Having your first newborn is incredibly exciting. If you’re expecting, you’ve probably done tons of research on the ins and outs of pregnancy, like what to eat, what not to eat, how much to exercise and so on. But soon enough, your baby is going to arrive, and there are some essential things to do to make the transition to motherhood less stressful.
With all the resources out there and magazines dedicated to parenting, it can be hard to figure out what the highest priorities on your new baby to do list should be. Fern Drillings, certified childbirth educator and infant and child CPR instructor, made it easy for us with this list of mommy must-dos.
Take a read, make a list and, most importantly, relax! Yes, it’s scary, but it’s so much more exciting. After nine long months, you’re finally going to be able to hold what will be the most important aspect of your life in your arms. What could be better?
1. Pack a hospital bag
The last thing you need on the day of your baby’s arrival is panic over forgetting something at home. Drillings suggests bringing your insurance policy numbers, sour lollipops or popsicles - for a little boost of energy and hydration - and your cell phone along with its charger. Act as though you’re going on a weekend vacation. Remember to pack toiletries, comfy pajamas, a nursing bra and nursing pads. Our maternity bag checklist should ensure you have everything you need.
What about for the baby? Drillings says to bring a going-home outfit and a stuffed animal to put in the hospital’s crib to easily identify your baby in the nursery.
2. Set up your space
Get your house prepped for the baby’s arrival by purchasing a bassinet or crib in advance, says Drillings. Other than that, “you need to have feeding covered, bathing covered, sleeping covered and clothing covered.”
Baby-proofing is also important. While it’s not necessary to start baby-proofing until your newborn starts moving, which tends to occur at about six months, you might want to think about installing window guards, plugging up all of your outlets and latching all cabinets that contain sharp or dangerous objects.
“Crawl around and view the world from your child’s eye level,” Drillings says. That'll definitely help you to see some of the possible baby hazards in your home.
3. Look for help
“Arrange for who’s going to help you at home the first week or two, or however long you’ll need help immediately after delivery,” Drillings says.
For longer-term childcare, Drillings says it’s best to wait a bit before making set plans, first considering the length of your maternity leave - if you’re planning on returning to work - since most caretakers will want to start immediately.
“[Moms] should hire help a month or so before they need it. This way, they can have them in the house that last month of maternity leave,” Drillers suggests. This will give you a bit of free time and also the reassurance that your baby’s caretaker is a good fit.
4. Stay organized
“Just being organized in general makes life easier,” Drillings says. On top of getting sleeping, feeding and bathing spaces set up, she suggests keeping feeding logs as well as output logs for tracking what comes out of your newborn.
“Once you have a baby, it’s like a bomb goes off. It’s like an explosion in your life. A baby is basically going to bring chaos, so the more order you have, the better off you are,” she reminds us.
5. Be flexible
Drillings reminds soon-to-be moms to “be open to all possibilities about the experience.” If you do all the necessary prep work, you’re going to eliminate a lot of disorder, but things are still bound to come up.
“Just know when you bring a baby into your house, there are many variables that you can’t control,” Drillings says. “When you bring a baby into the house, you have to be open to everything that will flow from that.”
“I think the problem for a lot of people, or the reason a lot of people run into some post-partum difficulties, is that this is really the first time they don’t have control over things,” she says.
To sum it up, just let go of your expectations, whether they’re about your new family life, your baby’s sleeping habits or breastfeeding, and enjoy the ride. Otherwise, you’ll end up missing out on a wonderful time.
What did we miss, ladies? If you have any baby prep tips of your own or want to chime in on ours, tweet us @wewomenUSA