Finding out you are going to be adding a new member to your family is such a special experience and certainly one to treasure. Here is your comprehensive guide to before baby.
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich
You’ve likely already started to plan your nursery decor and set up your baby registry. Perhaps you’re even spending your evening searching Pinterest for the perfect name for your little one.
However, once the newness wears off, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything you still need to accomplish before your baby arrives. One of the most challenging aspects of preparing for a new family member is keeping track of the decisions you still need to make and finding time to discuss them with your partner or other trusted loved ones.
So, instead of holding everything in your head and hoping you get to it all, make a list of important topics you need to decide on before your due date. To help you create your list, we’ve designed this comprehensive guide before baby. Write down any of these items you still need to tackle and make a plan.
Finding out the gender
Learning your baby’s sex before they’re born is practically the standard nowadays. However, you have the choice to wait until you meet them to find out. Finding out with an ultrasound or blood test lets you prepare a gender-specific nursery, buy gendered baby clothes and pick just one name, but leaving it a surprise builds the excitement.
Choose an OB and hospital
Finding the right combination of doctor and hospital can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. You want a hospital with policies that match your wishes — not all facilities are created equal. You’ll also want to find a doctor you feel comfortable with. Do you want to select a single OB or one who’s part of a rotating practice? Just know that either way, you may not end up with your doctor of choice in the delivery room.
Just as important as finding a good OB for your pregnancy. During your search, keep in mind any special considerations your little one may have. Share this with potential candidates to ensure they have the knowledge and experience to take on the new patient.
Cord blood banking
After giving birth, the umbilical cord is discarded as medical waste unless you say otherwise. Inside are potentially life-saving stem cells that could be useful in treating conditions like leukemia and sickle-cell anemia. You can use a private bank to save them for your family or donate them to a public bank. Either way, make sure you’ve made arrangements ahead of time.
If you proceed with cord blood banking, you’ll need to have your cord clamped for proper extraction. Otherwise, it’s up to you. New studies suggest leaving it unclamped is especially beneficial and leads to better outcomes for preterm infants. For term babies, delaying can increase iron levels, but it also raises the possibility of jaundice.
Many people choose to have their sons circumcised for religious reasons, but the procedure also has many health benefits, like reducing the risk of STDs and penile cancer. Still, it isn’t without its risks, so talk to your doctor about any questions or concerns before making a decision.
While many of the previous decisions can be part of your birth plan, there’s still plenty to consider. Do you want a natural birth, or are you open to an epidural? You also get to decide who you’d like in the room with you and the atmosphere you want to set. Also, do your research to determine if your hospital promotes skin-to-skin contact and advocate for your choice. You’ll also want to research your state laws on newborn vaccinations and decide how you wish to proceed with those.
Breastfeeding or bottle feeding
As you progress through your pregnancy, you’ll probably come under a lot of pressure to breastfeed. While it can be beneficial for your newborn, at the end of the day, feeding is best. Many women aren’t able to breastfeed, either due to physical or mental health reasons. Talk to your loved ones and decide what you plan to do, keeping in mind things may change after your little one is born.
Maternity leave and child care
Thinking ahead, you’ll want to arrange with work to get some time off after delivery. That period is essential for mother-infant bonding, and you’ll need some time to heal and adjust. Ask if you get any paid maternity leave and arrange any unpaid time. While you’re at it, you should tour child care facilities and get on a waiting list — sometimes, it can take a year or more to secure a slot.
One last important decision
With all of these serious decisions to make, it’s easy to lose sight of the fun. So, leave time for the most important decision of all — how to enjoy the wait. Plan a babymoon with your partner long enough from your due date that you’re still able to enjoy yourself. It could be as simple as a special night alone or jetting off for a relaxing getaway.
If you have pets or other children already, their world is about to change too. Set aside special time to spend with each of your kids. Let them choose activities they’d like to do with you before the baby arrives. Make sure they understand how loved they are and that having a new family member won’t change how you feel about them.