Dear expectant parents,
First of all, congratulations! You'll be bringing new life into this world soon, and that is a big freaking deal. Mostly exciting but a little bit terrifying, am I right?
Here are a couple things you need to know that will save you (and your nurses) a headache at the hospital.
1) Choose a pediatrician or family doctor. Preferably you've chosen one prior to delivery, but if not, you may be required to make your decision before you can be discharged from the hospital. If the physician does not see baby at the hospital, someone else will cover, but we need to know where to send the chart afterward!
How do you choose a doctor? Start with your insurance. Find out who is in-network. Talk to friends with kids. Do they like the doctor their kids see? Call potential physicians to find out if they are accepting new patients. Sometimes the type of insurance you have makes a difference, as some physicians can only accept a certain percentage of private insurance, Medicaid, etc. Narrowed it down to a few? Call the office to ask about sitting down with the pediatrician so you can get a feel for their personality.
This is legwork you don't want to have to do in the 48-72 hours after delivery, so use the nine months prior to get it done!
2) Purchase a new carseat. I love bargains, but carseats are not an area where you should cut corners. Garage sales, craigslist, and facebook are NOT good places to score a carseat!
Carseats have expiration dates (often 6 years after the date of manufacture, but not always). The material in the seat breaks down over time, and the manufacturers can only guarantee the seat's performance for a certain amount of time. The expiration date should be printed on the bottom of the seat.
Did you know carseats need to be replaced after an accident? Even if it was just a fender bender and there is no visible damage to the seat, it needs to be replaced. Car insurance companies should not give you hassle about replacing carseats. The seat has done its job and absorbed the impact, and cannot be relied upon to perform the same way the next time.
If you get a carseat from a garage sale, can you be certain it's never been in an accident?
Don't risk your child's safety for the sake of saving money!
Ok, so you have the (new) carseat. What next?
Read the manual. Keep it in a handy place. Play with the straps on the seat. Figure out how to loosen and tighten them. Practice strapping a doll or stuffed animal into it.
Install the base of the infant seat in the car. Be prepared to bring the seat itself into the hospital sometime before the day of discharge.
If your baby is small (less than 5lbs 8oz at our facility), has respiratory issues, or spends time in NICU, the nurses may need to do special tests to make sure baby can tolerate sitting in the seat, and you won't want to wait until the last minute to do those. Even if your baby does not need the special tests, the nurses will want to see the seat and check the fit of the straps before you get to leave. You do not need to bring the seat into the delivery room, but you will want to have it handy.
Need help installing the seat? Call your local fire station. Find out when a Certified Car Seat Technician will be available there to help you. They are not there 100% of the time, so showing up unannounced at the fire station is not recommended.
Again, during the first hours after baby arrives is not when you want to think about the carseat for the first time! About a month before the due date is generally a great time to get the seat in.
Is there more you need to know and do before baby arrives? Sure. But taking care of these two items will save you so much undue stress, and allow you to put more of your focus where it should be: getting to know this wonderful new person!
Your Postpartum Nurse
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