Read the manuals? Tick. Bought the pram? Tick. Painted the nursery? Tick. The practical jobs are done. Now, you just need to be emotionally prepared for the arrival of your baby…
When it comes to the practical side of getting ready for your baby (the trips to Mothercare, juggling of the finances, browsing through the name books…), you’re pretty much sorted.
But, what about the emotional side of things? You may still be pregnant, but it’s not too early to start getting yourself into the mummy zone.
1. Learn to relax… now
Changing nappies, breastfeeding and drinking coffee with other mums – how stressful can it be? Being a new mum might sound like a walk in the park, but the sheer responsibility and relentless of the task can be overwhelming.
By working on your stress management skills before the baby is born, you’ll be more relaxed after the birth – and the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your baby will be.
Take time out each day to focus on yourself and your baby. Listen to a relaxation CD or take a prenatal yoga course, it’s easy to keep up after the birth with a mother and baby class.
2. Go with the flow
The early months of motherhood will send you on a rollercoaster of emotions, fuelled by swinging hormones, sleep deprivation and the relentless demands of a newborn baby.
Overwhelmed with joy one minute, despairing the next, and exhausted, pretty much all of the time, you will no longer be master of your own life or emotions.
So now is the time to lose your inner control freak, learn to go with the flow and enjoy the ride.
And when the dark times are so overwhelming you feel that you can’t cope, don’t be afraid to ask for support – whether it’s from your partner, a friend or your GP or health visitor.
3. Ditch your inner perfectionist
Learning from your own mistakes is an essential part of successful parenting, so don’t put pressure on yourself to be the perfect mum. If you set the bar at ‘perfection’ anything less will be perceived as failure.
While reading parenting manuals can help to guide you through those early months, you will learn more about your baby’s unique likes, dislikes, needs and foibles through trial and error.
So don’t be afraid of ‘error’ and don’t beat yourself up when you’ve missed your baby massage class or you’re still in your PJs at 2pm.
4. Develop a thick skin
Loving a baby can be a bit like having an unrequited teenage crush. Bursting with love and showering them with constant kisses, cuddles and compliments, you can expect little of your affection to be reciprocated – particularly in the first few weeks before that first heart-melting smile.
As a mother, you must learn to love selflessly and to put trust in the bond you have – even when your baby doesn’t bat an eyelid the first time you leave him at nursery or screams that he hates you in the middle of a toddler tantrum.
5. Baby-proof your relationship
While creating a new life together might sound like the ultimate romantic dream, even the strongest relationship can be shaken by the arrival of a new baby.
Open communication before the birth is essential to iron out any existing wrinkles in your relationship, and to discuss your fears and anxieties about the time ahead.
Now is the time to make sure your relationship is on track, so squeeze in plenty of dates or book a romantic getaway before the birth to make the most of this precious time alone together.
Work out a few coping strategies now, such as taking it in turns to have a lie-in or time out to do your own thing – and include plans for the two of you, however small.
And make a pact to remember that, whatever is said in a sleep-deprived stupour, at 3am, should not be taken as a reflection of how you really feel.