Image

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?

Diabetes
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.
 
Preeclampsia
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
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.
 
Medication
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!)

How to Make the Most of the Holidays When You’re Pregnant

Young pregnant woman in her apartment, checking her phone in the middle of gift wrappingIf you’re pregnant this holiday season, you might be wondering how you can make the most of it. To savor the holidays while you’re expecting, start by slowing down. Let everyone else speed through the season, with all its to-do’s and errands. Your top priority is growing a healthy baby.
 
Here are 5 easy, mellow ways to celebrate the season and make the most of the holidays when you’re pregnant:
 

1. Ask for some help

Since your loved ones want you to take care of yourself, allow them to help you do just that. This year, take it easy on the cleaning and chores. Try to avoid feeling guilty if your family clears the table or washes the dishes more often than you do.
 
If you don’t feel comfortable sitting it out, help out a bit, but take frequent feet-up breaks. You might volunteer to keep the kids entertained by playing a quiet game or reading them a story. It’ll be great practice for later! You won’t do anyone any good by running yourself ragged over the holidays. So take it easy — you deserve it.
 

2. Make the holidays about you

This tip especially applies if this will be your first baby. After you become a mom, your child will become your primary focus. So while you’re expecting, spend the holidays doing whatever makes you happy. That might be treating yourself to a luxurious pre-natal massage, or it may be just cuddling on the couch with your honey. Treat yourself now, before you have a little one who’ll need your constant attention.
 

3. Sleep

Getting the sleep you need isn’t always easy when you’re pregnant, with frequent bathroom trips, heartburn, and leg cramps. So sleep when you can, on weekends and holidays. Sleep in late, take naps, and go to bed early when you want to. There’s no need to feel guilty about sleeping more when you’re pregnant. After all, you’re growing a tiny human being, and that’s a pretty physically intense job!
 

4. Pace yourself

Even if you get help on most of your holiday to-dos, you’ll still need to purchase gifts, wrap them, decorate a little, and maybe bake some treats. To avoid wearing yourself out when you’re pregnant, focus on one or two manageable tasks at a time. By doing so, you will accomplish your goals without getting burnt out.
 

5. Go ahead and indulge

If you’re pregnant during the holidays, moderation is the key to enjoying the treats of the season. While you’ll be skipping the champagne and spiked eggnog, there are still ways to indulge in holiday goodies without overdoing it.
 
Enjoy a mug of mulled cider or a mock-tail, and don’t deny yourself your mom’s handmade rolls or your Grandma’s famous cookies. But try to keep a balance. Make room for eating healthy food too, which you and your growing baby need right now.

Happy Holidays!

“Why Should I Make a Birth Plan?”

Young woman about to give birth, grateful to make a birth planA birth plan can help guide how your labor goes. This plan communicates your wishes and goals for before, during, and after labor and delivery. In it, you’re able to tell your best-case birthing scenario: how you’d like your labor and delivery to happen if all goes to “plan.”
 
Besides listing your preferences, most birth plans take into account what’s feasible and what’s available at the hospital or birthing center. But as we’ve all heard, births rarely go how you planned.
 
So, knowing that births rarely go as planned, you may hesitate to create a birth plan. If your labor and delivery experience isn’t in your control, then what’s the point in planning for it?
 
Here are five reasons to make a birth plan, even if your baby’s birth doesn’t go as you’d hoped:
 

1. Creating one starts the conversation with your partner.

No matter who your birth partner is, it’s smart to discuss your plans and priorities before you go into labor. Sharing your birth plan is a great opportunity to be honest about your hopes and dreams for your baby’s birth.
 
Being honest is important not only for your mental health but the mental health of your partner, too. This isn’t the time to be shy: if they’re going to spend hours helping you in the delivery room, it’s probably fine if they get some harsh honesty.
 

2. It gives you the chance to research.

There is a ton of information out there about birthing! Books, blogs, stories from your friends, message boards, stories from your mom, and of course, your doctor. All of this information can be helpful if you’re ready for it. So pick your sources and dive in!
 

3. Making one helps you process your feelings.

A birth plan is more than just a detailed list of your wishes. The process of creatine one will help you get in touch with your feelings and allow you to determine why you want the things you want them. Are you afraid to even think about a medication-free experience? Or are you determined to have a natural water birth? The simple act of recognizing those facts can help you being exploring your more deep-rooted feelings about the birth experience.
 
And if you’re choosing to place your baby for adoption once he or she is born, you can include your preferences for how things will be handled in the hospital in what’s known as an “adoption hospital plan.” This type of plan includes whether you’re OK with the adoptive parents being a part of delivery, if you want to recover away from the maternity ward, whether you’d like to leave the hospital before the adoptive family, and more.
 

4. Having a birth plan helps your doctor, nurse, partner, or doula make an informed decision when you are unable to.

The birth process can be chaotic, and many women find that they can’t answer a question during intense contractions. If you created your plan with your partner, they’ll know how to stick to your wishes. Or, simply prop the sheet of paper that contains your birth plan on the nursing station.
 

5. It can help you find something to be proud of.

If your birth doesn’t go to plan or was traumatic, you may be more predisposed to mental health issues like PTSD or postpartum depression. In that case, we recommend that you seek something in your birth plan that you did do. Be proud of yourself for achieving that goal in the middle of total chaos.
 
Did you have a C-section but managed to delay cord clamping and have your partner cut the cord? Awesome! Did you achieve the vaginal delivery you wanted, even after 4 hours of pushing? Good for you! Did every single thing on your birth plan go wrong, but somehow you managed to have a baby in the end? Congratulations, you just survived something so wildly chaotic up that you couldn’t even plan for it!
 
As you can see, creating a birth plan can still be a good use of your time, even if nothing goes to plan!

What Should I Do If I’m Pregnant and Alone?

How to Cope When Your Baby’s Father Has Ghosted You

Young woman looks out her window, pregnant and alone“I’m 22 weeks pregnant and just found out I’m having a girl! But my baby’s father wants nothing to do with me and our daughter. He wants me to get an abortion. After telling me that, he ghosted me and has blocked me on everything. So I can’t contact him. What should I do? Is there I way I can get financial support from him? I feel so alone and I’m not sure what to do right now.”
-Madison
 
No matter if your pregnancy was planned or not, it takes two people to make a baby. The two of you were supposed to be in this together, so it’s normal to feel betrayed and rejected when you don’t have support from the one person you need it from the most. Even though it’s totally unfair that the weight of this situation falls on your shoulders only, you’re not alone. You still have control of your future.
 

Give Him Some Time

People’s first reactions to stressful news aren’t always their finest moments, so try to give your baby’s father some time to come around. He might have just had a knee-jerk reaction to the life-changing news of your pregnancy. He could be thinking about any variety of things, like:
 
I never planned to have kids.
I’m not ready to be a father.
What will people think of me?
 
After taking the time to process and imagine a different life path, he may come around and give you support. Pressuring him won’t do any good right now. For now, try to keep your mind on what’s best for you and your baby.
 

Don’t Let Anyone Pressure You

This is your life, your body, and your choice.
 
Don’t let your baby’s father pressure you into having an abortion. The decision to get an abortion is a permanent one, and you might regret it for the rest of your life if it’s not what you truly want. Only you can decide what will be best for you and your baby. This is your future, and you do have choices!
 

Becoming a Single Parent

While thinking about becoming a parent, try to envision what being a single parent would be like Maybe your baby’s father will come around, but right now, you can’t make plans based on him. Is the life of a single mom something you can take on both emotionally and financially?
 
Support through services like WIC and Medicaid can help relieve the financial stress of being a single parent.
 
A court cannot force your baby’s father to have a relationship with his child, but they can require he provide financial assistance. Your baby’s father will be required to pay child support.
 
You’ll need your baby’s father to agree to a paternity test to collect child support from him. If he refuses to cooperate, you can file a civil lawsuit to determine paternity. The paternity test can even be done before the baby is born in some cases. As paternity laws differ depending on your state, you should consult with a family law attorney.
 

Exploring Adoption

If you can’t raise your child on your own, adoption may be the right choice for you. You have complete control over the whole process in today’s open adoptions.
 
Lifetime Adoption is a nationwide adoption agency that provides expectant mothers with caring support and guidance during every step of the process. You’re in charge of your adoption plans. With Lifetime’s proven expertise in open adoption, they can help you find the perfect family for your child.
 
The compassionate adoption professionals at Lifetime Adoption will help you every step of the way. You will be able to:

  • Browse online profiles of adoptive families
  • Get counseling and support
  • Get to know the adoptive family before decide if they’re the right parents for your baby
  • Decide how much contact you’d like to keep with your child throughout his life.
  • Get updates about your child as he or she grows up

Can I Do Adoption if My Baby’s Father Isn’t Involved?

Ordinarily, adoption requires both parents’ consent. There are some situations where adoption can be done without the father’s consent. Adoption laws vary in every state. So depending on where you live, you may not need his permission if:

  • He is a convicted felon.
  • He is abusive.
  • He is currently in jail.
  • He is coping with drug addiction.
  • He can’t be located.

The best scenario for an adoption process is to get the father’s written consent. An adoption professional or an adoption attorney can assist you with this.
 
Your baby’s father could object to the adoption, but that usually happens when he wants custody of his child. If your baby’s father can’t show that he’ll be able to support the child properly or doesn’t provide support during your pregnancy, he can be denied the right to object to the adoption.
 

Making a Decision That’s Right for You

In the event that your baby’s father changes his mind about being a part of his child’s life, you can begin making these plans together. But for the time being, concentrate on what’s best for you and your baby.
 
Your baby has created a connection between the both of you that could last for the next 18 years. However, you’re still in control of what that relationship will look like. You must make the best choices for your health and happiness and your baby’s future too. Let the adoption professionals at Lifetime Adoption provide you with support and non-judgmental guidance.
 

Call or text Lifetime Adoption at 1-800-923-6784, anytime. You can also contact Lifetime for free adoption information.

7 Awesome Online Pregnancy Tools

Pregnant woman in her kitchen looking at online pregnancy toolsFrom due date calculators to customized pregnancy calendars, today’s pregnant woman has many online tools to choose from. These tools allow you to get a better understanding of everything from gender to baby names to delivery.
 
We’ve crawled the web and picked the top 7 online pregnancy tools for all you mamas-to-be. Whether you want to get ideas for your baby’s name or find out the color of their eyes, we’ve got you covered with these awesome online pregnancy tools.
 

1. Baby Eye Color Predictor

Isn’t it surreal to think that you’re creating a human who will have 50% of your DNA? It’s fun to guess what your baby might look like as they grow up.
 
If you’re wondering whether your baby will have blue eyes or brown, this eye color predictor is the tool for you. Just plug in the eye colors of you, your partner, and each of your parents to find out the likelihood of your kiddo having blue, green, or brown eyes. Check it out.
 

2. The Chinese Gender Calendar

There are so many ways to try and find out the gender of your baby before the official scan. Some of these methods include peeing into cups filled with baking soda or checking if a fast fetal heart rate means you’ll have a girl or a boy. All you need to provide to let this Chinese Gender Predictor do its job is your birthday and the approximate date of conception. Try it here!
 

3. Due Date Calculator

Are you looking for a simple and inexpensive way to find out when you’re due? You can find it quickly and easily by using this handy online calculator.
 
Enter the first date of your last period and how long your cycle usually is, and this tool will provide an estimated conception date, due date, and current fetal age. Click here to find out your due date!
 

4. Babysizer

The Babysizer tool measures your baby’s growth week-by-week using comparisons that men are familiar with. Instead of telling him that the baby is the size of a kumquat, for example, Babysizer relates that the baby is the size of a poker chip!
 
The Babysizer tool also provides fun and useful information about what’s going on during each stage of pregnancy. Check it out.
 

5. Open Adoption App

For some women, becoming a mom isn’t something they’re ready for when they find out they’re pregnant. This free phone app for Android and Apple devices allows anyone to learn about making an adoption plan for their baby. It has adoption profiles of hopeful adoptive parents, answers to the most frequently asked questions about adoption, and the short eBook, “So I Was Thinking About Adoption…”
 
This adoption app is free to download and contains all you need to know about open adoption and how to find confidential services. Find out more here.
 

6. Baby’s First Test

Did you know that your baby’s screening test he or she will receive after birth screens for about 29 different disorders? This test helps to recognize any conditions that may require follow-up testing.
 
If you want to know the testing available in your state, this tool has tons of information to answer your questions. You can also join discussions about newborn screening, learn what to expect from the screening process, and get links to resources from organizations across the U.S. Check it out.
 

7. Baby Name Genie

This website brings some humor and fun to the process of coming up with baby names. To use is, you type in your last name and choose whether you would like a boy or girl name. The Baby Name Genie then goes to work and randomly creates a name for your little one. You might get something straight out of a baby name book, but you might just get some ideas too. Baby Name Genie can be a great source of inspiration. Try it out here.