Pregnancy Journey

Pregnancy journey, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more offspring develops inside a woman

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Your pregnancy in weeks and months

Calculating your pregnancy in weeks, months and trimesters can be pretty confusing for some mothers-to-be, especially if it is their first pregnancy. However, here are a few FAQs to help you understand this simple pregnancy math and calculate exactly how far you are in your pregnancy.     How many weeks, months and trimesters does a pregnancy have? A pregnancy has 40 weeks. The count of these weeks starts from the first day of your last period. Essentially, you do not come to know about week 1-4 as a pregnancy is usually detected in week 5, when mothers-to-be realize that they have missed their period. Though, there are other signs earlier on, this one is the most decisive one. A pregnancy is referred to as nine months. Four weeks is 28 days and each month, except February, is either 30 or 31 days, making it approximately 4.3 weeks long. So, if you divide 40 weeks by 4.3, you get approximately 9 months. A pregnancy has three trimesters of 13 or 14 weeks each. The first trimester is week 1-13; the second, week 14-27; and the third trimester, weeks 28-40. All pregnancies might not complete the designated 40 weeks. However, a baby born anywhere between week 37-41 would be considered a full-term baby. Why is the pregnancy counted from the first day of the last period? If possible, all pregnancies should be counted from the exact day when the baby was conceived, no? But this is not possible as most women do not know when they ovulate and on which date they had conceived the child. However, what they do know is the day when their last period began. Therefore, to simplify and universalize the count, this method of counting pregnancy weeks was adopted. What if my periods are irregular or I do not remember the date of my last period? In both these cases, the exact due date would then be provided by the first ultrasound scan, which would happen between week 10 and 12. The doctor would measure the growth of the baby to predict how far along you are in your pregnancy. Based on this, your due date would be calculated.   How is my due date calculated? The doctor counts 280 days or 40 weeks from the first day of your last period to arrive at your due date. However, remember that the due date is just an estimate and less than 5 percent of babies are actually born on their due date. Babies usually make an appearance between weeks 37 and 42. My doctor says that I am 14 weeks pregnant and my scan doctor says that I am in the 15th week of my pregnancy. Who is right? Actually, both are right. When you are in the 15th week of pregnancy, you have completed 14 weeks and are yet to complete the 15th week. Therefore, both, being 14 weeks pregnant and being in the 15th week of pregnancy, are correct. Featured Image Source

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Are you having some strange dreams? Here's why?

Managing sleep during pregnancy can be extremely tough. You have to get up to pee, you’re tossing and turning on the bed, and you can' find a comfortable sleeping position.Now to add to all this, heart-pounding and vivid dreams make things even more difficult and stressful. But there are various reasons for this: Particularly in the third trimester women complain of vivid dreams. The medical reasons for this are: 1. Hormonal changes- When pregnant, your body produces more progesterone and estrogen. These hormonal changes impact how your brain processes information and emotions, which can disrupt sleep. Because of similar hormonal shifts, PMS has a similar affect on your ability to sleep. (source) 2. Changes in REM cycle- As your pregnancy progresses, the amount of deep sleep you get decreases and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep increases. According to Dr. Sears, REM cycle affects your dreams because: This state of sleep encourages more dreams, because your brain is more active. Since you’re more aware of your environment and arouse from sleep more easily during REM cycles, you’re more likely to remember your dreams. 3. Stress- You’ve got a lot on your mind, mama! Stress is a natural part of pregnancy as you adjust to so many new changes, but it can lead to insomnia and interrupted sleep. Studies show that daily stress can affect our ability to get a good night’s sleep and that people who feel stressed report more frequent dreams. 4. Heightened emotions of pregnancy- There are a lot of reasons your emotions are heightened during pregnancy—after all, you’re bringing a new life into this world! Even if you’re not stressed or fearful, excitement can send your mind spinning in a million different directions. And research proves that lack of sleep compromises our brain’s ability to regulate emotions. Since dreams help us work through our emotions, you’re more likely to have more dreams when you feel overwhelmed.  Pregnancy Dreams Decoded Now that you know why your pregnancy dreams are more vivid, you’re probably wondering what those dreams mean. Does a positive pregnancy test dream really mean you’re pregnant? If you dream you’re having a girl, is that really predictive of the baby’s sex? Is there any truth to common interpretations of pregnancy dreams? Dreams about conceiving If you’re dreaming about being pregnant or conceiving, but haven’t yet gotten your BFP, it could be your mind’s way of clueing you in. (Though there are no studies to support this theory!) A dream about conceiving could also symbolize a new project or phase in your life that you’re thinking of starting. Dreams about the sex of the baby In one study, women were more likely to correctly guess their baby’s gender if the prediction was based on psychological criteria (feelings or dreams), as opposed to old wives’ tales (lack of morning sickness or belly shape, for example). Dreams about the baby’s sex aren’t foolproof—they can be influenced by social and cultural factors—but there could be some accuracy to them. Dreams about labor Dreams about being in labor could mean you’re anxious or worried about giving birth. It could also mean that you’re ready for changes in your life, or are actually on the verge of giving birth. A dream about labor could also symbolize bringing a new project to fruition. Dreams about something happening to the baby Pregnancy dreams can be a result of heightened emotions, so it makes sense that you may dream about something happening to the baby, both in utero and after birth. Pregnant women’s nightmares often involved miscarriages or still births, Dr. Sheldon Roth, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School and a dream expert, told NBC. “People use dreams as a way of problem solving and adapting to new circumstances. These parents are simply using their dreams to mentally sort out a huge life change.” Dreams about forgetting the baby The same sleep researcher found that expectant and new mothers commonly have dreams about forgetting or losing the baby, because new memories are organized and stored during sleep.These dreams don’t indicate anything about your ability to parent, they’re just a sign that your brain is still connecting all of the dots. Dreams about you or the baby as an animal “Animals almost invariably represent instincts when we meet them in dreams,” Jungian analyst Barbara Hannah told Psychology Today. Dreaming of your baby as an animal reflects your instinctual role as mama bear, and dreaming of yourself as an animal reflects your protective instincts. Dreams about love affairs with an ex or another partner These types of dreams don’t mean you have any desire or intention to be unfaithful. Much more likely, they’re a sign that you fear how your relationship with your partner may change once the baby is born. These dreams could also be about feeling uncomfortable with your expanding body during pregnancy and wanting to still feel desirable. So What Do These Dreams REALLY Mean? Dreams are our mind’s way of working through fears and anxiety. Some say bits and pieces of dreams can be attributed to intuition or can even feel transcendent, but that doesn’t mean the scarier dreams are foreboding premonitions.However, what you can take care of is listed here: You Should Avoid: Stimulants such as caffeine, chocolate, or tea too close to bedtime Violent movies and TV shows Exposure to any screens within two hours of bedtime (The blue light is too stimulating) Heated discussions close to bedtime Exercise within a few hours of going to sleep Eating a large meal within three hours of bedtime You should try: Taking a bath Spraying your pillow with lavender mist Meditating Light stretching Content Source Feature Image Source  

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Causes and prevention of varicose veins during pregnancy

Varicose veins, also known as varicoses or varicosities, occur when your veins become enlarged, dilated, and overfilled with blood. Varicose veins typically appear swollen and raised, and have a bluish-purple or red color. They are often painful. The condition is very common, especially in women. Around 25 percent of all adults have varicose veins. In most cases, varicose veins appear on the lower legs. Causes of varicose veins Varicose veins occur when veins aren’t functioning properly. Veins have one-way valves that prevent blood from flowing backward. When these valves fail, blood begins to collect in the veins rather than continuing toward your heart. The veins then enlarge. Varicose veins often affect the legs. The veins there are the farthest from your heart, and gravity makes it harder for the blood to flow upward. Some potential causes for varicose veins include: Pregnancy Menopause Age over 50 Standing for long periods of time Obesity Family history of varicose veins Symptoms of varicose veins The primary symptoms of varicose veins are highly visible, misshapen veins, usually on your legs. You may also have pain, swelling, heaviness, and achiness over or around the enlarged veins. In some cases, you can develop swelling and discoloration. In severe cases, the veins can bleed significantly, and ulcers can form. Diagnosing varicose veins Your doctor will likely examine your legs and visible veins while you’re sitting or standing to diagnose varicose veins. They may ask you about any pain or symptoms you’re having. Your doctor may also want to do an ultrasound to check your blood flow. This is a noninvasive test that uses high-frequency sound waves. It allows your doctor to see how blood is flowing in your veins. Home remedies Measures can be taken at home to improve pain and prevent varicose veins from worsening. These measures include the following given below:  Exercising Losing weight Raising the legs Avoiding prolonged standing or sitting There are also many over-the-counter natural treatments, usually topical creams and emollients. These can help soothe pain, and improve comfort and they may improve the general appearance of varicose veins. Prevention: To reduce the risk of developing varicose veins you need to do the following:   Exercise regularly  Maintain a healthy weight Avoid standing still for too long Do not sit with the legs crossed Sit or sleep with your feet raised on a pillow Anyone who has to stand for their job should try to move around at least once every 30 minutes  Content source Featured image source  

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How to deal with hemorrhoids and varicose veins during pregnancy

Hemorrhoids and varicose veins might seem to be two different, unrelated problems, but they are actually quite similar. And, many women, especially those in the third trimester of pregnancy, have them. Both hemorrhoids and varicose veins can be defined as swollen, twisted veins. These veins can often be spotted in the legs, but they also can form in other parts of your body. When they form in the rectum, they are called hemorrhoids. What causes hemorrhoids and varicose veins in pregnancy? Normally, veins have one-way valves to help keep blood flowing toward the heart. Pressure or weakening of these valves allows blood to back up and pool in the veins. This causes them to enlarge and swell. Hemorrhoids result when rectal veins enlarge. Varicose veins occur when veins of the legs swell. Many changes in pregnancy can increase the risk of hemorrhoids and varicose veins, such as: Increased blood volume, which enlarges the veins The heavy weight of the growing baby, which presses on the large blood vessels in the pelvis, altering blood flow Hormone changes affecting blood vessels, which can slow the return of blood to the heart and cause the smaller veins in the pelvis and legs to swell Hemorrhoids can get worse with pushing or straining, especially with constipation. Being overweight and having hemorrhoids before pregnancy can also make them worse. Pushing during delivery tends to worsen hemorrhoids, too. Varicose veins tend to run in families. Sitting or standing in one position for a long time may force the veins to work harder to pump blood to the heart. This can result in swollen, varicose veins and can also worsen existing hemorrhoids. How are hemorrhoids and varicose veins in pregnancy treated? Hemorrhoids in pregnancy are a short-term problem, and they get better after your baby is born. Still, there are some things you can do to relieve the discomfort: To relieve pain, sit in a tub or take bath several times a day in plain, warm water for about 10 minutes each time. Use ice packs or cold compresses to reduce swelling. Ask your healthcare provider about creams or other medicines, such as stool softeners, that are safe to use during pregnancy. It’s important to prevent constipation by including lots of fiber and fluids in your diet. Also, try not to strain with bowel movements, and avoid sitting for a long time. Regular exercises, which involve squeezing and relaxing the muscles in your vaginal and rectal area, can help improve muscle tone. Most varicose veins that develop during pregnancy get better within the first year after birth. But for now, limit your standing or sitting for a long time without a break, and try not to cross your legs. Also try to raise your legs and feet whenever you’re sitting or lying down. Avoid tight clothing around your waist, thighs, and legs, as it can worsen varicose veins. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider if your symptoms worsen or you have excessive bleeding from hemorrhoids. And, remember that these problems are usually short-term and get better after delivery with time and treatment. Content source Featured image source

A working woman's guide to pregnancy hormonal changes

The hormonal and physiological changes that come with pregnancy are unique. Pregnant women experience sudden and dramatic increases in estrogen and progesterone. They also experience changes in the amount and function of a number of other hormones. These changes don’t just affect mood. They can also: create the “glow” of pregnancy significantly aid in the development of the fetus alter the physical impact of exercise and physical activity on the body Estrogen and progesterone changes Estrogen and progesterone are the chief pregnancy hormones. A woman will produce more estrogen during one pregnancy than throughout her entire life when not pregnant. Pregnancy hormones and exercise injuries While these hormones are absolutely critical for a successful pregnancy, they also can make exercise more difficult. Because the ligaments are looser, pregnant women may be at greater risk for sprains and strains of the ankle or knee. Weight gain, fluid retention, and physical activity Weight gain in pregnant women increases the workload on the body from any physical activity. This additional weight and gravity slow down the circulation of blood and bodily fluids, particularly in the lower limbs.  Sensory changes Pregnancy can dramatically alter how a woman experiences the world through sight, taste, and smell. Breast and cervical changes Hormonal changes, which begin in the first trimester, will lead to many physiological changes throughout the body. These changes help prepare the mother’s body for pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. Hair and nail changes Many women experience changes in hair and nail growth during pregnancy. Hormone changes can sometimes cause excessive hair shedding or hair loss. This is especially true in women with a family history of female alopecia. Stretch marks Stretch marks (striae gravidarum) are perhaps the most well-known skin change of pregnancy. They’re caused by a combination of physical stretching of the skin and the effects of hormone changes on the skin’s elasticity.  Blood pressure and exercise There are two types of circulatory changes that may have an impact on exercise during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones can suddenly affect the tone in blood vessels. A sudden loss of tone may result in the feeling of dizziness and perhaps even a brief loss of consciousness. This is because the loss of pressure sends less blood to the brain and central nervous system. Dizziness and fainting Another form of dizziness can result from lying flat on the back. This dizziness is more common after 24 weeks. However, it can happen earlier during multi-fetal pregnancies or with conditions that increase amniotic fluid Respiratory and metabolic changes Pregnant women experience increases in the amount of oxygen they transport in their blood. This is because of increased demand for blood and the dilation of blood vessels. This growth forces increases in metabolic rates during pregnancy, requiring women to up energy intake and use caution during periods of physical exertion. Body temperature changes An increase in basal body temperature is one of the first hints of pregnancy. A slightly higher core temperature will be maintained through the duration of pregnancy. Women also have a greater need of water during pregnancy. They can be at higher risk of hyperthermia and dehydration without caution to exercise safely and remain hydrated. Dehydration Most women who exercise for 20 to 30 minutes or who exercise during hot and humid weather will sweat. In pregnant women, loss of bodily fluids from sweat can decrease the blood flow to the uterus, the muscles, and some organs. The developing fetus needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients carried through the blood, so injury may result from a lack of fluid.

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Getting your baby into the right position for birth

If your baby is in a head-down position, with the back of his head slightly towards the front of your tummy (anterior position), your labour is likely to be shorter and easier. Most babies get into this position by the end of pregnancy. In an anterior position, your baby fits snugly into the curve of your pelvis. During labour, your baby will curl his back over, and tuck his chin into his chest. Your labour and birth should progress easily if your baby is in this position, because: During contractions, the top of your baby's head puts rounded and even pressure on the neck of your uterus (cervix). This helps your cervix to widen, and your body to produce the hormones you need for labour. During the pushing stage, your baby moves through your pelvis at an angle, so that the smallest area of his head comes first. Try putting on a tight polo neck without tucking in your chin and you'll understand how this works! When your baby gets to the bottom of your pelvis, he turns his head slightly, so that the widest part of his head is in the widest part of your pelvis. The back of his head can then slip underneath your pubic bone. As he is born, his face sweeps across the area between your vagina and back passage (perineum). Can I really make my baby get into the right position for birth? Adopting a hands-and-knees position for 10 minutes, twice a day, can help to move your baby into an anterior position in late pregnancy. This technique (OFP) is tried-and-tested. However, all doctors may not recommend OFP in pregnancy because of the lack of written evidence. Most doctors may still encourage you to try the positions during labour, as you may be more comfortable in them once your contractions start. You could try to stay in upright or forward postures regularly in every-day life, rather than for short bursts. But this might not affect how your baby lies at birth. How can I improve my baby's position during labour? If your baby is in a posterior position when labour starts, you can still use postures and movements to try and help your baby to turn and relieve your pain. It's common for posterior babies to change position during labour, and most get themselves into an anterior position by the pushing stage. You may feel slight niggling pains for several days before labour really starts. This can be tiring, but may be a sign that your baby is trying to turn into an anterior position. You may find that one of the best positions is on all fours. In this position, your baby drops away from your spine, helping to relieve backache and hopefully helping him to turn, too. Here are some tips for coping with pre-labour and early labour: Get plenty of rest at night. Vary your daytime activities from walking and moving around, to adopting all-fours or knees-to-chest positions. Knees –to-chest position is when you're on your knees with your head, shoulders and upper chest on the floor or mattress, with your bottom in the air. Lean forwards during contractions, and try pelvic rocking on a birth ball. Eat and drink regularly to keep your strength up and stay hydrated. Try to stay relaxed and positive. Content source Featured image source

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The 6 most uncomfortable third trimester Symptoms

The 6 most uncomfortable third-trimester symptoms   Here’s what you need to know about the third trimester -   A pregnant woman goes through the third trimester during 28 to 42 weeks of pregnancy. This being the last stage of a woman's pregnancy, there is anticipation, anxiety, and expectation to introduce the baby into the world. It is a time for excitement with thoughts of childbirth and looking at your baby for the first time. It can also be emotionally challenging. During the third trimester, your baby grows and you can feel the movements. In addition to this, you also feel discomfort, heartburn, shortness of breath, discomfort and you keep putting on additional weight as your stomach gets bigger.   6 signs of third-trimester pain and symptoms: A pregnant woman who is in the third trimester experiences 6 common signs and symptoms.  They include the following: Heartburn and reflux: The pregnant women can feel heartburn and Reflux as a result of the growth of the baby which fills up space in the mother's womb and the area of the abdominal cavity. The expansion puts pressure on the other surrounding organs. This prevents the normal intake of food as the stomach gets pushed up to the esophagus. How to deal with it? Take less amount of food and consume smaller meals as your stomach is unable to store much food. This minimizes the bloating and prevents heartburn. Food which is spicy and drinks which are acidic should be avoided throughout the pregnancy as it causes acid reflux.     Consuming caffeine on a regular basis causes heartburn and reflux. It is a bad habit to lie down immediately after eating as the food that you consumed will flow backward. If you feel the need to lie down, then place cushions or pillows at your back and prop yourself up. Consume neutral and basic foods. Drink milk and yogurt which soothes the stomach and minimizes the burning sensation.   When should you approach your doctor? If you find that the heartburn and reflux have not reduced even after taking all the precautions, then it is time for you to visit and consult your doctor.   2. Frequent urination: During your third trimester of pregnancy, you will feel the need to constantly keep running to the bathroom and relieve yourself of the urine. During pregnancy, there is an increase in the fluids and the functioning of your kidneys.   How to deal with it? It is a normal symptom of pregnancy and there is not much you can do about it. Avoid drinking too many fluids and thus you can prevent going to the bathroom to urinate as many times as possible. However, it is also important to stay hydrated as otherwise, it could cause dizziness, headache, and untimely contractions.   When should you approach your doctor? If you experience anything other than the normal and it gives you a cause for concern, then it is vital that you approach your doctor. Such circumstances include frequent visits to the bathroom unlike any other day of your pregnancy, or pain or burning sensation in your urinary organs, expansion of blood in the urine, and other unusual symptoms.   3. Back pain: The pregnancy during the third trimester protrudes your womb even more which in turn lays pressure on your backbone. There is also an increase in the levels of progesterone which makes your tissues, muscles, and joints to relax and leave space for the uterus to expand. Your pelvic area also becomes flexible and prepares the way for delivery through the birth canal. Other reasons for back pain include improper posture during pregnancy, extra weight, leaning or sleeping on one side, or trying to lift certain objects. How to deal with it? Avoid all strenuous activities that cause back pain. Maintain a good posture and wear a support belt just below your stomach so that the weight of the pregnancy is taken away from your back and hip area. When you are sitting down make sure to keep pillows behind your back so as to listen to the pressure and reduce back pain. A good warm bath or a heating pad would do you good in relieving the back pain. Avoid high heels at all times during pregnancy.   When should you approach your doctor? If you experience unbearable back pain and you believe that it is not due to any of the above reasons, or if you experience continuous unrelenting pain, deep, sharp and shooting pain that prevents you from walking or sitting properly, then it is important that you approach a doctor immediately.   4. Excessive hunger: Pregnancy during the third trimester can make you feel like eating every few hours. It is normal for you to feel excessive hunger and it is an indication that your body needs more energy, food, and nutrients as you are now eating not only for yourself but also for your baby who is constantly growing and developing.   How to deal with it? It is important to eat a good meal rich in nutrients and protein. Consume foods rich in fiber as it keeps you feeling full,  prevent the constant craving, as well as regulate the bowel movements.   When should you approach your doctor? If you find that you are unable to control your hunger and a steady weight gain every week of the third-trimester pregnancy stage, then you should approach your doctor.   5. Insomnia: It is quite normal for a pregnant woman to feel anxious, expectant and to worry over her baby and the delivery, which makes her suffer from insomnia during the third trimester of pregnancy. They have difficulty in sleeping and keep awake most of the night.   How to deal with it? You can solve the problem of insomnia through sleep therapy, changing your sleeping position, freeing your body of tight and uncomfortable clothes, avoid drinking a lot of water before going to bed. You can also try and eat small light meals at regular intervals during the day.   When should you approach your doctor? If you find that none of the above remedies are curing you of insomnia and you find it very difficult to have a few hours of sleep, or if you find that you are constantly waking up throughout the night, then it is time to approach your doctor.   6. Breast pain: During the third-trimester pregnancy stage, you will feel that your breasts are sore and painful.  This is a result of your breast growing in size and getting ready for the feeding of milk to your newborn baby.   How to deal with it? Do regular breast massages so as to prevent the formation of lumps and hardening in the breast tissue. Buy yourself new, comfortable and perfect fitting cotton bras.   Read  to know what experienced mums say about the third trimester and how to get comfortable with it:   Lessen the pressure and aches around your stomach and waist by maintaining a straight back or arch inward slightly, this will give your baby some space to stretch, arch and move about freely within your womb. Relax and do not tense up when your baby is moving and kicking, as it will make you feel uncomfortable and painful. Wear comfortable and good shoes that make it easier to walk with all that extra weight and make use of a foam roller to ease the back pain. Do not keep your body stiff in a particular position, keep changing it every 20 minutes.   Other symptoms during the third trimester:   Apart from the above, there are various other symptoms that a pregnant woman experiences during her third trimester of pregnancy. This includes the following:   Hot flashes and chills: Pregnant women generally feel excessive heat and sweat a lot, while at other times they feel quite chilled to the bone even under normal temperature. Dizziness, vomiting, and nausea: Pregnant women will feel these symptoms due to the pressure exerted by the growing baby,  which leads to poor circulation of blood and nutrients within the mother's body. Leg cramps: The excess weight will put pressure on the legs which cause leg cramps and prevents the proper blood flow to the legs, lesser minerals and electrolytes to the legs. Pain in the pelvis and cervix: During the third trimester, the pregnant woman experiences sharp pain in the pelvis, cervix and abdomen area. This is caused due to the strain on the ligament between the uterus and the groin. Braxton Hicks contractions: The Braxton Hicks contractions are also known as ‘false labor contractions’. It feels like as if a pregnant woman is going into labor. However, they are not painful and it is triggered by an excess of activity either from your baby or by you. Bleeding gums and toothache: Pregnant women during the third-trimester experiences increased the flow of blood to the tooth and gums which causes swelling, bleeding and inflammation. Now that you know the common symptoms that are experienced by a pregnant woman during the third trimester, and the ways to deal with it, you can relax without worries and get ready for your baby’s arrival into the world! Featured Image Source

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Maternity fashion: How to dress for your trimester

When it comes to dressing during pregnancy, comfort and style are key. But what feels right in week 9 may feel downright wrong by week 14. And what perfectly flatters your curves during the second trimester may become rather indecent by the tail end of your pregnancy. First Trimester Mum's the word The challenge: Keeping your pregnancy under wraps. Many people don't want to divulge their growing secret until at least the second trimester. What to do: Go into your closet and put aside anything that's too tight or clingy. Stick with silhouettes that flow over belly, hips, and thighs that can camouflage the few pounds you may gain in the first months. Wear soft knits, A-line skirts, Empire-waisted tops and frocks, wrap shirts and dresses. Another great piece for the first trimester: a "blouson" style top – that is, one that has a fitted waistband at the bottom but some roominess above the band. The fabric falls loosely over your belly while the fitted waistband keeps the look more tailored, less muumuu. Throw on a pair of boot-cut stretch jeans for a comfortable, pulled-together look. Not ready for maternity wear The challenge: Most maternity clothes have too much fabric for your barely there bump, but you've grown enough in other places that your pre-pregnancy clothes just don't fit. What to do: Stretch your wardrobe with a couple of key additions. Buy one of those stretchy bands (i.e., a Belly Band) that you can place at the top of your jeans, over the waistband that will no longer button or zip. The band will keep your pants up, and no one will know they're unbuttoned. In a pinch, you can also use a rubber band looped over the button and through the buttonhole to do the same thing, minus the smoothing effect of the band. Stock up on layering tanks. Wear them under tops that no longer button all the way. Throw one or two on under an oversize cardigan or blazer. The dumpy dilemma The challenge: You're worried about looking like you've simply let yourself go. No cute bump yet, just an overall thickening. What to do: Steer clear of too tight, loaded-with-Lycra clothes. While these curve- hugging tops will show off your bump later, right now you'll feel too much like a sausage in a tight casing. Avoid tops that are too billowy and tent-like, as well. Look for ones that flow gracefully over the extra pounds beneath while still having a bit of shape. Tunics are a great choice.  While fitted across the shoulders and arms, a tunic flows gracefully across the middle, disguising extra weight. An exception to the anti-cling rule: tank tops and other garments with built-in shaping panels, which can help smooth out the sudden pooch or contain your growing breasts. Top these tanks with a body-skimming top or cardigan made of a smooth jersey fabric. Second Trimester On a budget The challenge: You feel like every few weeks you're a new size and don't want to blow your budget on new clothes every month. What to do: Invest in a few items that will grow with you. Look for pieces that have details like ruching, tie-backs, buttons or gathering at the sides, and wraps, which will all let you adjust your clothing as your body grows and changes. What's more, they will let you flatteringly flaunt your bump, which usually pops out during this time. Busting out The challenge: Your boobs are busting out all over. What to do: If you haven't already, now's the time to invest in a few great bras. While you may choose to go for bigger sizes of your favorite bra, you might want to consider the comfort and expandability of maternity or nursing bras. Most women find that not only do their cups runneth over, but their band size (the circumference around your back) will grow too. Besides moving up a band size (or two), you can also find inexpensive bra extenders at most lingerie stores. From work to weekend The challenge: You need a few workhorse items that will go from work to weekend without sacrificing comfort. What to do: Embrace the wrap dress. Or rather, let the wrap dress – in a sleek solid color or a color-blocked pattern – embrace your curves. You'll look perfectly pulled together for the office and be comfortable and stylish for running weekend errands.  As your bump gets bigger and higher, simply change where you place the tie, eventually making the frock into an Empire-waisted garment, giving much-needed definition between bosom and belly. Another faithful, versatile item to choose: a pair of dark denim maternity boot-cut jeans with the stretchy fabric built right into the waistband. The cut and color will flatter you throughout the entire pregnancy and work for almost any work or social situation. Third Trimester Laboring through the last months The challenge: You feel huge and uncomfortable. Buttons, zippers, and even waistbands are increasingly torturous. What to do: Try an Empire-waisted maxi dress – an ankle-length flowing knit dress that you can wear even after the baby has arrived. Added benefit: it's so easy – throw it on and you're good to go! Pair a tunic in a comfy knit fabric over maternity leggings. You'll feel comfy and stylish. A case of the doldrums The challenge: You've embraced the monochromatic look (blacks, grays, etc.) because it's slimming and easy – but you want to add a bit more oomph to your look. What to do: Match your accessories to the bravado of your bump! As your belly grows, swap out the demure studs for a bigger, bolder earring. Add a scarf that has a bold, funky pattern. Don't be afraid to add a little drama to your look – have fun dressing around your belly! Try an animal-print bag, a thick stack of skinny gold bracelets, or a bright chunky necklace and matching cocktail ring. The homestretch The challenge: You're getting bored with your clothes, but it's the last leg of your pregnancy and you don't want to buy more. What to do: Give your wardrobe a boost with something you can wear later and that will punch up any outfit you're currently sick of: shoes! Whether you choose a ballet-style flat or a mule with a sliver of a kitten heel, you'll slip in and step out in style and comfort. Plus, no laces or buckles mean no bending over your burgeoning belly. Look for a pair in a fabulous animal print or bold color to snap you out of your wardrobe woes. Choose shoes that have a slightly pointy toe instead of a rounded one, which can make your legs look shorter. Feature Image Source  

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Fetal Movements: is your baby kicking?

Nothing reassures you more about the baby growing in your womb than the first kick. These tiny movements keep you guessing about what the baby would be doing at that time. Was what you felt actually a kick or just gas bubbles coursing through your body. Every pregnant woman waits for that moment when they would feel the first kick of their babies. When would I feel my baby kick? Most women feel their baby kick between week 18 and week 22, though some may report feeling it as early as week 13. Usually, second-timers feel it earlier as they know a kick when they feel a kick. Another reason why they might feel the kicks earlier is that their abdominal muscles are laxer. Further, thinner mothers also tend to feel a baby kick earlier as they lack the fat to cushion the movements. Actually, a first-time mother-to-be might have already felt the baby move but was unable to recognize the movement. Does this mean that the baby moves only at the time I feel the kick? No. The baby moves all the time in the amniotic fluid. But, because it is very small, one may not feel its movements. As the baby grows and becomes stronger, it is able to make more distinguishable movements and these are the ones you feel. What do the baby kicks feel like? Most mothers-to-be define the first movements of their babies as gas bubbles, butterflies flying or soft flutters. Medically, this is known as quickening. It would take some time for the quickening to graduate to firmer movements. Is it true that I would feel the baby moving less as my pregnancy progresses? Not exactly. There would definitely be down times when the baby is sleeping or resting and you might not feel any movements. However, the bigger the baby gets, the lesser the space it has to move and the more you should feel its movements. Once you have determined a pattern and understood their sleep cycle, you would be able to predict their movements and rest time. How often should I feel the baby kick? Before week 28, there is no need as such to record baby movement. At times, up to three days may pass between movements. Once you cross the 28th-week mark, you need to keep a watch on fetal movements. Your doctor would give you a rough estimate of how much movement you should feel. A healthy baby kicks around a lot. Apart from their sleep time, if you notice the baby’s activity levels reducing or weakened movements, talk to your doctor. Pregnancy is a beautiful time for any mother-to-be, therefore, sit back, relax and enjoy yours to the fullest. Featured Image Source  

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Effective tips to prevent preterm labor

Along with the joy of pregnancy, a first-time mother also experiences anxiety and fear about labor and delivery. She wants her pregnancy to be smooth and uneventful. She is scared that something might go wrong during her pregnancy and her baby might be harmed. At times, a mother is unable to carry her baby for the entire nine months and has a delivery before the full term. A baby who gets delivered before the 37th week is termed as a preterm baby. A preterm baby may or may not be completely developed and are at a high risk of various diseases and infections. Although the causes of preterm labor are not exactly known, experts point to a number of factors can trigger preterm labor- Smoking, alcohol and drug use: Short interval between pregnancies Uterine and vaginal infections Pregnancy complications Structural anomalies of the uterus and/or cervix Gum infections Stress levels Occupational factors Carrying multiples Maternal age A previous preterm birth If you were preterm yourself Although, many of the above factors are beyond a mother’s control, there are still a few precautionary measures that can be taken to prevent preterm labor – Eat healthy – A healthy diet goes a long way in ensuring that you have a healthy baby. Consume foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, calcium and vitamin C, in order to provide your growing baby all the essential nutrients and build his/her immune system. Avoid alcohol – Consuming alcohol during pregnancy has often been linked to preterm labor so quit drinking for the sake of your baby. Alcohol may also harm your baby’s growth adversely. Say no to smoking – Mothers who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to go into preterm labor and their babies are more likely to have low birth weight. Stop smoking immediately to ensure the well-being of your baby. Exercise and yoga – Staying active, exercising regularly and practicing prenatal yoga not only ensures a smooth delivery but also helps to improve the chances of carrying your baby full term. Take prenatal vitamins – Vitamin deficiency is one of the main factors responsible for preterm labor. Make sure that you take all your prenatal vitamins timely. Keep an eye on your weight – Maintain a healthy weight as prescribed by your doctor. Adding too many kilos can lead to gestational diabetes and this might lead to early labor. Being underweight may also be a cause of preterm labor. Stay hydrated – Drink enough water to keep your body hydrated, simple it helps to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Maintain adequate gap between two pregnancies- If you’re planning another baby, ensure that you conceive after a minimum of 18 months after your first baby is born. If the mother’s body is weak, the chances of a preterm labor are higher. Do not hold on to urine – Urinate whenever you have the urge to. Holding on to urine can not only lead to urinary tract infections but also put unnecessary pressure on the bladder and lead to preterm labor. Get adequate rest – Getting adequate rest is of utmost importance in ensuring that you have an uneventful pregnancy and are able to carry your baby to the full term. Maintain good oral health – This might sound surprizing but good oral health goes a long way in ensuring that you carry your baby to the full term. Keep flu at bay – Research has shown that women who catch a flu often are more likely to go into preterm labor. Make sure that you are vaccinated against the flu and are getting enough rest even if you get it. Featured Image Source

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Abdominal pain during pregnancy

Abdominal pain during pregnancy can happen quite often and can become very uncomfortable at times. But how do you decide what pain is acceptable and when it indicates something more serious? Here’s everything you need to know about abdominal pain during pregnancy.   Is abdominal pain during pregnancy normal? Abdominal pain is a common occurrence during pregnancy and is normal in a healthy pregnancy. Carrying a baby puts pressure on your muscles, joints, veins. As your baby grows, the uterus tilts to the right which causes pain in the right side. The ligaments on both sides of your body grow to accommodate your growing baby so you may feel pain on both sides of the stomach. Having sex may sometimes trigger abdominal pain and cramping, especially during the third trimester. It might be a good idea to keep the sex soft at this time.   How to deal with normal abdominal pain during pregnancy? Getting some rest is the best way to deal with the cramps. Other methods include sitting down with your feet up, lying on the side opposite to the one which hurts, taking a warm bath, and using a hot water bottle or a heated wheat bag on the area which hurts. When can abdominal pain mean something more? Abdominal pain can be an indicator of something more under the following circumstances.   Abdominal pain unrelated to pregnancy This could be gas, bloating, UTI, kidney stones or even appendicitis. You should contact your doctor if the pain is accompanied by pain or burning when you pee, spotting or bleeding, vomiting, unusual vaginal discharge, tenderness and pain, chills and fever.   Abdominal pain during an early miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy If abdominal pain is accompanied by bleeding in your first trimester it could be an early miscarriage. You may also have painful cramping and dark, watery blood if you have an ectopic pregnancy in your first trimester. In either case, it’s best to go to the doctor immediately.   Abdominal pain during a late miscarriage Abdominal pain in the second trimester is usually nothing to worry about. In rare cases, it may indicate a late miscarriage only if it’s accompanied by bleeding. It usually occurs between 12 and 24 weeks.   Abdominal pain in the third trimester Severe abdominal pain in the third trimester could be an indicator of premature labour. In this case, you would feel pain in your pelvic or lower tummy area, backache, mild tummy cramps and diarrhoea. You may even have your water breaking, and regular contractions, or uterus tightening. This may happen between 24 weeks and 37 weeks of pregnancy and your doctor should be consulted immediately.    

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7 Strategies to make labour easier

Labour is the hardest physical task that a woman experiences. Since a normal delivery takes less time to heal and doesn’t leave any visible scars on a woman’s body, most women aim to deliver vaginally. In order to do so, the mother needs to prepare her body accordingly. Although labour is a long and painful task, there are some things that you can definitely do to make it easier and smoother for you. 1. Do Squats Daily Squats is the most beneficial exercise for every woman looking forward to delivery close to their due date. Due to its role in facilitating smoother deliveries, squats are considered to be the best exercise for easy labour. The best way to do squats is using a medicine ball, keeping it between the lower back and the wall and rotating the toes and knees as wide apart as possible. It is recommended to do 15 squats daily in this position for expecting mothers to have a great delivery experience. 2. Practice Yoga After consulting your gynecologist, practice yoga during pregnancy regularly. Not only does it help to relax the body and make it flexible but also improves your breathing and prepares the body for labour. Various yoga asanas help to make the pelvic muscles more flexible to ease labour. It helps to get rid of stress and also provides relief from the aches and pains of pregnancy. Women who practice yoga during pregnancy suffer from fewer health problems. 3. Sleep Adequately and Regularly Among all the tips on how to make labour easier and faster, this is the easiest to follow and is the most effective. As discussed earlier, such a stressful and important event like labour requires calmness from the mother’s end. Only a well and adequately rested person can adapt to such a scenario seamlessly. An expecting mother should sleep at least seven hours or more every day for a faster and smoother labour experience. The sleeping experience should be enhanced with soft, skin-friendly pillows and recliner beds for the comfort of the mother and the child. 4. Massage Regular massage of the stomach along with perineal massage towards the end of the pregnancy helps to decrease discomfort and relax the muscles of the stomach and the vagina. Perineal massage helps to stretch the tissues of the vagina and this reduces the chances of vaginal tearing during birth. Massage also helps to increase the blood circulation in the perineal tissues and this in turn speeds up the process of healing after childbirth. Massaging of the thighs may also be done during labour to release tension between the contractions and to encourage the labour to progress. 5. Practice Breathing Techniques Labour is an extremely painful experience for any woman. Breathing helps the woman in labour to adapt to the pain better and also helps in relaxing her. Breathing also helps in setting rhythmic contractions and helping the woman to push better and more efficiently. Breathing also ensures that the body has enough oxygen and the mother does not pass out due to the astronomical labour pain and cramps due to her contractions. 6. Take a Childbirth Class Pregnancy is a mentally and physically taxing period for expecting parents where there is a lot of new things to be learnt and a lot of responsibilities to be understood as well as the do’s and don’ts of parenting. Hence, it is always good to be prepared for the moment of childbirth well in advance to make sure everything goes perfectly and according to plan. A childbirth class also relieves pressure that can be faced by dealing with the unknown and helps the partners be prepared for everything from the water-breaking to the cutting of the umbilical cord. A childbirth class can also be beneficial in providing easy labour tips to make the whole process simpler and faster. 7. Stay Upright during Labour Rather than lying down and trying to push, it is considered to be better to stay upright on the bed and push. This is because gravity plays to the advantage of the mother and child as the child’s head pressing against the cervix due to gravity helps it in dilating faster and more easily. A variety of positions can also be tried out, like kneeling, squatting and standing to see what gives the best results during labour. Movement of the body also helps widen the pelvis helping the baby’s head to pass through easily. Hope the above strategies help to make your labour shorter and easier!   Content Source Featured Image Source

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7 reasons why you can't get sleep at night

One of the best things you can do to manage insomnia while you’re pregnant is to have a good sleep routine. Begin by trying to go to bed at the same time every night. Start your routine with something relaxing to help you unwind.  Avoid screen time at least an hour before bed. Blue light from the TV, your mobile phone, or tablet can have an impact on your body’s circadian rhythm. Try reading a book instead. Taking a soothing bath might also make you sleepy. Just be careful that the temperature isn’t too hot — that can be dangerous for your developing baby. This is especially true during early pregnancy. Being pregnant is the best phase of your life, this is the common term everyone says, but no one tells you about the challenges. There are also a lot of sleepless nights that a woman has to face. As, the reasons can vary as per your body but the most common ones are discussed below: Frequent visit to the bathroom: Holding a life inside you is not easy. As you eat you eat for two, similarly as you drink your water intake also increases. The more you drink the more you want to pee. Your bathroom visits can make you stay up during nights. Indigestion: The hormones play a major role in here, increase in hormones can lead to indigestion. Avoid eating spicy food and opting for a healthy diet can be of help here. On the other hand, avoid eating two hours before going to bed can be of help. Baby’s movement: Baby’s like to move in the womb when mothers are lying still. Movement in the rib cage is uncomfortable for mothers and can make you stay up for all time.   Even if you are not able to sleep after adequate efforts, see your doctor and get help rightaway. Feature Image Source

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25 Foods to increase your breast milk: How your body produces nature's perfect baby food

After you become a mother, all you are worried about is your baby's food. That is, breast milk. Some women are lucky, while some struggle to produce the right amount of breast milk. But thankfully, there are certain foods that increase breast milk and enhance lactation. Breast milk contains all the prime nutrients required for an overall growth and brain development of a newborn. Here is a list of the top 25 foods that you must include in your diet to increase breast milk and also keep you healthy. 1. Oatmeal: Oats are easy to prepare as a meal. 2. Fennel Seeds: Fennel seeds boost the quantity of your breast milk. 3. Fenugreek Seeds: Fenugreek seeds are known for boosting breast milk supply. 4. Unripe Papayas: Unripe Papayas are part of the South Asian cuisine. 5. Spinach And Beet Leaves: Spinach and beet leaves contain iron, calcium and folic acid. 6. Garlic: Garlic is considered the best food to increase breast milk, as it is well-known for boosting lactation in nursing mothers. 7. Black Sesame Seeds: Black Sesame seeds are a rich source of calcium and believed to increase milk supply. 8. Carrots: A glass of carrot juice with breakfast or lunch will work wonders in lactation. 9. Water And Juices: Drinking water and juices is supposed to boost lactation. It increases the total milk volume per feed. 10. Barley: Barley not only boosts lactation, it also keeps you hydrated. 11. Asparagus: Asparagus is considered a must-have food for nursing mothers. 12. Brown Rice: Brown rice enhances breast milk production. It has hormone stimulants which boost lactation. It also gives nursing moms the extra energy that is required post delivery.  It also helps increase the appetite so as to enable the mother to eat nutritious food. 13. Apricots: During and post pregnancy, there are hormonal imbalance that takes place in your body. Dried apricots have certain chemicals which balance out the hormone levels in your body. 14. Salmon: Salmon is a great source of EFA (Essential Fatty acids) and Omega-3. 15. Cumin Seeds: Cumin seeds boost milk supply. Make sure you have them in moderation though. 16. Basil Leaves: Basil leaves are a great source of anti-oxidants.   17. Dill Leaves: Dill leaves look like a bunch of fine, dark green, silky hair. They have a distinct odor. 18. Bottle Gourd: Bottle gourd is generally not a preferred vegetable, but is high on nutrition. 19. Sweet Potato: Sweet potato is a major source of potassium. It has energy producing carbohydrate which is needed to fight the fatigue. 20. Almonds: Almonds are rich in Omega-3 and Vitamin E. 21. Chickpea: Chickpea is a protein snack and lactation booster for nursing mommies. 22. Drumstick: Drumstick has high iron and calcium content. 23. Poppy Seeds (Khuskhus): It is very important for nursing mothers to relax completely during lactation. Poppy seeds have sedative properties that help you relax and calm down. 24. Cow Milk: Cow milk has calcium and EFA. It promotes lactation. In fact, by consuming cow milk during lactation, you will help your child avoid developing an allergy to cow milk. 25. Oils And Fats: It is recommended to keep fats and oils in your diet to a minimum, post pregnancy. All the above foods have been traditionally used to improve milk flow in new moms. However, while some have scientific backing the others don’t. Consume the foods in limited quantities, and note the side-effects, if any. Also, go for organic products as the pesticide residue in the foods and herbs can increase the lead content in your milk. Feature Image Source

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10 Homemade pregnancy drinks to keep you healthy and hydrated throughout

Water- During pregnancy, your body needs more water to cope with the demands of your changing body. Water is essential for healthy blood cells and to keep your body hydrated. Water is also a key component of breastmilk, and essential for good lactation. Coconut water- A natural isotonic beverage, coconut water helps prevent dehydration. It also relieves exhaustion by replenishing the natural salts lost by the body when you sweat. It is an extremely healthy option for quenching your thirst when pregnant. Limeade (nimbu pani)- The eternal favourite! Nimbu pani keeps you hydrated and provides vitamin C that helps your body to absorb iron more effectively. You can sip nimbu pani during the day or with your meal. And, if you're struggling with morning sickness nimbu pani with some mint (pudina), crushed ginger (adrak) and even chaat masala can be a welcome alternatives. Fresh fruit juices- Fresh juices from sweet lime (musambi), oranges (santara), pineapple (ananas), musk melon (kharbuja), and watermelons (tarbooj) are great for hot weather. If you have them fresh, these juices are packed with all the nutrients that fruits bring. If you buy juices from a store, make sure they have the label ‘100 per cent juice’ on them. Otherwise the drink might contain more sugar and artificial flavours than real fruits. Milk based drinks- Milk products are high in calcium, protein and Vitamin B-12. During the summer, chilled skimmed milk, lassi and buttermilk (chhaach) are a great way to keep cool and stay hydrated. Milkshakes or fruit smoothies made with some milk, curd, ice and fruit are packed with minerals and nutrients. All these are great as a healthy snack in between meals.  Traditional home-made drinks- Jal jeera, aam panna and fruit sherbets have a special place in most homes. Apart from providing various nutrients, these healthy drinks are believed to cool, hydrate as well as help cope with morning sickness. Home-made vegetable juices- If you're having trouble getting enough veggies in your diet, try drinking your vegetables instead. In the heat of summer when you are looking for something other than water to quench your thirst, you can have cold vegetable juices. These will be refreshing and provide you with nutrients. Fruit mocktails- Fruit mocktails are a great alternative when you're at a party, holiday, pub or social gathering and looking for a non-alcoholic drink. Fruit mocktails help you get some of the nutrients you and your baby need. Plus, you save money, because non-alcoholic drinks cost less and there are no arguments about who's driving back home. Water with frozen fruits- Make a plain glass of water more refreshing by adding frozen fruit such as orange (santra), lemon (nimbu), kiwi, peach (aadu), apricot (khubani) and plum (aloo bukhara) instead of ice cubes. The frozen fruit looks colourful floating about in the clear water and it chills your drink, giving it a hint of fruity flavour. Do make sure you use filtered water and fruits washed with filtered water. Ice tea- In the heat, iced tea might be more welcome than a cup of hot chai. Slices of lemon added to iced tea can also provide some relief from morning sickness. But iced tea does contain caffeine so you will need to count it in your daily allowance. Find out more about how much caffeine is safe during pregnancy.

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