So the big build-up is to the birth of your baby, but what happens next? We’ve come up with the most commonly asked questions. You may not be thinking about these right now, but they’ll suddenly be front of mind. Here’s how to be prepared…
The first few days
Do you want to…
- Allow friends to visit straight away?
- Have a settling-in period with just you, your partner and your baby?
- Arrange for friends or family to take your older children out and about initially?
- Have bed-rest for the first day or two (or longer)?
Caring for baby
Do you want to…
Breastfeed? You’ll need two well-fitting nursing bras, some breastfeeding tops, lots of muslins and breast pads.
Bottlefeed? You’ll need a set of bottles and newborn teats, and a steriliser to keep everything clean – plus a breast pump if you’re planning to express milk.
Feed on demand? In the early days, it’s best that you feed your baby whenever he’s hungry, to help to establish good feeding.
Try to establish a feeding/sleeping routine once your baby is more settled? Don’t start this until feeding is going well for your baby (see ‘feed on demand’).
- Have regular skin-to-skin contact?
Bath your baby daily?
Put him in his cot/crib/Moses basket for daytime sleeps? By putting him down in his regular cot/crib for daytime naps, you may help him get into good sleeping habits.
- Let him nap downstairs/in your arms?
- Use a baby sleeping bag?
- Give him a dummy?
- Start to introduce a bedtime routine?
- Put him in a pram to go out?
- Prefer to carry him in a sling?
- Use disposable nappies?
- Use reusable nappies? Don’t invest in a complete birth-to-potty reusables set until you’re sure you’re going to use them all the way through. Instead, choose a reasonably-priced starter kit.
- Use both disposables and reusables?
Tell me more about newborn care, sleep advice and feeding tips
Looking after you
Stocked up on post-birth essentials? You’ll need lots of breast pads, some heavy-weight maternity towels (you could be bleeding for around two weeks after the birth), disposable pants, nipple cream, etc.
- Filled the medicine cabinet with basics such as paracetamol and ibuprofen?
- Bought any complementary remedies such as Arnica, tea tree oil, Rescue Remedy and witch hazel may help your post-birth recovery.
- Bought some luxury toiletries?
- Booked a hair appointment/massage for a few weeks’ time as a post-birth pick-me-up?
- Bought some magazines, light-hearted books and/or DVDs to enjoy while you’re feeding your baby?
Filled the cupboards with nutritious snacks to keep your energy up? Cereal bars, nuts, oatcakes and herbal teas are great energy boosters.
- Considered what sort of contraception you’ll start using?
- Hired a valley cushion (www.nctsales.co.uk) to ease soreness down below
Help and support
- Want your partner to take his full 10 days of paternity leave?
- Ask your partner to take any additional holiday as well?
- Want to take advantage of the new Shared Parental Leave policy?
- Ask your mum/mother-in-law to come and stay to help out?
- Arrange for other visitors to offer practical help? Why not ask them to bring along a cooked meal or do a quick bit of washing up for you when they pop round?
- Want any professional help from a maternity or night nurse?
Chores and admin
- Cooked some meals in advance to put in the freezer?
- Set up an online grocery-shopping account, to make life easier?
- Transferred your regular bills to direct debit so you won’t forget about them?
- Agreed a list of extra chores for your partner to take on?
- Organised extra storage for toys, baby gifts, paperwork etc?
- Set up a basket of nappies and wipes downstairs for daytime changes?
- Got yourself some good babycare manuals?
- Compiled a list of useful contacts? Have numbers for your midwife and health visitor, as well as breastfeeding lines, NHS Direct, etc.
- Found out about postnatal classes? Meet other new mums at classes such as NCT Bumps and Babies, breastfeeding cafés and baby massage courses.
- Swapped phone numbers and email addresses with mums in your antenatal group?
“I always restocked the changing bag as soon as I got home from an outing, so I didn’t have to rush around filling it up at the same time as I was trying to get ready to go out.”
Evy Mackland, 31, from Aberdeen, mum to Grace, 3
“My partner installed a dimmer switch in our bedroom before Finley was born. It means I can have a low light on to feed Fin when he wakes up, but it doesn’t wake Pete, and it keeps Fin drowsy so he drops back off to sleep after the feed.”
Jan Mackeson, 31, from London, mum to Finley, 5 weeks
“A personal MP3 player is really useful for night feeds. I used to feed my girls in the dark so they wouldn’t wake up too much, which meant I couldn’t read as they fed. Listening to music helped me through those long, lonely nights.”
Emma Evans, 35, from Chester, mum to Lainey, 5, and Callie, 23 months
“I’d stocked up with groceries before Maisie was born, but after a couple of weeks I was running out. My friend offered to drive me to the supermarket (I couldn’t drive as I’d had a caesarean) and we did the shopping together with Maisie. I’d have been too nervous to go shopping with a newborn on my own.”
Helen Kearry, 29, from Reading, mum to Maisie, 7 weeks
Our midwife’s tips:
Midwife Anne Richley passes on some of her tips for after you’ve had your baby:
“I’ve known mums from the same antenatal group who club together to cook meals for a new mum for the first few days. Each of them would cook a different dish each day and leave it on the doorstep.”
“Maternity wards have visiting times, so why not instigate them when you get home? Yes, you’re very excited and want to show off your new baby, but if you tell visitors they’re welcome between 3pm and 5pm, at least you’ll get a chance for some sleep.”