If you are getting closer and closer to your due date, you might be feeling worried and anxious – especially if this is your first baby. These feelings are completely normal. You can take birthing classes, read articles and watch videos but there is still the overwhelming feelings of the unknown that sets in and every pregnancy and birth is different. Try your best to use whichever relaxation methods work for you and imagine seeing your child’s face for the first time on delivery day.
There are a lot of exciting things you will be doing throughout your pregnancy like choosing baby names, decorating the nursery and buying the tiniest, precious outfits. Even if your pregnancy is hard and you are experiencing a lot of the unpleasant symptoms, it can still be an exciting time with so much to look forward to. Becoming parents for the first time or even adding a second sweet bundle to your family is LIFE-CHANGING.
When the new baby comes home you and your spouse will be learning so many things at a rapid pace all while trying to catch some sleep in between. There are a lot of things you can do before baby comes to help build your confidence and prepare for the big day. These are the things that you may not think of while you are busy picking out the right shade of periwinkle for the nursery walls.
Below is a list of not-so-obvious things to do before the big delivery day:
- Pre-register at your birth center. Try to do this 3-4 weeks before your due date. This will help save some time checking in and filling out paperwork. It will also help get you acquainted with the staff.
- Take a birth center tour. Try to do this about a month before your due date. Most hospitals offer a free tour where you can check out the delivery rooms, recovery rooms and ask any questions you can think of.
- Come up with a birth plan. Do this anytime throughout your pregnancy. The sooner, the better. Talk to your partner about how you are envisioning your birth. Do you want to try natural or have an epidural? Do you want a water birth? Who do you want in the room supporting you? Who will you invite to be in the waiting room? These are all great things to discuss and decide together BEFORE the big day.
- Purchase a car seat and practice using it. Do this anytime throughout your pregnancy. The sooner, the better. Car seats are very easy to use nowadays but can be intimidating if you have never used one. Take it out of the box and practice putting it in your car. Any confidence you can give yourself before baby comes will be helpful.
- Make a plan for little ones and pets. Do this anytime throughout your pregnancy. The sooner, the better. If you already have children or have pets then talk to friends and family about helping when baby comes. You and your partner will be at the hospital for a few days so have the person helping come over beforehand and get familiar with the routine and things that need to be done while you are out.
- Meet the hospital staff. Do this anytime throughout your pregnancy. The sooner, the better. You will likely have checkup appointments every week towards the end of your pregnancy. You may be getting comfortable with one doctor but there isn’t a guarantee they will be available on your delivery day. Use these appointments to meet with other doctors and get familiar with the staff to avoid meeting a stranger on your due date.
- Pack your hospital bag. Do this about a month before your due date. The hospital provides you with many of the things you will need for your stay but you will also want to pack a bag of personal items for you and your partner. Below is a checklist to help you get started.
- Decide on a plan for visitors. Your close friends and family will be antsy to meet your new baby but a lot of visitors all at once can be overwhelming. You are going to be a new level of exhausted you’ve never felt before and healing. Decide on the time, frequency and number of visitors that feels right for you and your partner. You do need some time to yourselves to relax and start figuring out how to care for your new baby.
- Order your breast pump and bottles. If you choose to breastfeed you are going to need a pump to stock up extra milk for baby. Check out our recent post if you want to learn more on natural ways to boost your milk supply. If your plan is to exclusively breastfeed for a certain amount of time you probably don't even want to think about bottles but it is so helpful to invest in good products instead of trying to figure out what you need after the baby comes. Bottles are a great way for Daddy to bond with baby. Check out our recent post on how to introduce a bottle to your breastfed baby. If you are not sure where to start when it comes to bottles, check out these safe, shatter resistant glass bottles with color changing technology that warn when the contents is too hot for baby.
- Get some rest. This may seem silly but you are about to have many sleep interrupted nights when the new baby comes. Try to take care of yourself so you can be well rested and prepared for the big day.
Most hospitals will offer music, essential oils, bath salts, snacks and drinks but if you prefer a certain brand or are more comfortable with your own items then pack them. The nurses will also give you some thin cotton shorts and large pads as you will experience some bleeding days after delivery. You can also ask for pain pills, stool softeners and numbing spray when you are in recovery.
Bringing some comfortable clothing, robe and slippers will help you to feel more at home during your hospital stay. You will experience some crazy hormone changes the days after delivery which can make you feel hotter and colder than normal so having these items can be comforting.
If you want to snap some photos of your fresh baby then have your camera or phone on hand. Also, consider talking to a photography about capturing those first precious moments with new baby. This photography should probably be someone you know and trust since this is an intimate time for you and your partner. Some women prefer to have their hair and makeup looking nice for photos and visitors which is perfectly fine. I think some of the most beautiful photos are the ones captured in the moment of messy hair and tired eyes filled with joy as a mother meets her new baby. It is all up to the preference of the mother.
If you forget something important that you really wanted to have with you – don’t fret. Talk to friends or family before the big day to see if they can be on standby for anything you may need. You probably won’t want to send your partner out to run errands as you will want them to be there with you for support. Even after delivery, it isn’t fun to be alone because you will be extremely tired and have lots of emotions.
The hospital will have a cafeteria and a snack fridge. You can press the nurse button if you need anything and they will bring it to you. If you prefer a certain brand or organic snacks then be sure to pack those in your bag.
You can pack books, magazines or a tablet but you may not use them at all. You will be busy focusing on getting through the pain and your partner should be supporting you. Although, maybe you have a higher pain tolerance than most and reading your favorite book is a great distraction from it. Everyone is different. After delivery, you will be spending most of your time resting, visiting and learning how to breastfeed your baby if you choose that route.
There is usually a lactation specialist on duty who can help guide you through the first feedings. They can show you different positions to hold baby in and help with the first latch. Ask all the questions you can because you will want to establish a good latch and first feeding before you get home and have to figure it out on your own.
If you are reading this you are probably an expecting mother or father so congratulations! Becoming a parent is the one of the most exhausting and rewarding things you will ever experience. Just remember that you are both learning a lot together so work as a team and remember to encourage each other.
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