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Brighter Days: 8 Top Tips for Preparing for Birth

Jennifer Bright on

You're in the homestretch! By the end of the last trimester, most moms-to-be are ready to have their babies -- now!

By now, you know which hospital or birth center you'll deliver at. Perhaps you've even taken a tour or a class there. If not, it's a great idea to take a dry run to see exactly the best way to go. Locate and practice an alternate route, or even two. Find out where you're supposed to park and which entrance you should use. Sometimes the door you're supposed to use differs depending on the time of day.

If you have other children, you've probably already been prepping them for the arrival of their new baby brother or sister. If you have pets, it's a good idea to prepare them, too.

If you haven't done so already, install your baby's car seat. You'll need both the car-seat manual and your car's manual. This isn't always an easy process, so it's helpful to get it out of the way now.

Take some time to familiarize yourself with how to use your baby's car seat. If you have an infant carrier seat with a base that remains in the car, practice getting the carrier into and out of the base. Learn how to strap the baby into the seat and how to get her out. Most of all, learn how to use the seat safely, so that you'll be able to buckle her into it correctly every time -- starting with her trip home from the hospital.

Have you packed your birth bag? Packing your birth bag is unlike packing for any other trip. You're going to the hospital pregnant, but you'll be coming home a mom. Grab your favorite bag, and put it in a convenient place. The odds are good that you're going to be adding things to the bag and pulling them back out a lot in the next few weeks as your excitement -- and nerves -- grow.

 

Here's what our Mommy M.D.s -- doctors who are also mothers -- do to get ready for their own babies' births.

"When I was in the hospital having my first baby, my husband took the baby's hat and some clothes home for our dogs to sniff," says Kristie McNealy, M.D., a mom of four and a health care consultant in Salt Lake City. "That was all the preparation they got -- or seemed to need."

"One of the best presents I got at my baby shower was a pair of baby gates," says Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., mom of three, co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby's First Year," nationally recognized health expert and family physician in Lexington, Kentucky. "I didn't think I'd need them until my son started walking, but as it turned out, I used them the day we came home from the hospital. They were perfect for keeping my curious, overly enthusiastic Boston terrier in the kitchen or out of the nursery when I needed some alone time with the baby. My dog never tried to harm the baby, but she was determined to try to lick his face whenever she got the chance!"

"Install your baby's car seat ASAP," McAllister continues. "My second child came a few weeks early, and although my husband and I had bought a car seat, we hadn't even taken it out of the box when I started having labor pains. It had been over a decade since our first child was a toddler, so our skills were definitely a little rusty! My husband installed the car seat in the hospital parking lot in the middle of a snowstorm while the baby and I were inside. We both agreed it would have been a lot easier if we had been better prepared for our son's early arrival. We had enough to do without worrying about the car seat."

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