You’ll also want to buy any bathroom supplies. The postpartum items suggested above are critical. You may also want to stock up on items like:
- Body soap
- Face wash
- Beauty supplies
- Dry Shampoo
- Razors or razor refills
- Hand sanitizer
Basically, buy anything you think you’ll need for the first month or two. Assume you will not go to the store and prep, prep, prep. For a more in-depth list, please visit my post: Stock Up Before Baby Arrives.
3. Prep Your Hospital Bag Early
Okay, your house is prepared. You’ve stockpiled like a squirrel, now what?! The next vital piece is to prepare your hospital bag. Don’t wait until the last minute. Do it now! You’re going to want your bag prepped at the beginning of your third trimester (at least). Should anything happen early, the last thing you want to worry about is getting your bag ready.
So, newsflash, I am a super organized-type. I love, love, love these packing cubes. They help you get your bag packed perfectly. Label them and find EVERYTHING. A few hospital bag items you may not think of:
- A binder/notebook
- A pillow and blanket from home (because the hospital ones suck)
- Dry shampoo
- Super comfy underwear (I loved boy briefs)
- Candy and snacks
- Walking shoes/flip flops
- A bag of supplies for Dad
- Contact lens solution/glasses
I’ve put together a full hospital bag checklist to help you get totally prepared. There are so many little bits and pieces to remember (like making sure you’ve hidden a spare key and arranged food for pets). Get your bag prepped early, so when you’re ready to bring home baby, you’ll have every single item you need.
4. Do Your Research, So You’re Ready to Bring Home Baby
I know you think you’re ready and I thought I was ready too! I remember thinking, if I get through labor and delivery, then the rest of the “new baby part” is a breeze. After all, I was already struggling with sleep in my third trimester, so I figured, how bad will it be?
Let me tell you, it’s bad. Don’t get me wrong—it’s wonderful too! You will long for these moments with your newborn once they’ve passed. But when you’re in the thick of sleep deprivation, a baby who refuses to latch, sore nipples, and a painful vagina that leaks (yep) constantly, you will feel…feelings.
A good prenatal class will help immensely. (As I recommended above, Hilary Erickson, RN is my go-to!) Don’t get too hung up on the labor and delivery part. There are so many people surrounding you, ready to help that you’ll likely feel very supported. Focus on the week after, when you bring your tiny human home, and you’re responsible for keeping them alive and thriving.
Don’t feel afraid to take control of your time. This means setting boundaries with well-meaning neighbors, friends, in-laws, and more. This is your time to completely, 100% focus on only your baby and yourself. That’s it. Don’t worry about everyone else. They will still be there once your little one starts sleeping and eating regularly.
In the meantime, review my list of everything I wish I’d known before bringing baby home. This will help you prepare to bring home baby in the smoothest, easiest way possible (which may still be a little bumpy, but it’s part of the experience).
5. Set Up for a Smooth First Night
The first night after you bring home baby is nerve-wracking, to say the least. I remember thinking, “Wow, the hospital is just letting us take her home?!” ALL the responsibility is on you now, Mama! But don’t worry—you’ve totally got this!
It will help you feel confident to prepare thoroughly for your first few nights with baby. The first night at home (typically baby’s second night in the world) is often the most challenging. In fact, they even call it Second Night Syndrome. Basically, your baby has realized she is no longer in her cubby-wubby-womb-room and is now part of the harsh, cold world. The result is often inconsolable crying, which is especially stressful for new moms.
You may worry you haven’t fed her enough, or you’ve done something wrong. There’s also a “no, no, you go to bed honey, so at least one of us gets sleep” mentality, which like it or not, leaves you feeling unsupported and super frustrated. Come up with a game plan BEFORE the Second Night Syndrome kicks in. You and your husband, or support person, should work together to keep your baby fed every two hours (and awake as needed). You don’t need to handle this on your own; it’s a team effort. Period.
The good news is this situation doesn’t last too long. As long as you’re tracking your baby’s sleep, feedings, and diaper situation, they will usually calm down and start sleeping more regularly soon. To prepare yourself for the first night, read my post Preparing for Baby’s First Night. Remember, this too shall pass.
6. Get Your Newborn Sleep Schedule on a Roll
We’ve all heard the term “sleep like a baby,” but do babies do that? Well, no, not exactly and for some babies, not at ALL. With my first baby, I knew it would be challenging, but I didn’t realize quite how sleep-deprived you become. My daughter was slightly underweight for being full-term, so we had to feed her every 2-3 hours for the first few weeks. She ate, slept, cried, and that was pretty much it.
I read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, MD, and it became my BIBLE. It outlines the changes babies go through in the first few weeks and how to help their sleep patterns build consistently. Remember, your baby has no circadian rhythm. They don’t understand time. They know hungry, uncomfortable, comfortable, and tired. Period. During those first few weeks, don’t expect to keep any regular schedule for yourself.
Essentially the newborn/first week is all about simply getting through and surviving. After the first week, you’ll see increased fussiness during weeks 2-4, peaking during weeks 5-6. Around 7-8 weeks you’ll start to see your baby’s schedule even out a bit more.
While I highly recommend reading Dr. Weissbluth’s book, you can check out my summary here, where I go over what I learned from the book and experience with my two little ones. Don’t worry—before you know it, your little one will sleep soundly. You might even find yourself longing for those first few newborn weeks (how quickly we forget)!
7. Always keep Your Diaper Bag Ready to Go
Before bringing home baby, you likely carry a few critical items with you when you leave the house. Do you ever go anywhere without your phone? Keys? Debit card? Chapstick? Most of us carry some go-to items everywhere.
Think of a diaper bag like your baby’s emergency kit. Babies don’t need a lot of stuff (let’s face it, Mom is typically carrying a built-in meal source). They DO, however, need diaper supplies. There’s nothing worse than being stuck somewhere without proper supplies or with a sketchy changing area. You must carry those essentials (the bonus is you can empty your pockets and keep all your go-to stuff in the diaper bag too).
So, what do you need in your diaper bag? At minimum you’ll need the following:
- Wet bag (for cloth diapers)
- Changing pad
- Diapers, of course
- Wipes (and/or spray bottle)
- Formula (if needed)
- Burp cloths
- Breast feeding cover
- Hand sanitizer
After your little one gets a few months older, you’ll want to add in snacks, sippy cups, and bibs. Add a change of clothes in case of a poop ‘splosion. Head over to my complete diaper bag checklist (and best bag recommendation) to read more.
8. Not Your First Rodeo? Get Prepared for Baby #2
If you’re on pregnancy number two, I likely don’t need to tell you it’s totally different! Like me, you probably first thought, “Okay, I know what I’m facing now. I’ve got this under control,” but you’ve probably discovered by now every single pregnancy is totally different.
I found that I procrastinated a few critical pieces before Baby #2. Even though I knew what I needed in my postpartum recovery kit, I didn’t rush out and buy ALLLLL the Dermoplast (until I panicked the week before delivery and did a late night massive Amazon order).
Save yourself the stress by prepping for a whole new world. Like you did with your first baby, you’ll still want to prep freezer meals. You may want to take a prenatal class (because now you can actually pay attention beyond the terror of what’s going to happen during the birth process). Clean up your baby supplies and buy new items as well.
For the checklist of everything I WISH I’d known before baby #2, click here. I’ll go through prepping for your second (or third) baby, step by step. Even though it looks a little different this time around, you’ll totally handle it! No sweat—you’ve got this!
Bringing baby home is the most exciting, scary, memorable, life-changing moment you’ve ever experienced. You may feel a mixed bag of emotions—from joy to hysterics. Remember, it’s totally normal and valid to feel however you feel. You do you, Mom!
Take care of the most important stuff before you bring home baby. Prepare your home. Get your freezer stocked with meals, and your bathroom stocked with postpartum supplies (giant maxi pads, here you come)! Take a prenatal class and stockpile for the long haul.
Get your hospital bag ready and research to prepare (mentally and physically) for the first night when you bring baby home. Learn about the sleep patterns, stock your diaper bag, and check off all the essential to-dos (even if it’s your second time around in the delivery room).
Feeling prepared will give you confidence and help you feel calm and prepared for the big day! Don’t worry, you and your beautiful baby will be fine. Do your homework, kick back, and relax. It will be time to bring home baby before you know it!
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