Pregnant with first child, during a chaotic and stressful time
July 14, 2014 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Due to an incredible amount of life changes (including marraige, move, new job and death of a parent) I have barely been able to do all the things you are supposed to do when you are pregnant with your first child. Due date is a little over am month away. On top of that I have gained too much weight and feel very uncomfortable, especially at work. My questions range from how do I make the next six weaks bearable (especially at my desk job) given I've outgrown my maternity clothes and feel really uncomfortable physically, to what are the top three things I must learn and/or have before baby arrives?

Granted I made all of my OB visits, I have not had a lot of time to learn about breastfeeding, caring for an infant or even research all that goes into having a newborn. I wasn't even able to get into the recommended classes as they fill up quick, the two classes I am signed up to take could very well happen after the baby comes if she comes before 40 weeks.

So, please give me your best hacks on how to prepare for this bundle of joy - tell me the most important things I need to know - from transitioning to having a new baby, sleep hacks, breastfeeding, car seats and things I will need and not really need right off the bat. Personal experience is appreciated. I know there are a lot of experienced parents on here.

Thank you in advance.
posted by SanSebastien to Grab Bag (51 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Not a parent, but something I've heard - I've heard that some states will not let you take your baby home from the hospital unless you have a car seat. I'm betting that the last thing you need on top of all the stress and having just delivered a baby is getting ready to take Li'l Sprog home and have the hospital say "no, you don't have a car seat we're not giving you your baby until you have one"; so maybe a car seat should be a top priority right now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:52 AM on July 14, 2014 [7 favorites]

Congratulations, you can do this! The last month is so uncomfortable, but try to hang in there, get as much rest as you can and don't stress too much.

If nothing else rent/buy Harvey Karp's DVD 'the Happiest Baby on the Block", it takes less than an hour to watch and has really valuable information about soothing a newborn. There is a book too but once we watched the DVD we never looked at book again. I also found Dr. Sears "The Baby Book" to be a good reference book, although I don't necessary agree with all his philosophies.

If you have a car, you need a car seat to leave the hospital. Buy that, install it and if you are in the states, your local police department may have a program where they will check your install. Very helpful.
posted by snowymorninblues at 9:54 AM on July 14, 2014 [6 favorites]

I am not a parent but I just wanted to tell you not to beat yourself up. You have been under a lot of stress, physically and emotionally. Humanity survived without baby classes and baby books.

I might see if the hospital where you will deliver has a lactation coach or consultant because that may be helpful. From what I understand, breastfeeding can be surprisingly difficult for some women. If you need to buy a few more maternity clothes, I won't judge you. Walking might help you with the stress and some of the weight gain. But you're almost there. Hang in there. The finish line is in sight. You've been doing a lot of hard things at the same time. Cut yourself some slack. Do what you can do to prepare and enjoy this time.
posted by kat518 at 10:02 AM on July 14, 2014 [10 favorites]

The most important thing you need to know, and what I wish someone had told me when I was pregnant: you're going to be fine, and there's not nearly as much to learn as people would like you to believe there is. The nurses/midwives will show you the basics of breastfeeding. Caring for an infant is pretty much feeding it and changing a diaper. People have done this for hundreds upon hundreds of years. Babies have slept in boxes and drawers and slings and on the ground, and somehow we've survived.

Things you should buy, right now: car seat, couple outfits, diapers, bottles and formula (as backup, just in case). Your favorite food, and easily-consumed snacks and small meals. The biggest menstrual pads you can find--seriously, if you can stomach it, consider adult diapers. I also feel that buying a sling right now will save you hours of frustration and exhaustion later, but opinions vary on that.

That's all you're going to need for at least the first month. Infants do almost nothing--they sleep, they cry, they eat, they pee. They look around in bewilderment. My daughter literally lived in a sling until she was probably six months old, and was just thrilled with that. (I'm not exaggerating--unless we were asleep or in the car, she was in a sling. It was fantastic, and I really cannot overstate how much I rec it.)

Babies are resilient--far more, I think, than parents are. You're going to be fine.
posted by MeghanC at 10:02 AM on July 14, 2014 [15 favorites]

Actually, I'll also toss out that if you're worried about things, you could look into getting a postpartum doula--they can be hired in the days or weeks following a birth, and can help you with the basics of infant care and breastfeeding, as well as helping you adjust to being home with your baby. I wasn't aware that they were a thing when I had my daughter, but wish that I had been--it sounds like they can be wonderful, comforting things.
posted by MeghanC at 10:05 AM on July 14, 2014 [6 favorites]

I never took classes or read any books and my three have made it; I think "book-learnin'" is over rated for teaching skills like breast-feeding. Instead, get the numbers of local supports like La Leche that will come out and personally help, maybe hire a doula or baby nurse to get you over the hump, get house-cleaners, local take out menus, find out if the local library has a baby-drop in programme and figure out which of your friends and family will be able to help without being intrusive and judgemental. Prepare yourself for the judgement - no matter what you do, SOMEONE will find fault in it. Get a thick skin and walk away. Good luck, you can do it!
posted by saucysault at 10:07 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

And if you can, get a mini iPad or tablet. You are gong to spend a lot of time chained to a chair, you may as well be mefi'ing, emailing and playing games. Nothing too challenging - baby brain is a real thing.
posted by saucysault at 10:10 AM on July 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

You're totally fine. The classes are a bit of a rip off, IMO.

Get a carseat. Any bucket seat is fine.

Get some diapers, NB and Size 1. Get some wipes.

A safe place for the baby to sleep, the cheapest crib you can find will be fine.

A bunch of onesies and little baby sweat pants. Get bulk ones from Walmart or Amazon. Just a ton of them in sizes 3mo, 6mo, and 9mo.

Baby socks, cheap and bulk is fine.

A boppy or a My Breast Friend. I liked my My Breast Friend better but they both worked.

A few bottles and a bottle brush and a can of formula, or, a 6 pack of pre-made formula.

Get the name of a pediatrician from your OB or they'll assign you one in the hospital. That's what I did and it was fine.

They'll teach you how to breastfeed in the hospital.

That's it. You'll be fine.

I gained "too much" weight and I lost it all, and my little one doesn't have preschool obesity. It'll be ok. You'll be okay.

If you're feeling really down I suggest asking your OB for the recommendation to a psychiatrist. Post-partum depression is a bad name, because pregnant women get depressed too.

Good luck, hang in there.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:10 AM on July 14, 2014 [17 favorites]

Don't beat yourself up! I didn't attend any of the hospital classes either, and I did fine. Having the lactation consultant at the hospital was awesome, but all the nurses were super helpful with breastfeeding too. Don't worry about your weight gain either, you're pregnant and you need to cut yourself some slack. There is too much pressure IMHO to constantly check your weight, and its not particularly helpful when you have other things to focus on.

Your number 1 priority right now is to buy and install a car seat, because you can't take the baby home without it - the hospital will check. Get it in the car so you don't have to think about it.

You need a few outfits; some diapers (hospital will provide while you are there, but you will need some when you get home); burp cloths; a place for the baby to sleep; food in the freezer. Do you have friends and family who can help you out right now? You need support. Ask for it!

As for your desk job, I have no real tips. I worked my desk job until a couple of days before I was due. It was uncomfortable, I just wore the most comfortable clothes and shoes I could, and who cares what they looked like. Take it easy and don't try to operate at 100%.
posted by Joh at 10:11 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, and like a 6 pack of cheap baby blankets.

A swaddleme.

That's it. It seems like a lot but if you go on amazon it won't take too long. You'll be fine.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:11 AM on July 14, 2014

Oh and I gained 80 pounds when I was pregnant (!!!) and then lost it all. I think some women just gain more. It was really okay.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:13 AM on July 14, 2014 [7 favorites]

Before the birth: please, go ahead and get some more maternity clothes. Even having 3 or 4 outfits that fit that you can rotate through is worth it. Get an exercise ball to use as a chair at your desk at work. Way more comfortable than a chair in late pregnancy and bouncing/wiggling around on it supposedly helps get the baby in a good position for birth.

I agree with the other recommendations about a car seat, postpartum doula, and not worrying about it too much. One very good piece of advice I got was to put together a resource list to stick on your refrigerator (where it's easy to find when you're sleep deprived) with contact phone numbers for your doctor, doula and/or postpartum doula, lactation consultant, friends/relatives who can help out, favorite restaurants that can deliver food, etc.

Really you need to be able to feed, clothe, diaper, and transport the baby. It's good for the baby to have a place to sleep. The rest of it you can figure out as you go.

I gained a metric shit-ton of weight during my first pregnancy and it just fell off after the birth. It will be fine, do not worry about this right now.
posted by medusa at 10:14 AM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you can by all means Nurse your baby. It is so much easier than having to worry about formula and bottles. And also really does help your uterus contract and helps you burn off some of the baby weight gain. BUT - if for what ever reason it does not work out for you don't beat yourself up - I have seen many new mothers that it just did not happen for. But if it does that is a great help. Also after the baby is born keep a journal - to keep track of everything. Like feeding at what time - bowel movements and everything else in between. This is extremely helpful in the middle of the night when you can't remember if you fed the baby or not.

Accept everyones help (from food to cleaning) and also nap when the baby does - you need it. Use a baby monitor - it really does do a good job. Don't go crazy cleaning and worrying about getting everything perfect before baby comes - it will only get dirty again :).

Also I took all of the pre birth classes and honestly I don't think they helped me much. I had great nurses and doctors (and most people probably do) that really helped me with everything.

I was two weeks early and really didn't do all my packing ahead but just make sure you have a good car seat, newborn clothes and accessories. Also pack a small bag for yourself of comforatble clothes to come home in and some healthy snacks for you in the hospital. My sons birth was at 1:30 AM (after being in labor for quite a long time with no food) and my only options were vending machines until hospital breakfast.

I thought how can they send me home with this baby when I don't know what I am doing - but it all worked out and I it usually does.
posted by MrsMGH at 10:17 AM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'd spend the next 6 weeks:

1) Getting the absolute minimum needed baby stuff (my list would be car seat, swaddling blankets, clothes, some kind of diaper changing setup, some kind of sleeping surface), and comfortable maternity clothes for the remainder of your time,
2) Finding local baby-knowledgeable folks. La Leche League group (they vary widely but I found mine very "your choices are yours" and comforting), parenting mailing list, local friends with kids that seem normal, whatever. Having people there, in person, to look at me and my kid and say soothing things was so, so important to me during that time.

Agreed on Happiest Baby On The Block--my hospital had the video and it was very helpful.

I think the most important thing to know going in is that good parents are not always perfect parents, and vice versa. Strive for good. With an infant, "good" basically means meeting their physical needs and keeping yourself sane. I think it's also important to know that a newborn may cry when everything is fine, for values of "fine" that include "I have to poop and haven't figured out how to." Confirm the baby is fed and dry, not being pinched by anything, not hot or cold, not full of gas (traditional back-patting burp or bicycling their legs to get gas out), doesn't want to be held vertically, horizontally, or on their tummy, and you'll know that whatever it is is something that you can't help with. Being able to stay calm through that seems like the big difference between the experienced and unexperienced parents I've seen. (And I don't know you from Adam but if you ever need access to a parent, feel free to MeMail me.)
posted by tchemgrrl at 10:24 AM on July 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

No one, no matter how much they prepare, is ever totally ready. Let yourself off the hook.

I was not at all ready. My first child also came two weeks ahead of her due date. As someone who tends to procrastinate I was really looking forward to Getting Things Done in those last weeks. I felt profoundly cheated! It was still all fine and it all worked out.

My best "hack" was to arrange for a postpartum doula for the first couple weeks at home. I don't have any nearby family and didn't have many parent friends at the time who knew the "new baby ropes" -- so she was a lifesaver. She helped me with breastfeeding, the first bath, and figuring out what baby gear was useless and what really helped (turns out I had completely forgotten about diaper cream!).

It will be OK.
posted by pantarei70 at 10:27 AM on July 14, 2014

Things you should have ready:

a car seat (bring it to the hospital)
nursing pads (for your bra)
overnight pads (like, the Always kind, but the hospital will give you some)
the phone number of a lactation consultant
some onesies

That's it! Everything else is gravy!
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:28 AM on July 14, 2014

Get some bibs - the terrycloth kind. Bibs are a lot easier to swap out than a whole outfit when the baby drools/spits up/eats.
posted by lyssabee at 10:30 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

And by "outfit" I mean whatever your kid happens to have on. Don't worry about actual outfits!
posted by lyssabee at 10:31 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

We're on almost the same schedule! And boy is it getting uncomfortable! So some of the things that have helped me as I hit the icky last month:
  • Get some more clothes. I don't like shopping or spending money on clothes, but it seriously makes a difference to have something comfortable to wear. For me it's this (or something very like it) dress: It doesn't constrict my belly, is loose and cool and looks not bad. I actually got them in the store so have a navy (solid) and red and blue stripe. In store selection is limited, but so is online, so it's kind of hit or miss. I wear other things but, this is what I want to wear 24/7
  • Slip on shoes. If you don't have a comfy pair of slip on's (that still fit, mine didn't), get some. Bending over to do straps or laces is a pita.
  • Snoogle (pillow), if you don't have one already, helps at night
  • Baths. These have been helping relieve (temporarily) some of the abdominal discomfort of having a squirmy human kneeing me in vital organs.
  • Something to put your feet up on under your desk at work to help reduce the swelling.
  • Antacid. I suffered for too long, thinking "this is just part of it", but pepcid twice a day has made a big difference in my ability to eat and sleep
As for baby, lots of folks up thread have covered it, probably most succinctly by corpse in the library.

  • Happiest baby on the block
  • Lanolin nipple cream
  • Pacifiers (if you want)
  • Bouncy seat (ymmv, but that's where mine slept for several months, cheaper and easier than a crib too for starting out)
  • Menus/names of restaurants you can stand that deliver
  • link to Kelly mom for online breastfeeding resources
A postpartum doula sounds like an awesome idea if you don't have (reliable/easy) local support and can afford it.

Best of luck and really don't beat yourself up, you've been doing exactly what you need to, surviving the stress. Everything else will come together.
posted by pennypiper at 10:40 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have two children and a lot of the preparation that we did for the first one (taking a baby care class, reading far too many books, relentlessly child-proofing the house) proved to be either largely unnecessary, or things that could have been done ad hoc later on.

Nthing identifying a lactation consultant that you can call on if your child has trouble latching or other issues with feeding, though. W/our first, this proved to be the difference between sleep-deprived wailing (on all of our parts) and a fairly relaxed, manageable situation.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:40 AM on July 14, 2014

I'm typing this with one thumb as I nurse my 6 week old first child, to tell you... You'll be OK.

Everyone else has covered most of what I'd say. The nurses will help you so much with both the birth and learning to nurse. We didn't go crazy prepping for either... We don't have a nursery, just a portable bassinet we keep next to our bed and a dresser to hold baby clothes and diapers with a changing mat on top.

And it works for us. In a lot of ways, I think we're better off than parents who idealize and think they can prepare for everything.

One practical thing I'd add is to choose a pediatrician. They'll ask for that info at the hospital and you'll need to make an appointment within a few days.

Also, consider signing up for Amazon Prime/Amazon Mom. Having stuff delivered to you within 2 days is pretty awesome when it's tough to get out.
posted by Kriesa at 10:42 AM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

You will be fine.

I didn't take any classes before giving birth, except for a childbirth class (just discussing what would happen at the hospital, etc.) - nothing about newborn care or breastfeeding at all. Although I did have a few books, I didn't really learn a lot until the baby came. Guess what? Even if I had, I don't think it would have made anything easier. You just learn stuff as you need to. If you have trouble breastfeeding, you'll learn at the time how to fix it. There is a lot of downtime with a newborn. You will be up at all hours of the night to feed the baby, so that gives you a lot of time to research online when you have questions.

I agree with all prior answers that mention the stuff you actually need: car seat, diapers, a few outfits. Everything else can wait. You don't know what your baby will be like, so there's no sense going out and buying a bunch of stuff you may not need later on.

Just go with the flow and try not to worry too much. You will be FINE.
posted by barnoley at 10:45 AM on July 14, 2014

For more specifics on what you should buy, Lucie's List is an amazing resource. They drill down to what you need to know about all the baby needs (carseats, strollers, clothes, post-partum needs, etc.), and they're specific and up-to-date on brands. They include multiple options to fit various budgets. It's not all about one store- they mostly link to Amazon, but you can shop anywhere. They will send you a cheat sheet if you subscribe to their (very practical, not at all spammy) mailing list.

I am due about the same time as you, and I have done the research & preparation to give me a false sense of control & security over what's coming, but you know what? Pregnancy itself has been a big reminder that I am not in control, and I have no idea what I'm getting myself into. Every pregnancy, every birth, every baby, every mother, every parent is different!
posted by aabbbiee at 10:49 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

N'thing Amazon Mom.

I have also gotten an exorbitant amount of use out of nursing tanks during the past 9 months. Couldn't live without them. Target has good ones, and luckily ... they are easily procured on Amazon as well.
posted by keasby at 10:50 AM on July 14, 2014

This isn't a comprehensive list (it's been a few years), but the important things I learned from my class that I wouldn't have had a clue about:

- how to swaddle
- how often the baby should feed, waking the baby up to feed (I was told every 3 hours)
- what meconium is (first poos are thick, sticky, and very dark green, almost black)
- what colostrum is, when to expect milk to come in
- how many pees and poos to expect - not for fun, but to make sure everything is ok
- make sure baby is not always laying his/her head to the same side; head can develop a flat spot which is severe cases can cause issues with the jaw, etc
- always burp baby after feeding
- lay baby on back to sleep, not stomach
- signs of jaundice
- your nipples may bleed from breast feeding
posted by kitcat at 10:52 AM on July 14, 2014

Must haves:
1) car seat
2) a couple of 0-3 month onesies
3) somewhere safe for the baby to sleep
4) Amazon Mom membership (for 2-day shipping) for everything else as you figure out what you need.

All that preparation that people do is 75% just wanting something to do to help them feel less nervous. It's not bad, but you're not going to be a bad mom just because you haven't had time. (We, like everyone else we knew, laid in a ton of stuff ahead of time and never used 50% of it because of baby size, baby preference, or just because it turned out to be overkill.)

If you want a good reference book the American Academy of Pediatrics has "Heading Home with your Newborn" which is a sensible book that covers the basics.

The hospital will have some kind of breastfeeding instruction, and you can decide if you need extra help after you are already breastfeeding. They will also seriously load you up with stuff including diapers, a baby outfit, perineum care equipment, etc. Having some good pads and some witch hazel at home isn't a bad idea though since the hospital ones might as well come with one of those waist belts like they had in "Are you There God, It's Me, Margaret." I wouldn't get diapers till you know what size the baby is--my kids never fit in NB diapers and went straight to size 1.

If your maternity clothes don't fit, get a few cheap new ones at Target or H&M or Old Navy. You'll still be able to wear them for a month or two postpartum, so it's not like you're buying clothes, and it's so unpleasant to wear clothes that don't fit when you're at term.

This is all going to be OK. You're doing a good job at a stressful time.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 11:00 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I hit the second hand store to larger clothes, buying three tops, 2-3 pairs of pants, a dress and a sweater. I gained 90 pounds during pregnancy and decided that being overweight AND not fitting into my clothing was just too much suckiness.

Please know as a person that went to the classes, I wish I'd kept my saturdays and just let the medical staff at the hospital - particularly the nurses - walk me through the key information (breathing, breastfeeding, how to swaddle). That and some 5 minute youtube videos were more than enough. I did bring my iPad and headphones for some spotify distraction, which helped while I was in hospital.

Sing up for amazon prime to order everything you forgot, get the happiest baby on the block, and find an online new mom's group.

You can do this! It's just annoying because you don't figure it out until you are faced with it. But really, you can do this!
posted by anitanita at 11:02 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Before I had my first baby 6 months ago, I got the book Heading Home with Your Newborn and that was probably the most useful baby-preparation thing I did. It has a bunch of really concise chapters about the stuff you need to know and it's written for people who don't have any experience taking care of babies (that was totally me). That $9 and 3 hours of reading time was far, far, far more useful than the actual hospital class we took on newborn care.

Depending on your hospital, nurses are a great source of information when learning to breastfeed. When you arrive at the recovery section after giving birth, you or your husband can ask that you be assigned a nurse who can help a first-time mom learn about breastfeeding. (At my hospital, they found out I was a first-time mom and I wanted to breastfeed and they assigned me the nurse who was also a lactation consultant and she was so patient and so helpful in showing me different ways to hold the baby and checking the latch every time.) It is one of those things you learn best by doing, so don't be shy about asking nurses to check your baby's latch every time they walk in the room, that will ultimately be more helpful than a class anyway.

Car seat and a safe place for baby to sleep were the top two things that we (barely) had in place when I delivered at 38 weeks. Other very useful things that I'm glad we had on-hand when we came home were a supply of NB and size 1 diapers, wipes, a changing pad, and three pairs of footie pajamas that the baby lived in for the first few weeks of life.
posted by iminurmefi at 11:05 AM on July 14, 2014

Things you must have:
1) car seat. (Any bucket is fine. I personally found our Chicco Keyfit to be very easy to install and use, and it fits both tiny babies and big babies well.) Do practice installing it in advance.
2) a few one-piece pajamas in size 0-3 months. (don't buy newborn until you discover you have a tiny baby). I prefer ones that don't need to pull over the head. You don't use snap crotch onesie t-shirts until after the umbilical cord falls off, btw.

Things it would be nice to have:
1) A snap-in stroller frame (I went this route over travel system because travel system strollers drive like a tank, and are heavy for postpartum mom to lug in and out of car. You have lots more stroller options once your kid can sit up)
2) A box of size 1 diapers and some wipes. They will give you diapers in the hospital, and you'll probably have a couple days' worth to take home, so the world will not end if you don't already have these.
3) A pack of swaddle blankets. (I like the Aden & Anais ones - they're expensive but good quality and versiatile)
4) Something the baby can sleep in. Crib/cosleeper/pack and play/dresser drawer/suitcase
5) Couple of nursing tanks
6) Some heavy flow maxi pads

Really, this is all you need.
YOU ARE ALLOWED TO GO TO THE STORE AFTER YOU HAVE A BABY. So is your husband. Most of what you need, you will leave the hospital with enough to get you through a few days. Take home the extra diapers, the dry wipes, the ice-pack maxi pads, the awful mesh underpants.

Things like swing, bouncy seat, complicated swaddlers, bottles - those can all wait. The nurses at the hospital will explain how to take care of a baby. A pediatrician will see your baby in the hospital, and if you don't have a different pediatrician arranged, you can see that one again for your followup.

You will be fine.
posted by telepanda at 11:09 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you'll be driving home- bring one pair of little baby pants to the hospital. We had a bunch of tiny newborn shirts and some onesies, but no pants, and we had to fashion some pants for our dude out of an upside-down shirt, so the carseat buckle wouldn't chafe his legs. Not a terrible turn of events, but one more thing that made us feel frazzled and like we didn't know what we were doing.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 11:12 AM on July 14, 2014

Also (sorry to contradict The Elusive Architeuthis!), but I received absolutely no newborn-size clothing at my baby shower and had a bunch of people tell me not to bother buying any, because there was a good chance the baby wouldn't fit into it at all and in any case he'd grow out of it so fast. However, that was not helpful when my full-term baby (who has two parents who are 6 feet tall!) came out absolutely average newborn-sized and we didn't have clothes that fit to take him home from the hospital. It's really stressful to put a tiny newborn in size 0-3 month clothing if s/he is too small for that, because all the extra fabric kind of pools around the neck when they're in a car seat and you worry and worry about them suffocating.

Totally worth the $20 to go to Target and buy 2 newborn-size outfits and a small pack of NB size diapers. If your baby happens to be quite large and you don't ever use them, you can easily gift them as baby shower presents--but if you need them and don't have any, it's kind of stressful to be sending your husband out to the store within minutes of arriving home (or worse yet, having to stop on the way home from the hospital and wait in the car with the baby while someone runs in).
posted by iminurmefi at 11:12 AM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have a three month old.

Prenatal classes were incredibly useless (visualize colors! Pretend you're on the beach! You'll know when you're in labor!) and a waste of our weekend. I had contractions, I went to the hospital, I had an epidural, and then I had a baby. The classes didn't focus on any of the stuff that actually mattered when push came to shove, which for me happened to be the POSTPARTUM stuff, not labor. Buy comfortable pads, the bigger the better. Don't count on your pants fitting on your way home from the hospital. I lost almost 15 lbs from baby+fluids alone but my hips splayed open and my maternity pants were suddenly too small, let alone the clothes I'd brought along with me. If you end up with stitches plan on yoga pants and skirts for a good long while.

Breastfeeding is hard, no amount of "theory" will prepare you for a baby on your boob. The nurses will help. The lactation consultants will help. You will breastfeed at the hospital and your pediatrician will follow up at baby's first visit. If you have insurance they must cover a breast pump. After you give birth, call your chosen pediatrician (if he/she is not at the hospital you will deliver at) and your insurance company to tell them your baby was born and they'll take it from there. Don't count on breastfeeding helping you lose weight, the hormones are doing the exact opposite for me. Don't worry about losing weight either, honestly, it'll happen when it happens.

I read books beforehand, none of it really applied. Our baby wanted nothing to do with swaddling and nothing to do with being carried around and absolutely nothing to do with shushing (Happiest Baby on the Block was right out). We figured out her personality and her preferences right quick and you will too.

Know how to use your carseat. Know how to make a bottle of formula, just in case. Nipple confusion is seriously overstated, but mommy guilt is not. A happy mommy means a happy baby, so TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. It's okay to need a break. It's okay to close yourself in a room and cry. It's okay to hate being a mom once in a while. Have your doctor talk to your partner about post-partum depression and trust your partner to keep an eye on you. Don't overanalyze your feelings, it might not be an instantaneous choir of angels and infinite love when they put her on your chest and that's 100% normal.

Above all, I have come to realize that a great majority of older moms remember a neat editorialized version of the newborn phase. It will be awe inspiring, absolutely, but it'll SUCK ASS and that's okay. It gets better.
posted by lydhre at 11:22 AM on July 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

Oh, one other thing. With my first I read recommendations for this All Purpose Nipple Ointment (which if I understand correctly is prescription and needs to be made at a compounding pharmacy). And recommendations for asking for a prescription for it while you're in the hospital, so you'll have it on hand when you need it.

I am planning on printing this page out and taking it with me to the hospital and asking. This is one of the very few things I am planning, most everything else I'm winging : )
posted by pennypiper at 11:44 AM on July 14, 2014

Are you the kind of person who has to control every little detail of an upcoming thing to be able to relax? If so, read up on birthing. If you're happy just to take your cues from the midwife, and preparing stresses you out, let it be.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:12 PM on July 14, 2014

Don't sink too much money into nursing bras until your milk comes in and you know what size you'll need. The ones I bought before baby muffins arrived wound up being WAY too small.

If you want to baby wear be prepared that your little one has a say in this. Mine hates carriers which is too bad.
posted by trunk muffins at 12:15 PM on July 14, 2014

Lengthy but simple:

Take from the hospital the things they expect you to take:
-Scalp scrubby
-Small plastic tub (perfect size for those first baby baths). I didn’t know I could take it, and I was missing it later.
-That squeeze-bulb thing for clearing baby’s stuffy nose. She will snuffle a LOT at first while she sleeps, it is normal I was told because babies are still clearing out fluids from being in the womb and all. But sometimes the little bulb may necessary too.
-All the mesh underwear and maxi-pads they will let you have.

For memories, if you want:
-Get birth announcements addressed now, if you want to do them and have the time (if not, don’t worry, really). Then when the time comes you can (or you can get someone else to) stuff them and mail them.
-Pay for the hospital newborn picture package. Why not. Unless you’re super-organized, unlike me, and know that you’ll have it done at some point.

Get from Target/Amazon:
-Cradle cap shampoo, because you’ll probably need it. Mustela is a good brand.
-A baby hand/foot stamp kit. They don’t do footprints on birth certificates anymore.

For your comfort and sanity at home:
-Robe and comfy clothes that you feel good in and can see visitors in—robes cover the tank tops you’ll be wearing for easy access if you’re nursing. Nothing fancy, whatever makes you feel fine and lets you move easily.

-Something to prop your feet on when nursing or relaxing—ottoman, pouf, etc.

-An e-reader if you don’t have one already. You can find them cheap on craigslist sometimes. Easier to hold than a paperback while you’re feeding or holding baby.

-A good breast pump, right off the bat. I was painfully engorged for nearly a week after I got home, and it might have helped for me to start pumping as soon as my milk started coming in, because although my son nursed frequently there was way more supply than demand. Sometimes pediatrician’s offices will rent breast pumps, you might want to go that route at first.

-Clean laundry: lots of receiving blankets, sheets set aside for your bed and baby bassinet (if you use one) when you come home from the hospital.

-A can of formula. For those times you find yourself with cracked, sore nipples at 3 a.m. and you’re just exhausted, give yourself a break and give the baby formula, it will be fine. You may want to get the lactose-free kind in case your baby ends up being lactose-intolerant. I think “nipple confusion” is overrated, if it’s even a big thing anymore.

-Post-partum doula. I wish I had saved my money and had a doula help me at home versus in the hospital. Meal prep, nursing positions, swaddling, helping with visitors (like, quit coming over unannounced, people! My boobs are out all day, ok?!?), all that. I was in an emotional daze, my husband didn’t get it, and the presence of someone with more experience in those early days would have helped.
posted by luckyveronica at 1:38 PM on July 14, 2014

SanSebastien: "I have not had a lot of time to learn about breastfeeding, caring for an infant or even research all that goes into having a newborn."

Don't worry, they will teach you basically all of this at the hospital. An excellent, excellent book for the first four months is Heading Home with Your Newborn. It covers all those things like early breastfeeding (and bottlefeeding, if that's what you choose); dressing the baby; burping the baby; bathing the baby; cleaning up diaper catastrophes; all that stuff. It's short, it's reassuring and affirming of many different choices, it's by doctors who are also moms, and it leaves off at four months ... which is right about when you stop having so many panicked questions because YOU GOT THIS. By four months you'll be in a groove and baby care will not flummox you very often.

You need a carseat, a place for the baby to sleep, clothes and diapers and swaddling blankets, and I think it's helpful to have a small baby medical/emergency kit, to include the following:
1) A bottle (just one! just in case!) and a sample or small container of formula. That way if you need it, you have it, and you don't have to make a panicked run to a 24-hour pharmacy to find it. If you don't need it, donate it to a domestic violence shelter or a crisis nursery later on. They always need formula and bottles (and diapers, if you get halfway through a package and your kid grows out of it).
2) Baby Tylenol
2.5) Baby Ibuprofin and Kid Benadryl, which they can't have for a few months, but you can get it now so you'll have it later
3) Pedialyte, in single-serve bottles (or powder packets), which keeps for ages and ages on your shelf ... again, if you need it, you'll have it.
4) Nail clippers
5) A rectal thermometer (they may give you one at the hospital to take home with you -- you should call the hospital and ask what they send you home with)
6) Diaper rash cream of choice

Everything else can be ordered 2-day shipping on Amazon, or picked up at Target or the grocery store or the pharmacy when you discover you need it; you just need the basics of sleep/travel/clothing, and then it's nice to have the stuff you might NEED at 3 a.m. with a sick baby. Otherwise don't worry too much.

I also suggest you make a special trip to the grocery store and pharmacy to a) peruse the baby aisles and get an idea of what they have (my local grocery store has plain white gerber onesie packages! This is good to know!); and b) buy a six-month supply of toilet paper, paper towels, deodorant, shampoo for you, laundry detergent, dish soap, and other household and personal-care staples (and shelf-stable pet supplies, if applicable). It was REALLY NICE not to have to worry about that kind of thing for six months so I only had to shop for food and baby necessities. Cut way down on errands.

If you don't have a pediatrician picked out, you probably want to do that now too. You can ask on facebook if you're starting to have a local network, or ask for recs at work. People love to share pediatrician recommendations.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:45 PM on July 14, 2014

I just wanted to say: with my last pregnancy, I gained about 60 pounds. It was summer by the third trimester. I was hot and miserable and fat. My feet were swollen. I drove myself to Target, and bought four maxi dresses and a giant pair of flipflops. I STRONGLY recommend doing something like this to make it through the next six weeks. Maxi dresses are great because a) you don't have to shave, b) you don't have to wear pants, and c) you're basically getting away with wearing a nightgown in public and d) after the baby comes, you'll *still* be in maternity clothes for a few weeks, and these will make it more bearable. Get some cardigans if you need something not to be strappy for the office.

Seriously. Last six weeks of pregnancy, especially in the summer = AVOID PANTS, as far as I'm concerned.
posted by linettasky at 2:40 PM on July 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

If it makes you feel any better my mom, who was basically Super Mom*, recently confessed that when they brought me (the first/oldest) home from the hospital they didn't change my clothes for several days because they didn't have any! So they just left me in the hospital outfit until they had a chance to go shopping. I don't remember this at all. She was a great mom, I had a great childhood, and I was a (mostly) pretty good kid and we all turned out fine. I'm due in early Sep, so you're not alone!

*Have you seen Raising Helen? My mom would have been the sister (Joan Cusack).
posted by jrobin276 at 2:45 PM on July 14, 2014

Breastfeeding basics:

I took a breastfeeding class but it wasn't until I did a ton of reading about the mechanics of breastfeeding that I figured out how early nursing works. This is generally not talked about, even in very good breastfeeding classes with very good lactation consultants.

Your baby will latch immediately after birth and then probably sleep through the next day. After that, he or she will want to nurse constantly. You will have colostrum, which is the super rich, antibody dense stuff that comes before milk. At this point, your baby's stomach is the size of a marble and he or she will want to nurse all the time. It may be painful, which isn't unusual in the early days. He or she may also seem fussy or unsatisfied. When in doubt, put the baby on your breast. Feed that baby all the time. Don't give bottles or pacifiers at all in the very early days, not because of nipple confusion, but because the number of times latching in 24 hours is part of what signals to your body to make a lot of milk. Your milk won't come in until day 3 or 4--later, if you have a c-section--but in those early days, despite the fact that your baby seems ravenous, it should be all he or she needs. Remember: stomach the size of a marble. Here's a useful graphic.

On the other hand, your baby might seem sleepy those first few days. If so, you want to wake that baby up to nurse every 2-3 hours. Yes, even at night. Again, this signals to your body to make milk. It also helps protect your baby against dehydration.

The best indication that your baby is eating enough is diaper count and weight gain, but your baby's weight might be inflated at birth if you received IV fluids.

How hungry your baby seems or how often your baby wants to eat is not an indication of whether or not your baby is eating enough. Wanting to eat all the time 24/7 ohmygodkillme is normal. Breastmilk is digested extremely quickly (2-3 hours) and so a baby has to eat often.

You can't feed your baby too often. You can't overfeed a breastfed baby. You can definitely underfeed a baby, and this won't only impact your baby, but also your milk supply. Anticipate spending a lot of time on the couch or in bed feeding your baby in those first few weeks. Get a tablet that you can internet surf on one-handed; get a netflix subscription. Be ready with lots and lots of bottles of water and snacks. If you are breastfeeding, you will be hungry and thirsty all the time. Let your partner take diaper duty during the first weeks especially. Your job for the first few weeks is recovering from childbirth and feeding that baby.

Once your milk comes in, you may experience engorgement and leaking. I recommend target nursing tanks, a few sleep bras, these breastfeeding pads, and this pad to put on your mattress while you sleep.

Figure out how to nurse laying down as it can help you sleep well during early days when baby wants to eat all the time. Research safe co-sleeping and keep in mind that if you plan to co-sleep at all, it's safer to do it in an intentional way on a bed than on a sofa or plush chair.

In the first six weeks, pee before breastfeeding. This isn't just a practical suggestion (because, you know, it's hard to pee with your arms full of baby), but a medical one. Your uterus will contract more painfully with a full bladder.

Your baby will have a growth spurt around 10 days, at 3 weeks, and at 6 weeks, during which time he or she will want to nurse all the time again. Totally normal. Not a sign that there's anything wrong with you or your milk. Brace yourself for it, know it's coming. Prepare. But know it's normal too.

Understand that our cultural models of baby feeding and sleep are mostly drawn up around formula feeding. Frequent night wakings are common in breastfed babies. Yes, your baby might seem hungry all the time to your in-laws and relatives who formula fed their kids. It doesn't mean your baby is starving and it doesn't mean that your milk is insufficient.

The best websites I know for breastfeeding support are /r/breastfeeding on reddit and kellymom. I particularly recommend the sidebar links on /r/breastfeeding. If you're going to look for lactation help, try to find an IBCLC rather than just a Lactation Consultant (LC). IBCLCs are far more credentialed and knowledgeable. Don't assume that the nurses in your hospital will be qualified to help you. If they are, that's great! But some hospitals have breastfeeding unfriendly policies and professionals who unintentionally give advice that's contrary to successful breastfeeding. Know about the common cultural Booby Traps which trip women up and cause them to breastfeed for far shorter periods of time than they intend.

I'm going to actually disagree with having a can of formula on hand. Formula samples are linked with lower successful breastfeeding outcomes; when given formula at the hospital, women don't breastfeed for as long as they intended. It's not that formula is evil; in fact, it's wonderful that it's there for women and babies who need it. But there are good reasons to give exclusive breastfeeding a go, and while giving a bottle of formula here and there in those early, superhard weeks so you can have a break is extremely tempting, every meal your baby doesn't get out of your body is a meal your body knows not to make. The way your body regulates supply is that an empty boob signals to your body to make more milk, and a full boob tells it to make less. If you get in the regular habit of keeping your boobs full and giving formula instead, you can impact your supply negatively. If you intend to inclusively breastfeed from the start (formula and breastmilk), I'd recommend the reddit community /r/boobsandbottles, as it's a great place full of women who are working to maintain their supply while also feeding with formula.

This is not the case with a breastpump, clearly, as that is milk you're taking out of your body and giving to your baby later. I was told to wait until 3 weeks to start pumping (and then told to wait longer, still, because I had too much milk), but a pumped bottle here and there can be a really nice thing. Get a free electric pump from your insurance if you can.

There are other things that might come up--I dealt with oversupply (a real problem! not often talked about!) and lip/tongue tie in the early weeks. But those sorts of things are really issues you would want to see an IBCLC about.

Congratulations! And feel free to MeMail me if it gets hard. Breastfeeding is the kind of act that really thrives with community, and yet it's something most women go through in isolation. It's really really hard in the beginning for many women, but if you can get it to work, it can be pretty awesome, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:47 PM on July 14, 2014 [10 favorites]

Oh, also: get a vibrating bouncer. Putting one on the floor of the bathroom was the only way I showered for the first two months.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:49 PM on July 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

Well, I say thank god for Metafilter, You Tube and Amazon because you can find answers to all sorts of those things you need. Yes, you can buy things after the baby just brings things right to your door for free if you have one of those membership things as do other websites ...and they have a great little registry thing going so you can figure it out. I found another site Target I think that did a great job of creating a list of "here you might need these things to get started". (I had babies long ago but work with younger women who find themselves just where you are at and we got it all fixed up in days while we was the government, sheesh. )

As for nursing, I knew from raising little baby calves that you can take your clean little finger and stroke the top of baby's mouth to teach baby how to suck....not all of them come knowing how to do it. You won't have nails too long either after baby comes because that is a great way to poke baby.....

You will be great......and baby won't least mine don't and I am sure I did not do it all perfect to start with.
posted by OhSusannah at 7:20 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yes! The secret to sucking is that you've got to get that nipple, pacifier, or finger to hit the roof of baby's mouth towards the back. That triggers the reflex. Once some nurse gives you this tip you are suddenly a baby-feeding pro.

I actually came back in to say, everyone who offers to help with the baby is serious and would looooove to snuggle your baby for two hours while you nap, because a) newborns are precious to snuggle and smell good and b) anyone who's had one remembers how hard it is and how valuable help is. Don't be afraid to take friendly acquaintances up on their offers to help - they really mean it AND they're secretly hoping to snuggle your baby and smell delicious baby head.

Now that my kids are preschoolers my favorite thing is to snuggle someone else's newborn who insists she can only sleep upright while being held, while I just read a book for two hours and my friend can shower and sleep. That way I can have lots of baby snuggle time without, you know, having to have a baby.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:08 PM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Great breastfeeding advice from PhoBWan above - I'd just add a couple of things. It doesn't necessarily hurt at the beginning, but it certainly can. And your milk doesn't necessarily come in later if you have a c-section, but again, it can. I had a C and my milk came in right on time.

I took prenatal classes including a couple of breastfeeding classes (my son is now 13 months and still nurses). The main thing I took home from the classes was the email address of a really good IBCLC, which was invaluable when we got to 10 days and I was thinking "I knew breastfeeding could be hard but is it supposed to be THIS hard?". Turned out my baby had a tongue tie which was making feeding difficult. Swift diagnosis and a quick procedure to separate it meant the difference between an OK situation and possibly giving up breastfeeding in desperation.

The thing I found difficult was knowing what's normally difficult, and what's abnormal and needs treatment. It is ALWAYS ok to ask someone, and that's why it's great to have the contact details of a good consultant. I preferred email over phone because the hormones in the early weeks made me cry a huge amount, and I'm selective about who I cry at. If you have breastfeeding problems it's really important to get help promptly if you want to avoid the cycle of supplementing and reducing supply (which can be overcome, but which can also make things more difficult).

Good luck! Don't worry about the weight - that will sort itself out. I haven't found breastfeeding to be useful in that respect but the weight is now slowly coming off.
posted by altolinguistic at 2:54 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Turned out my baby had a tongue tie which was making feeding difficult. Swift diagnosis and a quick procedure to separate it meant the difference between an OK situation and possibly giving up breastfeeding in desperation.

Yeah, it's good to be aware of ties even though it's not something that everyone faces. They can cause a whole host of problems, from pain that lasts beyond the first few weeks to poor milk transfer. This blog post is a good resource and so is this facebook group. Keep in mind that not all pediatricians will recommend that ties be treated, but if you or your baby are having symptoms, it's worth it to seek out an IBCLC or pediatric dentist who will give you a diagnosis and snip them.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:43 AM on July 15, 2014

0) Kellymom is one of the best internet resources out there.
1) Please know that "If it hurts, you're doing it wrong" is true in a sense - but what you may be doing wrong is being in possession of a baby with a teeny tiny newborn mouth that doesn't fit your damned areola. Both of mine had to grow for a couple of weeks before they could breastfeed without causing me damage. Also, babies are born wanting to eat, but they aren't all born knowing how to latch politely and efficiently.
2) Not everybody has skin issues with breastfeeding, but be warned they can happen (it's more likely if you're fair skinned). I got early skin wounds on my nipples and breastfeeding was excruciating for the first several days. For my second, I had to pump one breast for a few days (feeding her off the other) and then graduate to using a nipple shield in order to survive the first ten days.
3) Skin issues can be fixed by the following: walking around with your boobs hanging out all the time, using breast shells when you do have to cover up (hard plastic hemispheres that keep fabric from touching your nipples), and using ointments before and after nursing. I found the Motherlove olive oil based ointments helped me SO MUCH MORE than lanolin. The thrush formulation helped marginally more than the regular. They're expensive, but I only needed one small container.
4) Use a nipple shield (thin plastic that fits over your nipple while baby is nursing) if you absolutely have to, but avoid it if you can and wean off it as soon as you are able. That said, if you have no skin left on your nipple and you are sobbing at the mere thought of latching a baby on, and a nipple shield is what gets you through, USE IT USE IT USE IT.
5) I used a lactation consultant the second time around and I do recommend it, with caveats. It was helpful to know, for example, that I was so tense from pain that my milk wasn't letting down and the baby was actually not getting enough to eat. (They have a very sensitive scale, and weigh baby before and after a feed to see how much they got). This was a real problem since baby was jaundiced and jaundiced babies have to be fed extra. Per her advice, I supplemented with pumped milk after feeding for several days. However, my LC was very very very opposed to the nipple shield, and tried to badger me into weaning off of it before I was ready, which actually resulted in needing to use it for longer because baby re-injured the nipple. She also wouldn't write me a prescription for the all purpose nipple ointment. And she insisted our problems were because the baby had a lip tie and wanted me to take baby to specialist immediately. Ped said it was about as minor as they come, and I opted not to have it cut. I knew enough from my first child to take LC's advice with a grain of salt and it was fine, but it could have been dicey if I was a new mom.
6) BUT we survived the first few weeks, and I have/am nursed/ing both kids successfully. I'm a big fan of breastfeeding, largely because [for my babies] nearly anything that was bothering them was fixable by shoving a boob in their mouth, but you shouldn't really do that with formula. Also, the oxytocin that gets released when you breastfeed is great for convincing you that you don't *actually* want to toss the baby out the window :)

If you are going to breastfeed, what you need above all else is a supportive someone you can write weepy emails to (or make weepy phone calls to) when the going gets tough. There is a hormonal assault that occurs after giving birth and you will, in fact, take leave of your senses for a bit. (But it gets better! I promise! It's only temporary!) I just about murdered my mom when she started in about how breastfeeding is too hard and I wouldn't be able to keep it up after going back to work anyway, and so just give it up already. Fortunately I had a supportive friend.

Finally: It's going to be a long six(ish) weeks, and a long three months after that. But IT GETS BETTER. IT GETS BETTER. IT GETS BETTER. You may well have spells where the only thing you want to do is put that baby in a box and mail it back. This is normal as long as you don't actually do it. Remind yourself as often as you can: IT GETS BETTER. Some other people in the thread have offered themselves up as resources, but I'll add my name to the list. If you need a parenting resource, a breastfeeding resource, or someone to write weepy emails to, please MeMail me.
posted by telepanda at 8:17 AM on July 15, 2014

You can do this. It'll be OK. The lack of sleep is almost unbearable to begin with but it does get better, I swear! Also, you will hear a lot of advice on how to do EVERYTHING or how you are doing it wrong. Always take what you like and leave the rest. Only YOU are the expert at your baby. I just learned to smile and nod, say thank you.. and ignore them.

**Baby Stuff People have gone over what you really need to get, but I just wanted to add: don't go overboard with every product and gadget. You can get by with very little. If you find you need something, then have someone run out and get it for you.

**Breastfeeding: I had trouble breastfeeding at first because it felt all awkward and I couldn't get the damn nipple in baby's mouth - it took 4 or 5 tries to latch with bouts of crying in between. The books and hospital nurse had me squeezing my nipple and trying to shove it in baby's mouth to try and hit the roof of the mouth. It just wasn't working and it was 3 days of hell.

Luckily I got what I called "million dollar advice" from the Lactation consultant I hired a few days later, to wit: Put the nipple on baby's nose and (don't skip this part) make sure your aureola is touching his chin. A touch on the chin is baby's signal to lift her head up and seek out the nipple. Placing the nipple on the nose gives is the perfect length for her to lift her head for a good latch as she does this. Now baby has a good latch AND her his head is in the right position. Magic!! Baby seeks nipple by temperature as the nipple is hotter than the surrounding tissue. Worked like a charm and I had NO other breastfeeding issues from that day forward. Perfect latch the first time, every time. Turns out babies are little geniuses. 7 months and still going strong with breastfeeding while I add whole foods.

**Poop: They don't tell you that your baby is going to shit almost every single time it breastfeeds for the first few months. Also, once it shits.. wait 5 minutes, it's probably going to shit again. Might as well save a diaper.

Products I actually recommend:

*Nose Frida - Snot Sucker. Yes, you suck out the snot but there's a filter - works way better than the bulbs.

*Britax Car Seat/Stroller Combo - Travel System I linked to Walmart because that's the cheapest I could find it with just a quick search. The car seat clicks out of the base and directly onto the stroller and you can do it with one hand. The stroller opens with one hand. Easy peasy. When you are done with the car seat, you have a regular, awesome stroller. $300 well spent. (I found out just a few days ago it's the car seat the Prince of England when home in.)

*Diaper Service for the first 3 months. It was a life saver for me to have my diapers taken away and new ones at my door each week. I'm in the San Francisco area and used Earth Baby compostable diaper service, loved them. Whatever diaper system you use, having someone else deal with it in the beginning was bliss.

**My daughter hated being swaddled so after awhile, we used the Baby Merlin Magic Sleep Suit and it was a life saver. I ended up buying both sizes and wish they made it even larger! She loves the suit, sleeps peacefully and it keeps her safely on her back, even at 7 months.

**Palmer's Cocoa Butter Diaper Cream Diaper creams smell freaking nasty. Not this one. It has a pleasant, light smell and works beautifully.

It's gonna be OK - you are going to be a terrific momma!! Trust your instincts - they will kick in.
posted by crayon at 2:07 PM on July 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Some of this advice is terrifyingly over-detailed. Just do one thing at a time. While you are doing it, be aware that you are doing the thing that needs to be done for the child. "Hey I'm shopping for diapers at the grocery store. Hooray for me!" And then the next thing. The only mistake you can make is not proceeding to the next thing, unless its time to go to sleep for a short period of time. You'll be great.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:08 PM on July 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

Okay, take a deep breath. You have had a lot going on.

I agree about all of the detail above being overwhelming and a little frightening at 34wks pregnant. Even I stopped reading halfway through the thread.

I won't go into additional advice about what you need. I will say this - get your doc to take you out a few weeks early so you can have a few weeks to rest and transition your mind from work mode to mom mode. My pregnancy was perfect and easy and I still went out 10 days early.

If you want to learn more about breastfeeding, which was the only thing that we "studied" for beforehand that was necessary to know day 1, join your local La Leche League, or spend some time perusing the KellyMom or Leaky B@@b websites.

Anything else, like how to change diapers, or bathe a baby, or even how to do Happiest Baby the Block can be watched on YouTube videos.
posted by vignettist at 8:03 AM on July 16, 2014

It's going to be fine. Some people have a baby without even knowing they were pregnant.

It's hard to learn to breastfeed before you do it, and there will be plenty of help at the hospital for that. They will also show you and your partner how to diaper the baby and any other newborn care. They will show you how to bathe baby, how to wash out bottles, run a breast pump, swaddle the baby etc. They even gave us a thermometer, a snot sucker, a few diapers, a hat, a blanket, a few breast pump parts, a couple of pacifiers, a scrubby for bathtime. In fact, they showed us the Happiest Baby on the Block dvd someone mentioned upthread!

Personally, I would make sure you have a car seat, and seriously any one on the market will be fine, they all go through and pass the same safety ratings. After that, I'd look at a place for baby to sleep. And finally, the one other thing I would have before baby comes is a Boppy nursing pillow, because I found it to make breastfeeding a million times more comfortable [but you don't NEED one, I swear!].

We bought all of our diapers off Amazon from our hospital room after baby was born (including deciding about cloth vs. disposable and setting up a diaper service).

One really random thing that I'm glad I knew when the time came is that, if you end up with a c-section, there will be a lot of people in the OR. That is normal and nothing to be concerned about.

Best wishes!
posted by freezer cake at 9:12 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

One other thing - if you have a friend who offers to help, they probably mean it. I had two friends who gave birth within two weeks of one another. We all lived in the same apartment complex, and I had keys to both places. They both knew that they could text me from 6AM - midnight (and after midnight if it was an emergency) and I would help with whatever. Usually it fell into one of two categories:

1) can you pick up X from the store and just leave it inside the door? (I would pick up X thing, take it over, unlock the door, open it just enough to set X inside and then close and relock the door).
2) Can you come over for five minutes and watch the baby? This didn't happen often, but it was usually when the mom has just had enough and needed a break. Usually it was a walk around the block (or sitting in her car in the lot in silence for 5 minutes) and mom would feel better.

If you have a friend who offers to help, see if they would be willing to do stuff like this for you - I bet the answer would be yes!
posted by RogueTech at 8:05 PM on July 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

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