As if you can really ever be prepared for childbirth…
But, hey, there are definitely some things you can do to make the transition to parenthood a little bit easier. A lot of these are the same things we did as I neared the end of my first pregnancy with Avery, but this time I have the added bonus of knowing what it’s actually like to take care of a newborn. For example, in my original post (linked above), I thought I wouldn’t eat hospital food, and I didn’t think I would let disposable diapers anywhere near my precious baby’s bottom. This time, I’ll take all the hospital pancakes I can get. And the disposable diaper thing…we used disposables for the first six or eight weeks while we were waiting for Avery to grow into his cloth diapers, we always used them on vacation, and sometimes at night when he started leaking through his cloth diapers on a nightly basis. This doesn’t make me a bad mom, it makes me a real mom. I’ve found what works for us and I’m definitely not as full on crunchy granola as I thought I would be. If you are planning for your own little bundle of joy, here are a few helpful tips for the hospital and those first few weeks at home with a newborn.
Stock the Freezer
This was such a huge help the first time around, so I’ve been making time each week to put one or two meals in the freezer. I’ve been focusing mostly on dinner because breakfast and lunch are usually pretty quick. In those first few weeks home with Avery, I was usually able to find time to make dinner, but there were those crazy days when I didn’t even feel like I could make it into the kitchen. On those days, the freezer meals saved my life. You just dump the contents of the freezer bag into the slow cooker for most of these meals. Some are pre-cooked and then frozen so you can just heat them up in the microwave. Here is a list of some of the recipes I’ve been making (including a few of my own) –
- Sausage and Cheese Biscuits – I cut way back on the butter and cheese, but these are really yummy! Check out the photo below.
- Slow Cooker Moroccan Stew
- Freezer to Crockpot Meals – From this site, I made the Mushroom Barley Stew and the Sausage with Peppers and Onions
- Real Food with a Twist – My book! My favorite for freezing is the Taco Soup
Frozen Postpartum Pads (with Aloe and Witch Hazel)
I cannot take credit for these. There are hundreds of recipes out there on the internet and I honestly can’t even tell you who should get credit for these miracle pads, but I have put my own little spin on it that I will share with you. I made these before giving birth to Avery and, without getting to graphic, let me just say that they were very helpful to the healing process. You basically take a maxi pad, cover it with aloe vera gel, witch hazel and lavender essential oil (optional), and then wrap them back up and stick them in the freezer. It’s kind of like a very soothing ice pack diaper. 🙂 You are going to need pads anyway and, if you are planning a vaginal birth, you’ll appreciate having these around. Get the recipe here.
Have a Birth “Wish List”
I hate the word birth plan. You know who makes the plan…your baby. You can make all the plans you want, but sometimes labor and delivery just don’t go the way we want them to. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t be prepared, you just need to be open and expect the unexpected. That being said, you want to be sure your birth team (nurses, midwives, doctors, doulas, etc.) is on the same page as you as far as what you want for labor, delivery, and newborn care, so filling out and sharing a birth plan worksheet can be helpful. The hospital where I’ll be delivering provides us with a birth plan worksheet, but I also really like this one from The Bump. If you are interested, here is my birth plan from last time, along with how it shook out with my birth reality.
Take Advantage of Family Time
We are squeezing in as many dates (without Avery) and fun family activities (with Avery) as we can before the baby gets here. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in pregnancy that I forget our family of three will soon be a family of four. I know it’s going to be a big change for all of us, so I am soaking up as much family time as possible while I still can. We took Avery to his first soccer game and his first movie (The Secret Life of Pets), and Kevin and I have been on a few movie dates, too. We are even celebrating our anniversary early because it is so close to my due date.
Make a birth playlist
I was very quiet and kind of internalized everything with my first labor. It seemed to really help me. So I liked having some soothing music on in the background. Cue Sigur Ros! 🙂 Well, it can be any music you want, but you know what I mean. Having some music to distract or calm you is really nice during such an intense time. On top of that, we were in that labor and delivery room for four or five hours before Avery was finally born, so it was nice to have some entertainment.
Pack Your Bags
I’m a planner, so I’ll be packing my hospital bag this week at 36 weeks. I have had my list for months, though, because it is virtually the same as the first time around, with a few additions. I’ll be bringing my own breast pump this time so the hospital can’t charge me for using theirs (if I need to pump again for some reason), and I might also bring my nursing pillow. I won’t be bringing a swimsuit to wear in the tub because I could not have cared less what I was wearing last time and I pretty much just stayed naked in the tub and once I got out. I’ll still pack snacks for after I give birth, but I was so wrapped up in the labor process that food was the last thing on my mind. Here is what is on my list –
- Big Water Bottles – Last time, I went through water like crazy so they just started filling the pitcher and leaving it in my room so I could fill my own water bottle
- Birth Plan
- ID and insurance card
- Nursing pajamas
- Nursing bras
- Flip flops
- Socks (so I don’t have to wear those giant hospital socks if my feet get cold)
- Outfit to wear home
- Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, hair dryer, etc.)
- Phone – with labor playlist
- Baby book – for footprints and handprints
- Clothes and a blanket for the baby to go home with
- Infant car seat – Duh
- Clothes and toiletries for Kevin
So, that’s it! Do you have a favorite tip for preparing for a newborn?