6 Things I Didn’t Do During My Pregnancy (but Wish I Had!)

I’ve had two babies, and my pregnancies were both glorious and tough. The tough parts were that I was very sick the first half of both pregnancies, and, in my second pregnancy, I had terrible round ligament pain midway through, as well as some complications at the end. The glorious parts—feeling baby move, anticipating adding a family member, being celebrated by friends and family to name a few—were wonderful, but there were still things that I wish I had done while pregnant. I’m writing about them here, in case they inspire you to celebrate yourself and your pregnancy in a different way.

Maternity Photography

We got awesome family newborn photos when my second baby was just about a week old. I love looking at them and seeing my older kiddo looking so big next to my teeny baby. They’re an awesome window into our postpartum world. But I never got formal photographs during either of my pregnancies, and I wish I had. There’s something really special about seeing a family waiting to welcome a baby and I wish we’d been able to do so with both our kids. If finances are a barrier, have a friend or family member take some great pics of you while you’re pregnant. This is what I did instead and they’re a great reminder of the empowerment I felt during pregnancy.

Birth Photography

Birth photography or videography, where a photographer takes photos and video of your baby being born felt like a huge commitment to me while I was pregnant. The photographer is on call for your birth, just like a doula that you hire, and it tends to be quite expensive. Despite the possible expense and commitment, I do regret not having professional photos of my births, although the informal photos that we do have are some of my favorite.

Belly Cast

I did a belly cast—where you use plaster to make a cast of your pregnant belly to memorialize it in all its pregnant glory—during my second pregnancy, but I did not do one during my first. I wish I had both, so that I could compare them side by side and see how my body looked with my two babies in it. My mom also helped me with the belly cast that I got to do for my second kiddo, and I really cherish the memories of doing that together and the photos we have of the mess that it made.

Take a Babymoon

A babymoon—a last trip for you and your partner before baby comes—sounds amazing now that I have two kids and am parenting them pretty much all the time, but I never made time or the cost a priority during either of my pregnancies. I think a casual weekend to a nice hotel with a spa for a prenatal massage would have been amazing, but a low-key and more affordable Airbnb in the woods would have worked too. If money and/or time are barriers, maybe try to do a mini babymoon at home with special food and relaxation.

Prenatal Massages

Speaking of massages, I wish I’d had way more of these while I was pregnant. I don’t usually enjoy massages while I’m not expecting, so I thought I wouldn’t like them while pregnant either. Wow, was I wrong! I started to get massages toward the end of my second pregnancy because I was trying to gently hurry my baby along to avoid an induction, and I realized what I’d been missing the whole time. If money were no object, I would have gotten a massage weekly throughout both my pregnancies.

Keep a Journal

 I am not big on journaling, but looking back, I wish that I remembered more of what pregnancy was like so that I could tell my children. Keeping a journal during pregnancy would have been a great way to not forget all my experiences. Looking back now, I remember the really lovely things and the really hard things, but not much of the mundane and in-between things. There are dedicated pregnancy journals, but also just writing a sentence or two each day would have been a good strategy to preserve that experience in a different way.

Abby Olena
Dr. Abby Olena has a PhD in Biological Sciences from Vanderbilt University. She lives with her husband and children in North Carolina, where she writes about science and parenting, produces a conversational podcast, and teaches prenatal yoga.

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