Oh, the plans I had for my pregnancies. Massages I was going to enjoy. Books I was going to read. Oceans I’d lounge beside while my dutiful husband rubbed my aching feet.... As you may have guessed, none of it came to fruition. And now, looking back, I could kick my pregnant butt for not immersing myself in the experience. But how could I have known how different life would be once my cherub arrived? Knowing what I know now—that the days of focusing on personal wants and needs are long gone—I would have taken time to relish every pre-birth minute. Don’t make the same mistake I did: Celebrate your pregnancy! And if you aren’t sure how, start with these ideas.
1. Use your pregnancy privileges People offering to do things for you—like lug your bag up a flight of stairs—is one of the best perks that comes with growing a baby. So is getting offered a seat on the bus, being encouraged to cut ahead in lines and utilizing expectant-mother parking spots. “When I was pregnant, I took advantage of any and every opportunity afforded to a pregnant woman,” says Deb Hunter, a mom of three from Harrietsville, Ont. The lesson: Take help wherever you possibly can. The world won’t always see you as a delicate flower, so now’s the time to make the most of the kindness of strangers.
2. Do yoga Though Dawn McCorry of Edmonton enjoyed each of her three pregnancies, she didn't try prenatal yoga until she was expecting her second baby. She went from liking pregnancy to loving it. “I was amazed at how different my body felt once I started doing yoga. I had none of the aches and pains I experienced during my first pregnancy, I gained less weight and my deliveries were so much faster and smoother.”
3. Decorate your belly Of course it’s great to take regular pictures of your bump as it grows—but why not try something with a bit more creative flair? Carol Townson, a mom of one from Meaford, Ont., painted her bump to coincide with holidays like Valentine’s Day and Easter. “I loved being pregnant, and being able to have fun with it and make out-of-the-box memories was just a bonus.” We've also seen growing trends (ha) such as belly casts and henna'd bumps. Some moms-to-be get super creative with Halloween costumes that incorporate their bellies.
4. Book a massage Pregnancy can definitely do a number on your body, especially as you progress into the third trimester, when ligaments are stretched, multiple pounds are gained and your back feels ready to snap. Prenatal massages can help. “From five months on, I had at least one pregnancy massage a month, and made sure I booked my next visit each time I finished a session,” says Peggy Weber, a mom of one from Grimsby, Ont. “They made me feel incredibly relaxed, and did so much to ease the back pain I experienced during the last trimester.”
5. Indulge If there’s ever a time to eat a little bit extra, book some time at the spa (many treatments are safe during pregnancy), or sleep in while you still can, it’s now, says Betsy Brown Braun, a parenting expert and author from Los Angeles. “Taking care of your baby is one of the most important things you’ll ever do in life. Put your focus on what’s growing inside of you and when you feel like you need to take it easy, make sure you do.”
6. Wear a bikini You’ll need a heap of self-confidence to pull it off, but there are few things more beautiful than a confident pregnant woman baring her bump. “I wore a two-piece swimsuit when I was eight months pregnant, mostly because I wasn’t going to attempt to stuff my belly into a one-piece bathing suit,” says Chritina Scobie, a mom of one from Peterborough, Ont. “I loved how I felt wearing it.” (Don’t forget the sunscreen.)
7. Prepare to nurse Consider chatting with or lining up a local lactation consultant now, or take a breastfeeding class designed for expectant parents (check your hospital for courses). “When I was pregnant with my twin girls, I knew I wanted to try breastfeeding, so I scheduled an appointment with a lactation expert a few weeks before their birth,” says Leslie McCormick from Burlington, Ont. “I know it doesn’t sound like your average preggo’s idea of relaxing, but since I was able to nurse my daughters until past their first birthday, I’d say it was absolutely one of the best things I did while pregnant.”
8. Journal your pregnancy Taking some time to jot down your thoughts, feelings and experiences may feel like just one more thing on your to-do list, but it’s worth the effort, says Amanda Hill, a mom of one from New Liskeard, Ont. “I didn’t write every day, but I tried to write as often as I could, so my daughter would know how thrilled I was throughout my pregnancy, how amazing it was to feel her move and how excited I was to hold her in my arms. It’s something I hope she’ll look at and cherish one day, because the whole experience was the happiest time of my life.” If you can’t commit to regular entries, leave yourself a weekly or monthly reminder. You could also start an email account for your unborn child (if you know the name) and start emailing him or her little notes now, pre-arrival. If you plan to share the whole journey from bump to baby (and beyond) online, consider starting a blog or Tumblr, buying your baby's URL, or setting up social media accounts so that family and friends can easily follow along.
9. Take bets on your delivery date Babies are good at making their own schedules—especially when it comes to their due dates. Add some momentum to the countdown with your own low-stakes baby pool, in which people can guess the date of the big arrival, and predict the gender (if you don’t already know it). “I polled family and friends for their picks, then rewarded the person who guessed closest with a gift card,” says Sherry Bembridge, a mom of two from Kincardine, Ont. “It added excitement to an already wonderful experience.”
10. Make time for date night Date night doesn’t have to be extravagant: Book a table for two at your favourite restaurant instead of cooking one night a month, or snuggle up to watch a movie at home on the couch as your due date draws closer. Whatever you do, spending dedicated time with your partner now is a great way to inject a little romance into all of the baby preparation and strengthen your connection for the exciting changes coming your way.