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Giving Birth: What to Bring, Besides Your Belly
Packing for the hospital can help prepare you for giving birth by getting you to think about what you’ll need. Here are some items you might find practical. •Telephone calling card. Many hospitals won’t let you use your cell phone inside. Also, bring phone numbers for anyone you or your partner may want to call. •Nightgown or large shirt to wear during labor. Hospitals only provide those strange, backless numbers. •Large, self-adhesive sanitary pads. Hospitals often provide small ones, which have less-than-ideal sticking capacity. •Infant car seat. As required by U.S. law, your hospital won’t let you leave without one. •Warm baby clothing (especially socks) and a blanket. If it’s cold outside, some hospitals will provide a knit cap, diapers and a blanket for your baby, but be prepared with extras. •Loose-fitting clothes to wear home. While you’ll feel thinner, you’ll likely not be able to fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes. •Nursing bra. A comfortable nursing bra makes frequent feedings much easier. There are many kinds out there, so ask your friends which they like. •Pillow. Hospital pillows sometimes just aren’t comfortable, and a good pillow can help you position yourself and the baby for breastfeeding. •Camera. So you can embarrass your child when she’s a teen. •Snacks. Don’t count on the hospital to provide tasty eats. 4

Helping Hands: Get ’Em Lined Up
When your friends ask what they can do to help, give them this list: 1. Bring food. Cook an entire dinner at your house, or leave it in the freezer. 2. Go grocery shopping. 3. Clean the house. 4. Help write thank-you notes. 5. Run errands. 6. Make a list of good people who can help you: pediatricians, lactation consultants, sleeping consultants, mom’s groups... 7. Come over and hold the baby, so you can get some sleep or take a shower. You can also line up a few helping hands to be ready when you get home from the hospital: Nurse visits. Ask your hospital or doctor if nurse visits to your home are available. A nurse can be extremely helpful when you’re tired and confused about feeding, sleeping, bathing or anything else. Lactation consultant. Talk with the lactation consultant at your hospital and see if they will visit as well. Sometimes it’s really easy to learn for the mom and for the baby, and sometimes it’s not—if you need assistance, there are resources out there to help.


Am I Alone in This?
A lot of parents feel totally isolated when they have their first baby. They’re up at hours when no one else seems awake, they’re tired during the day, and they’re focused on one thing only—and its needs to eat, sleep, pee and burp. Here are some ways to find someone to talk to so you don’t feel so alone: Find a mom’s or dad’s group. You may want to find one before you even give birth, through a childbirth class or through the hospital. Ask for help. Your friends or family may not know that you are tired or lonely. Ask them to come over and make you smile, make you dinner or hold the baby. Talk to friends or family who have had babies. Go online. Search for mom’s groups in your area, or even a virtual mother’s group. These can provide support, too. Go outside. Though it may feel like you can’t leave your house because there’s so much you need to do at home, go outside and get fresh air for you and your baby—you’ll feel part of the world. Keep a journal, scrapbook or photo album that charts you and your new baby’s early months. Although this is a time when six months seems like forever, you’ll soon be able to look back and see how far you’ve come. Eat well, drink lots of water and exercise whenever possible (with the consent of your obstetrician). “Baby Bootcamps” are all the rage these days, and are a great way to meet other new moms, get back into shape and socialize in the company of your baby. 6

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