"Call your insurance company to find out exactly what is and is not covered for your delivery. For instance, your insurance may not cover a private room, so requesting one might cost extra. Knowing what to expect upfront will save you the stress of unexpected bills later."
"Buy the next size maternity workout pants, swimsuits, sports bras and athletic shoes before you need them. You can't predict the day you can no longer stuff yourself into your workout clothes, and by the time you get around to buying bigger ones (if you ever do), you'll have missed a week or two of exercise."
— Suzanne Schlosberg, bend, ore., mother of two
"If you experience premature contractions, lie on your left side and drink at least a glass or two of water. If this makes them stop, you are experiencing 'false' labor. If it doesn't, call your doctor."
— Gail J. Dahl
"Pregnancy brings out the perfectionist in many women. They set unrealistically high expectations for diet, exercise, weight gain and delivery. They engage in black-and-white thinking and tend to believe that anything short of perfect is a failure. Set realistic goals and realize you don't have to do everything perfectly to have a healthy baby."
— Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., author of Be Happy Without Being Perfect (Crown, 2008) and mother of two
"Apply Lansinoh cream to your nipples every day for a month before giving birth. Although it's marketed for the treatment of sore nipples, it's very effective at preventing them."
— Erin Zamoff, Washington, D.C., mother of three
"If seeing the numbers on the scale escalate at each prenatal visit is going to stress you out, don't look. Ask that the nurse only speak about your weight gain if it's too much or too little."
"Take a 'babymoon.' A vacation with your partner before the baby arrives is a wonderful way to stay
connected and focus on one another."
— nurse-practitioner Barbara Dehn, author of Your Personal Guide to Pregnancy (Blue Orchid Press, 2004) and mother of one
"Interview babysitters before you even have a baby. Finding the time when you're a new mom will be tough, and you don't want to choose someone out of desperation."
— Carrie Stidwell O'Boyle, Madison, Wis., mother of one
"Have your husband investigate his paternity leave options. My husband found out he was entitled to a paid six-week leave. Having an extra pair of hands with twins was essential."
— Sarah MacDonald, Newark, Del., mother of two
"End-of-pregnancy sleeplessness? Consider creating your own 'sleep number' bed using a semi-inflated air mattress."
— Sandy Jones, co-author with her daughter, Marcie Jones, of Great Expectations: Your All-in-One Resource for Pregnancy & Childbirth (Sterling, 2004)
On Giving Birth
During labor, change positions every 20-30 minutes. Once you get comfortable, the baby gets comfortable. You want the baby out, not comfortable. it also helps to shift your pelvis, allowing the baby room to move through the birth canal.
— Maura Varley-Twyman, Richmond, Va., mother of four
"Realize that it's very, very rare for birth to go as planned, without a hitch. I'm convinced this is to prepare you for raising children, a job for which the most valued skills by far are flexibility and adaptability."
— Susy Greer, Washington, D.C., mother of two
"Write down the names of doctors and nurses at each shift change. It's so much easier to get someone's attention when you speak to them by name."
"Unless there is a medical reason, do not succumb to a premature induction. A naive and excited first-time mom can be easily tempted to be induced, but it is not worth the potential problems. I had a complicated C-section recovery after my OB induced me because I was 'close enough.'"
— Becky Boggan, Atlanta, mother of four
"When it is time to push, be sure you are not lying flat on your back. If you do, gravity will be working against you and may delay your baby's birth. If you are having back labor and are told your baby is 'posterior' or not facing the right way, push while lying on alternate sides to help the baby rotate into the best position."
— Bonnie Berk, R.N., founder of Motherwell (motherwellfitness.com) and mother of three