As eager as you are for baby to arrive, there are certain things you’ll want to tackle free from the distraction of a crying newborn. And if you’re reading this, the clock is probably ticking! From car seat installation to interviewing a pediatrician, here’s what’s most important to check off the list before that first contraction.
TAKE A CHILDBIRTH CLASS
You can brush up on labor basics in advance, but it’s worth it to practice breathing and relaxation techniques with someone who knows what they’re talking about. Plus, you probably have some personal questions you’ve been dying to have answered. Sure, humankind existed for hundreds of thousands of years before Lamaze and Bradley, but pushing out the head (and shoulders!) was probably a whole lot more traumatic back then.
KNOW THE BREASTFEEDING BASICS
Don’t expect baby to just latch on and start feeding. For both of you, it will be a learning process—and some new moms have trouble. Head off problems as much as you can by learning the basics before you give birth.
GET A CRIB AND SET UP THE NURSERY
Every baby needs to have a comforting place to sleep. Purchase and set up the crib or bassinet completely and follow this checklist for creating a safe and practical nursery before baby moves in.
TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT YOUR DELIVERY OPTIONS
You’re going to see a lot of your OB over the course of your pregnancy. Those appointments can be overwhelming, but try to take advantage of that time to have ongoing conversations about your delivery plans. Since most doctors have admitting privileges at more than one hospital, you’ll want to decide which is the best fit for you—whether it’s the one closest to home or one with a special birthing center. You’ll also want to go over your birth plan and make sure you’re on the same page about your preferences, including medication, induction options and interventions so there are fewer surprises come delivery day.
PACK YOUR HOSPITAL BAG
Make sure you have all the essentials before you head to the hospital. Check out our packing list and these extras moms couldn’t live without.
SELECT BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS
While you’re waiting for labor signs to kick in, take time to decide how you will announce baby’s arrival to the world. Design a photo card in advance and save it as a draft and enter the contact info of who you plan to send them to, then you can quickly plug in the delivery details and a photo after baby arrives—the cards can be mailed out before you even leave the hospital!
FREEZE SOME MEALS, OR ROUND UP TAKEOUT MENUS
Before your due date, it’s a good idea to stock your fridge—similar to the way people do before a very big storm—with delicious, nutritious stuff. Some high-achieving moms-to-be bake and freeze casseroles and lasagnas, so they have easy-to-warm meals for those hectic first weeks with baby. But if you’re busy enough already, we think it’s okay to just update your collection of menus from restaurants that deliver.
INSTALL THE CAR SEAT
Once you go into labor, both you and your partner will be too nervous to read step-by-step instructions carefully or to think clearly enough to know the car seat is installed correctly. So do it early and it will be all set to go when delivery day arrives.
WASH CRIB SHEETS AND BABY CLOTHES
It’s definitely a good idea to wash swaddles, crib sheets, blankets and any other items that will come in contact with baby’s skin before he or she wears them. While you don’t need to pre-wash everything in the dresser just yet, it’s good to prepare at least a week’s worth of clothing so it’s one less thing to worry about while recovering from childbirth. Wash items separately using a gentle, baby-friendly detergent that’s free of dyes or perfumes.
CHOOSE A PEDIATRICIAN
You can’t go wrong by asking people you know for advice—you’ll be sure to get an honest answer and a recommendation from someone you trust. Before you start making calls and setting up consultations (don’t worry, they’re usually free), check that they are members of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and prepare a list of questions to ask each doctor. And try not to stress too much about it—if it turns out that the pediatrician you picked isn’t quite working out, you can simply find a new one and move on.