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Prepare for baby's arrival

Take Prenatal Classes

Prenatal classes help you know what to expect during pregnancy, labor and delivery and after your baby arrives. Classes are often offered by doctors' offices, the local health department or private childbirth educators. The two most common types of classes are "Childbirth Education" classes and "Parenting" or "Baby Care" classes. Ask your doctor or nurse for information about classes in your community and invite the baby's father to go with you.

Childbirth Education Classes

These classes are often offered through your doctor's office or local health department. Topics may include: signs of labor, breathing and relaxation exercises, when to call the hospital or your healthcare provider, preparing for the hospital stay, anesthesia for labor and delivery, complications of labor and delivery and emergency situations, including the need for a Caesarean Section.

Parenting (Baby Care) Classes

Babies don't come with instructions. Parenting classes cover topics such as: newborn care, normal newborn behavior, how to interact with your baby, safety and child-proofing your home and when to call your baby's doctor. Both parents should attend these classes if possible.

Create a Safe Sleep Place for Baby

As you prepare for the arrival of your baby, begin by creating a safe sleeping place. For the first few months, your baby will spend most of his or her time sleeping.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS is the sudden and unexpected death of a healthy infant less than one year of age. SIDS is also known as "crib death," because SIDS often happens when a baby has been sleeping and does not wake up.

Some risk factors for SIDS include:

  • Baby sleeping on the stomach or side
  • Baby sleeping in an unsafe sleep place
  • Baby breathing cigarette smoke

Follow these baby sleep safety tips and share them with your family members before your baby arrives:

  • Always put your baby to sleep on his back (for naps and at night) unless the baby's doctor told you not to
  • The crib, bassinet or playpen should be safety approved–check the label
  • Use a firm mattress or mattress pad that fits well and has no gap between it and the frame
  • Use a fitted sheet that is the right size for the mattress or mattress pad
  • Bumper pads, sleep position wedges and pillows do not belong in the crib
  • Move the crib away from the heat vent
  • Make sure the baby's room has good air-flow
  • Use a thermometer in the baby's room and keep the baby's room temperature between 68°F and 72°F, not more than 75°F
  • Do not allow anyone to smoke in your baby's room, your house or your car

For more information on this topic, visit the Baby's Safe Sleep section of this Web site.

Get Ready for Breastfeeding

If you've chosen to breastfeed your baby, here are a few tips for getting your nipples ready for breastfeeding.

Some women may leak early milk, called colostrum, while they are pregnant. It is sticky, and may cause your bra to stick to the nipple. If this happens, wet your bra so you can take it off without pulling on the nipple.

When you clean your nipples, use plain water. The breasts make a special oil that keeps your nipples soft and clean. Using soap will wash away that oil.

Check your nipples. Some nipples stick out when they are touched and some stay soft or go in. If your nipple goes in when you rub it, you have an inverted nipple. Ask your healthcare provider about getting breast shells to wear inside your bra. The shells might help inverted nipples stick out so it will be easier to breastfeed.

Learning about breastfeeding before you start is a good idea. Ask the nurse or nutritionist in the clinic about breastfeeding support classes or groups. These are good places to learn from other mothers' experiences. When you go to the hospital, tell the nurses that you are going to breastfeed. For more information, visit the Frequently asked questions about breastfeeding section of this Web site.

Other Links

North Carolina

Opens in new windowNutrition NC - the Web site of the North Carolina Nutrition Services Branch to promote sound nutrition habits among infants, children and women in their child-bearing years.

Opens in new windowLa Leche League of North Carolina - providing education, information, support, and encouragement to women who want to breastfeed.


For more health information, search MedlinePlus

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Last updated: April 2013

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