Everybody’s talking about self-care–but let’s get real.
Nobody’s saying you have to get weekly pedicures, and go out with the girls every Saturday night to feel like you’re a functioning human being.
However, the flip-side of those lofty self-care ideals can be even worse. I personally can’t stand those memes that say things like, “I’m a mom–all I want is to pee with the door shut.”
I want more than that, actually. My kids are growing up with ME as their constant example and role model of how they’ll expect to be treated when they are adults, and I don’t want to teach them that it’s okay to constantly settle for cold leftovers and zero alone-time.
Obviously, when you’re in babyland, it’s hard–but that doesn’t mean you should surrender your sense of humanity to the cause of keeping your kids fed, dressed, and entertained.
Real, legitimate self-care is crucial–and it begins in pregnancy.
Sure, pedicures are flippin’ awesome–but genuine self-care involves doing consistent, regular things for yourself that contribute to your long-term wellbeing.
Genuine self-care during pregnancy encompasses four things:
- A wholesome diet
- Sleep and rest
- Body movement
- Connection with others
A wholesome diet?
I’m not talking kale chips and kombuchas for days–although if that’s your bag, enjoy. A wholesome diet is going to look different for everyone. I try to stick mainly to foods with ingredients I can pronounce, and sourced from places I trust. Eating well can really be an art form – so get creative!
One great thing you can add to your diet is an herbal “pregnancy” tea. These usually contain red raspberry leaf and nettle, both of which help to tone the uterus and are great for women in any stage of life.
But seriously–don’t forget to eat breakfast (even if it’s just a smoothie), and hopefully, eating your dinner cold will be the exception, rather than the rule.
As your belly grows, it’s probably getting more tricky to sleep well – so don’t hesitate to nap when you see an opportunity. You’re growing another human – it’s exhausting work.
Some women have great luck with lots of pillows – try one between your knees when you’re on your side. A pillow under your shoulders will give a slight incline to your torso – this is especially helpful if you’re experiencing heartburn. They also sell special pregnancy body pillows, which some mamas swear by.
Sleep in the dark as much as possible–maybe try a sleep mask. White noise from a fan or quiet meditation music may also help.
Diffusing essential oils can also promote more restful sleep–I use lavender and frankincense. You can also apply these directly to the soles of your feet, and/or pulse points–but make sure you’re using a reputable brand!
If you’ve got restless legs, look into using a magnesium oil spray. It’s applied to your feet at bedtime, and can naturally help to calm your muscles.
If all else fails, start seeing a chiropractor or masseuse.
Body Movement & Fitness?
Should you be doing squats, or kegels? Actually, both are important–because they work together. Walking regularly is the best and most simple prenatal fitness activity. Here’s how it can help.
Also–PLEASE get a birth ball! A birth ball is just an exercise ball, but they are great for minimizing back and hip pain, opening the pelvis, and optimal fetal positioning, to name a few. I used to sit on one as my desk chair–it helped so much with pelvic and hip pain/discomfort.
Yoga is great for allover body alignment, fitness, stamina and strength, and it’s gentle enough for most women to practice throughout pregnancy.
Chiropractic and massage are both important tools to take advantage of during pregnancy, and can make both sleeping and moving your body regularly much more comfortable and effective. Read here about the benefits of prenatal chiro care! Ideally, start seeing a great chiropractor who’s trained in prenatal care BEFORE you’re experiencing any pain! Regular massages are also wonderful and helpful for releasing any lingering tension. Your muscles will have lots of work to do once you’re in labor! Be sure they’re adequately rested now.
If you haven’t signed up for a childbirth class yet, you should definitely set that up soon. Some classes are 12+ weeks long, and fill up fast–so plan ahead if you know there’s a particular one you want to take! There’s many different approaches to childbirth education. That’s why I offer custom, in-home classes. If you’re strapped for time, or this isn’t your first rodeo, you will still benefit from the connection with other parents, as well as a quick “refresher” course.
Connection with others?
In short, don’t spend time with others who bring you down or make you feel anxious. If you’re being peppered with questions about your birth plans, simply change the subject. This is called the Bean Dip Approach–no, really! Imagine–you’re at a party or event, and your in-laws start in on you about when you’re going to tell everyone the baby’s name.
You can just say, “Nah, we’ve told you we want to keep it private until she’s here–but HAVE you tried this bean dip? It’s really delicious!”
You do not owe anyone an explanation of your choices, especially when you’re in the third trimester!
Spend time with others who are truly supportive of you and your plans for this birth, and don’t listen to horror stories or woe-is-me tales from well-meaning relatives or grocery store clerks.
Protect your emotional state, so that you’ll feel as balanced and calm as possible when labor begins.