How to prepare for a baby
Some of you might have noticed that something happened in my life. I got a baby. Here I want to give a couple of tips that I found very helpful. Maybe you will find a few of the things helpful, too.
Being a nerd I did what I always do when I have to prepare for something new: I read books. Lots of them. Some better than others. This is a list of books that I found helpful. The first two are in English, the other five in German.
- Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond by Nancy Bardacke - A nice book with lots of help to relax during the pregnancy and the birth. I highly recommend doing a prenatal class with focus on mindfulness and meditation.
- Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong and What You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster - Often you hear advice not to do X or to do Y. Most of them without any explanation why. This book goes through the most common advice you get from friends, relatives and doctors and explains the science behind it. The author tried to find studies and researched what works and what doesn’t. Really awesome if you want to sleep more relaxed without overthinking what you might do wrong.
- Babyjahre: Die frühkindliche Entwicklung aus biologischer Sicht by Remo H. Largo - This is a german classic. Nearly everyone I know had this book. It explains the development of your kid during the first couple of years. Reading this helps you understand why your kid does what.
- Don’t worry, be Mami: Juristisches Know-how rund um Schwangerschaft, Geburt und Elternsein by Sandra Runge - Getting a kid in Germany means you need to understand lots of bureaucracy and paperwork. This book explains all of it. Starting at „when do I have to tell it my boss“ over „how do I get the parental allowance from the german government“ to what insurance you might need. Sounds like a pretty dry read, but luckily the author knew how to explain things in a funny and nice way.
- babySignal - Mit den Händen sprechen by Wiebke Gericke - Did you know that your kid can communicate with you using sign language way before it can speak? This book introduces „baby signs“ in a nice way.
- Das gewünschteste Wunschkind aller Zeiten treibt mich in den Wahnsinn: Der entspannte Weg durch Trotzphasen by Danielle Graf - Raising kids is never easy. This book goes through common problems during the mental development of your kid and how to deal with it in a non stressful way for you and the kid.
There are tons of apps for pregnant women and families. Here I want to recommend a couple of them that I found really helpful:
- Baby Berlin (Android, iPhone). This is the most important one if you are living in Berlin. It has a checklist what you need to do before and after the birth. It also has links and addresses for everything you need to do. Really good if you don’t want to get lost in the German bureaucracy. This app is also in English.
- Ovia Pregnancy App. There are several pregnancy tracker apps. I tried a couple of them and this is what I kept using. Nice articles about the current progress of your unborn.
- Contraction Timer. You hopefully only need this app a couple of hours, but during those hours it is really helpful. It keeps track of the duration and interval of the contractions.
- White noise app (rain, waves etc). Babies love white noise to fall asleep. There are way to many apps to highlight one here. Just make sure that you get one with a wide variety of sounds. Some babies like rain, some a hair dryer. You never know till you tried it out.
Places that help you
Getting a baby is really stressful. Luckily there are lots of places that try to help you during this time. Here are some that I can recommend:
- Kobra-Berlin: Stolperstein Elternzeit - Need help with applying for parental allowance? This is the place to go.
- Babylotse Charité - The Babylotse tries to help you with all things surrounding the birth (e.g. paperwork, getting a midwife and more)
- Elternberatung: Klinik für Neonatologie - Charité - If you know that your kid will be born with some form of complication, these people are super helpful. They can get you a cheaper parking ticket for the Charité and can get you psychological help in this stressful situation. Make sure to talk to them if your kid is in intensive care at the Charité.
Important phone numbers
I added a list of important numbers to the medicine cabinet. Just to be on the safe side:
- Police 110
- emergency services 112
- Doctors on call for non emergency topics 116 117
- poison emergency number 030 19240
Things you might need
One of the most confusing things for me was what we needed for the baby. I talked with a lot of people and boiled it down to two lists:
One of the most important things is to get a midwife. As soon as you know you are expecting, try to google for lists of midwifes and call them. Sadly it’s not that easy to find one, but keep calling. After a couple of tries you hopefully have one. Additionally try to get a Doula. Our was a tremendous help during the birth. She helped a lot and made the birth an awesome experience for us. I don’t know what I would have done without her. After you have both, you might need to start looking for a place in a kindergarten. Yes, I know this sounds a bit early, but sadly the waiting lists are rather long in Berlin.
We created a handful of lists as preparation for the kid. One of them was a Google Spreadsheet with a list of all clothes and sizes we had for the baby. This helped us keep an overview what was missing.
If you want to listen to my girlfriend talking in german about her experience being pregnant, you can listen to episode 20 of Kleinercast.