7 Essential Pregnancy Tips To Inform, Encourage And Keep You Feeling Confident

Whether you are planning to have your first or your sixth child, a pregnancy and the thought of having a baby can make you feel excited and scared all at the same time.

You might ask yourself:

"What can I do to stay healthy while pregnant?"

"Will we be good parents?"

"How will we afford it?"

Be encouraged, we all go through these feelings and by taking a proactive approach we can help you make it a more enjoyable experience for you and your family.

With our sixth child we would like to share with you some ideas that has helped us with what to expect through the upcoming 9 months.

Here are our 7 essential tips that we believe will inform and encourage you through your pregnancy stages and keep you feeling confident.

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Essential Tip #1: Preparations
When I am planning and preparing for a healthy start in becoming pregnant, I like to visit my gyneacologist for a medical check-up to make sure that everything is up to date. During the 3 months before I want to start trying to have a baby, I take folic acid and I continue to take it throughout my pregnancy. This can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. I also keep note of my period. With a regular period your ovulation will occur around 14 days before the start of your next period. Your best chances to conceive will be 2-3 days around ovulation. I have noticed that I have thick mucous at this time which has also become a good indicator whether or not my period is regular.

Consider these 6 basic lifestyle changes before getting pregnant, and some changes you can expect to face once you have had your baby.

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Essential Tip #2: Due Date Planning
We like to try and plan the due date for our baby by choosing the month we would like to have the birth. Be flexible though, as there are no guarantees. You can use a due date calculator or just look up on your calendar the date of the first day of your last menstrual period and count up 280 days(40 weeks). This will give you a good due date estimate if you have a regular 28-day cycle, keeping in mind a healthy pregnancy can be 38-42 weeks.

A week after missing your next period you can buy an over the counter at home urine test at your local pharmacy which will give a positive result if the hormone hCG is in your urine. Your doctor will perform this same urine test or a blood test to confirm the presence of hCG to let you know that you are pregnant.

Essential Tip #3: The Pregnancy Trimesters -What Can I Expect
Your pregnancy can be divided into three pregnancy trimesters or pregnancy stages each with challenges and joys of their own. You can expect different changes in yourself and the development of the fetus at each stage.

First Trimester pregnancy -- from presumed conception through the first 12 weeks. In this stage you won't look pregnant but your body is adjusting to being pregnant. Increased metabolism along with all bodily functions working harder will make you feel more tired. Morning sickness results from different levels of nausea caused by hormonal changes in Progesterone and low blood sugar. Quick coping strategies and morning sickness cures like a 'cracker' snack before getting out of bed in the morning and eating high carbohydrate foods throughout your day in smaller amounts can help reduce your nausea. Your baby is growing rapidly, is fully formed with fingers and toes and even though you won't feel it, your baby is very active.

Second Trimester pregnancy -- from week 13 to week 28. This will be your most enjoyable stage as you will become more energetic and feel your baby's movements for the first time. You will start to look pregnant as your belly starts to grow with your baby's growth. At this stage you may experience discomfort from some backache, indigestion and constipation. Your baby continues to grow, gain weight and mature. You will enjoy feeling your baby's movements from elbows to wiggling to kicking.

Third Trimester pregnancy

-- from week 29 to the birth of your baby (full term 38-42 weeks). This is the final stage and you may become anxious about labor and want to have your baby right away. Challenges during this stage could include breathing difficulties, hypertension, backache, preeclampsia, stretch marks and you may even feel your womb practicing for labor with "Braxton-Hicks" contractions. Moving and sleeping are also difficult and uncomfortable. Your baby reaches full growth, curls up tightly in your womb and begins to drop into the head-down position waiting to be born to join you in your loving arms.

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Essential Tip #4: Importance Of Your Health
Eating well and keeping fit will help you cope with the high demands now placed on you and your baby. Your nutrient absorption is efficiently high. We want to share with you food sources for vitamins and minerals your baby needs for optimal health, growth & development through each pregnancy month.

Vitamins are complex organic compounds our bodies need for growth, metabolism & specific functioning. 10 vitamins you and your baby need in your diet

Minerals are inorganic elements the body needs for structural functions. Essential minerals uses and their food sources for a more balanced diet

It's important to know what is safe for you and your baby to eat and to have some strategies that can help you deal with crazy cravings and midnight snack attacks.

I have been incredibly encouraged to learn the importance of keeping up with some regular basic exercises 2 to 3 times a week. Just learning that it stimulates my baby's growth and development and that in the long term can benefit my own health has given me extra motivation to keep with it despite having a busy schedule.

Your health is important. A healthy amount of recovery time after a miscarriage, a c-section and planning for another child can help you mentally and physically.

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Essential Tip #5: Waiting To Be Surprised?
Decide ahead of time whether or not you want to be surprised or told by your doctor if your baby is a boy or a girl. We have opted for the surprise each time, but either way you can start planning on names, furniture, clothing, toys and interior decorating to welcome the arrival of your new family member.

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Choosing the right name can be tough, but with alphabetical listings, top baby names lists and even family suggestions you can settle on your baby's name before the birth or decide from your top choices once you hold your baby in your arms. We have enjoyed putting together a small list of baby boy names and baby girl names that we make our choice from after holding each new baby for a couple of days and see which name suits the baby best.

Each pregnancy and every baby is a blessing and our prayer for you is that your baby, whether it will be a boy or a girl will be happy and healthy.

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Essential Tip #6: Delivery Plans
There are many baby delivery options that you can choose, from home births or hospital births and even birthing centers Some other possibilities for your labor are a natural birth or a water birth or maybe a more active birth and in some cases it may be preferred or necessary to have a cesarean or c-section birth . Even though you may already be set on one option I would encourage you to be flexible and weigh out each one and be prepared for uncertainties. Getting acquainted with the actual options available to you will help you in making a more informed decision as there are differences to consider in each case.

Being prepared for your in home or hospital birth can be done with a checklist. By planning 2-3 weeks ahead of your baby's due date of what you need to have available at home or what you should bring with you in your "Hospital Ready Bag" can relieve you of some stress when your labor suddenly begins.

Essential Tip #7: Family, Finances and Fatherhood
Preparing siblings, the new father and adjusting your family finances for your new baby can be challenging. Preparing family members begins at home well before the delivery date. We like to include all of our kids in the excitement of being blessed with the privilege to welcome a new baby into our family. We try to look daily for opportunities to deal with jealousy and territorial issues that could take root in one of our children. Sharing our home, being a teacher to the new baby and continuing to be assured of receiving our time, love and attention helps our kids to accept the new baby as a part of "their" lives.

Finances for the family requires review and adjustments as a new baby will cost you around 20% of your income. Forward expense planning before the baby's arrival will help lessen the financial shock of having a growing family. Living off of one income and updating your family income statement will give you a clear picture of how to work with supplying all the needs and extra expenses of having another family member. It's a great practice "run through" if you want to keep the new mom home from work for the first year. We enjoyed having mom home after our first child so much that we decided to live off of one income and have kept mom home ever since.

Dads, a lot of attention will be given to the new baby and we need to be patient, understanding and extra considerate for the full first year. Let's remember that the new mom is dealing with incredible changes in her life as well and that the first year is crucially important to the physical, mental and emotional development of your baby. Be an active help and support to her needs in every way you can think of and keep some special time each day just for the two of you to talk, laugh and play together. Hugs, kisses and little notes to show your wife you appreciate her and are thinking about her keeps your relationship charged.

Have fun with the beautiful addition to your family. Relax and enjoy every minute with each of them because it really does go fast.

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