Here are a few suggestions to help you prepare for your baby's arrival at home. Since your hospital stay will be brief, your transition home may be made easier if you've prepared well in advance of your baby's birth.
Preparing For Your Baby
Prepare a place in your home for the baby.
Prepare a sleeping area and a place for clothes and supplies.
Purchase essential nursery equipment.
There are several ways to save money on baby items. Many items can be purchased second hand or through discount stores. Some items may be purchased by the case, such as disposable diapers. Suggestions for essential nursery equipment are:
- Federally approved car seat.
- Crib or basinet/cradle (slats should be no more than 2-3/8 inches apart).
- Bottles, nipples and cleaning brush if needed.
- Large tote or diaper bag packed with:
- Several diapers.
- Receiving blanket.
- Change of clothes.
- Plastic bag for soiled diapers.
- Washcloth or baby wipe.
- Diaper pail for cloth diapers.
- Plastic lined garbage pail for disposable diapers.
- Nursing Bras (2 cotton).
- Changing table or place to change diapers.
Purchase a crib.
If purchasing a used crib, make sure it meets current safety standards.
Purchase and learn how to use a federally approved car seat.
California State law requires car seats to be federally approved. Your baby must always be placed in the car seat, beginning with the ride home from the hospital. The safest placement of the car seat is the middle of the rear seat, facing backwards. Some car seats may require the use of a special locking clip on the seat belt. Never place your baby in the front seat of your car, especially if your car has passenger-side airbags. Ask if you are unsure or visit the California Highway Patrol website for more information.
If purchasing a used car seat make sure it meets current safety standards by checking the date on the seat. Most car seats will have an expiration date on the tag, telling you not to use that seat after a certain date.
Low cost car seat programs are available in each county in California. Check with your healthcare provider for further information.
Select a doctor to be your baby's pediatrician.
Attend a newborn care class.
It will be helpful to attend a newborn care class if you haven't had recent experience caring for newborns.
Attend a breastfeeding class.
Attend a breastfeeding class if you'll be nursing your baby.
Check on cloth diaper service.
If you're planning to use cloth diapers from a diaper service, check to see if they will deliver on a 24-hour notice, or before your due date.
Prepare a basic layette of essential clothing and equipment for the baby.
Wash baby clothes before using.
Be sure and wash all baby clothes, bedding, towels and washcloths in baby detergent before using.
Expectations and Birth Options
Expectations and Birth Options
Pregnancy is a time of heightened awareness. You become aware of the changes in your body, in your way of thinking, and in your priorities. You must also become aware of the choices that may help determine how you feel about your birth experience, your baby, and yourselves as parents. One important choice is the provider who will manage your childbirth experience. Some women choose an obstetrician while others want a certified nurse midwife. The important thing is that you feel your obstetrician or midwife is a good fit with your personality and philosophy about childbirth.
If your pregnancy is healthy and you're considering scheduling your baby's birth, it's best to stay pregnant for at least 39 weeks. Babies born too early may have more health problems at birth and later in life than babies born full term. Being pregnant at least 39 weeks gives your baby's brain all the time it needs to grow.
Sample Questions for Your Obstetrician or Midwife
The following are some commonly asked questions you may want to raise with your doctor or midwife:
- Once I think I'm in labor:
- When do I call?
- Who do I call?
- Where do I call?
- If you're not available for my delivery, what are the names of the other physicians/midwives in your on-call group? Will I have a chance to meet them at a prenatal appointment or not until I am at the hospital?
- What will happen if I go to the hospital thinking I'm in labor and it turns out to be a "false alarm?"
- Once I'm admitted:
- After the initial routine fetal monitoring, will I have to be continually monitored, or can I be monitored on and off?
- If I choose to have medication but don't want an epidural, what available medications do you recommend?
- What is your opinion about:
- Activities or positions during labor such as walking, showering, bathing, rocking or lying on my side?
- Artificial rupture of membranes to speed up labor?
- Induction of labor?
- Positions for pushing and delivery including alternative birth positions like squatting?
- Length of pushing stage?
- Episiotomies, perineal massage and hot compress?
- The use of a vacuum or forceps for delivery?
- I had a cesarean section in the past. Will I be able to deliver vaginally at this time?
Other Preparation Recommendations
- Practice relaxation, positioning, and breathing techniques often.
- Pack your bags for your hospital stay by the start of your ninth month.
- Consider covering your mattress with a plastic sheet or shower curtain a few weeks before your due date in case your water breaks. You may also want to keep a few towels and a couple of sanitary pads in the car.
- Take a hospital tour.
- If you plan to use a tub in labor, check with the hospital on their policy regarding tubs. Make arrangements to rent a tub if the facility allows them and doesn't have one available.
- At one of your last appointments, ask your doctor or midwife whom you should call, and when you should call them if your doctor or midwife isn't available when you go into labor.
- Keep plenty of gas in the car. Know the route to the hospital and approximately how long it will take to travel under varying traffic conditions. Consider making a trial run and make note of where to park.
- If a car is not available, arrange ahead of time for alternative transportation. Keep telephone numbers of taxis and other resource people readily available.
- Let friends know you prefer to have them visit after you are home from the hospital. Reserve your hospital time for you and your partner to learn about and get acquainted with your baby.
- Try to avoid moving households near the end of your pregnancy. Too many changes in your life at this time can add extra stress to your adaptation to parenthood.
- Arrange for household help if possible. Outside help allows you more time to enjoy the new baby!
- Let someone else do the cleaning and laundry. If you have willing relatives or friends, be clear with them that you need help with the chores while you care for the baby.
- Review your health insurance policy to be knowledgeable of any recent changes. Make note of the length of covered hospital stay, visiting nurse services, and well-baby coverage.
- Store as many staple items as space allows.
- Freeze meals, clearly label their contents and include directions for heating.
- Consider writing out two weeks of menus and have the ingredients on hand.
- Start a file of restaurants with take-out menus and delivery services.
- Stock up on convenience items such as paper plates and napkins. Consider locating services such as grocery or drug stores that will deliver.
- Purchase a supply of sanitary pads (tampons are not recommended for use until your period resumes later).
- Select birth announcements. If you use regular mail, you may want to address and stamp the envelopes ahead of time and fill in the blanks after the baby arrives.
- Plan ahead for birthdays and anniversaries. Since shopping is often a challenge the first few weeks after giving birth, purchasing gifts, giftwrap and cards ahead of time can be very helpful.