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.

Lessen Your Labor Pain

Unfortunately, no one, not even someone who's given birth before, can tell you exactly what to expect on the big day. That's because every expectant mom’s labor and delivery experience is different. Fortunately, there are basic things you can do beforehand to strengthen both your body and your resolve, and during labor to help keep you as comfortable as possible while waiting for your new baby’s big entrance. Try these nine strategies.

For Pregnancy

New mom tip #1: Learn about labor. Find out everything you can about labor from books, magazines, Web sites, videos, classes, and hospital tours. Familiarizing yourself with the procedures and customs at your hospital or birth center will mean fewer surprises.

New mom tip #2: Take childbirth classes. In these classes, you will learn different ways to deal with pain during labor such as walking, changing positions, taking showers or warm baths, and using breathing exercises, hypnosis, relaxation, and massage.

New mom tip #3: Express your fears. Are you worried about labor, needles, or medication? Speak with a knowledgeable childbirth educator or your doctor. Voicing your worries can bring relief as well as practical solutions to your concerns.

New mom tip #4: Keep up with your normal exercise routine. The more you move during pregnancy, the better prepared your body will be for labor, delivery, and recovery. Exercise helps reduce backaches, constipation, swelling, and other unpleasant side effects.

For Labor

New mom tip #5: Create a sense of calm. Make your environment in the hospital or birth center as soothing and familiar as possible. Play some soft music and put some framed pictures of your partner next to your bed. You may also want to bring a pillow from home (if the facility allows it).

New mom tip #6: Get a massage. Having someone rub your back will warm your skin and stimulate the body to release its own natural painkiller.

New mom tip #7: Use a warm compress. Applying warmth is a tried-and-tested way of relaxing aching, tense muscles. Have someone in the hospital room keep a compress handy to warm your back, tummy, or groin.

New mom tip #8: Practice deep breathing. Focusing on your breathing is a very helpful way to get through each contraction. Taking a deep breath at the beginning of each contraction and then slowly releasing it will conserve your energy and help ease the pain.

New mom tip #9: Change position. Try not to lie on your back once you’re in active labor unless you’re exhausted. Instead, walk around or stay in an upright position. As labor progresses, lying on your side can provide rest and may help slow a delivery that is happening too quickly.

These tips will certainly prepare you for your baby’s big debut, but if you feel you need more help managing the pain, speak up or have your partner convey your needs. And remember, this pain will be a distant memory once you have your beautiful new baby in your arms.

Pregnancy Beauty Basics

When you’re pregnant, it’s not uncommon to want to make up for swollen ankles and other less desirable symptoms with a fresh face of make up and a new hair ‘do. But keep in mind that the ingredients in your beauty products, if absorbed into the skin, may reach the placenta and could pose a risk for your new baby. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on looking glam until post-birth. Just be sure to steer clear of the below, and, if in doubt of a product’s safety, ask your doctor.

Skip it: Hair dye Expecting new moms should try to avoid dying or chemically straightening their hair when pregnant, as the ammonia fumes could harm a new baby during the first three months of pregnancy. If you must change your color or touch up your roots, do so after the first trimester in a well ventilated space, and ask the stylist to avoid touching your scalp with the chemicals.

Skip it: Nail polish

The phthalates in nail polish have been linked to birth defects, so it’s best to wait until after the first trimester to get a manicure or pedicure, when the risk to your new baby is much lower. Acrylic nails should also be avoided when expecting. Need some color before then? Reach for a phthalate-free nail polish instead.

Skip it: Hairspray

Hairspray also contains phthalates, and considering you spray it by your face, it’s very easy to breathe it in. Instead, keep your hair in place with a mousse or gel during your pregnancy.

Skip it: Acne creams

Expecting new moms should avoid prescription acne medications, as they can increase the risk of birth defects. If pimples pop up during your pregnancy, try to use a gentle face wash and switch to oil-free makeup. If that doesn’t work, ask your doctor about what acne face washes may be safe for your new baby.

Skip it: Teeth whitening products

The jury is still our on whether the peroxide, the active ingredient in teeth whiteners, is safe during pregnancy, so it’s best to skip this one. If your pearly whites aren’t looking so, well, white, use a brightening toothpaste instead. And don’t forget to floss and brush regularly during pregnancy. Good dental hygiene is good for your smile and for your new baby’s health.

It’s not always easy for new moms-to-be to give up go-to beauty routines, but keep in mind that sporting your natural hair color or not-so-perfectly-white teeth is best for your new baby. For now, skip the scary stuff and wear your pregnancy glow instead.

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.