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Great Expectations: Baby's First Year

Great Expectations: Baby's First Year

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Great Expectations: Baby's First Year

1,127 Seiten
13 Stunden
Nov 22, 2010


Expectant mothers snapped up Great Expectations: Your All-in-One Resource for Pregnancy & Childbirth (135,000 copies sold), and reviewers praised it for its warm, reassuring voice of expertise. This is the logical follow-up, an innovative baby book that will guide and reassure new moms and dads through every nuance of the first 12 months of life with baby. Of course, it maintains all the design elements that are the signature of the Great Expectations series and have proven so appealing: innovative graphics; clear-cut, contemporary styling; and sensitive drawings of babies as they develop month-by-month. The text, too, continues that same friendly, supportive, parent-to-parent tone of the earlier book—but now with dads playing an integral role. Inside, there’s a plethora of information on the nuts and bolts of feeding, diaper changing, and immunizations, as well as cutting-edge research on baby intelligence and development, nutrition and medical care, and insights into the dynamics of the parenting process. Checklists, bulleted sidebars, and quick-reference tables speed up the process of finding needed information. Unique tables in the extensive medical reference section will present the gamut of symptoms, so parents will have help distinguishing between common baby ailments and more serious emergencies that may require immediate attention. Includes a foreword by Dr. Michael Crocetti, Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, and also an extended resource guide and parent’s dictionary.
Nov 22, 2010

Über den Autor

Sandy Jones has had a variety of jobs including running a cycle shop, working in the MoD and ‘on the railway’. After completing her Open University degree she began writing and tried her hand at poetry but prefers novels. She currently lives in Wiltshire.

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Great Expectations - Sandy Jones

What People Are Saying About

Great Expectations: Baby’s First Year:

This is a timely, comprehensive, and extremely well thought out book with a wealth of essential practical information for new mothers. It is filled with interesting facts and important month-specific advice that cannot be found in many books on childcare, including sections on baby safety and ways to protect your baby from product dangers.


Great Expectations: Baby’s First Year is a perfect gift for new parents—filled with all the right stuff. Well written, based on experience, the book will reduce stress with easy, practical steps that offer essential guidance that new parents need to confidently undertake their new roles. The knowledgeable authors cover the gamut—from infant care, health check-ups, and baby products, to plenty of useful resources that extend well beyond the first year. A welcome manual that should arrive with every baby.


What People Are Saying About Great Expectations:

Your All-In-One Resource for Pregnancy & Childbirth:

If you are searching for one book for your pregnancy or for that one book to refer all of our expectant clients to, this book is by far the greatest achievement in childbirth education reading material! Sandy Jones and her daughter Marcie Jones have included absolutely everything an expectant woman and her family needs to know. This book should be on everyone’s recommended reading list!


Emotions, physical changes, lifestyle changes, baby development, it’s all there. Get ready: This book will get dog-eared from all your reading and then passed along to your best friends and sister.


Great Expectations is the perfect resource for moms-to-be. Sandy and Marcie Jones speak to the expectant mother of today in a friendly, approachable tone, and present their thorough information in a way that’s great for both quick look-ups and in-depth reading.


Great Expectations is terrific. The style of writing is clear, warm, and very supportive. It’s a great reference for any question that might arrive in pregnancy.


A consumer friendly book filled with great women’s quotes, helpful information, and tips for pregnant women and new families.


Accurate, comprehensive, empowering, and current. I see this as being the new Dr. Spock for pregnancy. . . . This is definitely a book I will recommend to my clients who are planning a pregnancy or currently pregnant.






SandyJones & Marcie Jones

with Michael Crocetti, MD, FAAP

Assistant Professor & Director of Clinical Pediatrics

Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

STERLING and the distinctive Sterling logo are

registered trademarks of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Available

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Published by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016

© 2007 by Sandy Jones and Marcie Jones

Distributed in Canada by Sterling Publishing

c/o Canadian Manda Group, 165 Dufferin Street

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Distributed in the United Kingdom by GMC Distribution Services

Castle Place, 166 High Street, Lewes, East Sussex, England BN7 1XU

Distributed in Australia by Capricorn Link (Australia) Pty. Ltd.

P.O. Box 704, Windsor, NSW 2756, Australia

Illustrations by Adam Raiti

Manufactured in the United States of America

All rights reserved

Sterling ISBN-13: 978-1-4027-3646-9

       ISBN-10: 1-4027-3646-0

For information about custom editions, special sales, premium and

corporate purchases, please contact Sterling Special Sales

Department at 800-805-5489 or


Sandy Jones and Marcie Jones would like to dedicate this book to the moms and moms-to-be who have posted thousands of questions to us on Thanks for keeping us on our toes and giving us the opportunity to learn so much every day.

We would like to thank our amazing and brilliant editors at Sterling Publishing— Barbara Berger and Jennifer Williams—and consultant Nasim Mawji, for their tremendous dedication and many contributions to our book. We’re also grateful to our agent, Faith Hamlin, for her strong work on our behalf. And thanks to Dr. Michael Crocetti for ensuring that the book is as up-to-date and complete as possible from the medical side.

Thanks also go to Natasha Ortiz-Fortier for her valuable insights into c-section recovery, to Jennifer Groneberg for her help in evaluating toys for each stage of baby development, and to Laura Nolan, our former editor at Barnes & Noble, who helped birth the Great Expectations book series.

We would also like to acknowledge the valuable contributions of Michael Fragnito of Sterling Publishing and Steve Riggio of Barnes & Noble, who have offered us immense encouragement and support in the realization of the Great Expectations book series.

In addition, we’d like to acknowledge the efforts of Karen Nelson, Edwin Kuo, Elizabeth Mihaltse, and Christine Kwasnik of Sterling’s art department, for their dedication in making our book such a beautiful reality, as well as artist Adam Raiti for his exquisite work throughout the book.

We are also grateful to the team of accomplished professionals at Sterling Publishing who have overseen the development of our book and who have taken on the responsibility of carrying it out into the world, including: Charles Nurnberg, Marcus Leaver, Jeremy Nurnberg, Jason Prince, Leigh Ann Ambrosi, Kate Rados, Sandra Ribicic, Marilyn Kretzer, Rena Kornbluh, Rebecca Maines, Mary Hern, Rick Willett, Chuck Bloodgood, Robin Garmise, Katharine Cacace; and Liz Harwell and Kim Corradini at Barnes & Noble.


Dedication & Acknowledgments

A Note from Dr. Michael Crocetti

A Word from the Authors

Chapter 1.

Your Baby’s First Half-Year

The Last Weeks of Pregnancy

Labor and Birth

Your Newborn

The First Half-Year

Day 1 through Day 7

Week 2 through Week 7

Month 2 through Month 5

Chapter 2.

Your Baby’s Second Half-Year

The Second Half-Year

Month 6 through Month 12

Chapter 3.

Your Baby Maintenance Guide

Newborn Basics

Keeping Your Baby Warm

Your Guide to Feeding Your Baby


Bottle Feeding

Starting Solids

Baby-Care Basics

Diapering 101

Bathing Your Baby

Common Baby Skin Problems

Baby Sleep

Baby Dental Care Guide


Chapter 4.

Gear Guide

Our Baby-Shopping Primer

Baby Shopping Checklist

Baby Gear A-Z

Chapter 5.

Managing Your First Year

Recovering from the Birth

Sweatiness and Hot and Cold Flashes

Heavy Flow

Bathroom Woes

Breast Changes

Postpartum Skin Changes

Don’t Ignore These Postpartum Symptoms

The First Six Weeks of Recovery

Your Recovery After a Cesarean Section

The Psychological Side of Motherhood

The Blues

Professionals You May Encounter

Managing Relationships After Birth

Sex After Birth

The Flipside:Single Parenting

Getting Along With Grandparents and Other Relatives

When Baby Makes Four or Five


Baby-Proofing Your Pets

Six Weeks to Six Months

Building Your Own Village

Your Fitness: The First Six Months

Returning to Work

The Stay-At-Home-Mom Option

Where to Connect with Other Moms

The Second Six Months

The Finances of Parenting

Twenty-Five Ideas for Saving Thousands of Dollars

Recording Your Baby’s First Year

Traveling With a Baby

Chapter 6.

Medical and Safety Guide

Baby Medical Guide

How to Choose Your Baby’s Doctor

Baby’s First Doctor’s Visit

Birth Defects

Month 2 Doctor’s Visit

Month 4 Doctor’s Visit

Month 6 Doctor’s Visit

Month 12 Doctor’s Visit

Your Baby’s Immunization Schedule

Your Baby and Illness

Early Symptoms of Illness

How to Give Your Baby Medicine

Baby Illnesses A–Z

Baby Safety Guide

Accident-Proofing Your Baby

Treating Baby Injuries

Baby Product Dangers

Chapter 7.

Resource Guide

Helpful Web Sites for Parents

A comprehensive Internet directory to important sites for information on parenting disabilities, breastfeeding, shopping, product manufacturers, and government and not-for-profit agencies.

Chapter 8.

Parent’s Dictionary

Parent’s Dictionary

Over 800 baby medical and developmental terms and abbreviations defined in easy-to-understand language.


A Note from

Dr. Michael Crocetti

Having a baby is a life-changing event. Raising a child is one of the most challenging yet rewarding things you will ever do in your life. Expectant parents hear these phrases often during pregnancy and nod in agreement. However, until the baby arrives it is nearly impossible to grasp the true meaning of being a parent. On that day and the days and months that follow, men and women are tested in ways they have never been tested before. In preparation for the birth of their child, expectant parents seek out advice from family, friends, and the plethora of parenting books available to them. Many written resources focus on particular aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting, but few bring it all together in one comprehensive compendium. Great Expectations: Baby’s First Year succeeds in bringing it all together. It is one of the most practical, well-written parenting guides I have ever read.

The book is written by two child health and development experts who discuss things that only parents would know. No stone is left unturned, and even though the book is detail oriented, it is easy to read. Topics addressed may answer questions commonly asked by parents, but the authors delve deeper and address issues that parents rarely think of. Subjects can range from how to install a car seat to planning the baby’s first birthday. Every aspect of child-care is touched on, including hygiene, developmental milestones, safety, diet, and growth. In addition to baby topics, the book addresses issues related specifically to mom and dad. Unique to this book are DadNotes and Flash Facts that highlight common issues in a concise fashion. tables throughout the book are extremely helpful and act as a quick reference to parents’ most commonly asked questions. It’s the organization of this book that I believe sets it apart from other available parenting guides: It concentrates on that hectic first week by discussing each day from Day 1 through Day 7. Then it takes you through Week 2 to Week 7, and finally Month 2 through Month 12. This method of organization mirrors how parents experience the birth of their child, with the uneasiness of those long first few weeks giving way to confidence and new found comfort in the latter half of the first year of their baby’s life.

Topic sections are organized in such a way that parents can easily find answers to their questions. The Baby Maintenance Guide is a well-structured reference section on newborn and baby-care basics, including valuable tips on breastfeeding, diapering, starting solids, and keeping your baby safe. The Gear Guide is fantastic, and while it offers essential A to Z information on basic topics such as baby clothes, car seats, cribs, diapers, and strollers, it also discusses everything you ever wanted to know about play equipment—from baby bouncers to battery-operated swings. This section emphasizes things to go for and things to avoid, which can be extremely helpful to budget-strapped new parents. Managing Your First Year is a practical section that answers the questions parents are often afraid to ask or don’t know who to ask. Discussions include back-to-work issues, your changing relationships, play group and child-care options, and support groups. In addition, there is valuable information about topics that may not automatically come to mind such as buying life insurance, drafting a will, or saving for college. Then come the Medical and Safety Guide and the Resource Guide. These sections run the gamut from what to expect at doctor visits to important information on immunizations, common illnesses, and medicines. The Medical and Safety Guide is one of the most comprehensive I’ve seen, and includes not only discussions about injury prevention but also how to manage emergencies. Finally, the Parents’ Dictionary defines hundreds of medical and developmental terms and abbreviations in easy-to-understand language.

The first year of a baby’s life is filled with discovery and wonderment, not only for the child but also for the parents. It is an amazing journey that challenges parents in ways they never thought possible and yet leads to an indescribable sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Great Expectations: Baby’s First Year is the one book every parent should have during that journey.

Michael Crocetti, MD, FAAP Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Pediatrics Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

A Word from

the Authors

By the time you gave birth to your baby, you’d probably gotten pretty good at being an expectant mom or dad. In the process, you may have read thousands of pages about pregnancy and childbirth, and may have even taken childbirth classes.

It doesn’t take long after your baby is born to understand the truth behind the cliché—nothing ever really prepares you for what the first year with a baby is really like. Physical pain for moms and sleep deprivation and depression for both moms and dads are a lot more normal than the pictures of self-satisfied and totally rested parents presented on baby birth shows and in baby-product ads.

We promise that in the process of this year a day will finally come when you’ll both get 8 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period—give or take a couple of hours. You will have overcome birthing woes and severe sleep deprivation, and your baby will slowly transform from an around-the-clock milk-sucking and crying machine into a responsive, very aware little person.

What we’ve learned as parents, as you will, during this first amazing year, is that there truthfully is no right or wrong way to do parenting. In fact, there are as many ways to be a parent as there are babies and children. If the tactics you adopt keep you sane and your baby is thriving, then that’s the right way for you.

Your love for your baby can take a lot of different directions. It can be a rush of huge affection and tenderness that nearly floats you away, but love is also in the details—what you do every day and the sacrifices you make. Even though you may have heard, There’s no such thing as a perfect mom or dad, we disagree. You are your baby’s perfect and best parent, and no one can do the job better than you.

Real parenting, not the book learning kind, means weighing your options as you go along. You’ll eventually learn the art of assessing your baby’s and your family’s needs and how to balance these against your own.

We have written Great Expectations: Baby’s First Year to help you get through the challenges of your new life with a baby during the first 12 months. We are real moms who have been there and done that. Our book is designed to be the most baby-friendly and parent-friendly resource available. Rather than trying to force someone else’s ideas down your throat, we have written the book to honor you as an intelligent, thinking person. We have done this by offering you lots of options from which to choose.

We’ve also created a wonderful week-by-week and month-by-month baby tracker with easy-to-access tables that enable you to capture at a glance where your baby is at any given stage, where you will be in your parenting journey, and what you can expect in the months ahead.

Next, you’ll find practical advice for baby-care basics, such as how to bathe, diaper, and feed your baby, as well as lots of help on choosing the safest and most durable baby products and toys. You will find hundreds of practical management tips to make your parenting job easier—whether it’s how to budget your finances, deal with work issues, or ways to enhance your relationship with your partner. There’s an in-depth Medical and Safety Guide to help you through the trying times when your baby gets sick, has shots, starts teething— or starts getting into trouble around the house.

Toward the end of the book, you’ll find a detailed resource guide with over 250 Web addresses. In our Parents’ Dictionary on MEDICAL AND OUTREACH you’ll find definitions of hundreds of medical and baby-oriented terms that appear throughout the book in bold italics. You’ll also find an extremely detailed index at the end of the book, since we know you’ll never have more than a few minutes to look up anything during that first busy year of watching over your baby.

A Note to Parents Who Are Still Expecting

It’s great that you’re boning up on babies before yours arrives. If you like what you’re reading here, we’d also suggest that you take a look at our two pregnancy volumes in the on-going Great Expectations series: Great Expectations: Your All-in-One Resource for Pregnancy & Childbirth and our Great Expectations Pregnancy Planner & Organizer. Both books offer a lot more details about pregnancy, and practical information and support about birth and newborn care. You can find both books in most major bookstores, including Barnes & Noble stores, and online at

Someday, having a child in your life will feel as natural to you as having fingers. Meanwhile there’s a lot to get used to and to learn. Just as it was hard for your parents to remember what it felt like to be childless, you’ll eventually have trouble remembering what it was like not to be a parent. And you’re likely to discover you wouldn’t have it any other way. Until you’re a parent you live in a world of black-and-white. Then suddenly, there’s a spectrum of color, one dad has quipped, particularly about half an hour after your baby’s had a large meal.

We always welcome comments and feedback from you. Please feel free to write to us in care of our publisher. Although it may be impossible for us to respond to each of you individually, we are eager to hear your comments, and we will try to implement your suggestions in the next edition of this book.

May you have lots of hours of uninterrupted sleep tonight. If not that, then may you be granted lots of small moments of restful, quiet tenderness with your baby.

Sandy Jones & Marcie Jones






Welcome to the Mom and Dad Club! This first year of your baby’s growth will bring changes in yourself equally as profound as the changes you’re going to see in your baby. There will be monumental physical and emotional challenges to overcome: Learning how to make do with less than eight hours of sleep, learning how precious 20 minutes are in any given day, and learning a great deal about the vitality, curiosity, and innocence of humanity at the onset of life.

You’ll also be mastering a lot about attachment, love, and protectiveness. As you’ll soon discover, being a parent is awesome, unpredictable, challenging, and a wonderful adventure, depending upon what time of day it is and how sleep-deprived you happen to be.

Things that you thought were going to be simple, like diapering and feeding, turn out to be much more of a challenge than you could have imagined, and as soon as you master one skill on your baby’s journey, the journey is likely to take a sharp curve and demand a new one (and more patience from you).

Meanwhile, your baby is teaching you profound and indelible life lessons: What it’s like to give . . . and give . . . and give, with your greatest payoff a toothless grin or hearing the word Dada or Mama for the first time.

The opening section of our book contains thumbnail sketches to guide you through your first year of this new adventure. The first chapter starts with how to prepare for your baby’s birth and carries you through day-by-day, week-by-week, then month-by-month, describing the first six months of life with your baby. Chapter 2 covers the second half-year.

At each stage, you’ll find practical to-do lists to help you through, including useful comments from other parents, timely tips, and DadNotes to guide the man of the house. To be fair to parents of both boy and girl babies, we’ve alternated calling babies she and he throughout the book.

Your baby’s 12 months of development are amazing when you think about it: In one year, your baby will grow from a tiny, completely dependent being into a walking, almost-talking, exploring toddler. As you will see, your baby is a very complex individual in his or her own right, who’s quite capable of communicating with you even without words. So, let’s get started!

The Last Weeks of Pregnancy

Waiting will be the hardest part of the third trimester, but you have to admire Mother Nature’s ingenuity: No matter how anxious or worried you may have felt during your pregnancy about labor and delivery, your discomforts in the last weeks will make you willing to do almost anything just to get the baby out and off of your nerves (literally).

It’s important to keep perspective during the final weeks of your pregnancy. Some amount of worry is productive. In fact, researchers have found that women who worry more about birth actually have shorter labors! But it doesn’t help to drive yourself crazy with vague, unproductive worry, like mulling over other parents’ tales of scary birth ordeals, or watching so-called reality birth shows.

If something’s bugging you, even if it sounds silly (your butt hurts, or you’re worried that your baby will have extra toes), talk to your doctor or midwife or a childbirth educator. And, if you already know the hospital where you plan to deliver, you can also call the labor and delivery nurses or those in the postpartum unit with your questions about what happens during labor.

   Third Trimester Aches and Pains

Here is a list of some of the symptoms you may experience during the third trimester of pregnancy before your baby arrives:

Anemia. It can cause fatigue and/or prenatal depression. (Make sure your care provider checks your hemoglobin or hematocrit levels.)

Swelling. You may experience it in your arms, ankles, and hands, and there may be pregnancy-related aches in your hands and wrists (which could be pregnancy-related carpal tunnel syndrome). If your face suddenly swells, contact your doctor or midwife.

Back pain. Nagging back pain from your shoulders on down can be caused by the increasing weight of your breasts and baby. (Labor pain starts in the lower back, but contractions are cyclical, and pain usually moves around to the front each time.)

Heartburn. Blame your hormones and the pressure of the baby on your stomach and intestines for that burning sensation in your throat.

Waddling and lower-body pain. The pressure of your baby moving lower in your body and your changing hormones will cause joints and tendons to loosen leading to waddling and to hip, groin, and tailbone aches. You may also experience leg cramps or restless legs syndrome.

Thirst and frequent urination. Expect to feel very thirsty and to have to make constant trips to the bathroom as the lower portion of the baby presses on your bladder.

Itching. Some mothers experience an extremely itchy belly, thighs, and chest, with accompanying red bumpy rashes (called Pruritic Urticated Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy, or PUPPP).

Skin and vein changes. You’ll probably have the usual skin discolorations, including darkening of parts of your face, darker breasts and vagina, a dark stripe down your middle, spidery looking veins, and varicose veins in your legs. (Most of these are all temporary and will fade in time.)

Bowel changes. As your intestines slow down, you may have bouts of constipation and swelling around your anus (hemorrhoids).

Awkwardness. As your body enlarges, you’ll have trouble getting up from a lying-down position, difficulty taking deep breaths, and you’ll be unable to see your feet or bend down enough to tie your own shoes.

Practice contractions. Before labor becomes active, you may experience practice contractions that can be uncomfortable but aren’t signs that labor is actually starting.

Why it pays to wait

By now you’ve packed your hospital bag, the baby’s room is as ready as it’s going to get, and your aches and pains are robbing you of sleep. Baby’s pressure on your body makes it a struggle just to get up and go to the bathroom in the night.

This is not an easy time. Even when you’re awake, you find you can’t stay in one position for very long. While suffering through this final stage of being enceinte, it can be very tempting to beg your doctor to induce you or to beg for an elective cesarean section.

Neither option is optimal for you or your baby. An elective c-section, one that isn’t performed for a serious medical reason, could cause your baby to be delivered before he’s ready, making him more vulnerable to lung problems and other physical maladies. A c-section is abdominal surgery, which will also expose you to a greater risk of infection and problems with the placenta in subsequent pregnancies, and will almost certainly commit you to having this same surgical procedure for any babies you have after this one.

So, having a c-section when you don’t need one shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Weigh your options, learn about what a c-section recovery is like, and seek a second opinion from a maternal-fetal specialist if your care provider is recommending scheduling a c-section that you don’t feel you really need. (For more about recovering from c-sections, see in 5. Managing Your First Year.)

You may also be tempted to try castor oil or an herbal remedy to jump-start labor. These are not good ideas. Castor oil causes severe diarrhea and may make you vomit. If it actually works, you’ll not only have to deal with the pain of labor, you’ll have to experience it on the toilet with your head in a hospital sick bucket.


Before you get too antsy and try to jump-start your labor, keep in mind that most first-time babies often run late, and that’s perfectly normal. Your health-care provider will start to become concerned when your baby doesn’t arrive 10 to 14 days after your due date.

No herbal labor inducer has been shown to be safe or effective. In some instances they can interfere with medications or affect your baby’s condition after birth.

No matter what you may read on the Internet or what others tell you, unless you or your baby’s health is threatened, waiting it out until your body goes into labor naturally is the safest way to go.

   Last-Minute Dos and Don’ts

Get organized

Here’s a list of practical things to do with yourself during those last boring and achy days before your baby arrives:

Tour. If you haven’t already done so, sign up for a tour of your hospital or birthing center, if only to find out exactly where to park, where to go when you’re in labor, and to make sure that all of your forms are in order so you can have the quickest possible check-in.

Check insurance benefits. Read your insurance policy carefully to see what your insurance will and won’t pay for during your hospitalization, such as a private room, the services of a lactation consultant, or a breast pump rental.

Read. Read up about the stages of labor and finish off your birth plan. Decide which procedures and pain relief methods you do or don’t want, or reaffirm your decision just to wait and see what feels right when you’re in labor.

Organize work issues. At work, update your résumé and collect addresses of professional contacts to take home with you in case you decide to extend your maternity leave or change jobs.

Make a phone list. Create a whom to notify phone list and distribute a phone chain in your family about who calls whom so your partner doesn’t have to phone everyone after the birth.

Store cell numbers. Key in critical telephone numbers: your doctor or midwife; the labor and delivery area of the hospital; the doula ; the most important relatives and friends to be called after birth. Buy an extra cell-phone charger for the hospital, and if you don’t already have one, get a cell-phone charger for your car.

Organize mail. Set up a mail area in your house, with stamps, address labels, envelopes, pens, a bill box, and a trash can for tossing out junk mail.

Finalize your baby’s name. If you haven’t decided on your baby’s name, make your final choice for both a boy and a girl (in case your sonogram was wrong).

Stock up on household basics. Buy and store nonperishable household goods like trash bags, lightbulbs, batteries, office supplies, and of course, diapers and wipes (or washcloths). (For a complete shopping list, see in 4. Gear Guide.)

Gather documents. Make sure your partner knows where important household documents are, such as insurance papers and prescription cards, passports, tax returns, car maintenance, title and registration documents, and other records.

Make duplicate keys. Get copies of your house and car keys for neighbors, visitors, or anyone who will be providing household help after birth.

Protect your mattress. Purchase a waterproof pad for your mattress in case your water breaks before you go into labor and to protect it from all of those postpartum fluids, like breastmilk and diaper leaks.

Prepare for guests. Hide anything in your house that you don’t want visiting in-laws, cleaning ladies, or baby nurses to see.

Plan for babysitters. Arrange care for any other children and/or household pets while you’re in labor.

Check your suitcase. Make sure you’ve got everything packed for the hospital or birth center. (See A Word from the Authors.)

Post critical telephone numbers. In addition to pizza delivery and your doctor’s or midwife’s office and pager numbers, it’s also good to have posted the direct line to the birthing center or hospital labor and birthing center where you’ll be; your doula (and her alternate); your baby’s soon-to-be pediatrician; and a taxi service.

Install the car seat. Purchase a rear-facing car seat suitable for a baby weighing as few as five pounds and install it in the backseat of your car using the directions that come with the seat and with your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Then, contact your local police or fire department to see about having the installation safety checked. (For more about car seats, see in 4. Gear Guide.)

Follow up about your records. Call your doctor’s or midwife’s office to confirm that the hospital or birthing center has a copy of all of your records and a copy of your birth plan.

Complete thank-yous. Write and send thank-you notes to people who have given you baby gifts.

Manage baby gifts. Put any gifts that your baby is not old enough to use, such as a high chair, a swing, or clothes larger than 12 months in storage, until later. Return or exchange any baby gifts that you’re not going to use.

Decide about circumcision. Ask your baby’s pediatrician-to-be about the benefits and risks of circumcision. Evidence suggests that there are some potential medical benefits of circumcision, but they’re not strong enough for the American Academy of Pediatrics to recommend routinely circumcising a baby. If you do decide to circumcise, make sure the procedure and the baby’s pain relief and anesthetic are covered by your insurance. If you plan to have the circumcision performed in the hospital, find out when, where, and by whom it will be performed and what pain relief methods will be available to your son. No matter what, insist that pain relief methods be used.

Locate a mohel. If you’re Jewish, line up a mohel for the ritual circumcision and think about where you want to hold the bris.

Speak to your care provider. Ask your care provider at what point she wants you to call if you think you’re in labor.

Discuss dad decisions. Talk to your partner about your birth plan and how he wants to participate in the birth. Does he want to cut the cord, or would he rather be passing out cigars and making phone calls in the waiting room? Do you want him to accompany you into the operating room if you have a c-section?

In your spare time

Walk. Walking will help to get your muscles into shape, get your baby into the proper position, stimulate your digestion, and help you sleep more soundly.

Bask. Swim or take warm baths. Being in water will take pressure off of your strained muscles, and you may be able to float on your back and watch your baby kick.

Create. Sew something, or create a family scrapbook.

Listen to or make music. Make or mix CDs of your favorite music. Your baby’s hearing is very developed at this point, and studies have shown that the kind of music a baby’s exposed to in the womb will have a soothing effect on him after birth.

Chat. Find other pregnant moms online and commiserate. Set up a blog to post your birth story and baby pictures on, and/or read other moms’ blogs.

• Try to get some rest. Try arranging pillows of all sizes and firmness levels, or try napping with one leg slung over the back of your sofa. Make sure your bed is as close as possible to the bathroom, and get a night-light so you don’t have to wake up completely during your five nightly trips to pee a teaspoonful.

Things to avoid

Spending into debt. Control your pre-baby spending. Don’t go for cute, overpriced cribs, toys, or other frivolous baby products while shopping in a hormonal fog.

Fights. Your whole perspective on the world and all of your relationships are undergoing radical changes. With new circumstances, new conflicts come into play, and many couples have a hard time expressing the deep and complicated emotions that come along.

Panic. Don’t race off to the hospital at the first sign of contractions. You’re more likely to have a birth without unwanted interventions if you take it easy and let your labor evolve and become well-established before hitting the road to the hospital. Just relax, eat, and try to get as much rest as you can while waiting to see what develops.

Did you think to pack these?

Here are some miscellaneous items that you may find useful during your hospital stay. Then again, lots of moms say they stuffed their suitcases to the hilt only to find they were too busy laboring to open the bag!

Lip balm. Your lips will get dry during labor.

Nursing bras and pads. Two roomy nursing bras and a box of comfortable breast pads.

Several pairs of PJs. You don’t have to wear a hospital gown if you don’t want to, as long as health-care professionals can get where they need to go. If you bring your own nightgown, button-down styles work best.

Drinks or snacks. Prune juice will not only hydrate you, it’ll also help make your first BM after birth more bearable. And bring something to snack on in case the cafeteria is closed. When you get your appetite back after delivery, you’ll be ravenous.

Secretarial supplies. A notebook and pen will be useful for writing down any medical instructions or anything you want to remember. You may also want to bring an address book with important people to notify and a folder to hold important documents.

A camera. You’ll want to record this momentous event!

• Earplugs. Hospitals are busy places, and it’s tough to sleep with people coming in and out and your neighbor watching television at top volume.

A blanket and pillow(s). Your partner can use them to nap in the chair in your recovery room. Plus, hospital linens are notoriously scratchy and often smell of bleach. Be sure to put your pillow in a colored case so you don’t accidentally leave it behind.

   FLASH FACT: Giving Babies Their Due

On the average, girl babies spend a day longer inside their mothers than boys. First-time babies often arrive days later than their due dates. On the average, Caucasian babies spend five days longer gestating than African-American babies, while babies in India spend six days longer than white babies inside. These arrival averages appear to have a genetic corollary and are not associated with the size of the babies or the affluence or poverty of their parents.

Labor and Birth


As much as two weeks before labor gets underway, you may pass bloodtinged mucous, called show, which can be white, brownish, or pink. And while you wait for baby, you may experience mild cramping and Braxton-Hicks contractions. Contractions are just what the word sounds like—tightening and releasing of the muscles of your uterus with a rest in between.

Braxton-Hicks contractions occur when your uterus hardens. They don’t occur regularly, and moving around or drinking water may make them subside. Then, at some point, these contractions will shift into prodromal labor: They may occur more regularly, usually in a pattern of less than 30 seconds long and more than 5 minutes apart.

After what could be (sorry to say) as long as a day or a week, early contractions will begin to get stronger, closer together, and more regular. And, for most women, sometime around the day before labor gets serious, your colon will (ahem) cleanse itself in the form of diarrhea.

When the contractions are regular and 5 minutes apart or less, or when your health-care provider recommends that important call, then make it. Depending on how you sound, he or she may advise that you stay put for a while, time your contractions, and call back in a little while, or you may be told to proceed to the hospital or birthing center.

First-time moms average as many as 300 contractions to birth their babies, while moms who have previously given birth need about 100 fewer contractions to perform the same task. First-time moms average about 12 to 14 hours of labor from start to finish. But, in some cases, labor stretches on for 24 hours or longer. So eat and rest as much as you can before you go to the hospital, and tell your driver to obey the speed limit.

Making the call

Most likely, your health-care provider will begin to make preparations for your admission after your contractions reach about 30 to 60 seconds long and are 5 minutes apart, or less. (You should also call if your water breaks, whether your contractions have begun or not. That happens before labor in only about one in ten women.)

   How to Tell When It’s REAL

Labor is really happening and not a false start if you have the following symptoms:

Changed contractions. Contractions are definitely occurring regularly and getting longer, stronger, and closer together.

Moving doesn’t help. Moving around does not ease the contraction, or even make them stronger. (Moving around or drinking water during a Braxton-Hicks contraction can often make it go away, but doing the same thing during true labor makes no difference and can even make contractions stronger and more frequent.)

Different kind of pain. If you experience pain that is not confined to your lower back or belly. Labor contractions usually start in your lower back and move around to your front like a tightening band, rather than staying in one place.

You may be really eager to hit the road, but if you want to avoid extra labor interventions in the hospital, current medical research suggests that staying home until your labor gets well-established could be protective.

Most hospitals have protocols about how quickly a woman’s labor is expected to proceed, and when it appears to be slower than the standard, nurses, your doctor, or midwife may recommend a drip of intravenous (IV) medication to strengthen your contractions. This is known as augmentation of labor. Sometimes it can lead to very strong, rapid, and painful contractions, which might increase the risk of injury to both you and the baby. If your care provider wants to augment your labor, ask him or her about the risks versus the potential benefits, and don’t let yourself be rushed just because the hospital is having a busy night.

If you’re quite sure you’ll be heading off to the hospital in the next half hour, call your doula or labor assistant, and also call the labor and delivery department of your hospital to let the nurses know you’re on the way—especially if you have special needs or a specific room request (like a suite with a birthing tub). A labor-and-delivery nurse can help you decide when to leave or be helpful if you’re not getting a timely callback from your doctor or midwife.


Whether you have to share your room with another mom and then get whisked off to a labor and delivery area for birth or get the posh all-in-one birthing suite may depend upon how many other women are giving birth at the same time and what your insurance will pay for. Some policies will pay only for a shared room. Do your homework in advance!

Quick notes about labor

Labor and birth is a book unto itself, but here’s what’s worth remembering about that amazing 12-to-24-hour period:

• It’s natural. Birth is a natural, healthy process, not a medical emergency, and it is extremely safe.

• You can DO it. Yes, childbirth hurts, and quite a lot—but you will be able to handle it, even with no pain relief, thanks to natural endorphins. Just remember, though, that first-time babies may take quite a while to work their way down. Meanwhile, prepare yourself by talking to your care provider about the risks and benefits of pain relief options before you go into labor, and enlist the labor support of a midwife or doula to be there for you if you choose a nonmedicated birth.

• Labor doesn’t go on forever. Even though contractions hurt, they’re cyclical, and you know they’re going to end. They’ll bring you your baby, and they won’t kill you—so the pain is still better than an injury or food poisoning.

• It can be unpredictable. If birth doesn’t go the way you pictured it, you’re not alone. Every birth story is its own epic of circumstances, surprises, and curveballs (which is why it makes such good reality-TV material). It helps to think of each contraction as a strong body wave that each time brings you closer to the shore (birth).

• Positive images help. Visualize giving birth to a healthy, vigorous baby. Have faith that if something was wrong with the baby, chances are extremely good that your doctor would have detected the problem by now. Trust that if the worst possible scenario happens and something is wrong with the baby, you’ll have the clarity and strength to figure out what to do.


Is it a boy? Is it a girl? Is the baby going to cry? Is there hair on that head? Five fingers on each hand? Two eyes? Twenty digits total?


Being in a rush to cut the baby’s cord before it stops pulsing could affect your baby’s oxygen supply, putting a sudden strain on his body. If you’ve decided to collect your baby’s cord blood, someone will need to give the kit to the labor-and-delivery nurse or the doctor or midwife delivering your baby. The hospital may dispatch the kit to the company, or you may have to make the arrangements yourself.

Congratulations, you’ve produced the most perfect little human being ever created!

The baby’s time of birth will be noted by the delivering doctor or midwife and be officially recorded.

It usually takes about 20 minutes or so after the baby’s born for your body to deliver the afterbirth, the placenta, and the membranes. This delivery is known as the third stage of labor. After a few strong contractions, the soft, gooey mass will painlessly slide out with a gushing sensation.

Following the placenta, if you haven’t had painkillers or an epidural, you may feel genuine discomfort if your doctor, midwife, or a nurse massages your uterus to help it contract. You may get a shot of ergometrine in your thigh, and some will be put in your IV to help your uterus contract if your doctor is concerned about a postpartum hemorrhage.

Even if you wrote on your birth plan that you’d like to have all procedures on the baby performed in front of you, your wish may not be granted. Most hospitals routinely take the baby to the observation nursery soon after birth for bathing and watching, because many health problems become apparent in the first hours of life. Fewer problems occur when a newborn is kept skin-to-skin during the first 90 minutes after birth. The best plan is to request that your baby be placed on your belly and stay next to your skin until he spontaneously moves up, and starts the first breastfeeding. Then, you can let the baby go for tagging and weighing.

Your Newborn

Your newborn will be given gentle suctioning with a rubber bulb to remove fluid from the mouth and nose. Everyone will be waiting for your baby to breathe, the most important, first step of surviving in this world. After what may seem like an eternity, at last you will hear sputtering, gasping, and then if all’s well, the lusty, high-pitched screams of new life.

As tiny, helpless, and vulnerable as your newborn may appear, he will arrive with a powerful drive to survive. Most babies will breathe within a few seconds after birth, and everyone will heave a collective sigh of relief. Until birth, your baby’s lungs were collapsed, and he got all of his oxygen from the blood being pumped through his umbilical cord from the placenta. Once his lungs fill with air, the valves in and near his heart will shut off permanently so that blood will pass directly into his lungs for oxygenation. Prolonged crying delays permanent closure of the baby’s heart valves, so don’t let your baby’s crying go unanswered for more than one to two minutes.

When your baby starts to breathe, he will go from being bluish to a bright, purplish-red as his lungs start functioning and he cries. The cries of land-born babies will be pretty vigorous, while a water-birthed baby’s are apt to be quieter.

   Flash Fact: Weighing In

The average weight for newborns is 7½ pounds, and only 5 percent of babies fall outside of the 5½-to-9½-pound range. On the average, boys weigh a half pound more than girls. Most babies lose about a tenth of their weight during the first 3 days after birth. The lost weight will be regained in about 10 days. Your baby will put on an average of 7 ounces each week for the first month. By 5 months of age, your baby will have doubled his birth weight, and by one year of age, he will be three times heavier than when he was born.

Your baby will be given three Apgar scores, one at a minute after birth, another at 5 minutes after birth, and if necessary a third 10 minutes after your baby’s birth. The Apgar score helps your doctor or midwife assess the baby’s appearance, tone, breathing, and other vital signs. A score of 7 to 10 means everything’s going well. A score of 4 to 7 may mean the baby needs extra help, and a score of 3 or less signals that the baby needs immediate care.


Even moments after birth, your baby is already able to respond to the environment and arrives endowed with an immense capacity to stimulate a loving response from you. Most newborns have a 30-to-90-minute period of maximum alertness right after birth—that is, as long as medications you’ve been given to make you more comfortable have not crossed your placenta and entered into your baby’s bloodstream during labor. All medications given to the mother during the birth process cross to the baby, including epidurals, which have been shown to cause babies to be groggy, to interfere with their ability to orient, and to make the baby’s movements less organized than babies whose mothers had no, limited, or only last-minute medication.

If your baby is healthy, you can request that he or she be given to you immediately after birth and placed naked against your chest with a blanket over the two of you. This technique is called kangaroo care after the way that kangaroo babies stay nestled inside their mothers’ pouches to nurse after birth.

The kangaroo position is great for holding your newborn: Place your baby between your breasts with his face just below your chin. The warmth of your body and your heartbeat and breathing are exactly what your baby remembers from being inside you, which will calm and reassure him, and his body temperature will stabilize almost immediately.

Your smell will be reassuring, and your baby will be immediately drawn to the aroma of your nipple. If left undisturbed on your belly for an hour, most babies are capable of crawling to the breast, finding the nipple, and expertly initiating nursing.

   Flash Fact: Skin Recommendations

In February 2005, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement that all healthy babies should be placed and remain in direct skin-to-skin contact with their mothers immediately after birth until the first feeding is accomplished. It states that an alert, healthy newborn infant is capable of latching onto a breast without specific assistance within the first hour after birth. It recognized that a baby’s mother is the optimal heat source for the baby and that any initial physical assessment, cleaning and drying of the baby, or assigning the baby an Apgar score should be done while the baby is in physical contact with its mother. The Academy also recommended that routine procedures, such as weighing, measuring, bathing, needle-sticks, and eye medications should be delayed until after the baby has had its first feeding at the breast and, unless there are unusual circumstances, the newborn should be allowed to stay with its mother throughout the recovery period following birth.

[SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding (2003—2004). Policy statement: Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics, Vol. 115, No. 2, February 2005, pp. 496—506.]

It’s impossible to overestimate the sensations that you’ll feel when you stare into your baby’s eyes for the first time, and you have the right to some time of peace and quiet together as a new family.


Studies show that full-term newborns who are given skin-to-skin contact with their mothers seldom cry during the first hour and a half of life, but those who are placed in a nearby bassinet will cry 20 to 40 seconds out of every 5 minutes over the same amount of time. If the baby is carried farther away, he will sound long, wailing cries thought to be human distress calls.


Your baby will be examined, and the doctor or midwife will make sure he’s breathing normally. Heart rate will be checked: A normal newborn heart rate is 100 beats per minute or more. He will be weighed and measured, his temperature taken, and antibiotic gel or drops will be placed in his eyes.

Your baby will also be bathed to clean the goo off him—a mixture of vernix (a creamy white substance that protects the baby in utero), blood, fluid, and possibly meconium (the newborn’s first bowel movement)—have his heel pricked for a blood screen, and be given a shot of vitamin K to help his blood clot. If your baby develops jaundice with a yellowish tint to his skin, the doctor or midwife may check a bilirubin level to assess whether he needs to be placed under bili lights to help his body process bilirubin.

Newborn Tests and Screening

If your baby is still in the nursery and you want to see him, you can call the nursery yourself to see if your baby can be brought to your room. If there’s a delay for some reason, you may need to walk or be wheeled to the nursery to peek in. Sometimes a baby’s return to his mother can be delayed as the baby waits for a visit from the on-duty pediatrician, and if that’s the case you can request that when the pediatrician arrives, the baby’s checkup be performed in your room.

Your recovery after birth

After birth, you’ll be facing two huge tasks: recovering from labor and learning to care for your new baby. Many women experience shivers and body shakes after delivery; if you do, cover yourself with warm blankets. They should subside within a few hours after delivery. You may be less likely to experience shivers if you keep your baby on your chest with skin-to-skin contact, because your body will heat itself up to help keep the baby warm.

You may also feel dizzy and woozy when you try to get up and walk. Until the dizzy phase passes— probably by the following day— you’ll probably need to ask for help standing up and moving around. Always sit on the edge of the bed and dangle your feet for a few minutes before getting up, to help prevent dizziness when you stand up.

After you’ve been given any required medications and stitches, you may be allowed to rest in your birthing room for a time with your baby. Keep your baby skin-to-skin as much as possible for both you and your baby’s sake.

In a busier hospital, you may be moved immediately from the delivery room into a recovery room so your blood pressure and overall condition can be monitored and other bodily functions checked periodically by the nurse on duty.

An epidural will take one-to-four hours to wear off. You may feel a tingling sensation as this happens, and you may experience side effects like a headache and itching.

You also may be shocked by postpartum nurses, who are the kindest and most helpful people around, but who will erase any traces of modesty you may have left by lifting your gown and checking your stitches, pads, and ice packs at all hours of the day and night.

Your respite may also be disturbed by food service, housekeeping, a visit from the doctor on duty, and your own doctor. If you’re in a teaching hospital, medical residents may request permission to examine you. Various professionals on different shifts will come around to take your blood pressure and temperature, and to administer medications. They may be so bold as to insist you get up on your feet and start walking. It’s for a good cause: to help to prevent blood clots from forming in your legs.

If you haven’t peed already, you’ll be asked to so that your care provider can be assured that your urinary tract and bladder weren’t damaged during birth. If it just isn’t happening for you, here are some tips: Ask for privacy; listen to running tap water; run warm water over your hand; use a spritz bottle to squirt warm water over your vaginal area; and drink water to build up your fluid stores. If you’re still unable to pee for more than 12 hours, a nurse or your doctor may insert a catheter to help.

   FLASH FACT: Peace and

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