by Tara M. Bloom
Pampering yourself during pregnancy is neither selfish nor immature -- it's healthy. Taking care of your baby starts with taking care of yourself.
Every woman deserves to start her journey to motherhood with celebration. By caring for your body and finding ways to enjoy being pregnant, you'll be honoring yourself, even as you honor your new role as a mother.
If there's only one thing on this list you do to pamper yourself during pregnancy, it should be this: Get regular prenatal massage.
Both the time and money are well-spent in treating your pregnant body and soul to regular therapeutic massages. Why? Prenatal massage is 100% you time. It's a quiet, relaxing and pleasurable experience with a professional who's devoted to your well-being and health. Prenatal massage also pampers your skin, muscles, bones and even your hormones -- all of which are stressed, strained and hard-working throughout pregnancy.
Prenatal massage offers more than comfort. The physiological benefits include improving circulation and oxygenation, reducing swelling, relieving aches, and helping you sleep better.
While you should be able to get massage throughout your pregnancy without concern, you do want to find a licensed massage therapist who's educated and experienced with prenatal massage, and you do want to check with your health care provider first.
The problem? Your clothes don't fit, your body's changing and you don't look like "you" anymore. Even the most happy-to-be-pregnant women can struggle with body image. Pregnancy hormones, weight gain, fatigue and anxiety might, at some point, collide and may cause you to feel unattractive.
The cure? At least one stunning ensemble in your maternity wardrobe. Whether it's a gorgeous little black dress, or a chic pair of maternity jeans and an envy-inspiring top, every pregnant woman deserves at least one outfit that makes heads turn and other women think, "I want to be pregnant so I can look like her."
While every day of your pregnancy may not call for your knock-out attire, every day does call for a maternity bra. And where does it say in the pregnancy books that you're limited to the plain, white maternity bra?
Comfort and support are essential in a maternity bra. Your breasts are growing and changing, causing the tissue to be strained and often painful. Your skin is more sensitive and may even be itchy. Search for a well-constructed maternity bra that's made with either no underwire or very flexible underwire, with stretchy cup fabric (not 100% cotton) that will expand as your pregnancy progresses. Even better -- find a couple of maternity bras with all that and a touch of ooh-la-la, too. Take care of your "girls" with a maternity bra that's designed to look as good as it feels.
Whether you're a regular to the salon already or just go occasionally, a pedicure should be part of your pregnancy pampering regimen. Like prenatal massage, a pedicure does more than make you feel pretty. It also improves circulation in your legs and feet, helping to reduce swelling. And then there's the pragmatic part. By the third trimester you just can't reach your own feet.
But before you head off to the salon, be sure to ask if they have pregnancy-safe, non-toxic brands of nail polish and remover. Most nail polish is made with ingredients -- formaldehyde and phthalates -- that you don't want to expose your baby to. Ask for alternative brands such as Butter London, Zoya, Scotch Naturals or Anise. To be on the safe side, take your own nail polish with you and ask for a well-ventilated space for your treatment.
You and your partner are facing a big change together and your relationship will be impacted.
Pamper each other with some alone time before the new baby arrives. Your "babymoon" could be a weekend at a local bed and breakfast, or a week or more at a resort -- the location and length are less important. What matters is the quality of time you have with your partner.