Make a Better Life

Here are some points to ponder during your pregnancy.


Pregnancy is a time for change. And for choices. And we're not just talking about whether you'll paint the nursery pink or yellow. "While you still have more time, re-evaluate what means most to you in life and what obligations you can let go of--for good," says Wendy Clarke Wilcox, M.D., M.P.H., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. Read on for some points to ponder at this crucial juncture.

Your marriage Pregnancy can be a very self-absorbed time, and women often forget about their significant other. "Remember, your relationship with your partner is the foundation for your child," says psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., author of The 10 Smartest Decisions A Woman Can Make Before 40 (HCI, 1998). Make time to discuss your upcoming roles. What's your partner's greatest fear? What is he looking forward to most? Let him in on what you're thinking and feeling. Talk about how other couples work out the 24/7 demands of life plus kids. "It's easier to be objective when you look at someone else," Tessina says.

Your spirituality If you've been ignoring your spiritual side, you may want to consider it now that you're having a child. Spirituality doesn't require going to a church, mosque or synagogue. "Take the time to sit in your backyard and look at the stars, or light a candle and take a bath while reading an inspirational book," suggests Wilcox. "When your life becomes all consumed with the baby, it's helpful to sit back and think about the bigger picture."

Are the burbs really best? When those two lines appear in the pregnancy-test result window, the first thing many people think is, "It's time to move to the suburbs." But for a new family, the city may be better. Living in a busy metropolis can make you feel less isolated--just step out your door and there's a world of people to amuse you and your baby. And plenty of research has pointed to suburban sprawl as a contributor to the obesity epidemic; city dwellers are more likely to use their feet to get from place to place. Of course, if you choose to move, there are plenty of healthy options. When house hunting, ask yourself: • Are the sidewalks plentiful and in good shape? • Are there enough traffic lights and signs to cross main roads? How about bridges for pedestrians? • Do drivers stop for pedestrians? For bike riders? • Do speed limits seem conducive to biking? • Are there any bike lanes, bike routes or walking paths? • Are neighborhood shops, parks and/or schools within about a quarter mile of your home so that you could reasonably walk to them?

For more on what to look for in a healthy town, visit: •

Easy baby-weight banishers (no sitter required!) Share tummy time! Put your baby in front of you and get in Plank pose, aka the start of a push-up: Place your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart and straighten your arms (without locking your elbows). Your legs are straight behind you, weight resting on your toes. Keeping your back flat, make faces at your baby; try to hold the position for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Drop gently to your knees, give your baby a kiss, and come right back up again. Repeat 5 times.

Do some squats with your baby in a front carrier. Start with your feet hip-distance apart, toes forward--hold on to a couch or chair with one hand for balance if you need to. Lower your tush (like you're going to sit down), keeping your weight on your heels, then come back up. Aim for 2 to 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

Power stroll at the mall. Instead of hitting the stores immediately, do a once-around first. Exercise your abs at the same time by contracting your core muscles, as if you're pulling in your bellybutton. Keep your shoulders down and back straight for a hunch-free stride.

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