Surviving pregnancy when life gets busy

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About Nish

Nish Weiseth is a dreamer, schemer, believer, trouble-maker, rabble-rouser, and the founder of A Deeper Story, a community of misfit believers and storytellers. Nish and her husband, Erik, are outdoor enthusiasts living in the Rogue River valley of southern Oregon in the summers, and the mountains of Salt Lake City, Utah, in the winters. They have two children, Rowan and Scout.

I am sitting further and further away from my desk these days. My growing belly just won’t let me scoot the chair any closer. I’m nine months pregnant now, with my due date a short two weeks away, or so my doctor tells me. At this point, I’m pretty convinced that I’ll be pregnant for eternity… at least that’s what it feels like to me right now.

Being pregnant is hard work. Many women really enjoy the process, many women don’t, but regardless of where you sit on the Enjoyment Continuum, you could agree that growing a human is not for the faint of heart.

The swelling, stretch marks, sleepless nights, back pain, exhaustion, sickness and everything in between… it can all be so difficult to manage on a good day, let alone during a busy season like the holidays. Family, shopping, parties, decorating and travel can all add an enormous amount of stress on your already stressed-out body. What’s a woman to do?

Since I’m in the thick of it, I thought I would offer some tips and tricks to surviving pregnancy when life gets busy. Truth be told, I need to be taking my own advice – I tend to take on far too much when I should be resting and taking care of myself. I also enlisted the help of some battle-tested moms, and they offer their advice here, too.

1. Prioritize.

This is so important. Joy from Joy in this Journey shares, “Take a really hard look at what you need to do, versus what you think you should do. The two are not the same, even though we often get them confused.”

It’s so easy to think we need to take on everything at once, and that everything just HAS to be done right this second. Make a to-do list like you normally would, but pare it down a little. What can wait? What is urgent? Where can you ask for help?

Kelly at Love Well says this:

“Think of it like an equation: the further along you are, the more you need to prioritize so you don’t waste your energy. This is life at its bare bones best: you have to decide what’s most important and then let the rest go.

That might mean your older children don’t get to participate in as many activities that season. It might mean you scale back at church. It might mean you hire a babysitter to come a few times a week so you can rest. Or, as was my case with my fourth baby, it might mean you hire house cleaners for the final trimester because you just can’t keep up.”

2. Rest.

When you’re not tackling some of that pared-down to-do list, it’s time to sit, mama. Pour yourself a tall glass of water (when we’re busy, we always forget to stay hydrated), sit on the couch and put your feet up.

Even if it’s only for five-minute increments throughout the day, allowing yourself frequent breaks to rest will help you preserve energy, keep swelling down, and just generally keep you sane.

If you’re able, try to schedule in a good amount of rest 3-5 times a week. Not just quick minute breaks, but maybe an hour or so of uninterrupted rest. This is hard for me, being the mom of a high-needs little boy.

It’s also hard to do when you have multiple kids already, or you work full-time during the day. But, when I make the effort (which, just being real, sometimes involves plopping my kid in front of a Pixar movie), I feel so much better and my stress level decreases significantly.

3. Get outside.

One of the best and fastest ways to boost your energy level (and get some easy Vitamin D) is to spend sometime outside every day. Out of all the things that help me feel energized and focused, this is the best!

It doesn’t need to be long, but just a short walk around the block helps clear my mind, get blood flowing and refreshes my spirit. It’s also a great way to get your kids outside once a day! Bring them along your leisurely stroll – let them ride their bike, look for bugs, collect leaves, stomp in the snow – not only does spending time outside help your energy level, it’s a quick way for them to burn their built-up energy, too.

4. Just say no.

One of my favorite sayings on motherhood is, “You’re a mother, not a martyr.” My friend Megan from Fried Okra agrees. She says, “Say ‘maybe’ or ‘I’d be happy to, if I’m feeling up to it,’ to invitations and requests for your time or service in late pregnancy. Don’t be a martyr, and don’t be afraid to play the ‘I’m sorry, I’m just very pregnant’ card when you need to.”

The holidays come with a lot of invitations – parties for adults, kids’ parties, opportunities to volunteer in the classroom or around town – but getting an  invitation that fits on the calendar doesn’t mean you need to accept it! Saying “no, thanks” to things is okay, whether you’re pregnant or not. Protect your time (especially those times of rest) and know your limitations.

Obviously, every pregnancy is different and every woman handles it differently. But, hopefully these quick tips will help you slow down and enjoy the busy seasons in your life as you await the arrival of your new little one.

What about you? Have you been pregnant through the holidays, or any other busy season? What would you recommend to expectant moms?

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Comments

  1. Oh, I hear you on this! I’m 26 weeks pregnant with our third. Our older two and 2 and 3 years old. I’m busy!!!! I get exhausted and so tired that by the end of the day I feel like I can barely do anything. Every afternoon, I make sure my kids either take naps or have some quiet time. This gives me a few hours to blog, do chores or do whatever I want. Congratulations on almost being 40 weeks!!
    Angela´s latest post: Butterscotch Pecan Monster Cookies

  2. I hear you on all of these! I am nearly 38 weeks pregnant with my first and most likely scheduling a c-section for next week at our OB visit tomorrow due to a completely breech baby who doesn’t want to turn. Some days, I have tons of energy and literally cross 30 items off of my to-do list, today I did nothing till 8 pm. I made a giant pre-baby to do list early in pregnancy and everything off of that list is done. But when I want to add new to dos, I prioritize them. The most important ones so far are just keeping up on laundry and dishes before labor, the rest could honestly wait till after baby. I try not to stress about those items, or ask for help if they’re bothering me too much. Overall, we’re just ready to meet baby boy and enter a whole new phase of life as parents!
    Jennifer´s latest post: Cash Budget-What We’ve Learned So Far

  3. Oh thank you, this post is really what I need. I’m nearly 19 weeks pregnant, I have three children already and my husband is going to start his own medical practise next month. So there is a lot to do around here and I really had to rest more.
    All the best for your last days of pregnacy!
    Micha´s latest post: Vanillekipferl

  4. I’m 29 weeks pregnant with twins, sporting the largest belly of any of my previous 3 pregnancies, and while some of these tips are easy to abide by (I like the saying no one), sitting with my feet up…well, that’s just nearly impossible some days! I have found that I have to at least sit for short spells or else, I am breathing so heavily that I can’t do anything. I know you understand!

  5. What a well-timed post! I’m almost 33 weeks with my second, and my older one is turning 3 this weekend, adding to the holiday stress. It’s definitely way too easy this time around to get caught up in everything and forget my limitations – and then pay for it later! Thanks for the excellent reminder.

  6. I’m only 17 weeks tomorrow but since I ended up on bed rest for four months with my last pregnancy and have already started experiencing some issues, I have to take it really easy. It can be so hard not to compare myself to other women who seem to sail through pregnancy effortlessly when I have almost six months to go and am already having to limit activity quite a bit. Thanks for the tips.
    Steph´s latest post: Relational Limits

  7. My sister is 7 months pregnant with her first and she is also a very busy mom. We are doing everything that we can to make her feel good and comfortable all the time. I came across your blog and I asked her to read the article–it helped her a lot! Thank you very much for a very informative article! :)
    Janet Dubac´s latest post: Faith, Humility, and Trust are Reoccurring Themes in Biblical Stories

  8. I enjoyed Christmas pregnancies twice over a decade ago (one child has a December birthday, the other a January). I promise you none of your other children or you will remember all the things you decided not to do this year. If anything, the traditions are sweeter when you take a year off.

  9. These are all great tips! I’d also add that it is okay to ask for help before the baby is even here. We had a few meals delivered before our son came and it was amazing not to have to cook!
    NJ @ A Cookiebeforedinner´s latest post: A Call and Response.

  10. Pregnant mama checking in here! I’m 31 week along and thankfully feeling pretty good. I weather pregnancy pretty well and am one of those who enjoy it. Still, I’ve been careful to take it easy over the holidays. Most of my shopping has been done online and I’ve said “no” to a lot of holiday events. With our lives being turned upside down in February — in a good way, of course — I’m trying to focus on spending quality time with my family before the baby comes.
    Ann´s latest post: Spiced Brandied Cherries

  11. I am currently 7 months pregnant and have had to learn how to do all of these! I’ve learned to listen to my body and rest when it is screaming at me to rest. The biggest thing I’ve had to learn is to just go to bed when I’m tired – even if I feel like staying up to watch tv or spend extra time with my husband, I need all the rest I can get!
    Jordy´s latest post: Twenty-eight weeks.

  12. I’ll hit 35 weeks this weekend. Two big things for me: 1) Saying no to holiday travel. I know this varies by person, but once the decision was made it felt right for me. Not only am I not bumping along in a car for hours, but staying home means so much less planning and prepping and worrying. And 2) Take advantage of visitors. My parents came here for Thanksgiving, and played with my older son while I put my feet up. My husband is on his semester break right now and he’s getting stuff done around the house and spending time with our son while I put my feet up. We’re having a party this weekend and friends are bringing most of the food. People want to help, asking them to be useful is more comfortable for everyone than thinking they’ll sit around while the pregnant woman takes care of them.

  13. What a timely post, considering that I’m currently pregnant… with TWINS! Suffice it to say, this pregnancy has been shockingly more difficult than my singleton pregnancy, and my doctor said it’s because I have two placentas and will have double the fatigue, nausea, earlier aches and pains, you name it. So I am definitely not on the “I’m enjoying pregnancy” group ;)

    Still, I do my best to rest. I turn down invitations, especially evening ones when I know I’m going to be too exhausted. I try not to stand for longer than 30 minutes; in fact I try to lie down on my side as often as possible. And I drink a gallon of water a day.

    My goals include avoiding preterm labor as much as possible, considering that over half of twin pregnancies are born prematurely, and to make rest a mission. Whenever I feel bad that someone else is taking care of my older kid, or that the dishes aren’t done, I just tell myself that I’m taking care of two babies. It’d be like the babies were already born and I’m taking care of both of them, so of course someone else has to do the dishes or play games with my preschooler. Just because our babies aren’t born yet, doesn’t mean that gestating doesn’t take a lot of work, even if it looks like all we’re doing is lying down.
    Nina´s latest post: The vulnerability of parenthood

  14. Aww sweetie. Look at you! You’re beautiful. I know you don’t feel that way right now (BTDT, bought the stretch marks – I’m still hoping some day they offer a return on those) but you are. Great advice, thanks for this, moms all over will surely appreciate it.

  15. I’m due in 2 weeks and have been sick for the past 2 (the two Docs I saw are sure it’s just a cold….) and have decided we won’t be seeing my family this Christmas. We always make the 3 hour drive (round trip, not terrible, but not ideal with a toddler and while being pregnant) and it is so exhausting! We always get home later than we want. Our toddler is out of sorts. It will be sad not to be with my fam this year, but I think the stress of it all is too much right now. I so need to work on prioritizing where I spend my energy. This post is perfect timing for me. Thank you!

  16. I had my 2nd in Feb & live 4 hours from family. We didn’t feel up to traveling that Christmas so we asked our family to come to us. And they did! Even my grandparents who live 9 hrs away. I let my mom take over the kitchen & got to sit back & relax in my own home. I’m really glad we got to host since it had never happened before & hasn’t happened since!

  17. Ohh if this post would of come sooner. I am 31 weeks pregnant and have been lookin forwar to Christmas as I knew it would make this pregnancy fly by but now that its here im zonked. The Christmas spirit has left me early this year for sure; dear daughter and i haven’t baked a thing and my house is in half chaos. But all I can do is sleep today knowing we have an event every day for the next 5 days and a three hour car trip with an overnight stay ahead. I should of went with my husband and decided to just stay home but it sure is hard to stop doing what you’ve been doing for the past 29 years.

  18. I am sooo in this position right now! I’m 31 weeks along with baby #4 and it is so much more difficult than my other pregnancies because my other kids ages 9, 4, and 2 are just very demanding! I run a business and try to keep my house somewhat clean and man… It is tough. What I’m realizing is that I desperately need to start asking for help. From my husband mostly, but others as well. I cannot do everything all by myself! Love to all the other mommies :)

  19. Congratulations to all. I say you either have to be very brave or very stupid to endure this pregnancy stuff. I’m 46 and I’m 30 weeks. And this is the first time I felt I was ahead of the Christmas juggernaut. I’m decorated, wrapped, and don’t have anywhere to go. I did have to buy compression stockings for the right ankle. But I am so incredibly lucky, I feel unable to ask for Christmas presents for the next 10 years. The eight year old is in training to be the very best big brother ever. The roller coaster’s reached the summit and all the panic is about to rush right out of me. Thanks so much Nish for your words of support.
    Merry Christmas Mammas!
    Love,
    Shalagh (Shay-la)
    Shalagh Hogan´s latest post: Preview My Paper Christmas

  20. These are great tips for moms who are just recently back at work after maternity leave, too! Definitely a time to figure out your priorities and try to keep stress levels to a minimum. Thanks!

  21. Scaling back is so important! I was 40 weeks yesterday. :-) We didn’t put out as many decorations this year as we normally do and I’ve planned a very simple Christmas dinner. We’ve had fun making holiday memories with our boys and I’ve realized that it isn’t the things that matter…it’s the focus of the season…on Christ and family.

  22. I had my fifth baby December 11, 2008. I totally played the pregnancy card. We went out to dinner on thanksgiving. I kept everything very simple. My husband was awesome. He did all the shopping and wrapped all the gifts. it wasa fun Christmas. I had a good excuse to not do a lot. It is ok if eveything is notthe same and I you have to break some .traditions. Enjoy the season and growing that precious baby.

  23. LOL my first thought was “just say no” when I read the beginning of this post and then there it was. My due date with my first baby was Dec. 30th so I totally sympathize! I was so drained and exhausted by the end of the holidays (between working in an extremely physical job at a bakery right up until Christmas and then all of the family gatherings). After that whole experience, I just learned to say “thanks, but no” very firmly to ANYONE who wanted to try to guilt/pressure me into doing things that were against my best interest (especially my mother in law).

  24. avatar
    Beth Landrum says:

    I am now a great grandmother reading your newsletter. Love your thoughts! i had two children born in December, the 8th and 10th, and a grandson on the 23rd. It did take a lot of pre-planning, I find it more difficult now , but I was younger then! After birth the question comes to celebrating the birthdays., in this busy season. Wishing you a safe delivery, and a blessed, wonderful, happy Christmas.

  25. We found out we were pregnant with #3 right after Thanksgiving (a surprise!) so I am on the other end of the pregnancy spectrum from most commenters (~8 weeks) but have had to seriously scale back our holiday plans this year. I’ve been so sick and exhausted the last few weeks that I’ve had a hard time even keeping myself showered! Thankfully, I had already done quite a bit before we found out (maybe I unconsciously knew something?) and I decided to do basically all my shopping on-line. We’ve skipped holiday events and our house is sparsely decorated but my kids really don’t seem to care and are as excited for Santa as ever. Best of luck with your upcoming delivery!

  26. I’m right behind you (37 weeks) and have been learning a lot of the same things. I would never have planned to have my last month of pregnancy coincide with Christmas & New Year, but how often do these things go according to plan? Trying to wrap up my full-time job with all these holidays in the middle is quite the challenge, but I’m looking forward to maybe walking out the door on Jan 2 and having a week to regroup myself before this kiddo decides to arrive. If he decides to be an early bird, well, as my husband said recently “we’ve prepared what we can, everything else will fall into place – or not!”

  27. What a great and practical post. All so logical to do, but at the time of pregnancy, with brain cells dying off by the day, sometimes I lose track of the priorities. The simple priorities, that you have mentioned here.

    I definitely would say that delegating and allowing older children (and husbands :-)) to help with even menial tasks is a great way to relieve oneself of extra chores and stress.

    And yes, to ENJOY the time of carrying that sweet little one. It sure doesn’t feel like it, but it’s a short season of time, which is producing the most precious fruit of life possible!

    God bless you as you abide in Him!
    Tehila´s latest post: 7 Little-Known Factors That Could Get You Arrested

  28. I quadruple (or what ever it is we’re on now) second that post. I’m 29 weeks along on #4 and I have with pre-eclampsia with every kiddo. About week 32 I get to go on forced bed rest. To top it off I decided to start homeschooling my kids this year! Our decorations are not even up yet. Love the martyr quote.

    I’m going to show my hubby your post and beg for a house keeper since things just are not happening as I continue to swell and go downhill. Thanks!

  29. These are good pointers, Nish.
    I especially like the responses that Megan gives to party invitations – ‘maybe’ or ‘I’d be happy to, if I’m feeling up to it.’ I’ll have to remember those phrases when/IF I get pregnant again. ;)
    Stephanie´s latest post: The Picture Book Curriculum

  30. same on me. every busy day, go to office with my mind stay on the house think about my baby. It’s very make frustated but what i do is
    joanna´s latest post: Toddler has Anger and Bad Temper? Follow The Basic Tips and Parenting Techniques for Toddler

  31. This is some great advice Nish, wish I found your article sooner! When I was pregnant with my first, I wanted everything to be so perfect that I ran myself ragged by trying to do everything “right” and “right now” myself. Unfortunately I was a nit-picky, control-freak who had to learn to trust her own instincts, my spouse and others before I found the balance between activity and (much needed) rest.

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