No matter how much you think you’ve prepared yourself, the confirmation heralded by that blue line changes your life in a heartbeat, unleashing a flood of emotions, from elation and worry to disbelief and panic. In about 40 weeks (which is not nine months,regardless of how your doctor spins it), you’ll be holding a snuggly bundle of brand new baby in your arms.
Practical Advice to Prepare for Parenthood
If you’re a list person, great! You’re already part way there. If you aren’t, now’s a good time to start. Lists will help keep you organized, and once the hormones take over your body and brain, you’ll develop “pregnancy brain” (AKA momnesia) and lists will become your best friend.
Sign up for birthing classes. Even though you’re still months away, it’s good to have this date on your calendar and take a tour of the facility where you’ll give birth.
Get the essentials. The market will tell you that you need all sorts of other “absolute necessities,” but it’s really just a ploy to get your money. You will, however, want to add these items to your list:
- A car seat
- A bassinet or crib, and sheets
- A changing table or — if nursery space is limited — a changing pad that sits on top of the dresser.
- A breast pump or bottles and formula
- Swaddling or receiving blankets
- Burp cloths (many, many burp cloths!)
- Baby wash and lotion
- A grooming kit that includes nail clippers, a thermometer, and a nasal aspirator.
- Baby clothes in newborn and 3-6 month sizes.
Invest in nursing bras and nipple pads. Check out your tops situation to see which are easy to wear when nursing, and use it as an excuse to do a little shopping if you think you need a few more tops.
Know that love is not enough. It’s a great foundation, but Carl Pickhardt, psychologist and author of “Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence,” identified four factors that determine whether you’re ready for parenthood: a solid partnership or support network, commitment to self-care, self-discipline, and a vision of parenting as self-fulfilment.
Take care of yourself. Schedule prenatal massages. Eat healthy, but do indulge on occasion. Relax and get plenty of sleep. Pamper yourself. Stay active. Practice yoga.
Evaluate your finances. If you don’t already have a budget, now’s a great time to start. You’d be amazed by what unexpected expenses pop up, such as a growth spurt requiring new diapers or switching to a more expensive formula. Check out this list of the top 10 best (and free) online budgeting tools.
Rethink your need to be a superhero. There’s no need for you or anyone to expect that you’ll be up on your feet, cleaning the house, cooking meals, entertaining hordes of friends, and leaping stacked baby blocks in a single bound your first week home! Make no apology for focusing on your baby!
If you have a dog, hire a dog walker. You might look forward to strolls around the neighborhood with baby in the carriage and a pup at your side, but when the weather’s nasty or you’re short on sleep, handing off that responsibility to a dog walker reduces lots of stress.
Hire someone to clean. Contract a cleaning service for monthly deep-cleanings. Spot-clean as needed, but save your energy for more fun activities — like tummy time with the baby!
Plan food. Chances are you won’t have the energy to cook healthily when your newborn arrives. Instead, you can cook ahead and freeze or reach out to your support system and request their help. Meal Train is perfect for organizing meal deliveries.
Schedule date nights. Plan a date night once or twice a month during your pregnancy with your partner — a movie, a sporting event, a new fancy restaurant, or a “babymoon.” And once the baby comes, don’t neglect that relationship. Even just a quick lunch date to discuss something other than what the little one produced in her diaper helps maintain your connection.
Parenthood is life-changing, exhausting, exhilarating, and proof that miracles exist. It’s awe-inspiring and humbling to realize you’re holding a tiny creature that your body nurtured and grew for months. Enjoy the journey!
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