Since essential oils (the oils that give plants their distinctive smells) are the key ingredients in aromatherapy treatments and products, experts recommend not using them in the first trimester. Essential oils could cause uterine contractions or adversely affect your baby in his early developmental stages, explains Jill Edwards, N.D., an Oregon doctor of naturopathic medicine who specializes in prenatal care.
When I was pregnant with our first child, my husband and I had a conversation about whether he should stand above or below the Mason-Dixon line during the delivery. The truth is, while we may want our partner to be enamored by the thought of seeing a baby emerge from our birth canal, not every man is capable of handling this sight.
An orgasm involves a series of uterine and vaginal contractions, but there have been contradictory studies about whether it can hasten labor. Do keep in mind that if your pregnancy is high risk, you should check with your doctor before you engage in sex late in your pregnancy.
These painful cramps, which typically occur in the calf muscle, often increase in frequency and severity during the last trimester, when extra body weight can affect circulation in your legs, explains Connie L. Agnew, M.D., a perinatologist at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. When a cramp occurs, stretch your leg out with your heel extended and then gently pull (or have your partner push) your toes toward your body, she suggests. (Do not point your toes!) This will probably be painful at first, but it will help alleviate the cramp.
Prenatal diet Children of mothers who ate apples and fish during pregnancy were less likely to develop asthma and eczema, according to researchers in the Netherlands and Scotland. Low-mercury varieties of fish with the fewest chemicals include wild Pacific salmon and farm-raised trout, says Anatoly Belilovsky, M.D., a pediatrician specializing in asthma and allergies in Brooklyn, N.Y. There’s also a link between low vitamin D levels in mothers and childhood asthma.
You wouldn’t dream of running a marathon without training first. Such an intense athletic event requires mental, physical and emotional preparation. The same is true for childbirth: Knowing what can happen during labor and delivery—and your options for pain relief—can alleviate your fears and boost your confidence. “Knowledge is power,” says Sheri Bayles, R.N., a certified Lamaze instructor who taught childbirth classes at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City for more than 20 years.
The longest weeks of my life were the ones right before my due dates. I was convinced with every pregnancy there was no way I'd go full term. I'd contract away for weeks in advance. I predicted undoubtedly 30-40 pound giants. So really, under those circumstances, what woman could go the full 40 weeks? Apparently, I could and they all turned out to be reasonably sized babies.
First, ask him how he feels about watching the birth and what he’s comfortable seeing. Explain your concern. Assure him it’s OK to stand at your head and focus on your face.
Fetal kick counts are a simple, noninvasive way to monitor your baby’s well-being. “Fetal movement is a reassuring sign,” explains William M. Gilbert, M.D., an OB-GYN specializing in maternal-fetal medicine at Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento, Calif. “When babies are in trouble, they don’t move as much.”
1. Enroll your dog in an obedience class so he’ll be on his best behavior when the baby comes home.
2. Avoid major renovations if you’re living in an older home with layers of paint or varnish that could release harmful lead dust. (This is true throughout your pregnancy.)
3. Nix hot tubs and saunas; high temperatures can affect your baby’s development during the early months.
4. Get a dental checkup (gum disease is linked to premature delivery), but skip the X-rays.
The words “easy labor” may seem like an oxymoron, but there are steps you can take, both throughout pregnancy and during labor, to make your experience less stressful and more comfortable, less clinical and more joyful. And although the following tips won’t guarantee you’ll have a sweat-free, pang-free birth, they can help make your labor and delivery more manageable.
Maite emailed and asked: Will perineal massage help me avoid a tear during delivery? Will the doctor do an episiotomy even if I don’t want one? Let me start with reassurance: While episiotomies are still performed, they’re not done routinely anymore.
What’s better: a tear or an episiotomy? The best choice is neither. Back in the olden days routine episiotomies were considered safer, cleaner and easier to repair. Nowadays, we know better.