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common indicator that labour is just around the corner is the sudden emergence of the "nesting" instinct. If you're close to your due date and find yourself frantically cleaning out drawers and organising cupboards, some people would tell you that labour will start within a few days!
Before you begin cleaning and sprucing up your home, keep your essential checklists ready.
Finish packing and keep your suitcase or hospital bags ready by the time you reach 37 weeks. This will ensure that you are all set to go in case your baby decides to surprise you earlier than expected.
Make room for your baby and her essentials : If you intend to share your bed with your baby, make sure your bed is safe. Otherwise you can make room for a cot so that it fits nicely next to your bed.
If your family prefers that no shopping be done before your baby's birth, keep a "things to shop for" and a "things to do" list. Next to each item you can also write the name of the shop where it can be bought and a brief description of what it looks like. These details will help whoever does the shopping find the things easily and will make sure that they buy things that you like. Most shops will be happy to keep things aside if handed out a small advance payment.
You will find that being organised will make handling your baby much easier. If you know exactly where to find what, you will be able to attend to your baby's needs much faster. It will also make you feel in control of things and will make it easier for others to help you. Keep a separate cupboard or chest of drawers for your baby's nappies, clothes, toiletries and other belongings. Having a designated area will make it easier for all of you to settle down when you are back home with your new baby.
Baby-proof your home: Make sure there are no loose or open wires or easily accessible electronics at your home. If old paint is flaking or peeling, have a professional remove it. You will find it easier to get any major restoration jobs done while you are still pregnant than once your baby is at home. For more information on baby-proofing your home, read our baby-proofing checklist.
Clean your home: Babies are more vulnerable to getting ill because their immune systems are still very fragile. Making sure your home is clean will minimise your baby's risk of 'catching a bug'. Air your home frequently and weather permitting, keep the windows open for cross ventilation. Try to also reduce access to insects by getting new grills or window meshes installed. Another source of insects is any collection of stagnant water in open vessels, flower pots or coolers as these are a perfect breeding ground for mosquito larvae.
Many homes are fumigated and pest control is done to get rid of any mosquitoes, cockroaches, lizards or other insects before a baby's arrival. If you plan on getting pest control done, step out of your home for the day as the fumes could be dangerous. When you get back, make sure you air your house for several hours until any smell or fumes have gone.
While doing your thorough home cleaning, try to avoid using household cleaning solutions, as some of them produce toxic fumes. It may be a good idea to have your household help handle these products. If you really cannot avoid using toilet cleaning solutions or disinfectant floor cleaners once in a while do ensure you wear rubber gloves.
Read more about what's safe and what's not.
Clean out your fridge and pantry: When you get home with a new baby, it may be several days or even weeks until you feel up to doing any major house work. It therefore makes sense to do any big cleaning before your little one comes home; that includes your kitchen. Throw away anything past its due date and try to stock up on food supplies that will see you through your first few weeks.
For non-perishable goods like daals, rice, aata, cooking oil, spices etc this is easy. As for fresh foods, if you do not have a vegetable vendor nearby or one who delivers food at home, keep shopping lists of what you usually buy ready. Whoever does the shopping will be grateful for these when the time comes.
Check on other essential tasks:
- Do you need to book your gas cylinder for the month?
- Is the water filter due for a change?
- Do the air conditioners need servicing?
- Is the geyser working?
- Do you need an additional light fixture or fan?
- Is the phone bill due around your due date?
- Are there any premiums you need to pay for your insurance policies and other investments?
Delegate work and hire help: Plan as much as possible beforehand for the days when you will be too tired to get much done in the house. If your mother-in-law, mother, or any other family member has stepped in to help, try to shift the kitchen duties onto them. If that's not possible, hire a cook well in advance and train her to cook the kind of food that your family likes. You do not want to have to worry about cooking through the early days after the birth.
If you do not have any family members nearby, you might want to hire a live-in or part-time maid to help you once your baby comes along. Read more on finding a help you can trust. If you want to get massages after the delivery, you might want to arrange for a naun (traditional female masseur). She may also be able to help you with your laundry and cook some traditional confinement dishes that are believed to help with your recovery and lactation.
Make sure your older children do not feel left out: If this is not your first child, try to involve your older ones in the preparations for the new baby. They can participate in simple decisions such as what colour sheets to buy for the baby.
If you want to change your older child's routine before your baby comes home, make the change well before your due date. This includes changes like potty training or moving your child into his own bed. If you leave these changes for the end, your toddler might associate the change to the arrival of your baby and resent it. Keep in mind though that toddlers tend to regress in areas such as toilet training or battles over food when a new sibling arrives.
Remember to find someone who can look after your child while you are at the hospital. Read more about coping with a toddler and a new baby.
Handling pets: If you have a pet you will need to make arrangements for a pet sitter who can walk and feed your pet while you are away. Work out an arrangement well in advance so that both your pet and its carer are familiar with each other.
Other things to keep in mind:
- If you have decided which hospital you will be going to, do a trial run and time how long it takes to get there. Our roads are congested and traffic jams are common. Knowing how long it will take to get there will help you decide when to leave for the hospital once labour starts. Ensure the petrol tank is full so that you don't waste precious time at a fuelling station.
- Also work out who will drive you to the hospital. In all probability your husband will be free to do this but have a backup plan just in case something unexpected pops up. Ask another family member to be on standby or keep a local taxi/cab operator's number handy.
- Don't overtire yourself. Listen to your body and take frequent breaks. Ensure you follow your doctor's orders - eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep.
- Last but not the least - plan some time for yourself. Read, paint, sew or knit some tiny clothes or woollens for your baby. Spend some time with friends. Also plan some time out with your husband. Both of you will have your hands full once your baby arrives. Make the most of this wonderful time together as you prepare to welcome your baby.