Chapter One: Pregnancy
Oh, the aches and pains of it all! We may love the idea of growing a human being, but pregnancy also means morning sickness, weight gain, stretch marks, leg cramps, and an inability to go more than twenty minutes without peeing (okay, not really, but it feels like that).
The worst part about going through it the first time is that you don't know what to expect. Then, when you go through it again, you're a veteran, except you discover that every pregnancy is different (if you didn't have morning sickness the first time, you could have it for nine months the second), and that your body doesn't bounce back nearly as fast as it did the first time. Here is our best wisdom for getting through those nine (really, ten) months with ease.
The Five Most Effective Ways to Cope with Morning Sickness
1. Crackers, especially Saltines and especially when eaten first thing in the morning.
2. Ginger anything -- ginger ale, ginger tea, ginger snaps.
3. Lemon anything -- lemon drops, lemonade, lemon verbena oil, lemons.
4. Eat small, frequent meals.
5. Eat protein.
"I'm on an e-mail loop of moms, and one of the ladies suggested ginger. Anything with ginger works. I liked ginger snaps because they put a little something in my stomach, and that helps morning sickness also. But you can get ginger candy and gum also. It's the best-kept secret."
-- Brenda Brown, Kapolei, HI
"One of the many books I read when I was trying to conceive mentioned that lemons, lemon drops, and lemon oil can be helpful in taming nausea. I purchased lemon verbena oil (an essential oil you can get at any health food store) the weekend I found out I was pregnant. It smells like very concentrated lemons. I would just crack the top on the vial of oil and sniff anytime I felt sick. Ninety-nine percent of the time, my stomach would calm right down. It worked wonders."
-- Colleen Grace Weaver, San Lorenzo, CA
"I had horrible morning sickness until about week 18. I craved protein and bought a Burger King egg and cheese bagel or croissant almost every morning. The sandwiches tasted great and I didn't have to smell the eggs cooking."
-- Kimberly Mercurio, M.D., Downers Grove, IL
"I always tried to make sure I had something in my stomach. It helped to munch on crackers, bread, etc., and to drink lots of water."
-- Stephanie Zara, Boonton Township, NJ
"Eat something (like a cracker or two) BEFORE getting out of bed (have someone bring it to you, or leave it on your nightstand the night before). It always seemed easier to avoid nausea by eating little amounts frequently than to stop nausea once it starts."
-- Chelsea Hamman, M.D., Providence, NC
Nine Easy Ways to Relieve Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Just when you thought you were past the hard part -- the morning sickness -- bam! You get hit with heartburn. Some of us had it through our whole pregnancies. But there's no need to wait for the baby to be born to get relief. Here are our nine favorite remedies.
1. Take Tums or another over-the-counter heartburn remedy (with your doctor's approval).
2. Elevate your head and shoulders while sleeping.
3. Drink lots of water.
4. Avoid spicy foods.
5. Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
6. Eat sour foods, like lemonade or sour candy.
7. Eat popsicles.
8. Try papaya extract or papaya enzyme (with your doctor's permission).
9. Drink milk.
"Take Tums antacid tablets every day. My obstetrician recommended it for the calcium and the heartburn."
-- Jennifer Young, Bethesda, MD
"I raised the head of my bed four inches and slept with a pillow wedge to keep upright. I also stayed away from tomato-based foods."
-- Becky Messerli, Chesterfield, MI
"I don't believe in taking medications at all. I try to treat everything naturally, so what I would do is not eat until I was full. Also, I would eat smaller meals often. I never ate and lay down, and I drank tons of water."
-- Jaimelin Liddell, Roseto, PA
"Anything sour will help with heartburn and nausea. I ate sour ball candy and drank a lot of lemonade."
-- Wendy Douglas, Margate, FL
"My cousin's mother-in-law is a 'Holistic Healer' and recommended taking papaya extract for heartburn and acid reflux. You can find it in most health food stores. Some may even carry a chewable tablet, kind of like Chicklets. Not only do they kick heartburn and acid reflux, but they are pretty tasty as well. I'd recommend them to anyone, pregnant or not."
-- Lamiel Oesterreicher, Brooklyn, NY
Your Essential Maternity Wardrobe
The best thing about early pregnancy is that you get to keep it a secret if you like. You get to decide who to tell, when to tell, and how to break the good news. By the fourth or fifth month, however, it's no longer a secret. And if you haven't noticed it yet, you begin to get distracted by the fact that NOTHING IN YOUR CLOSET FITS YOU ANYMORE. What to do? Veteran moms know that being comfortable is key. Regardless of the season, you'll need a basic wardrobe that will take you from work to play to evening in comfort.
The Only Five Rules You Need to Know for Buying Maternity Clothes
1. Make it comfortable.
2. Make it black.
3. Good underwear, including a good bra, is essential.
4. Buy pieces that don't have the maternity panel or a seam in the tummy area.
5. Invest in one nice outfit for special occasions and dinners out.
"Think about whether some of your maternity clothes can be worn after you have the baby. They make no-panel and low-rise pants now that are great for that transitional period when you're too big for your old clothes and not big enough to keep wearing panel maternity pants."
-- Angel Smith, Brooksville, FL
"I loved being pregnant and wanted the world to know, so I loved wearing the obvious 'maternity clothes' look. However, the most important items in my pregnant wardrobe were hardly ever seen. The real essentials include a super-comfortable, front latch, all-cotton (if you can find it) sleeping bra! Your ever-growing breasts can be painful, especially at night as you toss and turn. A good sleeping bra (similar to an exercise or jogging bra) can keep your breasts supported and lessen the discomfort.
"Comfortable panties are another must, and I found gigantic briefs to do the trick, as long as they were big enough to go completely over the belly. Anything hitting the waistline was torture. After my pregnancy, I was told by friends that they liked bikinis for the same reason (they didn't restrict the waistline).
"Whether or not you are one of the women whose feet swell in pregnancy, near the end of the pregnancy, you will find bending over to be less than fun. Bending over to tie your shoes will be downright annoying. Take care of your comfort and sanity by having comfortable slip-on shoes or sandals that you can manage to slip in and out of without help!"
-- Theresa Smead, St. Louis, MO
"Those pants with the stretch panels were a definite no-no for me. The seam where the panel was connected to the non-stretch fabric always cut into my belly. I got one of those wardrobe-in-a-box sets that was great, came with a short skirt, leggings, a jumper dress, and two shirts (short sleeve and long sleeve). Comfy and stylish!"
-- Michele Longenbach, Garden Grove, CA
"I resisted buying maternity underwear with my first pregnancy, [but later when I tried them] I couldn't believe how much more comfortable (although ugly) they were."
-- Tammy McCluskey, M.D., Kinnelon, NJ
"There are times when you just don't want anything touching your tummy, and even if it has the elastic maternity panel in front, it still irritates you. Baby doll dresses work best."
-- K. Scarlett Shaw, Euless, TX
"First, black pants. I worked in an office and I would wear those pants every day. No one ever noticed! They were so comfortable and went with everything. Second, comfy, slip-on shoes. I gave up trying to tie my shoes somewhere around the sixth month. Third, supportive bras. I knew I was pregnant when my chest exploded. Supportive bras are the best investment."
-- Sara Hammontree, Mountain Home, AR
"I recommend Lands' End leggings. You can buy them in normal sizes. I got the "Tall" sizing -- it gives you more length from crotch to waistband. I also got a large. Believe it or not, they stretched to accommodate me in my ninth month and also my usual size before and after. They were supportive immediately postpartum, too."
-- Sarah Pletcher, East Lansing, MI
The Five Hottest Places to Buy Maternity Clothes
Gone are the days of baby doll dresses and big floppy bows. Today, maternity clothes come in the same fashionable styles as regular women's clothes, and you don't need to go to a fancy boutique or spend a lot of money to get them. Indeed, many of the same stores where you normally shop now carry maternity clothes. Here are our favorites.
2. The Gap
3. Old Navy
4. Motherhood Maternity (and Motherhood Maternity Outlet)
"Motherhood Maternity is fairly priced, and the quality of their clothes is decent (they do tend to shrink quite quickly, so be careful when drying). Target is also a good choice for maternity wear. They now sell the Liz Lange line, which is nice. I would actually wear some of the clothes even if I wasn't pregnant."
-- Katie Conroy, Palos Hills, IL
"I bought many of my maternity clothes off of eBay. It's a great way to get all the clothes you need without spending an arm and a leg. Maternity clothes are too expensive to buy a whole new wardrobe that will only last a few months."
-- Jonalee Fernatt, Ulrichsville, OH
"Target maternity clothes are affordable, look nice, and last."
-- Sara Dixon, Grimesland, NC
"JCPenney.com and Motherhood Maternity Outlet both have great selections of plus-sized maternity clothes, and they are pretty inexpensive. The Motherhood outlet stores seem to have a much better selection of plus-sized clothes. Also, watch for rummage sales. I bought around thirty items of plus-sized maternity clothes in great condition for $27!"
-- Amy McDonald, Buffalo, MN
"Old Navy and Gap Maternity can both be found online (some Old Navy stores carry maternity also). They offer free returns and exchanges, so sizes are not that big of a deal to try before you know what will work. With my first pregnancy, I ordered and paid for shipping one time, then just continued exchanging so much that I never had to pay for shipping again! The clothes are similar to 'normal' clothes (not tentlike pregnancy stuff) and fit very well."
-- Kari Rydell, Ladera Ranch, CA
"Target has really stylish clothes that last the whole pregnancy, plus the prices are perfect! Also, don't be afraid to shop online. I bought over fifty articles of maternity clothing in a lot on eBay with my last pregnancy, all for $115! There were a couple of things in there that I wouldn't wear, but the rest were perfect!"
-- Stephanie R. Smith, Alexandria, KY
Our Seven-Step Formula for Coping with Bed Rest
In the first trimester, you fantasize about being put on bed rest. You're sooooo tired, you think, hmmm, forced to stay in bed? Sign me up! But being confined to your bed during pregnancy can be lonely, boring, and emotionally draining. Here are the best ways to cope.
1. Accept it.
2. Stock up on books, magazines, and videos.
3. Arrange a schedule for visitors.
4. Get a laptop computer and join an online support group for expectant moms.
5. Ask for help with cooking, cleaning, running errands, finishing the baby's room.
6. Do simple craft projects.
7. Get dressed and put on makeup (if you normally wear it) every day.
"If finances allow, get a laptop computer. You can make family picture albums, keep in touch with relatives, meet new cyber-friends who are in the same boat, study up on fetal development, and so much more. If you have a DVD player, there is an online rental service called Netflix that can be a sanity-saver. For around $20 a month, you get up to three DVDs that you can exchange as much as you like or keep as long as you like. No late fees or trips to the video store, and since it takes about four to five days for you to receive a new one after sending one back, you can have a new movie almost every night if you stagger them. They even provide postage-paid mailers."
-- Angel Smith, Brooksville, FL
"Ask family and friends for help with meals, finishing the nursery, and running errands. Though your spouse can do those things as well, he will more than likely still be working 40+ hours per week and tending to some of your other needs.
"Each day, set up your beds: your normal one and one on the couch. Have plenty of fluids and prepared snacks, get a good book, have lots of pillows and a blanket, and keep the phone close by. Relax and don't stress about the things that are not getting done. You are doing the most important thing: taking care of the baby."
-- Dana A. Croy, Murfreesboro, TN
"Have friends and neighbors work out a visitation/cooking rotation, so that you don't have six visitors and nine casseroles in one day, then nothing for a week.
"Don't think you're going to use this time to learn Russian, knit an afghan, or balance your checkbook. Bed rest fries your brain; you will be lucky to concentrate long enough to finish a magazine.
"Change out of your pajamas every morning. Comb your hair and put on a touch of makeup. If you lie around looking like a sick person, you're going to start to feel like a sick person.
"Have a friend come over to paint your toenails or cut/style your hair. It'll make you feel sooooo much better! If your partner isn't cleaning the house to your satisfaction and the dishes and laundry are piling up, let it go! If you absolutely cannot stand the filth for one more second, pick up the phone and recruit some friends, family, or a maid service to tidy up.
"Make sure that your partner or spouse gets some time for himself as well. A game of basketball or beer with his buddies after work will do wonders for his stress level and make him much more willing to pitch in at home.
"Finally, don't cheat on your bed rest! I know lots of mommies who thought, 'Well, one little outing won't hurt,' or 'My doctor will never know,' who wound up in the hospital and/or with babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. This is the one time in your life when doing absolutely nothing is the best thing you can do for your child."
-- Jenna Haldeman, Portland, OR
"Arrange visitors if you feel up to it. Having someone bring you lunch on the couch is a great day-brightener. People may ask what they can do for you. Make a list of errands you need to have done and dole them out to well-meaning friends. Call people if you are a chatty person. I found that even five minutes on the phone with a friend gave me a boost.
"If you are only on limited bed rest (you can still be upright some of the time), find an online community. BabyCenter.com and other pregnancy-related websites have groups that are for folks on bed rest.
"Finally, remember how important the work of growing a baby is. Sure, there are people out there who are doing their jobs, earning a living, or enjoying their leisure time, but you made ears or eyebrows or toenails or a heart muscle or a brain cell today. Now how many people can say that?"
-- Amelia Stinson-Wesley, Morganton, NC
Four Scrumptious, Healthy Pregnancy Snacks
1. Fruit...by itself, with cottage cheese, in a shake or smoothie
2. Peanut butter and...crackers, wheat bread, celery, carrots, banana, jelly, pretzels, apples, bagels
4. Raw vegetables and dip
"I craved spinach salads, topped with grape tomatoes, feta cheese, and blue cheese dressing. Lots of calcium, which may help with preterm labor, good amount of calories, and it's not too heavy to eat through those days of nausea."
-- Traci Bragg, M.D., Jacksonville, FL
"I had chocolate organic yogurt. It really helped me make it through pregnancy without caffeine and still keep awake at work."
-- Beth Blecherman, Menlo Park, CA
"I liked frozen green grapes."
-- Chantal Laurin, Concord, Ontario, Canada
"Prunes. I ate a ton of the lemon- and orange-flavored ones. Not only do they have a lot of iron, but they help alleviate constipation."
-- Sara Hammontree, Mountain Home, AR
"I kept a ton of stuff at my desk during work. I tried to keep semi-healthy things -- wheat thins, pretzels, dried cereal, dried fruit, Chex mix, yogurt. I also kept orange juice, water, and fruit in the fridge. I really think this helped to keep down the weight gain."
-- Brandy Charles, Tulsa, OK
"I ate a lot of veggie roll-ups with cream cheese, spinach leaves, roasted red peppers, shredded carrots, and scallions on a tortilla. When I wanted more protein, I added slices of chicken."
-- Patricia Arnold, Westford, MA
"Strawberries, banana, vanilla pudding and milk in the blender is a fantastic breakfast on the run or late-night snack...and helps you get the fruits and calcium that seem hard to get enough of."
-- Rebecca Curtis, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
"I liked yogurt with granola mixed in and raw veggies. I didn't really eat any more than when I wasn't pregnant, so I had to make sure the food I was getting was good food. I would bring raw veggies with dip into work and keep them on my desk for easy snacking."
-- Genevieve Molloy, Guttenberg, NJ
"I lived on peanut butter. It gave me the extra protein I needed for my twins. I made a sandwich and wrapped it, and I kept it at my bedside for those hungry times in the middle of the night. It hit the spot!"
-- Lori Vance, Henderson, NV
The No-Lose Way to Pick the Perfect Baby Name
As your belly grows, so does the reality that there actually is another human being growing in there, and this little one is going to need a name. Choosing a baby name is a sometimes delicate, sometimes frustrating, and always meaningful endeavor, since everyone seems to place a major importance on it. If your in-laws aren't determined to have you name the kid after some long-lost dead relative, your own parents are pushing you to use a family name, your spouse is dying to have the baby named after him, or friends are quick to weigh in with their own preferences and aversions. This is what we've learned in handling the name game.
1. Keep it a secret!
2. Consider how your child will feel about the name years from now -- is it difficult to pronounce? Will she be teased because it sounds funny or rhymes with certain words?
3. Don't try to please other people -- only you and your partner need to agree.
4. Check the initials to make sure they aren't problematic.
5. Decide in advance or at least have a couple of names under consideration before you go to the hospital.
"When my husband and I decided on a name for our son (we knew it was a boy), we kept the name a secret. It took a long time to decide, and we did not want others' opinions to influence our decision. People don't mind telling you if they hate the name before the baby is born, then telling you what you should name it. After the baby is born, it is too late, and everyone tells you what a great name you picked, no matter what!"
-- Kristi Swartz, Gaithersburg, MD
"Everyone wants you to name the baby after them. Remember, you can't please everyone, so don't try. Name your baby with a name you like and a name your baby will hopefully want to live with for the rest of your baby's life. You should also think about the initials. For a not-so-cool example, William Eugene Thompson spells W.E.T. Unfortunately, my brother, trying to please the grandparents, named his son this name and he has been teased terribly."
-- Barbara Nichols, Okeechobee, FL
"Say the name (first and last) out loud and make sure it sounds good. Write it down and make sure it doesn't look or sound like any word(s) that will be embarrassing to you later. Once you have picked a name you like, don't share it with family members. They may want to offer their own opinions and may actually try to dissuade you from the name you have spent a great deal of time deciding upon. I wished I had just kept quiet about it until after my baby was born. It would've been easy just to say that we were still thinking about our options."
-- Krystal Johnston, M.D., Manistee, MI
"Our daughters were not named until right before we left the hospital! We had not really discussed it at length and when we did, we could not agree. We love the names we chose, but it's best to select when you're not under pressure."
-- Shannon Guay, Galloway, OH
"Don't be afraid to go with a name that you love. My daughter's name is Reagan. Many people frowned at it, told me how bad it was, and how much they hated it. People also ask if she is named after President Reagan. I always loved the name and that is why it is hers. Now she is two, and people who hated it tell me they love it and can't imagine her as anything else."
-- Susan Dobratz, Plymouth, MA
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