Preparing for baby can be both exciting and overwhelming. There is so much to do! First time parents can be nervous about how to prepare for bringing the child home, but even parents who have done this before will likely have some uncertainties. Here’s what you can do to prepare for baby long before he or she is actually born.
Preparing for Baby—Take Classes on Labor and Baby Care
Some of the questions and worries of impending motherhood can be answered through these classes. Everything from how much labor hurts to how to breastfeed to caring for your newborn are all addressed in a variety of classes. These can help you understand what you do, gather the things you will need for the baby and feel more confident about your preparations.
- Birthing classes. These classes are often offered through birthing centers or hospitals. There are numerous options, as some focus on particular birthing methods, while some are general, and there are even those specific class for mothers who have already had a c-section or have some medical conditions. This is a great class to take with your partner, and will alleviate some of the anxiety about what to expect.
- Breastfeeding classes. Breastfeeding is usually not instinctive; it takes time and effort to figure it out. These classes can prepare you with videos, practice dolls and other means that can make you feel more comfortable with the idea of breastfeeding. These classes can also give you a wealth of resources to turn to.
- Parenting classes. These classes cover all the basics that you need to know to take care of a baby, including how to diaper, feed, soothe and bathe your newborn. Any question is welcome, and any fears are put to rest through practice on dolls, and sometimes even on real newborns! There are also parenting classes available for parents who have gone through this already and want advice or instruction on how to deal with a sibling.
Preparing for Baby—Find a Doctor for Baby
Your baby’s doctor will be an important part of his or her life for a long time, and you will spend a great deal of time in that office during the next several years. It’s important to have a doctor you are comfortable with, one who suits exactly what you believe a doctor should be. Preparing for baby means doing some homework to choose the right doctor for them.
Get Names of Doctors
Start by asking for recommendations. Talk to other mothers, nurses in your health clinic or hospital, insurance companies, and even medical schools. Make certain the doctor is board-certified in pediatrics. Friends, relatives, and neighbors can also offer great insights into which doctors are best for your baby. Compile a list of several doctors that might suit your needs, and do some research on them through the internet to narrow down your list.
Interview a Doctor
Make an appointment with the doctor to discuss their practices, their beliefs and views, and their medical experience. Now is the time to ask questions, so make good use of that appointment! You want to find someone who has a great personality that you like, skills that prove they are a great doctor, and a concern for your baby – even before he or she is born.
Preparing for Baby—Purchase Equipment for Baby
Now is the time to do the fun stuff—preparing for baby by purchasing all the goodies he or she will need! Start with the essentials.
Essential Nursery Equipment
Remember that this might be a big list, but there are many ways to save. Look for disposable diapers sold by the case, apply for formula discounts directly through the companies, and purchase many things second-hand at consignment shops or yard sales. Here’s what you will need to get started:
- Crib or basinet/cradle (make sure it is a newer, safer model)
- Bottles (four-ounce and eight-ounce) and nipples
- Bottle brush
- A large diaper bag filled with essentials, including a change of clothes for baby, a plastic bag for diapers, washcloths or baby wipes, receiving blanket, several diapers, diaper balm and the like.
- A diaper pail if you will use cloth diapers
- Nursing bras, nursing pads and the like, as well as a breast pump
Remember that a car seat should always be purchased new, never second-hand. You will need a rear-facing seat for your newborn. Make sure the seat is securely installed in the middle of the backseat. If you need help, go to your local fire house or police department for guidance. Remember that most car seats actually have an expiration date, so make sure you get one that is well within the newest safety features and guidelines.
Preparing for Baby—Pack the Hospital Bag
You will actually need to pack two bags: one for things you will need during labor and one for things you will need after the baby is born. Pack these six weeks before your due date, or even earlier if you are expecting multiples. You might want to pack a bag for your partner as well.
- For Labor. Pack things that will make you comfortable, such as a bathrobe, slippers or socks, your own pillow, music, and the like. Also pack your insurance information, ID card, your birth plan, and eyeglasses (not contacts) if you wear them.
- For your partner. Basic toiletries, some cash for vending machines, the camera or video camera, snacks, something to read, comfortable shoes and a change of clothes, and a bathing suit in case you want to get in the shower during labor and need your partner’s help. You should also pack a list of people to call once the delivery is over.
- After you deliver. You will need basic toiletries, a new nightgown or robe, maternity underpants, a few nursing bras, snacks, your cell phone and important numbers, a journal and pen, and a going-home outfit for you and your baby.
Preparing for Baby—Arrange Maternity and Paternity Leave
When the baby comes, you will need some time off. Now is the time to look into what your employer offers for maternity and paternity leave. Under federal law, new parents are allowed up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but that might vary depending upon the company you work for. In some cases, short-term disability insurance might allow you to take time off and still draw a paycheck. Get the information you need when you are in the second trimester.
Here is a video that gives you even more tips on preparing for baby before the big day: