Coming home with a new baby can be so exciting and so overwhelming. I almost feel like I know what to do with my third child. Almost. I have at least learned I need to plan ahead. The first week of breastfeeding can be stressful all on its own. So, to make the transition as smooth as possible, use 37 weeks as your deadline for most preparations. This will give you a little cushion if some things take longer to sort out. Here are three things I’m already thinking about and planning for at the beginning of my third trimester:
You may not like the idea of sending your older children away when you bring the new baby home. I’m with you. I struggle with separation anxiety, want them home to bond with their new sibling, and don’t like asking for help. So, this one is hard for me too. However, I know that they will be more than fine in the care of a close relative or friend. My plan is to have my older children home the first night or two before sending them to visit grandparents for a few days. Even if yours stay home though, ask for help. If your husband is home on paternity leave, it might be tempting to let him handle the older kids. Still, get some help for at least a few days. Having someone else available to take care of your children’s basic needs will free up his time so he can focus on caring for you and bonding with baby. If you enjoy your privacy as much as I do, just make it clear to your helper that you need an extra pair of hands to care for and entertain your older kids. They may still be eager to help a little too much; gently reassure them that you and baby are enjoying your alone time.
Honestly, I thought this idea was pretty silly when I was pregnant with my son. I don’t remember it being a “thing” 7 years ago when I had my daughter. But after giving birth, I found out that having a quiet spot to breastfeed was essential. I had some significant tearing during labor and getting around the first week was difficult. So, as the days progressed, my quiet spot quickly turned into a “nursing station” set up on the nightstand between my bed and rocking chair. It was perfect, and not a silly idea at all. So, for convenience sake, go ahead and set up a little spot for yourself with all of your supplies. Having space to set a glass of water, bowl of oatmeal, or breast pump supplies without having to bend over was the best part of my nursing station. So, I recommend having a table of some kind. If you have any kind of injuries from your labor, you will really appreciate it.
This is important. Start planning now. You will need to eat in order to breastfeed successfully. There are a lot of ways you can prepare. Some people like to make their own freezer meals. Some request meals from friends in lieu of baby shower gifts. Others hit the frozen food section at the grocery store and stock up. I like to do a combination of all of the above. I just wish I had requested more warm meals from friends and family with my last baby. My husband is an excellent cook, but I want as little chaos and noise around me as possible when I first come home with a baby. In my eyes, the more time we can spend laying in bed or cuddled up on the couch together with our new bundle of squishiness, the better. So, pick up your favorite frozen dinners. Make some of your favorite meals and freeze them. Tell your friends, church members, or family that you will happily accept some free food when you get home – left on the doorstep. Set some money aside to give your chosen helper so they can pick up take out. And stock up on some lactation snacks. Do whatever you need to do now, so you can do less later and still eat good food.
The most important thing you should plan on for the first week is to do nothing. Okay, almost nothing. You are going to be very busy caring for your newborn and getting into a breastfeeding routine. So, consider all of the things you are responsible for on a daily basis right now, and think of ways to get out of them for at least a week after baby arrives. It isn’t a ridiculous notion. Really! You will give birth to a new human being, and then provide them with all of the sustenance, comfort, and care they need to survive. I promise it is acceptable to take care of yourself in this instance.