Tips for Your Third Trimester
By now you should have signed up for a prenatal class, in which you learn what to expect in this final stage of pregnancy and during labor and delivery. Regardless of what type of delivery you're hoping for, it is important that you learn about all options—drug-free, vaginal delivery with pain relief, and cesarean section.
You should also complete all preadmission information at the hospital or birthing center where you hope to deliver. Most offer family tours of the maternity unit, which can help prepare older children for a new sibling.
And don't forget to pack a bag for the hospital or birthing center. Make sure you include a "coming home" outfit for the baby. One other thing: Make sure you have a car seat properly installed in your vehicle. The hospital won't let you take Baby home without it! You can learn more about car seats and their proper use at www.aap.org/family/Carseatguide.htm.
Choosing a Day Care Provider
It's also time to begin planning for after the delivery. If you've decided to return to work after your maternity leave, it's time to arrange for day care. You have numerous options: center-based care, family-based care, hiring a nanny or an au pair. When considering day care, keep the following in mind:
Do you want a small, intimate family home or a professional day-care center? Both should meet licensing requirements in your state, but a family home situation may offer more individual attention and a more home-like atmosphere. However, it may be less dependable if the caregiver gets sick or takes vacation. The day-care center, which may provide more dependable care and have more resources for training and equipment, may have a high rate of caregiver turnover and a more "institutional feel." Make sure you spend time in each before making any decisions. Also ask the state agency that oversees child-care centers about any problems.
How much does it cost? After you pay for day care, commuting, taxes, work clothes, etc., is it economically feasible to continue working?
How far is the center from your work? If your child gets sick in the middle of the day, can you or your partner easily get to her?
When visiting day-care centers, the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends you ask the following questions:
What is the child-to-staff ratio? Make sure it meets state requirements. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends one staff person for three to five small children.
What are the center's policies on discipline and other important issues? Ask for a copy.
What are the center's emergency policies?
How does the center care for sick children?
How is the staff trained? What is the staff turnover rate?
The Nursery and Layette
Contrary to what you may think if you've ever been to a big-box baby supply store, newborns need very little. They need you, the breast or bottle, some simple clothing, diapers, and a safe place to sleep. Of course, that's no fun!