You may hear the question several times throughout your pregnancy, “Are you ready?” Chances are the answer will be, “Not quite!” While it’s likely that nothing will quite prepare you for those first precious moments meeting your new baby, there’s plenty of things that can make those first few weeks home a little more manageable. As a childbirth educator and certified lactation specialist, I like to arm Moms with several research-based options so they feel more comfortable guiding their own experience. Today I’m excited to share ‘5 ways to prepare for bringing home baby’.
1. Take some prenatal classes
It’s a good idea to be as informed as possible when it comes to bringing a new baby home! Taking some prenatal classes will go a long way to boost your confidence no matter what baby number it is. When it comes to labor, make sure you are familiar with several options. If an initial plan gets derailed, chances are you will be uneasy if you don’t have at least an idea of other options. When it comes to feeding your baby, a prenatal breastfeeding class is the number one indicator of breastfeeding initiation and duration. Taking classes can be especially reassuring if things don’t go perfectly from the get-go.
2. Tour the hospital/birthing center of your choice
It can really help with visualizing the birth process if you have a chance to tour the place of birth beforehand! Most places have a tour schedule, and many can accommodate walk-ins. Bring your birthing partner along so they can get an idea of what to expect, too! If you are birthing at home, having a list of any needed items/setup as well as your birth team contact info handy will ease your mind.
3. Get a support system in place
Support can really make a difference in the early days home with your little one. In my classes I talk about having two people you know you can turn to for support in the postpartum time. Ideas for support people include your birth partner, family members, friend, neighbor, lactation specialist, doula, etc. Really anyone you feel comfortable turning to who you know will respect your choices as a Mom. Research shows that having support can help with things like physical recovery, postpartum depression, and breastfeeding.
4. Think about extra help
There are things you can setup prenatally to lighten your load in those early days home. No matter if it is your first baby or fifth, a new baby always brings a transition period at home. Here are a few ideas. A few weeks before your due date, sit down and write out some menus/grocery lists so someone else can do the shopping and cooking. Print some takeout menus and circle your favorite entrée (that way no one has to ask!). Consider hiring a short-term housekeeper. Sign up for delivery services for needed items like diapers and baby wash. Some areas have curbside grocery pickup that could save you time. Arrange extra carpools and play dates for your older children. Inquire about work leave for your spouse/significant other. Consider all your options about returning to work if that is your plan (full-time/part-time/teleworking). Some of these things cost money, but if one of them works for your lifestyle it could make all the difference!
5. Give yourself a break!
Those first weeks after delivery you are going to have some ups and downs. There will be moments of pure joy and love for your new baby. There will be other times when you are weepy and exhausted. Sometimes in our society we feel pressure to be back to our skinny jeans and fast-paced lifestyle as soon as we deliver! It’s a good idea for the first six weeks to be okay with slowing down and not making any plans. Also giving yourself a break and allowing your body to heal and recover at its own pace.
It’s hard to imagine ever being completely ready to welcome motherhood and a new little one into the whole! In my experience as a labor and delivery RN, lactation specialist, childbirth educator and mom of 2, I’ve found that it is incredibly valuable to arm yourself with knowledge and options. I’ve noticed that women end up being much more satisfied with their experience. However, I also know from experience that every Mom knows what’s best in her unique circumstance. Increasing your knowledge, preparation, and support only helps you tap into that mother’s intuition a little more confidently. I hope these tips can help you “put your best foot forward” in those early newborn days.
Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC is a mom of 2, Registered Nurse, Childbirth Educator and Board Certified Lactation Coach. She owns Lactation Link, a private practice offering breastfeeding support through her video classes, website, and online support forum. She also offers in-home lactation support services before and after baby is born, including home and hospital consults. Lindsey’s goal is to empower women through education to reach their goals, whatever they may be.