Okay, so you’ve washed the onesies and set up the bassinet – but how do you prepare the rest of the house for a new baby? Given that you’ll be spending a chunk of time hunkered down to rest and recover, one of the best favours you can do for your future self now is making your home feel like a well-set-up haven. Because let’s face it, the last thing you’re going to want to think about when you’re bleeding, engorged, hormonal and sleep-deprived is where on earth you put those burp cloths. The good news? There are plenty of simple strategies for how to prepare your home for a newborn, so you can nest with purpose now and thank yourself later.
THE FRONT DOOR
If your home is your castle, think about your front porch as the drawbridge: to make sure boundaries are honoured (and the postie doesn’t ring the bell), consider making a sign to pop up on the front door when the baby arrives. Something like: “Mum and bub are resting right now, if you have a parcel to deliver please leave it on the step, or a meal to drop off please pop it in the esky. For anything urgent, please text [support person]” Oh, and about that food? A meal train is one of the very best way family and friends can support you during postpartum, so ask someone trusted to set one up for you using mealtrain.com
This is your sanctuary, so think day spa vibes to encourage rest and tranquility: an eye pillow for naps, a firm, supportive back pillow, a good book, several pairs of breastfeeding-friendly pyjamas and something pretty to look at (if you’re facing a chest of drawers for hour-long breastfeeding sessions, a little vase filled with your favourite flowers are far nicer to look at than a pile of laundry).
While we’re thinking about the bed, even if you’re not planning to co-sleep it’s important to know that more than 75% of parents will fall asleep with their baby, so it’s worth understanding how to make bedsharing safer if/when it happens. Make sure you have a firm mattress (or buy a firm topper), and you’re able to move bedding away from the baby (who should be unswaddled). The bed is the safest place to co-sleep, so if you find yourself falling asleep on the couch, move into the bedroom and set yourself for a side-lying feed (YouTube it!)
Your changing station is also likely to be nearby, so next to the change mat pop a basket filled with nappies and wipes, burp cloths for various bodily fluids (yours and theirs), nappy change cream and a spare bassinet sheet. If your partner/support person is looking for ways to be useful (and they should be) then keeping this stocked is an easy way to support you.
THE LIVING ROOM
Your new living room decor theme is: cushions. Cushions for your back, cushions to wedge under your arm while feeding, cushions for lying on the floor for a quick stretch… cushions are your life now. Apart from every size and shape of cushion, this is where your portable feeding station will spend a heap of time. This might be a basket or caddy, and it’s everything you need within easy reach when you’re stuck under a feeding or napping baby: snacks, a flask of herbal tea, filled water bottle, charger, remote control/Kindle/book, another burp cloth. Refreshing the station morning and night is a great task for partners, especially if they’ve gone back to work.
If ever there was a room for it, this is where shit is going to get real. Remember, you’ll bleed for the first few weeks, so plenty of maternity pads are a must (you can also make padsicles for the first couple of days and keep them in the freezer) and you’ll probably get leaky boobs for some time, so keep reusable bamboo or cotton breast pads nearby. Poops get hard, in more ways than one, so get your hands on a stool softener (and seriously, keep drinking those fluids) and your vagina might be sore when you pee–a peri bottle with warm water can help soothe the sting. Salt baths (both sea and epsom) will help heal stitches and unwind sore muscles, so keep some in the cupboard for your support person to run you a bath (if you have a c-section, try a sitz bath instead). And make sure you have your favourite soap, shampoo and face mask for when you can carve out a moment for self-care.
Filling your freezer and prepping your pantry is a whole conversation unto itself, but don’t forget to let your partner/support person know what’s where–because they’re going to be your snack slave. Keep a list on your fridge of what meals/snacks you like and where to find them, and label your faves in the fridge and pantry.
Naomi Chrisoulakis is a postpartum doula, host of the podcast Tales from the Fourth Trimester and mother of two. She supports people emotionally and practically as they prepare and undergo the transition to parenthood. To learn more about Naomi, visit www.cocoonbynaomi or @cocoonbynaomi