Get ready! What “What to Expect” doesn’t tell you about preparing for birth.
Seven not-so-standard top tips for getting ready for d-day.
Of course we all know the “usual” things you’d do to prepare for birth: determining the best route to the hospital, making sure your carseat is properly installed, washing and sorting the baby clothes, buying diapers and preparing the nursery, packing your hospital bag, compiling your contact list, etc. etc. etc.!
But, having done this once before, there are a few other things that I also recommend you try and get in order before baby comes:
1) Get your house ready. For most nesting moms this one is a no-brainer. Do a big deep-clean of the house – tackle things that you won’t get to for a while such as cleaning out the fridge, dusting fans and baseboards, or washing windows. Of course this one depends on your energy levels and time constraints… but aim for your “best case” scenario (and then let go of whatever doesn’t end up happening). I’m currently in the process of enlisting some friends to help me in my mission to deep clean my house! (Or if you can afford it you could hire a cleaning service to do a one-off – wouldn’t that be a great baby shower gift or “push present”?!)
2) Get your friends ready. Arrange to have dinners prepared for you for as long as you can. This is one big regret that I have from my postpartum days with Levi. I mistakenly assumed that meals would just show up on our doorstep, and with the exception of one meal… none came! This was especially disappointing after having had an unplanned c/section. This time around, I have no shame! I’m blatantly asking for help in advance and lining up as many people as possible to bring over a meal during our early days with baby. This is not only a huge blessing for me, but even more so for my husband who would bear the brunt of meal making if needed (and will also be exhausted no doubt).
3) Get your husband’s employer ready. As much as possible, discuss leave and “what if’s” with your husband’s boss. My husband is lucky enough to get two weeks paternity leave when baby comes, which is a huge blessing. But after having Levi by c/section I ended up being in hospital for five days (due to a mild infection that set in) so by the time I got home Ryan only had one week of leave left. That meant that after one week of being home I was left on my own trying to physically recover from a c/section while also trying to figure out how to care for a newborn. If I could do it all over, I’d have asked for my husband to try and take an extra week (perhaps use vacation time if needed) to help me after the cesarean, or see what other kind of help I could have lined up.
4) Get your children ready. Preparing for your older children’s first visit with baby will look different for each family and for each child depending on their age. For us, this means packing a small gift to the hospital that baby will “give” to Levi when he comes to visit for the first time (to help him feel special too). Levi will also bring baby a small gift and have something he feels he can contribute to the excitement of it all. We’ve also been talking lots about “the baby”, spending time around others’ babies, reading stories about baby, and playing with a little boy baby doll.
5) Get your body ready. No, I’m not talking about doing your kegels or practicing your breathing! I’m talking about getting “pretty”. For some women this means getting a manicure or pedicure or facial – all lovely things to do, though not really my thing. I do, however, like to make sure that my hair is recently cut and my legs and bikini line are freshly waxed. My reasoning is two-fold: I don’t want to have to worry about those things for the first several weeks post-partum… and it helps me to feel fresh and decent-looking when the rest of my body is in the throws of labor and recovery! Whatever will help you to feel fresh and groomed… make the time to do it. Every little effort helps to make you feel that tiny bit more lovely when all else around you is raging and changing and (potentially) sore!
6) Get your personal hygiene stash ready. Buy a few packs of the biggest sanitary pads with wings that you can find, and some nursing tanks, gel pads for your nipples (and/or for “down there”), and nipple cream if you intend to breastfeed. I also recommend buying a 5 or 10 pack of cheap cotton undies that you don’t mind throwing away after the first couple of (potentially messy) weeks. Black is best… for obvious reasons.
7) Get your back-up stuff ready. Speaking as one who ended up with a five-day hospital stay, I recommend having a few things at home prepared for an extended hospital stay if needed. These are things that are probably overkill to pack in your initial hospital bag, but good to have organized so your husband or friend can easily grab them if needed: a few more clothing items, breast pump, nursing pillow, a book or magazine, some favorite snacks, your laptop and charger (if you’re like me!), phone charger, favorite TV series or movie on DVD, and a few more outfits, diapers, and blankets for baby.
Dear friends, what things did you do to prepare for baby’s arrival that go beyond the standard “pack your bags” advice?