Being a new mum, I'm the first to admit I feel the occasional pang of envy when I see a woman who is pregnant with her first baby. I marvel at her healthy glow, bouncy hair, chic maternity wear and teeny handbag that is most definitely not crammed with nappies and half-eaten rice cakes. Ah, those halcyon days. There's nothing quite like being pregnant with your first; it is an amazing, exciting journey. But until the baby comes along life carries on as it always has, except your bump grows along with the hours you spend on Pinterest searching for the perfect nursery. Yet nothing can prepare you for how much life changes when you actually have a baby to look after. No amount of parenting books or NCT classes can give the slightest insight into what you are really letting yourself in for. The only people who truly know are those who have been there, done that and got the milk-stained T-shirt. Now whenever I spot the newly pregnant, I hark back to my own pregnancy and the things I wish I'd taken time to appreciate before motherhood arrived in all its exhausting glory. My advice for new mums-to-be? Enjoy these numbered days, oh glowing one, your world is about to get turned upside down...
1. Now is the time to revel in your mum-to-be wardrobe because chances are, you'll be sick of wearing maternity jeans when your baby is 10 weeks old. It's likely that 'boyfriend fit' will soon become a mantra, anything else only serves to enhance a post-partum jelly belly.
2. Take a moment to bask in the surroundings of your tastefully decorated home. It's all too easy to insist that baby's belongings will be in a neutral colour palette to blend seamlessly with your Farrow & Ball walls. Sit with those muted-grey dreams for a while because before you can say 'Fisher-Price' you won't be able to see the carpet for day-glo plastic. Babies love day-glo, resistance is futile.
3. Your browsing days are numbered. You will never 'wander' around the shops again or 'pop' into Whistles. No one in Whistles wants to navigate around your massive buggy on their way to the changing rooms to try on glamorous jumpsuits. So seize every leisurely stroll around John Lewis like it's your last. In a precious few weeks your mission will be to get in and get out with as few nappy changes, awkward feeds and tears (you or the baby) as possible.
4. Don't bother reading parenting books now. You will spend enough time googling 'How to get my six-week old to sleep though the night' during the wee small hours of your first weeks of motherhood. Read real books. Or trashy mags. It might be your last chance for a while.
5. Forget any flights of fancy involving a personal Lindo Wing moment - there is no point packing a well considered 'leaving hospital outfit' to emulate Kate Middleton. For mere mortals, even pulling on a pair of leggings might be a step too far. The great news is, no one, least of all you, will care what you look like.
6. Same goes for your baby - you'll be cursing that crazy pregnant woman (you!) who thought packing that mini tutu or newborn-sized shirt and tie combo for baby's first outfit was a great idea. Don't bother buying anything but sleepsuits for the first three months. You can never have enough.
7. The baby may have 'kept you awake half the night doing a jig in your tummy', but in days to come, you will fantasise about being awake half the night. Because you will have been awake for the whole night. And the whole night before that and the one before that...
8. It is actually possible to eat even more cake than you are eating now. Sure, pregnant women can eat, but new mums can eat even more. It's something to do with being a 24/7 milking machine. There is no hunger like it, and the great news is that since pregnancy heartburn has disappeared, you will no longer need to follow each meal with a Gaviscon chaser. Stockpile biscuits. Nothing will get you through a 4am feed like a packet of Hobnobs.
9. Savour hot beverages. Slowly sip each steaming coffee. Hot drinks will become a thing of the past. As will cold drinks. You can look forward to enjoying drinks tepid, that's if you get round to drinking them at all.
10. Take a moment in these final weeks to just enjoy being you, because you will never truly be 'just you' again. You will never care as much about yourself as you do now. Having a baby takes you out of yourself in ways you never thought possible, but really, you won't care less. Very soon, you will only really care about one thing, the teeny bundle in your arms.