10 Things Every Mom Should Do For Herself, And Only Herself, Before Her Baby Is Born
Before a woman has a baby, she'll likely be bombarded by all kinds of advice concerning things she absolutely must do before her life is forever changed. Many of these things are essentially tasks that, while necessary, aren't fun or things a pregnant human being feels like actually doing. So sure, there are lots of things every mom should do before her kid is born; practical stuff like finding a pediatrician, and completing that hospital paperwork before you go into labor. But what about some of the less recognized and less appreciated ones, like seeing a really dumb movie alone, or saying to hell with all that extensive nesting?
When I was expecting my first son, I wasted a lot of time doing a whole lot of things that other people and books and websites told me I was "supposed" to be doing. The biggest time waster, in my opinion, was the time I spent culling the perfect baby registry. I felt like the baby's stuff was one of the few areas that were in my control when so much wasn't, so I stared at my computer screen late into the night, freaking out over organic sleep sacks and glass bottles and the perfect bouncer that also would look chic in my apartment. I also spent a lot of time feeling guilty about the exercise I wasn't doing. All the fitness magazines touted this idea of "30 minutes of cardio a day," but all I wanted to do — with my giant belly and aching hips — was stretch. I read one article about how it was important that not only should I start working on the perfect birth announcement but I should also do a deep clean of my entire apartment, including all the carpets.
That was when I started to wonder if someone was playing a cruel joke on pregnant women everywhere. What was all this crap? Was this for real? I mean, pretty soon I was going to be devoting almost all of my time and energy to another, tiny human being. Why wasn't I spending more time focusing on myself, before that tiny human entered the world? So, after having had two pregnancies of my own, here's my list of fun things every pregnant woman should do for herself, before she has a baby.
Forget Nesting. Get Rid Of Crap You Don't Need.
I know, I know; you have a registry and you expect that people will just buy you the things that you've specifically requested because you've spent the last nine months perfecting your Amazon wish list and checking it twice (or five hundred times). But people have a tendency to really go off registry when it comes to buying stuff for new moms and babies, because they tend to be driven by ego and want to be that special person that got you the special gift you weren't expecting (i.e. did not want).
So, expect friends (and especially family friends and older relatives) to get you stuff that not only did you not need, but that also is not going to be in your taste (a pack of ten onesies in different shades of brown, each with a different athletic sport depicted on it, anyone?).
See A Movie In The Daytime. Alone.
Now is the time to be indulgent. If you can carve out a weekend day to treat yourself to a movie while your partner works on assembling nursery furniture, I can't think of a better way to waste away a few hours. The less intellectually stimulating the movie the better because, really, you don't have much by way of brain cells or patience right now, do you? (OK, maybe that was just me.)
Nap Hard And Often
I am one of those lucky people that can nap literally anywhere, at any time. I can nap on the subway, even if I'm not going more than a few stops. I can nap in a chair in a doctor's waiting room. And when I'm pregnant? Whoo boy. I am a fierce napper.
So. I napped with reckless abandon whenever I could grab the chance; car rides, while my partner was preparing dinner, and between writing deadlines (I had been freelancing during most of my pregnancy). I would set timers allowing myself little naps so that I could still be a functioning member of society and not end up sleeping the day away. However, I made it pretty clear to friends and family that if the nap wave hit me, I was going to ride it and they shouldn't be offended if mid-conversation or mid-visit, I had to tell them that I just needed to lie down for a while.
Whether it is buying up a whole bunch of makeup at Sephora and playing with makeup tutorials on YouTube, or getting a pedicure every once in a while (and those foot massages feel damn good when you have those swollen feet), or prenatal yoga, or prenatal massage; do whatever makes you feel relaxed.
Self care doesn't have to cost big bucks either. I had a wonderful prenatal yoga DVD that I did almost every day of my pregnancy for 20 minutes, and it always made me feel calm and energized afterward. My dog enjoyed playing on my yoga mat with me, too, which also helped take away some of whatever was stressing me out, because, you know, dogs are awesome at that stuff.
Take Some Naked Pictures
I'm not advocating blowing these pictures up and framing them to hang on your walls or sending them via text to anyone (though if that's your thing, go for it), but your pregnant body is freaking amazing and one day, I assure you, it will not look like this anymore in all its life-affirming glory.
You may not feel like the goddess or Earth Mother you were hoping to look and feel like while pregnant, what with unpleasant pregnancy stuff like cystic acne, pregnancy mask, stretch marks, and cellulite, but for many people this is one of those once or (if you're lucky) few times in your life kind of events. Figure out what angles work for you, put on whatever kind of underwear makes you feel cute (or go without, since you can't really see much down there anyway) and snap away. Then go nuts with the filters if you want. You'll be happy you have these pics when your kids are older.
Take A Babymoon
A babymoon doesn't have to be an elaborate vacation to some exotic locale (but hey, it totally could be, as long as your doctor gives you the OK). A little trip with just you and your partner to somewhere that doesn't host the to-do lists that come with a tiny human's impending arrival, can be a wonderful way to reconnect with one another and just relish in the simple fact that things are going to be a lot different for the two of you (and pretty soon).
Enjoy Coffee And Ignore The Haters
If a "helpful" stranger makes an unhelpful comment to you about your coffee order at the barista counter, just pretend that their comment is white noise or come up with something witty in response such as, "Oh, this isn't regular coffee. It's spiked with Bourbon, just how I like it!"
Many OB-GYN's (mine included) told me that a 12 ounce cup of coffee per day was fine. My doctor even said I could have up to two cups if it was regular drip coffee, from my own coffee machine at home (as opposed to say, an espresso drink from a Starbucks). She also said I could have as much caffeinated tea as I wanted. With all the other things I had to give up during my pregnancy (like red wine, gin martinis, stinky French cheeses, and cured meats), I held on very tightly to my warm coffee cup every morning.
Buy Something For Yourself, That's Completely Unnecessary...
Once that baby arrives (and, honestly, well before their arrival) you're going to be purchasing baby-specific things for, well, ever. So, purchase something for yourself, that in no way benefits the baby or your pregnancy or much of anyone or anything else. Get something for you, and only you, that you can enjoy.
...And, Yes, Buy A Few Baby Essentials
However, you don't really need to go crazy. A lot of online websites are only a click away from one day (or even same day) delivery. The hospital also sends you home with so much stuff. My haul included: diapers, onesies, hats, thermometer, nose sucker thingy, comb, a little baby bath, blankets, maxi pads for me, and pacifiers.
I would say the only things I really needed to have waiting for me at home for the baby was a changing pad on which to do diaper duty (but even that can wait, because you can grab those disposable "chucks" pads from the hospital to use instead), a bassinet or crib with crib sheets, burp cloths, some soft onesies, wash cloths, and swaddling blankets.
Write A Love Letter To Your Baby
Writing a letter to my soon-to-be-born child was a really moving experience for me. It was the first time it really hit me that the person growing inside me was, well, an actual person.
For so much of my pregnancy, I had been envisioning more of an ethereal creature, a faceless "Everybaby" whose features had been strung together from various baby clothing catalogues and diaper commercials. It wasn't until I sat down with a pen in my hand (yeah, I went old school) and wrote a letter addressed to my baby (we didn't know his gender at the time) that I fully understood that I was about to give birth to someone who was going to be a very real, very actualized (eventually) person who I would get to spend the rest of my life with.