Feeling frenzied all the time can take a toll on your fertility. Here’s how you can chillax and boost your odds of baby-making success.
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More often than not, you'll find that a protruding belly incites unsolicited comments and advice, unwanted touches (especially the infamous “belly pats”) and the telling of pregnancy war stories by other mothers who’ve “been there.” But just because you’re about to be a mom doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to set personal boundaries, says Ginger Gabriel, Ph.D., a family therapist in Lake Gregory, Calif. Here are some tips to help you make it through these 40 weeks with grace.
Most pregnant women assume their babies will arrive right around their due date, give or take a week or so. Although that’s usually the case, a growing number of babies are being born prematurely, at fewer than 37 weeks gestation. Between 1981 and 2001, there was a 27 percent increase, to about 476,000 births per year. Currently, premature births in the United States account for 1 of every 8 births, according to the CDC.
When Karen Dressler went in for a routine ultrasound in her 26th week of pregnancy, she expected nothing but great news. The Manhattan Beach, Calif., nursing director was pregnant with her first baby and felt terrific. But her doctor found that Dressler’s uterus contained excessive amniotic fluid and that she was having 15 barely perceptible contractions an hour. Dressler was ordered to bed and given medications to try to stop her contractions and to reduce the amount of fluid.
Wouldn’t it be great if someone you trust volunteered to be on hand — even sleep on your couch — in case you went into labor in the middle of the night? What if that same person offered to walk in the woods with you in the last weeks of your pregnancy or adjusted her vacation plans to be with you during your baby’s birth?
My doula (pronounced doo-lah), Sue Ann Higgens, did all this and more when I was expecting my first child.
1. Quiz your OB-GYN.
Consider your obstetrician an inside source, says pediatrician Charlotte Cowan, M.D., a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School in Boston. "Obstetricians get feedback from new mothers, and they also watch how babies are cared for by pediatricians in the hospital nursery."
2. Ask about affiliations. If possible, choose a pediatrician who can see your baby where you plan to deliver. Meanwhile, association with a major medical center can ease your stress should emergencies or the need for specialized care arise.
Toddlers have very little patience and even less of a concept of time, so try to wait until four to eight weeks before your due date to discuss the new baby. But if you're showing a lot and she starts asking questions, you might have to talk about it earlier.
Movement is an excellent indicator of a fetus's well-being, and doing a kick count not only helps you feel confident that your baby is healthy, it also yields helpful information for your doctor. It's easy to do:Simply choose the time of day when your baby is most active and count his kicks (or pokes or roll-arounds). You should be able to detect about 10 movements within an hour; they may all happen within a few minutes, or they may go on throughout the hour. Note that the intensity of movement may change with time due to the fetus's constricted space.
Your doctor is referring to a test that is routinely given to all women between weeks 35 and 37 of pregnancy. The procedure involves swabbing your vagina and rectum and examining the secretions for the presence of Group B streptococcus (GBS).
First, help your dog become accustomed to seeing--and smelling--your son's clothes and toys by leaving these items around the house before you bring the baby home from the hospital. When you do come home, bring a cloth diaper with the baby's scent on it and let Babe sniff it before you bring the baby into the house. Then one parent should hold your son while the other greets and hugs your dog. After that, gently introduce Babe to the baby.
If you're not having any complications, you can and should exercise every day for about 30 minutes, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. You can exercise at a similar intensity to your prepregnancy level as long as you stay well-hydrated and avoid overheating. A good rule of thumb is to not increase intensity or duration beyond what you are used to doing so you don't overexert yourself. Stop immediately if you feel lightheaded or have contractions or bleeding. Using the "talk test" is an easy way to monitor your intensity while exercising.
While doing abdominal exercises now won't give you abs of steel, they will strengthen your core (and back) and make you aware of all the muscles you will use during the pushing phase of labor. Strengthening your core muscles also can help relieve pregnancy-related back pain.
After your first trimester, lying supine (on your back) can cause your enlarged uterus and baby to compress your vena cava, the major vessel that returns blood to your heart. This reduces the amount of blood your heart has to pump back out, which can lower your blood pressure and reduce blood flow to the placenta, Shashoua explains. It also can cause you to feel dizzy, lightheaded or nauseated.
"There's a big link between dehydration and uterine contractions," Shashoua says. "The hormone released during dehydration is very similar to one that causes contractions." He says experiencing contractions is the most common reason pregnant women stop exercising, so drink well before, during and after your workouts.