The Big Day is coming, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by everything you want to take care of before your baby is born. There are a few decisions that honestly can wait until you meet your little one: it’s not crucial you’ve got the colors of your nursery picked out or even have a definite baby name. However, certain decisions are easier to make well before you show up in active labor. Thinking of these ahead of time can make you feel much more prepared and ensure that you’ve covered everything with your doctor or midwife with enough time to have all your questions answered.
To make things a little easier, here is Bundoo’s list of 8 things to cover before you leave for the hospital to give birth and meet your little one:
- Have you completed your birth plan? More than simple sheet of paper, a birth plan gives you the opportunity to think about all the facets of your birth experience. This written document gives you the chance to communicate with your healthcare provider about your preferences on things like who will be in the room, your position on medical interventions, and your preferences on epidurals and pain management. Ideally, you should share your birth plan with your provider before heading into the hospital in labor so it can be reviewed and what you’ve requested can be accommodated.
- Choosing a pediatrician. It may seem early, but before giving birth is actually the perfect time to start looking for a pediatrician. Ask around to get references, or use the American Academy of Pediatrics Find a Pediatrician to locate a board-certified, local pediatrician. Many pediatricians welcome interviews before your baby is born, so you can set up a tour of the office and meet the doctor and his or her staff.
- Arranging maternity leave and childcare. This can be a stressful question before giving birth—but waiting until after your baby is born makes it even worse. Make sure to plan ahead with your employer for maternity leave and scout out childcare facilities in your area if you plan on using one. If you plan on using a nanny, narrowing down your list before baby arrives can make the interview process go much smoother once your little one is here.
- Prepare for breastfeeding. Medical experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life—but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy for everyone. Your real introduction to breastfeeding won’t start until your baby is born, but you can get ahead by taking a breastfeeding class and lining up some support ahead of time by visiting with a lactation consultant or joining a breastfeeding group—all before you’ve even given birth. And, because most new moms end up pumping at some point, it’s a good idea to get everything you need to make pumping easier.
- Taking care of your will and disaster planning. No one wants to think about preparing a will or arranging for a guardian for their newborn baby in case of a tragedy—but this planning can bring a deep peace of mind. Many new parents don’t realize that in the event of their death, close relatives are not automatically their child’s guardians. In fact, guardians have to be named by the court unless you and your spouse have named a guardian beforehand. This is also a good time to look at your life insurance and decide if it’s adequate to cover your baby.
- Delayed cord clamping. Once considered a “fad,” we now know that delayed cord clamping (where your doctor or midwife waits to clamp your baby’s umbilical cord rather than doing it immediately right after birth) can have some great beneficial effects for baby. Rather than making this decision right after pushing out your baby, be sure to discuss this at a prenatal visit so you can decide if this is something you want done.
- What about cord blood banking? New parents have three options when it comes to banking their baby’s cord blood: doing nothing and discarding the cord blood, donating their cord blood to a public cord blood bank, or paying a private service to bank their baby’s blood for possible future use. Your doctor is an excellent resource for questions about cord blood banking, so don’t hesitate to ask if this is something you should consider (and keep in mind that if you opt for delayed cord clamping there may not be much blood left over for banking). Similarly, many moms make plans for their placentas, ranging from discarding, to banking placenta tissue, to preserving and eating the placenta.
- Pack your labor and delivery bag. Having your labor and delivery bag packed and ready to go before you hit the early term mark at 37 weeks will make it easier to zip out the door when it’s time. But resist the temptation to pack like you’re heading overseas for a month! A simple bag filled with a few essentials, some comforting distractions, and comfortable clothes should cover the basics.
Reviewed by Jennifer Lincoln, March 2020
- A little planning goes a long way toward making the birth experience less stressful!
- Things to think about include insurance, work-related issues, your birth plan, and others.
- You can pack a labor and delivery bag as early as 37 weeks.