Bringing your new baby home for the first time: It's a moment you've looked forward to for so long. But -- how will you handle it all? What will you do when you actually get home and have a newborn to care for 24/7?
With a bit of advance planning and preparation, you can make those first days easier.
Line Up Help in Advance
If you've not yet cared for a newborn, you may need help for the first few days after you come home with your baby. Talk with your partner about how much time he or she will be able to take away from work, and plan accordingly. You may want to keep the first few days home as quiet bonding time for your own new little family, and schedule help to come in once your partner's leave is over and you're home alone with the baby.
Some options you have:
- Family and friends. Ask people if they'd be willing to bring over a few freshly prepared meals, help keep the house picked up, or hold the baby so you can shower. Stick with people you know are reliable, those who will listen to your wants and needs rather than just coming over to hold the baby all afternoon while you scrub the kitchen counters.
- Work colleagues, civic and church community. These folks are often eager to help out after the birth of a new baby.
- A postpartum doula. Postpartum doulas can be hired to help with everything from breastfeeding support and newborn tips and tricks (diapering, soothing, bathing) to light housework and errands.
- A baby nurse. Baby nurses are specifically there to care for your baby and give you a break -- for example, if you're getting no sleep whatsoever, a baby nurse can take a turn getting up with the baby at night during those first few exhausting weeks.
- A cleaning service. If you ordinarily do all your own housecleaning, hiring someone to sweep, mop, and scrub for at least the first couple of months can be a real sanity-saver. It also allows you to spend precious time cuddling your baby rather than chasing dust bunnies.
If you're already well-stocked-up on nursery items, you might consider hinting to anyone who wants to buy you a baby present that you'd love the gift of a doula, nurse, or cleaning service.
During the last couple of weeks of your pregnancy, you may be bored and impatient, awaiting the new arrival. Make the most of these last few baby-less moments by getting the house in order so things will be smooth when you come home with your newborn.
- Wash the baby's clothes. Newborns tend to have sensitive skin, so pediatricians advise washing their clothes before wearing. It's probably not necessary to buy special baby detergent, though.
- Clean house, if you're feeling a burst of energy (avoid toxic cleaning chemicals), or hire a housecleaner to leave things spotless for your return.
- Make and freeze meals like lasagna, meat loaf, and chili -- or stock up on take-out menus!
- Stock up on items you'll need a lot, like hand sanitizer and baby wipes.
- Take an infant CPR class.
- Right after coming home, set up a couple of "baby baskets" with diapers, wipes, a change of newborn clothes, blankets, snacks, and a bottle of water for you. Place them near where you expect to be feeding and cuddling with your baby most, so you can just relax with the baby and not spend time hunting down essentials.
- Set up your phone's speed dial with key numbers: the pediatrician's office, the lactation consultant, and at least one been-there, done-that friend (or your mom) who can answer your panicked calls about what color the baby's poop is supposed to be or if all that hiccupping is normal.