To help new parents get ready, two registered nurses — who are also moms — at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, Shelly Benitez, MSN, RN, and Mariana Mendez de Velazquez, MSN, RN, share their thoughts on how best to nest.
Why is nesting important?
“As a first-time mom, nesting for me was a way to prepare for all the baby essentials and cope with all the emotions I was feeling as my due date approached,” says Mariana. “It helped me cope with fear of expectations, nervousness of the unknown and anxiousness of performance. Moreover, nesting was a way to ensure I had everything I needed for when the baby arrived.”
“I nested before the arrival of both my babies and each time it gave me a sense of happiness and gratification as I created a safe environment for my babies,” says Shelly. “I feel that nesting is important because it also helped me emotionally prepare for parenthood and created a perfect opportunity for the family to spend quality time together.”
What are some must-have baby items for the home?
“The first and most important item that is required before you go home is the baby’s car seat, and the instruction manual should be read weeks before the baby is due,” explains Shelly.
Other essentials she suggests for new parents include:
- Breast pump
- Baby monitor
- Changing table
- Baby bath
- Hypoallergenic bath wash, baby shampoo, hooded towel and washcloths
- Small nail clippers
- Swaddle blankets
- Diapers and wipes
Why is nutrition important?
“A new mom needs special nutrients to recover from birth and to maintain her reserves, especially if she is breastfeeding,” says Shelly. “Make sure you are drinking enough water and keep in mind this is not a time to diet. Your focus should be establishing a strong bond with your baby, breastfeeding and resting.”
Proper nutrition is the key to healing as well as breastfeeding your newborn. A new mom needs plenty of calories from nutrient-rich foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, as part of a balanced diet consisting of protein, calcium and iron.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” adds Mariana. “It’s important to plan on a support system and have family or friends assist in areas you need it most, whether it’s prepping meals or infant care. Be sure to assign these roles before baby arrives.”
How does mental health play a role?
“Up to 70% of women have some degree of postpartum ‘baby blues.’ This can be characterized by mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, irritability, hopelessness and difficulty bonding with baby,” says Mariana. “Taking care of your mental health right after delivery is crucial to prevent the development of postpartum depression. If you feel you have the ‘baby blues’ before leaving the hospital, make sure you speak with your nurse and social worker, who can help.”
What’s the most important thing a new mom can do when she’s leaving the hospital?
“Becoming a mother is an amazing experience. However, once the baby arrives, it is common to feel overwhelmed, especially for first-time mothers,” says Shelly. “Knowing some facts about caring for newborns can ease feelings of uncertainty. The Going Home class at Sharp Chula Vista offers abundant information, especially on breastfeeding. The class is set up to make new moms feel confident when going home with their newborn.”