Here’s a reminder for all you pregnant mamas-to-be: You may be going about life as usual, taking care of business and getting stuff done at home, at work, in your (probably busy!) social life, but you are also creating life, and that deserves not only a round of applause, but also some serious self-care. The first step toward taking some dedicated down time is giving yourself permission to view it not as a luxury, but as a necessity. Luckily there are so many different ways to take care of your physical and mental wellbeing, you can create nourishing rituals whether you’re on a budget (napping is free!) or have some money to spend (hello prenatal massage), whether you can get away for a weekend (one word: babymoon) or half an hour (a warm bath to the rescue). Self-care looks different for everyone, so take this list and run with it, adding your own practices as you go.
It doesn’t matter what your self-care looks like, only that you do it!
Get a massage.
Your body is working overtime, and in all kinds of weird ways, to support that belly, which seems to get bigger every single day! That means that your back probably hurts in strange places, your feet ache in ways you never imagined, and your hips are really feeling it. It’s time to book a prenatal massage. Not only will taking the time to slow down do wonders for your mental wellbeing (even if it’s only for an hour!), but a trained prenatal massage therapist will know just how to ease your muscles while keeping your changing body’s needs in mind.
See a chiropractor.
If you’re not a chiropractor-seeing type of person, this can seem like a suggestion that’s easy to dismiss. But if you have any sort of pain in your pelvis, swelling in your ankles, bouts of numbness in your limbs, or the dreaded “lightning crotch,” regular visits with a chiropractor can help. (Getting spinal adjustments early in pregnancy has even been known to ease morning sickness!)
You’re probably starting to feel large and in charge, and that unrelenting sense of gravity sure doesn’t help. Taking a dip in a pool, and the weightlessness it brings, can be a wonderful reprieve from feeling constantly heavy. And if you’re pregnant during hot summer months, going for a swim pulls double-relief-duty. If you don’t have access to a pool, tap a friend who does, or look for a local gym, rec cen, or neighborhood pool where you can go for an hour or two a week. If you’re pregnant during the winter, you can still make use of a pool, just scope out an indoor one that’s nice and heated.
Take a bath.
If submerging yourself in water sounds nice, but getting into a pool in a bathing suit doesn’t, turn your bathroom into a little oasis. Taking regular baths (of course, this only works if you have a tub) can be an incredibly nourishing practice, especially if you drop your favorite bath bomb in the water or add a relaxing essential oil, light some candles, and crank your playlist of choice.
Do some prenatal yoga.
Your pre-pregnancy exercise routine is probably getting harder to maintain, but moving your body is still a wonderful form of self-care, and prenatal yoga is a soft and gentle way to do it. Look for a prenatal yoga class so you don’t spend all your time figuring out how to modify poses, but if the kumbaya vibe of some prenatal classes is unappealing, just roll your mat out at home and find a prenatal video practice online, the benefits are the same!
Take a solo babymoon.
The idea that couples might want to take a little pre–due date trip to soak up some romance before parenthood takes over is nothing new. But mamas-to-be might want to take their own pre–due date trip…solo. Not to get too dramatic, but these last few months or weeks of your pregnancy are the last times you’ll have the opportunity to be really, truly alone. It’s not like you won’t be able to leave baby with a partner or caregiver for hours at a time (even days when you’re done breastfeeding!), but that sweet baby will always occupy space in your brain, and can even make alone time harder to really enjoy (you just may miss them too dang much!). So take an overnight vacay or a weekend away (it can even be a staycation if you don’t want to be too far from your partner or the hospital), and truly soak up that time alone, where you have no one to think about but yourself.
The most common advice given to pregnant women is “Enjoy your sleep now, ’cause it will be hard to come by soon!” At first it doesn’t even make sense, because how can you enjoy sleep if you’re actually sleeping? More accurate advice would be, “If you’re tired, sleep, and don’t feel bad about it.” Wanna nap just an hour after your morning alarm went off? Do it! Feel like going to bed at 8 p.m. on a Friday? Heck yeah, cancel those plans! Your body needs all the rest it can get, and you shouldn’t feel bad about giving it what it needs.
Get a mani/pedi.
Having your nails done is one of the quickest and easiest ways to feel polished (pun intended!) and put together. An hour of your time can give you a week’s worth of feel-good. Plus the pampering is priceless.
Splurge on a beauty item or two.
Little things can go a long way when you’re at this point in your pregnancy, and sometimes a nice new makeup or beauty product can give you the glam boost you need. Maybe it’s a special bath bomb (see above!), a heavenly face oil, or a new shade of lipstick that will perfectly complement your baby shower look.
Go to the movies.
There’s nothing like a tub of popcorn and a rom-com on the big screen for an evening (or afternoon!) that feels luxurious and affordable. Trips to the theater will probably be few and far between after baby arrives, so take yourself now, and throw in some Junior Mints while you’re at it.