There are very few things in life that are more frustrating than being 39 weeks pregnant and still trying to sort out last minute necessities for the baby’s arrival. At this stage, most expecting moms are barely able to make it from point A to B without needing the ladies’ xroom and those swollen feet are a pesky problem that can’t be ignored.
The last few weeks of pregnancy should be as stressfree as possible and mom needs to be getting all the rest she needs because once that newborn gets here, words like “rest” and “sleep” will be foreign concepts. This is why we love lists (and for anyone who is not a list person, it is never too late to start). Lists help us to remain focused and they also help us to understand the priorities. Basically, lists are a mom’s best friend.
But where to start? And what exactly should be on top of the priority list? The truth is, there are many important things to be aware of and understand before the baby’s arrival. Our list isn't in any particular order but we certainly recommend for moms to have the below items sorted out before walking into the hospital so that when that day comes, all they'll need to focus on is that little angel who will be soon placed in mom's arms.
Being clear on the first signs of labor is important. During the third trimester, an expecting mom will experience different sensations as the baby drops and your cervix starts to dilate. Back pain and pain in the groin area is also quite common. This pain can cause a new expecting mom to think that she is in labor and therefore rush to the hospital, only to be turned back as it is not yet time. Make sure to speak to your physician so that you are very clear on when to head into the hospital and when to just sit back and relax.
Emergency Numbers should be on your speed dial, on your partner’s speed dial, they should be put up on the fridge…basically, everywhere. That lovely bundle of joy in your tummy is most likely to not come in “office hours”. Nope. They are most likely to try to make an entrance in the early hours of the morning or very late at night because unfortunately, Mother Nature works in her own time. Having the hospital emergency numbers or your physician’s after-hours numbers will help you relax when the time comes as you’ll be able to be in contact with a medical professional when you need to.
There are a variety of pain relief options that you can get when in labor. If you’re a first-time mom, you might not know what option will work best for you and if you’ve had a baby before, it might be different this time. Keep in mind that should complications arise, your pain relief choices may also change. There are drug-free options where a woman relies heavily on breathing exercises and there are medicinal options that will help alleviate some or most of the pain. To make the best decision for you and your baby, it is important to understand the side effects as some medications will numb you, some may give you a rash or a fever, and others may be passed on to your baby.
As soon as your little one makes their grand entrance, they are going to need to be checked by a pediatrician. As much as we don’t want to think about it, the reality is, there may be a few health concerns for your newborn and the sooner a doctor checks it out, the sooner it can be dealt with. Perhaps the best thing to do here is to ask for recommendations from family or close friends who have recently had little ones themselves. It is also important to check if your health insurance will cover this cost or if you’ll need to put aside some money yourself to have this sorted.
Ah yes, you can’t escape from sorting out that car seat because whether you’re in the hospital for a day or a week, sooner or later, that baby will need to head home and that car seat will be used. For a new parent, the buckles and straps can be a little frustrating to figure out but this is one task you just can’t get out of and once you have it figured, it will go by like a breeze. If you’re not feeling up for the challenge, this is where your partner or close family member who will be in the hospital with you can help out.
No one wants to arrive in hospital during labor and be bombarded by paperwork that still needs to be sorted out. When you get discharged, you will also be given paperwork to read through and sign. Paperwork is something that, unfortunately, you just can’t get out of. The first thing is to understand what exactly you need to bring with you – most places will recommend you bring a couple of black pens for signing, and you’ll also need you and your partner’s I.Ds. You may also need to sort out your child’s birth certificate and file paperwork with your health insurance…basically, come prepared and understand exactly what will be required so that nothing comes as a surprise.
Speaking of being prepared for paperwork at the hospital - you also need to understand what exactly will be covered by your health insurance. As much as we may like surprises, finding out that your insurance cannot cover the cost of the pediatrician you’ve chosen will not be a welcomed surprise. WebMD highlights that “the law requires most private health plans to help pay for a basic set of 10 essential health benefits, including maternity and newborn care. But the details of what each plan will cover depends on two things: where you live and which health plan you chose”. Make sure to set aside some time to have a proper look at your health insurance plan so that you are fully aware of the details.
This is where planning and those lovely lists that we spoke about earlier come in handy. Your third trimester is not really the ideal time for you to be stressing about medical bills. If there are costs that your health plan does not cover, then hopefully, you have put some money aside in the months leading up to your labor so that this may not be a concern during this precious time. It is also important to take into consideration that as much as we can plan, anything can happen during labor so having a little extra saved will help alleviate any stress.
Ah yes – the fun stuff. This is where that little bundle of joy arrives. Most hospitals will allow the father of the baby to be in the delivery room with you or if he is not present, then perhaps your mother or sister, or close friend, for support. Basically, one person is the general number expected but if you’ve watched a couple of episodes of The Kardashians and loved seeing the whole family in the room with Kourtney, then you definitely need to ask the hospital’s policy on this. Some will try their best to accommodate the mother and make her as happy as possible during the labor, while other hospitals prefer to have the least number of people around so that the hospital staff can easily do their job.
This is an easy afterthought for many people but trust us when we say – you will be happy to have figured this out before labor day. Why? Well, because you will probably be screaming your lungs out at your partner (and everyone else around you) and he will be trying desperately to calm you down and get you to the right ward. It will also be great to figure out the closest place for your partner to park. A simple thing like knowing where to park the vehicle when he arrives will alleviate a little unnecessary stress for you guys.
Number 10 on this list is for you, mom. You’ve spent all these months worrying about your baby and his arrival but now, let’s think about you for a second. Do you like hospital food? If you’re not a fussy eater and will happily eat any meal that the hospital will offer – then great, you have nothing to worry about but, if you have special dietary requirements that the hospital may not be able to accommodate, then perhaps having pre-packaged and frozen home meals may be the best thing for you. Right after doing all the work of delivering your baby, we certainly want you to at least enjoy what you’ll eat so spare some time and think about doing this for yourself.
Pregnancy will put any woman’s body through a lot. Labor is that last hurdle that will certainly require a lot from you and after the ordeal, it is natural to need a little help as you'll be exhausted. Of course, the hospital will have their staff there for you but there is nothing like having your partner there with you – Your partner knows you and will know how best to comfort you. Some wards allow the father of the child to sleep over in the room with the mother while others don’t. Speaking to not only the hospital but your partner about your needs will help you here. Perhaps getting a room from a nearby hotel if the hospital doesn’t permit the dad to stay overnight may be the best next thing to consider.
Your hospital bag should ideally be ready around the 37th week of your pregnancy. The importance of it is perfectly explained by We Have Kids. “In your bag, you’ll want to have items to help you through your labor. If you’re a first-time mom expecting a natural delivery, you’ll want some items to help you through the long hours you’ll be in the laboring room. For those expecting a c-section, you’ll want some items to keep yourself busy as you wait for the operation to begin”. You may need sleepers, a change of clothes, coming home clothes for your little one, to name a few. Create a list so that everything you need will be right there with you.
During labor, things need to work like clockwork. Everyone needs to know what they are grabbing and whoever will be driving you needs to know which route to take to get you to the hospital as soon and safely as possible. Take into consideration that depending on the time, there may be traffic on the way to the hospital. In this case, perhaps learning a different route to avoid as much of the traffic as possible will be best for you. Part of what’s interesting about labor is that you never really know when it’s going to happen and how – your water may break first or you may just get excruciating pains first. Sorting out the route to the hospital will bring a much-welcomed relief so that you won’t have to worry about this very important detail.
As soon as your baby is delivered and checked, he or she will be gently placed on your chest and you will be encouraged to start nursing him. We are aware that this one may take some time to figure out but it is certainly important to understand some basics. Very Well Family highlights that “the first breastfeeding is a learning experience for you and baby. Some newborns latch on immediately and breastfeed well from the beginning. Some babies show little interest in nursing and don’t latch on at all. Other babies latch on but won’t suck”. Speaking to a close family member or physician about this will help you along your breastfeeding journey.
There are many different reasons why a woman would require to bottlefeed rather than breastfeed – Your milk may not have come in yet, some women struggle to produce sufficient breastmilk, you may be adopting…these and so many other reasons may lead you to come to the conclusion that bottle-feeding will be the best option for you. If this is the case, make sure to research infant formulas that would be best for you and your little one. Labor wards generally also have formula for newborns but this is information that you would want to know and understand before the baby arrives.
Your preferences during labor and delivery are detailed in your birthing plan. Web MD advises to include important information such as your name, your doctor’s contact information, any pain medications you prefer, any labor preferences you may want, and delivery preferences. As much as we certainly appreciate making lists so that we are clear on what is to come, it is also important to note that labor can be quite unpredictable so be prepared to not have all your birthing plan wishes come true. If there are complications, the doctor and nurses will have to apply their own expertise to the situation.
We know – you’re in your last few weeks of pregnancy, the last thing you want to do is go to the hospital and walk around. Although this may be an annoying task on your to-do list, it is certainly an important task. We want to reiterate how important it is for you to be prepared when labor day comes. You definitely want to know where exactly you are going to head to as soon as you arrive – the labor ward, the delivery ward, after the delivery ward…Most hospitals offer tours for expecting moms so be sure to have at least one walk around so that you are well prepared for that big day.
This article started out with an emphasis on the importance of having lists, especially for expecting moms. We’ve also run through important details that you’ll need to sort out like a birthing plan, a hospital bag, your paperwork…but what happens when it all goes sideways? What happens when you’ve been in labor for many hours and there is no real improvement on your dilating? Speaking to your doctor about this is very important. Of course, your doctor will try his or her best to make sure that all goes smoothly for you but life is unpredictable. Being clear on your options if there are complications will help you know and understand what may come.
It is very important to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Sure, you’ll be going through the big hurdle of delivering your baby but trust and believe that you will not go through the journey alone. Your partner or close family member or friend will be there to hold your hand. The hospital staff will also be there, guiding you through each phase of the labor – Trust them as they know what they are doing. Also, trust that everyone in that delivery room is there to help you get through this as best as you can so you can look to each and every one of them for love and support and know that the journey is not for you to walk alone.
References: WebMD, We Have Kids, Very Well Family