If you feel overwhelmed by everything you have to do to prepare for being a mom, just relax and breathe. There's an old saying: "Inch by inch, life's a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard." Translation: the easiest way to prepare for the arrival of a new baby is in steps, month by month. Then you won't feel so overwhelmed.
Follow our new mom organizer checklists each month, and once you reach your due date, you'll be free to devote all your energy to loving your new baby, instead of sweating over details.
You're in your third month of pregnancy now, and most likely you're looking and feeling quite pregnant. Your waistline is expanding, and hopefully morning sickness is a thing of the past. Now is the time to begin making preparations for your baby's arrival.
Get a head start on pre-baby planning by:
Signing up for class
It's time to call the hospital and make arrangements for childbirth classes. Some classes are held on weekends and other classes meet weekly for an hour at a time. Call the Family Birth Center, 541.274.6621, for schedules or visit our calendar.
In addition to helping you learn what to expect in labor and delivery and how to be an active participant in the process, these classes are a great way to meet other prospective parents.
Ask about newborn classes too. These can help you prepare for everything from diaper rash to what to do about colic.
Touring your hospital
To put your mind at ease, especially if you are new to the area or you are a first-time mom, tour the hospital and the Family Birthing Center. It's not a good idea to drop in unannounced, so call and make an appointment to see the unit.
While you're on tour:
- Find out when you need to fill out, and turn in, your pre-registration forms.
- Ask to see a labor-and-delivery room where you will stay.
- Ask about how and when hospital or birthing center staff would like to receive your birth plan.
- Ask about hospital policy on internal fetal monitoring, rooming in and other concerns.
Since there are few objects you'll have to purchase that are more confusing than car seats, you'll want to research safety issues, compare products and buy the car seat. Check with one of the Birth Center's certified safety seat techs for advice before you shop.
Get your Social Security card
If you don't have a Social Security card, it's time to begin the process of replacing it. Why? The easiest and quickest way for you to get your newborn a Social Security number and card is when hospital staff is preparing the birth certificate. Without proof of Social Security numbers from both parents, you can't get a number and card for your baby.
You may also want to get a baby carrier to carry your baby around. If you like the option of a cloth baby carrier, which can enable you to carry your baby as you attend to daily chores, look for one that allows you to carry baby on your tummy or back with closures to make it easy to take baby in and out. Check with consumer organizations to find product safety and quality reviews before you shop the stores.
Check out maternity leave
Whether or not your pregnant tummy is noticeable, it's never too early to research your company's maternity leave policy. If maternity leave is not included in your employee handbook, contact human resources for a complete list of employee benefits and rights. Although it is up to you when and how you inform your boss and coworkers that you're pregnant, it's best to have your maternity leave plan figured out before the big announcement. Also, you might want to tally up any unused sick days or vacation time before you sit down to talk maternity leave with your boss.
Carry a water bottle
Begin carrying a water bottle and sip it all day long. This is an easy way to ensure you're drinking that needed eight to 10 glasses of water daily. It is also a good habit if you plan to breastfeed. Keeping yourself hydrated is key to breast milk production and good health. It can also help prevent constipation and keep your skin healthy.
Play the name game
Who is that baby growing inside you anyway? A person's name is key to their identity. If you begin mulling over names now, you will be sure to give yourself enough time to make this important decision. You'll also have a more personal feeling for the tiny person who's growing inside of you.
Many women feel that the second trimester is the best part of pregnancy. The nausea and discomfort of the early days is over, but your girth hasn't expanded to the point that it's harder to get around.
It isn't uncommon to feel a burst of energy at this time. If this describes you, take advantage of your heightened energy level to tackle more pre-baby planning:
Get a head start on childcare
Let's face it: separating from your baby, whether it's for a Saturday night movie or a return to work, is never easy. Finding good childcare is a top priority, so it's never too early to begin looking at the options available near you: in-home care, nannies, au pairs or day care centers.
Get your financial house in order
For most people, having a baby means rethinking the family finances. Just as you are preparing your home for a new life with your baby, it's important to prepare your finances too.
You may want to consider developing a family budget, if you don't have one already. If you have consumer debt, you may want to begin accelerating payment on credit cards and loans.
Rethink your spending habits. Evaluate how you have spent money in the past, and look at your future goals.
Consider feeding options
Are you going to breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby? Consider how your baby will be nourished during the first year. If you are going to return to work, breastfeeding is still an option. This is a personal decision that requires careful examination, and you will want to consider your choices. Educate yourself on infant feeding options.
Make nursery ready
One practical place to direct the nesting instinct you may be experiencing is the nursery. It's time to plan a welcoming, interesting and safe room that you and your baby will both enjoy.
Contact your dentist
Even though it is generally considered safe to have routine dental work performed at any time during pregnancy, it's a good idea to have dental care performed early in your pregnancy when it's more comfortable to sit in your dentist's chair and you may have fewer pregnancy side effects than in the months to come.
And since infections can result from untreated tooth or mouth conditions, it's best not to let dental problems go. Special dental problems, including inflamed gums, also can be caused by pregnancy. Be sure to tell your dentist that you are pregnant, and indicate any allergies you have or medications you are taking.
You're more than halfway through your pregnancy now. Gradually, there will be more and more things to do in preparation for bringing the newest member of your family home. Your month 5 to-do list includes insurance concerns, religious events and choosing companions during labor and delivery.
Check your insurance; find a pediatrician
Get out your health insurance policy and look at the list of pediatricians who provide care under your policy. You may want to interview several pediatricians before you find the right doctor, so starting early is a good idea.
Check with your priest, pastor or religious leader
How will your baby be welcomed into the world? You may have a baby dedication, baptism, or other religious ceremony. If so, call your place of worship to find out what is involved and how to schedule a religious ceremony.
Consider life insurance
If you and your spouse do not have life insurance, you may want to consider a policy at this time. There are different kinds of life insurance that serve different purposes, so you'll want to research policies and the companies that sell them. Many companies require a physical examination before selling you a policy. If you already have a policy, find out how to change or add beneficiaries to it. You may also want to increase the policy amount.
As your pregnancy progresses, you'll have more things to do to prepare for your baby's arrival. During month six, there are many things you can do to make it easier both today and months from now. Later, you'll be fully occupied with the love and care of your baby, so take the opportunity this month to take care of business.
Prepare birth announcements
Taking care of birth announcements now will save you precious time during those first weeks when your baby comes home. If you are using paper announcements, you can stamp and address the envelopes now to save time later.
Birth announcement options:
- Buy ready-made announcement cards.
- Make your own cards.
- Record an automated telephone announcement.
Information to include in announcements:
- Name of your new baby.
- Height, weight, length at birth.
- Where your baby was born (if desired, hospital name, city, state, or country).
- Special parent comments such as: "He has his daddy's eyes and his mom's smile."
- The times that visitors are welcome.
If you need a different car
Your pre-baby wheels may not be appropriate for driving around with a baby. If you need to unload your two-door sports car for a more practical vehicle, it's time to investigate your options.
Where there's a will, there's security
Getting a will drawn up may not be a pleasant thought. After all, there wouldn't be a need for a will unless something happened to you or your spouse. But a will is a way to be sure your child will be cared for in the event of an accident or illness. If you already have a will, you'll probably want to change it to include a new beneficiary. See your legal counsel, or purchase a pre-made will-writing kit to make your own document.
Your due date is just two months away. Before you know it, you'll be circling the neighborhood with an occupied jog-stroller. In month seven, you'll be concentrating on shopping, writing a birth plan and making things easier for yourself.
Consider hiring cleaning help
Mothers of newborns routinely say they are surprised at how little time they have for keeping the house clean. In the past, you may have considered a cleaning service an unnecessary luxury. But the birth of a baby can move professional cleaning from "unnecessary" to "can't live without it," at least for a few months. Hiring a cleaning service now will make the last months of pregnancy easier, and you won't have to worry about it when the baby comes home.
Develop a birth plan
A birth plan helps you think through all of your preferences about labor and delivery. It can be shared with your doctor or midwife and can serve as a guide for your birth experience. There are a number of details to consider. So it's best not to wait too long to prepare your plan and share it with your provider.
Shop for baby must haves
There are some items that you absolutely have to have for your nursery, your bathroom and your car. Without them, coming home from the hospital with a new baby would be much more difficult. For example, you don't want to come home and find you have no receiving blankets. There won't be time later, so stock up on these essentials now.
Shoes can be a mommy's best friend
Now's the time to buy quality, supportive shoes for your wider feet and to support the new, rounder you. Choose flat shoes and consider slip-on styles (without laces or buckles; you won't want to bend over) that will stretch to give you maximum comfort and support.
Practice your breathing
You will want to practice your breathing and muscle strengthening techniques until you can do them without thinking. A good time for you and your spouse/significant other to practice is in the evening. Practice is a way to ensure you'll remember what to do automatically during the hard work of labor.
You're in the homestretch of pregnancy now. Planning intensifies in month eight, as you begin final preparations to bring your new baby into the world. Making sure your baby's environment is safe is on the to-do list, as well as getting yourself ready for the hospital or birthing center. You'll also plan who will be with you on the momentous day.
Select your companions
Choose your support people and review the birth plan with them.
This month is a good time to line up friends and family for other help. For example, if other children need rides to soccer practice or rides to and from school, now is the time to alert neighbors and friends.
You can ask family, friends or neighbors if they would be willing to give you an hour off from baby care during the first weeks so that you can exercise, go for coffee or just get away from the house.
Make it safe
It's true what they say: Most accidents happen at home. Take a look around your house and car and make your environment as babysafe as you can.
Always be prepared
First aid kits aren't important until you need one and need it in a hurry. Don't be caught unprepared. Assemble or purchase your home first aid kit now.
What's in a name?
You've probably been mulling over lists of names for months. Or, maybe you've waited. If you haven't chosen yet, it's time to make the decision.
It's month nine, and in a few short weeks, your baby will be here! You've still got time to plan and organize what you need to accomplish before your baby is born. After this month, your organizational concerns will be focused on childcare and self-care after the birth.
Pack your bags
Prepare your tote bag and keep it in a visible place. It's easy to get confused in the excitement of labor, and the last thing you want is to have to hunt for your bag. If you need new pajamas, or a robe or slippers for photos after childbirth, it's now or never for that shopping spree. Also think ahead for tucking in your glasses, makeup and other beauty products.
Arrange breastfeeding classes, consults
To learn everything you can about breastfeeding, call a Sky Lakes Family Birth Center lactation specialist for information. If you've decided to use pacifiers, be sure you buy several newborn, safety-size pacifiers.
Organize diaper supplies
If you have decided to use cloth diapers, you'll need to get all of your supplies in order. If you're going with disposables, remember to select newborn as well as a pack or two of the next size up in your chosen brand, to be sure you have a variety for any size baby.
Diaper supplies to have in stock:
- Diapers in newborn size.
- Diaper pail for storing dirties.
- Diaper pins or Velcro-closing diaper covers.
- Diaper covers (plastic).
- Baby wipes.
- Diaper rash ointment.
- Baby powder.
For second-time moms
Tour and pre-register at the Family Birth Center if you haven't already done so. Although you've been through this before, it's good to review the hospital or birthing center's facility.
Arrange childcare now for the time you will be in the hospital. Continue preparing your child or children for their new brother or sister. Ask the Family Birth Center about the free sibling classes.
Consider having a special game or toy on hand to occupy your children when the new baby comes home and to let them know you were especially thinking of them.
Pack the freezer
It's time to consider making some meals and freezing them. In those first busy days after the baby comes home, you will be too busy to cook, but it is important for you to eat well.