Preparing for the birth of your baby is a HUGE deal! There is so much that needs to be done, and you may feel like you are running out of time. So what needs to be done first? Do you need to buy pacifiers now, or pick out crib accessories first?
If you have the time, money, and energy, you can get a lot done in those nine months. But before you worry about which wallpaper for the nursery, the following is a list of ultimate things an expectant mother should do before she delivers:
1. Learn Everything You Can About Birth
A lot of women today brush off the impending birth as a minor obstacle between pregnancy and that moment when they get to hold their baby. I’ve met women who would research deeply before buying a car, casting a political vote, or shopping for cheaper groceries – yet when it comes to the topic of birth, they say: “Ew, spare me the details!”
The problem here is that birth is full of surprises. Maybe they plan on a natural birth, but need an emergency c-section. Maybe they were planning on a long day in the hospital, but baby was born in the car en route. Or maybe these future moms and dads are just taken aback by what a newborn baby really looks like, or what a woman’s happens to a woman’s body during and after the delivery.
Therefore, to make the whole stressful experience less intimidating, you should learn all you can about what to expect from any type of delivery. Many hospitals and clinics will set moms up with birthing classes too, and the instructors are happy to answer all types of questions.
2. Learn Some Parenting Skills
Next to learning about birth and recovery, learning how to take care of the actual baby is one of the most important tasks on an expectant mom’s to-do list. If you have NO experience whatsoever with baby care, try to attend a few parenting classes during your pregnancy. Even though you can learn by trial and error how to do most skills, like diaper changing, practicing on a baby doll beforehand at class is less frustrating.
If you can’t catch a class, the next best place (or maybe THE best) to learn parenting skills is from other parents. If you have a friend with a child or two, ask them to teach you a few basics. If not, ask a mother, mother-in-law, sister, aunt or anyone who has parenting experience. You can also watch free videos on some parenting websites that will take you through tasks such as diapering, feeding, bathing, and swaddling. You can also ask the nurses in the hospital after your baby is born, but by that time you may too tired and too frustrated to be a good student.
3. Buy The Essentials First
Babies don’t always come on schedule. Don’t wait until the last minute to buy important items such as a crib and car seat until you are “close” to delivery.
That doesn’t mean you need to have EVERYTHING on hand before your fifth month, but it is a good idea to start out with these basic supplies:
- Crib, bassinet or other sleeping area
- A few blankets
- A few outfits, including one or two in preemie size in case your baby is small.
- Diaper changing supplies
- Car seat
- Bottles if you will be formula feeding (just one or two until you know what baby prefers.)
- Good thermometer
4. Take A Practice Trip To The Hospital
Your birth plan is not complete without this task. If you are delivering in a hospital or clinic, make sure that you, your spouse, and any relative or friend that might have to drive you while you are in labor knows exactly where to go.
My husband did NOT do this, and we ended up getting lost and going around the area several times before accidentally finding the right door. If you are in labor, you probably won’t feel like giving directions.
If possible, take a tour of the maternity floor too, so that you will feel more relaxed when you arrive for the real thing.
5. Pack Your Hospital Bag Early
For the same reason you need to buy the car seat early. If you go into labor earlier than expected, then you may need urgent care. If so, you don’t want to waste time around the house hunting for items to pack. Make sure to pack items for your birth partner too. You don’t have to leave your cameras and cellphones in the bag for months, but do get into a habit of keeping all the chargers near the bag so they are easy to find in a hurry.
Snacks are the only thing you really can’t keep packed in a bag for a long period. But that is okay, as long as you get there with your personal items. Anyone can deliver some snacks to you later on.
6. Stock Your Pantry
You won’t have a lot of time shopping for groceries on your way home from the hospital. If you have a large freezer, consider making and freezing a few meals to cover dinner for the first few weeks. Even stocking up on some prepackaged convenience meals is better than skipping a meal because you are too tired or sore to cook.
Another great idea is to buy up a good supply of energy snacks for yourself. Especially if you are going to breastfeed… you will need the energy.
7. Sign Up For Parenting Sites With Freebies
Baby care can get costly! While you are pregnant, sign up for sites that offer free samples, discounts and coupons for products such as diapers and formula. The benefit of signing up before baby arrives is that you can take advantage of discounts and coupons and stock up on supplies. Some manufacturers will send double coupons and samples to moms of twins and higher order multiples, so start researching soon if you are expecting twins or multiples!
8. Make Sure You Have All The Paperwork Covered
If you don’t want to be pestered by questions about your insurance policy while you are in the middle of pushing out your baby, make sure you have all of that paperwork in order beforehand. If you aren’t pre-registered, then make sure any documentation you need is in your bag. This also includes having a copy of your birth plan, and a list of phone numbers for important contacts.
Another thing new parents should consider before the birth is an updated will. Although it may feel morbid to think about death when you are about to celebrate life, maternal mortality is still a very real possibility. Expectant mothers, especially if they are single, need to make sure their babies will be cared for should the worst happen.
You also need to make sure any forms giving or refusing permission for certain medical procedures (for both you and baby) are filled out and either filed with your charts, or in your bag to be given to staff at the time of delivery.
9. Make Arrangements For Someone To Care For Your House/Pets
Choose a designated and trustworthy person before you go into labor and make arrangements for them to check on your house while you are in the hospital. If you have pets they may need a key so they can feed and walk your animals.
10. Spend Quality Time With Friends And Family
Once baby arrives, you will be very busy… not to mention exhausted and uncomfortable. It may be weeks before you feel like having lunch with a relative or a date night with your spouse. Get in as much private time as possible with your partner, preferably talking about subjects other than the baby.
Treat yourself to a day out with your friends or close relatives too. This can be a good time to get a hair cut or a manicure before baby’s big arrival. It may be awhile before you feel like worrying about your appearance again.
Better To Be Over-Prepared Than Under-Prepared!
Although there are many things a mom may want to put on her to-do list, some things are more important than others. Making sure baby’s home is safe is more vital than making sure it is cute. Make sure you prioritize carefully and get as much rest and relaxation as possible!