So you’ve spent close to nine months preparing; from the moment you found out you’re pregnant to the last few days of waiting for your due date to come around.
Now your baby is here! Congratulations, mama!
So many thoughts must be passing through your head: I’m a mama! Look at my gorgeous baby! It was worth all that pain! Look at the tiny hands and feet! I don’t know if I’m ready for this. Will I be a good mama?
It’s completely normal to have different thoughts on different levels running through your head; the good and the bad. And it doesn’t get better ;if you think because it’s not your first child you might not feel the same as you did when you first became a mama. Our daughter was recently born and it honestly felt like I was a new mama again; happiness and doubts rushing through my head as I thought about starting this journey all over again with a new baby.
Life seems a little simpler while you’re still at the hospital; you’ve got room service, you have baby sitters (the nurses from the baby nursery), you’ve got nurses checking up on you, and you have nothing to worry about except looking after your new baby, looking after yourself, and bonding with your little bundle of joy. It’s easy to feel like you’re on a semi-vacation away from home, and away from your usual responsibilities (okay, not sleeping anymore isn’t really vacation material but you know what I’m talking about).
Once you’re heading home, reality does set it and you’ve got a couple of things to take care of. Being on your own without the additional help of nurses at home and looking after a tiny human can leave you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Staying organized will help you keep a part of your sanity and creating a to-do list of the important things you need to remember to do is one way of doing it! This way you’ll be able to remember all the important things to be done while looking after your new baby and adjusting to your new lives.
As everyone knows by now, I love lists, and I’m good at making them (although not as good as following through with all I put on those lists). Remember the lists I made for the series of what to do in each trimester? Well, this list is the follow-up on the third trimester to-do list. You can also check out the to-do lists for the first trimester and second trimester (if you’re not far along with your pregnancy yet).
Here’s my to-do list for after your baby is born to help you remember all you need to do:
Notify your Medical Aid
You want to do this as soon as possible. Most medical aids send you the registration form a couple of weeks before your baby’s birth, and if they don’t, you can just phone them or visit their website to download the form. Keep it close at hand at home so that as soon as you’re back home from the hospital, you can fill it in and send it through to them. You’ll also need a copy of the birth certificate, which brings us to the next point…
Hospitals usually have officials from the Home Affairs present close to the Maternity Ward that will help you register your new baby and issue the birth certificate within a few minutes of submitting your forms.
Make sure to pack all the necessary information/documents for registering your baby at the hospital. You’ll need copies of your ID, your husband’s as well as a copy of your marriage certificate. The hospital staff will provide you with all other forms needed.
Take newborn pictures
You don’t need to go out and hire a photographer to do a newborn shoot, as it can get pricey, especially if you never budgeted for it. That doesn’t stop you from taking your own pictures of your newborn. Your baby’s features are going to start changing over the next couple of days and you want to capture the little face that you first saw on the day that your little bundle was born!
You know you’re going to have people wanting to come over to meet your newest family member and having visitors coming in and out of your home can be unsettling and overwhelming so make sure you put down some visitation rules until you are ready to welcome people to your home.
There are so many ideas out there to make cute and creative birth announcements to send to your friends and family to show off your little human, however you might not have lots of energy or time once you’re home taking care of your baby so going with something simple (like a photo of yourself, your husband and your baby) could work just as well.
Schedule baby’s doctor appointments and vaccinations
Before you leave the hospital, the nurses will tell you when you need to make appointments for your baby’s check-ups and vaccines. Remember to take your baby’s clinic card home (if you’ve decided to vaccinate) as you’ll need to present it at each consultation for the follow-up vaccinations. The pediatrician that checked your baby on the day of the birth will tell you to book an appointment with them a week after your baby’s birth so make sure you can call to book an appointment as soon as you’re back home. You can ask all the questions and get any advice as needed.
Schedule your six-week check-up
You can’t forget about your own health! Your body will need to recover from pregnancy as well as birth, things need to shift back to their normal places and if you had any stitches or had a Cesarean, your doctor will want to make sure everything is A-Okay. No matter how you gave birth, your gynaecologist will want to see you six weeks after your birth. Make sure you schedule this appointment as soon as possible as doctor’s offices are usually busy (mine is). You can ask all the questions and get any advice as needed.
Write down any questions that pop up
Over the next few weeks, you’re going to have questions popping up in your head about different topics, concerning your baby as well as your own well-being. Be sure to write them down so you can have them answered at the doctors’ appointments, because between being sleep-deprived, trying to remember when last you ate or showered, and caring for a new baby, you’re most likely going to forget most of the questions that pass through your head.
Write down your birth story
The day your baby is born will be a day you’ll want to remember forever. As time goes by, you might find yourself forgetting some of the finer details of the day so make sure that as soon as you have a moment, write down all the details. One day, your child might ask you about it and you’ll be able to paint the whole picture.
Kegels, kegels, kegels
You don’t need to wait six weeks before starting on your kegel exercises. Also, it doesn’t matter if you had a Cesarean, bladder leaks are real no matter how you give birth!
Ask for help if you need it
Don’t overwhelm yourself and try to do everything on your own. Looking after a baby isn’t an easy job, and you’ll have even less time looking after yourself. Add on cooking and cleaning, and you’ll find yourself exhausted within the first few days. I’m going to say it as it is; you’re not a bad mama if you need to ask for help, and you’re not weak or a failure if you struggle to do things on your own. Reach out to your support system and ask for help!
Babies don’t come with an operating manual and even if it’s not your first baby, it doesn’t mean your experience will be the same as with your other kid/s. There will be days where things will be easy and everything will go by smoothly. Then there will be long days and nights, when you’ll feel like nothing is working out, and you’ll be tired, and your hormones will be all over the show, and everything will feel like it’s falling apart. It’s very normal, and it’s okay to feel as such. Have patience with your baby, and with yourself!
Those are my tips for setting up your after baby to-do list. Your list might look different to mine, but at least it will give you a guideline of where to start! Everyone will be giving you advice on what to do and what not to do, and it will be overwhelming at times, but you’re able to choose what you want to use and what not. That’s the beauty of it. Your baby and your choices!
If you’re currently on maternity leave, check out my tips on how to make the most of it and enjoy the time with your newborn.
While the newborn stage might be one of the hardest and feel like it’s never-ending, it actually goes by pretty quickly, and you’ll want to remember all the little details about your newborn!
Still pregnant and preparing for the birth of your baby, but not looking forward to your hospital stay? I’ve put together a few tips on how to survive your hospital stay after delivery.