The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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You may be planning a natural birth, but there are times when your health-care provider must intervene for health and safety reasons. Or you may find that standard hospital practices often include medical interventions. In either situation, it’s important that you be involved in the decisions related to your care. You can do that by asking questions and openly communicating your desires to everyone in attendance.
Between childbirth classes, doctor’s appointments, shopping for baby gear and—oh yeah—a job and other regular life stuff, what mom-to-be has time to exercise? Actually, you do. “Thirty minutes is all you need for an effective workout,” says Susan Hoffman, a trainer and prenatal fitness specialist at Boca Raton Life Time Athletic Club in Boca Raton, Fla.
In the U.S. today, about 4 percent of babies are breech at full term, which means they’re in position to exit the uterus feet- or butt-first rather than headfirst. Before 1959, virtually all such babies were safely delivered vaginally; today, most are born by Cesarean section.
The hair salon
Because contractions generally signal that labor is starting, they can be viewed as a warning sign, a green light or a cue to ask, “Honey, the crib is set up, right?” But having contractions before you’re due doesn’t necessarily mean that Baby has requested an early checkout from Hotel Utero. Here’s what you need to know about uterine contractions—whenever they occur:
Ask any mom whose pregnancy went into extra innings: Right around your due date, the phone calls, emails and texts start coming: “Is anything happening?” “What does the doctor say?” “Wellll????” Playing the waiting game during the last few weeks of pregnancy is hard, but it becomes especially difficult when 40 weeks turn into 41 . . . or 42. But the first thing to know is this: Your due date is just an estimate. In fact, only 5 percent of babies are born on theirs.
For some women, a sudden burst of cleaning, stockpiling and organizing is quickly followed by labor. Others feel the impulse earlier in pregnancy. Regardless of when the urge to nest hits, it can feel overwhelming. Manage your to-do list and minimize stress with these tips from Ellie Miller and Melissa Gould of Ellie & Melissa, The Baby Planners (thebabyplanners.com).
Amniotic fluid: It’s at once mundane and poetic, a humble liquid that protects and nourishes your baby.
It also helps maintain a constant temperature; promotes growth and development of the fetus’s lungs, gastrointestinal system, muscles and bones; and prevents compression of the umbilical cord.
Some studies even suggest that it transmits odors and flavors from your diet, helping to influence your baby’s future taste preferences.
Nitrous oxide (N2O), aka laughing gas, is used in dental offices throughout the United States and in maternity hospitals worldwide. In fact, the majority of mothers in Europe, Australia and Canada—all places with better maternal and newborn health outcomes than in the U.S.—rely on it to reduce labor pain. N2O was widely used in American delivery rooms until the 1960s, when epidurals became a popular marketing tool for hospitals.
While many doctors and women feel that bed rest can't do any harm and might do some good during certain high-risk pregnancies, a recent review of research suggests otherwise. Often-overlooked side effects include muscle atrophy, cardiovascular deconditioning, potential bone loss and depression, says study author Judith A. Maloni, Ph.D., R.N., a professor of nursing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
That ruffled swim cap can stay in grandma’s closet because this water exercise program is anything but old-fashioned. “This is for a person who wants a more challenging aqua workout,” says trainer and fitness educator Sara Kooperman, who developed her nationally known Water in Motion program that incorporates yoga, Pilates and dance moves after she injured her back in a skiing accident.
A tense neck, sore back, twinges in your hips, throbbing feet—when you’re pregnant, aches and pains are just part of the deal, right? Not necessarily. “These problems may be the norm in our population today, but that wasn’t always the case,” says Katy Bowman, M.S., a biomechanist in Ventura, Calif., and creator of the Aligned and Well DVD series. “Pregnant women today suffer more than they did 100 years ago.”