The anxiety, the excitement, the swelling! Those final weeks of pregnancy are hard. It made me crazy when people told me to “sleep while you still can” in the final stretch. Or those well-intentioned, but totally irritating, warnings like, “You’ll never have such a stress-free trip to the grocery store again!” On the other hand, lots of people made me aware that they missed being pregnant, and that I should be enjoying every moment with my bump. My rotund, 9-months-pregnant self wouldn’t believe it then, but now I miss it, too.
So, as you enter your final stretch, here are some things you should really do. Forget catching up on sleep or doing anything super-useful because, hello, your midsection is a globe. The only shoes that fit belong to your husband. No matter what state the nursery is in, you still have more you want to do. Check these 11 relaxing and/or productive things off your to-do list, and you might just find you’re enjoying the end of your pregnancy after all.
1. Go to the movies. Date nights will definitely happen, but it will likely be a while before you can enter a dark room far away from your child, avoid texting the sitter every 20 minutes, follow a plot with actual interest, eat the whole bucket of popcorn guilt-free, and — ahem — not fall asleep.
2. Buy yourself a post-baby outfit (not sweatpants). I’m sure you already have plenty of sweatpants. But getting back into clothes that you love, and that fit, might take some time. Purchase a pretty tunic or sundress a couple of sizes bigger than you wore pre-baby, so you have something nice to slip into when you’re heading out, or just feel like dressing up a little.
3. Get a manicure/pedicure. I’m not talking about your standard nail salon visit here: Spring for the salt soak and the extra massage — you know, the works. And go for the gel mani. Your body needs the relief and relaxation now, and your nails will look great in all those early pictures with your babe.
4. Take a video of your bump in motion. You’ve become so used to it, it’s hard to believe those flutters and kicks you can see moving across your belly will be over soon. Mark the memory of these movements now; it will be amazing to watch the video later.
5. Read a book that has absolutely nothing to do with babies, birth, or breastfeeding. No, really. You can cram for all of that later. There will be quiet stretches of time with your newborn, but you can’t count on that leisure reading time.
6. Put your feet up. While you’re reading that book, place a pillow beneath your low back, two under your head, and lie backward on the bed with your feet on the headboard. This is a very relaxed version of the yoga pose Viparita Karani, or “Legs Up the Wall,” which can help relieve lower back pain and swelling in the legs and feet. The full pose is not recommended past 36 weeks because you don’t want to discourage your baby from heading into birth position, but with legs at 45 degrees, you can still reap the benefits.
7. Start a practical Pinterest board. Maybe you spent the first 8 months repinning pristine nurseries and chic maternity ensembles. But once the baby arrives, you’ll likely be up at random hours searching for all sorts of information. Start corralling medical and practical baby advice now, and it’ll be ready in one place for perusing later.
8. Buy a journal for your baby. As the next several months (and years) unfold, you’ll want desperately to keep track of everything. That won’t be possible. But if you already have a journal and a pen set aside, you’ll find moments of freedom to jot down thoughts for your little. They’ll treasure your words forever.
9. Take your older child on a date. A lot of second-time moms feel an ache about “replacing” their first baby. Even though deep down you know you’ll love them both the same, there will be a period of adjustment for everyone. Treat kid #1 to a special outing, like a movie or a visit to a favorite museum, and allow a conversation about feelings tied to the new baby, if it comes up organically. Either way, this is a great bonding opportunity that you’ll both treasure.
10. Book a blowout. Reached your due date? Girl, I hear you. Schedule a blowout for tomorrow. You’ll either have to cancel because you’ve gone into labor, wind up at the hospital with gorgeous hair, or at the very least, give yourself a beautifying distraction from the constant “BABY????” texts that keep pouring in.
11. Do nothing at all. You’ve got that right, Mama. Soon, a very cute yet very needy person will rely on you for everything. Motherhood in all its beauty and busy-ness is headed your way. As eager as you are to meet your little bundle, try to soak up the calm in your final weeks of your pregnancy. Binge-watch TV, scroll your social media feeds, stare out the window, and just chill. You’ll have plenty to do when the baby comes — I promise!
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