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 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.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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.

Under-the-Weather When Pregnant

Getting sick when expecting is no fun. And no, we’re not talking about morning sickness. From a headache to the common cold, feeling ill can make a pregnancy that much more challenging. Follow these tips to feel better faster.

If you have: a cold

Sneezing, coughing, and stuffiness is always unwanted, but it can be especially uncomfortable when you’re pregnant. If you catch a cold or the flu, it’s best to start with home remedies. Increase your fluid intake, get as much rest as comfortable, and use a saline spray to help a stuffy nose. Be sure to keep track of your temperature, and call your doctor if you have a fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit

If these methods don’t help, you may be able to use certain pain relievers, decongestants, and cough syrups sparingly, but speak to your doctor before taking any meds, especially during the first trimester.

If you have: a headache

If your noggin starts throbbing, lie down in a cool, dark room, drink plenty of water, and apply a cool compress. You could also someone to give you a massage to release tension. For times when you can’t find relief using these methods, know that most expectant moms can take acetaminophen. But for your new baby’s safety, talk with your doctor before you take this or any other medication and know that most other pain relievers should be avoided.

If you have: allergies

Allergy symptoms might also worsen for expectant moms. If you do start sniffling, sneezing, and itching, try using a saline nasal spray or neti pot to ease congestion, and do your best to avoid asthma triggers while pregnant. No relief? Talk to your doctor about what medications you can safely take to ease your symptoms.  

Of course, it’s impossible to guarantee that you won’t get sick during your pregnancy, but take as many steps as you can to stay healthy: Eat a nutritious diet, get plenty of rest, wash your hands regularly, and steer clear of people who are sick. You’ll have a happier pregnancy because of it!

Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash

How I Bonded with My Preemie

I don’t think it’s possible to be fully prepared for becoming a mom. When I delivered my son, Jacob, 10 weeks early, I felt 10 times as unprepared for the transition into motherhood. I quickly realized I could not hold him after he was born, for he was too underdeveloped and sick. I could not look down and stare into his beautiful eyes, since they were covered. But I also realized I wouldn’t let that stop me from being his mom and loving him as much as I could. Since I couldn’t bring my premature baby boy home and rock him in my arms all day, here’s how I bonded with the new love of my life.

Embrace your new full-time job. Much of my maternity leave was spent at the hospital, which was obviously less than ideal. But I made caring for my son as best I could in the NICU my new full-time job. It quickly became the hardest, but most rewarding job I ever had -- even without the pay. I just wanted Jacob to know I was there, and was certain that he did. Just because we weren’t together in our home didn’t mean I should act differently as his mom than I planned to.

Participate in newborn duties (and doodies!) While Jacob was in the NICU, I did whatever I could to care for him, just as I would if we were home. When I could nurse, I nursed. If he had a dirty diaper, I helped changed it. I wanted to care for my son as much as I could, and not feeling completely helpless helped me. It’s important for moms of preemies to get comfortable with their baby immediately, and try not to depend on the nurses for the things you will need to do once the baby comes home.

Hold your baby when possible. Any chance I could hold and touch Jacob, I did. The first time I held him was difficult, because he was hooked up to so many wires. After a while, I barely noticed. I remembered learning during my pregnancy that skin to skin contact is one of the first and best things to do with your newborn to not only bond, but to boost their health and growth. It was those moments that nobody could take away.

Project your beautiful voice. While pregnant, my husband and I did what most parents-to-be do, and talked and sang to our growing baby. At the hospital, we continued to talk and sing to our tiny love, and knew he recognized the voices he had heard for months. We brought books to read to Jacob, awaiting the day we could snuggle at home with books in hand together.

My emotions were very raw after the birth of my son. I was very scared and upset -- often with myself. I felt inferior, as if my role as a mom wasn’t up to par with other moms. I felt responsible, but also determined to do everything I could to help my premature baby strive. I felt as though we can work together as a team to go home. Letting myself feel and talk to others about those feelings -- including other moms of preemies in the NICU -- allowed me to be the best mother I could be for my son. Now, years later, my son is thriving and I look back on those early days as a challenge well worthwhile.