First-time moms are destined to be overwhelmed by all the changes occurring in their lives. Not only is a woman’s body changing in myriad ways, but she needs to make all sorts of changes to her home and lifestyle to accommodate the new human she is bringing into the world — and when someone is juggling so much over the course of several months, some things are sure to fall through the cracks.
Most often, expectant mothers are so focused on the trauma of birth that they struggle to imagine life realistically after the baby is born and make major mistakes in planning their first days and weeks home after the hospital. Yet, new moms should want the period after birth to be as easy and breezy as possible. To that end, here are a few post-birth concerns that new parents are apt to forget.
Parents know they want skin-to-skin contact, they know who is cutting the cord, and they know what is happening with the placenta — but what about a few minutes later, when baby is deemed healthy and everyone is desperate for news? It is important to introduce baby to loved ones in a timely manner, so close friends and family start to form bonds with the new bundle of joy. On the other hand, most first-time parents already feel overwhelmed after their first delivery, and it is exhausting to imagine a crowded hospital room with people clamoring to touch and hold baby.
Well before the birth, parents should know who will be in the delivery room, who will be at the hospital and who will be waiting at home to meet baby. It is a good idea to keep the number of people in the room limited to four or less, so neither mom nor baby feels squeezed. Parents who prefer to cherish the first moments with baby shouldn’t feel bad about requesting “no visitors” for the first few days, so they can get accustomed to life with baby and settle into a pattern. Then, they can send out baby announcementsto tell everyone in their lives about the new addition to the family.
Finally, it isn’t just human introductions that are important; household pets should be properly introduced to baby, as well, to prevent misbehavior or dangerous activity. This might require some practice, such as holding a baby doll and establishing boundaries around the nursery and baby toys before the birth. Dogs and cats should be included in family activities, to ensure they are receiving the positive attention they need.
In the hustle and bustle before the due date, it is easy to overlook even the most important items for baby — like a car seat. Most hospitals won’t discharge baby unless parents have a car seat to carry baby out. Instead of rushing out and buying whatever newborn car seat they can find, parents should plan ahead and purchase a convertible car seat, which will grow with their baby to ensure protection for years to come.
While the car seat is the most important carrier to have immediately after birth, it probably isn’t the only carrier new parents will need. It’s a good idea to have a stroller on hand, ideally one that is compatible with the car seat to make lugging baby around that much simpler. Finally, most parents will also want some kind of babywearing device, which holds baby close to the body but leaves the parent’s hands free. This can be essential for soothing newborns who need constant contact while getting other chores done, like cooking or cleaning house.
Even if baby is perfectly healthy, they will need to visit the doctor frequently over the course of the next year to receive vaccinations and monitoring for disease. In fact, while some pediatricians have slightly different schedules, baby’s first checkup should occur just three to five days after birth. That means parents need to have a pediatrician lined up well before mom goes into labor; otherwise, they might be stuck with a doctor who doesn’t exactly fit their communication style or expectations for health.
Choosing a pediatrician could be a long process. It’s a good idea to start with doctors who are in the parents’ insurance network. From there, parents should evaluate credentials and experience, investigating how doctors stay up-to-date on medical practices. Most pediatricians offer free visits for new parents who are interested in getting to know their doctor, and parents should take advantage of these to ask questions about methods and style. It’s important to note that there is no ethical option to skip first-year checkups; doing so unreasonably risks the life of the child and potentially weakens the health of the entire community.
Designing the nursery isn’t the beginning and end of preparing for baby. Parents need to think ahead to plan for what baby will actually need when they come — and what their loved ones, their pets, their doctors and everyone else will need, too.