Category Archives: Pregnancy

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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Turns out… getting sick when you’re pregnant is awful.

Ahh, the b word… bronchitis. Apparently, not something you want to get when you’re pregnant. It was the day after my baby shower (which was an awesome day – post on that coming soon!) and I started to get a headache as I was sorting through our teeny, tiny baby presents. I chalked it up to fatigue, stopped what I was doing, and climbed into bed. What followed was a fitful night of fever complete with shivering, shaking chills and inexplicable hot spells. The covers were on. Then they were off. I opened the window, closed the window, opened the window and turned on the fan. Heat went on, heat went off. When the sun started to come up, I was a delirious and sweaty pregnant person. Preeeeeeeetty gross.

In the back of my head, I knew this wasn’t an emergency or I would have gone to the ER. Something stopped me from overreacting, but I still needed some guidance and my doctor wasn’t open yet. So, I did what I always tell my pregnant friends not to do: I googled my symptoms. The internet is a whole new world of insane for pregnant women who are sick. I immediately felt myself losing touch with the reasonable person I was just a few minutes prior (that whole “I don’t need to go to the ER” thing) and started thinking things like, “This is it. You’ve gotten some rare form of the flu and have one day left to live.” Of course, my husband was away for a couple of days and that left me to talk to the dog about my newfound anxiety – he’s usually a captive audience, but he just wanted to go back to sleep since I kept him up all night with my feverish activities.

As soon as I could, with my flu fears fueling my crazy mind, I got in to see the doctor. I started going on about how I didn’t want to take any flu meds, and if it was the flu what did it mean for the baby, and what could we do and… he stopped me. He seemed much less concerned than I was about my symptoms (as in, I was convinced I was dying thanks to internet message boards and he knew that this was not the case). He gave me a flu test (which confirmed that I was flu-free), listened to my chest, and rightfully predicted that I was coming down with bronchitis. I left with instructions to rest, hydrate, and call him in a couple of days to update him on how I was feeling.

The next day, right on cue, I began wheezing, coughing, and embarked on almost two weeks of bronchitis hell. Being pregnant complicated matters – making recovery longer, more difficult, and everything in general way more uncomfortable (like coughing when a little person is smushing both your chest and your bladder, at the same time). I proceeded to create what I can only call a nest out of pillows, blankets, and books. I was surrounded by Gatorade bottles, ice packs, Tylenol, Popsicle wrappers, and spent most days watching terrible daytime television. I stayed that way for way too long – seriously, the weather went from the last dregs of winter to the first signs of spring during my convalescence. When I finally felt good enough to emerge, I disinfected everything I had touched for the previous two weeks and slowly, but surely, became a contributing member of society once again.

The silver lining in the entire situation was also what made me a little completely stir-crazy: I had to clear my schedule and “do nothing” for almost two weeks. Even well into the third trimester, I had been thriving on my busy schedule but being sick forced me to cancel everything and settle in for some true rest. I really couldn’t tell you the last time I did that!

Given all the resting I was doing, plus the sleepless nights spent wheezing and coughing, I had a lot of down time to think and reflect. In the home stretch of being pregnant, and on the brink of a major life change, I decided I was grateful for the down time, even if I was feeling really gross.

Soon enough, we’ll be welcoming the baby into our lives – learning a whole new way of balancing out priorities, responsibilities, and obligations. So, for the next few weeks I’m just going to soak it all in. Instead of over-scheduling myself and squeezing those last few activities in before baby, I’m just going to relax, take lots of deep breaths, and enjoy the calm before succumbing to the insanity of having a newborn.

I’ll let you know how that goes 😉

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The weird things strangers say to pregnant women

Pregnancy is crazy when you think about it: for approximately 40 weeks your body becomes a home for another human being that basically might as well have developed out of thin air because scientific facts aside, it is mind-blowing to me that procreation happens the way it does – a tiny sperm and tiny egg meet up and start sprouting bones and organs… what?! Then, over the course of those 40 weeks, this little person shares your meals, your air, your experiences and then one day decides it’s time to leave and expels themselves from your body. Think about it for a minute. It’s seriously science fiction.

But perhaps the strangest pregnancy phenomenon of all has to do with other people – oftentimes strangers or mere acquaintances – who feel that just because you are pregnant, they can walk up to you, word vomit about something that very well may be insulting, and maybe invade your personal space as they try to touch your belly… all without being prompted.

So today I dedicate this post to some of the more uncomfortable and strange things people (who don’t really know me that well) have said or asked over the last 7+ months. Don’t get me wrong – I will happily gab to my girlfriends, friends, and family about most of these topics, and I’ve also had plenty of beautiful and wonderful conversations about pregnancy with strangers and good friends alike. I’ll share those too, but I wouldn’t want to commingle them with these gems.

“You look [pick one: tired/bigger/chesty/enormous/blotchy] today.” 

Surprise! Pregnant bodies look different from non-pregnant bodies. It’s one thing to talk about these changes with girlfriends but it’s a completely different ballpark when a stranger approaches you to provide an unsolicited critique of your pregnant body and state the obvious with the sole purpose of stating the obvious. After all, how often have you walked up to someone you didn’t know and told them that they look “enormous”? That’s right – probably not very often… because that’s not something you say to people you don’t know.

From personal experience, I can confidently say that whether it’s getting dressed in the morning, catching a glimpse of what I look like at 3am during the 15th trip to the bathroom that night, or going back to the store for a bigger bra (yet again)… it’s pretty much impossible to ignore the fact that my belly is growing, my body is working overtime, and my bosom is well, blossoming (nox chronicles – that one’s for you!).

I’m embracing the tired look as well as my new body – after all, rumor has it that your sleep patterns continue to change drastically after a new baby arrives. Plus, it’s been really fun to see my body change and reassuring to know that the baby is growing. To hear someone talk about these changes to your face like they’re a negative is downright obnoxious.

“Congrats… I didn’t know you were trying!” or “That’s great! [pause] Were you trying?”

This is a confusing and awkward thing to say. It’s hard to tell if the person is happy for you, disappointed, or wondering why they weren’t looped into this private information sooner. I’m not sure why it matters so much – what we want you to know is that we are pregnant now… and unless you skipped sex ed and live under a rock, it’s probably unnecessary for me to go into details about how it happened.

“Oh, natural childbirth? Good luck with that. You’ll be begging for drugs.”

Thanks for the… vote of confidence? Every couple is different; I respect everyone’s choices for childbirth no matter what, and ask for the same in return. While our birth plan does not include “begging for drugs” at any point, we are aware that plans and circumstances do change – and don’t worry, we have a Plan B.

Oh, let me tell you about [insert horror story about labor/childbirth here]. But you’ll do great! That totally won’t happen for you. 

I want to hear your birth story – I really do! – but if it’s not a happy story, please don’t share it with me right now. I truly believe all birth stories should be shared at the appropriate time and place – they are incredibly formative experiences for mothers, fathers, and families in general. But walking up to a pregnant woman and sharing all of the details about your/your mom’s/your sister’s/your cousin’s less-than-ideal birth experience without being asked can be jarring for a first-time expectant mother. Personally, I would rather wait until we have a chance to create our own story before getting an unsolicited scare session.

The more we’ve learned through friends and hypnobirthing classes has helped me realize just how abundant negative stories about labor and childbirth are in our culture (especially those that come from Hollywood)! Being exposed to those types of attitudes for so long had really impacted my expectations for our baby’s birth, and it took a while for me to change my outlook.

So to all the strangers out there who are just itching to overshare – next time you think about word vomiting an awkward, offensive, prying or downright rude comment to a pregnant woman/couple… take a step back and think of the million other things you could ask. There are some pretty safe standbys to choose from – like if the baby is a boy or a girl, if there are names picked out, or when the baby is due. To be perfectly honest, I’d rather answer all of those questions over and over again than awkwardly bow out of talking about how we conceived… but thanks (I think?) for asking.

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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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Oh hey, 2013!

The turn of the new year marked two very exciting milestones – the halfway point of my pregnancy and the year my husband and I will add “parent” to our list of respective titles. Something tells me finding better balance with baby will be a challenge in and of itself. Now that the holidays are over, and the weeks are passing quickly, I am kicking into high gear to plan for Baby B as my Type-A personality takes over to tackle two of the biggest hurdles: space and things.

Space

We live in a 2-bedroom cape. I love it! It’s such a cute house and a very manageable size for us to take care of. With both of us working like crazy, we don’t always have a ton of extra time to devote to the house. Only having one spare bedroom meant that we had an obvious choice for a nursery but also that we had to give up what had become the office/guest room/closet/storage/library/place to store crap. So, first things first: we’ve been donating what we don’t need and storing what we don’t use to slowly turn it into a nursery and make space for the things.

Things

Babies don’t take up that much space alone – it’s more like all of the things that come with them – from furniture to strollers to toys, and more. I’ve been mapping out in my head where in the house we are going to put all the baby things. Given that we find ourselves both space-challenged and budget conscience like many other new parents, I have been scrutinizing every product to weed out the must-haves, the nice-to-haves, and the are-you-kidding-me-I-would-never-spend-ANY-money-on-that-contraption-haves to make sure we’re covered, but not completely overloaded, with purchases that are practical from a space and cost perspective.

Shopping as a new mom is a very vulnerable time – you’re pregnant, you’re navigating new territory, you want the best for your child, and maybe you’re a little more emotional than normal (not that I’ve ever teared up in the middle of the baby store just thinking ahead to how exciting it will be to welcome Baby B into the world… or anything). Some of the most important conclusions I’ve drawn while registering for Baby B are:

  1. A lot of baby things are super cute –> super cute baby things are really easy to put on the registry in mass quantities –> super cute baby things are not usually very practical. (Knowing and understanding this didn’t stop me from putting only a couple of these on the list!)
  2. It’s really hard to avoid the marketing ploys that make you feel just a little guilty for not getting something that you would otherwise never purchase. But, having a marketing background both allows me to appreciate all the work that goes into the advertising and most importantly, I am able to remind myself to stick to my list. Just because a company paid to have better product placement on a shelf does not mean that they have a superior product.
  3. I am really thankful for the hours upon hours of time I’ve spent babysitting, nannying, and otherwise learning about children over the years. I owe the families who have employed me big time! Without even realizing it, I racked up years of testing products in real situations like car seats, strollers, diaper pails, and those flipping impossible child-proof human-proof outlet covers. I’ve also been able to think back on what products saved my sanity as a caregiver and I expect all of those experiences to come in handy in the coming years. It’s been more than a second job – it’s been an education in and of itself!

Balancing Space + Things

At the end of the day everyone has to decide what’s best for them and what will work for their own family. For us, skipping out on things like the wipe warmer (neither my husband nor I suffer from long-term psychological trauma caused by our parents using room-temperature wipes) and the baby food processor (which looks suspiciously like our “grown-up” food processor) has meant that not only will we save counter space, but we will also free up money to put towards the items we hope to get more use out of.

We’ll see. Maybe we’re making the right choices, and maybe we’re not – but we’ll find out soon enough and I think learning along the way is half the fun of it all, anyway!

So here’s to 2013 – a year of trial and error, learning, living, and at least someone in our family crying in public – whether it’s me or Baby B 😉

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