There’s a lot of prep that goes into getting ready for a baby. But like many new parents you tend to forget about the preparation that could and should be done for yourself (and your spouse), which can save you a lot of time, and stress, and headaches, and stress, and worry…and did I mention stress?
Some of this stuff might make you say “no doi” and some might surprise you, but here are 12 (really) important things to do before you give birth.
1. Create a birth preferences checklist.
No doubt the birth of your child will be one of the most special memories of your life, but to give yourself some peace of mind, and have your preferences worked out before the big event. Now of course, things don’t always go as planned, but deciding and discussing what you want with your doctor and birth partner will help you feel more prepared. Consider whether or not you want a vaginal birth, or if you do or do not want pitocin administered to induce labor, who you want in the room with you, or if you want your birth partner to be the one to cut the chord, etc. While things may not go exactly the way you want them to (or not at all), at least you and your doctor know how you’d like things to go down. Don’t know what you should keep in mind? If you’re looking for suggestions, here are a few helpful templates/talking points from well-known websites:
- The Bump – Birth Plan
- Baby Center – Birth Plan Worksheet
- March of Dime – Birth Plan
- Earth Mama – Free Birth Plan Checklist
2. Pack your hospital bag and pick out a playlist.
By week 38 (hopefully before that) you should have a small bag packed with what you plan on bringing to the hospital for your birth. The last thing you want is to find yourself rushing around, throwing random items in a bag after your water has broken, and you are in full on panic mode. Packing ahead of time will allow you to surround yourself with the things that bring you comfort such as your own clothes, the toiletries you prefer, your insurance information, the music you want played during the birth, your own pillow, etc. A helpful tip: call the hospital ahead of time and ask if there is anything you need to bring with you such as diapers, wipes, a towel, etc.
3. Take a class on breastfeeding, or read a lot.
Even if you aren’t sure whether or not you’re going to breastfeed your baby, it’s a good idea to sign up for a class at your local hospital (or if they don’t offer one, ask your doctor for some references). You will be able to learn about breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding, what to expect when your baby arrives, nipple care, the costs of formula feeding, as well as helpful latching tips for new moms. Just in case, you might want to consider signing up for a few formula websites (such as Enfamil or Similac) to receive free samples and coupons if you end up needing to supplement with formula while waiting for your milk to come in.
4. Select birth announcements or get crafty.
If you’re planning on mailing out announcements or doing any crafts for your baby’s nursery, then now is a great time! Before your new bundle of joy takes up your every waking second, you will hopefully have time to select your birth announcements, prepare your mailing list, address envelopes, organize the nursery, etc. You will have more than enough to focus on after the baby comes, so getting all of this out of the way will be big load off your plate.
5. Cook and freeze meals.
Once the baby arrives you won’t have as much time for cooking meals or prepping ingredients, especially since you’re going to be exhausted from the birth, and probably feeling like a horse has kicked you in the lower abdomen. So why not make good use of the spare time you’ve got left and cook some meals that can easily be frozen and thawed out at your leisure (like casseroles, soups, or stews). A helpful tip: start a Pinterest board full of the recipes that you want to make so you have all your favorites stored in one place.
6. Have a visitation strategy for after baby.
Nothing is more exciting or brings relatives and friends out of the woodwork than a newborn baby. Instead of being bombarded and overwhelmed by visitors, talk to your partner about a strategy for how you plan on handling requests to visit. Do you need a grace period for you and your partner adjust to your new family? Is there going to be a time limit on visitors? Are you going to allow friends to bring their kids over to visit (who carry a lot of germs)? Who is going to run interference with visitors that overstay their welcome? Do you need a safe word?
7. Install the car seat.
It sounds like such a simple task, until you actually try and follow the directions (that might as well be written in Sanskrit). Since no hospital will allow you to take your newborn home without a properly installed infant car seat, take the time now to get it set up and properly secured. If you’re unsure, find where in your state to have your work inspected at safecar.gov.
8. Do newborn laundry – do all the laundry you can!
Yes, it’s everyone’s favorite chore to hate, but your newborn is going to need all of their teeny tiny outfits washed before they explosively poo or spit up (or both) all over them. For good measure we’ve been washing all of our towels, bathmats, and just about everything else we could run through a washing machine knowing that there won’t be any time after the baby comes. Just make sure to use a detergent formulated for sensitive skin (no fragrances, dyes, bleaches, etc.) when washing infants clothing and skip the fabric softener.
9. Research and choose your pediatrician.
Some hospitals and birthing centers won’t let you schedule your birth until you have picked out your child’s pediatrician. It’s probably because they know you’re going to have enough on your mind when the baby is born. Plus, your baby is going to need to go in for their first checkup within a week of their arrival, and the last thing you’re going to want to do is research doctors with a newborn in tow. Most of my friends with babies met with several pediatricians before they landed on their child’s doctor, and chances are you will too. Look for someone you would trust with your child, talk to other moms in the waiting room (if you feel comfortable doing that), find out if they take your insurance, and find an office that’s easy for you to get to at a moments notice.
10. Start a diaper collection.
Did you know that the average number of diaper changes in a day is between 8 to 10? That equals about 56-70 diapers a week, or 2,920-3560 a year. That’s a crap ton of nappies (pardon my pun), and whether you’re planning on using cloth or doing disposable, it’s a good idea to start stocking up on the various sizes you’ll be needing. If the cost of all those diapers concerns you, there are a few websites and services that you can sign up for to help you budget:
- Amazon Family (subscribe for diapers to be delivered to your door and save up to 20%!)
- Diapers.com (discount diapers shipped to your house)
- Coupons.com (great coupon savings if you ever need to run to the store for an emergency box)
11. Charge your electronics.
No doubt you’re going to want to capture these precious and life-changing moments on film, but ask yourself, when’s the last time we used our camera? If you need a new memory card or extra batteries, now is good time to get all of that ready for go-time. Ditto for your cell phone, Kindle, or other electronic devices that you plan on using. Believe me, the last thing you’re going to be looking for when you’re in the middle of contractions is an outlet.
12. Treat yo self!
Not that the birth of your child isn’t a thing to be cherished, but these last few months of precious freedom should be savored like a frozen Entenmann’s cheesecake! Before you are forever known as “such-and-such’s mom” do a few things for yourself. Be it a pedicure, a hair cut and color, a long luxurious bath (or four), taking a few peaceful naps, scheduling a “baby-moon” with your significant other, or curling up with that book you’ve been meaning to read (mine’s The Martian), take this time to treat yo self.