If you recently found out you’re pregnant, it might seem like there’s an eternity between now and meeting your baby (congratulations, by the way!). But, as they say, time flies. Starting to tackle these 10 key things now can help you feel calm and confident when it’s time to give birth and navigate the newborn days.
1) Learn about the birth process.
This article is a great place to start. You can also do research, talk to your doctor, and chat with other parents to familiarize yourself with the basics of giving birth. It’s a different experience for everyone, but knowing what to expect can help you feel calm and ready to make informed decisions.
2) Decide where you want to give birth.
Do you want to give birth at a hospital? Depending on where you live, your doctor, and your healthcare system, you may be able to choose between different hospitals. Or maybe you prefer a birth center run by midwives, where you can meet your baby in a homier atmosphere. You might even wish give birth in the homiest place of all – your actual home! Head over to this article for help figuring out where to welcome your little one into the world.
3) Create a Birth Plan.
A Birth Plan is a brief, written document outlining your preferences for giving birth. It includes details like who you want in the room, how you want to manage your pain, and what you want to do with your baby immediately after she’s born. Head over here for an in-depth guide to creating a Birth Plan.
4) Line up childcare.
If you plan to work after your baby is born (or anticipate needing help caring for her), it’s best to consider your options now. It can take time to find a nanny, babysitter, or childcare program that’s a good fit, and many quality childcare programs have waiting lists. For more advice on this, start here.
5) Choose a pediatrician.
Ideally, your pediatrician will be a trusted source of support and information throughout your little one’s childhood. To find one, you can start by getting recommendations from family, friends, and neighbors. Once you have a few names, do your homework to decide if doctor’s approach, personality, and office practices are a good fit for your family. You can find a step-by-step guide to doing that homework here.
6) Learn the basics of baby care.
Just like learning about the birth process, preparing yourself to care for your baby can boost your confidence and cut down on stress during the early days. Learn ahead of time about breastfeeding and bathing your baby, helping her sleep, bonding with her, and supporting her development. Our BabySparks program offers guidance for all of these and more.
7) Set up a nursery.
When it comes to baby furniture and accessories, the sheer number of options can make your head spin. There are certain things you definitely need (like a safe place for your baby to sleep) and other things that can make caring for her easier (like a changing table). You can read about nursery must-haves here, and recommended items here. While you’re readying the nursery, you may want to go ahead and baby-proof the entire house. Your little one won’t get into mischief until she can move, but that will happen before you know it!
8) Stock up on essentials.
You’re going to be busy (and tired!) after your baby is born, so it’s helpful to have certain things on hand (like a stroller and diapers). But you don’t have to go overboard, either. Take a look at our comprehensive list of what to get before your baby arrives.
9) Pack a birth bag.
If you’re planning to give birth outside of your home, pack a travel bag at least a month before your due date. Your packing doesn’t need to be elaborate, though! Find out how to keep the process simple here.
10) Prepare siblings.
Bringing a new baby into a family is a big change for the children you already have. In this article we talk about ways to prepare siblings, as well as help them transition after your baby is born.
Whew, preparing for a baby is a lot of work! But you’ll be glad you did once she arrives and you’re free to focus on the most important thing: her.