The Best Ways To Prepare For Labor
Every mother has a unique story about what happened when they went into labor. No matter where you are and the events that lead up to active labor, there’s always an element of drama (and probably anxiety too). The best way to combat these feelings is to be as prepared as possible. Doing your homework ahead of time will give you a sense of being a little more in control.
Things You Should Do Before You Go Into Labor
Hospital Tour- Most hospitals offer tours of the birthing suites. Taking the tour really helps both you and your partner get oriented as far as where to go, where to park, etc. The tour guides are very knowledgeable and can answer a lot of specific questions about the facilities.
Birth Plan - To be completely honest, the best birth plan is to be flexible and just go with the flow. Often times women go into labor thinking that they won’t get an epidural, and then later have a feeling of guilt when they decide that the pain is too much. So many factors can change while you’re in labor and you may even end up getting a c-section. If it makes you feel better, you can work out a birth plan with your doctor, but always remember to be flexible.
Food Prep - You’re going to be extremely sleep deprived for the first several weeks after coming home from the hospital. If you meal prep and freeze in small batches, you can still conveniently eat healthy. Every morning I would take a couple meals out of the freezer to defrost so I could eat them whenever I got a free moment. The best types of meals to freeze are soups and stews, chicken and meat with rice. Also keep your freezer stocked with frozen veggies that you can cook up quickly.
Siblings and Pet Care - Be sure you make arrangements to have family or friends take your other children and/or furry babies while you stay in the hospital. We dropped my dog Holly off with my parents when I was 39 weeks so that we had a less stressful final week.
Hospital Bag - Scroll down to see my complete list of everything I needed and used during my stay in the hospital. You’ll want to have it packed as early possible, at the very latest 38 weeks. Babies do come early sometimes!
House Prep - You never know when baby is going to arrive and it can add extra stress if baby arrives early and you don’t have a crib and co-sleeper ready. My daughter Scout would only sleep in my arms for the first few weeks and she absolutely hated her crib. It wasn’t until several weeks later that we purchased a co-sleeper and she loved it. It would’ve saved us a lot of stress if we had been prepared with one already.
Another important way to prep the house is to wash all baby’s clothes, blankets and crib sheets in unscented, skin sensitive laundry detergent. Traditionally parents have purchased Dreft detergent for babies, but it’s actually heavily scented and not the best option.
Have Multiple Baby Clothes Sizes - When I was pregnant they told me that my daughter was going to be over 8 pounds. So I was preparing to dress her in sizes 3 - 6 months. But when she was born she was actually only 6 pounds! Almost all the clothes I had for her were too big. Lesson learned, have multiple sizes ready to go!
Baby Basics Class - If you’re a first-time parent, the reality of taking care of a newborn infant can be overwhelming. Taking a baby basics class offered by your hospital is an important way to know the safest and healthiest ways to care for baby. We learned all about soothing tactics for fussy babies, how to tell if baby is hungry, diaper changing, breastfeeding, swaddling and how to put baby down for bed safely. When you first come home from the hospital with your newborn, you will be thanking yourself for taking the class. At the very least, it will give you some guidance during a hectic time.
Advice Nurse - For the first few months at home with your newborn, you’re going to have many questions and concerns about how to best care for your baby. Often times these questions are not life-treating and don’t require a trip to the emergency room or even the doctors office. The advice nurse helpline is a great resource to ask questions about things such as diaper rash, when should baby get her shots, if a baby gets diarrhea, fevers, etc. These are all reasons why I’ve called the advice nurse and they gave me great tips and peace of mind. Trust me, you’re going to want to put the advice nurse phone number on speed dial.
Car Seat - Make sure you learn how to install your carseat before you go to the hospital. The base should be all strapped in and ready to go. The hospital staff did an inspection of our car seat before we were allowed to drive home. We have the Maxi-Cosi Zelia 5-in-1 Modular Travel System and we love it! I chose it because it’s one of the lightest on the market, heavy baby gear makes outings a drag.
Baby’s Name - While I wouldn't want anyone to rush the delicate process of selecting a name for your baby, if you have your child's name already selected at time of birth it's much easier to complete the legal documents. The hospital has a dedicated specialist who comes to your room to assist you with completing the forms and then they file the paperwork for you. So much easier than dealing with the government directly! Have you seen my list of 100 Baby Names for the Modern Mama?!
The Ultimate Packing List for Your Labor and Delivery Hospital Bag
Comfortable pajamas (With a top you can button-up or pull down if you plan on nursing)
Robe (To keep you warm and cozy, and allow you to quickly cover up when visitors arrive or nurses pop in)
Cotton underwear (Bring maternity underwear or other pairs that you don’t mind getting ruined)
Maxi overnight pads and/or pull ups for women. You can also opt for period panties!
A going home outfit for yourself (something loose—you’ll still look several months pregnant—and with easy access for nursing). I wore some comfy leggings and an oversized top.
Charger for your phone and any other devices
Toiletries (Don’t forget your toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, face wash, and moisturizer)
A hair brush and lots of extra hair ties
Soothing lip balm is a must. This awesome product doubles as both nipple and lip balm!
Makeup if you want to take photos. You may not want to at all, but then again you just might.
Anything else that will help you relax
Eye mask (There will be some lights left on 24/7, so if you need complete darkness to get any real shut-eye, I highly recommend an eye mask.)
Camera to capture those first few moments
Any necessary hospital paperwork
A notepad or journal and pen
Don’t forget to pack a bag for dad or your partner!
Everything you need for baby:
An installed car seat.
A receiving blanket or swaddle for ride home
We take our Baby Shusher everywhere we go. This compact little sound machine makes baby soothing “white noise” that helps calm fussy babies. It also helps adults sleep too!
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