I’ve written a few blogs about baby prep this pregnancy and most discuss how I’ve minimized this with each pregnancy. That’s my overall philosophy with many things though… if you’re going to do it, do it right… save for what you really want… keep on mission, stay on task…
If I had to pick my five most essential preparation tasks for this baby though, beyond choosing your provider, these would be those five:
First, prepare meals ahead of time. I am not sure what the right number of meals is exactly, but I would suggest cooking as many extras as you can budget and double dishes through the last month or two of pregnancy. Cooking is just not on the priority list post-birth so your commitment through pregnancy to eating well gets thrown out the window and those postpartum pounds, added stress, fluctuating emotions, and guilt all add up quickly.
This has been particularly stressful for me in that I do all the cooking in the home, and I have a few food sensitivities that limit my menu. Among the more challenging are garlic, pork, beef, apples, oregano, wheat, and a number of dyes and chemicals. This means I cook my stocks from scratch, my tomato products, and my options for grains are rather limited. Normally this isn’t too challenging because I just cook everything fresh, but I want to prepare so that I can send my ten-year-old down-stairs with directions to just pop a meal in the oven. I am also hoping to limit grocery shopping which currently happens at least twice a week since we eat fresh fruits and vegetables for most meals.
I’ve utilized Pinterest a great deal for this and have a few meals frozen, but not nearly as many as I had hoped. Good thing is that I don’t expect baby to arrive for another week. Bad thing is I anticipate catching quite a few this week! I didn’t expect my kids to be stealing from my stash through these last few weeks of pregnancy either. My entire afternoon spent cooking pancakes and waffles ahead is down to three pancakes left in the freezer, but it sure is sweet to see my precious son bring a plate of pancakes in bed in the morning because he knows momma is tired these last few weeks. I figure we always have overnight oatmeal if I don’t find a moment to pull the waffle iron out again.
Second, buy your household products ahead in bulk. I feared running out of something, like toilet paper at the wrong, very exhausted moment. Today, unlike with my older kids, we do have 24/7 shopping stores, but I have no desire for utilizing that convenience after the baby is born. It would be my preference in fact, to avoid shopping entirely for several weeks after baby is born. I’ve become a huge fan of on-line shopping, particularly Vitacost.com and Kroger’s checklist in Carmel. I recently realized you can set regular delivery of items through Vitacost so I don’t even have to be mindful of a depleting toilet paper stash. It will simply arrive on my doorstep, recycled, environmentally-friendly, and if I am especially organized, even discounted.
I am rather proud of my stash actually and may keep this up indefinitely. Currently, I have several cases of toilet paper, kleenex, paper towels, paper plates (don’t judge), dishwasher soap bags, shampoo and conditioner, SOS pads, laundry soap, trash bags, razors, and I am sure a few other items I am forgetting currently. I am realizing I probably need to check my salt water supply. Who wants to lift those heavy bags post-baby! I also need to order filters for our reverse water purifier because that would be a great travesty post-baby!
Admittedly, I also created a long list – approximately five pages – of household maintenance items that I have nearly completed pre-baby arrival. Vents, screens, lights, electrical boxes, furnaces, air conditioning, basement, garage, shampooing siding, landscaping, siding, washer, dryer, dish washer, power hose, outside faucets, lawn mower, and automobile have all been offered some maintenance. The last project, I think, is cosmetic. I’d love to paint the interior walls, but had hoped some lottery winnings would allow us to travel so that could be done while we were away. I didn’t have the foresight to actually purchase the lottery tickets though, so I neither have the budget for the vacation, or the paint!
Third, prioritize organic. While I bought the bare minimum in baby supplies, what I did purchase, I opted for organic. We spend far too much time in our homes and especially sleeping in bed to be spending it in a toxic filled home, on flame retardant sprayed mattresses and bed linens. No one smokes in our home so we need not be overly worried about catching fire in our sleep (and our smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms, even our fire extinguishers were checked in our home maintenance efforts).
This does mean that I have no more than five sleep outfits for the baby and absolutely no real outfits, but as all die-hard home birth mommas are post-baby, we’ll probably have little more than diapers on for the first week or two anyway! I can spend some time shopping online from my bed, with baby at the breast, after realizing the size this baby shall need.
Priority number four is the postpartum help, and for every pregnancy after the first, this was a huge desire and one I could never afford. Our family dynamics are a little unique in that I keep working through my births and postpartum days of my childbearing experiences, and I don’t have any extended family to support me. There is no mother or mother-n-law to assist me, no sisters, or overly helpful neighbors. I can’t even get a housekeeper in my neck of the woods. My husband has never stayed with me in the hospital and has never been available to me when birthing at home. He either continues to work daily or quite literally isn’t available either mentally or physically due to his own rather debilitating health issues (similar in my mind to a new mother whose spouse travels long-term for work). This pregnancy, more than any previously, he simply won’t be available to us what-so-ever. Yes, I am my own worst client.
Postpartum support is a must for those with even the most supportive of families and spouses. For me, it is a non-negotiable, a true necessity for the safety of myself and little ones. Postpartum doulas however, have a higher turn over rate than even midwives. Rarely, it seems, do many stick around for more than a year, so I really hadn’t any real direction when I began searching for my own. Having someone available to cook meals for the boys, do some light house cleaning, run a few errands, and simply assure I was alive and capable of caring for the little one is a dream, but I hadn’t anticipated the hourly rate of $50 to $80 an hour. While I don’t mean any disrespect and will very likely get hate mail for this, are they also teaching my kids a second language or at minimum, scrubbing my baseboards?!?
While I am a big believer in paying good money for good quality service, and doulas making a reputable wage, $50 an hour is not appropriate ($80 an hour is insanity). This is higher than the hourly wage my clinician, who may have to perform life saving skills on either myself or my child, is paid and they are also paying for expensive malpractice and more than a decade of education. Nope. I am even struggling with the lowest fee among them all, $25 an hour which is RN pay grade.
I did meet with a postpartum doula who was quite adorable, and I think a perfect fit for our family, but knowing that I would be paying her more than the midwife attending my birth was a matter I simply couldn’t wrap my head around. We got a little creative and called the local nursing agency and learned we can hire an agency of nursing assistants for less than even the lowest priced postpartum doula. While they lack the maternity knowledge that postpartum doulas offer, they can assure we are safe, offer all the household tasks of a postpartum doula, and have the resources available to us if I am struggling more than appropriate. Mindsets are different, philosophy of care is extremely important, but in all seriousness, comparing a doula to a nurse or a clinician with regards to pay scale is important to me, as someone who has worked in all three roles and employs all three professions.
The nursing agency is also thrilled beyond pie to be working with a postpartum mom and baby, which is drastically different than their typical client. My only concern at the moment is assuring I am getting a staff member that is not also caring for someone who has some sort of infectious disease (such as MRSA). This reason alone may make me regret my decision, but admittedly, it would cost me less to hire my midwifery team to visit me hourly at home than it would be to hire a postpartum doula. It isn’t a service they offer, but one I am now realizing may be a community need.
Finally, preparing my baby stuff which for many is the most daunting task. For me, it meant little more than preparing a dresser for changing diapers (and soon a diaper cart on the first floor), ordering my breast pump and car seat, gathering my home birth items, and considering my postpartum needs.
I simply purchased an organic diaper changing mattress for my dresser, added a lamp, an essential oil diffuser, and a basket to store my cloth diapers, cloth wipes, massage oils, and diaper wipe spray. My kids and I also made a baby mobile from felt balls and drift wood (we’re adding these to our boutique as well). My hope is to add something to the wall, but again, unless I am totally in love and can’t live without it, I am not adding it. I haven’t found that wall art yet, but I think it may come in a canvas that I have the boys decorate.
You might also see the most adorable, organic, fair trade teddy bear. I actually bought two of these. One with the intention of using it in all our baby pictures and for the little one to adore if s/he so desires (yes, I still have my baby bear in my bedroom), but the second, identical bear is one I will gift this little one’s future child. As a grandmother, I can attest to how quickly childhood flies by and having taken the time to create these special moments are priceless. I had our oldest (my step-daughter who is nearing thirty and also pregnant with babies number four and five) write a letter to her future child when she was very young, and was able to give that to her when she was pregnant with her first. I don’t tend to keep the same traditions with each child though, which is odd, but they all have their own little gift like this and it is those memories I hold in my heart for each one of them.
The drawers then are organized, yet with only minimal essentials. The top left has our diaper covers (and I did purchase a hanging drying rack to hang over our washing machine) and currently there are very few. Many of the boy’s favorite stuffed animals are wearing them as they have been practicing cloth diaper changes, holding babies, and Simon especially, catching and resuscitating the baby or myself if the need arises.
The next drawer has the few clothes that I have purchased ahead and a basket of long socks and knit shoes (a gift from a sweet client of mine). The third drawer has twelve, organic receiving blankets and two, organic blankets. I hope this is sufficient because those are expensive! Worth every penny. The last drawer on that side holds back-up prefolds that I’ve had in my stash and may utilize for baby explosions of any variety.
The right side of the dresser holds all the miscellaneous bags that came with the organic blankets, and these I plan to stuff clean cloths or various baby items I’ll need in our diaper bag. I also have a few wet bags in here that I’ll change out several times through the week. The second drawer has several organization baskets full of the bare essentials (comfy nose, Sophie, baby hats, and a basket with either hair bows or neck bows depending on baby’s character).
The third drawer is full of chux pads which are used in the hospital, and are a necessity for all sorts of child-rearing issues whether baby diaper explosions in the bed, milk leaking through the night, fearing my water will break on the mattress, or even bed wetting in my older boys (maybe even for heavy menses and of course, postpartum bleeding). Love these and hate those plastic backed options, so I always have a drawer full at my disposal. Bottom drawer… bamboo sheets.
I wrote an entire blog post on my diaper bag, so I’ll spare those details here, but I am still in love. I also lack a “proper nursing chair” but that’s because I don’t tend to nurse in my bedroom sitting up.
Momma’s what are your must-have baby preparations? Massage? Pedicure? Postpartum belly binding? I have those on my list too!