First of all, congratulations! Welcome to motherhood; it starts the second you find out you’re pregnant. You’ve probably been googling everything from what causes morning sickness and how long does it last to checklists for when you’re packing your hospital bag. If you’re the type of soon-to-be momma who eats up all of the tips, information, and advice out there—this article is for you.
This is my list of 10 tips for soon-to-be moms:
1. Don’t buy maternity underwear. Not that it’s necessarily a waste of money, but you only wear it for a few months and then pack it away or trash it. Instead, you might want to stretch out your regular underwear, and then after the baby is born, hit up Vicky’s semi-annual sale and treat yo’self to some brand new undies that you won’t have to let go of in a few months. The options are cuter in regular sizes anyway.
2. When acquiring nursing attire, you may need two sizes. For the first two months or so, my breasts were huge and needed to be available all the time. After that, I started to shrink a little (I was not sad) and was able to start wearing things that weren’t as nursing friendly once in a while—since I was nursing more predictably and not as often. I bought all of my nursing tank tops and nursing bras at Target; they had several brands and styles I liked.
3. When it comes to help, have it continue through (at least) the first two months. You might be thinking that you’ll get a rhythm after the first couple of weeks, and won’t need as much help after that … but your adrenaline will wear off, lack of sleep will build up, and you’ll drag even more than you did when you said you had never been so tired. So if you’ve got a friend setting up a meal calendar, have it continue over two months, even if that means it starts a little later. If someone asks you if you need a break so that you can take a shower or nap, say yes, and ask them if they’d like to do it again. It feels silly to take them up on things like that, but hey—they offered!
4. Use the lactation consultant at the hospital! When you’re there after delivery for however many hours, and that consultant comes by, let her take a good look at what’s going on. Let her get in your (and the baby’s) business and ask her all the questions. It’s awkward. It feels weird to have your boobs out and her squeezing and whatever, but just do it. You learn tricks, and you can even get her number for a follow-up phone call later. It’s the best!
5. Have Daddy help out. I don’t mean just with cooking and cleaning and yada yada. I mean with the baby. He needs to bond too. So have him help out at night if possible (if he’s not working the next morning) or have him take an early morning shift so that you can catch some more z’s before your day really gets going. It’ll be really special time between Daddy and baby, and it’ll be heaven for you.
6. Try not to get too worked up. I know this sounds ridiculous, but if you’re in the middle of a crying jag, or a nursing strike, or baby is just plain unhappy with everything, it’s tempting to get really stressed and freak out. I’ve been there tons of times—when you just feel useless. I got a great piece of advice: put the baby in the crib, walk away, tag out with Daddy, or just give yourself a minute. If whatever you were trying to do didn’t work or help, becoming stressed will only make matters worse. Your baby can sense when you’re stressed, which may make it even more difficult for them to calm down. So—how ever you can get a minute to calm down—that’s the best way to calm the baby.
7. Be flexible with sleeping arrangements. There might be something that works for you that isn’t what you expected. When I had my first, I originally planned to keep her in a bassinet in our room until she started sleeping better, that way I wouldn’t have to walk around the house in the middle of the night. Turns out, Hubby and I couldn’t sleep well because we were listening to every tiny squeak and each little squirm, wondering if she was waking up, if she was hungry, or if she needed something. I couldn’t ever get to sleep! We spent two nights like that, then moved her to her own room because we couldn’t get any rest. Unless everyone’s getting sleep, you might want to consider trying a different arrangement.
8. Create a bedtime routine. Having a few things that are the same every night will help baby know when bedtime is, and therefore go down a little easier. For instance, a clean diaper, bath (when they’re ready for a daily bath), clean jammies/sleep sack, swaddled (if you’re swaddling), read a book, sing a song, feed him/her, and lay baby down before he/she is all the way asleep.
9. Go ahead and choose your pediatrician. The hospital will ask you who you will be working with (or what office, anyway) just after your baby is born, so go ahead and visit a few before you give birth. The pediatrician on call will do a visit in the hospital for the both of you, so meet a few of the doctors if possible—that way you might see a familiar face! Most offices do tours and meet-and-greets, so call a few offices and ask around! For us, we love the option of a Saturday clinic, the option of lots of different doctors, but being able to see our favorite nine times out of ten, and the fact that they all treat our kids like royalty. What can I say? They love us.
10. Get some sleep before the baby comes. I got all sorts of advice about what I should do before she got here: go on vacation, get my nails done, get my hair cut, have a girls’ night, have a massage, have sex with my husband (how do you think we got pregnant?), prepare the nursery, wash the baby clothes, go to the movies, and a thousand more things. The best piece was to get sleep. I took naps, slept as much as possible all day and night, and I felt super rested when the baby came. It was the best possible scenario.
If this is your first baby, I’m sure you’ve found that tips, opinions, and information on all things related to motherhood abound. Tips are awesome, try them out because some may be perfect for you—just know that you’ll probably come up with a few of your own through trial and error. Good for you! Opinions can be helpful, but don’t let them rule your decisions. Do what’s best for you and your (growing) family. Information is great, but remember—more than anything else—to take some time to soak in the moment.
And just in case you missed my first list, check out 10 Tips for Soon-To-Be Moms!