Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Congratulations, Mama Bear! You're expecting your own LittleBear and feeling all the feels. This time is so exciting but a bit overwhelming, right? Even on baby number four I find myself thinking about all the things on the to-do list... But by now I've learned something really huge... Most of that "to-do list" is NOT NECESSARY. Yeah, I said it. The nursery, the registry, the diapers, the books, the bottles, the blankets, the cribs... none of it matters... Hear me out.... There is so much we think we need to do and get before baby makes his or her grand appearance, but the truth is, all your baby really needs is you, a safe, warm home, and lots of love. So when I'm looking at my "to-do" list, I have three things at the very top... the rest we can survive without. But these are my non-negotiables.
Create your birth dream team
Where do you plan on birthing and who will be in attendance? My birth dream team includes my husband, my midwife, a doula, and a birth photographer.
- Husband.... check.... that was easy
- Midwife... check.... not quite as easy.... finding a care provider that fits your needs can take some searching. Don't be afraid to switch providers (maybe even a couple times!) if your OB or Midwife just doesn't seem to be meeting your needs. You should feel comfortable to talk about anything and supported in your decisions, no matter how seemingly odd or strange they may be. - Doula (and Photographer) - I prefer a doula/photographer because it's less people to coordinate, especially for hospital births under COVID guidelines. Also, many hospitals are not allowing birth photographers and are only allowing certified doulas, so if your doula just happens to also be a photographer, WIN.
Where to find a midwife, doula, and birth photographer is a common questions. I recommend starting out on google. Start looking up local midwives and doulas. If you find a few that seem like they mesh with you, check out their social media, websites, etc., and then reach out to your community. Local Mom groups on facebook or within your own networks are so valuable! Especially if they're well connected with the birth community. I would have never found any of the awesome people I've had support my births if it wasn't for facebook! DoulaMatch is a website that can help you find a doula local to you also! This is a great resource, but keep in mind that not all doulas are listed, so if someone on the directory doesn't seem to fit your needs, keep checking other avenues.
birthphotographers.com is an online directory for Birth Photographers also. You will be able to find birth photographers near you, and if they're also a doula, it will usually be listed!
Take a birth and breastfeeding class
I know, I know... everyone says to do this and it's like "why bother? the internet and library are free." True. They are. But the old adage rings true: "You get what you pay for" You can truly learn everything you need to know about birth and breastfeeding online, mostly for free. But you're also going to be bombarded with a lot of conflicting material and opinions that can really be difficult to wade through. And anything you didn't THINK to google (which could be a lot since this is uncharted water and ya don't know what ya don't know) you might not learn unless you accidentally stumble upon it. For instance, I had no idea what "prodromal labor" meant until my second pregnancy... Same goes for breastfeeding.... I thought I knew it ALL because I read a dang good book. And it did help prepare me a lot. But I didn't know where to turn for help when the time came that I needed it. I felt like I was walking into closed doors and never knew which providers I could trust. Taking a breastfeeding class usually will connect you with a lactation professional that can provide support postpartum or direct you to a trustworthy lactation consultant if you need one.
Learn about sleep.
Learn about infant sleep patterns, biological programming, and what to expect. Everything we're taught is all twisted up. We create unrealistic expectations for infant sleep and it results in exhausted, angry parents. Learn. About. Sleep. My Breastfeeding with Confidence course lightly touches upon the topic of biological sleep needs in newborns, but I definitely recommend checking out the book Sweet Sleep to learn more about how to manage your expectations surrounding sleep and strategies to ensure you and your baby are both getting the rest you need. Of course there is so much more to do and prepare and learn and get done and clean out and the list goes on and on and on, but MamaBear, I promise you, you can do ANYTHING with a supportive team you trust, some background knowledge, and healthy expectations of what the first year will bring. The rest.... the swaddling, the diaper changes, the nursery, the registry will all take care of itself in due time. But your soul needs to be armed with the support and confidence before any of the adorable, soft, snuggly "things" matter.
What is at the top of your to-do list as you prepare for baby?
Jaimie Zaki is a mom, wife, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Certified Birth Doula, and Professional Birth Photographer. Jaimie helps mothers birth and breastfeed confidently by teaching the important basics, frequently asked questions, solutions to common challenges, and helping moms develop strategies for self-advocacy and difficult decision making. Jaimie teaches Birthing With Confidence and Breastfeeding With Confidence, provides in-home lactation support in South Jersey, and provides virtual prenatal birth preparation. If you are interested in working with Jaimie, book a FREE 30 minute virtual consult so you and Jaimie can get to know each other better!