Sitting on the floor at 4am with my sister, putting together an IKEA changing table at 35 weeks pregnant, creating to-do lists and hospital bag packing lists while my baby kicks away inside my belly…yes, that happened.
Flash forward 4 weeks and I’m sitting on the edge of my bed complaining that all there is left to do is wait (and shop some more, which I wasn’t complaining about – but my boyfriend sure was!)
Isn’t that how pregnancy goes!? There is SO much to do until there isn’t, and then all you can do is wait for the arrival of your new baby.
I am not at all complaining too much, though, because we are thrilled to finally feel like our home is ready for our baby! I’ve also had tons of help from my mother, inlaws, sister and boyfriend!
***Just a pro-tip for all you expecting momma’s out there – don’t wait until you’re 5 weeks away from your due date to put your entire nursery together!!!
WHAT’S IN OUR HOSPITAL BAG(S)
Mine/Boyfriend’s Hospital Bag:
— ID cards/residence permit/passport (because I am here on a visa)
— camera/charger/cell phone chargers
— insurance papers
— medical papers (pregnancy documents I’ve collected throughout all my checkups)
— clothes (for me; a few dresses, some light pants, 3 breastfeeding-friendly shirts (button downs), nursing bra, big fluffy night robe)
— body lotion, lavender aroma therapy scented sticks, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair brush, mascara and cover-up (so I don’t look like a zombie in new family photos)
— breast pads
Baby’s Hospital Bag:
— some diapers, diaper cream, baby lotion (we are told we will be given a lot of these things at hospital, but I like to have some of my own just to feel better!)
— newborn clothes (2 actual outfits to chose as a coming home outfit, socks, jacket, 3 pairs of newborn pajamas)
— baby blankets (2) for swaddling
— baby thermometer
WHAT HAVE WE DONE AS A COUPLE TO PREPARE FOR A BABY
My boyfriend is busy working overtime to allow for the time he’ll want to take off during the baby’s first weeks. He gets some paternal leave (10 days from the baby’s birth date) but we also would like to have some wiggle room in there, so he’s just working as much as he can before baby arrives.
I have been on maternity leave since month 6 due to working a physically demanding job – so I have been in and out of my nesting phase for months now trying to get myself and our home ready.
These last days, I’m busy shopping online and spending time with my sister and mother (who arrived in Belgium to help out before and after baby). They have an incredible AirBnB rented really close to our house, so we’ve been spending loads of time there, too!
****A little exciting news for the future— I have also been involved in a super interesting hypno-therapy birthing course to help prepare me for the birth of our first baby, and I love it! I am super excited to announce I will be sharing a full review and details of the course with you all in the new year!
Even with all that, I feel SO unprepared! Can anyone ever BE prepared for a newborn? I honestly say no. You can be ready (and believe me, after the 35 week mark you will FEEL ready!) – but I don’t think it’s possible to be FULLY prepared for a newborn baby.
I can however, give you the three biggest tips on how to prepare as a couple who are about to welcome a new baby into their lives.
- Spend as much time (alone) together as you can, but also give each other space. Sound confusing? Well it is, but it’s the best advice I’ve got. Even if it’s in bed watching Youtube videos, make time to do what you do as a couple that makes you connect – hiking, walking, or Netflixing – but know your limits with each other and don’t expect the other person to fulfill every single need during this time. It’s a super emotional, stressful and ever-changing time in your lives and both of you will mentally prepare for this child in very different ways. This can cause a lot of tension in the weeks before the baby’s birth because you might not see eye-to-eye on certain things.
For us, this has been a bit of a challenge – with my boyfriend working overtime and my sister living with us at the moment, time alone together has been scarce, and when it does happen we get into important (but stressful) talks about the baby (things like potential childcare, etc).
Two different backgrounds, two different people, two different situations coming together to raise one baby – there are bound to be things you disagree on, so just know it’s common for the other person needs some space to process things on their own!
- Don’t completely depend on each other. This was literally mind-blowing to me because I spent my entire pregnancy dependent on my boyfriend and I honestly think I put way to much strain on our relationship by doing this. You can (and should!) rely on other people to help you get prepared in ways your partner can’t! Your partner can’t be everything for you. You can’t get everything you need from one person, even though you’re entering this parenting world as a team – you will need other supports and there is NO reason to feel bad about that! If you’re a woman, there’s really no one who can help you prepare for the birth of your baby like other women who have had babies. Surround yourself with people who are able to help you prepare in ways that your partner maybe can’t, and that way it lessens the strain on your relationship. This way, you’re not forcing unrealistic expectations on your partner, and you are able to rely on other supports as well.
- Don’t leave everything to the “last minute” (and more important, get on the same page about what “last minute” means!) My boyfriend and I have had a very different opinion about the timing of this pregnancy. From about week 30, I have been panicking because we didn’t have anything bought for the nursery. We’d been given a lot of things from family, but were still missing big ticket items like a changing table, dresser, diaper bin, etc. While my boyfriend was convinced we had “loads of time”, I felt more and more anxious by the day. I felt like a ticking time bomb (in a non-disastrous, something adorable could come out of me at any moment kind of way). I felt like I could just go into labour at any point and we wouldn’t be even slightly ready. Have talks with each other and try to understand the other person’s point of view.
HOW I’VE PREPARED FOR HAVING A NEWBORN BABY (ABROAD)
Knowing I will have this baby in a country I’m not native to has had it’s scary moments for sure, but I feel mostly prepared for becoming an expat mom.
- Make other (expat) mom friends (right away). Like, as soon as you find out you’re expecting, start posting in expat groups online. Try to find other women who are going through a pregnancy abroad, because they will be your lifesavers! I have a wonderful support group of expat ladies who are also becoming mothers this year, and we chat about everything and anything from fears of labour and delivery to wondering how our child will sound with two different languages/accents in there. Having this group of ladies who are going through a lot of the same things as I am has really helped me realize this is possible and more importantly, that having a baby in a foreign country opens so many doors for my baby (from cheaper schooling to easier travel to being a more cultured person when he grows up).
- Get all the documents into the hospital bag as soon as you get them (literally everything you could think of, even if you don’t think it’s important – pack it!) ID cards, passports, insurance papers — it’s all needed. Even if it’s not all needed, you will feel so much better if you have more than you need when you arrive at the hospital. Giving birth in a foreign country can have loads of red tape and procedures you’re not used to. Talk to your doctors/midwives/insurance companies and be OVER prepared. **Don’t forget your residence permit/visa/ID card for the country you’re living in!
- Surround yourself with people who make you feel CALM, even if this means family/friends flying in to visit you. This is something that might take a lot of thought, might involve some people spending some extra money and may even offend some people – but during the last few weeks of pregnancy all the way up through your labor and delivery… you need to feel calm. You need a support system you can count on and most importantly, if you’re abroad, you need to not feel alone. It’s incredible to go through this process with your birth partner or spouse but having your mom or sister close by is so, so helpful and will be worth the trip they need to take to be part of your special day! If possible, surround yourself with these people! And most importantly, when the time comes to head to the hospital, be clear about who you want in the room with you – this is YOUR journey!
- Be a little selfish. It IS a couple’s journey, becoming parents – but it’s a WOMAN’S journey through pregnancy. I wrote a whole post about how I wish I had been a little more selfish during my pregnancy, because this is an incredible and special time in my life and I deserve to celebrate it however I want. It’s important to share milestones with your partner and not exclude them from the pregnancy, but it’s also important to realize that no one can experience this pregnancy WITH you in every way. You are carrying this baby, you’re dealing with the constant heartburn and swollen feet and YOU will deliver this baby into the world. It’s okay to complain, it’s okay to treat yourself to that pre-natal massage, it’s okay to buy expensive baby things sometimes even when your partner is in the check out line rolling his eyes at you. You do you, momma!
- Last but not least, invest in a super awesome pregnancy/nursing pillow. Seriously, your back, boobs, and thighs will thank me later! Although they come in all shapes and sizes, I personally love these kind —
Are you gearing up for baby?
Check out these other pregnancy-abroad/preparing for baby posts…
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