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:
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).
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.
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.”
If your car stalled at the bottom of a hill, you certainly wouldn’t try to push it uphill. So why does it make sense to fight gravity by lying down during labor? This is just one reason why the standard hospital labor position—semi- or fully reclining—is not ideal. For one thing, when you’re lying on your back, your uterus compresses major blood vessels, potentially depriving the baby of oxygen and making you feel dizzy or queasy.
I have two friends who are due at the end of August. Both are first timers, healthy and had fairly easy pregnancies. There’s been a little nausea here and there and a few aches and pains, but other than that they’ve both been really fortunate to have lovely pregnancies.
Knowing your herpes simplex virus status makes you better prepared to deal with it. Many cases of neonatal transmission occur with mothers who don’t know they have the virus. Fortunately, while roughly 25 percent to 30 percent of pregnant women have herpes, less than 0.1 percent of babies contract it. Risk is increased if a woman has an outbreak at the time of delivery, because active viral cells present in the vagina can be very dangerous for her baby.
When Valerie Rowekamp’s labor started, it felt like an annoying case of menstrual cramps. During the hours that followed, the cramping became “downright uncomfortable, but not necessarily painful.” In fact, she gave birth without any pain medication. “I was surprised that it never really felt beyond my tolerance level, which is very low,” she said in her message on Fit Pregnancy’s Facebook page.
For some women, swollen and very tender breasts are the first clues they’re pregnant: Right from the start, they’re preparing for their job of producing milk. Here, Heather Weldon, M.D., an OB-GYN in Vancouver, Wash., answers some of the most common questions about your mammaries during pregnancy.
Q: How and when will my breasts change?
While your birth experience will be as unique to you as your new baby, the phases of labor and delivery are the same for everyone. During pregnancy the opening of your uterus, the cervix, is firm and closed. As your due date approaches, you may experience mild contractions that help prepare your cervix for delivery: It becomes soft, stretchy and thin, a process called effacement.
You may be hungrier than ever, but nausea, indigestion and the need to control your calorie intake can make it tough to get the nutrition you and your baby need. Our expert advice and satisfying recipes will help you overcome the challenges each trimester poses.
We all know that giving birth rarely happens like it does on TV shows: Your water breaks; you gasp, exclaim, “She’s coming!” Then, lipstick refreshed, you cradle your newborn as your handsome husband looks on. Alternatively, we hope your experience isn’t going to be fodder for reality TV: A swarm of doctors sprints into the delivery room, shouting, “Get the NICU team, STAT! We’ve got a quadruple nuchal and need a cold-knife section!”