From Bump to Birth: A Casual Guide to Pregnancy for Soon-To-Be New Moms
Aspiring to become a mother can sometimes be as daunting as one can imagine. If you are reading this parenting guide for newborns, then you are most likely interested in the wonderful journey called pregnancy. Of course, almost every human adult knows something about pregnancy, if not what causes it, then what happens during and after. So, you can think of this guide as casual advice for new or prospective parents to peruse, replenish your knowledge, and fill in any gaps.
Indeed pregnancy can be a very daunting experience, especially for new moms. But, it is something life-changing that often shifts perspectives and gives us a new way of looking at things. As the late personal development guru and author Wayne Dyer once said, "If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."
Thus, before you start on your new journey as a mom, appropriate preparation, information, and tips/advice for new or prospective parents like yourself will help you have the healthy and happy pregnancy that every mom deserves!
Let us dive in as we review some of the changes and experiences to expect during your pregnancy. We will also consider some parenting advice for newborns to note after the birth of the baby (the post-partum period).
An overview of the different stages of pregnancy?
Pregnancy has three stages or trimesters. Did you know that a human pregnancy lasts around 40 weeks and is divided into three trimesters? That's right. Each trimester is marked by different changes and development of the baby.
First trimester (weeks 1-12): This is the time when the baby's major organs and systems are being formed. During this time, you may experience morning sickness, mood swings, and fatigue.
Second trimester (weeks 13-27): This is usually the time when most women feel the best. The baby's organs are reaching maturity and you may feel the baby's first movements.
Third trimester (weeks 28-40): The baby is now ready for delivery. At this time, the baby is growing rapidly and you may experience shortness of breath and some discomfort due to the baby's size.
What to expect during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, you may experience a range of physical and emotional changes.
Physically, your body will be going through many changes as your baby grows and develops. Your weight will increase, your breasts may become larger, and you will feel a sense of tightness in your abdomen as your uterus grows and your baby moves. You may also experience some common discomforts such as morning sickness, fatigue, constipation, and heartburn.
Emotionally, you may experience a range of emotions from joy and anticipation to fear and anxiety. It is important to talk about your feelings with your partner and other supportive people in your life.
What to do to have a healthy pregnancy?
To have a healthy pregnancy, there are some important steps you can take to ensure your health and the health of your baby.
- Eat a balanced and nutritious diet: Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for a healthy pregnancy. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats will provide you with the essential nutrients you and your baby need.
- Stay active: Regular exercise during pregnancy is important for your health and that of your baby. It can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress, and increase your energy levels.
- Get enough rest: Getting enough rest is essential for a healthy pregnancy. Make sure to get at least 8-9 hours of sleep each night.
- Avoid harmful substances: It is important to avoid alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes as they can be harmful to you and your baby.
- See your health care provider regularly: Regular visits to your health care provider will ensure that both you and your baby are healthy.
What to expect after the birth of your baby?
The post-partum period is the time after the birth of your baby. During this time, you may experience a range of physical and emotional changes.
Physically, you may experience fatigue, soreness, and a decrease in your energy levels. You may also experience changes in your breasts and uterine bleeding.
Emotionally, you may experience a range of feelings from joy and relief to sadness and anxiety. It is important to talk about your feelings with your partner and other supportive people in your life.
It is also important to take care of yourself during this time. Make sure to get enough rest, eat a balanced and nutritious diet, and ask for help when needed. Human pregnancy is expected to last 9 months, 40 weeks, or 280 days. Please note that these are broad estimates that are within 2 weeks of accuracy. So it could be anywhere from 38 completed weeks to 42 weeks.
Here's a list of what you must know during each stage:
Feelings: This is the initial stage when the fetus is developing. During this period, you might experience breast tenderness, fatigue/tiredness, and morning sickness (nausea in the mornings).
Do's: Take your prenatal vitamins, stay hydrated, and do your best to get good nutrition. Do make sure that you enroll with an Obstetrician (a doctor that takes care of pregnant women). You may also enroll with a Midwife (a specially trained nurse specifically trained to take care of pregnant women). These two are very important in your journey to a successful pregnancy.
Don'ts: Avoid alcohol, vaping, and smoking (as well as illicit drugs---but you already knew that).
Feelings: In the second trimester, you may start noticing significant changes in your body such as increased heaviness and water retention. Certain body areas may now not fit as well within clothes as they used to. And yes, your baby bump will start to become more noticeable---yeah, you will start looking and feeling more and more pregnant. You may also feel your baby's movements within you which are better experienced than described, which is mostly an exciting experience and not a horrible one for most people. At this stage, you may feel heartburn, feet and ankle swelling, and backaches.
Do's: You must also exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet. Don't forget to attend your prenatal appointments as well.
Don'ts: The restrictions on drinking, inhaling, or taking in anything bad or illegal remain. No alcohol, smoking, vaping, or illicit drugs.
Feelings: This is the final stage of pregnancy, where you'll be experiencing the most significant growth in your tummy. You might usually need to go to the bathroom, encounter shortness of breath, and have difficulty sleeping, especially if you like to lie on your back. Some people have expressed even increased feelings previously experienced in earlier trimesters as well as anxiety as the journey begins to wind down. The heaviness of carrying a living human can be an ever-present reminder of what is going on. For some, it can evoke varied feelings, including anxiety and tension.
Do's: Always watch your baby's movements and prepare for the impending labor by maintaining peripheral awareness of the baby's kicks and nudges. It is also critical to keep all clinic appointments at this stage. It is easy to choose to ignore your doctor's appointments because you've gone for the past six months. But, please do not do that. Just keep going to your obstetrician all through the pregnancy. There is still a lot to do, as the baby's growth is usually the highest in this last trimester and your health is also most critical at this stage.
Don'ts: This is certainly not a good time to take long trips, party hard, get in a fight (throwing punches or even just a word fight), or go skydiving. Also, the restrictions on intake remain. No drugs, alcohol, vaping, or smoking.
Tips for a Healthy and Happy Pregnancy
To maintain a happy and healthy pregnancy, make sure that you get good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle, and regular exercise. Good nutrition always starts with the avoidance of processed foods, eating a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits, and making sure that all the major food groups are reasonably represented in your daily diet. A healthy lifestyle is about getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and resting with minimal stressors such as family tension, work stress, long commute stress, and long-distance travel. Keeping things "moving" is one surefire way of not experiencing too much of the uncomfortable side of being pregnant.
Maintain a balanced diet
Make sure that you eat enough nutrients for yourself and your baby. Have a healthy and balanced diet with lots of whole grains, protein, fruits, and vegetables so that your baby will get the needed nutrients. It also makes sure that you will have enough to carry the baby. If your body is struggling to meet its own nutritional needs, you may not be able to provide the needed nourishment to grow the baby that is inside you. So this dieting right is really where it all starts. Eat healthily and eat well.
Drinking plenty of water is essential to maintaining adequate hydration for you and your baby. Remember what your third-grade teacher said about humans being made of 70% water? Well, there are various variations here and there, but water remains very important to the health and well-being of everyone, especially pregnant mothers.
Try working on low-impact exercises such as prenatal yoga, walking, and swimming. The more you can keep up an active lifestyle during pregnancy, the more likely it is that you will have a more comfortable journey. Ensure to exercise regularly and let us know how much it helped you through your pregnancy journey.
Get enough sleep
Make sure you get enough quality sleep. 7 to 9 hours of continuous sleep daily is adequate. Sometimes it may take a minute to find a comfortable position. No need to feel bad about that, and don't feel guilty if you have to take a nap during the day to top off the not-so-smooth night's sleep either!
Manage your stress
Pregnancy is said to be very stressful. Some of us handle stress better than others, but overall, you need to rein it in. Do everything within your power to manage your stress in a non-destructive way. Maintaining a low-stress style will help you avoid causing any unfavorable consequences for you and your baby. Some prefer meditation while others have turned to humor, mommy support groups, no-drama relatives, and even comedy! Does social media help? "No se," but word on the street has it that cat videos are an excellent way to go.
What to Expect During Each Trimester of Your Pregnancy?
Zero to end of month three
Expect many changes that your body will encounter during your first trimester. You might feel these symptoms:
You might easily get tired. Fatigue is completely normal. To combat fatigue, you can take breaks throughout the day to rest and unwind a little.
- Morning Sickness
You might often throw up during this period. Nausea is also common. Eating smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding strong smells may help alleviate these symptoms.
- Breast Tenderness
Your breasts may feel tender or swollen due to hormonal changes. A supportive bra and gentle breast massage can help ease discomfort.
- Frequent Urination
You will be experiencing a lot of hormonal changes during this period. You might always need to visit the bathroom. Nothing to worry about as that is a result of the increased bladder pressure from your growing uterus.
Month four to end of month six
In the second trimester, your baby's movements will be stronger and better felt. There will also be significant physical changes in your body. You may feel the following:
You may experience heartburn due to the pressure of the growing fetus on your uterus. Eating smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding spicy or acidic foods can help reduce heartburn.
Backaches are common due to the increased weight and pressure on your spine. Practicing good posture, doing gentle stretches, and using a support belt can help alleviate back pain.
You may experience swelling in your feet and ankles due to fluid retention. Elevating your feet, wearing comfortable shoes, and avoiding standing for long periods can help reduce swelling.
- Stretch Marks
Because your skin stretches during pregnancy, you might get some stretch marks. These are common on your thighs, breasts, and stomach.
Use oils and moisturizing creams to help your skin stay hydrated to reduce stretch marks.
- Braxton Hicks Contractions
These are practice contractions that prepare your body for labor. Paying attention to your body's signals and practicing relaxation techniques can help reduce discomfort from Braxton Hicks contractions.
Month seven to the end of pregnancy
You're in your final stage of pregnancy now! Your baby will undergo significant growth and development during this stage. You may experience the following:
- Shortness of Breath
Your growing uterus may pressure your diaphragm, making breathing difficult. Taking breaks and avoiding exertion can help alleviate shortness of breath.
- Difficulty Sleeping
You might find it hard to sleep comfortably because of your big belly. Use pillows for support. Warm baths and relaxation techniques can also help in improving sleep quality.
Because of the extra weight caused by the baby, you may feel more tired. Resting when you can, delegating tasks, and seeking support from loved ones can help combat fatigue.
You may experience Braxton Hicks contractions more frequently and intensely as you get closer to labor. Keeping hydrated, changing positions, and practicing relaxation techniques can help reduce discomfort from contractions.
- Increased Vaginal Discharge
As you prepare for labor, your vaginal discharge may increase. If the discharge is clear or white and doesn't have a strong odor, it's likely normal. However, if itching or has a strong odor, contact your healthcare provider about it.
Preparing for Labor and Delivery
If this is your first time having your baby, you may find preparing for labor and delivery a somewhat overwhelming experience. Having said that, start your preparations early and prepare as much as possible. Here are some labor and delivery tips that might help you:
- Take a childbirth education class
These classes can help you understand the labor and delivery process and teach you valuable pain management techniques. Of course, classes ought to be formal but can also be informal, like learning from good authoritative blogs like this one. You can also watch Youtube videos from the CDC and American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) as well as the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG).
- Create a birth plan
A birth plan outlines your preferences for labor and delivery, including pain management, delivery position, and postpartum care. You can learn more about birth plans here by searching for the topic. You can also search for video advice from other moms or learn from your childbirth classes on how to prepare a birth plan.
- Pack your hospital bag
Pack all the essentials you'll need for your hospital stay, including comfortable clothes, toiletries, and baby clothes. Try not to under-pack. Experienced mothers have lots of advice online on how to pack and what to pack. Most hospitals have supplies, but the clothes, and things that can help you stay more comfortable, especially after the baby is born, are helpful. Some young moms even go in with their game consoles while others have tablets, board games, and everything in between. Patients would have anything that could help give a home-like feeling while being "trapped" in the hospital while waiting to bring your little one into the world.
- Practice relaxation techniques
Practicing relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation can help you manage pain and stress during labor. You ought to start these as early as possible since pregnancy and delivery are high-stress experiences for most people. Arming yourself with a tool to help neutralize tension is a good thing to do. Having such a tool will help you relax amid the stress and tension of the new baby coming.
- Talk to your obstetrician or midwife
"When in doubt, Obs it out." Your healthcare provider during pregnancy is the most reliable person to answer the questions you may have to prepare for labor and delivery. Always remember that pregnancy is so serious that there are specially trained clinicians for it, special hospitals for it, and special precautions for it. It is not a period to skip on professional advice. Use your clinician: midwife, obstetrician, nurse practitioner, or doula. Use them. Ask these people questions. They do this for a living and will likely have some tips to help you succeed.
Postpartum Care and Recovery
You may be surprised to find "recovery" as part of your pregnancy journey. Yes. Your entire being, after having gone through pregnancy and delivery, needs to recover. Your body will undergo another round of significant changes after giving birth, as part of the recovery process. The recovery is because labor can have lasting effects on moms, so the body needs to make lots of repairs.
You might find these postpartum care tips helpful:
Get plenty of rest
Resting and allowing your body to recover after giving birth is important. You may find sleep difficult with a new baby, but try to nap when the baby sleeps. The pregnancy may be over, but the outcome is just beginning. You may do yourself some good not to quickly jump back into all that you used to do pre-pregnancy. Be kind to yourself and take it easy while adjusting to your new baby.
Eat a nutritious diet
Postpartum nutrition for new moms is critical. It continues the good nutrition that we advocate during pregnancy. Good nutrition is also great for breastfeeding since your body is still trying to produce breast milk to support the proper growth of your baby. Beneficial food includes lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. You may also need to stay away from processed foods. It is simply best to stay in the same "lane" as you were pre-pregnancy by avoiding any of the No-No things of pregnancy, especially in terms of diet.
Perform Kegel exercises
Kegel exercises are the best pregnancy exercise for new moms. It strengthens your pelvic floor muscles which aid in postpartum recovery. It also improves bladder control and you can perform the exercises anywhere and anytime. Of course, you have to learn how to do it. Many gyms have personal trainers that can show you how. Also, mommy groups can be helpful with exercises and good resources.
Attend postpartum checkups
Even after giving birth, you must still attend your postpartum checkups. Your checkup is to make sure that your body is healing properly after the pregnancy has ended. Some deliveries can cause physical injuries to the mom. Making sure that your clinician, usually the Midwife or Obstetric provider, checks you on schedule is a good way of staying safe.
Postpartum depression is very common in new moms. It has a prevalence of up to 7% even after the baby's first birthday, so it's important to seek support from your family and friends. It is also important to discuss it with the healthcare provider.
Consulting a Pediatrician For Your New Baby
Every baby needs to be seen by a pediatrician from birth and also followed closely for the first few days, weeks, and then months of life. At Omega Pediatrics we make sure that our babies get the best care from our highly trained and very experienced clinicians. We also provide the most up-to-date information for parents. Our families have easy access to care despite all the bottlenecks that plague our health system today. That is something we pride ourselves in.
Since you have read this far, you ought to have noticed that this is a pediatric clinic located in Roswell Georgia. We serve patients from nearby cities like Alpharetta, Cumming, Sandy Springs, and Johns Creek. We rank as the best pediatricians near you and that is why you are seeing this blog post. Our patients love us and we do everything within our power to go above and beyond for them.
We, at Omega Pediatrics, treat everyone like family. That is why we have families driving up to 90 minutes to see us. For some of our readers, we may be too far from you, (more than 60 miles) so we encourage you to find a similar pediatric clinic nearby. Do make sure you establish care through a meet and greet even before the baby arrives. And when you get home, try to get in with the pediatrician within 1 to 2 days, so that much will not be missed on this lovely journey.
Enjoy Your Journey From Bump to Birth!
Your pregnancy is a transformative and unique experience that requires proper knowledge, preparation, and care.
Use this article as a guide for the happy and healthy pregnancy that you deserve! Know what to expect during each trimester until childbirth. Prepare for your safe and smooth labor ahead!
Don't forget to seek postpartum care for new moms like you so that you can recover faster from this significant time in your life.
Always remember to take care of yourself and ask for help from your doctor when needed. Cherish this moment because this is an experience that you'll never forget!
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