Becoming a mom is an exciting time. Unfortunately, it also requires a lot of thinking ahead in order to be properly prepared.
As you prepare to welcome a little one into your world, you may feel overwhelmed by all of the excitement. This—in addition to those pesky pregnancy hormones—can lead to some forgetfulness "mommy brain", which in turn can lead to a new mother being ill-prepared, despite her best intentions. This has the potential to lead to a loss of precious bonding time in the first weeks of your baby's life, and makes establishing a good breastfeeding foundation more difficult as you scramble to accomplish tasks that could have been finished before baby's arrival.
Because being well-prepared for the arrival of your little bundle of joy is so important, we have taken it upon ourselves to create a checklist for new mothers. This list includes many of the important steps that should be taken in preparation for the birth of your baby, but often go forgotten.
Of course, the world likely won't come crashing down if you forget or run out of time to accomplish all of these tasks. However, following the steps on this list will help reduce stress and allow you to relax and connect with your little one immediately after birth.
Create a Birth Plan
Whether you plan on birthing in a hospital, at home, or in a birth center, a birth plan is an essential part of ensuring things go the way you plan throughout your labor and delivery. Consider the important questions and answer them in your birth plan. The plan might include your preferences on:
- Pain medication
- Cord blood banking
- Delayed cord clamping
- Immediate skin-to-skin
- Who is allowed in the room
- When the baby gets a bath
- Breastfeeding plans
- Birth photos
- Placenta Pills
- ...and anything else you have strong feelings about.
Be sure to share your plan with your doctor or midwife, as well as your doula, spouse, or anyone else on your birth team. This will help ensure your plan is followed as closely as it can be while still keeping everyone safe and sound.
While your nesting urges will likely remind you to accomplish this task, we figured it was worth including anyway. After baby arrives, you will likely be glued to the couch for a bit while you establish a good feeding routine and strong bond.
During this time, you likely won't get much house-cleaning done. For this reason, it is ideal to have a spotless home before baby arrives in order to minimize the amount of work that needs to be done in the weeks after your little one makes their appearance.
This might sounds like a tough task when you have been carrying a baby around already for nine months, but you can do it and will be seriously thanking yourself that you did. Eliminate more dust, allergens, old food in the fridge, laundry that's piled up, and get rid of clutter to give baby a healthy, safe, and cleaner environment.
If you are on bed rest, or even if you simply don't feel like cleaning, consider bringing in professional help to make your home a clean, comfy haven for your post-birth snuggles. Ask friends that might have a house cleaner or hire a local service to come in a spruce up your haven.
Freeze Healthy Meals or Sign Up for Grocery Delivery
Just as housework tends to be pushed aside during the postpartum period, most new mamas are not very into the idea of cooking right after giving birth. Having several healthy, homemade meals in your freezer will eliminate the need to eat greasy takeout or other junk foods.
Sign up for Instacart or another grocery delivery service like Amazon Fresh to save you the hassle of leaving the house to grocery shop. These are super convenient and you can literally be breastfeeding in the comfort of your own home while food and groceries gets delivered right to your doorstep.
One last great idea is to have a few friends board onto a "food train" and send you some meals in the first week of having your new baby. Usually a good friend is more than willing to take the reigns and gather a few other friends or family members that will be excited to stop by with some cooked meals for you.
Stock Up on Supplies
Store runs with a tiny baby are a hassle, especially if the weather is yucky or if nursing is still a challenging process. Therefore, stocking up on essentials before the birth of your baby is probably your best bet. These items might include breast pads, nipple cream, diapers, wipes, heavy-flow sanitary pads, and all of your usual toiletries. Did we mention the pads? Oh yes we did...pad up gals!! You'll need lots of them.
If you plan on going back to work just a few weeks after the birth, you may also want to look into purchasing a high-quality breast pump, breast milk storage bags, and a few bottles before baby arrives. This will eliminate the need to find the right pump and bottles during the busy newborn phase. Read more on how to get back to work as a breastfeeding mom.
Breastfeeding is a commitment and once baby says hello to the world, you won't be stopping anytime soon. Babies need to feed all the time in the beginning.
Create your nursing "station" in your home before baby arrives by having a cozy chair, water bottle, and snacks ready in the pantry. Find more tips on surviving the first month and how to make a great nursing area here.
Be prepped with easy to wear nursing tank tops, basic and soft tee shirts, and nursing hoodies for when you go outside. This will ensure quick access to nursing no matter where you might be. Soft nursing basics from Bun Maternity offer nursing ease, style, easy to wash and wear again, and they last a very long time so you can use them well after you are done with nursing.
Don't forget coconut oil or lanolin for sore nipples in the beginning. You'll also need breast pads and a good nursing bra that fits you well.
Choose a Pediatrician
A newborn will see their pediatrician almost immediately after birth. Therefore, having one picked out before baby makes their debut is the best way to go. This will make the process of making an appointment go as smoothly as possible. Being prepared means less stress!
Install Baby's Car Seat
This step is especially crucial if you plan on going to a hospital or birth center to have your baby! You have to have this.
However, it will need to be done eventually no matter where baby is born, so why not do it now? Having your little one's car seat installed by a professional will ensure their safety, something that should be at the forefront of every parent's mind. Safety first!
Pack a Hospital Bag
If you are headed somewhere besides your house to give birth, you will need to pack a bag of essentials. From chapstick, clean undies, to a nursing tank top, there are plenty of items you'll want to have on hand during labor and delivery and immediately after the birth. Check out this this helpful blog post for more information on what and how to pack your hospital bag.
You know all those adorable baby clothes and blankets you received at your shower? Now is the time to wash them. The chemicals found in new fabrics can be irritating to delicate baby skin. Additionally, new clothes tend to be stiff and itchy, so washing them before putting them on your little one is a definite must.
Trust us, a newborn having an irritation or allergic reaction to that new glitter paint hot pink onesie is the last thing you want to deal with. Consider preparing a drawer full of fresh, organic, and soft blankies and onesies for baby's first few weeks at home and avoid clothing with scratchy labels, trims, glitter, and harsh printing paints. Soft and more pure clothing clear of all the ruffles and inks is a perfect layering piece underneath the more decorated clothing so you hopefully eliminate baby getting itchy and having irritated skin.
If possible, be sure to take at least one childbirth class before going into labor. From Lamaze to hypnobirthing to the traditional hospital-sanctioned classes, there are many types of classes available, so you are sure to find one that suits your birthing style and wishes. In addition to the class (or classes), check out some books on the birthing process and various pain-management techniques in order to feel well-prepared when you do go into labor. Pretty sure you've heard of the book What to Expect When You're Expecting...yes get that! That totally works!
Some birth classes include a section on newborn care and lessons on breastfeeding basics. It's important to find where you can access IBCLC's in your area for all your nursing questions and support needs. Expand upon this information by signing up for more in-depth classes or reading some quality material on the subject. The more you know about breastfeeding and newborn care, the more confident you will feel as a new mother.
Find Help or Schedule
Finding time and energy to accomplish all of the day-to-day tasks is difficult when you have a newborn. In fact, the simple act of getting a shower can become nearly impossible.
However, lining up some close friends and family to help during the time right after the birth can be tremendously helpful. These people could help out by bringing meals for the family, holding baby while you shower or nap, or even doing dishes or laundry for you. FInd out how dads can help breastfeeding moms here and share with him so he gets a head start.
Now many of us don't have help! This is a reality and some of us aren't lucky enough to have parents, a partner, friends, and family close enough to help us in this time. It's okay and you CAN do it! You may even become the expert considering you may have to do it all. Set a time before birth to just map out how you will manage your schedule and take steps to ease the load. In this case, being prepared before baby arrives is even more crucial than you can imagine. Following the above advice will help tremendously in being more prepped and ahead of the game.
We hope that this list has helped you feel organized and more capable of finishing everything before baby arrives. If not, it is important to remember that you can always ask for help. Most people are more than happy to assist a mom-to-be.
Additionally, it is good to keep in mind that an unaccomplished task is not the end of the world, and everything will work out despite that task going unfinished, so don't spend too much of your third trimester worrying about what has and hasn't been finished!
Instead, finish the things you deem most important first and then enjoy and relish in the amazing journey of motherhood. Keep going mamas! You're doing great!