Women everywhere have been preparing for their babies to enter the world since the dawn of time. Does that mean every woman knows exactly what to do to be best prepared? No way! Bringing a new child into this world is a huge, daunting responsibility. That said, some moms have figured out how to prepare to make sure that the transition goes smoother than others.
Through advanced planning, a little research, and a dash of organization, smart moms are ready to hit the ground running. They have plans in place for health and wellness, strategies to make new mom life easier, and they know how to make the most of their maternity leave.
If you’re in the midst of preparing for baby and want to ensure you’ve done everything you can, take a read through this list. You may have a hint of Type A personality and like to have all the Ts crossed and Is dotted. Or, you may be a more laissez-faire mama-to-be, and just want to ensure the basics are covered. Either way, reading through this list will give you some insights about potential ways to prepare for the baby. You don’t need to do them all. Pick and choose the ones that work for you and your lifestyle.
But at the very least, we can all learn these smart mom tricks of the trade to ensure that those first few months at home with the baby – those hard, wonderful, magical, exhausting months – are as easy on you as possible.
20 Declutter (Don’t Organize)
With all the organizational tips and tricks out there today (especially on Pinterest!), you’d think the trick for fitting more things into your house is to have a better organizational system, right? Wrong! When pre-baby nesting hits hard, smart moms know that the best thing to do is to actually reduce the number of things in their home.
For some reason, we humans have a hard time with this concept. We think the more possessions we have, the better off we are. Yet often times, our possessions become stresses, as the livable space in our home shrinks as we bring in new furniture, clothing, and toys for babies. The smart tip? Clear it out!
19 Prep Those Meals
The one thing most moms can agree on is that there simply feels like there’s less time after baby comes. Less time to sleep, less time to shower, and yes, less time to cook. I can almost promise that during the few hours to yourself that you might find, you’re unlikely to want to spend them slaving over a stove.
The smart solution? Having food ready to go. Whether you’re a gourmet cook and have prepared dozens of frozen meals, or whether you’re a time-crunched mama and have loaded up on frozen delicacies from Costco, having a freezer filled with options that take no more effort than turning on the oven is a huge help.
18 Prep Your Relationship
Here’s a shocker – having a baby can be hard on a relationship. There’s no denying that the relationship dynamic changes, from the physical recovery to the sleep deprivation, to the lack of time to just Netflix and Chill together. But – and here’s the thing – that doesn’t mean it has to change for the worse.
Being aware that relationship changes are coming, and having a few tricks up her sleeve is the smart woman’s MO. It might be scheduling a few date nights in advance, it might be thinking through some ways to show your appreciation to him, it might be having tough conversations in advance, or pre-loading coping strategies for when things get hard. But smart mamas have thought it through in advance.
17 Create A Postpartum Plan For Your Physical Health
Having a baby does a number on your body. No matter which way you end up giving birth, there is a significant recovery that accompanies it, that doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it can take around six weeks for your body to recover from the process, which is one of the reasons doctors like to schedule a six week postpartum checkup.
A smart mom will understand that she doesn’t need to bounce back within a week, and give herself some love during this time. She’s also likely to have scheduled an appointment with her family doctor before then, in case there are any questions she needs to check in on.
16 Create A Postpartum Plan For Baby's Health
Quick poll – do you know exactly what points in a baby’s life they need checkups, and for what purposes? At what times do they need which vaccinations? Do you call the doctor for a mild fever, excessive spitting up, or a stuffy nose? Navigating the health of a newborn is a scary thing for even experienced moms. They’re so fragile at that age, and their lives are entirely in your hands.
Therefore, having the schedule of appointments ready, a family doctor and/or pediatrician lined up, and knowing some of the basics of infant care can help take some of this stress off. You don’t need to know everything, but having the basics available can help reduce an already stressful time.
15 And Don't Forget One For Your Mental Health Too!
Beyond your physical health, another huge part of postpartum recovery (that’s often more overlooked) is the mental health recovery. At few times in your life does your body go through such a drastic change in a short amount of time, than after giving birth. Your hormone levels drastically adjust, and prepare to allow the body to breastfeed. A lot of women find themselves in almost constant tears a few days after birth as the hormones adjust.
Smart women keep conversations open during this time, whether it be with their partner, family, close friend, doctor, or all of the above. Some even schedule a postpartum checkup with a therapist before baby arrives, even if she’s feeling great at that time. Taking your health seriously is one of the most important things you can do for your baby.
14 Stock Up On Necessities
Diapers? Check. Wipes? Check. But what about toothpaste for mom? Baby shampoo, your favorite granola bars, and protein shakes? Many first-time moms have the baby’s equipment stocked up on but can easily forget about themselves. Can you not contemplate starting a day without the sweet nectar of coffee? Time to load up!
You don’t have to cram everything into your home, but try to stock pile enough to get you through the first month. Google what to stock pile before baby comes, and you’ll see great lists for moms and kiddos combined. You’ll be quite happy that you did, mama!
13 Don’t Stock Up On Non-Necessities
This can be a hard one. With all of the “must buy” lists shouting at you, you may believe that you need every piece of baby equipment ever invented. While things like wipes warmers, bottle warms, swings, formula, etc. may seem like no-brainers, smart moms know to pause on some of these purchases. Some babies love swings, while others fuss the entire time they’re in there and only accept a bouncy seat. Some moms stock up on a ton of formula, only to find baby doesn’t enjoy that brand, or that they start rejecting formula in favor of breast only.
The smart play? Think about which pieces can wait until after baby comes. Have your Amazon cart loaded up and ready go to, so you can select what things you really need when the time comes.
12 Take A Couple Weeks To Yourself
It can sure be tempting to work right up until delivery dates. You want to put in a good showing at your job, ensuring that things are set, and don’t want to waste any moment of maternity leave without your baby. However taking just a couple weeks to yourself can be immensely helpful in tackling the to do list, getting the house in order, and reducing stress before baby arrives.
Some moms even take a day trip during this time, or watch a day’s worth of PVR’d Ellen. Whatever you choose to spend this time on, know that it may be your last solo time for a long time. Take it, and treasure it.
11 Prep The Office For A Great Return
Just because you plan to leave at 38 weeks instead of 40 doesn’t mean that you’ll need to leave anyone high and dry. Smart moms have planned in advance. They have their plans in writing from Human Resources. They know how much maternity leave, medical leave, and unpaid leave is covered. They have a plan in place for their RSPs and health plans. And they’ve had several discussions about how their work will be covered when they’re gone and what their role will be when they return.
Could things change while you’re gone? Absolutely. But the smart working woman knows to have her own back, and ensure there’s a solid transition plan in place on both ends of her leave.
10 Look Up Mommy & Baby Classes
These are some of the best ways to meet other moms who are going through all the same wonderful, crazy, and ridiculous things that you are too. But when you’re desperately sleep deprived, will you have the energy to search out these classes, fearing lugging your baby and yourself out to meet strangers? Maybe not.
That’s why smart moms prep in advance. They know where the best classes are, and might have even signed up for a few in advance. Here’s an extra insider tip: be the one a few classes in that passes around a contact sheet. One mom did this in one of my baby classes, and the 20 or so moms and I still chat in our group chat to this day.
9 Learn All Things Baby Related
Think you can simply click the car seat into your car once you’re at the hospital? Think again mama! The manuals can be 30 pages long, and are filled with what to do/ not to do. Is that really what you want to be spending time doing stuck at the hospital instead of heading home with your new baby?
While it can be tempting to only focus on the different weeks of the pregnancy, it really is such a finite amount of time. Taking the time to learn about sleep strategies, baby equipment, feeding tips, etc. can be a far more valuable use of time in the third trimester.
8 Plan Something for Yourself During Mat Leave
No matter how much time you decide to take for maternity leave, there’s a good chance that the majority of it will be spent revolving around baby (24 hours a day no less). It can leave a surprisingly little amount of time for mom to do anything more than grab a five minute shower.
That’s why it’s so important to schedule something for yourself. It can be signing up for an evening class, a monthly girl’s dinner, or a solo night away a few months in. Whatever fills you up – indulge in it. It can make such a big impact in your happiness by taking just one day a month to yourself. It’s easy to forego this, but remember to make yourself a priority.
7 Think About Your Closet
Take a scan of your current closet. Is it mostly work clothes? Mostly casual clothes? Does it have lots of cardigans and tops that give easy access to the ladies if you’re breastfeeding, or is it filled with high-necked tops that would be a challenge to nurse in?
Many moms don’t think about breastfeeding apparel until they realize the challenges their current wardrobe can bring. It also means not buying too many breastfeeding-friendly items before baby comes. You never know how they’ll take to the breast, nor if the fancy breastfeeding bra will work. Here’s a handy tip – ask yourself if you can sleep in it. That might be your new normal for the first few months!
6 Tackle the Personal (Non-Baby) To Do List
Is your car overdue for an oil change? Have you been meaning to install an extra shelf in the storage room? Are your banking and finances up to date? Let me tell you, these are not things you’re going to want to worry about in the first couple of months after having a baby. We ended up buying a new vehicle shortly before baby #1 came, which meant six days after coming home I was giving people test drives of our current car.
The smart moms among us build a to do list and try to tackle it throughout the third trimester. Sure, you may not get 100% of the items checked off. But you’ll feel way better not having to worry about test drives with a week old baby!
5 Line Up Support
This one is a necessity. Whether you have family in town, family who’s willing to come visit, a great group of friends, or can go the paid help route, never has the phrase “it takes a village” become more apt than when you bring home your babies.
Those who are already parents understand the demands of this phase of life, and are usually eager to help. Some choose to hire night nannies, or mama’s helpers, or keep older children in daycare. Whichever route you have available to you, smart moms know that accepting help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
4 Baby Proof The House
Do you want to be pulling out drills and screws when there’s a little baby around? Or might it be better to do so when they’re still cushioned in utero? I can almost guarantee you’ll have more time, patience, and space to worry about installing baby proofing equipment before baby comes than after.
Smart moms know this, and have all the cabinets locked up, baby gates installed, and toilet locks on far before baby is actually crawling. Pro tips: feel free to lean on a partner or friend to do a lot of the heavy lifting, and consider adding baby proofing equipment to a baby registry.
3 Have Multiple Changing Stations Ready To Go
Think that once you have your changing table installed and loaded up that your changing needs are done? Think again mama! It’s highly unlikely that you’ll do all baby changing in the same room of the house. Even if you’re in a two-bedroom condo, you’ll likely be doing some middle of the night changes in baby’s room, and other midday diaper changes in the living room.
Having a secondary station set up with some of the basics of diapers, wipes, cream, and changing pad, can be a huge help. Otherwise you’ll find yourself running back and forth between rooms, and sometimes floors.
2 Plan Couple Time For Post-Birth
With all the demands on your time and body after baby arrives, your partner can unfortunately become one of the priorities that can fall by the wayside. Even if you have the best of intentions of keeping your relationship strong throughout this stage of life, it brings challenges just by the inherent nature of newborn needs.
If you’re three weeks post-partum and your partner arranges child care, every fiber of you may be wishing to use that time for sleep. But if you have a date booked for just the two of you, it can be incredibly helpful to reconnect. That’s what got you into this situation in the first place, after all! Have a few dates on the calendar, and look forward to them.
1 Get Smart On Storage
Moms all across the country are finding themselves with less and less space, as real estate prices soar. This means that moms everywhere are forced to get more creative with their storage needs. Smart moms have learned that vertical living, and ensuring equipment covers multiple uses, can be key. For example, square storage cubes can hold toys, books, and baby clothes. The latter of which means you can simply toss fresh laundry into the bins without folding tiny onesies!
Or think through changing tables and if you really need one, or can it be combined with an existing dresser, or instead purchase a rubber change pad that can go on multiple surfaces?
Women everywhere are breaking the mold, finding creative mom hacks, and ways to make life easier. You go, moms!