Whether this is your first baby or not, the feelings of preparing your home for the arrival are very exciting. When you hold your newborn baby for the first time, it will change you forever. Your entire life will be altered at that moment. You can prepare for that change by making your baby’s homecoming as smooth as possible and help you prepare mentally for the big day.
These are some of the important things I have learned over the years after having kids:
Forget about anything you said you were going to do “while on paternity leave”.
If you are like me, and every new father I have ever known, you have said “oh I’ll do all that once the baby is here and I’m off for a couple weeks”. No you won’t. Get that straight right now, and out of your head. You just won’t.
Prepare the baby’s room
You will want to purchase all the necessary nursery equipment early enough to allow time for assembly, decorating and organization. I would suggest having this done by the seventh month. This may include a crib, car seat, diaper bag(s), a large number of diapers (you will need up to 15 a day at first), blankets, clothes, diaper disposal, bathing needs and a changing table. A short dresser and a small lamp are also great to have.
Read the National Safety Council paper on crib safety here. This is a very helpful read, especially if you are going with a used crib.
Pack your bags early!
By the start of your ninth month, you should have bags packed for the hospital. We were caught empty handed by our third child who decided to make his appearance three weeks early. I had said to my wife the very night before her water broke: “I am going to get us all packed this weekend, in case he comes early”. He heard me, little stinker. You want to make sure you have everything you might need, but also some things that will make your stay much more pleasant.
Things to bring with you to the hospital…
I suggest bringing the following (you’ll be her hero):
– A portable radio and some relaxing music and nature sounds.
– Your birthing ball (many birthing centers have these, but in limited supply)
– Comfortable shoes. She may end up walking to help labor along.
– Clothes for Mom and baby. Baby’s homecoming outfit is something very special.
– Candle Lights. Those little battery operated candles can be very relaxing in the birthing room.
– Chapstick or Carmex. VERY important as her lips will be very chapped.
– Odorless snacks for you. she isn’t going to like anything with a strong smell while she is in labor.
– Hard candies. Your wife’s mouth will get very dry during labor.
– Toiletries. You will be in the hospital for three days in most cases. You might want to shower.
– And of course, don’t forget to put the car seat in the car! Baby needs this for hisher first ride home!
Other things to do to prepare
Take a birthing and newborn class. These classes can be very informative and a lot of fun for you and your partner. They also take a lot of the anxiety out of caring for your newborn. The classes will cover a lot of common scenarios that cause concern for new parents. Contact your birthing center for more information.
Take a tour of the hospitalbirthing center. This will be very nice when you are ready to go to the hospital. You will already know where to go and what to do when you get there. Our last check in took a total of 40 seconds between the time I said “He’s coming” and when we closed the door on our birthing room (yes, I timed it, it’s what I do).
Make a list of the feminine products that your wife will need. You may have to go shopping for these things a couple of times the first few weeks. Try not to be embarassed.
Stock up on quick and easy food items. Freeze meals and keep a list of local restaurants with take out services. Neither of you will want to eat the same thing every day. Make sure you avoid spicy foods or onions if you are breastfeeding (I mean the collective “you”).
Gas up the car! You do not want to stop at the gas station on your way to the hospital. Keep that tank full for a few weeks before the due date.
And lastly, Some Serious Important stuff:
It is a wonderful thing to bring home your new baby, and there are measures that you need to take to ensure the security of you and your child. Never hang anything outside the home announcing the birth of your child, no balloons on the mailbox. Do not add anything announcing the birth to your answering machine. I hate to even mention these things, but they are necessary in our world.
The ultimate goal here is to provide you and your partner with as much time and attention to your baby as possible when you bring himher home. The more you do before your baby arrives, the more time you will have to bond, play, sleep and love your newborn!
Enjoy the miracle of life. Love your new baby and relish every minute you have together. It goes by faster than you want it to.