When we attend the baby shower and the birthing class and begin to think about preparing our homes to bring home our new baby, we often picture an adorable child sitting on the floor playing with toys and looking at board books, or sitting in their high chair, excited to try food from “the airplane spoon.” Why doesn’t anyone tell us what those first few months are really like?
Much of the answer may lie in our commercially oriented society: invest in the expensive baby gadgets and you’ll be fine. It’s not our fault that we fall prey to these messages. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazingly helpful products out there that I recommend to my clients. (The Haakaa hand pump is one such product I’ll talk about in this blog! The snot sucker is another favorite!) OK, this is getting weird already, right? If you’re a new parent reading this you might already be intimidated! A pump and a sucker? Holy cow, what have I gotten myself into?
So before we get too into the weeds of items you’ll need, just take a deep breath and know that you already have everything you need within yourself to be an amazing parent to your baby. In fact, you’re already doing that right now, just by breathing, sleeping and eating! Try talking to your baby during prenancy. You may be surprised by how much it reveals. In the meantime, here are 5 simple tips for preparing for your newborn baby. Like, for real.
- Around 32 to 34 weeks of pregnancy, start making some plans for your meals to be covered during the first 2 to 3 weeks after you bring baby home. You can do a combination of freeze-ahead meals including hearty soups, set up a page on takethemameal.com or a similar site and have your neighbors, friends and family sign up to bring you a meal, and try to do your last big grocery run to stock up before you give birth, if possible! Set yourself up to do nothing but nourish yourself easily, rest, and feed your baby during this time period. You will have a much easier first 6 weeks if you protect the first 2-3.
- Think about 1-2 places in your home where you plan to feed your baby most of the time. Place “nursing baskets” in each spot and stock them with nutritious, non-perishable snacks, a water bottle, reading materials, burp cloths, an extra phone charger, a journal and pen. You’ll likely be spending a lot of time here, so you will thank your future self when you find these simple items within arm’s reach.
- Baby gear — get a Haaka manual hand pump. It will run you $20 to $30 at all the major retailers. This will be incredibly useful in the event of a sleepy baby who won’t latch. You can collect colostrum (the thick, high-calorie milk that’s present for the first few days of baby’s life) and spoon or syringe feed it to a sleepy baby to get them stimulated and give them some calories to wake up and latch on! If you try to express colostrum using an electric pump, it may lead you to believe that you have a supply problem, which is rarely going to be the case.
- Laid back positioning can save your nipples!
- If you plan to have visitors during the first two weeks home, know that the flood gates may open. You may need to set strict boundaries and expectations around visitation and communicate them during your pregnancy to your well-meaning future visitors. It will be much easier to loosen and relax restrictions when you feel ready versus trying to control the endless parade. If you’re an extroverted person you may be asking why you would want to restrict visitation. That is certainly up to you to decide, but it’s helpful in protecting your baby’s immature immune system, as well as to reserve your energy for nourishing yourself and your baby. Learning to feed your baby with your body can be an all-consuming task in the early weeks and so it’s important to think about the individuals you will feel comfortable being with when you are undressed.
Granted, this post assumes you’ll be feeding your baby human milk directly “from the tap.” We work with clients who implement all different types of feeding plans. But the majority of the advice in the post is useful for anyone! Here’s a link to paced bottle feeding if you plan to feed from bottles from the get-go. We hope these tips for preparing for your newborn baby have been helpful. If you are interested in working with a postpartum doula prenatally to help you customize your plans and preparations, get in touch!