Healthy Ideas for the Care Your New Baby

Love Sleep Play delivers ideas and articles for the care and health of you and your new baby

Expectant Moms’ Pregnancy To-Do List

Not only is it exciting to count down to the birth of your new baby, it can also be comforting. Planning a little each month to welcome your baby home keeps you organized and eases your mind. Follow our month-by-month guide and you’ll be more than ready when your bundle of joy arrives.

Month 1

  • Find a prenatal health care provider by asking for referrals from friends or your general practitioner.

  • Schedule your first prenatal appointment.

  • Take prenatal vitamins or supplements, if recommended by your provider.

Month 2

  • Become familiar with your (or your partner’s) insurance policy so you know what’s covered.

  • Make an appointment with the dentist, as gum disease can increase your risk of premature birth.

Month 3

  • Make a plan for how you’ll share your big news with family and friends; if you work, you’ll also need to prepare to tell your boss.

  • Shop for some new clothes. Your pants will be hard to zip up soon, and you may want to look for a few starter items to tide you over until you’re bigger.

  • Make a budget and start saving for gear for your new baby.

Month 4

  • Start to think about day care. Will it be full time, in-home, or might you decide to hire a nanny? Weigh the pros and cons of each.

Month 5

  • Start planning your maternity leave from work.

  • Think about ordering baby furniture. It can take many weeks or even a few months for certain items to arrive.

  • Treat yourself to a prenatal massage! You deserve the rest and relaxation.

Month 6

  • Decide (roughly) when your last day of work will be and what kind of coverage you’ll need when you’re gone.

  • Consider whether you’ll need a breast pump and then ask around for recommendations.

  • Pre-register at the hospital where you’re planning to give birth to your new baby.

  • Make a delivery plan and decide who you want in the room with you (and who can wait outside).

  • Sign up for childbirth, infant care, and breastfeeding classes

Month 7

  • If you have someone who wants to throw you a baby shower or other new baby celebration, pick a date and share names and addresses with her.

  • Update your 401K plan and your will.

  • Schedule a tour of the hospital or birth center.

Month 8

  • Write up a birth plan and buy birth announcements (or design your announcements online).

  • Pack your hospital bag and have it ready to go by the front door.

  • Install your new baby’s car seat.

Month 9

  • Pick up a few newborn diapers (but not too many -- new babies grow quickly!) and any layette or baby care items you're missing.

  • Figure out how you’ll get to the hospital. Will your partner drive you or will you take a cab?

  • Get a pedicure or do something else to help you relax during the last weeks!

  • Checked everything off? Then congratulations! Now you can rest easy knowing that you did everything you could to prepare for your new baby.

Expectant Mom Baby Bump 101

It’s  no wonder pregnant women are constantly comparing baby bumps: There are plenty of adages suggesting your tummy holds clues to the size, gender, and even the disposition of your new baby. While high for a girl, low for a boy may be an old wives’ tale, there’s plenty of information that can be discerned from an expectant mom’s belly --although it’s not always just about the new baby!

High or Low

One of the most enduring pregnancy myths is that the position of a baby bump indicates gender. In reality, it’s an indicator of the new mom’s fitness level: A woman with a toned stomach will often carry high because her muscles can support the growing baby. However, carrying low doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of shape -- age and previous pregnancies will also make it more difficult for your body to hold that new baby up high .

Narrow or Wide

The shape of a pregnant woman’s belly has also been said to reflect the baby’s gender -- but once again, it actually says more about the expectant mom. Typically, taller women sprout narrower bumps, while shorter women tend to grow wider. This has to do with the length of your torso: if your torso is on the shorter side, there’s little room for your new baby to grow upwards, resulting in a wide bump.   And while the shape may not reveal much about your baby’s gender, it can tell you about his position: A wider tummy often means your new baby is getting comfortable by stretching out sideways.

Big Belly, Big Baby?

When having a baby, there is no right or wrong size for your baby bump -- there are a lot of factors at play. And know that the size of your stomach doesn’t necessarily mean anything about the size of your new baby. Excess amniotic fluid or diabetes can cause your belly to appear larger while a lack of fluid, high blood pressure, or pre-eclampsia can result in a smaller bump, but not automatically a smaller baby. But don’t worry: Your doctor will perform regular ultrasounds to make sure your new baby is growing properly.

It’s likely that friends, family, and even strangers will comment on the size and shape of your belly during pregnancy. But don’t take their comments to heart. Your doctor knows best when it comes to keeping your new baby healthy, so if you have any questions about what’s going on with your stomach, ask away!

Pre-birth Bonding With Your New Baby

The bond between a new mom and her baby is, without a doubt, something that’s incredibly special and unbreakable. When you envision developing that bond with your own baby, you probably imagine reading stories, going for walks, or cuddling in a rocking chair together. While these are all sweet ways to grow closer to your new baby, the bond building doesn’t have to wait until your baby is born. Here are some great ways to start the bonding process while your baby’s still in utero.

Turn Up the Tunes
Studies have shown that growing babies respond positively to music. But before you turn up the rock music, know that by the second trimester babies seem to prefer classical music, or music that mimics your own heart rate of 60 beats per minute. It’s soothing for them, and it’s something you’ll probably enjoy, as well. Remember, if you’re relaxed, your baby probably will be, too.

Write It Down
Take some time at the end of each day to write down your thoughts and daily activities in a journal you purchase specifically for your new baby. You could describe how you reacted the first time you felt your baby kick, for example, or how excited you are for her to be born. Then, when your new baby is older, you can read the entries to her (or she can read them herself!). The journal will make a nice keepsake for your child to cherish in later years.

Have a Conversation
Talking to your baby is a nice way to start the bonding process early. Say “goodnight” and “good morning,” sing songs, talk to her while you rub your belly, and explain to your little one what your movements are throughout the day. She may not understand what the words mean, but the sounds will be soothing.

Get an Ultrasound
The most exciting bonding experience with your new baby may be when you get to actually see how she’s growing. Your ultrasound will give you a very realistic look at your little one. Having a real-life, tangible photo to hold on to will definitely help make the experience feel more real (if the morning sickness and growing stomach haven’t already!).

Sure, you may feel silly talking to your new baby while she’s still in your belly, but keep in mind that starting these bonding rituals now will make them seem like second nature by the time your little one is born.

How I Bonded with My Preemie

I don’t think it’s possible to be fully prepared for becoming a mom. When I delivered my son, Jacob, 10 weeks early, I felt 10 times as unprepared for the transition into motherhood. I quickly realized I could not hold him after he was born, for he was too underdeveloped and sick. I could not look down and stare into his beautiful eyes, since they were covered. But I also realized I wouldn’t let that stop me from being his mom and loving him as much as I could. Since I couldn’t bring my premature baby boy home and rock him in my arms all day, here’s how I bonded with the new love of my life.

Embrace your new full-time job. Much of my maternity leave was spent at the hospital, which was obviously less than ideal. But I made caring for my son as best I could in the NICU my new full-time job. It quickly became the hardest, but most rewarding job I ever had -- even without the pay. I just wanted Jacob to know I was there, and was certain that he did. Just because we weren’t together in our home didn’t mean I should act differently as his mom than I planned to.

Participate in newborn duties (and doodies!) While Jacob was in the NICU, I did whatever I could to care for him, just as I would if we were home. When I could nurse, I nursed. If he had a dirty diaper, I helped changed it. I wanted to care for my son as much as I could, and not feeling completely helpless helped me. It’s important for moms of preemies to get comfortable with their baby immediately, and try not to depend on the nurses for the things you will need to do once the baby comes home.

Hold your baby when possible. Any chance I could hold and touch Jacob, I did. The first time I held him was difficult, because he was hooked up to so many wires. After a while, I barely noticed. I remembered learning during my pregnancy that skin to skin contact is one of the first and best things to do with your newborn to not only bond, but to boost their health and growth. It was those moments that nobody could take away.

Project your beautiful voice. While pregnant, my husband and I did what most parents-to-be do, and talked and sang to our growing baby. At the hospital, we continued to talk and sing to our tiny love, and knew he recognized the voices he had heard for months. We brought books to read to Jacob, awaiting the day we could snuggle at home with books in hand together.

My emotions were very raw after the birth of my son. I was very scared and upset -- often with myself. I felt inferior, as if my role as a mom wasn’t up to par with other moms. I felt responsible, but also determined to do everything I could to help my premature baby strive. I felt as though we can work together as a team to go home. Letting myself feel and talk to others about those feelings -- including other moms of preemies in the NICU -- allowed me to be the best mother I could be for my son. Now, years later, my son is thriving and I look back on those early days as a challenge well worthwhile.