By Heather Catlin
First, congratulations!! You’re officially a bad ass.
Having a baby is an amazing part of life. Although, it doesn’t come without major ups and downs. Here are things you absolutely need to do to BEFORE you deliver to make your life easier on yourself once that little bundle of joy arrives.
TO-DO LIST RIGHT BEFORE BABY ARRIVES TO MAKE LIFE EASIER AFTER DELIVERY:
- MEAL TRAIN: I don’t care who you are or where you live, you’ll want other people to cook for you. Set up a meal-train or get someone else to do it for you. We used this Meal Train website. My best girlfriends and family members dropped off dinner for my husband and I every other day for the first few weeks after my daughter was born. If ANYONE asks how they can help, this is how they can help. It was great because you can list allergies, likes and dislikes, and instruct people to come in or leave food by the door. If you live in a town where you don’t have very many people around, plan ahead and freeze some meals.
- VAGINAL DELIVERY FIRST AID KIT: Get everything on this list. Seriously, these are MUST HAVE ITEMS after having a vaginal birth. These items will help you feel better and heal quicker. You can pick everything up on this list at a local drug store or on amazon.com.
- HOUSE: Get your house cleaned and organized before delivery. You will have zero time and energy to devote to house chores, especially in the first month. Obviously, make sure you have your baby’s room all set up.
- CAR: Get your car cleaned (inside and out) and install the car seat. After it’s installed, stop by your local fire department so they can double check you installed in correctly. (I called mine before showing up and scheduled an appointment with the appropriate person.) Always drive around on a full tank starting two weeks before your due date. After your baby comes, you will not want to go to a gas station to fill up. Trust me.
- PEDIATRICIAN: Obviously you need to figure out who your pediatrician is, but make sure you know their procedures and rules. Do they have a 24-hour on-call nurse for new moms? Mishaps always seem to happen when the doctor’s office is closed. What about same day appointments? Do they take your insurance? Make sure you know all of this before your child is born. Also put their number in your phone so you can easily call them up.
- BABY ANNOUNCEMENT: Whether it’s a text, email or formal baby announcement mailed to friends, have something prepared. If it’s a text or email, pre-write what you want to say with the details blank. Then once you know your child’s birth day, time and weight just fill it in and send. If you’re sending out formal baby announcements in the mail, pick out the format of your card and pre-lable all the envelopes and put the stamp on. That way all you have to do is fill in the details, add a picture and mail off. Speaking of pictures…
- NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER: If you plan on getting newborn pictures, arrange ahead of time. The perfect time to get newborn pics is two weeks after you give birth. Baby is still tiny and hasn’t developed baby acne yet. If you’re using a professional photographer, first make sure you like his or her style before hiring. Then make your down-payment. He/She will be on-call. After you give birth, send a quick text or email to schedule something. Also, have all the outfits planned. Know what you’re going to put on your little one (if anything) and what you’re going to wear. HAVE BACKUPS. Babies spit-up and pee a lot. If you baby does this during the photo shoot, make sure you have another shirt to slip into.
- ON-CALL PERSON: Whether this is your spouse, friend or family member, just have someone who can be on-call to help you and “watch” you. The first few weeks are tough and you’ll be exhausted. You may need someone to pick up food, medicine or drive you to the doctor’s office. Make sure this person is willing and ready prior to your baby’s delivery. This person should also watch out for you and your health. You may not be able to see signs of postpartum depression or other issues that may arise because you’re so focused on the baby. This person has a clear head and should be able to guide you to get help if needed.
- INSURANCE AND WORK: If you work outside the home, make sure your insurance company and employer are aware of your pregnancy and how long you plan on taking off. Do you have Short Term Disability? How long does it cover? It may depend on what kind of birth you have. Are you taking the full 12 weeks or coming back after 6? Are you able to take off more? These are all questions you need to have the answer to and communicate to your employer and HR manager. Also know your rights as an employee. Before my daughter was born, I made a binder and included all the important numbers and passwords I needed. I had to call my insurance company right after her delivery in order to start Short Term Disability. I had the number ready with my account information and had my husband call. Also think about the details for when you go back to work. Does your office have a lactation station? If not, do they legally need to provide you with one? If not, make sure you make a place for yourself where you can shut the door and pump.
- DAYCARE: If you plan on enrolling your child in daycare, make sure you know which one. Many of them have wait lists. I know some people who put their child on the wait lists in their first trimester. I waited until my second. By my third trimester, we put our deposit down and told them which month we plan on starting. Make sure to pay attention to your gut feeling when looking at different daycare facilities. I promise, you’ll like one over the rest. Also know what you need. We needed a daycare that offers part-time attendance, is close to our house, has open communication with parents, provides diapers, wipes and food when kids start eating, and is open until I got off work. Figure out your list and find a daycare that offers all of it. It’s okay to be picky, but be prepared to pay a lot. Daycare isn’t cheap.
- YOU: Get your hair colored and cut, go get a mani/pedi and wax if you need to. Whatever your beauty regiment is, get it done right before your baby comes.
- DIGITAL WORLD: You’re going to be taking a lot of pictures. I mean, a lot. Make sure you know how you’re going to store them and where you’re going to store them. Clean out your phone so you have space, buy an exterior hard-drive and know how to use it. Do these things now so it’s easy to transfer photos and videos later. I find it easiest to keep folders organized by the year. In that folder, I divide the pictures and videos up by month. Nothing too crazy, but just enough to keep me organized.
- HOSPITAL BAG: Make sure this is packed and ready to go (or at least most of it) at least two weeks before your due date. Remember to tell your spouse to pack a bag too if he plans on staying at the hospital with you.
- NEEDED ITEMS YOU MIGHT NOT THINK OF:
- TWO BASSINETS – Buy two bassinets and put one by your bed and one by your couch in the living room (or wherever you’ll spend the most time outside of your bedroom). Let’s face it, you are there to feed and change this little human. Regardless of how exhausted you are, it’s important to get out of bed (shower if you can… good luck) and move locations. This will make you feel more human. If you have two floors and can swing it, buy a second changing table and put it in a downstairs bathroom. You won’t regret it. Walking up and down stairs will get exhausting, especially in that first month.
- EXTRA BOUNCY SEAT – The extra bouncy seat is for your bathroom. Remember, you still have to use the restroom. When you have to go, just bring your little one with you and put him/her in the bouncy seat. The bouncy seat is also great to use before and after a bath. So worth the money.
- BABY CARRIER – This allowed me to walk around my yard (hello sun, it’s nice to see you) and do things while my little one was snuggling up to me. The baby carrier was especially useful later when we went on several flights. I’d put her in and rock her to sleep.
- NURSING TOPS – Trust me on this one. You will be nursing A LOT. Nursing friendly tops and pj’s allow you to whip it out and whip it back in. Get at least 7 nursing tops. One for each day, but you’ll probably go through several a day.
- NURSING PADS – Oh my god will you need these when your milk comes in. I used these from Lansinoh, because I preferred the disposable ones. Some like cloth ones like these. It doesn’t matter which ones you choose, just get some so you don’t wake up in a puddle or realize mid-conversation that your shirt is all wet.
- CLOTHES FOR INFANT – Don’t waste your money on newborn clothes. Seriously. Your infant will live in gowns and onesies. They are easy to take on and off (hello diaper blowout and barf) and they allow for easy access when changing the 15th diaper of the day. Think about what you’ll like best. I really liked the onesies that had a zipper, because I HATED trying to button those tiny buttons or snapping difficult snaps at 3am. Zippers were easy. I also really like the gowns. They lift up and lift back down. They also don’t need shoes. Just socks. Seriously, why waste your money on shoes now? You’ll have to buy plenty down the road when your kid’s shoe size changes every month.