Our grandmothers were blessed with a simple trip to the doctor and a confirmation 10 days later with a polite, “See you in nine months.” Today we’re slammed with monthly, bi-monthly and eventually weekly doctor or midwife appointments, several rounds of bloodwork and ultrasounds, and let’s not forget the bevy of paranoia-inducing information from family, friends, books and the infamous court of public opinion known as the Internet.
Whether you’re a pregnant mum or an expecting dad, here’s what I’ve learned that will spare you feeling overwhelmed so you can skip straight to the joys of pregnancy.
20. Enjoy sex.
I’m not saying you’ll stop having sex. In fact, sex can be a great way to induce labor in a healthy pregnancy if you’re at or over term. Just be willing to get really creative about it. And just start repeating the mantra, “The baby is asleep in the other room,” now. Mom, you’re going to feel the baby move while you’re getting it on. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find it funny. But your guy won’t. Mentioning it might just send him to therapy.
19. Make room for baby.
You have a lot of stuff that you don’t need. Let it go. The more you bond with your baby, the less attached you are to pretty much everything else, making it super-easy to conquer any lingering nostalgia. Remember: A new tenant is moving in and they’ll be bringing their stuff with them. Lots and lots of really cute stuff that needs lots and lots of space.
18. Pack away your beloved breakables to share with your baby when they’re older.
Come across a family heirloom or precious collectible you can’t wait to share with your 12 year old? Put it in a clearly marked box in a safe space where you can see it, but they can’t. You’ll thank yourself in ten years.
17. Take some bump photos.
We didn’t do this religiously, but it was pretty cool when my hubby layered the photos to see how much baby and I had grown over the course of 9 months. It also makes all those, “My God, you’re getting huge!” comments a lot easier to handle. Remember, girls: when it comes to pregnancy size is an achievement!
16. Indulge in a magazine (or two, or three) that has nothing to do with being a mommy.
Sure, you can’t fit into those clothes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t admire them. And the shoes. All the gorgeous, strappy, stiletto-heeled shoes…
Around week 20 I admitted to my midwife that I was taking some serious naps during the day. “Is that normal?” She looked at me like I was crazy. “This is your first, right?” When I nodded, she nearly laughed. “Enjoy it while you can!” Girl, if you have the time, take it. If you don’t, make it. Rest up and give your body the best chance to handle the workout that is labor. Just remember to talk to your healthcare provider if you’re feeling abnormally tired as that is a key sign of iron deficiency, a very common occurrence in pregnancy.
14. Establish family quality time with your partner.
Babies aren’t half as patient or forgiving of late work hours, household projects, or girls’ nights out as are two grown adults. Instead of waiting for baby to arrive, begin establishing time each day to spend together with baby. It’s a great way for daddy to interact with his little one who needs to hear his voice and feel his touch as well. It didn’t take long for our babe to perk up in anticipation of family time, stretch towards Daddy’s voice, and respond to our mutual touch.
13. Revisit your own childhood.
Make a list of all the great things you want to re-live with your kids. Toys, movies, day trips and the like. In certain ways you really do get to be a kid again when you have one of your own. Only this time you’re the one making all the decisions. It really is the best of both worlds.
12. Decide what you want to pass along.
You and your partner are now going to be integrating traditions from two different households. Have great parenting styles or cultural traditions you want to pass along? Talk about it now so a plan is in place when baby arrives. Kids don’t care what you do, they care how you do it. Stability is key. Get the negotiating (and the fighting) out of the way now.
11. Discuss with your partner what you want to do differently.
My mother’s best advice on parenting: “Parents are adults who have kids.” No one is magical or perfect. Admitting that there are things you’d do differently from your own parents doesn’t mean you don’t love them, it just means you are your own person. Don’t hesitate to take the meat and leave the bones when it comes to making your own parenting decisions.
10. Treat yourself to a frequent day off.
When you suddenly find yourself hitting the, “holy crap, I’m going to be a mom” wall, you need a day off. Put down the registry checklists and advice books and get your head into another place. For me, days off became dates with my baby. Even if we went shopping at Babies R’Us, it was for the fun stuff, not to compare bottles or do in-store stroller reviews. There is nothing more therapeutic for a Mommy-to-Be than surrounding yourself with baby clothes — especially when they’re on clearance.
9. Stockpile easy reading and fun movies for your 9th month.
At 30 weeks I was completing 2 mile urban hikes without a problem. By the time I hit 35 weeks I was dragging my heels through a 2 hour shopping trip. Get your baby showers, mega-shopping, and big household cleanouts out of the way before your last month. You will hit the point when all you want to do is sit with your feet up and a cool drink at your side. If you’re like most moms, the idea of being unproductive will drive you nuts, so stock up on good distractions. And remember, you’ve got an instant playmate in your tummy any time you need a tickle or a chat.
8. Make checklists.
“Baby on the brain” is a real thing. Ever run the dishwasher without putting the soap in? Let the whites dry in the washer for two days? I have. Make lists. Tons of them. They are your best friends.
7. Food shop and cook ahead.
Think you’re sick of the kitchen now? Just wait until you become the primary food factory for your newborn. Give yourself the ability to grab a quick meal from the freezer. You’ll be busy enough making food for them.
6. Visit your new pediatrician.
A 10 minute trip to the new doc will reassure you that you made the right decision. You’ll also get a peek into the practice and have at least one trip under your belt, so when you’re making that bleary-eyed first visit you can hopefully remember where you’re going.
5. Pack your hospital bag.
Ever pack for vacation the night before? Yeah, don’t do that to yourself this time. There are tons of checklists online to choose from. Just beware of overpacking. This will be, at most, a 3-night stay during which most of your needs will be provided for, either via the nurses or visiting relatives. The last thing you need to do is overwhelm yourself with luggage.
4. Get your free breast pump.
Obamacare affords most women a free electric breastpump. It’s their way of saying “Get back to work as quickly as possible.” Even if you’re staying home, take advantage of this benefit through your insurance company. You’ll save anywhere from $250 – $350.
3. Embrace your newfound “take charge” attitude.
If you’re like me, you used to be the nice, polite one. Thanks to mommy hormones, the inner Beverly Goldberg will undoubtedly take over. Don’t be afraid to put folks in their place, make firm decisions and say no when no is the right answer. Your built in Mommy gene has been activated and you are the superheroine in charge.
2. Get dressed and do your makeup.
Con your mom or a friend into giving you a mani-pedi and stay on top of your beauty routine. One of the best shower gifts I received were some scented soaps and creams from my mother, a great reminder that while your body may feel monstrous, you have never been more feminine or beautiful.
1. Stop pushing yourself so hard.
Calm down. You can do this. You are meant to do this. Wind down into your last month by congratulating yourself on a job well done, putting your feet up and letting nature take its course.