If you’re pregnant and reading this, congratulations! This is an exciting time, whether this is your first, last, rainbow or somewhere in between, this is definitely a celebration. But like any journey, you might be just a little overwhelmed by doing all of the things while carrying a baby. Here are some tips for trying to homestead while pregnant.
The First Trimester
Honestly, I have been pregnant 3 times, currently with my third and the first trimester is, at least for me, the hardest time. While I do not experience much morning sickness, I have overwhelming fatigue. I’m exhausted by just being awake. However, many mothers also experience morning sickness, back and joint pain, heartburn, tender breasts and even mood swings.
I basically checked out of what I could at home. I work outside of the home so I had to go to work and take basic care of my children, but anything unnecessary or extra burden or time was just gone. Ask for help.
Depending on when you’re pregnant, you may need to plant a garden or be putting up all those garden goodies. Where you can, delegate. It was during this time I made it my older son’s job to empty the dishwasher and my younger son to load and unload the washer/dryer.
When slowing down, you will need to use your time in the most efficient manner. It also helps to get all your ducks, probably literally, in a row before your baby comes but it also helps to have a plan for the early weeks when your body might be rebelling. Often you are just finding out your pregnant as well as battling a new set of symptoms you’ve likely never experienced. Think about how you can make time work for you during this time.
This is often referred to as the sweet spot of pregnancy. Most of the early symptoms have subsided (though not always) and you are not so huge that its difficult to maneuver. In fact, you may feel a little bit more like yourself. Early in the 2nd trimester you will probably not feel the baby move but towards the middle you will. Hiccups and foot jabs will eventually become normal.
If you have the space and capabilities, now is the time to start prepping for baby. Particularly be prepared for the time you will not be able to tend to almost anything, especially if you have a C-section. There is a 2 to 8 week period that are just brutal after the birth of a baby. Make plans for your spouse to help with the animals or hire temporary help.
Due to the exceptional changes in your body and your changing center of gravity, be prepared to have more limited options in things you do around your homestead. For example, you may be used to climbing a ladder and cutting down tree limbs, but it will definitely be a little different now. You should be prepared for that to take a longer or feel unsteady. Your bones are looser now to allow for a baby to pass, which means your muscles and structure may not be as strong as you need. Rely on short cuts and a helping hand when you can and use more caution than normal.
Uncomfortable. Usually during this period, you’ll be pretty ready for that baby to make its debut. I felt like a whale, especially toward the end. I literally ran into counters and sinks because my belly was bigger than even I expect. Also, baby is pushing so much on all your organs that there might be a lot of GI discomfort.
Or sprinkle. Whatever. You will likely have one during this time, celebrating any baby regardless of birth order is fun. Be sure to put a few things in your wish list you could use for any homesteading tasks related to caring for a baby. For example, I made all my own baby food for my second child, so I asked for a blender.
At this point, that belly is definitely out there. It might be very hard now to bed down to milk animals or reach counters for prepping food. Hopefully you’ve done quite a bit during the last trimester and can rely on stores of things. But even then, most likely you will still need to do plenty of work around the house and be limited in your ability. For example, even getting clothes out of the drier or dishes out of the dishwasher can be a chore. In this case, even more time will not make it easier to get around your belly. If its truly disruptive, take some time to find way you can still get your stuff done. Any pregnancy hacks from slip on shoes to reach extenders are very useful at this time.
Sleeping will probably feel pretty rough as heartburn and a heavy belly don’t allow for a restful night. Given this, try a couple of things like sleeping sitting up or catching a few naps if you can. Definitely spend time on your body and keep moving and hydrated to be ready for birth, regardless of how the delivery occurs.
Definitely use your homesteading skills to start the final stages of prep. As both of my children were born vaginally, I needed post partum care for that region and it helped to have them made in advance. In addition, make sure you have a place for baby to sleep and where to store all of their clothes and diapers. If you have a nursery, great! If not, no worries. I have changed a baby on the bed many times, kept their clothes in random bins and slept with both in my bed. Although you may not know how your birth or nursing journey will go, make sure you have all the final stages in place that you need. I think a doula is worth their weight in gold. Figure out if you want a lactation consultant. Finalize hospital or birthing plans.
Congratulations on your baby! You did it! Hopefully a happy healthy baby is in your arms. So why another trimester? Well the first 8 to 12 weeks of a baby’s life is basically a time for the baby to learn to be outside the body. In addition, and more difficult, is your body’s recovery during this time. Your uterus will shrink, your hormones will fluctuate and you’ll be bleeding for a while. Anything you had in place before, be sure to have them now too. Even though the baby is here, this is likely the hardest part. If possible, try and set up a line of people willing to help with making meals, caring for other children, tidying up your house and even helping with animals and the garden. You will still need them a great deal during this time.
For millennia, women working in all sorts of conditions, including on farms with livestock and other children, with a newborn in tow. The MOST valuable thing I have owned was a solid baby carrier. I mowed the back yard with a 1 month wrapped sleeping on chest. Hands down the papoose, whatever form it takes, is essential for most homesteading tasks. Caution though, DO NOT use when operating an oven or canner. Its just too risky as the softest, smallest being is right there in front without your body as protection.
You got this!
Having a baby is hard but wonderful. It might seem impossible at times but you got this. Find the people you need to help and support you and you will be able to have your cake and eat it too! A homestead can be more difficult to run but its all about a little grace and perspective.
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