Baby Bump Photo Fun for Expectant Moms

If you thought the photos would start after your baby was born, think again. Many expectant moms are capturing their pregnancy through distinctive and unique baby bump photos that showcase their bellies. Creating these images is a fun and easy way to help you and your family get excited for your new bundle of joy. Ready to put your own belly on display? Read on for some inspiration and get snapping!

The Side-by-Side Comparison

This photo series is a great way to document the change in your belly size during your pregnancy. Simply stand in front of a solid, light-colored background, turn sidewise to the camera for optimal bump-viewing ability, and snap away, taking a new photo at the beginning of every month in the same pose. You may want to wear a form-fitting top so your bump really stands out. After nine months you’ll have great record of your new baby’s development.

The Sibling Photo

If you already have a child, a nice way to help get her excited for her new brother or sister is to involve her in the baby bump photo. It’s best to take this shot when you’re far along in your pregnancy. Pick a spot in the new baby’s nursery -- such as on the floor near the crib or sitting together in a rocking chair -- and have your child rest her head on your stomach. It’s a simple and sweet way for the two of you to welcome the new baby into your lives.

The Fruit Photo     

It’s common for moms to compare their new baby’s fetal growth to the size of certain fruits (for example, at week 8 the baby is the size of a raspberry, a plum at week 12, and an avocado at week 16). Take this a step further by photographing yourself holding the fruit next to your belly at each monthly milestone.

The Pregnant Paint Photo

If you’re artsy -- and willing to get a little messy -- then a photo shoot highlighting your painted belly is for you. Get creative with this one! You could paint hearts on your belly, have your other children paint their handprints all over your bump, or even use your stomach as your birth announcement for your new baby by writing “It’s a boy!”  Another option: Ask an artistic friend to create an elaborate piece of artwork on your belly. The paint won’t last forever, but the photo memories will.

Even if your to-do list is extremely long during your pregnancy months, aim to carve out some time for a baby bump photo shoot. You and your new baby will have fun looking back on the photo memories for years to come.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

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.

Childbirth Prep Exercises for New Moms-to-Be

Let’s be honest: Few new moms say childbirth is an easy, painless process. Although every woman’s experience is different, it is entirely possible to lessen any labor discomfort if you plan and prepare accordingly. Here are four moves to master before the big day that will help you cope with and control labor pain:

New mom exercise #1: Kegels. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles improves circulation to your rectal and vaginal area, which helps prevent hemorrhoids and may even shorten the pushing stage of labor. The best part of performing Kegels is that you can do them anytime, anywhere, because no one but you knows you’re doing them, whether it’s while you’re watching TV, reading a book, or standing in line at the grocery store. Here’s how you do it: Tighten the muscles around your vagina as if trying to interrupt the flow of urine when going to the bathroom. Hold for a count of four, then release. Repeat 10 times. Try to work up to three or four sets about three times a day.

New mom exercise #2: Pelvic Tilt. This move strengthens the abdominal muscles and eases back pain during pregnancy and labor. Here’s how you do it: Get down on your hands and knees, arms shoulder-width and knees hip-width apart. Keep your arms straight, but avoid locking your elbows. As you breathe in, tighten your abdominal muscles, tuck your buttocks under, and round your back. Relax your back into a neutral position as you breathe out. Repeat at your own pace, following the rhythm of your breath.

New mom exercise #3: Squat. Squats are a terrific way to strengthen your thighs and open your pelvis, and one of the most frequently recommended exercises for childbirth prep. Here’s how you do it: Stand facing the back of a chair, with your feet slightly more than hip-width apart, toes pointed outward. Hold the back of the chair for support. Contract your abdominal muscles, lift your chest, and relax your shoulders. Then lower your tailbone toward the floor as though you were sitting down on a chair. Find your balance -- most of your weight should be toward your heels. Take a deep breath in and then exhale, pushing through your legs to rise to a standing position.

New mom exercise #4: Tailor or Cobbler Pose. This position can help open your pelvis and loosen your hip joints in preparation for birth. It can also improve your posture and ease tension in your lower back. Here’s how you do it: Sit up straight against a wall with the soles of your feet touching each other (sit on a folded towel if that’s more comfortable for you). Gently press your knees down and away from each other, but don’t force them. Stay in this position for as long as you’re comfortable.

Be careful when performing these moves, and if anything feels uncomfortable or you feel unbalanced, stop. Aim to run through all of these moves at least four times a week. The more you stick to them, the easier your labor may be! And that’s a welcome relief for any new mom.

Cord Blood Questions

If you’ve been following pregnancy news lately, you probably know that there are discussions surrounding cord blood and its use for new babies. To keep you updated, and help you figure out if storing your own new baby’s cord blood is right for your family, here are some answers to your most pressing questions.

What exactly is cord blood?
Simply put, cord blood is the actual blood that’s stored in your new baby’s umbilical cord and placenta when you give birth. In most cases, the blood is disposed of and not used for any medical purposes.

Why is everyone talking about cord blood?
New information has recently surfaced about the potentially life-saving stem cells that can be extracted from cord blood. These stem cells have been used to help treat diseases like leukemia, lymphoma, and sickle cell anemia.

Who saves and stores cord blood?
Cord blood is either saved privately, for potential personal use within families, or publicly, where it’s donated for others to use. When parents decide to save and store their new baby’s cord blood, it’s collected quickly and safely by their health care provider. If the blood is meant for public use, there is usually no cost to the donor. Private cord blood banks -- which reserve the blood for use by the new baby or family members -- tend to be quite costly, however, with donors paying for all costs related to collection, transport, testing, and storage. Generally, health insurance does not cover the cost of the storage.

Deciding whether or not to store your new baby’s cord blood is a personal decision you’ll need to make with your family. Most experts don’t recommend private cord blood storage, as the chance a family member needing a transplant is slim and the public cord blood pool is always available to dip into. But if you have any questions, talk to your doctor about what is right for your family.