Nothing compares to the amazing experience of being pregnant and becoming a mother. When you first see your child, you are an instant mom (literally and emotionally). There are endless things that, in my opinion, no one bothered to tell me when I was pregnant. Like ALL the things to expect during labor, during the hospital stay, and after arriving home with your new bundle of joy. You could read every book on the planet and still not be fully prepared. I don’t care how many meetings, retreats, or trainings you’ve run; I don’t care how many employees you have. We are all the same person when we arrive home with our first baby in their carrier that seems WAY too big for such a small little person: We are all just trying to figure out how to be a mom. Here are a few things I wish someone had told me BEFORE I was a first-time mom.
Pack a Bag.
Seems simple enough, right? EVERYONE packs a bag. Pack it NOW. You are 22 weeks? Pack it now. You are 36 weeks? PACK IT NOW!!! Like right now, stop reading…pack. Live without your most comfortable PJ’s and outfits for a couple of weeks or months or buy a set especially for the hospital because this is your first baby! You don’t know if you are going to go early or late but count on it--once you get closer and closer to your due date you are going to be so preoccupied with everything else you might forget to pack the things that are going to make you feel as comfortable and as at home as possible. Tie up loose ends at work, freeze approximately 1000 casseroles—whatever. Just don’t forget to pack your bag.
Bring Feminine Pads and Lactation Pads
I know we all hate talking about the dreaded Kotex or Always pads but bring your own. You have hopefully enjoyed the bliss of nine months free of bleeding, but it will catch up to you. If you breastfeed, this will be much lighter than if you don’t, but it will be there. You don’t want the rowboat-sized pads they provide at the hospital. Also, bring lactation pads. This was something I guess I hadn’t even thought through; I guess I figured that once you decided to breast or formula feed, that decision connected directly to your brain and said, “hey don’t make that milk” if you decided to go with formula. It doesn’t, trust me. And there is nothing more uncomfortable than a wet bra and shirt. Particularly in the boardroom.
Bring Easy Outfits for Your New Little One
Bring something easy to get on and off and that is comfy for the baby. Also, make sure to wash them first with Dreft or some other fragrance and dye-free detergent. I know we all want our babies in the cutest clothes ever but limit the frills and three-piece-suits to a minimum. Your baby has just come from the most protected and cozy place on earth. Super-soft clothes with room to kick their feet and get comfy are best for baby, and you don’t have to have a panic attack trying to get the fancy ones on and off each time they poop, pee, or spit up…which is a lot.
Bring Something FOR YOU That Is Calming for the Hospital
Whether it’s a book, special playlists on your phone, your expense reports (kidding!!), or even a soft blanket, bring something that calms you. After you have had your baby and the adrenaline wears off, something calming for you will also be calming for the baby. As a new mom, you really have no idea what you are doing, no matter how prepared you are, because this is all new to you. It can be a bit overwhelming, so a touch of home and comfort will always help.
Be Prepared for When Your Milk Comes In
Whether you are going to breastfeed or not, most of the time, your milk is going to come in. If you are not prepared for this (as I most certainly was not), you will be in for a rude awakening. On my third day home from the hospital, I woke up and had gone from a size B to a size D overnight. My chest felt like I had been beaten with a baseball bat. If you breastfeed, the simple solution is to feed or pump, and if you start out from the first feeding, you won’t have this issue unless you wait too long between feedings or pumping. If not, be prepared: if you run to the store or the pharmacy after your milk comes in and you hear a baby cry while you are there, you are going to start leaking breastmilk like an open tap. Make sure to have lactation pads in your purse or diaper bag as well as be wearing a set.
No one has this perfected on their first baby until they are at least five or six months old. Every day is a new day. Today they might have exploding diapers and not sleep at all, and tomorrow they might sleep all night and not have to change outfits once! Every day you get with your child is an amazing experience. Savor every moment, because before you know it, they will be starting kindergarten, middle school, graduating high school, and getting married, and, as a mom of older kids I can tell you, time really does fly.