A first baby brings great joy, and stress. Here are a few tips to help you prepare before the stork drops your bundle-of-joy off.

The pregnancy is going well and the big day is approaching fast. You can’t wait to see this baby of yours!

To make baby’s arrival as smooth as possible, prepare a checklist of things to do.

1. Manage the paperwork

After the first few weeks of pregnancy, you should start dealing with all the administrative paperwork.

Contact your employer’s HR department to fill out the necessary maternity leave forms.

Make a budget to avoid frivolous expenses, and sign up for employment insurance benefits or your province’s parental insurance plan (e.g., Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP)).

2. Prepare the baby’s room

To avoid undue stress, don’t wait until the last minute to prepare the baby’s room. This will also help you keep things in perspective.

Fatigue during pregnancy is much less intense than after delivery. And that’s one good reason to not leave things like decorating and buying furniture to the last minute.

As far as insurance goes, be sure to check your insurance contract to see what type of hospital room you’re covered for.

3. Buy only what you need

A list of essentials will vary from one person to the next, mainly because of personal preference and habits.

Here is a list of items that are universally considered as must-haves for when the big day arrives.

  • A car seat
  • A changing table or changing pad
  • A crib with bedding — Did you know that you can rent a crib rather than buy one? Since babies grow out of them fairly quickly, this can be an interesting short-term option. Think about it!
  • Bed
  • Stroller
  • High chair
  • Travel bed – very practical
  • Baby swing or bouncer (Jolly Jumper)
  • Baby monitor
  • Clothing (0 to 6 months)
  • Body creams
  • Wet wipes
  • A breastfeeding cushion
  • (A lot) of diapers (reusable or disposable)
  • Diaper bag
  • Baby bunting bag (or simply a bunting) because babies can displace the covers when sleeping
  • Blankets

Do you know people with older kids? Future parents are always to get hand-me-downs. Another option is thrift stores. Find out what’s available in your community.

4. Prepare for the delivery

A few weeks before delivery, pack a bag with everything you’ll need for the hospital or birthing centre:

  • Nightgowns or pyjamas that are breast-feeding friendly
  • A robe and slippers
  • Warm socks
  • A comfortable change of clothes for the return home
  • Nipple creams and nursing pads
  • Toiletries
  • Your hospital card / insurance card
  • Your personal hygiene products
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Baby clothes (including socks, mittens and a knitted hat)

Several of the items on this list also have organic or natural alternatives.

Don’t forget to pack a camera or smartphone (and charger!) to capture those precious moments.

Someone will always be ready and willing to take a picture, whether it be the dad, grandpa, grandma, aunty or uncle!

If you decide to give birth at home, then make sure to have all of the above handy.