Preparing Mom (and Dad!) for Baby

Cover photo credit: Chelsie McCarty Photography

Obviously since this is our first baby I am no expert on what to do to prepare for a baby, but I wanted to write about what I have been doing so far. After she comes, I’ll probably have a bunch of changes and additions!

  1. Take a prenatal and breastfeeding class. I almost didn’t do this one because I couldn’t see what else I would learn from a class that I didn’t learn in nursing school. WRONG! The class was really helpful in ways that I never would have thought of.
    • First off, this class made me think more about what  wanted my labor and delivery to be like, instead of just going with the norm based on facts from a textbook. For example, I suddenly realized that I could choose what medications to take for pain and whether or not I wanted to receive fluids throughout labor. I just never really thought about what I wanted before. Although I still try to keep a flexible mindset because who knows what my labor and delivery will be like, I have began to consider more of my options and how they affect me personally.
    • My husband learned a ton! It’s one thing for me to teach my husband what I know about labor and delivery, but there is still something about learning it from someone who isn’t your spouse that makes things “click.”  At first I wasn’t sure if the prenatal class had taught him much, but I have found him using more technical terms more often. He just overall sounds more educated haha! So if you don’t want to be the one to tell your spouse about labor and delivery, then a prenatal class might be great for you!
    • You meet other soon-to-be-parents and find out that your fears/questions/concerns are perfectly normal. It was actually really funny watching about 15-20 pregnant women and their support persons enter the room and all sit down together. I loved hearing about what they were planning on doing and the questions they had. It helped me know that there is no question the nurses/doctors haven’t heard before (or a thousand times over)!
      photo of pregnant woman touching her stomach
      Photo by Bryan Schneider on
  2. Meal Prep. There are so many ways people have come up with to meal prep. Thousands of blog posts out there can tell you a thousand ways to do it. When I initially thought about meal prepping, I imagined having 20+ meals ready in the freezer to pop in the oven each night, just like my mom did. Then it dawned on me- we only have about 2 x 1 feet of freezer space. So that picture died quickly… However, I have since thought of other methods that could work for families who don’t have tons of freezer space, so I thought I’d share:
    • Make a list of easy meals to keep on the fridge. My list includes things like spaghetti, soups and sandwiches, burritos, sloppy joes, casseroles, and snacks. I made sure that all the snacks/meals I added are easy enough for my husband to make.
    • Stock up on basic ingredients. Along with the meal list, make a “month before” grocery list that has the basic ingredients for the meals, like pasta, spaghetti sauce, canned soup, bread (freeze), cheese (freeze), etc.
    • Keep the recipes for these meals somewhere organized so that whoever is cooking can easily find them.
    • Make crockpot meals that can freeze in gallon-size freezer bags. These take up little space in the freezer and are super easy to just plop into the crockpot.
    • Use dollar store plastic bins or empty cardboard boxes to store things in the freezer. It will help maximize the space you do have and make things easier to find (although it’s always a nice surprise to find a ready-made meal a month later!). In the fridge, you can make one of these bins a “go-to” snack bin where you can portion out ready-made snacks like sliced-up fruit/veggies, energy bites, deli meat and cheese (for crackers), etc.
    • Some of my favorite freezer meals can be found here
      assorted fruits on black textile
      Photo by Mike on
  3. Contact your insurance company. Insurance is not always the easiest task to tackle, so take the time now to call them up and ask some questions that will prepare you for your child’s birth and hopefully leave out any unexpected surprises.
    • Ask about a breast pump. Some insurance companies allow you to order/buy your breast pump before the baby is born and some make you wait until baby has arrived. Call to get specifics on when, what type, and how you can get your pump. I remember a breast pump being a lifesaver in my family when my youngest brother was born. It seemed there was chaos as my mom was struggling with various problems breastfeeding, but when she got a breast pump and started using it, our life began to feel refreshingly normal again. So I’m looking forward to having my breast pump on-hand.
    • Ask how long of a hospital stay will be covered. Of course, there are various circumstances that may affect how long you need to stay in the hospital. However, it’s helpful to know how long of a stay is covered for a normal vaginal and normal c-section delivery. *Take note if this time starts once you check in to the hospital or once the baby is born.
    • Ask if there are any other benefits you can receive before, during, or after delivery that you may not know about. For example, some insurance companies offer discounts off some mom/baby products. It never hurts to ask!
    • Ask how to add your new baby to your insurance plan.
    • Ask about billing policies. Between your insurance company, doctor’s office, pediatrician, and the hospital, find out how much you will need to pay and how you will be paying it. Some insurance companies require you to pay a high deductible (sometimes around $500) right up front when you check into the hospital. Calling beforehand will help decrease the likelihood of surprise expenses.
      marketing office working business
      Photo by Negative Space on
  4. Make a pre-hospital checklist. My checklist has just a few items on it that may seem obvious to me now, but I’m sure will slip my mind once I’m in labor.
    • Packing list. You should have a hospital bag packed a few weeks before you are due, but there will be some things that you can’t keep packed, like your toothbrush, cell phone, hospital papers, etc. Make a list of things for you or your spouse to put into your bag before heading out the door since both of you may not be able to think straight at the time. Read my post about what I packed in my hospital bag for more ideas.
    • When to go to the hospital. Your provider will be able to tell you when you should go to the hospital. It’s helpful to write that down to refer to when the time comes. For example, I was told that when my contractions last 60-90 seconds every 2-3 minutes for at least an hour to go to the hospital. Or, go in when my water breaks. I have these sort of items as a list on my pre-hosptial checklist so that I don’t get too excited and go in too early.
    • Take a shower. I have heard numerous moms say that they wished they had showered before they went to the hospital because labor was really long. Also, showering is supposed to feel nice with the warm water and all when you’re in labor, so why not?
    • Eat something sustaining. Once you are checked into the hospital, for safety reasons (mainly risk for aspiration during emergency surgery) you are generally not allowed to eat during labor. So eat something that will keep you satisfied for the longest possible. A nurse suggested to me the following: 2 slices whole grain toast, eggs, and fruit (as a smoothie, juice, or sliced). Make sure your spouse eats something and brings a snack as well because they will likely not want to leave your side much during labor. Spouses- do not eat in front of your hungry, laboring wife!
    • Do things to try to make contractions stop. So many moms have said that they were all ready and about to get in the car to drive to the hospital when they sat down for a minute and the contractions slowed, then stopped. Make sure to try different things, like taking a walk or lying down and resting before going in. If your contractions stop, it is most likely false labor. You can generally call into the hospital to ask them if you have any questions about your symptoms, though, if you aren’t sure what to do.
    • Make sure the car seat is in the car. You will need this to take baby home, so don’t forget it!
      postit scrabble to do todo
      Photo by Breakingpic on
  5. Get your postpartum supplies together. There are lots of good lists out there of what to get for postpartum care. I recommend getting or recycling a small box that fits on the back of your toilet or a shelf next to the toilet to keep these supplies in. Some things I have in my box include: maxi pads, disposable underwear (ex. Depends, Always Discreet, etc.), witch hazel pads (aka Tucks), Dermoplast spray, docusate sodium (aka Colace) stool softener, and some flushable wipes. I also plan to make some padsicles to keep in the freezer. I’ve heard they are great for postpartum healing, but I’ve also been warned to not use them for a long time once they have thawed because warm area + moist = bacteria 😛
    bath ducks bathing bathroom bathtub
    Photo by on
  6. Make a list of your resources for post-pregnancy. After having a baby, you may find yourself experiencing different moods, levels of sleep deprivation, and frustration that you have never experienced before. While preparing for my little one, I came across a blog post (I wish I could remember where!) that suggested all new moms sit down with their spouse and fill out a questionnaire about what resources they have for after the birth and keep it around for reference. I feel like this list could be a life saver for some moms, literally or figuratively. So I suggest you do it as well. Here are some of the questions to ask yourself and write down the answers to:
    • Who can you ask to come over to clean your house after you give birth?
    • Who can you ask to make a meal for you?
    • Who can hold the baby while you shower?
    • Who do you know who has recently had a baby who you could call with questions?
    • If you feel lonely during the day when your spouse if gone, who can you talk to?
    • Who can you text in the middle of the night?
    • Who can provide you with spiritual support?
    • What is your doctor’s phone number and contact information? Do they have a 24 hour help line? If so, what is that phone number?
    • What counselor will you call if you are having scary thoughts or if you are concerned you are struggling with a postpartum mental illness?
    • Who can you contact if you are struggling with breastfeeding?
    • What is the name of a local or online mom support group you can attend?
    • Is there a local mental health phone number you can call/text if you are worried about hurting yourself or your baby?
        • Postpartum Support International: Text 503-894-9453 or call 1-800-944-4773 (#2 English),
        • National Crisis Line: Text HOME to 741741 or call 1-800-273-8255
    • Have you had mental health issues in the past? How have you dealt with them before?
    • What are the signs of a postpartum mental illness?
        • Fatigue
        • Feeling sad, hopeless, and/or overwhelmed
        • Trouble sleeping and/or eating
        • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
        • Losing interest in things that you used to enjoy
        • Withdrawing from family and friends
        • No interest in your baby
        • Thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
    • If your partner thinks you might be struggling, what do you want them to say?
    • What will you do if you start struggling with a postpartum mental illness? (make a concrete plan!!)
    • Can you talk to your partner if you are having scary thoughts?
    • If you are struggling with a mental illness, who are two people that you could talk to right away?
affection blur close up couple
Photo by Rosie Ann on

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