1 Eat well
A balanced diet will ensure your baby has everything she needs to grow, and give you energy for pregnancy and labour. It can also reduce the risk of your baby contracting diseases, and even boost her brain power!
If you’re prone to the odd splurge, midwife Gail Johnson suggests. “Identify when your resolve is weakest, and plan a walk or snack on some fruit at that time of day.” Another trick is to freeze several smoothies, then take one out of the freezer before you go to bed to give you a vitamin-packed hit for breakfast.
2 Get active
Exercising boosts your energy, strength and stamina to see you through labour, improves the blood flow to your baby and helps you get your shape back after birth.
“Try to fit thing in your lifestyle that will make you slightly breathless,” suggests Alison Merry of Bloomingfit. “Park 10 minutes from the shops or take the stairs rather than the excalator.” For longer cardio exercise, Alison suggests power walking. “Plan to meet a friend for coffee and then walk there at a pace that makes you feel slightly breathless.”
3 Sort out the finances
“Becoming a parent brings all sorts of new responsibilities. Try to sort them out before your baby arrives, while you’re still got time and energy,” advises David Braithwaite of Citrus Financial. He suggests there are six things you should try. “Try and fix your mortgage, write a will, take out enough life insurance to cover your monthly expenses, make sure your contents insurance includes accidental damage, apply for benefits to which your are eligible and try to save for the future.”
4 Clear the clutter
“We didn’t realise how many things one tiny baby would have. Trying to clear out our junk to make room for it was a nightmare,” says Yvonne, 35, mum to 9-month-old Abigail. So, be prepared before birth. Tackle one area at a time, armed with boxes marked ‘throw away’, ‘give away’ and ‘put away’. Be brutal about whether you really love or use each item, and soon you’ll have detoxed your home to make way for your newborn.
5 Be positive
Research shows that people who have a sunny outlook tend to live longer, have a better immune system and suffer less stress than those who are pessimistic. “Instead of thinking about what you don’t want, visualise success and use positive language – your subconscious is more likely to make it happen,” says Freddy Jacquin, hypnotherapist and parent coach.
6 Take time to rest
“Resting when you need to can help you get in tune with your body and prevent you becoming overly exhausted,” advises Gail. Learning relaxation techniques, such as visualisation or yoga, will help you make the most of your catnaps and will stand you in good stead for labour. Gentle exercise such as swimming or Pilates, meanwhile, can help you get a good nights rest.
7 Keep an open mind
“Women who are very rigid about what they want sometimes feel disappointed by their labour, even when the outcome is fine,” says Gail. “Every labour is different, and it’s helpful to be prepared for that.”
Be aware of all the options, and talk to your midwife about how things might be handled if they don’t proceed in a textbook fashion. The main thing is that you and your baby are healthy.
8 Sort out family arguments
There’s nothing like a baby to bring people together, so it’s a great time to sort out disputes – but tackle unresolved conflicts before your due date.
“It can help to talk about how you feel, rather than simply telling the other person what they have done wrong. This can invite the other person to see things form your point of view, and move the conversation from attack to more constructive discussions,” suggests Jan Parker, a family psychotherapist.
9 Make ‘me’ time
“I forgot about me during my first year as a mum,” remembers Marion, 41, mum to Jake, 2, and Ella, 7 months. “When I finally started having occasional nights out with friends I became much happier, which meant the whole family was happier.”
Take shortcuts with housework to get a few minutes to yourself each day, and don’t be afraid to delegate. “Many mums see asking for help as a sign of failure,” says Linda Russell of The Parent Coaching Studio. ‘But friends won’t mind lending a hand.”
10 Believe in yourself
“People often have far too high expectations of what being a parent is really like,” says Linda. “Don’t expect to be a perfect parent.” Building up a network of friends who are at the same stage as you to provide a moral boost , while reading a couple of books that appeal to your instincts will help your feel ready for this next stage. But, above all, trust that you will be good enough – you’re the best mum for your baby.