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.

An Expectant Mom’s Guide to Finding a Pregnancy Pillow

Pregnancy is a time when you need as much sleep as you can snag, but finding a comfortable sleeping position may be difficult for many soon-to-be new moms. The extra weight you’re carrying around can put stress on your body and joints, resulting in aches and pains when you try to lie down for the night, not to mention keeping you awake.

Luckily, a maternity or pregnancy pillow can come to the rescue. These oversized pillows help to alleviate aches and pains by supporting certain areas of your body while you sleep. Every woman’s body is different, and that's why maternity pillows come in a variety of shapes and styles that are catered toward the comfort each new mom-to-be requires. Here are some tips on how to choose the pregnancy pillow that’s best for you:  

Look online. This is the fastest way to see all the different types of pillows that are available, as well as read reviews from other expectant moms on which types and brands work best.

Ask for advice. Chances are you have a friend, relative, or acquaintance who is  pregnant or has been pregnant in the recent past. Use the information she can give you as a guide.

Pick your support.  Decide which areas of the body you need supported, as different pillows support the body in different ways. Here is a breakdown of the basic types of pregnancy pillows and what they do:

Memory foam. This kind adjusts to the contours of your body, and supports the belly, back, and knees.

Simple wedge. This type slides easily under a growing belly, and is ideal if you prefer to sleep on your side. This pillow is also great for traveling, because it’s small and compact.

Bean-shaped. These wrap around your mid-section. They have adjustable straps at each end specifically designed to support the back on one side and the stomach on the other.

Test them out. Many stores will allow expectant moms to touch and even try the pillows while in the store.Take advantage and lie in different positions to see which one is most comfortable for your body.

If you’re unable to track down a maternity pillow, know that you can use multiple regular bed pillows instead. Place a pillow to support each affected area, or stick one under each side of your back. A better night’s sleep will make you a happier new mom-to-be, and help power you through your pregnancy.

Photo by Dominic Sansotta on Unsplash

Facts about Pregnancy Cravings

For many women around the world, having a baby often comes with an array of new eating habits and cravings, from feasting on a tray of brownies to dipping pickles in curry. But what are pregnancy cravings exactly? Here’s a look at some common cravings and ways to satisfy them without derailing your pregnancy diet or harming your baby.

Understanding pregnancy cravings

You want an entire bag of chips, or an ice cream sundae, and you want it now. Strong urges like these are common among new moms during pregnancy, and no one is completely certain why they occur. Some experts believe that pregnancy cravings happen as a result of your body asking for the nutrients it needs. So desires for ice cream sundaes or a tray of brownies could be a signal that your body needs more calcium or fat

Top cravings from around the world

Most food cravings fall into the sweet, spicy, salty, or sour category, and include foods like ice cream, pickles, soda, lemon, tomatoes, and chocolate.

Craving caveat

Keep in mind that while many pregnancy cravings can be very strong, oftentimes your body doesn’t need the specific food you’re craving, just something in that food. And filling up on unhealthy foods can lead to excessive weight gain during pregnancy and nutritional deficiencies for both mom and baby.

How to satisfy your craving

So how do you satisfy a pregnancy craving without doing any damage to your overall health or the health of your new baby? Learn to understand your cravings and satisfy them by eating small amounts of what you desire without overdoing it, or by choosing something similar but  more healthful. That hankering for a vanilla milkshake could just be your body’s desire for calcium and can be sated by a cup of low-fat yogurt, while some crunchy carrots may satisfy a potato chip craving (or maybe not). 

And if a healthy alternative doesn’t do the job? Take your mind off of your craving by going for a walk, spending time with another new mom to-be, or calling a friend to talk about your day.

Photo by Robin Stickel on Unsplash

Four Off-Limit Foods for New Moms-to-Be

Meals should be a pleasure during pregnancy, not a problem. But certain foods can be risky when you’re eating for two. For your baby’s safety, steer clear of the following foods when expecting, and always ask your doctor if you have any questions on what you should -- and shouldn’t -- eat .

Fish high in mercury. Eating fish is an important part of your pregnancy diet because much of it is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are super nutrients for your new baby’s brain development. But not every kind of fish is recommended. Some larger ones contain too much mercury, which can affect your baby’s nervous system. Steer clear of shark, king mackerel, swordfish, and tilefish. And limit safer varieties of fish to 12 ounces a week.

Some raw and undercooked foods. The risk with anything raw is that you may contract a case of food poisoning. While it’s rare for this illness to affect your new baby, it’s not pleasant to deal with, whether you’re pregnant or not. To be on the safe side, cook eggs, seafood, shellfish, meat, and chicken fully. Skip raw fish and shellfish, smoked fish, refrigerated pate, and raw sprouts like radish, mung bean, and alfalfa.

Unpasteurized cheese, milk, and juice. Unpasteurized products are off the menu when you’re expecting. Read labels carefully to be sure all milk and juice you drink has been pasteurized and the cheese you consume (especially soft varieties like Brie,  Camembert, and goat cheese,) is made with pasteurized, not raw, milk.

Deli meats. Listeriosis, a rather serious foodborne illness, is the concern for this category. It’s a good idea to avoid deli meats and hot dogs anyway as they aren’t a healthy choice (many are high in sodium). If you do indulge in deli items during pregnancy, be sure to heat all meats and franks until they are steaming.

Remember to practice good hygiene in the kitchen -- it’s smart whether you’re having a baby or not. Always wash your hands before preparing food or eating a meal, and wash produce well under running water, using a brush to scrub the outer layer of tough-skinned fruits and veggies. Knowing your diet is safe for your new baby will put any expectant mom at ease. Happy eating!

Photo by Michael Wave on Unsplash