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Bonnie Vengrow
Contributing Writer

Things To Do Before Leaving The Hospital With Baby

About to bring baby home? Yay! But don't forget to do these things before you check out.

Have someone install the car seat base

It’s okay if you waited until the eleventh hour. Send your partner or someone else (who’s reliable!) to do the dirty work—and remind them to follow the instructions carefully. Some hospitals even check for a safe car seat before letting baby leave.

Have a check-in with both doctors

You won’t be discharged until your OB and baby’s pediatrician clear both of you.

Ask for a breastfeeding tutorial

Even if feedings seem to be going well, it’s worth it to have a lactation consultant or nurse watch you feed baby, to make sure the latch is correct and to answer any questions you have. That can cut down on a ton of problems later on. Plus, an in-home lactation consultation can be pricey.

Learn to swaddle

Nurses are really skilled at getting baby into the perfect burrito-wrap, but it’s not as easy as they make it look. Ask one to teach you how to swaddle baby—and ask if you can take a blanket home with you too. “The swaddle blankets they give you [in the hospital] are perfect for the first week,” says Satya Narisety, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Rutgers University. “The fabric is strong so you can get a good, thick swaddle, which soothes newborns.”

Take other freebies too

Your hospital probably lets you take home mom-care items, like a peri-bottle, thick pads and an oh-so-luxurious sitz bath (kidding—it does help though). There are also baby items that come in handy, including a bulb syringe, diapers and petroleum jelly. If you can, take the kimono-style snap-button shirts baby wears during your stay too. “They’re easy and perfect for dressing baby in the first few days after you bring them home,” Narisety says.

Get the baby care run-down

A postpartum nurse can give you the scoop on how to bathe baby, cut her nails, care for the umbilical cord and much more.

Ask a million questions

Seriously, you have all these people around you who are knowledgeable about newborns. Don’t be shy.

Call your health insurance company

Let them know you just had a baby, so you can add your newest family member to your plan. (You don’t want to get hit with full-priced hospital bills.) Don’t have health insurance yet? The government’s health care marketplace at Healthcare.gov allows you to enroll any time you have a life change—obviously this counts.

Line up help

Ask a parent or friend to drop by periodically over the next few days—and weeks—to lend a hand. “Moms are so focused on baby that a lot of times they don’t get the care they need or take care of themselves well,” says Narisety. “Having a baby is one of the biggest things a woman can go through, so do what you can to have a support system for yourself in those first few weeks.”

Plus, more from The Bump:

What to Take Home From the Hospital

Crotch Care 101

What's Happening With Your Body Postbirth