You have been anticipating the birth of your newborn for the last nine months, despite all of the pregnancy discomforts. It might not have been easy with the morning sickness (especially if it went beyond the first trimester), fatigue, and not being able to get comfortable. But here you are, ready to bring your child home from the hospital. Once you get to the big moment by going into labor, you know that your life is about to change forever.
Unless there are complications at birth, the average hospital stay for the mom and her newborn is about 48 hours. There are so many things to consider when you take the newborn home! In fact, some of the items you take with you at the hospital, you will also need at home. If you are nearing the end of your pregnancy, make sure to add the proper items for your newborn into the labor bag.
When I was about to give birth to my daughter, I packed up in my labor bag all the items I would need for her stay at the hospital. I have also packed items for the moment I was taking her home for the first time. However, there were some items that I had not taken into consideration at the time. Make sure you imagine all possible scenarios in order to pack everything you (might) need.
Here are 10 steps to take when bringing your newborn home from the hospital:
1. Pack a Seasonally Appropriate and Comfortable Outfit
Every mom must pack clothing for the newborn in her labor bag. The hospital may provide you with clothes but it is best to get your own. You don’t want to worry that the clothing from the hospital is not warm or light enough. Whatever you do, do not overdress or underdress your newborn. Newborns are unable to regulate their temperatures. My daughter was born in the spring so I bought plenty of newborn sleepers that were on the warmer side, as the nights in the spring can be cold.
2. Schedule Your Appointment with the Baby’s Healthcare Provider
If you have not already found a pediatrician for your baby, make sure to find one before he or she arrives. This way, once you and your newborn are released from the hospital, you can take him or her to the doctor right away. Newborns need to be checked often for the first few weeks. I was fortunate enough to know a good pediatrician. I made an appointment with him right after my daughter was born. He had been her pediatrician for about a year before he moved away.
3. Get Acquainted with Warm Lines
Warm Lines refer to telephone numbers that are available to new parents. Parents that have questions about breastfeeding, formula intake, bathing, or other subjects can call these numbers. A specialist will answer all their questions. The hospital where I delivered my daughter had a warm line. I took advantage of it for the first month after she was a born. See if the hospital where you delivered your baby offers the same services.
4. Make Sure You Securely Set the Infant Car Seat
Back in the days, it was normal for new moms to sit in the passenger seat, carrying the baby in their arms. However, that quickly became illegal. Nowadays, to be able to go home with your newborn, the infant car seat needs to be installed. You can get that done by professionals if you or your beloved one do not know how to install it. I had a baby store employee install my baby car seat. The staff at the hospital where my daughter was born allowed me to take her home due to this fact.
5. Make Sure You Are Stocked with Plenty Of Diapers
If you purchased only one pack of newborn diapers, you will find that it goes very fast. That being said, make sure that you always have 2 or 3 packs at handy. I remember when my daughter was a newborn, I had to change her diaper every hour at the very least. Sometimes every half hour. You don’t want to come home with the baby and not have enough diapers. You will feel very exhausted at the beginning due to this huge life transition. Therefore, make sure you take all the measures to ease the transaction to the new life.
6. Make Sure You Purchase Enough Bottles and Formula
Even if you plan to breastfeed your baby, you need to anticipate that at some point he or she will need formula supplementation. Be prepared in case breastfeeding does not work out. This way, your baby will be fed either way. I wanted to breastfeed, but unfortunately, it did not work out. I did not have formula ready at that time. Fortunately, I was able to rely on my mother’s help. She ran out to get formula and bottles from the drugstore.
7. Make a List of Tasks for People to Help
Think if you have friends and/or family who will be able to help you with errands. If not, you can find volunteers to help at your local place of worship or community center. Once your baby is home, you will not be able to do all the chores you used to do. You won’t have the energy or time to do laundry, cook, clean and run errands. Ask for help with these. I was lucky to always have the family to help me out. I had meals cooked for me and some takeout ordered. You will need others to do the same.
8. Buy Frozen Dinners
Even if others will cook or order for you after the baby comes home, make sure that you are well-equipped in the food department. You will not want to be dealing with cooking the first weeks your baby comes home. My husband and I had many microwavable meals for the first week after my daughter’s arrival.
9. Have Plenty of Sleepers, Burp Rags, and Blankets
You will be shocked at how much your baby can spit up after each feeding. They will also need to be swaddled often for the first while. While holding your baby, you will constantly need to make sure a burp rag is on your shoulder, and you will need to change your newborn often. I wasn’t very prepared for this, so I had to use some old rags. My husband and I ended up with plenty of baby blankets and clothing as gifts from friends. We were safe in this department.
10. Prepare Your Pet If You Have One
If you have a pet, you will need to anticipate that it will need to adjust to the baby. Therefore, bring the baby’s blankets to your pet allow it to sniff them. This way, it becomes used to the smell a lot quicker. You may need to have someone take your pet for the first month while adjusting to your new life. Unfortunately, we had to do that because we were not able to manage both my newborn daughter and the dog’s reaction. It is a difficult thing to do but it is necessary.
No one can be fully prepared to become a first-time parent. The moment you take your newborn home, your life changes forever. This is why you will want to be as prepared as you can when bringing him or her home from the hospital.
Editor’s note: This post was first uploaded in October 2018 and has received multiple updates, including the most recent one in May 2019.
Miriam Slozberg is a blogger, astrologer and freelance writer. Canadian mom of three, she writes about pregnancy and parenting, mental health, relationships and spirituality. Miriam is an advocator for mental health. She aims to help break the stigma that surrounds it.