Preparing to have a baby can come with an enormous amount of “What If’s?” and “How do I do this?” and “Now what?” questions. And as a parent of “bigger kids” I can say that this feeling never truly goes away. Often we are left with feeling ill-prepared to take on this huge, life-changing experience and it can be very overwhelming.
One of the ways I always liked to prepare for having a baby was making lists. I had every kind of list you could possibly imagine. A list of how many sleepers we had and how many tiny socks, a list of meals to freeze, and a list of things to do before the baby came. But another list that can be helpful is a list of things to remember for after delivery.
After delivery, our minds and emotions are all over the place and having a list to help keep ourselves or even our partner up-to-date on the things we want is indispensable. Instead of focusing on making sure all of this stuff gets done get a list together and hand it off and allow someone else to make sure the pediatrician gets called or to pack up the placenta. Check out our list and be feel free to add or take away to fit.
15 Call The Pediatrician
After you have your baby you are going to want to reach out to your pediatrician right away. Some doctors like to visit you and baby in the hospital and do the first check up there. Some will have you come in a few days after you've been discharged. If you're having a home birth you will need to call the doctor right away as well because it's required that your baby is seen within 3 days of delivery (at least here in California so check with your midwife!)
The doctor will check your baby for jaundice, any feeding issues and do a weight check. It's also good if you are first time parent and have any questions that you ask them at this first appointment. Which of course you will because babies often forget their instruction manual on the way out of the birth canal.
14 Get Breastfeeding Support
If you plan on breastfeeding it's important that you realize that there are going to be pitfalls and roadblocks that keep you from meeting your breastfeeding goals, whether that's 6 weeks, 6 months or 4 years. When you're in the hospital make sure you take advantage of meeting with their lactation consultation.
An LC can help with your baby getting the proper latch and help you find the most comfortable position. An LC can answer all the questions you have and make sure that you start off right so that you don't run into issues later that make it easy to stop. If your hospital doesn't provide an LC reach out to your local La Leche League for a recommendation.
13 Eat A Good Meal - Mom Needs Energy
After you deliver you are going to be starving especially if you had a hospital birth because they don't usually let Moms eat while in labor. And that first meal after delivery will taste like the very best food you've ever had. And birth is such hard work that you can burn up to 1,200 calories in a two-hour labor.
You're going to want to get your energy back up especially if you're nursing. This is no time to break out the 21 Day Fix containers though. Obviously, don't eat a bunch of crap but do look for something hardy with lots of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Fruits, veggies, protein all that good stuff and of course water and lots of it!
12 Get Dad Involved
During labor and delivery, everything is about you, as it should be. You are the star of this show until of course, your baby makes their debut. But don't forget that there's another person in the room that you need to make room for... Dad.
If you're breastfeeding Dad might feel kind of useless because you will be breastfeeding every 10 minutes or so it can seem. Make sure to include Dad in some skin to skin time with the baby and start to find a special time in the day for Dad to get their time. Maybe it can be Dad's job to do bath time while you rustle up dinner or let Dad take the baby for a spin around the block. However, you choose to include your partner make sure you stick to it.
11 Be Vocal About Post-Birth Demands
After you have your baby it can be easy to just want to lay back and bask in all the baby glory. And definitely, do that. But don’t forget to continue to speak up about what your post-birth wishes are. If you’re breastfeeding call in an LC, ask for a lot of skin- to-skin if you have a baby in the NICU.
If you’re not able to hold your baby right away ask if you can sit at your baby’s bed and speak through the little openings so your baby can hear you. If you’re keeping your placenta to encapsulate it make sure you, your partner or doula make that known right away. If you don’t want a bunch of traffic in and out of the room from the nurses or even your own family speak up now or forever hold your peace.
10 Write Down The Birth Story
Writing your birth story down may seem a bit daunting or even unnecessary at first. But there are a lot of great reasons you may want to consider doing it. For starters, there is so much stigma surrounding birth and it's important for women to see birth as a normal experience and not always seeing at as fearful. It's also a beautiful thing to be able to pass onto your child.
Their birth story can become a part of your family's legacy. If you had a traumatic birth experience it can also be a wonderful way to heal the trauma you may have experienced. And it serves as a beautiful reminder of the birth that you had that did go your way. You can put as many details as you want or as little as you want. There are no rules!
9 Take Many, Many Pictures
Those first moments after a baby is born are foggy love drunk moments that may just slip by us. It's so important to make sure that we snap as many pictures of we can of our new little baby. And not just pictures of the baby, but pictures of ourselves and the baby and older children meeting their new little brother for the first time.
Trust me, they are moments that go down in our family history and we want to have a tangible record of them. Hiring a birth photography is a wonderful way to make sure we get the pictures, but also that we're in them.
8 Send Out Birth Announcements
With all of the different social media platforms we have today it can be easy to forget to send out a formal birth announcement. Admittedly it’s easier to post a quick status update with the birth details and a cute photo. But your Aunt Mary who lives in Boca Raton Florida perhaps doesn’t have a Facebook so she completely misses your announcement.
During those last few weeks of your pregnancy decide on your announcement card so that after your birth all you need to do is plug in a photo and the name. In a world that is so focused on tech and quick communication, it will be a thrill for your family and friends to go to the mailbox and find something other than bills or solar power marketing paraphernalia in there.
7 Don't Get On The Scale
In that final trimester is when your baby will gain the bulk of his or her weight. This also means that your weight will increase due to more fluids and blood and the increase in the size of your placenta and uterus. It may make you feel like a beached whale wobbling to and fro. And after you have your baby you may want to instantly jump on the scale to see where you land. But don’t.
There are so many other important things for you to focus on that adding that “snap back” factor to your plate is really pointless. Instead, focus on your baby’s weight and how large your heart has grown because honestly there will be plenty of time to focus on those other numbers.
6 Don't Refuse Help From Family Or Friends
While you’re in the hospital it can be easy to not fully grasp the enormity of how your life has changed. Those first two days your baby is still adjusting and may sleep a ton and making you feel like everything is going to be easy. Rookie mistake.
After I had my fourth I was prepared to just go back to life as normal but I’m so glad that my Mom and two sisters moved in for about a month to help cook, clean, and take care of our other 3 rascals. If someone offers to come over let them and don’t feel awkward about putting them to work with a basket of laundry, giving them some crafts to distract your toddler for a bit or just simply asking them to pick dinner up for you.
5 Don't Be Afraid To Make Changes
"When I have a baby I’m never going to co-sleep or give them a pacifier." We’ve all been there pre-baby, pre-kid when we have a list of things we won’t be doing. But any seasoned Mom professional will tell you that when stuff gets real all bets are off.
One rule I had with my first was that I was never going to let him fall asleep in anything but his crib. If he fell asleep in his swing, I’d immediately switch him to his bassinet, leaving me with a screaming infant. I quickly realized that as long as he was sleeping it didn’t matter how or where he got it as long as he got it. Remember to be flexible and open to trying something different or maybe even a little unorthodox.
4 Don't Forget To Check All Mom Judgment At The Door
It’s so easy to sit back and judge other parents for the choices they make about their family and children, but it’s so detrimental to our community and even to our own parenting. Before you have children it seems easy to see why a Mom shouldn’t do A, B, and C. But after you have a baby you may finally understand why one Mom decided to formula feed.
If perhaps you’ve built up a judgment about formula feeding but are finding yourself really struggling with breastfeeding, you may not feel you can give it up because of how harshly you judged your cousin who used formula. Until you’ve experienced the same thing you can never really understand why one Mom might do something. Let all of that judgment go when you have a baby and even before if you can.
3 Don't Think The Baby Is Spoiled
Maybe your Mom or grandmother told you to stop picking the baby up because you’re going to spoil them. I once read in a Mom group that someone suggested that the reason the baby was crying was because the mother was holding them too much and it was making their body stiff and was hurting them. This literally is not true.
There is no scientific evidence that proves that if you hold your baby to much or go to them when they cry that you’ll spoil them. Studies have even found that holding your baby a lot during the day can reduce fussiness and colicky symptoms. And you’ll hear this time and time again. They are only little for such a short time, soak it in while you can.
2 Don't Hold In Your Emotions
After you have your baby the floodgates of your emotions are going to open and it may feel like it’s hitting you all at once. You may feel like crying for no reason, or feel sad, or even feel a little bit scared, you might even have some feelings of resentment or even loneliness.
Your instinct may be to shun, ignore, or cover up those feelings because they don’t seem “normal”. But don’t do that. Allow yourself to experience all of the emotional curveballs that get thrown your way. Your body will eventually adjust back to normal and the feelings will subside.
And if they don’t that still isn’t something to be ashamed of. Many women experience some form of postpartum depression or anxiety and it’s important to recognize it and speak up.
1 Don't Forget Me Time
We already covered how important it is to seek help and to allow yourself to feel your emotions and along with all of that comes remembering to take time for yourself. Just because you had a baby doesn’t mean that you’ve now become a prisoner in your own home or a slave to every whim of your baby. I mean yes some of that is true, but it doesn’t have to be like that all the time.
Even if you can’t carve out hours to go to the salon escaping to the grocery store when your husband gets home can do wonders. Maybe instead of “sleeping when the baby sleeps” one day catch up on a trashy novel or do some journaling. Being the best you will make you the best mommy.