Below are some activities that I found to be fun throughout my pregnancy.
Belly cast – this is a fun activity that will allow you to preserve a three-dimensional representation of the body changes through which you went during pregnancy. The best time to do this is in your last month of pregnancy – the closer to the due date the better, but be careful postponing it too much as babies tend to arrive on their own schedule. The belly cast is best done by a professional using plaster-gauze strips and can then be painted and/or decorated. The process is best described on the site of Julie Keon – the Ottawa area belly cast artist. All I can add is that my session with her has been a lot of fun and I’m currently awaiting the completed cast to decorate it. Update: here is my decorated and painted belly cast.
Swimming – it is fun and it helps tremendously with water retention, leg cramps and pressure on the back. By immersing your body into the water, you allow the weight to be lifted off of your pelvis and aid the blood flow to the legs. The buoyancy of the water also allows the baby move more freely which might help them get into the good position for the birth. I was fortunate enough to have the later part of my pregnancy during the summer, so I could swim in the Ottawa river. If you are pregnant during colder months, you can use a pool. Hot tubs are not recommended as they can raise your body temperature to the level that is harmful to the baby’s development.
Belly dancing – if you can, find a prenatal belly dancing class. I was only able to find a regular belly dancing class which started before I was aware of my pregnancy. Belly dancing makes it fun to stay active during your pregnancy, and the hip moves can be used in pregnancy and labour to move the baby down.
Yoga – breathing and stretching exercises are great in pregnancy. Find a prenatal yoga class even if you have done yoga before. Certain positions are not recommended during pregnancy, whereas certain others are helpful to prepare for labour. Once you have taken one class, you can replicate the same positions at home (with care). Cat pose can be used to take pressure off the pelvis. Leg stretches can help prevent leg cramps. Breathing exercises are great for reducing stress.
Belly photo session – if you are up to it and feel sexy and powerful during your pregnancy, it is a good idea to get some photos done. First of all, it will satisfy relatives who live far away and keep demanding “the baby bump” photo updates. Secondly, it will give you an occasion, hopefully with your partner, to focus on your belly and have fun with the photo shoot. Bring a few props that have special meaning to you – a toy that you like, a wrap or two, favourite jewelry, etc. Be prepared for the photographer to have their usual bag of tricks ready consisting of “It’s a insert gender here!” tags, cubes with the word “baby” spelled out, heart made around the navel with hands, etc. And if it is not your thing (as it was not mine) be ready with a few suggestions (your own props help) and hope that the photographer is open to experimentation. The best time to have this session is during the last month of pregnancy, when your belly has done most of its growth.
Attend outdoor shows if you are pregnant during the warm weather. For instance, we have been to the Opera under the Stars concert and the Mosaika show, both of which have been fun and not terribly tiring. I would suggest staying away from the rock concerts with two opening bands in a venue that does not have a single chair. Those tend to be exhausting, and by the time the main band makes it to the stage you will want to be home.
Massage – find a good massage therapist that specializes in prenatal massage. Your tired muscles will love you. Leg cramps, back pain, and general stiffness can all be alleviated by a good massage. You can have a massage right up to the day of delivery. In fact, massage is one of the pain relieving techniques that can be used during labour as well.
Manicure/pedicure – find a good spa and treat yourself once in a while to at least a pedicure (it will be tough to reach your toes as your belly grows) with a massage. A foot bath and a massage feel heavenly when your feet are tired, numb, or swollen with carrying all the extra weight around. One thing I found helpful is to pick a spa that does not smell too strongly of nail polish (a hard thing to do) as you might be quite sensitive to the smell.
Baby shower – throw a party to celebrate your growing family. No need to make it “girls-only-milk-and-cookies-plus-silly-games” unless that’s what you are into. Invite friends, cook up a storm (or find a kind soul to help you out with the cooking), let people bring their own drinks if they wish, put together a playlist, decorate the place if you like, and enjoy.
Cook up meals to freeze, if you like cooking and have enough freezer space: you’ll be thankful postpartum for not having to cook as often, since you’ll be busy taking care of the baby and trying to get some rest. Invite a friend or two and make it into a small party where you can cook up various foods, have some of them and freeze the rest.
Get together with friends for snacks and movies – once the baby is born you will be too preoccupied and tired for a while to have people over.
Take a prenatal course or a course on child care – the tips will come in handy during your labour and postpartum.