Self care for any mama can feel like an impossible task, yet another thing to put on the never ending to do list. Just thinking about self care can make us feel guilty, because we KNOW we should be prioritizing ourselves…we’ve heard the lectures, read the inspirational quotes, and been told “You can’t pour from an empty cup, you know” more times than we can remember, yet we just can’t seem to make it happen.
But. Self care is important, and just like anything else, it can become a habit if you prioritize it enough.
For pregnant mamas (and soon to be mamas!) self care should be a nonnegotiable, but in this day and age of glorified busyness, constant distraction, all consuming guilt, and just the day to day needs of EVERYONE ELSE we are responsible for, self care often takes a back seat.
For my first two pregnancies, I was awful at self care. Whether I was working full or part time, or even a stay at home mom, I did not put myself and my needs first. I neglected my needs, ignored what my body told me, and ended up in the hospital with severe morning sickness both times. With my third pregnancy, even though I was working, busier than ever with school aged kids, still had extreme morning sickness for nine months, and somehow developed asthma, I managed to take better care of myself and avoid getting as run down and sick.
I took naps, I let my husband handle anything kitchen related because the smell of cooking and dirty dishes was intolerable, I let the laundry pile up, I took the kids swimming every day so I could either lounge poolside or float in the cool water (July in Louisiana at nine months pregnant is HOT, y’all) and I ate All. The. Brownies. Seriously, we went through a multi pack of brownie mix every week for my last few months.
I had learned by then that I was a happier, healthier, and better mama when I took care of myself in ways that made me feel good.
Brownies and naps may not be your cup of tea ( maybe it’s actual tea! or yoga!), but anyone can find ways to simplify, rest, and recharge during pregnancy. Here are some easy tips to implement during your pregnancy:
- Stay hydrated. Your baby needs it, you need it, and it’s a good habit to get into for anyone. Water helps with so many aspects of health like metabolism, skin, energy levels, weight loss, flushes out toxins, helps with headaches, and so many others!
- Give into your cravings guilt free. Cravings during pregnancy are your body’s way of telling you what your baby needs. Sometimes they are misinterpreted by the brain and instead of fruit you end up craving twinkies, so do try to be a bit health conscious when you can, or at least be sure you’re supplementing your unhealthy choices with some healthy choices too. Always check with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your diet while pregnant.
- Rest while you can! I know if you already have other kids, you might roll your eyes and think “There’s no time for naps!” but trust me, once another kid is in the mix there will really, truly be no time for naps. Your body is working so hard while you are just sitting on the couch, it’s the equivalent of your husband working out at the gym for an hour! Find ways to rest, ask for help with the house or other kids, or just some peace and quiet when you can. If your body is telling you to sleep, then you really need to listen to it.
- Get moving. As long as you’re physically able and have been given the green light by your physician, staying active during pregnancy is a must. Not only are you improving your health, but it’s been proven that labor goes more smoothly for moms who’ve made an effort to stay active during their pregnancies. You don’t have to join a gym or go running, but any way you can find to get moving will have benefits. Go for a stroll with your husband or friend, or take a few laps around the mall while you’re shopping for baby clothes. Bounce gently on an exercise ball while you fold laundry, or do some yoga stretches while you watch TV. Always check with your doctor about any exercise regimen during pregnancy.
- Outsource things! Housecleaning can quickly get overwhelming, especially if you already have other kids. Ask your husband or a family member to help (mother-in-laws sometimes like to be involved with this one!), or see if you can swap with a friend. Or hire a cleaning company to help keep up with the deep cleaning if you’re able. Meal prep? Grocery shopping? There are services now to make all of life so much easier if you can afford it. Order meal delivery kits, or ask someone close to you if they can help out occasionally. You can have groceries delivered with companies like Shipt or Instacart, or at least order online and pick up your groceries curbside.
- Lower your standards. This applies to so many things, but basically if you’re feeling guilty about it, ask yourself if it’s really important to you. Kids eating frozen chicken nuggets or pizza again because you’re too tired or sick to cook? Toddler plopped unceremoniously in front of a TV or iPad because you’re too tired or sick to entertain them? Big kids left to fend for themselves in the playroom or back yard all day? It will be ok. Keep your standards high on things that really matter to you, and let the other stuff go. There is no need to kill yourself trying to create amazing meals and have a beautiful spotless house right now when you are busy creating an amazing and beautiful being inside of you!
- Figure out what relaxes you- and do it! Maybe it’s bingeing Netflix, or painting, or reading, or scrolling through Pinterest, or catching up with your friends, or getting your nails done, or having a kid free outing with your spouse. You have to make time for things that relax you and bring you happiness, even if it only happens when you schedule it, set a reminder, or pencil it in on the calendar. Do whatever it takes to set yourself up for success in the YOU department.