Aug. 1, 2014 09:45
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It's an exciting time in life as you prepare to meet your new bundle of joy - get ready to plan out the next nine months so when your baby arrives, you can stress less and love more.

It's an exciting time in life as you prepare to meet your new bundle of joy - get ready to plan out the next nine months so when your baby arrives, you can stress less and love more.

First Trimester

Make a prenatal appointment: Most obstetric care providers don't see women until at least eight weeks pregnant. If you're on the fence about seeing your regular doctor or seeking out another, look into who is covered under your insurance plan and ask about hospital coverage, too. Curious about looking into the midwifery model of care? Gentle Choices Birth Center might be an option for you under the care of licensed midwives.

Eat right for two: Now is the time to assess your eating habits and recognize it might be time to step up the nutritional value of your diet. Consider making an appointment with a nutritionist to guide you on the path of a healthy pregnancy. While it is a time where weight gain is a good thing, gaining too much weight can lead to unnecessary health complications during the pregnancy and post-partum. Fruits, vegetables and lean proteins are always the best choices along with including a prenatal vitamin suggested by your health care provider.

Snap a belly pic: Documenting the progression of your pregnancy with photos of a growing belly can be as simple as taking a photo and posting to Instagram for friends and family to see or scheduling professional sessions with a photographer. Don't forget to create a clever hashtag specific to you and your baby that can continue to be used even after they are born to personalize them online.
Budget for baby: Babies don't have to be expensive if you plan ahead. Every family has a different perspective on what their baby will actually need. For some, the Cadillac of baby cribs and a wardrobe of smocked gowns is a must and for others it's cloth diapers and a baby carrier. Don't get sucked in to buying too much too soon - be smart until you've explored what's on the market that's practical versus a novelty.

Second Trimester

Stay fit and active: Find a prenatal exercise class that works with your current fitness level and any restrictions that may be given by your care provider. Low impact exercise, yoga and water aerobics are great options. A toned body won't just keep you looking fab during your pregnancy, it could also help make your labor easier. If a fitness class won't work, good old-fashion walking in the neighborhood (or in the mall) works, too.

Look into childbirth preparation classes and consider hiring a doula: You wouldn't show up to a marathon and expect to run and finish with ease would you? The same can be said for labor. Seek out classes to give you facts on what to expect in labor and what you and your partner can do to help ease the discomfort of the process. Classes are offered by most hospital labor and delivery departments and by independent practitioners like MotherBirth, a group of childbirth educators and doulas serving women through education of the birth process. What's a doula you ask? Think of her as a labor assistant who can bridge the gap between you and your partner and help ease the stress of labor.

Take time for a weekend getaway with your partner: Your growing belly means sleepless nights are on the way so why not take a weekend of rest and relaxation with your significant other? Spend some time walking on the beach or exploring antique shops in New Orleans and a romantic dinner for two.

Third Trimester

Check into pediatricians for your newborn: You might talk with other moms you know and hear what they like and dislike about their pediatricians, but ultimately you make the call on which provider's style matches yours- call and see if the pediatrician you are considering schedules interviews for potential new patients.

Gear up: Fine-tune the nursery and have all your essentials assembled and linens freshly washed. Sit in that rocker in your little one's room daily and meditate about this journey and envision what it will be like once you are rocking that bundle of joy in your arms.

Pack your bags: During the last month of your pregnancy, pack a bag for yourself and your baby with essentials you might need while away from home. Comfortable lounging clothes, slippers, toiletries and a special outfit for your baby are must-pack items. Try to keep it simple, but bring items that calm and comfort.

Download a printable version of this list to keep handy or give to a mom-to-be you might know. Click here for more.

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