Category Archives: Health & Fitness

15 Tips by Trimester for First-time Pregnant Moms

The countdown is on – the final days are here! I’ve nested, prepped, packed, organized, re-organized, and been thinking and reflecting a lot. Over the last 40 weeks (and even some time before that) I received a lot of advice about being pregnant – some good, some terrible – but thought I would pay forward some of the most useful tidbits. So, here goes!

15 Tips for first-time pregnant moms

First Trimester

1. Find the right care provider for you.  Just because you’ve been going to the same OB for the last 10 years doesn’t mean they are a good fit for you and your baby. For us, we found great midwives and a hypnobirthing coach. They have made this whole experience 10,000 times better than I ever could have imagined. So, explore your options… and don’t feel guilty about it!

2. Don’t read pregnancy books (or internet discussion boards) that cause you anxiety. Sorry, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, but you are kind of scary. And Google? You are way too quick to lead me to believe that there is something majorly wrong with the little cramp I just felt “down there.” There is such a thing as too much information, and it’s really hard to avoid but… try to stay away. If you really think something is wrong, call your care provider before trying to self-diagnose.

3. Buy a nightlight for your bathroom. During the first and third trimesters I’ve spent more time peeing in the middle of the night than I can count; the overhead light in the bathroom was too jarring and I found it hard enough to navigate my way there without stepping on the dog, any of his toys, or walking into the wall half asleep. That little beacon of light coming from the bathroom has saved me many times… best five dollars I’ve spent!

4. Go easy on the maternity clothes. I mean, maternity pants are kind of amazing and I never want to wear anything with a normal waistband again but… save some money this trimester. Pick up very few essentials that you really need (for me, it was a pair of black maternity slacks and a new bra) and wear the hell out of them until you have a better idea of how your body is changing as you go.

5. Find your support system. Find family, friends, a new mom group, La Leche League, whatever works for you! Make a point to stay engaged, ask questions, and meet new moms. Having the support as you go through pregnancy and beyond is invaluable. As one of the midwives at the birthing center said, “When you grow babies together, you form lifelong friendships.” Truth!

Second Trimester

6. Go away – no, really! Whatever it is that will help you relax – time away with your partner, your friends, or just you… make a point to get away and enjoy it.

7. Cross major items off your to-do list. Get the nursery set, finish projects around the house, and tie up loose ends before third trimester exhaustion creeps up.

8. Take a childbirth class and learn about your rights as a patient and parent. The more you know, the better off you and your baby are during birthing and beyond. Decide what type of birth experience you want to have, learn everything you can about the procedures in place where you’re birthing (from what you can do during labor, what tools do they have available to help you, to what their procedures are for the baby after birth including tests, vaccines, etc.) and then decide if it’s a good fit for your family.

9. Sleep a lot (and write down your crazy dreams). Sleeping was one of my favorite parts of the second trimester – for me, I was still sleeping comfortably and wasn’t peeing as often as I was during the first or third trimester. And those crazy pregnancy dreams? Write them down and share them with people (if they aren’t too weird) because they are hilarious.

10. Back to those maternity clothes. It’s probably time to expand your wardrobe – see what you can borrow from friends or find second-hand; save your money to buy a really cute outfit for your shower or maternity photo shoot if you’re doing one. Other than the hand-me-downs I received, my go-to shopping spots for a few necessities (which I’ve worn to death) included the clearance racks at Macy’s, Target, and Kohl’s.

Third trimester:

11. Everything is harder on your body so celebrate the small victories – and ask for help. Honestly, I didn’t even feel that pregnant (other than my bout with morning sickness) until I hit the third trimester. All of a sudden everything was harder and I needed help with things… I hate asking for help. My low point came at the end of a long day at work when I found that I could not comfortably reach down to unclasp my sandals; I decided my small victory for the day was getting them on in the first place, and then sucked it up and asked my husband to reverse-Cinderella the shoes off my feet. 

12. Savor the time your baby is in your belly… it’s almost over! I have felt nothing but amazement every time I feel the baby move (OK, and a little bit of discomfort during those kicks and punches to the cervix) or wake up and see that my belly has grown. It’s just SO cool! As excited as I am to meet the little guy or girl, I’m a bit sad that pregnancy is almost over. Baby is safe and always with you when they’re in your belly. It’s a special time – so take every opportunity you can to soak it in.

13. Put a waterproof pad underneath your fitted sheet. Your body will continue to do things that are out of your control, and you will appreciate the waterproof pad saving your bedding if your boobs leak/you pee yourself/your water breaks at night/etc. at any given point in time from here on out. After baby comes, use it for any and all of the inevitable messes you’ll be dealing with. 

14. Stock up! It’s helped me mentally prepare for a big change knowing that I have easy-to-eat-with-one-hand meals in the freezer, ready to go, and that I’ve stocked the house with necessities and recommendations from friends like:

  • Post-birth goodies: chux pads, maxi pads (yes, like the ones you used in middle school), mesh underwear (the least sexy underwear you’ll ever put on, or so I hear), Preparation-H wipes (in case that happens, again)
  • Baby essentials: diapers, wipes, shampoo, gentle laundry detergent, clothes
  • Kitchen goods: paper towels, dish soap, napkins, dried & canned goods
  • Bathroom supplies: toilet paper, shampoo, soap
  • Other important stuff: bottles of wine, cheese, updated netflix queue for middle-of-the-night feedings

15. Make a wishlist – plenty of people (family and friends, near and far) will ask what they can help with. Be ready with an answer (or two). Don’t be afraid to take someone up on their offer of walking the dog, throwing in a load of laundry, or even picking up a few things for you at the store. People want to help, but sometimes don’t know what to do so… help them help you and be ready with that wishlist!

If nothing else… enjoy every minute of your pregnancy – the easy days and the hard ones. This is just the beginning of a fantastic journey so keep a journal, take pictures, and savor it.

What did I miss? I know there’s more great advice out there from moms and mom-to-bes! Leave your advice in the comments!

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Midwifery Care in the U.S.

I had to share this post from the Huffington Post about midwifery care in the United States by Mayri Leslie. One of the mentalities about pregnancy that I think our culture could use a change in is instead of thinking about pregnant women as “patients,” they should be thought of as healthy women going through a completely normal phase of their lives. To unnecessarily over-medicalize a low-risk pregnancy can really take the fun out of the entire experience. Plus, take a look at some of these compelling statistics from the article:

The study “Outcomes of Care in Birth Centers: Demonstration of a Durable Model” published in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health provides a good start. The 15,574 low risk, healthy mothers in the study sought care in 79 US birth centers between 2007 and 2010. Their pregnancy, labor and postpartum care was provided by midwives. Eighty-eight percent of the mothers gave birth in the centers, while the remainder transferred to the hospital (less than 2 percent for emergent reasons). Of all the mothers in the study, 94 percent had vaginal births and 6 percent required a cesarean section. There were no maternal deaths and the fetal and newborn mortality rates were comparable to those for hospital born children in a similar low risk set of mothers.

In short… midwives rock! In Connecticut, we are lucky enough to have the Connecticut Childbirth and Women’s Center. If you or someone you know is pregnant and lives in the area, I highly recommend checking them out.

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Natural Childbirth? Sign me up!

So now that pregnancy has been progressing along, I’ve started to think a lot about labor and birth. I don’t know what labor feels like, I have no reference point for what birthing a baby might feel like. In fact, for the most part, I’ve been regaled by pop culture and other mothers telling their oftentimes unsettling birth stories. Things going wrong at every turn, pain medicines and epidurals, stalled labors and c-sections and in the case of Hollywood – women screaming, lashing out, hating the experience, and begging for drugs.

I had to wonder… does it have to be like that? Would I be like that? Is that typical? It wasn’t until I spoke with my friend who had her first child at a natural birthing center who said, “I had such a lovely birth experience that I honestly can’t wait to do it all over again!”

I found myself saying, “Wait, what? A lovely birth experience? One you would do all over again?” It was both strange, yet utterly refreshing, for me to hear such a positive story about birth. (This was well before I learned I was pregnant, so I tucked that away in my back pocket for when the time came.)

The time did come for us to have a child and my husband and I went to our first prenatal appointment a couple of weeks after finding out that I was pregnant. I was so excited about everything – the appointment itself signified a big milestone of pregnancy and I was ready to ask questions, learn about all of the details, and more. I was so excited about this appointment that even the nurse taking my blood pressure noticed but unfortunately, I left more disappointed than I can remember being in a long, long time.

Nothing bad happened, but nothing good did, either. We were rushed from our “discussion” time with the doctor (where only about 10% of my questions were answered) to the exam, handed a folder of information, and sent on our way. But wait, what about all of my questions? And the things I needed to talk to someone (other than my family and friends) about? And what exactly does the first trimester screening mean? And what do I do when… my list of unanswered questions went on.

I knew right away that I should trust my gut – that feeling of disappointment was not something I wanted to deal with throughout many more prenatal appointments and in the delivery room. Did I want a doctor who seemed disengaged to oversee the birth of my child? No, thank you! I wanted needed to be much more involved in my prenatal care and my thoughts turned to the birthing center my friend had mentioned.

It certainly was  a lot further away – the OB’s office and hospital in town were both about 10 minutes from our home – but from the moment I walked into the birthing center I knew I had found the right place. Even before my first appointment – during a meet and greet with one of the midwives – I felt completely at ease and she answered many of my questions that my OB had failed to address. She spoke with me frankly, treating me like a real person instead of just another patient. I immediately scheduled my first prenatal appointment with them and have been so happy with that decision ever since!

The entire process is a significantly different path than the hospital birth I would have had if I stayed with my OB. As long as pregnancy and labor progress normally, we should have much more control over our experience at the birthing center than we would have at the hospital. All that said, I know it’s possible for complications to arise or risks to come up – and I’ve got backup plans just in case. One of the most attractive things about the birthing center is that it’s right across the street from the hospital – making it very easy to transfer if the need arises. Win-win!

I can’t wait to see how it all goes… but in the meanwhile, I’m doing everything I possibly can to prepare my mind and body… including taking hypnobirthing classes (more on those in another post – I LOVE them!) and keeping my body in shape for the baby now, and also in preparation for what will likely be one of the most physically demanding experiences of my life – birth. And, a major thank you to Ivana Vacation 😉 who turned me on to all of this in the first place! Stay tuned!

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Today’s school shooting and the importance of mental health

I can’t think of anything else today except for the tiny, innocent victims of the school shooting in Newton, CT.  I’ve found tears come more easily than words as I listen to the news, Obama’s speech, and the press conferences updating everyone on what happened. I can’t fathom any of it – the grief, the pain, the questions, the frustrations and more that family members must be feeling right now. My heart is broken.

As the debate about gun reform laws rears its head again, as it always does after such tragedies, I can’t help but think that mental health is even more important than gun control. Details about the shooter aren’t out yet, but as they become available I would be willing to bet that there were clues along the way that he was suffering. Someone will talk about the behaviors that led them to think that something wasn’t right. Maybe they tried to do something to help, but maybe they didn’t. So, I urge you: if you know someone who you think is suffering, reach out to them. Help them find help. It is our responsibility as friends, siblings, children, and humans.

Don’t know where to start? I suggest checking in with the National Institute of Mental Health – they have a wealth of resources and information on their website alone.

Give your family an extra big hug tonight, and stay safe.

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Fitness Support Group

Besides gaining control of my eating habits and fitness, there has been another major influence in my fitness journey – in particular, a fantastic support group from the gym that has come together through Kim Pearson’s SGT workouts and group exercise classes. As individuals, we are all so very different – within the group there are a wide variety of ages, backgrounds, careers, and situations that have led us to our common love of fitness.

These women are so passionate about living balanced lives that it never fails to blow me away. When I start to feel overwhelmed with balancing what’s on my plate, all I have to do is think about what others are facing – they’re raising families (from newborns to four active boys!), pursuing passions and high profile careers, going back to school, and generally doing fabulous things while still finding time to workout. If they can get up and make it to a 5:45am workout without complaining, then so can I, dammit!

It gives me chills when I think about how supportive everyone is – when we work out, we all cheer one another on to meeting our fitness milestones. This support extends well beyond the walls of the gym and births, weddings, new jobs, and holidays are all occasions for us to celebrate. It’s not just about the good times, either – we come together to be there for one another’s personal challenges, losses, and tragedies.

The SGT group is truly a unique and special team – we all work together to reach our individual goals and create lasting friendships along the way – and I am so glad to be a part of it! So today, take a few minutes and watch this clip from “The Today Show” featuring Kim and her talent for creating communities through fitness. I think you’ll immediately see why this group is so near and dear to my heart. Enjoy!

Post-taping for The Today Show clip.

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Take Them a Meal

Yesterday I learned that one of the amazing women that I work out with (from the SGT group, more on them in an upcoming post) was in a horrendous car accident – she was lucky to walk away alive and intact, and for that I am so very thankful!

Immediately upon hearing the news, emails and texts started roaring around our group to rally and help our friend in need. Someone suggested we use Take Them a Meal to coordinate healthy and hearty meals for our recovering friend and I just had to share the site. (Thanks, MMM!)

Take Them a Meal allows you to easily coordinate meal deliveries for those in need from those who want to help – and we have all known someone who has needed an extra hand in the kitchen at some point! Whether it is an injured or sick friend, a grieving family member, or new parents – delivering old-fashioned home-cooked meals can lift burdens and speak volumes. So, bookmark them, like them on Facebook, and consider making a donation to the site to keep this fantastic service up and running!

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