- Tame the Toddler. Okay, so you can't really predict how your toddler/kids will react to a new addition. But you can help the transition. For us this began when I started showing and we explained to our little one that mommy has a baby in her tummy. In the course of several months she has been talking to the baby, sharing her toys with him/her, rubbing belly butter on the tummy, and reading books on becoming a big sibling. No, I have no clue how much this will help - but I think it is better than a surprise. We all know how toddlers react to unplanned situations, right?
- Prepare the Stash. Whether you use cloth diapers or disposables, have your changing stash ready at least a couple of weeks before the due date. I have yet to get this done. We use cloth diapers full time, but for the first couple of weeks there will definitely be some disposables around here. I don't want to overwhelm myself during the transitional period to two kids!
- Pack THE Bag. You don't want to wait until you have contractions to pack your hospital bag. Unless of course you're having a home birth, one less thing to think about! We're aiming for a water birth at a small birth center, so we will leave home. I need to pack all the baby stuff, including diapers and wipes, along with some basics for our short 12 hour stay. Huge bonus that I get to bring my own food, they even have a kitchen for us to use!
- Bedroom Oasis. Make sure your bedroom is ready for those first days, you'll practically be living there. No matter what kind of birth you have, you will not want to walk around too much - especially if you have stairs. Stash a basket of snacks (perhaps somewhere your toddler will not discover it), give the curtains and blankets a wash, bring all your little necessities in one place so you don't have to run around.
- Babyproof. So you don't necessarily have to do this before giving birth since the baby will not be mobile for a while. But if you have other kids, you may just find you will have a lot less time later. No, you will not be putting up safety gates just yet, but you can do some basic preparations - starting with the baby's sleeping environment. Make sure the baby's sleeping environment is free of any blankets and if possible, remove possible toxins (i.e. fire retardant treated bedding/mattresses). If you can't afford an organic mattress, at least have a cloth barrier over the conventional one, make sure it has already off gassed a little before the baby is born, and please - get some organic sheets, they will not break the bank. It's also a great idea to open all windows and air out the house properly. If you have been cleaning with toxic chemicals and polluting your indoor air, now is a great time to switch to non-toxic means of cleaning. You don't want carcinogens and other toxins around your newborn bundle!
- Get Cooking. The first few weeks may be chaotic. If you're like us and eat most meals from scratch, you'll want to stash your freezer with some homemade goodies. Freeze soup portions, make dough for baked goods or homemade pizza, prep and chop veggies and freeze them in family size portions. The possibilities are endless really. I'm seeing our bread maker being used a lot following the baby's birth!
- Get Help. This is something I'm not very good at. Thankfully I have a mom who insists on helping me. Cleaning with an 8 month pregnant belly? Okay, but exhausting. I'll be needing a lot of help since we have construction dust that I shouldn't be dealing with anyway. I'm also enlisting my mom in being here the first couple of days after birth, especially considering our short 12 hour birth center stay. Do not attempt to care for your older kids yourself after birth, if you have help available, make use of it! If you don't, beg. Friends, neighbors, postpartum doulas...
- Prep the Car Seat. If you're a seasoned parent, you may already know a thing or two about installing car seats. Even then, it's good to stop by the fire station to get it checked. If it's your first time, you may think you have it right - but don't depend on it. A car seat is only as safe as the installation!
- Get some ZZZs. This is a tough one for me. Most nights, like right now, I wake up in the middle of the night and just can't sleep. During the day I want to sleep but my toddler won't let me. If you have the luxury, now is a good time to get lots of uninterrupted sleep. It will be a while until you can do that again.
- Relax and Enjoy the Ride! Becoming a parent - whether the first time or the fifth, is always an amazing journey. It can be emotionally draining, overwhelming, and joyous all at the same time. The best thing you can to for your soon-to-be-born is not to worry and enjoy this precious time. Your baby feels what you feel. If you plan to breastfeed, this is especially important because stress can mess with your milk supply and make nursing harder than it has to be. Breathe more than you think you have to.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
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Anastasia is a mom of two who loves to spend time with her family, travel, homeschool, read, and run her photography business. She is a life-long learner and small business owner who loves to share her parenting experiences with others. She resides with her family north of Boston.