We used to talk about the ‘change of life baby’. I believe that every first baby is a change of life child. After the birth, you will never be quite the same person again. And though it may be hard to believe when you peer into the mirror to find a sleep-deprived stranger looking back at you, this change is for the better, This site is about change, attitudes and expectations and steering your way through them all to enjoy these years of wonder.
It takes at least a year’s planning to sail around the world. The sailor who means to survive and succeed takes the time to plot a course that will as far as possible avoid pirates and tornadoes but allow for squally days and difficult tides. When we plan a family, it’s easy to drift along unprepared or at the other extreme frighten ourselves rigid with the fear of failure.
Let’d for a moment take an idealistic approach and assume that there is time to plot our course a few months before we embark. This site is a map and a guide. It aims to help you sail into new water happily and survive the odd day of drenched exhaustion.
If the mooring ropes have slipped away and you have set sail on this journey of a lifetime, you may wish to join us in later part, in which Baby is ready to join us, and the adventure really begins. Otherwise, let’s tale a little time to prepare.
When we talk about the word ‘commit’, committing murder may spring to mind. The difference here is that the sentence for committing to children is life, not fifteen years or so!
Joke aside, this time before the baby arrives is a time for you to make a shared commitment to your partner. Everyone will be happy to share the joy and wonderment of a new baby, but we mustn’t forget the messy bits of childhood, the sleepless nights, the sickness and the worries about every facet of being responsible for a small, helpless person.
And those caring for Baby should ideally make a commitment to themselves to be as healthy as possible. We’re talking about the long haul. You’re going to need a body that will see you through. It needs to be nourished with healthy food, a bit of activity, at most only moderate alcohol intake and avoidance of smoking and other harmful substances.
A healthy environment also requires stability. In a home with children the best path is usually the most peaceful path. Dramatic confrontation should be rare. (Toddlers may have their own ideas about this but we do not need to join in the fun). Your family, whether it’s made up of Mum and Dad or an array of aunties, grandparents and second cousins, needs to share a commitment to a stable and loving environment.
Children thrive when their families are happy and united. This provides the foundation for emotionally intact adults. If there are problems at home that go beyond the usual wear and tear of family life they need to be resolved peacefully. This may require new skills and at time superhuman effort. We can all agree that the effort is worth it, when we see happy and secure children growing into happy and secure adults.
As we wait for the baby to grow, many of us spend a lot of time dreaming about a perfect little child with lovely habits and manners. I am sure that you will do your best to create a model citizen, but it is interesting to note the degree to which our own traits and temperaments are passed onto our children.
If you are both tall, clearly there is a very good chance that the baby will grow up to be tall as well. The same goes for temperament. You and your partner’s little ticks and habits may decide whether your children will be easy, exciting or difficult.
Often when I talked to a tired mum who would ask me: How did we end up with such a non-stop, busy, difficult child? Then Dad barges in twitching, rocking in his seat and bursting with the need to get on with life outside. You don’t need a geneticist to tell you what’s going on here.
If you are both blessed with even tempers and tend to breeze through life without a backward glance, you may well be the lucky parents of an ‘easy’ baby, toddler, schoolchild and adult. If one of the parents has a short fuse and is never quite settled, there’s a good chance of a more ‘interesting’ journey.
I only touch on this fascinating topic briefly here, and I am not suggesting a lengthy period of abstinence or contraception while you hunt down the perfect genetic material to pass on, but when we are shaping our expectations of parenthood, it is as well to remember that the apple never falls too far from the tree.
The science of reproduction is an interesting subject but Nature has a way of ignoring our best-laid plans. You can plan to the very day when to stop the pill in order to have a spring baby, but it’s a lucky fluke if you can really plan what happens next. You may not be able to decide when the baby is coming, but you can prepare yourself for a healthy start.
If you know you want to conceive in the next year, ideally you would plan at least three to six months out from possible conception. You would have a preconception consultation with your doctor, a longer-than-usual appointment that will involve a fairly detailed discussion about your health and family background as well as various tests.
You should expect questions about medications, including herbal preparations, smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs. It’s a good idea for Dad to get checked out as well but obviously Mum is going to to bear the brunt of the medical scrutiny. Your doctor will want to know whether you are up to date with Pap smears and will test you for immunity for disease such as rubella. If there is not enough immunity to rubella a vaccination can be offered, but be quite sure you are not pregnant and strict contraception must be used for at least another month afterwards as the vaccination presents a risk to an existing foetus. The risk from rubella is serious though, so if there’s time, it is worth protecting yourself and your baby with the immunization.
Then it is time to explore the family tree. Your doctor will want to know whether there are any inheritable conditions where there may be an increased family susceptibility like neutral tube defects or diabetes. And lastly you need to discuss whether you are expecting public or private health care for your pregnancy and birth. Be aware that there are waiting periods for private cover if you are not currently a member of a fund.
The mother-in-waiting now needs to do a little health house-keeping.
and now you are seaworthy …….
Once you are ready to make a baby you would probably love to conceive instantaneously, but in the interests of sanity it is not a bad idea at this stage to be aware of the statistics of successful conception.
For ladies under the age of 35s, it is advisable to wait a year before talking to your doctor about any kind of intervention.
For ladies between age of 35 to 39 year old, we would get onto it a little sooner. In this case, it is worth a chat with your doctor after 6 months of trying.
For ladies above 40 year old, go and see your doctor as early as possible.
If you have irregular menses, history of pelvic inflammatory disease or fibroid, do go and see your doctor as soon as possible.
Stacking the odds in your favour.
Making babies is supposed to be so natural that it just happens, but Nature often needs a little nudge. Here are a few ideas that may help put you over the line.
Timing is everything
It looks easy, but Nature is not a machine. Most eggs arrive around the fourteenth day, but some arrive sooner, some later, and even in the same women there are variations. I am very lucky to find this video that explain the process for fertilization.
In the old days we used to graph temperature to try to predict the egg’s release. Now there’s much more accurate method. You can buy a kit from the pharmacy that will test urine or saliva and tell you with 99 percent certainty the two days within which ovulation will occur.