Whether this is your first child or baby number five, being a new parent can be a stressful and exhausting major life event. But this is also the most exciting time in your life. The roller coaster of emotions that come with parenthood is what makes it extra hard to try and get anything done before the birth of the child. From choosing an obstetrician to getting the baby's nursery ready, there will be many things on your to-do list before your baby arrives. The anxiety of the event can make some parents come completely unglued.
That is why you need to have a plan of action from the moment the pregnancy is discovered. This will give you plenty of time and limit the surprises along the way. Knowing exactly what needs to be done next is important when prepping for the birth.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are preparing to have a baby:
- Get the medical details in order. Once you find out you are pregnant, call your insurance company to register for their pregnancy benefits program. Choose a highly recommended obstetrician that will deliver your baby at a hospital you feel comfortable with. Be sure to schedule monthly prenatal visits with your OB/GYN. Even in early pregnancy, visits with the obstetrician are essential for good prenatal care.
Once you have begun your prenatal visits and are into your second or third trimester, you can also pre-register at the hospital. This will help to avoid a long check-in process once you are in labor. Be sure to attend childbirth classes at the hospital and take a tour of the hospital maternity wing.
- Read at least a few good pregnancy books. The book "What to Expect When You're Expecting" is the standard classic that most expectant mom's tend to reach for. It is indeed chock full of useful pregnancy info. This book is a month-by-month guide on all of the physical and emotional changes that you will experience. The “What To Expect When…” series is an excellent choice for reading about the pregnancy experience.
Other books, like Vicki Iovine's "The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy", offer a lighter approach on pregnancy and delivery that expectant mothers may also enjoy. There are many other books that will help you on your journey through pregnancy. You can find educational material for mothers who wish to have natural childbirth or would like a home birth, as well as many other pregnancy related topics.
- Make decisions about important details early in the pregnancy. There are many quandaries a new mom will face. Some of these roadblocks will show up before the baby is even born. The first is whether to breast feed or bottle feed. This is a personal decision that only the parents of the child can make. But it needs to be determined before the birth due to the different items needed, depending on the choice you make.
Other such decisions are cloth or traditional diapers and whether you will use a pacifier with your baby. It is important to make these choices early on in order to prepare for the arrival of your newborn. This is due to the fact that this will affect the items that you will need to acquire throughout the pregnancy.
- Make a newborn checklist, and register for items if necessary. If this is your first baby it is highly probable that someone close to you will want to throw you a baby shower. Register for the items that you want for your baby at a baby supply store or department store. Most of these retailers have a quick and easy way for you to do this. This way your baby shower guests can buy you something that you truly need.
Whether this is your first baby or your fifth baby, there are certain items that you will definitely need. Make a list of all your baby essentials. This will also be the time to determine the “theme” for the nursery and add this information to the shopping list. This way you can check the items off as you receive them through the baby shower, get hand me downs from friends and family, or purchase them. Be sure that you have the essentials--a crib, stroller, car seat, diapers, and clothes for the baby. Other optional items, like a baby bath tub, will come in handy for the early weeks with your newborn.
- Shop for items that will make daily life with your new baby easier. The number of items that are available to help new mothers is amazing! For instance, over the last 10 years velcro straps have replaced those awful sticky tabs that used to fasten diapers. This makes it easy when taking the baby to the doctor and other situations that require reusing a clean diaper.
If you are going to bottle-feed make sure to purchase a bottle cleaner, the dishwasher basket for the nipples, and a bottle cleaner. All these little extras are often overlooked by expecting parents. These items, which are usually the cheaper products on the wish list, can save you time and money down the road. Other items such as a nursing pillow, baby bouncer, and a diaper pail are low priced products that are great for a new mother and baby to have.
- Get baby's room ready. Some women choose to let the baby sleep in a bassinet right next to their bed for the first few weeks. Others have a complete nursery set up in another room. No matter if you are planning to have your newborn in his or her own room, get your baby's space ready. Set up the crib, bassinet, and other baby furniture. Make sure that crib sheets are washed and ready to go. Wash all of baby's clothes and have diapers and baby wipes available. The more prepared the nursery is, the easier the transition from hospital to home will be. Therefore, you should make a plan and place items where they belong as you get them.
- Get anything else you need by reaching out to friends and family. By the time you reach the later stages of pregnancy, you will have gained an abundance of items either through a baby shower or making purchases yourself. If you are keeping them organized as you go it will be no problem to do a quick inventory. Go through the list one more time to ensure that you have what you need.
If there are still a number of products missing, it may be helpful to contact your friends. Send them an email that first thanks them for all the great items you have gotten over the last couple months. Then let them know that you are still working towards a few last minute items. You may be surprised at the number of people who will offer an expecting mom stuff they no longer need.
- Choose some baby names. Some items on your to-do list are more fun than others, and this is one of them. Choosing your baby's name is an important task and it shouldn't be taken lightly. Research the meanings behind the names that you choose and don't forget to pick out both a boy's name and girl's name. This is a good rule of thumb even if you have already opted to find out the sex of your baby beforehand. Even with today's technology, once in a while a mistake in gender prediction is made.
- Pack your hospital gear ahead of time. Getting ready for baby also means getting ready to go to the hospital. Don't wait until the last minute to get ready for your baby's birth. Have your bag packed and ready to go in case you go into labor earlier than expected. This luggage should include loose clothing for you to wear after the birth, clothes for the new baby, any items needed for labor, and anything you want on the day that your baby comes into this world. Place the bag in a closet where it can be grabbed quickly.
- Tie up any loose ends. If you have other children, make arrangements for care for them during your hospital stay. If you work outside the home, talk to your company's human resources department to plan your maternity leave or Family/Medical Leave of Absence. Make sure you have everything in order several weeks before your due date.
- Take some time for yourself. Before you know it your baby will be here and your world will be turned upside down--in a good way mind you! But before your baby arrives, take a few hours for yourself. Get a haircut or a pedicure. Go shopping. Relax with your favorite book or television show. Do the things that you enjoy doing for yourself so that you are relaxed and well rested when your baby does arrive.
These are just a few steps for you to take when learning how to prepare for having a baby. Take some time to go over this newborn baby checklist. You may find things of your own to add to the list. Not only will this preparation help things go more smoothly when you bring the baby home from the hospital, it will also occupy your mind while you anxiously await the arrival of your new bundle of joy. Congratulations!