Regulars to ParentDish.co.uk will know that I'm a first-time mum-to-be, now at 30 weeks pregnant, somewhat shocked still at being pregnant at all!
At 30 weeks, I now feel a bit of a veteran, and when I see other first-time-mums in earlier stages of pregnancy I get an urge to pass on everything I've learned so far. I know, I know, advice from others can be as welcome as piles, but occasionally it's worth giving a little head space to other people's experiences, I've found.
So, if you're still reading, I've put together a Top 10 of tips that might make the experience of being pregnant for the first time that little bit more enjoyable / bearable. It's based purely on my own experience, and every pregnancy is different. But hey, what else are you doing in the next two minutes?
Top 10 Survival Tips
1. Expect your emotions to be chaotic in the first weeks after discovering your pregnancy. You may have yearned for this baby, and yet still be struck with fear, regret, feelings of dismay, panic about your relationship, home, job, health, happiness. This is totally normal and doesn't mean you will be a bad mum.
2. It's never too early to start exercising. No, really. I've done pretty much nothing, bar walking for an hour in the evening twice a week or so with my partner. I wish I'd done more, as I'm really feeling lethargic now and achey. Being fitter to start off with would have helped. Yoga, yoga, yoga.
Also, if you eat crap you will feel crap. If you eat well, you will feel better. The best thing that we did was order an organic veggie food box to be delivered, and filled the freezer with good cuts of fish and meat. The result is far fewer last-minute rubbish ready meals.
3. Don't deprive yourself of sleep in the first two trimesters, when you can at least get some degree of physical comfort. It will definitely get much harder to sleep the more pregnant you are. Bed at 10.30pm every night is boring as hell, but do it. Honestly.
4. Make a conscious effort, with your partner, to really understand how your pregnancy will affect your relationship in advance of the proverbial poo hitting the fan. In my experience you will need him more, but you will be less easy to live with. Your emotions, and your physical state, will mean you're unpredictable, moody at times, and constantly needing to ask him to do stuff for you.
At least if you both understand why things are as they are, you have a better chance of actually being closer to each other when the baby arrives rather than sick to the back teeth of each other. We're doing well with this right now, and that's definitely due to the fact that we'd both done some chatting with friends and some reading up, and were both prepared in advance.
5. Plan to treat yourself at regular intervals. You will feel fat, ugly and depressed at some point, and you'll be amazed what difference a haircut, a new piece of jewellery (doesn't matter what size your bump is) or a big day out with girlfriends can make.
6. At some point you just have to stop worrying about whether you can afford this baby. Whatever your situation, re your job, lack of work, maternity benefits, partner's income, lack of partner etc, this baby is going to happen, and the worrying will make every aspect of the pregnancy harder.
Make sure you get all the free money available to you and your child. Child Trust Fund, Home Start schemes, Health in Pregnancy grant etc. No organisation will be falling over themselves to tell you about what's out there, so do make sure you do some research yourself.
7. Have sex lots in the middle trimester, when you've stopped feeling quite so sick and emotionally erratic. It's true that it tails off when you're bigger, and you'll miss it.
8. Don't buy loads of maternity clothes, but do definitely buy a few bits that make you feel every bit as stylish and gorgeous as you were before you were pregnant. Constantly wearing hand-me-downs that don't really fit or suit your personal style, borrowing your boyfriend's clothes or slobbing in a dressing gown will get you down. I've found that maternity jeans and leggings have been indispensable, by the way.
9. If you have trouble relaxing, get some help to do so. Ask a friend to be your relax buddy and force you to spend time mooching, book a hypno-birthing course which will teach you deep relaxation, join a yoga course that's so damn expensive you can't bear to miss a session, reward yourself with a fiver in a pot every time you have a daytime sleep.
10. If you're really worried about anything at all to do with your pregnancy, including your physical and mental health, phone the midwife or the doctor! Do it! Everyone I know has talked of their reluctance to "bother the midwife". The midwife is there to help you, and if for any reason she's reluctant to do so, complain. She's not doing you a favour by supporting you, she's doing her job.
Do you have a pregnancy survival tip to pass on to a new mum-to-be? We'd love to hear it? Leave a comment here...