- Women’s Health
- Healthy Living
- Health Conditions
- Nurse Barb
I hear from a lot of women who are suddenly ready to have a baby. They want to be pregnant as soon as possible. Others are considering pregnancy and trying to get prepared.
Stop All Birth Control
It may sound obvious, and that’s because it is! If you’re ready to become pregnant, then the first thing to do is to STOP using any birth control.
With most birth control methods once you stop using them, your menstrual cycle will start up again. It may take a few weeks to see a period return, but the process that leads to your period resumes as soon as you stop birth control.
Has the switch flipped and you’re starting to think about becoming pregnant? Have you started to notice more pregnant women everywhere you go?
Does it seem like there’s a new mom pushing a stroller on every street corner? Do you see Dads with little ones in carriers? If so, you just might be starting to think about becoming a mom yourself. This is sometimes known as the pre-contemplative phase where ideas take seed and start to grow in your mind.
Questions to consider
Every woman approaches this process from their own unique perspective. Here’s some questions to consider:
Staying hydrated seems obvious, but it might be more challenging than you think. Most of my pregnant patients are surprised to learn that their blood volume increases by about 50% midway through pregnancy.
When it comes to salt – Remember Gold-i-locks: Not too much, not too little, but just the right amount. The truth is, your body needs salt, so while we don’t want you to over indulge in lots of salty foods, a little goes a long way in helping you maintain your fluid balance. So, don’t restrict your salt intake.
Guest Post from Tara Sabo, Fix.com. Tara Sabo lives, works, and breathes fitness. She is a certified personal trainer, fitness instructor, and half marathon runner.
Congratulations! You’re pregnant, so now what? Must you sit still for nine months? Or can you keep working out? The answers: no and yes. Exercise during pregnancy is safe and often recommended. Working out for two can be beneficial for Mom and baby; still, there are certain safety factors to consider.
How the Body Changes During Pregnancy
Having a new baby to care for is an emotional experience! Add to that the lack of sleep, feeding every 2 to 3 hours round the clock, a hormonal roller coaster….oh, yes and your body’s recovery from childbirth, plus your partner and family and, well, you get the idea. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all of the changes.
Mild mood changes are absolutely normal and expected for the first few weeks after giving birth. Every mom goes through a period of adjustment as her old way of life adapts to her baby’s needs, unique temperament, personality, as well as the baby’s sleep cycles, feeding challenges and all the other aspects of their care.
What every mom needs
All moms need support when a new baby arrives. Many times, moms who are feeling overwhelmed need to:
• Know that they aren’t alone
• Be encouraged to get more sleep
• Have other trusted caregivers help out by caring for the baby
• Be given permission not to be perfect
• Let go of pressures to keep up appearances
Comparing Your Experience to others on Social Media
Most new moms I’ve worked with over the years find motherhood much more challenging than they ever expected. This is what they tell me in the privacy of the exam room at 2, 4 and 6 weeks after giving birth. And because there can be a lot of shame involved when things are slightly less than perfect, it’s the rare mom who is comfortable posting anything but perfect photos and commentary on social media.
This sets everyone up for a false sense of inadequacy. You might be covered in spit up, be dragging around on only 2.5 hours of sleep, without a shower in days, hair in a ponytail and happen to glance at a friend’s photos and become instantly dejected, “Look at Emily, she’s lost all her baby weight, the breastfeeding is a breeze, her baby isn’t puking all over her and I bet she takes a shower every day.”
While adjusting to motherhood can be a breeze for a few lucky new moms (with full time help and a stylist on call), the vast majority of new moms need about 3-6 months to figure out how to care for their baby and themselves and, yes, get a shower every day.
If your pregnancy, birth and/or breastfeeding experiences are not what you expected or your baby has a health challenge, the feelings of being overwhelmed can become amplified.
Many new moms must also contend with managing complex relationships with well-meaning extended family members or be asked to conform to cultural traditions that may not resonate with their current situation. These can also add more stress to an already challenging situation.
Recognizing Postpartum Depression
There has been so much about postpartum depression in the news lately. Many new moms and their families wonder where the line between the normal “baby blues” ends and postpartum depression begins.
The following are examples of what may happen with more severe mood changes, and/or those that last more than 2 to 3 weeks. Anytime you are concerned about yourself or someone you love, do reach out to a health care provider.
Call your OB or Pediatric provider if you are:
– Feeling out of control
– Feeling sad and crying often
– Unable to sleep even when you are exhausted
– Having increased anxiety, worry or panic attacks
– Unable to care for yourself or the baby
– Having recurring thoughts or obsessive behaviors
– Feeling hopeless, guilty or ashamed
– Having disturbing thoughts about harming yourself or your baby
When in Doubt, Reach Out
Take or share this online risk assessment that can help to identify whether the symptoms you are experiencing should be addressed.
Safe and effective treatment options
Postpartum depression can be safely treated through one-on-one or group counseling, safe medications, or a combination of both. There are a variety of classes, support groups and treatments available no matter where you live.
You can find more resources through Postpartum Support International
For moms who live in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Maternal Outreach Mood Services (MOMS) program at El Camino Hospital is a resource I count on for my patients. This specialized program provides education, counseling and medical evaluation for expectant and new mothers.
Disclosure: I am working with El Camino Hospital to provide information on the programs and services that are available here.
Eating for Two
Getting the Right Nutrients
For more information on Pregnancy be sure to check out my new book, Nurse Barb’s Personal Guide to Pregnancy, now out on Amazon.
Even if you kind of suspected or knew with your whole heart that you were pregnant, when you actually pee on the stick and see the little lines officially confirming your pregnancy, your life changes in a nanosecond.
All of a sudden you might go from thinking “I’m probably just late.” To OMG, now what? Suddenly, there’s a flurry of emotions and questions. What should you do? Are you ready? What should you name your child? While I won’t suggest baby names for you, I can give you some guidance on what to do during pregnancy. Pregnancy is an incredible feat, and I know you’ll be able to rise to the challenge. Ready? Set? Let’s get started. (more…)
Everyone has questions about whether it’s ok to have sex in pregnancy, if intimacy will lead to labor or bleeding and whether it’s normal to be lots more interested or completely turned off. The trouble is, very few of us are comfortable asking our health care providers and so rely on friends or the internet (more…)
What? As a women’s health NP, we’re more consumed by measuring a mom’s growing tummy and reassuring her about the baby’s growth and development, not about any thoughts that women should try to have well-defined abdominal muscles. I read about this from Rachel Zarrell’s post with photos of pregnant women with baby bumps and defined abs via BuzzFeed. (more…)