5 things every parent can expect when baby is born

Every first-time parent-to-be are excited about baby's arrival and quietly anxious about how life will really change. Here are five things that you can expect, and what you should do before your baby is born.

WHAT TO EXPECT: YOU'LL EXPERIENCE A HIGHER LEVEL OF TIREDNESS THAN YOU HAVE EVER KNOWN

Your baby will have her own schedule, which won't tie in with yours (at least not in the early stages).

Chances are, she'll wake up when you want to sleep, and she'll need to be fed and changed at regular intervals.

HOW YOU CAN PREPARE

Get as much rest and relaxation as you can before your baby is born.

Think about your current routine and consider how you can cut down on it. For instance, maybe you don't need to do grocery shopping every day.

Talk to your hubby about sharing the baby care load, particularly at the start. There's no reason why he can't play his part in looking after the new arrival.

WHAT TO EXPECT: YOUR SOCIAL LIFE WILL CHANGE DRASTICALLY

You will be so preoccupied with your newborn that you won't have as much time - and certainly not as much energy or enthusiasm - for going out with your friends or to the movies. You may begin to feel socially isolated.

HOW YOU CAN PREPARE

Accept that, for this period of your life, you will be unable to socialise as much as you did before - although, in time, you will.

Before your due date, ask your closest pals over to your house for coffee.

WHAT TO EXPECT: IF YOU DECIDE TO BECOME A STAY-AT-HOME MUM

Your family income will drop significantly. You probably won't have as much disposable cash each month as you did previously.

You will also have the additional costs of your new arrival's essentials.

HOW YOU CAN PREPARE

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If possible, ask friends and relatives to buy specific presents for your baby (or to give you cash or vouchers).

The gift of a stroller or cot, for example, reduces the financial strain.

During your pregnancy, try to save as much as you can - every little bit helps. Keep a close watch on your weekly budget, and avoid unnecessary purchases, until you have a good idea of running costs.

WHAT TO EXPECT: YOUR CONFIDENCE AS A NEW PARENT TAKES TIME TO BUILD

Looking after your baby has a whole new set of challenges and experiences.

You may find that just when you think you are managing perfectly, something goes wrong and your confidence takes a sharp tumble.

HOW YOU CAN PREPARE

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Adopt a positive mindset. Look on all those new challenges - such as feeding and changing her, choosing her toys and organising activities - as learning opportunities in which you can adapt, improve and develop new skills.

Nobody learns anything without making mistakes along the way, so stay upbeat even when you don't get everything right the first time.

WHAT TO EXPECT: YOU'LL RECEIVE LOTS OF UNSOLICITED ADVICE

Everybody knows the best way for other people to bring up their children. So expect to receive lots of advice on all aspects of parenting, from friends, relatives and well-wishers.

Some of this will be given at your request, but you'll also get a lot of suggestions you didn't ask for.

HOW YOU CAN PREPARE 

Before your newborn arrives, listen to ideas from other mums and dads. Read widely on child and family development. Discuss parenting ideas with your husband. This way, you're off to a good start.

Don't get annoyed with people who give you unsolicited advice. Remember, there's no harm in listening - it's up to you whether you want to follow those tips.

This article was first published in Young Parents.