I’m not sure what it is about us mommas, but we sure do have a way of neglecting ourselves when we make the transition into motherhood, even before baby is born. When I went from working mom to stay at home mom, I quickly let go of the daily habits that made me feel good about myself. Wearing a little make up, taking time for my daily devotional, and even showering seemed unimportant or just impossible in the grand scheme of things.
One thing I’ve learned over time and specifically through this pregnancy is that a little self-care goes a long way. Today I’m sharing some simple ways to show yourself a little extra love when you’re expecting. I know there are a million ways to justify not doing these things. But the reality is mommas, you are able to do a better job of caring for those around you (or growing inside you!) when you care for yourself first; physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
- Clothing: One thing I’ve struggled with during my pregnancies is purchasing maternity items to accommodate my changing body. I hated the idea of spending money on clothes I couldn’t wear forever, and really struggled to find styles that I found flattering during pregnancy. All of that changed for me when I found Figure 8 Maternity. From maternity, to nursing, to baby, they have everything a new or expectant momma could ask for, reasonable prices, and incredible customer service. This gorgeous crimson dress from our Christmas Tree Farm session is just one of several pieces I own and love from Figure 8 Maternity. Depending on what season your pregnancy falls in, this dress comes in a sleeveless and 3/4 sleeve option, and a variety of colors too! Go check it out here. Another favorite maternity piece is this Ingrid and Isabel cowl neck long-sleeve tee. The fabric is so soft and I love that I can dress it up or down. It’s really become a staple in my maternity wardrobe. It’s also available in a variety of colors. I own the black one but I really love some of the more vibrant color options, too.
One article of clothing that I think every momma should invest in is a high quality nursing/maternity bra. I don’t know about you ladies, but I experience a lot of changes, sensitivity, and just general discomfort from the very start of my pregnancy and am unable to stay in a regular bra for long. I’ve tried a lot of different nursing/maternity bras over the years, and finally landed on one I love recently. This Bravado Designs Belle Underwire Nursing Bra is basically my new best friend. I’m not sure if it’s the fabric (which lays perfectly and doesn’t squeeze the places you don’t want squeezed!) or the way an underwire makes me feel like an actual woman and not just a milk-machine, but I’m a fan. Have you used a Bravado nursing bra before? If you have I’d love to hear which one. I like this one so much I just might try another style from them! Figure 8 Maternity carries a variety of pieces from lots of fabulous designers and can equip you for pregnancy and beyond. I can’t wait to try some of their nursing tops and nursing pajamas once baby boy is here!
- Belly care: When I was pregnant with Lincoln I just accepted that I would have stretch marks. I’d read over and over that if your mom had them, you are more likely to have them, (which she claims she did) and my belly seemed huge on my smaller frame. Somehow, I didn’t acquire one stretch mark through my entire pregnancy. I’m almost 37 weeks along this time around, and bigger than I ever was with Lincoln, and so far, so good. (Knocking on all the wood, all over the house right now.) Stretch marks or not, taking care of your skin during pregnancy is important. I also am a believer that a healthy amount of belly rubbing is good for both momma and baby! My routine through both pregnancies has been a liberal application of Mama Mio Tummy Rub Oil twice a day, especially following a shower/bath. I have no idea if this product is to credit for my lack of stretch marks. What I do know is that it helps reduce itching and tingling which I often experience, especially around my scars (I’ve had multiple surgeries leaving me with abdominal scarring) and it just keeps my skin feeling smooth and healthy.
- Pregnancy pillow: If you’ve been pregnant before than you know how challenging it can be to achieve a decent night of sleep. Your body has aches and pains you’ve never experienced before, you wake up to use the restroom every hour, and rapidly changing hormone levels leave you with hot (and cold flashes) crazy vivid dreams, insomnia (coupled with exhaustion!) and a countless number of other ailments. On top of all of this, your changing body and bulging belly can make it very difficult to get comfortable and sleep in a position that’s safe for you and baby. There are various pregnancy pillows on the market that are designed to help. I’ve used one very similar to this one through my pregnancies and I’m so grateful for it! Sure, you can stack forty pillows strategically around your body to achieve something similar. But what I found with that method is that they were constantly sliding, adding just one more thing to the list of things that woke me up throughout the night. For me, a pregnancy pillow was worth the investment.
- Quiet time: A little bit of quiet, alone time can go a long way. Pregnancy can be an emotional roller coaster. For me, its also a time of immense fear and anxiety. This makes it all the more important to have some peaceful time each day to use for devotional, prayer, meditation or journaling; whatever brings your soul peace. It’s not easy to set aside 20-30 minutes a day on my own with a two year old, but I try my best to make it happen, even if it means waking up a half hour earlier than I want to. And I never regret it. In addition to the mental and emotional benefits of this daily alone time, it provides an opportunity to bond quietly with my growing baby. My favorite quiet time? A warm (not hot!) bath with a good book or devotional. I try to do this every now and then when Mitchell is off work and can occupy Lincoln, or during his nap, and it certainly does my body good! But even just a quiet cup of tea that I get to finish while it’s still hot is a little luxury I can appreciate.
- Date Night: Mitchell and I will be the first to tell you that we have done a very poor job of prioritizing alone time together since becoming parents. We live in a small town pretty far from most of our immediate family, and don’t have sitters readily available. In addition to that, our work schedules are unique and complicated, and frankly just make it difficult to plan outings that require child-care. During Lincoln’s first two years of life, I think we had three dates. Three. Not good, we know! We have been working harder through this pregnancy (and are committed to working harder at it once baby arrives) to be intentional about carving out time for just the two of us. Because the reality is that in our case, having a strong, healthy marriage is paramount to raising strong, healthy babies. Yes, I consider caring for my relationship with my spouse to be part of my self-care routine. That might seem weird, but I feel better about myself and my life in general when I feel good about my marriage and the time I devout to my husband. That means making time for intentional conversations that allow us to grow in our relationship with each other and making time for simple, light-hearted fun – just the two of us. Seriously you guys, an uninterrupted conversation amongst to adults over a plate of food that can be enjoyed while warm is a luxury these days! So whatever nurturing those important relationships in your life looks like; a dinner outing with your husband or a girls-day-out with your dearest friends, try your best to make it happen! Happy hearts and positive relationships are good for growing babies, I think.
Mommas, did your self-care routines change when you became a parent? What are your recommendations for new or expectant mothers with regard to self-care?