If you have just received the news that in about forty weeks time (or less), you can expect a visit from the stork – congratulations! Pregnancy is by far, the most incredible and fascinating experience and being such a momentous time in a woman’s life, it is important for the expectant mom to look after herself, her body, and above all take the necessary steps to ensure that at the end of the long and tiring journey, a healthy baby is delivered.
Exercise and Health
Expectant moms instantly appear to take on a radiant glow as they enter their second trimester, however it is not all smooth sailing and as with any journey in life, the road is bumpy and not without challenges. The most important thing to remember is that your body is going to change – don’t watch the scale – you are going to put on weight and your once petite waistline will be lost along the way. Relax, pregnancy is a time to enjoy those forbidden treats (just don’t overdo it). Eat a lot of good, healthy foods, not only are fresh fruits, vegetables and food high in fibre great for the growing baby, but these foods will increase energy levels and will also help with typical pregnancy woes, like constipation.
Don’t drink alcohol and don’t smoke, this is a given. Motherhood means sacrificing and pregnancy is a perfect time to start. Smoking during pregnancy is a big no-no and it is unfair to expose an unborn baby to the evils of the world. Do try and keep up with exercise but don’t over-exert your body. Swimming and walking are relaxing exercises for a mom to be and when the big day arrives, that extra lap in the pool may just pay off during labour.
Don’t try and be superwoman. If there is a couch that needs moving, or if you are just too exhausted to do the everyday household chores, don’t panic. Towards the end of the pregnancy, nesting is common and during this phase, most women become obsessed with rearranging and repacking their homes. Do ask for help – male partners very often feel left out during the pregnancy and they will be more than happy to show off their strength and masculinity and shuffle couches around the lounge, only to move them back a few minutes later. Don’t feel bad when saying no! Pregnancy can be exhausting and if you are not up taking your mother-in-law shopping, just say no.
Relaxation and Advice
Do catch up on reading. For the first few weeks after the bundle of joy arrives, life will be in turmoil and settling down with a good book will be near impossible. Take a few -me’ days and treat yourself to a few well deserved spa treatments. Many spas offer pregnancy packages and these are the best antidote for tired feet and sore backs. Don’t take to heart all the good advice you are given. Pregnancy is a personal experience and even though most kind-hearted friends and family members only have the best intentions, you know what is right for your body and for your baby – listen to your body. Do, however, ensure that you always go for regular checkups and if you are concerned about anything, mention it to your doctor, no matter how trivial it may seem.
Don’t neglect your partner and don’t neglect your relationship. Having a baby is a life-changing event and if pre-existing problems are not fixed before the baby arrives, they will only worsen after baby’s arrival. Spend as much time with your partner as possible. Do set aside a weekend away before the big arrival for a final -couples-only weekend and pull out all the stops to build up your relationship.
If this is a second or third pregnancy, don’t forget to involve older children throughout the pregnancy. Explain to them that they can expect a new brother or sister soon and try to remember that they may feel a little left out when their sibling arrives. Do let them help with small baby-care chores and always remind them that they are special and loved.
Do try and put a little money away each month, especially if you are planning not to return to work after maternity leave. Extra savings will come in handy after the birth as there are always unexpected expenses. Don’t forget to arrange UIF (Unemployment Insurance Fund) before you go on maternity leave and find out where UIF claims and payments are made in your area. If finances are tight, second-hand baby goods are just as good as new and they are far more affordable. Don’t try and find the most expensive pram or cot on the market, a baby will be blissfully unaware of how much money you have spent on the nursery’s furniture.
Pregnancy is a joyful event which passes in the blink of an eye so do enjoy every moment of it!