Prepare yourself for a new baby

Once your little bundle of joy arrives, life as you know it will be turned upside down. Get set for the busy days ahead with our list of things to do before the birth.

Image: Thinkstock

Once your little bundle of joy arrives, life as you know it will be turned upside down. Get set for the busy days ahead with our list of things to do before the birth.

Upsize meals
Cook twice the amount you normally would, then freeze half. In those first few weeks the last thing you’ll want to do is cook an evening meal – yet it’s important that you eat healthily.

Meals that freeze well and are high in the nutrients you’ll need include lasagne, cottage pie, beef and red wine stew, and vegetable soup. Do this from around 35 weeks until your freezer is full.

Pack light
Getting your hospital bag ready is a fun milestone, but in practical terms you don’t want to keep your toiletries in a standby bag for weeks on end.

Instead, pack tester-sized toiletries: buy promotional-sized shampoos and conditioners, and ask for testers of your favourite skincare items at your local cosmetic counter (tell the staff it’s for your hospital bag – they’re usually delighted to help out).

The only item you should apply the "biggest is best"; rule to is sanitary pads – you’ll need several packs of them. Ultra thins may be extra absorbent but they just don’t cut it in a maternity bag.

Forewarned is forearmed
So much of pregnancy is focused on the birth that it can be easy to overlook preparing for real life with a baby. Once labour’s over, it may seem like you’re handed a baby and left to get on with it – it can be quite overwhelming as you get to know your little one, learn how to breastfeed, adjust to sleep deprivation and recover from the birth. Knowing what to expect can help, especially in relation to normal newborn behaviour, so read up and talk to other mums about their experiences.

Buckle up
It’s a legal requirement to have a baby car seat fitted before you can take your baby home from hospital, but, according to the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV), about 70 percent of baby car seats aren’t fitted correctly, which can result in serious injury to your child.

For peace of mind and the safety of your new baby, have your child seat installed by a trained restraint fitter. It only takes five minutes and costs around $35. Contact your state’s road safety authority to find your nearest approved fitting station.

Also ask grandparents who might be driving your child around to get their own baby seat professionally fitted, to save you from having to continually install and uninstall your seat.

Batten down the hatches
In those first few weeks after the baby is born you don’t want to be bundling the bub up and making a mad dash to the shops just because you’ve run out of toilet paper. Stock up now on non-perishables such as toothpaste and other toiletries, paper products and canned foods.

Get physical
This doesn’t mean going for a 5km run, but getting active with gentle exercise such as walking will not only take your mind off the countdown to the big day, but hold you in better stead post-birth too.

Being physically fit boosts energy to help you cope with the demands of a newborn, reduces stress, speeds healing from the rigours of birth and helps you regain your pre-pregnancy shape faster.

Clear your diary
It’s easy to imagine life won’t change much after the baby arrives, but in those first few weeks when you’re just getting to know your new baby and adjusting to all the changes, it’s easier if you don’t have prior commitments or engagements hanging over your head. Don’t commit to any activities – instead, adopt a “play it by ear” response to all invitations and just focus on your new infant.

Grab some romance
Get out now while you can – with your partner, that is. Whether it’s a dinner, a movie or even a weekend babymoon, put some time aside for you and your partner while it’s just the two of you. Once the baby arrives you’ll be flat out adjusting to life with a little one.

Plan to lose the plan
While you’re pregnant and thinking about the pending birth, you’ll probably write a plan for how you’d like things to go. But it’s important to remember that even the best-laid plans can go awry – and nowhere is this more clear than in the delivery suite. Discuss your preferences with your midwife or doctor, but don’t cling militantly to your plan – it can set you up for disappointment if things don’t pan out that way on the day.

Pamper yourself
You’re pregnant… not only do you deserve to treat yourself, but these are the last few days when you can do simple things like have a haircut without worrying  about how you’ll manage to breastfeed while your colour sets. So get your hair done, your eyebrows shaped and your legs waxed and enjoy a relaxing massage!

12:0AM, Mar 26th 2012

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