While you've probably tried to imagine life with a new baby, it's likely you're stepping into the great unknown. Some people find the first few weeks are filled with wonder and joy, but many others find them filled with chaos, exhaustion and anxiety.All these reactions are completely normal, and you need to be kind to yourself while you adjust to the massive changes that are about to grace your life. You might feel unsure, confused or worried about your new role, but again this is normal, and time and practice will soon build up your confidence.

You won’t feel like cooking, but food is a priority

One thing is a certainty: you’ll have little time or inclination to buy groceries or cook anything during the first few weeks at home with your baby. Good nutrition, however, is crucial for new mothers, so some forward planning is needed to make sure you’ll have a well-balanced and healthy diet.

You won’t need to eat anything special, but you may want to eat quite a lot, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Since your new arrival will have absolutely no respect for any notions of night and day or regular mealtimes, it can be helpful to let go of the ‘three meals a day’ concept and just let yourself graze, eating whenever you want and are able to.

Food preparation tips

It’s best to get organised well before your due date. Get creative in the kitchen and stock up on foods like pasta dishes, casseroles, pies, quiches and soups that will keep well in the freezer and are easy to reheat. Accept all offers of help and ask for contributions to add to your collection in the freezer.

Stock up on pantry essentials ahead of time. In addition, you may want to set yourself up for online supermarket shopping. At a minimum, a weekly fruit and vegetable delivery can be really handy to make sure you’ve always got fresh food on hand.

If you have a partner or a family member or friend staying with you in the first few weeks, put them to work in the kitchen doing jobs like peeling and chopping fruit and vegetables or hard-boiling eggs. Things like carrot sticks and hummus, salad with slices of cheese or boiled eggs, or a selection of fresh fruit can be great ‘go to’ snacks. Food items that you can eat with one hand are very useful, as you’ll often find that you’re eating with one hand while holding or soothing a baby with the other!

Relax and delegate

Don’t feel you need to keep up your usual housework standards in the first few weeks or months of parenthood. As long as the essentials are done, it really doesn’t matter if the dusting is neglected or the laundry piles up for a while. Again, put any available partner, family member or friend to work. If there are several things you would like done, write a simple list and put it on the fridge door. When anyone asks what they can do to help, just point to the list and ask them to take their pick!

Try to rest

Being a new mum is exciting, and you might run on adrenaline for a little while, but sooner or later that excitement and euphoria will ease off and fatigue will take its place. Since it’s not realistic for newborns to sleep for long during the night your sleeping patterns are going to change dramatically too.

Sleep deprivation is hard going, especially when you’re still recovering from your birth experience too, so you need to rest as much as possible during the day. You’ll probably be told you should sleep when the baby sleeps, but that’s not always realistic. However, if you at least sit down and rest when you can, rather than rushing around trying to catch up with chores, you’ll find that you’ll be able to get through this demanding early stage.