Transitioning from Hospital to Home
While the nine months of pregnancy can seem to go slow, the later stages of pregnancy are an important time to look ahead to the day when you will be bringing your baby home. Being prepared can ease the transition from hospital to home, and assure everyone can rest, relax and enjoy getting to know one another.
The following lists provide a few suggestions to help you prepare for your baby's arrival at home.
For Your Baby
- Prepare a place in your home for the baby: a sleeping area and a place for clothes and supplies.
- Purchase essential nursery equipment and supplies. There are several ways to save money on baby items. Many items can be purchased second hand or through discount stores. Some items may be purchased by the case, such as disposable diapers. Suggestions for essential nursery equipment are:
- Crib or bassinet/cradle (slats should be no more than 2-3/8 inches apart. If purchasing a used crib, make sure it meets current safety standards. You can find a listing of these standards at the National Safety Council (NCS) (PDF, 30KB) website.
- Crib bumpers (firmly padded with six ties to secure to crib.
- Bottles (ounce) and nipples.
- Nipple brush for cleaning bottle nipples.
- Large tote or diaper bag packed with several diapers, receiving blanket, change of clothes, plastic bag for soiled diapers, washcloth or baby wipe.
- Diaper pail for cloth diapers.
- Plastic-lined garbage pail for disposable diapers.
- Nursing bras (two, cotton).
- Changing table or place to change diapers.
- Purchase and learn how to use an approved car seat. Massachusetts State law requires the use of a federally approved car seat that is no older than 6 years old. Your baby must always be placed in the car seat, beginning with the ride home from the hospital. The safest placement of the car seat is the middle of the rear seat, facing backwards. Some car seats may require the use of a special locking clip on the seat belt. Never place your baby in the front seat of your car, especially if your car has passenger-side airbags. If purchasing a used car seat make sure it meets current safety standards by checking the date on the seat. Most car seats will have an expiration date on the tag, telling you not to use that seat after a certain date.
- Select birth announcements. You may want to address and stamp the envelopes ahead of time and fill in the blanks after the baby arrives.
- Select a family physician or pediatrician to be your baby's doctor.
- Check on cloth diaper service. If you are planning to use cloth diapers from a diaper service, check to see if they will deliver on a 24-hour notice, or before your due date.
- Be sure and wash all baby clothes, bedding, towels and washcloths in baby detergent before using.
- Prepare a basic layette of essential clothing and equipment for the baby.
- Practice relaxation, positioning, and breathing techniques often.
- Attend childbirth classes, especially if you have not had prior or recent recent experience caring for newborns.
- At one of your last appointments, ask your physician or midwife whom you should call, and when you should call them if your physician or midwife is not available when you go into labor.
- If you are planning on breastfeeding, attend a prenatal breastfeeding class at BID Plymouth’s Lactation Center.
- Pack your bags for your hospital stay by the start of your ninth month.
- Consider covering your mattress with a plastic sheet or shower curtain a few weeks before your due date in case your water breaks. You may also want to keep a few towels and a couple of sanitary pads in the car.
- Keep plenty of gas in the car. Know the route to the hospital and approximately how long it will take to travel under varying traffic conditions. Consider making a trial run and make note of where to park.
- If a car is not available, arrange ahead of time for alternative transportation. Keep telephone numbers for taxi services and other resources and people readily available.
- Let friends know you prefer to have them visit after you are home from the hospital. Reserve your hospital time for you and your partner to learn about and get acquainted with your baby. If you have a telephone answering machine or voicemail service, record a message that you will call back as soon as you are able. For infant security, we recommend that you not mention the newborn baby in your recorded message.
Other Helpful Suggestions
- Try to avoid moving households near the end of your pregnancy. Too many changes in your life at this time can add extra stress to your adaptation to parenthood.
- Arrange for household help if possible. Outside help allows you more time to enjoy the new baby! Let someone else do the cleaning and laundry. If you have willing relatives or friends, be clear with them that you need help with the chores while you care for the baby.
- Review your health insurance policy to be knowledgeable of any recent changes. Make note of the length of covered hospital stay, visiting nurse services, and well-baby coverage.
- Store as many staple items as space allows.
- Freeze meals, clearly label their contents and include directions for heating.
- Consider writing out two weeks of menus and have the ingredients on hand.
- Start a file of restaurants with take-out menus and delivery services.
- Stock up on convenience items such as paper plates and napkins. Consider locating services such as grocery or drug stores that will deliver.
- Purchase a supply of sanitary pads (tampons are not recommended for use until your period resumes later).
- Plan ahead for birthdays and anniversaries. Since shopping is often a challenge the first few weeks after giving birth, purchasing gifts, gift wrap and cards ahead of time can be very helpful.