*Originally published in August 2008
1. Pack your hospital bag
Since your baby could arrive early, it’s always a good idea to have a bag ready with things you’re going to need in hospital. Packing beforehand ensures that you don’t feel rushed to remember everything when your water breaks two weeks early in the middle of the night.
Click here for a list of things you should pack in your bag.
2. Prepare the birth announcements
Sending out birth announcements is a great way to let all your friends and family members know that your baby has arrived. While you’ll probably phone many of your close friends and family shortly after the baby arrives, there’s probably an extended list of acquaintances and relatives who’ll be excited to find out about your baby’s birth. Prepare the email or mailing list before your baby is due or ask a friend or family member to post the announcement on your Facebook page (if you want to take the social media route to make the announcement) once your baby has arrived.
3. Stock up on baby products
Stock up on nappies, wipes, and baby bath and body products. Also stockpile stain removal treatment, a detergent for sensitive baby skin, cloth nappies (for your shoulder), and a supply of baby bibs.
4. Install the car seat
Make sure your baby’s car seat has been properly installed – although a 100% fitting can be tricky first time around. However, ensure you know how to do it and how to secure your baby in the seat for a safe journey home.
5. Get help
Set up a support system of friends, family and neighbours to help out during the first two weeks postpartum. Don’t try to be superwoman and do everything yourself. Accept offers to help with the dishes, laundry and meals.
6. Stock up on frozen meals
Lasagne, stews, soup and cottage pies can all be made in advance and frozen to be easily heated later. In the first days or weeks after your baby’s birth, you might not feel like preparing food, but it’s always great to have a hot, wholesome homemade cooked meal to enjoy.
7. Baby-proof your home
Right now it may seem like ages before your baby will be crawling and walking all over the place, but it really isn’t that far away. Once your baby arrives you’ll realise that you’re much busier than you had imagined. If you have baby-proof latches on all cupboards, and soft edges on the corners of tables, you won’t have to stress when your baby takes his first steps.
The key to baby-proofing is to see the world through your baby’s eyes. Get down on your hands and knees and start crawling around the room. Be mindful of small items, electrical equipment, drawers, cabinets and stairs.
8. Choose a paediatrician
About three months before you’re due, start compiling a list of possible paediatricians. Ask for suggestions and names from friends, relatives, neighbours and co-workers with kids. If possible, try to schedule a prenatal consultation before your due date with the paediatrician to see if you’re at ease with him or her.
9. Pay your accounts
During the first few weeks after your baby’s birth, you’ll probably not have the time or energy to worry about paying accounts. Try to pay them in advance so you don’t need to worry about these details when you’re settling in with your newborn.
10. Check expiry dates
Check the expiry dates on your credit cards and car and driver’s licences. Ensure that everything’s organised and up to date or you might end up in a situation without any or some of your crucial documents.
11. Plan for your other children and pets
Make arrangements for your children and pets while you’re in hospital. Tell your kids in advance what the plan is and leave a ‘surprise’ for them while you’re away, such as a new colouring-in book, a brand new DVD or stock up on their favourite snacks. If you need someone to walk and feed your pets during the first few days, ask beforehand.
12. Wash and separate your baby’s clothes
Before your baby arrives, all his clothes should be washed and packed away in an easily accessible place. This will make life much easier for you. After the baby shower you’ll probably have many baby outfits in different sizes, as well as many other toys and baby items.
Separating clothes by size is easiest, since some of the outfits won’t fit your baby for months. Take all the clothes that won’t fit your baby for a while and store them in a safe place so you have enough space to fold and hang the clothing your baby can wear immediately.