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(ARA) - Congratulations, you're pregnant! If you've been hoping for this wonderful event for a while, you may feel eager to begin being a parent. Or, if your pregnancy is a surprise, you may feel you need to make the most of the next nine months to prepare for the demands of parenthood. Fortunately, you don't have to wait to get started on the important work of being a parent.
"It's natural and common for a woman to feel her first task as a parent is to gather as much pregnancy information as possible, in the hopes of ensuring a healthy pregnancy and baby," says Melissa Inman, executive editor of Parents.com. "Pregnancy is also the perfect time to begin thinking about what kind of parent you want to be, and to get parenting advice and tips from trusted sources."
Your primary parenting task while pregnant will be to take care of yourself and your growing baby. Here are some tools and tips for parenting during pregnancy:
Make every moment count
Pregnancy is full of mysteries, the greatest of which may be the very act of birth. Because it's nearly impossible to predict when your baby will be born (unless you have a scheduled C-section), you'll want to make the most of every moment during pregnancy to prepare for baby's big arrival.
Start by consulting a pregnancy due date calculator, which can help you estimate the day of your baby's birth. If you've already had some prenatal visits with your doctor, she may have given you an anticipated due date; even so, it's fun and reassuring to get a second opinion on when you're actually due.
Next, turn to online resources and books to learn more about what's happening to your body, how your baby is developing, and to get up-to-date parenting ideas and advice. No matter how prepared you are, babies are full of surprises and parenting a child of any age can be challenging. But gathering information and ideas during pregnancy, when your parenting schedule is less hectic, can help you feel better equipped to cope when motherhood kicks into high gear after the arrival of your baby.
Healthy mommy, healthy baby
Getting good prenatal care is an essential parenting activity that you'll engage in while pregnant. Be sure to keep doctor's appointments and discuss your progress, expectations, and concerns with your health care provider; you'll need to follow his directions regarding all aspects of your health. Remember - when you're pregnant, your obstetrician becomes your primary care physician because he or she knows best how medications, illnesses, stress, and other factors will affect you and your baby.
You can better manage your own health care by learning the stages of pregnancy week-by-week. Online resources offer an extensive insight into how your baby develops each week after conception, and how pregnancy affects your body, your emotions, and even your relationships. Knowing what to expect every step of the way can help you cope with the demands on your body, time, and emotions - and it may also help you spot potential health problems to address with your doctor while they are relatively minor.
"If you're eager to become a parent, there's no need to feel that you have to wait until the baby's born to take an active role," Inman says. "By taking care of yourself - both your physical and emotional well-being - you're taking one of the most important first steps of parenting."
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