The Ultimate Mom to Be Guide

Here’s the ultimate mom to be guide: everything I wish someone told me when I was pregnant, from pregnancy secrets to welcoming your baby home.

Mom to Be GuideMany women enter pregnancy having no idea what to expect.

Our only experience with labor is the comical or scary portrayals we see in the movies. Some of us feel overwhelmed, leery, or worried that we might miss something. Others dread delivery so much, afraid of the pain and the madness of caring for a newborn.

We end up learning along the way, with little guidance to help us make decisions.

Because let’s face it: most people shower us with congratulations and well wishes when we’re pregnant. No one wants to bring up nausea, swollen feet, or the emotional toll of pregnancy.

We might not consider asking others for advice on what to get for the baby or how to best prepare during the early days. And sometimes we miss out on really good tips we wouldn’t know because other moms don’t think they’re useful to others (when they really are!).

I don’t want the same for you. Below is  everything I wish other moms told me about being pregnant:

Practical Advice for New Moms

1. Get comfortable during your pregnancy

Morning sickness and discomfort can take a toll on many pregnant moms, striking at the most inconvenient times. Take a look at these tips to make your pregnancy more comfortable:

  • Keep saltines and a water bottle by your bedside. Salted crackers can do wonders when you feel like you want to throw up, and water can help you stay hydrated and stave off nausea.
  • Keep snacks in your purse. Snacks like granola bars are helpful when you’re on the move and want to snack.
  • If you can’t sleep, get up! Read, watch television, or write in your journal. Don’t try too hard to fall asleep if it doesn’t happen naturally. And stop looking at the clock—you’ll worry yourself into not sleeping at all versus losing an hour.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll likely wear sneakers or flip flops in the third trimester when fashion is the least of your worries. Break them in now! Be careful not to buy fitted shoes—your feet might swell up and you won’t be able to wear them.

Free printables: Plan for your monthly expenses once the baby comes! Grab your Printable Monthly Expenses Worksheet to estimate recurring expenses and typical costs of raising a baby. Get it below—at no cost to you. You’ll also get my newsletters, which parents say they LOVE:

“Wow Nina, this resonated with me so much. I really enjoy reading all your articles. They touch on things we truly need to hear as parents even if they are difficult to admit. Thanks for your transparency and offering a different perspective on things as always!” -Kedeisha Freeman

Monthly Baby Expenses

2. Write a simple birth plan

I’ve learned that a birth plan is effective for the very fact that you’re writing it down. You’re answering questions you might not otherwise have thought about and can discuss them ahead of time with your doctor.

But simplicity is key. Complicated birth plans make them more difficult to read and follow. A few essential questions to consider include:

  • What medications do you want or don’t want (for you and the baby)?
  • Do you want skin-to-skin contact with the baby right after delivery? Or do you want the staff to clean and check the baby first?
  • Who should be in the room with you during delivery?

3. Add to your registry list

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Everyone has their preference for baby items. But sometimes you need no-nonsense tips when making a decision, and not just what to buy, but which type. Take a look at these essentials and the tips I wish I had known:

  • Crib and mattress. Buy a reputable brand so your baby can be comfortable, and one that can last a long time too! Many cribs convert to toddler beds, buying you a few more years of use.
  • Stroller. I prefer a stroller that can attach a carseat and still be used through the toddler age.
  • Carseat. You can’t leave the hospital without one (a nurse will likely check to see if you have one properly installed when you sign out). If your stroller doesn’t come with a carseat, be careful to get one you can use and fits well on your stroller. If you’re buying used or getting a hand-me-down, check the expiration date.
  • Baby carrier or wrap. These are handy for when you don’t want to lug the stroller, especially for walks around the neighborhood. It even works around the house when your arms need a break (plus your baby can take a nap in these!).
  • Diaper bag. Any large bag can do, so long as they’re easy to clean and wipe. I prefer a backpack style so that the bulk of the bag is on your back.
  • One box of newborn and size 1 diapers, each. Since you don’t know how big your baby will be, get one box of each size for now and stock up when you’re almost out. Try a few brands and watch out for sales (never buy at full price!).
  • Wipes. To save money (and cut down on trash), consider reusable baby wipes!
  • Changing pads. Waterproof changing pads are a must at home. Don’t forget portable versions when you’re out and about. You can even keep a few around the house for quick changes.
  • Blankets. Cut off tags and don’t get anything with heavy embroidering. Buy thick and light ones for different uses.
  • Burp cloths. You can never have enough. These are for cleaning spit up, wiping drool, washing baby’s face, you name it. And forget the small cloths—go for cloth diapers that can serve as burp cloths.
  • Baby tub. Buy a tub with a “hammock” to keep your newborn’s belly button dry. These should last until she can be bathed sitting up assisted.
  • Baby soap and shampoo. Don’t shampoo her head until her hair starts coming in—doing so might dry her scalp.
  • Diaper rash cream. These can treat and prevent diaper rashes.
  • Nightlight. Nighttime feedings work better when you can see where you’re going.
  • Breast pump. Buy or rent a pump. Don’t bother with manual or single pumps, either—choose an electric double one instead. See if your health insurance covers your breast pump! And get a hands-free pumping bra.
  • Nursing pillow. I tried getting away without one and boy, did I pay the price! Bring a nursing pillow with you to the hospital so that you can use it from day one.
  • Nail clippers. Clean the clipper with rubbing alcohol in the beginning before clipping your baby’s nails. While holding my baby, I placed his upper body on a pillow and used both hands to access his nails.
  • Side table beside your nursing station. Side tables come in handy to put things like tissues, nursing pads, hair ties, lip balm, a nail clipper, your phone, a water bottle, and a burp cloth.
  • Diaper pail with a filter. If you’re exclusively breastfeeding your newborn, her poop won’t smell that horrible. But if she drinks formula or when she starts eating solids, a filtered trash can is a must to keep smells out.
  • Vitamin D drops. Your baby might need this extra vitamin if you’re exclusively offering breast milk.
  • Nursing bras. Unless you want to undo your bra at every feed, nursing bras are a must-have. Buy a larger size because your breasts might increase even more from their pregnancy size.
  • Pads. Bleeding can occur up to six weeks after delivery. Don’t want to keep buying them all the time? Consider reusable sanitary pads!
  • Lanolin cream. Use before showers, and before and after feedings to protect your nipples.
  • Bigger-sized clothing. Anything that touches your skin might feel uncomfortable. Buy extra cotton underwear (or maternity underwear), wear your hubby’s shirts, and find some loose pants. Once you can’t fit into your current clothes, turn to maternity clothes.

4. Pack for your labor and hospital stay

Take advantage of the doctors and nurses on hand, because once you’re home, they’re not a button call away. I asked a nurse to bring me iced pads practically every hour in the recovery room. She also showed us how to swaddle and gave advice on breastfeeding positions.

And bring food. You might not be able to eat before delivery, but your partner could get hungry. Bring shelf-stable foods like crackers, granola bars, and apples. Labor is strenuous and, you may not realize it right after delivery, but you’ll likely be hungry! Ask family to bring sandwiches and juice boxes.

Lastly, pack your hospital bag a few weeks before your due date. Write a list of things to bring so you won’t forget. A few things to pack include:

  • Wallet (including your insurance card and ID)
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Baby clothes
  • Glasses if you wear contacts
  • Slippers
  • Hair ties and hair brush
  • Lip balm
  • Snacks
  • Entertainment like magazines and books

5. Bring baby home

From the hospital, have someone help you and your partner carry your bags, pillow, and gifts to your car. Family will likely want to help—let them! Have them wash dishes, do laundry, or water the plants.

And if you’re unsure about something, ask your fellow mom or dad friends! Mass text or email—no one will think you’re bothering them.

Don’t forget to take turns with your partner or other adults with putting the baby to sleep. For instance, you can establish one to two-hour shifts during the day or take turns with middle-of-the-night wake-ups. Or you can handle feedings while he takes care of diaper changes.

It’s also okay to hibernate during the first month. Don’t promise visits too far in advance because every day will be different, and your energy might depend on your unpredictable baby. I stayed home for the first 30 days, only leaving the house to visit the baby’s doctor.

And know that whatever challenges you face when the baby arrives will get better. No matter how bad things get, keep this in mind: You waited nine long months to meet this bundle of joy and here she is!

If you want to cry, cry… know that you’re doing your best.

Read 12 rules your friends should follow when visiting a new mom.

Visiting a New Mom

6. Save money on diapers

Let’s talk diapers, specifically, how to save money on them:

  • Don’t rush to upgrade to the next size. The larger the diaper size, the more each diaper costs. The price per box may not change drastically, but the number of diapers per box does. And I get it—older babies or toddlers don’t soil their diapers as often as newborns or younger babies. But if your baby’s diaper still fits comfortably, try to stick it out as long as you can with the smaller size.
  • Stock up when they’re on sale. Every store or diaper brand will have their sales. When these happen, stock up! You may not want to too many boxes but at least buy an extra one. Bonus points if you use coupons as well.
  • Put diapers on carefully. As fidgety as babies are during changes, do your best to put diapers on carefully. The better the diapers fit on your baby, the less mess you’ll deal with later. If she fusses, put the diaper on as best you can, then adjust later when she has calmed down.
  • Buy diapers on a regular basis. Implement a reliable diaper-buying schedule. Use automatic purchases that deliver diapers regularly to your door. Schedule it on your calendar (buying diapers the first of every month, for instance). Abiding by a schedule means you won’t run out of diapers and can get them for the best price possible.


We don’t always feel compelled to share or ask for pregnancy and baby advice, leaving many of us learning as we go along. These are the things I learned throughout my pregnancy and welcoming my baby home as a new family. The very tips I now share with my friends who are expecting.

From how to survive a tricky pregnancy to essentials to get, we could all use a word of advice from one another. Even if we don’t have the same situations, hearing what others have gone through can reassure us that we’re not alone in this motherhood journey.

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Monthly Baby Expenses

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  1. Well I just found out i am pregnant and I’m in the 4th week. Everything is new to me since this would be my first time. I am worried since I am not married and living alone, how I am supposed to do this.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      I can imagine how overwhelming it is to find out you’re pregnant and feel unprepared for it. What always reassures me when I’m faced with a challenge is to remember how many other people have gone through what I have. As difficult as it is to go through this, know that many other moms have pulled it off, which means you can too 🙂 I’m also glad you downloaded the PDF, as this will help you start off on the right foot.

      Hang in there, mama! You can do this 🙂