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Find Yourself After Having a Baby.

You: from A to Z


M is for massage. During pregnancy, find a massage therapist trained to work on pregnant women (they even have tables with tummy holes, Louden says). M is also for movies. Don't wait for the video; hire a sitter. And M is for music. Have your spouse make a tape of your favorites and keep it playing.

N is for No. Learn to say it when you feel overloaded. "No, you can't visit now." "No, I can't serve on that committee." You'll see -- you'll develop a rhythm.

O is for Out. Go there! Make every Tuesday night date night with your spouse.

P is for pedicures. Katy Santesteban, a Phoenix social worker who recently gave birth to a 9-pound boy, developed a pedicure habit when she could no longer see her feet. She has no plans to lose it any time soon.

Q is for quiet. One mother used to offer her kids a quarter if they could be quiet for 15 minutes. They would whisper and giggle and watch the clock, but it helped -- and they learned to tell time.

R is for religion. Many churches and synagogues have "cry" rooms where you can enjoy the service even if baby becomes fussy or needs feeding. Some congregations even offer babysitting.

S is for Snuggles. Austin uses her baby as a counterweight to do squats and lunges. She never goes to the gym, she says -- and the baby loves it. S is also for shoes. You may not enjoy buying maternity and "after" clothes, but shoe shopping is a universal pleasure (you even get to sit down).

T is for the tried and true. Remember those guilty pleasures like bubble baths, chocolate, and soap operas? Go ahead -- you may not be away from work long enough to become really addicted.

U is for understanding that your mate needs "attention," too -- and it might be fun for you, too.

V is for visualization. Imagine yourself having a calm, exhilarated birth and being a laughing, fun mother with clean hair.

W is for walks. No equipment needed. Austin started walking with her girlfriends during pregnancy and continues the tradition. She and her husband take the baby in the stroller every evening, too. Remember, as a fitness star, she had to strut her stuff in a leotard just six weeks after having each of her babies!

X is for eXcellent adventure. Take time to look around once a day and see the amusing, strange trip you are on. It won't last forever, though for now it may seem like it will.

Y is for yoga. It's relaxing and great for those creaking joints. Some centers even have child care.

Z is for zzzzz's. Try to get plenty, even if you need to put a sign on the door for delivery people and nap when your little darlings do.

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