In just a few days, I’ll be 35 weeks pregnant with my baby girl. That means there are less than five weeks to go until my scheduled C-section. In true Type A fashion, I’ve spent a ton of time making frenzied preparations for her arrival. The twins, after all, were born at 36 weeks, so I’m well aware of the potential of delivering early! Read any parenting blog, website, or magazine and you’ll find lists of things you should do before your baby arrives—things like taking an infant CPR class, updating your will, choosing your baby’s pediatrician, decorating the nursery, packing your hospital bag, etc. These are all excellent and important tips, and I certainly recommend doing them. But I also have some tips of my own for things you can do before you welcome your little one. You may not see these hints on many other lists—and the world certainly wouldn’t end if you don’t do them—but I promise you they’ll make your life easier in those chaotic, sleep-deprived months after baby comes home.
1. Choose your birth announcements—and pre-address the envelopes. One of my favorite sites from which to order high-quality birth announcements, invitations, and cards is Tiny Prints. And the site offers a really convenient service: You can pre-order your announcements and have the envelopes shipped to you ahead of time to stamp and address before the baby arrives. Once he or she is born, all you’ll have to do is fill in the blanks and add photos, stuff the cards into the envelopes, and mail them off! I chose my daughter’s birth announcements from Tiny Prints back in May. I’m glad I did, because it wasn’t a quick process—I had hundreds of options to choose from. But I finally found the perfect announcement, and the envelopes are already stamped, addressed, and ready to be stuffed!
2. Schedule and plan a newborn photography session. Newborn photos are not everyone’s “thing.” But if they are your thing and you don’t get them done, you’ll always regret it. I never got fancy newborn studio pictures taken of the boys because Keith was set to deploy right after their birth, so scheduling a session was the last thing on my mind. But then when I’d see gorgeous professional photos of my friends’ newborns, it would bug me that I didn’t have any of my own kids. So this time, I’m ready. Luckily, we already have a photographer we work with here in Los Angeles who happens to take gorgeous newborn photos that fit our style. Her name is Sigal Ineno of Sigal Ineno Photography, and we highly recommend her! But if you don’t know a photographer, start looking for one well before your due date. Good newborn photographers can get booked up months in advance, so you’ll want to make sure they have you on their schedule. To find a photographer, Google newborn photographers in your area and check out their online galleries to see if you like their work. Check review sites like Yelp or local message boards. Ask friends and neighbors if they have any recommendations. Once you find a photographer with availability, he or she will make note of your due date and block off some time for your session around that date. Photographers generally like to take newborn pictures four days to two weeks after birth. Sigal told me to contact her ASAP when I’m heading to the hospital so that she can lock in a time one week after the baby is born. Once your session is booked, look at newborn photos online to get ideas of poses you’d like to capture, any special items you’d want in the pictures, outfits and/or accessories you want your baby to wear, etc. Have all of those things ready for the shoot once the big day comes!
3. Create baby registries—and add the basics to them. Even if this is not your first pregnancy and you weren’t planning to start a registry, you should create one at multiple stores. That’s because nearly every retailer that carries baby items—including Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby, Pottery Barn Kids, and Target—will give you a percentage (usually 10 to 15 percent) off any items remaining on your registry for one day towards the end of or after your pregnancy. That includes essentials like diapers, wipes, toiletries, formula, etc. So start a registry at each store and add the items you’ll need to them. When the time comes to go shopping, you can compare prices and stock up on the things you’ll need at a discount!
4. Schedule other necessary appointments. When your whole world revolves around your pregnancy, it’s easy to neglect the rest of your health. But it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself during pregnancy. So before you give birth, go for your annual skin cancer screening with your dermatologist. Get a dental checkup and a teeth cleaning. Schedule any other regular medical visits you usually make. The days and weeks leading up to pregnancy are also a great time to do the things you’ll have little time for with a new baby. Go for that fabulous haircut. Get a manicure and pedicure. Get your eyebrows waxed or threaded. You get the picture!
5. Get your older children very involved from the beginning. Even though they were only 2 1/2 when I got pregnant, Keith and I started talking with Matt and Nate about the baby very early on. We made sure they knew how exciting it would be to have a new baby. We bought them shirts on Etsy that said “I’m going to be a big brother,” and snapped a photo of them wearing the shirts to announce the pregnancy on social media. We bought some great books about becoming a big brother that we’ve read to them often. (Two of our favorites are Joanna Cole’s “I’m A Big Brother” and Mercer Mayer’s “The New Baby”.) We’ve had the boys talk to their sister in my belly, discussed with them how my belly is growing (according to Nate, it’s “so much fat”), allowed them to feel her kicks, etc. We’ve let them talk freely about their baby sister to anyone who will listen. As a result, the boys’ initial indifference about having a new baby has switched to pure excitement. They do not stop talking about “their” baby, and lately they’ve been acting out new-baby scenarios with their action figures. The other day, Batman was crying like a baby as his “Mommy,” Green Lantern, rocked him to sleep. It takes so much stress away to know the boys are excited and ready for their sister to arrive!
I’d love to hear from other moms: What are your best tips for things to do before baby arrives? Share them here!