Congratulations! You've decided to welcome another member to your family. There are probably a million questions, concerns and emotions racing through your head at any given moment, but rest assured that many parents-to-be have been in your situation before. Which is why we've rounded up 14 clever tips to help you learn how to prepare for a baby, including nesting advice and how to make the most out of your pre-baby time. Because as much as we love good old Bridge, it's not unreasonable to hope that your pregnancy is just slightly less eventful (watch the trailor for Bridget Jones's Baby here)!
Whip up some meals that can be popped into the freezer now to enjoy later. Once the baby comes, simple chores like grocery shopping, meal planning and cooking may feel impossible
Of course, it's important to remember that you can read all the books and articles in the world on how to prepare for a baby and still not feel ready. Don't worry – once you bring a child into the world, those parental instincts will kick in and you'll somehow manage whatever your baby throws at you (which is everything and anything they can get their hands on, as it turns out). Hey, if Bridget Jones can do it then so can you - good luck!
Make meals before the birth to freeze
If you have time before the baby comes (or have willing friends and family who want to help), whip up some meals that can be popped into the freezer now to enjoy later. Once the baby comes, simple chores like grocery shopping, meal planning and cooking may feel impossible (who has the time or the energy?), and that's when sticking a homemade frozen lasagne in the oven will save the day. Find more frozen food saviours here. Maybe give Bridget's culinary 'triumph' of blue soup, omelette and orange marmalade a miss though...
Keep a pile of takeaway menus
Too busy to cook? Don't worry - just store away a handy stack of takeaway menus instead. Then when it's dinner time and all you have in the fridge is cold breastmilk, you can just pick up the phone and have your favourite curry delivered straight to your door. Genius! Or if you're keeping to a budget now baby is here, then stockpile on readymeals and have them ready in the freezer when you need a last-minute meal in no time.
Do laundry now
Ever looked at your sofa or carpet and thought how you really should get it cleaned someday? Well, there's no time like the present! Once you have children, the amount of laundry you have to do never ends (yet somehow, their clothes also manage to disappear all the time - it's one of life's greatest mysteries) so take advantage of a normal laundry load now and get as much cleaned as possible.
It's not the time to set up a new filing system for paying your bills or to haul all those old photographs up to the attic once the baby is born. Get as organised as you can now, as it's likely to be the last time you will feel in control for a while. That means stocking up on baby supplies now, so that you don't have to spend the first week with your newborn running out to the shops. Here are 5 cult baby products that every parent should own.
Watch a video on how to pack your hospital bag so you've got the right kit
Books, curling iron, 13 different rompers for the baby, toys, nappies, CD player... all essentials for your hospital bag, right? Or maybe not. Read a few blogs and watch a few videos to get an idea of what you really need to bring with you to the hospital – and what you can leave behind.
Spend time with experienced parents
Speak to friends and family who have children and learn from them. Watch them with their children and ask them questions. Most parents are happy to share their experiences and offer advice about things they wish they'd known, whether it's the best way to get a baby to fall asleep to how to get stains out of everything!
And spend time with your own parents
Once the baby comes, you will look at your parents and in-laws as free babysitters (sorry, mum!). That means that whenever they come round, you'll likely be out the door trying to catch up on errands or have some alone time! So it's worth trying to spend some quality time with them now - if only so that you feel slightly less guilty for ditching them once the baby's born.
Get the car seat installed
Parents will often have a different of opinion over the best methods for raising a child, but the one thing all parents can universally agree on is that installing a car seat can be a bit of a mission! Getting it right is no easy task but it's an important one, so don't leave it until the last minute.
Do some neighbourhood research
Babies tend to be pretty unpredictable. Find out what time your local chemist and supermarket closes, just in case you need to make a late-night nappy run or buy some medicine. Same goes for figuring out which local cafés and restaurants are baby-friendly - think of it as a brekkie-reckie.
Watch everything you want to watch
Enjoy those fascinating documentaries and all your favourite cooking programmes now, while you still can. Because once you have children, you'll be catering for their tastes, not yours!
Get those baby announcements ready
If you're sending out traditional baby announcements, make sure you've got everyone's addresses now before the baby comes. It's a good idea to pick out what type of card you want as well. Alternatively, if you (or your partner) plan on sending out an email to friends and family once the baby has arrived, create a draft of the email now with everyone's email addresses and blanks for your baby’s name, weight, and the time he or she was born.
Take care of yourself
Being a parent is full of ups and downs and the best way to meet those challenges is by being as ready as you can be – both physically as well as emotionally. You've probably already gotten lots of advice about eating healthily, rest as much as you can and enjoy moderate exercise, but don't forget about taking care of your mental health, too. Make sure you chat to your partner, friends or family about how you're feeling and find time to do the things that you enjoy.
Get your nails done
Chances are that once your baby is finally here, you'll be so overcome with happiness and exhaustion that you won't care what you look like! But if you think that you'll look back at those hospital photos later and wish your nails had been painted or your hair wasn't full of split ends, then book in a trip to the beauty salon before the baby is born.
Get ready for the birth
You've likely already discussed your birthing plan with your partner or doctor (shame Emma Thompson isn't available!), and got your hospital bag packed, but don't forget about the little details like making sure phones and cameras are fully charged and that there's enough petrol in the car.