For the soon-to-be mama, who feels like there are no less than a zillion things to do before giving birth, technically, she's right. There are binkies to buy, breast pumps to figure out, breastfeeding classes to take (yes, apparently women need to take classes for something that should be completely natural), a nursery to decorate, a registry to create, daycares to discover and thousands of teeny, tiny little socks to wash and fold.
Um, it seems kind of like an unmovable mountain of getting-ready-for-baby tasks. Who's feeling the prenatal pressure right now?
Okay, with all of the things moms-to-be need to do to get ready for baby, why wait until after the due date? Seriously. How hard is it to finish putting together that glider, struggle with nursing and learn the correct way to wash a newborn after contracting for 12 hours, pushing for two and spending a few days getting poked and prodded in the hospital?
Pretty hard. So, instead of spending those last few weeks of pre-baby life binge-watching shows on Netflix and getting foot rubs (well, maybe moms-to-be shouldn’t stop either one of those just yet), moms-to-be can try some of the things that moms do during pregnancy to make life with the baby easier.
And what are these magical activities that will make a new-mama's life less stressful? Yeah, yeah, we know that they’re not exactly “magical.” But, these before-birth must-do’s will totally make those first few days, weeks and months with a new baby calmer, cooler and much more relaxed.
14 Find A Pediatrician
Yep, you definitely need one of these. But, waiting until the baby’s born just won’t do. This isn’t exactly a call at the last moment type of thing. Finding a pediatrician takes time. Sure, you could google, “pediatricians near me” and make an appointment with the first doc who pops up on page one of the results.
Um, that’s not really the responsible, “parent” way to go though. It’s also much easier to start the search several months before actually giving birth.
So, start asking around – right now. Talk to your mommy-friends, family or your OB. After you’ve narrowed down the picks to your short list (of the most recommended doctors), come up with the most important questions that you have for a potential pediatrician. This might include anything from the doc’s office hours to their medical philosophy.
Take those questions to the doctors themselves, visiting the offices for pre-baby interviews. Make sure to verify that the office accepts your insurance and fill out any paperwork that you can before your d-day.
13 Put The Gear Together
You’ve got mountains of baby gear. The baby’s room is filled with unbuilt furniture and what used to be the dining room now houses car seats, strollers and a changing table – all still in their boxes. No new mom wants to come home to 15 pieces of a crib instead of a ready-built one.
And, the stroller? Wouldn’t it be much easier to strap the baby in it, than to wait for dad to build it as you walk around rocking a wailing kiddo.
Open up all of that gear and put together everything. Yes, everything. You need 100 percent of the gear working and ready to go by the time baby’s here. So, have a putting it together party, invite your fam and friends over and get that gear going. If that’s not possible, get a jump start and begin the assembly process as soon as possible.
12 Write Thank You Notes
It’s sometime during your last trimester, and your BFF’s are throwing you the shower to end all showers. You raked in a ridiculous amount of onesies, receiving blankets, car seat covers and random bits of baby gear. You’re totally appreciative of all the gifts, and want to share your sincere thanks. So, you’ve got a designated note-taker during the shower (who is writing down what each friend or family member got you).
Waiting to write out those thank you’s might mean that the notes never happen. Adjusting to life with a newborn doesn’t exactly leave plenty of extra time for picking out cute little notecards and penning your appreciation. While you’re still pregnant, use some of that “free time” to get the thank you’s written and in the mail.
Oh, and if you’re thinking a quick text or group email (something along the lines of, “Dear friends, Thanks for the great gift!”) will do – it won’t.
11 Wash Everything
The baby clothes are taking over your house. You’ve got drawers filled with onesies, sleepers, socks and teeny, tiny little hats. That’s not even mentioning all of the infant-sized hooded towels, receiving blankets, crib sheets and mattress pads you’re stockpiling. And, you need to wash them all.
Yes, the amount of laundry that you do after baby is born will double (or triple, or quadruple). But, that doesn’t mean you have to wait until your little one is here to start the wash cycle. Your baby will need clothes to wear, sheets to sleep on and towels to wash here immediately. That doesn’t leave much time if you plan on waiting until you’re home from the hospital.
Make life with baby a bit easier and get all of those little clothes washed weeks before your due date. After washing all of the clothes (and linens), pack them away in the dresser or closet, and take comfort in the fact that you’re well-prepared for baby’s arrival.
10 Take A First Aid Class
No mommy wants to think that she’ll need CPR or first aid skills when it comes to her baby. But, accidents happen. Give yourself some peace of mind and take a class in infant first aid/CPR before the baby’s born. More than 9.2 million children (between the ages of 0 and 12) visit ERs in the U.S. each year because of accidental injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That’s a whole lot of injured kiddos. Just in case the unthinkable happens in your house, you want to make sure that you’re completely prepared.
Check out the first aid and CPR classes that your local hospital, community center or school offers. Make sure to look for classes that specifically focus on infants and children. Even though an infant class is of primary importance right now, you might want to prep for the future too. Bonus if the class also covers first aid and CPR techniques for young children as well as for babies.
If the class doesn’t, add on a second session to get you ready for the toddler and preschool days.
9 Line Up Insurance
You already have health insurance (or, at least you should already have health insurance). But, what about your baby? Obviously you can’t give your provider the baby’s info before she’s born. She doesn’t have a birth date, social security number or even a name yet. So, you’re wondering what happens if she needs care immediately after birth or even who pays for her hospital stay.
Don’t stress. She’s covered under your plan for the first 30 days (keep in mind, insurance laws, rules and regulations are ever-changing). Under the Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act, both you and your baby are entitled to stay in the hospital for 48 hours after a vaginal birth and 96 hours if you’ve had a C-section.
Even though you’ll have 30 days from the time your baby makes her big debut to enroll her in your policy, you want to make sure that you have all of the info before she’s born. Contact your insurance company while you’re pregnant and ask what forms you need to fill out and what info you need to provide them.
This lets you get as much paperwork in order as possible before you’re suddenly overwhelmed with mommy duties. If you can’t afford to add your baby to your policy, check out your state's Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The CHIP program offers no or low-cost insurance for families who can’t otherwise pay for it.
8 Cook, Cook And Cook Some More
What’s the last thing on your mind the day you bring your brand new little bundle of joy home? Err, cooking? Okay, so maybe there a few things that you won’t want to do when you come home from the hospital. But, cooking is probably pretty high up there.
Imagine that you’ve spent hours pushing another human being out of your body. Then two days later you return to your home with a completely defenceless teeny, tiny person who needs you for everything. You hurt everywhere (yes, that means EVERYWHERE), you’re exhausted and your S.O. expects you to what? To cook dinner?
No way. That's not going to happen. This is where pre-cooking and freezing many, many meals comes in handy. Instead of starting from scratch, pull a ready-made lunch or dinner out of the freezer, heat it up and eat a homemade meal!
7 Buy Bottles
Yes, breast is best. You know it, and you’ve decided that breastfeeding is the way to go. But, that doesn’t mean nursing will work out the way you want it to. Even the best breastfeeding plans get turned around. Whether it’s just not happening for you or there’s a medical complication, it’s possible that you may need to bottle feed (or at least to supplement with formula).
Running out at midnight to buy bottles and formula isn’t something that any new mama wants to do. Before the baby is born, buy a few different bottles, nipples and a can of formula. Buying bottles before your baby’s birth day doesn’t mean that you’re giving up on the idea of nursing or that you plan to fail.
It just means that you’re getting yourself prepared for possibilities. It also means that your baby will be fed, even if you can’t breastfeed.
6 Visit Daycare Centers
Child care is essential for many new mothers. You take your maternity leave, and then you’re back on the job again. And, where is your baby going? To daycare, of course. The problem is that the best center in town isn’t taking any new infants. But, if you had called a few months ago (sometime during your second trimester) you could have gotten on the waiting list.
And, a spot would have opened up – giving you the chance to sign your kiddo up for your first choice daycare.
Don’t put off starting your child care search. Pregnancy is the perfect time to begin visiting daycare centers. Start talking to other mommy-friends, asking them which ones they use and why. Make appointments with site directors, take tours and ask questions. When you find one you like, reserve a place) if the center allows you to).
Let the director know when you plan on returning to work, and get all of the paperwork that you’ll need to fill out.
5 Buy A Variety Of Diapers
Stockpiling “newborn” sized diapers isn’t always the way to go. It seems logical – to buy as many boxes of the size 0’s as possible. But, what happens if your baby is bigger than you think she’ll be or she outgrows them before you can use them all up?
Post-pregnancy life will be much easier if you’re not running to the closest big box store to buy diapers every day. Given that you don’t know how big your baby will be, what her growth rate will look like or which brands will work best for her, go ahead and get a variety.
Having a buffet of styles and sizes (you may even want to include a few cloth ones in there) before she’s born makes keeping your little one clean and dry much more simple. If one diaper doesn’t fit, just grab another. Oh, and you can use those extras as part of a DIY diaper cake for your preggo friend’s shower!
4 Ask For Help
It takes a village, right? Well, now is time to line up yours. Having a newborn is overwhelming. It doesn’t matter how organized you were in your pre-baby life, all bets are off when that little bundle gets here. Between night-time feedings, all of the diaper changes, the spit-up and everything else that comes with having a new baby, at best you’ll feel exhausted.
While we’d love to say that having a newborn is all unicorns, rainbows and sweet little baby smiles, it can be challenging. And, that’s where some extra help can come into play.
No one’s saying that you need to hire three nannies and pass off all of the parenting tasks to other people. It’s just that you might need some extra help on hand. Instead of waiting until your baby is here to call up your childless BFF, your MIL or your sister, start asking before you deliver.
Let those who are closest to you know that you may need some help during those first few days, weeks or even months. Not only are you preparing for the soon-to-be-future, but you can also take comfort in the fact that so many of your loved ones are totally in for helping out.
3 Mama Should Buy Herself Something, Or Lots Of Things
Between diaper rash cream, dye-free baby shampoo, moisturizer and everything else you need for your little guy or gal, you’ve kind of forgotten about yourself. Even though you might spend 23 hours and 45 minutes each day caring for your baby, you can still devote those other 15 to a quick shower, a swipe of deodorant and running a brush through your hair.
With all of the shopping that you’ve devoted to baby, it’s possible that you’ve forgotten about yourself.
Running to the store to buy your own shampoo or a tube of gel won’t be a top priority when you have a newborn. So, does that mean you have to go without? No way! Head to the store and stock up on everything that you’ll need for the first few weeks or months after delivery.
If you’ve always wondering who would actually buy one of those gallon jugs of conditioner at the warehouse club, now you know – it’s probably a new mama!
2 Figure Out The Breast Pump
The cords, the tubes, the dangling bottles. Oh, the breast pump is a kind of intimidating beast that many mamas need to tame. If you plan on breastfeeding, you may also need to plan on pumping.
Whether you need to feed your baby while you’re at work or you’re worried that your first girls’ night out (and the wine you drink) will totally throw off your nursing plans, learning how to use that pump is a must-do.
Why wait until the baby’s here to educate yourself on your pump? Knowing how to use it, clean it and store it beforehand will make the first few weeks with baby much easier. You don’t want to wait until you’re engorged to the max, and then learn how to use your breast pump. Switch that order and get to know whatever pump you’ve chosen while you’re pregnant.
If you don’t have the pump yet, you can still do some research and read up on how to use the model that you’re likely to choose.
1 Set Up Automatic Bill Payments
What day is it? Yep, that’s totally a legit question you’ll be asking one, two, three or more days in – that is, after having your baby. Between diaper changes and pediatrician appointments, those everyday tasks that used to seem simple have suddenly become brain teasers. Paying your bills on time was no big deal in your pre-baby days.
After going home from the hospital you’re overwhelmed by everything. The car payment, insurance premium and electric bill may all end up on the back burner now that you’re focusing on baby.
Setting up automatic payment gives you the freedom to completely forget about those bills, without taking a hit to your credit. Without much sleep and with all of your new responsibilities, time has a way of creeping by without you noticing. If your water bill is due on the tenth, setting up automatic payments means that they’ll get their money by then – even if you don’t exactly remember.
Anyway, wouldn’t you rather spend time oohing and awwing over your baby instead of writing checks to the credit card and utility companies?