There is no end to the advice, hints, and tips for what to do to make life more comfortable in the first weeks after birth. The internet, baby books, and everyone you know will offer such nuggets of information as “Make twice the amount of dinner and freeze one half. Do this from time to time for a few weeks, and you’ll have an entire batch of healthy frozen meals ready to be cooked when the baby is here.”
Like that is going to happen.
I barely have it together enough to shop for and cook one batch of food but to double up and freeze ahead that seems like far too much trouble.
Instead of the usual advice here are the things that moms in the know arrange before the birth of their newest addition.
None of these items are do or die; it won’t be a catastrophe if you don’t get around to them. However, each and every one of these things will take a little bit of the pressure off in those first few weeks when you can hardly get it together enough to remember to eat let alone do anything any more complicated.
15Smile And Close An Eye
In the last six weeks or so before the baby is born, make sure everyone in the family has an eye test if it has been a while, and a dental check-up. This might appear to be an odd thing to advise you to arrange, but there is a logic behind it.
You do not want one of the family to start complaining of a toothache or telling you their eyes hurt, or their glasses are broken in the first weeks with the new baby. Not only do you have the hassle of calling and making appointments but it’s possible you will be the one left responsible for getting an older kid to the dentist or optician. Save yourself the trouble of having to find an item of clothing to go out in without spit-up on it and get everyone checked out ahead of time.
14Just What The Doctor Ordered
In the same vein as the advice above, get anyone who has an ongoing health issue for their checks in the weeks before the baby is due. If there are any changes to treatment or prescriptions, this will give you time to have the new regime settled down when you have the time and energy to deal with any potential issues.
Likewise, if anyone has a seemingly minor health problem, take them to get it looked at before it has a chance to blow up just after the baby is born.
The same thing goes for having any repeat prescriptions filled. Stock-up before the baby gets here because you do not want anyone to be running low on essential medications when you least want to get up and go out to the pharmacist.
Most people will know to keep enough gas in their car to get them to the hospital in case of your water breaking in the middle of the night or if you have an emergency situation towards the end of your pregnancy.
What most people don’t bother to do is have their vehicle serviced before the baby gets here. If your car doesn't start when you go into labor it will be a pain but not the end of the world; you can always grab a cab or have a friend drive you. If your car doesn’t start in the days after the birth, you have the problem of arranging a ride when you have trouble arranging yourself and then you have to organize repairs.
Have the battery, spark plugs, brakes, and fluids checked a few weeks ahead of your due date so if work needs doing you’ll get your car back in plenty of time for delivery.
12Two Stations, Two Bags
You will have read all about the items you need at your diaper changing station, and maybe you have a changing table or dresser in the baby's room. This is a good start but what you really need are two stations and/or two changing bags, and I’ll tell you why.
Once being totally exhausted kicks in, having to go upstairs to change a diaper feels like an expedition of gargantuan proportions. A small plastic basket with diapers, wipes, cream, something to put the dirty diaper in and a change of baby clothes is all you need. It can sit at the side of your sofa, and it will be on hand when you need it.
If you use a changing bag, keep another in your vehicle. If you always have a fully loaded changing bag in the car, you never have to rush around, restocking the bag and worrying about whether or not you have everything before you leave home.
11Who Wants To Know?
The bigger your family, the more extensive your circle of friends, the more social your media, the more people will want to know when the baby is born. If you have everyone you want to tell as a Facebook friend and you can easily just post - great you can stop reading and move onto the next tip.
If, like most of us you have friends, family, colleagues, and people who will want to know but who you wouldn’t friend on Facebook because you wouldn’t want them knowing what you really get up to, then we have a solution.
Before your due date sit down and create some email lists. You can have a sensible work one, a polite and friendly family and acquaintances one and a ‘real you’ one. This way you can set the tone for the ‘audience, ’ and you don’t have to write out a million emails.
10Elect A Spokesperson
This is especially useful if your baby comes early or if you know either you or the baby are going to have health issues.
Ask one trusted friend or family member to be the single point of contact for everyone. Tell your friends, relatives, neighbors, colleagues and anyone else who will be interested that you will be very tied up with taking care of yourself and the baby. Let them know that you appreciate the fact that they may want to know what is happening and if everything is ok but that you will not be able to keep in regular contact.
Then you and your spokesperson can set up a dedicated email address and send out a joint email saying that all questions should be sent here and they will be answered much more quickly than your personal address, which you may not have time to check.
9No Time For Meals Give Me Munchies
In an ideal world, you would return home with your newborn and miraculously be able to eat healthy, freshly prepared meals at least three times a day. In the real world, you are at risk of existing on cold toast and soggy cereal. Usually, the last thing you want to do when your little one finally sleeps is starting making something to eat, so plan ahead.
This is not long-term advice; it is just to get you through the first sleep-deprived haze period, so bear that in mind. During your last weeks of pregnancy start stocking up on dried fruit, nuts, the healthier cereal bars, pots of fruit in juice (not syrup), and similar kinds of snacks. Even the pouches of fruit purees that are made for babies can work.
By having healthier alternatives on hand, that need no preparation, you are more likely to snack more healthily, and this will help you keep going through the rough periods much more effectively than a handful of M&Ms and whatever else is lurking at the back of the cupboard.
8Give Yourself A Boost
You were diligent in taking your prenatal vitamins to keep your passenger healthy so now you have delivered your bouncing baby, do the same for you. Before the birth make sure you have stocked up on some specialist postnatal vitamins. If you are breastfeeding there are special formulas for you, too.
Another, similar item to stock up on is meal supplement drinks. By having a good stock of these in the cupboard, you have another option on hand for those time you either can’t get enough time to prep a meal or you can’t be bothered when you finally do get the time. These meal supplements should be the kind you get for the elderly or for people who are recovering from an illness, not the weight loss kind.
You can even store one or two at each changing station so you can grab one as you settle down for a feed.
7Meal Prep - But Not How You Think
If nobody in your house cooks except you, it is worth doing some basic meal planning with friends and relatives. As soon as you have a new baby in the house, you will be inundated with offers of help, but like most things, trying to think of how someone might help can be overwhelming.
So, in the weeks leading up to the birth think about who you are comfortable asking to cook for you and schedule those people to either come to the house and cook or drop off a meal on a particular day.
You can draw up a schedule, so you do not end up with meals made for you three days in a row and then nothing for another week, and you can make sure your cooks aren’t putting themselves under too much strain either.
If your household is anything like ours, you have all probably got your own ‘jobs’ around the house. I do all of the cooking, but my husband cleans the kitchen afterward. My husband does all of the laundry, and I put it all away.
Think about the tasks you usually take on and delegate them to other people in the family. By doing this before the birth, you have plenty of time to counter the, ‘but I don’t know how’ complaints and give lessons, so your reluctant replacement has no excuses when the baby is here.
This plan is especially helpful if you have some older kids at home who are capable of doing so much more but don’t bother because they have a mom to do these things for them.
5Click That Mouse
It comes as a shock to most people just how much time it takes to look after a tiny little scrap of a human. The first few weeks it can be especially tricky to find the time to get to the washroom, let alone get yourself and the baby ready to go to the store. By the time you have fed, changed, and got the baby ready you put your own coat on, and it’s time for another feed.
That is where online shopping comes in. Set this up while you are still pregnant and you will be able just to log on and order all of your shopping with a couple of clicks. This is especially useful because you can shop whenever you like - in your pj’s at three in the morning or from your phone while you are feeding the baby.
A newborn baby who does nothing but eat and sleep and poop can make an eyewateringly huge pile of laundry. Nobody knows quite how baby clothes expand to fill an entire laundry basket to overflowing in half a day, but while science works to understand this phenomenon, you will want to keep your own laundry down, or at least not have to do it so often.
The solution? Buy new socks and underwear for each member of the family before the baby gets here. This way you won’t have to keep on top of everyone's laundry and the entire family will at least have fresh undies to go out in, even if they are worn under a bizarre assortment of clothes they found hiding at the back of the closet.
3Plan The Intros
Everyone and their mothers will want to come and cluck around your new addition, but a constant stream of visitors can be exhausting. Plan a ‘meet the baby’ day ahead of time, and you will cut down on the stress of entertaining day in and day out.
You can’t, of course, necessarily set the date when you are seven months pregnant but you can make arrangements. Ask your friends and relatives to help by agreeing to bring food. A couple of people can commit to savory, and a couple can commit to sweet. Someone else can be responsible for soft drinks, another for coffee, etc. and another for letting people know when the time comes, what day they can come and meet the baby.
This should free you up to sit and enjoy you and the baby being fussed over for a couple of hours, without the stress of entertaining everyone.
2A Quick Date With Your Mate
People will tell you to ensure you keep your relationship with your partner strong by making time for yourselves alone. In the early months, this can be easier said than done. You might both be too exhausted to even think about going out for a meal or to catch a movie, and when you do finally get around to it, you’ll probably be so worried about leaving the baby that you’ll cut the evening short and go home early.
While you are waiting for junior to arrive, make a list of things you and your partner could do together, with minimum time and effort. You could go out and grab a coffee in the drive-through and drink it in the park. Order a pizza online, go pick it up together and sneak a couple of slices in the car before going home again. Think of anything that might get the pair of you out of the house but which doesn’t take long or too much effort. When the time comes, you’ll be too frazzled to think of what to do, and you’ll be glad to have made a list ahead of time.
If you are going to have to go back to work after the baby is born, it is best to arrange your childcare as soon as you know, roughly when you’ll be returning to your job.
In some cities, this is important because childcare places are at a premium and if you leave it until closer to the birth, you may not be able to find anything suitable in a nursery. Or it may be that you are intending to hire a nanny or have a nanny share. If this is the case, you will want to be interviewing and employing someone while you can concentrate on what is happening and not sleep deprived either.
In this way, you can also spend time with your newborn and the caregiver you have chosen and give you all the chance to get comfortable in your new relationship.
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