When a baby is born, a mother is also born. You could spend months and months preparing for the arrival of your bundle of joy, and still feel like you know nothing when he or she actually arrives. But rest assured, every mother feels like that, and there’s some sort of comfort in knowing you’re not alone in this feeling.
If you want to get a peace of mind and restore your faith in yourself as a mother before you give birth, I recommend preparing your labour bag and nursery. Going through the experience of acquiring bit after bit of the supplies for the hospital and nursery is educational and encouraging, at least it was like that for me – especially because I’m a “just in case” kinda girl and it gave me the impression I was prepared for any situation!
In case you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed from thoughts of delivery and parenting, all I can do is share with you the ways I used to prepare for the arrival of my first baby and say you’ve got this!
Preparing for Hospital
Lately, there are more and more women who decide to give birth in the comfort of their homes where they feel safe surrounded by family. But even if you are considering homebirth, you never know if you’d need to be rushed into a hospital and change your initial plan.
In other words, instead of leaving it to chance, it’s advisable to prepare a bag weeks in advance before your due date. In my experience, deciding on what to pack in your hospital bag is easier when you’ve got a checklist you can use as a reminder.
When coming up with the checklist, many women focus on the basics, like pads and nappies for mum and baby, maternity clothes and baby clothes, snacks and relaxation items (e.g. essential oils, music, your own pillow), but what I found particularly essential were the perineum heating and cooling strips.
Not only did they help me prepare for giving birth by preventing perineum trauma, but they also saved me afterwards too by soothing the swelling. So, if there are items I’d recommend for your basic bag checklist, it would be these strips. This and some supplies for breast milk production – but more info on the latter below.
Breastfeeding vs. Bottle Feeding
This is one of the major dilemmas mums-to-be experience, because breastfeeding is better for both mum and baby than formula but not every mum has enough milk or any milk at all. Whenever I couldn’t sleep during pregnancy, I’d spend hours thinking of how I’d be breastfeeding my son, and then the worry on whether or not I’d have the sufficient amount would creep up on me.
As prevention, I started searching for foods to increase milk supply in case it came to that, which it really did right after I gave birth. Since I had my packs of lactation cookies in the hospital bag, I was able to start working on my milk production as soon as the problem became apparent.
To ensure I had enough, I also got equipped with lactation tea and shake, and started enriching my diet with variety. When I say variety I mean protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates from dark leafy greens like spinach, protein from chicken, whole grains, and vitamins from fruits such as oranges and strawberries. Remember, mums need more calories than usual (up to 500 calories more) when breastfeeding!
If you don’t have the sufficient amount of milk to keep your bub full even after trying various foods to increase milk supply and breast pumps, you shouldn’t feel guilty for opting for formula. To keep your peace of mind, it’s good to do your search and look for formulas closest to breast milk or consider getting your supply from milk banks.
Setting up the Room
Many parents think it’s better for the baby to sleep in the parents’ bedroom, and I agree. The first months of a baby’s life you need to do supervision all the time. Though our son spent five months sleeping in our bedroom, that was no reason for us not to prepare his own room while I was still pregnant.
Since we didn’t know where to start, we decided first to cover the walls with wallpaper to add a pop of colour and protection. If you’re thinking of adding wallpaper too, my advice is to choose one that’s washable as preparation for stains and drawings that are sure to come!
While the wallpaper part was fun, we found it difficult to make up our minds on the bits and pieces of furniture. After some thought, we figured the ideal and affordable solution was to create a room that would grow with our boy, so we chose a convertible crib with adjustable mattress, shelving for toys that could, later on, serve for books too, and a dresser with plenty of space for his clothes, which served as a changing table for quite some time as well.
To all the mums-to-be reading this blog post, I’d like to say breathe in and breathe out – you can handle it!