Countdown to Your New Baby

The outlets have been covered, baby clothes bought, car seat installed -- what’s left to do? In the final weeks before delivery, you may find yourself becoming restless. Instead of counting down the minutes, why not make the most of your time with these suggestions.

Rest up. Ask some new moms what they wish they had done more of before their baby arrived, and without a doubt, sleeping would be at the top of their list. Though ultimately rewarding, labor and delivery are exhausting, and you’ll need energy ad stamina to get through the process. Sneak in as many naps and morning sleep-ins as you can during the last few weeks of your pregnancy, or make an effort to head to bed at an earlier time.

Bond with your partner. Before your new baby makes his debut, and your time is consumed by feedings, naps, and diaper changes, take time to relish your last few weeks alone with your partner. Try taking a long weekend away together or find a nearby bed and breakfast or local hotel so you can play tourist in your own hometown. Make sure to check with your doctor before making any late pregnancy travel arrangements, in case your practitioner isn’t comfortable with you being far from home.

Finish baby prep. You might think you only have a few things left to finish up before your little one arrives, but now is the time to do it. While a new baby really doesn’t need much in her first few weeks, check to make sure everything is set up and ready to go. Don’t forget to sterilize bottles, put sheets on the crib, assemble the stroller, wash the baby clothes, and complete other tasks that you won’t want to deal with while juggling a brand-new baby. Once she arrives you’ll want to give her as much undivided attention as you can!

There’s a lot to do before your new baby arrives, but there’s no need to worry if you don't get to it all. The most important task in your last few weeks is take care of yourself so you can be a healthy new mom when your little one does arrive.

Photo by Beau Horyza on Unsplash

Embarrassing Symptoms of Having a Baby

Morning sickness, weight gain, and exhaustion…expectant moms discuss these symptoms openly. What they don’t always talk about are the more awkward changes to your body: Belching, constipation, smelly discharge, and hair growing in unexpected places are just a few of the joys that come with motherhood . The good news is you are not alone -- even better, there are some simple pregnancy tips that will help lessen even the worst symptoms. Here, top embarrassing pregnancy issues along with their fixes.

Gassy issues

Even the most put-together women typically get gassy during pregnancy. That’s because hormonal surges can slow down your gastrointestinal tract and your changing body means your muscles may not be able to hold it in as they once did, leading to some embarrassing (and smelly) situations.

Your fix: A bit of after-dinner exercise, such as a brisk walk, allows food to digest faster and should prevent excessive flatulence.

Itchy Breasts

Having an uncontrollable urge to scratch at your cleavage? As your breasts and nipples grow in preparation for the new baby, the skin around the area also stretches and becomes more sensitive -- and much more prone to irritation.

Fix: New moms- to-be can sooth their tender skin by moisturizing with cocoa butter after showers.

Luscious (facial) locks

The same hormones growing that full mane of hair can also cause sprout-ups in less desirable locales: Many expectant moms report an increase in hair growth on their faces, breasts, and tummies.  

Fix:  Tweezing and waxing are the safest options for the time being -- leave the more permanent cosmetic procedures until after your new baby has arrived, as laser treatments on the face can cause scarring in pregnant women.

Low libido

With all the embarrassing things happening to your body, it’s little wonder that many pregnant women suffer from a dampened sex drive. And as your tummy swells with the new baby, it’s likely that intimacy will become progressively more uncomfortable.

Fix: Invite your partner to a doctor’s appointment so he can better understand how you’re feeling -- and that this is perfectly normal. You might even get some pregnancy tips for getting in the mood.

Raging Libido

On the flip side, some women report a heightened sex drive. With a 40 to 50 percent increase in blood flow to your nether regions, you may find yourself getting more aroused or experiencing more intense orgasms than you thought possible! 

Fix: Enjoy it! According to experts, if the sex isn’t hurting you, it’s not hurting your new baby.

These body changes are completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of, but the quick fixes will have you feeling more like your old self in no time. And if they don’t do the job completely, find relief in the fact that your body will start returning to normal post-pregnancy.

 

Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

Expectant Moms’ Pregnancy To-Do List

Not only is it exciting to count down to the birth of your new baby, it can also be comforting. Planning a little each month to welcome your baby home keeps you organized and eases your mind. Follow our month-by-month guide and you’ll be more than ready when your bundle of joy arrives.

Month 1

  • Find a prenatal health care provider by asking for referrals from friends or your general practitioner.

  • Schedule your first prenatal appointment.

  • Take prenatal vitamins or supplements, if recommended by your provider.

Month 2

  • Become familiar with your (or your partner’s) insurance policy so you know what’s covered.

  • Make an appointment with the dentist, as gum disease can increase your risk of premature birth.

Month 3

  • Make a plan for how you’ll share your big news with family and friends; if you work, you’ll also need to prepare to tell your boss.

  • Shop for some new clothes. Your pants will be hard to zip up soon, and you may want to look for a few starter items to tide you over until you’re bigger.

  • Make a budget and start saving for gear for your new baby.

Month 4

  • Start to think about day care. Will it be full time, in-home, or might you decide to hire a nanny? Weigh the pros and cons of each.

Month 5

  • Start planning your maternity leave from work.

  • Think about ordering baby furniture. It can take many weeks or even a few months for certain items to arrive.

  • Treat yourself to a prenatal massage! You deserve the rest and relaxation.

Month 6

  • Decide (roughly) when your last day of work will be and what kind of coverage you’ll need when you’re gone.

  • Consider whether you’ll need a breast pump and then ask around for recommendations.

  • Pre-register at the hospital where you’re planning to give birth to your new baby.

  • Make a delivery plan and decide who you want in the room with you (and who can wait outside).

  • Sign up for childbirth, infant care, and breastfeeding classes

Month 7

  • If you have someone who wants to throw you a baby shower or other new baby celebration, pick a date and share names and addresses with her.

  • Update your 401K plan and your will.

  • Schedule a tour of the hospital or birth center.

Month 8

  • Write up a birth plan and buy birth announcements (or design your announcements online).

  • Pack your hospital bag and have it ready to go by the front door.

  • Install your new baby’s car seat.

Month 9

  • Pick up a few newborn diapers (but not too many -- new babies grow quickly!) and any layette or baby care items you're missing.

  • Figure out how you’ll get to the hospital. Will your partner drive you or will you take a cab?

  • Get a pedicure or do something else to help you relax during the last weeks!

  • Checked everything off? Then congratulations! Now you can rest easy knowing that you did everything you could to prepare for your new baby.

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.