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Since the “25 Things to Do Before Your Baby is Born” post was so popular, I thought I would continue on with sharing my lists and share things that I made sure to do after Little J was born. Coming home from the hospital with a tiny little person can be overwhelming and leave you feeling completely at a loss of what to do. You suddenly are 100% responsible for the care of a helpless little baby. Staying organized can help you keep your sanity while you try to figure out exactly how to be a parent and help your baby grow and develop. Also, like I’ve said before, I am a list person and I had a very nice list of things I wanted to do after Little J was born so that I wouldn’t forget anything and that I would be able to stay organized. And once he was born, I knew what I had to do and what I wanted to do and I was able to get those things done and focus on taking care of my baby.
So here is my list of 15 things to do after your baby is born. They aren’t in any particular order, and if something doesn’t fit for you then don’t feel like you have to do it. These are just things that were very helpful for me that I did once baby J was born.
1. Write down the birth story. Personally, I didn’t want to forget anything about Little J’s birth. And there is so much that goes on from before you go into labor until after your baby is home with you. It’s such a special and incredible event, and especially since J was our first baby, I wanted to make sure I remembered everything. This was one of the first things I did when I got home since it was still all fresh in my mind. I would highly recommend doing this because now that it’s been several months and I don’t remember all the details, it’s really nice to be able to go back and read it. The birth of your child is definitely not something you want to forget. You can read Little A’s birth story here.
2. Find a place for hospital things. When you are at the hospital, you get all sorts of little keepsakes–hospital bracelets, baby hats, the name card from your baby’s crib. Those are the types of things you want to keep. If your baby book has a place for some of them, then those are a great place to store them. You can also do a shadowbox or something like that. I am a slacker and haven’t done anything yet with the stuff we got at the hospital, but I made sure to keep everything in one place so I wouldn’t lose it. It will be fun to look back later and show J how small his little wrist was!
3. Take newborn pictures. We were lucky and our hospital had a contract with a local company so we didn’t have to set anything up. But if your hospital doesn’t have something like that, or you already have a photographer in mind, make sure you schedule those pictures very soon after your baby is born. I’ve heard that within the first week is the best time to get pictures. And if you’re sending out announcements, then this will probably be a priority. Also, you can take pictures of your baby yourself! If hiring someone isn’t in the budget, there are tons of tutorials and tips on Pinterest about how to take pictures of a newborn.
4. Send out birth announcements. Not everyone does this, but if you are planning on sending out announcements to friends and family, it’s something you’ll want to get done soon after your baby is born. I used Shutterfly to do my announcements, but you can also use Tiny Prints or another website that offers pre-made templates. Or if you are brave or have awesome skills then you can design your own. Either way, if you are going to send them out, do it. Don’t wait until your baby is six-months-old. By then it’s too late!
5. Report the birth to your insurance. This is important because you want to get your baby covered on your insurance as soon as possible. I’m pretty sure that if your pregnancy was covered on your insurance, the birth will be, too. Most companies give you a certain number of days that the baby is covered after birth (ours was 60 days, but I think most are 30 days) before they won’t be covered anymore, but you might as well get it done soon after your baby is born so you don’t forget.
6. Send in paperwork. In order to get the official birth certificate and Social Security card, you have to mail in paperwork. I’m pretty sure most hospitals will give you this paperwork, but if you haven’t been given anything to fill out and sign before you leave, ask the nurses and find out what you need to do. At our hospital they just gave us a packet to fill out, they mailed it for us, and a few weeks later, Little J had his first piece of mail! It was really exciting because it was like he was a real little person (at least according to the government. We knew he already was!).
7. Write down ANY questions. When you get home and suddenly realize that you are 100% responsible for taking care of your baby, you will have questions. I highly recommend writing them down when they pop into your head so that when you go to your baby’s first appointment, you will not forget to ask the doctor questions. Even after that first appointment you should still write down questions. If it is something urgent and you don’t have an appointment soon, call the nurses at the doctor’s office. They are usually great at getting an answer and calling you back quickly. Little J is six-months-old and I took a whole list of questions in to his appointment last week.
8. Schedule your baby’s first doctor appointment. Before you leave the hospital, the nurses or doctor should tell you when you need to schedule your baby’s first doctor appointment. Little J had his first appointment 1 1/2 weeks after he was born. They just want to make sure that your baby is gaining weight and I’m sure it’s probably for you to ask questions a little bit, too. But schedule it as soon as you get home so that you can get an appointment. Our pediatrician’s office got us in exactly when we were supposed to go, so I’m sure they don’t overbook the doctors specifically for that reason (babies are being born every day!).
9. Schedule your doctor appointment. Birth is traumatic. Your body and your lady parts go through some seriously crazy stuff. Before you leave the hospital the doctor will tell you to schedule a postpartum appointment for 6 weeks after your baby was born. I think it’s probably just as important to get this appointment scheduled quickly because OB/GYN offices are usually pretty busy (at least mine was). Make sure you get this done soon so that when your baby is 6-weeks-old and you are feeling better (hopefully), you can get the green light from the doctor.
10. Fill out the baby book. Little J’s baby book had a place for what we were doing when I went into labor, how long I was in labor for, how much weight I gained, pretty much general birth things, and then it also had a place for things like headlines from the day, most popular songs, popular actors and athletes, world leaders, and average prices. Some of that you can do beforehand (if you fill it out right before your baby is born the president probably isn’t going to change), but the birth things you will have to do after baby is born. You can do this all while baby is napping (newborns sleep a lot!) and then not have to worry about it a month later when things aren’t as fresh in your mind or things may have changed a little.
11. Prepare for monthly pictures. Buy some monthly body suit stickers or have a patterned blanket handy so you can do monthly pictures. I would highly recommend getting either little monthly body suit stickers or a blanket that has a pattern on it so you can document how much your baby has grown. I know some people take pictures of their baby next to a stuffed animal, too. And I would recommend taking a picture of your baby as a newborn because it’s fun to put all the pictures up next to each other from birth to the first birthday and see how much your baby has grown. For ideas on what to do for monthly pictures, check out this post.
12. Tell everyone! As if you needed me to tell you to do this after your baby is born. But really, share the birth of your perfect new family member! Call, text, tweet, Facebook, and Instagram that cutie. Obviously tell your parents first (if they aren’t at the hospital with you), but then definitely go ahead and brag to the world.
13. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you get home and within a day your house looks like a bomb hit, ask your friends to come vacuum. People want to help you any way they can, especially people who have already had babies because they know exactly how hard it can be. If you feel like you can’t cook dinner, ask a friend to set up some meals to be brought in so that you don’t have to worry about it. Really, it might be hard at first to ask someone to come help you, but it will be worth it and they will love getting to see your new bundle of joy.
14. Buy some Baby Tylenol. This is especially important for when your baby gets his or her first shots. You might not be expecting to see this on the list because it’s not really an urgent thing to do after your baby is born, but trust me, you will want to have this on hand before you go get those first shots. But know that those little syringe things push the medicine out way fast if you aren’t careful and then your baby will gag and choke on the medicine and you will feel like the worst parent ever. So just be aware that they do not need very much force to push out the medicine.
15. Be patient. Taking care of a newborn is hard. The first few weeks you might feel like a milk factory and all you ever do is feed your baby. I promise it gets better and you get more comfortable with caring for your baby. Also remember to be patient with yourself. Your body has been through something insane, so don’t expect to feel better when you get home from the hospital. Take it easy and listen to what the doctors and nurses tell you. You’ll recover, it just takes time.
I hope these tips will help you after you have your baby! Remember that every baby and every mom is different. Everyone is going to want to give you advice about how they got their baby to sleep through the night at 6 weeks, or how they lost all their baby weight in a month. Your baby might not be an amazing sleeper and he might not sleep through the night until he’s 10-months-old, and that’s okay. Lots of women told me to nap when my baby naps, but I honestly never felt like I really needed to nap. I think since Little J was born I’ve taken maybe 3 naps and he’s 6-months-old now. My point is, everyone will give you advice, but you should step back and think about what is going to work for you and your baby.
If you have any other suggestions or ideas, please leave a comment and add to the list!!