Maybe you were too nauseous to exercise in the first trimester, or too tired, but now is definitely the time to get going. Why is this so critical? Because moving is essential to your baby's healthy development. Humans evolved during a time when pregnant women routinely walked ten miles a day. Moderate exercise makes your baby healthier and smarter. It protects him from whatever stress hormones you're sending his way in the course of daily modern life. It dramatically reduces the time you'll spend in the pushing phase when you're in labor, and makes that phase less painful. Sedentary women are 4x as likely to deliver via caesarean section as women who did aerobics during the first or second trimester. How much is enough? 3o minutes per day of MODERATE exercise.
2. Bond with Your Baby.
When your baby is born, she'll recognize your voice and find it calming. He'll be reassured by music heard in utero. She'll be calmer and less colicky if you've been calmer during pregnancy. And, whether or not you know your baby's gender, you'll feel closer to the baby if you've taken time to make peace with it, giving your child permission to be exactly the boy or girl it is.
Your bond with your baby starts as soon as you find out you're pregnant, even before you feel him move. Go ahead. Connect. Your baby is listening.
3. Bond with Your Partner.
When the baby comes, you and your partner will have to renegotiate much of your lives. It helps if you've learned how to do that already. It a lot easier if your relationship has a strong foundation of trust, affection and nurturing. And it's invaluable if your partner approaches parenting from the same general philosophy as you do.
You should know that in the first year after the birth of a baby, the happiness of a couple declines from 40 to 90%. Yes, you can bring that back up, since much of it is related to sleep deprivation. But it's also related to unequal workload (women shoulder 3x as much of the increase in household chores as men do), depression, and social isolation. Knowing this in advance can help you have the hard discussions and make the clear choices that will protect your marriage.
Use the nine months of pregnancy to let your partner connect with your baby; their bond should start now.
And make sure to use this time also for as much juicy sex and intimacy between the two of you as you can get. You'll need that relationship glue once Baby comes.
4. Pamper Yourself.
Use your nine months of pregnancy to bond with your baby and your partner, by all means. But be sure also to nurture yourself as much as possible, so you don't go into motherhood with a nurturing deficit. You'll need to draw on your deepest resources and put your own needs second too often after the birth, so make sure you're securely anchored to whatever well replenishes your body, mind and soul. Keep going to bed early. And don't stop exercising! Women who exercise throughout pregnancy dramatically decrease the risk of C-sections and other less than desirable birth interventions.
5. Prepare siblings.
If you have other children, help them prepare for the birth of a sibling by referring to "Our baby" or "Your sister" or even "Your baby." The more ownership they feel -- and of course, the less they feel displaced -- the less jealousy they'll exhibit. Click here for more ideas on how to prepare your child for the birth of the new baby.