If you are like most expecting parents, you are probably very excited and nervous at the same time. There are so many things you need to do to prepare for a new baby in order to make sure he or she will have a comfortable home, a stimulating environment, and a secure future. Here are some tips that will hopefully help you feel more confident that everything is taken care of when you welcome your new bundle of joy. Take the following advice and reduce your amount of stress so that you can enjoy more quality time with your newborn.
Create a baby registry through any store that carries baby products. This will let your friends and family know what you need for your baby, and that way they don't end up buying the same gifts. Make sure to include small essential items such as bibs and socks, as well as larger items such as a stroller or playard. Don't worry about including expensive items because your relatives or coworkers may want to chip in and buy you a large gift. Some great places to have a registry are Babies R Us, Target, Wal-Mart, Pottery Barn, and Gymboree.
Send out announcements to let everyone know you are expecting. Usually this is done after you find out the gender of the baby. You can order formal announcement cards or just send a cute mass email to everyone you are close to as well as coworkers. Make sure to include your registry locations or Internet links so that people can find or search for it.
If you will need more space in your home and are able to afford a larger place, you should start house hunting or looking for a new apartment/townhouse as soon as possible. If you cannot afford to move, you can make space by getting rid of old junk and buying some shelves and storage bins. You will need them. You can check out the article below for ideas on how to get rid of unused items around your home.
Talk to your boss (if you are working) about maternity leave. Not all employers will pay you during your time off. Make sure to have everything in writing. Your partner may be able to take a few days to a couple of weeks off for paternity leave as well.
If you have an extra room where the baby will sleep, you can start setting up and decorating the walls for your nursery. You will need a crib, crib bedding, and a dresser. If you live in a one-bedroom home and will be sharing your room with the baby, then you can buy a portable bassinet and share your chest or dresser drawers with your child.
Shop for baby gear. You will need a rear-facing car seat (infant carrier), a stroller, and swing and/or bouncer to put the baby down when you need to do chores. Many parents also use playards as a safe play area for the baby and slings for carrying the baby. Those are not necessary if you cannot afford them.
Register for a birthing class as early in the pregnancy as possible. These are very useful for first time parents, especially if you do not have many friends or family members who can guide you. This is a great bonding opportunity with your partner as well. Most hospitals offer them throughout the month. Call your local hospital for more details.
If you simply do not have time for a class, you can always do research by reading books. There are plenty of useful books on parenting and childbirth out there. Just get a library card if you do not want to spend money on books. Also, the Internet contains a massive amount of information. Some of the best sites are www.babycenter.com and www.cafemom.com.
Make sure you have a way of paying for hospital costs. Childbirth can put you in debt if you do not plan carefully. Make sure your insurance policy covers maternity costs and that your doctor is in your network. If you do not have insurance, you should sign up for the Maternity Card as most insurance companies will probably deny you coverage since you are already pregnant.
If you cannot obtain insurance and cannot afford to pay out of pocket for hospital expenses, you may qualify for governmental assistance. Apply for Medicaid if you fall in the low-income range. They will provide your child with insurance once your baby is born also.
Decide which hospital you want to have your baby at. You can ask to tour the maternity ward by scheduling an appointment. Some hospitals will allow you to look around if you walk in without an appointment also. Once you decide, register to have your baby there. You will need to fill out some paperwork and give them a copy of your identification and insurance.
Create a birth plan. You can print one out from the Baby Center website or the hospital to provide you with one. This will help you decide whether you want to circumsize your newborn boy, when to allow people to visit you, and whether or not you will receive epidurals.
Shop for baby clothes, booties, hats, washcloths, baby wash & shampoo, swaddle blankets, receiving blankets, bottles (if you are going to be formula-feeding or pumping your breast milk) and bottle cleaning brushes. Make sure you buy the bottles with the newborn sized nipples.
Wash all the baby clothes ahead of time so that you don't have to do laundry when you bring your baby home. The last thing you will want to do is clean up and do chores when you have a newborn to care for. You should only have to worry about bonding and changing diapers.
Pack your hospital bags. You should pack one for you and one for your partner. You should pack personal hygiene items such as your toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, and deodorant. You may also want to bring your own body wash, shampoo, and conditioner even though the hospital usually provides you with these things. Don't forget to pack clothes that you will want to wear when leaving the hospital, as well as clothes for your baby!
Your partner should pack a bag if he plans on spending the night at the hospital if you have to stay overnight. He should bring comfortable clothes to sleep in, personal hygiene products, and cash for the vending machines or cafeteria in case he gets hungry.
Make sure to bring items that will make you feel more at home when you are in the labor room, such as pictures. You will also want to bring snacks, a camera, phone card, your birth plan, and things to pass time such as books and games.
You will also need to stock up on diapers. It would be smart to buy a month's worth of diapers, but not more than that because your child may grow faster than you anticipate and will not fit into the newborn diapers. If you are using cloth diapers, you should wash those to have them ready. Pack a few along with a diaper cover in your hospital bag.
If you will be formula-feeding you should stock up on baby formula.
If you will be breastfeeding but you will need to go back to work during your child's first year, you need a breast pump. If you plan on pumping only occasionally such as for nights out with your partner, then a mechanical pump will do as it is inexpensive. If you plan on going back to work full time and can afford to shell out a couple hundred bucks, you should invest in an electric pump because it will keep your milk supply up and is much easier to use and more efficient.
Make sure to decide on a name! Check out online baby name dictionaries or purchase one of thousands of name books from your local bookstore, if you need ideas. Some people may want to use a relative's name, some may want to make up their own. If you do not want to know your baby's gender ahead of time, either choose a unisex name or one girl name and one boy name.