Pregnancy is an exciting time, yet we know that sometimes it can be stressful for the mama-to-be. It’s quite common that she will forget (or not have time to) to take proper care of herself, while prepping for the arrival of her little bub.
Let’s be honest here, pregnancy shouldn’t just be about bub. Self-care is essential for both mama’s physical and emotional wellbeing. So, if you are currently expecting, do not feel bad for asking your family and friends for help, so you can focus on your own needs even for just a brief moment.
Here are some easy self-care tips you can start implementing today.
Guilt-Free Chill Time
Yes, it’s ok to relax! Cooking a ‘bun in the oven’ takes a lot of energy. Personally, I remember nodding off for power naps constantly, especially during the first trimester of my twin-pregnancy – never have I been so tired in my life – NEVER! When I finally allowed myself to have a bit of rest, I constantly felt guilty – because I had so many ‘important’ things to do (read: chores that were not really that important). Sound familiar?
If you are a mama-to-be, please learn to listen to your body’s signals. If bub and body say it’s time to take a break, then TAKE A BREAK (excluding times where you are driving!):
• Lay down for a quick cat nap (shhh, don’t tell anyone, I used the ‘sick-room’ at work to catnap in during my lunch break).
• Pull out a chair, put your feet up and grab a cuppa.
• Do a short yoga session.
• Get a pregnancy-friendly massage.
• Go out for a lunch with a friend
Whatever takes your fancy and helps you to relax. Just don’t push yourself to keep going, if you are exhausted.
Pregnant women are recommended to get plenty of sleep at night. However, that’s sometimes easier said than done. When pregnant, it can at times be difficult to sleep properly due to leg cramps, vivid nightmares, heartburn, discomfort, stress and anxiety – especially during 3rd trimester. If you are experiencing any of these, take a look at the recommendations below:
• Maintain regular sleep/wake cycle (including day naps yay!)
• Sleep on the left side during 3rd trimester – this will increase blood flow and nutrients to your growing bub. Try avoid sleeping on your back for extended periods of time.
• Exercise regularly.
• Use (pregnancy) pillows to reduce back pain: lay on your left side with hips and knees bent and place pillows between the knees, under belly and behind back.
• Avoid spicy food and heavy meals before bedtime.
Bonding With Your Baby Bump
Pregnancy can be the perfect time to start bonding with your baby, as it can have a positive impact on the emotional wellbeing of mama-to-be and enhance the relationship between mama and bub after childbirth.
Here are a few suggestions on mama-to-be-and-bub-bonding-sessions:
• Have an ultrasound – seeing bub moving inside the womb can be a beautiful experience and help mama-to-be to bond with the little one since it can suddenly seem ‘real’. (It certainly felt very real and to some degree of overwhelming, when I had my first scan with my twins).
• Reflect - go for a walk or have a warm bath and think about bub. Or write in a journal.
Second and Third Trimester
• Talk to bub. At around week 18 your baby will begin to hear the sounds of mama’s body, such as heartbeat and tummy rumbling. At 26 weeks baby may react to noises both inside and outside mama’s body and may be soothed by the sound of your voice. So don’t hesitate to have a little chat / sing a song / listen to music together!
• Belly Bump Massage. Introduce bub to human touch by massaging the belly from the second trimester and onwards. Turn it into a relaxing ritual and use a belly oil or cream to make the massage more comfortable for you and your skin. (Personally, I massaged my twin-belly-bump every night with a Belly Oil and I used a gel-based Belly Cleanser when I showered. I really appreciated these special bonding sessions.) Quick tip: If massaging in the shower/bath try using soap-free belly cleansers, as normal soap will strip the skin from natural oils and dry it out).
• Respond to kicks of little bub. From week 26 babies can move in response to touch. Gently push against the baby or rub belly where the kick occurred and see if there is a response.
Take Care of Your Skin & Clean Up Your Beauty Routine
Not all mamas-to-be get to enjoy the so called ‘pregnancy glow’! Unwelcome, but very common, skin changes can occur due to hormonal changes. These pregnancy-related changes can include darkening of the skin, increased skin sensitivity, itchiness, acne, stretch marks, and more fun stuff! See the table below for more info…
Finding safe skincare products to alleviate these skin changes is a big concern for many mamas-to-be, as it’s important to pay special attention to the various ingredients we put in and on our bodies during this precious time. I therefore believe that pregnancy is the perfect time for the expectant mama to assess her current beauty and skincare collection.
Don't Beat Yourself Up
If you are a Mama-to-be, do yourself a favour and loosen your expectations of what pregnancy, childbirth and Mamahood is “supposed” to be (talking from experience!). Be gentle with yourself. It can be quite normal to have feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and fear, when you are a mama-to-be or new mama. It’s ok to feel that you have nothing under control and that you have jumped head-first into deep water – trust me, it will get easier and better.
Remember that parenthood is not about being perfect (what is perfect anyway?)– It’s about enjoying your moment, your journey and experiences, and letting your unrealistic expectations go. You can do it!
Charlie, who’s originally from Scandinavia, is a self-proclaimed MEGA-GEEK-MUM of three (read: scientist in lab-coat with big fat glasses without any sense of fashion, who tried to teach her 18 months old daughter about photosynthesis!). Besides being a mum, she’s a passionate biochemist. After falling pregnant she quickly realised that there was a lack of safe skincare specifically for the skin changes that often happen during pregnancy – this was when My Lilli Pilli was born. Now she loves formulating beautiful skincare products and loves educating and empowering women to make informed choices when it comes to beauty, health and well-being.