You’ve knocked the ball out of the park with your first, second and for the most part of third trimester (yay!) and are just a couple of weeks or days away from finally seeing your little one!
This is probably the time where many mothers-to-be start feeling the heat. Anxiety kicks in full throttle and you start to mentally check off the boxes on that seemingly endless list, recount the packs of diapers and baby wipes in your storeroom or even begin to stress-clean.
Anxiety is never encouraged during pregnancy and more so during the last lap of pregnancy where labour is right around the corner.
And so, to help pump the brakes on your anxiety, we have come up with a getting ready for baby’s arrival checklist that you need to do to prepare for labour!
1. Wash all baby clothes
Baby bibs, onesies, cloth nappies, mittens, socks, crib bedding and sheets – anything that baby wears and comes into contact with should be washed and ready to be used before baby arrives.
This is an important thing to do before baby’s arrival because you will soon realise your newborn will be going through his or her nappies like a super model with clothes.
Not only that, newborns’ skin is extremely sensitive and thus, it is crucial for their clothes to be clean before they wear them.
If you can, it is recommended to wash the clothes a couple of times because in this way, it softens the fabric, making it more comfortable for your baby.
And while you are at it, be sure to choose a gentle detergent or powder that has no dyes or scents included as these will aggravate your baby’s sensitive skin.
2. Get car seat fixed
For those who drive, one of the more commonly forgotten things to do before labour is none other than to get your car seat fixed.
With all your attention placed on getting the house ready, car seats are more often than not forgotten in the process of readying for labour.
In fact, it is crucial to get your car seat fixed before your baby’s arrival as you will be transporting your newborn home with the car seat.
Bringing baby home for the first time ever would prove to be a stressful enough affair and you would be thankful for not having an unprepared-car-seat situation as you leave the hospital.
It is important to ensure that your car seat is installed correctly and that it fits snugly in your car. One way to ascertain this is through moving your car seat upon installation and ensuring that it does not move back and forth or side to side more than an inch in any direction.
Also, do pay attention to the harness attached to the car seat and ensure that it is not too loose so that your baby will be securely fastened during his or her first car ride home from the hospital!
3. Prepare your hospital bag
When your water breaks and the contractions start kicking in, all you want is to grab your essentials and head to the hospital to give birth.
And this is why preparing your hospital bag days or weeks before you give birth is something you need to do before you go into labour.
Categorise your hospital bag into 2 sections – one for baby and one for yourself.
Ensure that you have included your toiletries, comfortable clothes and daily essentials for yourself and to prepare 2-3 days’ worth of baby essentials such as diapers, bibs, baby wipes depending on the number of days you would be staying in the hospital.
Preparing your hospital bag ahead of time prevents you from a mental breakdown as you enter into labour mode. Grab and go! That’s all you need to do when baby is ready to show!
4. Go over birth plan
The moment your water breaks and you experience your first contraction, everything is thrown into chaos.
The chaos of rushing to the hospital, the chaos of dealing with the increasingly painful contractions, the mental chaos of fear and anxiety and so you’re not thinking straight.
With everything in disarray, it is possibly not the best time to go over your birth plan. As such, going through your birth plan is one of the things you would need to do a couple of weeks before you give birth, to prepare for labour.
So what does a birth plan entail?
- Would you like to hire a doula? A doula is someone who’s trained as a labour companion, though not to replace your doctor or midwife. She can provide an additional source of support during your childbirth, and can also give you advice on relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and labour positions. Even after delivery, she may assist you in your postnatal care and breastfeeding.
- Do you prefer to move about or lie down during labour?
- Do you prefer to have pain relief or to go without?
- Do you have any preferences for which pain medications to have?
- Do you have any preferences for a certain position to give birth, such as semi-sitting, standing, kneeling or lying down?
- If you need a Cesarean section, do you have any special requests?
- Do you prefer to wear your own clothes?
- Do you prefer to have some drinks and snacks during labour?
- Do you prefer to listen to music? If so, what music?
- Who do you prefer to be present at the childbirth?
- Would you like your partner to cut the umbilical cord?
- Would you like to claim the placenta after childbirth?
- Would you like to store the cord blood?
- Would you like to hold onto the baby immediately after childbirth?
- Would you like to breastfeed immediately after childbirth?
Going over these essential birth plan questions beforehand allows for a smoother and less stressful labour.
This way, you can concentrate on listening to your body and prepare your body for the birth of your baby.
5. Stock up on baby essentials
Baby wipes, swaddles, burp cloth, changing pads and lots and lots of diapers!
These are some of the baby essentials you should ready before your baby arrives. With the stress of handling your newborn and struggling to understand his or her needs, the last thing you want is to realise there aren’t any diapers left as you are changing your baby!
Stock up on your baby essentials, but don’t overdo it because neither do you want to be drowning in the heaps of baby essentials.
For better deals on baby essentials, head on to baby fairs that are held several times annually in Singapore.
There, you are able to get all your baby essentials at a go and at a fraction! Stock up on baby essentials and it’ll take a little stress off handling your newborn!
6. Prepare your hospital route
This may sound excessive but trust us, it’s always better to be overprepared than underprepared (especially if you are a first-time mum).
Anywhere between your water breaking and reaching the hospital, it’s going to be like a fight scene straight out of a marvel movie – everything might and will seem like a mess.
And this is why, practice always comes in handy.
Prepare your hospital route and prepare for plan B and better yet, plan C should plan A fail you in any way.
Do a test drive to see how long it takes to get to the hospital from your home during different hours in order to learn which route to take best at any given time.
Because, the last thing you want is to be caught in a jam while you are screaming for an epidural.
You’ve probably so sick and tired of hearing this but sorry, there are just some things that you have to do to prepare for labour and exercise is just one of them.
But at this stage of your pregnancy, there are some exercises you should do more than others to help induce later (especially when you’re at your 38th – 40th week and baby is still waiting for the red carpet to be rolled out).
First things first, in order to get baby into the right position for labour, start bouncing gently on a birth ball and get into pelvic rotations.
It is said that these exercises help encourage baby to get in the ‘head down’ position that is ideal for delivery.
And when it is time to give baby a gentle nudge, you could engage in exercises such as supported squats, supported forward bend and butterfly pose to help move labour along.
Exercises that engage your core and relaxes your pelvic floor are the exercises that will help move labour to the next phase.
8. Read up on breastfeeding
You may have already read up on a million books on breastfeeding during your first and second trimester and feel that you have that in your bag.
But with delivery drawing near and breastfeeding sessions closer than ever, it is a good time to refresh your memory on what should be done when you breastfeed.
Furthermore, reading up again on breastfeeding during this time would be encouraged as you may have left out some key points along the way.
While reading up on breastfeeding may not necessarily ensure a smooth breastfeeding journey, nonetheless, knowledge is power and picking up a tip or two would not be the worst thing when baby is out and ready for his or her first breastfeeding session.
With baby ready to say hello to the world anytime now, emotions are bound to run high (especially for the pregnant mother).
As mentioned earlier, stress is a big no-no especially during this time of your pregnancy and with studies showing a correlation between stress and preterm labour, it is crucial to keep your stress levels to a minimal.
And what better way to keep your stress at a healthy level than to meditate? With an act as simple as breathing, you are able to alleviate your stressors.
All you need to do is to do some deep, rhythmic breathing and this is one of the most effective ways to ease muscle tension, lower your heart rate.
What’s more, meditation plays a significant role in your mood and even helps you get in more sleep time (something you should really indulge before baby arrives).
Get some meditation in daily if time allows and your body will thank you for that much needed stress reliever.
10. Do a last check in baby nursery
Are the baby wipes, diapers and other baby essentials within reach of the changing table?
Is your sanitation station fully equipped with supplies such as antibacterial gels, paper towels, antibacterial wipes etc.?
Is the lighting in the baby nursery appropriate and conducive for nursing?
Is the crib sturdily fixed on all sides?
Is the positioning of the crib safe from any potential falling items?
Have you removed items such as blankets, soft toys, pillows etc. that might pose as a suffocation risk from the crib?
Not only does the baby nursery have to be safe, it should allow you to change and nurse your baby in a seamless flow.
Do a final check for essentials in your baby nursery and ensure that the layout of the baby nursery is sensible.
Oh yes, and it doesn’t hurt to get a comfortable nursing chair because there’s nothing worse than having to stay put in an uncomfortable chair for hours while you nurse your baby.
11. Clean out your fridge
‘What? My fridge? What has preparing for labour got to do with my fridge?’
Here’s why you would want to do a deep clean and free a section in your fridge. Your newborn is on a liquid diet for at least 4-6 months after birth.
And for mothers who intend to breastfeed, not wasting a drop of your liquid gold is probably the aim during your breastfeeding journey.
With your newborn drinking an average of 750ml of breastmilk a day, the rest of your hard work during each pump should not be wasted and this is where a freed section of your fridge comes into play.
Expressed breast milk can be refrigerated (4°C) for up to 8 days and frozen expressed breast milk (-18°C), may be left frozen for up to 9 months.
As such, you would be highly encouraged to free a section of your refrigerator to store your expressed breast milk to ensure a healthy supply of milk throughout the duration you intend to breastfeed.
Having said that, should you want to refrigerate or freeze your expressed milk, it is crucial that your refrigerator and freezer are in an aseptic condition, to prevent any contamination of your breast milk.
Wipe down your refrigerator and freezer and discard any expired or unidentifiable foods.
You might want to use white vinegar and a sponge to wipe down your refrigerator and freezer for a more thorough cleanse.
12. Practice working on baby carriers
Baby slings, buckle carrier, prams, baby wrap – no matter what and how you choose to carry your newborn, you need to practise, practise, and practise.
Having a baby slinging on you and suspended from your shoulders sounds nothing like what freshly minted parents will be willing to do.
And not to mention the nightmare of carrying your newborn in one hand while trying to get the pram to cooperate on the other.
Getting your newborn in and out of baby carries and prams may sound challenging and intimidating and so, one of the things you should do to prepare for baby’s arrival is to start putting these carriers to practice.
Practise wearing on or tying the baby carriers of your choice and familiarize yourself with the process.
Learn to adjust the straps to ensure that it is comfortable for you and you could put a stuffed toy in while you practise.
As for prams, it is a good idea to try folding and unfolding it, taking it in and out of the car boot as well as up and down steps should you have to encounter them regularly.
After you are done with your practise, you could then practise with a stuffed toy in one hand while maneuvering the pram on the other to simulate reality with a newborn.
Sleep – something that may seem like a distant memory the moment baby arrives. And so, sleep as much as you can and never feel a shred of remorse while you are at it.
Since you will be needing the energy to push, sleeping is a way to prepare your body for labour. Take as many naps in between the day as these will serve you well in the long run.
However, as labour comes around the corner, sleep might elude many pregnant mothers as you experience the uncomfortable Braxton Hicks Contractions.
Try for a warm shower and a relaxing massage before you sleep, and this might help with sneaking in more rest time that your body requires.
Remember to always sleep on your side and avoid lying on your back to help baby get into the ideal position for labour.
14. Join a maternity tour
The day baby decides to meet the world is going to be a whirlwind experience for just about everyone in the family and especially for the pregnant mother.
And so, it is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the process from the moment your water breaks.
To prevent a mental chaos, book a maternity tour with the hospital you will be delivery in and have a better understanding of what you will be going through during your stay in the hospital.
During the tour, you will be able to get a feel of what the big day entails as you visit the room you’ll be staying in as well as the delivery suite where you will welcome your newborn. You will also be able to find out more about the cost of giving birth.
Some hospitals also provide a simple tasting session where you will sample the confinement food you will be having during your stay in the hospital.
It’s probably best not to leave any of your uncertainties unanswered during this stage of your pregnancy and a maternity tour is one such way to prepare for your labour ahead.
15. Make plans for the family
When your water breaks and are rushed to the hospital, you would be staying in the hospital for a few days depending on your delivery.
During this time, you would need to make plans for the rest of your family should you have young children who need to be in the care of an adult or a pet that requires someone to tend to.
Would the children’s grandparents be able to sit in for that few days to take care of your children or pet? If no, you should at this point, start to plan for a baby-sitter for when you are in labour.
Also, prepare a to-do-list or a daily routine chart for the caretakers so that they would be able to follow a routine in order to ensure a smooth transition.
Making plans for the family during the days you will be spending in the hospital is definitely one of the things you should do to prepare for labour so that everyone is prepared the moment you are set for delivery.
Things To Prepare For Labour and Baby’s Arrival
So here you have it, getting ready for baby’s arrival checklist.
When it comes to the final stages of your pregnancy, it is understandable that your nerves might get the better of you.
As such, what you do to prepare for labour is key during the days and weeks leading up to your delivery. Ensure that things to prepare for labour and for the baby are prepped and ready to go beforehand and that would take a load of stress off the labour process.
The key to a smoother labour is to feel as relaxed as can be and with everything prepared, all you need to do now is to wait for that bundle of joy to signal that he or she is ready to finally meet the world!