Smart Pregnancy Snacks for New Moms

Eating a wholesome, balanced diet is an important part of preparing for a new baby. And nutritious, delicious snacks should be a staple throughout the day. Experts say that eating small amounts of healthy foods can help prevent common complaints like queasiness and heartburn . Plus, reaching for the right kinds of snacks helps ensure that your new baby is getting enough of the nutrients for proper development. Consuming enough calcium, protein, healthy fat, vitamins, and minerals should be a priority for both your meals and snacks. Here are some good snack choices for new moms-to-be:

Snack pick #1: Yogurt

Calcium is essential for the development of your little one’s bones and teeth. Try sprinkling plain low-fat yogurt with some fresh fruit for a sweet but healthy snack. If you can’t do dairy, you can get the calcium you need from calcium-fortified soy yogurt. These snacks will also boost your protein intake for the day, which helps to keep you sated until your next mommy mini-meal.

Snack pick #2: Peanut butter

Although moms-to-be need lots of protein throughout pregnancy, this nutrient is especially crucial in expectant moms’ diets during the second and third trimesters. The amino acids that make up protein are essential for building new cells in your babyduring this time of peak growth. Peanut butter is a tasty, convenient choice, whether you spread it on a slice of whole wheat bread, a rice cracker, a celery stick, or apple slices. Other good protein-rich snacks include leftover roast chicken, soy nuts, and black bean dip on tortilla chips.

Snack pick #3: Oranges

Having a baby is a major accomplishment, and you need to make sure your body stays strong throughout your pregnancy. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron, staving off anemia, keeping your energy up, and ensuring a healthy birth weight for your new baby. Citrus fruit is a great source of vitamin C , but other star snacks include yellow bell pepper slices, kiwi, kale chips, dried papaya, and strawberries.

Planning ahead and stocking up on healthy snack foods helps ensure that a nutritious choice is always within arm’s reach. Think of your snacks as mini-meals; they should be just as nutrient-rich as your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s okay to indulge an unhealthy craving once in a while, but remember that the good choices you make now can help your new baby grow and thrive.

Insomnia When Expecting

There’s nothing worse than tossing and turning when you want to be fast asleep. Your mind is racing, the room suddenly feels hot, and the longer you lie awake, the more frustrated you feel.  Add to this an ever-expanding belly, back and neck aches, and the inability to get comfortable in any position, and you’ve got pregnancy insomnia. Here are four tips to help you go from restless to restful:

New mom insomnia tip #1: Get up and change your setting. If you find yourself wide-awake in the middle of the night, lying in bed may not be the best choice. Instead, get up and read a book, listen to some calming music, or do a mundane chore to help get your mind off the fact that you can’t sleep. Then, once you feel yourself getting tired, lie back down and try again.

New mom insomnia tip #2: Avoid bright lights. Even if you feel wide-awake, resist the urge to throw on a bright overhead light before bedtime. Instead, go to a room where you have a dimmer switch or a lamp with soft lighting, which will be less arousing and allow you to return to sleep more quickly.

New mom insomnia tip #3: Try guided imagery. Picture yourself in a quiet, relaxing scene. You may be lying on a warm, sandy beach, or strolling through fields full of beautiful, scented wildflowers. Now, visualize every detail of the scene. Imagine the sounds, smells, and textures around you. It may take some practice, but guided imagery can calm your restless or anxious mind.

New mom insomnia tip #4: Take a bath. If you’re wide awake and feeling so tense that you can’t fall back asleep, a warm bath may help get you back to a more relaxed state. A cup of warm milk or chamomile tea can also help soothe you to sleep.

With any luck, one or more of these strategies will do the trick and send you off into dreamland. Enjoy your well-earned night's rest.

Kegel Lessons for Expectant Moms

As a soon-to-be new mom, you know there are many beautiful parts of pregnancy -- and others that you could probably live without. High on that unwanted list is often urinary incontinence, or pelvic floor problems.

Urinary incontinence occurs when a person is no longer able to hold urine in the urethra, causing leaks from time to time. This problem is common among pregnant women and new moms, since unborn babies push down on the bladder, urethra, and pelvic floor muscles, weakening support and causing leaks. Labor then further complicates the issue by additionally weakening pelvic floor support, and potentially even damaging the nerves that control the bladder.

Luckily, Kegel exercises have been proven to help strengthen pelvic floor muscles. (Keep in mind that most bladder or urinary tract issues caused by pregnancy and delivery go away within six months of giving birth. If yours don’t, see your doctor for additional treatment or help.) If you’re ready to start strengthening, follow these tips:

1.    Identify your pelvic muscles. In order to get the most out of the exercises, begin by identifying the correct muscles. To do this, try stopping your urination midstream. The muscles that you use to stop the flow are the same ones you’ll want to work in your Kegel exercises.

2.    Get comfortable. Before starting the exercise, be sure your bladder is empty, and find a comfortable place where you can lie on your back. Then, tighten your pelvic floor muscles, holding the contraction for five seconds. Repeat this tightening and releasing in five-second increments four or five times in a row. For best results, try working up to exercises where you are able to hold the muscles for 10 seconds at a time, and then relax for 10 seconds at a time.

3.    Practice makes perfect. One Kegel exercise session won’t be enough to help. For optimal results, try to perform 10 repetitions at least three times a day.

Don’t worry if it takes a while to get used to the exercises -- that’s perfectly normal. Just don’t give up. If you continue with the exercises on a routine basis, you may see results within just a few months of starting. And one less thing to worry about as a new mom is always welcome when you have a newborn!

Pre-birth Bonding With Your New Baby

The bond between a new mom and her baby is, without a doubt, something that’s incredibly special and unbreakable. When you envision developing that bond with your own baby, you probably imagine reading stories, going for walks, or cuddling in a rocking chair together. While these are all sweet ways to grow closer to your new baby, the bond building doesn’t have to wait until your baby is born. Here are some great ways to start the bonding process while your baby’s still in utero.

Turn Up the Tunes
Studies have shown that growing babies respond positively to music. But before you turn up the rock music, know that by the second trimester babies seem to prefer classical music, or music that mimics your own heart rate of 60 beats per minute. It’s soothing for them, and it’s something you’ll probably enjoy, as well. Remember, if you’re relaxed, your baby probably will be, too.

Write It Down
Take some time at the end of each day to write down your thoughts and daily activities in a journal you purchase specifically for your new baby. You could describe how you reacted the first time you felt your baby kick, for example, or how excited you are for her to be born. Then, when your new baby is older, you can read the entries to her (or she can read them herself!). The journal will make a nice keepsake for your child to cherish in later years.

Have a Conversation
Talking to your baby is a nice way to start the bonding process early. Say “goodnight” and “good morning,” sing songs, talk to her while you rub your belly, and explain to your little one what your movements are throughout the day. She may not understand what the words mean, but the sounds will be soothing.

Get an Ultrasound
The most exciting bonding experience with your new baby may be when you get to actually see how she’s growing. Your ultrasound will give you a very realistic look at your little one. Having a real-life, tangible photo to hold on to will definitely help make the experience feel more real (if the morning sickness and growing stomach haven’t already!).

Sure, you may feel silly talking to your new baby while she’s still in your belly, but keep in mind that starting these bonding rituals now will make them seem like second nature by the time your little one is born.

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.