Okay, so I am by no means an expert on babies or motherhood. And since I’ve only birthed one child so far, maybe someone who’s had two or three should be writing this.
However, I still wanted to share some of the things I did to prepare for having a baby that proved to be really helpful. Of course, there’s a lot more than ten things you’ll want to do to prepare, but these are the things that I didn’t necessarily find on the other checklists I came across. So here ya go:
10. Go to Costco or some other bulk item store and buy a bunch of paper plates, paper bowls and plastic cups. Maybe even some plastic utensils if you want to go all out. Normally I’m all for going green, but in the first few weeks after having a baby you’ll want to spend all your extra time staring at your new baby, not doing the dishes.
9. Get your hair cut/colored/whatever you do, a few weeks before your due date. You’re not going to have the time after having a baby to go spend a few hours at the hair salon for a while without having to organize a babysitter and getting a bottle together. Plus, who doesn’t want to look good in all those pictures!
8. Get a pedicure or give yourself a home pedicure as close to your due date as possible. Similar to #9, after having a baby you’re not going to have time to think about this for a while and sometimes it’s the little things that make you feel pretty even when you’re exhausted.
7. Make it cozy. If you’re giving birth in the hospital it’s nice to make the room feel as home-like as possible, especially since you might be there a while. We strung white Christmas lights along one wall and brought four of those flameless candles that you can buy for $20 at Costco. Our room had a nice warm glow instead of those bright intense fluorescent lights.
6. Make sure you pack swim shorts for your husband if you plan to use a birthing tub at any point in your labor. Jon forgot to pack his and ended up wearing jeans for four hours while in the tub. Not the most comfortable thing according to him.
5. Bake something for the nurses. This advice was given to me by my doula who has been present at hundreds of hospital births. Nurses are people too and sometimes they aren’t having the best day even though you may be going through one of the most significant experiences in your life. So, do something nice for them to win them over. Bake some cookies or something else yummy! As soon as I thought my labor was starting I headed to the kitchen and whipped up some banana bread muffins (Trader Joe’s mix). It helped pass the time early on and the nurses did appreciate the gesture.
4. Snacks, snacks, snacks! Snacks for the hospital, snacks for when you arrive home, snacks next to your bed. During the first couple weeks after arriving home it felt like I was always needing something small to munch on. I know having a bag of goldfish and honey roasted peanuts on your bedside table might sound strange, but when you’re not used to being awake at 3am, you might just want to snack when your baby does.
3. At some point towards the end of your pregnancy, find a mom who is willing to share with you all the interesting, gross and rarely talked about details of childbirth. At least for me, it was really helpful to have heard some other people’s stories beforehand so that when it happened to me I wasn’t so freaked out or shocked.
2. Learn about breastfeeding before your baby arrives. It’s easy to focus on the labor side of things, but since breastfeeding begins as soon as your baby arrives, it’s really helpful to know what to expect. I read The Breastfeeding Book by Dr. Sears and I know a lot of people like to take a breastfeeding class while pregnant. Also, during the first three months there are quite a few foods that may upset baby’s tummy: like oranges (orange juice), tomatoes (tomato sauce), strawberries, cucumbers and chocolate, just to name a few. So look up what foods to avoid in those first three months before you go buying a bunch of chocolate bars as snacks.
1. Meals. Jon and I were very blessed and we had friends from church bringing us meals every other night for the first month. We also had friends and family who visited help with the cooking too. This was hands down, the biggest help we had during that first month. So if you don’t have friends or family in the area who are willing to help with this, plan ahead by making some freezer meals and buying some easy dinner options that you can prepare very quickly. If you do have family and friends around, ask one of them to make a meal calendar so people can sign up to help you out.
Bonus Tip (Because Top 10 list sounds better than Top 11 list): Get a donut pillow. If you don’t know what this is, it’s a donut-shaped thing you sit on that helps take pressure off the areas that may be sore from labor. I knew nothing about this, but a friend sent me one in a care package and I was forever grateful. You do a lot of sitting in the weeks after having a baby and this is worth getting.