Sunday, December 15, 2013

25 things to know and do before you deliver by Marisa Cohen

A planner for a sane and fun third trimester: your last-hurrah list, smart maternity-leave strategies, and crucial conversations to have with your partner before Birth Day.

1) Stay under the covers. Start with a yummy breakfast in bed before moving on to a Netflix marathon, celeb mags, and Scrabble with your honey. Then, lunch! More TV! A nap! Snack! Dinner! Relish the fact that nobody needs you now (except that guy on the next pillow), because very soon that will change.

2) Do something class-y with friends. Think gourmet cooking, pottery, knitting, or even a one-day seminar at a nearby museum or art gallary, whatever you think would be a good time.

3) Make a pregnancy flip book. Print out photos on card stock that your partner and family have taken of you (and your belly) throughout the pregnancy. Assemble them in chronological order and then staple together in one corner. (Or simply order a mini photo book on Lulu). When you flip through the pages with your thumb, it will look as if your belly is magically growing. Take that Pixar!

4) Rock out! You've got a good long stretch of the Wiggles and "Itsy-Bitsy Spider" coming up-get in your music while you can. Tip: Steer clear of the mosh pits if you go to a concert.

5) Write a funny letter to your baby. Keep a record of all the crazy stories from your pregnancy, like that recurring dream you have of giving birth to a hamster. Your child will find it hilarious when he's 10. Write the memories down, tuck the notes into an envelope, and file under "Open in 2023."

6) Cultivate a Mommy role model now. You'll need one during those notorious 2 am wakings later.

7) Throw a mani-pedi house party. Tap manicurists or pedicurists from a salon, many will make house calls if you can guarantee a certain number of clients. Pick a day, invite a few friends, and get ready to flaunt your toes!

8) Have a romantic meal of "baby" food. Plan a menu around teeny, tiny items: baby-back ribs or baby lamb chops, roasted baby carrots and peas, and those petits fours you're always drooling over at the bakery.

9) Slip into something more comfortable.  Just in case you haven't yet discovered it, sexy maternity lingerie does exist. Pick up an animal-print teddy or a lacy bottom or two (you can find flattering choices at MommyliciousMaternity and BabiesNBellies). Then let the night unfold as it may. And in case you're wondering: the "spooning" position works well even when you're a week away from delivery.

10) Get your belly on tape. 

11) Make a date with Mom. Once your baby's born you might want to scoot out of the house when your mother comes to visit, free sitting! But now, treat her to lunch, pick her brain for parenting wisdom, and be ready to hear, "It's the best, toughest job in the world" about, oh 50 times.

12) Go away. Now's no time to jet off to Bali, but you can easily make a quick escape.

13) Treat yourself to something special. Why should you hold out for a push present when your fave shoe department (not to mention jewelry counter) awaits?

14) Organize a sleepover. 

15) Ask your hubby to read to your bump. 

16) "What's going to be our birth play?" There's no way to predict how labor and delivery will unfold (if only!), but it's important to discuss how you'd both like it to happen. Put your wishes on paper so you'll have a document to share with your ob-gyn or midwife. Include whom you'd like to be there for the birth, what you'd like him (or them) to do, and which pain-management options and medical interventions you'd ideally opt for. Some couples also include atmospheric touches (classical music, soft lighting) and plan how they'll handle what-if scenarios (say, a C-section), then be flexible. Otherwise you run the risk of feeling disappointed if it doesn't go exactly the way you hoped it would. For labor and delivery tips for him, visit laborsupport.

17) "Are we doing circumcision?" The health benefits of circumcising a newborn are greater than the risks, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). For help making your desision go to AAP and the website for the American Academy of Family Physicians, AAFP.

18) "Should I breastfeed?" This is one decision that may seem to be yours alone, but having an informed and supportive husband increases your odds of breastfeeding longer. If you decide to nurse, discuss your goals. What steps can you take if difficulties arise? How long do you plan to keep it up? Also, share the role you'd like your partner to play. Do you want him to give Baby a bottle of pumped breast milk at night so you can sleep? Or are you okay with your guy sitting out of predawn feedings?

19) "Are we financially prepared to face the costs of parenthood?" 

20) "What kind of help do we need at home?"

21) Know your rights. Read the Family and Medical Leave Act it protects parents' jobs-without pay-for up to 12 weeks after the birth or adoption of a child.To be eligible, you must be employed by a company that has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius, and you must have worked there roughly 25 hours a week for at least a year.

22) Find out your company policy. Visit your corporate website or read the employee handbook to see what your employer officially offers, a small portion give paid leave, usually 40 to 60 percent of your salary for a set amount of time. Calculate how many sick days, personal days, comp days, and vacation days you have coming to you. Your employer could require you to use them to cover a portion of your leave if you're entitled to it und the FMLA.

23) Decide how much time you really want. Maybe you'd prefer to go back to work after eight weeks instead of 12, but on a part-time basis, or you'd like to work from home for awhile. Talk to other moms in the office to learn how much time off they snagged postbaby and how they worked it out, and then think about ways to "sell" your plan. You want to make it clear that your company will benefit as well.

24) Prepare to talk with your boss. Be ready to discuss how long you except to be away from your job and whom you could train to replace you temporarily. After you've agreed to the terms, follow up with a summary of the details. Such a document isn't legally binding, but if there's confusion down the road, it can help to have written proof.

25) Avoid over-committing. The office will survive without you! So don't answer messages or offer to log onto email until you have a sense of how parenting feels for you. Nothing is more important than bonding with your new boss (the baby).

Disclaimer: The above came from the American Baby November 2013 magazine article by Marisa Cohen.

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