LIFE AFTER BIRTH: THE FIRST 6 WEEKS
Life after birth can be chaotic, especially if this is your first baby. Taking care of your newborn is hard work and won't be much fun until he or she develops a personality. In case you didn't know, a newborn doesn't laugh or smile, it can't play or even hold its own head up without a supporting hand. All it can do is eat, sleep, dirty diapers, pass gas, throw up and cry. Despite all of this, you will - believe it or not - love your little tot more than anything else in the world. Moreover, you will learn a lot about yourself and your partner as you both navigate through these initial days of parenthood.
Sex (or lack thereof)
You should know that sex is off-limits for at least 6 weeks after your partner gives birth. Don't forget that she just delivered a fair-sized human through a very tiny birth canal and her body will need time to heal. Your gal's doctor will ask to see her about six weeks after delivery for a full physical and emotional post-baby follow-up. At this visit, the doctor will check to see how her wounds are healing. If everything is good, your partner will get the green light for sex. However, this doesn't mean that she will be as keen and eager to get back into the game. She'll likely be tired from the whole pregnancy ordeal and from the added responsibilities of caring for a newborn. Help out as much as possible and be patient. Her interest in sex will return?just don't push her too hard.
Sleep (or lack thereof)
The good news is that babies need a lot of sleep - about 15-16 hours a day. Unfortunately, newborns don't have regular sleep patterns and don't sleep for long hours at a time. This means that you won't have regular sleep patterns either. Get used to napping throughout the day. And if that doesn't work for you, then get used to sleep deprivation. You and your partner may feel like you are losing your minds as you quickly realize how cranky and dysfunctional you can be after several nights of disrupted sleep. Hang in there. After about 8 or 10 weeks, your baby will start to sleep through the night (approximately five consecutive hours) and your sleep-deprived, zombie-like state will be a thing of the past.
You may with to alternate night shifts to maximize the amount of uninterrupted sleep each partner gets. There really is no need for both of you to get up every time the baby needs to be fed, coddled or changed.
Caring for Your Tiny Tot
After your shopping spree for nursery items, layettes and strollers, you may have thought that you were fully ready for your baby. While these purchases were necessary, they are only a small part of what you need to survive postnatal care. There will be many new and strange things for you and your partner to learn. The ins-and-outs of feeding, bathing, diapering and umbilical cord care are in no way intuitive. Don't get scared or discouraged by your new-found incompetence. Chances are that your partner is also incompetent in this area. It's okay to make mistakes; every new parent does. The good news is that the parental learning curve is steep. You and your partner will quickly develop the skills needed to care for your tot. To give you a helping hand, here is are a few pointers on baby care basics:
The first step is to decide your method of feeding - breast milk or formula? There are many benefits of breastfeeding, including nutritional and emotional advantages. Breast milk is a complete food source that contains hormones and disease-fighting compounds that are absent in formula. Nursing also helps build a special bond between mother and baby. Studies show that babies thrive on the skin-to-skin contact, cuddling and holding that occurs during breastfeeding. However, there are a variety of reasons why many women do not nurse. They may not be able to produce enough milk or they may have to return to work soon after birth and are not available to nurse the baby throughout the day. Whatever the reason, your gal should not feel guilty or uncomfortable with deciding to bottle-feed. There are many excellent formulas available which are highly nutritious. Speak with your partner's physician or pediatrician about recommended formulas.
Regardless of your method of feeding, you should know that most newborns eat about 8 times a day (approximately every two to three hours). However, you shouldn't try to set scheduled eating times during the first few weeks after birth. Let your baby eat whenever he or she seems hungry.
Because your baby's umbilical cord will need to heal, it is very important that you keep it dry to prevent infection. After about two weeks, the gross looking stump (i.e., remnants of the umbilical cord) will fall off and your baby will be left with a cute little belly button. In the meantime, take extra care not to wet the umbilical cord during bathing. The best way to do this is to give your tot sponge baths until the cord heals.
To give a sponge bath, you will need a stable surface, a soft washcloth and lukewarm water. Make sure that you test the water temperature before applying the cloth to your baby to prevent scalding him or her. Your elbow or the inner part of your wrist is a good place to test water temperature. Your hand is not a good guide since it is not very sensitive enough to tell how hot or cold the water really is. Now you can begin wiping your baby gently with the moistened washcloth. Begin by wiping your baby's eyes (from inside to outside), ears and under arms. Then you can move onto legs and genitalia. When washing the bottom, make sure you wipe from front to back to avoid bringing any feces near the genitals. If you have had your baby boy circumcised, then you will want to speak with your pediatrician about caring for the penis while it heals.
The most important thing to remember when bathing your baby is to NEVER leave him or her along - not even for a second. Babies squirm around a lot, so you should always keep your eyes and one hand on your little one during bath time. The same rule applies when you are changing your baby's diaper.
Don't avoid this responsibility because it you have never changed a diaper before. Because babies pee and poop so often, you will spend a lot of time changing diapers. Take advantage of this precious time with junior. You may also have to develop silly and immature techniques to comfort your baby if he/she does not enjoy the diapering process. As ridiculous as you may feel, this is actually an important part of establishing a parent-tot bond.
While it may be dirty work, diapering is not rocket science. For easy to follow instructions, make sure to read our article on How to Change a Diaper at www.thefunkystork.com.
Caring for Yourself and Your Partner As flighty and silly as it might sound, self-care is important. Neither you nor your partner is doing your tot any good by neglecting yourselves. Try a shift-work system where you schedule an hour or two during the day where one parent will care for the baby alone. This way, the other parent can practice self-care - taking a long, warm bath, going for a run, doing yoga, reading or just going for coffee with a friend.
You will find that self-care will also help maintain civility in your relationship with your partner. By making time to do something for yourself, you will find that you won't feel as overwhelmed by your initiation to parenthood. And don't forget that this rule also applies to your partner. In fact, she will likely need more time for self-care than you since she will also be recovering from both 40 weeks of pregnancy and hours of childbirth. Also be aware that your partner is particularly vulnerable to postpartum depression during the first weeks after birth.
Postpartum depression, which is a more serious case of the baby blues, can begin as early as a few days after delivery. Experts don't know the real cause of postpartum depression, but they suspect that it has something to do with changes hormonal levels. Stress, disturbed sleeping patterns and changes in daily routine can all contribute to postpartum depression. Signs and symptoms include restlessness, irritability, changes in appetite, sadness and anxiety. If your partner is experiencing any of these symptoms or if you sense that something isn't right with the way your partner is behaving, you should consult your physician immediately. Untreated, postpartum depression can develop into postpartum psychosis, which is a serious mental illness that requires medical intervention. Both you and your partner should take her postnatal psychological state very seriously.
On a lighter note, you and your partner make an extra effort to keep the romance in your relationship. While your baby will require a lot of your time and attention, he or she will also be taking a lot of naps. Nap-time may be the perfect (and only) time for your and your partner to romance each other. Snuggle, watch a movie, make dinner or enjoy a glass of wine together. Whatever you decide to do, take a minute to set the mood with candles and relaxing music.
Another important factor to consider is how involved you want your parents or partner's parents to be. Parental intervention can add some seriously unneeded stress to the situation and unnecessary strain on your relationship. That said, you shouldn't reject offers to help. Being a new parent is not going to be easy and you will need all the help that you can get. Just remember to set limits and don't be afraid to tell your relatives what you need (and don't need). The last thing you want is to have one overbearing relatives overstepping their boundaries and overstaying their welcome.
Things change after about 6 weeks of caring for your newborn. You and your partner will be different people, your relationship will be redefined and your tot will begin to act more like a baby than a squirmy alien. Life will get easier from here on out. Your tot will become a toddler and will begin roaming around the house. Make sure you are prepared for junior's curiosity by baby-proofing your home early.
LIFE AFTER BIRTH: THE FIRST 6 WEEKS
After four years of marriage my husband and I started to plan for our family. Unfortunately we ran into some fertility issues because of my endometriosis. We eventually went to a specialist and were able to conceive after 2 years of trying to have our first child. Unfortunately I had an early miscarriage, and it left me very emotional. We decided to try again as soon as medically possible and conceived again. This time I was so anxious because of the miscarriage. I would count the days to my next ob visit just to hear the heartbeat.
Everything turned out fine and we had a beautiful baby girl. My second pregnancy came very quickly after my daughter was born, because we didn't want to risk the endometriosis causing problems again. Much to our surprise we conceived quickly and everything went well during that pregnancy. Again, I was very anxious during this pregnancy because I had to wait until my OB appointment to hear my baby's heartbeat. I looked everywhere for a device I could use at home but the only one I could find was a unit that was poorly engineered. I could never get it to work, all I heard was static, never a clear heartbeat.
After my second little girl was born, we decided to try for a third time. I just love children! This did not go as well. We were able to conceive but I had another early miscarriage. So we tried again, another miscarriage, and a third time, the same thing, an early miscarriage. At this point I wasn't sure I wanted to go through this again, so we waited a year.
We decided to try one more time. We conceived, but I was so concerned about having another miscarriage, that I found myself going to the OB every other week just to check the heartbeat. That is when I did some research, and I told myself, I didn't care what it cost, there has to be a listening device for home use that was better than what I found before. Also you can't use some of these devices until your 20th week.
After more research and consulting with my Father-In-Law, who happens to be a Physician, I finally found a device that worked. I obtained my Doppler and picked up the heartbeat right away. I could also hear the movements and kicks of the baby. Being able to identify the heartbeat and movements right around my 10th week was so reassuring to me and my husband. It also allowed him to bond with the baby.
After everything I went through trying to find this technology years ago, my husband and I both felt like this kind of product would be a huge benefit to women. After month's of research and preparation - Baby's Heart is our answer to addressing this need.
We are so excited about other parents being able to enjoy the increased sense of calm, peace of mind and enjoyment that we found during my last preganacy. We also wanted to build a business that truly helps pregnant women and their families.
We know the fetus is experiencing whatever is going on with the mother. This is the good news or the bad news as the case may be.
In an ideal world I would focus my attention on creating a pleasant and harmonious environment for the developing child. This could look like connecting with the fetus, sending love and messages of welcome. This can be especially important if the pregnancy was not planned or initially unwanted. In the altered state of breathwork, this can be done fairly easily.
In many first pregnancies, there can be a lack of connection to the fetus. It feels unreal that this is happening at all and in spite of her changing body, the mother-to-be feels flat and unattached to the baby growing inside. This kind of work is very important and can be very powerful or very gentle, as the case may be.
Now, in a not so ideal world this work is even more important. If the mother is upset, sick, distraught, or confused, then these messages are being registered by the fetus as well. So, the goal would be to create harmony by releasing what is in the way of creating that peaceful environment.
During pregnancy and through delivery, many of our own issues may emerge, especially around birth or mother. In this case breathwork is the perfect vehicle because of its connection to the body and its stored memories. The client is treated the same as your other clients except I recommend you stay with the circular breath and not go into fast and full. If that happens spontaneously, then that is fine. Tetany and other signs of hyperventilation should be watched for and avoided as much as possible.
If I have an ongoing or regular client who becomes pregnant during therapy, then I do some of the connection work and suggest that she take some time off. This is the time to go home and prepare for a blessed event. It is not a time to take on one's deepest issues, unless they are activated by the situation itself. If it isn't broken, don't fix it at this time. If something comes up, then that is a different story. I am available and have worked with women right up to delivery. The best part would be to do the water work with the new baby and the parents 2-3 months after birth.
By Carol A. Lampman
Pre-natal vitamins are important to the health of a growing baby. They are also important to pregnant mothers because their bodies are going through so many changes.
Our diets today are often deficient in key nutrients found in pre-natal vitamins that help a baby's development in the womb. One deficiency that has been found is the lack of enough folic acid, one of the B vitamins.
Rectifying vitamin deficiency can be done by modifying your diet and by taking pre-natal vitamin supplements. It is easiest for your body to absorb nutrients from foods, but since it can be difficult to take in enough of those key vitamins and minerals during pregnancy, most doctors recommend that you also take pre-natal supplements.
The most important pre-natal vitamin is folic acid, which is the synthetic form of the naturally occurring folate. If folic acid is taken in the first four weeks of pregnancy, it can reduce the risk of the baby having an incomplete spinal column, or neural tube defect by up to 70%.
Because folic acid is most useful very early in the pregnancy, most doctors recommend that women trying to conceive begin supplementing their diet with 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid per day. In fact the U.S. Public Health Service recommends that all women of childbearing age take this supplement as a preventative measure, in the case of an unplanned pregnancy. Many once-daily multi-vitamin supplements include this in their product.
While folic acid is most important in the first trimester, most doctors recommend it throughout the pregnancy. Spinach and chicken liver are great natural sources of folate. Folate is often added to breakfast cereals and breads; this addition will be written on the nutrition label.
Calcium is another critical supplement for your baby for the same reasons that it is important for you; calcium helps the baby develop strong bones and teeth. One of the best sources of calcium is cheddar cheese (real cheese, not the plastic-like "cheese product" made from hydrogenated oil with orange color added). Calcium is also found in yogurt, milk, kale, etc.
In addition to dairy products, calcium citrate is often added to cereals and other non-dairy products like orange juice.
When taking calcium supplements it may be safest to take calcium citrate which is made from citrus fruit.
Small amounts of vitamin D are important for calcium absorption. The good news is that you can absorb this vitamin through exposure to the sun. Most prenatal supplements provide this vitamin.
Iron is important for the baby's development of red blood cells, which deliver oxygen to the baby. Supplementing iron into your diet is mostly important for the mother's health. Insufficient iron might lead to fatigue and anemia. On the other hand, too much iron can hurt both the mother and the baby. Be very careful with iron supplements!
The baby will generally get all of the iron he needs, even if that means leaving the mom anemic. By the end of the pregnancy a mother will have twice as much blood in her body as she did before. Therefore pregnant women may need more iron as non-pregnant women. Another important fact is that coffee and tea can decrease iron absorption.
The best and safest way to get the right amount of iron is to take the balance multi-vitamin and mineral pre-natal supplements that your doctor recommends. You might save money if you ask your doctor which over the counter pre-natal vitamins may contain the same ingredients as prescription versions.
Pre-natal vitamin supplements are even more important for women who have poor nutrition, women who are carrying twins, and women who have a closely spaced pregnancy.
For women that are healthy and eat a balanced diet, pre-natal supplements are still important to insure against the possibility that the women are not getting enough of any given nutrient. Many women who were careful to eat right were still found to be low in folic acid for example.
Vitamin supplements, in particular those with iron, can be tough to swallow for the expecting mother because of the infamous 'morning sickness,' that is far from relegated to the morning hours.
Many women have found that beginning to take pre-natal vitamins a month or more before conception can diminish morning sickness and therefore make taking the pre-natal vitamins during pregnancy an easier pill to swallow. Taking prenatal vitamins when you are not pregnant does not cause any problems. These vitamins are not that different than regular daily multi-vitamins, except that they do not contain any herbs or herbal supplements that could cause problems. Be very careful to avoid most herbal supplements when pregnant. Talk to your doctor.
Note: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Supplements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease. All information here is intended for general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and always consult your doctor before starting any new supplement, diet or fitness regimen.
By Monica Nelson
There are so many changes the body undergoes during pregnancy that it becomes easy to ignore the changes in the feet. During pregnancy the body releases hormones that allow the ligaments to relax in the birth canal. The ligaments in the feet also relax, causing the foot to lengthen and widen. Many will complain of a shoe size increase by one or two sizes. In most circumstances, this flattening and widening of the foot is benign and no problems result.
In the diabetic, this change in foot size is important to recognize. Despite the increase in foot size, many moms will continue to wear the same size shoes. As a diabetic, properly fitting shoes are of utmost importance. Increased pressure on the foot can cause areas of rub or irritation and potentially result in ulceration. Once there is an ulceration, one is at risk for infection, delayed healing and further diabetic foot complications.
Diabetic neuropathy is the single greatest risk factor for developing foot ulcerations. Neuropathy is the loss of sensation in the feet commonly caused by diabetes. Many individuals will develop neuropathy before they are diagnosed with diabetes. Others will develop neuropathy years after being diagnosed with diabetes. Luckily, gestational diabetes is not typically associated with neuropathy.
Unfortunately, type I diabetics develop neuropathy much earlier than type II diabetics and may have neuropathy during their pregnancy. Regardless of the type of diabetes, it is still extremely important to have the feet evaluated to assess the status of the nerves. Even mild neuropathy increases the risk of ulceration. Wearing shoes which are too small causes an increase in friction and an increased risk of skin breakdown.
Wearing properly fitting shoes during and after pregnancy is of particular importance. Although the ligaments relax in the foot during pregnancy, they do not stay relaxed. The post-pregnancy foot is at higher risk for developing foot problems. There are multiple reasons contributing to the increased risk. The flattened foot places excess stress on the ligament that holds up the arch. The weight gain from pregnancy places excess stress on the feet. Moms are also carrying their baby, added weight which transmits to the feet. Moms are staying at home more often and walking around in slippers and flexible shoes which are generally not supportive.
To decrease your chances of foot problems during and after pregnancy follow these steps:
1. Check your feet everyday: This is an absolute necessity if you are a type I diabetic or if you have diagnosed neuropathy. It is a good habit to practice. Look for cuts, sores, bruises, openings or areas of irritation. Remember, if your nerves are not functioning properly, then you may not feel everything in your feet. If you cannot reach your feet, have a family member check your feet or place a mirror on the floor and put your feet over it.
2. Check your shoes before you put your foot in them.
3. Don't walk around barefoot: Wear a supportive shoe, one that has a rigid sole and bends only where the foot bends (at the toes). If a shoe seems too confined, find a slipper which has a semi-rigid sole, or try a clog or slip-in shoe with a more rigid sole. The remaining aspect of the shoe can be soft and flexible and allow for swelling, but the sole should be rigid from the heel to the ball of the foot.
4. Buy shoes that fit your feet: Be aware of the changes your feet are going through. The feet are most likely widening and lengthening. Make sure the shoes don't cramp the toes. Your feet will not shrink after the birth.
5. Watch out for folds in your socks: A simple fold can cause rub or irritation on your feet. Swelling will be greater by the end of the day and the small crease that didn't bother you in the morning can rub an open sore or blister on the toes. Serious consequences in diabetics can include ulceration and infection.
6. Dry your feet and between toes after showers: Increased moisture between your toes can lead to skin breakdown and eventual ulceration.
7. Don't be a victim of fashion: Most moms will avoid high fashion during pregnancy, but many try squeezing into that strappy heel after. Wearing high heeled shoes puts excess stress on the ball of the foot, cramps the toes and increases the chances of ankle sprains. Tight shoes will increase the chance of ulceration for those with neuropathy.
8. Test the bath water before stepping in: If you have neuropathy, you will not recognize when the temperature is too hot. Check the water by inserting your hand into the water to wrist depth.
9. Don't use a heating pad on your feet: Although the idea of heat on your feet may sound soothing after a long day, the heat will increase swelling and inflammation. Sore feet respond better to ice. Roll your foot over a frozen sports water bottle to help ease the achiness in the arch. Wear a sock while doing this and don't put ice directly on your feet. The heating pad can cause burns in those who have neuropathy.
10. Don't use any medication on the skin: Be careful of topical medications during pregnancy and during breast-feeding. Consult your doctor before use. Don't use medicated corn pads from the local drug stores if you have neuropathy.
11. Visit your podiatrist: At the first sign of a problem, make an appointment with your podiatrist. Prevention is much easier than treatment.
By Christine Dobrowolski
Maybe someone you know has rented or purchased a fetal doppler from one of the online rental companies who offer this service. If so, you may have heard how easy and wonderful it is to be able to listen to your growing unborn baby. The ability to monitor your unborn baby has lent millions of woman welcomed peace of mind during this exciting yet stressful time.
Are fetal doppler monitors safe?
This is an important question many expecting parents are asking themselves and the answer is yes! For over 50 years ultrasound technology has been used for various purposes in the healthcare industry with no evidence of any ill effect. This holds true to mother and child. The FDA regulates ultrasound technology and has approved the Fetal Doppler for 'continuous use'. This isn't to say you should monitor the heartbeat of your unborn baby 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Current recommendations are monitoring 2-3 times a week for no more than 7 minutes per exam.
Are all fetal doppler monitors created equally?
If you've been researching the fetal doppler market you know that it has become saturated with many different doppler models offering different capabilities and options. The first thing you should be sure of when renting or purchasing a fetal doppler is its FDA approval. Every fetal doppler on the market that uses ultrasound technology (the only kind you want) must be approved by the FDA. First off, with most of the internet companies that have been around for a while, such as Stork Radio.com and SweetBeats.net, you need not worry and can rely upon their solid reputations. Secondly, be sure the equipment you're renting or buying uses ultrasound technology and is not simply a microphone which will just amplify your digestive sounds and are not recommended for use before 6 months into pregnancy (BeBe Sounds etc.). Lastly, with the ever increasing use of fetal dopplers in the home, many companies have attempted to capitalize by bringing to the market place less expensive models. These dopplers are not medical grade dopplers and may not hold up as well or offer the same overall quality as a medical grade doppler system. Medical grade Fetal Dopplers have historically been used only in medical environments such as hospitals and doctors offices and are still expensive instruments to own.
How do I know which fetal doppler is right for me?
Another important question to consider before renting a baby doppler is which one is right for me? For the most part there are two different types of dopplers on the market - regular and digital. A regular is the most basic model available for rent and will allow you to hear your unborn baby's heartbeat (rentals $32 per month). The digital fetal doppler will also give you the audio of the heartbeat but offers the added benefit of a digital display of your baby's heartbeats per minute or BPM (rentals $49 per month). Making the decision between the two is typically purely preference, except in the case of a pregnancy with multiples. In this instance you'd need a digital display to distinguish one baby from another.
Selecting the right probe.
Fetal dopplers come with either a 2 or 3 MHz probe. It is common knowledge among Obstetricians that 2 MHz (specialty probe) probes are better for overweight patients as the more concentrated ultrasound emission (beam) can pass more easily through the extra layers of fat surrounding the uterus. This more concentrated lower frequency beam also enables the fetal doppler a greater ability to pick up the fetal heartbeat earlier in pregnancy and often enables expecting parents to listen in as early as 8 weeks into pregnancy.
What else should I know?
Most companies offer free shipping, a free tube of ultrasound gel, tips, battery, and an instruction manual with rentals. You might want to purchase an extra bottle of ultrasound gel ($7-10) with your rental if you plan on keeping your doppler for one or more months. It's imperative for crisp clear sound to use plenty of ultrasound gel when listening.
As a consumer, you should always do plenty of research before making a purchase. I understand this and would like to offer you my choices on the most reputable and customer-friendly, Internet-based fetal doppler companies - www.storkradio.com & www.sweetbeats.net.
With summer coming near, you would love to put on those cute maternity sun dresses, however you do not wish to show off your pale white skin. You may be asking yourself if tanning while having a baby inside you is a smart move?
At present, you want to decide if you can tan without putting your child in danger. Tanning beds during pregnancy are just as safe as tanning outside in the direct sunlight, but is either doing any harm to your child?
At this time there are no studies on the effects of tanning beds on the unborn toddler, so anything you hear is nothing but merely myths or theroies. Many believe that the UV light utilized in tanning beds does not reach the toddler, so your young child isn't at risk.
Yet others caution that we still could be putting our child at risk since we do not have any concreate studies that prove it is truely safe.
When you are in your 1st trimester your doctor will counsel you not to do anything that will raise your body's temperature. This even includes hot tubs, saunas, and tanning beds. Overall you have to use your best judgement, and talk to your specific doctor to get medical advice.
The bottom line to remember is to keep your body cool and drink plenty of water. Your skin when you are pregnant is very sensitive to burning, so if you do decide to tan you should begin with short sessions.
Ultimately, your unborn child is more important than having a tan so take your medical professionals opinion into account and do what you think is best.