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

An Expectant Mom’s Guide to Contractions

Many first-time expectant moms are understandably nervous about the labor and delivery process. A smart way to alleviate any anxiety associated with the birth of your new baby is to learn as much as possible about what to expect, including the difference between true labor signs and false alarms. Pocket this advice and you’ll be ready to take on your labor with confidence.

Beware of false alarms. Many soon-to-be new moms experience false labor pains known as Braxton Hicks contractions.  If you're not sure whether these might be real labor pains, remember that false contractions are irregular in their timing. And if changing your activity or position makes the pain go away, it's probably false labor. On the other hand, true labor contractions take place at regular intervals and occur more frequently as time goes on. They’ll last anywhere from 30 seconds in the beginning to 90 seconds as labor progresses, and walking or any increased activity may cause the contractions to intensify.

Look for other signs. While labor pains are usually a sign that you’re nearing your delivery time, there are other indications that labor is not far away. For starters, the new baby may have dropped, also known as lightening. This simply means your little one has settled into your pelvis. In some instances, a woman's water may break before labor begins, which occurs either as a sudden gush of fluid or a steady trickle. This is the amniotic sac, which is a fluid-filled membrane that protects the baby in the uterus. Once this occurs, there is an increased risk for infection, so if labor has not already started, you may need to be induced.   

Call the doctor You'll want to call your health care provider (and prepare to head to the hospital) if your contractions are growing stronger and occurring at shorter intervals. The same is true if your water has broken. Likewise, severe vaginal bleeding or cramping, as well as pain in your belly, back, or pelvis, are reasons for an expectant mom to call for emergency assistance.

When it comes to childbirth, the more prepared you are, the better, so memorize the signs of labor -- especially if this is your first delivery. Simply understanding the changes that take place in your body when the time finally arrives helps to put you at ease and prepare you for the birth of your new baby.

How to Make New Mom Friends

There comes a time when every new mom longs for actual, adult conversation to supplement the cooing and baby talk. That’s where making mommy friends comes into the picture. Developing relationships with other new moms will not only help preserve your sanity but could also benefit your baby’s development, by providing easy opportunities for your little ones to socialize and play together.

But how do you meet new mom friends when you’re busy with your new baby? Turns out there are a few ways to go about it that fit nicely into any schedule.

Start early. You don’t have to wait until your new baby is born to make new mom friends. Strike up conversations with women in your childbirth class or the mom-to-be how you often see in the OB waiting room, for example. You’ll be raising babies of roughly the same age so you can experience parenting milestones together.

Hit the gym. We don’t necessarily mean sign up for the next cardio class (although that’s always fun, too). Going to mom and baby classes at the gym, such as yoga classes conducted with babies in tow, is a great way to meet other new moms in the area, all while your tot crawls around and gets extra tired for his next nap. It’s a win-win for you both! Remember to check with your doctor before signing up to be sure the class is good for both you and your baby.

Head online. Not all new mom friend interaction needs to be “in person” (although it does help to swap stories face-to-face over coffee every now and then). If you find that it’s difficult to meet people in your own area, Web sites like Meetup.com and International MOMS Club (momsclub.org) can help connect you with other moms in your area. This way you can start your friendship online, and then continue it face to face once you get to know each other.

Orchestrate a play date. If your child is in daycare, enlist the help of his teacher to introduce you to new mom friends. Ask your child’s caretaker if your tot has developed any close attachments to any of the other children in the class, and then ask that particular child’s mom over for a play date. While the babies are busy playing, you’ll be busy making a new friend.

Be a playground regular. Once your baby is born, the park or playground provides an opportunity for your baby to get some exercise and fresh air -- and for you to meet some great potential new mom friends. Aim to take your new baby to the park at least once a week, and go around the same time on the same days. This way you’ll be likely to run into some other new moms who are on the same schedule. Strike up a conversation and there you have it -- new mom friends, as easy as riding the swings.

It’s likely that your new mom friends’ schedules are as hectic as yours, so don’t stress if you find it’s difficult to find time to get together. To boost your odds of successful play dates, park hangouts, and more, aim to make your mommy social circle as large as possible.

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. Check your temperature regularly with a touch free infrared thermometer.

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!

Photo by Ömürden Cengiz on Unsplash

Pregnancy Tips for Managing Mood Swings

Pregnancy is a big deal, and we’re not just talking about your growing bump. Having a baby is one of life’s most joyous experiences, and also one of the most terrifying. It’s no wonder that many new moms-to-be find themselves riding an emotional roller coaster, feeling on top of the world one moment and low the next. Know that mood swings are a perfectly normal part of pregnancy. Taking good care of yourself and your new baby will help you ride out these ups and downs, but make sure to talk with your partner and best friends so you don’t feel as if you have to cope on your own. Here are some additional strategies for managing your emotions while preparing for a baby:

Pregnancy emotions tip #1: Understand your body. Between the sixth and tenth week of your pregnancy -- and then again in the third trimester -- levels of estrogen and progesterone spike. These pregnancy hormones can affect the levels of neurotransmitters, the hormones that regulate our emotions, and leave new moms-to-be feeling unusually sad or irritable. Make sure your loved ones know there’s a reason for your sudden tears or tantrums so they cut you some slack. Carving out time for rest and relaxation will help you stay in touch with your emotions and ask for TLC when you most need it.

Pregnancy emotions tip #2: Lessen your stress. If you find your mind spinning with worry about how a new baby will affect your body, finances, career, relationship, and everything else under the sun, you’re not alone. Becoming a parent is a momentous rite of passage. Ask yourself, what can I do to reduce my anxiety? It’s important for moms-to-be to make time for stress-reducing activities like yoga, massage, walking, taking a bath, or reading a good book. Managing your stress will not only help smooth out your moods, but will help create a healthy physical and mental environment for your developing new baby.

Pregnancy emotions tip #3: Be nutrition smart. Eating nutritious foods is an important part of caring for your pregnant body as well as your new baby. Good nutrition is also essential for your emotional wellbeing. A drop in blood sugar can foul up your mood under normal circumstances, but it can really throw you for a loop when you’re expecting. By eating regularly throughout the day, and choosing healthy snacks like carrot sticks and hummus or plain yogurt and a fruit, -- you can help prevent hunger-related outbursts and boost your intake of vital nutrients.

Above all, be kind and patient with yourself during this time. When you find yourself acting out big emotions or flip-flopping from happy to sad and back again, take a deep breath. Remind yourself that this is great practice for dealing with an adorable but irritable infant and toddler!

Photo by Daria Litvinova on Unsplash