New moms: 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. By: Queenie Best
Many women enter pregnancy having no idea what to expect.
Their only experience with labor are the comical or scary portrayals they might see in the movies. Some might feel overwhelmed, leery, or worried they might miss something. Others might dread delivery day so much, afraid of the pain and how to cope with caring for a newborn.
We end up learning along the way, with little guidance to help us make decisions.
Everything I wish someone had told me when I was pregnant
Because, let’s face it: most people shower us with congratulations and well wishes when we’re pregnant. No one wants to bring up the nausea, the swollen feet, or the emotional toll of a pregnancy.
And sometimes we miss out on really good tips we wouldn’t know, because other moms don’t think they’ll be useful to others (when they really are!). I don’t want the same for you. Below, take a look at what I wish other moms told me about being pregnant:
1. Survival tips during your pregnancy
Morning sickness and pregnancy 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 do wonders when you feel like you want to throw up, and water will 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 you 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 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 will swell up and you won’t be able to wear them.
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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 even discuss them ahead of time with your doctor.
But simplicity is key. Complicated birth plans make it more difficult to read and follow. A few essential questions to consider include:
- What medications do you want or don’t want?
- Do you want skin-to-skin contact with 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 when you’re pushing?
3. Add these essentials to your registry list
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Everyone has their preference for baby items, of course. But sometimes you need no-nonsense tips when making a decision, and not just what to buy, but which type or brand. Take a look at these essentials and the tips I wish I had known:
- Crib and mattress. Buy a reputable brand so your baby will be comfortable, and one that’ll last a long time too!
- Stroller. I prefer a stroller that can double as a bassinet and can still be used through the toddler age. You can also get travel pack options that can attach a car seat, although those get bulky.
- Car seat. You can’t leave the hospital without one (a nurse will check to see if you put your baby in properly when you sign out). If your stroller doesn’t come with a car seat, 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 for around the house when your arms need a break (plus babies always fall asleep in these!).
- Diaper bag. Any large bag will do, so long as they’re easy to clean and wipe. You’ll find that after the first few months you’ll be carrying fewer items.
- 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 full price!).
- Wipes. To save money (and cut down on trash), consider reusable baby wipes!
- Changing pads. Waterproof pads are a savior for at home and when you’re out! I have four right now: two for the diaper bag and two for the baby’s room.
- 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 bathing, cleaning up spit, 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 simple, inexpensive tub that’ll be good until your baby can sit up in the big tub.
- Baby soap and shampoo. Unless your baby has a lot of hair, don’t shampoo her head until hair starts coming in—doing so will dry her scalp. Live Clean is a terrific brand with no chemicals.
- Diaper rash cream. Better to have this ready when you start seeing red spots on baby’s bum. Triple Paste Cream is the go-to brand that clears up rashes much quicker than the others.
- Night lights. Night time feedings work better when you can see where you’re going. Check out this cool night light.
- Dimmer switches. Install one in your nursery. You want to control the lighting so baby isn’t woken up by bright lights with her eyelids are like paper.
- Breast pump. Buy or rent a Medela pump. Don’t bother with manual pumps, either—choose an electric one instead. And get a hands-free pumping bra. Another option? See if your health insurance covers your breast pump! Aeroflow Breastpumps offers a free service to help you sort through the paperwork and find the right pump for you.
- Nursing pillow. I tried every pillow in the house but opted to splurge on a My Brest Friend. Nowadays, I can’t nurse any other way, and used it every day for months! The cover comes off and washes safely in the machine.
- Nail clippers. Clean the clipper with rubbing alcohol in the beginning. While holding my baby, I placed her upper body on a pillow and used both hands to access her nails.
- Side table beside the nursing chair. Side tables or stools come in handy to put things like tissues, nursing pads, hair ties, lip balm, nail clipper, your phone, water bottle, and a burp cloth.
- Garbage can with air freshener. You can get away with a trash can with a foot pedal and taped an air freshener to the lid—works wonders. Until your baby is on solids or formula, her poop won’t smell that horrible. Move the pail to the bathroom once baby is on solids—you wouldn’t sleep with your poop in the bedroom.
- Vitamin D drops. Your baby might need this extra vitamin until you’re done breastfeeding.
- 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 will increase even more from their pregnancy size.
- Pads. Bleeding can occur up to six weeks after delivery.
- Lanolin cream. You’ll be using lanolin cream before showers, and before and after feedings to protect your nipples.
- Bigger sized clothing. Anything that touches your skin will feel uncomfortable. Buy extra cotton underwear (or maternity underwear), wear your hubby’s shirts, and find some loose pants. That said, don’t buy too many maternity clothes unless you can’t fit into your current clothes. It’s better to stretch out the clothes you already have and buy new ones down the line. This way you can make the most out of your tops while still looking stylish. (Read 7 misconceptions about maternity clothes.)
4. During labor and your hospital stay
Ask as many questions as you can—don’t be afraid!
Take advantage of the doctors and nurses on hand, because once you get home, they’re not a button call away. I asked a nurse to bring me waterproof pads 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 will be hungry. Bring dried foods like crackers, granola bars and apples. Labor is strenuous and, you may not realize it right after delivery, you’ll 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)
- Bigger sized clothing
- Baby clothes
- Glasses if you wear contacts
- Hair ties and hair brush
- Lip balm
- Entertainment like magazines and books
5. Bringing baby home
Family will no doubt want to help—let them! Everyone will be willing to help so give some orders. From the hospital, have someone help you and your partner carry your bags, pillow, and gifts to your car. 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 baby to sleep. For instance, you can establish one to two hour shifts during the day.
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 will depend on your unpredictable baby.
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 you’re doing your best. You’ll get into a routine soon enough and you’ll be in absolute true love with your baby.
We don’t always feel compelled to share or ask for pregnancy and baby advice, leaving many of us moms learning as we go along. These are the things I learned throughout my pregnancy and welcoming my baby home. 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.
Get more tips:
- 9 Things to Do Before the Baby Is Born
- Essential Breastfeeding Supplies You Need to Have
- Top Baby Stuff for Dads He’ll Actually Use
- Expecting a New Baby? Top 15 Questions to Ask Potential Pediatricians
- Top 50 Vintage Girl Names that Are Still Cool Today
Based in Toronto, Canada, Queenie Best is a mom to a little girl and owner of Queenie’s Cards, featuring greeting cards and gifts. She has exhibited in the National Stationery Show in New York and appeared on City TV’s Breakfast Television morning show.
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