1. Fill your freezer with meals. You will be so happy about this later. Double meals you cook and freeze half. (Hint: lasagna can be frozen prior to or after baking.) Ask the guests coming to your baby shower to bring along a freezer-ready meal. Get a copy of Frozen Assets and spend a day cooking using the recipes in the book, and have a month of meals in your freezer.
  2. Think about how to harness help. So many people say, “Let me know if there’s something I can when the baby comes.” Register at Meal Train so when people offer help you can ask them to sign up to bring you a meal. Make a list of chores that need to get done in your home on a daily and weekly basis. Place this list on the fridge so when visitors ask if they can do you can direct them to the list. This way you won’t have to ask them directly, remember what needs to be done, or even get up from the couch.
  3. Register for prenatal classes that will make your life easier later. Look for an independent (not affiliated with a hospital or practice) childbirth class to learn about options and tools for labor. Your labor experience will impact your life postpartum. A cesarean birth involves a longer recovery than a vaginal birth. Labor medications can also delay your recovery, and make learning to breastfeed more challenging in the beginning. Take an infant care class so there will be a little less you need to learn on the job. Take a breastfeeding class to learn about latch and position before your baby is born; this will help you to avoid a cycle of soreness in the early weeks postpartum.
  4. Line up your breastfeeding support now. Ask around and find an IBCLC who can make a home visit if you need it later. Go to La Leche League’s website and find the phone numbers of your local Leaders. They can provide you with free phone support if you have breastfeeding questions. Pregnant women are welcome at all La Leche League meetings. Consider attending prenatally to ask questions, hear other questions be answered, see breastfeeding moms and babies, and tap into your local support network. Purchase a copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (used is fine as long as it’s the 2010 edition) to read prenatally and use as a reference as needed postpartum.
  5. Consider hiring a postpartum doula. She can be an invaluable source of support in the early days by providing breastfeeding support, cooking, errands and light housekeeping, being a source of reassurance and information, and then working her way out of a job as you get the hang of parenting a newborn.

Julie Brill, CCCE, CLD, CAPPA Faculty is a homeschooling mom who runs her birth business, WellPregnancy, from her home in Bedford, MA. She loves teaching private childbirth classes, providing Prepare for Cesarean Birth, Heal Faster workshops, and mentoring new labor doulas and childbirth educators. She is also a La Leche League Leader. Her first book, Round the Circle: Experienced Doulas Share What They’ve Learned, will be published by Hale Publishing in early 2015. Follow her at www.facebook.com/WellPregnancy and www.facebook.com/RoundtheCircle.