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Smart tips for first time parents

So you’re having a baby. Congratulations! You’re about to enter a world that only parents understand…a world that is going to test your patience and warm your heart in equal measure. Whichever way you look at it, it truly is a life-defining experience, and we’re here to help you with a few simple tips that cover the big stuff.

1. Choose your support person

You really can’t do this one by yourself, so the first thing to do is to choose an LMC (Lead Maternity Carer), a midwife, obstetrician, or family doctor who will guide you through your pregnancy, help you plan for the birth process, and provide support for 4 – 6 weeks after your baby arrives. Ask friends and family for recommendations, or you could head here for a list of midwives in your area.

2. Join the inner circle

Even if you’re a little reluctant at first, signing up for some parenting classes can be a lifesaver. Parents Centre have fifty centres around the country which will help you with the whats, whens, wheres, hows (and whys) of having a baby in a caring, supportive environment. Plus, it will help you establish an essential network of support to call on when your baby comes.

3. Brush up on your first aid

Being a parent means preparing for the worst and expecting the best, so if you can, try and take a specialised baby first aid course. You’ll learn everything from how to deal with a choking baby to how to perform CPR on a small person, skills you’ll hopefully never have to use but which could be life-saving in an emergency situation. Red Cross can arrange a course for you at your home or at their local base if you’d prefer.

4. Know your rights

It’s pretty hard work growing a new person inside you, and you’re entitled to up to 10 days unpaid special leave when you're pregnant for medical appointments and antenatal classes. This doesn’t have to be taken as a full day’s leave. When it comes to time off after the baby arrives, there are different types of parental leave for mothers and fathers, depending on whether you’re employed full time or part time, or self-employed. You can find out all the details here.

5. Cover that bump

We’re pretty fortunate in New Zealand that some maternity care is free under the public health care system. But if you need specialist care or decide to go private, you might want to check what is covered on your health insurance. Also, if you’re travelling abroad, you’d be wise to get travel insurance before you leave. Remember, there are restrictions and you’ll only be covered up to a certain stage of your pregnancy.

6. Get a reality check

For their small size, new babies come with surprisingly large bills. So even if there’s not much wriggle room in your budget, you might want to think about starting to save a little now and putting some money aside for an emergency fund. Make a budget for after the baby’s born, factoring in that one or both of your incomes will be limited for a time and childcare costs if necessary. Also, it’s probably time to update your will – or set one up if you haven’t already done so. You’ll find some great tips here.

7. Make it official

Once your bundle of joy arrives, you’ll no doubt want to tell the world – but don’t forget to tell the New Zealand government too. Registering the birth with the Department of Internal Affairs is a fairly straightforward process, and you can even choose from four certificate designs. Now’s probably also the time to consider life insurance, just in case something happens to you or your partner.