Spoiler alert: You're gonna want to lower those expectations, stat.

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An image of a pregnant woman with a medical mask on her belly.
Credit: Getty Images.

Congratulations, you've got a bundle of joy on the way! Wait, what's that, it's coinciding with a worldwide pandemic that's completely changed the way people live and celebrate momentous occasions? Sigh.

Counting down to meet your baby amid the coronavirus pandemic is going to look a little different, especially because pregnant people may be at a higher risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19. You'll likely attend most prenatal appointments solo, your baby shower might be virtual, and hormonal acne might be combined with a nasty case of maskne you've developed from the face covering you're wearing pretty much 24/7.

But, pandemic or not, there are certain realities that every parent-to-be and new parent will experience—and a few ways to prepare yourself for the joys—and, uh, minor miseries—to come. Sleepless nights? You'll have 'em. Laundry for days? Count on it. A uniform of leggings, leggings, and more leggings? You bet and, bonus, it's even more acceptable now because of all the extra time spent at home.

So, without further ado, here's a super-scientific, definitive* list of how to prepare for a new baby in this crazy world we live in.

  1. Set your loudest alarm for every two to three hours.
  2. Make sure your partner, however, has a pair of noise canceling earbuds to ensure they sleep soundly through the night.
  3. Wear your face mask during the most intense workout you can manage. Bonus points for finding one in the perfect shade of red that'll match your strained face during labor—where you'll likely also be wearing it.
  4. Make a cup of coffee, let it get cold, and then pop it in the microwave. Leave it there for at least 30 minutes before tossing it directly down the drain. Repeat.
  5. Keep a little piece of sandpaper on the inside of your bra and make sure it rubs against your nipples frequently.
  6. Forget the baby doll—grab your family cat and practice your swaddling and diapering techniques.
  7. Schedule at least an hour each night for doomscrolling searches that all start off, "Is it normal when..."
  8. Start peppering the words "poop," "spit-up," and "nipples" into everyday conversation.
  9. Grab the nicest outfit you have, put it on, and then immediately pour the smelliest liquid you can find on it.
  10. Forget everything you know about exposing yourself on internet and start mentally psyching yourself up to bare your breasts for your virtual lactation consultation.
  11. Buy an economy size hand sanitizer for guests who want to visit the baby—that is, if you let anyone through the door at all.
  12. Better yet, invest in some pepper spray to ward off the overbearing family and friendscough*your mother-in-law*cough—who'll try to insert themselves in your life once baby arrives.

All kidding aside, planning for a baby—pandemic or not—is no joke. Just know that you will get through the postpartum phase, there is help available if you need it, and you will be able look back on those early, sleep-deprived days lovingly. You know, eventually.

*Totally kidding, of course.