice – especially if he has been talking to and touching his baby, by massaging your abdomen.

Get to know your baby and she will get to know you. Take the time to know her movement patterns. You will soon recognise if she is a cool cucumber or a hot chilli pepper by the movements and the vigour that she displays.

Bonding during the 3rd trimester

Tell your baby about your life and the life she will have

In the third trimester as you go about setting up her room and her own special place, tell her what you are doing in anticipation of her arrival. Tell your baby about the family she is coming into and about all the preparations that are going on in your home at that time.

Tell her if you have animals, special old toys that you have kept and cleaned just for her and any other exciting stuff that is going on in your life.

If you have an off day or you feel tired, frustrated or afraid of what is coming – share this with her as well. She lives in the middle of your body – she feels what you feel, but does not understand the negative feelings that pass. Always reassure her – especially if you have had a shock, or have been having a hard time – be it physically or emotionally.

Life happens and children sense that from an early age. They need an explanation and reassurance that it is not their fault – even when they are still in the womb. Don’t pretend that sad feelings don’t exist. Don’t feel guilty for having them.

Letting your child know that she is valued, wanted and loved heals any ills that come your way and will not affect your baby negatively. Never underestimate your power of love and the incredible benefits and healing it can bring.

The time before birth while your child is growing inside your body is a unique opportunity to get to know her. Use this special time to escape the pressures of the world every day for a few moments and take the time – make the time to let love grow as you build a relationship with your own special miracle.

So talk to, touch and enjoy your baby. That special link and amazing bond will connect you over time and distance for the rest of your life and the life of your child.

Planning A Child Care Startup?

A person, thinking about child care startup may very well be looking forward to a profitable business in the form of a child care center.


Setting up a child care center, is a flourishing business but it also requires a lot of dedication. The certain factors involved may be the cost of starting it altogether, making a business plan and looking after legal requirements.

These centers can also be started in spaces that are otherwise unoccupied during the entire week or within a school that has surplus space. If a child care center is set up within a school, it brings the advantage of having well coordinated programs.

After the location is decided, child care insurance is the next essential step. This is very crucial for starting a child care business. These centers offer dedicated services to working parents. Hence, these should provide a safe environment to the children. And, insurance works as an added security measure.

As this is a very fast growing industry, proper management is very important. This is also required to give the center, better recognition. As there are a number of child care centers, people will generally prefer the one that has a better management system. Therefore, better management system results in a flourishing child care center and great profit.

A management application is especially designed for childcare management that could be obtained before starting up the child care center. This software is easily accessible at a number of online and offline resources. This software provides complete, user-friendly and integrated modules that help in managing child records, billing and various accounting operations, available city subsidies, payroll records, direct deposits and preauthorized payment records. Find out more about childcare management at

The child care software that maintains the records updates automatically. This helps the parents and family members understand the child's progress. It also provides an opportunity to them to observe the activities of the child. For the various child care institutions, security is of utmost importance. This security can be protected by using this software.

Finally, a business broker can be a good source of information. He could provide detailed information regarding a child care center like the availability of the area, its price, current market requirements and so on. He could not only provide you information but also help you strike the best possible deal of the infrastructure. Information of the brokers regarding a child care startup may also be found through a search on the internet.

About The Author
Dean Forster

Learn more about Childcare Management software, courses and daycare training at

Smoking and pregnancy

You want to quit. But you’re still craving it and you just can’t help it. Here’s how to stop smoking once and for all.

Smoking and pregnancy
The risk of causing permanent harm to my baby was the trigger that finally helped me kick a 15-year addiction to cigarettes. It was sheer relief when, taking a puff of a cigarette around my ninth week of pregnancy, I knew it would be my last.
Many women smokers don’t realise they are pregnant, at least for some weeks, and expose their developing babies to tobacco toxins at an important development stage.

According to science

Patrick Holford and Susannah Lawson, authors of “Optimum Nutrition Before During and After Pregnancy”, say that smoking in the first few weeks after conception affects the way cells replicate and interferes with protein synthesis.
This is believed to be why babies born to smokers are more likely to suffer malformations, in particular cleft palates, hare lips, deafness and squints. They point out that the risk of birth defects increases by two and a half times, even if the woman doesn’t smoke while her partner does. This is because the mutagenic compounds of tobacco damage the chromosomes of sperm.

Motivation to quit

There is strong incentive to quit during the early stages of pregnancy. If women stop by the fourth month of pregnancy, they can reduce some of the risks associated with smoking, such as delivering low birth weight babies. Conversely, the more women smoke during pregnancy, the greater the reduction in birth weight.
Birth weight is a key indicator of health in later life. Lower weights have greater correlations with heart disease, strokes, diabetes and overall susceptibility to illness. Higher weights are associated with intellectual development.


For me, the motivation was simple: if the health of my baby couldn’t convince me to quit, what would? Even then, it took a little time.

The first step to encouraging a pregnant woman to quit is to arm her with a detailed understanding of the risks associated with smoking, in a factual and non-judgmental manner.
The next is to help her (and possibly her partner) through a cessation programme, and to maintain this after birth to prevent a relapse.

The risks

Before pregnancy

Smoking damages the quality of women’s eggs, and thus lowers the number that can make a healthy baby. It also reduces sperm concentration by about 24 percent.

During pregnancy

Women who smoke have a 27 percent higher risk of miscarriage, and a greater risk of still birth. They are also more prone to complications such as bleeding, pre-term delivery, premature rupture of membranes and placental problems. Some women experience higher levels of nausea associated with smoking.

At birth

Babies born to smokers have lower average birth-weights (between 150 and 300 grams, although good maternal nutrition can reduce the differential). This is because nicotine and carbon monoxide from cigarettes depletes oxygen and reduces blood flow from the placenta to the womb, leading fewer nutrients to reach the baby.

After birth

Babies born to maternal smokers suffer twice the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. They are prone to complications such as respiratory infections, bladder and kidney problems, and disorders of the nervous system, senses, blood and skin. Some studies show a correlation between smoking during pregnancy and attention deficit disorder.

Tips on how to quit


  • You can follow a similar programme to non-pregnant smokers. The starting point is to select the date on which you will stop and, instead of deciding to try, simply decide to stop.
  • You may opt for the cold turkey approach, or you may prefer a gradual cut-back.
  • Plan what you will do when a craving comes. They tend to last just a short time, so something simple might work, such as visualising your baby growing strong as you inhale clean air.
  • Enlist the support of family, friends and colleagues. Ask them not to smoke around you.

Smoking other stuff

It’s not just tobacco that’s bad for babies. Although there is inconsistent data on the effects of marijuana, mostly because it is often used with other drugs such as alcohol or tobacco, marijuana usage in pregnancy is associated with hyperactivity and cognitive impairment in children.
Regular marijuana use in men is associated with reduced sperm count.
Women who are dependent on heavy narcotics such as tik and heroin need to seek help. Their babies are often born dependent themselves and suffer withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and vomiting. Other problems include premature birth, low birthweight, breathing problems and low blood sugar.

Best kick-the-habit tips from CANSA:

  • Decide on a date to quit smoking and do it
  • Throw away your smoker’s paraphernalia: ciggie packets, ashtrays, lighters
  • Drink lots of water - it will help flush the nicotine from your body
  • Become more active - exercise ie walk, jog
  • Change your routine. Avoid smokers and things that make you want to smoke for the first couple of days
  • Tell your family and friends that you are trying to quit so that they can offer you support
  • You may experience some dizziness, headaches or coughing once you have stopped smoking. This is normal and should improve after a day or two and disappear within 14 days
  • The first two to three days are the most difficult, after that it gets easier. Your cravings will reduce and eventually disappear.
  • If you are worried about gaining weight, eat at regular times during the day. Snack on fruit between meals. Take time for exercise. Not all ex-smokers gain weight.
  • Do not use a crisis or special occasion as an excuse for "just one" cigarette. One cigarette leads to another and another, and another.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t cope with going cold turkey. You’re addicted to a serious drug, and you might need to get professional help to quit the addiction for once and for all.

Call in the heavy artillery

There are numerous natural therapies recommended by practitioners. Some people have managed to quit using hypnotherapy, acupuncture and reflexology. 
For more information on qualified hypnotherapy practitioners in your area, contact the South African Institute of Hypnotherapy at 0861 102 318 or visit
To find a registered homeopath, reflexologist or acupuncturist in your area, contact The Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa at
To find out where you can attend a "Smokenders" course in your city or town, log onto their website at

Things to consider before having a baby

Here are a few things to discuss and consider before you take the plunge and fall pregnant
Things to consider before having a baby
Many parents report “just knowing” the time is right, while others are thrown into parenthood unexpectedly and simply have to cope.
As much as it can be a time of great joy and excitement, pregnancy can also be riddled with stresses and strains, and having a child will affect everything, from your relationships to your career to your lifestyle and financial status.
But if you're planning to have a baby, you have the advantage of having time to prepare for this major life change. Here are a few considerations you and your partner may want to think about:

Will you go back to work?

One of the most important post-baby decisions is whether and when you will go back to work after the birth. How will you cope financially during your maternity leave, or if you decide to become a stay-at-home mom (or dad)? And who will look after your baby if and when you do go back to work? How will having a baby affect your career?

Have you considered all the costs?

Having a baby is an expensive business – you will have to budget for loss of income, medical care including prenatal care, the cost of the birth and baby’s medical bills, and all the baby stuff you’ll need (nappies and toiletries alone can cost R500 a month).
Some baby items are optional, but many are not. Clothing, a car seat, a cot and pram, bottles and formula, nappies and basic toiletries are essentials, some of which you will have to buy every month. Childcare costs at least R1 500 a month. If you can, try and save a cash reserve for unexpected expenses before you fall pregnant, so you can enjoy your baby without worrying unduly about bills.

How strong is your relationship?

How do you and your partner feel about having a baby? If you are going to be a single parent, do you have adequate support systems?
Couples often believe that having a baby will bring them closer together, but while this is often true, having a baby will not repair any cracks in your relationship – in fact, the opposite is more likely.
Financial stress can put pressure on your relationship, so it’s good to have a plan – and a budget.

Do you have external support?

While you are preparing for the experience, rally your support systems. Are there grandparents who will be willing and able to baby-sit? Do you have a network of other new mothers you will be able to talk to for advice and support? How about domestic help? Attending prenatal classes is a great way to network in this new world, while gaining knowledge can reduce your anxiety about the impending birth and after birth!

What if it doesn’t happen naturally?

Infertility, or even just trouble conceiving, has become very common and can be a major source of stress in modern relationships. Fertility treatment can put pressure on even the strongest relationships. Have you and your partner discussed what you would do if you had trouble conceiving? Or if you had fertility treatment and ended up with two or even three new babies?

Are you ready to feel uncomfortable?

Pregnancy itself is surprisingly stressful, especially the first time around when you don’t know what to expect. Your body changes in dramatic and unexpected ways, surging hormones can cause emotional turmoil, and many pregnancy niggles – while taken lightly by the medical establishment and those who have been through it all – can be profoundly uncomfortable. In addition, you are likely to be concerned about the health of your growing baby at every stage.

Where will you give birth?

Another important decision you will need to make as you are planning your pregnancy is who will provide your prenatal care and where you will give birth. Your choice of obstetrician would probably determine the hospital you use, or you may decide on a maternity clinic based on the services they offer (such as water birth or an active birthing unit.)
Alternatively, you may opt for a midwife instead of or in addition to an obstetrician and you may want to research birthing alternatives such as home birth.

Are you emotionally ready?

Some couples take to parenthood like ducks to water – and it is these rosy images of doting fathers, sleeping babies and glowing mothers that we are most often presented with. But pregnancy and parenthood also cause a profound shift in identity that some new moms and dads struggle with.
The weight of responsibility is enormous – dads most often feel the burden of being the only breadwinner, while new moms may feel overwhelmed at the idea of being totally responsible for the wellbeing of this brand new human being.
The truth is that having a new baby is physically, emotionally and spiritually as exhausting as it is exhilarating. Give yourself and your baby the best start in life by approaching parenthood as prepared as it is possible to be – while knowing that parenting means expecting the unexpected


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