Alright, here goes, my best advice for how to prepare for a new baby: you can’t prepare! It is truly and utterly impossible to prepare for how your life will change when you welcome a new baby into it. When an adorable, squishy little baby joins your world, everything is turned upside down, your heart explodes, your free time evaporates, your priorities shift, your eyes are opened to new things, your schedule changes, and so much more. It’s impossible to prepare for this as nothing in life compares to the experiencing of having a baby go from your belly to your arms.
It is incredibly exciting to welcome a new baby into the family. But new babies also mean you have to be prepared for a lot of new situations, schedules, and scenarios. In all seriousness, you can do prep in advance for these changes while you’re waiting for the arrival of your baby. In fact, the prep you do while pregnant is crucial because there is so much that is out of your control when the baby arrives! So, let’s dive in shall we! Here are my thoughts on how to prepare for a new baby…
How To Prepare For A New Baby
Create A Birth Plan
One of the best ways to feel emotionally and mentally prepared for your big day is to create a birth plan. I want to immediately follow this up by saying that you should also 100% be prepared for your birth plan to not go according to plan. Mine went completely and totally against my plan. (My plan was a natural, vaginal birth. I had to have a c section.) However, it felt really good to sit down one day to create my ideal birth plan. So I was reminded of what I wanted, reminded of the steps and progression of labor. And reminded that no matter what, at the end of it all, I got to meet my baby.
Choose A Pediatrician
I was definitely intimidated when it came to choosing a pediatrician. However, once I dove into researching pediatricians, it all fell into place. Sometimes, the hardest part of finding something new is to start! Our process with choosing a pediatrician looked like this: I asked a handful of friends who their children’s pediatricians are. From there, I researched each pediatrician by reviewing their websites, their philosophies, and whether or not they accept our health insurance. Next, I made three columns and placed each pediatrician into a column based on my liking of them so far (“like the most,” “might like/am curious about,” and “not the best match for our family”). I then scheduled appointments to meet the two pediatricians I put in the “like the most” column. I reasoned that if I didn’t love either, I could revisit my “might like/am curious about” list.
We met with both pediatricians two different days within one week. We found it helpful to meet them close together so each visit was fresh in our minds. I hoped we would have a clear winner and love our experience with one pediatrician and their office (the nurses, the waiting room experience, the patient rooms etc.) the most and we did! We had a clear winner and went from there. We’ve been super happy with our pediatrician from that moment on!
Find A Lactation Consultant
This tip for how to prepare for a new baby might not appeal to you or be a priority for you, which is more than fine. But I share it because it is something I wish I had done sooner. If you plan to breastfeed, then finding a lactation consultant ahead of time and setting up an appointment to meet with one in the first few days after you bring your baby home from the hospital can be immensely helpful! I saw a lactation consultant who helped me SO much! Like I said, I wish I had seen her sooner. Because it would have saved me a lot of tears and stress in the first two weeks. For our next baby, I will 1000% be setting up an appointment for my first days home from the hospital.
Take Childbirth and Infant Care Classes
Taking childbirth and infant care classes definitely made us more prepared to meet our little love. We took childbirth classes with Kathy Markham of BirthJoy of Charleston and loved our experience with her! She also helped me formulate my birth plan based on what I learned from her classes. If you are researching childbirth classes, you’ll probably find that most follow either the Bradley Method, Birthing From Within, HypnoBirthing, or Lamaze. Research which is the best fit for you and your partner. In addition to childbirth classes, you can take infant CPR classes and do hospital tours of your hospital (Covid depending) to prep for birth.
Do Financial Planning
Spend some time doing financial planning with your spouse and your CPA before welcoming a little one into your life. Things to discuss can be planning how you want to pay for your baby birth, paying for childcare, setting up education savings accounts for your child, monthly budgets for all things baby, and so on.
Create A Baby Registry
This one goes without saying but if you’re welcoming your first baby, then you definitely want to create a baby registry. It took me multiple afternoons of researching, reading, and asking around to finalize our baby registry. It is worth it though when you fall in love with everything you picked!
Assemble And Build Everything From Your Baby Registry
This is a bit of a dreaded task for new parents – at least it was for us. We spent what felt like a whole day unboxed and assembling everything we received from our baby registry. When we finished this task, we felt so much more prepared for the arrival of our little one though! It was immediate relief.
Put Your Car Seat In The Car
This sounds simple but you absolutely don’t want to be surprised if your baby arrives early and there is no car seat in the car. On an afternoon when you and your spouse are setting up and assembling items from your registry, figure out how to install your car seat in the car. Be prepared to watch a YouTube video or two to get it right. Also, did you know that you can drive your car to a lot of fire stations and have them check that you installed your car seat correctly? I recommend putting your car seat in the car a few weeks before your due date. I have girlfriends who have welcomed their babies three weeks or so before their due dates so you can never be too safe with this one!
Write Thank You Notes
I can’t stress this enough! When you have a baby, you’ll have a new wave of people gifting you things. So I really recommend having all your thank you notes from your baby shower(s) and baby registry written and sent in the mail before you give birth. It will feel like a big enough task to write thank you notes for the gifts and food you receive after having your baby. So set yourself up for success by writing all baby-related thank you notes ahead of time.
Prepare Older Siblings
We have one child for now so we haven’t crossed this bridge yet. But it is great to prepare older siblings for the arrival of a new baby brother or sister. You can do this by reading them books about being a big sibling, talking to them about their baby sibling on the way, sharing with them where they will go when you go to the hospital to give birth (i.e. tell them how much fun they will have at grandma and grandpa’s), and letting them pick out a gift for their baby sibling. Your family and friends can be super helpful with this one so bring them into the conversation too!
Check In With Your Health Insurance Coverage
Your health insurance needs will expand when you give birth and when you have a new baby and frequent pediatrician appointments. Check in with your health insurance and make sure you are covered and have provided them with everything they need.
Schedule Appointments With Your Health Care Providers
You will schedule your first pediatrician appointment when you are at the hospital after giving birth but don’t forget about yourself. Make sure you have your follow-up OBGYN appointments scheduled for after birth. And think about anything else you might need or want after giving birth. For example, I’ve done some acupuncture in the months since giving birth, which has been wonderful for my body recovery. You can schedule these out way in advance before having a baby. So you have them teed up down the road.
Set Up A Baby Care Schedule
Whether you are welcoming your first baby or your fourth baby, it is crucial to set up some sort care schedule for the baby. This looks different for every family, every baby, and every scenario. But being prepared to get help ahead of time can relieve moms of a lot of stress. If family members are going to help you care for your newborn, it can be worthwhile to coordinate grandparents’ help times and availability in advance. The same goes for your spouse. Is there guaranteed time you can schedule in for your spouse to parent 100% so you, the mom, can have a break from watching the newborn baby?
Having a preplan in place can help you get into a rhythm with your time expectations right out of the gates. (Believe me. Your expectations with time can be one of the hardest parts of welcoming a new baby.) You can work on honing in on a baby care schedule close to your due date. So your loved ones schedules are the most accurate when you plan.