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Your Guide to Pregnancy-Safe Skincare Products

Expectant mother applying pregnancy-safe skincare products in her bathroomChances are, you’ve heard of “pregnancy glow,” when a pregnant woman’s face looks naturally bright and healthy due to all the hormones her body is churning out. But we often don’t talk about other skin-related side effects of pregnancy, such as acne, sensitivity, and skin discoloration (known as melasma).

With all the changes happening to your body during pregnancy, who has time to deal with skin changes too? But what if your regular skincare routine isn’t working now that you’re pregnant? Or if you’re worried whether your pre-pregnancy products might no longer be safe? Fortunately, there are many products out there that are not only safe to use while you’re pregnant, they’re also budget-friendly. Plus, they don’t require you to add a ton of time to your morning and evening routines.

Last week in our series on pregnancy-safe beauty products, we talked about which skincare ingredients you’ll want to avoid during pregnancy. Today, we’ll share ingredients that are pregnancy-safe, along with dermatologist-recommended products to help you out.

Pregnancy-Safe Skin Care Products

Try not to let that list of ingredients to avoid stop you from following a solid skincare routine that’s still safe for pregnancy. There are still plenty of skin care products available that will help you combat dryness and breakouts and dryness while keeping your skin clean and healthy:

  • Hyaluronic acid (this moisturizer has pregnancy-safe anti-aging properties)
  • Gentle, fragrance-free moisturizers and cleansers
  • Benzoyl Peroxide (this is safe in small amounts, but make sure to check in with your dermatologist first)
  • Vitamin C serum (used for its anti-aging, brightening, and antioxidant qualities)
  • Salicylic acid in low doses (like those found in over-the-counter face washes)
  • Azelaic acid (comes from a wheat plant and is a natural pigmentation regulator)

Dermatologist-Recommended Pregnancy-Safe Skin Care Products

These doctor-recommended skin care products and treatments address common concerns without harming you or your growing baby.

Cleansers

Cetaphil Skin Cleanser (Unscented)
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
Glytone Mild Gel Cleanser
Neutrogena Skin Balancing Gel Cleanser

Vitamin C Products

Derma-E Vitamin C Serum
Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum Brightening Skin Corrector

Acne-fighting Products

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
Paula’s Choice Clear Regular Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide
Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Acne Treatment Masque
Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch

Anti-aging Products

Caudalie Glycolic Peel Mask
SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator
Promise Radiant Glow Hydrating Face Cream

Moisturizers

For Normal/Dry Skin: Cerave Moisturizing Cream
For Dry Skin: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Face Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid
For Extra-Dry Skin: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream
For Normal/Oily Skin: Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Face Moisturizer with SPF 15
For Sensitive Skin: Vanicream Moisturizing Lotion

Solutions for Stretch Marks

Bio-Oil
Glow Organics Body Butter
Mambino Oh Baby! Anti-Stretch Body Oil, Omega + 7 Super Plants
 
 

We hope that you found this list of dermatologist-recommended skincare products helpful. Join us for the next installment of our series on pregnancy-safe beauty products, when we’ll talk about the best sunscreens to use during pregnancy!

Pregnancy-Safe Skincare: Ingredients to Avoid

Young woman inspecting her skin in front of the bathroom mirror and wondering about pregnancy-safe skincareAs soon as you find out you’re pregnant, your whole world changes. And that includes your line-up of beauty products like shampoo, cosmetics, and skincare products. While you probably know that you need to shelve your favorite wine during pregnancy, having to stop using your trusted skincare and beauty products may come as a shock.
 
But it’s for a good reason: certain ingredients can be absorbed into your body, and therefore, your baby’s body, too. For example, some face washes, body lotions, skin care products, and makeup has ingredients that have been proven to pose a threat to a developing fetus.
 
You can rest assured that most over-the-counter (OTC) body products are totally safe, but there are a few key ingredients that could be harmful to your growing baby. However, it can be difficult to find out exactly which ingredients you should avoid during pregnancy. For example, can you use salicylic acid? What about benzoyl peroxide? And what’s the deal with that hyaluronic acid that’s been so popular lately? The good news is that you can find a balance between maintaining your pregnancy glow and shielding your baby.
 
That’s why Pregnancy Help Online is launching a blog series all about pregnancy-safe beauty products. We’ll go over the safest beauty products to use during pregnancy, including sunscreen, shampoo, cosmetics, and skincare products. We’ll start today by listing skincare ingredients you should avoid during pregnancy. In the next installment of our series on pregnancy-safe beauty products, we’ll share links to the best pregnancy-safe skincare products.
 
Whether you’re looking for a pregnancy-safe product to remedy an unwelcome skin change or you’re checking up on the safety of your current routine, this breakdown of the specific ingredients to avoid is for you.
 

Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy – and a Few Alternatives

So before we get started, we must point out that’s limited evidence-based data on the safety of specific products in pregnancy. But studies on animals have shown a few common skincare ingredients have serious effects on a fetus, so we’ve based our recommendations on these.
 
Currently, cosmetic products don’t need FDA approval to be sold on the market. So most experts will err on the side of caution about pregnancy-safe skincare products. When in doubt, discuss with your physician.
 
Avoid: Retinoids
Some anti-aging skincare products use retinoids, which have become a holy grail because they have been proven to reduce fine lines AND help reverse acne. Retinoids do this by boosting collagen production to rejuvenate skin and helping surface-level skin cells exfoliate more quickly.
 
Products you can buy over-the-counter have lower levels of retinoids, but prescription medications like Retin-A and Accutane contain much higher doses. The amount of retinoids you absorb from topical products is probably low, but experts have linked birth defects with higher doses of retinoids. So, experts advise against using retinoids during pregnancy.
 
Prescription retinoids like Accutane have been shown in studies to pose a 20 to 35% risk of severe congenital disabilities, with up to 60% of children having neurocognitive problems with exposure in utero.
 
What to Use Instead of Retinoids
If you’re breakout-prone, there are some safer alternatives to retinoid-based products when you’re pregnant. One of the most effective alternatives is glycolic acid.
 
Experts do not recommend using glycolic acid in large amounts during pregnancy, but it is likely safe in over-the-counter beauty products. Glycolic acid and azelaic acid can also help with brightening skin, diminishing fine lines, and reducing skin pigmentation. In fact, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AGOC) recommends glycolic and azelaic acid as being safe to treat acne during pregnancy, in addition to topical salicylic acid and topical benzoyl peroxide.
 
Avoid: High-dose Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid is a common ingredient used in treating acne because it has anti-inflammatory capabilities, like aspirin. But this study found that pregnant women should avoid products with a high dose of salicylic acid (like medications and peels). However, lower-dose topical products with salicylic acid purchased over the counter have been reported safe by the ACOG.
 
Avoid: Hydroquinone
Hydroquinone is a prescription product to decrease skin pigmentation from chloasma and melasma caused by pregnancy. Even though there isn’t a proven link between birth defects and hydroquinone, our bodies absorb more hydroquinone than other ingredients. According to this article in the Canadian Family Physician Journal, our bodies absorb 25 to 35% of hydroquinone. So, it’s best to limit exposure during pregnancy.
 
Avoid: Phthalates
Phthalates are an endocrine-disrupting chemical and can be found in many beauty products. In animal studies, phthalate exposure has been linked to serious reproductive and hormone dysfunction.
 
The FDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics are studying endocrine disruptors for their possible negative effect on congenital reproductive health. Cosmetics are the primary source of phthalate exposure. The most common phthalate you’ll see listed in beauty product ingredient lists is diethylphthalate (DEP).
 
Avoid: Chemical Sunscreens
Oxybenzone and its derivatives are the most commonly used ultraviolet (UV) filters in sunscreens. They’ve been proven effective for skin protection, but there are potentially unfavorable health and environmental effects of oxybenzone.
 
Since oxybenzone is an endocrine-disrupting chemical, it could disrupt hormones and cause lasting damage to mother and baby. For example, this 2018 animal study found that oxybenzone exposure during pregnancy made permanent changes to lactation and mammary glands. Other animal studies have linked oxybenzone to permanent fetal damage, even possibly associating it with neurological conditions in adulthood, like Alzheimer’s.
 
Pregnancy-Safe Sun Protection
Protecting your skin from the sun is one of the most important things you can do for long-term wrinkle and skin cancer protection. Try a mineral-based sunscreen–these protect you by forcing UV rays to bounce off your skin entirely. You can find ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in mineral-based sunscreens.
 
 

We hope that you found this pregnancy-safe skincare list of ingredients to avoid during pregnancy helpful. Join us for the next installment of our series on pregnancy-safe beauty products, where we’ll list links to the best pregnancy-safe skincare products!

How Could Adoption Benefit My Baby?

Pregnant woman standing outside, looking down at her belly wondering, "how could adoption benefit my baby?" It’s safe to say that every parent wants what is best for their child. For some, adoption is the most caring choice they could make. Placing a child for adoption is not selfish or a decision that is made casually. Birth parents decide on adoption because they want the best possible life for their child.
 
Deciding whether to parent or place your baby for adoption can be a difficult, emotional time in your life. And sadly, there are still misunderstandings about how adoption actually works. So if you are thinking about adoption, it may not be clear how adoption could benefit your baby. You might be grappling with questions like, “Could giving up my baby really be what is best for her?” or, “How can I be sure my baby will be safe and happy?”
 
However, once you learn the true face of modern, open adoption, it’s easy to see the many benefits adoption offers your baby:
 

1. Your baby will have loving, stable adoptive parents.

At Lifetime Adoption Agency, adoptive couples must complete a home study that includes background checks, interviews, and home inspections before they can adopt. All of Lifetime Adoption’s hopeful adoptive parents are qualified and excited to provide a loving home for your baby. So, any adoptive couple you see on their website has already passed a screening process to ensure they can provide the best life possible for your baby.
 
The process of adopting can be long and expensive for adoptive couples. So their investment in the adoption process shows their commitment to you and your baby. It also shows that they have enough financial security to give your baby a comfortable life.
 

2. Your child will have financial security.

The adoption home study also includes an assessment of the adoptive couple’s finances. So you can rest assured that any adoptive parents you choose for your baby can afford the costs that come with raising a child.
 
Financial security can provide your child with opportunities they may not have had otherwise. And your child won’t feel the stress that comes with housing or food insecurity. Instead, she will benefit from a healthy lifestyle that comes from access to regular healthcare and being able to afford better nutrition. With her basic needs met, your child has a chance to thrive. In addition, she may have the opportunity to attend college, grad school, or even travel the world.
 

3. You put your child on track for a bright future.

With open adoption, you’re able to choose adoptive parents that you feel would be a perfect fit for your child. Lifetime Adoption Agency works with hopeful adoptive parents all across the US. So whether you prefer a family who lives a busy, active city life or family from a quiet, rural town, you’re in control over the environment you want for your child.
 
The adoptive parents have the time and resources to nurture your child’s talents and interests. Many hopeful adoptive couples have plans for the adoptive mother-to-be to become a stay-at-home mom since they’re financially stable enough to live off one income. Children with a stay-at-home parent who regularly talks and reads to them benefit by developing vocabulary and social skills more quickly than children who don’t have that foundation. So, your child will have a running start on her schooling. As your child grows older and gets interested in music, sports, or other activities, her adoptive parents will have the time, finances, and energy to support her.
 

4. You can still be in your child’s life.

Many people don’t realize that you can remain a part of your child’s life when you choose an open adoption plan. The amount of contact you keep with the adoptive parents and your child is up to you. Open adoption will benefit your child by providing this special relationship. Since you’ll remain a part of your child’s life, you’ll never have to wonder if she is safe and happy.
 
Your child will know how she came to be adopted from day one, so there won’t be any secrets or mysteries about her birth family. She will know that she is loved both by her adoptive family and her birth family.
 
Multiple studies have shown that adoptees with positive relationships with their birth families have a more positive self-identity and are more well-adjusted. Since open adoption allows you to stay in touch, you’ll be able to help your child understand her birth history and medical history. If you choose adoptive parents of another race, you can further help your child build a positive cultural identity.
 

Lifetime Adoption Agency has been helping women with adoption since 1986. So if you’re wondering, “How could adoption benefit my baby?”, call or text Lifetime at 1-800-923-6784 to speak with a caring adoption coordinator today.

How to Soothe Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

Woman at home on her sofa suffering from leg cramps during pregnancyPregnancy is full of weird aches and pains, from morning sickness and nausea to fatigue and bloating. Unfortunately, leg cramps (otherwise known as Charley horses) are no exception.
 
Leg cramps can come out of nowhere, or even wake you up in the middle of the night. Here’s why you might be experiencing leg cramps, what you can do to soothe your pain, and how to reduce the chances you’ll have to deal with them again in the future.
 

Are Leg Cramps During Pregnancy Normal?

Yes, nearly 50% of all women endure leg cramps during pregnancy at some point, according to the American Pregnancy Association, and they tend to come up at night.
 
Even though many moms-to-be have leg cramps, the level of discomfort can vary, from annoying to outright crippling. Leg cramps can cause women to lose sleep, which affects their work capacity and well-being.
 

What Causes Leg Cramps During Pregnancy?

While you can actually face them at any point during your pregnancy, leg cramps are more common in the second and third trimesters. The cause, however, is unclear. Some experts say that leg cramps happen due to a build-up of lactic and pyruvic acid, causing your muscles to involuntarily contract and leading to painful cramps. Pregnancy weight gain can also increase your risk of cramping since it puts more work on your legs than when you’re not pregnant.
 
Also, since you’re at a higher risk of becoming dehydrated when you’re pregnant, this is also a factor in leg cramps during pregnancy. If your body doesn’t have enough water or sodium, your muscles can contract and provoke that cramping feeling.
 

At-Home Treatments for Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

You’re probably wondering what you can do when that familiar pain strikes. Here are a few easy ways to help ease your leg cramps:

  • Walk it out. Movement can help work it out, but this can be a little tricky if you’re having an intense cramp.
  • Flex your foot when you feel the cramp coming on. Point your toes up as far as you can bring them. To do this, you might envision trying to bring your toes to your shin. Then, hold this position until the cramp calms down.
  • Stretch, then elevate your leg. Try these steps after you flex your foot to help move things along.
  • Massage the cramp. Rubbing the effected muscle can help relieve the tension and cramping.

Call your doctor if you’re having any of these symptoms along with leg cramps during pregnancy:

  • Incessant throbbing in one leg
  • Redness in your leg
  • Leg swelling
  • Your leg is warm to the touch

These could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot that develops within a deep vein in your legs. That DVT can travel and cause a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot that travels up to your lungs and blocks a portion of them. This is a life-threatening emergency, so call your doctor right away.
 

How to Avoid Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

While leg cramps are very common during pregnancy, here are a few things you can do to lower your chances of having them:

  • Stay active. Moving around by taking a quick walk can help work out the acids that can build up in your leg muscles.
  • Stretch your calves. Stretching them out a few times a day can help relieve tension in this area which can lead to cramping.
  • Before bed, take a warm shower or bath. Doing so can help soothe and relax your muscles. Add Epsom salt to your bath for an extra boost in muscle soothing.
  • Drink plenty of water. You probably already know that making sure to drink enough water is important during pregnancy. Staying hydrated can also help lower your risk of cramping.

If you suffer from leg cramps regularly, make sure to talk to your doctor. They should be able to help guide you on the next steps.

Am I Pregnant?! Common Symptoms of Pregnancy

A young, stressed-out woman seated, wondering, 'am I pregnant?'If you’ve missed a period, you might be wondering, “Am I pregnant?!” The only way to know for sure is by taking a pregnancy test. The early signs of pregnancy tend to show up around the time you’ve missed a period. For some women, pregnancy symptoms show up a week or two before or after their missed period.
 
If you start to feel some of the early pregnancy symptoms listed below and you haven’t gotten your period, you may be pregnant.
 

5 Common Pregnancy Symptoms

The 5 most typical early signs of pregnancy include:

  1. A missed period.
  2. If a week or more has passed without the start of your period, you might be pregnant. If your cycle is pretty regular and you now have missed your period, you may decide to do a pregnancy test before noticing other symptoms. However, if you’re not regular or you’re not keeping track of your cycle, symptoms like nausea and breast tenderness may signal that you’re pregnant before you realize you didn’t get your period.

  3. Sore breasts.
  4. One common early pregnancy symptom is sensitive, swollen breasts caused by rising hormones levels in your body. The swelling and soreness may feel like an exaggerated version of how your breasts feel just before you get your period. As your body adjusts to these changing hormones, your discomfort will probably decrease after a few weeks.

  5. Nausea and/or vomiting.
  6. Pregnancy-related nausea (with or without vomiting) can be a problem morning, noon, or night, making the term “morning sickness” misleading! Some women start having morning sickness about a month or two after conception. But, some pregnant women feel nauseous earlier, as early as two weeks. A few lucky ones never experience it.

    Most women with nausea or morning sickness feel complete relief by the start of the second trimester. It takes another month or so for the queasiness to ease up for most other women.

  7. Needing to pee all the time.
  8. You might find that you need to pee more often than usual. Shortly after you get pregnant, hormonal changes prompt a chain of events that raise the blood flow rate through your kidneys. This causes your bladder to fill up more quickly, so you need to pee more often.

    Frequent urination will probably continue (and even intensify) as you progress through your pregnancy. This is because your blood volume rises dramatically during pregnancy, leading to extra fluid being processed and ending up in your bladder. The problem is intensified as your growing baby puts more pressure on your bladder.

  9. Exhaustion.
  10. Fatigue is another common early pregnancy symptom. No one knows for sure what causes early pregnancy fatigue. Rapidly increasing levels of the hormone progesterone may be adding to your sleepiness. Of course, morning sickness and having to pee often during the night can add to your fatigue, too.

    You should start to feel more energetic after entering your second trimester. However, fatigue usually returns late in pregnancy because you’re carrying a lot more weight. Plus, the common discomforts of pregnancy tend to make it more challenging to get a good night’s sleep.

Other Signs of Pregnancy

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

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

Am I Pregnant?

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

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

Early Pregnancy Symptoms and Unplanned Pregnancy? Help Is Available

If you are experiencing early pregnancy symptoms and unplanned pregnancy, resources are available to help you. You can always contact Lifetime Adoption, even if you do not know what you want to do. You can still have access to helpful resources and emotional support during this difficult time. They also have an online pregnancy due date calculator you can use, at www.LifetimeAdoption.com.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on September 6, 2017, and has since been updated. 

How to Save Money on Maternity Clothes

 pregnant woman shopping, looking to save money on maternity clothesWhen you first found you’re pregnant, you probably had about a million thoughts going through your mind. One such thought might be, “What am I going to wear for the next nine months?” Preparing for a baby can sometimes mean creating the longest shopping list of your life. So, having to also shop for yourself can really put a ding in your bank account balance. Plus, you’ll only wear maternity clothes for a short time.
 
The good news is, there are many ways you can save money when outfitting for your growing pregnant body. Who knows, you might even find that you enjoy shopping for cute maternity clothes on a budget. With these six tips, you can save money on maternity clothes AND look great during your pregnancy:
 

1. Get thrifty

Thrift stores, Goodwill, and Salvation Army stores can have lots of great maternity clothes; you just have to have the patience to search through everything. Thrift stores have tons of gently used maternity clothes marked down an incredible amount from their original price! Moms who are done having children are usually so eager to get rid of their maternity clothes that they list them at very low prices.
 

2. Plan ahead

While every woman’s body and pregnancy are different, it’s possible that you won’t need maternity clothes until your second trimester. You may not even really rely on maternity clothes until the third. So until then, you might find that you don’t need to shop for “maternity” clothing. Tunics, dresses, and leggings may fit all the way up until you deliver!
 

3. Get a “belly band”

You can keep wearing your pre-pregnancy jeans and pants by using a belly band. A belly band is a piece of stretchy fabric that fits over your un-zipped pre-pregnancy pants. Check out Belly Bandit’s 2-in-1 Maternity Band, which works with your body to give you a double dose of support and comfort.
 

4. Borrow

Do you have a friend or family members who’s about your size and recently had a baby? You might ask if you can borrow her maternity clothes for a few months. If your friend is done having children, they may give you the clothes to keep.
 
If they want the clothes back for future pregnancies, you could add a few new pieces and pass the stash back and forth as you both need them. If there’s no one you can borrow from, check out the website Mine for Nine, which lets you borrow or buy maternity clothes.
 

5. Shop at maternity “outlets” online

Lots of maternity stores (such as Motherhood Maternity) also have online outlets where you can find special deals and sales. If there’s a Motherhood Maternity store near you, you could even go in to try stuff on, then order it online on sale!
 

6. Use Poshmark, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay

Don’t forget to browse online thrift shops, like Poshmark and Facebook Marketplace. Look through online “clothing lots” to find groupings of maternity clothes that work for you. eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Poshmark are all great places to find moms who are selling all of their maternity clothes for a set price. Try bartering with them on the price; this will help you save lots of money.

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.