This is the final installment of “the Ultimate…” lists. Thanks for following along! For those of you that are expecting, I hope these helped you prepare even better! For those of you who “pinned them for later,” I hope you remember to come back and check them out when the time comes!
Here’s the previous three posts in the event that you missed them!
When I hit 35ish weeks I was frantic about preparing for labor and delivery. I actually think my husband told me (at least) 400 times a week that everything would be fine. I promptly packed my bag and had it ready to go at 36 weeks, only to have to be induced and end up repacking it entirely.
Yeah … That was ill-planned.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have your bag packed and ready to go for when you do go into labor … because you COULD be like Hilary and have 4 hour long labor and delivery and when your water breaks you DO have to frantically rush out of the house to avoid having the kid in the shower.
Mine (clearly) wasn’t so dramatic.
I think the most daunting things for any woman having her first child are “what do I do to prepare for labor & delivery,” and “what do I pack for the hospital?” I’ve heard everything from “pack nothing the hospital supplies it all” to pack your whole dang bathroom. I’ve heard 4,502 different ideas for labor and delivery prep. But I’m about to slap some truth on you …
You can prepare and plan and organize as much as you want, but your body and your child will most likely (definitely) be different than your friends. This doesn’t mean you SHOULDN’T HAVE A PLAN, but in making that plan also be ready for it to change here and there – or entirely.
Not only that, you will have different preferences. Danielle is from the school of thought where you use the hospital’s resources … wear their underwear (don’t ruin yours) and their gowns. I, however, LOATHED the underwear and gowns and immediately put my own clothes on as soon as the nurse let me shower. Actually, my nurse said I may have been the fastest patient to get back into regular clothes. I just hated that exposed feeling of the gown. So if you’re like me and being in a gown for your “lady check-ups” is brutal, you’ll probably really like my list. 🙂
I want to mention a few things about labor and delivery … You’ll note that I’m not going to share a lot of information on this topic. I believe, to my very core, that every woman is entirely different in this area. Between 5 women in my family we all have very different labor & deliveries for our children. And we share the same genetics! What I experienced WILL NOT be the same as what you will experience. The labor preparation portion will be very short and generic and full of helpful tips and items that can assist anyone.
Here we go!
The Ultimate Labor & Delivery Prep List
1) Have a Plan
I think that having a “birth plan” is like having a “get over the flu plan.” It is like waking up at 10AM puking your guts up on a Sunday morning and saying, “By 12AM tomorrow I will be done puking.” Trying to out-will your body is well … hilarious. I support, entirely, a woman deciding how she wants her labor and delivery to go. I believe to my very core that you SHOULD have a list of things you don’t want the doctor to do and for your doctor be aware of them. You SHOULD know what kind of labor & delivery you want (medicated/unmedicated) and you SHOULD openly express those with your doctor or midwife. Don’t clutch to this like it is the original Old Testament however.
Understand that you can’t account your unborn child just as you feel your doctor/midwife can’t account for you. If my child’s heart rate or blood pressure starts dropping I want that baby out of me – right away. I don’t care what the reasons are. I don’t care if I have a c section and the scar to prove it – get the baby out of me. I can’t control that baby inside of me … I wish I could, but I can’t. And you can’t control your baby either. I believe the greatest thing all pregnant women can remember is SO MUCH of this is out of our hands. Having a road map and route is a great idea, but along the way we may encounter detours. Does this make us failures? No! Does this make us weak? NO!
Last week at my ultrasound one of my doctors was showing me the unbelievably amazing heart of my child. Now, I believe to my very core that God is the author of all that is. He is forming this little sucker inside of me. But as my doc
scientist explained to me what happens to the hole in the heart that is SO visible on the ultrasound I said, “That’s … incredible.” He responded, “It is. As a doctor I can tell you that the first few seconds after a baby is born are the most dramatic of my life. I can’t even begin to explain what has to happen within seconds of birth for that baby to begin breathing and functioning on his own. It’s amazing.” Swallow that lump in your throat.
There is something INCREDIBLE about what occurs AFTER you deliver your child. It is not the labor and delivery and “the plan.” The incredible part is that within moments of delivery your baby takes their first breath and becomes entirely separate of you. His body immediately begins to function on it’s own. Labor & delivery? Screw that noise. The magic is in that first breath. And there is no plan for that. It just happens.
Want to know what my Birth Plan is for #2?
1 – Epidural
2 – No episiotomy (my doc is cool with this one)
3 – Out in under 24 hours this time. 🙂
2) Arrangements for Kids & Pets
If this is your first baby and you don’t have pets you can skip to #3. If you have kids or pets though, definitely start making arrangements for them. Ensure that you have someone locked in to be able to come to your house and take care of the dogs or kids. Someone you can trust, obviously. Put them on “notice” beginning at 36 weeks. Not only that, have them come over and give them a walk through of what should be done. Also be sure to write out contact numbers for emergencies, bed times, and anything that might need to be included for your kiddos and pets.
I would recommend however that your care come to your home – especially if you have kids. Keeping them in their environment and on their schedule will probably help out A LOT prior to the big adjustment of “hey … here’s your new sibling.” I’m willing to bet it won’t be so awesome to hear mom shriek, “MY WATER BROKE!” and then hysteria occurs right before their eyes as they ride in the backseat of the car while mom is breathing through contractions on the way to drop them off at grandma’s house. That has trauma written all over it … haha.
The ideal candidate here is a family member or good friend who has taken care of your children or pets before.
Make sure to also have a “cash” envelope available to this person. This can be used for pizza if they don’t feel like cooking or to take the kids to get ice cream. Or let’s say you didn’t have enough time to run out and buy more dog food. Having that money there for them avoids them having to call your spouse while you’re in labor or the uncomfortable conversation of … “I had to buy dog food … I just used my own money … ”
3) Have Important Documents Ready
Remember my post on Important Documents? You definitely want to have that binder all set to go. More importantly you want to ensure that you have your life insurance policy up to date. Unsure if you have ENOUGH life insurance? I love this little handy dandy calculator over at Bankrate. Most life insurance companies will increase your policy amount if you are pregnant even without a physical exam. Being pregnant they can’t do the exam as the numbers will be off. I have Fidelity Life and I totally recommend it, but shop around and try to find what is best for you and your family. Just be sure you are insured!
And remember stay at home moms – you should be insured higher than you think!
This is also a GREAT time to begin researching your insurance policy and how it applies to the new baby. Will he/she be covered under your policy for a period of time? Will he/she be automatically enrolled? What documentation do you need for the insurance company to add them? What all is covered under my hospital stay? Knowing these things ahead of time saves you the headache later. Trust me!
4) Decide When to Accept Visitors
First things first – check your hospital policy. Also check the season. At the hospital I will be delivering at there can be no visitors below the age of 12. Yes, that means big sis won’t be visiting mommy and baby brother in the hospital. I’m currently begging my doctor to let me go home after 24 hours “even if I hemorrhage.” She enjoys my visits with her. I always provide her a laugh.
Most hospitals have visitor policies – especially during sick season. Visitors to our hospital on L&D have to wear a mask. They don’t care if you’re healthy and show no sign of infection – you have to wear one.
Even before I knew of this policy my husband and I decided that we did not want visitors in the hospital. Yes, even grandma and grandpa. With our first I was only in the hospital for 24 hours. As they switched me over to my recovery room my midwife said as long as I felt comfortable she saw no reason why I couldn’t go home the next day. I immediately texted my mom and told her to stay put, that they were most likely discharging me in 24. Sure enough, they did. The pediatrician signed off and yelled at me to “rest” (I was up moving all over the room when he came in … ) and a few hours later the doc on call discharged me. Even if I’m in the hospital for 3 days this time, I still don’t want visitors. (Of course Daddy will be going home to visit his girl and spend time with her.) Honestly, this is personal preference. But definitely make sure you guys talk about it beforehand. The new thing these days seems to be posting a status update on Facebook. Which I think is brilliant. You could also send out a group text. Say something along the lines of …
“Thanks for all of the thoughts & well wishes today! Baby and I are doing well. We are going to get some rest and are open to visitors beginning tomorrow. Give me a call or text before heading over if you don’t mind.”
“Thanks for all of the thoughts & well wishes today! Baby and I are doing well. In definite need of some rest! We would prefer not to have visitors in the hospital, but will let everyone know when they can come visit when we get home!”
There will always be a few that try and skirt you because they want to huff that new baby goodness. And honestly just tell the truth. If they ask if they can stop by for just a few minutes, be honest. Say, “We are all pretty tired and really just want to spend a few days as a family before we have people over.” I doubt anyone will get mad!
For those of us who live out of town and away from our families there will always be the inevitable – grandmas. You obviously don’t want to keep grandma away, but I will speak from experience here and I hope to not offend anyone. Grandmas love to help. They love to feed the baby and hold the baby and do all of the baby related tasks. I felt as though my toes were being stepped on after the birth of our first. My mom gave me my space for the most part, but because our daughter was the first grandkid on my husband’s side (and because we were moving across the country) the other grandma wanted to do everything. As a hormonal woman who just gave birth – this does not go over well. Especially if it is your first. You want to do those things because that baby is new. However! If it is your mother in law, that’s your husband’s jurisdiction. He should be the one to mention it to her. If it is your mom, and you have a relationship with her like I have with mine, it’s simple … “Hey crazypants. Let me do it myself!” Sure … She will be flashing back to the time you demanded that she let you wipe your own ass, but she’ll get the picture.
What’s important is you guys know ahead of time how this stuff is going to shake out. Best part? You can control this! Even better? When guests do visit you can sneak a long shower in.
5) Deep Clean Your House
At 36 weeks you’ll probably be entering the “tired achy” phase if you haven’t already. And this may be a task, but spend one weekend scrubbing your whole house. If you have the extra funds go ahead and hire someone to come in. I personally prefer to do it on my own because I prefer my cleaning over others, but it’s your call. Ultimately you want to make sure your house is as spotless as possible. This is not just for your sanity, but after the baby comes you may not have the time to keep up with housework. If you do a deep clean all you’ll need to do is keep up on laundry, dishes, and vacuuming/mopping after the baby arrives. Then, once you’re feeling up to it, you can get back to the heavier cleaning.
6) Make & Freeze Meals
If you don’t follow me on Pinterest, you should. But if you are expecting you should most certainly follow my Freezer Meals board! Over the next few weeks the list will grow (it’s nice and empty now), and I’ll most likely do a post for freezer meal prep. In the Marine Corps community everyone seems willing to bring food after a new baby. My husband and I declined this when our Family Readiness Officer asked, simply because I had already made 5 or 6 meals also knowing my mom was visiting. Some mom’s don’t really enjoy cooking or maybe they’d just rather hang out with the baby – so don’t assume here (like I did). Definitely have at least 7 freezer meals ready to go. It’s easier than you think and I’ll be sure to post about it when I get around to doing it!
*For those of you who are on the cusp of delivery though, Danielle did something pretty brilliant when prepping for the arrival of her Benny. For a few weeks leading up to her due date when she would make dinner she would double the recipe and make a separate meal in a toss-away foil pan. She wouldn’t cook it, but on the top labeled what it was, how long it needed to cook, at what temp, and if there were any additional items needed for prep. She froze a handful of these and they were all ready to go after the baby was born. This eliminates you spending a whole Saturday preparing freezer meals.
7) Things to Keep Up On
Showering, fluid intake, groceries, laundry and cleaning. You never know when you are going to go into labor. So when your water breaks or you start contracting, make sure you aren’t caught unshowered, lacking fluid, with an empty fridge, and a dirty house. You might think this won’t bother you – but take it from me – it will.
Beginning at 36 or 37 weeks if you notice your milk is low – send a text to your sweets and ask him to bring home a gallon. Especially if you have a one year old who believes her life exists solely on whole milk and “duice.” Make sure you are still doing your grocery trips. If you are super uncomfortable and tired, ask your husband to do it. But again, you don’t want to go into labor and come home to starving children hopped up on McDonalds and ice cream with an empty fridge.
Fluid intake is important in pregnancy – period. But! It seems hospitals vary on how much you can have while in labor. One birth I was present for the girl was told “only ice chips” after a certain point. I was eating chicken salad sandwiches and fruit and guzzling down ginger ale. Right before pushing they requested I only drink water. But I was never told “only ice chips.” They definitely kept my drink full. Your doctor/hospital may vary though, so keep yourself hydrated all day everyday. “Because you never know.”
Showering is a pretty big one. I should have showered prior to my induction. I showered that morning, but I regret not showering again before I went to the hospital. I felt so gross after 48 hours of no shower. As soon as I got to my recovery room I asked my nurse when I could shower. My challenge (after my IV was removed)? Pee unassisted. BOOM. Done. Shower time. It burned like you would not believe and it felt like my uterus was going to drop out of me, but gosh dangit I needed a shower! Shower everyday. Shave your legs and armpits and put on deodorant. It seems trivial and stupid, but when you’re laying in that hospital bed and you feel disgusting because you haven’t showered in two days you’ll remember this paragraph and think, “dangit.”
Cleaning I mentioned a little up above, so I won’t elaborate further. Just try to make sure you’re picking up behind yourself. You may not be able to control the kiddos, but having a clean bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen will help you out later on. Some people don’t care about this stuff – I definitely do.
8) Install Carseat
This is pretty obvious. I installed mine at 36 weeks. But you want to do this earlier if you have multiple carseats to maneuver around. It’s probably going to take me a few tries to get it how I want it and maybe a few cusswords. Just make sure this is done ahead of time.
9) Ready all Postpartum Recovery Items
Refer to my post here for recommended postpartum recovery items. At 36 weeks (as with all other things) make sure you have these items all ready to go (along with baby’s stuff) for when you return home.
10) Pack Your Hospital Bag
First of all … To those of you who are freaking out about this. Simma down. Over the next few weeks you have A LOT more to be dwelling on besides what shampoo you pack in your hospital bag.
I’m actually working on a Vlog about this very thing and it will be posted in it’s own post, but I’ll link back here. No worries. If you need the answers RIGHT NOW though?
The hospital has everything. Seriously. They do. Here’s what I packed anyway:
1) Travel size shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant and face wash for both my husband and me.
2) An outfit to bring my daughter home in (it was January – she needed something warmer than the onesie she wore in the hospital).
3) 2 outfits for me, yoga pants, 2 tshirts. (I only needed one as I stayed in the hospital only 24 hours.)
4) My own underwear. (I HATTTTTTTTTTTTTTED the hospital’s underwear.)
5) A sweater to wear over my gown while I had to wear it.
6) Cell phone charger
9) Bottles, chosen formula, and binkies (if using)
I wouldn’t pack a huge bag like you’re going away for a week. You probably won’t use half of what you pack. But I am pretty picky about products I use in the shower and as I said above – I hated wearing the gown and the underwear so I knew ahead of time I was packing my own clothes. Off to work on the Vlog about this so be expecting a more in depth look at the “all hallowed hospital bag.”
Well, I’m off! There’s a one year old in need of a popsicle treat because she kicked the binky habit in 24 hours. I’m one happy mom!
Happy Tuesday, guys!