When you’re forty weeks pregnant, it’s almost impossible to feel attractive. The weight gain, swelling, stretch marks, acne, physical discomfort, wardrobe inadequacies and mental uncertainties all contribute to potentially feeling less than your best. I’m not dealing with this whole list, but the new 38 lbs I’m lugging around and the ambiguity of what’s to come is going a long ways towards making me feel so not pretty.

This week, I’m taking steps to combat the 40-week wall I’ve run into. Here’s a list of my strategies for feeling pretty after you wave your due-date goodbye:

Above: Me after completing steps 1-3. I really should have posted a before photo, as this is NOT how I’m been rolling the last few days.

1)   Take a shower. Okay, that may seem obvious to most of you, but I’ll totally admit to skipping daily showers, especially if I’m not leaving the house.  (An update – we went back for another sonogram last week, and the baby looks fine; there’s no IUGR – we’re “just having a peanut,” according to the doctor. As a result, I’m off of afternoon bed rest, but I’m done working now that I’ve hit my due date, so I’m just bumming around the house.) Although I can manage with every-other-day showers, I’m learning this week that a DAILY shower is really worth the effort.

2)   Put on makeup and blow-dry hair. Again, I’m home by myself all day, and the dogs don’t really seem to care if I wear blush, but I find it does make a big impact on my mental state. I’ve been scraping my frizzy hair into a messy topknot, wearing my glasses, and squeaking by with just washing my face. When I take the time to blow-dry and flat-iron my hair, and apply just a little bit of mascara, I feel so much better about myself. I might be sporting a double chin, but at least my hair looks shiny.

3)   Wear nice clothes. I have a huge maternity wardrobe (some of which I have yet to wear), but it’s just easier to pull on the same pair of stained sweatpants and Mr. Tricycle’s extra-large t-shirt. This does nothing for my self-esteem. This week I’m trying to reach for comfy but still “nice” clothes; leggings and a fitted tunic do the trick.

Above: Aren’t feet weird? Please excuse their oddness. I contemplated green polish, but thought it’d look gross, even if it was fitting.

4)   Get a pedicure. A little pampering goes a long way towards making me feel less scruffy. I spent an hour yesterday getting my feet scrubbed, calves exfoliated, and nails polished. I can’t exactly see my feet, but catching the occasional glimpse of my shiny plum toes makes me smile.

5)   Do something active. I’m not talking about running a marathon, but a 15-minute walk does wonders for my mental state. Fresh air puts a little color in my cheeks, clears my brain, and makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something during the day. I’ve been told, now that I’m off bed rest, to limit my exercise to chunks less than 20 minutes, but even that short time span helps me feel better about myself.

What doesn’t help? I’m trying to avoid the following, all of which make me feel less than my best: eating another cookie, looking at pre-pregnancy photos of myself, and spending excessive time in front of the mirror.

What are your strategies to for feeling pretty and boosting your self-esteem during the last few days or weeks of pregnancy?