|Being young...and pregnant...and about to be a mum|
|Looking after yourself|
|Baby on the way|
|Being a young mum|
|Books and websites|
You might be starting to think about what you need for your baby such as furniture, equipment, clothes etc. The media and advertising can make you feel like you need a huge amount of very expensive stuff when, in reality, babies don’t really need much. What they do need is to be safe, fed and loved.
Probably the most important piece of equipment is something for your baby to sleep in. Some people use a cot straight away; others use a basinet or cradle and then a cot. Either is fine but cradles and basinets are good things to borrow or buy second hand as babies don’t tend to fit in them for very long. Cots, prams, car seats and high chairs are fairly easy to get second hand. Newspaper, markets, garage sales and friends and family are all useful places to look. Make sure the items are safe for your baby. This means checking the straps, how the cot works etc. Equipment like cots and car seats should conform to Australian standards.
Shopping for baby clothes can be fun and there are heaps of great second hand clothes so check out the markets and op shops too. Most babies fit into a size 000 when they are born and smaller babies may need size 0000.
Other things you will need at the beginning are nappies, wipes or cloths, singlets, body suits, a hat (either a sun hat or a beanie, depending on the weather) and bedding. You might also need dummies, bottles and toys etc.
One of the questions you might get asked lots of times is whether you are going to bottle feed or breastfeed your baby. This is a decision that is yours to make. Thinking about this during your pregnancy will give you time to talk about this with people such as friends, a partner, family or health workers. Some people may decide to start off breastfeeding their baby and might then bottle feed later on.
If you bottle feed your baby you will need a supply of bottles, teats, formula and possibly a steriliser.
Lots of people say breastfeeding is natural but it is not always easy. If you decide to breastfeed, both you and your baby will need to learn how! Getting started can be difficult but once you have it mastered it is a great way to feed your baby. Breastfeeding support is available when you are in the hospital, from your child health nurse or from the Australian Breastfeeding Association. You can even start learning about breastfeeding before you have your baby!
There are heaps of positive things about breastfeeding. All the research says that breastfeeding helps your baby’s immune system and gives your baby the right amount of nutrients.
Some other advantages of breastfeeding are:
- It’s free (formula is about $20 a tin and lasts about a week)
- It’s low fuss (you don’t need to sterilise bottles and make up formula)
- You always have milk with you
- You can go out for long periods without having to take bottles
- You don’t have to mix up or heat bottles during the night
- It can help you loose weight after birth
- It is a nice way to be close with your baby
- It’s environmentally friendly!
Some young people don’t want to breastfeed because they feel uncomfortable about the whole thing! It is a natural way to feed your baby so it is worth thinking about. It is also good to talk to other women who are breastfeeding (even better if you can watch them breastfeeding). The more you see someone breastfeeding the more comfortable you will be.
Also remember it is okay to breastfeed in public. You cannot be asked to leave anywhere because you are breastfeeding. There are also public places where you can breastfeed away from other people such as parents’ rooms in shopping centres. Child Health Centres are also a good place to breastfeed.
Your choice of how you wish to give birth might depend on your circumstances. For example for some women a caesarean is necessary for the safety of the baby. Some people choose to have a homebirth or to give birth in a hospital or birth centre.
Some people might suggest to you that you make a birth plan. This is something you can write down and might include:
- Who will be your support person(s)? – could be boyfriend, mother, friend
- What position would you like to give birth in – do you want to be able to move around etc?
- What sort of pain relief might you want?
- How do you feel about having a caesar (caesarean section) if this is needed?
- Do you want to breastfeed?
Birth plans can be really helpful in starting you thinking about the birth and can help you tell doctors and midwives what you want – but remember most births don’t go to plan!
Some women end up having a caesarean delivery. This is where the baby is removed from the uterus through your abdomen. It is done in an operating theatre. Sometimes women have caesareans if the baby is the wrong way up, is having difficulties breathing or there are other complications. If you do end up having a caesarean, ask lots of questions so you know what will happen during the birth.
Remember if things are moving fast or you don’t understand what is happening you can keep on asking. You have a right to be informed at all times. You can also ask someone else to be with you who can make sure you are allowed to make decisions about your birth and you get the information you need.
This section gives you very basic information about types of pain relief available when you are in labour. The length of time you are in labour can vary greatly. There are lots of things you can do to try and get through labour as comfortable as possible. Some suggestions include meditating, having music playing, being in water, massage, breathing exercises etc. Not everyone needs pain relief but many women do! Sometimes you might plan not to have pain relief and end up having everything possible!
Just remember the most important thing is that your baby is healthy and that you are okay too.
Gas – is readily available and involves inhaling a special gas through a mask. It can ease some of the pain and can be useful for some women especially in the early stages of labour.
Pethidine – is a drug given via an injection. It works by dulling the sensation of pain.
Epidural – is an injection into the spine which is given by an anaesthetist and usually takes about twenty minutes to takes affect. A local anaesthetic is given first and then the epidural is administered into the lower spine area. It can be topped up during labour as needed.
Spinal Block – is like an epidural and is used often with caesarean deliveries.
Try and find out some more information about pain relief before your labour starts so you can make an informed decision.
Unless you have a home birth you will have a few days in hospital after the birth. This length of time will vary and usually people who have caesareans stay a bit longer. You may also have to stay longer if your baby is premature. This is to make sure both you and your baby are okay and can also give you a chance to get some help in learning how to care for your new baby.
While you are in hospital try and get some rest and eat well. It is important to look after yourself because you have some big challenges ahead as you and your baby get to know each other. While you are in hospital you should feel respected and not judged. You have a right to be treated in a professional and understanding way.
If you are breastfeeding your baby and are having problems, try and get some help with this before you leave the hospital. Breastfeeding is a learned skill - both you and you baby are new at it! It may take a few days to settle into feeding your baby.
It is also a good time to think about what support you might need when you leave hospital.
Mastitis is a breast infection that can occur anytime when breastfeeding. Symptoms include a sore area on the breast and flu like symptoms. If you think you might have mastitis or your breasts are very sore, get help straight away so that it can be treated. See your GP, child health nurse or staff in the hospital.
During your pregnancy your body has lots of extra hormones. These hormones are needed to prepare your body for having a baby. About three to four days after your baby is born most women experience what is known as the ‘baby blues’. This can make women feel very emotional, weepy or sad. It is caused by many of the hormones leaving your body. For many women this feeling passes quite quickly but for others it can last longer or can become postnatal depression (PND).
Postnatal depression affects lots of women. If you find yourself feeling down, anxious or not able to cope please talk to someone about it. It is really normal and it can be treated.
Do not be too hard on yourself. The early days with a new baby might be one of the most difficult experiences you will ever have. As well as dealing with a new baby who cries, constantly needs feeding and might not sleep too well, you will also be feeling exhausted from the birth and being up at night. Giving birth and becoming a new parent is a huge experience. Try and take care of yourself as well as your baby and find people you can talk too. Lots of people find it good to talk to other new parents.