It's been a few years since we brought our babies home from the hospital, and lately I've been thinking a lot about what worked and what didn't, for our family. No matter how or where you give birth, I think all mothers can agree that after a couple of days we're ready to establish new routines and be with our family.
That said, if I came home from the hospital to a home that was a disaster, I'd probably want to turn around! In that spirit, here are a few things you should make sure are done before your baby arrives. You want your baby's first days at home to be as calm as possible. The tasks listed below can make a big difference!
Have a family member or friend order fresh flowers. When I come home from teaching a class or a workshop, or from a speaking engagement, one of the first things I do is purchase fresh flowers for our home. There's something about a selection of flowers that makes me so incredibly happy, and makes our house really feel like a home. Studies by Harvard University, Rutgers University, and Texas A&M University all found that having fresh flowers in your home increases happiness, reduces depression and anxiety, increases compassion, lessens negativity, and can even increase emotional contact with family and friends. Bringing baby home is a perfect opportunity to have fresh flowers on the table to welcome your bundle of joy.
Splurge on a deep cleaning of your home. I know, you've been cleaning, organizing, purging, and rearranging the furniture for weeks, but trust me -- hire someone to come and do a thorough deep clean of your house. It feels so good! Bonus: you don't have to do it yourself! Be sure to ask the cleaning service to use products that are safe for use around pregnant women, and to use them carefully and in well-ventilated areas (with windows and doors propped open if possible).
Get a mani-pedi. It's possible that pampering yourself really should be at the top of this list! In the final weeks of pregnancy, when you're feeling huge, pampering is a necessity. Treat yourself to a mani-pedi toward the end of your pregnancy. Go for the gel manicure if you want your nails still looking fresh when it's time for baby to make his or her debut! After birth, you may be exhausted and feel completely overwhelmed, but at least your fingers and toes will look fabulous!
Make sure the laundry is done. I've yet to meet a woman who wants to have to do laundry in the days immediately following childbirth. Even if your laundry pile is clean, fold it and put it away so you have clean underwear (yep, I said it) and don't have a huge pile of unfolded laundry to deal with. Don't forget to ask someone to put fresh sheets on your bed for your first night postpartum. Is there anything better than fresh sheets?!
Have clean bottles and pumping parts ready to go. Maybe your baby will be a champion bottle taker and move back and forth between breast and bottle easily. Perhaps your baby will prefer nursing. Or maybe you've already decided to bottle feed exclusively. Whatever your circumstances, fed is best, so get those bottles cleaned and prepped. If you're nursing, you don't want to let offering a bottle slip your mind. It may take some time to find the perfect breast pump for you, but it will help you maintain some feeling of zen to have as many clean parts as possible ready to go. There are so many great bottles, bottle brush systems, and pumps out there now. Woot!
Fill up the freezer. Have a friend over to help you make big batches of soups and slow cooker meals, or buy easy frozen meals from Trader Joe's. Don't forget a treat. Personally, I love to indulge in a delicious cookie once in awhile.
Check in with your photographer. Whether you've invested in birth photography, a "Fresh 48" session, or a more classic newborn photography package, it doesn't hurt to touch base one more time to make sure you're on the same page and ready to go.