Category: Pregnancy

TOP 10 MOST POPULAR BABY NAMES TODAY FOR BOYS & GIRLS

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Naming your baby will be one of the best examples of parenting as it relates to the different elements you deal with when it comes to your child & the world around you. Your family will have input. The media & what’s popular on TV or what the celebrities are naming their babies will affect your decision. Maybe a loved one from the past will factor into your decision.

Names that sound great today may not be so great tomorrow so make sure to pick a name & dwell on it for some time. Plan ahead and try not to make it a spur of the moment decision.

Whatever you decide, make sure that the name connects you and your partner for the long life ahead you will have together.
Here are the top baby names registered in the United States for both boys and girls.

Girls
1. Emma
2. Olivia
3. Ava
4. Sophia
5. Mia
6. Isabella
7. Charlotte
8. Amelia
9. Harper
10. Emily

Boys
1. Noah
2. Liam
3. Mason
4. Ethan
5. Lucas
6. Oliver
7. Aiden
8. Elijah
9. Benjamin
10. James

How To Survive The Last Month of Pregnancy, 3rd trimester

How To Survive The Last Month of Pregnancy

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Well, I have good news and bad news.
The bad news is that the last several weeks of your pregnancy will not be easy to survive for a number of reasons.
And, the good news is that you are not alone and it is not just you. The last several weeks of all pregnancies are really hard for everyone.
The last several weeks of your pregnancy will be challenging in several ways.
To begin, your baby bump will continue to grow despite the fact you cannot possibly imagine that you could get any bigger. However, you can take some solace in the fact that once your maternity tops begin to feel tight and your belly begins to peek out from the bottom, you are close to the end.
Another challenge will be the reality that even the small things you do each day become difficult such as walking. With my second child, I literally felt like I was about to deliver each time I stood up. One of the reasons each moment becomes awkward and uncomfortable is from the pressure of the baby dropping.
Do not forget about the insomnia that is inevitable and the unimaginable torture that is trying to get comfortable enough to actually sleep. You might even begin to dread nighttime because you will be so exhausted yet unable to fall asleep because you cannot find a comfortable position that will allow you to rest well or to sleep. Ugh.
The hardest part is absolutely the waiting for the arrival of your bundle of joy.

Thirty-seven weeks is labeled as full-term which means that medical professionals believe this to be the moment at which it is safe to deliver your baby with the greatest chance for a successful delivery. And, if you are similar to me, when that magic moment at 37 weeks arrives, you will anxiously analyze every little twinge in your belly just hoping and waiting for labor to begin.
And hoping.
And waiting.
And waiting some more.
The wait can be excruciating, particularly when you feel as though you are the largest pregnant woman there ever was. Fortunately, there are three tips to make preparing for your baby slightly more tolerable.

Pamper yourself. It is hard to feel pretty during those last several weeks, so take the time to treat yourself to some pampering activities. If your budget allows, spend an afternoon at the salon to get a new hairstyle or a blow-out just because. Or, try the personal favorite of many pregnant women and get a pedicure or a pregnancy massage. You might just have the added bonus of hitting those pressure points on your feet to start your labor!

If you have older children, schedule quality time with each one of them to ensure you have some one-on-one time prior to the arrival of the new family member. A new baby will be a big transition for the entire family. In between preparing for the arrival and feeling exhausted, it can be difficult to have any quality time with the older children. Use those last several weeks to let your other babies, even if they are older, know how special they are to you and they just might be more likely to fetch a diaper or two once the baby arrives!

If this is your first child, schedule some dates with your significant other. Go to the movies, a nice restaurant or take a babymoon. Make sure it is somewhere close because early deliveries can happen with first babies. And, plan a few fun things you may not be able to do for a while after the new arrival.

Do not forget to give yourself a break. Sometimes, it is ok to allow yourself to be miserable. We can find ourselves so caught up in focusing on what we need to do to get ready and running around trying to finish everything before the baby comes that we forget to just listen to our bodies and rest. Those last several weeks may just be nature’s way of ensuring you have some downtime prior to the craziness of life with a newborn begins. Try to take advantage of this time!
What do you find hardest about the last month of pregnancy?

The 13 Rules of Safe Pregnancy Exercise

The 13 Rules of Safe Pregnancy Exercise

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If you exercise during your pregnancy, you will reap great rewards. It will assist in labor preparation, it will help with the process of childbirth and it will lift your spirits. However, you need to approach exercising while pregnant with extreme caution. Whether you exercise frequently and you are looking to continue your regimen during pregnancy or you are looking to become active for the first time, follow these 13 rules to keep you and your baby safe.

1. Firstly, contact your medical team
People who exercised regularly prior to becoming pregnant who also have an uncomplicated pregnancy can most likely continue exercising just as before with some slight modifications. In various instances, it is not okay to exercise during pregnancy; therefore, it is imperative to discuss your exercise options with your doctor or midwife to ensure the activities you choose do not put you or your baby at risk. If you did not work out regularly prior to becoming pregnant, reference our pregnancy exercise guide for beginners and speak to your medical team.

2. Consume extra calories
When you exercise, you burn extra calories. It is important to eat well to provide the proper nourishment to yourself and your child and to strengthen your body. While you are pregnant, you will naturally gain weight as your baby grows. The exact amount of weight you should gain will vary greatly based on your pre-pregnancy weight.
If your body mass index (BMI) is within a healthy range, which is between 18.5 and 24.9, you will need to eat 300 or so additional calories a day than before you were pregnant. If you are exercising, you will likely need to consume more calories than that. If you are underweight or overweight, you may need to gain a little more or a little less than someone with a target BMI for their body and adjust your calories accordingly.
Your doctor will monitor your weight as your pregnancy progresses and will help you determine the best ways to keep your weight gain on track through proper diet and exercise.

3. Avoid dangerous sports
Avoid dangerous contact sports, as well as any activities that might interfere with your balance such as horseback riding, downhill skiing or mountain biking. If you are comfortable on a bicycle, regular cycling early in your pregnancy should be okay; however, it is probably best to use a stationary or recumbent bike after a few months. It is important to note that, despite your coordination and athleticism, throughout your pregnancy the increased levels of the hormone relaxin, which relaxes pelvic joints in preparation for childbirth, loosen all ligaments and joints which will make you more susceptible to sprains and injury from falls. Review our list of the best exercises for pregnant women.

4. Wear the right clothes
Wear loose-fitting and breathable clothing. Wearing layers makes it easy to peel off a layer or two once you have warmed up or if you feel uncomfortable and too hot. It is also important that your maternity bra offers enough support and to choose trainers that fit your feet properly with good support. If your shoe size has changed because of mild swelling, put your pre-pregnancy sneakers in the closet and buy a new pair.

5. Warm up
Warm-ups prepare your muscles and joints for exercise and build up your heart rate slowly. If you skip the warm-up and dive straight into strenuous activity before your body is ready, you could strain your muscles and ligaments and experience increased post workout aches and pains.

6. Drink plenty of water
Drink water before, during and after exercising. If you do not drink enough water, you can become dehydrated which can cause contractions and raise your body temperature which are sometimes raised to levels that are dangerous for you and your baby. James M. Pivarnik, director of the Center for Physical Activity and Health at Michigan State University, says that while there is no official recommendation for how much water pregnant women should drink while exercising, a good guideline is to drink one cup, or rather 8 ounces, before you exercise, one cup for every 20 minutes of exercise and one cup after you finish your workout. If the weather is hot and humid, you will require more water.

7. Do not lie flat on your back
After the initial trimester, avoid lying flat on your back. This position adds unwanted pressure to a major vein called the vena cava, which reduces blood to your heart and could diminish blood flow to your brain and uterus which could make you dizzy, cause shortness of breath and even nausea. Some women are comfortable in this position well into their pregnancies, however this is not necessarily a good measurement of whether blood flow to the uterus has been affected. If you place a pillow under your right hip or buttock it will allow you to be almost supine without compressing the vena cava. It is important to stay in shape and practice recommended breathing techniques for labor and birth combined with prenatal yoga. These videos will demonstrate the best way to do the cat stretch and nine more yoga poses during pregnancy.

8. Keep moving
Standing in one place for prolonged periods can decrease blood flow to the uterus and cause blood to pool in your legs which will cause you to feel dizzy. Activities such as lifting weights or doing yoga poses can contribute to this type of sensation; therefore, keep moving by switching positions or walking in place.

9. Do not overdo it
Do not exercise until you become exhausted. A good rule of thumb is to slow down if you cannot comfortably carry on a conversation. Generally speaking, the best guideline is to listen to your body. If something hurts, you should stop because something is wrong. You should feel like you are working your body but not punishing it. To be extra cautious and safe, read our list of 10 signs of danger during pregnancy exercise.

10. Do not get overheated
Prevent yourself from becoming too hot, particularly during the first trimester when the major organs of your baby are developing. Raising your core temperature above 102 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 10 minutes could harm your baby. The increased blood flow and higher metabolic rate that happens when you are pregnant means you will feel warmer than usual and even more so when you exercise. And, since feeling warm is standard throughout your pregnancy, you may become overheated much more quickly than normal, even before your bump becomes overly big. Each individual will show unique signs that they are becoming overheated, however pay attention to whether or not you are sweating a lot or feeling uncomfortably warm, nauseated, dizzy or short of breath. To cool off quickly, stop exercising, take off layers and change your environment. You should immediately seek out air conditioning or take a cool shower. Hydration is also essential; therefore, you must drink a lot of water.

11. Get up from the floor slowly
As your baby bump grows, your center of gravity shifts. It is important to take great care when you change positions. Getting up too quickly can make you dizzy and may cause you to lose your footing and fall.

12. Cool down
Take 5 to 10 minutes to walk in place and do some pregnancy-friendly stretching at the end of your exercise routine. This will allow your heart rate to return to normal and help to prevent sore muscles.

13. Make it a habit
Regular exercise must be a habit throughout your pregnancy; therefore, you must be committed and dedicated. A routine is far easier easier on your body than long periods of inertia interrupted by spurts of activity. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you can safely engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week. As long as you have the consent of your medical team, go forth and exercise.

What To Bring To The Hospital - Parenting and Babies

What To Bring To The Hospital

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What To Bring To The Hospital
When the big day comes and the new baby is ready to make a grand entrance, the last thing on your mind is packing a bag for the hospital. A friend with six children gave me some sound advice about packing for pregnancy, labor, and delivery. First: Pack way ahead of time and don’t wait until the last minute. Sometimes babies surprise you and come when you least expect it. Second: Pack two bags — one for things I might need during labor, and the other bag for after the baby comes. She said that having bags packed and ready to go waiting by the door would help give me peace of mind about the big day.

Bag for Labor & Delivery
• Birth Plan filled out
• Health Insurance Card
• Glasses (no contact lenses if possible)
• Hair accessories to tie hair in bun or ponytail
• Lip Moisturizer
• Items to Help You Relax – iPod or CD player for music, a cheerful book, lavender oil to massage lower back
• Video and Picture Camera. Charge the batteries!
• Towel & Washcloth – the hospital has them, but yours are more familiar
• Comfortable Clothes – if hospital gowns are not your style, bring a loose fitting gown (no pants) for comfort during delivery if the hospital allows it. No long sleeves, though. Nurses will need access to your arm to take blood pressure or insert an IV. Socks are a plus if your feet get cold.
• Lollipops on a stick or hard candies. Don’t forget a snack for your coach.
• Focal Point – Bring a picture of your favorite place or a loved one to focus on during labor

Post-Partum Bag
• Clean nightgown
• High fiber snacks
• Maternity Clothes – bring an old nursing bra and underwear because they will get stained even if you are wearing sanitary protection
• Sanitary Pads – the hospital provides these, but you can use the brand you prefer
• Toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo and body wash

Braxton Hicks Contractions

Braxton Hicks Contractions

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What are Braxton Hicks contractions?

Braxton Hicks contractions can begin around six weeks of pregnancy, but most women don’t notice them that early. These are “practice contractions”–that is, they prepare the body for the act of labor and delivery without you actually being in labor. Usually, you won’t even notice them until after the middle of your pregnancy, and some women never really notice them at all. They get their name from John Braxton Hicks, an English doctor who first described them in 1872.

Typically, even if you do notice Braxton Hicks contractions, they’ll be infrequent, irregular, and typically painless. Most women, if they feel them at all, will notice a “tight” feeling in the uterus or that their belly feels harder than normal. As the pregnancy progresses, however, most women experience Braxton Hicks contractions more frequently. In the last few weeks, it can be difficult to distinguish these contractions from preterm labor, making it critical that you pay attention to your body and stay in regular contact with your doctor. You should never try to make this diagnosis yourself! If you’re still less than 37 weeks pregnant and you’re having more than four contractions in an hour — or you have any other signs of preterm labor (see below) — it’s important to contact your doctor or midwife immediately.

Later in your pregnancy, typically within a couple of weeks of your due date, your body is starting to seriously prepare to deliver your baby. Your cervix has begun to soften, or “ripen,” and Braxton Hicks contracts have increased in intensity and more common. In later pregnancy, these contractions may be more productive as they help thin out your cervix (or cause it to efface) and increase dilation (opening). This state is often referred to as pre-labor.

What do Braxton Hicks contractions feel like?
Contractions are generally described as a tightening or squeezing. Braxton Hicks contractions come at irregular intervals. Typically, they don’t hurt, but at times, they may feel very intense and even cause some pain.

How can I tell the difference between Braxton Hicks and true labor contractions?
Braxton Hicks contractions can become very regular, especially in later pregnancy. If they are close together, you may wonder if this is true labor. Unlike true labor, however, Braxton Hicks contractions don’t get longer, stronger, and closer together, and they will eventually stop.

What can I do if my Braxton Hicks contractions are uncomfortable or painful?
If you’re within a few weeks of your due date, try these measures:
• Change your current position. If you’re lying down, get up and walk around. IF you’ve been moving a great deal, lie down, rest on your left side, and drink some water. If you’re in true labor, your contractions will continue no matter what.
• Take a warm bath or shower to help your body relax.
• Try drinking eight to sixteen ounces of water to make sure the contractions haven’t been caused by dehydration.
• Try relaxation exercises or slow, deep breathing. Practice your breathing and relaxation exercises learned in childbirth class. It won’t stop the contractions, but it can make it easier for you to manage the discomfort.

When should I call my doctor or midwife?
If your contractions become steadily stronger and you’ve having more than four per hour, and you’re less than 37 weeks pregnant, you should call your doctor or midwife. Other signs of preterm labor may include:
• Any change in vaginal discharge, especially if it’s mucousy or bloody.
• More pressure in the pelvic area (a feeling that your baby’s pushing down)
• Low back pain that comes and goes, or a sudden onset of lower back pain.

Once you’ve passed the 37-week mark, there’s no need to contact your doctor or midwife about contractions until they last around 60 seconds each and are less than five minutes apart for an hour or more. Of course, you should follow your provider’s instructions: if they want you to call sooner, especially if you have a previous history of fast labors, listen to their advice! You should also call if you have any bleeding or if your water breaks.

10 ways to make your pregnancy pounds pay off

10 ways to make your pregnancy pounds pay off

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Nutrition During Pregnancy
It’s a well-known fact that pregnancy means weight gain. Most of this weight gain is due to the weight of the baby, placenta, amniotic fluid, and other similar things, not due to fat gain on the mother’s part. In fact, during the first trimester, the mother should not eat any more than usual. During the second and third trimesters, she should only eat about 300 extra calories daily, which is about equivalent to a large slice of bread with butter. Calories aren’t the only part of the equation, though. Nutrition is actually more important to your baby. Here are some ways to make sure you and your baby get the proper nutrients.

1. Eat healthy fats.
Only some fats are bad for you. The fat in the donut you ate for breakfast, and the fat in the avocado you ate for lunch do very different things to your body. As much as you can, pick healthy fats; the avocado’s monounsaturated fats are a lot better than the saturated or trans fats found in a donut or pastry—and it has vitamins C and K, as well. Healthy fats are an important part of your diet even if you’re not pregnant. After you give birth, the healthy fats you ate during pregnancy, which were stored in your body, will then be used to produce breast milk for your baby. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are considered the healthy fats, and saturated fats and trans fats are considered unhealthy.

2. Choose nutrient-dense foods.
A nutrient-dense food is a food that contains a lot of nutrients in proportion to how many calories in contains. Yogurt is a good example of this, as it contains calcium, potassion, protein, and probiotics, yet is usually under 200 calories per serving. Other great picks are berries like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and cranberries. These are rich in vitamin C and fiber, but they’re also packed with antioxidants, which help fight inflammation. Mushrooms are another great nutrient-dense food. They contain selenium and copper, which are both minerals your body needs. If you’re a vegetarian, eating mushrooms is especially important, because mushrooms are the only vegetarian food that contains vitamin D.

3. Eat a variety of colors.
An effective way to ensure you’re getting a wide variety of nutrients is to eat fruits and vegetables in as many different colors as possible. Try dark green kale, ruby red strawberries, and orange squash. Swinney encourages pregnant women to aim for three cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit each day. In fact, fruits and veggies should fill half your plate at every meal, according to new guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). (Want more info? The USDA offers a customized eating plan for moms-to-be that corresponds to your stage of pregnancy.) And while it’s often true that the deeper the color, the more nutritious the veggie, that’s not always the case. Vegetables such as cauliflower and cabbage are full of nutrients. So are white potatoes, which often get a bad rap. A medium potato has only 110 calories and provides more than a third of the daily vitamin C needed during pregnancy, plus 2 grams of fiber. (Sweet potatoes are extremely rich in beta carotene but boast less vitamin C.) All the more reason to bake one up, add toppings, and call it lunch or dinner. The dietary danger lurks in the serving size and the preparation: it’s news to no one that French fries – whether they’re made from sweet or white potatoes – are high in fat and salt—not too mention temptingly easy to overindulge in. Nutty brown also counts; try whole wheat breads or pasta to maximize your nutrients. Oatmeal and brown rice are good whole grains, but you’re probably already familiar with those, in which case you might like to try grains like millet, quinoa, and bulgur.

4. Some foods provide more nutrients when eaten together.
There are some food combinations that are meant to be together! No, we’re not talking about peanut butter and jelly (though that can be a tasty, healthy snack), but rather about foods that enhance each other’s nutritional benefits. For example, foods rich in vitamin C – like citrus fruit, melon, berries, broccoli, cabbage, and tomatoes – help your body absorb the iron from beans, grains, and eggs. So spoon salsa on your scrambled eggs or black bean tacos, or serve them with a side of melon or steamed broccoli. Or try pairing a prebiotic food with a probiotic food to boost the effects of both. Prebiotics (such as bananas, artichokes, asparagus, onions, and whole grains) encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut, while probiotics like yogurt, kefir, aged cheese, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh contain gut-healthy bacteria already—so one supports the other. A few dishes that combine these two food types include: asparagus and miso soup, yogurt with chopped banana, and artichoke hearts with a tangy Greek yogurt-based sauce drizzled on top.

5. Cook your own meals as often as possible.
When you cook from scratch, you have full control over the foods and ingredients you use. If you’re mindful of what you eat, this means cooking at home will give you a healthier meal, and for less money. For example, many store-bought salad dressings use less expensive – and less healthy – oils than those you’d use at home. One idea: Make your own olive oil-based salad dressing to pour over a spinach or kale salad, then add avocado. Olive oil and avocado help your body absorb more lutein, which is important for eye and brain health, and beta-carotene, important for the immune system. Many people are intimidated by cooking fish, but it can be a snap. Cover a slab of salmon with some pesto sauce or olive oil, salt, and pepper, and cook in the microwave for about 3 to 5 minutes or the oven for 12 to 15 minutes at 450 degrees. Salmon has omega-3 fats that help build your baby’s brain and eyes.
You can also make sweets like quick breads or cookies at home using healthier fats (canola oil or mashed avocado) and less sugar. (You can usually cut the sugar in a recipe by a third without noticing.) Try replacing some of the oil with high-fiber foods like black beans or prunes. Adding nuts or dried druit to your favorite recipes is a tasty way to add extra nutrition.

6. Be smart about your beverage choices.
Staying well-hydrated is crucial when you’re pregnant. Even though any beverage will hydrate you, that doesn’t mean they’re all the same. Steer clear of soda, sweet tea, and sugary fruit drinks and juices – they’re full of empty calories. Water, milk, or vegetable juice are better choices. Drinking 100% juice (without added sweeteners) can be a great way to get one serving of fruit. Juice has a lot of natural sugars and calories, though, so limit your intake to one cup a day. Pick juices with powerful nutrients. Cranberry juice may help prevent urinary tract infections; apple juice contains phytochemicals linked to improved respiratory health; and orange juice is rich in vitamin C, potassium, and folic acid, which are important for your baby’s development. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try adding a splash of lemon or lime juice, or infusing your water with fruits like cucumber and strawberry.

7. Don’t forget about eggs!
Eggs are very cheap, yet very versatile. They’re also packed with nutrients. A large egg is roughly 80 calories, over half of which comes from the yolk. Speaking of which, if you’ve been an egg-white omelet aficionada until now, pregnancy is a time to rethink that. Both the egg yolk and the white contain healthy lean protein. And yolks are packed with vitamins such as choline, which is important for your baby’s developing brain – and may help your memory, too. One great way to add those 300 extra calories per day when you’re pregnant is to snack on hard-boiled eggs. Although eggs do contain cholesterol, eating a normal amount of eggs per day shouldn’t harm you. They’re super nutritious!

8. Beans are your best friend.
Beans are super cheap, super good for you, and there are so many dishes you can make with them. To make a big pot, soak dried beans overnight in water; drain the next day; add water to cover; and toss in garlic, onion, and spices; then cook until tender. Add them to a salad, combine them with rice, or team with a portion of meat for a well-balanced meal. Beans offer a variety of nutrients including carbs, fiber, protein, and iron. Plus, they’re filling and delicious! Peas and lentils are also very similar to beans in terms of satiety and nutritional content.

9. You don’t have to give up sweets.
Just choose the right ones! A serving of dark chocolate per day is great for you. It contains antioxidants that can help you keep a healthy blood pressure level. One to two tablespoons of cocoa, or a half-ounce of dark chocolate, is enough to give you the benefits. (That’s about what you’d get in a cup of hot cocoa, three dark Hershey Kisses, or one and a half Dove Promises.) Another healthy splurge: dark chocolate-covered almonds. Just 11 contain 25 percent of your vitamin E for the day. Or go for frozen yogurt or low-fat ice cream, which contains protein and calcium. Make it even better for you by adding sliced banana and almonds.

10. Eat smaller meals, but more frequently.
Rather than eating two or three large meals per day, it’s a better idea during pregnancy to have four or five small meals, or three small meals with snacks in between. This will reduce heartburn and morning sickness. And healthy snacking provides a steady stream of nutrients to your developing baby. But don’t let regular snacking morph into all-day eating. Brush up onhow much extra you need to be eating, which may be a lot less than you think. Again, you only need an extra 300 calories per day. It’s best to get these calories through a healthy source. For example, instead of an ice cream bar after dinner, opt for cheese and crackers, or an apple with peanut butter. This way, you can fill yourself up, satisfy cravings and get nutrients all at the same time.

Your Guide To The First Trimester Of Pregnancy

Your Guide To The First Trimester Of Pregnancy

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In the beginning of a pregnancy, it is most likely that you will feel different before tests actually reveal that you are, in fact, pregnant. At the onset of a pregnancy, there is a rush of hormones flowing throughout the body to prepare for the new life that is rapidly developing. Yes, you will be tired and yes you will have gaseous moments, among other problems. Although these side effects of pregnancy may be unpleasant, the rewards of having a healthy baby far outweigh the temporary inconveniences.

HOW LONG IS THE FIRST TRIMESTER?
The duration of the first trimester is about thirteen weeks.
How do you figure out where you stand in the first trimester? The easiest way to do this is to calculate your due date and work back from there. Sometimes the official due date might be recalculated but that shouldn’t affect your plans significantly.

FETAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE FIRST TRIMESTER
The first trimester involves a dramatic development of a fertilized cell to the embryo to a small bundle with the beginnings of limbs and a torso. All areas of the baby’s body begin to form, including the organs of the body. In addition, you will occasionally notice the baby’s movement. The following areas of the baby’s body will begin to form during the first trimester:

At weeks six through ten, the baby’s limbs will start to take shape.
At weeks five through eight, hair and nails form.
At week eight, the baby’s digestive system, including the intestines will begin to form. Two sets of kidneys have already been used with the third and final set in development.
At week eight, the face will have touch receptors (lips and nose) and by week twelve, touch receptors will be on the palms, the soles of the feet and the genitals.
During weeks four through eight, the optic nerves and the eye lenses and retina begins to form.
From weeks five through ten, the baby’s heart will start to form, and suddenly, it will start to beat.
By week eight, the baby’s brain will begin to function.
By week eight, the baby’s taste buds will start to work, and yes he or she will taste amniotic fluid that has the flavor of what was last eaten by you.
As the baby’s entire body undergoes rapid development, the muscles, white blood cells, and vocal chords also start to form.

PREGNANCY-RELATED SYMPTOMS FOR MOM
The mother will experience some, if not all, of the typical side effects of being pregnant. The typical symptoms are as follows:
By week five, a nauseous feeling called morning sickness can start, though it can occur at any tme of day. Some women find Ginger tea and/or small meals to be helpful. Consult a physician if the nausea is severe.
By week six, you will notice your breasts are larger and more tender.
At week seven, you may find yourself being moody. Don’t worry as this is normal. However if yo have a history of depression, consider seeing a doctor.

There are quite a few other symptoms that may occur as time passes, including headaches, food aversions, metallic taste, constipation, and heartburn. These symptoms will probably start to fade as you approach the second trimester.

WEIGHT GAIN
Because the baby is quite tiny in the first trimester, do not expect to gain a great deal of weight during this time. In fact, some women experience a loss of appetite, causing weight loss. If this should happen, there is no need for concern as long as the weight does start to increase in the second and third trimesters. Nonetheless, make every effort to eat small meals of highly nutritious foods including whole grain bread or cracker, bananas, yogurt and avocados. Even if you have heard the expression “eating for two,” the first trimester is not the time to pig out and consumer far more calories than you did prior to the pregnancy. No extra calories are needed during the first trimester.

REASONS TO SEE THE DOCTOR
The first trimester is a time of dramatic changes in a woman’s body. Often, women are not sure what symptoms are normal and what symptoms require medical attention. Because the risk of miscarriage is highest in the first trimester, there are some problems that can occur that warrant a trip to the doctor’s office, such as:

Heavy vagina bleeding
Severe abdominal pain
Sudden thirst
Painful urination
Fever over 101.5 F, chills and/or backache
Severe puffiness in the hands/face
Vision disturbances

Call you physician immediately if any of these symptoms occur. If you can’t reach your doctor, go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.

“TO DO” LIST FOR THE FIRST TRIMESTER
Begin taking a prenatal vitamin. Prenatal vitamins help to ward off the chances of birth defects such as spinal bifida.
Find the person who will be your practitioner, whether if be an OB-GYN, family physician or midwife.
Make your first ob-gyn appointment. At that visit you will consult with the doctor about your health history and a physical exam will be conducted. In addition, quite a few tests will be performed including blood work, Pap smear, urinalysis and an ultrasound to check the baby’s heartbeat. The doctor will also screen you for genetic illnesses or diabetes. You should discuss any medications you are taking or help needed to quit smoking at this time.
Request genetic tests between weeks eleven and fourteen to detect Down Syndrome or congenital heart defects. In addition, they might ask about NIPT, a test to look for chromosomal abnormalities or other tests like chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis.
Make sure your health insurance is in place. The cost of pregnancy can be high so it is important to understand your policy.
Think through the costs you are and will be facing as a result of the pregnancy. Set up a monthly budget to account for expanding the size of your family.
Check your diet and make sure you are doing things like lowering your caffeine intake and increasing your consumption of healthy foods. Start grocery shopping for whole, nutritious foods.
Exercise. Yes you can still workout and it is good for both you and the baby.
Continue to enjoy having sex, if you feel like it. Sex is totally safe for the baby and good for you and your partner.
It’s never too early to think about names for the baby.
Consider telling friends and family about your pregnancy. There is also social media to consider but that should wait until the end of the first trimester when the risk of miscarriage is minimal. You should also think about telling your supervisor at work. Take some time to understand your company’s maternity leave policies.

 

Your Guide To The Second Trimester Of Pregnancy

Your Guide To The Second Trimester Of Pregnancy

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Congratulations – you are now in your second trimester! In many cases, this means you can look forward to less nausea and tenderness, more energy and appetite and a burgeoning baby belly!

Charting Your Dates
The second trimester technically starts at the beginning of week 14 and ends after week 27 concludes.

Tracking Your Baby’s Growth
Here are some exciting milestones you can watch for during your second trimester!

– Week 14. Sucking, swallowing and taste preferences begin to take shape.
– Week 15. Your baby starts to sprout hair.
– Week 17. The brain and heartbeat sync up.
– Week 20. You can listen to your baby’s tiny heartbeat through a stethoscope.
– Week 21. Your baby’s hands form fingerprints.
– Week 22. This week it’s all about eyelashes and eyebrows.
– Week 23. Weight gain (up to two pounds by the end of week 27!).
– Week 24. Those tiny eyelids experience their first blinks.
– Week 25. The circulatory system gears up in earnest by forming capillaries.

Tracking Your Own Growth and Development
Your baby isn’t the only one experiencing major changes during your second trimester. You will notice your own body taking on a life of its own as well.

Here are some of the big changes you can watch for:

– Snoring. If you’ve never snored before, now is your chance! Your baby’s growth triggers increased blood flow to your tissues and membranes, triggering mucous production as well. Ask your ob-gyn about safe over-the-counter meds to ease symptoms here.

– Swelling. Just as your breasts are losing their tender puffiness, your ankles and feet are getting theirs. Keeping active and elevating your feet helps keep this symptom in check.

– Cramping. Your legs are all that stands between swollen ankles and a swollen belly, so be sure to eat a diet high in calcium and magnesium to keep cramps at bay (consult your ob-gyn about the best levels to maintain).

– Aching. Your lower belly is suddenly being asked to work overtime supporting you and your growing baby. The aching you feel is sometimes termed “round ligament pain” because your belly ligaments literally have to stretch and grow with you.

– Gum sensitivity. If you experience mild gum sensitivity and/or a bit of bleeding, this is considered normal. Bright red bleeding gums are not, however – consult your dentist.

– Dizziness. Plenty of hydration and small, frequent meals can combat the lower blood sugar that can lead to dizziness – after all, you are now hydrating and nourishing for two!

– Hemorrhoids/varicose veins. Did you know hemorrhoids are actually a type of varicose vein? You may see/feel both developing now, but so long as they weren’t present before you conceived, they will likely go away on their own after you give birth.

A Note About the Boudoir
Many couples notice some changes in their intimate life during the second trimester. The majority of your mind is firmly on all things baby, and the rest of it is likely coping with a laundry list of changes that seem to have a mind of their own.

In some cases, you may find your libido is actually enhanced during the second trimester, but if not, don’t fret. This too shall pass, and the key to getting through it without hurt feelings or resentment is to keep talking, keep cuddling, keep enjoying these rare moments of birthing new life with your partner.

What to Expect in Terms of Weight Changes
Your baby is growing, which means you will see the numbers on the scale increasing. During your second trimester, you can expect to add about one pound for each week – so approximately 14 pounds total.

Symptoms to Talk to Your Ob-Gyn About
Yes, your body will be going through many shifts and changes during your second trimester. But not every symptom is considered par for the course.

If any of these symptoms show themselves, consult with your ob-gyn:

– Heavy bleeding vaginally.
– Severe pain in your abdomen.
– A fever that exceeds 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
– Symptoms of gestational diabetes (excessive thirst and urination, excessive fatigue and snoring).
– Symptoms of preeclampsia (excessive swelling in the face/hands, sudden (not gradual) weight gain, changes in vision).

Your Second Trimester To-Do List
In addition to resting, eating well, hydrating well, and keeping fit, you can add these items to your to-do list.

– Routine monitoring (of your baby’s health).
– Track your weight.
– Increase your daily calories (aim for 300-350 calories/day or your ob-gyn’s recommendation).
– Glucose screening.
– Level 2 professional ultrasound (3D/4D).
– Prenatal genetic screening.
– Immunizations (talk to your ob-gyn about what to get/avoid).
– Research childbirth class options.
– Research birthing options.
– Begin sleeping on your side.
– Continue doing Kegel exercises.
– Decide if you want to know the baby’s gender in advance.
– Keep shopping for “new baby” supplies and gear.
– Create your baby registry.
– Research childcare options.
– Research baby names.
– Yay – your third trimester is almost here!

 

Your Guide To The Third Trimester Of Pregnancy

Your Guide To The Third Trimester Of Pregnancy

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During pregnancy, you might feel like your stomach couldn’t possibly grow any larger. Surprise, surprise – during your third trimester, it’s going to get even bigger! Unsure of what to expect? Let’s find out what your body, and your baby, are up to in these final three months.

Technically, the third trimester of pregnancy begins at week 28 and continues until week 40, when you give birth. However, most babies aren’t born exactly on week 40; about 50% of babies are born late. You can attempt to naturally induce labor after week 40, but after week 42 your doctor will induce you.

During the third trimester, your baby will grow a lot! In week 28, babies are about 2.5 pounds and 16 inches long. By week 40, they’re closer to 6-9 pounds and 19-22 inches long. That’s a lot of growing – and a lot of room to take up in your stomach!

So, what exactly is going on in there? Between months 7 and 8 your baby is turning cartilage into bones. Make sure you’re getting enough calcium to aid this process. Between weeks 32-36 your baby’s skin thickens, fat builds up, and the vernix and lanugo are shed. The meconium – a.k.a. your baby’s very first poop! – builds up in the intestines. By week 30, your baby’s touch receptors have completely developed and by week 31, all five senses will be functional. Now is the time to start singing lullabies, because he or she is actively listening to and learning the sound of your voice. During all of this development, baby’s brain is also growing and experimenting with new skills like dreaming, blinking, and temperature regulation. At about week 34, your baby will settle upside down, preparing for birth.

With all this activity, you’re sure to feel some side effects. As the abdomen muscles stretch to make room for your growing baby you might experience cramps and sharp pains. You’ll also feel more exhausted due to the increased demands of pregnancy. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself so that your body can take care of baby! Heartburn may also occur as your uterus pushes your stomach upwards. You’ll experience Braxton Hicks contractions as your body starts to practice for labor, and varicose veins might develop in your legs due to the extra blood flow. Stretch marks could appear on your skin, but moisturizing will keep them small. Backache is also a common complaint due to relaxin, a pregnancy hormone, which is loosening your joints. This allows your stomach to pull your center of gravity more to the front of your body. Putting your feet up helps! Weird and vivid dreams are also common since your hormones are in overdrive, and clumsiness will become a part of daily life. And of course, leaky breasts and a weak bladder might also occur. Combat your baby’s extra weight on your pelvis with daily Kegels exercises. But you’re almost at the finish line, and finally meeting your baby will make everything you’ve gone through totally worth it!

So how do you know when the big day has arrived? It can be hard to distinguish false labor from real labor so always check with your doctor, but common signs can include waddling (as your baby drops lower into your pelvis), bloody discharge, actual contractions (these intensify the more active you are), and your water breaking (which may or may not happen before you arrive at the hospital). If you experience signs of preterm labor, heavy vaginal bleeding or discharge, serious pain in the lower abdomen, sudden weight gain, and/or a temperature of more than 101.5 F, call your doctor immediately. It might be nothing but it’s best to be safe.

While you’re waiting anxiously during the third trimester, there are some things you cando to keep busy and healthy.
– Starting week 28, keep track of baby’s kicks. Count them and mark any changes, especially in the final stretch.
– Keep track of your weight. You’ll gain a lot at the beginning of the third trimester, and then slow down or even lose a few pounds near the end.
– Exercise – as long as your doctor approves and you follow the appropriate safety precautions to keep baby safe.
– Make some appointments. In the third trimester, you should be tested for anemia, group B strep, and glucose levels between months 7 and 8. An internal cervix exam is due in month 9 to check for effacement and dilation.
– Tour the hospital
– Pick a pediatrician
– Get all the baby essentials – stroller, car seat, crib, changing table, baby monitor, and diapers. Lots of diapers.
– Take a childbirth class to help you prepare for labor, and look into classes on infant CPR and caring for your newborn.
– Learn about breastfeeding. You should know why and how to do it, and you can even take a breastfeeding class or find a lactation consultant.
– Educate yourself about the stages of labor. You need to know what to expect!
– Decide if you want an epidural or other medication to help with the pain during labor. If you’d prefer a natural birth, talk to your doctor about it now.
– Decorate and set up the nursery
– Go grocery shopping, cook like crazy, and then freeze those meals. Pulling meals out of the freezer for the first few weeks while you’re recovering and busy with baby will make life much easier.
– Don’t forget to take a few photos of your baby bump before it’s gone!
– Pack a light bag for the hospital.
– Take a look at your finances, and make a new family budget.
– Learn about what to expect with your body after you give birth, and with baby’s first year. There are so many exciting moments ahead of you both!

 

12 Steps to a Healthy Pregnancy

12 Steps to a Healthy Pregnancy

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From the moment that you find out you are pregnant, your health and well-being should become your top priority. Here is a look at 12 steps that you can take to improve your chance of birthing a healthy baby and enjoying a problem-free pregnancy.

1. Start Your Prenatal Visits Immediately
During your very first prenatal visit, you will be screened for many of the most common medical issues that could complicate your pregnancy. Catching these issues as early as possible is vital to a healthy pregnancy and will give you time to start making lifestyle changes.

2. Improve Your Diet
Even women that have a relatively healthy diet might have to take a look at exactly what they are eating and how it will affect their pregnancy and their baby. The average woman only needs 300 additional calories per day for the first few months, but they also need nearly double the protein to keep the growing fetus healthy.

3. Begin Taking Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins and traditional multivitamins are relatively similar with large quantities of vitamins A through D. What sets prenatal vitamins apart is the fact that they are also packed with folic acid and iron which are essential nutrients during a pregnancy.

4. Find a Fun Exercise Program
It is an unfortunate fact that many pregnant women stop exercising altogether, and this can lead to some serious complications down the road. Around 150 minutes of light exercise per week will help pregnant women with a variety of issues including common aches and pains.

5. Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule
The reason that many women feel fatigued in their first trimester is because they are not used to the changes taking place inside their body. Most specialists suggest that pregnant women try to take at least one short nap a day or simply raise their feet and relax for 30 minute periods.

6. Stay Away From Alcohol
Every single thing that you ingest will get to your baby, and this means that there is no safe amount of alcohol to drink. Studies have shown that even one drink a day will increase a mother’s risk of birthing an underweight baby, and this can lead to serious medical complications for the child.

7. Say No to Illicit Drugs
Both illicit and prescription medication can have a serious impact on the child’s health. Any mothers that are struggling with substance abuse should speak with their doctor immediately about finding help from a specialist.

8. Give Up Tobacco
Women that smoke while pregnant will put an incredible amount of strain on their own body and increase their risk of a variety of serious problems. This includes their risk of a miscarriage, low birth weight, premature birth, and placental abruption.

9. Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
There are two reasons that you should reduce your daily caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day. The first reason is that caffeine makes it harder for your body to absorb iron. Studies have also shown that women who consume more than 200 mg per day increase their risk of premature births.

10. Remove Environmental Dangers
Every pregnant woman should take some time to find and remove environmental dangers that they come into contact with. Some of the most common environmental dangers include toxins in the workplace and unsafe cleaning products at home.

11. Don’t Skip Dental Appointments
Changes to your hormones are going to have a big impact on your oral health, and it is important that you schedule at least one dental appointment during your pregnancy. Pregnant women have higher rates of tender, bleeding, and swollen gums (gingivitis).

12. Protect Your Mental and Emotional Health
Finally, you will also want to be mindful of your mental and emotional health during your pregnancy. If you ever feel completely overwhelmed or have long periods of depression, then it is important to seek out a counselor or caregiver to share your feelings.