I have a confession. I took 3 pregnancy tests before telling my husband that I was pregnant.
Congratulations! You are expecting a little human and you may be in the same boat I was in. I asked all of my mom friends “what should I be doing in the months leading up to her arrival”? I’m a planner and I knew that the baby registry was a hot topic, I had to get a nursery ready (right?) and I needed to start reading up on mom things. I hope these tips help make your pregnancy an enjoyable experience and get you fully prepared for your baby you will soon meet! Enjoy!
1. Join a Pre-Natal Group
My OBGYN office offered a Pre-Natal Group which consisted of other expecting mommas due in the same month. Some were first time moms like me and others already had kids. It was an amazing experience and we learned so much from one another. I met one mom in particular who has become one of my good friends, plus our babies were born just 3 days apart. (How sweet!) If nothing else, you get to be around others who can relate to what you are going through and you may just meet a new friend. (A new friend who you can text at 2 am because they are awake too.)
Here are some helpful links to meet up groups:
NHRMC/Novant – Mother’s Milk Club (Pregnant Moms are welcome)
Salt & Cypress Counseling – The GlowGroup
Pre-Natal Yoga Classes
Ask your OBGYN for classes they may offer, I know things changed with COVID.
2. Build Your Baby Registry
The earlier you create this, the better. I used “Babylist.com” which I highly recommend. Instead of having to register at Target, Walmart, Amazon, BuyBuyBaby, etc., this site allows you to add ANY item from ANY website. If the product is sold at two different stores, it will even list the price at both which allows your friends/family to save money. (I like that!) Oh and it was Free!
A list of must have items from medications to diapers, wipes and a list of items to carry home from the hospital. Click here for the list.
Chances are your baby will be sleeping near you since they eat every 2 -3 hours. Here are the must haves for a rested baby (and parents). Click here for the list.
Although babies only need to be bathed 2x a week or if they had a blow-out, here is a list of things you need, plus a few tips. Click here for the list.
3. Gender Reveal & Baby Showers
AJ and I had just moved into a new house, so we decided to have a “Housewarming Party/Gender Reveal/Birthday Party”. It was such a special time to get everyone together and of course announce the gender of our little one.
We ended up having 2 Baby Showers, one where we live in Wilmington and another where I grew up. Traditionally your friends or the mother of the mother-to-be will host a shower. Sometimes it may be awkward to ask, but don’t be afraid to ask if your closest friends plan on having a shower. If my baby wasn’t to be born in the midst of flu season, I would have just suggested a “Sip n’ see” where you have a party where you drink and your guests get to see your new bundle of joy.
Maternity clothes are expensive for some weird reason and they are hard to find in stores. The Motherhood Maternity stores went out of business, which is the one place I could find some cute clothes. My best advice is find shirts that can also be used as nursing shirts once baby has arrived (V-neck t-shirts were great for this). Old Navy dresses are nice and flowy in comfortable fabrics that you can wear after your bump is gone. Don’t go over board and look for re-sale clothes on FB Marketplace or check out local consignment shops like Memories of a Child, One Upon a Child, etc.
Baby clothes are so cute and you are going to feel like hitting up TJ Maxx every other week for cute outfits, but don’t. Hand-me downs are the way to go. Your sweet baby is going to outgrow those outfits quickly and chances are you won’t really leave the house much before the 2 month doctors visit (shots and avoiding the baby from getting sick) anyways. If you have to buy anything, do yourself a favor and repeat after me “PJs must have zippers, not buttons”. I honestly have no clue why they even sell baby sleepers with buttons because they are awful to deal with every 3 hours in the middle of the night, in a dark room. Just trust me. If you plan on having more than one baby, try to get gender neutral onesies. You can always accessorize that little girl with bows.
It is a good idea to also wash a handful of clothes, burp cloths, and blankets that you like in safe detergent. I researched a lot and found Seventh Generation Safe & Clear detergent (cheapest at Target) was the best choice over the famous Dreft (I hate the smell of Dreft and its filled with chemicals). We wash all of our clothes in this now and love it!
In addition, onesie’s are better than shirt/pant combo because shirts just ride up and you are constantly pulling them down. I’d avoid shirt/pant combos until about 6 months or so. Then around 18 months your child will start taking their pants off, so onesies are honestly helpful until about 24 months/2 years old.
5. Eat right
It’s easy to go all out because you are “eating for two”, but remember that your body needs to be healthy and happy to grow another human successfully. I was actually diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, which forced me to eat healthier, but it ultimately reminded me that my little baby was relying on me. What I put in my mouth was either going to benefit her or be useless. I ended up gaining little weight and felt great once she was born.
6. Prepare your House
Preparing the nursery is a fun thing to do with your spouse. I remember setting up the crib with AJ and filling her closet with baby gifts we’d been given. Sometimes I’d go and just rock in the glider dreaming about the day she’d finally be here. Of course, don’t feel pressured to get the nursery finished before your little one arrives. Your baby will more than likely be rooming with you and your spouse for the first few months. What you can focus on before you get “very” pregnant is cleaning, organizing and stocking up on household items like laundry detergent, hand sanitizer, shampoo, etc.
Also, another great task could be meal prepping freezer/crockpot meals or stocking up on quick easy meals. This helps when you are so exhausted and want to avoid fast food.
7. Download these Free Apps
- What to Expect – Daily tips, baby growth charts, articles, etc. There are lots of apps, but I found this one full of information and fun facts about my little growing baby. Once your baby is born, the app gives relevant tips about your little one outside of the womb.
- Hatch Baby – Once your baby has arrived, your pediatrician will be asking so many questions about your baby and his/her eating habits, number of diaper changes, etc. This app helps keep all of these details organized and accurately recorded.
- Pampers Club – Turn diapers into rewards by scanning the special diaper code in each bag or box. If you use Pampers, this is great to have on hand.
- The Wonder Weeks ($4) – This app is not free, but it is worth the money in my eyes. It tells you the developmental leaps and milestones your baby will go through around what time. The app explains what your baby is going through and what activities you can do during that age period.
8. Postpartum Kit
I feel like we as new moms forget about one of the most important people – OURSELVES! I found that I was so concentrated on what my new baby needed that I forgot to think about myself. So, check out the “must have postpartum kit” I put together about a week before I went into labor with Brooke.
In addition, check out local spas and sign-up for a pre-natal massage and go get a pedicure. Take care of yourself before your life revolves around caring for another.
9. Pack your Hospital Bag
It is never too early to pack your bag. Check out the Hospital Bag Checklist I created. I think I packed mine around 30 weeks and I’m glad I did because our daughter came early and it was nice to grab and go!
10. Maternity Photos
Even if you don’t pay someone to take photos of you, get your camera or iPhone, get dressed up and get someone to take photos of you. It’s the growing trend to take photos each month, but as long you take them around 7 – 8 months when you have that bump, you are good to go! You will soon forget about that big ol’ belly and the kicks and jabs you once felt. My dad has a nice Nikon camera, so one Sunday, he drove to the beach and we took hundreds of photos at sunset. He got some great photos and I can’t wait for the day I get to show Brooke these pictures.
11. Order Breast Pump
Most health insurances cover a breast pump at little to no cost to you. If you plan on breastfeeding, I highly recommend getting one. Some women exclusively pump, but no matter your decision, I recommend getting one. My doctors office recommended going through Ashland Breast Pumps. It was a quick and easy process to order.
I ended up going with the Spectra S1 (the one with portable battery) after researching and asking other mamas I know. I’m happy with its functionality and portability.
12. Baby Book/Capturing Memories
Now would be the perfect time to think about what you’d like to do to capture the memories and milestones of your baby to be. Will it be a book that you handwrite items in each month, will it be something like Qeepsake.com (a Shark Tank company) where you are prompted questions weekly and they create a book or some other way? Just an idea to go ahead and get started. Most books ask about pregnancy cravings, photos, etc.
13. Attend a Child Birth Class with your Spouse
I was thankful to hear that our hospital offered a class for expecting parents. We attended a class one Saturday for a 4-hour expedited course where a nurse explained labor & delivery, breastfeeding, the first few days, etc. You know, what to expect when it was time to come to the hospital and the basics of how to keep this tiny human alive. To my surprise, my husband was asking questions and we both found the information beneficial. We were able to tour the Mother/Baby unit and ask questions. I highly recommend doing this if you are a first time mama or you haven’t had a baby in a while. When the time comes that you are in labor, you want your spouse to be prepared and not freaking out. We recommend having your spouse:
- Know the route to the hospital from places you frequent and your house
- Have the number to triage on your/their phone (I gave them a heads up when we were on the way)
- They need to be your ultimate cheerleader and communicate your wishes to the medical staff (natural birth, epidural, name on visitor list, and any other medical details)
Link to Child birthing Classes:
NHRMC/Novant – Childbirth Education Classes
14. Research and Select your Pediatrician & Figure Out Insurance
Research local Pediatricians, check out their websites to review hours they are open, where they are located (you’ll want it to be within 30 minutes driving distance from your home) and standards of practice. Some additional factors to consider are:
- Appointment only or walk-ins welcome
- Vaccines required or optional
- Waiting room separates well and sick children (most have this)
- Breastfeeding assistance
- Pediatrician from the practice visits you in the hospital or not
- Accepts your insurance
- You feel comfortable with the team – some offer socials to meet the staff
If you’d like to be proactive, you can reach out to the facility and complete the insurance paperwork, but if not, once you deliver you can tell the hospital which practice you are planning to use and they will communicate directly with them. Some practices send their pediatrician to you while in the hospital. If not, a pediatrician who works for the hospital will check-in with you and baby. This physician will ultimately will be the person who determines when baby is ready to go home.
In addition, you will want to sit down with your spouse and see who’s insurance is better for the child to be under. My husband’s job offered a way better package than mine and was cheaper.
15. Helpful Resources
If you plan on breastfeeding, the best resource is kellymom.com. Also, I highly recommend joining a moms group that focuses on breastfeeding support. I attended “Milk Club” which is offered by the hospital and led weekly by a certified lactation consultant. Not only was this group helpful with my nursing questions, but we also shared experiences on sleep, baby wearing and random ‘new mom’ questions. So very helpful!
If you want funny, but enlightening emails, check out lucieslist.com. They have every product review you can think of and advice for basically every stage of your kids life beginning with pregnancy.
16. Connect with Other Mamas
One thing I highly recommend is search and join local Facebook Groups for moms. Instead of running to the doctor every time something small happens, ask the group of other moms. Connecting with others can help you feel like you aren’t alone, because guess what? You aren’t! I find it helpful to see what other moms are posting and asking the community about to. “What’s this rash?”, Favorite toys, anyone selling a crib, etc.
Check out @WilmingtonMom on instagram for Mom Meet Ups, things to do, classes and activities and places to go. Fit4Mom is also a great local resource where you can enroll in workout classes with other new moms.