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While You're Away: Preparing Your Kids for your Hospital Stay & Return Home
If you already have a child (or children), use the weeks before your due date to make arrangements so things will run smoothly while you're away. Chances are you know by heart the important details about daily routines. Take the time now to write everything down and organize the information. That way, you'll be ready for the unexpected. And you'll be able to spend more time resting and sleeping with the new baby during the first few days back home.

Unless you're having a planned caesarean, you won't know exactly when the baby will come, so make plans for different circumstances. Decide who'll pick up your children from school if the baby comes during the day; write a letter to the school detailing the arrangement. Decide who will come stay with them if you leave in the middle of the night. Try to get someone who's very familiar to your children; they'll have to cope with your sudden absence and the drama of a new sibling. It will be easier for them if they feel comfortable with the adult who's taking care of them.

If they're old enough to understand, explain the plans to your children. Make sure that your designated caregiver has a key to your house and directions to your children's school or babysitter, well before your due date.

Make Lists for Caregivers
If you plan to have a relative, friend or child care professional in to help you after the baby's born, clearly spell everything out.
  • Make up a chart showing times, places and telephone numbers for your other children's daily activities. Write out special instructions about which child eats (or doesn't eat), any medications that need to be given and information about bath time and bedtime. Don't forget to write down important details about your children's favorite stuffed animals or blankets, pacifiers, bottles, bedtime routines, favorite books, and lullabies.
  • Include names and numbers of your children's friends, your own friends and neighbors. Whoever is taking care of your children during the time you're away can use your support system in case of difficulties.
  • If your partner will be at work or out of town, write down his phone numbers too.
  • Also include the name of your hospital or birthing center and directions to get there, as well as your doctor or midwife's name and number.


Ensuring a Smooth Return Home
If possible, do in advance anything that will make the post-birth period easier. Prepare and freeze several dinners for the family. Get the children (and yourself) haircuts.

If your baby is due around a big holiday or the birthday of one of your children, get all shopping and preparations out of the way before the birth. If you're facing a birthday party for one of your children soon after your due date, consider having the party several weeks early, before the baby is due. Have the party at a fast food restaurant or a recreational facility such as a bowling alley or make some other arrangement that takes the burden off your shoulders. Arrange for grandparents, others relative or family friends to organize and hold the party. They can consider it a pre-baby gift to you!
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education