A newborn baby is the best gift you can welcome at Christmas.
However Christmas is a busy period at the best of times. Family tensions that threaten to boil over if people don’t hold back on the sherry, catering for a house full of drunk guests and worrying that Aunt Mabel will throw a wobbler because she hates her Christmas gift.
Throw in the final weeks of pregnancy and all the joys that brings, plus the labour and then the demanding baby to care for, and you’ve got the potential for a pretty stressful situation.
My second baby was due on November 26 last year, so I thought I was pretty safe. I was hoping she would arrive early in mid November to give me some breathing room before Christmas. In the end she arrived in the second week of December.
That’s certainly not as close to Christmas as some people have babies of course, but it did mean December was a write off for me in terms of preparing for Christmas Day.
Because of her due date, there were a lot of things I had to do differently when it came to Christmas Day preparations, so that I could relax and just enjoy our new baby in December.
If you’re in the same boat and expecting a baby around Christmas, here are some tips for how to prepare and to help make the festive period as stress-free as possible.
It’s never too early to start thinking about your plans for when you will have the baby. Organise your house, the baby’s room, sleeping area and clothes and make a plan for when you go into labour.
Visiting the shops during December is probably not what you will want to do either when heavily pregnant, or with a new baby. Because the shops are so much more crowded, you’re more likely to be queueing for a long time, struggle to find a good parking space close to the front door and feel stressed out by the general Christmas mania.
Plus, if you order anything online during December, the likelihood of it being delayed due to the sheer volume of post at this time of year increases.
For this reason, you’ll want to get everything you need for the baby before December. I’ve got a post all about what you really need to buy for a new baby, so you can be totally prepared.
Packing your hospital bag in good time takes a lot of the stress away too. Here’s my post all about how to pack your bag and what to pack inside it.
Make your gift list early
Start thinking about what you could buy for friends and family early – and by early I mean August!
Have a running list that you add to when an idea pops up. Here are a few gift ideas for the ladies in your life.
You’ll probably be strapped for cash once your baby arrives, so make a budget for Christmas gifts and stick to it.
Last year I made a big batch of Christmas chutney and bottled it up for my relatives with pretty homemade labels. The beauty of chutney is you make it well in advance because it tastes better when it’s had a few weeks to age in the jar.
This cost me about £20 for the jars and ingredients and made enough to give a jar to all of my close and extended family. And I have a big family!
Here’s the recipe I used: Nigella’s Christmas chutney recipe
Start shopping as soon as possible
Don’t wait to buy everything until the last minute. Do it when you’ve got a five-minute break at work.
Log on and do some online shopping in the evenings. Try not to leave it until December, you want to try to have all your gifts bought by the beginning of November.
Get the wrapping done
Try to have this done by end of November. This will be such a huge weight off of your mind.
Also if you’re very pregnant, sitting on the floor and wrapping stuff may not be the most comfortable position. Getting the wrapping done early means you have more time to put your feet up ahead of the baby’s arrival in December.
Don’t forget to buy spare rolls of wrapping paper, and cards, just in case you have a last-minute present emergency.
Write your Christmas cards in advance
It’s never too early to start writing your cards. You can then have them ready to post in December. Write them in batches as and when you have five minutes to spare. You’ll be glad you did as this can take well over an hour to do.
Create a file with all the names and addresses of people who you send cards to at Christmas. You can format this to print on labels, saving time on addressing your cards next year.
Give relatives guidances about what you need
If you don’t want to end up with 50 newborn sized dresses that your baby will grow out of before they get a chance to wear them all, give people a clue as to what you do need.
Many relatives and friends will probably ask what you still need. Ask for practical things, maybe even gift vouchers for your favourite department store. As the weeks pass after your baby is born, you always find yourself needing extra bits and bobs. Gift vouchers can be a huge help.
Make Christmas Day plans based on what’s easiest for you
This can be a tricky one. All sorts of family politics can come into play here. But this is your year to be selfish, so make the plans based on what will be easiest for you.
Maybe you just want to stay at home on Christmas Day and have a quiet one, without driving for three hours to reach granny’s house. That’s ok. You’re pregnant! People could always come to you and do the cooking for you while you put your feet up.
Don’t try to see everyone
Whether the baby has arrived before Christmas week or not, people will be lining up to see you. You need to prioritise here as spending every single day rushed off of your feet entertaining people and going out won’t do you any good.
Stick to close relatives and friends only. Ask people to come to your place, but keep their expectations in check. You don’t have to cook them a three-course meal. Maybe they can just come over for tea and a biscuit.
Accept you cannot control everything
You cannot guarantee the baby will arrive in plenty of time for Christmas. You cannot guarantee you won’t go into labour on Christmas Day.
You don’t know what kind of labour you will have and how long you will need to stay in hospital.
You may have to accept your Christmas celebrations will be put off for a week, or be pretty low key this year. Brace yourself for this and then you won’t be disappointed if your plans fall through.
When you have the baby is likely to be completely out of your hands. Accept this and go with the flow! There’s no point in worrying about something you cannot control. Remember that once the baby is hear, all of your worries about timing won’t matter.
Are you expecting a baby around Christmas? Are you nervous about the time of year or excited? I would love to hear from you.
Further reading for expectant mamas: