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Having a baby is one of the scariest, most incredible things you will ever do. Your life changes forever, your priorities switch in an instant. No longer are you the most important thing in your life, you now have this precious, tiny baby to protect and look after. Their happiness becomes your number one priority. However, that’s not to say you should stop caring for yourself too. In fact, when you’re a parent it’s more important than ever, since you now have your little one depending on you. Here are some of the ways you can take care of yourself, get in a good place in your mind and ensure everything runs smoothly over the pregnancy and first few months.

Batch cook meals before the birth

When your baby arrives, the early days will be all about caring for them and sleeping whenever you can! The first few weeks and months while you get used to things are particularly challenging, and preparing healthy and home cooked meals will probably be the last thing on your mind. However, nutrition is key, you need the right foods for your body to heal and also to produce good quality milk if you’re breastfeeding. One thing you can do is batch cook meals ahead of time. Most things will be good in the freezer for many months, so you can spend a few months towards the end doing this. Make batches of your favourite meals (including plenty of veg and nutritious ingredients where possible), then divide it into portion sized Tupperware containers and freeze. Once your little one arrives, you have easy access to food that unlike takeout won’t cost you a fortune and isn’t full of hidden nasties. Pop in the microwave and you’re good to go! At the start, friends and family will often look after you by bringing over meals for you, but this won’t last forever. Having a few months of meals cooked and ready to go can really make your life much easier during this time. Invest in some good boxes, and be sure to label everything- writing on it what it is, and the date it needs to be used by. If you cook a number of different meals it will stop things from getting boring, there’s lots of information on batch cooking and recipe ideas on sites like Pinterest.

Take advantage of your nesting instincts

Another thing that’s well worth getting sorted ahead of time is your home. If your current place is too small for a baby and you know you’ll have to move in the near future, moving before they’re born is always going to be the best option if you’re able to. You can get set up in the new place and have their nursery set up (even though they won’t need it right away) just to have peace of mind that everything is sorted. A lot of women get ‘nesting’ instinct before having a baby where they feel a strong urge to clean and get organised- take advantage of this! Having your house clean from top to bottom and fully organised will make it much easier to stay on top of when your baby arrives. Plus, since they’re so sensitive and delicate you’ll want to make sure the home is free of germs, mould, dust mites and other harmful things. It can be worth using natural products or those that are free of powerful chemicals. Consider things like cushions, throws, sofas and carpets which are traps for nasties. Hiring a carpet cleaning company and putting your soft furnishings on a hot wash are ways to resolve this. Organise things like drawers and cupboards so you know where everything is. But importantly, don’t over exert yourself. It’s tempting to want to start pulling out furniture and really getting in there, but you have to be careful while you’re pregnant. Rope in friends and family to help.

Hire extra help

Having your house in order will make it easier to stay on top of the cleaning and housework when your little bundle of joy arrives, but getting through everything is still easier said than done when you’re looking after a newborn. Don’t be afraid to utilise different services out there to make everything run more smoothly for you. You could have a cleaner or maid come in, a few times a week and make sure the house is clean and tidy for you. You could have a laundry service come and wash and iron all of the clothes, this is useful when you have a new baby and are going through lots of clothes. You could even hire a nanny a couple of days a week to watch the baby so you can catch up on some rest. If you have the means to be able to do this, it can make these early days and weeks much more manageable. One of the hardest things is functioning without sleep, and trying to get everything done around the home while also caring for your baby. So utilising the help and services that are out there is a smart move. It could be something you do just for a few weeks, a few months or on an ongoing basis. If you don’t have a close network of friends and family to help you out it can be particularly worthwhile. You don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, you’re not expected to be able to do everything! If paying for a company to come in and provide you with a much needed service works for you, then go for it.

Get your finances in order

Having a baby is an expensive time. Not only do you need to potentially move house and buy a new car, you also need to purchase everything they need. Furniture, a pram, baby clothes and much more don’t come cheap and will all add up. On top of this, you’ll need to take at least some time off work meaning your pay is reduced. For this reason, it’s important to be prepared with your finances. Budget carefully, and work out how you’ll afford your bills when you don’t have your full income coming in. It could be worth establishing a side hustle early on, something like freelance writing can be done from home, with no upfront costs and no physical strain to your body. If you already have an established blog, you could look into ways to monetise it. That way you have a way of earning money right up until your baby is born, it’s even something you could return to afterwards if you’re not ready to straight back into the world of employment. Depending on your situation and where you live, you might be entitled to some help from the government so do look into this and see what you’re eligible for. It can make things much easier to know you have at least some income while you’re off work.

Start exercising again- when you’re ready

There’s a huge amount of pressure on new mums to spring ‘back into shape’ after having a baby. With the media focusing on celebrities who seem to shed the excess weight within weeks it can leave you feeling under pressure to do so. But don’t feel that way- most women take some time for their bodies to return to something that resembled their prior shape. There’s no shame in this whatsoever, after carrying a baby for nine months it’s going to take some time! You don’t want to start exercising as you feel like you need to return to your old body quickly, instead, see it as a way to build strength and help yourself recover. Listen to your doctor’s advice, don’t rush it as it can be dangerous. Once you’re repaired enough to start doing exercise then just do what you can, start by taking your baby out for walks in the pram. Later down the line, you could get a jogging stroller such as https://parentingpod.com/best-double-jogging-stroller/ to up the pace and even go hiking. But it all takes time, start small and build your way up. Make exercise part of your life, very few new mums have the time or energy to hit the gym every day. Take your baby to classes,there are lots designed for mum and baby. You could take them for a paddle in the swimming pool once it’s safe to do so.

Looking after yourself mentally and physically is important when you’ve had a baby. These tips should help you to get things in order before the birth, and ensure a smooth transition afterwards.