A happy time in life, pregnancy can also be stressful. Pregnancy is a time of rest, relaxing as much as possible and planning for the birth of a child that will bring untold joy to your life. Of course this is just in an ideal world – realistically, you still have to work and live your life while pregnant. You won’t necessarily be able to relax, and your preparation will be sporadic and take some time. Preparing for a newborn looks different for all expectant parents.
Some people prepare by getting a nursery and all the things together as soon as possible but other people prepare by educating themselves as much as possible on what it means to be a parent. You need to learn so much about how to change a diaper, what causes newborn skin to peel, why you should never use cot bumpers and how to choose your birth. You will learn how to get ready to change your life, not just for the arrival of a baby. Parenting and pregnancy aren’t easy things to work through, but you can manage together!
Parenting is unique depending on the family, but the one constant is the love felt for a new baby that you have built from scratch. It’s so important that you work with each other and parent together, but preparing together is the key to parenting with love, strength and support. Below, we’ve put together everything that you can do to prepare for your new arrival.
- Write A Birth Plan. Planning for the birth is more of a comfort for you than it is for the actual birth. You want to plan out the things that you want from your birth, but you must keep an open mind about it. Birth can change rapidly in the moment, and as much as you may want an easy, drug-free homebirth, you may end up with a c-section in a hospital. The key here is to think about what your ideal birth will include and write it down. If you don’t want drugs during the birth, write it down. Research delayed cord clamping, skin to skin benefits and how long you want to wait before your baby has a bath. These are all things you should busy yourself writing down because then you can advocate for yourself. Share your plan with your medical team and your birth partner, as things can change on the day and you have to be flexible about that, too.
- Keep Talking To Your Partner. Whether it’s your partner or your birth partner, you need to make sure that you’re both on the same page about getting ready for the baby. Some parents have fundamental differences in their beliefs, so why not consider talking early about expectations? As a mother, you’re going to be sleep deprived and that takes a lot out of you when you try to feed and raise a baby. Talk to your partner about their role in labor with you, what you need from them and what you expect in the early days. Remember that you are both going to be exhausted and you will both be adjusting to this huge change in life. You need to be communicative and kind to one another – or you will not make those scary early weeks. Be supportive of one another, appreciative of one another and agree a safe word to “time out” if you need a break from the relentlessness of early newborn life.
- Ask For Help. In your circle, you are likely going to know other parents. It’s tempting to ask for advice from your own mother and father, but you have to remember that well-meaning advice doesn’t mean much if it’s 30 years out of date! Always thank people for unsolicited advice, to be polite, but then go your own way. Ask experienced mothers for ideas and make sure that you are asking people who are current with their parenting practices. You need a village and it’s not just about supporting your new baby, it’s about supporting you, too. You are brand new at all of this, which means that you are going to need people to lean on and this means taking opportunities to learn from others and their experiences. You do not need to heed negativity – we’ll be clear about that – but you do need to ask positive questions. Ask your friends about cloth diapers and what to do about breastfeeding latches. Ask about the sleep regressions and the dangers of forward-facing too soon. Any advice you get, back it up with your own research!
- Arrange For Angels. Cleaners, friends who can cook, childcare providers for the older kids – these are your angels. In those early, sleep-deprived and confusing weeks of having a newborn, you need to have some help. Rally your besties to cook you meals to stash in the freezer and book a weekly cleaner as a treat to yourself. It can be stressful for some to keep up with cleaning and a baby, and while a baby is more important than housework, it can be stressful to look at the mess and do nothing about it. A cleaner could be the best gift that you give to yourself, to relieve your stress. You could also schedule all of the meals and cleaning to happen when your partner goes back to work and it’s just you and the baby. You should also consider asking your closest and most trustworthy friends to come and be there with you to allow you to nap sometimes. They can wake you when the baby needs a feed, but the more people that you have around you, the better.
- Prewash The Baby Clothes. All of those beautiful clothes you’ve been gifted? They all need to be put through the laundry and dried before being put away. As your baby is brand-spanking new, you want to ensure that the clothes you have is washed of all germs. In stores, people will put their hands all over clothing, and the clothes have moved through warehouses and shop floors, packing boxes and plastic. That is the potential for hundreds of people and their bacteria all over your child’s clothing. You should consider that your baby has very sensitive, very new skin. The last thing that you need is a reaction on their skin and it begins to peel because you didn’t wash the clothes first. Use a non-biological detergent on your baby’s clothing and dry them before hanging them up in the wardrobe.
- Cook Up A Storm. Remember we mentioned friends who could bring over meals to freezer stash for you? Well, not everyone is lucky enough to have friends like that. So, why not do it for yourself while you’re pregnant? You can batch cook bolognese, chilli, curries and more for the freezer. Freeze it into individual portions and you will always have a meal to grab when you’re exhausted and ready to collapse into bed. That first week or so when you and your new baby are settling into a feeding pattern is hard. You will find that you’ll thank yourself over and over for making sure that you had nutritious food to eat. All you have to do is stick it in the microwave and off you go.
- Stock Up Smartly. If you plan to cloth diaper, start stocking up on diaper stuffers and diapers early. They can be expensive as an outlay, but long-term you’re going to save money and it’s the only type of diaper you can really stash! Diapers come in a range of sizes, and you don’t know what size your baby will need at birth. If you do want to stock up, wait until the baby is born and you know their weight, then send the troops to go and get boxes and boxes of the sizes you’ll need. You should also consider stocking up on cotton pads and sensitive wipes, as you’ll need the cotton pads in those early newborn days.
- Pack Your Bag. Your hospital bag needs to be packed for around 30 weeks. You can’t predict when you’ll go into labor and the last thing that you need is to panic pack and forget everything. Pack a bag for you and the baby, and then pack a second one just in case you’re in hospital longer than you thought you would be. There are tons of lists everywhere online so you can find out what you need to include. One hack: buy two black flannels! After birth, you will be bleeding for a few weeks – this is called lochia and it’s where the placenta attached to the wall of the womb is exposed. Until this heals, you will bleed and that post-labor shower is a messy one. So, if you use two black flannels, you can use one as a pad while you shower, then once done, switch it out for the dry flannel to dry off. Prepare your underwear with a new pad and ready yourself to remove the flannel and step into them! Genius idea!