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Homesteading While Pregnant

Over 80% of women will be pregnant at some point in their lives, so homesteading while pregnant is a reality for may of us. Now that I’m 2/3 done with my second pregnancy while being a homesteader/farmer, I feel ready to share some of my best tips for surviving pregnancy and farm life.

Starting our Family and Homestead

It seems that most homesteaders I know are family people. It’s rare that I meet someone with a small farm or homestead that doesn’t also have children. Looking after your small farm and yourself is enough, let alone children AND being pregnant at the same time.

I’ve noticed a lot of other homesteaders seem to start their families and then add children after the fact. Sometimes I envy those folks because I did it backwards. I knew whether I ended up married or not that I wanted a farm. Since the right man hadn’t come around yet I decided to make my dreams of being a farmer/homesteader a reality.

When I met my future husband I was working at an organic vegetable CSA and had my own milk cow and two bred ewes.

By the time I was pregnant with our first daughter, we had purchased a five acre farm in much need of fixing up. We had already accumulated a garden, a dog, three goats, a heifer calf, three lambs, twenty chickens, and a sow.

We had part of one summer homesteading where I wasn’t pregnant or the primary care giver for a tiny human. I now have an almost two year old and am six months pregnant. With three years of pregnancy, babies, and homesteading experience, here is my best advice.

me and my husband rough and tumble farmhouse
Ah our first homestead summer. So young. So thin. So well rested.

Time You Pregnancy and Birth

This is of course not always possible. Getting pregnant can take months or years of trying. We were blessed that both pregnancies happened for us on the first try.

If you can give it a go, try to plan the birth of your baby during a quiet time on the homestead.

My AI technician (the guy who artificially inseminates our dairy cows) got a good laugh when I had him come a month earlier (August 2020) than usual to breed our cows and I explained why.

I knew that after my first daughter I wanted to wait a minimum of eighteen months before getting pregnant. This would allow her to be a little older when a sibling arrived and most medical folks advise giving your body at least that much time to recuperate before getting pregnant again. This would mean a fall or winter baby.

Knowing that I would potentially be having a baby by November 2021, and that I wanted to be able to milk cows for at least six months, the cows would need to freshen by May 2021, so they needed to be bred in August of 2020.

Miraculously it all timed out perfect. The cows had their calves late April/May and we are expecting early November.

When our second daughter arrives the garden will be done, canning complete, and all the livestock just taking it easy getting fat for winter.

Prioritize What is Important on the Homestead

We started looking at profitability on the homestead back when I took a Holistic Financial Farm Management course. It helped us determine what is profitable (spoiler alert: at this point pretty much nothing) and how to prioritize what profits we do have.

Going through that process we realized that of course selling eggs is a break-even if you’re lucky enterprise. We learned that pigs do make good money, but that our infrastructure and space here just isn’t enough for them to make sense.

With those things in mind we only bought a small number of replacement chicks for our layers. Then we sold off our gilt we had planned to keep for breeding and our sow too.

The fact of the matter is, when your new baby comes you just won’t have as much time or energy as you did before.

It can be hard to sell off your pigs or reduce your chicken numbers, but goodbye doesn’t have to be forever. You are entering a season where your children will need constant care and attention. Maybe the pigs are going away for a few years. Then when the kids are older and can help with chores you might bring them back.

homesteading pregnant rough and tumble farmhouse
I was about three months pregnant when we butchered our own lambs.

Keep Hydrated

Water is so so important, especially when you are pregnant during the summer. It is recommended that a pregnant woman drink 64-96 ounces of water. That’s a quart shy of a gallon!

I’ve found that the screw top lids with straws for mason jars are incredibly useful. I know that three of those will get me to 96 ounces and I’m good to go. You can pick those lids up at your local Fleet store or sometimes even Wal-Mart for about $2.50 a piece. Don’t buy from Amazon, they charge double!

Watch the Heat

It has been a miserable summer when it comes to heat. We’ve been in the mid to high 80s and often in the 90s all summer.

Pregnant women are carrying extra weight, an extra little warm body, and 40-50% more blood than usual. This makes getting tuckered out and overheating more likely for our bodies.

When I’m not pregnant I am all “go-go-go!” when it comes to outdoor work. I get in a flow and just pound out hours of work no matter the temperature.

Cut to being pregnant on a hot day in the full sun. I’m good for about 45 minutes of work and then I feel like I’m going to pass out.

When I come in from moving temporary fence I usually drink a big glass of ice water, run cool water over my wrists, wash my face with a cool cloth, then go sit in our bedroom with the window AC unit blasting for a good half hour.

Listen to your body and don’t just push through.

can you farm pregnant rough and tumble farmhouse
Me about 6 months pregnant after wrestling our 600 pound sow into a trailer.

Go Slow

Pregnant women are more likely to take a stumble or a fall. This is again due to a few things including weight change, our balance being thrown off by a big ol’ baby in front, and the looseness of our muscles and joints. We have something called relaxin that kicks in while pregnant and it greatly increases our flexibility.

In addition to being a homesteader, I am also a Registered 200 Hour Yoga Teacher and a Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher. I tell my pregnant students that just because you can suddenly reach way past your toes when pregnant, doesn’t mean you should. I advise my students that during a yoga practice they should aim for about 75% of where they can take a pose. Otherwise, because of increased flexibility pregnant women may overexert or extend themselves.

As you are homesteading while pregnant, keep that 75% in mind. Yes you COULD do 100-110% like you usually do, but try to hold yourself back to that 75% effort.

Take your time, go slow, be mindful of how you use your body.

Accept Help

I learned this during my first pregnancy. Accept help when it is offered! Is your neighbor asking what they can do to help prep for baby? Have a list in mind of things you could use help with. Maybe it’s coming over to help put up jars of salsa one afternoon. Or helping clear out the dead plants from the garden after frost. Maybe you just say “You know, I’m trying to stock our freezer up with meals for when baby comes so we could always use a lasagna or soup for later!”

People don’t offer help unless they mean it. And if they do, then hopefully they’ll make you a lasagna and not offer things they don’t intend to give in the future.

Tighten Up Infrastructure

We are still working on this one with our sketchy fence.

The last thing you want to do when you have a newborn who has finally gotten a good latch for nursing, is to see your cows wandering down the road.

Maybe the chicken coop needs some fox proofing. Possibly you have weak spots in your fence too. Pregnancy is the time to make a list of “must get done’s” and do it.

Whether you chip away at it yourself, have family help, or just hire someone, make it happen. You will be so grateful to not have to worry about it once you are 36 weeks pregnant and exhausted or busy with your new little one.

how to farm when pregnant rough and tumble farmhouse
Throwing down hay bales, 8 months pregnant.

Know your Physical Limits and Safety

Being physically safe when homesteading while pregnant may be the most important item on the list. This goes back to going slow and being aware of changes in your pregnant body while homesteading.

Typically I haul around fifty pound feed bags no problem. When I’m pregnant, all feed bag hauling shifts to my husband.

In the winter we have to haul water to our animals. I still haul water, but I might fill the buckets 3/4 or half full instead.

When I go in to work with my cows, I’m careful with their heads and my belly. They love shoving their big melons right into my stomach or chest for snuggles.

Litterbox? Husband does them all.

Goat or other animal needing assistance with labor? You better believe I have elbow length gloves on to make sure I don’t pick up anything from their internal fluids.

Take the time to look at a situation, think about any risks, and proceed as necessary.

Meal Prep

Whether you are homesteading while pregnant or just pregnant, meal prepping is a great idea. I’d recommend starting on this anywhere from 28 weeks and on, as most things keep in the freezer for up to six months.

With my first pregnancy I had my best friend from college come visit and spend a few hours prepping.

I took my inspiration from the Pioneer Woman Cooks Dinner cookbook and her make-ahead freezer meals. Rather than getting a ton of different ingredients to make a bunch of dishes, I thawed about fifteen pounds of ground beef. We made chili, taco meat, burger patties, and meatballs. They weren’t complete meals, but enough of the hard work was done all I had to do was thaw the beef variety of choice and add a few things on the side.

You could easily do the same with chicken. Cook up a bunch and make chicken taco meat, pot pies, chicken noodle soup, chicken meatballs, grilled and seasoned breasts, etc.

Give Yourself Permission to Take it Easy

Homesteading while pregnant is HARD. There are days where I will make a bunch of food from scratch, tackle a small farm project, clean the bathrooms, have fun adventures with my toddler, and feel great.

Then the next day I have to take two naps while my two-year-old watches 101 Dalmations and Winnie the Pooh. I will throw in a frozen pizza for dinner.

That is totally okay my friends.

Right now for instance, I need to re-set fence for cows so they can eat grass. I’ve already made breakfast for my family, then a batch of homemade granola, worked on a blog post, created and prepped invites for my daughter’s upcoming birthday, done budgeting work, did morning farm chores for my neighbors, played games with my toddler for a few hours, then made lunch for my family. Tonight we have to go to town for grocery shopping and farm supplies.

It is 82 degrees outside, sunny, and all hazy from Canadian wildfires.

So guess what? The cows are getting a bale of hay. The fence can wait until tomorrow.

Final Thoughts

I love our farm and our homestead, but it always has to come second to my kids. And truly, it has to come after caring for myself. If I’m not healthy and at my best, then everything else is going to struggle too.

Look after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally, and look after those sweet babies.

Are you homesteading while pregnant? I’d love to her what tips you would add below in the comments!

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homesteading while pregnant rough and tumble farmhouse

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