Healthy Ideas for the Care Your New Baby

Love Sleep Play delivers ideas and articles for the care and health of you and your new baby

A Guide to Childbirth Classes

If you're an expectant mom, you'll find that childbirth classes can be an integral part of preparing for the big day, and are well worth the time and effort. Though different classes vary in their focus, most will include helping you figure out what your birth plan will be on the big day, and what you can (and should) expect from the experience. You'll probably want to sign up for a class in the sixth or seventh month of your pregnancy (or anytime before you go into labor). The earlier you sign up for a class, the more flexibility you’ll have in choosing the best days and time for your schedule. (Another option is to take an online class -- that way you'll have even greater flexibility.)

So what exactly happens in these classes? Read on so you know what to expect.

Get the info. One of the most important parts of childbirth class is learning about the labor process and how to determine if you’re going into labor. Especially for first-time moms, preparing for a new baby can be scary, and childbirth classes are a great forum to ask any and all questions you might have about the process, as well as to address any concerns.

Figure out your birth plan. Deciding on the type of labor you’d like to experience while giving birth to your new baby is a very personal decision. During the childbirth class, you can ask your labor coach questions to help determine what labor method will be best for you.

Check out the facility and meet the staff. If your class is held in a hospital or birth center, you'll probably get the chance to tour the facilities, as well as to meet some of the staff on duty. You’ll be able to ask any questions you have about the hospital’s policies and resources, including whether additional classes are offered for expectant moms, and that staff will be available to help you with breastfeeding and bathing your new baby after birth.

Learn about breathing methods. Proper breathing technique can help make your delivery easier. Childbirth classes will teach you the practice, and prep both you and your partner on how to breathe effectively through your labor.

At the end of the day, childbirth classes will provide you with pregnancy tips and labor information  that will help you feel more confident as you’re preparing for your baby. And they’ll provide you with an opportunity to meet and chat with other soon-to-be new moms -- and that’s always priceless.

Pregnancy Etiquette for Expectant Moms

As you may have discovered, even the most well intentioned family members and friends, coworkers and strangers will ask unwanted questions while you’re pregnant. So how does a mom-to-be handle the queries gracefully while keeping her cool? The key is to be ready for whatever people will throw at you. Here’s how to cope with some awkward situations you'll encounter while pregnant.

The question: “What are you going to name your new baby?”

Let’s face it: Coming up with a baby name that you and your partner can agree on is hard enough without anyone else chiming in, and it’s normal to worry that someone will steal your baby name. While some expecting parents have no problem revealing potential monikers, it’s okay if you prefer to not to share. Just politely explain that for now you’re keeping names a secret, and if you decide to announce the name before the baby comes they’ll be the first to know.

The remark: “Did you know I was in labor for 38 hours?”

It’s normal for new moms to want to share their experiences and offer pregnancy tips, but no one wants to hear horror stories about the delivery room. If a conversation gets too graphic, feel free to interrupt and politely say that you appreciate the advice, but everyone’s pregnancy and delivery is different. Explain to your chatty friend that the next time you have a question, you’ll be sure to give her a call.

The question: “Are you pregnant?”

If a nosy co-worker or cousin is prying before you’ve decided to make the announcement, remember that you’re allowed to keep it a secret for as long as you’d like. Not ready to ‘fess up? Try a quick, “Not yet!” fib as a response. When you are ready to tell family and friends that you'll be a new mom, it’s usually best to start with your inner circle before posting on Facebook. At your workplace, your wisest course is to tell your boss in private before spreading the word.

The question: “Was it planned?”

Whether someone asks whether you went the IVF route or if the pregnancy was a total surprise, don’t feel obligated to answer. The easiest way to wiggle out of it is to say, “We’re so happy we’re having a baby; how have you been?” By changing the topic, you indicate that you’re not willing to talk about the subject, and most people should get the hint.

The request: “Can I touch your belly?”

It seems that the instant you have a bump, everyone wants to feel it. But having your tummy rubbed -- especially by total strangers -- can be awkward and weird, to say the least. Ward off unwanted hands by keeping something in front of your belly (a purse will do the trick). When it comes to people you know trying to get in a rub, you’ll have to be a little more diplomatic; jokingly tell them that the baby is sleeping and doesn’t want to be woken up.

Just remember, it’s your baby -- and your body -- so don’t let other people make you feel uncomfortable. There’s always a polite way to refute questions you don’t want to answer.

Oral Hygiene: What New Moms Need to Know

It wasn’t long ago that pregnant women were advised to steer clear of the dentist out of concern over how various procedures might affect their unborn child. Turns out that routine cleanings and dental work are considered safe for most expectant moms and  may play an important role in a baby’s safety and health, too. Because of hormones, expectant mothers are more prone to oral infections and gum sensitivity, which can lead to early labor. Here are some easy-to-follow pregnancy tips for keeping your mouth (and your new baby) healthy.

Oral hygiene pregnancy tip #1: Keep your appointments. Regular cleanings and checkups are an essential part of anyone's oral hygiene regimen, but are especially crucial for pregnant women, whose hormonal changes put them at risk for a number of dental problems.  While these routine visits are safe for most women, it’s still important to let your dentist know you’re having a baby and to discuss any medical issues related to the pregnancy. Occasionally, women with high-risk pregnancies are advised to postpone certain treatments until after the new baby has arrived.

Oral hygiene pregnancy tip #2: Don’t fear simple procedures or X-rays. Although it’s always better to save elective procedures for after your due date, cavities and other common dental problems can and should be treated in order to avoid infection. Second trimester is the ideal time to take care of such issues, as the dentist’s chair can be quite uncomfortable by your third trimester!

While routine X-rays are commonly delayed for pregnant women, advancements in technology have greatly reduced the threat of radiation exposure. Should an X-ray be needed for an emergency procedure, your dentist will take extra precautions to ensure your baby’s safety.

Oral hygiene pregnancy tip #3: Watch your gums. Don’t focus only on your pearly whites: The hormonal surges that come with having a baby can also wreak havoc on your gums. Pregnancy gingivitis -- which results in inflamed and sore gums  -- and “pregnancy tumors” -- benign but sometimes painful lumps along the gum line  -- are particularly common. If you notice anything abnormal going on with your gums, call your dentist.

Oral hygiene pregnancy tip #4: Make oral hygiene part of your daily routine. As helpful as your dentist may be, oral health begins and ends at home. If you have morning sickness, try a more mild or bland toothpaste (ask your dentist or mommy-friends for suggestions). On the other hand, avoid brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting, as the still-present stomach acids can eventually cause teeth erosion and wear away at your enamel. Instead, rinse out with a combination of baking soda and water, which will leave your mouth fresh until it’s safe to brush.

You have a lot on your plate during pregnancy, but making the time for proper oral hygiene will go far to boost both your and your new baby’s health.

Your Preemie: The First Weeks at Home

With a preemie, it is important to understand that the first 100 days at home need to be treated like a “fourth trimester.” This means low stimulus, few visitors, and staying cozy.

As most babies will be discharged when they are exhibiting stable newborn ability and behaviors, your first three months caring for a preemie need to be treated as the “newborn phase,” regardless of the child’s age. Parents need to take time to get used to the physical around-the-clock effort of being a parent. It is realistic to expect your preemie will sleep more than the average newborn, yet will probably wake at more frequent intervals for feeds.

A lot of what your baby is doing may look random to you, but he or she is actually making small developmental steps every day, such as holding eye contact for longer and longer periods, slowly waking up for calmer and more alert periods, and moving (kicking legs and waving arms) in rhythm to your voice.

Feeding and weight gain is still a critical issue and your pediatrician will be watching weight carefully in your baby’s first two weeks after discharge. If you are bottle-feeding, it is easy to see if the baby is getting enough milk, but if you have transitioned to breastfeeding, frequent weight checks can help ensure that your baby is getting proper milk transfers. There can be challenges when premature babies first start nursing. Ayelet Kaznelson, an IBCLC lactation consultant, comments, “After a baby has been discharged, we can sometimes see a weight drop after two weeks. We really want to ensure good milk transfer, but not all preemies may be strong enough.”

Skin-to-skin contact in the early weeks at home is one of the best things you can do with your preemie. Undress your baby (except for their Pampers diaper), then lay them on your chest with their head on your left side (to hear your heartbeat!), and cover them with a blanket if needed. This “kangaroo care” fosters anti-stress hormones in your premature baby, as well as aiding in neurological development -- and that’s without the tired parent having to do very much! It’s nice to know that this helps them grow and cope, just while gently holding them!

We often worry whether we will be able to care for our little ones, especially when they’re preemies. One of my students, a mother of twins born at 32 weeks, describes the moment at which she knew everything would be okay: “We had brought Annabel home three weeks before little Natalie. When Natalie came home, I remember sitting with both of them on my lap, each only four pounds, wondering how I would ever be able to care for both girls. At that moment, Natalie, reunited for the first time with her sister, rolled into little Annabel’s arms, and I knew we would be okay. We were all together -- we were finally a family.”