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4 Tips for Coping With a Long Labor

how to cope with a long laborThe average labor is usually 12-18 hours for a first pregnancy, not including inductions. However, sometimes labor lasts longer because of physical issues or your baby scooting into a better position. Other times, labor might last longer due to fear of becoming a parent or of your surroundings. Lots of people just don’t like hospitals! Here are 4 tips for coping with a longer labor:

  1. Remain at home as long as you can
  2. You’re the most comfortable in your own home. You’re able to move around, eat whatever you want to, watch Netflix, or play on your phone. You also have your own shower and bathroom. It’s so much easier to pass the time in your own home. Plus, going into the hospital too early might cause your labor to stall.

  3. Don’t look at the time
  4. It’s crazy tempting to stare at the clock when you’re in labor. After all, you’ve been told to count the minutes and seconds in between contractions. You might be wondering ‘how long have I been in labor?’ or ‘when will I finally see my baby?’ These questions can keep you from focusing on the work of labor. We suggest removing any clocks that are near you, or cover them.

  5. Accept the situation for what it is
  6. Try to go with the flow and follow your labor’s lead. There may be parts of your labor that are slower and calmer; use those moments to rest or nap. These calmer moments are your body’s way of giving you a break before continuing. Use these breaks to your advantage whenever you can.

  7. Use your means for comfort
  8. Let those around you help you relax and help out. Maybe a back rub would help, or short walk in the hall. Keeping calm through labor will require less energy and make you more relaxed, which will help your labor move along. If you plan to get an epidural, try and move around as much as you can beforehand, to progress your labor.


We aren’t medical professionals, so make sure to follow your doctor’s and nurse’s leads during labor.

Learn more about how to prep for labor in these articles:

Your Labor Support Team
Freaked Out About Labor & Delivery?
Packing Your Labor Bag
10 Ways to Prep for Labor and Delivery
A Doula Reveals 6 Important Things About Labor

5 of the Most Common Pregnancy Skin Issues, Fixed!

get our tips on common pregnancy skin issues!If you’re pregnant and your skin is acting up all of a sudden, you’re probably frustrated. But don’t worry; today we’re sharing solutions to 5 of the most common pregnancy skin issues:

1. Pimples 

Inflamed pimples and acne can crop up badly (or for the first time) during pregnancy. All those extra hormones in your body during pregnancy are stimulating your oil glands. Added to the extra oil are makeup, sweat, and dirt, causing a breeding ground for breakouts.

Try a product with salicylic acid, just make sure it’s purchased over-the-counter (not prescription-strength). Salicylic acid is typically thought to be safe when you’re pregnant.  It has natural exfoliating capabilities, which will unclog your pores without irritating them.

2. You’re an Oily Mess

Pregnancy hormones are making your oil glands over-produce sebum. That’s what is making your skin extra-shiny.

To combat extra shine, try a gentle exfoliant scrub. Then, apply sunscreen that’s created especially for oily skin (tip: look for words like “oil control,” “dry touch,” and “matte” in the product’s name). For extra protection against shine, try a mattifying serum as your makeup primer.

3. Body Acne

Blemishes on the body are common during pregnancy. This is especially true if you’ll be pregnant during the summer. The heat and humidity (along with the extra pounds you’re carrying) can make you sweat more. After all that sweat and oil touch your skin, it causes a buildup of bacteria in your pores.

To avoid this, make sure to change out of sweaty clothes ASAP. If you don’t have time to shower, try rubbing some deodorant wipes all over.

4. Under-Eye Bags

It gets difficult to get a good night’s sleep with an ever-growing baby bump, nevermind when she or he starts kicking lots!

The solution? We suggest trying a gel eye mask, which will cut down on puffiness and constrict blood vessels in the morning. Pro tip: stick the mask into your fridge to get it extra cool! Then, apply a brightening undereye concealer to leave dark circles behind for the rest of the day.

5. The “Mask of Pregnancy”

The Mask of Pregnancy is also called “melasma.” The condition is triggered by hormones and causes dark spots to appear on your skin and face.

You can try to lift uneven patches with alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs) that exfoliate.

Make sure to consult your doc before applying anything to your skin during pregnancy.

A Doula Reveals 6 Important Things About Labor

a midwife calculates a pregnant patient's due dateAs you get ready for your labor and birth, you might be getting nervous. But know that there are some tips and tricks that doulas use to help make the birth experience a little easier. A doula, also known as a birth attendant, offers emotional and physical support before, during, and after childbirth.

Thankfully, an experienced doula who’s helped with a variety of births can help with some of your worries and prepare you.

Here are 6 things that doulas wish you knew about labor:

1. It’s all about the breathing

Our natural reaction to scary situations and pain is to hold our breath. But doing this delays the process, not to mention that it makes every passing second take forever. Try this breathing practice a couple of times a day: breathe in for five counts, then exhale for five counts.

2. It’s not a sprint; it’s more like a marathon

The more work your body does on its own, the better. Help it along by doing things that make you happy, going on daily walks, and drinking raspberry leaf tea on the reg. About three cups of raspberry tea a day will help, but make sure to check with your doctor first. The release of oxytocin (AKA the “happy hormone”) will help naturally advance the early stages of labor.

3. You have the power

If you’d like to try laboring while squatting, go for it! If you want to do a water birth, have at it! It’s important to be specific about your birth preferences and what you’re comfortable with. Speak up if something is happening that you aren’t sure about. This is your birth, your baby, and your body; ask any questions that you need to.

4. Be flexible about your birth plan

Some women like to get super-detailed in their birth plan, and that’s OK. But know that it’s just a plan; it’s not set in stone. At the end of the day, whatever’s safest for you and your baby is generally what’s best. With that said, if there are items in your birth plan that are really important to you such as skin-to-skin contact after birth or cord blood banking, make sure that your care team knows.

5. For back labor, counter-pressure will be your best friend!

Make sure to pack a tennis ball in your hospital bag, in case you experience back labor. Applying counter pressure using the tennis ball will do wonders for pain relief!

6. Expect the unexpected

Everybody’s labor and birth story is different. Just because your sister had to have an episiotomy, doesn’t mean you will. By getting all the information you can and remaining open to every possibility, you’ll be on the road to owning your birthing process!

Here’s Your Cheat Sheet for Practical Maternity Clothes

Maternity clothes have come a long way from the shapeless blouses that our moms wore. There are practical, affordable maternity clothing for everything from work to the gym from Target, Gap, H&M, and Old Navy.

But with so many choices out there, it can get confusing what you actually need to buy when you’re pregnant! Many pregnant women rely on these basics as their belly expands:

  • Maternity jeans
  • Leggings!
  • Cotton dress
  • Maternity-style maxi skirt
  • Tank top
  • Maternity sweater
  • Two nicer shirts/tops

To round out your maternity capsule wardrobe, grab a couple of cardigans and scarves from your pre-pregnancy closet. Some moms-to-be are tempted to keep wearing their favorite pair of jeans or dress pants in the early weeks of pregnancy. If you’re doing this to postpone buying maternity clothes, don’t! You’ll just stretch out your beloved pants, and they’ll be ruined. Try the hair-tie hack instead:

  1. Unzip your pants and thread the hair tie through the button hole
  2. Thread one end of the hair tie through the other end (this secures the hair tie to the button hole)
  3. Then, just wrap the hair tie around the button

Once you’re into the second trimester, this trick may stop working. Unless of course, you’re one of those gorgeously tall women who carry their babies high!

Make sure to remember your shoe closet, too! Shop for comfortable and supportive shoes. As your pregnancy progresses, your feet will spread, and your ligaments will get more flexible. Ditch your those high heels completely. If you’re really into the added height, try a pair of wedges. Your center of gravity is changing, so you’ll be more likely to fall. The risk of injury from falling just isn’t worth it!

Have You Heard of The Lucky Iron Fish?

The Lucky Iron Fish for iron deficiency during pregnancyYou hear it everywhere: a healthy diet is so important when you’re pregnant. But sometimes, eating well is easier said than done. Maybe you have extreme nausea that keeps you from eating well or dietary restrictions. Many pregnant women get told by their doctors that they’re not getting enough iron. If you can’t get iron in your diet, your body won’t be to produce enough hemoglobin. Hemoglobin helps your red blood cells transport oxygen to your body’s tissues.  Some women even develop a condition called “iron-deficiency anemia,” or IDA.

Symptoms of IDA include shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue, irritability, and inability to concentrate. The average pregnant woman needs around 27mg of iron daily to prevent IDA.

You can get this amount of iron through prenatal vitamins and a balanced diet. But if your doctor advises that you’re still not getting enough iron, you face a challenge. That’s because iron supplements can be a really hard on your stomach. Side effects of iron are nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea. Fun times!

If your doctor tells you to up your iron intake, but you can’t stomach regular supplements, try the Lucky Iron Fish! This cute little fish is a cooking tool that you boil in water or broth. Then, add when you add a few drops of citrus, the fish tool releases 5 to 10mg of iron. You can even use your iron-infused water to cook with. This iron fish helps add the iron that is so important for you and your growing baby.

The Lucky Iron Fish lasts up to 5 years, and it doesn’t change the taste of your food. You can buy one at LuckyIronFish.com, or on Amazon.

Am I Pregnant?! Common Symptoms of Pregnancy

young woman wondering 'am I pregnant?'Are you asking yourself ‘am I pregnant?!’ The only way to know for sure is by taking a pregnancy test. But before you miss a period, you might be suspecting that you’re pregnant. Here, we share the first signs of pregnancy and why they happen.

5 common pregnancy symptoms

The 5 most typical early signs of pregnancy include:

  1. A missed period. If a week or more has passed without the start of your period, you might be pregnant. But if you already have an irregular menstrual cycle, this symptom isn’t a reliable one.
  2. Sore breasts. Early on in pregnancy, changes in a woman’s hormones make her breasts sensitive and sore. As your body adjusts to these changing hormones, your discomfort will probably decrease after a few weeks.
  3. Nausea and/or vomiting. Morning sickness can affect pregnant women at any time of the day or night, and typically starts a month after you get pregnant. But, some pregnant women feel nauseous earlier, and a few lucky ones never experience it.
  4. Needing to pee all the time. You might find that you need to pee more often than usual. Blood flow increases during pregnancy, which makes your kidneys process all that extra fluid that ends up in your bladder.
  5. Exhaustion. Fatigue is another common early pregnancy symptom. Early on in pregnancy, your levels of the hormone progesterone rise, which may make you feel sleepy.

Other pregnancy signs

Some lesser-known symptoms of pregnancy that you might experience are:

  • Moodiness. Mood swings, weepiness, and being really emotional in early pregnancy is caused by the surge of hormones in your body.
  • Light spotting. For some women, a bit of light spotting is one of the first signs they’re pregnant. This is called “implantation bleeding,” and it happens about 10-14 days after conception when the fertilized egg adheres to the lining of the uterus. This bleeding happens about the time of a period.
  • Cramps. Some pregnant women feel mild uterine cramping early on.
  • Constipation. A pregnant woman’s digestive system can slow down, once again due to hormonal changes.
  • Food sensitivities. If you’re pregnant, you might get grossed out by certain foods, and your sense of taste might change.
  • Stuffy nose. Rising levels of hormones and blood production may cause your nose to swell, dry out and bleed easily, causing you to get a stuffy or runny nose.

Am I pregnant?

Unfortunately, lots of these symptoms aren’t unique to pregnancy. Some of the signs may mean you’re getting sick or that you’re about to start your period. And, some pregnant women don’t experience any of these symptoms.

If you’ve experienced a missed period and have some of the above symptoms, take a home pregnancy test.  If you get a positive pregnancy test, make an appointment with your doctor right away. The earlier your pregnancy is confirmed, the earlier you can start prenatal care.

10 Simple Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

get 10 easy-to-follow tips for your healthy pregnancy!There’s so much info out there, in books and online, about how to have a healthy pregnancy! Here are 10 simple, easy-to-follow tips so that you can have a healthy pregnancy and delivery:
 

  1. Avoid drinking alcohol and taking drugs. If you’re a smoker, quit right away. Ask your OB-GYN about safe methods for how to stop smoking while you’re pregnant.
  2. Ask your doctor what medicines are safe to take when you’re pregnant. Be sure to tell your doctor about ANY medication you’re taking, including over-the-counter medicines or herbs. Some of those can cause birth defects.
  3. Take a prenatal vitamin every day, and ask if you should also take a vitamin D supplement.
  4. Make nutritious eating a priority. You’ll need extra calories while you’re pregnant to keep you and your baby strong and healthy. Check out our article “8 Tips to Live By for Healthy Pregnancy Nutrition.” You might also ask your OB-GYN if you could have a consultation with a dietitian.
  5. Stay active and avoid becoming a “couch potato.” Unless your doctor has advised you not to, you can do activities like swimming, walking, dancing, and prenatal yoga. Exercise keeps your body strong and flexible. Choose whichever type of pregnancy exercise that’s right for you. However, don’t do risky activities like contact sports, downhill skiing, and fair rides. Check out 5 Easy Pregnancy Exercises You Can Totally Rock!
  6. Drink lots of fluids because getting enough hydration is important right now. Drink 3 to 4 cups of milk (or a calcium-infused beverage) per day. Drink plenty of water-you’ll know when you’re properly hydrated if your urine is clear to pale yellow.
  7. Rest whenever possible. Pregnancy zaps a lot of your energy! So, there will be times when you feel really tired. Resting helps.
  8. Write in a journal or blog about your pregnancy, so you can reflect on your thoughts and feelings during this time.
  9. Read about the early signs of labor; that way, you’ll know what to expect.
  10. Take a childbirth class. Ask your healthcare provider about local childbirth classes. Most of the time, the hospital you’re delivering at will offer a tour of the labor & delivery area, as well as childbirth info. Being proactive and learning all about childbirth before you go into labor will help you feel more in control and confident!

The Truth About 7 Common Pregnancy Worries

learn the truth behind 7 of the most common pregnancy worriesFirst comes the excitement of being pregnant, then comes the worry. Once you’ve gotten used to being pregnant, you may be freaking out about things like miscarriage, the pain of labor, whether you’ll be able to breastfeed…the list goes on and on.

But experts say that pregnancy risks are low, especially for healthy women. So today, we’re giving you a reality check on 7 of the things pregnant women worry about most:

1. Miscarriage

The risk of miscarriage is lower than you think. For women younger than 35, it’s 10 to 12%. Here’s a reassuring fact: by the time you hear your baby’s heartbeat on an ultrasound, the chance of miscarriage dips to less than 5%.

Try and remind yourself that many miscarriages happen because of chromosomal abnormalities that can’t be prevented. Activities like exercise, heavy lifting, and sex can’t cause a miscarriage. But things that can include drinking two or more cups of coffee a day, getting an STI, or gum disease.

2. Birth defects

For every 100 babies born in the U.S., about 97 of them don’t have a major birth defect. Many birth defects are minor or very treatable.

Experts advise you to act like you’re pregnant as soon as you decide you want a child. That’s because many birth defects may happen as early as a week or two after you miss your period! Make sure to take folic acid so you can reduce the risk of defects, stop drinking alcohol, eat a healthy diet, and stop smoking.

3. Baby being born prematurely

As anxiety-provoking as pre-term birth is, the majority of babies in the U.S. are born after 37 weeks. The risk factors for preterm birth include being pregnant with multiples, having had a previous premature delivery, and certain uterine or cervical deformities.

Try to keep your weight at a healthy level and make sure your blood pressure and blood sugar levels are normal. Don’t smoke, drink, or use drugs, because they’re all associated with prematurity. Get prenatal care and all the needed immunizations.

4. Labor pain

We’re not here to tell you that labor doesn’t hurt, but you have lots of pain options. If you’re the type that wants to avoid medications, you might try a water birth, using relaxation techniques, and change positions during labor.

If you’re worried about the risks of using pain meds, know that a modern epidural is safe. And, there’s no evidence that getting an epidural will increase the chance of having to get a C-section.

If you’re hoping for a natural birth, a birthing coach or doula can help you by telling you to breathe, giving reassurance, and talking you through the stages of labor. Sign up for a childbirth course, so you can learn what to expect and reduce your anxiety. And check out our article, 10 Ways to Prep for Labor and Delivery.

5. Breastfeeding

Many women say that breastfeeding was “the hardest thing in the world.” Actually, around 90% of women successfully breastfeed, when they have support, patience, and realistic expectations. It takes two or three weeks before you and your baby really get to know each other, and your milk production matches her needs, so be patient.

You could visit a breastfeeding support group before your baby is born. Also, consider having a doula or lactation counselor on reserve for expert advice just in case.

6. Losing the baby weight

Stick to the guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy, and you’ll have an easier time losing it later.

Stay active during your pregnancy. And as soon as you get the go-ahead from your doctor after giving birth, start exercising again. Also, breastfeeding helps!

7. Getting to the hospital on time

In real life, delivering on the bathroom floor is rare. If this is your first baby, you’ll have plenty of time. From the time you’re at 4cm dilated, you have about 6 hours until the first stage of labor.

If you had a fast labor before, or you live far away from the hospital, check in with your doctor or midwife sooner rather than later.

Remember, we’re not medical professionals. So, if you feel like you have a real cause for concern, talk to your OB-GYN.

I’ve Started Snoring…Should I Be Worried?

I've been snoring during pregnancy...should I be worried?Question: I’m 21 weeks along, and my boyfriend told me that I’ve been snoring lately…but I’d never snored before. Is this something I should be worried about?
 
Answer: Snoring can definitely upset a good night’s sleep! Your snoring may just be because of normal pregnancy stuffiness. So, try sleeping with a humidifier on and keep your head well-elevated.
 
About 1/3 of pregnant women snore, even if they didn’t before getting pregnant. While snoring might just seem annoying, it can put you at risk for complications, like slowed fetal growth.
 
Snoring could also be a sign of sleep apnea, where breathing stops briefly during sleep (which temporarily reduces the amount of oxygen that’s taken in.) Since a constant flow of oxygen is especially important when you’re breathing for two, it’s a good idea for pregnant women who snore to be monitored for sleep apnea. Extra weight can contribute to snoring and sleep apnea, so make sure you aren’t gaining too much.
 
Unfortunate side effects of pregnancy like weight gain, hormonal changes, and fluid retention give you a higher risk for both sleep apnea and snoring. If you’re not sure you have sleep apnea, a major sign is daytime sleepiness. Both snoring and sleep apnea will keep waking you up from a deep sleep, leaving you exhausted.
 
Make sure to ask your OB-GYN about sleep apnea at your next visit.

Preeclampsia: What it Is, and Symptoms to Look For

Your doctor measures blood pressure to check for preeclampsiaIf you’re pregnant, chances are you’ve heard or read the word “preeclampsia.” Wondering what the heck it is, and if you have it? Read on!

About 6-8% of women develop preeclampsia. It typically shows up after week 20 and can keep raging on for up to 6 weeks after you’ve delivered. What happens is that your blood vessels tighten for no known reason, which makes your blood pressure rise.

A few things can happen because of this tightening caused from the high blood pressure: your kidneys drip extra protein into your pee, and your capillaries leak fluid into your tissue cells. This makes your hands, eyes, and face swell up. If left unchecked, this pressure can do damage to your liver, kidneys, and brain. It can also cut off blood flow to the placenta, which leads to a premature birth.

That’s why your doctor always has you pee in a cup at every prenatal appointment, and have your blood pressure taken!

If you do develop preeclampsia, you’ll probably be put on bed rest and then monitored. For women past 34 weeks, the doctor or midwife may suggest that inducing labor or getting a c-section.

Here are 5 signs to watch for:

  1. Quick Weight Gain: Anything more than 2 pounds a week is something to pay attention to.
  2. Swelling: of your hands, face, and eyes. Many pregnant women experience swelling feet. But take note if you get puffy in the face, or if it comes on suddenly.
  3. Nausea or vomiting: that comes on unexpectedly should be brought to your doctor or midwife’s attention.
  4. Extreme shoulder pain or pain below your ribs: don’t ignore any pain in these areas, because your body might be trying to tell you something!
  5. Headaches and/or vision issues: A headache that won’t go away and/or a severe headache is another one to watch out for. And, pay attention to vision changes like seeing flashing lights or spots, temporary blindness, blurred vision, or sensitivity to light.

Preeclampsia is tricky because these symptoms all go along with a normal pregnancy. Or, you might not show any signs and then be surprised by the news that you have preeclampsia. That’s why it’s so important to pee in a cup all the time, and it’s why they keep taking your blood pressure. So, keep your doctor’s appointments and be on the lookout for any sneaky symptoms.