Pregnancy, Maternity and Health Tips for Expecting Parents

Love Sleep Play delivers content and articles about pregnancy, maternity, and the post natal care for your new baby

A Guide to Your Pregnant Body

When you’re having a baby, your body will go through a multitude of changes. Some you’ll expect (the weight gain, for example) while others might come as a surprise (hello, hemorrhoids!). Here’s the rundown on the trimester-by-trimester changes most expectant moms experience. Keep in mind that while these symptoms are perfectly normal, if any cause you severe discomfort or stop you from going about your daily routines, talk to your doctor.

In Your First Trimester
 
In the initial trimester, your body isn’t quite used to the idea of being pregnant yet, and your increasing hormone levels are wreaking some havoc. Here’s what to expect:

  • Your breasts will most likely become swollen, and your nipples may start to stick out.

  • Morning sickness can cause some soon-to-be new moms to have upset stomachs or to throw up.

  • An increase in hormone levels can bring on acne (talk to your doctor before using any acne medication).

  • Mood swings may occur (again, blame the hormones!). Don’t be surprised if one second you’re laughing with friends and the next you’re sobbing.

  • It’s likely you’ll experience constipation or difficulty with bowel movements.

  • You may need to urinate more frequently.

In Your Second Trimester
By now your body has probably settled into a more steady pregnancy routine. Here’s what expectant moms should be on the lookout for during this time.

  • General body aches in the back, groin, or thighs may start to kick in.

  • Your skin may start to change, including a darkening around your nipples and the appearance of stretch marks, especially on your stomach, breasts, thighs, and buttocks.

  • Your ankles, fingers, and face may start to swell.

  • Other normal symptoms are itching of the abdomen, palms, and feet as well swelling of your ankles, fingers, and face. However, if any of these symptoms are accompanied with nausea, a loss of appetite, vomiting, or extreme fatigue, contact your doctor immediately, as it could be a sign of something more serious.

In Your Third Trimester
Good news: You’re almost at the finish line! Here are a few additional symptoms expectant moms may notice in those final weeks:

  • Shortness of breath, heartburn, and swelling may occur, as well as the development of hemorrhoids.

  • Your breasts may become very tender, and may begin to leak colostrum, a watery pre-milk your body produces as it gets ready to provide nourishment for your new baby.

  • Your new baby will probably “drop” during these weeks, moving lower in your abdomen to prepare for birth.

While some of the symptoms are annoying and even worrisome, keep in mind that most disappear within a few months of giving birth. And by that time, you’ll be so in love with your new baby, you won't even notice a little acne!

Expectant Moms’ Pregnancy To-Do List

Not only is it exciting to count down to the birth of your new baby, it can also be comforting. Planning a little each month to welcome your baby home keeps you organized and eases your mind. Follow our month-by-month guide and you’ll be more than ready when your bundle of joy arrives.

Month 1

  • Find a prenatal health care provider by asking for referrals from friends or your general practitioner.

  • Schedule your first prenatal appointment.

  • Take prenatal vitamins or supplements, if recommended by your provider.

Month 2

  • Become familiar with your (or your partner’s) insurance policy so you know what’s covered.

  • Make an appointment with the dentist, as gum disease can increase your risk of premature birth.

Month 3

  • Make a plan for how you’ll share your big news with family and friends; if you work, you’ll also need to prepare to tell your boss.

  • Shop for some new clothes. Your pants will be hard to zip up soon, and you may want to look for a few starter items to tide you over until you’re bigger.

  • Make a budget and start saving for gear for your new baby.

Month 4

  • Start to think about day care. Will it be full time, in-home, or might you decide to hire a nanny? Weigh the pros and cons of each.

Month 5

  • Start planning your maternity leave from work.

  • Think about ordering baby furniture. It can take many weeks or even a few months for certain items to arrive.

  • Treat yourself to a prenatal massage! You deserve the rest and relaxation.

Month 6

  • Decide (roughly) when your last day of work will be and what kind of coverage you’ll need when you’re gone.

  • Consider whether you’ll need a breast pump and then ask around for recommendations.

  • Pre-register at the hospital where you’re planning to give birth to your new baby.

  • Make a delivery plan and decide who you want in the room with you (and who can wait outside).

  • Sign up for childbirth, infant care, and breastfeeding classes

Month 7

  • If you have someone who wants to throw you a baby shower or other new baby celebration, pick a date and share names and addresses with her.

  • Update your 401K plan and your will.

  • Schedule a tour of the hospital or birth center.

Month 8

  • Write up a birth plan and buy birth announcements (or design your announcements online).

  • Pack your hospital bag and have it ready to go by the front door.

  • Install your new baby’s car seat.

Month 9

  • Pick up a few newborn diapers (but not too many -- new babies grow quickly!) and any layette or baby care items you're missing.

  • Figure out how you’ll get to the hospital. Will your partner drive you or will you take a cab?

  • Get a pedicure or do something else to help you relax during the last weeks!

  • Checked everything off? Then congratulations! Now you can rest easy knowing that you did everything you could to prepare for your new baby.

Five Questions New Moms-To-Be Should Ask Their OBs

If you're an expectant mom, you know that good prenatal care involves having a practitioner who can answer questions, provide guidance, and offer reassurance. The more you know about your new baby, the better prepared you’ll be to have a healthy pregnancy. Read on for the top five questions any expectant mom should ask her obstetrician.

OB question #1: Is my pregnancy considered to be an at-risk pregnancy?

Many factors -- from being overweight to having high blood pressure to being over age -- can set you up for a riskier pregnancy. Make sure to discuss any current and previous health conditions, as well as your family’s health history, with your OB. If you are an at-risk pregnancy, your doctor will work with you to ensure that your new baby is as safe and as healthy as possible.

OB question #2: What symptoms should I call you about?

It can be unsettling to wake up with cramps or another condition, and not know whether you should call your doctor or go back to bed. Ask your OB to give you a rundown on what symptoms could indicate an emergency. And keep in mind that the reasons to call your OB can vary by trimester, so bring this question up again every few months.

OB question #3: How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?

While there are weight gain recommendations, every pregnancy is unique. Your doctor will be able to work with you to figure out what weight gain is safe for you and your new baby. Overweight women may need to gain less than recommended, while underweight women and new moms of multiples may need to gain more. While you’re at it, ask your OB about ways to gain weight wisely, such as what foods and exercises you can work into your lifestyle.

OB  question #4: What prenatal tests should I get and when will they be done?

Certain tests, such as an ultrasound exam and glucose screening, are routine during prenatal visits. But other tests, such as genetic testing and testing for Down syndrome, will be done if the expectant mom makes that choice. Ask your OB what tests she thinks are right for you, and have her weigh the pros and cons of each test, as you may decide they are not wanted or necessary.

OB question #5: When should I schedule my next appointment?

It’s important to keep up with prenatal appointments throughout your pregnancy, so make sure you don’t leave without discussing when you should next return. If your OB asks you to come back earlier than you had expected, know that the extra trips are to ensure the health of your new baby.

Of course, don’t let the questions end here! If anything else is on your mind, ask away. An educated new mom-to-be will be able to make the best decisions for herself and for her new baby.

Photo by ???????? Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

Nine Pregnancy Tips for Moms of Multiples

If you’re expecting multiples, t there are also some extra steps you’ll need to take while you’re pregnant to ensure that your little ones are healthy. Whether you’re having twins, triplets, or more, keep these nine pregnancy tips in mind.  

Pregnancy tip #1: Find out if you’re having fraternal or identical twins. If it’s the latter, your doctor will want to keep a closer eye on their development.

Pregnancy tip #2: Eat wisely. A healthy diet is a must to ensure a healthy birth weight, especially when you’re having multiples. Load up on fruits and veggies, since your growing babies need micronutrients like folic acid, iron, and vitamins, as well as lean proteins.

Pregnancy tip #3: Watch your weight. You may gain more weight when carrying twins as opposed to if you had a single pregnancy, but you’ll still need to monitor your weight and aim for a healthy mark. Talk to your doctor about what's appropriate for your situation.  

Pregnancy  tip #4: Drink up! For moms carrying multiples, dehydration can lead to preterm labor. Aim to drink a minimum of eight glasses of water a day.

Pregnancy tip #5: Don’t skip the supplements. If your health care provider recommends or prescribes prenatal vitamins and/or supplements, be sure to take them. Many women may need extra folic acid to help prevent birth defects.

Pregnancy tip #6: Spend time with the doctor. You’ll need a good amount of monitoring throughout your pregnancy if you’re carrying multiples, so be sure to stay on track with your doctor appointments.

Pregnancy tip #7: Know your risks. The chance of conditions such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia are higher if you’re carrying multiples. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to minimize your risk.

Pregnancy tip #8: Be ready for an early labor. Women carrying twins tend to go into labor earlier (usually around the 35th to 37th week) than those carrying a single baby. Have your overnight bag packed and ready in case you need to head to the hospital earlier than expected.

Pregnancy tip #9: Talk to your doctor about your delivery plan. The chance of a cesarean is higher with multiples. Discuss your preferred birthing plan with your doctor, but be ready in case you need a cesarean for safety reasons.

While a multiples pregnancy may be a little trickier to navigate, just remember that more new babies means even more love and attention. All that care during pregnancy will help ensure a healthy and happy family.

Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash