Most women upon learning that they’re pregnant experience two distinct and almost simultaneous reactions: overwhelming joy and deeply internalized anxiety. Being a parent is the greatest responsibility most of us will ever face, and the work begins the moment we realize we’re carrying that little bundle of cells.
Pregnancy is a time of dramatic physical and lifestyle changes (hello heartburn, goodbye sushi) that have a tendency to make us kind of want to freak out. There’s so much to plan for—childbirth classes, baby showers, health insurance research, childcare options—it’s enough to send many of us into a frenzy. Yet we all know stress is not conducive to healthy, happy pregnancies.
So how do you alleviate lots of that stress? By starting your journey into motherhood off on the right foot with a Bullet Journal.
Trying to Conceive
Even before you start the 40-week countdown to welcoming a baby, it’s important to get focused. In that period of “trying to conceive,” you can use your Bullet Journal to help you track your most fertile days.
- Track the length of your cycle to approximate when you will ovulate.
- Record your Basal body temperature each day in your Bullet Journal.
- Notate the results of the cervical mucus method, if you’re feeling brave!
- Or grab an ovulation test at your pharmacy and jot down the results in your Bullet Journal to reveal patterns you might otherwise miss.
We also need to think about taking care of our bodies before we get pregnant by starting on prenatal vitamins and avoiding certain foods, like fish high in mercury, unpasteurized cheeses, and other not-so-obvious stuff. Make yourself a tracker so you know you’ve taken your vitamins each day and maybe a handy cheat sheet of foods to avoid right in your Bullet Journal.
The Fun Stuff
Once you receive the news that you’re expecting, most of us want to jump right into the fun stuff, like picking out furniture for the nursery and getting registered for our baby shower. I remember my first trip to the baby store to register and how completely overwhelmed I felt. I walked in thinking this would be fun and easy, and left realizing that I knew nothing.
The problem was, I hadn’t planned. I didn’t know what I needed, I hadn’t researched brands, I hadn’t read reviews. I was clueless and feeling defeated. That’s why I’d go about it all differently in a Bullet Journal:
- Before ever entering a store, I’d cut and paste a reputable registry checklist like this one into my Bullet Journal. I’d ask other moms for advice on the true essentials. I’d check Amazon reviews, and I’d shop around, all the while, keeping notes in my Bullet Journal.
- I’d take measurements of the nursery and sketch out the floorplan in my journal. I’d pencil in different pieces of furniture in a variety of arrangements instead of just hoping the items would fit (rookie mistake!).
- I’d track baby shower gifts, gift-givers, and thank you notes to make sure no one’s kindness went unnoticed.
If you’re lucky enough to have the time and budget to plan a “babymoon,” trip-planning is an exercise best completed in a Bullet Journal: destination research, travel and accommodation pricing, activity planning, and packing checklists.
And of course, a Bullet Journal is the PERFECT place for a running list of baby names. Keep your journal with you at all times, so if the grocery clerk’s name strikes your fancy, you can jot it down before pregnancy brain strikes!
Anyone who’s given birth knows just how many doctor’s appointments, medical bills, and potential headaches and pitfalls pregnancy will bring. This is another area where you can really take control with your Bullet Journal.
- Medical professionals: If you don’t already have an OBGYN you love, or your doctor doesn’t deliver at the hospital of your choice, it’s time to start searching for a new doctor. As you ask for recommendations, keep a running list of doctors, whether they accept your insurance, where they have privileges, and your impression of them when you meet. You may want to keep similar notes on midwives and doulas, and hospitals or birthing centers as you tour them.
- Appointments: Save your sanity and mark all those appointments in your Bullet Journal! You can also keep a running list of questions for your doctor for your next appointment.
- Insurance: Contact your insurance about what expenses you should expect as a result of your medical care. What will be covered? What are your deductibles and co-pays? How long will they allow you to stay in the hospital? What are the costs if you or the baby require extra medical care after delivery? These are important numbers to have in mind as you budget for your pregnancy and delivery. Keep them organized in your Bullet Journal and always have them on-hand.
- Birth Plan: If you choose to write up a birth plan, this is something you may want to outline (in pencil!) in your Bullet Journal as it’s subject to change. I learned that the hard way when I discovered my second baby was breach, and I’d be having a c-section!
- Classes: Make yourself a list of classes you’d like to take before the baby arrives, and use your Bullet Journal to organize notes on when and where they’re offered, and at what cost before you make your selection.
- Maternity leave: Begin to research your employer’s maternity leave policy and calculate your sick leave and vacation days in your Bullet Journal to determine how long you can afford to be away from work.
- Childcare: Next, consider your childcare options. As you tour facilities, mark down your impressions or answers to specific questions you have in your Bullet Journal so you can make an educated comparison.
- Hospital bag: Last but not least, create a checklist for your hospital bag. Sure, you can pack most of the essentials ahead of time, but what about your phone charger? You’ll need to grab that at the last minute!
Most of us don’t take self-care as seriously as we should, but when you’re cooking up a baby, ignoring your body’s needs can be the difference between a “normal” day and ending up in the ER. It’s no joke; you really need to slow down! Consider making yourself a priority by setting up some trackers and lists:
- Exercise tracker: When, what, how long, and how did it make you feel? Maybe running hurts your hips but yoga does the trick.
- Sleep tracker: Are you getting your eight hours? Are you waking up a lot? Feeling uncomfortable? Did a certain food at dinner disagree with you at night? Did your morning sun salutations wear you out for a great night’s sleep?
- Symptoms: Morning sickness, heartburn, round ligament pain, backache? Your doctor might want to know whether you’re experiencing symptoms daily and what the severity is.
- Weight gain: Speak to your doctor about healthy weight gain in each trimester and track it in your Bullet Journal to help avoid the struggle against post-pregnancy weight.
- Fetal movement tracker: Later in your pregnancy, you should expect to feel the baby’s movements pretty regularly during the day. Tracking movement in your Bullet Journal might put your mind at ease on days when you’re feeling anxious.
Size of the baby: If this is your first pregnancy, you’ll probably get a kick out of knowing the approximate size of your baby compared to a fruit or veggie (it’s a thing!). Add the relative size of the baby to your weekly spread to help you visualize his or her growth in there.
Fridge, freezer, and pantry stock-up: One of the kindest things you can do for yourself during your pregnancy is to prepare for the ensuing chaos by stocking up on easy-to-make or ready-to-thaw meals for after the baby arrives. Keep a list of what you’ve got in your Bullet Journal so you can see what’s still missing (no one wants to eat lasagna for a week!)
- Reading list: Are there any parenting books you plan to read before D-Day? Make a list and check them off as you go. Those 40 weeks will fly by!
- Before-baby bucket list: Give yourself permission to acknowledge that things will (really!) change once the baby arrives and create a bucket list.
I’d love to hear how you’re using (or used) your Bullet Journal during your pregnancy. Leave a comment telling me your greatest struggle to stay organized during your pregnancy; Or how your Bullet Journal saved your sanity while you were expecting.
Check out the other parts in this series!