Having a baby is one of life’s key milestones. When it’s your first baby, it is an extra special time, but while you’re coping with new emotions, endless pregnancy and parenting advice, and morning sickness, sometimes the prospect of preparing for your brand new little person can be daunting. From navigating your maternity options in your first trimester, to preparing your home and getting your legal affairs in order, we’ve pulled together an essential list of 10 things you and your partner can do to prepare for your new arrival, and help you focus on how to have a healthy pregnancy. Importantly, you don’t have to tackle everything at once. We’ve consulted with a range of families to create a suggested To-Do list to fit with your trimesters, and likely energy levels.
Let’s start with important things to consider in your first trimester – a few time-critical tasks that are important to tick off early on in your pregnancy.
1. Selecting your Lead Maternity Carer (LMC)
With our maternity healthcare providers under pressure across New Zealand, it’s a good idea to kick off the process of choosing your LMC as soon as you know you’re pregnant (and for the health of you and your baby). It can take time to build rapport with your LMC, so this is another good reason to prioritise this task.
Your LMC will see you from the early stages of your pregnancy, right through to when your baby is 4-6 weeks old. You’ll receive health checks for you and your baby at your regular appointments, and be able to ask questions at these too. Most women enjoy having continuity of care from pregnancy, to birth and those first few daunting weeks of having a new baby.
In New Zealand, we have a number of choices for LMCs. This article has all the information you need to know to make an informed choice, but in brief, here are your options:
Registered midwife – a free LMC option for pregnant women. You can use this handy website to find a midwife, or check with your GP or local friends with young children for recommendations.
General Practitioner – in some areas, GPs have special training to enable them to care for pregnant women. You’ll need to check if they offer free or paid care.
Specialist doctor – obstetricians can be used as your choice of LMC too, but they will charge you for your maternity care.
2. Planning your family leave
Some women need to advise their employer of their situation quite early on in their pregnancy, which can be a great opportunity to understand your company’s parental leave policies and those of your partner’s. Understand more about your general parental leave entitlements, types of parental leave and parental leave payments here. Check out the links to leave forms and letters and information about your obligations when returning to work.
Understanding your entitlements can be the first step to kicking off your baby household budget (see more in the next section).
With your first trimester behind you, you can launch into your second trimester with (hopefully) improved energy levels and a checklist of tasks to complete.
3. Budget for reduced income
Budgeting early on ensures you can eliminate surprises in the future. It’s likely you’ll be taking some time off work, but also offsetting some income with your parental leave payments. Perhaps your partner can access some parental leave as well, to extend the total time the two of you can have off with your baby.
You’ll likely have some new expenses, with baby things to buy, such as a car seat, cot, buggy, clothes and so on. You can cut down on these expenses by buying second-hand items, or getting loans from friends, family and neighbours. People enjoy giving these items a second life, especially when they’re often used for such a short space of time.
As well as buying your baby essentials, you’re likely to have some costs you can cut back on too. Couples often find their social lives take a back seat when they’re expecting, in favour of earlier nights and quieter evenings in. Travel also gets more complicated in later stages of pregnancy when plane travel is more restricted – this can be a great budget saving!
If you’d like more help with budgeting, check out this handy budgeting tool.
4. Government benefits and subsidies
The other piece of the budget puzzle is understanding what the New Zealand Government makes available for new parents and families. If you’re not currently working, Work and Income has some helpful information about benefits and support available.
Working For Families Tax Credits are also available for families with dependent children under 18 years of age. While the Tax Credits are largely income-tested, all families can currently access the Best Start payment until their child is 1 year of age – full details can be found here.
5. Making space for your new addition
Welcoming a new human into your home is a great excuse for a spring clean! Think about where your new nursery will be, and what you need to purge to make the space suitable for your new baby. Despite being little, they can tend to have lots of bulky equipment. Clear a corner for the cot and get rid of the exercise equipment gathering dust in the corner. Decide where your buggy will live, and whether you need to sell that craft beer brewing kit that’s never been opened. Selling your unused things can be a great way to finance new baby items – but think carefully about what you need for a baby!
6. Update your will
When you have a dependent, it’s more important than ever to ensure you have a will, and that it is up to date. You want to make sure that your wishes are honoured should the worst happen. It’s even more important to have a will prepared if you’re a single parent – it will ensure that your wishes are upheld in the event something was to happen to you.
You’ll need to think about appropriate guardians for your child, and you may also want to reconsider the executor of your will. Having a baby can sometimes bring families together, so you may have more choices amongst your wider family, to honour your wishes, and secure the future of your child. Some other things to consider about your will and end of life arrangements can be found in our handy blog post. And don’t forget to tell your executor and close family where they can find your will!
As you approach your third trimester, you may want to start nesting, complete those half-finished projects and take some time out for you! It’s all getting very exciting, so here’s some final tips that may get you through the last few months.
7. Preparing your home for a new arrival
Women often feel the urge to “nest”, whether that‘s making sure you have a freezer full of homemade meals, a drawer full of knitted goodies, redecorating the nursery or cleaning the house from top to toe. But there are also lots of practical things to do around the house too – things you might not have the time or energy for once your baby arrives. Home repairs, completing DIY projects, oiling that squeaky door or fixing that trip hazard are all satisfying projects to tick off. Thinking ahead to baby-proofing your property can also be a helpful way to prioritise projects – the driveway gate might be able to wait another 12 months.
If you can’t manage these projects yourself, consider outsourcing to experts who can be great value for money if you lack the time, energy or skill. See what handymen are recommended in your area by asking friends or neighbours, or checking out relevant websites.
8. Thinking ahead to the future
As you increasingly start thinking in a “baby-first” way, you’ll want to start thinking about your child’s financial security, should the worst happen to you. We have a useful blog about family life insurance options for new families. Life insurance policies can provide peace of mind if something was to happen to you or your partner – how would you or your partner raise your child, pay your mortgage and manage financially if something was to happen to one of you?
Other insurance policies are worth reviewing at this stage too. Have you needed to upgrade your car and need to adjust your car insurance policy? If you’ve made alterations to your home or made some significant purchases in preparation for your new baby, you may need to update your home and contents policy too.
9. Take some time for you!
Self-care is so important for soon-to-be Mums. Going into a birth rested, relaxed and prepared will give you the best possible chance of a safe and straightforward delivery.
So however you like to relax, whether it’s reading a good book, sleeping in, going for gentle walks or indulging in some favourite hobbies, now is the time! A pregnancy massage, getting your nails done or having some quality time with friends and family are all great ways to connect with yourself, with others and reflect on this special time of your life.
For dads to be, this is a great time to re-prioritise some hobbies and seek out advice from mates and fellow dads over a beer or a game of team sport. Working with your partner to try and build in some personal time for each of you to relax and regroup before the baby arrives can set you up well for the marathon that is parenting.
10. Dealing with the tsunami of advice
“Helpful” advice can come from many different areas of your life. Your partner telling you to rest more, your Mum passing on new baby tips, your friends telling you their birth stories, your baby apps notifying you daily about how you should be feeling or what you can expect next. Advice for new parents can be quite overwhelming.
Don’t be scared to filter the advice you’re not finding helpful or relevant, and seek specific information you do need from trusted sources – your LMC, or reputable sources such as SmartStart.
At the end of the day, it’s your pregnancy, your birth and your baby – enjoy it!
Choosing the best insurance option for your growing family
The future of your new family is worth protecting, and Kiwi families have been protecting their loved ones with Cigna for over a century. Know exactly which life insurance policy you need? Great, get an instant quote: Life Insurance quote.
Not quite sure on the right life insurance cover for your family? Our Life Insurance Calculator can help you decide on the best options for your situation. Or if you wanted a more tailored cover option, you can also speak to a Cigna Insurance Adviser who can personalise an insurance policy to your needs and goals, simply email us and one of the team will be in touch.
Still unsure? Our team is always happy to talk through your options, to arrive at a cover level that suits you, your life stage and family. Contact us today.
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