10 Things Every Mom Should Do For Herself, And Only Herself, Before Her Baby Is Born

Ad failed to load

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.

Ad failed to load

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.

Ad failed to load

Practice Self-Care


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).

Ad failed to load

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.

Ad failed to load

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.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

5 Parenting Habits That Increase Your Chances Of Successfully Potty-Training Your Child

From starting solids to learning to walk, every childhood milestone presents its own unique set of challenges — but this is especially true of potty training. Indeed, the very thought strikes fear into the heart of many a toddler parent, particularly…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

Getting Pregnant Might Mean Losing The Plus-Size Body I Love

For the last two years, I haven’t been my body’s biggest champion. I’ve gained 50 pounds. The stress of helping a parent get sober, a house purchase, and a new job got the best of me. But now, at 36, with talks between my husband and I about having a…
By Loren Kleinman

7 Hilarious Differences Between Having A Baby In Your 20s Vs Your 30s

I was 24 when I had my daughter. And even though that pregnancy was neither expected nor pleasant, I was optimistic. Sure, I guess your 20s are "supposed" to be about finding yourself, finishing college, starting your career, and navigating less-than…
By Candace Ganger

Babies "R" Us Was The First Place I Went When I Found Out I Would Be A Mom

For years I struggled to have a baby, and the sight of toys and layettes made my heart hurt. For me, Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us were a complete no-go zone, a reminder of everything I was missing out on. My mom would walk the long way around Target…
By Becky Bracken

New Moms Have Two Options: Be "Sad & Fat" Or "Desperate & Thin"

As the line goes, the worst thing you could say about me, I've already thought about myself. In the early postpartum period with my son, it was: "I am overweight, lonely, and heartbroken." It was four days after I brought my son into the world, and I…
By Danielle Campoamor

6 Fascinating Facts About Spring Babies: You Could Have A Leader On Your Hands

Does the season in which you are born affect you or are all seasons pretty equal? It turns out that there are many ways in which the your child's birth season could give you an insight into things to come. Whether you are expecting a baby in the next…
By Shari Maurer

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

I'm A Stay-At-Home Mom &, Face It, These 11 Stereotypes Are Totally True

Hello, friends! It's me, your resident stay-at-home mom. You know, there's a lot that's said about me and my kind, and the vast majority of it is not even remotely true. For example, this whole "we're lazy, vapid, unambitious, anti-feminist, backstab…
By Jamie Kenney

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger