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3 Surprising Things About Early Pregnancy

3 surprising things about early pregnancyWhen you first see that positive pregnancy test, you might think about happily holding your adorable baby. Or, you might be wondering “how in the heck am I going to do this?!” Either way, here are 3 things about finding out you’re pregnant that might surprise you:

1. It’s SO hard to keep it a secret

Many women in the first days of their pregnancy have a lot of anxiety about sharing that news. “I am so thrilled about having a baby. But, at the same time, I was worried about miscarriage. What if I told a bunch of people my news, and then had to suffer through telling them I’m not pregnant anymore?!” says one mom-to-be, now 35 weeks along. It’s for this reason that many women choose to keep their pregnancy under wraps for a bit. This doesn’t mean that keeping it a secret is easy!

2. Everything will make you cry

Your hormones will be all over the place in early pregnancy! Shares one woman, “I swear my husband thought I was crazy those first few weeks! One night, I cried because I didn’t want to make dinner. And one day at work, I cried in the bathroom because I forgot my lunch at home.”

3. There’s a little human in there!

This might be the hardest thing for you to grasp. Yes, the pregnancy test confirmed you’re pregnant. But besides feeling weird and gross all the time, it might be hard to believe that your body is growing another tiny human.

The reality might not set in until you hear a heartbeat or find out your baby’s gender!

10 Things To Do During Your Last Month of Pregnancy

smiling at teddy bearCongrats mama! It’s almost time for your baby to arrive and forever change your world. People are probably telling you to pack up your hospital bag and to sleep as much as you can.
 
But today, we’re sharing the little stuff that’ll make life a bit easier those first few months. Because even though your hormones have brought on the nesting phase, your pregnancy brain might leave you feeling like you’re forgetting something.
 

Here’s our list of 10 fun and productive things to do for month 9 of pregnancy:

 
1. Treat yourself to a pedicure and manicure
 
You totally deserve a bit of pampering, plus hands will be featured in a million photos with your little bundle of joy. Not to mention, you’ll probably be wearing flip-flops a lot post-labor.
 
2. Go on dates
 
It’s hard to know when you’ll be able to go on a date with your significant other after your baby arrives. So, take advantage of these last few weeks as a family of two by doing things as a couple.
 
3. Upgrade your phone’s storage
 
You’ll be taking so many photos and videos of your new baby that you’ll hit your storage max pretty quickly. You don’t want to have that video of your baby’s first coo get cut off, or have to erase the 75 pictures you took of his first bath at home!
 
4. Get Amazon Prime
 
Ordering baby items from your phone and getting them within two days is one of the greatest conveniences for new moms!
 
5. Look for a newborn photographer
 
Get recommendations from friends or on mom groups on social media. Find out their sitting fees and what they charge to print. Photographers like to take newborn photos taken within your baby’s first two weeks. Save yourself from trying to remember to get a photo session lined up in a sleep-deprived, new mom state.
 
6. Download e-books and line up your Netflix queue
 
Newborns need to nurse or be bottle fed 10 to 12 times a day, for about a half an hour at a time. That’s a lot of time spent sitting, staring at your walls. Survive boredom by binge-watching a show on Netflix and reading up in your favorite genre.
 
7. Get the thank-you’s ready
 
There will be such a flood of gifts after your baby is born! Get ready by buying thank you note cards now, organizing your address list, and printing labels for your birth announcements.
 
8. Discover baby gear
 
Unbox all that mysterious gear you received at your baby shower. Take some time to assemble it and figure out all the buttons, straps, and handles. Trust us, holding a wailing newborn while trying to figure out how your stroller unfolds isn’t a picnic!
 
9. Two words: noise machine!
 
You can find tons of smart phone apps that provide the sound of the ocean, a fan, the ocean, or a babbling brook. Your baby will love it, and so will you when it allows you to get some sleep! Also, think about buying a white noise machine that you can keep in your baby’s nursery or by your bedside (depending on whether you’re co-sleeping.)
 
10. Use some vacation days
 
Take a day (or two) off just for you. Carrying a baby for nine months is hard work; you deserve some time off! Enjoy being alone, and the ability to do things at your own pace.

“How Long Before My Baby Belly Goes Down?”

Question: “I had my baby a couple of weeks ago, and I’m so ready to get my pre-baby body back! How long before my baby belly goes down?”
 
Answer: The timeline to lose the baby weight is different for every woman and depends on a few factors. These include whether or not you’re breastfeeding, how much weight you gained during your pregnancy, your diet, and how much exercise you get.
 
Two weeks after delivery, try and avoid weighing yourself. If you’re breastfeeding, you’re probably still getting the hang of it. Plus, your hormone levels are just starting to come down, so you’re still in the “baby blues” phase when anything can make you cry. Don’t feel discouraged, because the number you see on the scale usually doesn’t indicate lots of body fat.
 
mom walking downtown with her newborn babyAbout six weeks after you deliver, your uterus will return to its normal spot in your pelvis, making your belly look flatter and smaller. We recommend keeping the healthy eating habits you began when you were pregnant. Try and fit some exercise in when you can, too. Something as simple as taking your baby on a walk around the neighborhood will help you get fitter, faster.
 
At the end of the day, every woman is going to lose postpartum weight at her own pace!

What is Gestational Diabetes?

pregnant woman getting her blood pressure checkedGestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that shows up during pregnancy. It happens if your body’s not making enough insulin to offset the glucose from the food you eat.

But Why?

Typically, your pancreas does a good job of balancing glucose by making insulin. When you’re pregnant, your placenta creates more hormones that might make your body resist insulin. The pancreas produces more insulin, but gestational diabetes happens when it can’t keep up.

Glucose Testing 

All pregnant women are tested for gestational diabetes because it shows up in about 9% of pregnancies. If you have the risk factors, you might be tested at the start of your pregnancy to get a baseline reading. (See below for the risk factors).

For everyone else, the first test happens around 24-28 weeks and is called the “glucose challenge test.” You’re given a syrupy sweet glucose drink that you need to drink within a specific amount of time. It’s a strange-tasting drink: like flat Sunkist soda, infused with candy corn. After waiting an hour, your blood will be drawn to see how your body dealt with that high level of glucose.

Within a couple of days, you’ll find out if you passed or failed. If you failed, it just means you have a higher risk of gestational diabetes. The one-hour test you took doesn’t diagnose gestational diabetes.

What happens if you fail the one-hour test?
It means you need to take Glucose Tolerance Test, so you’ll fast beforehand and drink twice as much of that fun, flat orange soda. You’ll have your blood drawn before you pre-drink, and then again every hour for three hours. It’s important that you avoid eating or drinking anything during that time. If you fail this three-hour test, then you’ll be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

What are the risk factors?

  • Over 25 years old
  • BMI over 30
  • A close family member who has type 2 diabetes
  • Having had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • Delivered a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
  • Had an unexplained stillbirth
  • Women who are black, Hispanic, American Indian, or Asian

What are the symptoms?

Most women don’t notice any symptoms, which is a major reason why everyone is tested. Here are some signs of gestational diabetes:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Constant need to pee
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Regular bladder, vaginal, and skin infections
  • Blurry vision

What are the risks to me and my baby?

  • Preterm birth
  • Macrosomia (very large baby)
  • Increased need for a c-section.
  • Low blood sugar, which comes with a risk of seizures
  • Later risk of type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Preeclampsia
  • Risk of developing diabetes in the future

How’s gestational diabetes treated?

If you’re diagnosed as having gestational diabetes, they will frequently monitor blood sugar. Your doctor will give you recommendations for diet and exercise and may prescribe supplemental insulin. You’ll probably have your blood sugar tested after you deliver, and then again at your six-week postpartum visit.

Hoping to Labor at Home as Long as Possible? Get Our Tips!

learn the truth behind 7 of the most common pregnancy worriesWe hope that you found last week’s article about the benefits to laboring at home as long as possible to be helpful! Today, we’re sharing how exactly you can labor at home as long as possible before heading to the hospital.

Your goal is going to be to get to the hospital while in transition, or right before transition.  Here are 5 tips on how to do that:

1. Take a Quality Childbirth Class

This is the foundation to laboring at home as long as possible!  If you don’t know about pain coping methods, what your body’s doing, and the labor process, how in the world are you going to handle labor at home? After taking a good childbirth class series, you will have a solid understanding of how labor progresses and how to cope.

2. Hire a Doula

A doula has been present for many labors and is such a valuable asset for deciding when it’s time to head to the hospital. Typically, a doula can tell you in just minutes if it’s time to go or not.

3. Be Ready to Go!

Get 100% ready to go at a moment’s notice.  This means having your hospital bag all packed with anything you need, including your phone’s charger, pillows, a towel, toiletries, etc. Put this bag into your car, so it’s ready to go. That way once you decide to go to the hospital, everyone can just get in the car and go in a couple of minutes.

4. Time Your Contractions

Yes, there’s an app for that! It’s called Contraction Master, and you can download it for your Apple device. They also have a website, ContractionMaster.com. Timing contractions is a really useful thing to do when you’re deciding whether or not to go to the hospital! You’ll want to look at how far apart your contractions are.   If you’re hoping to labor at home as long as possible, you should leave home when your contractions are about three to four minutes apart. Look at how long each contraction is lasting.  During active labor, they’ll last around a minute, and during transition, they might last 90 seconds. Once your contractions are about three to four minutes apart and last 60 seconds or longer, it might be time to head to the hospital!

5. How’s Your Mood?

Are you feeling annoyed at people around you, even when you get a break between contractions? If your mood between contractions changes, it may be time to head to the hospital.

Also, are you texting people and posting on Instagram or Facebook? Then it’s probably not time just yet to head to the hospital. Once things get intense, you honestly won’t have the ability or brain power to use your phone. You’ll be focused on one task – to have a baby!

 

If you’re still not sure when to go to the hospital, try to slow or stop your labor. Take a bath, shower, nap or walk. If things stay the same or become stronger, it might be time to head to the hospital.

With all this said, sometimes you just know when it’s time to go to the hospital. If you get a gut feeling that it’s time, then listen to that voice!

Please note: the writers at Pregnancy Help Online aren’t medical professionals, and the info here isn’t intended as medical advice. Make sure to consult with your OB-GYN on these matters, too.

4 Benefits to Laboring at Home As Long As Possible

This woman is ready for laboring at home!More and more women are choosing to labor at home as long as possible and then travel to the hospital. In fact, some hire a doula to help with going through the early stages of labor at home and arrive at the hospital for transition and pushing. Wondering why? Here are 4 benefits to laboring at home:

1. Easier to Cope with Pain

Many women who labor at home as long as possible say that they chose to do so because of the comforts of home. It’s easier to cope with labor pains in comfortable surroundings, they share. So if you’re more comfortable at home, you’ll be better able to cope with contractions.

2. Encourages Oxytocin

Laboring at home can make your labor as straightforward and short as possible. If you go to the hospital in early (or even active) labor, things might slow down. Your contractions might stop and then you’ll be sent home, exhausted and frustrated.

But if you go through the long, difficult contractions that are close together before leaving for the hospital, the actions of leaving home, getting into your car and showing up at the hospital won’t affect your labor or get in the way of the release of oxytocin.

3. Pitocin Not Needed

Women who remain at home for the majority of their labor and show up at the hospital ready to push may be less likely to need Pitocin. (Pitocin is given to speed up and strengthen labor.)

By experiencing the earlier stages of labor at home and getting into a steady pattern before the hospital, the need for Pitocin is less likely.

4. Unmedicated Birth

If you labor at home as long as possible, you’ll be much less likely to need drugs or an epidural to get through the rest of your labor. There may not be time to get an epidural because things are moving quickly once you arrive at the hospital.

If you’ve learned to cope through your contractions while at home, you’ll probably continue coping just as well when you’re admitted to the hospital!

With all this said, if you need to go to the hospital, then you should go. If something just doesn’t feel or seem right, you should go. Don’t labor at home because you’re scared of the hospital and the staff. Make sure that your decision to labor at home is based on love, rather than fear.

Please note: we aren’t medical professionals, and the info here isn’t intended as medical advice. Make sure to consult with your OB-GYN on these matters, too.

Next week, we’ll share some tips with you on how you can effectively labor at home!

How to Announce Your Pregnancy at Work

get tips on how to tell your job you're pregnantMany women are excited to announce their pregnancy to family and friends. But, most feel uncomfortable and awkward telling their employer. Plus, getting maternity leave always isn’t a sure thing in the US.

Start by learning about the Family Medical Leave Act and your company’s maternity leave policy. Basically, if you’ve worked at the same place for more than a year and your company has more than 50 employees, you’ll get 12 weeks off after you deliver.

If you live in California, you’ll get six weeks off and not miss pay. And, New York’s new parental leave laws take effect next year. Here’s a Vogue article explaining your maternity leave rights based on what state you live in.

So how do you have this awkward convo with your boss? This is one of the few times that it’s OK to tell a white lie, or at least hide your news. For example, if you’re up for a performance review or bonus, use your judgment. There are a few tricks that pregnant women use to hide a pregnancy at work.

Your best bet is to tell your supervisor/boss first and work together with how you’ll tell HR. Then, you can tell the rest of your team what your plans and timeline are. And, avoid the temptation to look at baby stuff on your work computer! The last thing you want is for a retargeting ad to pop up on your screen while you’re showing your boss something.

Make sure to check out our other articles about pregnancy & work:

Working While Pregnant? 8 Tips That’ll Help!
Facing Discrimination at Work Due to Your Pregnancy?
Working During Pregnancy
Pregnancy and Your Job

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!