As you get nearer baby arrival time it’s easy to get a bit freaked out.
We know it’s a really exciting time but you’ve also got a million thoughts running through your head. And it can be hard to know exactly how to prepare for your baby’s arrival. So we’ve come up with a checklist that you can tick off, creating a nice calm headspace as you approach that all important B-Day.
Get your finances in order
Make sure you’ve sorted your Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance. And then consider your wider budget, do you need to make any changes because you’ve got less money coming in? Can you stash away a bit in savings now? And once your little one arrives apply for child benefit and think about life insurance and a will.
It’s also worth seeing if you can get help through Healthy Start. The final thing to consider is childcare, it might seem like a million miles away but paying for it can take a serious chunk of cash each month so it’s worth weighing up your options.
Do a big sort out
Got a sudden spurt of energy in the last few weeks? It’s sometimes called nesting and can be a sign that labour is on the way. You might as well use it to your advantage and get all those jobs done. Clear out your cupboards to make space for toys and new baby stuff. And sell anything that’s not useful anymore to chuck a few more quid in the budget. Organise your rooms so you have everything on hand for sorting dirty nappies and feeds.
It’s also a good idea to wash all your baby’s bedding and clothes using a non-bio powder.
Get nappies, lots of them. You’d be surprised how many a newborn can go through (10-12 a day) so grab a few packs, it’s always a good idea to buy a couple of different brands in case one doesn’t suit you. And if you’re doing washable nappies make sure you have enough to cover when they’re in the wash.
Then get your household staples - any canned or frozen foods you use regularly, toiletries, loo roll, tea, coffee - all your must-haves so you don’t have to dash out 3 days after you give birth.
If you have space in your freezer then do batch cooking for easy to grab meals. Or cheat and pick up a few nutritious ready meals to pop in the freezer.
Write your birth plan (and be happy to change it)
If you haven’t done it, take a bit of time to write down what you’d like in labour. Your birth plan is what you share with your midwife around your preferences, pain relief, any birth assistance eg forceps, whether you want skin to skin etc. But make sure you’re flexible as things can change quickly in labour. And remember that if your birth doesn’t follow the plan it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good birth.
Create your support network
Talk to your friends about what you’re going through and how they can support you after. Talk to family about when you’d like visitors (or not!) and the best thing they can do to help you in the days and weeks after your baby is born. If you can, go to antenatal classes, not just for the info but also to build a local support group of other mums at the same stage. And consider if you’d like (and can afford) any paid help, like a cleaner or nanny, in the first few weeks.
Spend time with your partner and children
It’s not a great idea to chat through big decisions or parenting likes and dislikes in the middle of labour or when you’re sleep-deprived. So make some time now to really connect, explain what you need in labour and how you’ll divide the work up once your little person arrives. And if you already have kids this is the time to carve out a special place for them, plan activities or days out so they understand just how important they are to you.
What about the dog?
Babies and pets can happily co-exist but you might need to do a bit of pet-proofing. Create a space where you can safely stow away your dog if needed (a baby gate is great for this and you can reuse it once your little one starts walking). And if you have a cat, think about a net to stop them jumping in your baby’s pram or moses basket.
Pack your hospital bag
Now’s the time to get that hospital bag ready. Don’t forget any contact numbers you or your birth partner will need, your birth plan, what you need during and after labour (for you and your baby) and the bits for when you go home. It’s a good idea to have it ready by 36 weeks and leave it by the front door.
Car and phone
Give your car a good check over at 36 weeks. Do you have a full tank of petrol, tyres and oil ok? Finally, make sure you can install and take out the car seat. And then do the same for your phone - do you have enough credit? Is it charged? Do you have a charger in your hospital bag?
All the baby bits and bobs
You might feel like you have a million bits of baby equipment but do you have the essentials covered? You don’t have to go crazy and buy every single piece of baby kit ever, just get the basics and build on that when you need to. And although you might feel you want everything brand new you can save a fortune buying pre-loved.
The things we’ve listed are great ways to help you prepare for your baby’s arrival. But the most important one is you.
Put your feet up, take some time and look after yourself emotionally and physically so you’re ready when your baby comes bursting into this world. There’s no shame in struggling to come to terms with what is a massive life-changing event so if you have any worries or need to share your feelings then reach out to your midwife, GP or our community.
Found this useful? Read What to expect during labour