Perhaps no other event will change your life more than having a child. Every aspect seems altered in some way - work, entertainment, social life, exercise, running errands and maybe most important - sleep. The first few weeks can be particularly stressful. To help with these transitions and to help you prepare for your new baby, follow some of these tips.
I consulted an expert for this portion of the article—my wife! She had some good insights. These are things we would say would be important to consider.
Have a checklist: Vertex42 offers a free New Baby Checklist for Excel to help you with the physical preparations. The list may not have everything you need, but the template provides a lot of good information to help you prepare for the big day. There are three worksheets that can be printed - the Delivery Day Checklist for items mom needs for the hospital stay, the Newborn Checklist that gives an idea of what you need to bring the baby home and the New Baby Checklist that helps with the day to day needs.
Obtaining these items can be expensive. You will probably receive some gifts from a baby shower or from family and friends. In addition, you can check online or other places for used items. If you are registered for the items, you can use this list to choose items at the store or let people know what you are in need of.
Finances: If the mom-to-be is working, there will be a period of time where household income will be lower. In other cases, mom may decide to stay at home permanently with the baby and you will have to adjust to living on one income. Use a budget to help make this transition. Also, if possible, make sure that you have the best type of insurance coverage you can for having a child.
Clean house: Sometimes babies don’t cooperate with their due dates. Try and have the house as clean as possible around the time the baby’s supposed to be born. The last thing a new mother likes to come home to is a dirty home. Having your home in order will help lower the stress.
Food: Make sure to have some freezer or prepared meals ready for when you return. And don't forget to stock the pantry too. If friends, family, church or others offer to bring meals, thankfully accept them.
Prepare clothes and rooms: The last thing you’ll want to do coming home is go through loads of laundry - get it down weeks before the due date. Also, set up the baby’s room, even if the baby’s going to be staying in your room for a while (which is normally the case). And don't forget a bassinet if you are planning on using one.
Help: Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends and family or other willing volunteers. For many this can be hard to accept, but you are going to be tired and a little help can make a big difference. If you really can't bring yourself to ask for assistance, then consider hiring some help—even if it means sacrificing other things in your budget.
Plan time for self: This is VERY important. As important as your child is, so is your sanity. Taking a little time for yourself can be healthy. You can spend that time taking a bath, reading or just relaxing for a few minutes.
Plan time for your spouse: Don’t forget that before the baby came, it was just you and your spouse. It is important to make time to be together. This can be difficult between the feedings, lack of sleep, baths, shopping or other things that go along with taking care of a baby. Try and fit this in, even if it’s for a short time.
As a side note for those who have other children - prepare them for what to expect when having a new baby. This might even help them get excited for the new arrival.
Be mentally prepared: Make sure you are mentally prepared for what is about to happen. This may require consulting a professional, especially if you have had a history of depression or mental illness. Follow the advise of professionals in order to avoid discouragement or post partum depression.
Having your first child can be overwhelming, but this is a special time for you! No matter how much you try, there’s probably NO way you can ever fully prepare yourself, but taking these few simple steps will help minimize the stress and help you to enjoy your first few days at home with your new little one.
For additional ideas, you can visit www.whattoexpect.com. This website has tips to help you with each stage of having a child. They also have a collection of books with more detailed information.