Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Winter and babies. Who knew they could be such a great pair? Believe it or not, there are many great reasons to have a baby in the winter months.
Women who live in climates where winter is actually a thing and have babies during the winter are more likely to stay inside to heal and bond with their baby than women who have summer babies. Take it from me who has had an August and September baby. It is so tempting to get out of the house to enjoy the sunshine. If the weather sucks, at least you can enjoy warm baby snuggles, bond, and heal properly without wondering what you're missing out on.
Another great thing about having winter babies is Holidays. Eat whatever you want! You look pregnant anyway (although pregnant or not, women can't seem to escape inconsiderate weight or appearance comments at family get-togethers). So take advantage and stuff your face this Christmas knowing that whatever you're wearing, it probably stretches!
People are in the gift-giving spirit and, lucky for you, that means you may be inundated with baby gifts. No, really. You will receive SO many things and likely, duplicates. Some of which (depending on the store), can be exchanged for store credit to buy things you'll actually use- like diapers (pro tip).
Winter comes along with some challenges, though. There are many things you may not have considered when it comes to preparing to give birth during the winter months. Here are our top 10 Doula and newborn care expert tips:
1) HAVE YOUR HOSPITAL BAGS PACKED EARLY
If you've lived in a winter climate for at least one winter, you will know how unexpected snowstorms can be. You'll need to plan for extra commute time depending on where you live and how well your route is plowed. That extra time would be much calmer if you could leave whenever you feel like it's really time if the bags were already packed.
Most first time moms WAY overpack. Your hospital will likely provide you with diapers, wipes, pads for you, numbing spray, mesh underwear, and soap for your baby. You can always call beforehand or ask during your hospital tour. If you're choosing to give baby their first bath in the hospital and have a specific kind of soap you want to use (babies aren't actually dirty and don't necessarily need anything but warm water), bring that with you along with special diapers. Otherwise, just worry about warm snuggly clothes for you and your partner, warm clothes for the baby (2-3 outfits should do) the car seat, phone chargers, snacks, your IDs/money, and a warm blanket or car seat cover for outside.
2) KEEP SHOVELS AND CAR BRUSHES IN YOUR CAR
You never know if your car will be snowed in the hospital parking lot OR your own driveway. Keeping these items handy will prevent panic in the event of a giant blizzard. Keep an eye on the forecast every couple of days as it gets closer to your estimated due date. Being over-prepared is better than yelling at your partner because they can't find the shovel or rock salt when your contractions are 3-4 minutes apart with a 20-minute commute to the hospital. Have you ever tried walking on an icy driveway with a foot of snow during active labor? I haven't. But I'd imagine a cleared walkway with salt to prevent slipping is a good idea.
3) DRESS WARM
Hospitals are always freezing. Combine that with 15-degree weather outside and you're bound to be cold. Cooler temperatures in the hospitals help slow down the spread of germs, which is great, but miserable. Blankets are always scarce and the ones you get are thin as paper. Many moms bring a blanket from home. It smells comfortable and familiar to them which can help in labor and for resting after birth. Pack hoodies and warm comfy clothes for your stay. Fleece or cotton footed pajamas are a great choice for a baby!
4) HAVE ALL THE BLANKETS
Blankets are one of those baby shower gifts that I would hesitate before returning. Somehow, just when you need an extra blanket in the car or when you're stuck on the couch feeding baby, they always seem out of reach. Blankets are an easy thing to tuck in around baby when you're carrying them into a store or somewhere quickly. It doesn't compromise the safety of babies, like having them in a coat or puffy bodysuit does. That leads me to my next tip!
5) TAKE A CARSEAT SAFETY COURSE
Did you know that puffy coats and snowsuits aren’t safe to put on a baby in the car seat? Do you know why? What’s the best way to keep the baby warm if you can’t use a coat while buckled in? You’ll learn all of the in and outs in a car seat safety class. Trust me. Your baby’s safety is worth it. Here is a local resource you may reach out to!
6) CALL YOUR DOULA & BIRTH TEAM EARLY
As a Birth & Postpartum Doula in Omaha, NE this time of year always makes me more prepared for the chance of getting a phone call that a client is in labor during a blizzard. We would much rather have a longer heads up with time to shovel and get to you and your partner than feel like we have to speed in a blizzard. This goes for your Birth Photographer, childcare, and all other members of your birth team as well. If there is hairy weather, call us early.
7) HOW TO DRESS BABY FOR BED
It can be very tempting to overdress your baby during the winter months. Typically, babies will be comfortable between 68-71 degrees, wearing one extra layer than yourself. So, if you are comfortable in PJ pants and a T-shirt, consider dressing baby in a shirt sleeve onesie, light pants, and a light sleep sack. If you use a space heater and the baby sleeps in a different room than you, be sure your baby monitor can alert you if it gets too hot. Space heaters that have an automatic shut off if they get tipped or bumped may be a good investment as well.
8) START YOUR CAR BEFORE GOING PLACES
My car isn’t a Mercedes, but it does have a remote start, and my goodness that thing has been a dream with our babies. If you can, warm up your car a few minutes before leaving the house so that it isn’t as frigid when you put your baby in. If you are using a convertible car seat for your infant rather than a bucket seat, this is especially helpful since your car seat will be just as cold as the interior of your car.
9) FOOTED PANTS
You may not realize this now, but I am begging you to put “footed pants” on your baby registry. They are essentially the bottom half of footed pajamas. They are so nice and convenient during the winter. You don’t have to worry about socks and can still dress them in a “normal” outfit rather than pajamas. Although, if you’re anything like me, your baby will be in jammies all day. Is there even a difference when they are 4 weeks old? It’s going to get pooped and spit-up on anyway.
10) BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Setting boundaries for visitors is a good idea no matter what season you give birth in. If visitors are sick or have recently been sick, consider asking them to reschedule their visit.
Winter is a whole new beast. Germs and viruses can spread like wildfire. If you are breastfeeding, your baby will have an extra defense against these things but is not guaranteed to be out of the woods. Talk to your doctor or midwife about ways to boost your immune system. Many moms find that Vitamin C & D, Elderberry syrup, hydration, and a balanced diet can protect them against many things. Food is medicine. As always, wash your hands often, limit visitors and talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your baby’s health.
Well, that’s all I have for yah! Our top 10 tips for preparing to give birth in the winter months. Did you find this helpful? Leave a comment and share on Facebook! If you made it this far, we appreciate you!
-The Omaha Baby Nest