Okay, after bringing home our 3rd precious little bundle of joy, I've decided to "get real" and share some of the things that people just don't tell you to make sure you have prepared so that bringing home baby is as easy and stress-free as possible!
1. Baby Stuff:
Everyone knows that baby needs clothes, burp cloths, blankets, but make sure you also have 2 JUMBO size boxes of newborn size diapers... babies go through diapers very quickly the first few weeks... you'll be surprised how quickly you use them! (Oh, and of course, a LARGE box of wipes is very helpful.) Those little packages they give you at the hospital don't last very long!
You'll also need: 1 box of Alcohol Swabs (find them in the diabetic testing supplies in the pharmacy section of your local "everything store" (wal-mart, etc); you will also want some laundry detergent for sensitive skin (I prefer Free and Clear All rather than Baby Dreft - it's actually hypo-allergenic). If you're nursing, you'll also want nursing bras, pads and at least 2 tubes of Lansinoh lanolin ointment.
For your diaper bag: 2 packages of wipes (the "to-go" size), hand santizer (for people to use before they touch baby, as well as you to use after diaper changes), you might also want some vaseline (I like it better than Desitin for diaper rash)
Okay, this might be a little Too Much Information for some, but I'm going to just say it ... childbirth is MESSY - there's a lot of blood and you're going to be bleeding for a few weeks (usually)... make sure you have pads - LOTS of them. You're going to want pads for Overnight, heavy bleeding, moderate, and light bleeding as it tapers off... I usually bleed for about a month after giving birth, although the last 2 1/2 weeks are fairly light.
To make things less stressful, I try to make sure I have 4 weeks of cosmetics for the entire household stocked... toothpaste, body wash, deodorant, lotion, contac solution, etc. Make a list of what you use and buy a few extra of each!
I like to have 4 weeks of dinners planned/prepped. Make it easy - over the last 3 months before baby's arrival, plan to make things for dinner that you can double and freeze half! Things like Sloppy Joes, lasagna, casseroles, etc, have worked well for me. I also count things like spaghetti - I brown the meat and freeze it, then make sure I have the sauce and noodles on hand. I also like to have 6 loaves of bread in the freezer (I double-bag them, using bread bags is easy!)
I also like to stock up on things like canned fruit, instant oatmeal, peanut butter, jelly and other non-perishables.
If you're planning on nursing, plan for some nutritious snacks as well ... nursing burns A LOT of calories, and you're going to need some nutritious snacks around!
Another tip: Pick up an extra of things like trash bags, dish detergent, dishwasher detergent, JUMBO package of toilet paper, cleaning supplies, whatever your household uses on a regular basis... no one wants to run to the store for trash bags the day after baby comes home!
One more tip: we try to save up about $900 before baby arrives. Some hospitals will give you a discount if you can pay your portion of the bill before you leave ... it never hurts to ask!