There are many articles and blog posts that give advice on helpful things to do during pregnancy, but since each person is different I thought one more from me couldn’t hurt 🙂 These are some things I did, especially during late pregnancy, and how they worked out for me.
1. Prenatal exercise– every day in the last two months or so of pregnancy, I walked between one to two hours. I didn’t worry too much about how far I walked because (especially toward the last few weeks/days) I thought it was better to just try my best and get outside.
I also did yoga several times a week. I started with Prenatal Yoga with Adriene, but to be honest, I found it wasn’t challenging enough during the first two trimesters and not stimulating enough during the third (okay, I’ll just say it: I was so bored with it!). Instead, in the third trimester I switched to this free video called Yoga for Birth Preparation. I found this video not only relaxing, but informative. For each step, you are told why you are doing what you’re doing. Having that understanding really helped me to know what sorts of techniques I could apply during labor (which I mentioned briefly in Lillian’s birth story).
The Yoga for Birth Preparation video uses some really nice, calming music. I wrote to the producers of the video and asked about the music, and they kindly and quickly replied: the music is by Benjy Wetheimer, from his album Anjali. I downloaded it off of Amazon, and though I didn’t end up listening to it during labor, I think the album will still be nice to listen to while doing some yoga independently now.
Lastly, I frequently did squats. I figure that even if you don’t have much time, you can squeeze in this awesome 5-minute squat video. When I had Lily, the nurses said they were amazed at how strong I could push, and I like to think keeping up with squats helped. It also helped with a lot of other issues some women have (I never once had pee accidents from laughing/sneezing, etc.)!
2. Relaxed– I took loads of baths and used a lot of face masks. In Japan there are some really great, inexpensive face masks available, and that’s something I’ll really miss back home! In the last few weeks of pregnancy my lower back hurt a lot and my hips just killed, so having a sweet husband give me massages really helped, too. I give Chad extra props because giving someone a massage while she’s lying on her side because of a huge belly has got to be difficult! I also took some naps, but to be honest, I should’ve slept more! I sort of felt guilty about sleeping, like I should be doing more with my time, but now I know that 1) I had such difficulty sleeping from being physically uncomfortable that I should’ve tried as much as possible, and 2) I dream of being able to get that kind of sleep now that we’ve got a newborn! (Well, day dream, anyway haha)
3. Prepared my hospital bag and “survival stations”– For the most part, I prepared my hospital bag according to the lists provided by my hospitals (both St Luke’s and Aiiku had pretty much the same list). I did bring my Kindle as well, but I personally felt too tired to read. Television might have been nice, but I didn’t watch it because I had a shared room and didn’t want to disturb the other mommies (plus it was Japanese television, anyway, which might’ve been too overwhelming at that point). In the rare times I had my hands free I was usually sleeping or eating or showering, but I suppose it was better to have options available rather than not just in case.
I also made “survival stations” for when I got home based on articles like this one. Because in Japan you stay in the hospital for about 5 days after giving birth, I didn’t end up using the bathroom basket much. I also didn’t use the padsicles I prepped because by the time I got home there was no need. The breastfeeding basket was also unnecessary, perhaps because our apartment is so small that the few things I needed (lanisoh, water, snacks etc.) were always within reach right next to any diapering needs. I suppose it depends on the person, and I guess in the end it was nice to be over prepared rather than under, but really the only basket I’ve needed has been the one with diapers, wipes, a thermometer, gas drops, and burp towels. I also put a little bag in the basket with bath time stuff (baby soap, lotion & oil, q-tips, etc.) because there was extra space.
Ultimately so much of what you prep for the hospital & home is dependent on your hospital stay and the layout of your home/what will be convenient and necessary for you. And in my case, I couldn’t really know about what I really needed until I actually experienced my hospital stay/homecoming! My main point here is that you may feel like you should be going crazy preparing things, but it might be better to focus more on relaxing! We were super minimal about a lot (especially buying things because we knew we were going to move back to Michigan again soon), and everything worked itself out.
4. Read & used a pregnancy app– Like many soon-to-be mommies, I read a lot of articles online, but I also enjoyed reading The Taboo Secrets of Pregnancy and The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy. Of course The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy was good to have on hand as well! Reading these books was especially helpful to me living so far away from family and friends.
I also used this Pregnancy+ iPhone app. I liked the app for its updates and for tracking things, but was a little bummed when a few months in I got the surprise notification that I would have to pay $4.99 to continue using what I thought was a free app. At that point I didn’t want to start anew and re-enter data, so I just paid for it (I’d love to hear about your favorite pregnancy app if you have one!).
5. Joined a pregnancy group– joining the Tokyo Pregnancy Group proved immensely useful. The ladies in the group were able to give me great advice, especially when we had to switch hospitals! I never really made many friends in Tokyo aside from a few coworkers (most of whom never had children), so having a support group was invaluable. The only downside was that the meetings were always held on weekday afternoons, so I was only able to attend one meeting once I started maternity leave. I think a lot about my pregnancy would have been easier had I been able to make friends with some other mommies (or better yet, had I been in my home country!). Reaching out to others who are going through or have gone through pregnancy is so important! Chad and me at a ramen shop about a week before my due date.
I hope sharing some of my experiences in trying to prepare myself during pregnancy were helpful to you, and would love to hear about what worked/didn’t work for you!