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To ease the transition to life with a baby, start planning early. Have everything in place by your 37th week, since you actually have a "due month" from 37 to 42 weeks rather than a due date. You will need to make a helper list, prepare your home and get ready for the return trip.
Make a Helper List
Write down the names and phone numbers of people whose help you might need after your baby is born: mother's caregiver (obstetrician/midwife), baby's caregiver (pediatrician/clinic), hospital nursery information line, breastfeeding counselor, La Leche League support line, public health nurse or home health agency, postpartum service.
Prepare Your Home
Plan to have your newborn sleep in your bedroom the first few days or weeks so that you don't tire yourself out going back and forth. These few steps will help you accommodate your baby comfortably:
-- Set up the cradle or bassinet for the baby, or make your bed a safe environment for your baby by removing pillows and soft bedding.
-- Turn a dresser into a changing table. Clear the top, and cover it with a folded bath towel and a changing pad. Put diaper-changing necessities on a tray. (Remember to always keep one hand on your child when using this or any other elevated surface for changing.) Reserve the top drawer for a couple of changes of clothing for your baby. Store the remaining clothes in the nursery.
-- Add these items to keep the room clean and sanitary: a diaper pail for soiled diapers (10 to 15 a day), a hamper for your baby's laundry and a plastic-lined wastebasket for discarded cotton balls and wipes.
Get Ready for the Return Trip
If you've given birth in a birth center or hospital, you'll need to take your baby home in a car seat. Install and practice using it well before your baby arrives. You'll also need to pack a "baby" bag with clothes appropriate to the season for your child to wear home. Whether new or used, wash them separately from your family's laundry with a baby-safe detergent.
Pack your own going-home clothes too. Choose loose-fitting things, as you may lose only 10 to 12 pounds right after the birth.
Also read our advice for settling in at home with your new baby.