Some women breeze through their pregnancies, gorgeously glowing and with nary a stretch mark in sight. And then there's the rest of us, who, well, waddle along, complete with constipation and chloasma. Those nine months sure can give you enough reasons to be irritable, but it's important to make pregnancy less miserable in order to make it through.
"Nine months can be tough both physically and emotionally, but if you have an optimistic outlook and take time to enjoy the many changes, you are more likely to appreciate the experience," Dr. MacKenzie Purdy, an ob/gyn at Vios Fertility Institute, tells Romper. The March of Dimes reported that being depressed or sad during pregnancy can put your unborn baby at risk for premature birth, a lower birth weight, or even learning or behavioral issues down the road. So for your sake as well as your baby’s, you should look for ways to find happiness again.
A positive mental attitude goes a long way in having a healthy pregnancy. "Mental health is one of the most important aspects of fertility and pregnancy," says Dr. Purdy. "Some women feel as though they have to suffer in silence and not talk about their concerns," she adds. If you find that you can't shake the sadness, you should speak to a professional about your concerns. And in the meantime, try these tips for having a happier 9 months.
1. Keep Yourself Busy
Nothing can make your pregnancy drag on longer than staring at your belly button waiting to see if it’ll pop out or not (a common question reported on by Parents). That’s why you should try to stick to a schedule and keep yourself busy. Whether you’re working during your pregnancy or not, find ways to occupy your time. You might decide to take a class to perfect your painting skills, or you might go all Marie Kondo and spark joy by clearing out every closet in your house. The point is to be productive with your time. Because after the baby comes, you’ll be super busy simply taking care of her.
2. Eat What You Like
During my first pregnancy, I went out to eat with my bestie and ate the cheese (and only the cheese) off of four slices of pizza. And no one blinked an eye. "Eating a healthy and balanced diet is important for all women prior to and during pregnancy," says Dr. Purdy. "That means trying to start your pregnancy with a healthy BMI, since it can help reduce your risk for developing medical problems such as gestational diabetes, hypertension and preeclampsia." But while you should strive to make healthy food choices to improve both your and your baby's health, there's nothing wrong with giving in to your cravings during pregnancy every once in a while, Huffington Post reported. So bring on the pickles and ice cream ... or in my case, melted mozzarella cheese.
3. Skip The Scale
If you have a love/hate relationship with your scale during your pregnancy, try to be kind to yourself. "A healthy pregnancy requires weight gain, especially if you are a normal BMI or below BMI," says Dr. Purdy. "Every woman’s body is different especially how it responds to pregnancy, so try to enjoy the natural changes you are experiencing and this will help reduce anxiety." Even if you gain a healthy 25-35 pounds during pregnancy, which is normal according to WebMD, it can still be depressing. So focus instead on having a healthy pregnancy, try not to make your pregnancy a numbers game.
4. Take A Break
When that beautiful little baby first makes his or her appearance in the world, you’re going to be on, mama. All. The. Time. Motherhood is relentless, and it doesn’t give you any real opportunity to rest, much less pee in peace. That’s why you should take as many breaks as you can get, because they will very sorely be few and far in-between once baby arrives. Nap when you can, stare off into space when you want, or stroll around the block… just because.
5. Do Something Just For Yourself
While pregnancy can seem to last a lifetime, it really is a short stint in the grand scheme of things. And you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t make the most of your pre-baby days. So do something that celebrates you — and not your bump. It might be getting a really good massage, or splurging on a decadent dessert that you don’t share with anyone, dang it. It could even be taking a mini vacation with your best gal pals. Just make sure that you celebrate yourself during this time.
6. Have Date Night — Often
Date night goes but all out of the window once you become a parent. It’s not that you don’t want to hang out with your sweetie. It’s just that you’re so tired all the time, you’re leaking, and the thought of leaving that cuddly little newborn might set you on a hormonal rollercoaster. Take advantage of your 9 months to hang out with your hubby. It might be a clichéd dinner and movie, or it might be something from your mommy bucket list, like going to a concert together or reenacting one of your first dates. Make it memorable so that the memories last.
7. Focus On Your Health
While no one is suggesting that you run a marathon if you’ve never done it before, pregnancy is a good time to evaluate your overall health and wellness routine. Make sure that you’re getting enough calcium, iron, and folate, recommended Kids Health. Drink plenty of fluids while you’re pregnant, and be sure to exercise as well (just follow your OB’s orders as it relates to specific needs of your pregnancy).
8. Forge New Friendships
Know the saying, “Misery loves company?” Well, you might find that you’re not so cranky if you have some new cohorts to hang out with. Try to expand your circle of friends to include other pregnant women and new moms, too. Not only will you have tons to talk about, but sometimes it just feels good knowing that you’re not the only one feeling the way that you do. Plus, your kids can be friends… you know, once they’re born and all.
9. Bond With Your Baby
Sure, it’s one thing to see your sweet little babe on an ultrasound, but it’s quite another to actually start feeling her move inside your belly. Once you start feeling those baby butterfly flutters (usually around 16-20 weeks, Medical News Today reported), it really hits home that there’s a baby in there. So take the time to bond with your bambino, whether it’s playing music for your little one, singing, or rubbing your belly where you’ve felt a kick. You’ll cry tears — of joy.
10. Get Ready
It can be fun to have a project while you’re expecting, and there’s no better one than getting the nursery ready for your little one. You can begin nesting by flipping through magazines or shopping for some serious design inspiration. As you put together a cute crib or a rockin’ rocking chair, it can take your mind off of the unpleasantness of pregnancy, and allow you to focus on the positive instead.
11. Keep Your Perspective
Even though pregnancy can feel like a mini marathon, it’s really not. I mean, at some point you’re bound to give birth, right? So knowing that there’s a finish line can help you maintain your sanity while you wait for your preggo days to pass by. Because one day they will, and you’re going to totally miss them. Promise.
It’s ironic that even though you might be “sleeping for two”, you could still have a tougher time catching some zzz’s at night. This is especially true for your first and third semesters, when you’re bound to be at your most tired, reported the American Pregnancy Association. You should try to sleep as often as you can when the opportunities to snooze present themselves. If you find that you're still tossing and turning too much at night, purchasing a pregnancy pillow might help you (and your belly) get a good night's rest.
13. Be Comfortable
The aches and pains of pregnancy are enough to make anyone miserable. This isn’t the time to try to squeeze yourself into your pre-pregnancy jeans, though. As much as you might be holding off sliding down the slippery slope into maternity wear, once you try on your first pair of maternity leggings, you’ll never, ever go back again. Being comfortable is half the battle when it comes to feeling good during pregnancy, so if you make an effort to be kind to your body by wearing clothing that is soft on your skin, you’ll feel oh so much better.
Even if you have an easy-breezy pregnancy, there are going to be moments that make you feel miserable. Find ways to find the joy in your pregnancy, even if it means knowing that it’s just 270-ish days to the finish line. And believe it or not, once you hold your baby, you'll realize it was all worthwhile after all.