Pregnancy Tips for Managing Mood Swings

Pregnancy is a big deal, and we’re not just talking about your growing bump. Having a baby is one of life’s most joyous experiences, and also one of the most terrifying. It’s no wonder that many new moms-to-be find themselves riding an emotional roller coaster, feeling on top of the world one moment and low the next. Know that mood swings are a perfectly normal part of pregnancy. Taking good care of yourself and your new baby will help you ride out these ups and downs, but make sure to talk with your partner and best friends so you don’t feel as if you have to cope on your own. Here are some additional strategies for managing your emotions while preparing for a baby:

Pregnancy emotions tip #1: Understand your body. Between the sixth and tenth week of your pregnancy -- and then again in the third trimester -- levels of estrogen and progesterone spike. These pregnancy hormones can affect the levels of neurotransmitters, the hormones that regulate our emotions, and leave new moms-to-be feeling unusually sad or irritable. Make sure your loved ones know there’s a reason for your sudden tears or tantrums so they cut you some slack. Carving out time for rest and relaxation will help you stay in touch with your emotions and ask for TLC when you most need it.

Pregnancy emotions tip #2: Lessen your stress. If you find your mind spinning with worry about how a new baby will affect your body, finances, career, relationship, and everything else under the sun, you’re not alone. Becoming a parent is a momentous rite of passage. Ask yourself, what can I do to reduce my anxiety? It’s important for moms-to-be to make time for stress-reducing activities like yoga, massage, walking, taking a bath, or reading a good book. Managing your stress will not only help smooth out your moods, but will help create a healthy physical and mental environment for your developing new baby.

Pregnancy emotions tip #3: Be nutrition smart. Eating nutritious foods is an important part of caring for your pregnant body as well as your new baby. Good nutrition is also essential for your emotional wellbeing. A drop in blood sugar can foul up your mood under normal circumstances, but it can really throw you for a loop when you’re expecting. By eating regularly throughout the day, and choosing healthy snacks like carrot sticks and hummus or plain yogurt and a fruit, -- you can help prevent hunger-related outbursts and boost your intake of vital nutrients.

Above all, be kind and patient with yourself during this time. When you find yourself acting out big emotions or flip-flopping from happy to sad and back again, take a deep breath. Remind yourself that this is great practice for dealing with an adorable but irritable infant and toddler!

Six Pregnancy Super Foods

You know you have to eat well when expecting -- this helps help ensure a healthy pregnancy and gives your baby’s development a boost. But which foods pack the biggest nutritional punch? And how can you easily include them in your roster of meals, mini-meals, and snacks? Here, a handy guide to super foods and healthy eating!

Eggs Protein is crucial for your new baby’s growth during the second and third trimesters, and eggs are an easy and inexpensive way to get a good dose. Hardboiled eggs make for a fast snack, while an over-easy egg on top of rice or stir-fry veggies can give the meal a protein boost.

Beans Fiber-full, protein-rich, and low in calories -- what’s not to love about beans? Whether you choose black, pinto, navy, or chickpeas, they’ll taste great in a quesadilla or sprinkled on salads and pasta dishes.

Sweet potatoes Regular potatoes are fine, but for some added vitamins A and C (which helps you absorb iron and helps ensure healthy gums for you and your new baby) pick the dark orange variety. Bake a couple until they are soft and top with low-fat Greek yogurt and chives, or slice sweet potatoes into edges and roast them in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes.

Salmon This fish delivers a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids , which can give your new baby’s developing brain a boost. Expectant new moms can enjoy 12 ounces of fish a week, so consider low- and no-mercury varieties like salmon, trout, and sardines. If cooking fresh fish doesn't appeal to you, opt for the canned varieties (try salmon salad on rye).

Nuts The healthy fats found in nuts can help foster your new baby’s brain development; walnuts, with their omega-3s , are particularly potent. Eat them whole or spread walnut butter on whole-wheat toast or slices of pear.

Low-fat dairy Calcium, protein, and vitamin D can be found in dairy aisle products, so stock up on skim milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese. Greek yogurt is an especially good pick because of the extra protein it offers.

Don’t be concerned if your pregnancy diet isn’t perfect all the time. Just try to work in a couple of these picks each day to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible.

Five Solutions for Top Pregnancy Sleep Issues

If you’re tossing and turning at night, unable to get the rest you need, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Many new moms-to-be have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, especially as their pregnancy progresses. It’s important to try to resolve your bedtime battles sooner rather than later, as good sleep during pregnancy is linked to a healthier baby and an easier delivery. Read on for some common pregnancy sleep problems and how to solve them.

Trouble getting comfortable: Use a pregnancy pillow to wrap around your tummy, elevate your legs, or assist you when lying on your side. If you have pain in your lower back, experiment with extra pillows to relieve any muscle tension. Try one pillow under your abdomen, one between your legs, a firm one behind your back, and an extra one under your head, for example.

Headaches and nausea: If headaches are disturbing your sleep, you may be suffering from low blood sugar. Try eating a light snack with protein and carbohydrates such as scrambled eggs and toast, which will help to keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the night. If you find yourself feeling nauseous when you lie down for the night, you may want to start eating small, bland snacks throughout the day, like crackers or toast.

Hot flashes or night sweats: Make sure the bedroom stays cool by cracking open a window, using a fan, or turning down the thermostat. Also, close the curtains or blinds before you turn in for the night. You’ll find it much easier to fall asleep and stay asleep if the room is cool and dark.

Frequent trips to the bathroom: Cut off your consumption of liquids a few hours before bedtime to reduce the number of times you have to get up during the night. However, with your growing new baby putting constant pressure on your bladder, some nighttime trips to the bathroom may be unavoidable. A nightlight or a dimmer switch is a better choice than turning on a bright overhead light, which can make it difficult to fall back asleep.

Heartburn: Avoid spicy, acidic, or fried foods, especially a few hours before bedtime, and make sure not to recline for at least an hour or two after eating. If the problem persists, try sleeping with your head elevated on a pillow or speak with your doctor.

You may need to follow more than one or even all of these tips in order to solve your sleep problems. But don’t give up! A proper night’s rest will give your body the energy it needs to have a healthy pregnancy.

The Reality of Being a New Dad

To say I was excited when my wife was pregnant with our first child, Morgan, would be a gross understatement. While this overwhelming sense of joy continued to grow along with her belly, I could never have prepared myself for the days and months ahead as a new dad. I imagined fatherhood as one thing, and turns out, my thoughts and emotions were pretty spot on -- times 100.

Expectations: What I Thought I Felt

During my wife’s pregnancy, I wasn’t nervous; just extremely excited. I looked forward to knowing there was someone who would come to understand they could turn to me for anything in life. The only nerves I had as a dad-to-be, were tied to ensuring my baby was a healthy one, and knowing how to respond in different situations. Now I like to think of myself as a smart guy and efficient problem solver, making unplanned decisions every minute of my workday. I constantly get thrown curveballs, and am able to use knowledge and reasoning to figure out the best solution. Why should a baby be much different?

I felt like I did everything new dads are told to do to prepare: read The Expectant Father, talked to other parents. They helped me understand my wife’s experience, -- physically and emotionally -- my own experience, and what was in store once the baby made her first appearance. I looked forward to all the firsts, and to share my favorite things with our child.

What didn’t make me jump for joy was the actual birth part, as I knew I had to be strong for my wife, but having a sensitive stomach, I felt queasy at the thought of watching this oozy miracle happen before my eyes.

 

Reality: What I Feel Now

When my wife was pushing out our child, all queasiness left the room. I couldn’t believe my eyes: I was witnessing our creation come into this world. The minute my wife held our child, I was pleasantly surprised at what a natural she is. All of her nerves went out the room and her maternal instincts kicked into high gear. From day one, my wife showed confidence, love, knowledge, and connection as a mother.

I, on the other hand, began questioning everything. I had difficulty advising my wife on decisions, solutions and actions. I simply didn’t know the answers (maybe Google would?) I was surprised by how much more cautious and nervous I felt, when in my head I thought I would always be a cool and collected new dad. Did she eat enough? She’s hungry again? Why is she crying? Why isn’t she crying!

Despite the worry, the overwhelming joy I thought I felt during my wife’s pregnancy was put to shame each time I looked at my baby. I felt extreme pride at Morgan’s firsts -- lifting her head during tummy time, smiling, playing with toys on her own. I couldn’t believe I felt excited and relieved at each poop, each burp, knowing everything was functioning properly. I felt happy when Morgan slept, knowing she was getting the rest she needed, and happy when she woke, knowing she wanted to eat (and was still breathing!)

Watching a baby experience and learn something new every day is fascinating. Hearing ‘dada’ for the first time and watching Morgan take her first steps as she walked into my arms created incomparable pride. I knew being a dad would be great. Yet there is no way your expectations of greatness are in line with how truly remarkable the experience is watching a helpless thing grow into an independent mover and shaker.

New Dad Prep! 10 Ways to Get Ready

Being married to an editor and writer at a parenting magazine meant I mostly took orders when it came to pregnancy. My wife Jen was ‘in the biz’ and knew exactly what to expect and how to get ready. But as her partner in baby making and a soon-to-be new dad, I definitely had a role to play. Here’s how I geared up for the birth of our daughter which began my journey to fatherhood.

Crack the books As a new dad-to-be; you have to read up on the topic -- at least a little bit. Don’t pass on the articles, books or blogs that come your way.

Play waiter She wants ice cream -- at 2 AM? You’re on it! For Jen, it was root beer floats with our first, and egg and cheese sandwiches with #2.

Rub down Her feet, her back, her shoulders -- you name it. There’s nothing better than a massage at the end of the day, so jump right in and do your best.

Catch some zzz’s Now’s your chance: Sleep late, nap during the day, and generally lie around. Frankly, fatherhood won’t allow for much rest for many years.

Dad the Builder Step up to the plate and find the screwdriver! It’s time to put together the crib, paint that bookcase and hang the mobile.

Head of the class Birthing, breastfeeding and the hospital tour -- be sure all of these classes and events on are your calendar. Arrive on time, pay attention, and ask questions if you don’t understand something -- questions are expected, you’re going to be a new dad!

Car talk This was the hardest part. I had trouble mounting the car seat correctly and had to visit several service stations to get it right. Go to http://www.seatcheck.org/ for an inspection location in your area.

Be honest If you’re scared of being a new dad, or worried about the pain your wife will feel -- talk about it. This is some of the best advice I got.

Town crier Yup -- that’s you. When the babe arrives, you’re in charge of Tweeting, emailing, calling and taking the pictures. Don’t forget to charge your phone and digital camera!

Diaper duty Change those Pampers diapers, mix up the bottles and take a turn burping and cuddling. It’s time for baby boot camp -- your journey has just begun.