7 Things to Discuss with Your Partner before Having a Baby

Have you had family planning talks with your partner yet? Make sure you agree on these basics of parenting before having a baby.

A financial plan for raising the baby

Create a financial plan to better understand how you and your partner will be able to face the expenses of raising a child. Account for medical expenses, housing (you might need more space), a suitable car, babysitting, education, emergency savings and life insurance.

Caretaking options

Who will be the main caretaker of your child? Discuss how you will share your responsibility of staying at home with the child and whether you’ll hire babysitters or opt for day-care. You will also have less time for household responsibilities, so it’s a good idea to start your new family with a clear agreement on sharing household chores and child care responsibilities.

Parenting styles

Discuss with your partner about the parenting styles you are inclined to apply in different scenarios. How will you or your partner react to your 4 year old misbehaving, to your school-aged child getting bad grades or to your teenager smoking marijuana? How much telly will your child be allowed to watch? How much candy? How many hours of playing computer games? How many hours on the phone? Do you incline towards an authoritative parenting style, authoritarian parenting, permissive parenting or uninvolved parenting in such scenarios? Talk to your partner about your opinions on corporal punishment, raising the voice, arguing for or against an action and methods of punishment and reward.

Ambitions and traditions

Perhaps one of you has clear goals and ambitions for your child or would like your child to practice certain cultural traditions or adhere to a religion. These are important issues that need to be clearly communicated from the very start.

Cooking and diet

Talk about the kind of diet you would like your child to have. Take-out is not a daily option for most families, so you might need to discuss about sharing your responsibility to cook healthy food for your child.

Life insurance and child guardian

You need to agree on a plan to ensure your child will be cared for, should something happen to you or your partner. Explore life insurance options and decide on who would be the most suitable person to be the legal guardian of your child.

How many children

Are you both on the same page when it comes to the number of children you want to have? Discuss your views and think about an ideal timeline for distancing their births.

Pick a Baby Name That Passes These Tests

Have you decided on a baby name yet? Run it through these tests to check that it is bullyproofed and that it will suit your child for a lifetime. If the name you picked doesn’t pass all the tests though, don’t worry. A truly beautiful name will overcome all the jokes.

The name sounds good in daily-life phrases

Try and say the name out loud in common phrases. Let’s try it with Iris:

“Hi, Iris!”

“How is Iris?”

“Iris’s mom is awesome.”

“I admire Iris.”

“Pick Iris, Iris is the best player.”

“Will you introduce Iris to my friend?”

“Can Iris come with us too?”

“I’m going to marry Iris.”

By testing how the name sounds in common phrases, you can avoid cacophonies and unwanted sounds. For instance, names ending in -co or -ca may sound unpleasant when followed by words that begin with the same sounds (“Monica can’t hear me”). Names ending with an “s” sound – like Iris, Alex or Alice – have a longer pronunciation in the possessive form.

The spelling of the name is simple

Countless of hours are being wasted every day to clarify difficult name spellings over the phone. It can get very irritating for people with unusually spelled names to keep correcting phone operators and receptionists (“No, no, it’s K-A-T-E-L-Y-N-N with K and double N”). The safest option is to pick a name that has only one spelling and is easy to understand.

It’s not one of the 10 most common British names

More than 7000 boys born in 2013 were named Harry. Chances are the little Harry will have two other Harrys as classmates several years later. It’s easier for kids to learn they have a unique identity when their name is not shared with others around them.

The name is fit for an adult

Sammy is a very sweet name for a little boy, but do try to think about the name’s resonance for an adult. Names that are just too cute may be annoying for your kids when they grow up.

The name is bullyproofed

Don’t pick a name that rhymes with something funny or shameful. Mean kids will find it. Use a rhyming dictionary like Rhymer.com to find all the words with the same ending syllable.

The resulting initials are not BAD

Unfortunate initials like LOL, ASS, KKK, DIE or WTF are out. If you’re really fond of a name, you can change the middle name or choose not to give your child a middle name at all.

Hopefully, this post has given you an idea of the factors to look out for when choosing a name for your baby. It can be difficult to find a safe, yet interesting name, but your efforts will pay up – for a lifetime.

7 Misconceptions about Pregnancy

1. Eating for two

Eating twice as much during pregnancy is unhealthy and not necessary. You do have to make sure that you are getting the proper nutrition, but that’s far from eating without limits. You will eventually put on weight, but that is not a goal in pregnancy. Focus on the right diet, not on the overall quantity. Measure your calories and keep track of the minerals and vitamin intake. You can still have chocolate and bacon, but don’t make an excuse out of pregnancy to eat too much.

2. Exercise will cause a miscarriage

Unless you’ve had complications with your previous pregnancy and your doctor specifically advised you to avoid physical activity, exercise will not cause a miscarriage. Exercising brings great benefits during pregnancy and keeps you healthy.

3. It is dangerous to have sex during pregnancy

Many people believe that having sex during pregnancy can harm the baby. That is absolutely not true. The placenta protects the baby and the mother will be safe as well. It can sometimes be uncomfortable for the mother, but there are no risks. In later pregnancy, many women actually feel a peak of sex drive, because of the increased blood flow in the uterus.

4. No heavy lifting during pregnancy

Your body consumes more energy and you will feel more tired, but that does not mean that carrying bags or lifting a toddler is dangerous. As long as you keep an upright position of your spine when you bend and pick up a weight, your back will be safe.

5. A glass of wine now and then is fine

Studies show that it is not fine to smoke or drink during pregnancy, not even in small amounts. Alcohol is metabolized differently from individual to individual, so even a glass of wine can be above the harmful threshold for you.

6. The shape of the belly predicts the baby’s gender

There is no correlation between the baby’s sex and the position in the womb or how your belly looks like. A gender scan can determine your baby’s sex, and not by examining the belly’s shape, but by using an innovative ultrasound technology.

7. Coffee is forbidden

Too much caffeine affects the blood flow to your placenta and can leave you dehydrated. Still, drinking a small cup of coffee daily is safe. Decaffeinated drinks are recommended, but not a must, so if you need your morning coffee, that’s ok. Try to add more milk and drink more water throughout the day to make sure that you are well hydrated. Remember though that coffee will not help on your need to pee often, which is why giving up coffee during pregnancy generally brings more benefits.

10 Life Hacks to Make Your Pregnancy Easier

Whether a product you can buy or a tip you can follow, these ten life hacks will turn out to be priceless for your pregnancy experience.

1. Use a custom body pillow to sleep on your side.

Sleeping on your back is not healthy during pregnancy, and sleeping on your belly will become increasingly uncomfortable as your bump will grow. Invest in a total body pillow for sleeping on the side. It will truly make a difference for the quality of your sleep.

2. Get massages

Ask your partner or go to a massage therapist for a relaxing massage at least once a week. Even a simple back rub every night will help relief your backaches.

3. Enhance your bath experience

Taking a nice, relaxing bath before bed can do wonders for your well-being. Take your time to improve this experience with candles, aromatherapy and bath salts.

4. Go swimming

Swimming will feel completely different when you are in the third trimester of pregnancy. Most pregnant women enjoy swimming because they feel more lightweight. It’s a great exercise and at the same time it’s a break from the daily weight load.

5. Wear pretty maternity clothes

Being comfortable in your maternity clothes is the most important, but feeling beautiful matters. Invest in maternity clothes that are not just comfortable, but also pretty (or fun to wear). Body image issues can get stressful during pregnancy, so nice clothes and beauty products will make you happier.

6. Treat your skin

Use oils and lotions after your baths to feel pampered and prevent stretchmarks.

7. Use a warm rice bag for your backaches

Fill a pillow case with rice and sew it at the open end. Heat it in the microwave whenever you have a backache. Rice bags are perfect for this because they keep a warm, not too hot temperature. For an upgraded experience, add a pinch of cinnamon or lavender and mix it with the rice.

8. Exercise with a birthing ball

Sit straight on a birthing ball and roll in small circles, it’s very soothing for your back.

9. Turn your veggie meals into smoothies

When you get tired of salads, start your morning with a veggie smoothie. Try a new recipe everyday through combinations and experiments with veggies, fruits and nuts.

10. Create pampering opportunities for yourself

Having a relaxing moment for yourself is precious and rare during pregnancy and maternity. That’s why you need to create them with every opportunity you get. Take advantage of your free time and go to the spa, take a nap, read a book or get your manicure done. It’s the little pleasures that keep us happy.

How to Know If You Are Pregnant

Most women learn if they are pregnant or not in the first two months since conception. Pregnancy home tests and blood tests are not 100% reliable and an ultrasound won’t tell you much in the first month. Ultrasounds can check for pregnancy in the second month of pregnancy, but in some situations only a viability scan in the seventh week will accurately confirm your pregnancy.

The home pregnancy test

Home pregnancy tests detect if your urine contains hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) hormone. This is produced after conception and fertilization, although elevated levels of hCG can also be produced by a cancerous tumour.

Home pregnancy tests are easy to take and read in the privacy of your home, which is very convenient. Most women take this test a few days after noticing a missed period – which is another first sign of being pregnant.  You can take the test earlier if you know that it’s possible to be pregnant, but the test will be less accurate.

The accuracy of urine pregnancy tests is about 97% if the test is taken correctly. Follow the instructions inside the package and take the test in the morning – that is when the urine is most concentrated.

After taking the test, schedule an appointment with your doctor for confirmation of pregnancy through more sensitive tests.

The blood test

Blood tests are more accurate than urine tests and are performed at a clinic. You will not get the results right away. Only schedule an appointment for a blood test if a least a week from a missed period has passed. After this week, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re pregnant, so you are ready to take further tests. Pregnancy tests – both urine and blood tests – are much more accurate after that week.

The Early Pregnancy Scan

Also called a Viability scan, this is an ultrasound carried at weeks 7-11. The sonographer can detect pregnancy earlier than that, but sometimes the scans are not clear before week seven. The nicest thing about the Early Pregnancy scan is the picture. At our clinic, you will get two printed images from this scan, to take away and share with your close ones.

Your doctor will also calculate you EDD (estimated due date) at this appointment and check for twin pregnancy. For clear results, drink a pint of water and do not empty your bladder in the hour before your scan appointment.

5 Ways to Communicate with Your Baby in Womb

As you approach late pregnancy, you might feel the desire to communicate and bond with your baby, by telling stories or playing music to your womb. The feeling of bonding with the baby in womb can be very rewarding and it will help you be more peaceful and joyful.

1. Talk to your baby

After about 23 weeks, your baby is able to hear sounds from outside the womb, which means she’ll already start to learn your voice. Studies have indicated that hearing is developed so early because it helps babies familiarize with the mother’s voice and form an attachment early on. New-born babies also pay more attention to the mother’s voice than to other voices.

It might feel unusual at first to talk to your bump, but once you’ll get used to it and become more aware of the fact that your baby can hear you, it will be rewarding. The long chats with your bumps are one of the best experiences in the third trimester of pregnancy.

2. Play music to your baby

Play an album with relaxing music when you take a break or when you are reading, exercising or just pampering yourself with a nice bath. Meditation music can have a very calming effect for both you and your baby. Listen to this playlist to see what we mean: Meditation – The Sounds of Your Pregnancy. This album was created for Baby Clinic of Harley Street and contains 9 tracks of relaxing sounds for a soothing afternoon spent with your bump.

3. Sing to your baby

What can be more bonding than singing a lullaby to your baby in womb? Try one song every evening when you are in your third trimester. Your baby will familiarize with your voice and enjoy the sounds of the lullaby. It’s a great way to bond with your bump. Try singing the same lullabies and playing the same music to your baby after birth. You might notice that your baby pays special attention to those songs than to other sounds.

4. Gently massage your bump

Starting with the second trimester, it’s perfectly safe to massage your belly with oils or lotions. Make sure you use gentle movements, without pressing on your bump.

5. Respond to your baby’s kicks with gentle strokes

Although there is no evidence that stroking your bump every time you feel a kick will have any benefit, your baby can feel when you touch and stroke your tummy. For most pregnant mothers, responding to kicks feels very much like bonding and the first experience of a two-way communication is amazing.

Packing the essentials for your hospital bag

You should plan the list for your hospital bag as soon as you decide whether you will give birth at the hospital or at a birth clinic. The bag should be all set up and ready to grab two or three weeks before your due date at the latest. Your midwife or your antenatal class instructor will help you with the details, maternity notes and all the important to-do lists for the big moment.

It is recommended to pack two small bags, in order to have the items for labour separated from the items prepared for after birth.

Make sure to include the following essentials in your labour bag:

  • your maternity notes
  • a list of all the important phone numbers (have them in your phone as well)
  • about 3 changes of loose clothes to wear during labour; pick the most comfortable and breathable clothes
  • a dressing gown and slippers
  • socks or leg warmers
  • a birth ball, in case you’ve planned to use one (check with the hospital or your birth clinic to see if they already have one)
  • a toiletry bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, towel, hairbrush, hairbands and clips (if you have long hair) and a lip balm
  • a sponge or a water spray for your partner to cool you down during the heat waves of labour
  • sanitary pads
  • healthy snacks, drinks and a straw
  • your tablet, iPod, magazines or a book to help you pass the time or relax
  • phone and charger
  • props or pillows to make yourself more comfortable at the hospital (they might not have enough extra pillows)

Have a separate bag for items needed after your baby is born. If you will have a straightforward birth, you and your baby will probably arrive at home a few hours after birth. If you will give birth by C-section, you may stay between 3 and 5 days in the postnatal ward, in which case you may need to pack a few extra essentials.

Here are the basic items for your after-birth bag:

  • comfortable clothes to wear after you have given birth and for going home
  • a baby blanket to wrap your new-born baby in
  • baby clothes, hat and nappies
  • if you’re giving birth in the winter, pack a jacket or a snowsuit for the baby
  • an infant car seat
  • two or three nursing bras
  • breast pads
  • maternity pads
  • front-opening shirts will come in handy for breastfeeding
  • travel-size toiletries
  • towels
  • eye mask and earplugs for restful sleep and naps

How to Throw a Baby Shower

Congratulations on throwing a baby shower! There’s no strict etiquette regarding baby shower parties, so you’ll have the freedom to organize it the way you want it to be. Before your start your to do list for the awesome baby party, here are the most important aspects to consider.

Who should throw the baby shower?

Usually baby shower parties are thrown by a close friend or by several friends. The organizer handles invitations, decorations, catering and the planning of games. It does not have to be a surprise party and most often the parents want to be involved in the party planning.

When to throw the baby shower

There is no rule for this either. Many moms prefer to have the party in their final weeks of pregnancy, because the moment of birth is closer and it feels right to celebrate as close as possible to the big event. Also, it’s more likely that the baby’s sex is known by the third trimester, so guest will be less clueless on what presents to choose. It’s also nice to throw the party after the baby is born: everyone will be joyful and happy to see the baby.

What location to pick for the baby shower

Usually the baby shower takes place at the mum’s house or at one of her close friends’ house. Only close friends are invited to the baby showers, so the intimacy of a home is preferred. When there is not enough room for the number of guests, it can also be held at a restaurant. Just make sure the place is private enough for everyone to feel comfortable and up for playing games.

Baby shower invitations

You can send the invitations by e-mail, post, or by handing them directly to the guests. Don’t create a Facebook event where you invite everyone. Not all will see the notification and every guest deserves a proper invite. The invitation should state the basic information: date, place, who is organizing, RSVP info and the baby shower theme.

What to do at a baby shower

Picking a theme for the baby shower will make everything more fun and get the guests excited about the party. Usually some food and drink is served. Restaurant parties with many guests will feel more formal, while some prefer a casual buffet at home. Just make sure there will be a cake, too.

There are plenty of ideas for baby shower games to keep everyone entertained, yet they’re not a must. Other activities can be planned instead, such as decorating a baby book or baby clothes.

It’s custom to give a favour to every guest at the end of the party, something small to take away and remember the lovely party.  It’s usually a goodie bag or something related to the theme of the party or to babies and it should not be an expensive gift.

Top Questions in Early Pregnancy

When does morning sickness start?

Morning sickness symptoms are caused by the pregnancy hormones in your body and for most women it starts around the 6th week. You might experience nausea from particular smells or foods. Read more on what morning sickness is and how to cope with it. As you advance in the second trimester, your morning sickness and nausea symptoms should ease up.

When will my pregnancy bump show?

If this is your first pregnancy, a bump will only be visible at the start of the second trimester, around weeks 12-16. If it is not your first pregnancy, your bump may be visible sooner, because belly muscles may be still stretched from your last pregnancy. Body weight, age and genes are also factors that influence how soon you will start to show a bump. If your bump shows too early, you might consider booking an appointment for an ultrasound scan to calculate the due date.

When will I have my first baby scan?

The very first scan you can take is the early pregnancy scan, which confirms whether you are pregnant or not and calculates your estimated due date. Twin pregnancy can be detected with this ultrasound. Also called viability scan, the early pregnancy scan can be taken from week 7 to week 11 of pregnancy. Your doctor or midwife might recommend this scan especially if you have had miscarriages or complications during previous pregnancies.

How soon does frequent urination start?

Frequent urination is one of the first signs of pregnancy, and will be at its peak during the first and last trimester. This is caused by the shrinkage of your bladder and by the fact that your body will start to produce more urine during pregnancy. This is a symptom you’ll have to get used to, as there is not much to do to reduce it. It’s important that you continue to drink the necessary amount of fluids. Try to give up caffeinated drinks, as these make you urinate more often and do not hydrate your body very much.

Why am I so emotional during pregnancy?

Mood swings are a common symptom during the first trimester of pregnancy. There’s not much reason to worry if you’re going from calm to irritation in seconds or if you’re feeling that your emotions are not as balanced as before. Mood swings are caused by the increase of pregnancy hormones in your body, as well as by the fact that there are many changes you need to go through during pregnancy. During the second trimester, mood swings should disappear. Read more about how to cope with mood swings and other common symptoms during early pregnancy.

Top 5 Activities and Events for Pregnant Women and New Parents in London

Having a baby for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. You’re preparing for a challenging journey and many changes are going on with your body, mood and lifestyle. Now is the time to meet people who are going through the same thing as you do. Workshops, classes, meetups and other fun activities and events can help you connect with expecting mums or new parents in the UK.

Antenatal classes

Antenatal classes are a great place to start preparing for the journey ahead of you. It’s a place where you can ask any questions about pregnancy and issues related to pregnancy, consult with professionals and share experiences with other mums to be.

Exercise classes

Go to a pregnancy yoga class or other exercise classes dedicated for pregnant women. Besides the health benefits you get out of exercising, you will be offered support and information related to pregnancy and get the chance to socialize with other mums to be.

Meetups

Meetups are a great opportunity to get in touch with people you have something in common with and make new friends. What do you do at a meetup? You share thoughts and experiences with others, participate in workshops and join fun activities and classes. A popular online platform in the UK is Netmums Meetups. This can help you meet expecting parents and new parents living in your area. If you’re expecting, check out the Due Date Clubs, where you can meet mothers to be who have the same due date as you. Can’t find a meetup in your area? You can easily set up a new group through the platform.

Support groups

Somewhat similar to meetups, support groups are a little less casual and a little more organised, focusing on activities designed to stimulate interaction and information exchange among participants. London Mums is a fruitful peer support group, organizing both online and offline activities for mums (or dads) based in London. Signup to the newsletter to get all the updates and enjoy activities where you can meet other like you face to face: meetups, conferences, workshops, movie nights, parties and more.

Swap and sales events

Events where you can swap or sell clothes and items are now trending among mums to be and parents of toddlers. NCT Nearly New Sales are local events everywhere in UK organized through the NCT platform. Babies grow fast, so it becomes costly to keep buying new clothes and accessories. You can also find or sell pregnancy essentials, so be on the lookout for these local events that are closest to you. You’ll be helping the environment and the fundraising organized by NCT to support other parents in the UK.