Congratulations! Baby’s on the way, and everyone around you is excitedly awaiting this new little bundle of joy. As a mom-to-be, your priorities are taking care of yourself in ways that promote total health for you and for your baby.
What happens if your schedule doesn’t permit total indulgence with self-care? Perhaps pedicures, pregnancy massages and days at the spa are out of the question. Are there some things you can do to promote your total health and wellness while maintaining a busy schedule?
Good Nutrition: A Foundation for a Healthy Pregnancy
Now more than ever, it is vital that you begin to eat so that your nutritional needs are met through food and simple vitamin supplements. Consuming an extra 300 calories per day is considered adequate for a pre-natal child, and the focus of all of your calories should be on fresh, wholesome foods that are minimally processed.
Perhaps the biggest struggle for pregnant mothers is the lunchtime meal. In particular, if you are still working outside the home, it can be challenging to plan and prepare a healthy lunch that you can take with you for your noon meal. Fortunately for you, we’ve made it a bit easier with these healthy lunches. Soon, you’ll be prepping, packing and planning for the week, knowing that you are providing the best nutrition for you and your baby. Here are some quick and easy healthy lunch ideas that will meet many of your daily nutritional needs.
While there is some food that is not recommended during pregnancy, you can relax and indulge with this tasty treat.
1 can (6 oz) crab meat, drained
2 tbsp light mayonnaise
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup diced celery
1 tbsp chopped red onion
1 whole wheat deli roll
Mix all of the ingredients and serve atop the split whole wheat deli roll. For added nutrition, add a side of rinsed white beans combined with 2 tbsp red onion, 1 tsp olive oil and 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar.
You may not be able to enjoy a margarita with it just yet, but this salad screams Southwest with flavor and color.
2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup black beans, rinsed
1/2 medium baked sweet potato, cubed
1/3 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup frozen corn, rinsed and thawed
1 lime, juiced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp chopped garlic
salt, pepper and shredded cheese for garnish
Add all of the veggies to a large salad bowl and toss well. Combine lime juice, olive oil and garlic and drizzle over the salad. Toss once more. Garnish with salt, fresh cracked pepper and your favorite Mexican-blend cheese.
When choosing to eat out, picking healthful and nourishing foods can be difficult. Panera Bread has stepped up to offer some great options for healthy lunches. Consider ordering a Napa almond chicken sandwich on wheat with a strawberry poppy seed chicken salad on the side. Are you still hungry? Add half an apple for extra fiber and power-packed vitamins.
With a tangy dressing and tons of crunch, this salad is as satisfying as it is nutritious and delicious.
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked
1 chopped red pepper
1 large shredded carrot
6 green onions, sliced
2 tbsp fresh cilantro
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
3 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp minced ginger
2 minced garlic cloves
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
Prep all of the ingredients and combine in a large salad bowl. Toss them to combine. Whisk all of the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the salad; toss to combine. Serve chilled with fresh fruit on the side.
There is never a bad time for avocados—their nutritious value is only surpassed by its delicious flavor and creamy texture, which are wonderful additions to this savory and filling wrap.
2 whole-wheat tortillas
1/2 cup fresh arugula
1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 sliced tomato
1 sliced and pitted avocado
salt and freshly ground pepper
Layer slices of tomato, mozzarella and avocado on the tortillas and top with fresh basil. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. You may choose to add fresh arugula into the wrap or serve it on the side as a delicious salad.
With recipes like these at your fingertips, who needs a personal chef? Eating well and savoring fresh flavors while pregnant will not only put you in prime shape for delivery, but it will allow you to set up healthy habits for postpartum and beyond. Savor these flavors as you savor your time before delivery, and you’ll see the benefits of good nutrition for both of you!
Pregnancy can be an exciting time in your life, but it requires great care and a watchful eye to make sure you’re healthy for two. Both OB-GYNs and MFM practitioners are specialists qualified to help, but you don’t necessarily need to see both.
Read on to learn the difference between the two and figure out what’s best for you and your unborn little one.
An obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) is trained in two fields: obstetrics, which focuses on maternity, and gynecology, which focuses on the female reproductive system. Gynecology also addresses breast health. Most OB-GYNs cover a range of conditions and health matters under both fields, but there are many who focus on issues like gynecologic oncology and infertility. If you’re pregnant, your doctor will at least need to be an obstetrician to address your needs and concerns.
When you become pregnant, you’ll have to visit an OB-GYN—most other specialists won’t be able to prescribe a care regimen. Doctors have to spend about twelve years in school and training to practice in obstetrics-gynecology, so they’re well-versed in many conditions specific to maternity if any issues arise. OB-GYNs are also the people to administer preventive screenings and surgeries; when you give birth, they’ll probably be close by. If you’re simply considering getting pregnant right now, you can discuss your health and options with an obstetrician-gynecologist to make the best choices.
The MFM Specialist
You’re less likely to speak with an MFM practitioner, but many patients end up needing them due to the patients’ health and likelihood of complications. MFM is one of the subspecialist fields, maternal-fetal medicine, and can be practiced after an additional two to three years of education. These specialists focus specifically on high-risk pregnancies and administer care regardless of whether you’ve yet to give birth or have already brought your child into the world. High-risk pregnancies can develop from a number of different conditions, particularly because a large number of conditions that threaten the mother or fetus qualify.
The child in the womb does not develop sufficiently
An MFM specialist will also be able to share information with you and educate you as you plan or carry out your pregnancy, and when necessary, the specialist can assist in transfers of care.
When to See Whom
Both an obstetrician-gynecologist and maternal-fetal medicine specialist are educated to treat the female body, but the latter is a special field of the former—you don’t have to visit an MFM specialist most of the time. Many women never have to see an MFM practitioner since many pregnancies don’t carry any greatly elevated risk. An obstetrician-gynecologist is the default physician to see when you want to or have already become pregnant, and if you want to start your maternity care on the right track, you should see one regardless of whether or not you have special needs.
If the OB-GYN or an associated medical professional believes that your pregnancy will be high-risk, however, you’ll also see an MFM specialist to make sure your pregnancy and fetus are as safe as possible. OB-GYNs refer to MFM specialists when patients will likely have complications; you might be referred to one even with a healthy pregnancy, depending on your general health and risk factors. While they can fulfill the general responsibilities of OB-GYNs when needed, they’re specially tasked to protect you, your unborn child, and your family when the pregnancy comes with possible threats.
When it comes to pregnancy, there are some subjects you might want to avoid, stick your head in the sand and hope they don’t happen, but maybe a more sensible approach might be to seek out more information. Although the female body is designed to carry a baby, pregnancy can bring some drawbacks that are better prepared for than ignored. Reading this HARTMANN Direct guide could help you feel comfortable with the changes that are happening with your body.
The Signs, Symptoms and Causes of Pregnancy Incontinence
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The major cause of incontinence during pregnancycomes from stress, which reduces your ability to control bladder output. By stress, this means pressure on this area of the body from sneezing or coughing, or maybe just lifting a slightly too heavy object. The later in the pregnancy you go, the more likely it could happen with even simple activities such as moving too quickly. The chances of an overactive bladder are remote, but some can experience uncontrollable spasms that leads to enough discomfort to cause immediate urination.
Such issues are the consequences of female hormones during pregnancy, which are designed to relax the muscles ready for delivery. Unfortunately, this also relaxes the muscles around the urethra. In some ways, it is good news that this area is loosening its grip, as it could make for a slightly less uncomfortable birth.
The pressure of the baby can also cause involuntary urination. Your baby is not aware that it is leaning an elbow into your bladder as it sleeps, and there is no talking to the little person just yet.
If you are overweight, if you are over 35 and if there is a history of incontinence in the family, all can contribute to a likely issue with incontinence.
How Can You Prevent Pregnancy Incontinence?
Preparation is key to avoiding pregnancy incontinence. It would be best if you started to prepare before conception by losing any extra weight. You can also undertake pelvic floor exercises, which will strengthen the muscles in this area. This is a useful exercise to undertake for all women seeking to carry a baby, as it will help in so many ways, including reducing the risk of pain in the lower back.
You could also practise emptying the bladder as soon as you notice you need to urinate. The more you hold your urine, and the bigger the bladder grows, the more likely that stresses will build up. Straining during bowel movements can also contribute to muscle weakness; therefore, eating a healthy diet with significant amounts of fiber will also help, as well as reduce the chances of gaining weight too quickly. Avoid caffeinated drinks, as these are diuretics and cause you to need the toilet more frequently.
If You Struggle with Pregnancy Incontinence
It is first essential to know that it is usual for pregnant women to suffer from leakage of urine while pregnant. Therefore, there is no shame in needing incontinence products to manage the condition. This will offer you the comfort of avoiding urine being held too long against the skin and prevent a build of odour too. It is a simple way to manage a natural phenomenon.
If the problem is particularly tricky and continues after birth, due to forceps delivery or a large baby, then some medications and surgeries can help. It is likely that on your first visit to a medical professional they will suggest the more straightforward solutions of exercises and changes to your diet. However, do not worry about going back if these are ineffective.
Controlling the occurrence of systemic inflammation is imperative for women with IBD during pregnancy.
IBD can have a detrimental impact on women who are expecting or even their unborn children, but there are steps that can be taken to help curtail IBD flares and the accumulation of inflammation.
Inflammatory bowel disease, commonly abbreviated as IBD, is a term used to describe ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease. These two ailments are autoimmune disorders that attack portions of the digestive tract by causing inflammation in regions in the body ranging from the large intestine (colitis) to the mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines (Crohn’s disease).
Symptoms can vary from case to case. However, each ailment comes with certain common manifestations such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, decreased appetite and, in severe instances, bloody stools, and internal bleeding. Furthermore, though affected individuals often experience these conditions for life, physical manifestations are not witnessed every day. Rather, IBD patients experience symptomatic periods known as flares that may last anywhere from several weeks to several months.
Inflammation is the body’s natural way of defending against systemic invaders such as allergens and hostile microscopic organisms like bacteria and viruses. That said, chronic or severe inflammation can cause a host of internal injuries and illnesses or exacerbate existing conditions such as IBD. The increased stress on the body and strain faced by expecting women places them at an increased risk of feeling the adverse effects of systemic inflammation.
IBD And Pregnancy
Many physicians believe women with some form of IBD can still become pregnant and safely carry an unborn child full-term. However, many of these same medical professionals suggest that the best time for those afflicted with IBD to conceive is during a period of remission. While conception and gestation during a flare is possible, these flares can worsen symptoms that might place both mother and fetus at unnecessary risk for complications including difficult deliveries, miscarriages, premature births, and infants born with dangerously low birth weights.
Steps Women With IBD Can Take
Doctors say that latent IBD should neither deter a woman from attempting to conceive nor prevent the birth of a healthy newborn. These healthcare professionals recommend that these patients strictly adhere to several precautions geared towards preventing flareups and ensuring the health and safety of their unborn children. Such safeguards include:
Close Medical Monitoring – Pregnant women previously diagnosed with IBD are strongly advised to receive frequent evaluations from their respective healthcare providers. Physicians can monitor the health of the patient’s digestive tract and potentially identify the onset of a flareup before it becomes symptomatic.
Reviewing Medications – Many women with IBD are prescribed some form of medication. However, some of these drugs could possess the potential to adversely impact an unborn child. Medical professionals urge women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant to review all medications taken and possibly alter treatment protocols if they pose any risk to the developing child.
Consuming A Healthy Diet– Doctors and nutritionists suggest that IBD sufferers eat simple foods that do not contain high concentrations of fat, salt, grease, or heavy spices. Additionally, these subjects are advised to refrain from consuming foods known to produce excess gas or elicit potentially caustic impacts on the digestive tract such as alcohol, tobacco and products containing elevated levels of caffeine.
Expecting women with IBD are asked to consider eating foods with high fiber contents (as fiber promotes a healthy gastrointestinal system), drink large quantities of water and consume foods rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are powerful nutrients known for their ability to curtail the accumulation of systemic inflammation. These substances are often found in produce products like fruits and vegetables.
Limiting Stress Exposure – Stress is notorious for triggering IBD flares. While eliminating all sources of stress is close to impossible, especially for expecting women expressing natural and understandable concern for their unborn child, reducing exposure to as many unnecessary stressors as possible is vital. Moreover, expecting women are encouraged to pursue a relaxing hobby as a means of reducing stress before, during, and after pregnancy.
Do you find yourself craving chocolate during your pregnancy? Well you are in luck! Research shows that fulfilling those chocolate cravings may provide benefits for your growing baby!
Benefits of Chocolate During Pregnancy
Studies show that eating 30 grams of chocolate a day during your pregnancy may help to benefit fetal development, growth, and improve placental function. Chocolate contains flavanols, a type of flavonoid, that has been shown to reduce cardiovascular problems as well as to lower cholesterol. Dark chocolate has been shown to contain an even higher level of flavanols.
Research also shows that a moderate consumption of chocolate during pregnancy may also help to lower the risk of preeclampsia. This is a serious condition where the blood supply to the fetus is reduced due to high blood pressure within the mother.
It is important to keep in mind that this is not the time to over-indulge in chocolate, as this can cause an adverse reaction with its fat, sugar, and caffeine content. Chocolate in moderation is key to help maintain a healthy pregnancy.
What Studies Suggest
In a study of 129 expectant mothers, researchers identified a significant improvement within uterine artery doppler pulsatility within both high and low flavonol chocolate groups. This suggests the benefit for fetal growth and development, as mentioned above. This study suggests that it is not merely the flavonoid content helping to improve these functions, but perhaps something else within the chocolate.
This same study found that the dark chocolate was more likely to help with the improvement of placental function and to reduce the risk of preeclampsia.
5 Healthy Recipes to Help Fulfill your Chocolate Pregnancy Cravings
Post-partum is characterized by multiple highs and some lows. You may be very happy that your little one is finally here, but also feel sleep deprived and maybe even feeling a bit sad. Being happy and overwhelmed, at the same time, is quite normal during the first days from the hospital after birth and delivery. With so many mixed emotions and a new baby on board, here is what you can expect your first few days home from the hospital:
Traveling with Your Newborn
Bringing home a newborn baby can be very exciting. Sometimes how you bring your baby home can easily be overlooked amongst all of the excitement. Remember, every state requires that newborn babies must sit in a rear-facing car seat, when they leave the hospital. This is to ensure your baby’s safety, as you bring your little one home. You will want to do your research on which car seat will be perfect for your own family.
The moment your baby leaves the hospital, you will have to keep your baby physically safe from danger, but also safe from bacteria and viruses. Doctors do not recommend traveling with your baby until your baby is at least 1-month old.
Sponge Baths Only!
Your baby’s umbilical cord will still be a tender spot for your baby for the next few weeks. To help speed up the recovery time for your little one, you ought to keep the area dry. For this reason, your little one can only be sponge bathed.
Submerging your little one’s belly button in water will make the disengagement of the umbilical cord take longer than the usual three weeks. This rule also applies to newborn babies that have been circumcised at birth. It is important to allow the area to heal completely first before bringing them into contact with water.
Expect Your Schedule To Follow Your Baby’s Schedule
Before your delivery date comes, you may meet other parents who will tell you that caring for your newborn will be nothing more than a monotonous checklist of chores day after day. Bringing home your little one is much more than just sleep deprivation and a constant cycle of diapers and feeding.
If you are a first-time mom, don’t rely on such a steady schedule of to-do items, throughout the day. Expect to have your schedule follow after how you little one feels. This might include late nights and early morning feedings and expect to go through diapers pretty quickly. Eventually when your baby has a chance to develop its senses you can try to stick to a schedule, but don’t get frustrated if your baby will not follow a schedule you are trying to set.
Try to Rest
When nursing a newborn, getting some rest may sound impossible. Your little one at this point in its tiny life will be falling asleep often, but not for long periods of time (one to four hours at most). As a result, you may feel sleep deprived.
Also, you should consider having your partner or family member take shifts with the newborn at night to ensure you sleep for longer periods uninterrupted.
Consider building a support group well before your baby comes home so that you can rely on others to help you get much needed rest and time for yourself to heal. Don’t feel guilty to ask for help. Having a solid support group will help you and your baby recover.
Dirty Diapers will be Messy
As your baby nurses more on your breastmilk, you will notice that the color of their little number twos keep changing. Your newborn’s first bowel movement commonly known as meconium may be tarry and brown, green or even yellowish goopy mess. Remember that bowel movements are all a part of life, and there’s not much more you can do besides changing your little one often. If you are tired of buying diapers you might consider using cloth diapers.
For the next couple of months, you should expect wet diapers. However, if you see red stains in your baby’s diaper, be sure to seek medical attention.
If your baby is breastfed, then you could expect him or her to wet about five diapers daily. However, if your little one is formula-fed then you can expect them to wet a lot more diapers (from 5 to 10 daily).
Nurse Your Little One Every 4-5 Hours
If you don’t want your little one to begin screaming their lungs out as a result of hunger, then you better start counting the hours that have passed since the previous feeding (count one to four hours). Since you will be feeding your newborn often throughout the day, it is important that you get yourself a comfortable couch or seat as you will spend a lot of your time seated on it while nursing your little one.
Also, if you are experiencing some difficulties while nursing, don’t be too hard on yourself, it doesn’t make you a bad mom. Instead, consider seeking the help of a lactation expert who could come to your home and help you through the positioning, latching, and milk supply aspects of nursing. Over time you will see that you no longer dread breastfeeding, rather you enjoy it!
Relax! Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
No matter how much you looked forward to the birth of your little one, the sleep deprivation, recovering and regaining strength from labor can take a toll on your emotions. However, it is important that you know that this feeling is normal.
You do not have to worry about the dirty dishes or dirty house, let it go for now and concentrate on nursing, cuddling, putting your little one to sleep, your recovery from delivery and getting the rest you very well deserve.
If you feel low, remember these baby blues are also normal during the first weeks after delivery. However, if your spirits are still extraordinarily low two weeks later after birth, then you should consider getting the necessary help to determine if you are experiencing postpartum depression.
Natalie Michele is the owner of MaternityatHome. During the day, she is a General Physician and by night she is a devout mother of two. She is always busy but loves sharing her knowledge and experience with other mothers or mothers-to-be.
Your upcoming labor and delivery can bring up a lot of questions. While it is almost impossible to know exactly how your labor will go, you can take the time to educate yourself on some of the possibilities that may occur during the process. Sometimes during childbirth complications can arise within the delivery room.
By taking the time to familiarize yourself with the possible complications, you can better prepare for them if they do occur. It can also be helpful for the dad to be or your birth partner to learn some tips and guides to help keep you both to remain calm and supportive throughout the possibility of these emergencies.
Possible Complications that Can Occur
While many women sit and make a birth plan of how they wish their birth to go, it is really up to your body and the baby on how everything will turn out. You can only plan so much until Mother Nature takes over.
Here are a few possible complications or emergencies that can occur during labor and delivery:
Long labor- It is possible that your labor could last for a long time. The average first time labor lasts around 18 hours. However, once your water breaks you will usually not be allowed to labor for more than 20 hours due to the risk of infection. If your labor looks as if it is progressing too slow, your doctors may recommend medication such as Pitocin to help speed contractions up.
Episiotomy – During an episiotomy your doctor will make a cut in your perineum, the area between your vagina and anus. This is done to make more room for the baby’s head during a vaginal birth. This is a fairly common procedure and is done on a case by case basis. There are three different types of episiotomies that can occur.
Median episiotomy- this incision is made in the middle of the perineum towards the anus. The advantage to this type is that this wound has the best healing procedure and least amount of complications.
Lateral episiotomy- is done from the side of the dam in the lateral direction. This healing process can have a few complications and is usually only done in rare occurrences. If no epidural has been given, a numbing cream will be provided.
Mediolateral episiotomy – is a cut towards the side from the middle of the perineum. This is the most common form done as it involves less bowel injury and is usually associated with the use of forceps or a vacuum- assisted birth.
Epidural – While many women seek an epidural during childbirth to help alleviate some of the pain, there are some that seek a more natural method without it. When you do get an epidural the medication is administered just outside of your spinal sac using a catheter. This catheter is threaded through your lower back. While this can help with the pain it is also a procedure that can cause a lot of fear in some women. The complication rate associated with an epidural is very small and there is no risk of a spinal-cord injury within the process.
C-section – The average rate for cesarean delivery in the U.S. is between 20-25 percent. If you are a first time parent the rate is even smaller at 12-13 percent. The odds of delivering vaginally are quite high. However, there are complications that can arise that can make a c-section necessary. If your labor is not progressing after hours and attempts to help induce, if the baby or mom are in distress, if baby is in the breech position, or if you have a placenta previa (a low-lying placenta) then it is likely that you will need a c-section.
Tips to Help Cope with Complications in the Delivery Room
While it is hard to prepare for the unknown, there are a few helpful and healthy tactics to employ before you go into labor to help the process go more smoothly.
Train yourself for contractions. Train your mind to view each contraction as separate. Once you are done with one contraction you will never have that same one again. You can remind yourself that each wave of pain or discomfort is working towards the greater goal of opening your cervix and your baby’s arrival.
Trust in your medical team. Make sure to take the time to discuss your wants and fears with your medical team before labor. This will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and to help instill confidence within your team. If you feel confident about their judgements then this will help you to relax and remain calm if complications do arise.
Prepare for the pain. Knowledge is power. If you take the time to inform yourself of what to expect with labor and pain management strategies you can use them when you will need them most. Sign up for birthing classes at your hospital or a local business that offers them. You can even research different positions and breathing techniques to experiment with to help relieve pain. Preparing for what is to come will help to manage your stress levels throughout the process.
Stay hydrated. It is important to stay hydrated throughout your pregnancy, but it even more important to during labor. Your body is going through a marathon during this process and you need to stay hydrated to keep your energy up. Before you get to the hospital you can drink water at home, however once you get to the hospital you may only be allowed ice chips. You can request as many ice chips as you like, it will help to keep your hydration levels up.
Train your pelvic floor. By doing exercises such as kegels or a perineal massage, you can work to train your pelvic floor and perineum to hopefully avoid an episiotomy and have an easier labor. Doing a perineal massage three to four weeks before birth can help to prevent a rupture and allow the perineum to stretch naturally.
Tips for How Dad Can Help
Many fathers to be or birth partners can be scared throughout this process as well. They are trying to be strong for the mother-to-be, but may not know how to help exactly. Here are a few tips on how to help keep a calm and supportive environment throughout the labor and delivery process, this is especially important if complications do arise:
Help her through the pain. Taking childbirth classes together, or doing research on your own can help you with her pain management. This may look like encouragement throughout each contraction and positive statements, massaging or applying pressure, helping her with a birthing ball, or using aromatherapy. By preparing ways to help make the process easier for her, you can work to create a calm and peaceful environment.
Know the signs of labor. If you know how to identify the different stages of labor and how to monitor her contractions you can help to avoid going to the hospital too early. Sometimes going to the hospital too early in the labor process can draw the process out more. By taking the time to recognize where she is at in labor you can help to better prepare for what is to come.
Be supportive and active. Make sure to have plenty of fluids and food available to her at the beginning of labor. Labor is like a race, you need to be properly nourished before beginning the race in order to make it successfully to the end. Make sure she is comfortable and try to be as helpful as possible. If she knows that you are there helping to take care of her throughout the process she can relax and focus on the contractions and labor itself. Encourage her that she is doing a great job and maintain a positive attitude throughout.
Remain calm. If an emergency or complication does arise, take a breathe before reacting. Breathe and remain calm so that she can stay calm as well. You are her coach and she will look to you for guidance during this time. Taking the time to discuss what she wishes before labor and delivery if complications do arise can help you come to a decision easily and know what to do within the moment.
Try and remain calm. This is the one and only birth of this particular child, enjoy the journey that you are on. Stay focused on the prize at the end, which is that beautiful baby of yours.
Working the night shift during pregnancy requires that you take steps to get proper rest. You can use these tips to get sleep and get everything done.
Working During Pregnancy
Many women continue working throughout their pregnancy and there is no need to stop working as long as everything is going well. In fact, continuing to work helps you stay emotionally and physically healthy while also increasing your budget for baby gear.
However, careers such as nursing often require that you continue to work at night, and this, combined with your pregnancy needs, can affect your rest. Now that you’ve decided to continue to work through your pregnancy, you can focus on adding strategies that help you get quality sleep to your routine.
Tell Your Doctor That You Work the Night Shift During Pregnancy
According to the Royal College of Physicians, there is a minimal potential risk for problems such as preterm labor or miscarriage during your pregnancy. Although all pregnant women face a small risk of these issues, those who perform shift work have a slightly higher risk than those who do not. Let your doctor know about your work schedule so that he or she can help you continue a healthy pregnancy.
Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment
Working the night shift means that you must find ways to sleep during the day. While you may have gotten used to doing this, the changes that occur with pregnancy may cause you to need to review your current sleep habits. For instance, those adorable little baby kicks may wake you up frequently, and you need to be sure that you can go back to sleep quickly. Assess your current sleep environment to find ways to make it more conducive to sleep. For instance, you may need to hang room darkening curtains or change to a quieter bedroom that does not get as much street noise.
Induce Sleep Naturally With Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that your body naturally produces. However, working the night shift can sometimes affect your body’s production of the hormone due to the disruption it causes to your circadian rhythms. Melatonin supplements are a safer alternative to other sleep aids that may be habit-forming or have an effect on your baby.
While you should always consult with your physician before taking anything new, you should be able to safely take melatonin in small doses, which will have a significant impact on your sleep pattern. Melatonin also causes no real side effects, so you wake up for work rested and not groggy.
Conserve Energy During Your Time Off
With so much to do to get ready for your baby, you may be tempted to try to skimp on sleep to accomplish your errands. However, doing too much during the daytime hours will affect your health and your baby’s development. Instead, try to conserve energy during your time off.
Make sure to get eight hours of sleep and try to have at least one day a week to rest. Remember that many of your tasks can wait. Do something nice for yourself: read a book or enjoy a good movie, for example. Your body and mind will show the benefits of taking the time to rest.
Follow a Healthy Diet and Exercise Plan
Working the night shift during pregnancy also wreaks havoc on your eating and exercise routine. If your work shifts are often too busy for breaks that are long enough to eat, try packing healthy snacks that you can grab whenever you have a few minutes to eat. Apple slices, walnuts and granola bars are a few options that you can snack on within minutes. You also need to continue to exercise. Whether you follow an exercise video at home when you get off work or go for a walk, staying active helps your body generate energy. Just make sure to exercise several hours before you need to sleep. This way, your body has time to cool down before you close your eyes.
Enjoy This Time
Your pregnancy is a special time during which you get to bond with your baby and take care of your body. While it may be challenging, getting proper rest and relaxation helps you maintain a healthy pregnancy that will lead to your special delivery.
Pregnancy brings with it some unique sleep challenges, as does autism. The two together create a situation that may need a solid sleep plan for you to successfully get the rest you need.
Autism is often linked to certain sleep disorders like sleep apnea and insomnia. Be sure to consult your physician if you suspect you may need more help than behavior changes have to offer. However, most women with autism can get enough rest by focusing on their individual needs as they develop healthy sleep habits.
Create a Relaxing, Comfortable Sleep Environment
Your mind and body must relax to fall asleep. When you’re pregnant, comfort is of the utmost importance. Start by taking a good look at and feel for your mattress. Lumps and bumps could be causing discomfort or sensory issues. Today, there are mattresses to accommodate every sleep style—side, back, stomach—with firmness that runs from soft to extra firm.
You can also try lowering your thermostat and blocking out all light in the bedroom. Maintaining a lower room temperature helps your body temperature drop for the onset of sleep. Light can cause wakefulness and start the suppression of sleep hormones.
Build a Strong, Individualized Bedtime Routine
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to develop a bedtime routine that’s tailored to your specific needs. A bedtime routine helps trigger the start of the sleep cycle while calming the mind and body before bed. Performing the activities in the same order and starting at the same time teaches the brain to recognize when to start the release of sleep hormones.
Your routine doesn’t have to be long or complicated, but should only include things that work for you. For some women, a warm bath or reading a book does the trick. For others, it will simply be changing into pajamas, brushing teeth, and meditating before bed. Find activities that work for you and perform them in the same order every night.
Monitor the Use of Electronics
Light, both natural and artificial, heavily influence your sleep cycle. Electronic devices give off a blue spectrum light that suppresses sleep hormones similar to the way in which sunlight does. Turning off your electronics, that includes the television and your phone, at least two hours before bed can help your sleep cycle stay on track.
You may also want to consider moving your electronic devices out of the bedroom altogether. Phones with 24-hour notifications can easily wake you when you might already sleeping light due to your pregnancy.
Light the Room Carefully
Electronics aren’t the only way light can interfere with your sleep. High-efficiency light bulbs can also give off light that’s on the blue spectrum. Stick to incandescent bulbs and consider adding dimmer switches. That way you can lower light levels in the evening to help your brain recognize when to start the sleep cycle.
Reduce Liquids in the Evening
This works for all pregnant women, but especially those with autism who might have more trouble falling asleep after a night waking. The increasing pressure of a baby on the bladder can’t be ignored. Make sure to drink plenty of water during the day but try to get it all in before 7 pm. The less water in your bladder at bedtime, the less likely you’ll be to wake up for a bathroom trip.
As a woman with autism, you might have to take extra care to get the rest you need. Your growing body changes daily, which means comfort measures will have to adapted as your baby develops.
Samantha Kent is a researcher for SleepHelp.org. Her favorite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, she sleeps in a California King bed, often with a cat on her face.
Nearly everyone talks about how amazing their children are, but the topic of the stress they can cause is somewhat less discussed. That’s a shame, especially when you take into account how nerve-wracking caring for a newborn child can be.
In fact, you’re likely to experience stressors that are just as intense as the joy and fulfillment you feel. If you’re in full-on baby mode and are looking for a few tips to help you make it through the days with your sanity intact, you have come to the right place!
Let’s take a look at five tips for managing stress with a newborn.
It can be difficult to determine why your baby is crying, let alone how you should go about soothing them. One option to consider is to swaddle them. Swaddling your baby will create a comforting womb-like sensation around them that often lends a sense of security and calm.
If your baby prefers to have their arms free, you can still wrap them up from the waist down. This calm babies during the day or at night during sleep and gives you a few moments of respite to breathe and maybe grab a bite to eat. Just make sure to keep the fabric secure and avoid leaving them swaddled for long lengths of time.
Opt for a Front Carrier
Keeping your arms free is surprisingly important to a productive day, but it’s also difficult when you’re holding a newborn for the majority of your waking hours. Try putting your baby in a front carrier – the connection with your skin and the face-to-face contact is pivotal in building a strong bond and your hands will be free to tend to other tasks in the process. Being able to focus on more than just your child also helps give you back a sense of independence. Don’t worry, you can do this!
Get Enough Sleep
To survive the challenging first few months of parenthood, it’s important to get the quality sleep that you need when the time is available. It can be difficult to control things like diet or bed time when caring for a newborn, but you can invest in a quality mattress that fits your needs. Most people sleep on their sides and if you developed this habit during your pregnancy, there are options just for you.
Safeguard Your Baby’s Immune System
It’s a good idea to protect your newborn from germ exposure, as an infant’s immune system will not fully mature for a few months. Limit visitors to immediate friends and family at first, and don’t be shy in asking them to wash their hands and lay a protective blanket over themselves when holding the child. This not only helps keep your baby healthy, but it also lowers the stress that comes with too many visitors and helps give you a sense of control over your child’s wellbeing.
Grab Some “You” Time
Even 15 or 20 minutes here and there can create a sense of space and rejuvenation. Brief scheduled breaks agreed upon ahead of time with your partner can help you re-center yourself and help with emotional regulation. You can even use popular free apps to help you find a sense of calm in the midst of chaos.
In the End
Breathe, mama. You’ll make it through. It may be a stressful time now, but soon you will miss these days. Do your best to stay calm and live presently in the moment, soaking up all the precious time you have with your newborn.
Laurie Larson is a writer based out of North Carolina. She enjoys writing on home, health, and lifestyle topics to help others maximize their lives.