Are you ready for a new baby? Even if you’re about to haveyour third baby, it’s common to feel ill-prepared because every child is a newlife that changes the context of yours.
While some nerves are okay and show that you care deeply for your new baby, there’s plenty you can do to ease your worries and entertain more feelings of joy and excitement. Today we’ll spend some time exploring common ways you can prepare for your little one, no matter your life context, number of current children, or financial situation.
5 Skills To Have In Place BeforeGiving Birth
- Holding, Feeding, Sleeping, And General Care
There’s so much to know about caring for a little one, especially your first baby—it may feel overwhelming at first! We want to relieve you of burden, stress, and guilt because you’re not going to know everything; you’ll learn so much as you go. You’ll learn the unique idiosyncrasies of your baby and you’ll get advice from doctors and other moms. As your baby grows, you’re going to grow in knowledge and in your ability to care for their changing needs. But before your baby arrives, we encourage you to enroll in pregnancy and parenting education. There are also excellent books available on infant care and raising your children at every stage. If you plan on breastfeeding the Lactation Foundation is an amazing resource. You can visit The Source or another pregnancy center for Pregnancy, Childbirth and Parenting Education.
- What to expect while pregnant
- What is safe while pregnant
- Preparing for labor and postpartum
- Mother and infant nutrition
- Infant and toddler milestones
- Dealing with tantrums
- Potty training
No matter your financial situation, budgeting is essential. Creating a good budget is an opportunity for you to examine how money moves in and out and help control that flow to benefit you and your family. Apps like Mint are free and help you track your spending and give you an easy way to manage finances on an ongoing basis.
Anticipating a new baby means anticipating new expenses, so now’s a good time to evaluate how well you can afford all household needs. For many expectant families and moms, budgeting shows them that their income is not enough to afford a new baby’s needs—those families can then work toward finding a better paying job, asking for a raise at their current job, or working toward a formal promotion, if possible. For families where it’s not possible to earn more income in the short or medium term, we recommend working with local government agencies or non profits for employment help, free baby items, and financial assistance. Organizations like The Source offer services to support the financial needs of expectant families!
- Meal Prepping
Even with a new baby, life still continues as normal in many ways—most likely you still have work, some social responsibilities, chores, and a big one: preparing meals. While we encourage you to prepare and freeze a few weeks of food before delivery, once those meals are eaten, you’ll have to continue cooking for you or your family.
We recommend creating a family cookbook where you can write down recipes that are nourishing, easy, and fun to make; this can be a binder with loose sheets for each recipe or an actual notebook. Consider quick recipes that take only a few ingredients, can be prepared in 30 minutes or less, and can make enough for you and your family for a few days if possible.
A family recipe book is especially important if you typically don’t enjoy cooking—having access to familiar and quick recipes can make it easier for you to choose cooking at home to help avoid defaulting to fast food that’s often less sustainable for the health and financial wellbeing of your family.
- Time Management
Managing time can be difficult, especially in the hustle and bustle of preparing for a new baby. We encourage you to start developing time management skills very intentionally while pregnant so when the baby arrives, you’re accustomed to creating structure to help manage hectic seasons. New moms and babies thrive on a schedule, so learning sound ways to create and maintain routines will reduce the amount of decisions you have to make each day, freeing up mental space as well as physical energy.
We recommend the following tactics to help jump start your time management skills before your new baby!
- Create to-do and to-buy lists to focus your time and attention on the highest priority tasks
- Learn when and how to say no—as parents you need to cherish every little moment you can save for yourself and your family
- Avoid social media for a while since it is easy to find yourself mindlessly scrolling through, especially when you are exhausted from parenting a newborn.
- Keep alarms and timers—avoid snoozing your alarms if possible and set timers to help prevent simple tasks from taking too long. This may be hard at first, but over time can help you speed up some tasks or establish good sleep rhythms once your baby starts sleeping through the night.
- Intentional Self Care
While it may seem frivolous to prioritize your care, it’s essential to maintain personal health, emotional regulation, and an overall healthy environment in your home. A new baby comes with sleeplessness, stress, and sometimes postpartum depression. Often, you feel too overwhelmed to care about your emotional, mental, and physical health. Before giving birth, we encourage you to make the significant lifestyle change of prioritizing self care because you can’t give from a place of emptiness. We recommend listing out activities that are restful for you and making it very easy to engage in those hobbies. Buy all the supplies you need and keep them at the house or research fun, relaxing things you can go and write them down so when you’re bored or stressed, you can easily browse your list for inspiration.
Establish a time each week to do those activities so they become a habit and part of your life routine. For many, Sunday afternoons are a great time to decompress through socializing, outdoor activities, crafts, or reading.
5 Things To Have In Place BeforeGiving Birth
- Baby Supplies
Parenthood is beautiful and beautifully expensive. Check out this blog on baby essentials every parent should have, especially if preparing for their first child.
Thankfully, many baby items can be found inexpensively on sites like Ebay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace, but if you have a baby shower, that’s an excellent opportunity to stock up on essentials.
- Postpartum Help
It can be hard to ask for help sometimes, but an extra pair of hands is essential for surviving the first few weeks with a newborn. If you have family members or close friends who would be able to help, check in with them before the baby’s born to discuss specifics. How much help can they offer? On what days? Maybe they can offer help with meal prep, laundry, and care for you while you navigate life with a new baby.
Be open and honest with your community—let them know what you think you need and make it clear what kind of help you’re asking for. You may be surprised to see even new friends step up to offer just the help you needed in that first month postpartum.
- Find A Doctor For Your Baby
By your final trimester, find a doctor who will care for the health of your baby once they’re born. Pediatricians may be available in the network of clinics attached to the hospital you plan to deliver in, but also feel the freedom to explore other options. Ask moms you know about doctors in the area that they trust or explore doctor reviews on sites like ZocDoc. It’s important to find someone you trust so don’t be afraid to be picky and discerning. Your local pregnancy clinic may also have recommendations for pediatricians so check in with them as well!
- Prepare Older Kids and Pets
If you have small children or pets in the house, a new baby is a huge and sometimes scary change. Tantrums, feelings of jealousy, or aggression are common for pets and small kids when a new baby arrives, so we encourage you to prepare your other kids and animals to help ease the transition.
Be honest with your kids about the changes that will happen when a new baby is born and involve your child in helping get ready for the new baby. Have your kids pick out baby outfits, toys, or even allow them to vote on the baby’s name. When the baby arrives, give them small tasks like bringing you the diaper changing supplies and be sure to check in with how they are feeling and proactively help them process those feelings.
When it comes to pets, have your pet sniff a piece of clothing with a baby's smell before their first meeting. We also recommend having the pet and new baby interact in a controlled environment; keep the pet on a leash for the first interaction or two while you hold the baby. And be sure to give your pet lots of love to help prevent jealousy and aggression. After caring for the baby, go to your pet and give them lots of attention!
- Run Big Errands
When a baby is born, your availability decreases significantly for weeks if not months. To prepare for this change, we recommend getting big chores out of the way in the months before your delivery date. Here are a few big errands to run:
- Plan and create any baby announcements (you can create templates and plug in things like the baby’s birthday, height, and weight once they’re born)
- Get up to date on preventative care - Refill your prescriptions, go to the dentist, eye doctor, and the like!
- Make and freeze meals and set up a meal train
- Stock up on household items
Congratulations on the new baby and we’re so proud of you! Doing your research to prepare for your little one is such an important thing and we want to cheer you on! Come visit us at a clinic near you if you have questions about your pregnancy and birth or need resources.