Feel-Good Activities for Pregnancy & Beyond Work / Play / Leisure Suitable for stages: Pregnancy, 0 - 3 Months, 3 - 6 Months, 6 - 12 Months
A healthy circadian rhythm relies on a balance throughout your day of physical activity, mental activity, relaxation and rest.
Making a baby takes a lot of energy, so it is important to pack food and water to have on hand for whatever you are doing and wherever you go. This is a habit you will continue once you become a parent - you won't want to get stuck out with a hungry thirsty toddler (or a 'hangry' Mumma!). During pregnancy, do things that help you feel good, prepare your body for birth and expose your baby to various sensations. Doing activities that suit your pregnant body are usually also activities that will suit your new baby life.
Physical Exercise & Stretching
Exercise is beneficial for boosting the levels of endorphins and other natural painkillers and providing a boost of cortisol for a short term energy boost. If you are unsure about what exercises you can do and what to be aware of, some of the answers may be in this Better Health Channel article. It’s good to be extra cautious with lifting and conservative stretching due to the relaxin hormone affecting your joints. Your relaxed ligaments which will help you birth your baby can also remind you to slow down and listen to your body.
Living an active life with gentle physical exercise/activity levels during pregnancy exposes your in utero baby to different body positions in space and external pressure/touch, with exposure to language and music stimulating their hearing centres. The exposure to these early sensory experiences will set your baby’s development off to a great start.
Common activities suitable for perinatal bodies include:
- Walking - Check out the walking tracks in your area and think about how you would walk these same routes with a baby - can you use a pram or a baby carrier?
- Swimming/exercise in water - Buy some maternity swimmers which will suit now and after birth. Check out your local swimming pool and see if they offer aqua aerobics classes and mums and bubs classes.
- Dancing/movement exercises/yoga/gentle stretching and other floor exercises - Look for pregnancy-specific exercise classes, dance classes or yoga classes available in your area. Ensure your instructor knows you are pregnant and can provide you with instruction on the precautions you should take. A good instructor will give you a handout with the stretches, movements and positions you should avoid.
Mental and spiritual exercise
By balancing physical activity with relaxing and calming activities, you can restore energy to your pregnant body. This can feel rejuvenating physically, mentally and spiritually whilst balancing your energy levels. Take the time to incorporate relaxation and restful activities into your day. Permit yourself to have an afternoon nap, meditate, massage yourself or ask someone to massage you. Better still, relax in and explore nature for a multi-sensory and grounding experience. Why not check out the nature reserves, beaches, lakes, mountains and other natural features in your local area.
Connection to others as a mood lifter
Spending time connecting in person with people is the ultimate mood lifter, and everyone knows that laughter is the best medicine. When we can't be in others' presence, technology can play a role in bridging long distances. We all need connection, social interaction, a community to feel part of and contribute to. If you don’t feel like you have much of a village around you and want one, now would be the best time to start. The literature consistently describes social support networks as a protective factor against postnatal depression - for many, support is one of the keys to getting through the parenting years.
Some ways to build social networks:
- Start to go to activities in your local area where you can mix with other pregnant women or women with young children.
- Arrange catch-ups with old friends.
- Maintain current friendships and strengthen family relationships by spending time together.
- Search for and join social network groups with a culture of support, empathy and compassion.
Your body has four main hormones, which, when released, give you a surge of happiness: dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin. Understanding a little about what can trigger these hormones can help you hack your happiness.
The love hormone oxytocin is a powerful tool to tap into to reduce stress & anxiety while boosting relationships and bonding.
You can boost oxytocin in many ways:
- Physical touch try soft touch or massage.
- Orgasms or arousal
- Smiling even if you have to fake it at first.
- Compliment yourself and others
- Tell someone you love them.
- Cuddling and hugging
Other happiness inducers include:
- Get some sun - sitting outside in the sun for 10-15 minutes with your skin exposed promotes vitamin D and serotonin production.
- Direct contact with the ground - known as Earthing or Grounding - take your shoes off whenever you can and make direct contact with nature.
- Laugh - However you can get your laughs to give you a boost of endorphins, go for it - cat videos, a good comedy special, watching any funny video, reading a funny story or laughing with friends.
- Meditation - has so many health benefits which is supported by a huge body of research. Meditation calms down your nervous system, relieves stress, restores oxygen levels, and improves spirituality amongst many other benefits.
- Listening to music and singing - Listen to and sing along to music that makes you happy and relaxed. Choose 1 or more songs you enjoy singing along to and imagine playing or singing to your baby when you are trying to settle them. From the second trimester onwards, your baby will be able to hear your voice when you talk, sing or read aloud, and they can develop familiarity with the sounds they hear. Whatever songs you choose, your voice and the music can become a parenting tool for settling and bonding with your baby.
Enjoy hunting for and finding your happiness!
Please note: Above all, any information on this website aims to provide general ideas for informational and educational purposes only. We encourage users to investigate several information sources, including, where necessary, independent individualised medical advice before making any decisions that could affect you or your child’s health or wellbeing.
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