Yes, you should probably get a bottle steriliser, a nursing pillow and so many burp cloths (get bamboo if you can, for the environment) that your living room looks like an explosion in a flag factory. But what about the stuff that will save you, and more importantly, your sanity, in the first few weeks of motherhood?

A kitchen full of pre-prepped food

It is a long-held wisdom among mothers that one should not enter into the serious business of motherhood without stocking one’s freezer with an entire apocalypse’s worth of lovingly home-cooked casseroles, curries and bologneses.

If you can’t quite stomach the idea of getting off your sofa to do this, however, consider completing, paying for, and arranging delivery for a month’s worth of weekly groceries. Your future self will thank you for not making her leave the house unnecessarily, and you don’t even have to get off the sofa to make all this happen.

As for what to buy, consider that anything you want to cook and/or eat will have to be cooked and/or eaten with one hand, and buy accordingly. So ready meals are the order of the day; if you must cook, stock up on those items you’ve passed in the frozen aisle and wondered “who buys these?” – pre-chopped onions and mushrooms, frozen roast potatoes, grated cheese, etc.

You might also like to sign up to a meal kit delivery service, like Gousto or Hello Fresh, and then use emotional blackmail and/or your baby to pressure a relative into cooking it for you. If none of this appeals, may we suggest a few good pizza menus.

More snacks than you can shake a stick at

Early motherhood can be a magical time. It can also deplete you completely of energy, regardless of whether you’re breast or bottle-feeding, and you may come to find yourself relying on sugar and caffeine to keep you awake. So use your grocery service to buy your body weight in biscuits, then double that, because that’s how hungry you’ll be. You might also want to throw in some healthy snacks (pre-chopped crudites, for example; and a couple of frozen fruit smoothie mixes you can chuck in the blender for a vitamin boost), and more biscuits. Because apparently other people like them, too.

A streaming subscription

One of the most intensely enjoyable aspects of new motherhood these days is how you can watch multiple seasons of the trashiest TV in your pyjamas, completely without judgement, and while holding a cross between your new best friend and the world’s most adorable hot water bottle. A little viewing advice: 1) watch comforting things rather than brain-taxing things; especially if you’re not sleeping much; 2) DO NOT WATCH CRIME DRAMAS, because they all feature children in peril; and 3) watch everything with the subtitles on. You’d be surprised how much babies can time giant farts during key scenes.  

A tiny bag

No matter how cute your sleeping baby is – how perfect their eyelashes; how rhythmic their breathing – the only torture worse than being trapped under them with your phone out of reach is being trapped under one with your phone, but no battery, and no charger to hand. So always keep a little bag about your person, with a drinks bottle, thermos cup, snacks, tissues, lip and/or nipple balm, and a fully-charged portable phone charger or two.

A wipe-clean board to stick up by your front door

This is a life-saver: write, in large letters, a polite request for anyone knocking on your front door to do so quietly in case the baby is napping. Make sure it’s wipe-clean so that, if they keep waking the baby, you can write a second note that’s not quite so polite.