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Pregnancy Dreams—What Do They Mean?

Even though most people have dreams every night, the dreams of pregnant women are typically full of emotion. We think this is an indication of the big life changes you’re about to have!

Know that your strange pregnancy dreams don’t mean that the things in them will happen in real life! And, it’s normal to have mixed feelings about your changing life and new responsibilities. Recognizing your feelings and doubts can help you work through them productively. We encourage you to get your fears out in the open so that you can overcome them.

Below, we’ve listed six of the most common pregnancy dreams and what they might mean:

  1. Birthing an animal. The closest you may have come to motherhood is having a pet. Caring for a kitten or puppy is pretty simple compared to nurturing a baby. Giving birth to an animal or pet means that you’re practicing for delivery. It’s your brain’s way of training for the real thing, but on an easier level. If you dream you’ve given birth to an animal, it may also mean you’re uneasy about being responsible for a helpless being.
  2. Taking the baby out, then putting it back. Having a dream like this usually means you want to be able to see if your baby is healthy and developing normally. This dream seems to be more common in women who’ve had a miscarriage or high-risk pregnancy before. It may also mean that you’re questioning “Will I love this baby?”
  3. Standing by water, swimming, drowning. A dream where you’re swimming might mean you’re trying to connect with your baby, who is living in water. Water dreams also get you more connected to nature, since you’re a part of nature when you’re nurturing your developing baby. Drowning in a dream may mean you feel overwhelmed (or that you’re nervous that your water will break in public!) Oceans and waves could signify the nearness of childbirth.
  4. Birthing an alien. While disturbing, this dream is pretty normal. Just think of it this way: it sometimes feels like an alien has taken over your body. The only idea you have of what your baby will look like comes from the ultrasound image, which resembles an alien. This one is like the dream of birthing an animal: you don’t know who your baby is going to be, or how you’ll take care of it.
  5. Cheating. Dreams where your boyfriend or husband is cheating on you are usually a sign that you’re feeling insecure. Many women don’t feel attractive as their body changes during pregnancy. They worry that their man won’t want them anymore, and if they’ll ever get their body back. Keep in mind: just because you dream something, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.
  6. Old flames. If you dream of getting back together with an old boyfriend, it doesn’t mean that you secretly want that to happen. What it can mean, though, is that you’re feeling uncertain about your upcoming responsibilities. Maybe you’re feeling trapped, and are romanticizing the past in which you were carefree.

10 Ways to Prep for Labor and Delivery

Being pregnant and having no idea when your baby is coming might be making you crazy!  So, we want to share a few great ways to get ready for labor.

  1. Get Some Exercise
  2. Physical activity, even if it’s really light, will get your body ready for labor. Great forms of exercise for pregnant women are prenatal yoga, walking, stretching, swimming, and bouncing on a ball.  Bouncing on a huge yoga ball is really helpful with opening up your hips.

  3. Meditate
  4. Meditating during pregnancy allows you to take a quiet moment just to let your mind rest.  It can also train your mind to get focused, which will help you during labor.  Learning how to meditate will give you tons of benefits after giving birth, too!

  5. Create a Birth Plan
  6. You don’t have to be really specific a birth plan; just putting your wishes and hopes to paper will ease your mind.  Items to include might be who’s allowed in the room and your pain management wishes.

  7. Rest Up
  8. Getting plenty of rest is necessary when you’re prepping for labor and delivery.  It allows your body to store the energy you’ll need to deliver your baby.

  9. Read Positive Birth Stories
  10. Now’s the time to surround yourself with positivity. Don’t be shy about interrupting someone in the middle of their birth horror story. Two great spots to find positive childbirth stories are the blog Birth Without Fear and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.

  11. Get a Massage
  12. Getting a massage, chiropractic adjustment, or acupuncture can help loosen your body to prep it for labor.  Just make sure that you check with your doctor before getting any of these relaxing treatments!

What are your favorite ways to get ready for labor?

Is It Just Gas or Is Labor Starting?

Pregnant woman having belly ache and cramps , spasmsTummy issues are very common in pregnancy. So how will you know if it’s just gas pains or if it’s time for your baby to arrive? Read on to find out!

Being pregnant comes with tons of side effects for your digestive system. During the first trimester, there’s nausea and morning sickness. Then, your baby grows, everything in your abdomen becomes compacted. That can lead to gas, indigestion, and other unpleasant (and embarrassing!) tummy issues.

So, it’s difficult to decide if the discomfort in your tummy is just routine, or if your baby is saying she’s ready to arrive into the world.

Here are 5 questions to answer that’ll help you figure out if it’s gas or labor:

  1. Are you having other issues? With labor, there will be a lot more going on down there. Change in discharge or bloody mucus increases the chance that it’s labor and not a false alarm.
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  3. Are the pains happening on a schedule? The contractions that labor involves usually develop a rhythm. With labor contractions, a pattern develops. Women in labor will feel the contractions every four to five minutes, and the pains get increasingly stronger. On the other hand, gas comes and goes on an uneven schedule. Plus, gas pains are usually sharper, while early labor contractions feel more like harsh period cramps. Our tip? Get out a stopwatch and see if your pain happens at regular intervals.
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  5. What have you eaten lately? Since your baby is squeezing your digestive system, any food can cause gas. Beans, cauliflower, and broccoli are prime culprits for filling your belly with gas. If you find that your gas pains continue, think about removing gas-inducing foods from your diet until after you deliver.
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  7. Does your belly feel tight? Labor pains include a big muscle contraction all down your abdomen. But gas pains just cause a bloated feeling in your stomach. Does your stomach feel harder every time you’re experiencing pain? Then, it’s probably the start of labor contractions, not gas.
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  9. Can you get relief? Usually, gas pains get much better quickly once you go to the bathroom. So if a trip to the lady’s room helps, your baby is staying inside for a little bit longer.

Our pregnancy articles are for information only and shouldn’t be used to diagnose or create a treatment plan. Always ask your doctor for their advice about any questions or issues you may have during your pregnancy.

5 Easy Pregnancy Exercises You Can Totally Rock

Woman doing pregnancy exercisesExperts agree that when you’re pregnant, it’s crucial to keep moving. Pregnant women who work out have more energy, less back pain, a more positive body image and return faster to their pre-pregnancy shape post-delivery. In this article, we share some simple workout moves you can do at home to strengthen your body during pregnancy. You don’t need to spend tons of time working out or buy fancy workout machines. These workouts can be done in any trimester of your pregnancy. Make sure to check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine during your pregnancy.

  1. Plank—strengthens arms, abs, and back
    Get on your hands and knees, making sure that your wrists are directly under your shoulders. Lift your knees up and unbend your legs behind you until your body forms a line. Don’t let your back arch or your belly sag. Hold this position for 1 to 2 breaths, then work your way up to 5 breaths.
     
  2. Plié—improves balance and strengthens hamstrings, quads, and butt
  3. Stand beside the back of a sturdy chair. Rest the hand that’s closer to the chair on it. Keep your feet parallel and spaced apart about the width of your hips. Turn your toes and knees out 45 degrees. Bend your knees and lower down while making sure to keep your back straight.

  4. Side-Lying Leg Moves—strengthen your inner thighs and core
  5. Lie on your left side and support your head with your forearm. Bend your left leg at a 45-degree angle and keep your right leg straight. You can put your right arm on the floor to steady yourself. Lift right leg to about hip height and repeat. Bend your left knee and rest it on top of something soft for support. Straighten your top leg and lift it as high as you can. Switch sides and repeat.

  6. Curl and Lift—strengthens shoulders and arms
  7. Get a five to eight-pound weight for each hand. Keep your palms facing towards your body. Then bend your elbows, so they form a 90-degree angle. Keep your elbows bent, then lift the weights up to shoulder height. Lower your arms down and straighten them to return to starting position.

  8. Row—strengthens triceps, biceps, and back
  9. Put your right knee on the seat of a sturdy chair and keep your left foot on the floor. Bend forwards, keeping your back parallel to the floor. Put your right hand on the chair’s seat. Hold your one of your five to eight-pound weights in your left hand, arm in line with your shoulder with your palm facing in. Bend your left elbow so your arm forms a 90-degree angle. Straighten arm then return to the bent arm position. Repeat a few times, then switch sides.

 

How to Get Better Sleep During Pregnancy

sleep-during-pregnancyYou’re exhausted and feeling run down, but STILL can’t sleep. In this article, we share the best safe and natural ways to sleep better while you’re pregnant. As always, you’ll want to check with your doctor before you make changes to your lifestyle or diet.

When you’re pregnant, you feel so tired during the day it’s like you’re sleepwalking. But, when your face finally hits the pillow, you’re not able to fall asleep.

In your first trimester, nausea (aka morning sickness) can hit you at any time of the day or night. So that it doesn’t wake you up, keep your upper body elevated. That will keep your blood circulation on point. Put a wedge pillow under your regular pillow to make a gradual slant.

You might also be getting up a lot to pee. Avoid too many potty breaks during the night by cutting out soda and artificially sweetened drinks. And, when you do get up to pee, don’t check the time on your phone: the screen’s blue glow can make you wake up more.

In your second trimester, you’ll start to feel your baby move around. (And she may like to perform what feels like a tap dance in there at 2 am!) To help slow her down, we suggest having a relaxing bedtime routine and start it an hour before bed. A short walk works well, because rocking lulls babies to sleep. Stop eating anything that spicy or sugary at 4pm-ish. They can encourage baby to kick more.

If your limbs feel antsy during the night, it could be that you’re not getting enough iron. Ask your doctor if you can take another supplement, in addition to your regular prenatal vitamins.  Something with extra folate or iron and vitamin C added in to help you absorb it works well. You can also ask your doctor about taking extra magnesium for some relief for your restless legs.

In your third trimester, you might find that your thoughts are keeping you up at night, feeling worried and anxious. Avoid the temptation to read baby advice blogs and books to try and end your worry. What will help though is to talk through your concerns at a pregnant mom-to-be class. Also, you can join a class that teaches relaxing prenatal exercises, or browse for techniques on YouTube. But if you just can’t stop worrying, don’t fight it. Get out of bed and read a non-pregnancy or parenting book and drink some tea to relax.

Many pregnant women share that they have a sore back, feet, (and what feels like everything else) in their last trimester. Lie on the left-hand side of your body with a pillow between your knees, so your hips are in line. You might also try a hot water bottle on aching areas – just keep the warmth away from your belly.

We hope that these tips on achieving better sleep during pregnancy will give you relief soon. Sweet dreams!

Are You Leaking Pee?!

peeing pregnantWhen you’re pregnant, there are hormones telling your pelvic muscles to relax to get ready for delivery. This will make you more likely to have little leaks of pee when you laugh or sneeze. In your second trimester, your baby grows and puts pressure on your bladder. That pressure will make it so you feel like you have to pee ALL the time!

So how can you fix your leakage situation? Try doing Kegel exercises in sets of 10 a few times a day. Kegels are when you tighten up your pelvic floor muscles (the same ones used when hold in pee).  If you don’t know how to do Kegels, Google it and you’ll get tons of easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions! Doing Kegels can reduce the leakage by making the muscles around your bladder stronger.

And, take bathroom breaks every hour or so. That way, your bladder won’t get too full. In the late weeks of your pregnancy, we suggest wearing a pad or pantyliner to help absorb accidents.

If your pee leakage situation gets worse, or if you feel pain or burning when you pee, be sure to tell your doctor. It might be that you have a bladder infection or UTI (urinary tract infection).

The Zika Virus and Pregnancy – What You Need to Know

Learn about the Zika Virus and Pregnancy If you’re pregnant the Zika virus is probably got you worried, and with good reason. The virus, which is spread by mosquitoes, is all over the news with its scary consequences for pregnant women and their babies.

Cases in the United States are from travelers returning from affected countries. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), mosquitoes in mainland United States (and Hawaii) have not spread Zika. But lab tests have confirmed the Zika virus in travelers returning home to the U.S. Those travelers got infected from mosquito bites, and some non-travelers got it through sex with a traveler.

Here’s what you need to know about the Zika virus:

What’s dangerous about it?

In pregnant women, the effects of Zika are disturbing, and can make a pregnant woman miscarry or cause their baby to be born with an abnormally small head and brain. Babies infected may also have seizures, delays developmentally, and retardation.

How does the virus spread?

Zika is usually spread through being bitten by an infected mosquito. When the mosquito bites and draws blood from someone who’s infected by Zika, the insect is then infected and goes on to bite others. Zika is also transmitted sexually, from a woman to her baby during pregnancy, or at the time of birth.

What are the symptoms?

A Zika infection feels like a mild case of the flu, so it might be symptoms like a slight fever, headache, rash, muscle and joint pain, and pink eye. According to the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the CDC, only 20% of people infected will actually become sick.

How do I cut my risk of getting Zika?

Be really cautious about having sex with someone who’s traveled to a region affected by Zika. Use condoms to reduce the risk of being infected, or cut out sex entirely for the whole time you’re pregnant.

There’s no vaccine for Zika right now, but you can cut your risk by following these tips to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Wear long-sleeve shirts with and pants (avoid wearing shorts or shorter skirts)
  • Use bug spray with DEET (it’s considered safe for pregnant women)
  • Treat your clothing with a type of insecticide called permethrin
  • Don’t travel to these countries: American Samoa, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico—US TerritoryCosta Rica, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Samoa, Suriname, Tonga, South Virgin Islands, or Venezuela.

Visit the CDC’s travel information site for updates to this list of countries. And, make sure to talk to your doctor about your concerns over the Zika virus and pregnancy.

Your Changing Body: Treating Your Pregnancy Backache

1/27/2016 vettaThere are so many changes related to being pregnant, some glorious, others not so glorious. It’s no secret that your body changes and grows to prepare for delivery, and every week you’ll experience new aches and pains. The good news is that with extra care, you can treat and prevent a lot of them.

Most pregnant women get backaches, usually during the last trimester. As your pregnancy advances, your baby gets heavier which switches up your center of gravity. To keep balanced, you might start unconsciously arching your neck, pushing your belly forward, and pulling back your shoulders. Doing all these things can put a big strain on your back. Plus, your body’s making pregnancy hormones that soften up your ligaments, loosening up your spine and pelvis to get ready for delivery. This all contributes to lower back pain. Here are 7 tips to deal with your pregnancy backache:

  1. Keep good posture: hold your spine straight and try not to slouch. Try not to stand for too long. When you do stand, you can relieve stress by standing on a cushioned mat or with one foot rested up on a stool.
  2. Don’t cross your legs: it causes circulations issues and make your backaches worse.
  3. Lift the right way: squat down, bend your knees and hips while keeping your back straight. Grab the item, keeping it close to your body then slowly stand up, lifting using your leg muscles. Never bend at the waist or pick up heavy items.
  4. Wear comfy shoes: choose shoes with a low heel and good support. You could also use shoe inserts to help make your shoes more comfortable.
  5. Sleep with pillows: arrange them so they support your back and legs. Or, you can purchase a pregnancy pillow.
  6. Take a warm bath: it will relieve your aching muscles and relax you, too!
  7. Keep your weight gain in check: keeping your weight within your doctor’s recommended limit will help ease the load on your back

How to Treat (and Avoid!) Stretch Marks

Stretch marks-many pregnant women dread them.
How can you treat this annoying pregnancy side effect?

stretch marks2As soon as you get a positive pregnancy test, start applying lotion to the areas where stretch marks usually pop up: your breasts, belly, lower back, and hips. Stretch marks are caused by fibers under your skin’s surface breaking apart because of quick weight gain. Moisturizing the areas we mention above will keep your skin’s elasticity, and make stretch marks less likely. Apply a rich cream in the morning; this will make it so your skin is hydrated all day. Before bed, draw a warm bath and add some drops of Vitamin E oil.  Also, try to gain your pregnancy weight slowly and don’t put on more than your doctor recommends.

If you start seeing stretch marks in your 2nd trimester, know that you’re not alone: 9 out of 10 pregnant women get them! Stretch marks typically appear in the 6th or 7th month of pregnancy. It’s best to take care of the appearance of them while they’re new. Starting in the 2nd trimester, it’s safe for you to use Mederma Stretch Marks Therapy (it’s been shown in clinical studies to dramatically reduce scarring!) But make sure to apply it daily, and keep in mind that it might take a few weeks to see a difference.

After delivery, start using a firming lotion or serum. Or you can try laser treatments, but the cost may range from $350 to $1,000. And, here’s another thing you can do: embrace your stretch marks! Think about it this way: they’re in spots most people don’t see.

7 Awkward Pregnancy Side Effects & What You Can Do

pregnancy nauseaPeople told you that when you’re pregnant, your skin will glow and your hair would grow thick, but not that your boobs would itch or that you’d have extra gas! Here are 7 awkward side effects that happen in pregnancy, and what you can do about them:

  1. Burping and/or gas 
    As your baby grows, there’s less space in your belly. It makes your bowels more crowded, so your digestion may become weird, making you bloated and farty. Also, if you’re eating healthier now, foods like apples, pears, cauliflower, beans, and broccoli make you gassier. Greasy snacks and ice cream also will make you gassy. Try eating smaller meals closer together, and going on a walk after dinner.  At night, try propping your head up with another pillow and with your legs raised.
  2. Nipples that itch
    During pregnancy, your breasts and nipples are going to grow as they get ready for breastfeeding. As they grow, the sensitive skin in this area stretches, which causes an itchy feeling. Try moisturizing them with a thick lanolin cream, and applying cocoa butter or vitamin E body lotion after you get out of the shower. Try to wear comfortable fabrics only; keep wool or cashmere blends in your closet.
  3. Throwing up/nausea
    Experts think that morning sickness is caused by rising levels of pregnancy hormones, and it can affect you the most in the first trimester. Try snacking on a food that’s bland and light before getting out of bed, like saltines. A few other remedies include snacking at bedtime, having ginger candy, and wearing Sea-Bands.
  4. Leaking pee
    In pregnancy, your hormones will tell your pelvic muscles to relax so they can help you deliver your baby. This will cause a few little leaks when you sneeze or giggle. Also, your growing baby will put pressure on your bladder, which is right in front of your uterus. To relieve these leaks, do Kegel exercises. And, take a bathroom break every hour or so and wear a pad or pantyliner.
  5. Acne
    Pregnancy hormones once again are to blame for this awkward side effect. Since experts don’t know for sure if acne products are safe to use during pregnancy, avoid using them. Ask your doctor safe ways to treat your acne. Fortunately, the acne should disappear shortly after delivery.
  6. A popped belly button
    Developing an “outie” when you usually have an “innie” is your body’s way of preparing for baby and giving her extra room. The pop usually comes on gradually at the last trimester when a baby is at her biggest and most crowded. Although your outie won’t hurt, your skin there may be sensitive when it rubs up to your clothing. Try wearing a belly band or apply a band-aid on it to prevent irritation.
  7. Dripping breasts
    This is another sign your body’s getting ready for baby. Leaky breasts are caused by prolactin (the hormone that preps your boobs for nursing). You may find that everyday things like getting dressed, showering, or having sex can trigger sudden leaks. While you can’t prevent leaks, you can stop damp spots from appearing on your clothes. Put nursing pads inside your bra to soak up the moisture.

Remember to mention any and all pregnancy side effects to your doctor, even if they’re embarrassing and awkward. He or she will decide if there’s cause for concern.