Have you just started your maternity leave and everyone is telling you to bin the to do list and just rest?
They’re right, you should rest, but doing absolutely nothing for what could potentially be a few weeks is actually really boring!
If you finish work a couple of weeks before your due date, you may be waiting for the baby to arrive for a whole month!
There are loads of things you can do during those early weeks of maternity leave before your baby arrives that will help you enjoy the time to yourself and use it wisely.
Of course how many of these things you manage to get done is going to depend on when your baby arrives, so don’t pile the pressure on yourself.
Take a look at the list and prioritise a few of the practical things alongside some of the fun stuff that will make you feel great before giving birth.
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Practical things to do on maternity leave before the baby arrives
First up let’s look at the practical things you can get done before your baby arrives and the fun begins!
It’s important not to overdo anything physically, so try to limit physical stuff to an hour or less a day and otherwise just try to enjoy things from the fun list!
1. Deep clean
You may not feel like cleaning at all right now.
The third trimester zaps all of your energy, plus that big bump and swollen ankles make it impossible to bend in all the right places so that you can scrub places you need to scrub.
However after the baby arrives you will definitely not feel like cleaning at all. Doing a deep clean now will hopefully carry your house through for a couple of months of not getting the vacuum cleaner out.
So try to make a list of deep cleaning jobs you could do, or that you can ask your partner to help with, and work you way through them doing 30 minutes a day.
Deep cleaning chores you can get done before the baby arrives include:
- Carpet and rug cleaning
- Dusting all of the hard to reach surfaces
- Decluttering kitchen cupboards and wardrobes
- Clean the windows
- Deep clean bathrooms – get rid of limescale from taps with a product like Viakal and clean the floors
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2. Organise your baby’s room
Unpack all of the baby’s clothes and get them folded away into drawers or whatever storage you have for the nursery.
This is the perfect time to make sure everything has a place, because you won’t get much of a chance to organise after the baby is born.
Sort out the baby’s clothes by category, and fold them using the KonMari method. It’s easy to pick this method up, plus it makes the clothes easier to find when you’re in a rush as they are all stored horizontally rather than piled on top of each other vertically.
Get some decent storage for toys and books. You can check out places such as IKEA for amazing storage that won’t break the bank for your baby’s nursery.
3. Figure out how all the baby gear works
Have you tried to put the car seat into the actual car yet? If the car seat has adaptors that let you connect it to the the buggy, have to figured out how it all slots together?
These are things that you don’t want to be learning when your baby is screaming for you to get on with it!
Connect the car seat to the car now, and figure out how the straps work. Practice collapsing and putting up the pram now, including any additional accessories and features it has so that you are confident on using it when the time comes.
It’s also worth getting all of your other baby gear out of boxes and packaging to assemble them. For example, if you have a baby bouncy chair or an activity mat then get those out of their boxes and ready for use.
4. Keep on top of the laundry
Is there anything more boring than putting away laundry? It’s worth trying to keep your laundry basket empty and put away clothes as soon as they are dry.
This will hopefully give you a little breathing room when you go in labour and the baby arrives so that you have a couple of weeks where you can just forget about doing laundry and focus on being a mama.
5. Read up on hypnobirthing
Dealing with pain relief during labour is probably something you’ve already given a good deal of thought to.
Whatever your choice for pain relief, there will at least be some time during the labour when you won’t have any drugs.
That might be because you don’t want any drugs during your labour. Or it could be during the early stages of labour when you will be at home for a while before the hospital says you’re far enough along to come in to the ward.
There are also limits to how high a dose and how frequently your midwife will administer painkillers during your labour.
Whatever the reason, there may be times when you want natural pain relief to get you through the labour.
Read up on hypnobirthing right now and give yourself a head start for when your labour begins.
Hypnobirthing is a method of pain relief that involves using mental and breathing exercises to deal with the pain of contractions.
6. Fill your freezer
Get cooking! You don’t have to spend hours and hours slaving over a hot stove all day to fill your freezer.
Just make some meal plans for now that you can double up on and freeze the leftovers. Ideal meals for freezing including:
- Vegetable pasta sauce – all you’ll need to do is cook the pasta and heat up the sauce!
- Spaghetti bolognaise
- Shepherd’s pie
- Chicken pie
7. Stock up on essentials
You’ve probably gone over your baby essentials list a million times to check that you have everything.
But it’s also a good idea to make sure your house is stocked up on essentials for you!
Make sure you have a good supply of things such as:
- Toiletries – body wash, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, make-up remover, favourite make-up products
- Toilet roll
- Kitchen roll
- Cleaning products – bleach, multi-purpose spray, laundry detergent, fabric softener
- Bread (you could always freeze a loaf in case of emergencies!)
- Your favourite soft drinks
Gentle exercise is the perfect way to prepare your body for giving birth.
Try swimming or walking for 30 minutes every day and you’ll be helping your body maintain its strength for the birth.
9. Research local support groups
It’s a good idea to figure out where you can find help if you need it. When you have your baby, the midwife should pass you a list of these types of groups, but compile your own list now in case the health service’s list misses any out.
Find out where the local breastfeeding support groups are (there may be more than one).
The UK has children’s centres which provide various drop-in services for new parents, including ones that provide advice and others that are just about socialising with new parents.
10. Read up on breastfeeding
If you would like to give breastfeeding a shot then now is the time to learn a little more about it.
Although you’ll learn most by actually nursing your baby, you can give yourself a head start by bracing yourself for the practical elements of breastfeeding.
Read up on what products are needed to breastfeed your baby and how to get your baby to latch on.
It’s also really important to understand that breastfeeding can feel very overwhelming at first, and that your baby may feed constantly! If you feel prepared for this, then the entire experience will hopefully feel a lot less stressful when the time comes.
There’s a wonderful online course run by a trained lactation consultant called Milkology. It’s packed with everything you need to know about breastfeeding, plus it’s all online and you can access it whenever you have a spare five minutes, so you learn at your own pace. Learn more in this lovely little trailer:
11. Visit the card shop
Of all the things you do before giving birth to your baby, this will be the one that you will be so grateful you did again and again and again!
Take a look at your calendar for the next year and write down the birthdays and important dates for everyone that you would normally get a card and gift for.
Now hit the card shop and pick up all of the birthday, anniversary and Christmas cards (if they’re in stock in the shops right now) you will need.
Keep an eye out online and in shops for gifts your loved ones would like and build up a stash of emergency gifts.
Things such as scented candles, nice shower gel, beautiful planners, cookery books, pretty bags and scarves can be perfect for last-minute gifts to please anyone.
12. Get a baby planner
Print off my free baby planner which will help you organise your home before baby arrives. There are also some sample baby routines and daily log to help you track your baby’s feeding, sleeping and other important information!
All you need to do is sign up to my mailing list and you’ll get a copy totally free.
Fun things to do on maternity leave before the baby arrives
Finally, let’s get to the fun stuff you can do before you give birth!
Do as many of these as you possibly can and just enjoy this time when you’re not working but you’re not yet having to care for a baby.
13. Go to the cinema
It’s particularly indulgent to go and see a movie during the day when you would normally be at work!
Check out the latest films and enjoy the relaxation. Going to the cinema after the baby comes is quite tricky!
Some cinemas do baby screenings where you can actually bring your baby along, but the films shown at these special showings are limited, and usually only once a week.
Pack in your cinema fix right now!
14. Get your hair done
It’s the perfect time to refresh your highlights or get a trim!
15. Find your local bump and babies group
Many baby groups also welcome pregnant ladies. This is a great chance to meet fellow mamas expecting babies at roughly the same time, and get some advice from mums who have just given birth.
There’s also often free cake!
16. Get your nails done
Treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure! It feels like a bit of a luxury, but you should definitely pamper yourself while you still can.
If facials and massages are your thing, then go for a spa day somewhere local!
17. Make some bunting for your baby’s nursery
If you are a crafty type then make some kind of decoration for your baby’s nursery.
This is the perfect activity if you’re finding the start of your maternity leave is leaving you impatient to meet your baby at last.
You could try making some bunting, or creating a quilt for your baby’s room.
18. Binge watch amazing TV
Find some good seasons to watch on Netflix or Amazon Prime and indulge in watching every single episode back to back!
Some amazing shows I’ve loved watching include:
- Netflix – Stranger Things, Criminal UK, You, The Good Place, Black Mirror, Dead to Me, When They See Us, 13 Reasons Why, Better Call Saul, Ozark, and Friends (for the 1,000th time!).
- Amazon – The Boys, The Walking Dead, Fleabag, The Americans, The Office, The Good Wife, Sneaky Pete, and Outlander.
19. Read a book or two
Enjoy reading a grown-up book or two because soon you will be reading the Very Hungry Caterpillar and Elmer dozens of time a day!
The Testaments is the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale and I would thoroughly recommend giving it a read!
20. Enjoy a meal out with your other half
You and your other half have got a big challenge coming up. You’re both going to be busy focusing on being parents, so spend some quality time right now.
21. Catch up with your friends
Your friends who don’t have kids may struggle to understand this huge change in your life, although if they’re good friends then they will still be there for you.
Mates with kids already will get the big upheaval that you’re about to face.
Either way, now is a good time to spend time with them. Go for a coffee or lunch.
22. Get used to napping
You’re pregnant, you’re tired, this one sounds obvious doesn’t it?
Actually when you’re pregnant you’ll probably be resting a lot, but maybe not napping in the day so much.
The thing is though, the baby will be napping in the day, a lot, and not sleeping so much at night, at all!
Adjusting to your baby’s sleep patterns is one of the toughest things about becoming a new parent.
If you start fitting in daytime naps now then your body will get used to getting to sleep in the day. It’s one of those things that you need to form a habit of.
Try to take a nap every day of about one hour a day. This will help you when the baby comes to fit in your own sleep patterns around theirs.
I hope this list has given you some great ideas for how to spend those final days before your baby is born! Enjoy yourself, and congratulations!