When we moved across Europe to start our new life on a small farm in rural Spain I was 6 months pregnant. We were excited about our new adventure and although the timing seemed crazy to everyone else, it was just right for us. We had 3 months to get things started before everything would change forever and we were ready for a challenge!
Our goals in the first few months were to succeed at growing something (anything!), building an enclosure for a couple of goats and generally taming the very neglected 9 acres of wild terraces and woodland we now owned.
It wasn’t going to be easy for me during the late stages of pregnancy, but I was determined and steadfast in my belief that this kind of challenge was exactly what I needed.
Back at the beginning, we were living in a pretty little apartment in a nearby village which was great for keeping a few creature comforts, especially when dealing with the enormous physical growth I was going through, but not so great in terms of time spent travelling to and from our land. Now that we’re pregnant again and living on our land, completely off-grid, we have different kinds of challenges.
If you’re pregnant and off-grid, your challenges may be completely different from mine, perhaps you have a whole herd of cows, endless flat fields and an established garden to care for. Or like us, you live on a steep hill and you’re trying to grow veg in pure clay, whatever your day-to-day homestead tasks, one thing is for certain, doing it all while pregnant is a different kind of test.
Tips for coping with pregnancy off-grid
Ask for Support
Towards the end of my last pregnancy, I would frequently get stuck between the rows of veg and couldn’t get up without crushing the embarrassingly tiny lettuces we were growing…luckily my husband was there to help and rescued me from this trap often!
That’s one of the advantages of this kind of life, you get to do it together, to laugh about the hard things and help each other to learn (and sometimes stand) and grow.
Plan for fatigue
We’ve been reasonably sensible about dividing tasks and since I work on my computer during the day, a lot of the farm duties fall to my partner anyway. Hopefully, you’ll be able to pass on some tasks to your partner but if you can’t it’s going to be important to prioritise things. We’ve found that I can work online in the mornings and I can help in the garden and with the animals in the afternoon or evening. We tried doing it the other way around but I ended up asleep on the sofa and hadn’t finished my paid work, oops! Remember, growing tiny people is tiring, it’s ok to sleep.
Use life to stay active
I’m all for natural birth and one of my big goals during both pregnancies has been to prepare for the big day. Staying active will help with the birth and the challenges you’ll face once your baby arrives. Don’t overdo it, but do be the one to collect the eggs, fill the animal troughs and water the garden.
Review your facilities
A lot of people who set out to be self-sufficient or homestead enjoy a simple kind of living without creature comforts others take for granted, and these are the kind of challenges we enjoy. When you’re pregnant ‘making do’ becomes a little harder and I’m happy to tell you that it’s ok to take a good look at your comfort levels, facilities and routine to see what needs to improve to enable you to cope with being pregnant.
We didn’t have any hot running water in our rural house for the first year and boiling a pan on the stove or woodburner for a brief shower became very normal. Well, five months into being pregnant with my second child, it was the luxury of hot running water that we decided would really make a difference. It’s been eight weeks since we installed a small on-demand boiler and it’s amazing! Some days I really don’t think I could cope without this and it’s great to know that we have it here for those difficult few weeks after the baby arrives too.
Have a good think about what really makes a difference to your comfort and invest in what’s important.
Be honest with yourself
In the beginning, I had dreams of hauling hay bales, helping with stone work on our terraces and turning the compost every two days. I was pretty naive during the first pregnancy and save for lifting a few things that were too heavy, thought I could carry on a usual. What I’ve discovered is that growing a baby is exhausting, rows between vegetables are never wide enough, pretty much everything is too heavy and heartburn hates digging.
If you’re pregnant and living a self-sufficient life, be honest with yourself about what you can cope with. Be flexible and make sure you prioritise the most important tasks so that you can drop others if you need to. Keep your animals fed and housed, get your seeds planted when you should and let those other things wait.
Things that help me cope with being a temporary giant are pretty much what women in the ‘real world’ need as well. I practice yoga to keep strong and healthy, let myself rest when I need to and most importantly I talk to my partner about what I’m going through. Being pregnant is not easy and on a farm, it can be tempting to carry on despite the fatigue and aching limbs. So if you’re guilty of pretending everything is fine when it’s just too hard to walk up the hill, it’s time to stop.