As your due date gets closer, you are likely becoming more and more ready for the baby to be born. By the end of pregnancy, most mothers are extremely ready to hold their little one in their arms, instead of their belly. Or, so they think.
Having a baby is an exciting, miraculous time. But every new mom has a short list of those things she wishes she had known, before going into labor. For many, those few things they wish they had known before giving birth are often missed opportunities. A common thread from person-to-person is that of accomplishing certain goals and taking better care of themselves, just as life changes forever.
Below are some of those things you might wish to accomplish or prepare yourself for while you still can. In the coming months, your life will center around someone else and the chances to indulge a little or reach some goals may not frequently exist.
Stocking Up on Essentials Helps Tremendously
After baby is born, you will be tired and physically uncomfortable for a period of time. For the first several months after childbirth, you will likely spend all of your time taking care of the baby’s needs and few moments, if any, taking care of yours.
It is very helpful in your last trimester to stock up on items you will need after delivery. Having even just a three-month supply of necessary things on hand will help you to relax, knowing that you do not have to run errands for a little while and can focus on getting into a healthy routine with your newborn. It is also helpful for your significant other, as they will likely return home from work tired and wanting to see the baby, not wanting to run all over town to check items off a list.
Some of those necessities may include:
- For baby: Diapers, wipes, bathing necessities, gentle laundry soap, clothing, bottles
- For you: Maxi pads, comfortable underwear, nursing or postpartum bra
- Kitchen: Paper towels, dish soap, quick frozen and canned foods, beverages, other dietary needs
- Bathroom: Toilet tissue, shampoo, soap, razors, toothpaste, toothbrush
You May Not Have Time to Cook or Clean
You may take it for granted that your home stays fairly clean before baby is born. But after birth, all time and focus seem to be spent on feedings, diaper changes, comforting your bundle of joy and sleeping whenever you can. It can be incredibly difficult to find time to clean or to feel up to the task.
Cooking provides the same problem. With feeding the baby taking priority every few hours, feeding yourself and anyone else in your household becomes secondary. This results in poor eating habits and heavy snacking in place of balanced meals.
Either hire a maid service to provide a thorough cleaning toward the very end of your pregnancy, or enlist some weekend help to get the cleaning done, yourself. If a spring-quality cleaning can be done before the baby is born, with extra junk thrown out and routine maintenance taken care of, even better. It may be months before you are able to catch up on laundry and little chores with any efficiency.
Prepare a wide variety of foods in advance which can be frozen and used after the baby’s birth. Even better, buy some inexpensive foil pans which can be frozen with the food in them, then used to cook in the oven, followed by throwing them away. This will keep the dirty dish inventory down and will be less work for you, as part of cleanup.
Yoga Can Make Childbirth and Post-Baby Fitness Easier
Yoga is a physical and emotional fitness program which provides many benefits for pregnant women, during childbirth and after the baby is born. Yoga’s meditative practices work exceptionally well during labor and delivery.
According to Carmela Cattuti, LPN and a Kripalu certified instructor of prenatal yoga, “The most important thing women learn through yoga is how to focus. It also strengthens the entire body, increases flexibility and gives you stamina. But what is possibly even more helpful is that it helps your mind relax.”
All of these benefits work well to offset pain and stress of delivery. After the baby is born, stolen moments spent enjoying yoga can help a new mother feel more balanced, energized and in control of her body. It is also possible to enjoy yoga’s benefits in small doses, striking poses and taking moments of meditation as possible between feedings, around diaper changes and during naps. Yoga can help a new mom return her body to its normal flexibility and shape over time, after her OBGYN clears her for physical activity.
You May Experience Postpartum Depression
Most pregnant women think that they will have the baby and be back to their old self-image in no time. The reality is that the body undergoes many changes during and after pregnancy. Those physical changes also involve emotional differences, possibly even depression, caused by hormonal fluctuations.
Postpartum depression can be serious for some new mothers. It is difficult to endure, but also difficult to just understand. Because it does not affect all women, having depression after childbirth and into the baby’s first months can make a new mother feel guilt and shame.
When preparing for your baby’s birth, remember to also prepare yourself and your household for the easiest possible transition into motherhood. Ensure a good support system is in place, of family members or friends who can help out when you need a break to just focus on yourself or even to catch up on some sleep.
Discuss postpartum depression and other psychological changes or adjustments with your doctor. Set up the lines of communication and support before the baby is born, so you know who to talk to if you need to discuss the problem.
Being Selfish in Stolen Moments Is Okay
Most new mothers feel that they should always be present with their new baby. While they should certainly be present as much as possible, taking some time for oneself is healthy for all concerned. A little “me time” can strengthen and refresh a new mom who is likely getting little sleep and is unable to pamper herself very much in the first months of the baby’s life.
Do not be afraid to ask for help or some time alone while family or a close friend watch the baby. Most new mothers are pleased to find how excited these people are to help and have a bit of their own time around your little one. The key is to work past your own guilt and remember that going to get your hair done, having a manicure, or just some sleep or quiet self-reflection can really strengthen you for continuing the around-the-clock care a newborn requires.
Giving birth is one of the most momentous occasions of your life. It can be a bit scary, but if you prepare yourself well and know better what to expect, you will find that the entire experience is one you will reflect happily upon for years to come. The same is true for the first months following your baby’s birth. With a little preparation, you will have no regrets.