Baby's First Year

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As you progress through your pregnancy and make plans for labor and delivery, there is no doubt that planning to bring your baby home can also be a big challenge!  There are a number of things that you can do ahead of time that will make life easier and allow you to enjoy your “baby moon” once you come home.  While most of these things are essential wherever you plan to birth, I included things like choosing a pediatrician, because you may not be sure where to start.  Of course, this is also not an extensive list of all the preparations you will need to make.  Other things like having a number of meals cooked and frozen, extended older child care (to give you a day or two to settle in and rest before needing to tend to two children,) and planning for postpartum checkups are also essential.  Talking to other moms about what helped them (or didn’t) will help give you ideas about other plans you may or may not want to make.

Plan for Child and Pet Care When You Go into Labor:

Who will care for your children and pets when you go into labor?  How long after you come home will your children stay with other caregivers? Will your partner come home after you deliver or stay at the hospital with you the entire time?  Who will feed your cat or walk your dog?  Even if you can’t make firm plans since you don’t know when you will go into labor, having a few plans in place with multiple people who can be “on call” when the time comes will enable you to focus on labor and not have to worry about making calls when you are in the middle of a contraction.  Give those helping with the pets and kids extra keys ahead of time and have bags for the kids packed so whoever picks them up or drops them off can just grab and go without you needing to fuss and think about whether or not they have everything they need.

Who Can Come to the Hospital?:

Talk to your partner about your and his or her wishes for labor and delivery.  It is essential you are both on the same page regarding who may come to the hospital and what their access to your labor and delivery room should be.  Can family and friends sit with you while you’re in labor but need to leave when you are nearing delivery?  Do you want the entire event to be private for just you and your partner? Do you want your mother there but not your partner’s?  Inform these people of your wishes before you go into labor so that they know what to expect and do when they “get the call.”  It’s much easier to inform the hospital staff as well as your support people about who may come into the room at what times and who is not allowed.  This is one aspect that they are happy to handle and I never had any issues with them allowing people that shouldn’t be there to come in or vice versa.

Maternity Leave Paperwork: 

If you are a working mom, (regardless of being full time or part time) discuss with your human resources office the procedures for scheduling your maternity leave, paperwork necessary, and research your rights.  Many big businesses require you to inform them as far in advance of your leave as possible.  Even if you are a part time employee or work for a small business, you still have rights that may be protected under FMLA.  Look up the rules and regulations for your state and then discuss the logistics with HR.  Many HR employees may not be knowledgeable and may inadvertently misdirect you regarding procedures so it’s good to know what you are entitled to before you talk to them so you have some idea of what to expect.  Also if you are breastfeeding and will need to pump, you should be aware of your rights and ensure that your employer plans to comply with your needs.  The U.S.B.C. site has nearly all the information you will need to navigate this.

Preparing Children and Family for the New Baby: 

If you have other children, regardless of their age, it may be difficult to care for them and your new baby once you come home.  It is also is important to recognize that your children and other family members will have to adjust to the changes that come with bringing a baby home as well.  Talking to children about their new brother or sister beforehand will help them prepare for the new arrival of a sibling.  It is important to remember that once you come home with your new baby to try to make some time to spend with your other children one on one so they understand that they aren’t being “replaced.”  Sometimes asking older siblings to help like getting a blanket or a fresh diaper for the baby makes all the difference in the world because they are involved, not just a bystander. 

If you have other close family or friends that are a regular part of your life, discussing your post partum plans with them will be helpful so that you aren’t overwhelmed by well-meaning visitors immediately after you arrive home.  Discuss with them what kinds of things would be helpful, and what you want ahead of time so that you don’t have to set boundaries while you are navigating life with a new baby.  Having a plan or system in place (even set up “visiting hours”) especially with younger children at home may help you to at least be able to predictably plan naps, and taking care of yourself. 

Choose a Pediatrician:

While this may seem like an easy thing, locating a pediatrician near you that has the same beliefs as you can sometimes be a challenge.  Gathering names and numbers from like-minded friends and then setting up appointments to interview them will allow you to get to know them, their office staff and procedures so you know what to expect when you come in for the first time with the baby.  Key questions to ask about include how long they encourage breastfeeding as well as their recommendations on circumcision and vaccinations.  It is best that you have decided where you stand on these issues before talking to the pediatrician in an effort to determine if they are in agreement with your feelings.  Their answers to these questions will give you insight as to what kind of cooperation to expect from the doctor and his or her staff. If you find that they aren’t, move on to the next pediatrician and find one that will allow you to care for your child the way you feel is best.  Many pediatricians encourage breastfeeding and discourage circumcision but are not flexible about vaccinations.  Go with your gut; if you are in the office and want to run out screaming, it’s probably not the place you want to take your precious baby.  If you don’t have any friends with kids, or want a more extensive listing of options, check out WebMD where you can type in your location and it will bring up listings for you.

Choose a Daycare Provider:

Similarly to that of choosing a pediatrician, start by asking for recommendations from friends and family and set up interviews.  Home daycares that are licensed tend to offer more intimate care in a setting that may be more along the lines of how you would like your child to be cared for in your absence.  Feeding schedules, cloth or disposable diapers, sick child procedures, as well as child-adult ratio should be discussed.  Licensing requirements vary by state, as well as day care type (in home vs. centers) so it may help to know what requirements are standard in your state when looking for a provider. 

What other things did you need to plan for?

Go back to: Step #5: Learning About Routine Interventions in the Hospital

Go ahead to: Step #7: Planning for Labor

Go to: Birthing Methods Menu

 

Published in Baby's First Year

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