Your Essential To-Do-List Before Baby Arrives

Anticipating the arrival of your baby is a wonderful feeling. Your life is about to change in amazing and unimaginable ways. As you lead up to your due date, there are some things you must do to prepare. Many expectant parents are unsure of what this should involve or are overwhelmed at the thought of it all.

To help you with the essentials, we’ve put a “pre-delivery day” checklist together to help you out. Some are mandatory items while some are nice to-dos. But the reality is, once your baby arrives, you’ll be short on time and sleep (and potentially a few marbles) so it’s great to cross certain things off the list before the big day!

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16 Install Car Seat

Transporting your new baby safely is paramount. Make sure you purchase and install an infant car seat before your baby arrives. There are many places you can go to have a car seat professionally installed or to have your installation checked to make sure it’s secured properly. Car accidents are a major cause of infant and child death in the U.S. and Canada, many of which could be prevented by properly installed car seats.

15 Arrange Childcare for Siblings

If you have other children, have a plan (and a backup plan) for them for when you go into labor. Make sure it is someone close by, whom you can trust, and can call in the dead of night if necessary!

14 Plan Your Route

If you plan to have your baby in a hospital or birthing center, make sure you plan your route to get there. That route might be different depending on the time of day as you may need to avoid rush hour, for example. Your impending delivery is going to be stressful enough without planning the best route to the hospital mid-contraction.

13 Set up Maternity Leave/Pay

In Canada, mothers can earn unemployment income when on maternity leave. It is possible to start this paperwork before your baby arrives. Get as much of it done as you can beforehand.

In the U.S., the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) enables mothers to take 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave. Again, you can set this in motion before your baby arrives. The FMLA rules may differ by state, so make sure you know how they apply to you. Some states, including California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, actually fund part of the leave. And if your home state doesn’t, you may be able to get things like accrued vacation paid out during your leave.

Point being, familiarize yourself with what applies to you and set up what you can before you are consumed with caring for your baby.

12 Take a Vacation

Your life is about to change forever. Enter a new tiny person requiring undivided attention. If you can take the time, take a holiday with your spouse before the baby arrives. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Just try to get away for at least a few nights to focus on each other and your relationship before your former life is interrupted.

11 Send Thank-You Notes

If it’s your first baby, chances are some wonderful friends and family threw a shower for you. Send thank-you notes out before you have the baby. Writing notes will be the last thing on your mind as you care for your little one. And the reality is, you won’t have time. Try to get them done as soon as the shower is over.

10 Take a Baby Care Course

Baby care courses are a great way to learn the basics--diapers, feeding, swaddling, bathing, sleeping, labor techniques, etc. You’re guaranteed to learn a lot but a course will also help to get you in the right “parenting” mindset. This is real! In addition, it’s a great way to meet other soon-to-be parents, some of whom may end up being lifelong friends.

9 Take an Infant CPR Class

If you are ever in an emergency situation with your baby and you haven’t taken a CPR class, it might be too late. You don’t want to have this regret. Take a class before your baby arrives. Performing CPR on a baby is different than doing so on an adult. There are lots of guides you can review, but nothing beats getting first-hand training.

8 Educate Yourself About Breast/Bottle Feeding

Many new parents expect that breastfeeding will just happen naturally. This is not likely to be the case. It takes work. The baby must be positioned properly, the latch must be ideal, and you must be positioned properly in order to avoid neck and back pain. You won’t really understand until you’re in it, but learning as much as you can before your baby arrives is essential.

If you plan to bottle feed, choose your feeding system. There are a lot of different bottles on the market, so do your research beforehand and purchase the system so you are ready. The same goes for formula if you plan to formula feed. Do your research to decide which formula is right for your little one.

Also, consider how you will warm your bottles. There are bottle warmers available but there are many to choose from if you go this route. This could be a great item to add to your baby shower registry.

7 Set up the Nursery

The reality is, your baby won’t need much right when they come home, other than a place to sleep. That said, the more you get done before his/her arrival, the better. For many expectant parents, setting up the nursery is very exciting. It allows you to really envision your new person coming home! If you don’t have time to get it all done, don’t stress too much. Just make sure you have a crib or a bassinet or a solid plan for co-sleeping.

6 Think About Pain Management

This is an important consideration before you hit the delivery room. Are you going to make a go at it naturally? Are you 100% in the epidural camp? It’s important to consider whether you can be flexible as well. There will come a point when “au naturel” gets pretty damn intense, so can you wrap your mind around some pain management?

There are, of course, other options for pain besides an epidural. Laughing gas is one. Talk to your spouse and your healthcare practitioner about the options so you go in eyes wide open.

5 Discuss Delivery Attendees

Some couples want their baby’s delivery to be very intimate--just the two of them with their chosen professionals. Others want to include other children, parents, and in-laws. Chat about this with your spouse to make sure expectations are set. Plus, if Aunt Gertrude thinks she’s going to be there, tell her “yay or “nay” so there isn’t any risk of her just showing up!

4 Pack Your Bag

This is a really fun activity to do! As your delivery date draws near, better get ready. Make sure your bag is readily accessible. Some people even keep theirs in their car. Also, a word of advice: don’t overpack. Consult friends and family to determine what you should bring.

Some essential items include clothes and PJs for you and baby, slippers, diapers, pads, phone charger, and maybe some snacks. Don’t bring things like a nursing pillow or toys for the baby.

3 Stock Your Freezer

Around the same time you are packing your bag, start packing your freezer. You won’t want to cook after the baby arrives, nor will you have the time. The more you can stock your freezer, the better. You’ll be grateful to have easy meals you can warm up to keep you nourished. This way, you’ll be more likely to sleep when the baby sleeps.

2 Plan Your Announcement

Talk to your spouse about how you will announce your baby’s arrival. Do you want it revealed to the world of FB and Twitter as a starting point? If not, make sure nobody gets trigger-happy. Have a plan and stick to it so the right people find out first, in the right way.

1 Pick a Name

Choosing a name for your baby might be tough but it’s so very exciting too! Even if you haven’t chosen “the one”, having a shortlist is helpful. There are some things you might want to consider when selecting a name, like fit with last name and name meaning, etc. And of course, some parents want to see their baby before they make a final choice.

Either way, picking a name can be really fun as your family gains a member and your home gains some joy. Enjoy it all. This is a magical time.

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