Breastfeeding Prep for New Moms

If you’ve decided to give breastfeeding a try, you may be wondering where to start and what to do. Breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally to new moms, so it’s smart to do some prep work while you’re still pregnant so you know what to expect. Here are a few tips to consider before you start nursing your new baby:

Stock up on nursing bras. Easy access when you’re nursing is important, so think about purchasing a couple of nursing bras in the middle of your third trimester. Get fitted by an experienced salesperson (you want a little bit of room to grow towards the end of your pregnancy). Start with two bras for now and then get more as you need them.

Attend a breastfeeding class. Attending a nursing course will give you a preview of what to expect; it’s also a chance to ask questions you may have about the process. Many childbirth classes also include breastfeeding instruction, so don't worry if you can't find a class that's exclusively about breastfeeding. To find a class near you, call the hospital where you’ll be giving birth, ask your health care provider, or check out local message boards or mom groups.

Purchase the gear. If you plan to return to work after the birth of your new baby, a breast pump will be invaluable. It’s normal to leak a little when your milk starts to come in, so pick up a few breast pads to insert into your nursing bras. Finally, a nursing pillow may also come in handy, as many new moms find it to be very helpful for propping up their baby when nursing; others use regular bed or couch pillows for the same result.

Find a lactation consultant. Starting off on the right foot when you’re nursing is a lot easier if you have some professional support. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy at first, and it’s possible you may struggle with figuring out certain positions or getting your new baby to latch-on. You may want to make an appointment with a lactation consultant in advance of your birth to get must-know tips, or schedule it for soon after your delivery. Many hospitals will have lactation consultants and nurses available to help you start nursing right after your baby is born.

The best breastfeeding experience starts with a bit of planning. Ask your friends and family for their advice, too, as you get ready, and call on them for support as you begin nursing your new baby. Don’t worry if you can’t stick with it for as long as you’d like -- any nursing you do will have a positive effect on your baby.

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.

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.

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!

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.