What To Do Before Baby Comes

The Must-Haves on Your To-Do List

If you’re expecting a baby, the internet is full of shopping and registry checklists. But if you’ve had your fill of “to-buy” lists and are ready to make a “to-do” list, we’ve got you covered. From setting up a place for your baby to sleep to planning a relaxing weekend away to get yourself in a good headspace, consider this your prenatal action plan.

Things to Consider

One question you might be tired of being asked: Do you have a birth plan? It's important to remember that there are so many different ways to give birth, and the question is not necessarily whether one is better than another, it's whatever is best for you.

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Stay Calm Mom: Your Pre-Baby Checklist

Managing Expectations

Of course, thinking about what the most comfortable set up for you would look like during delivery is helpful. You might consider what type of interventions you do or do not want before, during, and after birth.

However, it's important to remember that when the time comes, you may need to go with the flow and yield to your doctor's advice given the circumstances. You can have expectations, of course, but if things don't go according to plan on the day of delivery, that is okay, too. And don’t forget to pack your hospital bag, too!

The easiest way to make sure you’ve checked off all the essentials on your pre-baby to-do list is to mentally walk yourself through the first few days of your newborn’s life. 

Car Seats

Once you’re discharged from the hospital, you’ll need to bring your baby home. Do you have an age-appropriate car seat that can be installed in a rear-facing position? If you do this early enough, you may be able to get your installation checked by a local child car seat technician to be sure it’s safe for use.

Crib or Bassinet

Next, you’ll need to have somewhere safe for your baby to sleep. Honestly, your baby will probably do a lot of snoozing in your arms, on your chest, in the car seat, and literally anywhere else you set them down at first.

However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the safest place for your baby to sleep is on a flat surface like a crib or bassinet. You don’t need a picture-perfect, fully furnished nursery, but you definitely need a safe crib or bassinet.

Pediatrician

Soon after your baby’s hospital discharge (usually within 48 hours), you’ll need to bring them to see a pediatrician. Before baby comes, it's helpful to choose a pediatrician and tell them your due date so they’ll know to expect your call after your baby is born. Also if you have a health insurance plan for your family, be sure to add your child (or acquire separate insurance) prior to your birth.

It’s a good idea to keep an open mind about how you will feed your baby in case your original plan to breastfeed or bottle feed (or some combination of the two!) needs to change.

You might consider a breastfeeding class, if possible, so you’re prepared as possible. Many classes are offered in community settings and at local hospitals, so check with your OBGYN for a recommendation. Finally, purchasing or borrowing some supplies to get through the first few weeks.

It’s okay to keep things minimalist; you can resist the urge to buy everything in the baby articles and just stick to basic needs.

You may not even want to buy a stroller yet, especially if you don’t foresee yourself taking a lot of trips out with a newborn. 

Before baby comes, this list of items will be super useful in getting you started:

  • Onesies, sleepers, and infant-sized hats
  • Bibs, burp cloths, and 2-4 baby blankets
  • Newborn-sized diapers and sensitive-skin wipes
  • One to two bottles and a can of formula (just in case)
  • Basic health supplies, such as an infant thermometer, bulb syringe, and baby soap

Breastfeeding supplies, like breast pads, a breast pump, and a breastfeeding pillow, might also help make to make you more comfortable while breastfeeding.

Make Decisions About Work

If you haven't yet, it will be helpful to make decisions about your work life before baby comes. Are you taking maternity leave? Have you made decisions about daycare or child care plans? If you have a partner or close network who will be helping to support you, who will handle child care emergencies? The more you can consider what your routine will look like once baby comes, it's likely you'll feel a bit more mentally prepared once baby arrives.

Extra Considerations

You’ve got the essentials covered, but your life is about to change in a really big way! If you can, it's not a bad idea to use these last few weeks and months before baby to appreciate certain parts of your pre-parenting life, and to also soothe yourself mentally and physically to prepare for birth.

You can think of this section as your pre-baby bucket list. You don't have to spend a ton of time or money, either; you may find that the little moments you can give yourself during the day will go just as far.

Time Away

It can be meaningful to spend some time (even just a weekend) of self-care by yourself, with your partner, or with a close family member or friend. You can hit up some hot spots like the movies and the beach, which are way easier to enjoy when you don’t have to consider newborn sleep schedules, round-the-clock breastfeeding, and babysitting expenses.

Take Care of Yourself

Need a dental exam? Dermatology checkup? Manicure or pedicure? You won’t have a lot of time postpartum for appointments for yourself, especially at first, so try to get done what you can now.

Prep Your Home

Once baby comes home, you may find you're too tired to do much cooking, cleaning, bill-paying, or shopping. You might want to spend your last trimester making your future life easier by giving your house a major cleaning, preparing and storing freezer-friendly meals, washing all of your baby’s clothes, bedding, and bibs, and setting up automatic bill payments, grocery or prescription deliveries, or other services (like dog walking and lawn care). 

A Word From Verywell

We know that preparing for a baby to arrive brings with it a ton of different emotions! Whether you're nervous, excited, scared, ecstatic, or all of the above, remember that what you're experiencing is perfectly natural. It's great to prepare as much as you can, but you will learn what works for you as you experience these moments with your new baby, so take care of yourself as much as possible and don't be hard on yourself if everything doesn't go as you plan.

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