Your Pregnancy Timeline: Fetal Development Week-by-Week

Pregnant woman holds ultrasound photo, after learning about fetal development week-by-weekYou have just found out you are pregnant, and now you wonder what is going on with this baby inside. How fast is she growing? What does she look like? What does she feel? The answers to all of these questions may be surprising. So let’s take a look at the week-by-week development of a fetus.

Week 1 and 2: The beginning of the first week is when you will ovulate. In these first two weeks, your egg will be fertilized, and then the fertilized egg will travel down your fallopian tube. The cells of the zygote are multiplying at an amazing rate. You probably will not know you are pregnant during week one or two and will most likely not notice any symptoms, although you may be a little more tired than usual.

Week 3: Now, your zygote is attaching to your uterine wall. It’s organizing into cells in the middle that will become the embryo and cells on the outside that will form the placenta. This is how your baby will receive nourishment throughout the rest of your pregnancy.

Week 4: During week four, the zygote will become an embryo. Typically the embryo will have 46 chromosomes, half from the mother and half from the father. These chromosomes already have the baby’s sex and physical characteristics programmed in. The baby is now in an amniotic sac that will provide oxygen and nourishment for the baby’s growth. This may be the first week you get an idea you might be pregnant as you may miss your period by the end of the week.

Week 5: Your embryo is now going through some very rapid changes. The embryo is now three layers, the ectoderm, the mesoderm, and the endoderm. The ectoderm is the top layer and will form the spinal cord, brain, and nerves from the neural tube, and this layer will also include the hair, tooth enamel, and skin. The mesoderm is responsible for the muscles, bones, and the tiny heart. The endoderm or third layer starts to form the liver, pancreas, lungs, intestines, and urinary system.

Week 6: This is a big week for your embryo. Your baby’s spinal cord and brain are developing rapidly, and her tiny heart starts to beat this week. You can see buds where the arms and legs are forming, and the embryo is in the shape of a “C” right now. Most women begin to suffer from morning sickness when they’re around six weeks pregnant, and it can last for weeks or months.

Week 7: Now, your baby’s arms and legs have gone from buds to paddles as they form. You can also see the nostrils and ears begin to form. Along with these changes, the retinas of his eyes are starting to form. Not only that, but your little one’s brain is developing fast, with brain cells increasing at the rate of about 100 cells per minute.

Week 8: Toes and fingers start to show during week eight, and her face starts to take shape. The top lip, nose, and eyelids are becoming visible, and nerves are spreading throughout the body. The embryo is even making some small movements at this point.

Week 9: Your baby is now about an inch long and is looking like a tiny, tiny baby. If you get an ultrasound now, the embryo will look like a tiny baby…with a huge head! Week 9 also brings about the growth of tooth buds which will start to harden in the following weeks and connect to the jaw bone.

Week 10: Congratulations… at the end of this week, your embryo graduates to a fetus. Your baby is about the size of a walnut. Her organs such as the kidneys, liver, lungs, and intestines have formed and are working.

Week 11: You may not be able to feel it yet, but your fetus is now moving around a lot in there, stretching her arms and legs and kicking. She is even starting to practice swallowing and has grown to the size of a lime.

Check out this video to get a closer look at fetal development week-by-week!

Week 12: Your fetus can now curl her fingers and toes and is starting to make sucking motions. She is also growing fuzzy hair on her body, and her vocal cords are forming along with her taste buds. She has now grown to the size of a small apple.

Week 13:
One thing that makes us all unique is our fingerprints, and during week 13, your baby will develop her very own individual fingerprints. The fetus is now about three inches long, and her ribs are developing.

Week 14: Your baby now has expressions. She can frown, squint and even suck her thumb. Her bones are getting harder, and she is developing her sense of taste and smell.

Week 15: In the past couple of weeks, your baby has grown another inch and is now the size of a grapefruit. She has hair follicles developing and is growing hair on her head and eyebrows.

Week 16: Don’t forget to sing and talk to your baby because she can hear sounds now! Week 16 also brings about the possibility of finding out if you are having a boy or girl through an ultrasound. At about five inches from head to butt now, she is growing fast.

Week 17: Can you believe toenails are starting to form on your little one now, and she can move her eyes slowly? She has grown another half inch and is beginning to store the fat she needs to start putting on some weight.

Week 18: This week, you may notice that your baby responds to your movements. When you get up and move around, she may notice and start moving around as well, kicking and doing somersaults. Lanugo, a fine hair, is beginning to cover her skin. She is now about the size of a mango.

Week 19: At this point, vernix, a waxy protective coating, forms on the baby to protect her delicate skin. She is getting more control over her movements and weighs in at about nine ounces. Her height from head to bottom is about six and a half inches now.

Week 20: You are officially halfway there. Your baby is now the size of a small melon, and her fingernails are growing. With an ultrasound, you can see some of her facial features at this point.

Week 21: Weighing in about 12 ounces now, your baby weighs roughly the same as a can of soup. She is about eight and a half inches long, and you may even feel her hiccupping now and then.

Week 22: If you could see your baby now, she would look like a tiny, little, wrinkly baby. Her eyes are fully developed but still fused shut, and her eyebrows are growing in. Her hearing is also improving by the day.

Week 23: By 23 weeks, your baby is growing and is continuing to develop. She can start to hear sounds from outside, and you may feel a reaction to a big noise. She will also be more aware of your movements. You may notice when you are more active, she is more active.

Cartoon illustrating fetal development week-by-weekWeek 24: Coming in at about one and a half pounds and about nine inches from head to rump, your baby and her lungs are working hard to develop. She is long and skinny right now, but that will change in the upcoming weeks.

Week 25: Your baby is spending a lot of time sleeping now and is going to start storing needed fat. She is now about the size of a small melon.

Week 26: This week, your baby will start producing melanin that gives her skin color. Her lungs are also beginning to produce surfactant, which will let her lungs inflate when it is time to breathe.

Week 27: Your baby’s eyes now open and close. She can even notice light if you hold a flashlight up against your stomach. She’s also putting on weight now and is probably up to about two pounds. Week 27 marks the end of your second trimester.

Week 28: Your third trimester is here! Your baby’s brain is growing rapidly, now adding billions of nerve cells. From now until your baby is born, her brain will triple in size.

Week 29: Your baby is now working on hardening those bones, so she needs a lot of calcium. From head to toe, she is now about 15 inches long and will weigh approximately two and a half pounds.

Week 30: Now, your baby is starting to produce her own red blood cells that help transport oxygen. The lanugo that began forming at week 18 is now going to start shedding. She is now about the size of a head of lettuce.

Week 31: Your baby will start getting more active and plumping up to get ready for her entrance. She is about 16 inches long now and nearly three and a half pounds.

Week 32: Hair and nails are growing in now, and her bones are getting harder. Her skull will remain somewhat soft and will not completely harden until she is about two years old.

Week 33: Your baby starts looking less wrinkly about now as she starts to store fat. Things are also getting snug in there, so she will be doing fewer somersaults and will be limited to kicking and squirming.

Week 34: Your baby may move to a head-down position this week, getting ready for birth. Her main goal now is putting on weight so that she can maintain body temperature when she is born.

Week 35: Can you believe your baby is probably about five and a half pounds and about 18 ½ inches long. She is growing fast, and you may notice she now has sleeping patterns.

Week 36: This week, your baby is just focused on growing. The lanugo and vernix that were created to protect delicate skin are almost completely gone now, and she prepares for birth.

Week 37: This week, your baby’s brain and lungs continue to develop. She is now about 19 ½ inches long and about six and a half pounds.

Week 38: Your baby’s organs are almost fully developed now, and she is preparing to meet you.

Week 39: You are almost there! Your baby is considered full-term at this point and will be ready to be delivered any time now.

Week 40: This should be the week to greet your newborn. Your baby is ready!

Pregnancy is a journey that every woman experiences in her own way. These are general guides on how a baby develops, but they too experience the journey in their own way.

Becoming a mom is a major life event, and some women feel unable or unequipped to raise a child for a variety of reasons. An unexpected pregnancy can come when a woman doesn’t have the resources to care for a child. Some of these women find adoption to be the best choice for both themselves and their baby.

If you’re thinking about adoption, know that Lifetime Adoption is available 24/7 to provide support and answer your questions. Just call or text Lifetime at 1-800-923-6784.

“Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m pregnant?”

female doctor preparing a pregnant woman for vaccination As if there is not enough to worry about when you are pregnant, now there is the question of whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s a very personal decision, and it is important to get your information from reliable sources. If you are looking online for information, look at the source. Don’t rely on what your neighbor’s aunt said about it.
Make sure you talk to your doctor or health care provider about the benefits and risks to you personally. They can explain if you have any additional risk factors that need to be considered. While it is true that there have been no formal studies on the effect of the vaccine on pregnant women, they have been started. The results will take some time.
There are some facts that we do know.

Risk of COVID-19 Infection During Pregnancy

According to the Mayo Clinic, the risk of becoming very ill from the coronavirus is increased when you are pregnant. This is a danger to both you and your baby as it can result in premature birth and increased risk for C-sections.
If you have additional health issues such as diabetes, the risk is increased. You will want to think about this as well as what your living and working situation is. Do you always wear a mask and practice physical distancing? Is there a higher risk you will be exposed to the virus? You need to consider these factors.

Info About the COVID Vaccine for Pregnant Women

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that none of the COVID vaccines use live viruses, so you cannot get COVID from the vaccine.

  • The vaccine will not affect your genes or DNA.
  • The CDC is currently tracking pregnant women who have received the vaccine, and so far, no safety concerns have been seen.
  • No long-term studies have been completed.

At the end of the day, you need to think about the information you have found and consider your own health status. Using this, you can then decide for yourself whether to get the vaccine or not. There are risk factors on both sides.

We know that COVID-19 is a dangerous and unpredictable illness, and we know that we don’t have all the studies we would like to have on the impact of the virus on pregnant women and their babies. It is important to note that they are not seeing any issues so far in the studies currently being done. The CDC does currently lean towards recommending the vaccine because the risk of COVID-19 on the mother and baby seems higher than the unknown risk of the vaccine.

Gather what you know, talk to your doctor and then make an informed decision. You can then feel comfortable with the choice you make.

Surprisingly Easy, Deliciously Healthy Foods for Pregnant Women

Pregnant woman eating oatmeal while reading in bedGrowing a baby is tiring work! That’s why it is necessary to keep your body fueled and hydrated with healthy food. Eating right, combined with plenty of sleep, will keep you energized and ready to face the day.
To avoid feeling hunger pangs and irritability, keep these pregnancy-safe foods in stock and nearby for you to snack on. You’ll not only be eating healthy, but you can make simple meals for the entire week without blowing your budget.
A healthy pregnancy means eating a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Some of the items we list below work well for snacking between meals, too!
You can make surprisingly easy, delicious meals with simple ingredients, such as chicken thighs (for chicken tenders), black beans, whole wheat pitas, olive oil, coconut milk, and so much more. To help prepare your food easily, think about buying a slow cooker, such as an Instant Pot.

Here are 6 surprisingly easy-to-prepare, deliciously healthy foods for pregnant women:

1. Yogurt

Getting enough calcium during pregnancy is vital so that your baby has the right amount of calcium for growing bones. Calcium intake will also help with your muscle, bone, and nerve functions. Yogurt is one of the best choices for increasing your calcium intake. It is also rich in active cultures, which helps with overall gut health.
Go for plain yogurt, because added sugars can be harmful if eaten in excess. Top it off with crunchy granola, a drizzle of honey, or fresh fruit, such as berries or bananas.

2. Nuts

Snacks are a pregnant woman’s best friend! Snacking throughout the day will keep your energy levels up and keep your morning sickness in check. Nuts are a small but powerful option for snacking.
They’re healthy and convenient to take with you everywhere you go. Just put some in a Ziplock inside your purse, and you’re good to go! Nuts are a good source of fiber and protein, helping you feel full longer. They are also rich in magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. Unsalted almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, pistachios, and peanuts are great choices.

3. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a quick and easy breakfast option that’s packed with health benefits. Oats are full of B vitamins, zinc, and iron, which help keep you energized.
Oatmeal also has lots of fiber, which will help with your energy levels. Meaning, it will stick with you throughout your morning, helping ward off those hunger pangs.

4. Lean Meat

If you don’t have time to fix a full meal when you’re on the run, that’s OK. Meat can be prepared ahead of time for a quick snack or meal.
Lean meats are one of the best foods to eat during pregnancy. They’re high in iron and rich in protein, both of which are important for you and your baby’s health.
Try cuts such as lean beef sirloin or ground beef with less than 15% fat. Chicken or turkey can be wonderful options, too. Add it to a soup, with a salad, or into your favorite noodle dish.
If you know you’ve got a busy day ahead, you could prep the meat or the whole meal ahead of time and pack it up for leftovers later. Easy!

5. Fruits and Vegetables

We all know how important fresh fruits and vegetables are to health. But this is especially true while you’re pregnant. Grab a baggie or Tupperware and load up some of these veggies and fruits:

  • Carrots: rich in carotene, which is important for eye health, both for the baby and for you
  • Edamame: full of protein, calcium, folate, and iron
  • Kale: high in vitamins A, E, K, as well as fiber
  • Red bell peppers and mangoes: rich in vitamins A and C

6. Water

And last but certainly not least, drink plenty of water during the day. Water can carry the precious nutrients from the foods you eat to the cells throughout your body.
If you don’t stay hydrated, you’ll probably feel more exhausted and tired than usual. Water replenishes your fluid supply, and it can even help reduce your chance of developing UTIs.
In addition to the easy-to-prepare foods for pregnant women listed above, also make sure to take your prenatal vitamins and minerals. And try to eat other foods, such as sweet potatoes, dried fruits (again, watch out for excess or added sugars), leafy greens, brown rice, low-fat dairy products, and healthy fats.
You probably already know this, but pregnant women need to make sure to get enough folic acid and the right amount of iron. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects. During pregnancy, you need to double the amount of iron you get, because your body needs it to make more blood to supply oxygen to your baby.
Always make sure to consult your doctor about the proper diet for you and your baby. Your doctor can help keep you on track, so you don’t have blood sugar spikes and crashes, morning sickness, and unnecessary weight gain.
Taking care of yourself and the baby you are growing is important. Making time to hydrate and to eat will make a big difference in how you feel!

How Will My Second Pregnancy Be Different Than My First?

Happy young girl hugs her pregnant mother So you’re expecting baby number two? Congrats! You may think that you know what will happen to your body between now and that final push.
But not so fast: the reality is, you might not feel the same this pregnancy. Actually, there are a few ways that a second pregnancy differs from a first one physiologically. Find out what’s in store over the next few months, so you can avoid any surprises:
1. Some symptoms might be less noticeable. This time around, you might notice that common pregnancy woes like aversions to certain foods seem less severe. Plus, you might feel more relaxed and less worried, too, since you’ve already been there, done that, and lived to tell about it.
2. You’ll probably “feel” pregnant sooner. Most women who have already had a baby are already familiar with the early symptoms of pregnancy, so they’re more likely to recognize them. With that said, the symptoms might differ from the last time. For example, you might have more or less urinary frequency or more or less morning sickness.
3. You may “show” sooner. Since your first pregnancy stretched your abdominal and uterine muscles, they’ll inevitably be looser this time around. Since they won’t hold things in quite as tightly, your bump will likely show much sooner than it did the first time.
4. You might notice your baby moving sooner. During your first pregnancy, you might have dismissed those strange, fluttery, bubbly feelings were just gas. Now that you’ve experienced pregnancy, you know what to expect and will realize when your baby is moving. Around month 4 of this pregnancy, you’re more likely to be aware of your baby kicking (instead of month 5 for first-timers).
5. You might carry lower. Since your uterine muscles aren’t as firm as they once were, and baby number two is likely to be larger than your firstborn, you may carry lower this time. Carrying lower could potentially result in more back pain and other pregnancy aches.
6. Your labor might be shorter. There’s some good news about how long you might be in the delivery room. While the second phase of labor for a first-time mom can last two to three hours or longer, for second-timers, it may take half that much time.
Also, pushing your baby out tends to be quicker the second pregnancy around, too. Why? Your cervix is more flexible now, so dilation and effacement usually happen more quickly. Also, your cervix and vaginal tissue are more pliant the second time around, so they submit to the pressure of the baby’s head more easily. In other words, your baby is more apt to “pop right out!”
7. Breastfeeding might be easier. Since you’ve done this before, you now have a better idea of what to do. A surprising reason breastfeeding is easier is that your body is physically primed to lactate, according to this study. Changes in your mammary glands make them ready to deliver milk more quickly the second time.

4 Tips for a More Stress-Free Pregnancy

Woman striving for a stress-free pregnancy makes a heart with her hands over her pregnant belly

The journey of pregnancy is one of life’s most incredible gifts but can also be stressful and overwhelming. Preparing for the unknown during the first nine months can seem a bit daunting, especially if you are new parents. Finding ways to alleviate the stress of pregnancy will allow you to enjoy this unique time with your partner.
If you are looking for ways to better plan for your newborn without a lot of extra hassle and pressure, here are 4 tips that will help you and your partner have a more stress-free pregnancy.
1. Easy budget planning: Planning the baby budget can be overwhelming with unexpected expenses and expensive purchases. Using these baby budget templates will help you plan out your finances by trimester, so by your third trimester, you’ll feel like you’re in good financial standing.
Using a budget template will give you a clearer picture of what you need to be saving during the next nine months, as well as allow you to track your current spending habits to see where you can move things around to help increase your baby budget.

2. Treat yourself: Nothing is better than getting pampered when you’re pregnant. Treat yourself and your partner to a quick babymoon getaway or plan a relaxing spa day.
If you have a tight budget, you can always bring the spa into your home. If you are looking for some daily pampering, try essential oil and salt baths to help relax your mind and body.
3. Declutter your home: Although this can be a stressful activity, cleaning out your home can help to declutter your mind. Pick a room every couple of weeks to go through and clean. Having a clean, neat home before delivery is important as your cleaning schedule may be flipped upside down once you bring your newborn baby home.
4. Remember to exercise: One of the easiest ways to help relieve stress is exercising. Going on a daily walk around the neighborhood or at the local park can be quite enjoyable, especially if you have friends to join. Going for a walk can also act as a reset period from any of your daily stressors.
As special as the first nine months are, staying calm and relaxed through it all will help make your journey smoother. If you’re looking for more pregnancy tips that will help you on your journey, check out these 10 pregnancy hacks for a more stress-free pregnancy.

How to Cope With Gestational Diabetes

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on November 22, 2017, and has since been updated. 

Pregnant woman with diabetes, controlling her blood sugar Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that shows up during pregnancy in a woman who did not have diabetes before pregnancy. It happens if your body’s not making enough insulin to offset the glucose from the food you eat.

Some women face more than one pregnancy affected by gestational diabetes. This type of diabetes typically will show up in the middle of pregnancy, so your doctor will probably test you for it when you’re between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Why Does Gestational Diabetes Happen?

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.

Gestational diabetes will cause you to have high blood sugar, affecting your pregnancy and your baby’s health. If you’re worried about this pregnancy complication, there is good news!

You can help control gestational diabetes by exercising and eating healthy foods. Sometimes a woman with this type of diabetes will also be prescribed insulin. Controlling your blood sugar can help keep you and your baby healthy and prevent a difficult delivery!

How Can I Find Out if I Have Gestational Diabetes?

All pregnant women are tested for it because it shows up in about 6 to 9% of pregnancies. If you have the risk factors of gestational diabetes, you might be tested at the start of your pregnancy to get a baseline reading.

For everyone else, the first test happens around 24 to 28 weeks and is called the “glucose challenge test.” Your doctor will give you 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, a healthcare professional will draw your blood to see how your body dealt with that high glucose level.

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 this pregnancy complication.

What Happens if I 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 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 has type 2 diabetes
  • Having had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • You’ve delivered a baby who weighs more than nine pounds
  • Have experienced an unexplained stillbirth
  • Women who are African American, Hispanic, American Indian, or Asian

What Are the Symptoms?

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

  • Extreme thirst
  • A constant need to pee
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Having regular bladder, vaginal, and skin infections
  • Blurry vision

What Are the Risks to Myself and My Baby?

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

How’s Gestational Diabetes Treated?

If your doctor diagnoses you as having gestational diabetes, your healthcare provider will frequently monitor your 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.

Why Epsom Salt Baths During Pregnancy Are So Great

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on May 23, 2018, and has since been updated. 

Adding Magnesium Chloride vitamin salt in foot bath waterEpsom salt baths feel divine when you’re pregnant! This natural remedy for aches and pains is completely safe for pregnant women. You use Epsom salt by putting it into your bathwater and then taking a long, luxurious bath. Many athletes swear by Epsom salt baths for soothing tired muscles after a hard workout. Join us as we share a few ways in which Epsom salt baths during pregnancy can help you sail through your pregnancy with ease!

Pregnant women can easily use Epsom salt while soaking in a tub or footbath. Since it dissolves easily and instantly, using it in baths is the best way to use it as it relaxes sore muscles.

To reap the benefits, put around 2 cups of Epsom salt into a warm bath. Soak in the tub for 12 to 15 minutes. It’s best if you can make sure that the water temp is comfortable but not hot. That’s because it’s dangerous to raise your body temperature too much when you’re pregnant. This is why you should also avoid hot tubs during pregnancy.

There are lots of advantages of taking Epsom salt baths during pregnancy. These are the top five benefits:

1. Diminish stress

Soaking in a warm bath is a great way to help to relieve stress. When you’re pregnant, your hormone levels are constantly changing as your body adjusts to supply nutrition to your baby. This can cause mood swings, which aren’t great for you or your baby.

Research suggests that the magnesium in Epsom salt may also be a natural stress reducer and anti-depressant. Bathing with Epsom salt can improve your mood and make you feel lighter.

Many pregnant women look forward to their nightly Epsom salt bath after a long day on their feet. What a soothing way to relax and calm your soul!

2. Relaxes muscles

An Epsom salt bath does wonders at easing sore muscles and back pain! And it’s also recommended to treat leg cramps, a common issue during pregnancy. It provides much-needed relief for you.

3. Soothes skin

During your pregnancy, your skin will stretch to accommodate the growing baby in your belly. Bathing with Epsom salt can soothe and exfoliate your skin, relieving the stretches and improving its appearance.

Many pregnant women find as their skin stretches to make room for their baby, it makes their tummy and joints very itchy. An Epsom salt bath can relieve this miserable itching.

4. Reduces swelling

Taking an Epsom salt bath while you’re pregnant is one of the best ways to reduce inflammation! When you take an Epsom salt bath, the magnesium sulfate in the salt is absorbed into your skin. This magnesium will get in the way of your pain receptors in the brain, decreasing any pain you’re feeling. Epsom salts are a natural, anti-inflammatory pain reliever.

As Epsom salt is anti-inflammatory, the magnesium sulfate it contains will increase your blood circulation and decrease any pregnancy-related swelling in your body. Many pregnant women find that their feet swell up a lot during pregnancy. An Epsom salt foot soak feels great and will help you with swelling and discomfort!

5. Helps with hemorrhoids

OK, so no one wants to talk about it, but pregnant women are more likely to get hemorrhoids. Take a soak in a warm bath with Epsom salts, and its anti-inflammatory nature can help decrease your hemorrhoids. Epsom salt increases water in the intestine, helping to clean any fecal matter present.

Epsom salt baths also reduce bloating, which is common in pregnant women.

Are Epsom Salt Baths Safe During Pregnancy?

Pregnant woman blissed out in the bathDoctors and researchers generally agree that Epsom salt baths are a safe way to seek relief, as long as women take proper precautions. Some research suggests that the magnesium sulfate in Epsom salt will absorb into the skin. This is why many suggest using Epsom in a bath.

In general, using Epsom salt in your bath is safe. But it never hurts to check in with your doctor before including it in your bath time routine.

Epsom salts can increase the temperature of the water, so it’s important to be cautious. When you initially turn your bath faucet on, keep the water temperature down. Also, it helps to double-check your water temp using a baby thermometer.

Where Can I Find Epsom Salt?

Epsom salt can be found at most grocery stores, pharmacies, and drug stores. There are many different brands on the market, and most of them are about the same. Some Epsom salt has fragrances listed in their ingredients. When you’re pregnant, it is safest to stick specifically with an unscented Epsom salt that has no oils or herbs added.

Here are a few Epsom salt mixtures that you can find for affordable prices on Amazon:
The Honest Company Mama Care Soaking Salts

Epsom Salt by Sky Organics – 100% Pure Magnesium Sulfate USP Grade Kosher Non-GMO

Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt (2 bags)

At the end of the day, a warm soak in the tub probably sounds like paradise to you! A bath can be a great way for you to relax and soothe your aching body when you’re pregnant. Many expectant mothers use bathing as a way to unwind each day.

How to Get Ready for Labor Induction

After following tips to get ready for labor induction, pregnant woman enters the first stages of laborAs your due date gets closer, you might be picturing different scenarios of how you’ll go into labor. A contraction that has you gasping in pain? A dramatic splash when your water breaks? Or just a sudden backache? It might be something in between. One scenario that you might not have pictured is what happens if you need to be induced.
In this follow-up to last week’s blog, “When and How is Labor Induced?“, we’ll share how you can best prepare for induction of labor. Labor induction can be a positive experience, even though it might mean having a different birth experience than the one you’d wanted. So, give yourself some time to process the emotions you might be feeling about this change in plans. Also, having information about what a labor induction involves will help you get ready for the big day. Understanding the process and having practical expectations are crucial to helping you prepare.

Discuss Your Options

There is more than one method to induce labor, and not every method is right for every woman. Here are some circumstances that affect the choice of induction method:

  • Your conditions (such as VBAC status, pre-existing complications, whether you’ve already had a baby, etc.)
  • Conditions inside your uterus (your baby’s position, amniotic fluid volume, etc.)
  • Your preference
  • Your doctor’s preference
  • The reason for induction

If your cervix needs ripening as part of your induction method, your doctor will let you know the most appropriate option. This probably will either be the use of mechanical dilation of your cervix with a balloon catheter or by taking a prostaglandin medication.
To start contractions, your doctor will probably recommend using Pitocin. This medication is a synthetic version of oxytocin, which is a hormone that triggers labor contractions naturally. If your doctor starts you on Pitocin, it will be given continuously through an IV until your baby is born.
Talk with your healthcare practitioner about your birth preferences. Doing so will help them determine the best way to respect your preferences while performing a labor induction.

Get Familiar With Your Cervix

After your doctor has recommended that you be induced, and you’ve signed off on the idea, it will help to learn a bit about your cervix. Your healthcare professional will perform a vaginal exam and calculate a Bishop Score. This score estimates how likely an induction is to bring on labor. That’s because it’s easier to get a cervix to open and labor to begin when the cervix is ready for birth. Your doctor will evaluate your cervix on:

  • Dilation (openness)
  • Consistency (firmness)
  • Effacement (thickness)
  • Position (which way is it angled)
  • Station (how low the baby’s head is in your pelvis)

Each bullet point above is given a score of 0, 1, 2, or 3 based on an examination. The greater the number, the more likely your cervix will open easily, and labor will begin. If your Bishop Score is low, your doctor may recommend performing treatments to ripen and prepare your cervix. These treatments will help your cervix work better with other methods of induction.

Keep Your Due Date in Mind

Usually, the closer you are to your due date, the simpler it is to get labor going. That’s because your body (and your baby!) are closer to being ready for natural labor to start.
When considering inducing labor, your doctor will keep your due date in mind. If your due date is unknown, or you’re not at least 39 weeks along, the benefits of an early delivery will be carefully balanced with the risks.
If you’re thinking about an elective induction of labor, your doctor will probably recommend waiting until you are at least 39 weeks.

Try to Be Flexible

While you may be excited to meet your baby, you may also be worried about labor induction. Make sure to share your concerns with your doctor. What has helped other women is talking about the possible scenarios and options. Labor induction is not an exact science, so not every method will work the same way on every woman.
It will help if you can try to remain flexible and have a go-with-the-flow attitude at the hospital. But that doesn’t mean that you have to give up on everything in your birth plan. You still have choices.

What to Ask Before Being Induced

  • What are the risks and benefits of each method?
  • How long would we try this before trying something else?
  • What happens if this approach doesn’t work? What’s the next step?
  • Will this constant fetal monitoring be required?
  • Will I be able to move around?
  • How many times have you performed this procedure?
  • Will it hurt? What are your options for pain relief?

Practical Pointers

Labor induction isn’t always fast. So make sure to load your phone, laptop, or iPad with movies, shows, and books to help the time pass. If you like to journal, pack a journal to jot down your in-the-moment labor and delivery thoughts. Create a playlist of music filled with your favorite calming music. And remember to pack headphones (or earbuds), chargers, and comfortable, loose clothing.
If the induction continues longer than 12 to 24 hours, you might let your partner get some fresh air. Let your partner pack their own bag for the hospital, so your bored induction partner doesn’t turn into an annoying labor and delivery partner! Tell them to pack a good pillow and some snacks (nothing smelly!)
While some labor inductions happen quickly, others take much longer. Some women start induction and do not have their baby for a day or two. This depends on the methods tried, your cervix’s condition, and how you and your baby handle labor. In fact, you might find yourself bored at the beginning of induction. Having a team of supporters will help make this time tolerable!

When and How is Labor Induced?

Cropped shot of a very pregnant woman holding an alarm clockLabor induction involves using medications or other methods to bring on labor. The thought of being induced makes some ladies excited about no longer being pregnant. Other women prefer a more natural birth experience and are against being induced.
First, we will share some reasons why you might be induced, and then we’ll go through how labor induction is typically done.

Why Would I Need to Be Induced?

Diabetic women tend to have complicated pregnancies and grow larger babies. Doctors used to induce much earlier on diabetic patients, but they’re allowing these babies to head to term more recently.
Post your due date
Most hospitals will not induce a woman who’s past her due date until they are 41 weeks along. More and more medical studies are being released that show there are many benefits to allowing a baby to cook ’til they’re good and ready.
Low Amniotic fluid
Your doctor will conduct a test via ultrasound called an AFI (amniotic fluid index). They’re performing this test to measure the pockets of fluid in your uterus. If it’s low, your doctor may suggest inducing labor. That’s because if you don’t have enough amniotic fluid, there’s less cushioning for the umbilical cord. If it’s just a little low, your doctor may just watch you and have it re-measured.
Measuring big
Your healthcare professional will measure your baby’s size through an ultrasound. If your baby is too big, it can be a reason to end-up getting n a c-section. However, if they induce before your cervix is ready, you can also end-up a c-section. What a Catch-22 situation!
Measuring small
This one is even more important to keep an eye on than measuring big. If a baby measures small, it can mean they aren’t getting the nutrients they need. Your doctor will probably be looking at how your baby measures over time.
Something they’ll be watching for is a baby who was measuring normal and is now measuring small. This can usually be checked with an ultrasound, but your doctor would often find an indication for the ultrasound by measuring your belly at your appointments.
If you’re diagnosed with preeclampsia, your doctor may decide to induce your labor. Preeclampsia is when your blood pressure is high, you’re swollen, and a few other factors that are found through blood tests. You’ll probably deliver vaginally, though the earlier along you are in your pregnancy, the higher the chance you may need a C-section delivery instead because your cervix won’t quite be ready to dilate.
Other illness
This might mean anything from catching a serious flu to an infection in the uterus. On the other hand, if it’s something really major and your life is in danger, your doctor might consider a c-section instead. Being seriously ill while you’re pregnant is very hard on your body. So, getting that baby out will improve everyone’s diagnosis.
Water broke, but nothing’s happening
Most women go into labor after their water breaks, but sometimes your uterus just could care less that it just lost all that fluid. Usually, the doctors will give you a few hours to start contracting on your own. If you don’t, they will strongly encourage you to start some Pitocin.
Elective Induction
An “elective induction” just means it’s something you want to do; there’s no medical reason. Examples of why some women request an induction might be that their husband is set to leave town soon or if their Mom’s in town to help out. Elective inductions get last priority in the line of inductions for doctors to perform. That’s because if there’s no medical evidence that the induction should be done, they need to take care of women who have a reason first.

How Are Labor Inductions Performed?

Oxytocin is a synthetic version of what your body naturally produces to get you into labor. It’s also called Pitocin, but Oxytocin is generic. Your healthcare professional will put Oxytocin into your IV and start things out slowly. Every hospital has a policy to increase the amount carefully while watching your blood pressure and uterus. It’s typically increased until your cervix is opening or your contractions are two to three minutes apart.
Three common medications used to induce labor are Cytotec, Prepadil, and Cervidil. Your doctor may give it to you to ingest, crush it and ask you to hold it under your tongue or by your gums, or place it inside your vagina. These medications tend to “soften” the cervix and are usually given when the cervix is measuring less than two to three centimeters. If you’re past that point, your doctor may move on to a foley bulb induction.
Foley Bulb Induction
A Foley bulb induction is a procedure in which your doctor inserts a catheter into your cervix. Once inside, your doctor will use a saline solution to inflate the balloon.
This procedure puts pressure on your cervix and promotes dilation. The catheter will fall out once your cervix expands to three centimeters. Many doctors will follow this up with Oxytocin afterward, but sometimes women head into labor on their own.
Breaking your water
Your doctor may have you come in so that they can break your water. This works best on women who have already had a baby and are pretty well dilated. Once they break your water, there’s no going back. With the other methods we mention, you can just go home if the induction doesn’t work. So just keep in mind that if they break your water, you are in it for the long haul.
Strip your membranes
When your healthcare professional checks your cervix, they can “strip your membranes” by taking their finger between your bag of waters and your cervix. This action will release hormones to push you into labor. Stripping your membranes can get things going if you’re already going into labor soon. If not, it’s just a little pain with no gain. This procedure is uncomfortable but happens quickly and is a low-risk form of birth induction.
If all this information about labor induction has you freaked out, you’re not alone. But preparing yourself ahead of time by reading more information about labor helps you know what to expect. Check out these 10 simple ways to prepare for labor and delivery so you can start getting ready now.
Pregnancy can be hard. So pamper yourself now and let other people help you out if they offer. Soon enough, your baby will be screaming their lungs out in a car seat, and you will forget about all you went through to bring them into the world.
Stay tuned because next week, we’ll go into how to prepare yourself if you’re going to be induced!

What It’s Like to Have Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG)

Woman with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) late into her pregnancy sitting on her bed and trying not to throw upAre you pregnant and losing weight instead of gaining? Do you feel like food is no longer your friend? Do you find yourself making sure to stay nearby a bucket or toilet at all times? You could be one of the unlucky few women who suffer from Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG).
According to the American Pregnancy Association, Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a pregnancy condition identified by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and dehydration.
Getting through HG is a struggle, but with the right help, you’ll emerge with a healthy baby. Today, we’re sharing strategies for you and your loved ones, along with some basic info about HG!

HG is a medically-recognized pregnancy disorder.

It is an awful, very real disease that requires medical intervention. However, the top complaint that women with HG have is that they’re not being taken seriously. If your doctor is making it out like your symptoms are not serious or you’re feeling unheard, find another doctor. If that’s not possible for you, we encourage you to advocate for yourself until you get the help you need.

It affects every woman differently

Since every woman’s body is different, HG will differ for everyone. Generally speaking though, HG will be the worst when you’re around 8-13 weeks along. It often comes back worse with subsequent pregnancies, and women carrying multiples are more likely to experience HG.
Most HG babies are born wonderfully healthy and strong, even though there was a war raging outside the placenta. Typically, women say that they feel instantly better once their baby has left the womb.

Everything stinks

When you have Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), everything seems to smell “off.” Says one woman who battled HG, “My nose is so amped up that I know the moment the oven is turned on even if I’m down the hallway in another room with the door closed!”
If you have a very young child, changing their diaper becomes feels like unearthing a dead animal from a landfill. The smell of food is even worse. Some women pat a little dab of essential oil (or Vick’s VapoRub) under their nose to hide the smell. Others wear nose plugs. Whatever you decide to try, you’ll know it works if you don’t feel like throwing up.

Eat is difficult

Finding food you won’t throw up can feel impossible when you have HG. It can seem like nothing tastes right. Foods that were previously “safe” to eat can suddenly make you feel vomitous.
Many women with HG find that their tastes change by the week. One week, you might find that all you can eat are instant mashed potatoes. The next, bagels and cream cheese. Bland food and carbs are usually safer to eat than fruit or veggies. So eat what you think you can!

Drinking is difficult

Staying hydrated is a great way to keep nausea at bay. But many women with HG come to find that they’ll even vomit water, so this is a real challenge. To stay hydrated, women with HG report that sports drinks, ice cubes, or popsicles work. So if you can’t even keep water down, try one of these solutions. Because many women find themselves in the hospital with an IV before they even realize what’s happening.

So many things trigger nausea

When you have HG, lots of random things amp up your nausea. Even simple activities like brushing your teeth or riding in a car can make you feel nauseous. And who knew that bright lights, loud sounds, or turning your head too quickly could set off that sick-to-my-stomach feeling? Also on the nausea-triggering list are pictures of food, smelling food, talking about food, and seeing food.

Anti-nausea medicine is wonderful

Your doctor can prescribe you anti-nausea medication, and it will be glorious. The most common ones are Zofran, Phenergen, Reglan, Diglecis, Bonjesta, and Compazine. Some women just need one to feel relief, while others need two. And a few unlucky women need all and it’s still not enough. They do come with side effects (like constipation and drowsiness). However, the best side effect is taking the edge off your constant nausea. Ask your doctor which medicine might be right for you.

Support is crucial

Find those who can help you. If your partner is unavailable, get a family member. If you don’t live near family, get a neighbor or close friend. Make sure that your support team knows exactly what can trigger your nausea so everyone is on the same page.
Ask your doctor about local support that may be available in your area. Joining an online HG support group is a great way to learn all the tricks and tips. Plus, you can vent to people who absolutely understand what you’re going through. Don’t be shy about asking for help, because HG is a condition that requires support.

Don’t be hard on yourself

If you’re living with HG, you’re in survival mode. So if you have to let some things go (like chores, errands, and basic hygiene), please take it easy on yourself. Your body is responding to pregnancy in a way that’s still being researched. HG is intense! So don’t feel guilty if you find yourself unable to cook dinners, and you let your partner do all the cleaning.
Keep your support team close because it’s going to be a battle. At the end of the journey, you get the best prize of all—a squishy, adorable life.
Have you ever had Hyperemesis Gravidarum? Leave us a comment to let us know what worked (and what didn’t!)