The last few weeks of pregnancy can be tough, but they can also be exciting and special. Mighty Mommy, a seven-time delivery room veteran, shares 8 meaningful ways to spend the last part of pregnancy.
After enduring a five-year struggle with infertility, I was in total awe of my body when I finally got pregnant. Although I endured six months of morning sickness (which lasted all day long) once I got to the finish line and was well into my last trimester, I felt amazing. I was excited to prepare for my baby's grand arrival.
Of course, there were difficult stretches when I was physically uncomfortable and exhausted. I was also an emotional wreck, wondering how I would manage to have a brand new baby along with my adopted 12-month-old. But with each subsequent baby, I got wiser and learned to go with the flow.
The last month of pregnancy can be a special time for both you and your partner. It's also a terrific time to get your home and your emotional mindset in order. Here are eight smart tips to help you coast through the last weeks of pregnancy.
1. Embrace the power nap
Getting physically comfy during the last month of pregnancy is a challenge. Between your bulging belly, the need to frequently urinate, and the overall fatigue, it's not easy to cozy up in bed and grab a decent night's sleep. Every mom-to-be will navigate her sleep routine to the best of her ability.
Research shows that a 20- to 60-minute nap can not only boost your mood and revive your energy, but it can also improve your reaction time and reasoning skills.
Even if you're not catching eight sound hours of Z's during your last month of pregnancy, take advantage of other opportunities throughout your day to relax your body. I was (and still am) a big fan of power naps. Research shows that a 20- to 60-minute nap can not only boost your mood and revive your energy, but it can also improve your reaction time and reasoning skills.
Drift off for this small snippet of time and rest your weary pregnant body—power naps are great for moms-to-be. They'll also be a valuable tool once your baby arrives and you adjust to those newborn-induced sleepless nights. "Sleep when your baby sleeps" is advice every new mom should take to heart!
Another smart option to get yourself into a peaceful state is practicing guided meditation. There are dozens of apps available. My daughter, now a new mom, and her friends love Expectful, an app created for pregnant women, new moms, and women just embarking on their fertility journeys.
2. Cook ahead and stock your freezer
When I delivered our first child, many generous neighbors and friends came by with meals like lasagna, chicken pot pie, homemade mac and cheese, and other delicious, hearty dinners. We received enough meals that I was able to freeze some for the next few weeks.
When I had my second baby, I decided that I would make some casseroles, stews, and other freezer-friendly meals in advance so that I wouldn't have to worry about cooking for the first couple of weeks with a newborn.
Take advantage of this time in your pregnancy to stock your pantry with pasta, canned soups, and other staples that will make your life easier when you're navigating those tiring newborn days. I always enlisted a friend or family member to help me cook about ten meals that I could freeze during those last couple of weeks, and I would return the favor when necessary.
Not only was it productive, but it was also a lot of fun, and we made some great memories.
3. Simplify newborn essentials
I can vividly recall when we found out our adoption was going forward and we would finally become parents. A birthmother had chosen us, and our daughter would be born in less than a week. Talk about exciting news! And yet, it was overwhelming at the same time.
I had dreamed of becoming a mom for over five years. Those dreams included visions of all the super-sweet baby paraphernalia I'd be purchasing. I wanted matching pastel everything. I had to have the latest and most fashionable accessories, gadgets, adorable clothing ensembles, and anything else baby-related. I figured anyone who was about to become a mom would shop for all kinds of fabulous baby goodies.
Wow, was I ever wrong! I didn't need over half of what I purchased while I was exhuberantly preparing for my first baby. I'll chalk it up to not only being inexperienced, but also swept away by how precious newborn baby gear is.
At this point in your pregnancy, you may have had a baby shower and received lots of fantastic gifts for your bundle of joy. If you're still trying to fill in the gap and need to stay on a budget, this video, Preparing For the Baby: Newborn Essentials on a Budget, is wonderful. This veteran mom of eight babies approves of these money-saving tips!
4. Feather your nest
Nesting is a common sign that childbirth is nigh. Some women get a burst of third trimester energy and the urge to clean out the fridge or organize the space under the kitchen sink right now. Nesting is common—73% of pregnant women in a babycenter.com poll experience the urge to nest in some fashion.
My episode, 5 Great Ways to Harness Your Pregnancy Nesting Superpower, shares some fun and easy tips to help you rock this stage of your last month including my favorite— embrace your creative side. I've always enjoyed arts and crafts projects, but each time I was pregnant my interest skyrocketed. I can thank pregnancy nesting for allowing me to fall in love with decoupage. I created a whimsical gallery of my family's favorite photos in our bedroom hallway.
When you come home with baby, you'll look around at your late-pregnancy efforts and feel content and satisfied.
I also went overboard cleaning and organizing everything from our toothbrush holders to the Christmas ornaments in storage. I always used nesting to my advantage to get things as organized and ready for baby so everything was done by the time we came home from the hospital.
If you have the urge to cook, clean, paint, decorate, or even take on a home project you usually wouldn't tackle—and if you don't have any physical restrictions (other than not seeing your toes)—then go for it! When you come home with baby, you'll look around at your late-pregnancy efforts and feel content and satisfied.
5. Surprise siblings with a gift from the new baby
When we had our second baby, I started a tradition—picking out a little surprise for the new "big brother" or "big sister," which was a gift to them from their new baby sibling. I always did this during my last month of pregnancy and brought the gift to the hospital with me when I went into labor. Then, when the older siblings came to meet their new brother or sister for the first time, we would give them the gift from the baby. My kids loved this, and it helped a small bit with sibling jealousy.
6. Prepare some mindless entertainment
Newborns are not only adorable, cuddly, precious, and sweet, they're also hungry. Most newborns eat every 2 to 3 hours or 8 to 12 times every 24 hours. If you're breastfeeding, it can seem like you're nursing 24/7, especially during your baby's first weeks.
Now is the perfect time to prepare for these endless stretches of lounging in your glider rocker.
Now is the perfect time to prepare for these endless stretches of lounging in your glider rocker. Check out Netflix to see what series you want to binge while nursing. Queue up your favorite podcasts or books on tape. When you settle in for hours of relaxing feeding time, you can have entertainment at the ready.
7. Get in sync with your partner
This is a great time to get in sync with your partner so he understands your needs. Some days you may need a loving back rub or a hug and reassurance that everything will be fine. Other days, you may not want to be in the same room as your spouse—and that's OK, too.
The key is to communicate lovingly with your partner so he will know how to comfort you and when to give you some space. The popular What to Expect blog has some helpful tips for dads-to-be: 5 Things Every Partner Should Do for a Mom-To-Be. Most women will appreciate their suggestions about how to pitch in:
She’s not only dog-tired these days, she’s emotionally vulnerable, too. So go the extra mile — pitch in more than you usually do with household chores. And by all means, don’t forget she’s a woman: Tell her she looks good when she leaves in the morning, give her tummy an affectionate pat when she walks by, or offer her a shoulder massage—you’ll always get brownie points for that.
If this is your first baby, this will be the last few weeks of alone time as a couple for a while. Enjoy as many quiet moments together as possible. It’s time you will never get back, so spend it bonding and connecting as you get excited for baby’s arrival.
8. Take advantage of life "before baby”
I cared for eight newborn babies over the past two decades. I can honestly tell you that every time I came home from the hospital, I was amazed at how much I had forgotten about the work and care a new baby requires during those first few weeks. It was exhausting and sometimes even brutal to get through a stretch of weeks with little or no sleep, all while recovering physically from the stresses of labor and delivery. Never mind having to care for older siblings on top of that!
That's why I always tried to appreciate those last few moments of being pregnant. These last few weeks are a time to marvel at your amazing body, to enjoy feeling the baby kick and move, and to relish some quiet time for yourself. When your new baby comes, of course, it will be incredible, but right now is also a time to celebrate your life before that change.
My husband was always supportive, fun, and extremely thoughtful with each of my pregnancies. I used some of the quiet time before the baby was born to write him a letter of appreciation. It was always a special moment for us when he would receive and read these heartfelt notes, which I keep in each child's baby journal.