Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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Yes. At 16 weeks gestation, your body starts to produce colostrum; this is the earliest form of breast milk, and it’s brimming with anti-infective properties to protect your baby right from birth. Some women do leak small amounts during pregnancy, but that’s no problem. “There’s not a finite amount of colostrum,” Wight explains. “Your body will continue to produce it after your baby is born.”
Nope. Not only is it unnecessary, but, as mentioned above, doing so may trigger preterm labor. Plus, as Neifert notes: “Nipple tissue is not callus-forming tissue, so you can’t really toughen them; you might even damage the sensitive skin and make breastfeeding uncomfortable.” If you want to feel like you’re doing something to prepare, use ultra-pure medical grade lanolin on your nipples to keep the skin supple.
Yes—but not until close to delivery. “I usually recommend waiting until the last month of pregnancy to use breast shells— plastic dome-shaped devices that are worn over the nipples to help draw them out,” Neifert says. “The concern is that wearing shells may stimulate the nipples, which in turn can cause uterine contractions that could trigger preterm labor.” If you do opt to use breast shells, be sure to work with a lactation consultant. Using a breast pump is also highly effective—but you must wait until after delivery.
Common wisdom used to be that breasts of any size are capable of producing ample milk. But new research shows that, while that’s mostly true, certain breasts may have problems—particularly if they don’t expand much during pregnancy, as ample growth typically indicates that the milk ducts are multiplying and growing.
“Nosebleeds are a frequent occurrence among expectant women but are typically not something to worry about,” says San Diego OBGYN Suzanne Merrill-Nach, M.D. “We usually chalk them up to simply being an annoyance of pregnancy.
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.