If you are a first time mum to be – then this list is for you 100%! If you are already a Mum and expecting a subsequent, some will be out of your control – ie step 1! But hey, it’s worth a try!! Moving into having our second baby we reflected on what we did, should have done and could have done if we were back at the start and thought it would be fab to share so you don’t have too many should’ve and could’ves yourself!!

1. Sleep!

No brainer here, but I’m telling ya, sleep like you have never slept before! Get into your old teenage habits and turn off that alarm or press snooze five times too many – why? Because you can – soon, you can’t.

2. Vay-cay!

It doesn’t have to be a trip around Europe or a fancy escape, but get away, use some annual leave before baby arrives and spend some good, quality, relaxed time with your partner or friends. Even though trips with your little one will be INCREDIBLE, they will be tricky at times and the relax factor is waaay down – especially with toddlers. Spend time sun-bathing without sand being thrown at you or have a nice meal at a restaurant without having to breastfeed mid-meal!

3. Exercise!

Could possibly be the last thing you feel like doing, but trust me, and other mums who have been there, it helps. With everything. Carrying your baby to term in the utero, to labour and post baby recovery, having some strength and stamina is huge when it comes time to evict your loved one from your body and get back on that horse. Exercise need not be intense, but make it consistent, buddy up if you need to. Walks, swimming and light body weight exercises are perfect! 
*Consult your LMC before undertaking any new exercise during pregnancy and stop if you feel in any pain

4. Take pics & flaunt it!

Pre-bump, growing-bump, big bump. You will honestly at some point miss your bump and it is amazing to look back and see what your body achieved. It could even make you feel better about those stretch marks or newly acquired squishy bit – because seeing what your body has accomplished is amazing! 

While you’ve got it, flaunt that bump ladies!! I was so nervous about growing and showing my baby bump with Billy, not wanting attention or comments to come my way even though I loved being pregnant it was hard to enjoy the beauty that is pregnancy at times. All bumps little, big, high, low, hairy, stretch marked – are amazing...you have a mini you growing inside you!

Show it off, embrace it, if anyone comments in a way you don’t like, just ask them with a serious face on when theirs is due.. They will soon back off. This time round I’m all about the bump and I love it – it could be my last, so I’m going to show it off and enjoy every minute.

5. Sales!

Some baby items are expensive if you are wanting to buy new. Cots, bassinets, capsules, car seats, strollers and breast pumps are all higher ticket items so when a sale pops up – take advantage – even if you aren’t due for a while. Don’t wait and think there will be another one because it may just not come in time - I found this out the hard way!

6. Pre–pack

Pre-pack a hospital bag and ‘survival kit’ for your partner/birth partner! You don’t want to be caught out having to pack a bag when you should be focusing on getting your baby out! When doing this it’s a good idea to find out what you do and don’t need when it comes to nappies/wipes/pads etc at your hospital or birthing centre so you don’t take unecessary items. Check out my hospital bag checklist here.

7. Yoga

If there is one in your area, I can’t recommend pre-natal yoga enough! Learning to breathe properly and learning to talk yourself through labour and trust your body are both fundamentals that I believe got me through a 24hour natural labour birthing a 10pd 6oz baby.
Correct stretching, body alignment and pelvic floor exercise help you have a more comfortable pregnancy and will help with incontinence and postnatal recovery. I attend Maternal Journey’s Yoga classes at River Ridge Birthing Centre, Hamilton on Tuesdays with Bev – she is amazing.

8. Read up

Got some spare time in the evenings? Read up on breastfeeding and baby sleep, what’s normal, what’s not, what might help. These are two crucial topics when you have a newborn baby and are often neglected until you are having trouble with either. It may turn out to have been something that could have been avoided or fixed before you became stressed or sleep deprived.

Think about the type of parenting journey you want and are comfortable with and look from there. The web is overloaded with opinions and ‘studies’ that it can become confusing. No-one knows you better than yourself, follow your own path and advice from those who are on the same page and parenting will become much easier!

Read my blog about five common breastfeeding mistakes problems here, and helping and coping with an unsettled baby here.

9. Birthplace

Whether you are looking to birth at home, at a birthing centre or in hospital , make sure you have checked them out – with your partner or birth partner! Know the place, make sure you are comfortable with the birth facilities, environment, staff, visiting hours, distance to hospital, proximity to home, food, policies – and most importantly drop off and parking! Last thing you want to do in labour is drive around the block searching for a park and then having to ‘walk’ to the building.

10. Prepare

Although we are made to give birth and nurture our babies – it can be tough going! The early days particularly when you are horrendously sore from giving birth and getting used to the full change in life you experience in an instant. Add baby blues and possible difficulties into the mix and you may feel overwhelmed, emotional or lonely.

Remember these feelings are all completely normal but it is important to surround yourself with support – take a nap or shower when you can for your mental health. Before baby arrives it is a fab idea to do some prep - freeze some meals, stock the pantry with good food and make a few purchases for yourself – nice shampoo, some nice breastfeeding clothes, a nice face wash, nail polish – whatever it maybe that will help you feel more human after baby arrives!

If you want to find some more support and other mums to bounce ideas, advice, laughs and questions around with - come join us in Milkbar Mum Chat on Facebook, together, we've got this!

xx Laura