Stocking up on swaddles, receiving blankets, and diapers. Putting the finishing touches on the nursery. And, of course, waiting (im)patiently for your labor pangs to begin. Yup, no question about it – if you’re doing these things, then you’re probably preparing for birth and excited to become a parent.
If you’re in the final nesting stages and your due date is drawing near, then your excitement is no doubt accompanied by trepidation. The birth of your firstborn is a joyous event marked by the fact that your life will never quite be the same again. Your days will be filled with a beautiful bundle of joy who you will love unconditionally for the rest of your days. You now have another human being to care for, to nurture and to shower with love. You want to get things right, be a responsible parent, and protect your little one.
An astonishing number of manuals, how-to guides, and personal memoirs exist to guide you along this path. Each advocates a different parenting style, and each offers its own suggestions on the best way to prepare for Baby’s arrival. However, nothing can really prepare you for a baby entering your life.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you CAN do before Baby comes to make your first few weeks of parenthood just a little easier. Hence, this post; how many of these are already on your list, and which do you need to add?
This is a collaboration post. However, please know I stand behind everything written here, and only include links to products/services/resources I’m willing to recommend personally.
Preparing For Birth: Your Pre-Birth Checklist
1. Personalize Your Birth Plan
Even though you may be the most laid-back person ever, it pays to write a birth plan. It’s up to you to inform your medical team of your wishes when you’re in labor. You need to detail whether you want an epidural, other forms of pain relief, a natural birth, or a water birth. Write down your preference for skin-to-skin contact or your partner cutting the umbilical cord.
Although these are your wishes, you must remain flexible. Often, labor doesn’t go according to plan, meaning that your birth plan will go out the window – for your well being as well as your child’s. Head onto any birth injury lawyer website, and you’ll see some scary statistics for the sorts of defects that can affect new families. A clear yet flexible birthing plan tries to ensure a safer birthing experience. (For what it’s worth, neither of the girls’ births went according to my careful plans. With Kimmie, my preeclampsia negated pretty much everything from start to finish, and Essie arrived less than 15 minutes after I arrived at the hospital, before I was even in my birthing room! Needless to say, the world did not end and we all survived! But I was glad I’d taken the time to detail what I wanted anyway, since it gave us a starting point for things like skin-on-skin ASAP.)
2. Talk To Friends And Family
Nearly everyone knows somebody with kids. It doesn’t matter whether you end up talking to your sister, mom, best friend or neighbor. Having someone who’s already given birth to use as a sounding board will help you work through any concerns about birth and afterward. Even the most trivial worries can take over the thoughts of an expectant mom. Your “sounding board” can put your mind at ease about how best to soothe your newborn, managing you get home, or even coping with “baby blues.”
3. Cook, Freeze, and Repeat
When you bring your little bundle of joy home, the last thing on your mind will be cooking nutritious and healthy meals. All you will want to do is stare at your little miracle for hours on end. Before your due date, get into the kitchen and start cooking plenty of your favorite meals. These can then go straight into the freezer, ready for reheating when you don’t feel like cooking after your newborn’s arrival.
Your little one has it easy for the first few months, enjoying nothing more than breast milk or formula. While you are taking care of your little cherub, don’t neglect your own health and well being. It’s also worth seeing if there are local parenting networks you can join; some will arrange new meals for members giving birth. Or see if your church, synagogue, or mosque offers this service. Ours does, and it was such a blessing for us. We’ve been happy to pay back the kindness to others, including a church friend of mine who is scheduled for induction with her fourth little one tomorrow.
4. Get Your Car Serviced
If your birth plan includes driving to the hospital, you can’t afford unexpected surprises from your car. Make sure you or your partner does these standard maintenance checks regularly. Check the oil levels, the fluid levels, the tire pressures, and (especially if it’s the middle of winter) your car’s battery.
And if you’re due for an oil change or other service at the shop, get it out of the way several weeks before your due date. There’s nothing worse than enduring the sheer panic of the car not starting as your contractions become closer and more intense.
5. Do the Laundry
While newborn clothing is made from soft and delicate material, your new baby’s skin will be ultra-sensitive. Therefore it’s wise to wash Baby’s new onesies, bibs, bedding, and sleep’n’plays in a baby-friendly detergent.
Yes, this may seem like a pain; but from a parent who’s been there, trust me on this one. This strategy will prevent irritation to your baby’s skin, and will save you all a lot of unnecessary grief, rashes, and tears.
Preparing for your firstborn’s arrival can be daunting, exhilarating and memorable. Your mind may be full of worries and your tummy churning with nerves. However, if you follow this advice, talk to your family and friends and write a comprehensive birthing plan, you can be sure of a birthing experience that is as stress-free as possible.
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