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

Childbirth Prep Exercises for New Moms-to-Be

Let’s be honest: Few new moms say childbirth is an easy, painless process. Although every woman’s experience is different, it is entirely possible to lessen any labor discomfort if you plan and prepare accordingly. Here are four moves to master before the big day that will help you cope with and control labor pain:

New mom exercise #1: Kegels. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles improves circulation to your rectal and vaginal area, which helps prevent hemorrhoids and may even shorten the pushing stage of labor. The best part of performing Kegels is that you can do them anytime, anywhere, because no one but you knows you’re doing them, whether it’s while you’re watching TV, reading a book, or standing in line at the grocery store. Here’s how you do it: Tighten the muscles around your vagina as if trying to interrupt the flow of urine when going to the bathroom. Hold for a count of four, then release. Repeat 10 times. Try to work up to three or four sets about three times a day.

New mom exercise #2: Pelvic Tilt. This move strengthens the abdominal muscles and eases back pain during pregnancy and labor. Here’s how you do it: Get down on your hands and knees, arms shoulder-width and knees hip-width apart. Keep your arms straight, but avoid locking your elbows. As you breathe in, tighten your abdominal muscles, tuck your buttocks under, and round your back. Relax your back into a neutral position as you breathe out. Repeat at your own pace, following the rhythm of your breath.

New mom exercise #3: Squat. Squats are a terrific way to strengthen your thighs and open your pelvis, and one of the most frequently recommended exercises for childbirth prep. Here’s how you do it: Stand facing the back of a chair, with your feet slightly more than hip-width apart, toes pointed outward. Hold the back of the chair for support. Contract your abdominal muscles, lift your chest, and relax your shoulders. Then lower your tailbone toward the floor as though you were sitting down on a chair. Find your balance -- most of your weight should be toward your heels. Take a deep breath in and then exhale, pushing through your legs to rise to a standing position.

New mom exercise #4: Tailor or Cobbler Pose. This position can help open your pelvis and loosen your hip joints in preparation for birth. It can also improve your posture and ease tension in your lower back. Here’s how you do it: Sit up straight against a wall with the soles of your feet touching each other (sit on a folded towel if that’s more comfortable for you). Gently press your knees down and away from each other, but don’t force them. Stay in this position for as long as you’re comfortable.

Be careful when performing these moves, and if anything feels uncomfortable or you feel unbalanced, stop. Aim to run through all of these moves at least four times a week. The more you stick to them, the easier your labor may be! And that’s a welcome relief for any new mom.

Cord Blood Questions

If you’ve been following pregnancy news lately, you probably know that there are discussions surrounding cord blood and its use for new babies. To keep you updated, and help you figure out if storing your own new baby’s cord blood is right for your family, here are some answers to your most pressing questions.

What exactly is cord blood?
Simply put, cord blood is the actual blood that’s stored in your new baby’s umbilical cord and placenta when you give birth. In most cases, the blood is disposed of and not used for any medical purposes.

Why is everyone talking about cord blood?
New information has recently surfaced about the potentially life-saving stem cells that can be extracted from cord blood. These stem cells have been used to help treat diseases like leukemia, lymphoma, and sickle cell anemia.

Who saves and stores cord blood?
Cord blood is either saved privately, for potential personal use within families, or publicly, where it’s donated for others to use. When parents decide to save and store their new baby’s cord blood, it’s collected quickly and safely by their health care provider. If the blood is meant for public use, there is usually no cost to the donor. Private cord blood banks -- which reserve the blood for use by the new baby or family members -- tend to be quite costly, however, with donors paying for all costs related to collection, transport, testing, and storage. Generally, health insurance does not cover the cost of the storage.

Deciding whether or not to store your new baby’s cord blood is a personal decision you’ll need to make with your family. Most experts don’t recommend private cord blood storage, as the chance a family member needing a transplant is slim and the public cord blood pool is always available to dip into. But if you have any questions, talk to your doctor about what is right for your family.

Stress-Free Pregnancy Tips

Having a baby is incredibly exciting -- but can also be stressful at times. Between preparing for your baby, arranging the nursery, scheduling checkups, and dealing with your changing body, you've got a lot to handle! The following tactics can help keep anxieties at bay, which will help you -- and your new baby -- stay happy and healthy. 

Stress-free pregnancy tip #1: Get moving. Exercise not only maintains fitness -- it also releases tension. Swimming and walking are great, low impact choices for workouts, and deep-breathing exercise such as in prenatal yoga can be extra soothing. Just be sure to ask your doctor before starting a new physical activity.

Stress-free pregnancy tip #2: Snack wisely. We all know that whatever you eat during pregnancy, your new baby eats, too. But there’s another reason to be mindful when you chow down: A well-balanced diet will help provide the physical and mental energy to help your body power through the pregnancy while keeping you focused.

Stress-free pregnancy tip #3: Catch some Z’s. There’s a reason getting extra sleep is the pregnancy tip that you hear over and over again. While your body is working overtime, you and your baby need all the rest you can get. Getting to bed early means you’ll snooze enough to keep your calm the next day.

Stress-free pregnancy tip #4: Just relax. Whether you  curl up with a good book, meditate, or enjoy a warm bath, make sure you fit in some calming activities. Once you welcome your baby home, it’ll be tough to find the time for these!

Stress-free pregnancy tip #5: Avoid information overload. Taking a pregnancy education class is crucial for knowing what to expect when you’re having a baby. However, it’s easy to get caught up listening to other people’s horror stories and spending hours on the Internet reading about what could (but probably won’t) go wrong. Instead of delving into the gloomy, pay attention to your own body and look to your doctor for reassurance and advice.

Preparing for a baby can be a lot of work, so don’t hesitate to ask someone for help, to take some pressure off you. A happy, healthy mom-to-be is part of the secret to a happy, healthy pregnancy!

New Dad: The Twin Edition

Never in a million years did I think I would be a new dad of twins -- especially twin girls!  However, seven months ago, Harper and Delani were born, and now I can’t imagine my life without them. 

One of my favorite things as a dad-to-be was telling people we were expecting twins.  Jaws dropped, people screamed and some were even speechless. My wife and I decided we weren’t interested in finding out the sex of the babies -- finding out we were having babies seemed to satisfy any immediate need for surprise.

To prepare for our two bundles, we painted the nursery a gender neutral yellow, purchased some baby clothes -- two of everything -- and attended a class for expectant parents of multiples at a local hospital. However, I have to be honest; I don’t remember anything they talked about that night. You can try to do everything in your power to prepare for fatherhood, but really most of it comes down to practice.

The day the girls were born was completely surreal.  I was at school teaching when I got a call that my wife had gone into labor and would be having a c-section later that night.  Once the girls were born, I got to cut two umbilical cords!  My wife stayed in the OR while I went back with the girls and nurses to get them cleaned up. Three days later when we got home it all became real -- very real. The nurses were gone, the 24 hour coffee machine was gone; it was just us -- our new family. 

Finding out you are going to have two -- or more -- babies is exciting news, but also a welcomed challenge. Here are some tips to keep in mind once you become a new dad of multiples.

  • You may not remember the first month after they’re born -- it is okay.

  • You will get a lot of strange looks and questions. Some people act like they have never seen twins before, have fun with it.

  • If bottle feeding, stock your bedroom with formula and bottles each night.

  • Take time off work (if possible) after they are born. I was lucky enough to spend every day with them for the first two weeks.

  • Don’t only take pictures of your babies, include yourself and mom.

  • Recruit help, even if it is so you and your wife can take a nap to recharge your batteries.

  • Establish a date night once a week or run errands with your significant other, just the two of you. All of your attention is focused on two babies, so make time for each other every now and then. 

People tell us all the time, “I can’t imagine having two at once.” We always say, “They’re our first; we don’t know any better.” What’s the bonus to twice the feedings, baths and baby supplies? We have twice the kisses, hugs, and laughter, too.