Raising children is probably the most rewarding experience in anyone’s life, but it can also be the most challenging. In this article we touch on 35 of the most common features that you may encounter in your parenting journey.

1. Pregnancy test

Home tests are generally reliable and are most accurate after you were supposed to have your period. You can do a home test before your period is due, but it can give a false negative if it is still too early. A false positive is also possible, so be sure to follow the instructions on the home-test pack.

You can repeat the test, but it’s best to visit your doctor for a blood test, which is the most accurate method of confirming the results.

2. Pills

Check with your doctor whether your prescription is safe to use during pregnancy if you’re on chronic medication.

Take supplements such as folic acid, multivitamins and omega oils to support your body during pregnancy.

3. Planning

Choose a pregnancy and childbirth specialist with whom you feel comfortable. Research the various options available and canvas your friends who have had babies.

Choose a hospital that is close to your home. You don’t want to have to navigate your way across town when you’re in labour. Test a few different routes to the hospital, so that you have a plan B (or C) if you run into traffic problems en route.

4. Prematurity

Babies born before 36 weeks are considered premature. No parent expects or wants their baby to be born early. Preterm babies generally need more medical intervention and are likely to spend a longer period in hospital after birth, but rest assured that there is support available during this challenging period.

The Mediclinic Baby Prem Pack is especially designed to meet the special needs of these babies during their first months. It is formulated on developmental care principles and is aimed at reducing the incidence of complications and expensive rehabilitation.

5. Products

There is an abundance of baby products on the market, and you can easily become overwhelmed with the choices available. Take a deep breath and get advice from other new parents on what’s necessary and what’s not.

Draw up a baby budget and stick to it. If you know that your friends are planning a baby shower, provide a wish list of what you would need. Request hypo-allergenic baby products, rather than the perfumed baby washes and lotions.

6. Pack

Your suitcase should be packed and standing at the front door by the time you are 30-weeks pregnant. For a full list of what you should pack, click here.

7. Play

This is the last opportunity for a while to have alone-time as a couple, so go to the movies, walk on the beach and visit with friends while you still can.

8. Protect

Your body is designed to keep your baby safe from harm during pregnancy, but you still need to be careful. Wear non-slip shoes, slow down, don’t take unprescribed medication, and keep away from smoke, whether active or passive.

9. Pain

Your body undergoes radical changes during pregnancy. You could experience strange and worrisome pains from early on until the end where intense contractions will help bring your baby into this world. Trust your instinct and always contact your doctor or the obstetrics unit if a pain seems different or abnormal.

If you start bleeding, do not hesitate. Go straight to the hospital.

10. Prepare

An antenatal course will prepare you for childbirth and parenting and make you feel less anxious about the experience. It will also provide you with valuable insights so you can make informed decisions during your time in hospital.

You and your partner should start attending a course from when you’re about 26-weeks pregnant. This is the ideal setting for you to discuss your fears with each other, particularly if you have concerns that requires professional advice.

11. Problems

Most pregnancies are trouble-free, but prevention is always better than cure. If you’re concerned about anything discuss it with your healthcare provider.

Don’t listen to old wife’s tales and urban legends. Run strange theories or notions past someone you trust rather than referring to the internet, which can give you conflicting opinions.

12. Pictures

Pregnancy photo shoots are very popular at the moment. It’s a lovely keepsake of this memorable period. You can even do it yourself, or with the help of a friend or your partner.

13. Pedicure

As your pregnancy progresses, your feet will disappear from sight and reach. Treat yourself to a pedicure or add it to your list of baby shower gifts. You may experience swollen and painful feet during your pregnancy, so a foot treatment can provide much needed relief.

14. Perineal shaving

Shaving your perineal area is no longer a standard procedure for vaginal delivery. But if you decide to wax,to prevent any uncomfortable regrowth, it should be done about a week before your due date by a professional therapist.

15. Piles

Piles or haemorrhoids during pregnancy are caused by the growing uterus and additional blood flow to the pelvic floor. It can also be aggravated by constipation. Drink enough fluids, adapt your diet, sleep on your side or use a ring-shaped pillow when you have to sit for long periods. In most cases, they will shrink after the birth. If not, discuss treatment options with your doctor at your six-week check up.

16. Positive

A positive attitude can make a tremendous difference in your pregnancy experience. Believe in yourself and surround yourself with positive people who will build your confidence and support your decisions.

17. Paternity leave

Your partner should enquire about these benefits with his employer, so that you have support when you first bring your baby home.

18. Pelvic floor

Pregnancy and hormonal changes have an effect on your pelvic floor. A weakened pelvic floor can cause urine leakage or affect your sexual experience post-partum. Start strengthening the area during your pregnancy by tightening your pelvic muscles - as if you were stopping the flow of urine midstream - between 8 – 10 times a day.

19. Perineum

Your perineum is the muscle between the vagina and anus. During labour, your perineum stretches to make room for the baby’s head. Your doctor may have to perform an episiotomy, or a surgical incision to the area, to prevent uncontrolled tearing during the delivery. Chat to your doctor about his/her protocol.

There is no conclusive evidence that perineal massage prevents tearing or the need of an episiotomy.

20. Plan

Having a comprehensive birth plan will give you peace of mind. By discussing your needs and wants with your doctor or birthing specialist beforehand, you can clarify any issues that may be concerning you. The critical factor is to remain flexible and to trust their expert input.

21. Precious

When new parents hold their newborn in their arms for the first time, they are in awe of the miracle of the event, as well as being overcome by the responsibility of taking care of this precious bundle. It is important that you don’t get so caught up in the responsibility, that you don’t take time to revel in the wonder of becoming a parent.

22. Parental fears

Bearing the responsibility of taking care of your newborn once you leave the security of the hospital can be overwhelming. Trust your instincts and don’t second guess yourself when it comes to your baby’s safety. It’s not necessary to use every single gadget on the market to keep your baby safe. Keep it simple. Keep your baby close to you, maintain a constant room temperature, prevent contact with small children and don’t allow people to kiss your baby on the mouth.

23. Postpartum depression

New moms can be teary from day three due to the birth, hormonal changes and fatigue. If this lasts longer than six weeks, it might be postpartum depression and will require professional intervention. It is often the partner who first notices that something is wrong but is afraid to mention it. Symptoms include sleeplessness (despite being tired), loss of appetite, crying spells and feelings of guilt or shame. It is easily treatable with excellent outcomes. Discuss your feelings and options with your doctor or healthcare provider.

24. Play

Although your newborn seems helpless, he or she can already indicate when they are interested in interacting with you. As they grow older, playtime will become longer and baby will encourage you to engage with various toys. Use everyday items to stimulate and entertain your baby. Make him or her part of your daily routine. Let them smell spices while you’re cooking, make music with spoons and touch and feel various textures such as grass, leaves and wood.

25. Pre-conceived ideas

So many pregnant couples are determined that a baby will fit in with their lifestyle. This may be the ideal, but as any parent will tell you, it doesn’t often happen that way. In the beginning, mom and dad need to find a routine that is comfortable to maintain. Although you might have to sacrifice a few pre-parenthood habits initially, it won’t take long before your baby can be included in most of your activities.

26. Participation

You can’t plan significant moments, they happen spontaneously when you are actively present in your child’s life. Allow yourself to become a child again, and take part in your child’s peek-a-boo games, crawl around on the floor or have a make belief tea party. All these activities not only stimulate your child, but will also create loving memories.

27. Pep talks and discipline

The key to good discipline is to be consistent. Apply the age-old adage that yes means yes and no means no. Believe it or not babies manipulate from a very early age and it is crucial to establish disciplinary boundaries from the outset.

A good trusting relationship will develop between you and your child if you allow and encourage conversation and answer questions honestly and at the appropriate level.

28. Permission

There is no such thing as perfect parenting. This is the one life chapter where you are guaranteed to make mistakes, so give yourself permission to be human.

Remember that as long as your choices are in the best interests of your child, they will not be wrong. When dealing with complicated issues rely on your judgement, instincts and if necessary, ask a mentor for advice.

29. Poetry

Babies love the rhythmic quality of poems and songs. This is a developmental tool that stays with them for the rest of their lives, and most adults remember the nursery rhymes from their childhood. This interaction also creates a legacy that is passed down from generation to generation. Make bedtime a ritual of storytelling with your child.

30. Personality

Although it’s hard to believe, newborns have their own personalities from very early on. When you look back in later years, you’ll see behaviour patterns in your child that have been there since they were tiny. Your parenting style will also play a role and you have a profound influence on the development of their character and temperament - they learn through imitating your words and actions. This is all a part of them growing into their own little person.

31. Promises

With our demanding lifestyles, we sometimes need to cancel appointments or rearrange our schedules. Where our children are concerned, we need to be extra careful and not be tempted to promise to be at an event or function when you are unsure if you can keep the commitment. These ‘dates’ are important as they instill trust in your child. Arrange your diary so that you are able to attend as many of your child’s events as possible. This will give your child a sense of security and reassure them that they are an important part of your life.

32. Portraits

Family portraits create a sense of history and belonging. There are many professionals out there who provide such a service, but it can be a lot of fun to do it yourself. Decide on a theme (summer, the beach) every six months or so and spend a fun afternoon taking photos of the children and your family. Use special occasions such as milestone birthdays or weddings to create a family heirloom. (Remember to back up your digital images as devices might get lost or be stolen.)

33. Photos

Children grow up so fast, so take lots of photographs and videos as reminders of significant or funny moments.

34. Problems

There is a wealth of information available on every possible challenge that you might experience as a parent, but it is important to choose your resources with care. Find a friend with the same values who has been through a similar experience or a mentor who can give impartial advice and support you while you are experiencing difficult patches.

35. Potential

We spend a lot of time planning and developing our companies and careers, but it is just as important to uncover the potential of our families. Read up on parenting tips that is relevant to your situation and adapt it to suit your lifestyle. Parenting takes effort but your investment has a guaranteed success rate.