Yes and No Lists for Pregnancy Self-Care

Thanks to our advertising partner, The Advanced Baby Imaging Lab, for allowing us to bring you this helpful list!

When you find out that you are pregnant, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking primarily about the new life growing within. In many ways, you will probably start imagining life with a new baby or babies in it and you’ll mentally prepare yourself for all of your baby’s needs. It’s a reinforced concept whenever you are asked loving questions about your baby’s due date, baby’s sex, baby’s growth and movement patterns, and many more questions solely about the baby.

What about you, though? When you’re asked questions about your own wellbeing, you’re likely to think more about how you are doing and what you are doing to take care of yourself. This phase of life is unlike any other for a woman, and you ought to focus on yourself in the same loving way that you think about your baby.

A self-care routine should be paramount during pregnancy. I’m not talking about powering through a diet and exercise plan that you don’t find enjoyable. Of course, a physically healthy lifestyle is important at this time, but there are ways to go about it while also finding joy and fulfillment. Finding that balance while addressing your own physical, mental, and emotional needs is the key to your healthy self-care routine.

To the expecting mom reading this and wondering where to begin, I like to say that self-care should look like a yes list and a no list. Those lists will have the added benefit of preparing you and your loved ones for a bit of what motherhood with this new baby will look like, too.

For some ideas, here are some of the things you might routinely or occasionally say no to. Please also note that you should not ever feel guilty for saying no to something you would have previously agreed to.

  • Social gatherings – Sometimes, you might just need a bit of a mental break from other people. Pregnancy has its ups and downs when it comes to energy levels, and during those more exhausting times, it might be best for you to skip out on or shorten your stay during social gatherings.
  • Travel – You might find it difficult to recover from travel that would have otherwise sounded fun. If you’re really determined to fit in a trip, though, you might want to say no to certain times in your pregnancy or set a limit on the distance you will travel.
  • Long periods of redundant activities – This could mean saying no to a long car ride because you find it uncomfortable to sit for long, or it could mean saying no to a day walking around somewhere if you find it difficult to be on your feet for too long.
  • Other time commitments – Whether it’s something extra you do at work or at home, you might want to start saying no to some of it to give yourself some extra time to apply to your yes list.

Here are some ideas straight from my typical yes list, but I encourage you to make your own list that will bring you joy:

  • Sleep – You might want to start adding in some naps, go to bed earlier, or wake up later whenever possible. If you find it difficult to sleep, talk to your healthcare provider about options that may make it easier to come by.
  • Relaxation exercises – This can vary a whole lot from person to person. For me, it usually involves practicing hypnosis and listening to pregnancy affirmations. For you, it might be meditation, reading, doing a puzzle, or otherwise detaching from your fast-paced surroundings and doing something very simple.
  • Exercise – Find something that you like and make a routine of it. I personally find some gentle prenatal yoga to be the perfect way to end each day, as it helps me unwind and relieve tension, while I can also work on positioning baby for birth.
  • Eating – This might mean eating a very nutritious diet that helps you feel your best or it might mean indulging in your favorite treats from time to time. Hopefully, you can manage both, since each one has its own place as you take care of yourself!
  • Spending time alone – You might want to go out for some pampering or you might want to send your loved ones out so that you can have some quiet in the comfort of your own home.
  • Spending time with loved ones – You’ll soon have another life to care for, so it can be special to devote some extra time to your loved ones now.
  • Splurge a bit on yourself – It can be really nice to get some comfortable clothing for pregnancy or postpartum and there are some really great body products that you might find especially relieving at this time.

Self-care should never be something you feel you are forcing on yourself. If you’re doing something that you don’t love purely because you know someone else swears by it, you’ll resent your self-care time and you’ll do yourself a disservice. Instead, find what brings you joy, and adjust your lists as you grow and change in this pregnancy. It just might be the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby!

The Advanced Baby Imaging Lab is a child development research lab dedicated to helping little brains do big things! Participation consists of assessments, visits to our center, imaging, and will be compensated. To read about our first experience with ABIL, click here.
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Sarah is a Massachusetts native, currently living with her husband and two young children, ages 4 and 1, in the same North Attleboro neighborhood where she and her husband grew up. When her daughter was born in 2014, she left the workforce and decided to stay home, while also building up a portrait photography business, capturing the bump through baby phase of life. Now with two kids in tow, the days are busier and the nights are more sleepless than she ever imagined possible. When she musters up enough energy, she gets the kids outside to play, visit local parks and farmers markets, and help out with tending to the gardens. Other times, though, she can be found hiding in the kitchen, sipping a cup of coffee and eating the very same snacks she denied her children five minutes prior. This mom gig is no joke and she is just trying to find some balance in what she does.