Having a baby is a bit like wedding planning: a lot of thought goes into the details of the big event, but hardly any effort goes towards making sure the "ever after" part goes as smoothly as possible. As a pregnant woman, I spent a lot of time flipping through Pottery Barn Kids' nursery catalogs and arranging tiny layette items, but I wasn't exactly sure how to prepare for the transition to motherhood. Based on what I've learned from other mamas and from my two births, here are five actions to help prepare you for life after baby's arrival:
1. Attend a La Leche League Meeting. La Leche League exists to support, encourage, and educate mamas, and the amount of pregnancy, birth, and nursing knowledge that the leaders have is amazing! I first attended a meeting when my child was two months old, and the mamas I met became friends that I cherish and admire. Find a meeting near you (anywhere in the world) using the drop down menu here.
2 Take a Bradley Method birthing class with your husband. Granted, this point focuses on the birth itself, but having a positive birth is a great way to start your postpartum journey. The Bradley Method will teach you how to manage labor naturally and minimize the likelihood of complications. Just as importantly, it will teach your husband how to best coach and support you through the birth process. (Hospital classes don't go into this much depth.) I'm so grateful for the information I learned in this class and it's the main reason why I was able to have two natural, beautiful births. To find a Bradley instructor near you, click here.
3. Make some freezer meals and schedule fresh produce deliveries. For weeks or even months after your baby arrives, the idea of cooking dinner may seem overwhelming. Having a stash of meals in the freezer will be a relief, and setting up fresh produce deliveries through a company like Organics to You or Azure Standard is an affordable alternative to grocery shopping.
In addition, If you're lucky, a loyal friend might set up a meal delivery calendar for you using a program like TakeThemAMeal.com or MealBaby.com. An every-other-day delivery schedule might work best, giving you some down time between visitors.
4. Line up a fantastic newborn photographer. Babies change so much in the first few weeks! I wish I'd gotten better newborn photos of those early days. (My photographer of choice wasn't available until my baby was eight weeks old.) Though it's rarely possible to pinpoint baby's birth date, getting an appointment on the calendar for newborn photos is a wise move!
5. Open your mind to alternative ways of parenting. Do you assume you'll go along with all of the recommended vaccines? Claim you could never co-sleep with your baby? Believe that strollers, formula, and jarred baby food are all required purchases? Your experiences as a parent will challenge your views in so many areas of parenting, and your views on all of these points may completely change. Start reading and listening to authors and parents who don't hold your views and you'll develop a larger understanding of the spectrum of parenting choices and the reasoning behind them.
Best wishes for your parenting journey!
What do you wish you'd done to prepare before you had a baby?
You may also be interested in reading about the 5 Books that have Most Changed My Parenting: