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Tips for Moms on Bed Rest

By Amy Heinz

When I was 30 weeks pregnant with baby #3, I went into pre-term labor and was told I’d need to be on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. It turns out the baby (and my body) didn’t seem to care that it was my oldest’s 5th birthday (with all kinds of fun stuff planned) the following week. Or that my (then) 2-year-old son was about to start Mommy and Me soccer. Or that my husband’s job tends to take place in about 30 of the 50 United States.

While it was a huge adjustment for all of us, we made it through and greeted our sweet baby girl at 38 weeks. Along the way, I got great advice and wrote about my experience in detail on my blog. (And John has written about his experience of being the husband to a wife on bed rest beautifully here on Disney Baby.) But here are some tips every mom on bed rest should have.

Your New View

Bed rest comes with all kinds of emotions and stress. Here are some tips to make this tough time a little bit easier. (Like maybe start with someone painting those pretty toes you’ll be starring at all day!)

Bedside Table Must Haves:

  • A big water cup 
  • Straws (have you ever tried to drink lying down?) 
  • Water bottles to refill your cup 
  • Tissues 
  • Lip balm 
  • Medications (bonus: an alarm to remind you to take them)

Keep a Cooler Within Reach Packed With:

  • Cheese 
  • Crackers 
  • Nuts 
  • Fruit 
  • Yogurt 
  • And all your favorite (healthy-ish) munchies

Stay Entertained With:

  • Thank you notes 
  • Movies 
  • Books 
  • Magazines 
  • Funny blog writing/reading 
  • And, Cari of Lola & Maddie suggests having a calendar to mark each day closer to baby’s due date

When You Say Yes to Help (and Cupcakes):

  • Be gracious 
  • Keep running lists of what you need from specific stores so you can pay people back on the spot

Be Good to Your Big Kids With:

  • Cuddles 
  • Balloon volleyball 
  • I Spy 
  • Beauty shop 
  • Card games 
  • Movie nights 
  • Surprise packages with new books to read together

Be Good to Daddy By:

  • Making a list of requests (rather than constant shout outs) 
  • Asking friends to keep him company/invite him (and the kids) out 
  • Acknowledging all he’s doing (even if it isn’t *exactly* how you would do it) 
  • Saying thank you … a lot

Be Good to Yourself By:

  • Reminding yourself what a great mom you’re already being to this baby 
  • Asking your doc if you can attend very important gatherings (like big bro’s bday party) in a reclining chair 
  • Remembering what a hair brush is (bonus points for make up brush) 
  • Bringing your social life to you (have a girls’ night in)

Be Good to Your Baby By:

  • Remembering it’s called bed rest for a reason … REST!

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pregnant woman in a yoga pose

Prenatal Yoga FAQ

Want to feel more relaxed and prepared for birth? Here's when, why and how to try prenatal yoga.

Prenatal yoga may just be the ideal exercise for pregnant women. Why? It’s not only low-impact, but each move is created with pregnant women in mind. Here’s an FAQ of what you need to know before starting a prenatal yoga routine.

What is prenatal yoga?

Yoga is a form of exercise and meditation where breath and specific body positions are used to help connect the mind and body. Prenatal yoga focuses on positions that are specifically designed for pregnant women’s bodies.

How is prenatal yoga different from regular yoga?

Common positions in regular yoga — such as those where your feet are spread far apart — may be too stressful for your joints and pelvic area when you’re expecting. As your baby grows, there’s a lot more weight pushing down on your bladder and pelvis. Pregnancy hormones also loosen your ligaments, making joint and bone problems (especially in the pubic bone) a source of discomfort. In addition to modifying positions for pregnancy, prenatal yoga also emphasizes breathing, stretches and strengthening moves that help your body prepare for labor.

Can prenatal yoga be the first time I ever do yoga?

Yes! You don’t have to be a yogi before you conceive to jump on the prenatal yoga bandwagon. As long as your doctor has given you the green light to stay physically active during pregnancy, yoga is an ideal activity for all expectant moms: It’s gentle and designed for pregnancy, which means it helps prepare you for the mental aspects of childbirth (and beyond). But remember, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise during pregnancy.

What are the benefits of prenatal yoga?

You probably already know that doctor-approved fitness during pregnancy is good for you. Here are some of the benefits of yoga during pregnancy:

1. Relief from pregnancy symptoms.

Getting active — including during prenatal yoga — helps relieve symptoms including constipation, back pain, bloating, swelling and fatigue.

2. Better sleep.

As you likely know, a good snooze is extra tricky when you’re expecting — but a good sweat session has been shown time and again to improve sleep.

3. Lower blood pressure.

Studies have shown that pregnant women’s heart rate and blood pressure lowers after doing prenatal yoga — even more so than after doing other low-impact exercises like walking.

4. Reduced risk of preterm labor and other complications.

High stress levels have been shown to increase miscarriage and preterm birth rates, and yoga is a great stress-reducer. In one study of 335 pregnant women, half the women did yoga — including breathing exercises, posture positions and meditation — for one hour a day, while the other half of the women walked for 30 minutes twice a day. Though both groups spent the same amount of time active, the yoga group had a lower preterm labor rate as well as lower risk of pregnancy-reduced hypertension.

5. Stabilized moods.

Another study showed that integrated yoga — that is, exercise-based yoga combined with meditation, deep relaxation and breathing exercises — significantly decreased levels of depression in moms-to-be.

6. Weight management.

Like all physical activity, yoga keeps you active, which helps you to better manage your prenatal weight gain.

7. An improved delivery experience.

The breathing exercises you’ll practice in yoga can be calming when it comes time to push baby out. Plus the many stretching and strengthening moves can improve your delivery experience and your recovery (from either a vaginal birth or C-section), since your core and other important muscles will be stronger and more toned. In fact, one small study found that women who participated in a yoga routine involving just six sessions before birth spent less time overall in labor than those who did not. They also reported they felt less pain and more comfortable during and immediately after labor.

What can I expect to do in a prenatal yoga class?

In a prenatal yoga class, you’ll likely be encouraged to use accessories (bolsters, blocks, wedges or folded blankets) to achieve the proper alignment. You can typically expect to focus on:

  • Breathing techniques
  • Gently stretching the different areas of your body
  • Gentle prenatal yoga poses that will help you build your strength, stamina, endurance, flexibility and balance
  • Cooling you down at the end of your workout, helping you relax your muscles and restore your resting heart rate and your normal breathing rhythm

What poses will we do in class?

While there are countless variations of yoga poses an instructor may guide you through, a few of the most popular — which focus on breathing and relaxation — include:

  • Mountain pose:

    Stand and spread your legs a little farther than hip-width apart, while bending your knees slightly, pointing your toes straight ahead and putting your hands in a “prayer” position in front of your chest. Inhale, stretch your arms out to the side and then up over your head, bending your back slightly. Exhale, and return to the start position.

  • Cross-legged seated position:

    Sit cross-legged on the floor with your entire spine flat against a wall. You can also place a folded blanket or firm cushion beneath you if sitting on the floor is uncomfortable.Focus on your breath.

  • Cat and cow:

    Kneel down on all fours with your palms below your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. Round and arch your back and look down toward your belly. Gently drop your pelvis and lift your tailbone so your spine curves downward. Repeat, alternating between these “cat” and “cow” positions.

How can I stay safe?

If you’re in a prenatal yoga class, your instructor should design the class to be safe for you — just be sure to never push yourself past the point of comfort.

  • Drink enough water. This goes for anytime you’re working out, no matter how much of a sweat you break.
  • Stay off your back. Avoid any exercises after the first trimester where you’re lying on your back, since your baby’s growing weight puts pressure on your vena cava (a major vein that brings blood to your heart), interfering with circulation and making you feel dizzy and nauseous.
  • Skip hot yoga. Don’t do yoga (or any other exercise, for that matter) in any extreme heat, in part because exposure to excessive heat could result in neural tube defects, and also because it can cause you to feel dizzy and nauseous. That goes for both Bikram yoga and exercise outdoors on a hot day.
  • Avoid deep abdominal work, back bends and twists. Your center of gravity can be off during pregnancy, and back bends and twists may cause you to fall. As with most things during your pregnancy, if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
  • Talk to your instructor. If you choose to do regular yoga, just be sure to let your instructor know that you are pregnant and how far along you are in case any poses need to be modified for you and your growing baby. Practice in a well-ventilated room to avoid overheating.

What are signs I should stop?

If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop doing yoga right away and call your doctor:

  • Any kind of fluid leaking from your vagina
  • Dizziness, shortness of breath or feeling light-headed
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • If you’re further along in your pregnancy and you feel your baby moving less
  • If you feel like your baby is pushing down, or if you feel pressure in your pelvis
  • If you have belly cramps or backaches

WhatToExpect.com

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ABC blocks

Unique Baby Name Ideas

Looking to transcend Noah, Emma, Jennifer and Jake with a more unique moniker for your baby? If unusual is the focus of your name search, be sure to explore our tips and creative ideas. We’ll help you find a name that captures your baby’s individuality.

If you’re in search of that perfect, one-of-a-kind name for your baby, we can help point you in the right direction. Take a look at our tips and ideas to help inspire your baby name brainstorms and find the best options for baby.

Finding that Just-Right Name

There's never a perfect name,” warns Jennifer Moss, the founder and CEO of baby-names.com and author of “The One-in-a-Million Baby Name Book.” Instead Moss ad-vises to make your list includes “name(s) you both love.”

To find baby names that are both unique and that you and your partner are sure to fall in love with, consider the following resources:

  • Your family tree.
    Moss suggests looking no further than your own family history. Explore names from your personal past — test combinations with both first and middle names from you and your partner’s side.
  • Film & literature.
    Books and movies are fantastic resources for baby names. Re-view your and your partner’s favorite books and films and consider characters that exemplify personality traits you enjoy.
  • People you admire.
    What folks in your personal or professional circles inspire or move you? Borrow names from people you’ve admired throughout your life.
  • Name lists.
    The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a great resource for baby names past and present. The agency has gathered names from as long ago as 1880, offering a wonderful way to explore names that you hear very little of today — as well as see newer versions of common names with unique spellings.

Our favorite unique baby names

Genesis (girl)

Origin: Greek; biblical
Meaning: Beginning; birth. Also, the first book of the Old Testament.

Paisley (girl)

Origin: Scottish
Meaning: Church; also, a distinctive intricate pattern consisting of curvaceous, feather figures and pine-cone designs originating in India.

Nevaeh (girl)

Origin: American; English
Meaning: This name is actually the word “heaven” spelled backward and is a rather contemporary name, having gained popularity in recent years.

Gianna (girl)

Origin: Italian; Hebrew; Greek
Meaning: God Is Gracious; this name is a variant of the more common girl’s name Jane. The rise in this name’s popularity might be tied to St. Gianna Molla, who was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2004

Willow (girl)

Origin: English
Meaning: A tree or shrub of the Salix family. The popularity of this name can be at-tributed to the beautiful flexibility and graceful leaves of the Willow tree. This is also the name of actor Will Smith’s daughter.

Luna (girl)

Origin: Italian
Meaning: The ancient Greek deity Artemis, later was associated with the name Luna. As a name that captures the divine personification of the moon, Luna is both beautiful and unique.

Jaxon (boy)

Origin: American; English
Meaning: This unusual name is an alternate spelling of the name Jackson, a Scottish name meaning “God has been gracious.”

Jace (boy)

Origin: American; English; Greek; Hebrew
Meaning: A nickname for Jason, this name is synonymous with “a healing” in Greek and "the Lord is salvation” in Hebrew.

Xavier (boy)

Origin: Basque; Latin; Spanish
Meaning: Xavier is derived from the Basque word “etxaberri”, meaning "the new house.” It is also the surname of the Jesuit priest Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1552), pa-tron saint to the East and missionaries.

Ryder (boy)

Origin: English
Meaning: The name Ryder comes from an Old English occupational surname, “ridere,” and means "mounted warrior, “messenger” or “knight.”

Silas (boy)

Origin: Latin; Greek
Meaning: Silas means “forest” or “woods.. In the Bible, Silas was a companion of Paul and Timothy, and also served as a missionary.

Axl (boy)

Origin: Scandinavian, German, Hebrew
Meaning: Rising in popularity in the late 1980s, possibly because of Guns N’ Roses lead singer Axl Rose, this name is incredibly popular in Europe. The name means “father of peace”.

Photos: ThinkstockPhotos.com

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Pregnant woman eating a bar of chocolate

Baby Gender Prediction

Congratulations, baby is on the way! But are you having a boy or a girl? The only real way to find out is with an ultrasound from your physician (and even that can sometimes be inaccurate). But, there are a lot of fun old wives’ tales that promise to predict your baby’s gender. Enjoy trying some of the following folklore-inspired, gender-prediction tests.

Morning sickness:

If you’re especially ill, the myth goes that you’re expecting a girl.

Belly bulge:

Another popular myth is that if you’re carrying baby low and just in the front (so that you don’t even appear pregnant from behind), it’s a boy. If your pregnancy belly is higher, and more a tire around your middle, a girl is on the way.

Heart rate:

Your OB/GYN will be tracking your little one's heart rate at each doctor's appointment. At your next visit, ask your doctor to share the heart rate with you. An old wives’ tale says that if Baby's heart rate is above 140 beats per minute, you’re carrying a girl — and if the rate is below, a boy is on the way.

Chinese calendar:

Based on your age at conception and the month in which you conceived, this ancient chart supposedly can predict baby’s gender. (Many charts are available online.)

Food cravings:

Some say that if you’re craving salty foods, a boy is on the way; and if you’re hungry for sweets, you’re pregnant with a girl.

Pregnancy acne:

Has your complexion taken a turn for the worse since you’ve become pregnant? Myth has it that there’s a baby girl growing in your belly — and she’s stealing all your beauty!

Wedding-ring pendulum:

Here’s a fun test to try: Take off your wedding ring, tie it to a string, hold the string by the end and see how the ring swings. If the ring swings in a circle, it’s a girl; if the string swings back and forth, it’s a boy.

Soft or dry skin:

Are your hands dry all the time? Myth has it that you’re expecting a boy. If your hands are soft, a girl is in your future.

Beautiful or dull hair:

Have your locks gone from fantastic to frumpy? If your hair has thinned or appears dull, you may be having a girl. However, if your hair has never been better, myth says you’re having a boy.

Baking Soda Test:

Grab the baking soda and head for your bathroom! This gender prediction myth states that if you mix two tablespoons of baking soda with your urine — and it fizzes — you’re having a boy. You may be having a girl if the mixture remains flat.

Preconception meal:

Do you remember what you ate before you conceived? Folklore claims that your pre-baby making meal may predict your child’s gender. A meal rich in dairy may bring you a girl. And a meal containing magnesium-infused foods — like nuts, soy, and green leafy veggies — may give you a boy.

Swollen legs:

Are your pregnancy legs big and swollen? If so, a boy may be on the way. If your legs are just as lean as they were before pregnancy, myth says you’re having a girl.

Graceful or clumsy:

Have you acquired a newfound gracefulness since becoming pregnant? You may be having a girl. But, if you are suddenly clumsier than usual, a boy may be on the way.

Dad’s weight:

Is dad-to-be gaining weight right along with you? Old wives’ tales say that you’re having a girl. But, if dad’s weight stays the same, you’re having a boy.

Image: ThinkstockPhotos.com

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three babies with nametags

Baby Names - Hottest Naming Trends

What’s hot and new this year for baby names? If you’re looking to find that perfect up-to-date moniker for Baby-to-Be, we’ve got the best resource for you. Take a look at the hottest and most popular names for baby boys and girls.

From celebrity baby names to trendy names from popular literature — this past year has seen a variety of fun and interesting baby name trends. We have the latest and greatest information on baby names from both the Social Security Administration’s annual baby name research findings, and from baby name expert Jennifer Moss, the founder and CEO of www.babynames.com and author of “The One-in-a-Million Baby Name Book.”

Lasting Names from Literature

“People are using more names from fiction,” says Moss. Some popular examples that she points out are:

  • Hazel:
    Named for the literary (and now movie character) Hazel Grace Lancaster from John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars.”
  • Arya:
    Arya Stark, a popular character created by author George R.R. Martin in his “Game of Thrones” book and TV series.
  • Khaleesi:
    This moniker refers not to a name, but to a title of another popular character from “Game of Thrones.” Khaleesi is a Dothraki title, which the character Daenerys Targaryen (also known as “The Mother of Dragons”) takes for her own.

Last Names as First Names

Moss adds that even surnames are finding their way into popular new baby name lists:

  • Harrison:
    A common surname of English origin.
  • Mason:
    From Irish and English origin, Mason is an occupational surname referring to a craftsman specializing in stonemasonry.
  • Taylor:
    Another name of English origin, Taylor is also an occupational surname. From the old French tailleur (“cutter”), the name refers to someone who worked as a tailor.

Famous Folks

Each year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) shares some interesting facts and findings from their most recent tally of the top 1,000 baby names. Findings often reveal the effect of pop culture and current events.

Two of the biggest jumps came from TV and sports.

  • Aranza rose the most spots on the girls’ side to number 607. The telenovela “Por Siempre Mi Amor” aired on Univision from 2013 to 2015. The show featured a young lead character named Aranza, and likely influenced the baby name trend this year.
  • Bode jumped ahead to 783 in 2014. This may be attributed to Olympic alpine skier Bode Miller, who won his sixth medal last year.

What's Old is New Again

According to the SSA, several old names have found their way back into the top 10 baby name lists:

  • James is a former No. 1 from the 1940s and 1950s.
  • And the lovely name Charlotte is enjoying her first time in the top 10 girls names this year. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were right on trend with naming their baby girl, Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte.

Looking Ahead

“Baby name trends are changing faster,” says Moss. “It used to be that trends lasted 10 to 15 years, now the top 10 names are changing every two to three years and that is because we now have access to the Internet.”
Moss adds that, “Parents tend to avoid names that are too popular, and now we can see trending names in real time.”
Nobody can predict future of baby names with certainty — but we’re looking forward to more and more fun and creative names in coming years.

Photo: ThinkstockPhotos.com

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Pregnant woman smiling in the sun

Maternity Clothes - Essentials for Every Season

We’ll help you look and feel great all year long with these simple and easy maternity fashion tips from celebrity stylist Alison Deyette (http://www.alisondeyette.com) to help you select the best wardrobe essentials for your pregnancy.

“As a pregnant soon-to-be mom there's nothing fun about being uncomfortable and not feeling attractive due to what you're wearing,” says celebrity stylist Alison Deyette (http://www.alisondeyette.com). Your beautiful mom-to-be body should be a badge of pride — even if you don’t always feel gorgeous. We have easy tips from Deyette to help ensure you feel and look your best throughout your pregnancy.

Everyday Essentials

You needn’t spend a fortune on maternity wear. Look for transitional pieces that can be worn at home, to work and on a date night. You might already own some of these pieces. Deyette suggests looking for the following:

  • A V-neck top
  • A wrap dress with some stretch
  • A maxi skirt or empire-waist maxi dress
  • The perfect pair of black or navy pants (the kind that stretch like a quality pair of yoga pants; Deyette suggests pairing them with a T-shirt, sweater, blazer or pretty top)
  • A faux wrap top (Deyette likes the flattering fit of V-neck and suggests that post pregnancy it can transition to a nursing shirt)
  • Roomy lounge pants
  • A comfy cami (with a built in shelf bra for extra support)
  • Leggings
  • A long-sleeved cardigan with room for a growing belly (like a open drape knit style)
  • A full panel pair of maternity jeans (the full panel is usually more comfortable than the demi panel)

Fall & Winter Wear Must-Haves

Add to your key essentials a few seasonal pieces to ensure your pregnancy wardrobe will keep you warm and cozy as temperatures fall. Deyette recommends the following additions:

  • A great slouchy knit sweater (for those days when you just want to be comfy; layer it over a long-sleeved T-shirt)
  • A scarf in thin cashmere or linen (for added style and warmth)

Spring & Summer Supplies

For pregnancies lasting into spring and summer, some additional items can be real life savers as the air gets hot and heavy. Being pregnant during this time of year can add a whole new level of discomfort! To help you feel your best, Deyette says to include the following in your closet:

  • T-shirts and tanks with stretch (made with materials that aren't too sheer or too thin)
  • Lightweight pieces
  • Pieces made from materials that wick away sweat
  • Flowing dresses, skirts and tops that give freedom of movement, but also keep their shape as Mom’s belly grows

Expert Advice

“Don't spend all your money on your wardrobe at the maternity store,” says Deyette. “In many cases you can find inexpensive pieces in stretchy versions similar to what you already wear or by choosing to go one to two sizes up from your regular size in the brands you already wear. If you choose to go the stretchy route then you'll likely get more wear for your buck since you can wear it longer and likely wear

Image: ThinkstockPhotos.com

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Letters that spell name on a pregnant belly

Baby Names: Interesting Statistics


Every year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) releases data about the most popular baby names. This info comes from Social Security card applications.

The Social Security Administration first started collecting baby names in 1997 — and retrospectively captured names as far back as 1880. Now, the agency tracks the names parents supply when applying for their child’s Social Security card.

This information is the source of popular baby name facts and statistics.

The Current Top Baby Names:

Curious to know the most recent findings? Here are the top 10 boys and girls names from this past year:


Rank

Male Name

Female Name

1

Noah

Emma

2

Liam

Olivia

3

Mason

Sophia

4

Jacob

Isabella

5

William

Ava

6

Ethan

Mia

7

Michael

Emily

8

Alexander

Abigail

9

James

Madison

10

Daniel

Charlotte



Fun Facts & Stats

  • The SSA’s findings reveal both the enduring popularity of some names as well as the effects of pop culture and current events. Here are a few examples:
  • Most Popular Boy Name Over Time: In the past 100 years, the male name Michael has held the top spot most often, 44 times.
  • Most Popular Girl Name Over Time: Mary has been the No. 1 girls name 41 times during the same period.
  • Biggest Jump in Popularity: Aranza (girl) and Bode (boy).
  • Aranza rose 3,625 spots on the girls side to 607, from 4,232 in 2013. The telenovela “Por Siempre Mi Amor” aired on Univision from 2013 to 2015. The show featured a young lead character named Aranza.
  • Bode jumped ahead 645 spots, from 1,428 in 2013 to 783 in 2014. This may be attributed to the Olympic alpine skier, Bode Miller, who won his sixth medal last year.

Fastest Overall Rising Baby Names:

  • Axl (boys): The second-fastest riser is possibly a nod to both rock legend Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses fame and Axl Jack Duhamel, son of Stacy Ann “Fergie” Ferguson (singer, The Black Eyed Peas) and Josh Duhamel (actor).
  •  Montserrat (girls): Montserrat, the lead character in a popular Latin soap opera, was No. 2 this year. Interesting: Another Monserrat (note the spelling difference), is also new to the list.

 New Names in the Top 10

  • James is a former No. 1 from the 1940s and 1950s.
  • Charlotte is enjoying her first time in the top 10 girls names. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were right on trend with naming their baby girl Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte.
Image:ThinkstockPhotos.com

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Week-by-Week Workout Tips: Second Trimester

As your body continues to change during your second trimester, you'll need to pay special attention to your workouts to make sure you're exercising the right way. From choosing the best snacks to navigating your increasingly shaky balance, here are the week-by-week tips to stay healthy while safely fitting in fitness.

Week 14: Create Your Pregnancy Workout Goals

Early pregnancy fatigue may have you dragging, and you sometimes just want to crawl into bed at 14 weeks pregnant. Unless you're sick, give yourself a pep talk and get your butt moving. Figure out what motivates you. Are you trying to manage your weight gain? Stay flexible? Banish a case of the blues? Or just get in shape for delivery? Remind yourself that exercise will help! And don't forget to reward yourself for reaching mini-goals (for example, you worked out five days this week, so treat yourself to a manicure!).

Week 15: Find Comfortable Maternity Workout Clothes

The heat's on when you're expecting, thanks to a boost in your metabolism. So when you're dressing for exercise success at 15 weeks pregnant, play it cool. Wear loose, breathable, stretchable clothes…right down to your undies (which should be cotton). Choose a bra — perhaps a sports bra — that provides plenty of support for your larger-than-life breasts but that doesn't pinch once you get moving. If your sneakers are showing their age, replace them now to minimize your chances of injury or falls (while you're at it, make sure you're wearing the right sneakers for your sport). Wearing clothes that look good will make you feel good, too.

Week 16: Eat the Right Pregnancy Workout Snacks

One of exercise's top selling points is that it burns calories. Card-carrying baby-builders like you, though, get the guilt-free pleasure of replacing those calories. So 30 minutes before you work out, hit the fridge for a light snack and a drink. Follow up with an encore snack. At 16 weeks pregnant, bananas and orange juice are great options because they contain plenty of potassium, an essential nutrient that's lost when you perspire, plus they offer quick energy. Add a little protein for staying power (a hard-boiled egg or a cheese stick, for instance).

Week 17: Benefit of Working Out: You Get to Eat More!

Listen up and smile, you 17 weeks pregnant ladies: You get to eat an extra 100 to 200 calories for every half hour of strenuous exercise. But choose those calories wisely: Pick nutrient-rich foods that won't undo the benefits of all your hard work. (So much for that chocolate bar you were about to reach for...)

Week 18: Exercises to Ease Your Pregnancy Back Pain

Backache got you down at 18 weeks pregnant? Instead of nursing it on the sofa, do some yoga or Pilates. Both help stretch and loosen the spine, and release tension — a major factor in back pain. Another plus: Yoga and Pilates boost your overall energy level (and mood), so you're better able to cope with the pregnancy pains that remain. In addition to back-centric exercises, you can also do simple moves that strengthen your abdominal muscles — which will, in turn, reduce the amount of strain on your lower back. (But remember, don't exercise on your back now that you're well into your second trimester.)

Week 19: Avoid These Fitness Moves

These moves may work great when you're not pregnant, but don't even think about trying them at home (or at the gym) now. At 19 weeks pregnant, just say no to: upside-down "bicycles," shoulder stands, or flat-on-your-back positions after the fourth month. Also off-limits: deep-knee bends, back bends, jumping, bouncing, or herky-jerky dancing.

Week 20: Stretch the Right Way During Pregnancy

One of the many side effects when you are 20 weeks pregnant is the stretching of muscles and loosening of ligaments (which also means that they are more prone to injury), so stay conscious of that when you're exercising — and don't overstretch. If a movement hurts, stop. And even if it doesn't hurt, now's not the time to see if you can still do a split.

Week 21: Don't Get Stiff: Get Moving!

If you spend long hours sitting on the job at 21 weeks pregnant (or even if you're on your feet all day), it's easy to become a working stiff — literally. So brake for a five- or 10-minute break at least once an hour — take a short stroll down the corridor (you know you need to pee anyway), or do a series of standing stretches (touch your toes while you can still see them!). Do the same during couch-potato sessions at home too. When you're stuck in your chair, try this exercise to get your blood moving: Extend your leg, flex your feet, and wiggle your toes while taking a few deep breaths. And don't forget to flex your neck from side to side occasionally, too.

Week 22: Constipated While Pregnant? Work It Out!

Is the plumbing clogged at 22 weeks pregnant? Then start working out. Both during pregnancy and in those first postpartum weeks, physical activity is one of the best ways to stimulate your bowels and fight constipation. Even just a half-hour walk a day can do the trick — especially if you drink plenty of water and favor fiber-rich foods (so take some trail mix on the trail).

Week 23: Work Out to Boost Baby's Brain

Don't just take it from me — scientific research shows that you're not the only one who benefits from pregnancy exercise. Apparently, babies of moms who exercise throughout pregnancy score higher, on average, on general intelligence tests by age five. So, at 23 weeks pregnant, your workout will boost not only your muscle power, but baby's brain power too!

Week 24: Pilates During Pregnancy — Try It

Everybody (and their pregnant neighbor) is doing it — but is Pilates the right exercise for you? Absolutely — and it's not a stretch! This mind-body discipline focuses on strengthening your core and elongating your muscles, increasing tone, strength, and flexibility — making it perfect when you're exercising for two at 24 weeks pregnant. Choose a pregnancy Pilates class if you can, or let your instructor know you're expecting so she can modify or eliminate any inappropriate positions or movements.

Week 25: Straighten Up! Exercise to Improve Your Posture

Sure, it's not easy standing up straight (at least, as straight as Mom would like) when you've got a basketball strapped to your belly. At 25 weeks pregnant, your posture takes hits for a couple of reasons: first, your baby's weight causes your lower back to sway as your center of gravity shifts forward; second, your stomach muscles stretch (and stretch) as baby grows, becoming less able to contract and keep your lower back in alignment. To compensate (and make Mom happy), strengthen your abs (with such exercises as the standing pelvic tilt), which reduces pressure on your lower back.

Week 26: Watch Your Balance During Pregnancy

It's not just what you do, it's what you do it on. To lessen impact on your loosened-up joints and ligaments at 26 weeks pregnant, opt for a wood floor or carpet over tile or concrete when exercising indoors. Outside, choose a soft running track or a dirt trail over a hard road or sidewalk, but avoid bumpy paths, as your balance (you might have noticed) isn't what it used to be.

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Your Guide to the Second Trimester of Pregnancy

The next three months bring lots of changes for your growing fetus and, most likely, welcome relief from early pregnancy symptoms for you. Here's more on what to expect in the second trimester of pregnancy.

Welcome to your second trimester — for many women, the most comfortable of all three. With the arrival of this milestone, you’ll experience some welcome changes. Most early pregnancy symptoms will ease up or even disappear. You’ll likely feel less queasy (which means food may finally smell and taste good for the first time in a long while), your energy levels should be picking up, and your breasts will still be bigger but feel a whole lot less tender. Most amazing of all: By the end of this trimester, the bulge in your lower abdomen may be looking less like the remains of a large lunch and more like the beginnings of a pregnant belly.

WHEN DOES THE SECOND TRIMESTER START AND END?

The second trimester starts in week 14 of pregnancy and lasts through the end of week 27.

BABY’S GROWTH DURING SECOND TRIMESTER

Your baby is very, very busy in the second trimester. By week 18 of pregnancy, he weighs about as much as a chicken breast, he can yawn and hiccup, and he's got fingerprints on those tiny digits. By week 21 you should be able to feel his newly coordinated arms and legs give you little jabs and kicks. By about week 23, your baby takes a cue from you and starts to pack on the pounds; in fact, he'll likely double his weight in the next four weeks. By the end of your second trimester, you'll have a 2-pound human in your belly!

A few more exciting things going on this trimester:

Hair, skin and nails:

By around week 15, baby’s first tiny hairs are starting to sprout, and by week 22, he’s got eyelashes and eyebrows, too. Baby’s skin is now covered in lanugo (a downy “fur coat” that keeps him warm until builds up more fat in the third trimester) and, by week 19, vernix caseosa (a greasy layer of oil and dead skin cells that shield his skin from acidic amniotic fluid) — both of which will shed before birth.

Digestive system:

Baby’s digestive system was fully formed by the end of the first trimester. So now baby is starting to suck and swallow in preparation for life outside of the womb. What’s more, he can even taste the foods you eat via your amniotic fluid — which research has shown can influence his preferences outside of the womb (all the more reason to chow down on a healthy pregnancy diet filled with a variety of fresh fruits and veggies). Baby’s waste systems are working hard too: Although he still gets his nutrition via your placenta, all of that swallowing means he’s also peeing about every 40 minutes.

Senses:

Baby’s ears and eyes are moving into their correct positions. By week 22 of pregnancy , his developing senses mean he’s starting to smell, see and hear, and those little eyes are beginning to open.

Heart:

By 17 weeks, baby’s heart is no longer beating spontaneously, as his brain is now regulating his heartbeat — which you should be able to hear with a stethoscope by week 20. In week 25, capillaries begin forming to carry oxygenated blood through his body.

Brain:

In addition to controlling your baby’s heartbeat and inducing kicks, by 24 weeks your baby’s brain will start blinking those little eyelids.

CHANGES IN YOUR BODY:

This trimester certain pregnancy symptoms may persist (like heartburn and constipation). At the same time, others may pop up for the first time as your belly continues to grow and levels of pregnancy hormones rise, including:

  • Congestion— as blood flow is increased to your body’s mucous membranes (including your nose). You may even find yourself snoring for the first time! Fortunately there are some OTC medications that are safe to use during pregnancy.
  • Mild swelling of the ankles and feet— is experienced by about three in four pregnant women, starting at about week 22 of pregnancy and lasting until delivery. To reduce puffiness, try to keep active, kick up your feet when you’re not moving, avoid long periods of standing or sitting and sleep on your side.
  • Sensitive gums and even some bleeding is normal— but be sure to see your dentist if your gums are bright red and bleed easily, as it could be a sign of gingivitis (which is relatively harmless but can develop into a bigger problem if not properly treated).
  • Leg cramps—which usually start in the second trimester and last through the third. It’s due not only to hormones and weight but also possibly a shortage of calcium or magnesium — so be sure to keep eating a healthy, well-balanced pregnancy diet.
  • Dizziness— caused by lower blood pressure due in part to all the extra blood your body is pumping. Take it easy, eat plenty of small meals and fill up on fluids to reduce symptoms.
  • Achiness in the lower abdomen— otherwise known as round ligament pain — as the ligaments that support your belly stretch to support your belly’s increasing size.
  • Varicose veins and/or hemorrhoids (a type of varicose vein)— which, fortunately, should shrink or go away after pregnancy if you didn’t have them before you conceived.

All of the above are perfectly normal and temporary — as are feelings of apprehension, irritability, forgetfulness and even frustration at looking positively plump but not definitively pregnant.

There may be some big changes in the bedroom as well during the second trimester. Pregnancy can wreak havoc on your sex life as you and your partner cope with your changing body and mood-killing symptoms like fatigue and nausea. Some (lucky) ladies find themselves hotter than ever, with extra blood flowing to all the right spots. A few things to keep in mind: Communication is key to avoiding resentment, so keep talking through the dry spells. And remember — sex will neither hurt your fetus nor scar him emotionally. (In fact, he'll probably enjoy a little rocking and rolling.)

Weight Gain

These next few months are when you’ll really start to gain pregnancy weight, as your appetite likely increases (or appears, if you were suffering from nausea and appetite loss in the first trimester) to support your growing baby. If you started out your pregnancy at a normal weight, expect to gain around one pound per week for a total of about 14 pounds over this trimester.

Symptoms To Have Checked Out

Odds are that once you make it to your second trimester it should be relatively smooth sailing for the next three months. However there are a few symptoms that do always warrant a call to your doctor, including heavy vaginal bleeding, severe abdominal pain and fever over 101.5 F.

Also keep an eye out for signs of gestational diabetes (which usually starts around week 24 to week 28 of pregnancy), including extreme thirst, frequent and copious urination, extreme fatigue and snoring. Also talk to your doctor if you notice sudden weight gain, severe swelling in the face and hands and vision changes, which can be signs of preeclampsia.

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Third Trimester of Pregnancy

It may feel as if there's no way your belly can get any bigger, but there's no doubt about it —  it will get bigger over the course of the third trimester of pregnancy. A lot bigger. Here’s what to expect from your body and your rapidly-maturing baby in these final few weeks.

When Does the Third Trimester Start?

The third trimester begins in week 28 of pregnancy and lasts until you give birth, which may be around week 40 of pregnancy. It’s likely, however, that labor will start a couple of weeks earlier or later — in fact, at least 50 percent of all babies are latecomers. If you do make it to (or past) week 40, you can try a few tricks to naturally induce labor on your own. But once you reach week 42 of pregnancy, you’ll be officially considered overdue, at which point your doctor will induce labor if it doesn’t begin on its own.

In the meantime, hang in there! You’re almost to the finish line.

Baby’s Growth during the Third Trimester

Your little one will get a whole lot larger in the third trimester, growing from about 2 1/2 pounds and 16 inches long in week 28 of pregnancy to between 6 and 9 pounds and 19 to 22 inches long in week 40. Indeed, your baby is growing fast — so don't be surprised if his increase in size along with a decrease in living space leads to some serious kicks and pokes in your gut.

Here are a few of the highlights happening in your third trimester of pregnancy:

  • Bones: As your baby transforms cartilage to bone in months 7 and 8, he’ll be getting all of her calcium from you — so be sure to eat plenty of calcium-rich foods.
  • Hair, skin and nails: By week 32 of pregnancy, baby’s formerly see-through skin will become opaque. In week 36, fat continues to accumulate as your baby sheds his vernix (the waxy substance that protects his skin from your amniotic fluid) and lanugo (the hairy coat that keeps him warm in there).
  • Digestive system: In the final weeks of pregnancy, meconium — or baby’s first poop, consisting mostly of blood cells, vernix and lanugo — starts to build up in baby’s intestines.
  • Five Senses: Your baby’s touch receptors will be fully developed around week 29 or week 30. By week 31 of pregnancy, your baby will get signals from all five senses, perceiving light and dark, tasting what you eat, and listening to the sound of your voice.
  • Brain: In the third trimester your baby’s brain will grow faster than ever, test-driving some nifty skills including blinking, dreaming and regulating his own body temperature. 

Around week 34 of pregnancy, baby’s body turns southward, settling into a heads-down, bottom-up position — unless, of course, your baby remains stubbornly in the breech position (in which case your doctor will likely attempt to manually turn baby around week 37).

Changes in Your Body

With that busy baby inside your belly, you're probably feeling lots of fetal activity. You may also be experiencing changes in your body as your bump gets bigger than ever, including:

  • Abdominal achiness: As your round ligaments (which support your lower abdomen) stretch to accommodate your growing bump, you may feel crampy or sharp pain. There’s not much you can do other than take it easy.
  • Fatigue: You’ll feel more zapped this trimester because of the demands pregnancy is putting on your body, so eat well and frequently, stay active and solve pregnancy sleep problems.
  • Heartburn: In the last few weeks of pregnancy, your uterus will push your stomach and its contents upward, causing that persistent burn. If it’s really bothering you, talk to your doctor about proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) or H2 blockers, which are safe to use during pregnancy.
  • Braxton Hicks contractions: Your body’s way of preparing for labor, you’ll start to feel these irregular practice contractions now until real labor starts.
  • Varicose veins: You may notice these bulging veins (including hemorrhoids, which are actually a type of varicose vein) in your lower body due to all of the extra blood you’re pumping. The good news: If you didn’t have them before pregnancy, they’ll likely disappear after you deliver.
  • Stretch marks: These tiny tears, which appear in skin that’s being stretched to the limit during pregnancy, are usually a result of genetics. Moisturize to minimize their appearance.
  • Backache: As the pregnancy hormone relaxin loosens your joints and your growing belly pulls your center of gravity forward, you may start to have an achy back — another reason to put your feet up, literally. (Sharp, shooting pain from your back down your legs, on the other hand, may be a sign of sciatica.)
  • Crazy dreams: Your dreams may be more vivid than ever as you near your due date, likely due in part to pregnancy hormones. They’re totally normal — so take them with a grain of salt and have fun swapping stories with a loved one.
  • Clumsiness: Your hormones are on overdrive, your belly is throwing you off balance and you’re more forgetful than ever. You’re in good (pregnant) company — so just try to be careful and have a sense of humor about it!
  • Lack of bladder control: You sneeze = you pee. Indeed, all that extra weight on your pelvic floor makes it harder to stay dry. To the rescue: Your daily Kegels regimen.
  • Leaky breasts: Your body’s warming up to feed your baby.

With all of these pregnancy symptoms and more weighing on you, just try to keep your eye on the prize: your beautiful baby, who you'll meet in just a few weeks!

Symptoms to Have Checked Out

As D-day approaches, and you may experience false labor symptoms. A few of the real signs of labor to watch out for include:

  • Lightening: By about week 36, you may find yourself waddling as your baby drops in your pelvis. 
  • Bloody show: This stringy mucus tinged pink or brown with blood is a sure sign labor is well on its way. You also may or may not notice the discharge of your mucous plug (which seals off your uterus from the outside world).
  • Labor contractions: Compared to Braxton Hicks contractions, these intensify, rather than diminish, the more you move around.
  • Your water breaking: This may not even happen, however, until you’re already at the hospital.

Your doctor will likely tell you when it’s time to call or head to the hospital — likely around the time active labor starts. Congrats! Baby is on the way soon.

If at any point, however, you experience heavy vaginal bleeding, a fever over 101.5 F, severe lower abdominal pain, sudden weight gain, signs of preterm labor or any other signs that warrant a call to your doctor, don’t hesitate to reach out — you’re always better trusting your instincts and staying on the safe side when you’re expecting.

Third Trimester To-Dos

  • Keep track of fetal movement. From about week 28 on, you’ll want to count baby’s kicks regularly and note any changes in activity, especially during month 9.
  • Watch your weight. Your pregnancy weight gain will pick up speed at the beginning of the third trimester and taper down as your due date nears (you may even lose a pound or two). If you’re not gaining enough (or if you’ve gained too much), work with your doctor to adjust your pregnancy diet to get back on track.
  • Keep moving! As long as you have your practitioner’s OK and you follow a few fitness safety precautions, it’s safe to continue pregnancy-safe exercises up until your due date.
  • Schedule your third trimester checkups. Expect tests for glucose levels, anemia and group B strep in months 7 and 8. In month 9, your practitioner will perform an internal examination of your cervix to see if effacement and dilation (the thinning and opening of your cervix) have begun. If you’re classified as “high-risk,” your doctor may also schedule a biophysical profile or nonstress test in the last few weeks just to be sure everything is proceeding as expected.
  • Take a hospital tour. If you haven’t already, month 7 is a great time to take a tour of the hospital or birthing center where you plan to give birth.
  • Choose your baby’s pediatrician. Interview a few candidates with a list of questions around week 32 and pick your favorite.
  • Buy baby gear. Make sure you have the baby gear essentials — especially a crib, stroller, car seat (which you’ll need to bring your baby home from the hospital), changing table and baby monitor. On that note, take your car seat in to be professionally installed.
  • Get educated. In addition to a childbirth class — which will help you to feel more prepared for the entire birth process — you may also want to consider classes on infant CPR and baby care.
  • Prepare to breastfeed. Read more about why and how to breastfeed before baby arrives, and possibly even take a breastfeeding class. And don’t hesitate to ask your doula or a lactation consultant for help later if you need it.
  • Learn about the stages of labor. Get prepared for baby’s birthday by learning what to expect during early, active and transitional labor as well as pushing baby out and delivering the placenta.
  • Consider how you’d like to manage labor pain. Want an epidural or other medication to manager labor pain? Thinking about having a natural birth, possibly in a birthing tub? Now’s the time to discuss your options with your practitioner.
  • Check your birth plan. From whether or not you want an epidural to when and who cuts baby’s umbilical cord, make or finalize your birth plan. (Just remember, when it comes time to push baby out, not everything always goes exactly as planned — the important part is keeping you and your baby safe and healthy!)
  • Set up your nursery. Get all of the essentials you’ll need for your nursery. And don’t forget baby basics like bottles, baby clothes, diapers, wipes, pacifiers and formula (if you’re not planning to breastfeed).
  • Commemorate your baby bump: Arrange a professional baby bump photo shoot or take some beautiful bump shots of your own — you can hang them in the nursery or add to your baby’s photo album later.
  • Stock your fridge. You may want to whip up a few meals to keep in your freezer for the first few weeks, when you’ll be busy with a new baby and recovering from birth.
  • Plan financially. Consider the costs of having a baby and start following a new family budget accordingly.
  • Pack your hospital bag. Pack light — but don’t forget a few comforts from home that you’ll want to have with you at the hospital.
  • Arrange for cord blood banking. If you’re considering cord blood banking — public or private — be sure your practitioner is aware of your plans, and don’t forget to pack any cord blood kit the bank sends you in your hospital bag.
  • Learn what happens after birth. Read up on what happens in the first 24 hours after birth as your body repairs and you begin to adjust to your new role.
  • Prepare for baby’s first year. Learn more about all the exciting milestones that happen in baby’s first year of life — there’s so much to look forward to!

Getting excited? You should be — it won't be long now until you meet your baby!

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