Becoming a parent is a huge transition, and it can be harder for families that may have no idea what to expect. Everyone seems to want to give advice, but what parts are worth listening to? Long Island Mamas has put together a list of top tips for expectant parents.
Before Baby Arrives…
- Buy high-waist, inexpensive underwear and pack them in the hospital bag. Whether mom ultimately has a C-section or a natural birth, her pre-baby underwear is not going to be comfortable. Cozy sweats, yoga pants, pajamas and warm socks are also recommended.
- Unless the new parents have cultural prohibitions about doing things before the birth, set up the nursery in advance. Wash and store newborn and 0-3 month clothes, toys, bath towels, and swaddle blankets. Have a box of diapers and large supply of wipes in the house. Running out of these things at 3 am is not fun.
- Install the car seat (and base, if using) in the family car long before a baby is expected to arrive. Due dates are educated guesses, and many babies come earlier.
Baby’s First Weeks Home…
- If the new mom is not feeling up for guests in the hospital or immediately after, she should have her husband or partner reschedule the visit (it’s ok…really). If the new family wants lots of company, keep things simple. Put out disposable cups, drinks, some snacks, and leave them there. Ask people to help themselves.
- Give any houseguests that stay overnight some chores. Have them cook meals, do laundry, or go food shopping. Ask close friends or family that visit for the day to pick up snacks/lunch/dinner.
- Sleep when the baby does. Mom and Dad need to TAKE NAPS! A nap and a hot shower can change their entire mental state.
- Spit happens. A lot… and usually all over your favorite clothes. It’s a little gross, but completely normal.
- Poop comes in “all the colors of the autumn leaves.” As long as it’s not bloody (and the baby isn’t uncomfortable) it’s probably fine.
As Baby Gets Bigger…
- No matter how understanding and empathetic a family’s child-free friends may be, cultivating a group of friends that are also new parents is unbelievably important. No one understands as well as another person that’s just had a baby. If no other friends or family have young babies, sites like MeetUp.com and Facebook offer groups of local parents.
- After a baby is born, Mom’s hormonal changes can affect her emotional state. Know the difference between “Baby Blues” and Postpartum Depression (PPD). PPD is very common, and early intervention is important. Find local Postpartum Depression support groups HERE.
- Buy or borrow some kind of baby carrier. Having two hands free is a huge help, especially when taking care of a baby alone. Find out more on baby wearing and carrier options HERE.
- Take a break once in awhile. Have a family member or trusted friend stay with the baby. Getting out for a cup of coffee or a manicure can be rejuvenating and necessary for a new parent’s sanity.
- Research shows that up to 75% of new moms hope to breastfeed, but by six months post-partum, the percentage of moms that are still nursing dropped exponentially. New parents are told, “Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world.” That might be true, but that doesn’t mean it’s not challenging. For many people, it doesn’t “click” immediately; instead, breastfeeding is a skill that must be honed over time. Families that are interested in breastfeeding should surround themselves with others who will support and encourage their decision. Find local breastfeeding resources and groups HERE.
- Try to enjoy it, and keep a sense of humor when things go awry. That may sound sadistic after several weeks of sleep deprivation, but try anyway. Snuggle the baby, smell baby’s hair, and revel in the softness of baby’s newborn skin. It really does go by in an instant.
By Rachel Minkowsky