Every pregnancy and every baby is unique. Whether you are preparing for your first baby or your fourth, it can feel overwhelming and a little scary. It’s impossible to feel completely prepared when it comes to being a mother, but doing what you can to get ready for the new arrival will ease some of your anxieties. Staying busy will also take your mind off the wait and anticipation. Here is a list of the things that made me better prepared for the arrival of my little one.
Stocking Up On The Essentials
Who knew that bringing tiny human home would require so much STUFF? In reality, the purpose of baby gadgets is to give the parents a break, so do what you can to make your job a little easier. There are so many options, from basic necessities to complicated gadgets. Although it’s impossible to know what will work for your baby until you try, you still need a place to start. I wrote a comprehensive guide to the baby products that were most essential for me, as well as what to buy second hand, and tips on creating the perfect baby registry
Because new parents are prone to buying a lot of baby products, companies want your business. There are plenty of brands that offer free baby stuff for expecting mothers that you should definitely take advantage of. Trying something for free is a great way to figure out what works for you, without incurring additional cost.
Planning For The Birth
It’s important to know what to expect when the time comes to give birth. After you’ve chosen a hospital, plan to take a tour of the facilities. You don’t want to be confused about where to go while in labor. Think about what your preferences are for the birth experience and write out a birth plan ahead of time. Don’t bank on your birth going exactly according to plan, but make sure the doctor and nurses are aware of your requests.
Pack your hospital bag at around 36 weeks so that you will have everything you need ready to go. Not sure what you need to bring? Download a free hospital bag checklist here!
Look into classes that may be offered by your hospital or online that include topics such as labor and delivery, breastfeeding, and baby care. Your insurance may even cover the cost of the classes. In addition, don’t forget to choose a pediatrician and meeting them ahead of time. That doctor will come to the hospital to give your baby his or her first exam, so be sure to have someone in mind.
Making Room For The Baby
In order to bring the baby home from the hospital or birthing center, you will need to have a car seat installed. There are many different car seat options and the installation instructions can get pretty complicated, so don’t wait until the last minute (or after the baby is already born). It’s also a good idea to get your car seat installation checked by a certified technician. I thought I installed the infant car seat correctly in my car but was told it was too loose. Find a local car seat inspection center here.
After you get home, you will need a place to keep your baby. Your nursery does not have to be completely done when the baby arrives, but he or she will need a place to sleep. Some of the most popular picks are the Halo Bassinet, Dockatot, and Arms Reach Bassinet. My son didn’t sleep in his crib until he was four months old, so we needed to make other sleeping arrangements in the meantime.
Arranging For Visitors
After you bring the baby home, friends and family will be clamoring to come and see the new addition to the family. However, if and when visitors come is up to you and your partner. Don’t feel obligated to host visitors if you would rather spend the first few weeks alone. If you do allow visitors, they will probably want to hold the baby, but they are also eager to help you in whatever way they can. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Make a list of what you need done the most, whether that is cooked meals, clean dishes, folded laundry, or a break to take a nap.
This is not the time for you to be a perfect, put-together host. Your house does not have to be clean or even presentable, and you can leave your guests to breastfeed your baby. Your and your baby’s needs are most important during this time.
Preparing The Family
If you have older kids, start talking about the baby early so that they can get used to the idea. Be intentional about spending one-on-one time with your kids, and explain to them that you may not be as available when the baby has arrived. Reassure them that your love for them will not change; rather your capacity for love will expand. Teach them how they can help and interact with their new sibling.
For the family pets, emphasize the importance of being gentle and calm around the baby. Play videos of crying babies and work on obedience training. Bring them around babies and young kids to get them accustomed to being with children and observing how they interact. Check out the Animal Humane Society website for more tips on pets and new babies.
Enjoying Your Pregnancy
Although this may be easier said than done in the last weeks leading up to your due date, this is a time that should be savored and enjoyed. Take advantage of the extra time you currently have with your partner and existing children because time will be scarce with a newborn in tow. Make your pregnancy the best experience it can possibly be by traveling, going on outings, catching up with friends, and connecting with other expectant mothers. Enjoy the time you have left as a smaller family, and appreciate the special experiences offered at every stage of life.