You waited long nine months for this moment. You have taken prenatal vitamins, you have eaten healthy (and sometimes maybe not-so-healthy when the powerful pregnancy cravings beckoned you), and you have gone to boundless measures to make sure your baby, in utero, is safe and comfortable. You have read every baby book, baby website, and baby magazine article about pregnancy, babies, and parenting. Now, three quarters of a year later your bundle of joy has arrived, and you may be wondering – “now what?”. The first piece of advice is – every new mom is overwhelmed with anxiety and concern for their baby’s health as soon as they enter the world, open their eyes and breathe for the first time. You are not alone.
During pregnancy, you have been making decisions on whether to breastfeed or bottle feed, on what type of diaper to use, and perhaps various other choices, but don’t be disappointed if after the little one is born, your plans change. Perhaps you were adamant about breastfeeding, but after failed attempts to produce milk, you switch to formula. Maybe you wanted to “go green” and only use cloth diapers, but after a pile-up of dirty diapers and a crying, wet baby, you gave in and bought some Pampers. You are the mother, do not stress about the little things. If your baby is getting fed, is clothed, and dry, then he/she will be happy, and tell yourself that motherhood is something you can prepare for; but there will be some things you cannot comprehend until you have experience.
Approximately a week from birth, your baby will have his/her first doctor’s appointment at the pediatrician’s office. It may be a doctor you found through strenuous research and online reviews, a doctor recommended by your obstetrician or a friend, or just a random name you found skimming through the yellow pages, picked because of its close location to your house. The doctor will weigh and measure your baby to see how much your baby has grown or shrunk (yes, your baby may lose a small amount of weight in the first week, and it is perfectly normal with no cause for alarm), listen to the heart and the lungs, and you will be grilled by the doctor with a seemingly endless line of questions. You will be asked about your baby’s eating habits, sleeping habits, and start getting ready to be comfortable talking about this – poop! Be honest with every answer you give and do not hesitate to ask any questions you have. Do not fear about sounding like an excessively worried mother or worry about asking a question you may think sounds bizarre; the pediatrician has probably heard it and seen it all!
One crucial thing to remember to do before the baby is born is to stockpile your house with the essentials. Have plenty of blankets no matter what time of the year, but if it’s cold outside, stock your house with enough to warm an army. Diaper rash cream is also a necessity, because most babies will get at least two or three in their life. Be sure to load up on a thermometer (and working batteries for thermometer), a thermometer lubricant if it is of the rectal variety, antiseptic gel/ointment, soap, and anything your doctor recommends. Baby sunscreen is also important because their skin is very sensitive to the sun, and make sure to apply it onto skin if your baby will be out in the sun. But your baby should be shaded from the sun as well. Rubbing alcohol and cotton balls will be needed for cord care, which will you need to use for at least ten to fourteen days after birth. Baby supply stores and superstores will have at-home kits and to-go kits for the diaper bags for a baby’s first aid needs. If your baby has sensitive skin, most brands have “sensitive skin” products. Also, if you have any concerns about breast milk or formula, there are several brands that sell a soy formula option.
You gave your baby a comfortable, snug, warm home in your body for nine months, and now it’s time to create a similar atmosphere in your home. Stress and worrying about your baby’s health and wellbeing may be the most arduous part of motherhood, but you will soon find that every time you felt like screaming or crying is worth it in the long run. In times of immense stress, be sure to lean on your partner, your family, friends, and other mothers. Always remember that no mother is perfect and every mother makes mistakes. You do your best and your baby will be safe, healthy, and most importantly – happy!