Promote Your Physical & Emotional Wellbeing During Pregnancy
Being pregnant, especially for the first time, can be the most exciting time of a woman’s life. It can also be one of the most overwhelming times. Questions like “What if I won’t be a good mom?” “Are we actually ready for this?” or “Will I be able to have everything organized on time?” tend to circulate uncontrollably through many expectant mothers’ mind.
You’ve probably heard the analogy that if an airplane is going down, you should place the oxygen mask on yourself first before placing one on your child or another dependent; meaning, in order to take care of someone effectively, you have to take care of yourself. Same goes for pregnancy – you have to take care of yourself so you can successfully take care of your baby while he or she is developing inside you and after birth. But in addition to that, YOUR physical and mental health is intrinsically important! It’s vital that you feel relaxed, happy and beautiful while pregnant. (By the way there is almost nothing more stunning than an expectant mother).
Here are a few ideas on how you can promote your own physical and emotional wellbeing during pregnancy. You will probably come up with a few that will specially work for you too!
Exercise is extremely beneficial during pregnancy. We’re not asking you to train for a marathon or take up kickboxing. But regular exercise can help improve your mood, maintain or improve self-confidence, sleep better at night, ease associated problems (such as back pain, cramping and hemorrhoids) and allow you to feel beautiful while pregnant. The American Pregnancy Association (APA) recommends activities like swimming, walking, biking, yoga and using stair-climbing machines. If you were into aerobics and running before becoming pregnant, then the APA says it is probably fine to continue with those forms of exercise. (It is always a good idea to talk to your family doctor or obstetrician about safe physical activities).
Massage is a wonderful practice to help relieve pregnant women of stress and anxiety, as well as to help relieve pains associated with child bearing. There are actual certified prenatal massage therapists who know which areas of the body to focus on to relieve tension and pain and which to avoid (areas that may activate the pelvic muscles). They also will ensure you are lying in a safe position during the massage.
Take a Break
During the course of your pregnancy, it’s easy to focus on nothing but child bearing. But it’s also important to take time for you and spend times on other areas of your life. Take a break from planning for baby’s arrival and don’t feel guilty about doing so. Have a girl’s night out, organize a movie night at home or go on a little holiday. (“The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook” says the best time to travel is between the 14th and 28th weeks of pregnancy). You and your partner can also continue to have sex if you wish; unless there are some associated complications, sexual intercourse is completely safe during pregnancy.
Talk about It
If you are feeling overwhelmed, do not bottle it up inside. Talk about how you’re feeling with your partner, a close family member or friend. Alternatively, you may wish to speak with a midwife or doula or join a prenatal class so that you can talk to other expectant moms. Your family doctor or obstetrician may also have recommendations for groups or individuals you can talk to. At the same time, if there are people in your life who are being overly judgmental about your situation, your parenting plans or your pregnancy practices, avoid spending time with them. There is a difference between helpful advice and cruelty. Avoid negativity.
Although there are so many pressures to maintain a strict, healthy diet and avoid certain foods, it’s okay to treat yourself once in a while. In fact, it’s encouraged! Treat your sweet tooth from time to time with a piece of berry pie or frozen yogurt, recommends Baby Zone. Also several studies, such as one conducted by Yale University’s Dr. Elizabeth W. Triche, say that dark chocolate is beneficial for pregnancies and child birth. Specifically, the treat can help reduce the risk of preeclampsia. You can also indulge yourself in other ways, such as going on a maternity wear shopping spree (maternity wear can still be classy or sexy) or getting a completely new hairstyle.
Now that you’re pregnant, you will need more rest since your body is working extra hard to help the little one inside you grow and develop. It is a good idea to work in a daily cat nap into your day, approximately half way through your waking hours. Also do not push your body beyond its limits. Do not be scared to ask others for help, whether it be running errands, lifting heavy boxes, doing a little housework or helping set up the nursery.
Perhaps what is most essential is to slow down and to truly notice the little moments that add up to a fulfilling pregnancy experience. Take a few minutes every day to spend time alone, breathe and imagine the beautiful baby growing inside and the beautiful times you will have once he or she are born. Look at yourself in the mirror and take pride on your blossoming belly and any other physical features you like about yourself. Cherish the times when a wise woman comes up to you and predicts the gender of your child or provides some genuine motherly advice. Relish in the moments when people say you are indeed glowing or when they celebrate you at a baby shower or another event. You deserve it because you have accepted the most important job in the world – motherhood.