You’ve confirmed you’re pregnant, worked out your birth plan, and stocked up on nine months’ supply of folic acid. But there are some other things you can do to help give your baby the best start.
Here are five things to do for baby that you may not have thought about.
1. Chat to your bump all the time
A new study has found that babies only hours old are able to differentiate between sounds from their native language and a foreign one, suggesting that babies begin absorbing language while still in the womb. And guess who they’re listening to – Mum.
Sensory and brain mechanisms for hearing are developed at 30 weeks gestation which means that bubs are listening intently to their mums during the last 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Crank up the stereo, too, as you may be able to influence your progeny’s musical taste. Scientists in 2011 found that bubs can also remember melodies they hear in the womb.
2. Safeguard your relationship
Having a bub can turn relationship cracks into giant fissures – but apparently by working on your relationship, even to the point of seeking counselling, before two becomes three can have a significant impact.
Global research has found that that starting a family can lead to a sudden slump in relationship satisfaction in a majority of new parents, with some studies suggesting a decline in happiness by more than 75 percent.
Relationships counsellors agree that areas to strengthen before bub comes along are communication, establishing shared values and life goals, and developing skills in conflict resolution.
3. Say no to junk food
You may be craving a super-sized serving from the the arches of gold but it seems babies can be a product of what their mum eats.
While these little creatures are very adept at finding goodness lurking somewhere, even if morning sickness has sapped your desire for anything healthy, studies are showing fairly conclusively that high fat, overly processed empty calories are not good for your bub’s future weight health.
In fact, recent research suggests that pregnant mothers who eat high sugar and high fat diets have babies who are likely to become junk food junkies themselves.
4. Have a post-baby financial plan
The main stress on many new parents – after the lack of sleep and caring for a teeny baby – is coping with reduced finances.
While you’re pregnant is a great time to get prepared for the financial changes ahead.
Consumer watchdog Choice recommends parents-to-be make a budget to identify possible savings and then direct these into a baby fund. It even suggests couples practice living on one wage for a few months before parental leave starts.
5. Don’t forget the iodine
With changes to diet and food preparation, you are now more likely to suffer an iodine deficiency. The thing is, this is a very important mineral when a woman is pregnant.
Due to an increased need for iodine in pregnancy and breastfeeding, the Ministry of Health recommends that pregnant and breastfeeding women take one 150 micrograms (mcg) iodine-only tablet daily. You can buy iodine tablets at pharmacies but talk to your lead maternity carer first to find out more. The only exception is women with thyroid problems, who should instead consult their doctor for individual guidance on their iodine levels.
Iodine can also be found in certain foods including fortified bread, dairy products, seafood, eggs and some vegetables. It is used by a woman’s thyroid gland to produce hormones crucial in the development of her baby’s brain and nervous system. Iodine deficiency can cause abnormal function of the mother’s thyroid which has a negative impact on the nervous system of the unborn baby, and increases the risk of infant mortality.
As an example of what to eat, two slices of fortified bread has 28mcg, a small 105g can of salmon has 63mcg, and a 250ml glass of milk has 57mcg.