There’s no doubt about it, pregnancy can be a crazy time in any woman’s life, especially if you think you’ve already got everything figured out. For those of you who already have the perfect schedule, balanced bank accounts and clean houses, maybe this article isn’t for you. Then again, when that baby shows up and everything is upside down and inside out, you might have wished you had read all the way through to the bottom.
Becoming pregnant and getting ready to welcome a new baby in your world means that your life becomes less about you and becomes more about them. These little bundles of joy come with mountains of diapers and laundry, and create the uncontrollable need to buy them extremely adorable (and sometime expensive) clothing. It is so easy to be swept away with the tide of new motherhood, and this can leave the best of us overwhelmed and exhausted with all that is being a modern mom.
With this is mind, try and consider your pregnancy as the best time to focus on you and some of the good habits you can pick up while you still have that bit of free time. A lot of the same helpful things things that doctors and therapists and financial planners tell us to do are not only good to start doing anytime in your life, they are actually great to do while you’re pregnant. Developing those good habits now are great for getting prepared and lowering stress levels so that you are better equipped to handle the lovable ball of energy that is headed your way.
15 Get Moving!
Let’s face it, we all need more exercise. And if you have already found that perfect activity that feels more like fun and less like work, than you’re already ahead of the game. For the rest of us, exercise is a good habit to pick up, and it all starts with having fun. During your pregnancy, doctors recommend 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise on most days, and this can come from activities like walking, swimming, or any other activity as long as it doesn’t include contact sports or a high chance of falling (no tightrope walking at this point in the game!).
Pick something you like to do, anything at all, and try to hit those 30 minutes on a daily basis. The regular activity will help you sleep better, and will help with the endurance you’ll need once it comes to labour time. When baby is finally here and you find yourself with less time, already having the habit of getting exercise on a daily basis will help motivate you keep up the good work by taking the baby out on regular walks, or signing up for one those cute baby-and-mommy yoga classes. Better yet, get used to taking a few moments for yourself on a regular basis and have your partner or family member watch the baby for an hour while you get some quality workout time with nothing but you and your playlist.
14 Early Bird
Here’s something that may surprise you sometime in your second or third trimester - it’s really hard to sleep in, no matter how much you want to. Many moms-to-be find themselves waking up at the crack of dawn later in their pregnancy. Most experienced moms would probably advise you to get as much sleep now, while you can, but anybody knows that when once you’re up, you’re up. Since you’re already up while the rest of the world is asleep, try working on some early morning routines that are just for you that you can continue right on when the baby is around.
Knowing what stores in your neighbourhood open early or are open 24 hours means you can get errands done early when lines are small and parking lots are empty. Early morning is also a great time to exercise as it will help keep you energized for the rest of the day. Or mornings can be that quiet time you take just for yourself to enjoy a cup of tea and a few chapters of a good book. Early morning activities can help set the tone for the entire day, so developing a good routine at the beginning of the day can help make sure the rest of your day is a good as it can be.
13 Smaller and Better Meals
We all want to eat, so why not start when you’re eating for two? Let’s be clear, you should definitely not go on a restrictive diet while pregnant - both you and the baby need healthy foods to grow and stay energized. But pregnancy is also the time when a growing belly can cause some wicked heartburn, and eating smaller, healthier meals can help manage the acid your baby is trying to kick up your throat. Besides, having regular and smaller nutrient-packed meals is a good practice anytime in your life to keep your energy up and to prevent the overeating that happens when we wait too long to eat.
So practice now by having healthy snacks like yogurt or fruit and cheese on hand for snacking, as well as protein and fibre-rich meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Your body (and baby) will love the regular sustenance throughout the day, and by practicing keeping meals smaller and healthier will be super useful once baby is here and their unpredictable schedule tempts you into unhealthier options.
12 Drinking Less
There’s no arguing about it - you’re going to have to cut down on alcohol once that bun is in the oven. North American doctors say zero alcohol should pass your lips during your pregnancy, while some European cultures just ask you to keep it to less than one glass of wine per day. No matter your leanings, you definitely shouldn’t be going on any benders in order to keep you and the baby healthy. And while you’re at it, why not plan to keep that alcohol consumption at a minimum for the long haul? Yes, an occasional glass of wine after the baby is born can be a godsend at the end of a long day, and it can have some health benefits, but an overall reduction in drinking both during and after your pregnancy can help you in several ways.
Drinking is expensive, so you’ll help your wallet out by cutting it out, and you’ll save the empty calories from a beverage that will really just give you headache in the long run. Also, looking after a toddler when you have a hangover is one of the hardest life lessons you will ever learn. Having a couple of drinks with friends can be great at social gatherings, but look into other ways of relaxing at the end of day, like meditation or yoga.
11 Oral Hygiene
If you aren’t already a regular flosser, pregnancy is a great time to work on making sure your teeth stay their healthiest. Taking care of your teeth and gums is a great long-term investment in your health, so if you aren’t already make sure to brush and floss at least twice a day, this is a great habit to pick up. During pregnancy, your gums become more sensitive to plaque build-up, which can lead to swollen and bleeding gums. Pregnancy gingivitis is it’s own category of gum disease, and can even lead to bad breath, which is the last thing you need to be worrying about.
Once the baby arrives, it can be all too easy at the end of the day, when you’re tired of breastfeeding and diaper changing and infant entertaining, to crash into bed and neglect your pearly whites once again. Getting into the habit now of brushing and flossing at least twice a day will help you continue your dental care when your energy is at its lowest. Add in regular visits to your dentist too, and your smile will thank you.
Napping is something of an art, and artists aren’t just born, they are also made. There are some people that seem to be natural born nappers, while others need some practice. You’ll find babies are the same. But before baby arrives, pregnancy is as excellent time to get as much sleep as you can, and try and find your ideal nap duration. Short power naps that clock in at around the 20 minute mark are great for an afternoon pick me up - you often get up from them recharged and ready to tackle the latter part of your day.
Longer naps between 30 and 90 minutes are better for enhancing your memory and boosting your creativity. Pregnancy can also come with fatigue, and if you’re already tired in the afternoon from waking up earlier than usual, an afternoon nap may be less of a luxury and more of a necessity. When the baby comes, being able to nap well and knowing how long a sleep will help you feel energized will be extra helpful as you survive the early days of sleep deprivation. No matter which way you cut it, spending time on naps is never a bad idea.
Dry skin is just plain annoying, but can creep up on any woman, young and old alike. Getting used to moisturizing daily while pregnant will pay off big once the baby finally arrives, and this is one habit that your body will continue to thank you for. When you’re pregnant, and just as your belly is beginning to grow, you’re going to want to moisturize your belly daily to help the skin expand and to prevent stretch marks. In general, moisturizing all body parts that can expand during your pregnancy, including thighs or breasts, is a good idea.
After birth, and after breastfeeding if you so choose, your body will slowly return to normal, and moisturized skin will recover better will less visible marks. Taking those few moments on a daily basis to look after the skin on your face and the rest of your body is also a great self-care habit, and reminds you to focus on you. Once moisturizing becomes part of your regular routine you will love the extra smooth glow your skin gives off, and this new habit will keep giving you beautiful looking skin.
If there is just one thing that you start as a new habit, it has the be kegels. Kegels are small exercises that are used to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, and they are a great exercise for women of all ages. In order to perform keels properly, try to stop urinating midstream when going to the bathroom. Once you get the flow to stop, you’ve engaged all the muscles you need to perform a kegel. These muscles support your digestive and reproductive organs, and working these muscles help prevent incontinence, which is basically leaking urine or fecal matter when you really don’t want to.
Doing kegels regularly during pregnancy can help prevent this occurrence, and also supports your pelvic floor muscle as they bear additional weight holding your uterus in place at it’s biggest in the last trimester. To do kegels, try contracting and holding the muscles for up to five seconds, and then releasing for five seconds. Build up to holding the contraction for up to ten seconds, then releasing it for the same amount of time. Try to do this ten times in a row, three times a day, and your bladder and dry underwear will thank you later.
7 Time Management
It’s great when you have large chunks of time to devote to a task, like cleaning the house all at once or completing an article all in one sitting. But when the baby comes and demands your attention whenever they feel like, you might begin to notice there is never a big enough chunk of time to get those big jobs done. While you're working on all those things you want to have ready for when the baby arrives, like the nursery or baby proofing, start practicing completing those big tasks by breaking them down in smaller tasks that can be done in 15-30 minute chunks of time.
Instead of trying to dedicate one whole day to paint a baby room, break the job down by getting supplies, cleaning the walls, taping the trim, painting and clean up all over several days. You might find that not only does that help you get through a big tasks while managing pregnancy fatigue, but it might also be easier to take on big jobs when you think of them in terms of their parts. When you have a baby in tow and are feeling strapped for time, focusing on completing small tasks that are part of bigger projects can help you stay motivated and productive.
If you are one of those people who find laundry a therapeutic process, then this part will be a piece of cake. For the rest of us that put off doing laundry until the pile starts pouring over, the concept of laundry day might be something you dread, and put off for as long as possible. When the baby comes, these feelings will only amplify as you start adding one more person’s clothes to the pile.
While it seems like the opposite of what you want to do, consider doing a little laundry each night. Get into the habit of throwing in a load each night, and laundry will no longer feel like that gargantuan task that you’re constantly avoiding. Instead, it becomes a small task you can finish while you watch your nightly Netflix viewing. Tackling laundry a little bit at a time will help you get to all those occasional washes that shouldn't be avoided (bed linens, towels, etc.) while you're pregnant, and will really help once all that baby laundry starts piling up.
5 Meal Prep and Planning
The days of coming home after work and throwing whatever you like on for dinner are sadly over. Once the baby arrives time is precious, and anything you can do to minimize cooking time and avoid any unnecessary trips to the grocery store is a must. If you aren’t already in the habit of planning out your meals for the week and getting all your groceries on a weekly basis, now is the time to do it.
Meal planning helps you to make the most use of groceries, as you can plan to use all of those loose-end ingredients and save anything from going to waste. You might also want to consider making big batches of your favourite, easy-to-freeze meals, like lasagnas and soups, that last well in the freezer and make dinner as easy as turning on the oven. This kind of planning and prep will be a godsend when you get to the end of the day with a baby in your arms, and prevent you from turning takeout into a major weekly expense.
4 Quiet Time
Even though there is a little person trying to cause a ruckus in your belly, this will be one of the quietest time of your life. After the baby arrives, quiet time is going to become scarce, and you may find yourself desperate for a little peace. Now is a great time to build some meditation skills to help manage the stress that will inevitably come your way, and to create a habit of finding a quiet place for a few minutes each day to calm your mind.
We have so many distractions in our lives, so learning how to focus by clearing our minds and concentrating on just breathing can have huge benefits for mental health. During your pregnancy, try to take a few minutes each day at whatever time is most convenient, and shut the door on the world for a few minutes. If you find it difficult to be totally quiet, try listening to some music you enjoy. Building this time into your day will be hugely beneficial for you, and a happy and centred mommy means a more happy baby.
3 Keep Hydrated
If you don’t already drink water regularly throughout the day, pregnancy is a great time to start. It is so easy to forget to drink water when you are out and about throughout the day, but staying hydrated plays a huge part in your health both during pregnancy and after the baby is born. Your pregnant body requires more water than usual as your blood volume increases to help support the growing fetus, and good hydration is important to make sure nutrients are distributed to both you and the baby.
Building good habits now, like having a reusable water bottle you pack with you everyday, and starting your workday with a glass at the ready will help make getting your daily intake much easier. Little sips throughout the day is your best bet, as a growing baby will put pressure on your stomach, making drinking large amounts uncomfortable. Once the baby arrives and you are busier than ever, having these habits in place will help avoid that fatigue that can come from being dehydrated.
When you’re in the throes of pregnancy, picturing perfect nurseries and state-of-the-art strollers, it is really easy to overspend. A lot of what comes with being pregnant will make you want to spend rather than cut back. Setting up nurseries and eating out when you’re too tired to cook at home can all take a hit on your wallet, and all those little extra purchases can really add up. Before your baby comes is the best time to create a new budget, or start from scratch if you’ve never budgeted before.
Take account of all your regular expenses (rent/mortgage, groceries, utilities, etc.) and calculate the expenses you can reasonably predict will come with baby. This could include everything from diapers to formula to daycare, and don’t forget to add in a little for clothes on a regular monthly basis - those babies grow fast! If you’ve never budgeted before, getting a good understanding of your income and expenses now will prevent any nasty surprises once the baby arrives and you become busy with more important things.
Saving goes hand-in-hand with budgeting, and is so important both before and after the baby comes. If you haven’t already set up some kind of regular savings, now is the time to start. There are all sorts of reasons that you should save up money to cover for a rainy day, and it’s never too early to consider saving for your little one’s future education. While you’re pregnant, and hopefully creating and working with your soon-to-be baby budget, try and sock away that baby money in a savings account.
You can save up a good chunk until the baby comes, and that savings can go a long way to help out in case you face an unforeseen event like a job loss or medical emergency. With this in mind, other planning that is important consider along with your savings are other legacy-planning tasks, like creating a will and getting a life insurance policy. Getting your finances in order now will help prepare you for the wild and wonderful new life ahead.