10 Things a Pregnant Woman Should Do Before the Baby Comes
I am eight months pregnant with my first baby. As exciting as the lead up to and the actual journey have been, there is no end in sight to the (often unsolicited but well-intentioned) advice I receive from acquaintances and strangers alike. While evaluating each piece of advice on its own merit, it dawned on me that some lifestyle choices and personal initiatives have stood me in good stead through this wonderful journey towards motherhood. The lack of others, however, stood out conspicuously.
I have taken heart in the fact that pregnancy is one of the best times in a woman’s life to actively make certain choices and changes, adding a whole new dimension to the phrase ‘new beginnings’. Culled from these eight months of introspective prep time, is my list of the ten things a pregnant woman should do before her bundle of joy arrives. I call them the 3 Hs – Health, Heart and Hearth.
Keeping good health is a no-brainer for any mom-to-be. Here are my top choices on what matters most.
1. Eat well
The task of making a baby is anything but easy. From wondering about what pills are safe to combat hyperacidity, bloating and nausea, to wondering when and where to buy maternity clothing, several questions are added to a pregnant woman’s daily routine. Fortunately, this phase comes with a big benefit – enjoying the love of good food, carbs, proteins, fats and all. But eating well is about more than good food.
It is also about eating and drinking on time and doing so discerningly. Eating small but nutritious meals at regular intervals of 2-3 hours keeps the pregnant body at its peak efficiency for absorbing essential nutrients from the food. It reduces the likelihood of acid reflux leading to the oh-so-awful ‘sickness’, the bane of pregnancy stories, as well as gas.
Staying hydrated with plenty of water (seriously the best drink in the world), fresh fruit juices and milk (no, aerated beverages, caffeine and alcohol don’t count) keeps the exhaustion and fatigue at bay while maintaining a comfortable body temperature, reducing the likelihood of hot flushes, dizziness and swollen limbs.
Eating well, the single most critical component of a woman’s lifestyle that the growing baby inside absolutely cannot do without, definitely calls for a lot of discipline, planning and consistency but offers big rewards too, especially where a healthy weight gain during pregnancy and a healthy weight loss after delivery are concerned.
They say it takes three weeks to form a new habit. With almost nine months of practice, a new mom-to-be is sure to find the habit of eating well worth retaining for the rest of her life.
2. Rest well
Resting well pertains not only to when and how much you sleep but also how often you take a break. A mom-to-be who is in touch with her body will sense when it is time to put those feet up and take a power nap.
Developing a relaxed stretching routine on waking up in the morning allows the already loosened muscles (thanks to the hormone relaxin) to prepare for the day. This can avoid strained muscles, pulled ligaments and aching backs & legs, make movement smoother, and promote a general feeling of well-being and positivity.
Bladders of pregnant women get a bad rap for being too active during those nine months, particularly at nighttime, and especially in the first and third trimesters. Timing and regulating liquid intake close to bedtime can reduce the number of trips to the bathroom at night, ensuring less disturbance during sleep.
In late pregnancy, as the baby starts to run out of space in the womb to practise its kicks, punches, rolls and tumbles, pushing against the mother’s ribcage, the mom starts to get more breathless. It helps then to take a few deep breaths and simply slow down for a while before continuing with any strenuous work.
3. Exercise the body
Resting well goes hand in hand with exercising and staying fit. There is no end to how much or how little can be done depending on the pre-pregnancy fitness and activity level of the mother-to be and any complications in the pregnancy. But, this is a great time to include this item to your lifestyle if it has been a distant dream. A word of CAUTION here – proceed on this track only after your doctor has green-lighted it.
What type of exercise is best during pregnancy? In one line, the type that you feel comfortable practising regularly is the best for you. For some women, it is a simple 30-minute walk 3-4 times a week, for others it is a light jog everyday with some weight training thrown in a few times a week. Yet others will swear by dancing or Yoga postures for stretching and relaxing. With plenty of options in the market these days, signing up for a prenatal exercise class is not only easy but also practical.
Pregnant women tend to be a class of people who garner empathy wherever they go regardless of the culture. If I had a paisa for every time that I was offered seat by a complete stranger on a train or tram or a park bench, I would have a neat little kitty for a sumptuous dinner at a gourmet restaurant saved up by now. But sitting for long periods of time can often cause more discomfort than good for the pregnant body. It is best to keep changing the posture to avoid fluid build-up and swelling in the limbs and to reduce the likelihood of muscle cramps.
Whatever the type, unless you are advised bed-rest by your doctor, get some amount of physical movement in your day to keep the blood circulation going. Remember, however, if ‘moderation’ is a good mantra for life in general, there was never a better time than during pregnancy to practise it.
4. Exercise the mind
Those who swear by Rhonda Byrne’s ‘The Secret’ will appreciate this easily. For the others, it might be interesting to learn that the mind and body connection becomes the strongest when one is pregnant. What you think and feel gets transferred to the growing baby subconsciously. The Indian yogic philosophy calls it ‘garbha-sanskaar’. So, keeping the mind active ensures a relatively higher level of brain activity for the baby too when it comes into the world.
A working woman may have enough mental activities in her day to keep those brain cells firing. But even a stay-at-home mom-to-be can ensure her baby has enough food for thought by picking up a new skill. It could be as simple as joining a language class or more complicated such as writing a research thesis. The emphasis must be on learning something new.
- The Secret: Rhonda Byrne: 9781582701707: Amazon.com: Books
The Secret [Rhonda Byrne] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Fragments of a Great Secret have been found in the oral traditions, in literature, in religions and philosophies throughout the centuries.
Keeping the body healthy is good. But keeping the heart happy is essential during these crucial nine months. Remember the mind-body connection!
5. Cultivate a hobby
Spending time on something that gives you joy is a great way to activate the ‘happy’ hormone. The added benefits are that it can keep your mind off irksome pregnancy symptoms and possibly make your pregnancy a productive time in more ways than one!
6. Go on a vacation
A relaxing break from the mundane is always welcome but even more so during pregnancy. The term ‘babymoon’ has not gained currency for nothing. It is an opportune time for the expectant couple to give each other some undivided attention. And what better way than to go on a vacation? Of course, do ensure that the choice of destination is conducive to the needs of the pregnant one. Niche travel advisors and tour operators have several options you can choose from.
7. Pamper yourself
Once your little one arrives, routine things such as a pedicure, a massage, a haircut will start seeming like a distant dream. Or, at the very least, like something that requires a few days or weeks of planning. Use the time in your last trimester to make the most of such simple pleasures of life. Give yourself a spa treat for pulling through the pregnancy.
8. Get entertained, get social
All new mothers will attest to how their whole life was upended after their baby’s arrival. A little 7-pounder has the wherewithal to keep a whole team of adults on their feet for several days after delivery. For many expectant parents, the semblance of any social life and downtime gets thrown out of the window.
All the more reason, then, to catch up on such activities before the arrival of the baby. Get out, catch a film/ play/ opera performance/ whatever, meet up with friends and family, and let your hair down.
Even the most organized and control-seeking women are likely to find that the nitty-gritty of keeping a home is the last thing on their mind once the baby comes. But one can always use the time before delivery for putting the house in order... literally and figuratively!
9. Take stock (finances)
Pregnancy, motherhood and child-rearing bring rich value to a woman’s life but are also an additional and sustaining expense. Taking stock of your financial situation will stand you in good stead not only at the time of delivery but also beyond. For working women, it will allow enough time to handle issues of any loss of pay due to leaves of absence from work. For stay-at-home women, it will allow them to arrange for the nest egg that they need during the postpartum period.
10. Take stock (household)
Regardless of how gender roles are evolving, a woman’s role in managing her household will never completely diminish. The last few weeks before delivery are a time for stocking up on all the essentials needed to keep the home running smoothly as well as to run through the baby-related shopping list. You never know how soon you’ll have the ‘free-time’ to do this again once your little one comes home with you.
What would you recommend a pregnant woman focus on before the baby comes?
“If I had my life to live over, instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment…” - Erma Bombeck
For the pregnant ones out there, here’s your chance to cherish one now!