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

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.

Expectant Mom Baby Bump 101

It’s  no wonder pregnant women are constantly comparing baby bumps: There are plenty of adages suggesting your tummy holds clues to the size, gender, and even the disposition of your new baby. While high for a girl, low for a boy may be an old wives’ tale, there’s plenty of information that can be discerned from an expectant mom’s belly --although it’s not always just about the new baby!

High or Low

One of the most enduring pregnancy myths is that the position of a baby bump indicates gender. In reality, it’s an indicator of the new mom’s fitness level: A woman with a toned stomach will often carry high because her muscles can support the growing baby. However, carrying low doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of shape -- age and previous pregnancies will also make it more difficult for your body to hold that new baby up high .

Narrow or Wide

The shape of a pregnant woman’s belly has also been said to reflect the baby’s gender -- but once again, it actually says more about the expectant mom. Typically, taller women sprout narrower bumps, while shorter women tend to grow wider. This has to do with the length of your torso: if your torso is on the shorter side, there’s little room for your new baby to grow upwards, resulting in a wide bump.   And while the shape may not reveal much about your baby’s gender, it can tell you about his position: A wider tummy often means your new baby is getting comfortable by stretching out sideways.

Big Belly, Big Baby?

When having a baby, there is no right or wrong size for your baby bump -- there are a lot of factors at play. And know that the size of your stomach doesn’t necessarily mean anything about the size of your new baby. Excess amniotic fluid or diabetes can cause your belly to appear larger while a lack of fluid, high blood pressure, or pre-eclampsia can result in a smaller bump, but not automatically a smaller baby. But don’t worry: Your doctor will perform regular ultrasounds to make sure your new baby is growing properly.

It’s likely that friends, family, and even strangers will comment on the size and shape of your belly during pregnancy. But don’t take their comments to heart. Your doctor knows best when it comes to keeping your new baby healthy, so if you have any questions about what’s going on with your stomach, ask away!

Oral Hygiene: What New Moms Need to Know

It wasn’t long ago that pregnant women were advised to steer clear of the dentist out of concern over how various procedures might affect their unborn child. Turns out that routine cleanings and dental work are considered safe for most expectant moms and  may play an important role in a baby’s safety and health, too. Because of hormones, expectant mothers are more prone to oral infections and gum sensitivity, which can lead to early labor. Here are some easy-to-follow pregnancy tips for keeping your mouth (and your new baby) healthy.

Oral hygiene pregnancy tip #1: Keep your appointments. Regular cleanings and checkups are an essential part of anyone's oral hygiene regimen, but are especially crucial for pregnant women, whose hormonal changes put them at risk for a number of dental problems.  While these routine visits are safe for most women, it’s still important to let your dentist know you’re having a baby and to discuss any medical issues related to the pregnancy. Occasionally, women with high-risk pregnancies are advised to postpone certain treatments until after the new baby has arrived.

Oral hygiene pregnancy tip #2: Don’t fear simple procedures or X-rays. Although it’s always better to save elective procedures for after your due date, cavities and other common dental problems can and should be treated in order to avoid infection. Second trimester is the ideal time to take care of such issues, as the dentist’s chair can be quite uncomfortable by your third trimester!

While routine X-rays are commonly delayed for pregnant women, advancements in technology have greatly reduced the threat of radiation exposure. Should an X-ray be needed for an emergency procedure, your dentist will take extra precautions to ensure your baby’s safety.

Oral hygiene pregnancy tip #3: Watch your gums. Don’t focus only on your pearly whites: The hormonal surges that come with having a baby can also wreak havoc on your gums. Pregnancy gingivitis -- which results in inflamed and sore gums  -- and “pregnancy tumors” -- benign but sometimes painful lumps along the gum line  -- are particularly common. If you notice anything abnormal going on with your gums, call your dentist.

Oral hygiene pregnancy tip #4: Make oral hygiene part of your daily routine. As helpful as your dentist may be, oral health begins and ends at home. If you have morning sickness, try a more mild or bland toothpaste (ask your dentist or mommy-friends for suggestions). On the other hand, avoid brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting, as the still-present stomach acids can eventually cause teeth erosion and wear away at your enamel. Instead, rinse out with a combination of baking soda and water, which will leave your mouth fresh until it’s safe to brush.

You have a lot on your plate during pregnancy, but making the time for proper oral hygiene will go far to boost both your and your new baby’s health.

Second Baby: The Benefits of A Five-Year Gap

Waiting five years to have a second baby wasn't something I planned; it just happened that way. As it turned out, the large gap suited me well. Sure, there was a small learning curve to master regarding changes in the labor and delivery process. But for the most part, having an older child made it easier to handle my second pregnancy. My daughter was four-going-on-five when I told her she was going to have a younger sibling, and she couldn't have been more excited. There's no doubt my second pregnancy was special. Here's why.    

  • I had less time to worry about my symptoms. Okay, I admit to being nervous throughout the entire nine months of my first pregnancy. From morning sickness to labor pains, I feared the unknown. Like any second pregnancy, I now knew what to expect. Happily, busy days with my daughter occupied my thoughts this time around. At her age, she could carry on a conversation, she was potty-trained, and she was well on her way to forging her own friendships. Life was good -- and easier than it had been for a while.  

  • My first child was old enough to understand. Now that my daughter was more mature and had plenty in her own life to focus on, jealousy over the new baby wasn't a problem. Other than making arrangements for a babysitter during the labor and delivery process, there wasn't much we had to do to prepare her. We simply needed to engage her in the process. As soon as I saw the "Welcome Home" signs that she made to greet her new brother, I realized there were several small tasks she could do to feel special and included.  

  • It wasn't impossible to get the rest I needed. One of the biggest challenges of any second pregnancy is that there's less time to rest because you're busy taking care of another child. Because my daughter was five years old, I didn't have to carry around a heavy diaper bag, and I certainly didn't have to carry her. Even better, she understood that I occasionally got tired. If that meant spending some extra time watching her favorite show, coloring or solving a puzzle, we didn't sweat it.

Everything comes with some challenges, and a five-year gap in pregnancies is no exception. For starters, five years is a long time in today's fast-paced world of fashion. Truth is, my maternity clothes from the first pregnancy were already out of style. I also had to educate myself about some minor updates delivery process. None of this was a big deal, but necessary all the same. Today I can happily reflect on my five-year gap between pregnancies. It was a special time for all of us.