When I was pregnant, most articles I read prepared me for the birth and gave me exhaustive shopping lists. What I did not realize is that birth, as hard as it was, is in fact short lived. And then I had a screaming baby while dealing with a bruised body, sleep deprivation, time deprivation and unexpected emotional turmoil. (Unexpected because I thought it would never happen to me). I realized what came after birth is the harder part, and I was ill prepared.
This unconventional checklist is meant to make your postpartum life a little easier. This list does not prepare you for birth. These are nuggets from myself and some wonderful women in my life: sister, mother, friends, elderly women and even strangers.
You should start this unconventional checklist as soon as possible, but no later than 2nd trimester.
Postpartum is intense. You do not want to tackle this list during postpartum.
- Take notes. You will likely be doing a lot of research and you won’t remember everything. Why do things more than once? I take notes on my iPhone and it is synced to every device I own.
- Childcare options: you/partner stay at home, help from family, daycare (center or in home), nanny or combinations. Daycare in major cities have ridiculously long waitlist, so start early.
- Start an excel spreadsheet on all the baby gadgets you have. Write down simplified instructions from all the manuals. (Have you noticed that manuals are impossible to read at 2:43 am??). Install and learn how to operate all gadgets.
- Choose the big ticket items yourself. You will be using them everyday so you want control over these: Crib, car seat, stroller and baby carrier.
- Do not buy clothes, blankets, toys, diaper paraphernalia until after your baby shower or at least until your 3rd trimester. (You will get an idea if your baby run big or small).
- Make freezer meals and buy a few months worth of disposable utensils. No dishes!
- Ask for non-material gifts for baby shower eg. House cleaning, meal delivery, college fund donation etc.
- Plan at least 3 months worth of dates with your significant other. Make reservations in advance and plan out childcare so you will commit. This may sound frivolous now, but couples underestimate how much you need to work on your relationship during this time.
- Upgrade your phone or cloud based plan to have more photo storage capacity.
- Research COLLEGE FUND and pick one. Start as soon as your baby is born.
- Read a few sleep books. Familiarize yourself with a few sleep training methods. Or you can read BEDTIME SLEEP TRAINING and NAP TRAINING for cry it out method. Trust me, you do not want to do this while sleep deprived.
- Some unsexy stuff: ice pack, giant pads, disposable underwear, witch hazel, and lots of Tylenol/NSAIDs.
- Breastfeeding is VERY hard. Read up everything you can about breastfeeding, and more importantly how to troubleshoot. Also get nursing bras.
- Formula. Get 1-2 weeks supply of formula even if you plan to breastfeed. You may need to supplement until you establish breastfeeding. On that note, have some syringes handy. If you supplement, you will have to syringe formula into your baby’s mouth to not cause nipple confusion. Your pharmacy will have syringes.
- Research breast bump. Plan on using one eventually if you are breastfeeding, even if you do not have to return to work. That way someone else can feed your baby while you get some rest.
- Discuss division of duties with your partner. Don’t do this when you are both sleep deprived and irrational.
- Baby medicine cabinet. Buy baby Tylenol, baby thermometer, suction bulb and a battery operated nail file.
- Noise machine. You will understand this the first time your creaky joints wake your baby.
- Babyproof. Crawl like a baby around your home and eliminate danger.
- If you wear contact lenses, you may not be in the mood to wear them for awhile. Make sure you like your glasses.
- Dental appointment. It is good for you and baby and you will not want to go after your baby’s arrival.
- Organize your home. Boxes, bins, cabinets are your friend. I was determined to not let my home resemble a daycare. If your budget allows, get a robot vacuum cleaner. At least your floor will be spotless.
- Choose a pediatrician.
- Educate your significant other about postpartum blues and signs of depression. You WILL experience an emotional roller coaster. You need someone who will insist that you get help if it becomes necessary.
Nothing you read will fully prepare you. It is however, the most rewarding hard work you will ever do. Happy nesting!