In her “Parenting Essentials Class,” Diaz featured her tricks of the trade for soon-to-be parents of singletons and twinnies, which she’s so generously sharing here.
Parenting doesn’t come with instructions. But pre-parenting–what to do before your baby is born to prepare for the whole new world you’re about to enter–does come with this master to-do list.
Birth Plan Basics
“The day you have your baby will be a day that’s imprinted on your brain,” Diaz says. “Studies show that people with advanced Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can remember the day of their child’s delivery. They will tell you about who was in the room. The day of your child’s birth will become part of your life story.” Although Mother Nature is in charge, Diaz recommends these strategies for taking some control of your child’s birth.
1. Pencil out a plan
“I wanted to have babies in a birthing center, in a tub with patchouli candles. I’m not crunchy but wanted an organic natural experience. When I heard the second heart beat, however, I relinquished all control to medical professionals,” says Diaz, who is a girl/boy twin mom; the twins are now 14. Bad move.
You can’t control everything, but you can dictate little things, such as the music you want your baby born to, which can help you feel more in control of your birth experience and the lifelong memories that result. “Create a birth plan, discuss it with your medical professionals and know what your choices are,” Diaz says.
In your birth plan, consider your visitors; that’s them (left). “Everybody wants to be there on the day your baby is born, but what if your delivery goes awry? If you end up in recovery for a day, visitors may end up holding your child before you get to meet him/her,” she says.
Don’t inadvertently let your family and friends mess with your birth story. Instead, “tell them not to come to the hospital until I tell you to,'” Diaz says.
If you’re having twins, know that 80 percent of twin babies end up in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) instead of the nursery. “It could be a good thing because you’ll have people at your beckon call 24 hours per day,” Diaz says.
Make copies of your birth plan for your support team.
2. Go on tour
Another in-charge move: Get the lay of the land. Take a hospital tour, preferably no later than 30 weeks. “If your hospital doesn’t offer a tour, ask for an unofficial tour,” Diaz says. “If you don’t take tour, you’ll have no idea idea where you are when you’re in labor.” Take a spin through the hospital’s emergency department, which is where you may be admitted if your water breaks in the middle of the night.
Questions to ask during the hospital tour:
- If my water breaks at 3 AM, which entrance to the hospital should I use?
- Can I see the labor and delivery floor?
- Where will I deliver if I have a C-section?
- Where will I recover if I have a C-section?
- What is the hospital’s visitor policy? Where will my visitors sit?
- Can I see the nursey and the NICU?
“Knowing before you go is much more comforting, and partners know where they’re going to go, too,” Diaz says.
Brush up on your health insurance benefits
Next to-do tactic: Call your health insurance company and ask these fineprint questions about coverage:
- Which breast pump will I be getting and how do I apply for it? (For more info getting a free breast pump through your health insurance company without the hassle, check out this post.)
- If I have a C section, am I eligible for a visiting nurse service to come to my house?
- Am I entitled to have a lactation consultant come to my home if I have trouble with breast feeding?
“Know that some insurance companies require you to tell them your baby has been born,” Diaz says. “The hospital doesn’t necessarily do it for you.”
Also, if you’re dissatisfied with your 401K distribution or your health insurance provider or coverage, plan on the changes you’ll make once your baby is born. “You need a qualifying event to make changes when it’s not Open Enrollment. The birth of a child is a qualifying event. It gives you the opportunity to change everything,” Diaz says.
Prep your employer
- By week 28 of pregnancy, sit down with your human resources department and ask:What happens if I need to go on bed rest?
- Will I be able to receive short term disability benefits?
- What legal things do I need to do to make sure I have job coverage?Plan on scaling back at work by 34 weeks. Skip the company Tough Mudder obstacle course team bonding event. Likewise, “don’t join the pregnant moms company swim team,” Diaz says.
Do this serious about this stuff by week 30
- Buy life insurance, if you don’t have any. “You need life insurance even if you’re not the breadwinner,” Diaz says. If you don’t have life insurance through your company or you plan to leave your company, you’ll need to buy your own. Although life insurance companies don’t like the sound of gestational diabetes, “you can get life insurance through your 3rd trimester without question,” Diaz says.
- Create a will. “God forbid something happens,” Diaz says. “Don’t use LegalZoom. Find an attorney who specialize in estate planning. “Your will say ‘my children.’ They don’t need to be born yet; you don’t need to know their names. You can do two separate wills, one for you and one for your partner,” Diaz says.
- Take a CPR first aid class. “I had to do CPR on my daughter twice,” Diaz says. Because you never know, you want to be prepared.
- Visit the dentist for a cleaning, especially if it has been awhile and you see blood when you’re brushing your teeth. Periodontitis (a gum infection) is associated with preterm labor.
Get a grip on baby gear
Baby gear can get expensive. According to Babylist, baby products are a $30 billion industry. “If you don’t set a budget, you’ll mindlessly start hemorrhaging money,” Diaz says. What’s realistic? It depends on your income, but Diaz says not more than $2000.
A car seat: You can’t be discharged from hospital until child passes a car seat test. Your baby has to sit in the car seat you select to make sure his/her trachea is strong enough so it doesn’t collapse.
A key car seat feature to look for, especially in a convertible car seat, which rides rear facing at first, then forward facing after age 2 or later:
A no-rethread harness. It’s a way to move the car seat’s internal five-point harness as your baby grows without manually rerouting them. It allows you to easily adjust the car seat harness as your baby grows so you’ll always have it at the correct level. Examples of convertible car seats with a no-rethread harness:
Strollers: Start small. Diaz recommends with a Snap and Go stroller frame. (BabyProductsmom agrees.) “Don’t buy your forever stroller until you know what your needs are, such as air tires versus foam tires,” Diaz says. That’s what you learn when you start with the Snap and Go and give yourself time to try out various stroller models.
Centsible advice: Go ahead and put a statement stroller like this one on your baby registry, if you want to. “Let your aunt buy it for you, then return it for store credit,” Diaz says. (Options!)
Furniture: Don’t splurge on the crib. “Don’t spend more than $200. Jenny Lind is my favorite crib. It’s inexpensive and neutral,” Diaz says.
Don’t buy a convertible crib, which converts to a toddler bed, then a fullsize bed. “Nobody’s taking their crib to their first apartment,” Diaz says. Spend the money on the mattress. Diaz recommends Colgate crib mattresses (BabyProductsMom loves Colgates mattresses too, especially because they’re Greenguard certified/guaranteed not to offgas.)
Feeding: You’ll need a miniumu of eight bottles if you’ll be bottle feeding.
Toys: “Invest in blocks, trains and wooden toys–things that will last long, like five years,” Diaz says.
Bath time: “You just need some place for them to be safe. I love bathing in the sink,” Diaz says. A bath sling can make sink bathing easier.
“Don’t go crazy buying stuff,” Diaz says. (BabyProductsmom agrees. Check out this post on what to buy/register for.)
Don’t make these newbie mistakes
Running out of diapers. “You need 75 diapers in your house at all times, 150 for twins,” Diaz says. Same with wipes. “There’s no such thing as too many wipes. Always have the next case,” Diaz says. She’s a fan of Pampers in the beginning because the tabs are sturdy. “Then feel free to use whatever,” Diaz says.
Similarly, with formula (if you’ll be using formula): “You can’t have enough,” Diaz says. She favors Pro Advance from Similac. “If you’ll be breastfeeding fulltime, be prepared for plan b.” (BabyProductsMom favors the store-brand version, like Target’s Up & Up or Walmart’s Parents Choice.) “If you don’t want to breastfeed, you don’t have to. I give you permission,” Diaz says.
Not napping. “You can’t always sleep when the baby sleeps because there’s too much to do, but you can nap when family comes over,” Diaz says. “Nobody really wants to see you. They care about the baby.”
Not being up to date on your vaccines. Having all of your shots protects your baby’s health. Make sure Grandma and Grandpa are up on their shots too.
Not having enough storage on your phone! Back up old photos and clear out your phone. It should be ready to capture those memories.
Thinking you can’t do it on your own. “You don’t need a lot of help unless you’re going back to work full-time,” Diaz says. But if you have a C-section, you do need help for the first six weeks. A general idea: Four hours of help every two days.
Not planning for paternity leave. Add paternity leave after your maternity leave ends.
Not mapping out how much it will cost if you return to work. Factor in childcare, transportation and clothes. (Is it worth it?)
Being vague when hiring a nanny. What do you want the nanny to do when you return to work? Hiring tip: Create a job description. Do you want the nanny to provide childcare and do household chores? Then put it out to the universe. “If you don’t know what you want, Google ‘nanny tasks’ for a realistic list,” Diaz says. After meeting a few contenders, have them come to the house and pay them for one day. “Maybe the commute was too much for them. You’ll find out during the trial.” If you’re hiring outside help, make sure your home has liability insurance.
Not making your relationship a priority. “It’s so important that you stay in love during this process,” Diaz says. “Lead a life by example and show your child what love looks like.”
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