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.

Breastfeeding Prep for New Moms

If you’ve decided to give breastfeeding a try, you may be wondering where to start and what to do. Breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally to new moms, so it’s smart to do some prep work while you’re still pregnant so you know what to expect. Here are a few tips to consider before you start nursing your new baby:

Stock up on nursing bras. Easy access when you’re nursing is important, so think about purchasing a couple of nursing bras in the middle of your third trimester. Get fitted by an experienced salesperson (you want a little bit of room to grow towards the end of your pregnancy). Start with two bras for now and then get more as you need them.

Attend a breastfeeding class. Attending a nursing course will give you a preview of what to expect; it’s also a chance to ask questions you may have about the process. Many childbirth classes also include breastfeeding instruction, so don't worry if you can't find a class that's exclusively about breastfeeding. To find a class near you, call the hospital where you’ll be giving birth, ask your health care provider, or check out local message boards or mom groups.

Purchase the gear. If you plan to return to work after the birth of your new baby, a breast pump will be invaluable. It’s normal to leak a little when your milk starts to come in, so pick up a few breast pads to insert into your nursing bras. Finally, a nursing pillow may also come in handy, as many new moms find it to be very helpful for propping up their baby when nursing; others use regular bed or couch pillows for the same result.

Find a lactation consultant. Starting off on the right foot when you’re nursing is a lot easier if you have some professional support. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy at first, and it’s possible you may struggle with figuring out certain positions or getting your new baby to latch-on. You may want to make an appointment with a lactation consultant in advance of your birth to get must-know tips, or schedule it for soon after your delivery. Many hospitals will have lactation consultants and nurses available to help you start nursing right after your baby is born.

The best breastfeeding experience starts with a bit of planning. Ask your friends and family for their advice, too, as you get ready, and call on them for support as you begin nursing your new baby. Don’t worry if you can’t stick with it for as long as you’d like -- any nursing you do will have a positive effect on your 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.

The Reality of Being a New Dad

To say I was excited when my wife was pregnant with our first child, Morgan, would be a gross understatement. While this overwhelming sense of joy continued to grow along with her belly, I could never have prepared myself for the days and months ahead as a new dad. I imagined fatherhood as one thing, and turns out, my thoughts and emotions were pretty spot on -- times 100.

Expectations: What I Thought I Felt

During my wife’s pregnancy, I wasn’t nervous; just extremely excited. I looked forward to knowing there was someone who would come to understand they could turn to me for anything in life. The only nerves I had as a dad-to-be, were tied to ensuring my baby was a healthy one, and knowing how to respond in different situations. Now I like to think of myself as a smart guy and efficient problem solver, making unplanned decisions every minute of my workday. I constantly get thrown curveballs, and am able to use knowledge and reasoning to figure out the best solution. Why should a baby be much different?

I felt like I did everything new dads are told to do to prepare: read The Expectant Father, talked to other parents. They helped me understand my wife’s experience, -- physically and emotionally -- my own experience, and what was in store once the baby made her first appearance. I looked forward to all the firsts, and to share my favorite things with our child.

What didn’t make me jump for joy was the actual birth part, as I knew I had to be strong for my wife, but having a sensitive stomach, I felt queasy at the thought of watching this oozy miracle happen before my eyes.

 

Reality: What I Feel Now

When my wife was pushing out our child, all queasiness left the room. I couldn’t believe my eyes: I was witnessing our creation come into this world. The minute my wife held our child, I was pleasantly surprised at what a natural she is. All of her nerves went out the room and her maternal instincts kicked into high gear. From day one, my wife showed confidence, love, knowledge, and connection as a mother.

I, on the other hand, began questioning everything. I had difficulty advising my wife on decisions, solutions and actions. I simply didn’t know the answers (maybe Google would?) I was surprised by how much more cautious and nervous I felt, when in my head I thought I would always be a cool and collected new dad. Did she eat enough? She’s hungry again? Why is she crying? Why isn’t she crying!

Despite the worry, the overwhelming joy I thought I felt during my wife’s pregnancy was put to shame each time I looked at my baby. I felt extreme pride at Morgan’s firsts -- lifting her head during tummy time, smiling, playing with toys on her own. I couldn’t believe I felt excited and relieved at each poop, each burp, knowing everything was functioning properly. I felt happy when Morgan slept, knowing she was getting the rest she needed, and happy when she woke, knowing she wanted to eat (and was still breathing!)

Watching a baby experience and learn something new every day is fascinating. Hearing ‘dada’ for the first time and watching Morgan take her first steps as she walked into my arms created incomparable pride. I knew being a dad would be great. Yet there is no way your expectations of greatness are in line with how truly remarkable the experience is watching a helpless thing grow into an independent mover and shaker.