Sure, there’s the prenatal class, packing your hospital bag, making a birth plan — those are “splashy” things on social media that always do well. BUT what are the nitty gritty things you’ll wish you’d done before baby gets here?
How do I know so much about babies coming? Hi, I’m Hilary — many people know me as The Pregnancy Nurse®. I’ve been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of labor and delivery experience. I’ve had 3 kids of my own and I LOVE to see how parents thrive together after baby (although a lot don’t) — so, I’m a great resource on this one!
Before we get started — don’t miss the basics….
- Pack your hospital bag
- Make a birth plan
- Choose a prenatal class
- Wash Baby clothes (I always LOVED this one — not sure why)
- Decorate the nursery
(a lot of those basics have some printable checklists in my free resources)
BUT here are 5 things a lot of people don’t end-up doing and it’s a MISTAKE
Install & Practice With the Car Seat
Ok, you bought the car seat, good chance you even took it out of the box, and maybe even glanced at the user manual. BUT… have you installed it?
And have you gone one step further and practiced with it?
Sure, you’re not going to have a real baby (and it will be much harder with your own flesh and blood) but practicing with the car seat can be richly rewarded once you realize it’s your ticket out of the house every. single. time.
So, what do you practice with? Well, a large stuffed animal might be nice, if you have one — if not, just roll-up a blanket and put it in the seat. Practice buckling and unbuckling it. Put the carseat IN the car and OUT of the car. Figure out how the straps adjust.
Hilary’s Fail: I did NOT do this with our infant car seat and honestly, it was a big reason why I didn’t leave the house (and possibly fell into postpartum depression) after baby was born. It was too hard to figure out. I wish I’d practiced and gotten some “tricks” up my sleeve earlier on.
Bonus to do: Try it with the stroller, and make sure you know how to “work” the stroller (especially important if they’re a “system”
If you’re stumped with any of this, look for videos on YouTube about how to install your specific car seat or look out for CSPT to help you out!
And while we’re here talking safety — don’t miss doing your kick counts — I have a cheat sheet to make sure you’re doing them the right way:
Figure Out Your 4 Hours of Sleep Plan
Did you know that studies show getting 4 continuous hours of sleep can help mom not get postpartum depression. Honestly, I always wonder how much of PPD is caused by not sleeping.
So, have you talked with your partner about your plan to get those 4 hours of sleep?
Sure, you may not get them every night. In fact — that first week is going to be a doozy of figuring out your milk supply. If you’re breastfeeding, you may be encouraged to feed or pump every 4 hours due to supply issues. However, after a couple of weeks that should regulate a bit.
Most women will feed the baby, pass it off to dad, get those 4 hours and then either get-up and feed baby again or pump after they wake-up. Dad will need a bottle of something to feed baby while you’re asleep (which yes, means you’ll also need at least one bottle).
Lactation often sees a lot of problems with this, not frequent-enough breast stimulation (but is sleep more important? I think so), and possible nipple confusion for baby. However, ask lactation how they would recommend you get those 4 hours of continuous sleep.
Don’t forget DAD needs those 4 hours too. While he isn’t trying to heal his body, he does have a lot of changes in his life, so work to get BOTH of you get those 4 hours. Most often Dad takes a 4 hour shift at night, and mom takes a 4 hour shift.
Sharing the load like that is a GREAT sign you’ll be successful as parents! We talk about a lot of things like that in couples questions in here.
Know the trouble signs for MOM after baby is born
You may have learned a LOT about baby (I have a baby bonus video in here) — which is amazing. You’ll need those skills.
But, do you know the trouble signs for YOU? You are going to have a major medical event in your life. There is a chance of some pretty bad complications associated with it.
You can grab the trouble signs worksheet in English right here. If you’re looking for another language check out this page where it has a bunch of languages (scroll down to the save your life handout).
Put this up on your fridge, or in a cabinet where it is easy to see and make SURE your partner reads through them several times as well. I think it’s smart to have up during that last month of pregnancy — just so you both really KNOW those signs.
Knowing these signs has saved a LOT of mom’s lives. I’m so grateful AWHONN put them together. 🙂
Oh, and get prepared for what you’ll need for YOU after baby with my postpartum checklist:
Stock your baby medicine cabinet
You may guess that you’ll want some ibuprofen after baby is born, but having things on hand for BABY in case THEY get sick is a really smart move.
The things I recommend having on hand:
- Infant’s Tylenol
- Benedryl (in case of an allergic reaction)
- a HEALING diaper cream
- A thermometer to check temperature
- Keep that bulb syringe from the hospital to suck out baby’s nose)
While there are a few other things you can add to it (like a bottle of Pedialyte) those are the basics. See something I missed, tell me in the comments!
Pick a Pediatrician
We always ask for your pediatrician’s name when you are admitted to labor and delivery. Many people’s eyes glaze over as they didn’t realize they needed a doctor for BABY in addition to their own OBGYN.
The hospital will make sure that you have an appointment with your pediatrician (or family doctor) before you go home.
I’d recommend calling around to see if you can talk with any doctors or get some information on them and their practice before picking one.
Good news, you can always change — it’s VERY easy to change pediatricians, so if you find you’re not loving the one you’re going to — switch! Many are in fairly large practices, so you can even just try someone else out in the practice.
I used to work for a pediatrician and sometimes people would mention to me they just weren’t “vibing” with the pediatrician they were assigned. I’d ask them what they were looking for in a pediatrician — and I’d often recommend someone else who more aligned with their parenting needs.
For instance, I want a VERY conservative pediatrician who doesn’t treat a lot of things, but is VERY aggressive and quick to act when they think something is wrong. I’ve had good luck finding ones that worked for me. 🙂
If this to do list is making you concerned there are other things you forget to do, we talk about ALL the things (including stocking the fridge/freezer) in here to make sure you’re totally prepared!
Bonus thing to do:
DO the prenatal class
Ok, so you GOT the prenatal class, but have you DONE it?
So many people leave the prenatal class beyond getting the nursery ready, or folding baby clothes. But the GOOD news is this one can actually be done at the same time!
I think it would be crazy cathartic to do the class WHILE folded baby’s laundry. Might even remember it better.
So, get a class you’re EXCITED to keep doing. Check out how many reviews call The Online Prenatal Class for Couples FUN. I really am there to engage you and encourage you to FINISH It — so come join me It truly is the EASY (and fun) way to get prepared for birth!
Or, if you’re not quite ready for the full class, check out my free prenatal class — It’s your first step towards being your own birth boss.