I know, we are all probably busy enough that pregnancy flies by in a way. But every time I’ve been expecting I’ve found myself wanting to commemorate each day in honor of baby as best I can. When I’m pregnant, I’m never really *not* thinking about my little one, even as I rush around wiping other bottoms, making meals, reading umpteen books, cleaning, and cleaning some more…
Maybe it’s *because* I’ve been so busy that I always wanted to set aside time to think of my growing blessing. I didn't want to miss even a moment.
Of course, there were days when nausea and fatigue got the better of me and I *needed* to slow down. And days late in pregnancy when my ankles were swollen or my varicose veins were painful, and I spent lots of time resting. But I didn’t want that time to be wasted, either.
When I was pregnant with baby #4, I decided to make a list of all of the things I’ve enjoyed doing to while away the wait. Some of them took planning and others were just little activities I looked forward to but came automatically. I hope this list is useful for you as you anticipate baby, or perhaps a walk down memory lane that you’ll want to share with others like I’m doing.
A Few of My Favorite Things…
Fun pregnancy Announcements – I haven’t ever gone all out with professional photography or announcements at family gatherings, but I’ve loved coming up with different ways to share the good news! We found out we were pregnant with our third baby around Halloween, so we dressed the older two in “Thing 1 and Thing 2” costumes with a sign that said “Thing 3” on my belly. The last two times around I updated my Facebook cover photo with an image – once of four sets of shoes, and then with me holding a pumpkin at my waist that said “baby.” Not original, I know, but it was fun to see the meaning dawn on people.
Choose a name – Some of us choose names long before we are pregnant, and others wait to see baby with their own eyes before pinning one down! I definitely love names and am always eager to start thinking of baby as who he or she will be as an individual. Our living children’s names (Aidan Robert, Cora Ruth, Alexander Ross, and Arthur Ransom) have been chosen very intentionally to include both family and literary references. I named the baby we lost, too. I tend to drive my husband crazy with lists until we settle on a name. I also sometimes like polling others about my name choices – not that I ever go with the favorite.
Join a Due Date Club/Forum – I really enjoyed participating in a due date club on Baby Center my first time around. It was great to see how pregnancies varied and find people to empathize with. We exchanged little gifts, even! The fourth time around we had some unique high risk pregnancy issues and I was able to find a support group on Facebook that was a wonderful resource and community!
Scrapbook/Journal – I’m not a master scrapbooker by any means. I like kits and I like easy. When I try to deviate things just never look the way I want them to. And with 4 children I don’t have unlimited time and energy to be creative.
My first baby got a photo album and customize-able calendar (both gifts from others), and my sister purchased a very nice all-in-one scrapbook kit for me from Creating Keepsakes (no longer available) that got me hooked on more extensive projects. With babies 3 and four I decided simple is better (so they get done!) and I used “pregnancy journals” like this one, and a great printable version that is no longer available (though this one and this one are cute and free). I purchased a very basic photo album and printed what I wanted, then I interspersed other things like maternity photos and cards mailed to us. Easy!
Look Up Birth Flowers and Birth Stones – Just another little thing to pass the time and form a bond with baby. I like planning names, nicknames, and decorating themes around things like this when it fits.
Use Pinterest for Room and Shower Ideas – Birth announcements and gender reveal ideas too, of course! I officially have entirely too many boards.
Choose a Bible Verse or Poem – I’ve enjoyed finding a verse to represent each of my children that I can then use to meditate and pray upon, plus teach to them later. Sometimes it has something to do with their name (like Arthur Ransom’s below), and sometimes the character I hope they will have.
Read Books About Pregnancy, Birth, and Breastfeeding – I’ve read a LOT of these books now throughout five pregnancies! I still learn new things and find new inspiration! It really pays to be aware off the wide range of opinions and advice out there so that you can make the best decisions for your family. Here are some of my favorites (all Amazon Affiliate links, thanks!):
Your Best Birth by Abbey Epstein and Ricki Lake
Christian Woman’s Guide to Childbirth by Debra Evans (hard to find, but check your library)
Natural Birth Stories by Shannon Brown (this book includes MY birth stories!)
Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer (it’s a little too antagonistic at times, but good!)
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year by Susun Weed
Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International
So THAT’S What They’re For! by Janet Tamaro
Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck (not JUST about breastfeeding)
Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing by Shelia Kippley
The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers by Jack Newman
The Breastfeeding Lifeline (ebook) by BreastfeedingPlace.com (me! and lots of others)
Craft Something for Baby – I like to dabble in crafts, but I’m not especially skilled. I can technically knit, crochet, sew, etc. but no one would pay me to do any of it. Still, it’s fun to put your hands to good use on behalf of baby. I’ve made something small for each – bibs, hats, scarves, toys (like taggy blankets and cloth dolls), and organizers for diapers/accessories.
Choose a Stuffed Toy for Baby – I think you’ve gathered by now that I am sentimental. I like for each little one to have their special animal. We don’t do too many frivolous toys here, but I make an exception for this one. For instance, the name “Arthur” has ties to the Welsh word for “Bear,” and we live in ALASKA, so I hunted until I found just the right life-like stuffed bear for him to snuggle. The other children have also gotten special lovies.
Create a Baby Registry – For first babies, this usually goes without saying. However, even for subsequent babies it’s nice for long distance family and friends to get an idea of what you really need or want, since you may already have the essentials. Don’t be afraid to make a registry each time! I’ve used the Amazon Baby Registry. One of the perks is that you get 10% off everything on your registry that no one purchases for you! Woot!
Take Maternity Photos – I only had professional maternity photos taken once, but I still made sure to do at least a little bit of documenting with each pregnancy. It’s fun (and reassuring) to look back at previous pregnancies and remember that YES, you really DID get that big last time, too. :) Consider wearing the same outfit for each photo (whether monthly or more sporadically), or at least taking the photos in the same place/angle to see growth better. If you look tired (um… expected!), don’t hesitate to crop your head out of the photo for the baby book!!
Have Fun With Gender Prediction – There are about a bajillion different “tests” and wives tales out there about Gender Prediction. Just google it! Chinese calendar, wedding ring over the belly, pee in some cabbage juice. Bajillion, I’m telling you! You could even do a whole slew of them and make a video about it like these folks.
Exercise – Don’t be impressed. I am not a fitness guru. I don’t LIKE working out for the heck of it. I prefer getting my movement in throughout the day in organic ways – walking instead of driving, carrying children, cleaning the house (ok, I don’t LIKE that either), etc. However, I’ve been very aware that pregnancy, hormones (hello extended breastfeeding), and age all have an effect on my overall physical health. Muscles have stretched beyond their limits and need to heal. Others have atrophied from under-use, or are tight from improper alignment. So, some exercise is essential whether I like it or not.
It’s very important that pregnant and postpartum women understand, however, that there are lots of ways that the wrong type of exercise can hurt instead of help. Excess weight loss can affect baby’s development and later breast-milk production, and certain exercises are dangerous to mom and baby, or can exacerbate issues such as Diastasis Recti (separation of the abdominal muscles – which MOST postpartum women end up with).
Make a Birth Plan – Whether you deliver at home or elsewhere, a personalized birth plan is a great way to think through all of the decisions you have the opportunity to make about labor and delivery/recovery. My birth plans at birth centers (two of my four births) have been more geared toward my overall desires for outcomes and environment, whereas my two hospital birth plans were mostly about what interventions I did and did not want. You can read my hospital birth plans and an example of another mom’s birth center plan in the book Natural Birth Stories by Shannon Brown.
Make a Labor Playlist – I didn’t decide to compile a list of songs for labor until my third birth. I guess I thought I’d feel awkward about it in the hospital, maybe. Or maybe I thought it wouldn’t help that much. In any case, I used a YouTube Playlist at Alexander’s birth and I was SHOCKED by how much it helped! I found that I couldn’t really hear or focus on the music during the peak of the hardest contractions, but as I came down from the pain, the music helped me settle and maximize the time I had to relax in between them. I chose songs that would encourage and comfort me, and they really were a fantastic aid. The last time around, I listened to a Pandora station curated around one of my favorite artists – Sara Groves.
Set Up My Nursing Corner/Basket/Area – It was more difficult with four to stay in one place than it was when I had only one or two children, but I still tried and take advantage of any help offered in the first few weeks and rest as much as possible. Of course “resting” usually still involved a little one at the breast, so I like to have everything I might need right next to me so that I don’t have to get up as much.
This usually meant a basket or table top next to my preferred seating with a burp cloth, breast pads, lightweight blanket, the book I’m reading, a bottle of water, maybe a knitting project, etc. Here’s a good blog post with examples and photos from Keeper of the Home.
Wash & Organize Clothes for Baby
Write a Letter to Baby
Read Books About Birth/Babies to Older Kids
Finish Projects for Older Children (photo albums, crafts), and the House
Pack for Labor
Make Freezer Meals