Chilling Out: 12 Ways to Take Care of Yourself

by Nancy Price

You’re pregnant! When times are busy and stressful, don’t forget that you have an unrestricted license to put your needs first! ePregnancy’s Editor, Nancy Price, shows you how to take good care of yourself and that baby inside — particularly during the holiday season.

1) Get enough rest
Especially during pregnancy, it’s okay to opt out of late-evening gab sessions to get some rest or to take care of your own needs. Build some time into your schedule to allow for a warm (not hot) bath or shower and some quiet time with a book before you go to sleep. Naps during the day are great, too — aim for napping earlier in the day so as not to disrupt your nighttime sleeping schedule.
2) Eat right
Eat, drink (water, milk and juices) and be merry — but don’t take in too much at once. Depending on how pregnant you are, remember that your stomach and intestines are cramped. And apart from the extra calories you may not need, overindulging can bring on heartburn and also make it hard to sleep. That’s not to say you can’t have any fun! As recommended through the rest of pregnancy, eat smaller meals throughout the day.

Eat wisely — be sure to balance your intake during the day. “Good nutrition is extremely important even before a pregnancy,” says Shirley Blakely, Ph.D., a registered dietitian with the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “If nature favors the growing fetus, the mother will suffer if she hasn’t had a good diet.”

3) Exercise!
Says Louis E. Kopolow, MD, in Handling Stress, “The truth is that physical exercise can help you to relax and to handle your mental or emotional stress.” From taking a daily walk to quickie exercises to incorporating fitness into your daily routine, there are many ways you can get your stress-busting exercise and keep your body healthy, too.
4) Plan ahead
If you’re cooking, entertaining, or are a guest at a party, you probably will be standing up a lot. Consider wearing maternity support hose and a “belly bra” for your tummy. For your feet, skip the high heels and go for the flats or short boots: they’re a lot more comfortable, and you have less of a chance of falling. And please — try to sit down whenever possible, and put your feet up.
5) Wear comfortable clothes
Restrictive clothing can be very uncomfortable during pregnancy. Loosen up — wear something that comfortably fits around your expanding shape. If you don’t have a maternity dress to wear to the festivities, that’s okay! Dress up a pair of blank maternity pants with a nice blouse instead.
6) Take a time out
You’re pregnant — whether or not everyone can tell or not. You have an unrestricted license to put your needs first, so take advantage of it. Tired of talking? Bored of listening? Feeling sleepy? Need to hit the bathroom again? Want something to eat? Just do it — you don’t need to give a big explanation. “I’m sorry — It’s been great talking to you, but I’m really worn out. I’m going to go take a rest,” is about as much as you have to say.
7) Do what you want
In her article, Nurturing Yourself During Pregnancy, Jennifer Louden says, “I wish someone had told me, when I was pregnant with my first baby, to take it easy. Loll in bed. Go to three movies in a row. Read lots of books. Do only what you want as much as possible. Celebrate your freedom.” This sentiment holds especially true during the hustle and bustle of the holidays, of family gatherings, work schedule overloads and other stressful times.
8) The power of love and touch
Ann Liebau, a certified Pregnancy and Infant Massage Therapist says, “For women who live very busy lives, who work full time or have other children, sometimes receiving pregnancy massage is the only time they have to really focus on themselves and their babies.”

Not only can your partner be the one who gives you a massage — it doesn’t need to stop there. Unless your caregiver tells you otherwise — or unless it makes you uncomfortable — sex and intimacy are generally safe throughout pregnancy. Says Registered Nurse and Childbirth Educator Linda Jenkins, “Taking the time to do things together gives you both greater opportunity to share in the happiness of this pregnancy.” Enjoy the pleasures of pregnancy.

9) Enjoy the “girlie stuff”
Especially if you haven’t been dressing up or been feeling up to wearing your usual makeup — try it! Get all dressed, style your hair, put on your favorite face — sure makes a change from the sweats you’ve been living in on weekends. Also take some time to enjoy wonderful lotions and potions to soothe your skin and salve the spirit.
10) Try to see the bright side
We know that pregnancy isn’t always perfect — or even always fun. But it’s worth trying to remember how special, and short-lived, this time really is. Everywhere you go, you probably get knowing smiles. In Ann Douglas’ article, Positive Self-Image During Pregnancy, midwife Mary Hunking noted, “Some women talk about when they were pregnant being the best time in their lives.”

And if morning sickness, heartburn, stretching ligaments and all the rest are too much — well, you can always have a good laugh! In Make ’em Laugh, a mother — and writer — takes a look at the lighter side of pregnancy… from poorly-timed bouts of morning sickness to a birth video falling into the wrong hands.

11) Count on your friends
Who better to understand the ups and downs of pregnancy than others who either know you, or know well what your life is like. Friends — online and off — are a great source of support.
12) Don’t forget about the baby
When things are really busy or stressful — remember the bottom line: the baby. You want your child to be healthy and happy, and those qualities come from you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try these suggestions above, or simply put your hands on your belly, take a few deep breaths and think about the amazing new life within you.
For more information
About the author: Nancy Price is the mother of three and the editor of ePregnancy, Interactive Parent and Myria. Her written work has appeared online and in print in Parents, Baby and the San Francisco Chronicle.
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