25 Ways to Embrace Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy isn't always easy, but if you're looking for some inspiration to have a happier pregnancy, these tips may help on a hard day.

happy pregnant woman
Photo: lena Ozerova/ Shutterstock

Pregnancy is a deeply personal experience. For some people, pregnancy is a wonderful and joyous time. For others, it's a challenging and physically uncomfortable time. And still for others, it's mixed with many emotions that can range from grief to fear to love.

No one can define how pregnancy "should" be for you, and there is no wrong or right way to feel during your pregnancy. In fact, your feelings about pregnancy may even change from hour to hour!

We say, let yourself feel however you need to feel during pregnancy, don't forget to reach out for support when you need it, and if you're looking for some ways to embrace your pregnancy, here are some tips.

1. Take Advantage of Help When You Need It

Many pregnant people find that people—from friends and family to neighbors, co-workers, and even strangers—are more willing than ever to offer them extra help. So when you're offered help and you could use it, accept it! Sit in that offered seat or say "yes" to offers to carry your packages. Rather than feel guilty, resolve to pay it forward to another pregnant person in the future.

2. Do Nesting Your Way

Setting up a nursery and shopping for a new baby can be fun, but if you're feeling overwhelmed by all that needs to be done, skip the picture-perfect nursery for now. Your baby will be just fine without color-coordinated sheets and drapes. All your baby really needs is shelter, basic clothing, diapers, food, and you. (And on the flip side, if nesting is totally your thing, have fun with it!)

3. Choose Clothing That's Comfortable for You

Do new clothes make you feel like a new you? Consider investing in a couple of special maternity outfits for your changing body. Is traditional maternity clothing not really your thing? No problem. Choose some oversized T-shirts, borrow a partner's clothes, or adapt your pre-pregnancy clothes. Just like there's no one way to feel during pregnancy, there's no one way to dress either. What matters is that you feel comfortable and secure in your new look.

4. Revel in Your Belly

Your pregnancy belly won't stick around forever, so if you'd like, have some fun with it! When your baby is awake and active, put a jelly bean or half-filled glass of water on your belly, lean back, and watch the show. Photograph or record your ultrasound. Record the heartbeat. Have a cast made of your belly, and if you want, don't be afraid to show the real thing off, too.

5. Take Some Time to Do Inner Work

Pregnancy can be a great time to do some self-reflection. Many people may feel a natural shift to turn inwards during pregnancy and that can be a sign and opportunity to reflect on any changes you are feeling led to make in your life before you become a parent.

6. Indulge If You Can

If you can, pregnancy (especially if this will be the first time you bring a baby home) can be a great opportunity to incorporate some indulgent self-care into your routines before things get a little more complicated. That could look like anything from a daytime nap to sneaking away to a day spa for some pregnancy pampering.

7. Renew Your Spirituality

If you're feeling the draw to explore something beyond yourself, you're not alone. "When you're pregnant, you're more contemplative, more in tune with creation," says the Reverend Susan Plymell, mother of four and pastor of Pueblo West United Methodist Church in Colorado. You could take some time to explore new spiritual paths or reconnect to past practices that are meaningful to you.

8. Book a Prenatal Massage

Performed correctly, prenatal massage comes with a ton of benefits: It can safely relax you, improve circulation, and ease muscle stress, swelling, and back pain. "Massage can also help develop greater sensory awareness, which is very useful in labor and delivery," notes Paula Koepke, a prenatal-massage instructor in Oakland, California. "Studies have also shown that [parents] who are touched in a nurturing way more easily transfer that nurturing to their babies."

9. Try on a Few Healthy Habits

For some people, pregnancy can be a time to test out some new healthier habits. Maybe you'll find a love of cooking new foods that don't trigger your morning sickness. Maybe you'll try different ways of exercising as your body changes. Or perhaps you'll be inspired to take up meditation. Pregnancy offers a great chance to test out new ways to make your body a better home for both you and your baby.

10. Reconnect With Your Loved Ones

If you're feeling the urge to connect more with loved ones, lean into that. Some pregnant people, for instance, find a new closeness with their own parents in sharing the parenthood experience.

"Sharing the mothering experience brought my mother and me closer together," says Kathy Ward, a mother of three. "It brought back memories for her and increased my understanding of what she went through with five kids."

11. Enjoy Your Heightened Senses

"When I was pregnant, colors seemed brighter, and I felt a real connectedness with other people," says Ginny Bettendorf, a mother of two children and two stepchildren. "As we carry this new life within us, we're more clearly aware of the life around us."

Just as your pregnancy-enhanced senses send you reeling at the smell of fish, they can send you into ecstasy over the scent of a rose, so enjoy testing out your new awareness in ways that are enjoyable to you.

12. Spice Up Your Sex Life

Pregnancy can be a very sexy time: Hormones are altered, senses are heightened, and for some people, concern over getting pregnant is gone. Some sexual activities may be uncomfortable, so now is a great time to get creative.

Whether partnered or solo, you can experiment with novel positions, new accessories, or even different lighting. You may even discover a few new things that you can continue to enjoy even after the baby is born.

13. Experiment With Your Hair

Changing hormones may make your hair stronger and thicker and look better than ever, so it could be a fun time to try on a new hairstyle. "Many of my clients find that pregnancy is the perfect time to grow out their hair, especially since they'll want an easy-to-care-for style when the baby comes," says Brenda Elliott, a stylist with Pro Beauty in Tucson, Arizona. If you have any concerns certain hair treatments like smoothing and straightening treatments or color and highlighting, be sure to talk to a health care provider before booking an appointment or going the DIY route.

14. Get Prepped

If pregnancy is making you feel anxious about what lies ahead, arming yourself with knowledge can decrease anxiety. You could try things like going to childbirth and babycare classes in person or online (call the hospital or birth center where you plan to deliver to see if they offer anything), picking up a good pregnancy book, asking a health care provider or other parents for resources, or reading up on some trusted parenting sites. Remember: Always double-check medical information with reliable sources, and if you find you're getting overwhelmed with too much info, give yourself a break too.

15. Lean on Your Partner

If you are going through pregnancy with a partner or co-parent, it might be helpful to have a conversation about how they are feeling too. In some relationships, a partner may relish the opportunity to get more involved. For instance, they may want to attend more prenatal appointments, attend childbirth classes with you, or take on more household chores so you can rest. Let your partner pamper you, and ask for what you need, whether it's a back rub, a shoulder, or a sounding board.

16. Make New Friends

Check with your local hospital, community center, place of faith, and community organizations to find other veteran parents or new parents-to-be to share experiences with, tap for advice, or keep as friends after the baby is born. There are even online communities and apps that can help you connect to other parent friends.

17. Share the Joy

Ask other parents what they love about pregnancy. Talk with a doctor or midwife about the beautiful births they've attended. And if someone insists on telling you a horror story about their own 74-hour labor, it can be a good reminder that a story doesn't make the parenting experience. Seek out people that will uplift you, not try to scare you.

18. Give Yourself Permission to Have Fun

Paint your belly. Get a T-shirt that answers the usual questions such as your baby's sex or due date. Tell rude questioners that you're carrying sextuplets and give them an address for donations. Or, my personal favorite, meet questions of "Oh, when are you due?" with a blank stare and inform those nosy strangers that you're not pregnant. Maybe, just maybe, they'll learn not to comment on anyone else's body.

19. Discover Your Baby's Personality

"There are characteristics about a baby that a [parent] can learn in utero," asserts RoxAnn Hinkhouse, a Lamaze instructor in La Junta, Colorado. While it's clearly not a certain thing, it can be fun to observe how active your unborn child is and how they may react to certain foods, styles of music, and even your moods to get clues about your baby's future character.

20. Connect With Your Partner

If you're in a relationship, consider using the limited time you and your partner have to be alone together (or not have to pay a babysitter for additional kids!) to deepen and strengthen your relationship. Go on dates. Take weekend getaways. Share your hopes and fears about parenting and how the baby will change your relationship.

"Pregnancy is a time when you can go quite far in a relationship," says Andrew Condey, Ph.D., a psychologist at the Solano Center in Albany, California. "I wish more couples would work on issues then because there's naturally so much more sensitivity and understanding."

21. Try New Types of Exercise

While pregnancy might not be the time to take up skating or train for a marathon, it is the time to learn firsthand what a soothing, gentle workout swimming or prenatal yoga can be. And prenatal workouts often incorporate exercises that can assist you in labor.

22. Embrace Your Changing Body

Pregnancy will change your body, so it's a great time to embrace loving your body at every size and celebrate what it can do. Plus, some people find they enjoy the new curves and shapes that pregnancy can bring to their body, so if that's you, have fun with it!

23. Focus on the Positives

Especially near the end of pregnancy, things can feel downright overwhelming, so it might help to reframe the experiences you're going through as a way that your body is preparing for you. For instance, if you're getting up to pee eight times a night, reframe those late-night bathroom trips as your body helping you get ready for all the nighttime feedings coming your way. Thanks, bladder!

24. Laugh Along the Way

Pregnancy can open people to embarrassing-at-the-moment-but-hilarious-later situations, so whenever possible, try to look for the humorous side when things go wrong. Laugh if you find that you (once again) put your keys in the refrigerator and garlic in your purse or show up to that doctor's appointment on the wrong day. It happens and you have a lot on your mind these days, so we promise, it really is OK.

25. Know that Tears Are Part of the Journey

Sometimes, no matter what you try, everything seems wrong, changes overwhelm you, and you just can't cope. It's all normal during pregnancy (and even parenthood), so be kind to yourself. Acknowledge your emotions, cry when you have to, recenter yourself, get help when you need it, and if all else fails, order ice cream while you enjoy a warm bath surrounded by candles.

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