You have 40 weeks to plan out what the day you bring your baby into the world will be like, but somehow, we are never prepared enough! Here are some things to think about!

1. Packing your bags for the hospital

Bring two bags – a big one for you with some things for your partner, and a small one for the baby.

Bag for you

– 2 pairs of loose pants (big pajama pants with a drawstring – pants should have the option to be loose in case you have a c-section

– 2 long sleeve shirts (if you are planning on breastfeeding, think about whether or not they are easy to feed in)

– 1 sweatshirt (hospitals are always cold!)

– 5 or 6 pairs of big underwear (larger then you normally wear – sometimes it’s easier to throw them out after you wear them so don’t buy expensive ones!)

– a package of long overnight pads

– Socks and slippers

– if you are planning on breast feeding, pack a nursing bra

– toiletries (for your partner as well)

– shower towel

– hair elastics if you have long hair

– water bottle

– pillow for the bed

– breast feeding pillow

– phone chargers

– cameras and camera chargers

Bag for the baby

– 2 sleepers

– swaddle blankets

– hat

– mitts or sleepers with mitts on them (babies tend to scratch their faces because they are born with long nails!)

– nail scissors or a nail file

– blanket for the car seat

– a warm insert for the car seat if it’s cold outside

– newborn diapers

– a package of wipes

Pack your bag ahead of time so that it is ready to grab at any moment! It’s better to be prepared early!

2. Making a birth plan

Spend some time thinking about and writing down your birth plan. A birth plan is a way for you to communicate to your doctor, nurse or midwife what you would like your birth experience to be like and how you want them to care for you.  It can be as simple or as specific as you want. Do you want an epidural? Do you want to take a warm bath during contractions? Do you want to have a water birth? Who will be your birth partner and what is their role? What position would you like to be in during labour and delivery? Think about what will happen as baby arrives. Who will be calling the sex of the baby if you don’t already know? Think about about how much “skin-to-skin” time you would like immediately after birth. Skin-to-skin refers to the placing of your naked baby directly on your skin immediately after birth as well as in the hours and days following birth.  Some of the benefits of skin-to-skin include, but are not limited to:

skin-to-skin

– Baby’s body temperature will be more stable

– Better blood sugar levels

– Bonding between mom and baby is increased

– Baby feels safe and can hear mom’s heartbeat

– Baby will become familiar with mom’s bacteria which helps prevent allergic diseases

– Longer skin to skin contact results in an easier breastfeeding latch

* Info from http://www.breastfeeding-problems.com

Are you planning to breastfeed? Be clear whether or not your baby can have a bottle. You can include anything you want in your plan. Remember that not all births go according to plan, so it is important to listen to your doctor, nurses and midwives as they have yours and your baby’s best interests in mind.

3. How are you going to announce your baby’s arrival?

If you are planning on send out out an email, make sure to set up a group on your cell phone to ensure that you don’t leave anyone out!

4. Do you want visitors at the hospital?

Try to decide ahead of time if or what visitors you want to come see you at the hospital. It can be very overwhelming with a lot of visitors popping in. You will be tired and you will need your rest for when you go home with your baby. Don’t worry about everyone else, think about you and your baby first. You will want quiet time and time for skin-to-skin with your baby. Don’t be afraid to say no…do what is best for you and your family. The same goes for when you are home. Everyone will have a chance to meet your baby, but it should be on your own schedule!

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

No one expects you to know it all and there is nothing wrong with asking for help. Your nurse will bathe your baby with your help the first time. If you are having trouble nursing, ask for help! Many of the nurses will be able to help you and if they can’t, ask them to make an appointment for you to see the lactation consultant in the hospital. Stay tuned for a post on breastfeeding!

Good luck!