Self-Care in Pregnancy

Posted in Pregnancy

dancePrenatal care is more than just the checkups you receive when you have a prenatal visit every few weeks—it is the care you give yourself each and every day. Here are some of the main components of self-care in pregnancy, with a rating system to help you see how well you are doing. Enter one of the following with each category.

4: Do this automatically every day
3: Do this consistently but with definite effort
2: Do this occasionally, with some resistance
1: Just can’t seem to do this or haven’t thus far

Nutrition

  • Eat from the four basic food groups daily (protein, vegetables, complex carbs, fruits)
  • Take supplements that I know I need (vitamins, probiotics, iron, etc.)
  • Drink at least two quarts of fluids per day
  • Pay attention to my inner voice of hunger and respond accordingly
  • Treat myself to something I know is especially good for the baby and I
  • Indulge myself in favorite foods (that are also healthful) for pure pleasure

Exercise and Relaxation

  • Take fresh air and (if available) sunshine daily
  • Do something to work up a sweat each day
  • Stretch out my back, legs, shoulders, and neck daily
  • Do exercises specific to pregnancy several times a week (squatting, yoga, pelvic rocking)
  • Dance, move rhythmically and freely with music
  • Do vaginal toning and relaxation exercises daily
  • Completely let go at least once every day
  • Practice progressive relaxation or meditation at least twice a week
  • Have my partner (or someone else) massage me at least once weekly
  • Dress in clothing that allows freedom of movement and is comfortable
  • Deliberately release areas where I know I hold tension, several times daily
  • Allow myself the necessary comforts to curl up and take it easy before bed

Emotional Well-Being

  • Let myself cry whenever I feel like it
  • Ask for support, acknowledgement, touch, and sex from my partner whenever I need it (if applicable)
  • Vent my frustrations before they become explosive
  • Feel free to be loving and tender with my partner (if applicable) day by day
  • Feel loving and tender with myself at least once each day
  • Give myself time alone and find ways to enjoy it

Intellectual Preparation

  • Read something on pregnancy, birth, and parenting at least once a week
  • Formulate and ask questions of my healthcare provider
  • Take stock of my status in pregnancy by reviewing my daily or weekly activities and looking for areas that need improvement
  • Discuss technical aspects of pregnancy, birth, and parenting with my birth partner and/or supporters on a regular basis
  • Work on developing my birth plan by noting ideas and preferences as they arise
  • Attend information sessions, classes, workshops, or film series on pregnancy, birth, and parenting whenever possible

Social Preparation

  • Meet with other pregnant people at least once a week
  • Talk to parents of infants or pregnant people in public places
  • Observe infant behavior and family interaction whenever possible
  • Ask for concrete support from friends and relatives for needs in pregnancy and postpartum
  • Think about the changes having a baby will bring and formulate ways to adapt
  • Support my partner (if applicable) in talking to other new parents, reading about parenting, or discussing the baby with me

To score this exercise, first add up your total score in each section; this will give you a general idea of areas where you are strong and those where you could use improvement. Then calculate your total score to get an idea of how you are caring for yourself overall.

Total Score: _____

110-44: Yes, you are enjoying being pregnant and taking good care of yourself!

80-109: You are doing well enough, but could stand to focus a bit more on the pregnancy. Look carefully at your areas of resistance, and see what you can do to discipline or motivate yourself more.

36-79: Well, perhaps you are very busy with other things, but you definitely need to give your pregnancy some attention. Try combining an activity where you scored low with one where you scored high. For example, if you get outside every day but can’t seem to take your vitamins, make it a prerequisite before leaving the house (like locking the door, turning off the lights, etc.)

You’ll feel much better if you care for yourself regularly!

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