What To Do Before Your Baby's Arrival
The following lists provide a few suggestions to help you prepare for your baby's arrival at home. Since your hospital stay will be brief, your transition home may be made easier if you have prepared for well in advance of your baby's birth.
- Preparing For Your Baby
- Expectations and Birth Options
- Other Preparation Recommendations
- Miscellaneous Suggestions
Preparing For Your Baby
Prepare a place in your home for the baby: a sleeping area and a place for clothes and supplies.
Purchase essential nursery equipment. There are several ways to save money on baby items. Many items can be purchased second hand or through discount stores. Some items may be purchased by the case, such as disposable diapers. Suggestions for essential nursery equipment are:
- Crib or bassinet/cradle (slats should be no more than 2-3/8 inches apart
- Crib bumpers (firmly padded with six ties to secure to crib
- Bottles (ounce) and nipples
- Nipple brush for cleaning bottle nipples
- Large tote or diaper bag packed with several diapers, receiving blanket, change of clothes, plastic bag for soiled diapers, washcloth or baby wipe
- Diaper pail for cloth diapers
- Plastic-lined garbage pail for disposable diapers
- Nursing Bras (2 cotton)
- Changing table or place to change diapers
- If purchasing a used crib, make sure it meets current safety standards.
National Safety Council (NCS) Crib Safety Tips (PDF)
- Purchase and learn how to use a federally approved car seat. California State law requires car seats to be federally approved. Your baby must always be placed in the car seat, beginning with the ride home from the hospital. The safest placement of the car seat is the middle of the rear seat, facing backwards. Some car seats may require the use of a special locking clip on the seat belt. Never place your baby in the front seat of your car, especially if your car has passenger-side airbags. Ask if you are unsure, visit the California Highway Patrol website for more information. If purchasing a used car seat make sure it meets current safety standards by checking the date on the seat. Most car seats will have an expiration date on the tag, telling you not to use that seat after a certain date.
- Find a Sutter Pediatrician near you to be your baby's doctor
- Attend a newborn care class. It will be helpful to attend a newborn care class if you have not had recent experience caring for newborns.
- Attend a breastfeeding class.
- Check on cloth diaper service. If you are planning to use cloth diapers from a diaper service, check to see if they will deliver on a 24-hour notice, or before your due date.
- Be sure and wash all baby clothes, bedding, towels and washcloths in baby detergent before using.
- Prepare a basic layette of essential clothing and equipment for the baby. See our suggested layette list.
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Expectations and Birth Options
Pregnancy is a time of heightened awareness. You become aware of the changes in your body, in your way of thinking, and in your priorities. You must also become aware of the choices that may help you to determine how you feel about your birth experience, your baby, and yourselves as parents. One important choice is the provider who will manage your childbirth experience. Some women choose a physician while others want a certified nurse midwife. The important thing is that you feel your physician or midwife is a good fit with your personality and philosophy about childbirth.
You also have the responsibility to learn and question as much as possible about labor and delivery through classes, your physician or midwife, and research in order to make informed choices concerning your birth experience.
Sample Questions for your Physician or Midwife
The following are examples of commonly asked questions you may want to raise with your physician or midwife:
Once I think that I am in labor:
- When do I call?
- Whom do I call?
- Where do I call?
- If you are not available for my delivery, what the names of other physicians/midwives in your call group? Will I have a chance to meet them at a prenatal appointment, or only when I am at the hospital?
- What will happen if I go to the hospital thinking I am in labor and it turns out to be a "false alarm?"
Once I am admitted:
- After the routine fetal monitoring, will I have to be continuously monitored or can I be monitored intermittently?
- If I choose to have medication but do not want an epidural, what available medications do you recommend?
What is your opinion about:
- Activities or positions during labor such as walking, showering, bathing, rocking or lying on my side?
- Artificial rupture of membranes?
- The use of Pitocin?
- Positions for pushing and delivery including alternative birth positions like squatting?
- Length of pushing stage?
- Episiotomies, perineal massage or hot compress?
- The use of a vacuum or forceps for delivery?
- I had a Cesarean section in the past. Will I be able to deliver vaginally this time?
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Other Preparation Recommendations
- Practice relaxation, positioning, and breathing techniques often.
- Pack your bags for your hospital stay by the start of your ninth month. See this list of items you may consider having available in the hospital.
- Consider covering your mattress with a plastic sheet or shower curtain a few weeks before your due date in case your water breaks. You may also want to keep a few towels and a couple of sanitary pads in the car.
- Schedule childbirth classes and a tour at our California Campus or schedule childbirth classes and a tour at our
St. Luke’s Campus.
- If you plan to use a tub in labor, check with the hospital on their policy regarding tubs. Make arrangements to rent a tub if the facility allows them and does not have one available.
- At one of your last appointments, ask your physician or midwife whom you should call, and when you should call them if your physician or midwife is not available when you go into labor.
- Keep plenty of gas in the car. Know the route to the hospital and approximately how long it will take to travel under varying traffic conditions. Consider making a trial run and make note of where to park.
- If a car is not available, arrange ahead of time for alternative transportation. Keep telephone numbers of taxis and other resource people readily available.
- Consider renting a beeper if your partner is hard to reach. Many hospitals rent beepers on a weekly basis. Check to see if this type of rental program is available to you.
- Let friends know you prefer to have them visit after you are home from the hospital. Reserve your hospital time for you and your partner to learn about and get acquainted with your baby. If you have a telephone answering machine or voice mail service, record a message that you will call back as soon as you are able. For infant security, we recommend that you not mention the newborn baby in your recorded message.
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- Try to avoid moving households near the end of your pregnancy. Too many changes in your life at this time can add extra stress to your adaptation to parenthood.
- Arrange for household help if possible. Outside help allows you more time to enjoy the new baby! Let someone else do the cleaning and laundry. If you have willing relatives or friends, be clear with them that you need help with the chores while you care for the baby.
- Review your health insurance policy to be knowledgeable of any recent changes. Make note of the length of covered hospital stay, visiting nurse services, and well-baby coverage.
- Store as many staple items as space allows.
- Freeze meals, clearly label their contents and include directions for heating.
- Consider writing out two weeks of menus and have the ingredients on hand.
- Start a file of restaurants with take-out menus and delivery services.
- Stock up on convenience items such as paper plates and napkins. Consider locating services such as grocery or drug stores that will deliver.
- Purchase a supply of sanitary pads (tampons are not recommended for use until your period resumes later).
- Select birth announcements. You may want to address and stamp the envelopes ahead of time and fill in the blanks after the baby arrives.
- Plan ahead for birthdays and anniversaries. Since shopping is often a challenge the first few weeks after giving birth, purchasing gifts, giftwrap and cards ahead of time can be very helpful.
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