I love the blog world and Pinterest for preparing me in many ways for our first born. Of course I was also lucky enough to be the last of my friends to have children so I had lots of advice. I wanted to share some of my own best advice that I found most helpful. Some were tips from the inter webs, friends and some of my own. I gave birth during the nastiest winter and getting out was not pleasant for any one never mind a postpartum mommy and newborn. You learn as you go. What I have learned is no mother's journey is the same. Each one of us has a unique ride called motherhood. Enjoy it as you go because it goes so fast. Hope some of these hints can help.
Being prepared was key!
Here are just some of the best tips I can give.
Find a pediatrician! We were lucky to have tons of suggestions from our closest friends. I actually put it out in a Facebook post asking local friends who they used. The funny thing is all but 2 friends suggested the same doctors office. Its a family practice and most of my friends grew up seeing the father and now they take their own children there With Jack's health issues it is extremely important for us to love his doctors and we do!
Get familiar with your breast pump. I did not do this. I didn't even take it out of the box before having Jack. I waited till he was home before my crash course in all things Medela. I did regret it. It sounds crazy but I was a little afraid of it. I called a friend who had been an exclusive pumper with her son for advice. Jack refused to latch so we had no other choice. I've learned it was best to do the bare minimum when returning home with baby.
Make a bunch of freezer meals. In the weeks leading up to Jack's birth we started making meals to store in our freezer. When my mom came to visit she made tons of meals to also keep. Meals that we found easy to freeze were a turkey with all the fixings, baked ziti, beef stew, chili and chicken soup. Another suggestion is picking up some extra tupperware. We didn't and ran out to the store with baby once we had tons of meals and nothing to put them in.
Pack your bags and leave them in a smart spot. I had our bags packed by week 29 after the doctors told us Jack was head down and pretty low. It didn't help that I forgot a bunch of stuff. You can read the post on the on what we packed here. I packed 2 bags; one for my husband and one for mom and baby. I left all of them at my parent's house. They only live 5 miles from our hospital so it made the most sense for us. I have heard it's a good idea to leave them in your vehicles.
Disinfect everything you think you may need. Make sure all the breast pump pieces are disinfected. You will need them. Also, try and disinfect a few bottles and pacifiers. I swear by the Medela microwave steam bags too. Things are conveniently disinfected in 3 minutes!
Visit your hospital, know the rules and protocols. Our hospital is a small community hospital. The front doors lock at 10pm and after that all patients must go through the ER. I didn't tour our hospital because I had an emergency visit at 29 weeks. I met a majority of our nurses and saw the rooms while we were there.
Take Classes. Again, we didn't take classes and I did regret it. I thought the tips from friends and family would be enough. If there is one thing I learned from pregnancy and labor is you can never have enough information but don't let them take over your brain.
Pick out a place where you will purchase your nurses gifts. See if they will deliver too. We ordered a tray of cookies from a local bakery. They were nice enough to deliver locally without an extra charge. They were also a lot cheaper and larger than an Edible Arrangement or larger chain.
Charge all electronics and buy batteries. No big deal if you don't have all the necessities. The hospital will have outlets and batteries. We also tried to make sure our iPhones were fully charged at all times when our due date got closer.
Purchase a bottle brush and baby safe soap. This was another thing we didn't do. My husband ran out to Walmart after we got home with Jack to buy both of these items. We like Palmolive Baby best.
Get a folder, binder, and notebook for all baby information. You will get a lot of information. You will also go on a lot of appointments. It's a good idea to keep all receipts for tax reimbursements. Jack has several specialists so we have lots of paperwork and even more questions. I keep a notebook handy for all the questions I may have to ask them.
Keep track of all the wonderful things happening during your pregnancy! I am a picture taker. I try and keep track of everything exciting that happens in our lives and pregnancy was no exception. I currently have a photo book project in Shutterfly that tracked my pregnancy. I like to keep the projects open because you never know when a 50% coupon may arrive in your inbox.
Water proof your bed, couch and car! A friend of mine warned me about this and I'm so glad I took her suggestion. My water broke as I was about to sit on my couch. I'm so glad I had extra covers on my couch. I also made sure to cover the bed (although I could barely sleep in it towards the end), I had extra towels with me at work and in my car just in case!
Install and assemble all baby items you may need. When Jack came home from the hospital we had all the larger items put together. Our cradle, MamaRoo, Pack and Play and co sleeper were all ready to go. We knew we would be using all of the above items so putting them together made the most sense for us. We did not put together some of the other smaller items and we didn't wash all of the clothes we were given as gifts. We didn't use a lot of items we received like the Ergo insert (it was way to cold to bring Jack out on walks and we tried to put him in it once. He hated it.) The items we didn't use we exchanged for diapers, wipes and other necessities.
Relax and pamper yourself! I didn't do enough of this when I was pregnant but when I did get a pedicure it felt like heaven! It did however bring on some contractions for me. A good friend of mine had a pedicure and went into labor with her twins. My feet hurt so bad towards the end I would have paid the girls extra just to rub my legs and feet.
Stock up on quick things to eat. I live in a 3 floor town house. We have LOTS of stairs. One of the first things the nurses tell you not to do is climb stairs after your birth so getting to and from the kitchen in our house was difficult. I made sure I had a stock of easy to carry food. I had granola bars, trail mix and pretzels close wherever I felt hungry.
Purchase thank you cards, print labels. I was shocked at the amounts of gifts we were given. Jack received gifts from family, friends, friend's families, children I work with, neighbors and coworkers. I had picked up a few thanks you cards (16) and ended up having to pick up 3 more packages!!! I had printed some labels ahead of time as well. We were so lucky. Jack is very spoiled.
Create diaper stations on each floor. Like I mentioned our 3 floor town house isn't the ideal spot for new moms. My sister in law brought over her extra changing table and my husband set up a changing table on our main floor. We have separate stations. We have diapers, wipes, ointment, lotions, changes of clothes and anything for new baby on both floors. We did sacrifice some of the room on our main floor but its well worth it. Isn't that what parenthood is all about anyway?
Bookmark your favorite birth announcements. We did not know what we were having so I had looked up several birth announcements before Jack arrived. I bookmarked my favorite gender neutral, girl and boy announcements. Once our newborn pictures were done it was easy to put them together and place an order. Don't forget the coupon codes if you order from Shutterfly or Snapfish. Coupon codes are all over.
Enjoy a nice dinner. We just happened to wait till the very last night as a family of 2 for this fancy dinner. About 6 hours after our nice dinner Jack began his journey into the world. My suggestion would be to avoid the very last few days to indulge in a nice dinner. It may be a while before you can do it again.
Hope this list will help you. Please remember every mommy and every baby are so very different. If you are expecting you will see tons of posts like this one and get even more advice from everyone; friends, family and even complete strangers from the supermarket. Find your own way, recover in your own time and take care of yourself and baby. Most of all enjoy the journey.