“Working on a television network broadcast has made me an organization freak,” confesses Beth Efran. “As my due date approached, I wanted to be as prepared as possible for this once-in-a-lifetime live news special event.”
—The Car Seat
You can’t take baby home without it. If you own a car in the city, make sure the car seat base is properly installed. You can have it checked at P.S. 92 at 222 West 134th Street. Call to make an appointment at (212) 368-7653. Or, you can go onto the U.S. Department of Transportation website, www.dot.gov, and enter your zip code for a list of inspection sites.
Before you go into labor, try to take an infant CPR class. The American Red Cross offers Saturday classes. Call them at 1-800-514-5103 or (212) 875-2222. Sign up as close to delivery as comfortably possible. My daughter is almost 4 months old and I took the class when I was five months pregnant — and I’m going to take the class again because I forgot nearly everything already.
Interview at least three before you decide. Make sure the doctor is board certified and find out if he/she takes your insurance. That’s a major bonus because the monthly vaccinations can cost almost $400 a visit and it gets pretty costly if you’re paying out-of-pocket. Ask about office hours, and observe how organized the practice is. Are there walk-in hours if you don’t have an appointment? Find out how many doctors are on staff/on call and how quickly do they return calls and with which hospitals are they affiliated. And don’t forget to ask your pediatrician about Mylicon, a gassy baby’s best friend.
Talk to your OB or pediatrician about which umbilical cord blood storage place he/she recommends if this is something that interests you. My OB reports that about 30 percent of her patients are doing this umbilical cord stem cell storage. Ask your doctor to find a reputable and heavily certified facility. My doctor’s office also keeps the ViaCord, www.viacord.com, and CBR (Cord Blood Registry), www.cordblood.com kits at the office, so once I signed up, I brought the kit and home and then took it with us to the hospital. After delivery, the doctor fills the kit, and your husband/partner calls the 800 number and the facility comes and picks up the kit. If you’re going to do this, it’s not cheap at almost $2,000, but you might consider adding a request to your baby shower registry. Instead of receiving a mountain of onesies, you can make a possible investment in your child’s medical future.
—Back to School
Take the newborn care and childbirth classes at your hospital if they’re offered; you might pick up a few helpful pointers here and there. I had no idea how warm the baby’s bath water should be until I took the class, or that you use cotton balls, not wipes, for the first couple of weeks. Plus, you’ll get a tour of the labor and delivery floor so you know where you’re going and what comforts from home you might want to bring along. Also, be sure to fill out a pre-admission form at your hospital. This will save you time and stress if your information is already entered into the computer system when you check in.
—Pain at the Pump
Get names of lactation consultants who work at the hospital where you’ll be delivering. Speak with them, and let them know when you’re due and that you’d like them to drop by your room once you’ve delivered. I strongly suggest getting your name on that list. A little coaching/guidance in this department goes a long way.
Call your benefits department (or your husband’s/partner’s) to find out how quickly you will need to add your newborn to your health insurance policy. You usually have 30 days to add the baby from the date of birth, but they need a copy of the birth certificate and that can take a few weeks to get back from the government. Call them and let them know you’ll be doing this, and ask their opinion/advice. Make sure to fill out the birth certificate form at the hospital so there’s no added delay. While you’re at it, find out your company’s maternity leave policy in advance. Investigate this seriously. Also get the name of a good labor attorney just in case your job isn’t particularly baby-friendly or accommodating. Know all your rights.
—All Points Bulletin
Make a list of all the phone numbers for your husband/partner to call once the baby has arrived or while it’s on the way. Make sure to include the pediatrician’s number (because the doctor will want to come in that day for a check-up), your boss, the birth announcement printers, family and friends, the cord blood people, and a car service so you can get home a couple of days later.
I was really glad I brought a pillow from home. Bring an extra empty small bag with you to the hospital as well so you can carry all the supplies the hospital will send you home with, including extra diapers. Have some diapers at home already, but don’t get too many. You don’t know if your newborn is going to be allergic to anything you buy in advance, so buy in small quantities. Stock up on Advil/Tylenol for you. Don’t ask why. I’m not going into detail — forget it.
Stuff your freezer with bagels and frozen dinners. If you don’t own a microwave, get one. If people ask you what you would like, tell them: an order from Zabar’s. When we got home from the hospital two of the best gifts we received were an order of bagels and cream cheese from Zabar’s and sugar cookies from www.cookiesbydesign.com. The cookies were great because whenever company came over, we had delicious gourmet cookies to offer. Also, keep some cash on hand at home so you can order in anytime you want.
Don’t get me started. Ours were wrong the first two times and had to be reprinted, but hopefully yours will be perfect. Pick them out at a place you trust — and all they’ll need are the details once the baby’s born and you should get them within two weeks. Make a list of all your contacts, since you’ll need a list of addresses for all the thank-you notes you’ll be writing later anyway.
Not to do work, mind you. My husband brought his laptop and downloaded episodes of Lost since I missed the whole season and this was one way to kill some time between contractions.
Have your film all ready to go if you're still taking pictures the old-fashioned way, and charge up the video camera’s batteries. Include these in your hospital bag.
Treat yourself to a prenatal massage at a reputable place. This will be the last massage you’ll be getting for a while. Enjoy it.
Last but not least, try to practice swaddling on a teddy bear or other stuffed animal. It’ll get you even more excited than you were before.