Well, here we are, at 33 weeks! While I still have some time, I know Bubbles’ arrival is getting more and more imminent! This is so exciting to us and a tad scary (though I’m pretty sure J is ready for me not to be pregnant anymore. He never complains and is completely helpful and humble as you probably noted in his post about surviving pregnancy as a soon-to-be new daddy but I suspect he could use a break from pregnant Jessy!).
I’m a person who is very list-oriented. While I’m not always the most organized, I find that having a list not only keeps me on the right track in terms of organization, but it also keeps me sane. Here is my list of things you must do before you have your baby:
For the hospital:
1. Labor plan- Now for some, this may mean putting together a birth plan. If that’s how you roll, more power to you! I’m personally not a birth plan kind of a gal. I fully understand my options but I completely trust my doctor and I’ve come to understand that babies are like the honey badger, they don’t give a shit (they do what they want!). Therefore, my birth plan is that somehow, Baby Bubbles will get from in there to out here and everyone will survive and be healthy. The details will unfold based on what her and my needs are at the time.
That being said, I plan on revisiting my pain management and labor techniques. If this is your first rodeo, you might also consider taking a birthing class and/or a hospital tour.
I still encourage you to be educated on your options for big decisions you might be faced with like meds or natural, forceps/vacuum/c-section, circumcision, delayed cord clamping, guests in the delivery room and at the hospital after the baby comes, if they need to take baby somewhere will your birth partner stay with you or go with the baby, eye goop/hep B vaccine, etc. While some of these things may not be topics you want to have to think about, communication is key and it’s better to have an idea of what you and your partner want before actually being in the situation.
2. Talk to doctor and know their policies- This ties in with the last one. Every practice has different policies. Make sure you know what to do if your water breaks (and what to look for), when to call if you think you’re in labor, when to actually go to the hospital or birthing center, will you have your own doctor attending your birth or whomever is on call in the practice? It’s always good to know what your doctor’s policy is when something happens.
3. Get your paperwork in order- Many hospitals have you fill out a whole slew of pre-registration paperwork to cut down on what you need to fill out when you are admitted. My practice gives this to you around 20 weeks but every practice is different. Find out if there’s any paperwork to fill out before labor and get on top of it.
4. Pack your hospital bag- It’s a good idea to have your bag packed and ready to go before you’re in labor, because who wants to be contracting while they’re scrambling to get everything they need together? I wrote a whole post about this along with a free printable checklist. Don’t forget to make sure you have stuff packed for the baby and your partner!
5. Create a place for baby to sleep- For some this might involve designing and finishing an entire nursery, for others it may be as simple as setting up a bassinet or pack-n-play in your bedroom- whatever the case, have this ready to go. Babies have very few needs- safe sleeping quarters are one of them.
6. Prep for feeding- Another of these basic needs is feeding. Your baby has gotta eat. If you’re planning to breastfeed you can prepare by taking a class, having items like nipple cream, breast pads, nursing bras and tops on hand and have a support system ready to go (and a lactation consultant on speed dial). If pumping is in your future it’s helpful to sanitize all the parts so they’re ready and learn how to use it- or if you’re on a subsequent child, purchase new parts. Don’t forget about snacks for you and plenty of water!
For formula feeding it’s always nice to have a few different types of bottles on hand (some babies are picky!) along with the formula of your choice (talk to your pediatrician about this). It’s also helpful to be aware of how formula feeding differs from breastfeeding, besides the obvious. Here’s what I’ve learned so far about formula feeding.
7. Install your car seat- This is another non-negotiable basic need, since they won’t let you leave the hospital without it. You can do this on your own or contact you local fire department as they are often able to make sure it’s instaled correctly. This is also a good time to learn about car seat safety issues like the benefits of extended rear facing and how to properly strap your baby in. This stuff is important and can be the difference between life and death.
8. Prepare the other baby items that you’ll need right away- Wash clothes, blankets, swaddles and sheets (it’s nice to have a few newborn and 0-3 month items on hand right away since you never know what size your baby will start in). You’ll also want to get diapers (and wash them if you’re going the cloth diaper route), sanitize binks if you’re using them, get the swing/mamaroo/playmat etc. put together and ready to go.
From a safety standpoint, it’s never too early to baby proof (says the mom who has been not so great at that- the big things are done except that we need to get some gates before Bubbles comes!). And don’t forget to get those big furniture pieces attached to a wall as they present a huge danger once your baby becomes mobile!
9. Get your house in order- Trust me, the last thing you want to deal with while learning to be a parent (or a 2nd/3rd/4th time parent) is a house filled with clutter. I speak from experience. I’m not saying you need to have everything in perfect order but if you can eliminate the clutter, it definitely helps! We are in the process of working on this right now.
It’s also nice to have a plan for cleaning, at least during the first month or two. If you can afford a cleaning lady, do yourself a favor and hire someone, even if it’s just a deep clean once in a while (I stand by the fact that I will sacrifice many things to have our cleaning lady, she’s the best).
10. Freezer meals- It’s nice to have some food on hand and ready to go, specifically when you’re in the trenches those first couple of week. I’m currently working on this right now and I will post about how I prepared once I’ve gotten a little further in the process (last time I made some things but mostly a lot of banana bread to keep me sane while waiting for A).
11. Find a pediatrician- This is specific to first time parents since you probably already have a pediatrician that you love if you already have kids. You’ll have a lot of appointments at the beginning and a great pediatrician and practice can be your biggest advocate. Here’s some information on finding the right pediatrician for your family.
12. Have a to-do list for after baby- There are going to be certain things that you will need to do after the baby comes from a paperwork standpoint, a work standpoint, and insurance standpoint. There can be a lot that can go into this so I’ll be putting together a separate post of my after-baby to do list, but it’s a good idea to start making note of the things you must do after the baby is born, so you have an idea of what needs to be tackled when the time comes.
13. Communicate with your spouse or partner about the postpartum time- It’s no secret that the postpartum period can be very challenging, even for the most happy and healthy relationship. One thing that was really helpful to J and I was to discuss in depth our expectations before A arrived. This included a variety of things including how we would handle the late nights and the daily chores while we are both home and after we went back to work (at two weeks for him and at 12 weeks for me), the ins and outs of our finances (particularly during maternity leave), and the kind of support I’ll need from him in the hormone crashes and recovery period.
Another big thing is setting boundaries for potential situations outside of our individual family unit. By family unit, I mean Mom, Dad and Baby. While your extended family are still super important people in your life, your primary family unit is the people in your home. Every family has different needs and wants and at the end of the day it’s important that you’re on the same page about things like visitors, overnight guests, parenting choices, handling unsolicited opinions, etc.
For example, we decided last time not to have overnight guests for the first three months postpartum. It was nothing against our out-of-town family. We love them so much and were thrilled when they were able to visit us and meet A. But we also recognized that this period of time can be difficult and it was really important to us to have time and space on our own to regroup and decompress before the long nights ahead. This may not be the case with other families (not everyone is in a 1300 square foot home or is as concerned with alone time) but this really worked out well for us and once we figured out what our needs were, we were able to communicate those needs to the ones we love.
Regardless of what boundaries you put in place for your family, once again communication is key. You are the parents now, so it is up to you to decide how various situations will be handled moving forward. While the other close people in your life may not always agree, the only people who get a say in your major family decisions are you and your partner. It’s important to be on the same page and to present a united front, especially when you have to deliver news that others may not agree with (it’s also helpful to deliver information like that from a place of love).
14. Birth announcements- Some people aren’t into these but if this is how you roll, it’s nice to have the style picked out in advance. Also, if you’re lucky enough to have the envelopes beforehand, get those sucker’s addressed. It’s a great way to pass the time while you’re waiting for baby and saves you the hassle once baby is here. The same goes for thank you notes. Stay on top of them and have some ready to go, because people will bring gifts.
15. Prepare at work- Now if you don’t work, you can obviously skip this, but if you do work you’ll want to prepare from this standpoint as well. This may include preparing a person or team to handle your workload in our absence. For some people this may mean terminating their employement. Either way it’s always good to know your company’s policy and your rights. Every state is a little different and there may be certain tasks you’re required to complete after the baby comes for maternity leave and FMLA. If not anything else, know what your rights are and what the policy is for every possible situation.
16. Do something for you- Dude, pregnancy is no joke! Even easy pregnancies are hard. You deserve a medal for getting through it. Or at least a cookie! So treat yourself. Get a manicure or pedicure. Get your hair cut. Invest in some comfy pj’s for after the baby comes or a cute and comfy pair of shoes. You deserve it!
17. Try to relax!- I know first hand how hard this is. In addition to wanting to get things done at your normal pre-pregnancy pace, you may not be comfortable or even able to sleep (I’m currently there on both counts. It’s delightful). But even just doing less and getting those feet up helps. Relax, decompress and take care of you. A healthy, happy mama helps make a healthy, happy baby.
Bonus (this is a late addition)- If you’re planning on using a daycare, make sure your register in a timely manner! I completely forgot about this and just went to register Bubbles for our amazing daycare only to find that there’s already a waiting list until November (!!!). While we get priority since we already have A in the toddler room, this still makes me very nervous because we love our daycare so much and I cannot imagine her anywhere else once I go back to work.
What are your doing (or did you do) to prepare for baby?
Check out all of my pregnancy related posts here.
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