Taking care of Mum and her well-being is essential, before, during, and after birth.
Recently I collaborated with Martina from NINE+QUARTER and put together nutrition tips for expectant Mums here. As part of this, our well-being is important, and whilst we cannot tick every box, it is a good time to make sure you take care of your well-being in preparation for your baby’s arrival.
Some of these tips are relevant for every woman, you don’t have to be pregnant. Our ever-changing hormonal needs are more than enough, so I hope you find this useful no matter what stage of life you are in.
Having my two boys 19 months apart, I knew my well-being had to be one of my top priorities. In no way did I strive at everything every day. Some days were purely muddling through, but if I were to look back on what resonated with me, and what I learned from the wise Mums I know in my life, then these are my top tips:
Putting yourself first may seem to some people a little hard to do, but with practice, you will soon discover that focusing on your self-care is so important and it will filter through into other areas of your life. It helps you to build a positive relationship with yourself and you can improve on this at any point, it is never too late. I love the saying “you cannot pour from an empty cup”. I have always lived by this, especially since becoming a Mother. It is the core message of my business, put yourself first, and you will have more energy to give to your life around you.
Exercising during pregnancy is safe and healthy for you and your baby. It will help to reduce stress, improve your circulation, boost your mood, and help you to sleep better. This isn’t a time to take up any new strenuous exercises, however, taking a pregnancy class or walking for 20-30 minutes every day will do wonders for your well-being. Pilates, yoga, and swimming are excellent for pregnancy too. Strength exercises also provide many health benefits, it will assist in the birth and give you the extra strength you will need for when your baby arrives. Practice your Kegels to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles which support your bladder, bowels, and uterus. If you have any underlying health or physical issues, seek advice from your GP before undertaking any new exercises.
Connecting with other parents-to-be in your area will give you (and your partner) the chance to build friendships and meet for those much-needed coffees and chats about anything and everything when your baby arrives. Explore your local area’s community groups for things like child birthing classes, prenatal yoga/pilates, postnatal exercise classes, book clubs, and walking groups (just to name a few). Having local friends nearby is also very handy if you ever need any help or just a last-minute excuse to get out of the house.
Pregnancy (and anytime in fact) is the perfect time for pampering, and you deserve it. Book yourself into a pregnancy-friendly spa, treat yourself to a massage, facial, or mani & pedi. Enjoy that time and let someone else dote on you for a change. Run yourself a bath, light some candles, read a book, or listen to your favourite music. Schedule date nights with your partner or friends, get dressed up, and still enjoy yourself. Keep your mood boosters going, and treat yourself to quality “me time”, things that will lift your mood and make you feel rewarded and relaxed.
Journaling is a wonderful way to keep a record of the experiences you go through during your pregnancy. You are sure to go through some highs and lows and writing things down can often be a form of release. It is a lovely keepsake to look back on and remind you of those special and perhaps challenging times. When your baby is born, our time can be somewhat more limited. I set up email addresses for my boys and continue to send them photos and videos so that one day they can login to and have a look at their life so far. There are some great apps available too where you can print photos at the click of a button and have them delivered to your door to start those special family albums.
Nesting is real and when you get the urge, make the most of this impulse before your baby arrives. Start to prepare the essentials your baby needs, such as sorting out your home and kitchen cupboards, stocking up on things you need, batch cooking healthy meals and freezing them, eliminating things you no longer need, and preparing the nursery. Try not to do it all at once though, a to-do list will be your lifesaver, and aim to tick one or two things off every week. Remember small baby steps!
It is the one thing pretty much everybody says when women fall pregnant “sleep whilst you can”. Our sleep is so important, and it often has a domino effect on everything else if we are not getting the quality of sleep we need. Some nights it might be impossible to get a good night’s sleep but if you are doing everything that you can, then you have a better chance of quality rest. I have a separate blog post on how to improve sleep here and natural ways to increase melatonin here. You may also like some props to help you sleep, for example, an extra pillow between your legs to help support your hips is simple, yet effective.
Ask for help
Women are a million wonderful things rolled into one: powerful, inspiring, busy, loving, caring, and strong (just to name a few). Sometimes, we also need to ask for help too. As your body changes and you go through the highs and lows of adjusting to your new life with your baby, stay in tune with yourself and know when to seek any help if you need it. Remember that asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it is showing your strength. Speak to friends and family, take them up on their offers to babysit or help with chores and cooking. Baby blues are common in most new Mums, speak to your GP if you find that these are persistent. With the right help and speaking to a professional, you will discover the tools to get you through any challenging times.
Advice – trust your instincts
Being pregnant and becoming a new Mum often comes with loads of advice, from other Mums, family, friends, professionals, books, and online. Some advice can be useful, whereas other times it may not be suitable for you and your baby. As always, trust your instincts, and if you aren’t sure, a second opinion can be helpful if that’s what you feel you need. I asked a group of Mum friends recently what the most valuable piece of advice they received was, and here is a list of their answers:
- Do what is best for you and your baby
- Seek advice from trained professionals rather than general mum groups
- Throw the so-called “rule book” out
- Button onesies will end marriages at 3am!
- It is ok if you don’t breastfeed, sometimes it doesn’t work – a fed baby is a happy baby
- As long as your child is fed, clean, clothed, and loved, you’re doing a wonderful job
- A shower before the baby wakes in the morning will make you feel much better for the day
- The nights can seem long, but the years are short
- Always ask for help if you need it
- Remember your “me” time to recharge
- Life doesn’t stop, put dates with loved ones in the diary
These are all so relevant, and I particularly like the one about seeking advice only from trained professionals. There are some incredible books on the market and podcasts which are easy to listen to when on the go. I personally like “Raising Good Humans” by Dr. Aliza Pressman. She is a wealth of knowledge and has wonderful advice for raising children of all ages, and personal advice for Mums too. Do you have any favourite books or podcasts?
I hope you found these well-being tips useful, and I would love to hear any of your favourite tips too. Enjoy this wondrous time and remember, you are doing an incredible job.