Pregnancy for some is the most exciting phase of life whereas for others it can be daunting. It becomes more complicated when you are away from family and it is your first pregnancy.
I had similar emotions when we (my husband and I) were pregnant for the first time.
I am writing this section in the hope that others can benefit from my experience of being pregnant in U.K., as an immigrant and as a first time mother. A word of caution, this section is limited to the information on once you have a confirmed pregnancy and not about how to get pregnant. It is also my experience with pregnancy and can differ from person to person
1. First of all get into the habit of writing important information, you can use either a notebook or put notes in your digital devices. Start with how many months you are pregnant, your dates, appointments with the doctors, NHS or private as per your circumstances.
2. Make sure you have a partner physically available during last few months of pregnancy, someone who can check on you and take you to hospitals when required.
3. If you are going through NHS, get your details right, understand your nearest delivery hospital route, it is different from your GP. Estimate the time travelled from home or office to the hospital, information about the process depending upon how easy or complicated your pregnancy is, private insurance settled in case there are complications.
4. Exercise, even if you feel lazy carrying a baby. You must try breathing exercises, yoga or other form of meditation or exercise like Pilates etc. Be cautious while choosing exercises for first trimester. Try and use experts advice if you are unsure or have medical issues. NHS also provides links of private prenatal exercise units, just ask. Key is to keep moving and breathing. If it helps, I used these links for light exercises which helped me to move in the comfort of my home even after late office hours.
5. Use supplements, they help to supply extra nutrients required for the foetus to grow. Folic acids, iron and vitamins supplements are considered good for pregnancy. Your nurse or doctor should be able to advise you for the right supplements for your body.
6. Read, discuss and decide about the birth plan you want to take. It may differ from your home country (example my home country India does not usually have hypnobirth available). There are myths about some options like Epidural, being one of the mothers opting for epidural, it was quite safe. You can choose a reliable birth partner or a close relative like mother or a close friend too, I opted for my husband to assist. More details available here
7. During the last month(, we discussed and opted for a hospital room for post birth. It costed us £150/day in total with NHS, may differ from place to place.
8. Don’t shy away from asking for post natal help. Post natal clinics are quite good to check upon baby, help with feeding, or in my case inform my husband about how he can help at home 😉
9. Prepare a birth bag that you keep ready from 7th month pregnancy onwards. Here is the list that I prepared .
a. Nappies- size 1 – Huggies or Pampers are best odour free available
b. Nappy bags and wet wipes
c. Depenthum or sumo rash cream
d. Netty netty or breathable blankets
e. Muslin clothes that you can use to cover baby or yourself while breast feeding
f. A swaddle blanket for baby
e. Coconut oil
f. Nipple cream
g. New born Baby feeding cups/bottles
h. Baby hats(Next has some good cotton hats)
i. 3 sets of cotton onesies with front openings and integrated scratch mitts and socks
j. Inner vests(2 short sleeves and 2 full sleeves) for baby.Next has the most comfortable cotton products. Do not buy too many clothes for the baby. Try and keep it to minimum. Tip- We bought some zero sizes but since our baby was a bigger than zero size, the clothes became redundant. However my husband accompanied me during shopping so was aware of where and which material to buy for baby clothes which helped him later.
k. One of the most wasted item is baby shoes, honestly your kids will be lying either in your arms or on bed/cot till they start turning over their backs (atleast until 4 months).
l. Get atleast 2 sets of loose comfortable nightwear’s or long cotton dresses for mom. Hospitals will provide nighties from birth till you take first shower to clean. I bought 5 extra nursing dresses (helps with feeding baby)to be used at home (H&M does some amazing ones). Get a pair of clothes for your accompaniment if he/she has plans to stay with you for night.
m. There are loose maternity underwear’s and pads available at local drug stores like Boots or supermarkets like Sainsbury or Tesco. It’s good to check which size fits you in the last months and get some dark colours (no sugar coating that you will be bleeding a lot)
n. Get a pair of comfortable slippers or long socks to walk in the hospital – to and fro bathroom. Get a towel to take bath.
o. Toiletries – toothpaste, toothbrush, Vaseline or other natural lip balms, face tissues, face wash and moisturiser, hair ties and body wash.
p. Get a spare phone charger
q. Download contraction app on phone of your partner since you need to note the contractions
r. Top most priority item is your hospital notes and the baby red book.Keep it on top of the bag where it is easily accessible by you or your birthing partner
s. Keep some change handy that can be utilised for car parking if required and offcourse oil or gas in your car near the due date
t. Another important item is Baby Car seat. It is recommended to keep it ready for the time when you have to get baby home.
u. Some Lucozade tablets or Lucozade sports drinks to help replenish energy. Some snacks for your partner and maybe a caffeinated drink to keep them awake.
8. Do not wear perfume while feeding the baby. You may use unscented ones, if required
9. Attend some prenatal classes with your birthing partner. This will make them ready and understand what to expect or how to help. Do some fun activities together that will lower the stress and anxiety of the new phase of life. Some links that can be watched online are: Prenatal Class -1
, Prenatal Class -2
, Prenatal Class -3
9. Ensure you have help established at home. Get house help like cleaners once a week and
if possible a cook who can prepare some light meals for you. As a new mother you need help to wash yourself and baby for first few days (consider atleast a bare minimum of a week, in Indian culture usually 40days).
10. Ensure baby has a comfortable cot for him/her. This prevents baby from getting overheated or smothered during the night or while breastfeeding.
11. Don’t feel nervous if there is unexpected event like bleeding, although spotting is considered normal. Keep the numbers handy and call for emergency if the blood flow is heavy. I had a stressful day at work that caused heavy bleeding with clots. Fortunately it was treated immediately as I called 111 for help. Stay calm, it could be a different reason.
I hope these tips and information help the new born parents. Most of all enjoy this phase as it is short term and life is going to change. Take lot of photos and spread joy:)