I have been looking forward to May/June for a while because FOUR of my sweet Raleigh girlfriends are welcoming new babies during these months! One girl and two boys have joined our little church small group so far, with another boy arriving any day now. Seeing these friends with their new little ones has made me reminisce a lot about the fall when Charlie was born–what was special about it, what was hard, and what I might do differently with future babies. I can’t speak for every mom, but for me, the first three months were so physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually challenging. Looking back, there are a few ways I could have done a better job taking care of myself right before and during that “fourth trimester” season…as well as things I’m really glad I did do. I wanted to share a few of those thoughts today for any new or expectant mamas, and if you’re already a mom, please do chime in in the comments with your own experience!
Before having a baby:
Keep working out. I’ve said it before, but my biggest regret about my pregnancy was not working out consistently. Yes, I gained a tiny bit more weight than I wish I had, but more importantly, I was so horribly uncomfortable during the last month of pregnancy. Had I been walking and stretching daily, I suspect this would have been different.
Get your nails done. Especially in the first few weeks of having a baby when I was often without makeup and felt kind of gross, it was good for my heart to at least have nice nails, as silly as that might sound! Plus, every woman in their last week or so of pregnancy deserves a good mani-pedi :)
Splurge on something indulgent to eat. I tried hard not to use pregnancy as an excuse to eat less healthily than usual, but just once (especially at the end!), it was really fun to go out with Dave and eat something I’d never usually eat. For us, this meant a trip to Chuy’s for what we now refer to as the legendary “chips and dips” date…as in, we ordered chips and a plethora of things (queso, guac, creamy jalapeno sauce!) to dip them in. So ridiculous, but so fun!
Have your house cleaned. No matter how strong your nesting instinct is, let’s face it: there is nothing appealing about dusting your baseboards when you’re 38 weeks pregnant. We hired a cleaning service via Groupon to clean our house about a week before my due date, and while it was a financial splurge that we don’t usually make, in this instance, it was worth every penny.
After having a baby:
Accept any and all help, especially when it comes to meals. I don’t think I cooked a single dinner for Charlie’s first month of life. I didn’t expect cooking would be a big deal, but when caring for and feeding a newborn, the LAST thing I wanted to do was meal plan/grocery shop/prep/cook/clean up. Meal Trains are wonderful (you’ll be surprised how many people will ask how they can help when a baby comes!), as are mothers and mothers-in-law. And takeout :)
(A little tip if you’re bringing a meal to a family with a new baby: consider bringing a healthy snack or side dish with you. One of our friends brought us a big container of washed and sliced-up strawberries, and I specifically remember appreciating having something fresh and healthy on hand!)
Download the Kindle app. It’s free, and many libraries rent eBooks that you can borrow and download on the spot. At first, I spent most of my nursing time scrolling through social media, but (no surprise), I got sick of that really quickly. Reading fun books (I shied away from anything too deep or complicated since I was often doing this reading in the middle of the night and needed to stay awake!) was a much more productive use of that time. I also preferred using the Kindle app to the actual Kindle a lot of the time–my phone was always on hand to write down the time of the feeding, so it was just easier.
Simplify your makeup routine. Even though I sometimes don’t venture too far from my house, I still wear makeup 95% of the time–I feel so much more put together when I have it on. I blogged about my streamlined new mom makeup routine here, and would still recommend that, with a few switches to Beautycounter products that are safer for both baby and mama. In particular, I think their tinted moisturizer and lip conditioner would be perfect for a new mom! P.S. They have a whole baby collection as well that I’ve heard is amazing :)
Join a gym that has childcare. We joined a gym with childcare about two months after Charlie was born. I used to love working out at home, but now, going to a class at the gym or for a run on the treadmill without having to worry about what Charlie is doing or when he’s going to wake up from a nap makes working out feel like a little mental break, as well as much-needed “me” time.
Tag team with your husband at church. Going to church for the first time with a newborn was nerve-wracking, I’ll be the first to admit, but for us, our attendance was non-negotiable–we needed that time with the Lord more than ever. We brought Charlie to Mass in his car seat for the first few months, and he actually slept through it almost every week! Now that we’re holding him at church, we’ve instituted a tag team, where one of us holds him for the first half of Mass and the other holds him for the second half. That way, one of us is always totally present and paying attention, and neither of us feels like we “miss” the entire service while trying to entertain Charlie the whole time.
Mamas, what would you add to this list? I can’t wait to hear!