I’m not one of those people who feels like you need to have lots of money, a big house with a dog, and to have traveled the world before you have children. Jack was born right after I turned 22, and we were both in college.
In some ways it’s been more difficult, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything! I feel more fulfilled being a mother than anything else I’ve done
So, this post isn’t some kind of bucket list of things you should do before you have a baby. It’s more a list of practical things you should do before you get pregnant to ensure a healthy pregnancy…as well as a few things you might not realize you’ll miss while being pregnant.
A lot of these are things that I have discovered during both of my pregnancies that I realized I took for granted before getting pregnant!
First, the practical things
Take Prenatal Vitamins:
In general, it’s recommended that you start taking prenatal vitamins three months before you get pregnant. Many of the nutrients in these prenatal vitamins are essential for early development of your baby.
Did you know that most neural tube defects happen within the first 4-6 weeks of pregnancy (when many women don’t even know they are pregnant)? Prenatal vitamins, while they don’t completely eliminate the chance of a neural tube defect, can greatly
There are all sorts of fancy kinds out there, but personally? The only ones I could stomach were the gummy ones!
Now, if your pregnancy was a surprise, don’t beat yourself up about not taking them for three months before! Just start taking them as soon as you can. I have another post with everything you need to know about prenatal vitamins I recommend reading!
Get a physical exam
Pregnancy lasts for a long time! It’s important to make sure your body is ready for it, and there aren’t hidden sicknesses or ailments that may make your pregnancy harder. Getting a yearly physical exam is just important in general, and most insurance will cover this type of visit. I know a lot of physicians like to visit with women before they get pregnant, just to make sure everything is a-okay. So get one scheduled if you are wanting to get pregnant!
Some people recommend genetic screenings before pregnancy to see if you are a carrier for anything. Personally, I didn’t do that, nor do I ever plan to. But it is something to consider. You could even do 23andme, which is a full DNA screening (it’s actually pretty cool) you can do at home.
Exercise and Eat Healthy
This is just important advice for anyone, but since you are about to be responsible for another life, making sure your body can handle is helpful. Making your body a fit place for a growing baby is a great thing to do before you get pregnant. I know this is easier said than done, but if you want to lose weight, doing it before pregnancy is a good time to do it.
You should also enjoy intense exercise sessions! I’ve been able to exercise regularly during pregnancy, but it hasn’t been without some issues. I get winded SO much easier (and faster) than I used to, and I constantly feel like my
Hot Showers (and Hot Tubs…and Hot Springs…)
I love hot showers. If the shower starts to get remotely just warm, I’m not a fan. During pregnancy, it’s recommended that you avoid hot showers, hot tubs, and hot springs. On BabyCenter.com, it says that unless you can control the temperature to ensure it does not go above 100 degrees, you should avoid anything that could possibly have a higher temperature than that. Above 100 degrees can potentially start to raise your core body temperature, which can potentially harm the baby.
My doctor also told me to avoid hot showers because, in general, pregnant women tend to get more dizzy/light headed throughout pregnancy, and a hot shower can increase the chances of passing out.
I also love hot tubs. I was so bummed on our recent trip to Utah when I couldn’t go in it!
The first thing I did after Jack was born was take a nice, hot shower. And boy, I had missed it. It’s been the same with this pregnancy!
Eat your favorite food
Not everyone had food aversions while they are pregnant. I’m one of the unlucky ones who does. Several weeks ago, Forrest made some bacon…which I usually love. But it made me feel so sick, and the smell that lingered in the kitchen for at least a day afterward was horrible.
Spaghetti has always been one of my favorite foods as well. During my pregnancy with Jack, I enjoyed it quite a bit still. But with this pregnancy? It’s one of the foods that I threw right back up after I ate it.
Which has pretty much scarred my memory of why I used to enjoy it. You can’t really control what foods you are going to have an aversion to, so if there’s something you really love…make sure you enjoy it a lot before getting pregnant!
Go to Subway
Love cold cuts? Well, they are something most recommend you avoid during pregnancy.
AmericanPregnancy.org has a great article on the pros and cons of eating lunch meat during pregnancy. Chances are – you’ll be fine if you eat it. However, pregnant women are more likely to contract listeria during pregnancy, and listeria can be devastating to a developing baby. So if you want to be careful, then I’d avoid them, or heat them up before eating them (making a grilled ham and cheese sandwich is a great idea!)
If you don’t like heated up lunch meat, and you plan to avoid it during pregnancy, head on over to your local meat counter, or drop by Subway, and make yourself the most delicious cold cut sandwich you ever had.
Enjoy sleeping…but also enjoy being able to stay up late without getting completely exhausted. Before I was pregnant with this baby, I usually went to bed at about 12:30 AM. Probably not the best idea, but it was the earliest I really could get myself to sleep.
Now? I am lucky if I can make it to 10:00 PM…and most days it’s earlier than that. I literally cannot stay awake. There are many times when we get home from somewhere around 7:30, and I just pass out on the bed before I can even put Jack to bed (thankfully, Forrest is fully capable of doing that task himself.) I just miss not getting so tired.
But, on the flip side, sleep doesn’t always come easily – especially in later trimesters. As you get larger, you’ll get more uncomfortable. If you are a stomach sleeper, once your belly gets big enough, you won’t be able to do this anymore.
It’s also recommended that you don’t stay on your back for prolonged periods of time, so sleeping on your back is out of the question as well. Which leaves you with your side (preferably the left side.) Then throw in having to go to the bathroom every couple of hours, and your sleep gets rather interrupted!
Do yourself a favor and get a pregnancy pillow now! I didn’t have one with Jack, but I did with my second pregnancy, and it was heaven sent.
We actually just bought a new mattress, and I feel like it’s enhanced how well I slept – which is much better than before I was pregnant (we were sleeping on a mattress we bought five years ago on Craigslist…so who knows how bad that one was!) I definitely recommend getting a new mattress if yours is super uncomfortable. We love memory foam mattresses (and you should just splurge and get a king size bed now, you will want it someday!)
Eat spicy food
Now, if you are like me, and you have horrible acid reflux before you are even pregnant…this probably isn’t the best idea. But if you don’t have heartburn and you enjoy spicy food – get some while you can.
Even with acid reflux before and during pregnancy, I still eat spicy food. But the repercussions almost make it not worth it. Many women experience pregnancy-induced heart burn and spicy food is definitely something that will set it off.
Then buy some TUMS. You’ll want those for pregnancy!
Enjoy the way your spouse smells
Before I was pregnant with Jack, I remember seeing a thread somewhere online about how these women couldn’t stand the way their husband smelled during pregnancy. I thought this was crazy and kind of insulting to their husbands! Well, I ate my words later, because when I was pregnant with Jack, I couldn’t stand the way Forrest smelled. And it’s not that he has bad hygiene – he showered regularly. But sometimes I couldn’t even stand being near him. It was so sad!
As soon as I had Jack, this went away. Thankfully. And with this baby, it hasn’t happened nearly as badly as it did with Jack. But I’d say, enjoy snuggling up to your spouse and not feeling like you are going to gag…because even if you swear it won’t happen to you, it could!
A normal sense of smell
Speaking of smell…enjoy being able to smell like a normal person. Pregnant women truly do have a heightened sense of smell, which can really be unfortunate at times. It’s especially bad if you have morning sickness and everything makes your nauseous. Some may think a heightened sense of smell would be a cool super power to have…but I assure you, it is not.
Eat all the soft cheeses, Sushi, and Rare Meats you can!
There are countless types of foods that are off-limits for pregnant women for various reasons. Among those are soft cheeses (such as blu cheese), Sushi (beyond the California Roll – if it has raw fish in it, don’t eat it), and the one that affects me the most (because I hate soft cheeses and sushi) – eating rare meat. Now, I’ve never been the type to eat super rare meat, but I like my steak to have a little pink in it. And completely well-done steak…just isn’t as delicious!
Wear your Favorite Clothes
I’m lucky and can wear a lot of my clothes throughout the duration of my pregnancy. However, there are definitely things that get too tight, or just don’t look right anymore. I’m actually not that into fashion or clothes, so I don’t really miss wearing anything in particular, but if you do – make sure you enjoy those cute pre-pregnancy outfits as much as you can.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty of awesome maternity clothes out there. And, quite honestly, I love maternity pants! But sometimes, you might just miss wearing something you used to wear before you got pregnant.
But as soon as you get pregnant, definitely consider signing up for Stitch Fix. You’ll get the cutest maternity clothes that you can’t wait to wear!
Go on a Vacation
I was really hoping that we could go to Disneyland this year before the baby came. However, after I realized that it took me like three days to recover from a short hike, combined with lots of morning sickness…it wasn’t going to happen (unless Forrest and Jack just went and I stayed in the hotel…but what fun would that be!)
You may feel great during pregnancy and be able to enjoy a fun vacation during pregnancy…but you might not! If you are planning a vacation – especially one that costs lots of money or time/planning – consider doing it before you get pregnant. Or just wait until the baby is born and can enjoy it with you!
Now, don’t let any of these things scare you away from being pregnant. Despite all the sacrifices that come with being pregnant, it is worth it. 100%. I would go through everything again 10 fold to get my sweet Jack, and our new baby as well. If anything, it helps you appreciate some of the smaller things in life. And trust me, there’s nothing better than participating in one of the biggest things in life – (even when it’s really, really hard at times.)
What did you miss during pregnancy?
Katie is a Colorado-native, BYU graduated, and most importantly, wife to one and mother to three beautiful boys. She is passionate about sharing her experiences with others – especially about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cooking, and crafts. She is currently training to be a Certified Lactation Educator. She loves spending time with her family and helping others find joy in family life.