If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, you may remember the flight attendant instructing you to “put your oxygen mask on first” before helping others. This is because if you run out of oxygen yourself, you can’t help anyone else.
This is a great lesson to keep in mind as an expectant mama. When your LO arrives, you will likely find yourself focusing time and energy outside of yourself, helping others. Maintaining your own wellness will become more important than ever, but it can be easy to overlook. Use this time before your LO’s arrival to build habits of self-care.
Here are 6 things you can do to take care of yourself, while still practicing responsible social distancing.
- Start A Journal. Make a habit of writing regularly in a journal, even if it’s only one line a day. Writing about your thoughts and emotions can help you develop greater awareness of the positives, and ease anxiety.
- Unplug and Unwind. Without the freedom to get out and socialize, it’s easy to become glued to your phone, computer and TV. Try taking some time away from your screens. Make a daily schedule for yourself that includes offline activities, like listening to music or a podcast, reading a book, or looking through an old photo album. Mindless distractions like doing a jigsaw puzzle or filling in a coloring book can help you to relax and process things.
- Exercise. Although you may be homebound, it’s still possible to work out. Find a space in your home to dedicate to exercising, even if it’s just the corner of a room or a wide hallway and consider joining an online class specializing in exercises for expectant mamas. Many exercises have been developed to target specific areas that need special attention during pregnancy to support and tone your changing body. Exercising during pregnancy is important for you right now because it helps increase your strength and endurance, which are needed during labor and delivery. Exercising also develops and strengthens muscles that will help to support the added weight you will be carrying as your LO grows, reducing the chance of developing lower back pain.
- Connect with people. You may be unexpectedly away from your family and loved ones during this time. We know that can be hard as an expectant mom at an exciting stage in life. Even though you may not be able to see your loved ones in person, try to make a routine of talking with them regularly. Set up weekly recurring video chats, write letters to family and friends, and consider joining virtual clubs (e.g. a book club). If you haven’t had a baby shower yet, consider a virtual baby shower. This can be done easily over video conferencing. Check out what other moms are doing. There are so many tips and tricks already circulating!
- Sleep. Sleeping has likely become harder for you, as a number of factors begin to impact your ability to rest (e.g. more trips to the bathroom, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, and general stress). The good news is that there are a few things pregnant mamas can do to help get a good night’s sleep. Try creating a schedule for yourself, where you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Avoid drinking a lot of fluids, eating a big meal, or exercising before bedtime. Instead, do things to relax before bedtime, like taking a warm shower or reading.
- Plan Ahead. Start planning ways to maintain a self-care routine after your LO’s arrival. Define roles with your partner(s) ahead of time, including how you will share in feeding time, who will wake in the morning to greet your child and when you can each have a little “me time.” Revisit that registry and order supplies you will need ahead of time, including pacifiers, a breast pump, baby bottles, and replacement bottle nipples with different flow rates for when your baby begins to age up.