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

Pregnancy Tips for Easing Backaches

Back pain, alas, is one of the most common complaints of expectant new moms. So what’s going on to cause the aches? First, your center of gravity changes as your uterus expands with your new baby, which can affect posture and wreak havoc on your back. A burgeoning belly causes similar problems, stretching out the ab muscles that normally help support your spine. On top of this, a new mom’s body releases hormones to relax the ligaments in the pelvic joints, making them more flexible for labor but causing back pain if these joints get too supple. Luckily, in addition to ice and heating pads, there are a few simple steps you can take to prevent or lessen the backaches of having a baby. 

Back relief pregnancy tip #1: Mind your posture. If you're an expectant mom, standing up straight isn’t just good manners: It also protects your back muscles. You may be tempted to slouch or lean back to compensate for the weight of your growing bump, but doing so may strain your lower back muscles. Instead, adhere to the principles of good posture and stand up straight with shoulders relaxed, holding your chest high. To help support the new baby in your belly, keep your feet wide apart and avoid standing upright for too long.

Back relief pregnancy tip #2: Sleep smart. While it’s important for expectant moms to get plenty of rest, it’s equally important to protect the back during sleep. Especially in the later months, avoid sleeping on your back -- those muscles need their rest, too! Instead, snooze on your side, bending one or both knees. For extra comfort, place a pillow or two between your legs for support.

A firm mattress may also help you avoid sore backs. But you don’t have to replace the bedroom set just because you’re having a baby: To add support to a softer bed, simply place a strong wood plank between your box spring and mattress.

Back relief pregnancy tip #3: Get active. Back-friendly exercises like swimming and walking provide a bevy of benefits for expectant moms. Strengthening and stretching both the back muscles and back-supporting muscles (such as your hips, abs, and legs) eases back pain and helps prepare you for labor. Simple stretches can also help release back tension, so consider signing up for a yoga class for feel-good back benefits. Be sure to check with your doctor before deciding which exercise regimen will work best for you.

If you back is causing you a considerable amount of pain or preventing you from going about your daily activities, talk to your doctor. Pregnancy may not always comfortable, but remember that you won’t be carrying the extra weight for much longer.

Facts about Pregnancy Cravings

For many women around the world, having a baby often comes with an array of new eating habits and cravings, from feasting on a tray of brownies to dipping pickles in curry. But what are pregnancy cravings exactly? Here’s a look at some common cravings and ways to satisfy them without derailing your pregnancy diet or harming your baby.

Understanding pregnancy cravings

You want an entire bag of chips, or an ice cream sundae, and you want it now. Strong urges like these are common among new moms during pregnancy, and no one is completely certain why they occur. Some experts believe that pregnancy cravings happen as a result of your body asking for the nutrients it needs. So desires for ice cream sundaes or a tray of brownies could be a signal that your body needs more calcium or fat

Top cravings from around the world

Most food cravings fall into the sweet, spicy, salty, or sour category, and include foods like ice cream, pickles, soda, lemon, tomatoes, and chocolate.

Craving caveat

Keep in mind that while many pregnancy cravings can be very strong, oftentimes your body doesn’t need the specific food you’re craving, just something in that food. And filling up on unhealthy foods can lead to excessive weight gain during pregnancy and nutritional deficiencies for both mom and baby.

How to satisfy your craving

So how do you satisfy a pregnancy craving without doing any damage to your overall health or the health of your new baby? Learn to understand your cravings and satisfy them by eating small amounts of what you desire without overdoing it, or by choosing something similar but  more healthful. That hankering for a vanilla milkshake could just be your body’s desire for calcium and can be sated by a cup of low-fat yogurt, while some crunchy carrots may satisfy a potato chip craving (or maybe not). 

And if a healthy alternative doesn’t do the job? Take your mind off of your craving by going for a walk, spending time with another new mom to-be, or calling a friend to talk about your day.

Kegel Lessons for Expectant Moms

As a soon-to-be new mom, you know there are many beautiful parts of pregnancy -- and others that you could probably live without. High on that unwanted list is often urinary incontinence, or pelvic floor problems.

Urinary incontinence occurs when a person is no longer able to hold urine in the urethra, causing leaks from time to time. This problem is common among pregnant women and new moms, since unborn babies push down on the bladder, urethra, and pelvic floor muscles, weakening support and causing leaks. Labor then further complicates the issue by additionally weakening pelvic floor support, and potentially even damaging the nerves that control the bladder.

Luckily, Kegel exercises have been proven to help strengthen pelvic floor muscles. (Keep in mind that most bladder or urinary tract issues caused by pregnancy and delivery go away within six months of giving birth. If yours don’t, see your doctor for additional treatment or help.) If you’re ready to start strengthening, follow these tips:

1.    Identify your pelvic muscles. In order to get the most out of the exercises, begin by identifying the correct muscles. To do this, try stopping your urination midstream. The muscles that you use to stop the flow are the same ones you’ll want to work in your Kegel exercises.

2.    Get comfortable. Before starting the exercise, be sure your bladder is empty, and find a comfortable place where you can lie on your back. Then, tighten your pelvic floor muscles, holding the contraction for five seconds. Repeat this tightening and releasing in five-second increments four or five times in a row. For best results, try working up to exercises where you are able to hold the muscles for 10 seconds at a time, and then relax for 10 seconds at a time.

3.    Practice makes perfect. One Kegel exercise session won’t be enough to help. For optimal results, try to perform 10 repetitions at least three times a day.

Don’t worry if it takes a while to get used to the exercises -- that’s perfectly normal. Just don’t give up. If you continue with the exercises on a routine basis, you may see results within just a few months of starting. And one less thing to worry about as a new mom is always welcome when you have a newborn!

Second Pregnancy Lowdown: Small Age Gaps

I’ve definitely been experiencing some ups and downs my second pregnancy. The upside is that I have been down this road before and I am very familiar with what is to come my way -- doctor visits, testing and a weak bladder to name a few things. The downside, however: I don’t really have too much time to focus on this pregnancy as a whole. Why is that? Well, I have a 21-month-old running my life!

When I was pregnant with my first son, Cameron, it was amazing, exciting and the pregnancy consumed my life (in a positive way of course). My husband and I were so happy to welcome a baby into our lives. I constantly took photos of my growing belly, kept a pregnancy journal and took videos each month to document every stage. I also had the luxury of never having to experience morning sickness. I was glowing and even my delivery went pretty perfectly!

My second pregnancy: I barely have time to take photos, let alone keep a journal, and guess what, no video in sight! A part of me feels guilty, but I have a baby on my hands this time around -- life is so different once a child is in your life.  

For our second baby, we’ve decided to find out the gender, we didn’t with our first. Knowing the gender didn’t matter at all the first time, we were just excited we had a bundle on the way! This time however, I know I have to prepare. If it’s going to be another boy, I wouldn’t need to get all new clothes, he could use Cameron’s hand me downs. If it’s going to be a girl, we’ll need to tweak the room they’ll share to be more gender neutral.  Also, letting Cameron knows he has a little sister on the way seems to be making the idea of a second child in the house more real to him.

I know that there will be some challenges to having two babies so close in age. Some folks believe it’s easier to just have them close in age so they can play together and grow up together (I’m a believer in that). I’ve also heard that it’s not the best thing, because you may focus most of your attention on the second baby and forget about the older child. All I can say is that I’m very happy with the decision my husband and I made to have the second child soon after our first. After all, he is my prince and there is more than enough room in this world to love both my prince and my soon to arrive princess.