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The journey into parenthood can be a bit of a rollercoaster. The joy and excitement of the highs are amazing, of course, but then there can also be stress, anxiety, and fear. I’m a planner who really wants to have the details worked out as well as possible ahead of time. I found that knowing I was as ready as I could possibly be before giving birth really helped ease my mind, so today I’m sharing my top 9 ways to prepare for the arrival of your newborn baby. I hope you enjoy and find them useful!
1. Understand any Parental Leave
Long before your baby arrives, you need to look into what parental leave benefits your employer offers so you know exactly where you stand with maternity benefits and pay. If you are self-employed, you also need to look ahead and have a “maternity leave” plan. I planned ahead by gradually winding down my Etsy shop and getting blog posts written/scheduled ahead of time so that I’d have at least one post a week basically ready to go for the first 6 weeks or so. If you have a partner, s/he should also look into potential parental leave benefits. My husband was able to take 10 days of leave, but they had to be continuous and weekends counted towards his time off. Some companies today offer leave for adoptions as well as biological parents, so don’t assume that there’s no parental leave available if you’re looking into adoption!
2. Figure out Your Budget
Once you know how long you plan to take off work and whether you’ll receive compensation, you can plan a new monthly budget to match your projected income. Don’t forget to factor your new, baby-related expenses into this budget! It’s important to get started on this one early and, hopefully, set aside a bit extra each month while you’re expecting to make sure everything works out comfortably once Baby arrives. Stocking up on baby essentials ahead of time if you find them on sale, shopping yard sales, and seeing if friends/family have any useful hand-me-downs can help you prepare for Baby while sticking to your new budget.
3. Write a Birth Plan
I personally referred to my birth plan as my “birth preferences” because plan is kind of a strong word! You always have to be prepared for a change of plans (you can read more about our birthing time change of plans), but having a concise document to share with your birth team is helpful. Many people like to draw up a birth plan early to share with their provider to ensure everyone is on the same page and you can have a discussion about anything you or your provider are not comfortable with. My birth plan received complements from several nurses for being well written and easy to follow. I’m happy to share a post with tips for writing your birth plan if folks are interested! Please just leave a comment letting me know.
4. Baby Proof your Home
Do not put this off! At least do some baby proofing ahead of time, even if it’s only installing outlet covers in the areas Baby will frequent. You never know when Baby will start rolling, crawling, or just generally wriggling around. There are lots of child safety tips you’ll need to consider, but for now you’ll want to ensure that your crib or bassinet conforms to modern safety standards and that pets can’t get into it. You may also want to declutter and clean your home because you may not have time to later. I scrubbed all our floors in the weeks before LG was due to ensure everything was clean and ready! (Want to know why our baby’s face is blurred in this photo? You can learn more about why we don’t share full facial photos of LG.)
5. Create a Baby Kit
The list of things you need to buy for your baby can get overwhelming and expensive incredibly quickly. For this reason, you should stick to buying the essentials only and leave the designer boots and changing bags at the store. Instead of snapping up all of the “must-have” baby items you don’t actually need, you can save some cash by opting for budget-friendly alternatives.
6. Arrange for Some Extra Help
The first few weeks as a parent can be some of the most wonderful, but stressful and tiring, weeks ever. Because of this, you may want to ask family and friends to lend a hand, especially if you have other children that also need taking care of. Even though we weren’t near family, some wonderful friends helped us out and brought by food. It can be difficult to ask for help, but if someone offers to assist take them up on it! If you don’t have loved ones that you can turn to, then consider babysitters, childminders, playgroups, or after-school clubs. Also, there may be community support resources available. Ask your provider or hospital. Our hospital had lots of information on free support group meetings both on site at the hospital and elsewhere in the community, as well as numbers to call for breastfeeding help.
7. Cook Plenty of Food
When you’re holding a baby most of the day, it can be difficult to find the time to prepare and cook healthy meals for yourself. Instead of eating whatever junk food you can get your hands on (it’s super tempting when you’re hungry and tired!), consider doing some meal prepping. There are so many freezer meal ideas on Pinterest these days! Find a few favorites and invite friends over for a meal prep party a couple weeks before your due date. This means you’ll only have to reheat and eat your food after Baby’s birth, saving you time and energy.
8. Pack Your Hospital Bag
You’ll need to have your hospital bag packed for at least a week or two before your due date. I went ahead and had things at least mentally prepared a month ahead of time since I knew I was born a bit early and didn’t want to be taken by surprise! Your hospital This should contain all of the things you’ll need during your birthing time and after giving birth, like your birth plan, clothes for you and the baby, diapers, a blanket, any special music you’ve selected, and anything else you feel you want or need. We actually didn’t bring a blanket with us and then it was cool, dark, and raining when we were discharged. Womp-womp. Learn from my mistake and include a blanket! Another tip – you may want to bring a spare pillow or two, especially if you’re picky about your pillows. Make sure your hospital bag is easily accessible by the door, or even in the car.
9. Prepare your Car
Get that carseat installed early! Although many people will tell you to be have it installed one or two weeks early, we went ahead and put it in four weeks early. It’s a really good thing we did because it turned out our seat didn’t actually fit in our car and we had to order a new one online! Our primary car is a Mini Cooper and the hand-me-down Britax we received absolutely would not fit in the back seat. We had to do some quick research and order a convertible seat designed for smaller cars. (Which, incidentally, we love and use way more than the Britax.) You should also make sure that there’s plenty of fuel in the car’s tank at all times during your final weeks of pregnancy.
I know it can be difficult to get motivated to do much of anything during your final weeks of pregnancy, but being well organized and prepared ahead of time makes life so much easier once your little one arrives! I really hope these 9 ways to prepare for the arrival of your newborn baby help you out and that you leave your top tips in the comments!