Things to do before your baby arrives: resources and tips for expecting parents

Every parent will tell you that life is never the same after a baby is born. Some new parents find themselves feeling overwhelmed and helpless. However, making the right preparations before a new baby arrives can reduce new parent stress.

Books for Expecting Parents and New Parents

Heidi Murkoff is the author of a popular series of books for parents. Her What to Expect When You’re Expecting was the first that resulted in a series of parent guides that have sold more than 34 million copies in the U.S. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child contains guidelines for prenatal and newborn care. It includes sections on maternal nutrition, exercise, and screening tests during pregnancy. Endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, it provides basic child care information from infancy through age five. It contains helpful guidelines and milestones for a child’s physical, emotional, social, and cognitive growth.

Online Resources for Expecting Parents and New Parents

There are dozens of websites that were created to answer questions for new parents. Many of them provide information that begins with a baby’s conception and continues into a child’s school years. Baby.com, WebMD.com, Baby Center.com, and Kids Health.org¬†are just a few helpful website for new parents. Mommy MD Guides has a website with tips from doctors who are also mothers. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides parenting tips on their HealthyChildren.org website.

Pack for the Hospital

Expecting moms should have a bag ready for the hospital in advance. A night gown, slippers, toiletries (toothbrush, toothpastes, hair care accessories, etc.), and an outfit to wear home should be packed. Dads may need these items as well depending on how close the hospital is to home. The baby will need a weather appropriate outfit for going home. A weather appropriate blanket would also be good to have. Moms should pack nursing bras and nursing pads so that she’s prepared for breastfeeding. Packing a shirt or dress that allows moms easy breastfeeding access is a smart idea. Alist of phone numbers and email contacts for the birth announcement should be on-hand. A still and/or video camera for capturing the once in a lifetime event is a must. Some hospitals will not allow babies to go home without a car seat. Visit SeatCheck.org to find certified inspectors that can inspect a car seat free of charge and show new parents how to correctly install and use it.

Labor and Delivery

Delivery stress can be reduced significantly for an expecting mom by learning about delivery options. A childbirth class can be extremely informative. Lamaze is a prepared childbirth technique developed in the 1940s by French obstetrician Dr. Fernand Lamaze. The goal of a Lamaze class is to increase a mother’s confidence in her ability to give birth by helping her understand how to cope with pain during labor and delivery. The Bradley Method was also developed in the 1940s by American obstetrician Robert Bradley. It embraces the idea that childbirth is natural, and with the right preparation most women can avoid pain medication. Expecting parents can learn techniques for relaxation during labor and birth, the stages of labor, how to avoid unnecessary medical interventions, how to care for a newborn, and how to adjust to the role of parents.

Stock the Cabinets and the Fridge

New parents will often only have eyes for their new addition. But new moms, especially breastfeeding moms, will need proper nutrition to keep up her energy for caring for her new baby. A new mom probably won’t feel like preparing meals. If possible, having volunteer cooks on stand-by would be ideal. Prior to the baby’s birth it’s a good idea to stock up on nutritious, easy to prepare meals and snacks. Examples of healthy foods that would be good to have in the house are:

  • Eggs
  • Yogurt and Yogurt Shakes
  • Dry Cereal and Milk
  • Fruits and Vegetables (berries, oranges, leafy greens, etc.)
  • Whole Grain Bagels
  • Whole Grain Crackers
  • Dried Fruit
  • Nuts
  • Granola Bars
  • Trail Mix
  • Oatmeal
  • Fruit Juice
  • Water

Postpartum care will be important as well. Moms should stock up on sanitary pads and liners. There are also several disposable underwear options available. Some moms have a need for hemorrhoid wipes or cream after giving birth. Doctor approved pain medication should also be in the house.

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