Getting Ready for Baby

Getting Ready for Baby: Childbirth Preparation and Beyond

by Nancy Eason

Families like to prepare for a baby's arrival in a myriad of ways, but one thing is for sure, and that is that everyone likes to get into the act. It used to be the case that everything was directed towards the expectant mom. Now, there are resources that include nearly all family members in preparing for the big event–mom and dad, siblings and grandparents. Everyone's role is unique, and everyone's place is important.

Preparing for a new baby can be overwhelming in its intensity when you consider the things to consider include: sibling preparation, supplies and equipment, nursery and house preparation, labor conditioning, birth/hospital readiness, nanny/childcare, healthcare consultants, religious ceremonies and announcements–not to mention the very real issue of financial readiness.

It's a challenge to be a first-timer. As tiny as they are, babies can sure seem intimidating. It really helps to know the tricks of the trade to calm one's nerves and maybe even fool the baby into thinking you know what you're doing. Anything to reduce everyone's anxieties, get things organized, and increase the opportunities for rest and relaxation, and maybe even to have fun, goes a long way.

How do I hold a brand new baby? When can I give the baby her first bath? What do we need to bring a baby home? What's important to have pre-arranged before the baby is born? How does a three-year-old treat a younger brother or sister? How do we help the grandparents to feel comfortable around the baby?

To help family members gear up for the baby, local classes help to answer these questions and more. Following are a sampling of classes. Be sure to check with your facility for a full listing of services. Some require fees; others are free. Ask when you call.

Childbirth Preparation

Carroll County General Hospital. Prepared Childbirth Weekend. Held at The Women's Place. Call 410-848-CCGH for more details.

Franklin Square, Harbor Hospital and Union Memorial. MedStar Health. Prepared Childbirth. 1-888-74-OBTLC.

Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC). Preparation for Childbirth. Two parts; two options. Take all seven weeks or part I or II. First set is three weeks and includes such topics as healthy pregnancies, newborn characteristics and postpartum issues. The second set runs for four weeks and covers the breathing and relaxation techniques for childbirth. 410-828-BABY (2229).

Maryland General Hospital. Great Expectations Program: Visit the hospital, tour the Obstetrical Center, learn about topics of vital importance to your pregnancy, meet with a financial counselor, if necessary, and meet the staff. Prepared Childbirth classes also available. 410-225-2000.

St. Agnes HealthCare. Preparation for Childbirth. Call: Family Health Resource Center, 410-368-3330.

St. Joseph Medical Center. Prepared Childbirth. 410-337-1479.

Infant Care/Newborn Parenting

Baltimore Birth Center. What Do We Do When We Get Home? One of the Baby Talk topics explores what life is like with a newborn. Call 410-358-0635. Breast Feeding Basics and Beyond and additional seminar topics are listed on the Web site at .

Franklin Square, Harbor Hospital and Union Memorial. Infant Care and Safety Class. Covers such topics as what newborns look like, and how to cope with fussy babies, emergencies and illnesses and safety issues. Call 1-888-74-OBTLC. These hospitals within MedStar Health also offer classes on breast feeding and prepared childbirth.

GBMC. Multiples Class: Brand new offering. A three-hour course for parents expecting more than one baby. Discussions about the physical and emotional aspects, the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) experience, and presentations by a lactation professional and parents with multiples. 410-828-BABY (2229).

Howard County General Hospital. Infant Care. Includes parents, grandparents and other caregivers on the basics of infant care. Two-part course, Call 410-740-7680 or 410-740-7600.

Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Parenting Preparation. Topics include emotions of parenting, newborn care and infant massage, CPR, etc. 410-550-BABY (2229). See their Web site for other maternity class listings: .

LifeBridge Health, Sinai Hospital. Baby's First Year. Sinai’s Family Education Center. 410-601-9355.

Maryland General Hospital. All About Parenting. Learn about caring for your baby. 410-225-2000.

Mercy Medical Center. Parenting and Understanding Baby. A four-week series for moms and dads which emphasizes adjusting to a new baby. 410-332-9600; .

St. Agnes HealthCare. Infant Care. Care for babies up to age 3 months. Also breastfeeding classes and Preparation for Childbirth. Call: Family Health Resource Center, 410-368-3330.

St. Joseph Medical Center. Baby Care Class. 410-337-1479. (Also offer Parenting 101 and 102, Breastfeeding and Prepared Childbirth).

Grandparenting Classes

Carroll County General Hospital. Grandparenting Today. One or two sessions; includes an optional new infant/child CPR session. Call The Learning Center's Community Education department at 410-848-CCGH; Web listings at .

Franklin Square, Harbor Hospital and Union Memorial. MedStar Health. Grandparenting Today. Covers FAQ's regarding changes and current trends in childbirth and breastfeeding. One hour class. Call at 1-888-74-OBTLC.

St. Agnes HealthCare. Grandparent's Update. One two-hour class. Call Family Health Resource Center, 410-368-3330.

St. Joseph Medical Center. Grandparenting in the '90s. 410-337-1479.

Sibling Classes

Baltimore Birth Center. Sibling Class. Uses a picture book and slides of an actual birth to discuss sights and sounds of the Birth Center. Call 410-358-0635.

Franklin Square, Harbor Hospital and Union Memorial. MedStar Health. Sibling Preparation. A one-hour class for children, 3-8 years, who are having a new baby coming into their home. Call 1-888-74-OBTLC.

Howard County General Hospital. Sibling Preparation Class. Children, ages 4 to 12, are helped prepare for baby's arrival. Call: 410-740-7680 to register; 410-740-7600 for information.

Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Sibling Class. For soon-to-be big brothers and sisters, ages 3 to 8. Games, video and activities (shirt painting) help them learn about their new role. Tour and refreshments, too. Offered one Sunday each month from 1 to 2:30 pm. Call: 410-550-BABY (2229) to register.

LifeBridge Health, Sinai Hospital. Siblings Are Special. Sinai’s Family Education Center. 410-601-9355.

Maryland General Hospital. Becoming a Big Brother or Sister. Scheduled upon request. 410-225-2000.

Mercy Medical Center. Sibling Class. Designed for children, ages 3 - 7. Includes a tour and video. For more information call 410-332-9600, or check the Web site at

St. Agnes HealthCare. Sibling Preparation I: Ages 3-8; 1 1/2-hour class; Sibling Preparation II: Ages 9-13; 2-hour class. Call the Family Health Resource Center, 410-368-3330.

St. Joseph Medical Center. Kangaroo Kapers. 410-337-1479.

Mommy Specific Classes

Howard County General Hospital. Prenatal Exercise. Breastfeeding. A prenatal breast assessment. Call Lactation Clinic at 410-740-7830.

Maryland General Hospital. Breastfeeding Basics. 410-225-2000.

Mercy Medical Center. Mother Massage. Offered Mondays through Fridays, 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. A relaxing and loving treatment for pregnant moms - helps headaches, backaches and leg cramps. Call 410-332-9600.

University of Maryland Medical System. Stork's Nest. University of Maryland Medical System, the March of Dimes and Zeta Phi Sorority together offer comprehensive prenatal care, educational programs and well-child care post-birth for women in West Baltimore at University Care Center in Edmondson Village Shopping Center. Focused on the promotion of healthy lifestyle choices during pregnancy. A point system is involved for participating women. Healthy choices earn points to be traded into the Stork's Nest shop for diapers, car seats, and other baby care items. West Baltimore's Stork's Nest opened in March, 2000, and is one of 100 programs nationally. Call 410-328-6997 to register for services.

Books for Expectant Families

Books can be a great source of tidbits for handling babies and the circumstances surrounding them.

For instance, one new book is directed specifically to fathers. Daddy Smarts by Bradley G. Richardson (2,000, Taylor Publishing) has interesting hints on ways that one can prepare for labor day, such as stocking up the kitchen with staples, purchasing the car seat (for the ride home), communications with one's wife by pager and cell phone. Another category of preparedness is on baby basics, as well as taking care of the baby alone. The humor throughout makes for an enlightening read.

A super quick resource can be found in pre-established checklists. has a series of checklists which include: baby health supplies, labor day essentials, newborn clothing needs and nursery planner. The Web address for checklists is:

Be sure to take baby steps in getting ready for your baby. Spread things out and set your priorities. Your comfort and the baby's comfort take top priority, and the less you have to do at the last minute, the better off you'll be. The fact is, when push comes to shove, if you know how to give birth, know how to hold, feed and diaper your baby, and have a few essential supplies, you're set! The rest will come later.