*This is NOT a sponsored post. There are some local and national brands mentioned in this post. Neither the writer, nor Raleigh Moms Blog was paid to mention these brands and they are the opinions of the writer.
When I moved to Cary from the DC area, I was six months pregnant with our first son. We settled in nicely to our new home, tackled a few small home projects and quickly began nesting. My husband and I looked forward to meeting our new little bundle of joy – as did our parents, both sets divorced and living out of town. Baby H would be the first grandchild on both sides of the family.
When the birth finally arrived, the grandparents rolled into town to meet him while we were in the hospital. [Scratch that. They camped out during my induction and stayed while I recovered from a messy c-section.] We had previously stated that we wanted private “bonding time” with our newborn and would host visitors after spending a few weeks with him by ourselves. In a new city. Where we had hardly made any friends. After I’d just had major surgery. Did I mention our parents lived out of town?
Luckily – our neighbors swept in to help with meals during those first two weeks until the grandparents rotated in to help with all things newborn.
Fast forward to early Summer 2014. Now pregnant with our second son (Baby C) and due in late August, we weren’t going to make the same mistakes twice. I was wise to the needs of a new baby and I was getting my business IN ORDER.
Prepping for Baby’s Arrival
It goes without saying that most pregnant moms will receive some similar words of advice… “Make sure you have Amazon Prime,” “Get your hair done and a pedicure right before the birth,” and “Freeze some casseroles.”
But what will you wish you had done when you’re in the trenches – nursing around the clock, too exhausted to cook AND entertain your toddler, and praying you’ll get a shower at 10 o’clock at night?
1. Organizing the help. Whether that’s grandparents, the regular babysitter, or a tween mother’s helper from down the street – make sure you have a plan for when baby arrives. The plan might allow the new mom to get out of the house, take that needed shower without interruption, whisk the older siblings to the park, cook meals, or clean the house. The key for me was deciding how each person could really help our family. My mother in law is a terrific cook, so we had her stock the freezer. Before the birth, I booked our sitter from 6-8pm the evenings my husband would need to travel – I knew I didn’t want to handle the “witching hour” alone in those early months.
I asked a very close friend to be the point of contact for my Meal Train. I brought a LOT of meals to new moms over the past two years and I was hopeful that my friends would do the same for us when Baby #2 arrived. We were amazed how many families offered this help and I was so grateful to have someone else organizing it.
Don’t forget to add a great lactation consultant to your list of helpers. Breastfeeding was harder than I could have ever imagined and you might want to meet with a consultant prior to the birth and certainly at those early pediatric appointments. A good lactation consultant should provide you with information about proper latching techniques, basic guidelines for pumping and storing milk, and may be able to show you the components the average breast pump. A great lactation consultant might remind you that the pumping breast shields (the funnel) come in different sizes (who knew?!), and provide you with a list of common breastfeeding-safe medications.
2. Get your body ready for the marathon. Having a baby is physically challenging and I don’t just mean labor. Toting that little one will work your arms and lower back. Rocking and nursing can strain your wrists. And don’t get me started on collapsing the jogging stroller. Check with your doctor first – but make sure you incorporate exercise into your pregnancy. Even consistent brisk walking will have serious benefits for mom and baby – and body once you’re given the green light to exercise after the birth.
3. Stock up on ALL the household necessities. Remember registering for your first baby shower? You had a list of all those “necessary” items and blissfully scanned them as you wandered through Buy Buy Baby.
This list isn’t like that.
This is the list you’ll create to ensure you don’t need to travel out of the house unnecessarily for at least a month post-baby. Paper towels, tissues, dish soap, shampoo, nursing pads, trash bags, toilet paper, toothpaste, mouth wash, laundry detergent… walk through your home room by room and create a shopping list that includes every major AND minor item you use regularly. Then, stock up. The initial cost of this large shopping trip should pay off on the back end when you don’t purchase these items for a several months.
Make sure you take a good look in your medicine cabinet and include all the extra health items your newborn will need like Vitamin D drops, butt paste, nasal spray, hydrocortisone cream, etc.
Extra tip: Target sells Extra Large Underpads in the adult diaper section. 18 for ~$6. These pads are the exact size of a changing table pad and saved me a TON of time and energy. Now if baby pees or poops during a diaper change – whip it out and toss, instead of constantly washing the changing pad cover. It’s also perfect for stubborn diaper rash, which often is only solved with several air-drying sessions.
For that matter, you might check out the 50 pack Cotton Squares sold in the cosmetic aisle of Harris Teeter. We battled some horrific diaper rash and these squares helped ensure baby’s bum was totally dry before applying the diaper rash cream. A pack runs about $3.
4. Speaking of shopping… If you know what the baby’s name is going to be, then let the monogramming begin before baby’s arrival. I love Chickamama Baby Boutique for burp cloths. And while you’re at it, you can even have his/her 1st Christmas ornament ready to go. JWD Boutique has adorable porcelain ornaments.
This dreamy distressed painted door sign from Salt Box Signs stopped many a UPS driver from waking baby (and me) during naptime.
Need a big brother or big sister gift? After pinging many of my experienced mom friends, my husband and I decided to go with a bag of H’s favorite items, rather than a bunch of things that actually said “Big Brother”. The games, books, toys, and DVD (his first) we gave him kept him pretty well entertained in those first days home from the hospital and freed us to take care of the newborn.
I had tucked a small gift into my hospital bag: a gift from Baby C for his big brother at their first meeting at the hospital. Like most preschoolers, Big Brother H was delighted to receive a gift and it allowed us to focus on him at a time when so many eyes were on the new baby. (It was a personalized dress up doctor coat and it was a HUGE hit with our Big Brother and the hospital staff!)
Make sure to add fun baby stationary to your list… remember all those meals and gifts you’ll be receiving? My mom came with a Gift List tracker since items began arriving to the house while we were at the hospital – tremendously helpful for keeping track of thank you notes.
Lastly, my mother surprised us with a lawn stork from Sweet Baby Signs in Raleigh. Now all our neighbors would officially know we were in the weeds, ha!
Extra Tip: Big Brother H, our first, was born mid-November and a friend had casually suggested I handle all my Christmas shopping before his arrival. It was a great tip and eliminated a lot of stress. So, if your new baby is arriving shortly before a major holiday, anniversary or other important event, it might make sense to select and wrap gifts before the birth.
5. Take care of as much paperwork as you can before the birth.
The hospital will help provide you with the necessary paperwork to register your baby for a birth certificate (order several copies), but here are some other tasks you’ll want to complete before or soon after the birth:
- Send yourself an email with the link or number to the baby’s insurance – you’ll likely have only 30 days to add him/her to the policy.
- Begin setting up the 529 Plan so you can send it out to grandparents, godparents, and other close family members.
- The Affordable Care Act increased support for breastfeeding moms and you may be eligible for a free hospital-grade breast pump. It took me a simple phone call to my health insurance customer service line to get the website address to submit my name. The breast pump supplier took it from there and I received my pump 5 days after the birth.
- Set calendar reminders to update any necessary beneficiary information.
- Depending on the time of year, you might even create the birth announcement or holiday card template – leaving you to just drop in the birth date, time and weight.
- Lastly – do you and your partner have a will and medical advanced directive? If not, now’s the time to determine the who/what/why/when and how to care for your child(ren) in the event that you can’t make those decisions. Depending on the complexity and selected route (online tool vs. attorney) and complexity (basic will vs. trusts), will preparation should likely run less than $1,000.