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

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!

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.

Pregnancy Beauty Basics

When you’re pregnant, it’s not uncommon to want to make up for swollen ankles and other less desirable symptoms with a fresh face of make up and a new hair ‘do. But keep in mind that the ingredients in your beauty products, if absorbed into the skin, may reach the placenta and could pose a risk for your new baby. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on looking glam until post-birth. Just be sure to steer clear of the below, and, if in doubt of a product’s safety, ask your doctor.

Skip it: Hair dye Expecting new moms should try to avoid dying or chemically straightening their hair when pregnant, as the ammonia fumes could harm a new baby during the first three months of pregnancy. If you must change your color or touch up your roots, do so after the first trimester in a well ventilated space, and ask the stylist to avoid touching your scalp with the chemicals.

Skip it: Nail polish

The phthalates in nail polish have been linked to birth defects, so it’s best to wait until after the first trimester to get a manicure or pedicure, when the risk to your new baby is much lower. Acrylic nails should also be avoided when expecting. Need some color before then? Reach for a phthalate-free nail polish instead.

Skip it: Hairspray

Hairspray also contains phthalates, and considering you spray it by your face, it’s very easy to breathe it in. Instead, keep your hair in place with a mousse or gel during your pregnancy.

Skip it: Acne creams

Expecting new moms should avoid prescription acne medications, as they can increase the risk of birth defects. If pimples pop up during your pregnancy, try to use a gentle face wash and switch to oil-free makeup. If that doesn’t work, ask your doctor about what acne face washes may be safe for your new baby.

Skip it: Teeth whitening products

The jury is still our on whether the peroxide, the active ingredient in teeth whiteners, is safe during pregnancy, so it’s best to skip this one. If your pearly whites aren’t looking so, well, white, use a brightening toothpaste instead. And don’t forget to floss and brush regularly during pregnancy. Good dental hygiene is good for your smile and for your new baby’s health.

It’s not always easy for new moms-to-be to give up go-to beauty routines, but keep in mind that sporting your natural hair color or not-so-perfectly-white teeth is best for your new baby. For now, skip the scary stuff and wear your pregnancy glow instead.

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.