Planning for Baby
I believe that becoming a parent and raising a child is one of the most sacred journeys you can embark upon. God is blessing you with a truly precious miracle and entrusting you with this sweet baby's care, love, and development. It's a job I've looked forward to since I was a child myself and a task I'm overwhelmingly humbled by. There is a lot that goes into preparing your body, your heart, your mind, and your home to welcome this little bundle of joy, and I've relished in every single second of the pregnancy journey and am praying for a smooth last few weeks!
Here's a little road map I used in preparing for baby:
Prepare Your Body, Heart, and Mind
Trust in God's perfect timing and plans and pray continually for his guidance on when and how to start a family
Be mentally prepared to get pregnant right away or have it take potentially years or never at all
Enjoy the season you're in before getting pregnant
Get on the same page with your spouse on kids and upbringing philosophies
Talk to your doctor and prepare your body
Start taking pre-natal vitamins if trying to conceive
Exercise More (both partners)
Reduce alcohol intake and improve overall diet (both partners)
Kids are expensive - check out this budget tool to see just how expensive by region, income level, and personal situation so you can plan and budget accordingly
Celebrate and enjoy the excitement that surrounds pregnancy
Praise the Lord for this miracle and ask for wisdom and guideance
Plan fun and memorable announcements and reveals for spouse, friends, and family
Listen to your doctor and your body and follow recommended exercise and nutrition guidelines
Find joy in the less than pleasant symptoms of pregnancy - it always helped to remember what a blessing it was to even be pregnant and how exciting it was to experience the miracle of pregnancy in all of its forms. I know some people have wonderful pregnancies and some have miserable pregnancies, and a lot of the symptoms and hormones are completely outside of your control - it's a good reminder to show a lot of love and grace to everyone (especially pregnant women)!
Pick a Name
Whether you already had a favorite name before you were pregnant, or came up with one after finding out, I think it helped us to connect with the baby to use the name right away.
Start Buying (and Reading) Parenting Books and Guides
What to Expect When You're Expecting - By Heidi Murkoff
A great, comprehensive reference guide for each stage of pregnancy.
Baby 411 - Brown and Fields
Another great reference tool divided by topic
Bringing Up Bebe - Pamela Druckerman
French philosophy on sleep training, eating, patience, and other upbringing tips
The Fifth Trimester - Lauren Smith Brody
Loved this book for moms debating balancing a career and raising kids.
Grace Based Parenting - Tim Kimmel
Great insight on successfully exercising grace in bringing up children in a Christian home
How to Raise Selfless Kids in a Self-Centered World - Dave Stone
I really liked this book - it was short, easy to read, and had some good input!
The New Dad's Playbook - Watson
A book for Dads (I must confess I did not actually read this for obvious reasons)
Don't Make Me Count to Three - By Ginger Hubbard
A Christian-based book on discipline
Shepherding a Child's Heart - Tedd Tripp
Another great Christian-based book on raising children
Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord - Dave Stone
For Parents Only - Feldhahn and Rice
Grace Based Discipline - Murray
A Mom After God's Own Heart - Elizabeth George
Gospel-Powered Parenting - Farley
Parenting Without Regret - Seibert
What to Expect Before You're Expecting - Heidi Murkoff
This is a great guide to get before you start trying to have kids!
The First Forty Days - Heng Ou
About enjoying, resting, and recovering the first 40 days after birth with a side of cookbook
The Passionate Mom - Merrill
Einstein Never Used Flash Cards - Pasek
Nurture Shock - Bronson
A short, easy reference guide in a 3 book set by age
Ask for advice
People will tell you that it gets annoying to get so much advice, but I loved hearing different perspectives and experiences. Be discerning and take everything with a grain of salt to decide what will work best for you and your family, but soak up and appreciate as much as you can get!
Download Baby/Pregnancy Apps - My Favorites:
Ovia Pregnancy (Love their Medication and Food Directories)
What to Expect (Love the videos)
Nurture by Glow (Love the logging and tracking)
Prepare a Place
Prepare Your Home
Decide Early On Whether to Move or Stay
Organize and Make Space
I read the book the Magical Power of Tidying Up right in the throws of major nesting, and it was fantastic. There were a few things I didn't totally buy into, but I was really inspired by this book to tidy up my house and office and organize what I had. I'm so thankful I read this book and went through my house early on, because we were already almost out of space again from buying so much baby gear by the end!
Wash the clothes (baby detergent), clean the house, get ready for the big day!
Start a Nursery Inventory List or Registry
Babylist - I LOVED Babylist because it allowed you to list any item from any website in a super easy-to use add on button for your computer or app on your phone, as well as link other registries - Even if you don't have a shower, I found this extremely helpful to act as a personal inventory list of what I had and what I still needed and could make sure everything looked good together in side-by-side pictures. You can also keep it private as you research and build your list.
Babies "R" Us - They have a great rewards program (10% back on all purchases from your registry and a discount to buy the rest at the end) and returns up to a year
Amazon - It's convenient, fast, you get a welcome box, and you can find almost anything there - plus you get a one-time 15% off for all remaining items, and a $100 credit on baby items!
To Work or Not to Work
Consider what you'll do after maternity leave - stay at home, go back to work, or construct a hybrid of the two. I'm a huge supporter of the "you do you" mentality when it comes to this topic. I truly believe there is not a one size fits all on this category and that we should give every family the benefit of the doubt that they've carefully weighed the pros and cons of each option given their personal situation/personality and selected the one they feel is the best choice for them and their family.
Day Cares and Schools
Start researching, visiting, budgeting, or getting on waiting lists if you plan to have your child attend a day care or learning program.
The Big Day
Talk to your OB about hospital selection and be sure to register ahead of time
Take some pre-natal classes
Be sure to ask for recommendations and set up consultations to meet with pediatricians so you can have one selected for the arrival!
Get your hospital bag, husband's bag, and baby bag ready with all the recommended hospital necessities!
While this list is certainly not exhaustive, it's a quick look into some of the items we did to prepare during pregnancy!