As soon as that cute little baby bump makes an appearance, so does the unsolicited advice. From your best friend to your mother-in-law to a complete stranger at the checkout line, everyone seems to have an opinion when it comes to your growing belly and how you’ll deal with it all.
Whether it’s “Are you planning to breastfeed?” or “What color have you picked for the nursery?,” all of the questions are enough to make an already hormone-overloaded woman scream.
And forget walking into one of the baby superstores. It’s enough to spike your blood pressure. Take a deep breath, put your feet up and remember that women have been giving birth for centuries without the benefits of a baby registry. Most importantly, know you don’t really need all that stuff.
Sarah on “changing the focus from pretty to practical”:
I’ll admit it: I wanted the perfect nursery when I was pregnant with my first child. Something about those adorable bumpers and those cute gingham-lined baskets soothed my soul. When I got home from the hospital with my son and realized that I had three tote bags embroidered with his name, but no diapers that fit (he was early and the size-1s were too big) and no ointment for his little bottom, I realized I spent all my energy focusing on the wrong things.
Alicia on “the best-laid plans”:
Like most expectant mothers, I pored over onesies and fretted over mobiles, but when my daughter made an appearance way before my due date, it turned my detail-minded world upside down. Now, instead of worrying about wallpaper borders for her nursery, I was busy mapping out a constant feeding schedule for my tiny 3-pound preemie. I quickly realized that prepping for a baby is not about the strollers and highchairs, but about figuring out how you are going to do it all. Spend your pregnancy months shoring up the team to help you weather the storm that is a new baby.
Fret not, since we have a few more ideas for what to do and not to do.
1. Stuff (most of) the stuff. By all means, if someone wants to throw you a baby shower with gifts, don’t say no, but remember that you don’t need (and won’t use) most of the stuff right away. Babies need surprisingly little when they are first born. They’ll survive just fine without a portable play yard. They don’t need toys and six months’ worth of clothes yet. They do need a car seat, somewhere to sleep (bassinet, crib), diapers in different sizes, bottles (just in case) and easy-to-wash clothes (onesies are perfect).
2. Find a neighbor, friend or family member who is most like you and ask for her advice. Chances are you have already read the part about where you are supposed to interview pediatricians. While it can certainly be a way to learn more about a practice and its doctors, it can also be a bit of a dog-and-pony show. Nobody tells it to you straighter than a fellow mom who has called that doctor at 3 a.m. with a wailing child. She has already been through it all, so she’ll know where to find formula at 1 a.m. or which stores have the cleanest baby-changing areas.
3. Don’t forget about you. It’s easy to get caught up and think it’s just about the baby, but remember that it’s about you, too. Instead of stocking up on books that you’ll read when the baby turns 6, prepare yourself and your home in ways that will help you feel more human during those sleep-deprived weeks. Stock up on your favorite coffee, splurge on sweet-smelling shower gel, treat yourself to a subscription to Us Weekly, and figure out the distribution of labor. From cooking dinner to grocery shopping.
4. Don’t read everything and anything. There could be an entire college course dedicated to reading all of the expert advice thrown at you. Spend the precious little alone time you do have reading something worthwhile and entertaining, like “Today’s Moms: Essentials for Surviving Baby’s First Year” by Mary Ann Zoellner and Alicia Ybarbo. These two “Today” show producers bring a lighthearted — yet still informative — approach to baby rearing.
The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized.