There’s a lot to prepare for when expecting a baby. But while most people spend considerable time keeping healthy during pregnancy and getting ready for labor and delivery, fewer first-time parents give as much thought to what comes immediately after. If you already have children then you know what to expect postpartum – along with the joy of getting to know your baby, there’s also sleep deprivation, hormonal craziness, adjusting to breastfeeding (or formula feeding, which comes with its own set of issues), entertaining the many visitors who want to meet the new arrival, and simply taking care of baby, which is far more time-consuming at first than most people realize. As new parents you have one essential job – bonding with and taking care of your newborn. Without proper postpartum planning, this can mean near-chaos in other areas of your life.
So, what should you be putting in order before you welcome your baby?
Finish projects: Now is the time to finish any home projects you have underway. Not only will it be harder to find the time to finish once baby arrives, it will mean one less thing on your mind (and less clutter!), as well as a new or renovated space to enjoy.
De-clutter and deep clean: Speaking of clutter, clearing out the accumulated stuff will make room for baby’s stuff. Deep clean after de-cluttering, but be sure to use natural cleaning products!
Consider installing light-blocking shades or curtains: Sleep is at a premium when there’s a newborn in the house – you should be napping when he does, and light-blocking window coverings will make that easier.
Get nursery or baby’s space ready: Whether you’re planning a full nursery for your baby, or just a space in your bedroom, organizing it before you bring baby home means having everything at your fingertips when you need it.
Turn down the temperature on your water heater: Pregnant women should avoid bathing in water above 98.6° and bathwater for babies should be between 90° and 100°, so turning down your water heater is a good idea. It’ll also save you money!
Add essential phone numbers to your phone: If you don’t already have one, make a list of essential phone numbers and add them to your cell phone. Make sure it includes your pediatrician, postpartum doula, babysitter, pet sitter, non-emergency numbers for your local fire and police departments, poison control center, closest hospital, neighbors, and insurance agent. Make paper copies of the list – keep one near the landline at home, and one in your wallet or purse.
Update health, life and home (or renter’s) insurance: A new member of the family means new insurance needs.
Update (or write) your wills: If you don’t yet have a will, now is the time to write one. If you do, update it. Find forms online at https://www.nolo.com/, https://www.lawdepot.com/ or https://www.legalzoom.com/
Choose guardians: The last thing you want to think about when bringing your newborn home is who would take care of her if something should happen to you, but it’s crucial to put your wishes on paper to avoid the possibility of having a court make the decision for you. Discuss this with your partner, formally ask the person or people you decide on, and include it in your will.
Cook and freeze meals: This is a great early labor activity!
Start a meal train: You will have people offering to help – take them up on it! A meal train is an easy way for friends and family to know what you need and when, and it means no cooking for you. A win-win! Start a meal train at https://www.mealtrain.com/.
Stock up on everyday items and pantry staples: For those times when you do need to cook, stocking up in advance will make putting a simple meal together much easier. No trip to the supermarket with a newborn necessary!
Start an errand and chore train: The same principle as a meal train, but for chores and errands. Need the leaves raked? Laundry piling up? Let others help! If friends or family aren’t available try an online service such as https://www.taskrabbit.com/.
Find a pet/babysitter: Even a simple task like walking the dog can be difficult when you have a newborn. And if you have older children you may feel torn in two trying to take care of everyone’s needs. Hire a pet sitter and/or a babysitter before your little one arrives – they can also fill in while you’re in the hospital.
Hire a postpartum doula: More and more families are hiring postpartum doulas to ease their transition into parenthood. Postpartum doulas can take care of anything from cooking meals to helping with baby care. Find one in your area at https://doulamatch.net/.
Decide who can visit, when and for how long: Everyone wants to meet your little one, but having to entertain visitors can be exhausting right now. The same holds true for phone calls. Put some boundaries on who can visit (or call), when, and for how long. Make sure friends and family are aware of the limits. Consider putting a (polite!) sign on the door to explain the rules to those who ‘stop by.’
Clean and organize baby clothes and gear: Have everything clean and tidy before you need it.
Get car seat installed and checked: Most fire stations will install car seats and/or check that they are properly installed.
Stock up on baby essentials like diapers, wipes, and rash ointment, nursing pads (or formula if you’re planning on using it), gentle laundry detergent: Cut down on trips to the store because you’ve run out of diapers.
Find a diaper service: Cloth diapering is better for the environment, but washing loads of dirty diapers is time-consuming. Consider using a diaper service, at least for the first few months.
Find childcare for your return to work: If you’re planning to return to work at some point, you should start looking for childcare at around the same time you’re interviewing pediatricians. Quality childcare can be hard to find, whether you’re considering a center, home-based daycare or a nanny. Starting early will mean not having to spend your maternity leave touring daycares.