Bringing your newborn home is an exciting prospect, and there will be plenty of people who are just as excited to finally meet your new arrival. Unless you're extremely strict with visitors, you're likely to have a host of wellwishers descending on you during the first few weeks.
Unfortunately this is the period when you're just starting to work out how to look after a tiny baby, and what being a mum is all about, so you don't want to be spending all your time making tea and cake for visitors.
The good news is that most people are only too aware what a challenge it is getting to grips with new parenthood, so will be eager to offer some help. There's a job for all your new baby visitors.
And that's the first golden rule of being a new mum: when friends and family offer assistance, make sure you take them up on it! Here are some of the ways they can help make life easier for you...
Mums are great at just getting things done without making a fuss. And, as long as she gets a cuddle with the new arrival at some point, she'll be perfectly happy to empty the dishwasher, put some washing on or sweep the floor - all those chores that you don't feel you can ask anyone else to do! If she's keen to come and stay for a few days, it can be great to have some support and company once your other half's paternity leave has finished and he's back at work.
Get visitors to bring their own cake or some bits and pieces for lunch. It'll give them something to do while you're changing/feeding/burping. There's also far more likelihood that people who've made their own lunch will clear up after themselves too - bonus!
They'll leap at the chance to spend some quality time with their new grandchild, so pack them off to the park with the pram and make the most of a valuable hour of solitude by catching up on some sleep or having a lovely long soak in the bath. You could also try flattering their cooking and asking whether they'd mind making one of their 'delicious, famous, I-can-never-make-it-quite-the-same-myself' chicken casseroles that you can freeze in portion sizes and bring out when you haven't managed to sort any dinner.
Ask her to let you know next time she's going to the supermarket, and if she's happy to pick you up a few bits and bobs. Not having to make a trip yourself if it's just for bread, milk and nappies can save you a lot of hassle!
You'll continue to see your midwife for up to 10 days after your baby's born - her job is to check that both you and your new arrival are happy and healthy, and to give any help you need with breastfeeding, bathing, cord care and so on. Take full advantage of this assistance - hopefully you'll have got to know each other well during your pregnancy, so you should be able to quiz her with any questions you might be too embarrassed to ask anyone else. (And remember, she's seen it all before!) Practical assistance, such as showing you how to hold your baby during a bath, or different positions for breastfeeding, is incredibly useful - and she's the best person to help you with this.
Enjoy this precious time.