There could not be more of a time that one will experience the complete spectrum of emotions than when it comes to preparing for a baby.
One day may bring complete excitement and joy whereas the following is absolute fear and questioning one’s ability in raising a newborn.
This is all completely normal and part of the ever-learning journey of bringing a newborn into the world.
While this range of emotions can certainly send parents into a whirlwind of new feelings, having a well-thought-out plan of preparation can facilitate things better.
It is important to be flexible and open-minded when it comes to preparation for a baby. This approach will ease the stress when things don’t go according to plan, which sometimes happens more often than not in some cases.
Either way, educating yourself, developing routines, and creating a map for these uncharted waters ahead will put you one step ahead of the game and better prepared for the unexpected.
Preparing Your Home
One of the fun activities to start preparing for is setting up your home for when your new child arrives.
Here I go through some of the important things to check off and have set up to make the transition from hospital to home as easy as can be.
- Choosing furniture: One thing to consider is what type of bassinet or crib you plan on using for your newborn. While technology continues to evolve, there are some very neat options out there where you can even buy a “smart” bassinet that learns your baby’s sleep patterns and helps with different sounds and movements to put them back to sleep.
It all depends on how much you’re willing to spend though!
- Decorating and baby-proofing: Don’t leave the painting to the last minute! Creating a fun and calming environment is important for your newborn while they learn the new world that they have been thrust into.
Also consider putting child-proof plugs on outlets, fastening shelves and bureaus to walls, and not leaving any small loose items near the ground level for the baby to accidentally swallow.
Essential baby gear
- Crib, changing table, and rocking chair: Having a crib is essential as the design to contain your baby without falling out is needed.
A changing table that is in their room is also an important feature so that you don’t have to travel far to change those dirty diapers late at night.
I always liked the addition of a rocking chair as it creates a wonderful bonding time for you and your baby to read books or just talk to them while rocking back and forth.
- Diapers, wipes, and clothing: Buy bulk ahead of time to save money and one less thing to worry about! Your newborn will be going through many many diapers and wipes, so don’t be shy about stocking up!
Having a range of clothing from even preemie size up to 0-3 months will make sure you’re equipped for any size baby that pops out!
- Car seat and stroller: Many hospitals require a car seat and will even inspect it for security before you can leave and go home. Make sure you have one well ahead of time!
You could even stop by your local police station before birth to have them give you the OK with your car seat. Being equipped with a proper stroller that ideally can work into their early years is worth the investment.
I can personally attest to the use we get out of our stroller, sometimes even with our 4-year-old still!
Preparing financially to support a new human can be a touchy subject but with the right mindset and budget, you can eliminate a lot of stressful moments later on.
- Budgeting for baby expenses: Understanding your budget before having a baby gives you an incredible foundation and starting point to factor in the extra expenses you will incur with a child.
Take a long-term approach to it even, and factor in the first 2 years of life to set you up for success with proper saving and spending.
- Medical costs: What kind of insurance do you have? Do you know the deductible, out-of-pocket expense, etc that you will have to pay once the baby comes?
These are important questions that should be addressed with your insurance company before heading to the hospital on the day of delivery.
- Baby supplies and equipment: As enticing as it might be to go out and buy one of everything to see what works, I would advise against that for expense purposes and being wasteful.
Talk to other parents and do some research online about what you think would work best and feel right. While there are so many options to pick from even when it comes to a bottle, leaning on others for advice in this category will reassure you of your decisions.
Health and Wellness
How will you take care of yourself and your partner leading up to birth?
In my opinion, this is one of the most important categories to focus on and dedicate time to. As I have preached in the past, to show up for someone else you first have to show up for yourself and that is through health and wellness.
- Regular doctor visits: It is important to have regular doctor visits throughout pregnancy so that everyone is informed about how things are progressing.
This will also allow for any other measures that need to be considered during pregnancy or even at the time of birth.
- Nutrition and exercise: You are eating for two now! What goes in your body also goes in the baby’s body, so be mindful of that.
Also as a partner, making sure you are maintaining a healthy diet will make it a little easier for mom to partner with. Exercising is a critical component for maintaining a strong foundation of confidence to be there for your family.
While it may become more difficult for the mom as she approaches birth, the partner should continue their fitness routine as motivation and support for being there.
Preparing for labor and delivery
- Birth plan: Do it! Even though things may not go according to plan, you can at least create a vision for your perfect delivery so that everyone who is involved can support it as much as possible.
I have gone into extensive detail about birth plans in a previous article, but the beauty of a birth plan is that it can educate you on the different options and outcomes possible while providing a vision to follow along with.
- Hospital bag essentials: Don’t wait until the last minute to pack a hospital bag! Make sure you have your bag packed a couple of weeks before the due date so there isn’t any frantic scrambling while rushing out the door.
Make sure you have everything you need and maybe a little more so that you don’t have that feeling of forgetting something hanging over you.
Parenting Classes and Resources
It doesn’t hurt to educate yourself on parenting through classes and other resources. This shouldn’t be a way of invalidating your ability to raise a newborn, if anything it’s re-affirming your dedication and commitment to it!
- Childbirth classes: These can be very helpful in explaining everything that can and could go on with the delivery. While nothing can fully prepare anyone for the experience, it could help alleviate some stresses and answer some questions surrounding this topic.
- Newborn care workshops: Feeling unconfident in caring for a newborn is normal! Don’t beat yourself up. However, taking a newborn care workshop can build some confidence back and put you in a better position to figure out all the new things your child will be doing!
- Online resources and support groups: An overlooked way to get parenting help is through support groups or online resources. Facebook is an amazing outlet for support groups that are incredibly inclusive and helpful for almost any question or concern you may have with your newborn.
Work and Parental Leave
These are two things that need to be addressed with both parents and their employers.
- Understanding parental leave policies: Educate yourself on what your company’s policy is on taking parental leave. Some places even allow for paternal or partner leave which is very helpful in the early weeks of being back home.
Sometimes even saving up some vacation days leading up to the delivery can allow you to have a few extra days at home bonding with your baby and spending time with mom.
- Preparing for time off and returning to work: This can be a difficult transition especially for the mother if not thought out properly. Returning to work is a big step for the mom after spending at least 3 months on leave tending to the baby.
There can be separation anxiety and just heavy feelings to consider. Easing back into work through part-time hours might be the best way for someone who just had their first baby for example.
- Balancing work and parenthood: There is no magic formula to balancing work and parenting, and sometimes just takes a learn-as-you-go technique. It is important to always have purpose and follow what means the most to you when walking the tightrope here.
Building a Support System
Lean on your friends, family, parents, and partner to get you through the tough times by setting up a support system pre-birth.
- Connecting with other parents: Most parents love talking about what works and doesn’t with their newborn and this can be a wonderful opportunity for you to take with reaching out.
Bear in mind though, that there can be some more opinionated couples that sometimes take what they say with a grain of salt is the most practical way to consider their advice.
- Seeking advice from experienced parents: While times have changed since our parents raised us, sometimes a little helpful advice or nudge in the right direction can be right under your nose.
If you have a healthy relationship with your parents or in-laws, reach out to them for advice on raising a newborn. Heck, they did raise you so hopefully you can get something good out of that! If this isn’t the case, maybe you have a friend group that you admire how some of them parent their children.
Ask them for help, as it is such a complimentary and empowering movement when someone trusts you with parenting advice.
- Communicating with your partner: I am a firm believer in always maintaining an open and vulnerable line of communication with your partner.
It’s no fun trying to hide your feelings or being ashamed to ask for help, so start with leaning on your partner to get you out of a funk or take some pressure off.
Emotional and Mental Preparation
Self-awareness is the most important tool for emotional and mental preparation for having a baby.
The more you can understand yourself and why you feel certain things, the better position you will put yourself in for processing these new experiences you will encounter with a newborn.
- Managing stress and anxiety: Taking time for yourself may seem selfish, especially with a newborn but is so important in managing stress and anxiety.
It is okay to walk outside the house if your baby has been crying so you can push the reset button at that moment.
It’s okay to get a quick workout in the morning while everyone is sleeping so that you start your day off strong to be there for your family.
- Discussing expectations and concerns with your partner: Talking about what you anticipate from having a baby and what could go wrong with your partner puts them on the same page as you.
This helps alleviate any not wanted surprises down the road which parenting is full of! This conversation you have with your partner can be a positive brainstorming session as they may have some answers or guidance on this topic.
- Planning self-care routines: I can not highlight the importance of developing routines, especially with a newborn.
Routines are created to help incorporate positive habits and automate certain processes and systems in your life to make your decision-making easier.
A good self-care routine will put you in a stronger cognitive functioning to make bigger and more important decisions.
Planning and prepping for the postpartum period is crucial for making the transition from life with two at home to now life with three!
- Setting up a postpartum care plan: Adding a new addition to your home, a human being, is a big change in what your daily life used to be.
Understanding the sacrifices you will be making and the new role as a parent will empower you to become the best version of yourself you can be.
While you may not have control of everything, establishing a well-thought-out plan with your partner and being on board with them through everything will be a solid foundation for raising a family.
- Identifying signs of postpartum depression: Lots of changes and new experiences can bring about some unwarranted emotions and feelings.
When these become overwhelming and last longer than two weeks, they could be a sign of something more serious such as PPD. Here is a list of some of the most common signs of PPD to look out for during these times:
- Persistent sadness
- Overly tired
- Loss of interest/motivation
- Social withdrawal
- Guilt or worthlessness
- Thoughts of self-harm or harming the baby
- Creating a support network for the postpartum period: Establish a support network ahead of time before the birth of your baby. Knowing that you have people to lean on and ask for help is such a powerful tool for working through all of these new experiences with raising a baby.
I was told a quote from someone that will forever stay with me, “Parenting is the hardest job you will ever love”. This sums up a lot in one sentence, but you can do your best to make it less hard by prepping and planning for your new journey.
Becoming a parent has been the most important, influential, and purpose-driven identity for me. I sometimes forget what life was like before. Everyone has a different perspective and approach to parenting, but if you can embrace the journey, go with the flow, and have a positive mental attitude as much as possible, you are setting yourself up for success.
If you feel like you could use more support and somebody to navigate you on this journey to a compelling future filled with gratitude, love, and confidence for your family then I encourage you to take 30 minutes and schedule a connection call with me. Let’s create the best version of you so that you can show up for your family and live a life of bliss.
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- How to Prepare for a Baby: A Parent’s Guide - November 16, 2023