Being a first time mama is hard, and now that I have a better idea of what to expect, what I really need and what I DON’T NEED, I’m heading into the birth of my second child with a lot more clarity.

This is the list I wished someone sent me before becoming a mama, so I hope it will help the first time mamas out there.

  1. CREATE A POST-PARTUM PLAN | We spend so much time preparing for the birth with classes, exercise and research but the reality is that despite creating the ideal “birth plan”, most the time it doesn’t go to plan. The birth is such a small part of motherhood- usually over in one day, so what we really should be focusing on is what comes next. Creating a postpartum plan will allow you and your partner to discuss changes that will occur once you become new parents, and will give you the opportunity to put plans into place to make your transition into new motherhood much smoother.

  2. HAPPY MAMA = HAPPY BUBBA | It’s easy become consumed in the “mum” role, but it’s so important to retain a little bit of “pre-mum you”. As hard as it can be, you need to let go of the mum guilt. Don’t try and do it all on your own and take help from those offering. Take some time for you each day, whether that be a cup of tea and magazine for 20 minutes or a half an hour walk when your partner gets home.

  3. BECOMING PARENTS WILL AFFECT YOUR RELATIONSHIP | Good, bad or just different- having a baby is going to change the dynamic between you and your partner. If you don’t want your husband or partner to think of themselves as a “babysitter” or “part-time” caretaker, don’t treat them that way. I was so convinced that only I could give feed, bath or change the baby the “right” way. This time I’m going to let the husband have certain roles and figure things out for himself too.

  4. TRUST YOUR OWN INSTINCTS |You are going to hear so much conflicting advice on sleep, feeding, milestones and everything in between. Remember there is no “right” way to be a mother- different things will work for different mothers, families and babies. Trust yourself.

  5. SLEEP. BABIES DON’T | It’s only a “sleep problem” if it’s a problem for you. Don’t listen to the mums who brag about their child sleeping through- this is definitely not the norm- babies are meant to wake during the night. Archie didn’t sleep through for almost two years, but I decided to co-sleep when he was old enough and we all had a more restful sleep. He is now the best sleeper ever. If it is a problem for you, or you have to go back to work there are plenty of gentle techniques that can help.

  6. THE DAYS ARE LONG BUT THE YEARS ARE SHORT | A popular saying you will hear constantly, but it SO TRUE. Soak up the boring, mundane everyday tasks and activities because these are most likely the moments you will miss.

  7. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED | As much as you can plan for certain things, there will be unexpected curveballs that come your way. Archie needed emergency surgery after birth- emotionally and physically we were a mess, but we were so glad we had insurance that covered everything. When it comes to health you can never be too prepared. This time around we are doing core blood banking for our family’s future health.

  8. DON’T USE MATERNITY LEAVE TO SET GOALS | You may think you’ll have plenty of downtime to get to those projects like organising photo albums or starting a new project, but the reality is you’ll be consumed with mothering (in the beginning stages anyway). So don’t put any additional stress on your workload. If you have free time- just rest!

  9. YOU DON’T NEED EVERYTHING YOU THINK!| When it comes to setting up a nursery, many first-time mums (including myself!) go overboard. This time around I’m not even setting up a nursery until the baby is 4-6 months old because he/she will be in with us. Don’t make impulse buys when you’ve had no sleep. After the baby was born I was constantly ordering miracle sleep swaddles and different sleeping apparatus’ that promised to settle the baby. In the end I didn’t use any of them. Maybe wait until baby is born for the big investments to see what you “really need’. For me I lived in my glider chair and know that will be important to me second time around, but I know I don’t need a specific change table- a change topper on top of your chest of drawers is perfect and a space saver. When it comes to baby clothes- don’t waste money on the pretty fancy things- particularly in the first three months. They will live (and poo and vomit) in their onesies. Save the pretty outfits for after 6 months.

  10. BUDGET AND PLAN YOUR FINANCES | Paid and unpaid parental leave can be a bit of a mind-field. Work out your entitlements and set a budget that will take you through the entire time you plan to have off work. Factor in unexpected expenses that may arise- like additional Doctor or therapy sessions and leave a little extra. Top Tip- buy nappies in bulk!