Some people have an innate ability all their life to pack lightly – and I’m unashamedly not one of them. So this article is about being totally and utterly prepared for the arrival of a baby, not partially or reasonably prepared, but extraordinarily prepared. As Baby Whisperer author Tracey Hogg says “One of the reasons my babies do well is that everything is ready for them a month before due date”.
LABOUR & BIRTH BAG:
- Long cotton T-shirt (or wear hospital gown); warm socks (your feet get cold); hair-clip/hair-tie (for long hair); and togs for labour-support person in case they want to join you in the shower/spa-bath.
- Straw-style sipper-bottle; Bach flower Rescue Remedy; and lipsalve chapstick (lips get dry).
- For Mum: Glucose lollies & glucose drinks. For labour support person: Snack food, coffee thermos, energy drinks.
- Massage/Heatpack items (eg aromatherapy essential oils, vegetable massage oil, heatable wheatie-bag, water spray bottle)
- Portable music Playlist & Speaker (feel free to use my Childbirth spotify playlist at Mark Kathy Fray – it has assisted hundreds of women through their labours so fantastic juju)
- Mobile phone & charger
- Spectacle glasses instead of contact lenses
- Who to Phone & Who to Text list
- Little bottles of shampoo & moisturizer plus brush/comb for shower afterwards
- Maternity bra, breast pads and grandma-style undies
- Front-opening pajamas/nightie/loose clothing
- Optional small bottle of bubbly with couple of plastic flute glasses
- Maternity sanitary pads & disposable breast-pads
- Disposable undies, extra maternity bra and optional breast-shells (great for sore nipples).
- Front-opening loose-fitting comfy clothing, dressing gown, roomy slippers, toothbrush & paste, soap & flannel, shampoo & hairbrush/comb, good deodorant, makeup, and optional hairdryer.
- Birth-Day Layette: Woolen singlet & all-in-one in prem-newborn size; woolen cardy & hat, woolen shawl & booties.
- Naturopathic healing remedies (eg arnica & hypercal)
- Your own pillow (if you love your pillow), plus optional earplugs & eyemask.
- Favourite old mug, fruit juice, nibbly snack food
But without doubt, the most important preparation a mum-to-be can do for herself and her baby’s first weeks at home, is to intentionally plan to maintain a very quiet, simple, slow-paced, introverted lifestyle. After nine months of mundane darkness, what all newborns yearn for is an unstimulating peaceful existence – devoid of supermarkets, shopping malls, brisk pram walks or onslaughts of handling by visiting friends and family. Without doubt, newborns welcomed with peaceful environments are consistently less fractious.
In practical terms, this means that by one month before due date, you are prepared in every way feasible, to not have to leave the house for the next 2-3 months. This is not to say that you won’t go out – it’s more to ensure you don’t have to go out, when you really don’t feel like it, just because you’ve run out of basic items.
Things you need:
STUFF FOR BUBS
- Bassinet or hanging-sling bed for the first 3-4 months, with bedding washed and sorted.
- Baby Clothes – Keep receipts and tags incase you need to swap sizes; t-shirts/singlets with domes between the legs don’t ride up; and all-in-one stretch-n-grows are great. Remember when going out, under six-week-olds always need booties, cardy, possible shawl, and hat (to protect against wind, cold & sun); and older pre-crawling babies need say one layer more than adults. (However, it is more critical not to over-heat young babies than under-dress.)
- Bathing items – including baby-bath, soap-free or 5.5pH baby-washing liquid, little gauze flannels, and unscented cold-pressed vegetable/nut oil (eg almond) for baby massage.
- Change station – a change table set up like a work-station with everything in easy reach, including wipes, bin, and 150-200 newborn disposable nappies (even if you are intending long-term to use washable nappies).
- Going Out – baby-pod carseat with snuggly head-support cushion; pram (4-wheel pushchair or 3-wheel buggy adaptable to the newborn lie-flat position); nappy carry-all bag/backpack with lots of zip pockets and change-mat; plus optional baby-sling or front-pack.
- Laundry – drying clothes-horse and gentle pure-soap for handwashing woolens (many baby clothes can be quite delicate).
- Summer Hydration – breastfed summer babies need only breastmilk. Formula fed babies on hot days may enjoy some extra cooled boiled water.
- First Aid – including baby paracetamol (or infant ibuprofen); liquid medicine ‘syringe-spoon’ dispenser; baby sunscreen (keep out of strong direct sunlight for the first year); optional gripe formula (available at supermarket); Bach flower Rescue-Remedy (naturopathic calming remedy fine for babies); bottle of saline solution (for blocked nose); digital thermometer (pref ear thermometer); chart of childhood infectious diseases; and infant resuscitation sheet.
- Optional Extras – bouncinette; baby-monitor (if baby’s room is out of ear-shot from main bedroom or lounge-kitchen); couple of borrowed or second-hand baby-gyms to lie under; playmat/blanket to lie on; and box of disposable scented nappy-bags in the nappy carry-all bag.
STUFF FOF MUM
- Health & Wellbeing – supplement (multi-vitamin suitable for lactation); analgesic pain-reliever (eg paracetamol); anti-inflammatory (eg ibuprofen); money put aside to visit a maternity-experienced physio/cairo/osteo/masseuse within six weeks of birth (excellent long-term investment in your spine).
- Breastfeeding – lactation blouses or loose-fitting tops; plus supportive chair with arms for breastfeeding (rocking chairs are particularly divine).
- Housework – assistance a few hours a week for first 1-2 months (perhaps a relative staying or prepaid housekeeper), but someone to help with the basic weekly cleaning chores.
- Pantry & Freezer – Stock till bursting including easy-to-make and re-heatable nutritious dinners, milk (can be frozen), frozen veggies, canned fruit, pet-food, toilet paper and sanitary pads. Plus pre-purchase baby thank-you cards & postage, and presents for any birthdays due over the first couple of months.
Our Western culture does emphasise how portable newborns are – but colourful noisy environments and air temperatures fluctuating outside of 25-27°C are the complete opposite of an ideal newborn atmosphere. There will be plenty of time in the future to enjoy those wonderfully stimulating exciting adventures when bubs is older, but at the beginning try to bunker-down to soak up the irreplaceably precious first weeks.
I always say, until they are Over-5kg and Over 5-Weeks it’s best to STAY HOME!