It may seem like you’ve been pregnant forever, but your baby will be coming soon. Start planning now, so when your baby is born, you’ll be ready. It will make the birth and first few weeks at home more enjoyable for you, and your baby.
If you are getting care from a doctor or nurse midwife, talk to them now about the birth of your baby. Your health care professional will help you get in touch with the hospital or birth center before your baby is born. You can get ready by filling out paperwork now, taking a tour of the birthing center, learning which entrance to use, where to park, and other things to take some of the stress out of baby’s arrival. You should also map out the route you’ll take to get there and note how long the trip will be.
You can also talk to your health care professional about what to expect during delivery. Think about whether you want to use pain medications during labor, who might be with you, and what happens if you need a Cesarean section or an unexpected procedure. There’s no way to predict how your baby’s birth will go, but having information ahead of time will help you make decisions and feel less anxiety.
Sign up for a childbirth education class and learn about labor and birth. Many classes teach ways to make delivery more comfortable and enjoyable using breath control, massage, and other techniques. Plus, you’ll meet other expectant parents and be able to share your experiences and tips. Consider other classes, too, like breastfeeding, caring for your infant, home safety and CPR. Check with your doctor’s office, or ask other new moms for a list of classes.
Babies don’t pay attention to due dates, so you’ve got to be ready when they are. Pack a bag to take to the birth center at least a month in advance. Think about what items you’ll want to help you stay comfortable during labor, and for your time afterward. Common items include:
Make some meals in advance and freeze them, so you’ll just need to reheat for a quick, healthy dinner after baby arrives.
Have a supply of baby items at home, like diapers, wipes, onesies and blankets.
Do a home safety check. Some things that can harm your baby are invisible, like fumes and vapors from cleaning products, bug sprays and e-cigarettes. You can make sure that smoke detectors are working and cords for blinds are fitted with safety wraps.
Here are some things to do if you have other children at home:
Going home from the hospital with your new baby is an exciting time. If this is your first baby, you will be faced with a number of other first-time events, like securing your baby in a car seat for the trip home. Install a rear-facing seat and have it checked by a safety professional. Many public safety departments offer car seat checks for free.
You’ve waited so long for your baby to arrive and now, you might have a mix of feelings: excitement, exhaustion, wonder, uncertainty. All of these feelings are normal for new parents. Here are some ways to help you and your baby get more comfortable at home.
Breastfeeding provides everything your baby needs to get off to a good start. Here are some reasons to breastfeed:
Although it’s a natural way to feed your baby, you may find the help of a lactation consultant makes it go more smoothly for you and your little one. Ask your health care professional for a list or talk to other moms for tips.
Feeling sad, or overwhelmed, even when you think you should be happy, is common after the birth of a baby. Many women have a bout with postpartum depression. There are many changes happening in your body and your life and it can be a lot to handle. If feelings of sadness last, or you have trouble taking care of yourself or your baby because of it, call your health care professional for help.
If you’ve been working outside the home, you will need some time off to care for yourself and your new baby. Talk to your employer in advance about their policy for maternity or parental leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows an unpaid leave without risk of losing your job, may apply to you.
You’ll also want to look into childcare options for when you return to work. The Great Start to Quality is a free resource from the State of Michigan that can help you find licensed child care options for your baby, and see ratings of them. The Great Start to Quality website offers tips on what to look for in a care provider, questions to ask, and other valuable information.
If paying for medical care is a concern, there is help available for qualified moms-to-be. Here’s information on two programs.
The Nurse-Family Partnership program guides young, first-time expectant mothers from early pregnancy through their child’s second birthday.
A trained nurse partner will work with you to offer help and advice throughout your pregnancy, visit you at home and answer questions about infant care, and give you the support you need to raise a happy, healthy baby and create a stable, secure future for you both.
Pregnant women with Medicaid can receive free care at home from the Maternal Infant Health Program (MIHP).
A nurse and social worker will work with you to provide support during your pregnancy and after your baby is born. Through MIHP, you’ll learn the skills you need to stay healthy and have a healthy baby. It’s like having a personal care team to coordinate with your doctor, your health plan, and other providers in your community.
Advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics
Information on what you can do to stay healthy during pregnancy
Get tip sheets on meal planning, exercise, and more.