10 things that need to be done before baby arrives
There are many ways to practically prepare for a new baby. We asked Grace Nixon - a midwife, newborn consultant, nursery specialist and antenatal educator - for 10 tips on what needs to be done before baby arrives.
There are various providers of childbirth or antenatal education, all with differing angles ranging from hypnobirthing to elective Caesarean sections and everything else in between. Investigate and choose one that best suits your ideal birth plans. Antenatal classes fill up quickly so make sure you are booked in by at least the middle of your second trimester.
Recently my colleague Jo, a counsellor, and I established Practical Parenting antenatal classes, as we wanted to bring our knowledge and experience together to provide new parents-to-be with a well-rounded, practical approach to childbirth education. Our classes go beyond the birth, spending fifty percent of the time talking about what happens after the baby is born.
Stock your freezer with meals. I promise you will thank yourself after baby has arrived and the last thing you want to do is make dinner. Stock up on easy-to-eat, high protein snacks that you can munch on while breastfeeding too. It also helps the budget if you squirrel away plenty of nappies, wipes and other babycare essentials in the lead up to birth.
The most important items of nursery furniture to have sorted by the time baby arrives are somewhere for baby to sleep, somewhere for baby to feed (a comfortable and supportive armchair), and somewhere for baby to be changed. There is an overwhelming amount of products and brands on the market today – where do you start? Ask people with similar lifestyles to you what they recommend. A lot of my business as The Baby Lady is offering parents advice on purchasing decisions. The results of the OHbaby! Awards are another great reference.
Like any product to do with babies, there are so many options out there when it comes to carseats. Do you hire one or buy one? And which one? Look at your budget, do some research, and again ask around and get some personal recommendations. You will not be allowed to leave the hospital without a carseat suitable for transporting a newborn, so have it in your car and ready to go from 36 weeks. The carseat is the number one piece of safety equipment you can buy for your child and it is vitally important that it is properly installed. Plunket do carseat installations and there are private installers as well.
It’s a good idea to have established your thoughts on newborn testing before baby is in your arms, so you have time to do some research and make an informed decision instead of feeling under pressure in the moment. Do you want your baby to have the Vitamin K injection and the heel prick (or Guthrie) test? You have every right to accept or decline any testing on behalf of your baby. Another thing to investigate might be cord blood banking, as this may be something your family want to invest in. And what about the placenta? Do you want to take it home to plant under a tree, perhaps, or leave it at the hospital to be disposed of?
Register your details and due date with your intended birthing centre or hospital. Talk to your LMC about when to call them if you think you’re in labour and what the next steps from there might be. Work out the quickest route to the hospital and alternative routes in case of traffic. Know what to do when you get there – where to park, which lifts to take, and where the delivery suite is. Hospitals often have virtual tours on their websites that explain most of these things and some hospitals also offer physical tours.
Have your hospital bag packed and ready to go from 36 weeks. You never know when you might go into labour and you don’t want to be scrambling around trying to pack while you are in the throes of labour!
Spend some quality time with your partner, just the two of you, but leave the house and go out spontaneously while you still can! Stay out late (if you can stay awake), while you still don't have to worry about being home on time to relieve the babysitter. Investing in your relationship is one of the most important things you can do for your family. Plan to keep a regular date night once baby is born too. There are plenty of ideas for date nights at home – let’s be honest, this is the realistic approach once baby arrives!
Hopefully you will have a couple of weeks’ maternity leave before baby is born, so embrace it! Get your hair done. It could be a while before you get the chance again so make it a goodie. Get your nails done or have a pedicure – that foot massage will never have felt so good. Speaking of massages, why stop at the foot? Treat yourself to a pregnancy massage – dream!!
Sleep in! Watch movies, read books, lie on the couch, take an afternoon nap ... do whatever you feel like doing. Take time to give your body a rest. It has been busy growing a human for the last nine months so give your body a bit of TLC and recharge your batteries before you head into labour. And let’s be realistic – this is your last chance to do nothing for the next wee while…
If this is not your first baby, here are some good ideas to help older siblings adjust to the changes a new baby brings.
Talk to your child about the arrival of their new baby sibling, involving them in as many preparations for the baby as possible. Explain that you will be going to the hospital for a few days and keep your child updated on the 'adventure' he may go on with whomever will be looking after him during your labour.
Soak up your last moments with your toddler before they become a big brother or sister. Do something special and create memories – even if it's only you who will remember them! If you have more than one child already, look for moments of natural one-on-one connection, like baking together or washing and folding newborn clothes.
An oldie but a goodie – find something your toddler would really love, wrap it up and give it to him from the new baby on the very first time they meet each other. Make a big deal about who it is from – perhaps it's waiting in baby's bassinet on the first visit. This helps create a really positive association with the baby.
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 36 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW