Meal prep, diaper stations, carseat install: There’s a lot you can do now to make life easier once baby arrives.
Having a baby is going to blow your mind (in a good way). Getting prepared is one of the best ways to welcome the most awesome transformation of your life.
Here are 10 ways to prepare for postpartum during your third trimester.
1. Arrange those cute clothes.
Really important question: Why are baby clothes so stinking cute? Another really important question: How many baby outfits should you have for a newborn?
Newborn clothes typically fit full-term babies up to 8 pounds, and then once baby lengthens and chubs up, she will transition to 3-month outfits. Pro tip from experienced moms: Don't overdo your newborn wardrobe, as baby often grows faster than you think. (Think around 1 month, or less.)
You might want to wash baby's clothes in baby-safe detergent (try The Honest Company's laundry detergent). Baby's skin is highly sensitive after birth, so it helps to make sure clothes are freshly laundered with gentle ingredients.
To bring baby home, it helps to have the newborn basics. Here's our newborn clothes shopping list:
- 5 onesies (short or long sleeve, depending on season)
- 5 soft pants, ideally with footies
- 5 sets of socks
- 4 sleepers (fleece or heavyweight for winter, lighter for summer)
- 3 sweaters or layering items
- 1 sleep sack
- 1 all-purpose swaddle
- 1 crazy-cute-OMG-I-can't-wait-for-baby-to-wear-this outfit splurge ?
2. Think about your postpartum wardrobe, too.
Postpartum recovery is a crucial time for new moms.
You will still look pregnant for some time after baby is born—it's normal!—but your body has unique needs that differ from pregnancy, so it helps to get your wardrobe ready. First, if you're breastfeeding you'll want shirts that have easy access for nursing. You'll also want a few nursing bras. On the bottom side, you're likely to need roomy pants to make way for your post-pregnancy hips and belly, as well as pads or adult diapers in the early postpartum.
Here's our postpartum wardrobe shopping list:
- 3 nursing-friendly postpartum shirts
- 3 nursing bras with various features (sports bra, structured bra, sleeping bra)
- 2 pairs of roomy lounge pants
- 1 recovery robe
- 1 postpartum yoga pant to smooth belly
- 1 mama's-still-got-it outfit that makes you feel amazing (size up from pre-pregnancy)
3. Set up a nursery nook.
The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that baby rooms with mom for the first months of life; moms love that they don't have to go far to care for baby during those middle-of-the-night feedings. When you set up a small nursery nook in your bedroom, you can keep the decor simple and keep baby close.
For the closeness of co-sleeping without the stress, try a co-sleeper next to your bed. Read more on inspired ways to make a small space for baby.
4. Install the car seat safely.
Installing the car seat that you'll tote your baby home in means that it's really happening! It also means you're a responsible mama who can totally be trusted to raise a tiny human from infancy to adulthood.
Buy the right seat.
Consumer Reports' top-performing car seats for infants include:
Install it properly.
Here's what you need to know about safely installing and using infant car seats, from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
Make sure it's rear-facing.
All infants should ride rear-facing starting with their first ride home from the hospital. For infants, rear-facing-only seats and rear-facing convertible seats are best.
And tightly in the back seat.
On where to install the seat, according to the AAP: “It may be best to ride in the middle of the back seat. However, it is sometimes difficult to install a car safety seat tightly in the middle if the vehicle seat is narrow or uneven."
“Also, most vehicles do not have lower anchors for the middle seating position. It is safest to put the car safety seat in a position where you can install it tightly with either the lower anchor system or the seat belt; in some cases, this may be on either side of the back seat rather than the middle."
Check out the video below for more details on how to safely install a rear-facing infant car seat, from the AAP.
Check your work.
You'll want to make sure you install the seat properly before you head to the hospital, so consider having your work checked by a Child Passenger Safety Certified Technician (find a location near you). It can be trickier than it looks—and it's crucial that you get it right.
The Car Seat Ladies, a doctor-nurse (and mother-daughter!) team with deep expertise in car seat safety, are also a great resource for specific questions you may have. They offer one-on-one appointments in Baltimore and NYC, and have a huge range of tips and insights for keeping your little one safe.
This video below on safely securing your baby into her car seat is also helpful.
5. Stock up on easy-to-make power meals.
Make-ahead frozen meals
You have so many options when it comes to prepping tasty eats in advance of baby's arrival (check out BuzzFeed's 23 fave make-ahead meals for new moms to freeze).
But you don't have to just stock up on frozen food—you can also fill your shelves (and freezer) with power foods that will help provide great nutrition during the early days of breastfeeding.
Healthy “fast" food
Nutritionist and wellness expert Shannan Monson recommends that you stock your whole house with healthy “fast" food. Premade smoothies, protein shakes, frozen egg quiches, grilled chicken, all the prepped food you can get your hands on.
Being prepared with quick things you can eat with one hand while nursing a baby in the other will save you from skipped meals and cookie cravings the rest of the day.
You can also stock the ingredients to make hearty, healthy lunch and dinner bowls to power you through the early days of breastfeeding. Don't overcomplicate it—just rely on shelf-stable grains and frozen veggies to power you through and mix in whatever cheese, produce and beans you have on hand.
And smoothie bowls
Just like the grain bowl, smoothie bowls are easy to whip up for breakfast and dessert as long as you've loaded up your freezer with organic fruits and berries—and stocked your cabinets with hearty ingredients like goji berries, coconut flakes, nuts and chia seeds.
6. Get the right breastfeeding support.
We know as first-time moms it's easy to focus on overcoming labor and delivery, but the truth is that while labor is intense, it usually lasts just a day or two.
Your breastfeeding relationship will be one of the most demanding parts of life as a new mama. As Motherly's expert lactation counselor Megan O'Neill shares:
Breastfeeding truly is one of the most unnatural natural things you will do. Mama needs to learn, and baby needs to learn.
Learn the basics.
For some women, breastfeeding is easy. For others, it's super demanding. Take the time to learn the basics of how breastfeeding works in new motherhood, and how often you can expect to nurse.
Lactation consultant Wendy Wisner provides an overview of what to expect as a new mama.
Take a class.
We love the idea of taking a class with popular breastfeeding expert and lactation counselor Lindsay Shipley to learn the basics so you're not so surprised when you're attached at the boob to your little one 24/7.
Find a breast pump.
Figure out how you can get (or rent) a breast pump. Many hospitals, birth centers, lactation consultants and mother resource centers offer rentals, but they can get pricy.
Look for a breast pump ahead of time instead of waiting till baby arrives and scrambling to pick up and pay for it. YummyMummy, a breastfeeding supply store, offers rental through its website and works with your insurance.
Get 1-on-1 support.
Ask your OB, your girlfriends or your future pediatrician's office who they recommend. You might also want to find lactation consultants who can visit you in-house in case you have tricky issues around feeding (like some of us at Motherly did!) that require support at home.
Some lactation consultants, like Lindsey Shipley, even offer Skype sessions.
Locate a support group.
La Leche League, a breastfeeding advocacy group, offers support groups in all 50 states to help you bond with other mothers learning how to breastfeed, or find other women figuring out how to make breastfeeding work. Find one near you.
7. Prep stations around your house.
There will be a ton of diaper-changing and baby-feeding (not to mention newborn-snuggling) going on all over your house in the next few months, so we love the idea of making it easy on yourself by creating stations in several key places.
For a nursing station, you'll want:
- A burp cloth
- Some entertainment: a book, an iPad or Kindle, a few issues of magazines
- A water bottle (we LOVE the BPA-free Bubba water bottle for its handle and big straw for maximum hydration).
- Snacks (try MilkMakers' individually wrapped, supply-boosting lactation cookies)
- A swaddle or a cozy blanket to snuggle up with baby
- A nursing pillow (our lactation consultants love My Breast Friend; other mamas adore their Ergobaby Natural Curve Nursing Pillow, which is starting to generate a lot of buzz.
Where you'll need it:
You'll likely find several comfy spots in your home that work for feeding after baby arrives—likely in your bedroom and living room—so it's easy to have a cluster of goodies in each station, especially if you're going upstairs and downstairs.
For your diaper changing station, you'll want:
- Size 1 diapers (oh so teeny tiny and cute!)
- Wipes (those little behinds are so precious you'll barely mind cleaning them, we promise!)
- Diaper cream (we're big fans of The Honest Company Healing Balm)
- A changing pad (either a full-size changing pad or a compact changing kit)
Where you'll need it:
You'll likely be changing diapers in baby's nursery, in your bedroom and in the living room/playroom (not to mention on the go around town), so depending on your home's layout, you might consider setting up baskets full of diaper goodies in each location. The Diaper Genie caddy makes it easy to organize, but any basket will do.
For a bathroom station, you'll want:
- A spray bottle: to relieve some of the pain of postpartum recovery when you urinate
- A Sitz Bath or Sitz spray: to soothe sore perineal muscles
- Flushable wet wipes. Trust.
- Products for padsicles... which are just frozen pads with witch hazel (can be a lifesaver postpartum!)
We know it can feel overwhelming to find the right doctor for your baby, but it's easier with advice from Dr. Tiffany Knipe, Motherly's expert pediatrician and a mom of two little ones!
Here are Dr. Knipe's 3 tips for finding the right pediatrician.
1. Start in your third trimester.
Start looking for a pediatrician in your last trimester. If you have local friends or family who have children, talk to them. Do they like their doctor? If yes, why? If they don't, why not? What fits one family may not fit another. In fact, as you move forward as a parent this is a good message to keep in mind for all things.
2. Interview around.
If you live somewhere with a few local options, meet at least two or three doctors.
Get an idea of what features are found in all pediatric practices and which things are variable.
3. Ask the right questions.
Is this office convenient/accessible?
Remember, you are likely going to be traveling with a baby and baby paraphernalia, in cold or wet weather, and, at times, with a sick or fussy infant. You want a doctor's office that is easy enough to get to.
Do they take their time?
If a pediatrician doesn't have the time or patience for you before your baby is born, they are unlikely to have the time for you after.
Are there sick and well waiting rooms?
Ask your doctor or their office staff the policy for newborns and sick children. Newborns should not wait in a busy waiting room because of their susceptibility to infection.
Can you reach them after hours?
Is your doctor accessible? What are the office policies for after-hours? Babies rarely get sick Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. So, how will your doctor handle these situations?
What hospital is your doctor affiliated with?
If your child needs a specialist or an emergency room, does your pediatrician have a reliable network of physicians and affiliations to get your child the help he needs?
Do you have chemistry?
Much like choosing a partner or a friend, you should get a good vibe from your pediatrician. For overly anxious parents, your doctor should help to mitigate your anxieties (not exacerbate them). And for overly relaxed parents, your doctor should make it clear to you when to worry.
9. Take an infant CPR/ first aid course.
Learning how to help a choking baby or what to do if your little one ever stops breathing can put your mind at ease as you transition to life as a new mama.
The Red Cross offers classes around the country ( find one near you here) but you can also ask you health care provider about where to locate one. You'll feel good knowing that you know what to do in an emergency.
10. Plan your maternity leave.
Whether you're going to be staying at home for good or will be heading back to work, you'll want to prep your new working life after baby is born.
Make sure you've checked in with HR on your company's procedures, and find out if there are any state-specific benefits you're eligible for while on leave. If you're staying at home, start doing some research on new-mom support groups or mommy-and-me programs to connect with other new moms.
Find out what you need to know for a successful leave with our maternity leave transition plan.
BONUS! 11. Sleep! ?
We know it's so hard to catch those Z's with leg cramps and a big belly in bed and constantly feeling like you have to pee. We get it. But if you're wondering if you should clean the house or nap while the end of your pregnancy draws near, we promise: THE ANSWER IS NAP.
New mamas lose a lot of sleep in the first year of baby's life, so on behalf of all those bleary-eyed new-mama warriors of the world: Sleep now, and forever remember this peace.