There are times when you want advice, and times when you just want to figure it out on your own. Parenting is definitely one of those areas where advice seems to flow oh so freely!  Knowing a few couples who are expecting, I’ve decided that sharing advice on my blog is a no-pressure way to take or leave whatever parents-to-be might find helpful. And I have to thank the family and friends who have contributed to this, by passing on their parenting wisdom to me along the way.

1. Nest Now – you’ll be thankful later!  Take the time while you’re feeling good (post-first trimester) to organize, clean, and purge your space of things you don’t need.  Decide what you can donate, or if you’re feeling more ambitious, hold a rummage sale.  It’s much more difficult (but not impossible) to do this after baby arrives.

2. Borrow baby gear or check out consignment shops in addition to baby stores.  I was extremely overwhelmed by all of the baby gear available at the big baby stores.  A whole WALL of pacifiers, really!?! AHH!!  The suggested registry items are a bit over the top too, as the “needed” items are grossly overstated.  As small babies grow out of seats, swings, and clothes very quickly, and many things are machine washable, consider borrowing or buying gently used to fill in some “needs” after your baby shower.   Of course make sure everything is safe and not recalled, but some consignment stores already do that.

3. Read baby, birthing, and breastfeeding books and take pre-natal classes to prepare you for the big day and all of the excitement thereafter.  I really enjoyed the following books:

4. Stop reading baby, birthing, and breastfeeding books if you feel freaked out, and just ask your doctor questions at the many, many appointments you have. As they say, sometimes too much information is not a good thing.  If you are freaking out, you can also compare your prenatal care regime to the women featured on episodes of “I didn’t know I was pregnant.”  You’ll feel like a prego super star every time!

5. Prepare meals and put in the freezer after baby arrives.  You won’t have the energy to make meals everyday after baby arrives, so something you can just pull out of the freezer – frozen pizza included – works out really well.

6. Babysit another infant.  There’s no training like on the job training! It helps to be around other babies to get insight on what your little one could be like, but every baby is different, so don’t be too scared off by a colicky baby, and remember the mantra, “This too shall pass.”

7. Test out different baby names.  Practice saying your future child’s name in different voices.  Try the sweet whisper and the stern “mom voice” that means business, using first, middle and last name.  Another dear family member who will remain nameless employed the “baby name spreadsheet” that included columns for first and middle name choices, initials, combination with mom & dad’s names (think how a holiday card is signed) and name origin / meanings.

8. Take whatever you can from the hospital room.  The nurses will tell you what you can and cannot take.  We brought home some diapers, wipes, blankets, plastic tubs used for baby’s bath (great for organizing socks, etc), baby’s hat / shirt.

9. Install a dimmer switch or low lighting for the baby’s room.  Bright lights really wake you up in the middle of the night!  Having some white noise – running a fan, vacuuming, ocean sounds, etc. can help baby sleep too.

10. Take a nap & relax! Napping makes up for general exhaustion during the 1st trimester and all of the time you have to wake up & pee later on in your pregnancy.  The odd sleeping schedule is sort of preparing you for life with a newborn, where it’s hard to fall into a deep sleep because you’re craning your ear to listen for any sign of waking up or you can’t fall back asleep after that last 3am feeding.

11. Let other people do things for you!  Enjoy it!  Don’t be afraid to ask for help after the baby’s born as well.  Parents need breaks too, and there is NOTHING wrong with that!  I also recommend getting out with just your significant other for regular date nights.

That sums up my favorite pieces of advice.  Do you have some of your own to share?  Let me know!  I also have to include this really beautiful quote on mothering that rings so true:

“Before you were conceived I wanted you. Before you were born I loved you. Before you were here an hour I would die for you. This is the miracle of love.” ~ Maureen Hawkins

Enjoy this time mama’s-to-be!  It only gets even more amazing!