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.

Pregnancy Etiquette for Expectant Moms

As you may have discovered, even the most well intentioned family members and friends, coworkers and strangers will ask unwanted questions while you’re pregnant. So how does a mom-to-be handle the queries gracefully while keeping her cool? The key is to be ready for whatever people will throw at you. Here’s how to cope with some awkward situations you'll encounter while pregnant.

The question: “What are you going to name your new baby?”

Let’s face it: Coming up with a baby name that you and your partner can agree on is hard enough without anyone else chiming in, and it’s normal to worry that someone will steal your baby name. While some expecting parents have no problem revealing potential monikers, it’s okay if you prefer to not to share. Just politely explain that for now you’re keeping names a secret, and if you decide to announce the name before the baby comes they’ll be the first to know.

The remark: “Did you know I was in labor for 38 hours?”

It’s normal for new moms to want to share their experiences and offer pregnancy tips, but no one wants to hear horror stories about the delivery room. If a conversation gets too graphic, feel free to interrupt and politely say that you appreciate the advice, but everyone’s pregnancy and delivery is different. Explain to your chatty friend that the next time you have a question, you’ll be sure to give her a call.

The question: “Are you pregnant?”

If a nosy co-worker or cousin is prying before you’ve decided to make the announcement, remember that you’re allowed to keep it a secret for as long as you’d like. Not ready to ‘fess up? Try a quick, “Not yet!” fib as a response. When you are ready to tell family and friends that you'll be a new mom, it’s usually best to start with your inner circle before posting on Facebook. At your workplace, your wisest course is to tell your boss in private before spreading the word.

The question: “Was it planned?”

Whether someone asks whether you went the IVF route or if the pregnancy was a total surprise, don’t feel obligated to answer. The easiest way to wiggle out of it is to say, “We’re so happy we’re having a baby; how have you been?” By changing the topic, you indicate that you’re not willing to talk about the subject, and most people should get the hint.

The request: “Can I touch your belly?”

It seems that the instant you have a bump, everyone wants to feel it. But having your tummy rubbed -- especially by total strangers -- can be awkward and weird, to say the least. Ward off unwanted hands by keeping something in front of your belly (a purse will do the trick). When it comes to people you know trying to get in a rub, you’ll have to be a little more diplomatic; jokingly tell them that the baby is sleeping and doesn’t want to be woken up.

Just remember, it’s your baby -- and your body -- so don’t let other people make you feel uncomfortable. There’s always a polite way to refute questions you don’t want to answer.

Pregnancy Tips for Easing Backaches

Back pain, alas, is one of the most common complaints of expectant new moms. So what’s going on to cause the aches? First, your center of gravity changes as your uterus expands with your new baby, which can affect posture and wreak havoc on your back. A burgeoning belly causes similar problems, stretching out the ab muscles that normally help support your spine. On top of this, a new mom’s body releases hormones to relax the ligaments in the pelvic joints, making them more flexible for labor but causing back pain if these joints get too supple. Luckily, in addition to ice and heating pads, there are a few simple steps you can take to prevent or lessen the backaches of having a baby. 

Back relief pregnancy tip #1: Mind your posture. If you're an expectant mom, standing up straight isn’t just good manners: It also protects your back muscles. You may be tempted to slouch or lean back to compensate for the weight of your growing bump, but doing so may strain your lower back muscles. Instead, adhere to the principles of good posture and stand up straight with shoulders relaxed, holding your chest high. To help support the new baby in your belly, keep your feet wide apart and avoid standing upright for too long.

Back relief pregnancy tip #2: Sleep smart. While it’s important for expectant moms to get plenty of rest, it’s equally important to protect the back during sleep. Especially in the later months, avoid sleeping on your back -- those muscles need their rest, too! Instead, snooze on your side, bending one or both knees. For extra comfort, place a pillow or two between your legs for support.

A firm mattress may also help you avoid sore backs. But you don’t have to replace the bedroom set just because you’re having a baby: To add support to a softer bed, simply place a strong wood plank between your box spring and mattress.

Back relief pregnancy tip #3: Get active. Back-friendly exercises like swimming and walking provide a bevy of benefits for expectant moms. Strengthening and stretching both the back muscles and back-supporting muscles (such as your hips, abs, and legs) eases back pain and helps prepare you for labor. Simple stretches can also help release back tension, so consider signing up for a yoga class for feel-good back benefits. Be sure to check with your doctor before deciding which exercise regimen will work best for you.

If you back is causing you a considerable amount of pain or preventing you from going about your daily activities, talk to your doctor. Pregnancy may not always comfortable, but remember that you won’t be carrying the extra weight for much longer.

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!