There's a long to-do list when it comes to preparing for your baby's arrival. The fun part was getting pregnant, the tough part is basically everything that comes afterwards. From designing your dream nursery, to picking the perfect baby name, to deciding between the various childcare options, to taking time to relax and focus on self-care, there are things every grown-ass woman does when she's pregnant, that will only make labor, delivery and postpartum life easier for her.
When I was pregnant with my first child I (like many new moms) didn't have the slightest clue what I was doing. I read all the baby books and researched online until my fingers cramped from abusing the internet and it's many search engines. I had a ton of pre-baby fears that no amount of research or reading seemed capable of easing. Since my own mother is deceased, I really didn't have anyone who had "been there and done that," to confide in. A lot of people understood that my mom's absence made pregnancy a little more difficult, and took it upon themselves to offer me their advice. While I was thankful for most of it (seriously, some of those ladies saved me), I'd be lying if I said that I felt like my naivety didn't get taken advantage of on occasion, or that the unsolicited advice didn't, from time to time, become overwhelming.
At times it seemed like my decisions regarding my pregnancy weren't really my own at all. I couldn't eat or drink a single thing without the well-being of my baby being questioned; my baby shower had to cater to the comfort of others; my labor and delivery was wrecked because I allowed people to come and go as they pleased while I was in and out of consciousness, due to the tormenting pain of Pitocin contractions. People constantly telling me what to do and what not to do with my own body, made me feel like people thought I wasn't capable of making decent decisions on my own. Honestly, and ironically enough, it made me feel like a kid again, even though I was about to have a kid myself.
In other words, it's safe to say that it took some trial, error, and a little growing up for me to realize that the following 12 things are decisions that every grown-ass woman needs to make on her own. Thankfully, because of the lessons I learned and the decisions I realized every grown-ass woman should make when she's pregnant, my second pregnancy was a different story. I decided from the very beginning that I would be the one sitting in the driver's seat that was my pregnancy, and that if someone had something to say about my decision making, I would politely tell them as I put my swollen foot down, "Thanks, but no thanks. I've got this."
Decides How And When To Announce The Pregnancy
Announcing a pregnancy can be such an exciting time for a woman, but it's also something that's deeply personal and, honestly, scary. Most women like to wait until they are in their second trimester, just in case complications were to arise, but others like to shout the news as soon as they get a positive pregnancy test. Both ways are fine, but it should be up to the person that's actually pregnant as to when and how that announcement is made.
With my first, only a few people knew that I was pregnant before someone in my family decided to take it upon themselves to announce it via Facebook, so any creative plans I had were tossed aside after that. With my second, I didn't make an announcement until I was almost 20 weeks along, probably out of spite.
Makes Maternity Leave Plans (If She Can)
I actually remember people telling me while I was trying to make plans for my maternity leave at work, "Oh, don't worry about that. It'll all work out!" Let me just say right now that that is horrible advice. Of course you need to plan! Thankfully, this is advice that I kindly ignored, otherwise we might not have been able to pay our bills while I took time off of work.
I don't want to burst anyone's bubble, but there isn't some money fairy that comes and sprinkles income on top of your bills while you're on maternity leave. I mean, there isn't even guaranteed paid maternity leave in the U.S. so unless you've got a money tree in your back yard or your income isn't needed, you're going to need to make plans, and whether or not you want to return to work should ultimately be up to you (if it makes sense financially, of course).
Eats Tacos Guilt-Free
It seems like everyone has something to say about what you should and should not eat during your pregnancy. Yes, a healthy diet is obviously recommended but an occasional taco isn't going to cause your baby to have poor SAT scores. Your pregnancy diet is something that you should discuss with your doctor, not your random acquaintance that likes to show up at parties and blurt out random facts in order to make themselves seem more intelligent.
Exercises Her Right To Wear Leggings As Pants
If you can still wear your regular jeans until the day you deliver, that's great, but please don't beat yourself up if you can't. Exercise your right to wear leggings as pants every day if that's what you want to do. Don't compare your pregnancy body to the person who claims she wore her size 2's during her entire pregnancy. Maybe some people can do that, but I can assure you that not many can and hopping into a pair of leggings 11 weeks into your pregnancy is nothing to be ashamed of.
Also, maternity jeans are amazing these days. I haven't been pregnant in 16 months and I can fit into most of my normal jeans, but I still wear my maternity jeans on occasion. They're just so darn cozy!
Takes Extra Amazing Care Of Herself
Pregnancy is wonderful, of course, but it's also pretty damn stressful and exhausting and overwhelming. If you're ever feeling inundated with the trials and tribulations of procreation, it's okay to take a step back and take care of yourself. There will never be a more appropriate time to be selfish than when you're pregnant, so if you want to indulge in a spa day or a prenatal massage, go for it! Get a facial or a manicure or treat yourself to lots of relaxing, stress-free days because, before too long, it's going to be slightly more difficult to get away for a massage.
Makes Birth Plans
The way in which you decide to deliver your baby is, you guessed it, up to you. If you want to deliver your baby in a hospital and use an epidural, do that. If you want to try a home birth and use the services of a midwife or doula, do that. If you want to be surrounded by your entire family and all of your sorority sisters, that's fine, but if you want your delivery to be an intimate experience between you and your partner, you will need to set some ground rules as to who is and isn't allowed into the birthing premises. However you want to give birth is up to you.
Refuses To Apologize For Her Hormone-Fueled Emotions
Erratic emotions are par for the pregnancy course. Hormones are relentless bitches and you have no control over how they make you feel, therefor, you should never apologize for crying during the Subaru commercial. End of story.
Indulges In The Baby Section At Target
Baby showers are wonderful because they often provide new moms with some of the basic necessities needed for their baby. But that doesn't mean that a mom shouldn't be able to indulge in the baby section of her choosing, on her own, too. Buying things for your baby can be so exciting and picturing them in that adorable outfit you bought them will make the aches and pains of pregnancy disappear. If you want to do your own personal shopping for your baby, by all means, please do! Don't let someone else tell you that you shouldn't be spending money on your own baby. You will get a lot at your baby shower, yes, but you're a mom now and moms have an inherent need to buy things for their babies.
You're going to want to do a lot during your pregnancy and for a while that won't be an issue, but there will come a time when your walk will turn into a waddle and walking 12 feet will feel more like walking 12 miles. When that time comes, don't be afraid to ask for help. No one ever wants to need help, but sometimes needing assistance is inevitable. Take advantage of the kindness of others and take all the help you can get while it's still readily available.
Allows Herself To Nap
Pregnancy naps are the best naps.
Organizes Her Entire Life (As Best She Can, Of Course)
Nesting is a very real phenomenon. Getting your life completely together and clutter-free before your baby arrives will make your postpartum life run so much smoother. Knowing exactly where everything is when you need it will save you lots of gray hairs, because babies are kind of impatient and if they don't get what they want when they want it, they're probably going to make you want to cry too.
While in my own nesting phase, I took it upon myself to rearrange every room in the house (with the muscle of my husband), paint walls, clean out our basement, organize all important documents, and reorganize our kitchen. I was a maniac, but it worked out in our favor once our son was born.
Enjoys Plenty Of "Me Time"
Take advantage of all the "me time" you can get before your baby gets here. Becoming a mother is amazing, but it also marks the end of an era that was founded on your needs only. Once your baby arrives, your needs are going to come secondary more often than not, but it's important that you remember how to love yourself too. Self care is so important once you become a mother. When you spend the majority of your time nurturing an all-consuming human, you're eventually going to reach the point of exhaustion. At that point, it's vital to remember that you need care, too. Practicing the act of taking care of yourself before you have your baby, will hopefully help you to remember to take care of yourself too after you have your baby.