TLDR: There’s so much to do when you’re pregnant, that it may seem like you don’t have space for even one more thing. But that thing is arguably the most important: self-care. Whether your self-care involves prioritizing sleep, getting massages, or focusing on your prenatal meditation and fitness routine, it’s important to take time for yourself right now.
You’re probably busy spending your days building your registry, planning a nursery, or reading every baby book you can find. You may be feeling some pregnancy symptoms, like fatigue, morning sickness, or plain old stress, or maybe you’re not feeling “pregnant” just yet.
No matter where you are in your pregnancy, we have a reminder for you: you deserve to spend as much time taking care of yourself as you are preparing your life for your baby.
Not that that’s simple, we know. It’s easy to forget about yourself when a new baby is in the picture. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of our favorite pregnancy self-care tips to give you some ideas for how to pamper yourself.
Prioritize Your Mental Health
Self-care treatments like pedicures and long showers are lovely, but they don’t necessarily have long-term benefits. What can help is introducing a mindfulness practice, especially if you’re experiencing some stress or anxiety during your pregnancy. This pregnancy self-care practice is free, easily accessible, and convenient to start anytime, anywhere.
Regular meditation during pregnancy can significantly reduce stress and anxiety levels. Through mindfulness you can learn to maintain an inner calm regardless of your external circumstances. According to Dr. Lauren Demosthenes, Senior Medical Director with Babyscripts, meditation can go beyond pregnancy self-care and even make you more comfortable during labor.
“For people who prefer not to use anesthesia (medication, epidurals etc) during labor, practicing these [meditations] may help to cope with the potential discomfort of labor,” Dr. Demosthenes says. “Even for those who do plan to use pain relief, using these tools can help with the discomforts of pregnancy and/or pre-labor.”
If meditation isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other options for mindfulness practices: journaling, talking about your feelings with a confidant, therapy, establishing a better sleep routine, spending time outside, and more. Whatever you choose, it just needs to work for you.
Establish a Support System
We weren’t designed to go through life alone. That village everyone talks about when it comes to raising a child is vital. But even in our age of hyper-connectivity and smartphones, it can be tricky to find a reliable support system.
If you want to deepen your network, try joining a support group for people who are expecting1 , either locally or online. You might even click with one that’s hosted by a lactation consultant or doula. These groups are fun ways to get helpful advice, learn, and share with others who might be going through the same struggles as you. Bonus: you can keep in touch with parents in the same stage as you, and have an enduring community as your child grows up.
Try Prenatal Yoga or Pilates
Moving your body has benefits no matter what your life circumstances, and it's no different when you're pregnant. In most cases, you can maintain your fitness routine when you’re expecting with a few modifications, if necessary. If you already have a workout routine you love, talk to your doctor about whether it’s okay to continue with it while you’re pregnant.
If you want to try something new or start a routine that’s low impact but gives high results, try yoga or pilates. Similar to meditation, yoga and pilates can help relieve tension. Both require simple modifications while you’re pregnant, though, so look for prenatal Pilates routines and be aware that pregnant people should avoid hot yoga2 since it can raise body temperature.
Get Prenatal Massages
Pregnancy is hard on the body. From sore joints to swelling feet to whatever new pain is pestering you, it could be alleviated with prenatal massage. In fact, some research even shows prenatal massage can help with nausea and vomiting3 , promote better sleep4 and decrease anxiety5 .
Before you have a massage during pregnancy, be sure to have it cleared with your doctor. You can also look for massages in your area that are specifically for pregnancy, and always make sure your massage therapist knows you’re pregnant and let her know immediately if anything is painful.
Prenatal massages can be pricey, and they’re not covered by insurance. If regular massages are out of your budget, ask a partner or a friend to massage your feet or gently rub your shoulders. There are even things you can do yourself, like using a tennis ball to massage your feet6 , or rubbing pregnancy-safe oil on your belly to help soothe itchy skin.
Clean Up Your Routine
Pregnancy tends to be a time when we re-evaluate everything in our lives, from the materials we wear and the foods we eat to the products we use on our skin and in our home. It can be overwhelming to think about all the potentially harmful ingredients in the world, so instead start small.
One easy place to begin: your fridge and pantry. Check out the ingredients in the foods you’re eating and start to make healthy swaps where you can, incorporating fresh, whole foods like fruits, veggies, and grains.
You might also consider cleaning up your beauty routine, given that there are some common beauty product ingredients you want to avoid during pregnancy. Check out the labels on your makeup, soaps, and skin care products, and consider replacing them for the duration of your pregnancy. While tidying up may sound like a chore, buying new skincare can feel like a luxury.
Listen To Your Body
Life can start to feel pretty hectic just before a baby arrives, so giving yourself a little extra TLC is completely justified.
Chances are you’ll find yourself more tired than usual, so if you have time for it, plan to nap during the day. If you feel like you could use a boost, try a light walk outside in the sun and get some fresh air. Or, if you notice any new aches, get in touch with your doctor to go over any concerns.
Remember, your health matters, especially now. So if your body is giving you signals to take a break, listen. It’s good to get into the routine now so you’re mindful about what your body needs when you’re postpartum, too.
If you’re like a lot of people, you probably haven’t made self-care a huge part of your routine, but now is a great time to start, so you can establish healthy habits that you can carry through the postpartum phase and beyond.
Taking time to yourself can feel weird, but don’t let that hold you back. You deserve to make time for yourself as you embark on this next part of your journey. Even if you start with just five-minutes a day, small changes can make a big impact.