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Lowdown on the down below

Pregnancy changes your whole body, including your digestive system. Even before you get a positive test, you might notice your stomach is more easily upset than usual. Over the next nine months, there will be even more changes. Understanding can help you deal.

Ok. It was me. Pregnancy also makes the digestive process slow down. That helps you and baby get more nutrition from your food, but also lets foods spend more time fermenting in your stomach. And like a shaken beer, all of that fermentation can cause gas to build up. If flatulence is a big problem, it’s safe to take an enzyme-based anti-gas dietary supplement, or over-the counter anti-gas medications.

So, why can’t I go? Slowed-down digestion can also lead to constipation, which, in turn, can lead to hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are veins and connective tissues around the opening of the rectum that have become swollen or inflamed. The pressure from the baby’s weight in late pregnancy can also be a major aggravating factor. Take care not to strain or linger on the toilet — if nothing’s happening, try again later, and ask your health care provider to recommend or prescribe a stool softener.

Help for the pain in the... You may be able to prevent (or at least postpone) hemorrhoids by getting lots of fiber in your diet — experts recommend 25 to 35 grams a day during pregnancy. Drinking lots of water and taking a quick walk after meals can also help your digestive system keep moving.

For really severe hemorrhoids, try sitting in a tub filled with a few inches of warm water with a cup of Baking Soda. Medicated ointments and pads for hemorrhoids are also safe to use in pregnancy. And boy, they can be really helpful, too.

Sandy and Marcie Jones are the authors of Great Expectations: Your All-in-One Resource for Pregnancy & Childbirth. Order your copy from Barnes & Noble


Pregnancy Weight Gain: What's Healthy?

From Mayo Clinic

Like it or not, pregnancy weight gain is inevitable. Your baby's growth and development depend on it. Eating for two isn't a license to eat twice as much as usual, however. Use healthy lifestyle habits to control your pregnancy weight gain, support your baby's health and make it easier to shed the extra pounds after delivery.

Pregnancy weight gain guidelines

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to pregnancy weight gain. How much weight you need to gain depends on various factors, including your pre-pregnancy weight and body mass index (BMI). Your health and your baby's health also play a role. Work with your health care provider to determine what's right for you.

Consider these general guidelines for pregnancy weight gain:

Pre-pregnancy weight Recommended weight gain
Underweight (BMI less than 18.5) 28 to 40 pounds (about 13 to 18 kilograms)
Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9) 25 to 35 pounds (about 11 to 16 kilograms)
Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9) 15 to 25 pounds (about 7 to 11 kilograms)
Obese (BMI 30 or more) 11 to 20 pounds (about 5 to 9 kilograms)

When you're carrying twins or other multiples

If you're carrying twins or other multiples, you'll likely need to gain more weight. Again, work with your health care provider to determine what's right for you.

Consider these general guidelines for pregnancy weight gain if you're carrying twins:

Pre-pregnancy weight Recommended weight gain
Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9) 37 to 54 pounds (about 17 to 25 kilograms)
Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9) 31 to 50 pounds (about 14 to 23 kilograms)
Obese (BMI 30 or more) 25 to 42 pounds (about 11 to 19 kilograms)

When you're overweight

Being overweight before pregnancy increases the risk of various pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Although a certain amount of pregnancy weight gain is recommended for women who are overweight or obese before pregnancy, some research suggests that women who are obese can safely gain less weight than the guidelines recommend. Work with your health care provider to determine what's best in your case and to manage your weight throughout pregnancy.

In addition, remember that if you gain more than the recommended amount during pregnancy and you don't lose the weight after the baby is born, the excess pounds increase your lifelong health risks. Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can also increase your baby's risk of health problems at birth and childhood obesity.

When you're underweight

If you're underweight, it's essential to gain a reasonable amount of weight while you're pregnant. Without the extra weight, your baby might be born earlier or smaller than expected.

Where does pregnancy weight gain go?

Let's say your baby weighs in at 7 or 8 pounds (about 3 to 3.6 kilograms). That accounts for some of your pregnancy weight gain. What about the rest? Here's a sample breakdown:

  • Baby: 7 to 8 pounds (about 3 to 3.6 kilograms)
  • Larger breasts: 2 pounds (about 1 kilogram)
  • Larger uterus: 2 pounds (about 1 kilogram)
  • Placenta: 1 1/2 pounds (about 0.7 kilogram)
  • Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds (about 1 kilogram)
  • Increased blood volume: 3 to 4 pounds (about 1.4 to 1.8 kilograms)
  • Increased fluid volume: 3 to 4 pounds (about 1.4 to 1.8 kilograms)
  • Fat stores: 6 to 8 pounds (about 2.7 to 3.6 kilograms)

Putting on the pounds

In the first trimester, most women don't need to gain much weight - which is good news if you're struggling with morning sickness.

If you start out at a healthy or normal weight, you need to gain only a few pounds (less than 2 kilograms) in the first few months of pregnancy. You can do this with an extra 150 to 200 calories a day, about the amount in 6 ounces (170 grams) of low-fat fruit yogurt.

Steady weight gain is more important in the second and third trimesters - especially if you start out at a healthy weight or you're underweight. This often means gaining 3 to 4 pounds (about 1.4 to 1.8 kilograms) a month until delivery. An extra 300 calories a day - half of a sandwich and a glass of skim milk - might be enough to help you meet this goal. If you began your pregnancy underweight, your health care provider might review your diet and physical activity level and suggest boosting your calories more.

The menu

It would be easy to add calories to your diet with junk food, but this won't give your baby the nutrients he or she needs. It's more important to avoid overeating and make nutrient-rich choices. Consider these suggestions:

  • Trade white bread and pasta for the whole-grain variety.
  • Choose a salad with low-fat dressing or black beans instead of a burger and fries.
  • Eat sliced fruit instead of a cookie.
  • Choose juices fortified with calcium and other nutrients.

Working with your health care provider

Your health care provider will keep a close eye on your weight. Do your part by eating a healthy diet and keeping your prenatal appointments. To keep your pregnancy weight gain on target, your health care provider might offer suggestions for boosting calories or scaling back as needed.

1998-2014 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. Terms of Use.

Image: Getty Images


Doula: Do You Need a Doula?

Holding senior hand in the hospital

What are the benefits of having a doula?

A doula, or a professional labor assistant, provides physical and emotional support to a woman and her partner during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.

For instance, a doula might offer:

  • Suggestions on pain relief techniques, such as breathing, labor positioning and massage
  • Emotional reassurance, comfort and encouragement
  • Information about what's happening during labor and the postpartum period
  • Assistance with breast-feeding
  • Guidance and support for loved ones

Often, however, a doula's most important role is to provide continuous support during labor and delivery. Although research is limited, some studies have shown that continuous support from doulas during childbirth might be associated with:

  • A decreased use of pain relief medication during labor
  • A decreased incidence of C-sections and forceps deliveries
  • A less difficult childbirth experience

Keep in mind that while a doula might add another opinion to the mix when decisions need to be made about labor and delivery — a doula doesn't provide medical advice as a midwife or health care provider would do or replace the role of your health care team. Also, most insurance plans don't cover doula fees.

If you're interested in hiring a doula, ask your health care provider, childbirth instructor, family or friends for recommendations. You might also contact your local hospital or health department for a referral.

When interviewing a potential doula, ask about his or her training, how many births he or she has attended, his or her philosophy about childbirth, what services he or she provides and the cost. Also, discuss your preferences and concerns about pregnancy, labor and delivery.

Once you hire a doula, typically you'll meet with him or her during your third trimester to plan for childbirth.

This article was from Mayo Clinic and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Image: Getty


When, Oh When, Is This Baby Coming?

It's been nearly nine months, and the glamour is officially gone. Your back hurts, your feet are tired, and it's been weeks since you've had a good night's sleep — time to get this show on the road!

Unfortunately, your baby's got her own agenda, and it might not be what you had in mind (your due date may sail on by with nary a contraction in sight, for instance!). In the meantime, you're probably getting more than a little tired of belly pats from strangers and the constant reminder that, "Woah, you're getting so BIG!"

It's definitely hard not to feel frustrated, uncomfortable and antsy in the final days of pregnancy. Hang in there, because we've got some tips on de-stressing before the big day. Kick back, put up those (swollen) feet and read on!

Fun distractions

Work it, baby. Exercising might feel like the last thing you want to do, but with your doctor's permission, give it a shot. The right movements can increase your flexibility, strength, circulation, and help you prepare for labor. Try prenatal yoga, which has been known to reduce swelling, back and leg pain, and insomnia, in addition to being a calming practice (make sure you stick with a teacher who has a solid understanding of pregnancy and knows what poses should be avoided). If you're feeling particularly constricted in the diaphragm (all that belly crushing your lungs), spend a few minutes on your hands and knees, breathing deeply — the baby weight will drop low, giving you a nice break from the pressure.

Get a foot rub. Or a back rub, or a full-body treatment. Visit a local massage therapist trained in prenatal massage for a wonderfully relaxing experience. Done correctly, a massage can ease sore spots, relax tense muscles, and just make you feel good all over. Therapists often provide a special table with hollowed-out areas for your belly, or have you lie on your side with a body pillow for support.

Take care of yourself. You're probably past the point where you can reach your own toes for a DIY pedicure, so why not visit the salon for a professional paint job? If pedicures aren't really your thing, how about a fabulous new haircut (something spiffy but low-maintenance for the coming weeks, maybe?), or a pair of earrings that make you smile? If you're struggling with being positive about your appearance these days, treat yourself to some feel-good beauty indulgences.

Staying productive

Keep busy. Minimize your calendar-watching by keeping your schedule filled with manageable to-dos. Get involved in something you enjoy doing — whether it's a hobby, a work project or just lunch with friends — so you're focused on more than just the state of your belly!

Address fears. Take this time to learn as much as possible about labor and delivery, and talk to your support system about any fears you may have. Fear can actually slow labor and cause pain during the birth, so it's important to address your concerns head-on. Learn about your options, and helpful techniques to help with the parts of labor you are most worried about.

Prep the house. It may be hard to believe, but that brand-new baby is going to be mobile before you know it. In addition to the safety measures you've probably already put in place (such as no soft bedding, and crib slats no more than 2 3/8ths of an inch wide), consider taking some further steps to ensure your growing baby's safety. Child-safety experts suggest, among other things, removing hanging cords from blinds, locking up all household cleansers and medications, and installing safety plugs in outlets.

When to call the doctor

You should never hesitate to contact your healthcare provider if you notice anything out of the ordinary in these final days of pregnancy. Some signs that warrant an immediate call include:

  • Any vaginal bleeding, especially bright red blood
  • Headaches, blurred vision, swelling of arms, hands or face, or pain under your ribcage
  • Sudden, unexplained weight gain or fever
  • Decreased fetal movements

Of course, noticing signs that you're going into labor is usually a happy reason to call! Make sure you're well-informed on the indicators that labor is progressing, so you feel confident contacting your healthcare provider at the right time.

Staying upbeat

Keeping a positive attitude may be a challenge as you deal with all the late third-trimester discomforts and a growing desire to (finally!) meet your baby, but try and remind yourself that this is truly a temporary situation. Soon enough, your world will be turned upside down in all kinds of amazing, tiring, miraculous ways. Take these last days to breathe, connect with yourself, and enjoy the anticipation!


You can't always get what you want

Long story short, I'm a very girly girl. I love dresses, long hair, sparkles, Mary Janes, and all that jazz. I don't do makeup and went years without shaving my legs (hey, I lived in Humboldt), but overall, I've always been a pretty stereotypical girl.

I've also always been a raging feminist girl — one of my old pet projects was placing those stickers that note, "This offends women" — yeah, I used to stick those on a lot of stuff. I attended girl power events, read all the women-heavy zines, and believed in women's rights over almost everything else.

I also always knew I wanted kids. It was never a question for me. Now, all this said, guess which gender I thought I'd have. If you said, "Girl," give yourself a gold star. I honestly thought I was so pro-female that I'd never have a boy. There was never any doubt in my mind. I'd get pregnant, have a totally feminist baby girl, and we'd do all sorts of cool pro-girl stuff together.

Um, no.

When I first thought I might be pregnant years ago, I bought a pregnancy test like many women do, brought it home, took the test, and the second — the split second — I saw those positive lines, I knew I was having a boy. Like you know your own name, it was that clear to me. My partner wanted me to have an ultrasound, so we could find out the gender, and I thought that was stupid because I knew I was having a boy. He didn't trust my mama mind, so we had the ultrasound. During the appointment, I had this one fleeting hope, maybe I was wrong, maybe I was having a girl!

The ultrasound showed little boy Cedar bouncing around. Mr. Ultrasound Tech and Ben were all happy grins, and me, well honestly, I almost burst into tears. I then spent the remainder of my pregnancy feeling guilty because what if Cedar was sick, what if he had problems? If so, it would be due to my stupid girl wish, I was sure of it.

Dealing with guilt

Here's one thing you should know — you have the right to wish for a certain gender, and even to be upset if you learn different news. If you're hoping for a boy, and find out you're having a girl, you can feel disappointed. It's OK. Don't feel all guilty like I did. We all have ideas, hopes and dreams about our children. It's normal.

Your baby's health is affected by how you take care of yourself. Eat well, keep your prenatal appointments, don't smoke or drink, and so on, and you'll have the healthiest baby you can. Trust me, if you feel a little sad about not having a boy, your baby doesn't find out and take a nosedive healthwise — that's not scientific reality.

What you can do

If you're gender wishing, and you learn that you're not having the gender of your choice, I can't tell you what might make you feel better, because we're all individuals. I can tell you what made me feel better about having a boy.

After that ultrasound, I knew a baby boy was coming, no matter what. So I started asking friends and moms at forums how they felt about their baby boys. I read books like Breeder: Real-Life Stories from the New Generation of Mothers, which supports mama power in all forms and styles. I bought cute baby-boy clothing. I picked a wonderful boy name. I did all this, and slowly felt like I could have a boy and be just fine.

The thing that helped the most

The thing that ended up helping me the most was one simple quote. It sounds dumb, but I did worry that by having a boy, I was somehow less of a feminist, and then I read this quote in a book. I don't remember the book, but I'll never forget the gist of the quote. It said something akin to.

"One of the most pro-feminist actions we can take is to raise feminist sons."

Seriously, that quote helped me a lot. It let me realize that I have this great opportunity to raise a smart and kind boy, who will grow up to be a man who appreciates and respects women, which in itself is a big contribution to the world. It changed my thinking.

Once he arrived

Cedar showing up on this planet changed my life. The second I saw him I forgot all about having a girl. He was so amazing. If you're gender wishing, I'm betting the same will happen for you. You'll love your little one, no matter the gender. He or she will teach you things you never knew, and everything will work out.

Do I still sometimes wish for a little girl? Of course. My best friend had a beautiful baby girl last year, and I felt little jealous pangs, but they passed quickly. I get to be an auntie to Bella, which is cool. Sure, if I have another baby, I'll probably hope for a girl, but this time, I'll know that no matter what, I won't be disappointed by gender in the end. Having a boy has taught me a lot, having two would only teach me more, and I wouldn't trade my little guy in for anything.


Traveling with the New Bump

Whether you're planning one last fling for just the two of you, have a business trip or are just taking a little weekend getaway, it's all a bit different now that you're pregnant. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you travel during pregnancy.

For the pregnant traveler

  • The second trimester is the best time to travel. You're probably over the sick or queasy feelings of the first trimester as well as the main miscarriage risk, and not yet to the bulky third trimester and when labor is growing increasingly imminent.
  • Try to plan relaxing vacations, not major tours. During pregnancy, blood volume is up, your center of gravity has changed and your joints are take it easy.
  • On the road or in the air, avoid sitting for extended periods of time — try to walk around at least every hour or two. On a plane or train, even a trip up and down the aisles can help get your circulation going. Also make frequent trips to the restroom.
  • Eat and drink regularly. Especially when you're traveling and sitting for longer periods of time than usual, eat plenty of fiber and drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration, constipation and other digestive problems.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider before leaving if you'll be traveling more than an hour or two from home, or to anywhere with extreme conditions (heat, cold, high altitude). If you have a high-risk pregnancy or are close to term, you might be advised not to travel.
  • Many airlines will not allow women past 34 weeks of pregnancy as passengers, at least not without a physician's approval. The high altitude will not send you into labor — their concern is that the odds of you going into labor spontaneously is greater the closer you are to term. If you go into labor in the air, they have to land soon and get you to a hospital. (Never fly on a plane with an unpressurized cabin.)
  • Consider taking your medical records with you and find out the name of the nearest hospital to your destination that handles births — this is particularly important if you're not yet term.
  • If you're traveling outside of the country, check to see if there are immunizations you need (yellow fever, typhoid fever, cholera, meningococcal meningitis), and whether or not you may receive such immunizations safely during pregnancy. Also be aware of medications you may need to take to prevent parasitic infections such as malaria.
  • Finally, always wear your seat belt, fastened low and snug across your pelvis.


Take This Job and...

You’ve decided to leave the financial rewards of the work world in favor of the emotional rewards of being a stay-at-home mom, at least for a time. Is there a way to leave your job on good terms?

Update your records

Before you inform your boss that you’re expecting, plan ahead for a distant future when you might consider returning to the working world again. Update your resume before you go while all of your achievements are fresh on your mind. Make sure you have contact information for co-workers and business connections. Business networking sites like Linked In ( can help. In a few years, it may be tough to remember your colleagues’ last names, not to mention the details of the projects you worked on together. Also, you might want to change your contact information with trade journals and professional organizations — they can help you stay on top of developments in your field from home.

Consider part-time or working from home

Your employer may offer you those options. Just keep in mind that it’s pretty much impossible to get any work done and take care of an infant or toddler, too, but if you can arrange babysitting and the price is right, it may be worth considering. You can also offer to try out a flexible arrangement for a week or two.

Calling it quits

If you do go, two weeks’ notice is standard courtesy. But if you happen to be approaching a busy season, like tax time for accountants or the holidays for retail, it’s a good gesture to give more notice. It’s also nice to offer to train your replacement or leave notes to help your successor settle in.

Don’t forget your 401(k)

If you have an employer-sponsored savings plan, you might want to roll any funds in it to an Individual Retirement Account.

Sandy and Marcie Jones are the authors of Great Expectations: Baby's First Year. Order your copy from Barnes & Noble


Pregnancy Cravings: I Can’t Believe I Ate That!

“I used to get a sugar craving in the early afternoons, but I kept sweets in my house to a minimum. Out of desperation, I’d mix hot chocolate powder, peanut butter, and a bit of water in a bowl. It looked like icing and tasted just like cake batter. My husband was completely grossed out, so I’d eat it when he wasn't home. It honestly tasted much better than it sounds!”
—Pam Muller, mom of one, Atlanta, Georgia

“I bought gummy bears in bulk and ate all the clear ones first. I haven’t eaten them since.”
—Meredith Eaton, mom of two, Glen Ridge, New Jersey

“For my first pregnancy, I was obsessed with crushed ice. I drank a ton of water, but still had my husband smash ice for me and put it in a huge mug, and I’d scoop it out with my fingers.
—Michele Pyle, mom of two, Frederick, Maryland

“I ate hot-pepper sandwiches—bread, butter, hot-pepper rings, and hot sauce. With a huge glass of cold milk. Mmm, mmm good.”
—Jennifer Marlborough, mom of two, Ontario, Canada

“I craved garlic French fries dipped in vanilla ice cream. I can still taste it!”
—Patty Handyside, mom of one, Buffalo, New York

“When I was pregnant I had many cravings, but the weirdest was the canned corn phase. Not fresh. Not frozen. It had to be canned. I ate a bowl of it for dinner almost every night for about two weeks.”
—Dani Johnson, mom of two, Monroe, Ohio

"I was compelled to make and eat fruit pies—strawberry, apple, cherry, a combo of strawberry and blueberry, you name it. My husband said 'Yes, dear' to everything and just helped to eat a lot of pie!"
—Julia Farrell, mom of two, Baltimore, Maryland

“I was a pregnant cliché. I seriously craved lots of ice cream—vanilla with chocolate sauce—and pickles too. But I managed to keep them separate.”
—Sarah Layden, mom of one, Indianapolis, Indiana

An article from the HUGGIES® Brand


Ready, set, register!

Step one: Make a list

You’re itching to wield the registry wand. But before you hit the shelves you should start with a checklist. There are lots of reputable baby gear book or web sites that can help you list out what and how many of everything you’ll need. Always be a little skeptical of any registry list supplied by a store itself.

Step two: Do your research

An alarming number of baby products, including cribs, crib bumpers, quilts, infant slings and bath seats have been associated with serious baby accidents but are still sold anyway. You want to make sure your list is only safe stuff that you really need. The Web site for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission ( is a good place to become familiar with baby product risks.

Step three: Field test

Don’t be shy about doing some hands-on field-testing for big-ticket items like your baby’s crib, stroller, high chair and car seat. Go to a store that lets you get hands-on and “test drive” models, buckling the buckles, taking high chair trays off or folding and unfolding the strollers. Remember, if a buckle is annoying or difficult in the store, you’re going to face that same problem a thousand times when you’re using it with your baby.

Step three: Edit down to your essentials

Here’s another money and space-saving tip: don’t register for too much of the fun stuff. Sure, the dress-up outfits, toys and novelty pacifiers are adorable, and if there’s something you’re absolutely dying for, put it on the list. But it’s also fun to let your friends and family surprise you with that cute-and-yet-totally-impractical stuff. Keeping a short and simple list will help your friends and family focused on what you truly need to keep your bases covered when the baby is born.

Step four: Exchange

If you do get a dozen baby monitors, save those gift slips and don’t hesitate to exchange extras for what you’re lacking. You can also get gift cards to use later — they will come in handy as your baby grows older to buy bigger sized baby clothes or even diapers and wipes.

Sandy and Marcie Jones are the authors of Great Expectations: Best Baby Gear. Order your copy from Barnes & Noble


Pregnant Women and Nesting

You know the feeling—the nesting instinct that strikes mid-pregnancy when you suddenly feel compelled to alphabetize the pantry or dust every closet crevice before baby’s grand entrance. It’s totally normal, and you’ll feel even more so when you see how overboard some women go.

Deck (and deck and deck) the halls: "During my second trimester, I went over the top doing up the house for Christmas…before Thanksgiving even happened. I seriously had the house fully decorated and all of the Christmas gifts bought and wrapped. I then made it my mission to host every single Christmas party possible—mainly so I could use all of my newly-purchased Christmas dishes. My friends still laugh when they recall that Christmas season!"
—Sarah Beakes, mom of one, Wilmington, North Carolina

Too much TP: "When I was pregnant, I purchased toilet paper every trip to the grocery store—lots and lots of toilet paper. In my head I was preparing for the snowstorms, until April rolled around…and I was still purchasing toilet paper! One day, a woman looked at my grocery cart loaded down with paper products and said, ‘You’re nesting!’
—Jody Stacoffe, mom of one, Elkridge, Maryland

Special delivery: "A few weeks before my first baby was due, I developed a desperate need to bake as many cookies as possible. I’d bake dozen after dozen each day, then I’d walk outdoors and give them to neighbors. After I had the baby, I cut back but still baked. I needed the calories—at least that’s what I told myself."
Melissa Diskin, mom of three, Decatur, Georgia

A door for two: "When I was pregnant with our first, I convinced my husband that the door on baby’s bedroom needed to be a Dutch door—the kind where the top part opens, so I could hear her breathing, and the bottom part closes, so our dogs couldn’t get in (mind you, we had the gentlest pets on the planet). My husband quietly obliged my crazy request. He cut the door in half and re-engineered it. I think I actually used it as a Dutch door at most three times."
—Joyce Krom, mom of two,Huntington Woods, Michigan

Home makeover, extreme edition: "When I was pregnant with twins, I transformed from a frugal, sensible woman into a shopaholic. I wanted new flooring and new furniture in the entire house, not just the nursery. In the end, my non-hormonal husband convinced me to save our money and keep the flooring. But I got him to paint the house…and I still have my eyes open for new furniture!"
—Brandi Wallace, mom of two,San Diego, California

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