Things to Do Before You Give Birth: As many of my friends get ready to have their first babies, I am reminded of all the important things to do before your first baby or second (or third baby) is born!
Brooke, my third baby, turns nine months in just a few weeks, and it suddenly seems so far ago that I was pregnant and preparing for our baby to be born–and eons ago that I was getting ready for our first baby (Bowe) to be born!
Thankfully, having given birth three times, I’ve learned what you need to do to get everything in order before you give birth and bring your baby home from the hospital–and several tips I completely forgot about, and bet you may not have thought about either if it’s your first baby!
21 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU GIVE BIRTH
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1.) Take maternity pictures
I know, I know, I know! You feel huge, think you look like a whale and don’t think you’ll ever forget feeling this big again. Well, you will, and you will regret not taking more maternity pictures. Take it from a photo-phobe. Yes, I made that term up, but it accurately represents how I feel about having pictures taken of me. I haven’t even had my wedding pictures printed–seven years later!
You are only pregnant a couple of times in your life, and will miss that big ol’ belly when you are postpartum and just have big ol’ boobs and (a little baby belly). Embrace the bump and wear it with pride! I made my husband take these pictures of me when I was in false-labor with our third and 38 weeks pregnant! You see, I forgot to take maternity photos with my second and my first (or avoided it) and really regretted it. And I have a case of procrastination. But, even I did it. Be smart and prepared and have your maternity pictures taken before you are in labor–maybe in your eighth month of pregnancy or around 36 weeks? Believe me, your bump will be plenty big by then! (PSSSSTTT this undershirt is the absolute BOMB for supporting a big ol’ bump!) I had horrible back pain with all three of my babes and this lifted me up and made me feel better–plus it smoothed out everything! Totally worth the cost–I wore it everyday for four months!
2.) Arrange care for your older children and/ or pets
Even before we had children, we had to arrange babysitters for our dependents–our two Great Danes. Call and reserve a dog walker, a babysitter, or a family or friend to come over and watch your children/ pets. Have a plan in place of where they will go, who will look after them, and write out their schedules. Make it easy for the caregiver. Worried about leaving your babes? PRINT OUT these customizable instructions and rest easy knowing that the caregiver knows the routine, where to go, and where everything is! SERIOUSLY, after reinventing the wheel every time I left my kids and spending an hour writing down everything I could, I made a printable sheet that I simply fill out. Download your’s here.
3.) Pack your hospital bag
I know you’ve heard this everywhere; but, really, pack your hospital bag by 36 weeks! pack your hospital bag by 36 weeks! I actually packed mine at 34 weeks with my third baby, Brooke, because I had so many contractions throughout my pregnancy. After forgetting nearly half the things I needed with my first baby (I packed my hospital bag when I was in labor), I vowed to never repeat that again, and I haven’t–so I wrote a printable checklist! (I also included my favorite products to pack and what I never will go without again in this post: Hospital Bag Checklist for Baby)
4.) Pack two options for baby’s first outfit
Now, this is a fun one! Pick out your baby’s first outfit. We always waited to find out the gender, so I always packed something gender neutral and not too expensive. You never know when you’ll have a baby blow out!
5.) Prepare gifts for your older children (if you have them) and select their “meeting baby” outfits
I loved selecting outfits for my kids to wear to meet their brand new sister! To keep things easy, I picked out a nice outfit but one with plenty of colors because I knew there would be lots of treats they would want to eat in my hospital room that would be very messy! I had the baby give each of them a new toy! (The baby gave this to my two-year-old son, and this to my four-year old daughter.)
6.) Pack your camera, empty your memory card, and charge your battery
Yep, do all three. I don’t care how good your phone camera is, you are going to want enlargeable photos you can print out. Plus, doing all of the above will make sure you have plenty of battery juice and memory card space for newborn photos!
7.) Book a manicure and pedicure
Pamper yourself. When you are super pregnant, it’s hard to feel good. Let yourself feel good and treat yourself to some extra pampering! Plus, it’s hard to reach those toes when you have a huge baby bump! Plus, it’s going to be awhile before you have time to get a mani/pedi when the baby comes so soak it up! (I’ve heard rave reviews on this and am super curious to try it!)
8.) Select a pediatrician
Yes, your baby needs a pediatrician on call for their birth so they can check them out at the hospital. If you don’t give birth at a hospital where your pediatrician practices, oftentimes there will be an in-house pediatrician who can do the newborn assessment for you. We did this for both Jack and Brooke.
9.) Research Cord Blood Banking
TThis is something we didn’t do with my children, that I wish I had looked into because your baby’s umbilical cord is comprised of tissue and blood, which are rich sources of powerful stem cells. You can learn more about cord blood banking here. By preserving your newborn baby’s stem cells, you may give your child or an immediate family member (depending on the condition and other factors,) the opportunity to use this resource for current cord blood therapies. In the future, there may be other potential applications like regenerative medicine. Currently, many conditions may be treatable with cord blood as part of a stem cell transplant–including various cancers, and blood, metabolic, and immune disorders.
10.) Go to a long movie.
Enjoy those long movies while you can because once you have a baby, not only are you going to watch 99% of them at home; but, you are going to be so tired you won’t want to stay up late! I like to save our date nights for actually sitting and talking to my husband at a restaurant, and not at a movie theatre. As a result, the last movie I went to in a movie theatre was when I was seven months pregnant with my first!
11.) Go on a babymoon
Go on a mini-vacation before you give birth! It doesn’t have to be expensive, it doesn’t have to be tropical–it can seriously even just be a night out in your city! But, do things you won’t do once the baby comes! We took a babymoon before my second child was born (we went to Chicago for the night), and before my third child was born we went to London for a week (we were visiting family.)
12.) Install your car seat.
Do as I say not as I do. Well, after my first we smartened up, so it hasn’t happened again! But, after being confident that our baby was nowhere near arriving, I ended up going into labor and long story short, we had to install the car seat at the hospital. Now, I like to install the car seat (this is the one we have and we love) so we are ready for go time by 34 weeks to be extra prepared! And if you think you’ll forget this don’t fret! I included it on my printable hospital bag checklist!
13.) Prepare a birth wish list
I’ve written at-length about preparing your birth plan before you go into labor before; but, it is worth mentioning again. Let’s be honest, in all likelihood, you won’t have the “perfect birth;” but, by knowing what you do and don’t want will help you and your healthcare providers make the right choices for your circumstances. My first time giving birth I wanted to do a water birth. Well, there was no way that would have worked for me. I was able to give birth naturally all three times without pain medication but a water birth would never have worked for my labors (see my tips on 7 ways to reduce pain during natural birth here). But this handy lifesaver eased so much pain during labor so I thought it worth it to mention it here too!
14.) Attend a birthing class and a breastfeeding class
Educate yourself and your spouse on what happens when you give birth, how to know you’re in labor, and the stages of labor. Before we had our first baby, Bowe, we attended a four-hour intensive birthing class and an intensive breastfeeding class. Even after reading countless books (this was my favorite birthing book) on birthing a baby, I learned a lot from the classes and so did my husband. You can find birthing classes at your hospital, at local birthing centers, or like we did, a doula-led birthing education center.
15.) Call your insurance company and see if they cover a breast pump
This is one of those tasks that aren’t fun but will be much easier to do before you give birth than after. It took several hours on the phone with my insurance company and several local pharmacies; but, I was able to get a breast pump covered by insurance when I had Bowe and then also when I had Jack. I am sure I could have gotten another one when I had Brooke but I felt like I was covered with a breast pump and a backup breast pump just-in-case!
16.) Wash baby’s clothes, prepare their bassinet and crib and breastfeeding pillows.
Now, here’s a more pleasant checklist item as far as things to do before baby is born! Wash and fold their baby clothes, and prepare their bassinet and/or crib and your breastfeeding pillows. The fewer things you have to think about after you give birth, the smoother it’s going to be! You don’t want to bring a newborn home to loads of laundry–believe me, you’ll have your hands full with your first baby. Here’s my favorite thing to launder newborn clothes in–so gentle, and it’s strong enough to wash all of our clothes in for the entire family!
17.) Buy several pairs of underwear you won’t mind ruining, and stock up on pads.
It’s time for some granny panties. No, not really. Do what you want, but I would advise buying some undergarments well suited to sporting large feminine pads. I know, that makes you want to run out and buy some right now 😉 They can be cute, I bought boyfriend cut undies which have served me well over the years. You are going to be wearing pads for several weeks after you give birth, so having a couple pairs of underpants which aren’t too fancy (and you don’t mind bleeding on) will take one thing off your mental list. Oh, and stock up on feminine pads! They will send you home with a couple days supply from the hospital if you’re lucky; but, you will definitely need more than that.
18.) Get a fancy water bottle.
Giving birth and breastfeeding is a hard business! You will be thirstier and hungrier than ever before, and you will be drinking water like crazy to keep hydrated to produce enough milk and avoid dehydration. I purchased a nice 25-oz. stainless steel insulated water bottle which was very handy to not only chill my water but monitor how much I was drinking through the day. Staying hydrated is so important, so treat yo’self to a nice water bottle you feel fancy drinking from! (See what else you need to pack in your hospital bag here)
19.) Set up your stroller.
This is another one of those things to do before you give birth that are way easier to do before you have a baby requiring your attention. As handy as my husband is, setting up a stroller and making sure all the components work, fit together, and are in the right configuration took awhile. Depending on your stroller, you may or may not receive it assembled, so bank on at least 20-30 minutes spent assembling your stroller. This way, when you are home with a newborn and want to go for a walk, everything is ready! PSSST!! This is the stroller we’ve used for all three of our kids from day one but I would probably buy this one today if I was starting over.
20.) Buy and start a baby book
If you know you will want to keep a baby book for your child, research and purchase a baby book (or make one) and start writing notes down about your pregnancy, your thoughts and wishes, and filling out what you can. You are going to have a lot more time on your hands before your baby is born than when you have a newborn in the house! I only recently found out about this one and wish I had learned about it sooner! It is so sweet!
Sleep, sleep, sleep! You think I’m joking, but I’m not. I haven’t slept nearly enough in the past five years. Even when your baby starts sleeping through the night, you probably won’t. And if you have other children, they will still require nighttime help a couple times a week. I call it “Murphy’s Mom’s Law” that whenever one child is sleeping or napping, the other one(s) won’t! It is rare that we have a night where one of our three kids isn’t up at some point with a nightmare, feeding (breastmilk for the baby,) or growing pains.
There you have it 21 things to do before your baby is born that you most likely haven’t thought of or haven’t done yet! Write down a checklist of these items and you’ll be as prepared as you can be to give birth! And if you somehow check all of them off, well you are about as prepared as possible to bring a newborn home!
Now I’m off to have another cup of coffee because like I said for #21 of things to do before you give birth–I haven’t slept nearly enough since having my first baby (and second, and third!)