By Kathleen Mitchell-Askar, Pregnancy Editor
As your body changes during pregnancy, the activities you used to enjoy may be off limits. You may not be able to drink your morning coffee, have sushi for lunch, or indulge in a glass of wine with dinner. And a pregnant woman can forget about roller coasters, riding a bicycle, or skiing. Yet, while it may be difficult to give up favorite activities and food, you can find fun in different and new ways.
Women who were athletic before pregnancy may find it challenging to scale back their exercise routines. While light jogging and weight resistance are generally doctor-approved, swimming, walking, and yoga may prove a welcome change for a heavier belly and sore joints. Not only do such classes keep a mother fit in a safe way, but they also offer an opportunity to bond with other women and share the joys and challenges of carrying a child. It is important to make sure, however, that the instructor has had plenty of experience working with pregnant women.
Those who enjoy the arts and writing may like keeping a journal or creating a scrapbook about the pregnancy. A journal allows you to keep track of your changing body and emotions, special memories, hopes and dreams for the baby, daydreams, and feelings. A scrapbook can gather together the mementos of pregnancy. Birthing From Within by Pam England guides the mother-to-be through drawing, painting, and sculpting activities that encourage the woman to use visual arts to examine the feelings that may seem beyond verbalization about birth and her baby. These fun prompts provoke thought and engage the mind.
You could plan a picnic or day trip for yourself, with your spouse, or with family and friends. A potluck picnic takes the pressure off the planner and allows everyone to enjoy the fresh air, food, and company. If it’s too hot or rainy for a picnic, BabyCenter.com recommends “an indoor visit to a museum, art gallery, or cultural exhibition where you can spend some time in air-conditioned comfort. Even a trip to a mall you have wanted to visit, followed by lunch at the food court, can be a welcome break.”
If you are like many women who do not live in the same city or state as their mothers, pregnancy can be a wonderful time to reconnect. You can talk about your progress, compare food cravings, and make guesses about whether the baby will be a boy or a girl. Sharing this experience can bring you closer to your mother and bring out some humorous and heart-warming stories.
Once the baby is born, it can be hard to believe how much your belly expanded. A plaster belly cast can be a beautiful way to capture the true size of your belly in a way no photo could. You could also commission an artist to sketch or paint your picture or a photographer to take lovely and artistic professional photos. These mementos will be fun to look back on and share with your child as he grows.
Because pregnant women must avoid certain foods and drinks during pregnancy, you may feel left out when others order cocktails. When out with friends, you could request your favorite drink be made “virgin,” or you could order one of the following non-alcoholic mocktails:
6 ounces ginger ale
1 1/2 tsp. grenadine
Garnish: orange slice and/or maraschino cherry
Pour ginger ale over crushed ice, top with grenadine, garnish, and serve. For a Roy Rogers, substitute caffeine-free cola for the ginger ale.
3 ounces tomato juice or V-8
3 ounces cranberry juice
1/2 tsp. Tabasco (more to taste)
1 tsp. lime juice
Fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
Garnish: cilantro sprig, celery stick, lime wedge, or pickle!
Pour all ingredients over crushed ice. Stir, garnish, and serve.
Not So Dark and Stormy
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. blackstrap molasses
1 cup ginger beer
Garnish: lime wedge
1 part iced tea
1 part lemonade
Sugar, to taste
Garnish: lemon, mint, or a slice of kiwi
Pour iced tea (sweetened or not) and lemonade over ice; stir and garnish. For a fancier presentation, pour the lemonade over ice first, then slowly add the iced tea and they will stay in somewhat separate layers. This is a summer favorite, called a “half-and-half” in some parts of the country, and usually served in a tumbler or highball glass.
3 parts pear nectar
1 part cranberry juice
A big squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Garnish: lemon and cinnamon stick
Pour the pear nectar, cranberry juice, and dash of lemon juice over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Pierce a perfect round lemon slice with a cinnamon stick and add to the glass.
1 tsp. raspberry syrup or grenadine
6 ounces sparkling cider, chilled
Garnish: fresh raspberries
Put a teaspoon of syrup in a champagne flute, add the sparkling cider, and float several raspberries on top.
4 or 5 springs of fresh mint
1 ounce simple syrup
6 to 8 ounces soda water
Garnish: lime wedges and mint sprigs
Muddle the mint with the simple syrup in the bottom of a tall glass. Add ice cubes. Squeeze half of one lime into the glass, reserving the other half for garnish (slice it into three or four wedges). Top with soda water. Stir, drop in lime wedges, and decorate with the last sprig of mint.
6 1/2-inch slices of peeled cucumber
6 ounces cranberry juice
1 ounce simple syrup
Juice squeezed from half a lime
Garnish: salt and sugar, cucumber slice
Mix a teaspoon each of salt and sugar in a saucer or shallow bowl. Moisten the rim of a wine or martini glass and press the rim into the salt-sugar mix. Add ice to the glass. In a separate glass or bowl, muddle the cucumber with a sprinkle of salt (i.e., smash it up a bit with a spoon). Add that to a shaker of ice, along with the cranberry juice, simple syrup, and lime juice. Shake well and pour into your prepared glass.
Pregnancy is precious, and your precious baby will arrive in a flash. May these activities and recipes keep you happy and engaged while you await one of the most celebration-worthy events of your life: your baby’s birthday.