There are tons of blogs with long lists of things for women to do before baby arrives. This is one such list.
I read a lot of these lists pre-baby and really benefited from their suggestions. I wanted to compile not only the advice I followed and liked, but also advice I wish I’d followed. I came up with a LOT of advice, so I’ve categorized it for you. Without further ado:
Advice I Followed (and thanked my lucky stars I did).
- Get your Insurance info ready to go. When your baby is born you’ll have a window when you can add your baby to your healthcare plan. It’s handy to have all your sign up info in one place so you can mail it to your insurance people between feedings and diapers.
- Get a pediatrician. You need to have a pediatrician lined up. Preferably one you trust who has privileges at the hospital where you’ll deliver. This is especially important if you or your baby are high risk or if you are having a c-section.
- Prep any bills. It’s probable that you’re delivering at a hospital so you’ll have some bills from that. No need to add to the money spent on baby via late fees from regular bills. Set up auto bill-pay if possible so that you’re not looking back on the past three months thinking, “gee how time flies–hope I paid my bills.”
- Organize your food stash. For me this meant clearing fridge and freezer space because I knew pre-made meals were coming. I decided to stock up on canned goods like soups and chefboyardee (I swear I’m a real grown-up). That way I knew there was food, but also that I wouldn’t need to turn away kind food donations. If this is your first baby, I recommend saving some fridge and freezer space for donations. Not everyone asks before they bring over a 13×9 pan of great aunt linda’s famous lasagna. Also, if you’re a part of a community (like a church, knitting circle, fight club, etc.) circulate knowledge of any dire food allergies. It’s one thing if you can’t eat gluten but your hubbs loves pizza. It’s another thing entirely if you swell up like a balloon at the hint of nuts.
- Waterproof the bed. And yourself. Okay that sounds weird. I was paranoid about my water breaking on our brand new mattress, so I waterproofed my area of our bed. It sounds crazy, but it cut my anxiety and let me get some sleep between the heartburn and the cracked ribs. When your water breaks it keeps right on breaking, so have some depends handy just in case. The waterproofed bed will probably come in handy once your milk comes in too.
- Prep your recovery needs. This can be anything from prepping padsicles (dampen pad, place in freezer, enjoy) to finding someone to help around the house for a couple of weeks. If you’re having a c-section I highly recommend having on hand help for the first month. Preferably someone who doesn’t mind seeing you topless in naught but your granny panties. If all signs are pointing towards vaginal delivery I’d also recommend depends.
- Prep baby clothes. Get yourself some free and clear detergent and make sure the little bugger has something to wear when they come home. You’ll also need something for them to wear home from the hospital. Our hospital didn’t let us keep the receiving blanket or cap, so I doubt they’ll let you keep the outfits.
- Select an informant. Pick someone from your friends and family who will forward information to everyone. They don’t have to be with you, they just need to know how to mass text/email. You can have your birth partner send them info which they can then relay. I didn’t get to relay any info during my labor because everything happened so fast, but it’s good to have a person lined up.
- Have a sex night (or week) with your partner.
After you give birth your lady parts will be sore, tight, and dry. It will probably be at least 3 months until you can have sex and then it’ll likely be slow going for some amount of time. Enjoy each other while you can because after you have the baby you’ll feel distanced from each other even if you’re spending a lot of time in the same room.
- Send out an info email to family and close friends. This is especially helpful if your relatives either don’t have kids or haven’t in the past decade. Let them know how they’ll be informed that you’re in labor/have given birth, what you want visits to look like (how long, how many people, how many in a day, how much notice to be given prior, who do you want to wait until you’re home), what you expect when breastfeeding (should they leave the room, will you cover up), and basic info like the hospital you plan on birthing in and the likely duration of your stay. Let them know if there’s anything that will cause any complication. I’ll probably write a seperate blog about the pre-baby email and prepping for visitors, because there’s a lot to write about.
- Buy hospital pillows. I went out and bought cheap extra firm pillows at Target and some happy yellow pillow cases because I read resounding suggestions on every “prep-time” blog to do so. Going into the hospital at 4am, I decided not to bring them because lugging a duffle and the baby seat were enough for us at that time, thank-you-very-much. But after hubbs suffered the first night of neck pain I decided to ask my best friend and helper to bring ’em on over. She did and the small amounts of sleep we got were much improved. Please note: we had no problem getting enough pillows at the hospital. The nursing staff was great at bringing enough pillows for feeding and propping baby in the right positions and so on, but the gosh darn things are just paper-thin and about as supportive as Caroline Bingly. Bring your own pillows, thank me later.
- Stock up on soap and sanitizer. I did a run to my local bath and body works and grabbed a bunch of anti-bacterial hand soap. I also got some pump sanitizer and a few mini bottles to keep in purses, pockets, etc. Everyone and their aunt is going to come out of the wood work to see and touch your baby. Don’t hesitate to squirt some sanitizer on their hands before they get all touchy touchy. Especially if you know any creeper-Collins types.
- Get breastfeeding clothes and a bra beforehand. You might not have enough hands to get them later. I got a few nursing bras and a nursing nightgown that easily passes for a sundress. I wore the nightgown in my hospital room and around the house tons after bebe arrived and I was so glad to have the nursing bras. My old bras half-fit and I can tug them down, but there isn’t enough support in the band for them to be comfortable. The nursing bras have gotten a couple of sizes off at 4 months pp, but Sisu is now comfortable enough in strange areas that I don’t have to hold her constantly. I highly recommend Soma’s nursing bras. Get both a daytime and night time nursing bra. Even if you never wear bras to sleep, you’ll probably want the support until you’re used to your larger chest and you might need somewhere to tuck nursing pads. And speaking of, you should also get some nursing pads. Get the reusable ones, they’re less likely to cause problems like thrush.
- Prepare to Babywear. Babywearing is simply wearing your baby on your body in a wrap, pouch, sling, seat, etc. During the first three months of your baby’s time in this brave new world they’re going to want one thing. You. They’ll want you all. the. time. And to keep baby safe and maintain sanity you should babywear. I made a moby-style wrap (diy tutorial here) and I highly recommend them. My lil girl is well over 15lbs and it’s still super comfortable to wear her.
Advice I wish I had.
- The Second Night. No one told me the baby which slept a solid 6 hours the first night would turn into a screaming banshee the second. Not even the nurses. In short, the second night is when the newborn babe realizes it is not returning to the snuggly-warm comfort of the womb and decides to throw a fit. Apparently there is some hope to comforting the child, which is essentially sleeping on mom’s chest all night. Difficult for mom, but with enough pillows it can be done safely. Kelly mom has a great article for more info.
- Get thee many a granny pantie. This especially is true if you’re having a c-section. You’ll eventually run out of those wonderful mesh undies from the hospital (even if you stash an extra pile when you leave) and you’re going to want something comfy. I personally stole a bunch of my husband’s boxer briefs because they were roomy and high-waisted, but I only recommend that solution in a pinch.
- Ensure your vehicle is well serviced. We live less than 5 minutes from our hospital so this wasn’t a priority, but some folks live nearly an hour away. Ensure your oil is fresh, your tires are good, and your gas tank is full.
- Buy both healthy and fatty foods to have on hand. Luckily I have some medical folk in my family and they researched breastfeeding nutrition a bit before bringing me snacks. I ended up with cookies and soy nuts and they were a bizarre, perfect combination. My cravings after birth were more sudden and intense than when I was pregnant. One minute I wanted cookies, then I wanted grapes and apples, then I wanted carrots and ranch, then I wanted chicken salad…you get the drift. Your nutritional needs are shifting as dramatically as the rest of your body so keep that in mind as you’re prepping your food stash.
- Stock other basics at home. Toilet paper, shampoo, soap, lotion, lip balm, etc.
- Buy a co-sleeper solution. I know co-sleeping isn’t for everyone, but if you’re anything but horrified about the idea you should get a co-sleeper. Many folks swear by the rock and play, I bought a snuggle-nest because of the placement of our bed. I didn’t get it until my lo was a month and a half old and could have kicked myself daily for not getting it sooner. She still fits in it (barely) at 4 months and was really handy when we traveled for Christmas a half-month ago. The transition to the crib has been cake, so take those “my baby won’t sleep anywhere but the rock and play” stories with a grain of salt.
- Get a size bigger than newborn, and a size bigger than that. If you end up with a large baby you can kiss those newborn diapers goodbye. And when the first diaper size up hits it’ll come in the form of exploded diapers and the need to clorox2 your sheets and everyone’s jimjams.
- Buy Swaddlepods. I’m not big on product recommendations. I strongly believe every baby is different and whatever I universally recommend will inevitably not apply to tons of babies. But if your baby enjoys being swaddled, even if only for a week, you should have a swaddlepod. They’re jersey knit sacks with a double zipper so you can just zip them up when baby’s crying for a quick swaddle. You can also unzip the bottom portion for those midnight diaper changes without waking your babe because you need to break the swaddle. They’re also great for toasty babies like mine. You can get swaddlepods, which are made for babies up to 14lbs, or woombies which are really high quality and available in many larger sizes. Get two so you can have one clean and one in the wash.
- If you are an introvert, soak up as much me-time as you can. I didn’t realize how draining having an extra human around can be. I recharge for a few hours at night or a half hour during the day, but I just don’t have “me” days any more.
- If you don’t have stay-in help, assign a gopher. Your husband might not always be able to go grab you stuff at the drop of a hat, so it’s good to have a few runners to get odds and ends. This could be your great aunt Ruth who will doubtless visit daily or your neighbor who’s said “if you ever need anything, just ask!”
- Prep your pump and take it with you. I heard rave reviews about hospital breast pumps and just how grand they are, but I was really, really sad I didn’t bring my own pump to the hospital. I bought this Avent manual pump with the comfort grip so that there was a soft shell around my boob. I didn’t want it to be squeezed and pinched and feel like a cow on a milking machine. That’s exactly what I felt like on the hospital pump. I ended up needing to use the hospital pump because I became very engorged on my last day and although I’d hoped our discharge would be processed fast enough to get home to my comfort pump, I had no such luck. If you’ve bought a pump you’re confident about and it’s not too much trouble to bring it with you, do so. Bring some lanolin along too. Pro tip: Don’t use the pump until after birth. I’m pretty sure trying out my pump is what sent me into labor. Then again, if you’re at 40 weeks and ready to go, by all means.
- Prep a nursing station. Nursing can be messy business and it’s hard at first. Help yourself out by having what you need handy and either designate a nursing spot or create a portable nursing station. Include tissues or baby washcloths, a nip stick, breast pads, something to record nursing times (I used an app on my phone), and space for your phone, a drink, and a book. You’ll be nursing about every two hours for about a half hour at a time.
- Prep a snack station if your bedroom is far from the kitchen. I found myself feeling rather weak in the mornings after staying up half the night having a baby vampire suck me dry. I eventually put some applesauce in our upstairs mini fridge and some trail mix bars nearby. I didn’t need much, just enough to make me feel stable enough to get down the stairs with baby in arm to the kitchen.
- Prep Baby announcements. Our little girl was born in August, so by the time I had any extra moment to work on baby announcements it was the holidays. So guess what? I just stuffed pictures in our Christmas cards. Voilla! If I did it over again I’d have paid a service to make, address, and mail announcements in a heartbeat.
- Baby proof ahead of time. I kinda laughed at the baby proofing question holding my lump of a 4 day old baby in the pediatrician’s office. Now I’m dizzied by the idea of creating a safe place for my nearly mobile baby to play. Do what you can to baby-proof ahead of time. get cabinet locks, toilet locks, outlet covers, table edge/corner covers, stove knob caps, and pretty much anything else from the baby safety aisle. You might not have the chance to catch up on this once your little one is born.
- Don’t have house guests. Your body is going through a wild transition in every possible way. If you have out of state family make it clear well in advance that you’ll need your space to recover and that (unless you live at Pemberly) you’ll need your space.
So that’s my extra long list of to do, to buy, to prep, to learn before baby. If you have anything to add, please leave a comment below! There are some variations of things I’ve listed (like adding witch’s hazel to padsicles) but I tried to leave out anything I don’t have personal experience with. Please share your experiences in the comments if you’ve got some advice.