I am currently 16 weeks pregnant with my fourth child and, I can personally attest, all of the stereotypes are true regarding differences between your first pregnancy and subsequent pregnancies. The main difference, however, has been that the elusive energy burst promised in the second trimester still hasn’t kicked in. I find myself yawning at all hours of the day and crawling into bed around 8:00 each night.
My life, like most moms’ lives I know, is full. I am homeschooling my oldest while my husband works sixty hours a week and takes classes at night. We have regular appointments for some health and behavioral issues as well as grocery shopping trips and play dates. I don’t say this to out-busy anyone, just to show that this isn’t a season of cookie-baking and Netflix binges, which was more what my first pregnancy looked like.
With my last two pregnancies, the third trimester symptoms started earlier and stayed longer (swollen ankles and horrible pelvic pain), and since I was busy chasing toddlers and spent a good amount of time on my feet, I also acquired some varicose veins and back pain. I expect this pregnancy to follow the same trend, so I’ve had to be hyper-intentional about creating space for rest and self-care, something I was not as diligent about with pregnancies #2 and #3.
So, what does this look like?
- Saying no. A lot. I had initially volunteered to be more involved at our son’s homeschool co-op before learning I was pregnant. But, once the nausea set in, I decided it was better to say no and step down. As my pregnancy progresses, it will be nice to have fewer commitments.
- Scheduling down time during rest time. My oldest no longer naps, but my younger two still do. I would normally try and catch up on chores, but now, without exception, I spend the first half hour of rest time sitting on the couch reading. It’s only 30 minutes, but if I don’t do it thenI won't get to sit down.
- Prioritize exercise. My husband works a lot and I do have small children. So, I ask my dad to come over during his lunch break so I can go for a run and listen to a podcast. Once the pelvic pain sets in, I’ll switch to walking. If you don’t have family nearby, see if there’s another mom who could trade childcare with you. Schedule a play date where you take turns doing whatever self-care you need at the time, whether that's exercise or a prenatal massage. You're worth it!
Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs at karagaris.com.