It’s true when they say that you can never really be fully prepared for the birth of a new baby, but there are things you can do to help ease the process.
Having two baby boys myself, I’ve compiled a list of my ten top tips for preparing for a new baby:
Preparing for a New Baby Ten Top Tips:
- Pack a hospital bag at least three weeks before your due date, so that you are prepared for when your baby comes early. I’ve written a post about the items that you should include in your hospital bag here, which should help you get your bag in order, so you don’t have to do what I did during my first birth and send my poor hubby back and forth from the hospital. I had forgotten some rather important items, like our baby’s woolly hat (he was born in December) and some snacks and reading material for me!
- If you haven’t sorted out your birth plan yet, now is the time to do it. Most birth plans are thrown out due to the unpredictability of birth itself, but having that piece of paper gives you that extra bit of control on how you would like things to be done during birth. And, if you’re not in a position to talk (from the labour pain) then make sure your birth partner is clued up on what’s in your birth plan and let them be your mouthpiece. It’s very easy for hospitals and birthing centres to take control and do what they think is best in a situation, which almost always works. But, remember that it’s your body and you still have the final say on what you would like to be done during the birth. Want to remain upright during labour? Have skin-to-skin contact with your baby straight after birth? Then be sure to add these things to the birth plan.
- Another very important tip is to ensure that your list of emergency contacts is complete, up-to-date, and in order of importance. Keep it on you at all times in case your partner is not available or if you go into early labour. It would be very useful to include your contacts’ insurance and hospital information as well, in case they need to provide these details.
- It’s very easy to buy more than you need to prepare yourself for your new baby, so sticking to the essentials is key here. Some of the necessities like nappies, clothing and wipes can be bought in bulk, but will your newborn really need every product that’s out in the market today? That really cute rattle in the shop, or that gorgeous baby gym might make your heart flutter, but the reality is that your baby will probably not use these items until a few months later. Emotionally preparing for your newborn and following your instincts are generally right on this occasion. Don’t forget to stock up on household items too to avoid trips to the store afterwards. Frozen food, toiletries, a healthcare set, toilet roll, shampoo, and even extra pairs of undies come in very handy when your knee deep in milk and nappies.
- If you haven’t done so already, another important item to add to the list before the baby comes is a car seat. I would also have a professional install the car seat, if you have one to hand. You cannot go wrong with recommendations from other parents as they have probably tried and tested some of the best and worst car seats around. Some Facebook groups like ‘Motherhood Diaries’ and ‘Top Tips 4 Mums’ offer fantastic advice on car seats, amongst other useful Babycare essentials. Just ask the question and there’s always a mum out there ready to lend you a helping hand. But, please don’t forget three very important points – Never use a second hand car seat, always check whether a car seat comes with your pram/pushchair, and make sure that the car seat you use is suitable for your baby’s age.
- Wash all baby clothes, bedding and blankets in advance, making sure you use a very special, extra gentle, non-bio detergent, so that it doesn’t cause any irritation on the baby’s skin. It is very difficult to fit doing laundry into your upcoming super-busy schedule of looking after a newborn 24/7, so try and get all these things done in advance.
- This may sound like a given, but during your pregnancy your hormones are raging, leaving you with less patience than normal. Unfortunately, on some of these occasions, your partner is left in the firing line. Talk about your problems and your feelings with your partner, and get them involved in your pregnancy. Don’t just assume they know how you’re feeling or how much of an impact a new baby will be on your lives. Discuss what you’ll need from each other during birth and when you bring your newborn home. Differing expectations can lead to big conflicts, so it’s best to work these issues out ahead of time.
- Some people may disagree with this point, mainly because too many opinions can cloud an expecting parent’s judgement about the birth process and the reality of life with a newborn. Of course, the more obvious reason is that every family experiences their own issues, so one parent’s solution may not work for another parent. But, that shouldn’t stop you from getting as much free information as possible! It’s highly recommended from my own personal experience, that antenatal classes are extremely helpful, if not just to meet other parents-to-be that are going through the same thing as you. You may find that some of the lesser talked about problems that you are experiencing, like incontinence, a diminished sex drive, or constipation, is more common than you think. Being informed ahead of time by the people you meet can only be a bonus – and you may make some lifelong friends along the way!
- Whether you are taking maternity leave right now, or you plan to be a stay-at-home parent, it’s important to find out which types of childcare are available to you where you live. Private nurseries can take babies from as early as 3 months old, or there may be very well-equipped nannies in your area that can offer a helping hand at home with your baby, should you need it. It’s probably too early to start thinking about which state nurseries and schools you want to enrol your child into, but it’s good to have these kinds of things in mind if you plan to stay put in the area you live in.
- Women, by nature, like to be in control of everything. But, when you’re pregnant and your birth is imminent, your baby will pay no heed to your carefully thought out schedule. Accept that you’re no longer in control of everything, and that’s okay! This is such a magical time for you and thinking too much about whether you’ve got everything right, may put a damper on this special journey you’re about to be faced with. Your baby might come early, or you may have to deal with being two weeks’ overdue. Just take each day as it comes, and if you’ve prepared for your baby by following all the above points (which by no means are exhaustive) then you can sit back, relax, and look forward to D-day!
- Prepare and write out your birth plan.
- Devise a list of emergency contacts and keep the list with you at all times.
- Don’t go overboard with stocking up on essentials.
- Buy a Car Seat.
- Do your baby’s laundry in advance.
- Encourage unity with your partner.
- Network, network, network.
- Start thinking about childcare.
- Go with the flow.