40 WEEKS PREGNANT
Take Care of Yourself to Get Ready to Care for Your Baby
This week, you can
• Decide on specific and fun ways to nurture yourself before the baby arrives
• Consider which forms of self-care you wish to permanently incorporate into your life
ALMOST THERE! If you haven’t already had your baby, you’re now forty
weeks pregnant and have either reached your estimated due date or are
very close. Congratulations! Your baby will be here very soon.
though it can be frustrating to wait, a “late” baby presents an
opportunity. Most likely you’re on maternity leave from work or have
wound down your duties considerably in anticipation of your baby’s
birth. Nobody is expecting much of you right now. Take advantage of
this slow time of your life and savor it as much as possible. I know,
that’s easier said than done at times. But think of it this way: No
matter how uncomfortable you are right now, your baby will never be as
easy to care for again. Right now, your body and your baby are doing
all the work of getting her ready to be born.
a few short weeks you’ll probably be tired and overwhelmed and may find
yourself looking back on this time with a bit of wistfulness. Don’t
wish these precious last few days of quiet anticipation away! Instead,
look at them as an opportunity to take care of yourself really well so
that when the moment of motherhood arrives, you’ll be as refreshed and
ready as possible.
Now is a great time to:
Get a massage. Opt for a therapist experienced in pregnancy massage. He
or she will know how to comfortably work on your pregnant body. Also,
there are certain pressure points that have been shown to stimulate
labor—a therapist who specializes in prenatal massage will be aware of
these points and stay away from them until your baby is full term.
• Get a pedicure and manicure.
• Read. You may find that your brain is too foggy or full of baby thoughts for War and Peace.
That’s okay. Essay and short-story anthologies are great for right now
since you can read in short bursts. Or, if you’re drawn to fashion or
home-decorating magazines, that’s a great pastime, too.
• Go to the movies.
• Go see a play.
Go for a slow, gentle walk around the neighborhood or through the
woods. Take time to really experience the season—remember, you’ll
probably be spending a lot of time indoors in the very near future.
Will you miss smelling the lilacs or watching the leaves turn color
this year because you’ll be so busy sniffing your baby’s scent and
staring at his fingers and toes? Get your fill of nature now.
• Go out with your spouse.
Spend some time with your baby journal. Whether you’re feeling excited,
anxious, impatient, or all of the above, getting it out on paper may
help you work through feelings that are subconsciously holding you back
from going into active labor.
• Get your
hair cut and/or colored. Highlights are generally considered safe for
pregnant women since the dye doesn’t sit on the scalp and so can’t be
absorbed through the skin. Semipermanent vegetable-based dyes are also
considered safe. Talk to your stylist about a cut that will grow out
well and can be worn in a variety of styles that will fit your new
life. Trust me, it may be a while before you can dedicate forty-five
minutes a day to blow-drying your hair again.
Partake in some gentle prenatal yoga. If you don’t feel like going out,
try a DVD. I recommend Jennifer Wolfe’s Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga Short
• Meditate. By now, sitting in
tailor pose may be quite uncomfortable. Try sitting on a pillow so that
your hips are slightly higher than your knees. You can also use yoga
blocks to prop up your knees on either side so you don’t get too
intense a stretch.
When people are tired, rushed, and working at
home, it’s easy to forget you haven’t brushed your teeth, and flossing
becomes nothing more than a good intention. Stop the madness! Plaque
has been linked to heart disease and stroke. Brush those pearly whites
and floss in the morning when you wake up and at night before you go to
bed. After each meal is the ideal and that’s a lovely habit to create
right now. And while toothpaste actually isn’t necessary—it’s the
brushing that matters when it comes to oral hygiene—the best substance
to use is baking soda with peroxide. It alkalizes the system as well,
which some doctors consider to be an anticancer precaution. It’s the
perfect time to take care of that beautiful smile!
IN TOUCH WITH YOURSELF
her. I know you have. She’s been on Oprah, all the morning shows, and
most afternoon talk shows, both local and national. She’s got long,
straggly hair and she hasn’t been out of sweats in years. Her shoes are
all utilitarian. She doesn’t remember the last time she wore makeup or
jewelry. And don’t ask about what she wears to bed. She carries one
large black purse all year long, which weighs a ton, and her shoulders
slope under the weight. Speaking of weight, she’s packing an extra
forty pounds and has the blood pressure to prove it. Who is she? She’s
a mom. And I don’t want you to be like her!
Something happens to certain women after the birth of a baby that is downright scary. These women believe that all
of their energies are to be poured into their children. Oprah calls
them ‘schlumpadinka’ moms. They’ve gotten the idea somehow that the
more they sacrifice, the better off everyone in their family will be.
The little things that once made these women feel feminine or even like
a real human being now somehow feel frivolous and even selfish. Go for
a jog or buy new underwear? Why, schlumpadinkas have baby bonding and
college savings to put first!
empathize with these moms. Of course, parenthood equals sacrifice . . .
a lot of it. But these women aren’t doing their children any favors by
sacrificing everything that makes them happy and whole for the pursuit
of parenting perfection. It’s great to add motherhood to your life.
It’s not so great to jettison everything that has come before now
because . . . you are a mother.
television, the host of the show gifts our schlumpadinka with a
head-to-toe makeover. Her husband salivates in the first row of the
audience. Her kids can’t believe this is their mom. And the makeover
artists all take a bow.
It’s a fairytale
ending, but I’ve got a better idea. How about remembering to nurture
yourself? Of course, we all have our good days and bad. Just remember
there are positive things you can do from the start to keep you as
close to your personal best as possible. It’s the little things really
that add up: the regular haircut, a touch of lipstick or gloss on your
lips each morning, and wearing something nice to bed instead of that
old, torn T-shirt.
So far this week we’ve
focused on ways to care for yourself while waiting for your baby to
arrive. But what about when she’s here? One day—far in the future, but
one day—she’s destined to leave home. In order to avoid the empty-nest
syndrome, keep your nest filled with your true self. In addition to the
restful activities you’re enjoying right now while waiting for your
baby, here are some small, simple things you can try to incorporate
into your life both now and when she’s here:
• Put on your favorite lipstick.
• Wear your favorite fragrance.
• Moisturize your face and hands.
• Babies love shiny objects, so while you tuck your earrings and necklaces away, wear an ankle bracelet!
• Shave your legs and underarms.
• Do yoga and meditate.
• Sleep in something feminine.
• Join a book club.
• Make time for your hobbies.
• Tour art studios. You can continue to do this with your baby in a carrier!
• Get some sensible yet attractive shoes.
• Buy a new music CD.
• Pick up a bouquet of fresh flowers each week at the supermarket.
Order a DVD of that movie you missed in the theaters but really wanted
to see. Better yet, join a program like Netflix and have a monthly
movie night with your sweetie.
• Take a
class in something you love that’s not taxing and comes without
homework. For instance: flower arranging, writing poetry, or a cooking
• Change your clothes every day and don’t sleep in your sweats.
would you add to this list? Some of these items may be things you do
already do regularly, while others may represent adventures for the
future. I’m not suggesting that you embrace everything on this
list or that you do them all before your due date. Of course there will
come a time when running out for a massage, heading to yoga class, or
even watching a movie all the way through becomes much more
logistically difficult than it is right now. Plan for that eventuality.
If massage makes you feel like a whole new woman, figure out a way to
work it—and, if needed, the cost of child care—into your budget. Think
about your hair. Will you have two inches of dark roots by the time
Baby is two months old? Maybe now is the time to get an appointment on
the books. Soon enough you might be feeling a little stir-crazy from
caring for the baby all day, and your appointment will give you
something to look forward to.
into your week or month that will be easy to keep after Baby comes. For
instance, if you love to read, make a certain day of the week your
library or bookstore day. Mark it on your calendar so you don’t forget.
Once your baby is here, you can bring her along. Making it part of your
regular routine now will help you keep from letting an important part
of your life go by accident.
baby is almost here, and she needs you to be the happiest, most whole
mother you can be. You are facing down an enormously life-changing
event, and nothing will ever be the same again. Take care of yourself .
. . now, and in the future. Your baby is counting on it!