Whether you're having your first baby, or you've already been there and done that, there are some things every pregnant woman should do the last week before her due date (and the hustle and bustle of the newborn weeks to follow). Sure, every woman and every pregnancy is different, but I think it's safe to say that there are some universal truths accompanying this whole pregnancy, labor, and delivery thing. Taking some time for yourself before a tiny human is thrown into the mix, is one of them.
For me, the third trimester is a time for nesting. I hate when I seem like a walking, talking cliché but the last few weeks, and especially the last week before my due date, seem to always play out the same way. It usually involves me painting something (you would expect the nursery, but one pregnancy found me painting my kitchen cabinets). I also seem to get surprisingly very organized and detail-oriented about sorting, washing and folding baby clothes (as if they will ever be folded again after baby comes), and setting up the nursery (which the baby won't sleep in for a year, and will inevitably become the cat's bed). Beyond nesting instinct, I try to find time for self care; something that I should prioritize all of the time, but frequently place on the back burner. I try to schedule a pedicure, shave my legs, do some landscaping (with or without the help of a mirror or a partner), go for a walk, take a yoga class, or read a good book. I also try to use this time to not only freak out about impending labor and delivery, but to connect with my partner and my children. Our lives are about to change dramatically. The countdown is on, and there's no turning back now, so I enjoy my life as it is now for the last few days, before change management will be crucial.
Most of all, I sleep. Because, sleep deprivation during the newborn months is so not a cliché. So, yeah, as an experienced mom I feel confident saying that there are more than a few things every pregnant woman should do that final week of her pregnancy. Do a few, do them all, or create your own list; just make sure you find a way to focus on yourself, mama-to-be.
Now is not the time to freak out. Yes, your baby is coming. Yes, you might not feel prepared, but honestly, you won't use half of the stuff you bring to the hospital anyway, or half of the stuff you've purchased for baby. Don't panic. Make sure you have the essentials (diapers, bottles/formula, a few outfits, a crib or bassinet). Everything else can come later, once you meet your baby and learn what they like and need.
Get Essentials Ready, But Forget Everything Else
There are few things a newborn actually needs: food, diapers, clothes, and a safe place to sleep. Beyond those necessities, it's best to wait and see what baby likes and doesn't like, or needs and doesn't need, when they get here. No amount of filling your home with baby things will make you more prepared to be a parent. Relax.
Pack Your Bags
If you haven't already, it's time to pack your bags for the hospital. My midwife friend suggests that you pack two bags: one for labor and delivery, and one for your hospital stay after baby comes. My recommendations:
For labor: your cell phone and charger, snacks, your own pillow with a colored pillow case, and your favorite lip balm.
For after labor: comfy pajamas that are easy to breastfeed in, yoga pants and a tunic to wear home, an outfit for baby, makeup and other toiletries, awesome smelling shower stuff, a nursing pillow, a bottle and formula (just in case), and a bottle of beer or wine with a screw top (you're welcome).
Spend One-On-One Time With Your Partner
Everything will change soon. Everything. Now is the time to go on a date or simply enjoy each other's company. If you don't have a partner, go on a date or have girl's night or spend some time with yourself, having fun. This time, my husband and I are planning a night in a hotel for a "babymoon." Of course, with my luck, baby will come early and we'll have a baby with us. #FML
If it's OK with your health care provider and it's something you feel like doing, now might be the perfect time to have some sex. Remember, depending on how delivery goes, you might not be able to or want to have sex for several weeks after your baby arrives.
As an added bonus, maybe it'll help you feel less stressed.
I cannot stress this enough. Give yourself some love. Do something that makes you feel great. Whether that be a pedicure or massage, a peppermint mocha, a walk, some meditation, or all of the above; just do it. You deserve it.
Go To A Movie
Like sex, it may be a few months (or years) before you have a chance to see a movie in the theater. As an added bonus, I am pretty sure attending a movie I really wanted to see was what started my labor the first time. Thanks, Murphy's Law. You're just the best.
Eat At A Restaurant
If you can afford to, go out to eat at a restaurant without a kids' menu. Have your favorite food, without having to stop and feed a newborn or walk them to sleep in the aisles. This time around, I'm going to have eggplant parmesan, because there's an urban legend that it will start labor. (Not that I believe that it will work, but even if it doesn't work, it's freaking eggplant parmesan.)
Get that last item on your registry or some new slippers, stock up on coffee, wine, and easy to eat snacks, and engage in retail therapy. Do it online from the comfort of your bed, or get some steps in.
Spend Some Time By Yourself
For me, having a baby means I lose a little bit of myself. There's something both beautiful and bitter about having a small human rely on your touch, care, and (if you breastfeed) your body, for months. I simultaneously love and hate the snuggles. I get touched out. I relish the moments and want them to end. It's almost a perfect metaphor for motherhood.
Spend some time alone, in your own skin, and with your own thoughts before baby comes. Stay friends with yourself.
Sleep. Beautiful sleep. I often lament that pregnancy insomnia only somewhat prepares moms for what sleep deprivation will be like with a newborn. I am not joking when I suggest that you get some sleep now in the final days, and if you can't, ask for some help. You'll thank yourself.