Your Nesting Nature

As your due date draws near, the nesting instincts you’ve been feeling throughout your pregnancy may be stronger than ever. These powerful urges can tempt expectant moms to do anything from painting the nursery to cleaning  gutters, washing drapes, and stocking up on diapers and onesies. It's important to focus on only what you are truly capable of doing without exhausting yourself, so you can save your energy to care or your new baby.

What is nesting?

The urge to clean and organize your home (and everything in it) before bringing your baby home is a primal instinct that many animals, from birds to dogs, have during pregnancy. Though it’s unclear why these urges occur in humans, one theory is that they may be remnants from a time when physical preparation was necessary for women to have a safer childbirth. Nesting may begin months before your due date, but it is usually strongest just before delivery.

While using these nesting instincts can be a wonderful way to prepare your home for your new baby, or to tackle projects you haven’t had time to do before becoming a new mom, it’s important to make the most of your urges safely and not overdo it.

Nesting tips

Here are a few things to keep in mind before you bring your baby home:

  • Make a to-do list: Ready to defrost the fridge, wipe down the windows, and sweep out the garage right now? Instead, make a list of everything you’re looking to accomplish to keep your mind from wandering, and to avoid feeling overwhelmed with too many projects. Plus, you’ll feel satisfied crossing things off your list as you finish them up.

  • Set some priorities: Use that checklist to tackle the “must-do” projects like packing your hospital bag, installing the car seat, readying the diapers, and washing a week’s worth of newborn outfits. This process will help you focus on things you really need to have done before having your new baby.

  • Prep some food: If you’re really feeling ambitious, plan out a few weeks’ worth of meals, cook them up, and freeze them. You'll be all set for those days when taking a shower seems impossible, let alone putting dinner on the table.

  • Don’t push it: Carve out some time for a little self pampering, like a do-it-yourself manicure or deep conditioning treatment, and make sure to take breaks if you find yourself getting run-down as you clean. Be sure to keep yourself safe, too, by steering clear of ladders or any project that involves heights, heavy objects, or toxins -- that’s what your partner, friends, and family are for!

Try not to be discouraged if you don’t tackle everything you’d like to before you bring your baby home. Your new baby won’t mind if the bookshelves haven’t been organized in the nursery, or if her newborn outfits aren’t folded perfectly. All she wants to do is bond with you!

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Prenatal Yoga 101

“Keep calm and carry on” should be every expectant new mom’s slogan. Some of the most important things a pregnant woman can do are stay calm, reduce stress levels, and keep her body in the best shape possible. Fortunately, there’s a form of exercise that can help with all these and more: prenatal yoga. Check with your doctor to see if prenatal yoga could be a good fit for you, and read on to learn the benefits and tips for each trimester.

Potential Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

It does a body good. Yoga helps keep you limber, and improves balance and circulation. It also helps strengthen muscles, which provides stamina for childbirth and gives you greater flexibility when finding the best birth position for delivering your new baby.

It teaches you how to breathe easier. Yoga practice utilizes deep breathing, which can help you keep you calm when you need it most. Some yoga methods and classes will also teach you how to breathe through discomfort or pain, which you can utilize during labor, as well as how to relax your muscles, which can make for an easier delivery.

It keeps you centered. Yoga is all about focusing on the present, how your body is feeling, and the sensations you’re experiencing at any given moment. This focus may help you tune into your body’s needs, even after your new baby arrives.

It helps you sleep better. Because yoga may help reduce back and neck pain, and nausea, many expectant moms find they are able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer once they adopt a regular yoga practice.

Tips by Trimester

To stay safe, follow this trimester-by-trimester advice.

First trimester There aren’t many restrictions during this time, but instructors advise expectant new moms to drink lots of water before, during, and after the class. Listen to your body and if you feel any pain or discomfort, stop the pose immediately and ask your instructor for an alternate position.

Second trimester Your expanding stomach will start to affect your balance at this point. Don’t try to hold poses for a long time, and remember to sink into each pose slowly and carefully to avoid injury. Take your time and don’t overdo it. Avoid lying flat on your back now, too, in order to keep blood flowing properly to your uterus.

Third trimester At this point in your pregnancy, it’s best for expectant moms to perform all standing poses with heels to the wall, or using a chair for support to avoid maintain balance. Props such as blocks and straps can also help you move through difficult poses with greater stability.

If you do decide to give yoga a go during pregnancy, make sure to find a studio with an instructor who is trained to work with new moms-to-be. And have fun! You may love the benefits of yoga so much that you continue to do it past your pregnancy.

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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.

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Under-the-Weather When Pregnant

Getting sick when expecting is no fun. And no, we’re not talking about morning sickness. From a headache to the common cold, feeling ill can make a pregnancy that much more challenging. Follow these tips to feel better faster.

If you have: a cold

Sneezing, coughing, and stuffiness is always unwanted, but it can be especially uncomfortable when you’re pregnant. If you catch a cold or the flu, it’s best to start with home remedies. Increase your fluid intake, get as much rest as comfortable, and use a saline spray to help a stuffy nose. Be sure to keep track of your temperature, and call your doctor if you have a fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit

If these methods don’t help, you may be able to use certain pain relievers, decongestants, and cough syrups sparingly, but speak to your doctor before taking any meds, especially during the first trimester.

If you have: a headache

If your noggin starts throbbing, lie down in a cool, dark room, drink plenty of water, and apply a cool compress. You could also someone to give you a massage to release tension. For times when you can’t find relief using these methods, know that most expectant moms can take acetaminophen. But for your new baby’s safety, talk with your doctor before you take this or any other medication and know that most other pain relievers should be avoided.

If you have: allergies

Allergy symptoms might also worsen for expectant moms. If you do start sniffling, sneezing, and itching, try using a saline nasal spray or neti pot to ease congestion, and do your best to avoid asthma triggers while pregnant. No relief? Talk to your doctor about what medications you can safely take to ease your symptoms.  

Of course, it’s impossible to guarantee that you won’t get sick during your pregnancy, but take as many steps as you can to stay healthy: Eat a nutritious diet, get plenty of rest, wash your hands regularly, and steer clear of people who are sick. You’ll have a happier pregnancy because of it!

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Stress-Free Pregnancy Tips

Having a baby is incredibly exciting -- but can also be stressful at times. Between preparing for your baby, arranging the nursery, scheduling checkups, and dealing with your changing body, you've got a lot to handle! The following tactics can help keep anxieties at bay, which will help you -- and your new baby -- stay happy and healthy. 

Stress-free pregnancy tip #1: Get moving. Exercise not only maintains fitness -- it also releases tension. Swimming and walking are great, low impact choices for workouts, and deep-breathing exercise such as in prenatal yoga can be extra soothing. Just be sure to ask your doctor before starting a new physical activity.

Stress-free pregnancy tip #2: Snack wisely. We all know that whatever you eat during pregnancy, your new baby eats, too. But there’s another reason to be mindful when you chow down: A well-balanced diet will help provide the physical and mental energy to help your body power through the pregnancy while keeping you focused.

Stress-free pregnancy tip #3: Catch some Z’s. There’s a reason getting extra sleep is the pregnancy tip that you hear over and over again. While your body is working overtime, you and your baby need all the rest you can get. Getting to bed early means you’ll snooze enough to keep your calm the next day.

Stress-free pregnancy tip #4: Just relax. Whether you  curl up with a good book, meditate, or enjoy a warm bath, make sure you fit in some calming activities. Once you welcome your baby home, it’ll be tough to find the time for these!

Stress-free pregnancy tip #5: Avoid information overload. Taking a pregnancy education class is crucial for knowing what to expect when you’re having a baby. However, it’s easy to get caught up listening to other people’s horror stories and spending hours on the Internet reading about what could (but probably won’t) go wrong. Instead of delving into the gloomy, pay attention to your own body and look to your doctor for reassurance and advice.

Preparing for a baby can be a lot of work, so don’t hesitate to ask someone for help, to take some pressure off you. A happy, healthy mom-to-be is part of the secret to a happy, healthy pregnancy!

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