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To Indulge or Not To Indulge: Let's Talk about Cravings

Depending on what foods you crave during your pregnancy, you can indulge a little — or a lot. Certainly if you're craving yogurt and fruit shakes, or bowls of oatmeal, you can probably eat to your heart's content! But what if all you can think of is that premium, high-fat strawberry ice cream? Experts say concentrate on what it is about this snack that's making you feel satisfied.

Try a substitution

Is it the sweet taste, the creamy consistency, the strawberry flavor? Or maybe it's just the idea of eating something cold that satisfies those cravings. Once you lock in on the nature of what you crave, substituting a low-calorie, somewhat healthier food may be easy — like exchanging that bowl of ice cream for low-fat strawberry yogurt or fresh strawberries with a low-fat dessert topping.

Healthy food fixes

Craving: Ice cream
Try: Nonfat frozen yogurt, sorbet or sherbet

Craving: Cola/sodas
Try: Flavored carbonated mineral water

Craving: Doughnuts/pastry
Try: Whole grain bagel with fresh fruit jam

Craving: Cake
Try:Low-fat banana or zucchini bread

Craving: Sugar-coated cereal
Try: Whole grain cereal or oatmeal with brown sugar

Craving: Potato chips
Try: Low-sodium, low-fat chips, popcorn, pretzels or veggie chips

Craving: Sour cream
Try: Nonfat sour cream or nonfat plain yogurt flavored with herbs

Craving: Sundae toppings
Try:Fresh berries or bananas

Craving: Canned fruits in heavy syrup
Try: Fresh fruit, frozen unsweetened fruit packed in water or fruit juice

Craving: Lunch meats
Try: Low-fat or fat-free versions; substitute turkey bologna or hot dogs for beef variety or try soy dogs

Craving: Whipped cream
Try: Ice cold nonfat milk whipped with a hand-held immersion blender

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Since When Did Pregnancy Become a Competitive Sport?

By Katie Morford, The Huffington Post

About eight weeks after having my first child, feeling confident that my body was snapping back to its old self, I pulled out my pre-maternity jeans, quite sure they'd fit. Once I'd worked my way in, I was shocked to find that several inches lay between button and buttonhole. I'm sure I cried.

It's a story I shared recently with my sister Annie who, despite a healthy diet and plenty of exercise, is finding those last handful of postpartum pounds clinging to her like a newborn babe hungry for mother's milk. She's trying her best to be patient, but it's hard not to compare her postpartum journey to that of a stylish neighbor who was pre-pregnancy slim practically before leaving the birthing room or a close friend who shimmied into her skinny jeans about the time her baby hit the six-week mark.

None of this is helped, of course, by the endless parade of celebrities in various stages of gestation, either lauded for losing their "baby" weight or scandalized for not. The apparent fixation of the media, and particularly the tabloids, on the ups and downs of pregnant celebrities is both bizarre and disturbing.

I'm not exactly a Kim Kardashian fan and I've never downloaded a Jessica Simpson song, but the fact that any woman is publicly flogged for being "fat" during and after pregnancy gives me hives. I take issue with the tabloids' exploitation of every pound gained and lost. Kim Kardashian was apparently too chunky and Princess Kate too thin.

Holding up the likes of preternatural beauties such as Giselle or Angelina as the gold standard for the postpartum ideal is no better. Must we measure up to Heidi Klum, a woman who walked the runway at Victoria Secret six week after giving birth? Most of us don't have the God-given genetics, never mind the personal trainer, baby nurse or private chef to pop in and out of pregnancy with such ease. Most of us are too busy wiping baby's bottoms and nursing around the clock to be counting carbs.

This is not to say that making your way towards a healthy weight after having a baby is not worthwhile. It is. But it needn't happen overnight. I eventually was able to button up those jeans, but it took nearly five months, not two. New moms have enough on their plates without the added pressure to be supermodel-slim straight out of the delivery room. Their focus should be squarely on that wonderful, exhausting, beautiful, perfectly imperfect new baby, not the numbers on a bathroom scale.

Katie Morford writes the blog Mom's Kitchen Handbook, where this post originally appeared. Follow her on Instagram @katiemorford.

Image: Getty Images

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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!


The Top Perks of Being A Dad

Call your sweetie over to the computer and show him this!

  • First, there’s the biology: No morning sickness, no 30-pound weight gain (OK, maybe five), no labor.
  • Also, the breastfeeding. Who knows why men have nipples, but aren’t you glad they’re purely decorative?
  • All that aside, once you’ve held that baby for the first time or watched those eyes go closing-closing-closed as you sway around the room, you know that baby is absolutely yours, just as much as hers.
  • The ridiculously cute team gear available in sizes newborn to 4T, boys and girls.
  • Pleading ineptitude. You totally know she’ll do the poopy diaper if you get it wrong. Although maybe you should read this. [Editor’s Note: Embed link to "Get Dad To Do The Diapers"]
  • One word: "Da-da."
  • And yet, nothing is more vindicating than those moments when your alterna-parenting (a piece of Scotch tape to secure the wrapped blanket, air guitar to solve the 5pm cranks) beats the Mommy way of doing things.
  • That first fist bump.
  • Baby carriers look amazingly sexy on dads.
  • The cool Noises you get to make: "Bzzzzzz" goes the airplane! "Wee-ooo-wee-ooo" goes the ambulance! "Vrroooom" goes the motorcycle! "Fore!" goes the golfer!
  • You now have a friend who will not judge you when you make some, er, noises of your own.
  • Popcorn and cotton candy at various circuses, carnivals, ice shows, and other activities that are far more fun than you like to admit.
  • Your child will someday totally strengthen your argument for why you need a dog.
  • "Wanna snuggle, Daddy?"


The Forbidden Foods of Pregnancy

By: Andrea Howe

Pregnancy is such a strange time for a lot of us women. No matter if it’s our first or our fifth pregnancy, there’s always new ground to cover, uncharted territory to cross, new fears and new delights to be discovered. As I write this out, it sounds silly even to me, but the subject I always have the hardest time navigating through with each pregnancy is the ever dreaded and evolving list of foods to eat and stay away from. At each doctor’s appointment, when the nurse asks if I have any questions for the doctor, I inevitably always have a question about food. Here are some of the foods I eat with wild abandon, and the ones that I suspiciously stay away from.

Now this list in no way should be considered medical advice and a proven safe diet for a pregnant woman. Essentially, this is the list of foods that over the course of the years I have developed and feel comfortable with (for my own strange reasons) eating and avoiding. It’s interesting that as the years have passed, there are certain categories where I’ve relaxed, and certain categories where I have drawn the line in the sand and vowed to not touch.

Deli Meats and Hot Dogs

With my first pregnancy, I avoided these items as much as possible, but by the second and now the third, days have gone by where the only thing I have survived on were deli meats and hot dogs, no joke. During week 13-20, I had a ham, cheese and egg bagel every single morning. And at least 5 nights a week I had to have a hot dog, as if my life depended on it. I posted a picture of a hot dog on Instagram one night saying “Again with the nitrates.” I made sure to have a conversation with my doctor about my obscene consumption of deli meats and dogs and she assured me I’d be okay, and so would Baby. But the first time around I would have never eaten these items so much.

Soft Cheeses 

I could eat brie and crackers with salami and consider it dinner, so when I heard that you were supposed to stay away from soft cheeses when pregnant I felt like the rug had been ripped out from under me. By the time I found out that it was really only unpasteurized soft cheeses you should avoid, I felt like I had been jipped out of months of avoiding one of my favorite foods. I now eat feta, goat cheese, gorgonzola and brie as usual, but always confirm it’s pasteurized, especially at restaurants.


I’ve always felt it was okay for me to drink one caffeinated beverage per day, on the okay from my doctor. I had one friend that was so paranoid of caffeine she didn’t even eat chocolate during her pregnancy. I was never this way, but I do admit that I have strange ideas about caffeine that I’m sure hold no factual evidence. For instance, I think dark roast coffee must have more caffeine than your standard hazelnut, so I always avoid dark roast. Or that certain teas have less caffeine than coffee beans, so I order a chai tea latte rather than a regular latte. I think it’s just my way of feeling okay with drinking some caffeine each day.


So this category is where I’m the most strict. Don’t ask me why, as I’m sure some will say that drinking caffeine almost daily is worse than eating fish, but there’s just something about avoiding fish that helps me feel like I’m doing the right thing for me and Baby. Even items that are on the safe list like salmon and tuna every once in a while are foods I avoid. I looked it up and found that oysters were safe to eat, so I ordered a few the other night and felt such guilt after eating them that it wasn’t even worth it. Someone questioned me on this the other night as I was avoiding a smoked swordfish appetizer like it was the plague, and they said “Do you really think there’s enough mercury in this tiny appetizer to harm the baby?” And I said, “Probably not, but I just feel better not chancing it.” It’s where I draw the line in the sand and don’t cross it.

I’m sure my food list doesn’t make the most sense, but for me it helps me feel a bit more in control during a time where you feel like so much is out of your control. So are you super strict with your diet and avoid certain foods when pregnant, or do you hold a relaxed view and eat almost anything?


Flaunt that Bump

Forget the oversized shirts and dresses and buy clothes that are made to fit your pregnant body. Look for tops made of pregnancy-friendly fabrics that will gently hug your growing bump while allowing plenty of room for growth. Features such as tie backs or side shirring also help ensure your top will flatter you throughout your pregnancy.

Tops or dresses that include a gathered hem below your belly bump are always flattering to pregnant women. This type of dress or top will give your body some form and show off your curves, while also being comfortable.

One look we love that is comfortable and stylish is pairing a bump-hugging top with a long skirt made of soft fabric, like jersey material. You can also pair a bump-hugging wrap top with your favorite pair of jeans and knee-high boots for an always-trendy look.


5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming A Mom

By: Nadia Carriere

There is nothing that can really prepare you for the incredible, overwhelming and over-the-top feeling of becoming a mother. You can read every pregnancy book out there, listen to the advice of loved ones and experts, but once you have a child everything you thought you knew goes right out the window. After the birth of my third baby, I was the most relaxed and easy-going. I had already gone through the experience of giving birth twice and my parenting tactics had loosened up quite a bit. These are the 5 things I wish someone would have told me before becoming a mom.

1. Listen To Your Gut & Follow Your Instinct
You know those feelings that you just can’t shake? The ones that tell you something is wrong or ‘off’ even though everything looks and seems just fine? Listen to them! Your instincts are almost always right.

2. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
Please don’t worry about the little things, because in the end they are just that. The first year of your baby’s life is one of the most magical. People are not kidding when they tell you that it goes by in an instant. One minute your newborn is a tiny little thing that fits in the crook of your arm and the next, she’s walking. The laundry can wait and all those little things on your to-do list can be finished eventually. Don’t sweat it!

3. Ask For Help
There is absolutely nothing wrong or shameful about asking for a little help. Family members are usually more than willing to help with a few chores, pick up some dinner or help take the baby off your hands for a bit. If your family isn’t close by, hire someone. Remember, you still need to heal and getting a little bit of help is a must for the first few weeks at least.

4. Take Time Out For Yourself
Something as simple as having a bath without being disturbed, taking a walk by yourself or going out for a coffee with your husband or a friend can be incredibly refreshing and rejuvenating. You need time for YOU as well. When mama is happy, everyone is happy.

5. There Is No Right Answer
What works for one generation, parent or family may not work for another. Don’t feel guilty if you decide to do things a different way whether it be something as simple as sleep schedules or feeding preferences.


You...Only Bigger. Embracing Your Growing Pregnant Body

The transformation your body goes through during pregnancy is nothing short of amazing, despite all of the not-so-miraculous side effects (indigestion, for one). In nine months your body adjusts to accommodate your growing baby, until you—and possibly everyone around you—can hardly believe what you're carrying around. (That's when you start getting those oh-so-supportive comments like, "Wow, you must be having twins" or "How are you still walking?")

There's no way around it, pregnancy means growth, in more ways than one. You can't give birth to a healthy, full-term baby without putting on some pounds—after all, it's natural, it's healthy and it's a requirement. If you're a chronic weight-watcher, this is the time to step away from the scale and cut yourself some slack.

Of course, pregnancy isn't an excuse for a nine-month junk-food frenzy, either. Good nutrition is more important than ever, for yourself and for your baby. We've got some tips to help you make sure you're on the right track throughout your pregnancy, which we hope is healthy, happy and heartburn-free.

Weighty issues

How much weight you need to gain depends on several things, such as your pre-pregnancy weight and BMI (body mass index), your health, and your baby's health. While you'll need to consult with your healthcare provider to figure out what's right for your own specific situation, here are some general guidelines on pregnancy weight gain from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

  • If your pre-pregnancy weight was considered underweight: 28-40 pounds
  • If your pre-pregnancy weight was considered normal: 25-35 pounds
  • If your pre-pregnancy weight was considered overweight: 15-25 pounds

Some new moms-to-be are surprised (and bummed) to find out that of the (average) 25-35 pounds gained during pregnancy, only 7.5 pounds belong to the baby! If you're curious about where the rest of the weight comes from, here's how it breaks down:

  • 7.5 pounds is about how much the baby will weigh by the end of pregnancy
  • 1.5 pounds is how much the placenta weighs
  • 4 pounds is attributed to increased fluid retention
  • 2 pounds is the weight of the uterus
  • 2 pounds is the weight of breast tissue
  • 4 pounds is a result of increased blood volume
  • 7 pounds is attributed to maternal stores of fat, protein and other nutrients
  • 2 pounds for amniotic fluid

It all adds up to a grand total of 30 pounds (remember, that's only an average example). There's a common misperception that all or most of the weight should be featured only in the belly, but that's simply not true. The goal is to gain enough weight not only to grow a healthy baby, but to build up fat stores for delivery and breastfeeding. Thank goodness for ultra-stretchy maternity wear!

Guidelines for gaining

By gaining a healthy amount of weight, not only will you be supporting your baby's health, but you'll also make it easier on yourself to get back in shape after the birth. Sticking to some common-sense habits during your pregnancy helps make sure you and your baby are getting the right nutrients (let's face it, a container of chocolate-peanut butter ice cream isn't exactly a well-rounded meal).

During the first trimester, most women don't need to gain much weight-good news for those who suffer from morning sickness (which can sometimes really throw your appetite for a loop during those first weeks). If you're starting out at a healthy weight, an extra 150-200 calories a day (about the amount in a container of low fat yogurt) is sufficient.

In the second and third trimesters, steady weight gain becomes more important (especially if you're underweight). An extra 300 calories a day might be enough for you to gain the average of approximately 1-2 pounds per week, but do check with your healthcare provider to find out what she recommends for your rate of gain.

Don't pile on the calories by always going for junk food over healthier choices, though. Here are ways to make sure your meals are rich in nutrients (and still satisfying!):

  • Swap white breads and pastas for whole-grain varieties
  • Have sliced fruit available for snacking, instead of cookies or chips
  • Drink juices that are high in vitamin C, like orange and grapefruit
  • Choose dark, leafy greens instead of iceberg lettuce
  • Try some high-fiber, low-fat meals featuring rice, beans and low-fat cheese

Not everyone finds it easy to put on enough weight: Approximately one in four or five women gain an inadequate amount during pregnancy. If your healthcare provider is concerned, follow her suggestions for increasing your caloric intake.

Focus on the positive

If your doctor isn't worried about your weight gain, you shouldn't be either. Learn to love your pregnant body, no matter how different it looks from what you're used to! You're carrying a new life inside your own body, which is far more important than fitting in your skinny jeans (you can worry about that later). Embrace your ever-changing shape, give yourself the nutrition you and your baby need, and let go of unreasonable body image standards during this time.

Indulge in a couple outfits that really show off that marvelous belly. (Show the world that you're large and in charge.) Remind yourself that despite all the discomfort, a brand-new life is on the way, thanks to you...and your miraculous body.


Those Baby Movements, Explained

Sometimes my baby squirms around like she’s training to be an Olympic gymnast or something. What’s going on?

Many moms notice extra movement after they’ve eaten. The reason: The accompanying rise in blood sugar gives baby more energy to somersault (give that baby a score of 10!). Sometimes, babies kick more frequently when the TV is on or music is playing. Whether it’s because they like it or they want it off isn’t known—but it’s clear that they’re tuning in, notes Rebecca Lisa Shiffman, M.D., Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Lincoln Medical &Mental Health Center in the Bronx, New York: “Research has shown that newborns recognize music they heard during the pregnancy.”

When can my baby start to hear me?

By about the fifth month of pregnancy, your baby’s ears are developed enough to listen to you, whether you’re chatting on the cell or talking with friends about your plans for the nursery. Baby will know your voice best because she’s tuning in from your belly! You might also notice that your little one gets particularly excited when her Daddy or another male relative talks. Science shows men’s deeper voices appeal because low-pitched sounds are easier to hear through the amniotic fluid. Pretty cool, right?

What exactly is my baby doing when she’s not moving?

Mulling over when she’ll make her big debut! OK, actually, most likely she’s sleeping. By 32 weeks, your unborn baby spends 90 to 95 percent of the day dozing (lucky kid!). Sometimes, she might be in a “quiet awake” state in which her body is still but her eyes are moving (think of a newborn quietly hanging out in his bouncy seat, observing the world around him). If it seems as though your unborn baby is moving less than usual, let your ob/gyn know.

Why does my baby seem ready to party when I’m ready to crash?

Unborn babies’ circadian rhythms—a fancy word for their sleep/wake cycle—are actually the opposite of yours. Their quiet time is in the morning and they shake and bake more as the day goes on. “Most women notice more movement when they’re resting simply because they’re paying attention to it,” notes Austin Chen, M.D., an ob/gyn at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. “A fetus can be just as active when you’re busy.” Hey, even if she’s keeping you up at night, it’s hard not to get a kick (literally!) out of your baby-to-be.

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