When it comes to the 40-week adventure known as pregnancy, there are definitely some not-so-enjoyable aspects along the way. (Morning sickness, middle-of-the-night leg cramps, and foregoing sushi and chardonnay all come to mind.) But there's plenty of awesome stuff, too -- like baby showers, feeling those first kicks, and (we're blushing here) some vivid pregnancy sex dreams, to name just a few. We say, Bring on more of the good stuff! Here are seven ways to make the most of each day, and have a fun pregnancy.
Go shopping -- for someone else! Recent research shows that giving to others can actually make you happier -- so make your own day, not to mention a less-fortunate mama-to-be's, and buy some fab baby gear to donate to charity. One option: You can donate goods directly to military moms through the Operation Shower baby registry at Babies "R" Us. Another idea: If friends or family members ask what you need, suggest that they to give to an organization instead of buying something off your registry -- something that's easy to do with an app like Babyli.st. And check to see if your favorite charity uses Amazon Wish Lists, which make it super easy to click and buy the gear that your favorite nonprofit needs. (One for them, one for you!)
Make girlfriend time a priority. People are naturally hardwired for connection to others and pregnancy is an especially important time to socialize, says Emma Seppälä, Ph.D., the associate director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University School of Medicine. (Yep, she studies compassion for a living!) The reason? "Social connection helps us overcome stress," she says. So if you're feeling anxious about birth classes, ob-gyn visits, and budgeting for baby, book some good-for-you girl time. See a movie together or grab a bite to eat. Can't get together in person? No worries. "I Skyped with my best friend after every sonogram," says Denver mom Amy F. "She wanted to feel like she was there with me even if it was only for a few minutes."
Have a nursery-prep party. Sure, shopping for nursery gear can be fun, but actually putting it all together? That can be a daunting task. Make painting or crib assembly more pleasant by using nursery prep as an excuse to socialize. (See above!) "We had a painting party to decorate my son's nursery before he was born," says mom Susannah B., of Pittsburgh. "My closest friends and parents came and my dad actually brought the painter's pants he wore to paint my room before I was born. My husband wore them as we worked. It was such a bonding experience!"
Indulge your cravings. You know that the whole eating-for-two thing isn't really true (right?) and that junk food is bad for you and your growing baby, so chocolate ice cream shouldn't be a daily thing. (If you're craving kale smoothies, on the other hand...) The fact is, most pregnant women experience cravings, and indulging in a few calorie splurges now and then can go a long way toward making you feel content. Miami mom Gali K. even traveled to Philadelphia to eat the cheesesteak she was craving!
Adopt an attitude of gratitude. When we're happy with what we have -- and feel thankful for it -- we lead less stressed and more optimistic lives, according to research. So Dr. Seppälä recommends taking time out of each day to give thanks for your healthy pregnancy and anything else you're particularly grateful for, whether that's a supportive hubby or your new body pillow. "I was sick during all three of my pregnancies," says mom Alexa S., of Santa Barbara, California, "but I was so grateful to my partner, who took care of me, helped out with our other kids, and made me laugh through it all."
Document the journey. Whether you snap regular belly-bump photos (the March of Dimes' CineMama app can help, and Pinterest is full of fun ideas) or keep a journal about what you're craving, how you're feeling, and what your baby is doing (hiccupping? kicking like crazy?) spend a few minutes each day or week documenting the experience so you can remember every detail. (Because trust us, you'll forget!)
Make the gender reveal a big deal. Are you finding out your baby's sex? Turn the reveal into a party for friends and family. Yes, you care about it more than these people do, but it's a happy, no-gifts-necessary excuse to get your nearest and dearest together and celebrate some good news -- and who wouldn't like that? Or, if you want the reveal to be a special, just-us bonding moment with your partner, ask your doctor or ultrasound tech to write down the baby's sex and put it in an envelope. Then open it in private (over a picnic lunch, perhaps!) and spend the rest of the day doing fun stuff to prep for your boy or girl.
Copyright © 2014 Meredith Corporation.