Whether you’re pregnant for the first time or you had your first baby a while ago, it can be hard to know how to prepare for your baby.
We’re currently pregnant with our second child (another boy!), and now that I’m in my second trimester, we’re really starting to prepare. My son is only fourteen months, so we’re close enough that we still remember the newborn stage. So, while we’re still assuming that dealing with a young toddler and a newborn will hit us like a truck, we have a better idea of how to prepare this time. So, I wanted to share what I’m doing and how you can prepare for your baby.
Take a prenatal course
If you’re feeling stressed or you just want some guidance throughout your pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum life, I would highly recommend taking a prenatal course. My favorite is by Hilary over at Pulling Curls. I love her because she’s a labor and delivery nurse, which means her information is really valuable. She has a comprehensive prenatal course with three different options depending on the type of support you’re looking for. But if you’re not looking to purchase a course just yet, I would recommend her FREE beginning prenatal course, so you can get a sense of how she teaches and if you’d find her helpful.
My first son came three and a half weeks early. I had a funny feeling that he would, but I dismissed it as paranoia for the most part. It motivated me enough to get the hospital bag mostly together, but that was about it. I had plans to make freezer meals, fully pack the hospital bag, set up the nursery better, and get everything ready for his coming.
As it was, we were just barely ready for him. We’d had the foresight to put the crib together early. We had things like diapers and clothes and a car seat, but we were missing quite a few little stuff. (Partly because my baby shower ended up happening after he was born!) The house was a mess. We were really saved by my mother who stepped up while we were in the hospital and ensured we came back to a functional home.
This time, we’re kind of just assuming he’s going to come early. He might not. But we’ll be ready if he does. I recommend you do the same. Plan for the unexpected and take care of things like freezer meals in your second trimester, not your third, if you can.
Have a game plan
Part of how to prepare for your baby is having a general plan. If you’ve got a partner, I would really recommend sitting down and coming up with a concrete game plan for how you’re going to get through the newborn stage and beyond. The big thing to remember is that you will have just gone through the trauma of giving birth. You’re going to be bleeding, unable to use stairs, and exhausted. You’ll need to be able to rest as much as possible, and you’ll both need to get sleep somehow.
Here’s what I recommend you do if you have a partner. Let the partner handle everything household, so you can indeed sleep when the baby sleeps. This is especially true if you’re breastfeeding. Your partner may be tired, and they may be struggling too. But they are not recovering from the literal act of giving birth. Let them do the laundry and clean the bottles and do the grocery shopping/cooking.
Obviously, they’ll want bonding time with the baby, and it would be great if they could give you a break from actual baby duty every once in a while. But their main job should be taking care of everything else, so you can rest and take care of your little one.
This all being said, everybody’s situation is different. It may be wildly different for you depending on if your partner has parental leave, if your partner works a physically demanding job, and if you even have a partner at all. But have a game plan to the best of your ability. Understand it might drastically change once the baby is actually there, but have some sort of cohesive plan for sleep, food, and household chores.
Don’t buy everything that looks good
Babies really don’t need nearly as much as we think they do. Honestly, we got a baby swing for our son, and he ended up hating it. He much preferred his baby lounger and his bouncer. Granted, there will always be things that can make your life easier or more convenient. But even then, they aren’t always the best. There are definitely things we could have gotten by without, and we spent so much money!
We put on our registry a machine that steams and purees food. We thought it was going to be great and save us so much time once he was eating solids. But it didn’t. Because it was way easier to make his food in bulk. Why would I use a small machine to cook a serving of sweet potato once when I could make a giant batch and freeze it? If you’re wondering if you should make your own food, check out this blog.
Have a variety of items
For this, I’m specifically referring to things like pacifiers, bottles, and swaddles. These are the types of things that vary widely, and babies don’t always like the same things. It might take you some time to figure out what exactly your baby likes. You don’t want to go out and buy a bunch of different pacifiers, though, to see which brand will work for them.
The good news is that many companies will send you welcome bags if you set up a registry with them. You don’t need to complete it or anything. Typically, you just set it up, and you make one purchase off of it. Then, you qualify for a welcome bag that contains tons of samples, including pacifiers, bottles, swaddles, shampoos, etc. Once you figure out what your baby likes, you can buy more of it! My favorite is Amazon. Their welcome box is packed with really good stuff. You can sign up for an Amazon registry here!
Plan for the unexpected
We’ve already talked about planning for things like your hospital bag, freezer meals, and setting up your nursery. Now, let’s talk about the emotional side of preparing for your baby.
The unfortunate reality of labor and delivery is that you cannot plan for it. You can prepare yourself. Read books, ask your doctor questions, and educate yourself in general. But there’s absolutely no way to know what’s actually going to happen.
As I mentioned, my son came almost a month early. He spent a night in the NICU, and we were in the hospital longer than expected. My plans went out the window. Luckily, nothing else went wrong, and while my labor was 22 hours, my delivery was fairly uneventful (at least as far as birth goes). But still, it did not go as expected.
Though you can prepare for your baby, you just simply never know what’s going to happen. So, you can make your birth plan and talk to your doctor about it. But understand that, depending on what happens, things can shift and change. If something happens, you might need to make massive shifts in your hopes and expectations. When it comes to pregnancy and birth, nothing ever goes entirely according to plan.
The hard part about parenthood is that you can prepare for your baby for months, and it might all go out the window. But that doesn’t mean you wing it. It means you’re careful and strategic about it. You manage your expectations and don’t romanticize pregnancy and birth. Asking for help getting ready for your baby is never a bad idea. You’ve definitely got this!
Erin Lafond is a writer, website creator, and mom. She survived new motherhood by Googling things a lot, calling her mother, and embracing trial and error. Now, she shares her knowledge with all new moms. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and son (soon to be two sons!).