There are thousands of guides on how to prepare for having a baby. If you’re expecting, you’ve read them. Then you skimmed them once you realized most of them are the same. Go ahead and get your nursery ready — your baby might sleep in the room with you for several months. Watch birthing videos to your heart’s desire — delivery will probably be less than a single day of your life. Get plenty of sleep — Ha! You haven’t slept a full night since your first trimester.
I’m writing this guide to provide you with some extra tidbits I haven’t read everywhere. Maybe you’ll find them helpful. I’m organizing them into a few categories and leaving out the more mundane ones. Here goes!
Real Things an Expecting Mom Can Do to Prepare for Having a Baby
- Hang out with your friends. Call the ones who aren’t nearby. No matter how tired or miserable or boring you feel, you will miss the uninterrupted conversations that go along with being child-free. Also, when your baby is almost three months old, you’ll realize that it’s been only three months since you hung out with that one friend, and not five months since you saw her at your baby shower.
- Have a social media plan. Are you going to announce your birth on Facebook? From the hospital or when you get home? Do you have a family member who posts their every movement on Twitter? If you’d rather not have photos of your baby showing up on Instagram before you’ve even mentioned to your friends that you went to the hospital, you might want to send some guidelines out to your immediate family, telling them when and how much they are allowed to post about you and your baby.
- Decide on baby announcements. This is obvious, but collect email addresses for any email baby announcements, and home addresses for paper announcements (if you’re sending them). You can pick out a baby announcement template, but you might change your mind once you have baby photos. At the least, you can decide which company you’re going to order your announcements from and how much you’re willing to spend on them. Bonus: Buy stamps.
- Have your boss’s contact info handy. If you’re working up until your due date, decide when and how to tell your boss you’re starting maternity leave (email? text?) in case you go into labor early.
[Click “read more” to see the rest of the list!]
- Check the hospital menu. You’re going to be ravenous after birthing a baby, and most hospitals only have a few truly palatable things on the menu. Get the menu. Read the reviews on Yelp. Eat up.
- Research your undesirable scenarios. Many women who are planning a natural birth do a ton of research into avoiding labor induction, a Cesarian delivery, or painkiller use after birth. And many end up being induced, having C-sections, and needing drugs. There’s no shame in this — every mother has her own path to motherhood. But you need to be prepared for every scenario. If you have a C-section, will your baby be taken to a nursery while you recover or kept in the room with you? How much oxycodone is it safe for a nursing woman to take? These are things you’ll want to know before you’re in a hospital bed recovering while a beautiful baby stares up at you.
- Pack comfort items. There are lots of packing lists available online. I’ll just say that, when I was at the hospital, I was so happy to have a nightgown, light robe and slippers. I wish I’d packed a nursing sleep bra and nursing pillow.
- Make or buy frozen dinners. After you have a baby, people will bring you a lot of food. You’ll order a lot of takeout. It won’t be enough. With a newborn around, it’s harder to cook like you used to. Even making a sandwich can feel like a lot of work. Having frozen food handy will be like beaming in groceries from your pre-baby life.
- Prepare your comfy spaces. You’re going to do a lot of sitting around with a sleeping or sleepy baby. Make sure there are as many comfortable places in your home as possible. Put pillows, blankets and magazines there. You’ll thank yourself later.
- Understand breastfeeding. I mean, really do your research. Some lactation consultants will do a pre-delivery consultation with expecting moms. Consider signing up for one. Breastfeeding is confusing and painful and weird, but it’s also healthy and beautiful and rewarding. You don’t want to miss out on breastfeeding because you couldn’t get past a common breastfeeding issue during the first few weeks, which is when a lot of moms end up quitting. By educating yourself ahead of time, you’re giving yourself and your baby an extra advantage.
- Get nursing sleep bras/camisoles. You won’t know exactly what size you’re going to be until after you start nursing, but you know your general build. I’d recommend buying a nursing sleep bra and a few nursing camisoles in a size that will be comfortable for you. You’ll want one for the hospital. You can buy nicer bras for going out after you recover from delivery and can get your bra size figured out.
- Have a pumping plan.
- Find out if your medical insurance covers a breast pump. Under the Affordable Care Act, many insurance providers will give you an electric pump plus supplies at no cost to you. You might be able to order it ahead of time, or you might need to wait till after the baby is born — you should get the specifics.
- If you need to buy your own pump, you might not want to buy one too far ahead of time because you might end up renting a hospital-grade pump, depending on your nursing scenario. But you can at least decide which pump to buy and where to buy it. Then you can send your husband, mom or helper out for it when you need it.
- You’ll probably end up freezing milk, so have some milk-freezing bottles or baggies handy.
- If you’re planning to pump with any regularity, you’re going to want a hands-free pumping bra. If you don’t want to buy one, you can make one by cutting holes in an old bra.
These are just some tips I’ve had floating around my head for a while. I might add more if and when I think of any. I guess I should mention that this is on my mind partly because I’m expecting my second baby boy in January. We’re so excited!