There are a lot of choices to make when it comes to pregnancy and parenting – Some need to be made ahead of time, some during pregnancy, and some after the baby arrives. 

Here are a few things all new parents need to decide before they arrive at the hospital for delivery:

  • Choose a Name: Sometimes parents want to wait until they officially meet their baby before choosing a name, but it’s best to have at least a few options in mind before you arrive. 
  • Choose a Pediatrician: Depending on the hospital, the pediatrician might come see the baby while he or she is in-patient, but it will also be necessary to schedule a follow-up visit two to three days after the baby is discharged. New parents should bring all of their pediatrician’s contact information with them to the hospital, including name, clinic name, clinic phone number and fax number. Typically, the hospital will fax the infant’s records to the pediatrician the parents have chosen. 
  • Choose a Pain Control Plan. It is important to decide ahead of time whether the mother would like to receive an epidural or not during the birthing process. Deciding not to receive an epidural can be a difficult decision to make if a person hasn’t experienced childbirth before. One idea is to have a code word with your delivery partner, so he or she will know to request additional pain medicine or even an epidural when the code word is used.
  • Choose a Baby Information Code Word. Most hospitals these days will not give out any information about a mother or baby without a specific code word. Some hospitals assign the code words, but it’s a great idea to have one picked out ahead of time that can be shared with family and friends who you want to be able to call and receive information. 
  • Choose Whether or Not to Circumcise. When a baby boy is born, the hospital will want to know the family’s circumcision plan. It’s best to know this ahead of time so you can be prepared. For more information on the pros and cons of circumcision, check out this video from Dr. Cliff James (link)
  • Choose Who is Cutting the Cord. Cutting the umbilical cord can be very exciting, and it’s best to know ahead of time who will be cutting the cord, as it happens quickly after delivery. 
  • Create Emergency Contact List. Create a group chat or contact list in your phone, or write down the phone numbers of everyone you want to know about the delivery. It’s important to plan this ahead of time so no one is accidentally left off the list.
  • Pre-Arrange Childcare If Needed: If you have children already, prepare for the unexpected. Perhaps your water breaks at home at 3 a.m. Know exactly who you will call and make sure they know they are an important part of your plan. 
  • Choose a Feeding Plan: Many women know when they arrive at the hospital if they will be breastfeeding or bottle feeding their baby. No matter what you choose, bring supplies you might need with you. For breastfed babies, a nursing pillow or nursing bras might be helpful at the hospital. For formula fed babies, you can bring a bottle or formula from home if you have already chosen the type of each you would like to use. 

No matter how prepared parents think they are, surprises always happen. Enjoy the experience!