Dealing with Stretch Marks

If there were a surefire way to prevent stretch marks it would be well-known, but unfortunately there is no way to completely prevent them. Stretch marks have a genetic factor, so if your family seems susceptible to them then you’re likely to get them, as well. Although they are common during pregnancy, stretch marks can appear at any time in a person’s life as their body grows.

Even though they’re not completely avoidable, there are some things you can do to help your skin’s elasticity and reduce the visibility of stretch marks. Here are some tips:

Stay Hydrated

Drinking lots of water to keep your skin healthy may improve your skin’s elasticity to help it avoid breaking when stretched. Of course, drinking water during pregnancy is very important for a host of health reasons, so make it a priority to stay hydrated.

Stay well-nourished

Eating foods high in the nutrients that form collagen, including riboflavin, niacin, Vitamins C, D, zinc, and silica, may help keep your skin healthy, as well. Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables can help ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need to stay healthy during pregnancy. Be sure to discuss any dietary plans or changes with your doctor to ensure its safety.

Exercise

Getting your blood pumping can help improve your circulation, which is not only important for your skin’s health, but can also help reduce the chances of developing varicose veins and swelling. Talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine during pregnancy.

Talk to your Doctor

While you can’t completely prevent stretch marks from appearing, you can take steps to reduce their visibility. Talk to your doctor about safe ways to minimize their appearance if this is important to you. There are in-office treatments available from a dermatologist and various topical products that may be effective.

Embrace them

Our bodies change every day, and will continue to do so until the end of our lives. When we focus our energy on preventing these changes, or let it affect our self-esteem, we may miss out on better uses of our energy that are more fulfilling. Embracing your body for all it has done and all that it is can help you manage the changes of pregnancy and any other changes you may face in life, and help you live a happier, more peaceful life of self-acceptance.

Did you get stretch marks during pregnancy? How did you deal with them?

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Dieting During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

Today’s post is all about dieting during pregnancy, and whether or not it’s the best idea. All of the advice provided here is based on guidelines set by the American Pregnancy Association (APA).

As a general rule, dieting to lose weight during pregnancy is generally not healthy for the baby. This is because you can deprive yourself of vital nutrients like folic acid and iron. While modifying your diet can actually be a good thing, it’s important to ensure that you’re getting enough calories and nutrients to help your baby develop.

Here are a few guidelines to follow when considering modifying your diet during pregnancy:

1. Increase your caloric intake, but not by as much as you think.

Pregnancy is a great opportunity to calibrate your eating habits in a healthy way. While it is important to consume more calories than you would when not pregnant, it is recommended that you only increase your intake by 300 calories a day.

2. Cover all the food groups.

According to the APA, you should try to eat a variety of foods from the various food groups. Here are some general guidelines to consider:

  • Fruits and Vegetables – Aim for fruits high in vitamin C (like oranges, grapefruit and honeydew) and vegetables rich in folic acid (like broccoli and Brussels sprouts). Dark, leafy vegetables are always a great idea. Aim for 2-4 servings of fruit and four or more servings of vegetables daily.
  • Breads and Grains – Whole grains can provide important nutrients like iron, fiber and B vitamins. And enriched foods like cereal can also provide much-needed vitamins. Try to stray from processed foods, and aim for 6-11 servings (ounces) of breads/grains daily, depending on your dietary needs.
  • Protein – It’s recommended that you have at least three servings of protein daily. You can get this from various sources: lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and quinoa.
  • Dairy – Calcium is one of the most important elements to a healthy pregnancy diet. If you do not consume enough calcium during pregnancy, your body will take what calcium it needs from your bones. There are various dairy products that are good sources of calcium, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. However, if you are a vegetarian, vegan, or are lactose intolerant, you can also find calcium in green vegetables, beans and dried peas. Aim for four servings of dairy (or its equivalents) daily.
3. Ensure your vitamin intake is where it needs to be.

There are certain vitamins and nutrients that are integral to the development of your unborn child. Ensure you have a comprehensive prenatal vitamin and are getting the following vitamins/nutrients daily:

  • 70 mg of vitamin C
  • 0.4 mg of folic acid
  • 27 mg of protein
  • 1000 mg of calcium
  • 27 mg of iron

At the end of the day, it’s always a good idea to consult with your health care provider on what will work best for you throughout your pregnancy. But hopefully these tips are a good jumping off point to help you make informed decisions to help your baby and yourself be the healthiest you can be.

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How to Count Kicks

Counting kicks in the third trimester is a great, non-invasive way for you to bond with your baby, monitor their health, and get to know his or her personality before they’re even born! Non-profit organization Healthy Birth Day, Inc. created the Count the Kicks campaign nearly a decade ago after research showed that tracking baby movements can lead a mom to save her baby if she notices a change in movement and tells her provider when she notices a difference. The campaign saved three babies within ten weeks last year, all because moms were tracking movement and spoke up when they noticed a reduction in their babies’ movements.

Time to Start Counting!

Count the Kicks and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend you start counting at 28 weeks of pregnancy, or 26 weeks in a high-risk pregnancy. Here’s how you do it:

  • Download the FREE Count the Kicks app, available in iTunes and Google Play online stores.
  • Count the Kicks every day, preferably at the same time.
  • Pick your time based on when your baby is usually active.
  • Sit with your feet up or lie on your side. Count each of your baby’s movements as one kick and tap the foot on the app until you reach ten movements. After a few days, you will begin to see a pattern for your baby (how long it takes you to get to ten).
  • Most of the time it will take less than a half hour, but every baby is different.
  • Knowing what is a normal movement pattern for your baby is key. When “normal” changes, this could be a sign of potential problems and an indication to call your provider.

Innovative App

The free Count the Kicks app will help you record the amount of time it takes your baby to get 10 movements and will save your kick counting sessions. The Count the Kicks app is available in English and Spanish, counts for single babies and twins, sends a daily text or calendar reminder, and can be used in consultation with your doctor. You can also log your times into a manual Count the Kicks chart.

Baby Movement Myth

Baby movements do not slow down at the end of pregnancy. While babies may run out of room for somersaults, they still move all the way up to and even during labor. Your baby’s movement pattern (how long it takes your baby to get to 10 movements) should remain the same throughout your pregnancy.

Be Empowered to Count the Kicks

Since Count the Kicks launched in Iowa in 2008, the state’s stillbirth rate has decreased 26 percent while the rest of the country’s stillbirth rate has remained relatively stagnant. Join the powerful movement by downloading the free app during pregnancy and tell every pregnant mom you know about the importance of tracking fetal movement in the third trimester. You never know who you might save!

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5 Safe Ways to Exercise During Pregnancy

I’ll go ahead and preface this by stating the obvious… every pregnancy is different. What may be too much exercise for one may not be enough for another. And consulting with your doctor or midwife regarding what exercises will work with your pregnancy is always a good idea. But the ideas provided here can be a good baseline of where to start.

Now that that’s out of the way, here are five safe ways to exercise during pregnancy:

1. Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal yoga is a great way to center your body and your mind. When performed correctly, it can help improve sleep, reduce your anxiety and stress, strengthen your core muscles to aid with childbirth, and decrease lower back pain and other aches that accompany pregnancy. As your pregnancy progresses, avoid inverted poses, and stay within parameters that you’re comfortable with.

2. Indoor Cycling

Cycling is an effective way to work out without putting undue pressure on your knee and ankle joints. And you can pedal at your own pace, and not worry about falling. If you happen to be adept at outdoor cycling, consult with your doctor about whether or not it’s safe to continue to cycle outdoors, and when you should stop.

3. Swimming/Water Aerobics

When you’re pregnant, water can be your best friend. Because, in water, you weigh 1/10th of what you do on land. So, you’ll feel lighter and more able to perform exercises. Swimming can also help combat nausea, swollen ankles, and feet, as well as sciatic pain.

4. Brisk/Speed Walking

This is probably the easiest exercise to perform, as well as the least expensive. You can also briskly walk to induce contractions when you’re ready to deliver. If you decide to go hiking, avoid walking too briskly if you’re not acquainted with the uneven terrain.

5. Low-Impact Aerobics

Don’t be afraid to show up to a low-impact aerobics or dance class to elevate your heart rate and get the endorphins going. As you progress in your pregnancy, try to avoid activities or classes that require careful balance, unless you’re already an amazing balancer.

While exercising can be beneficial, there are some warning signs that will help you know if you’re overdoing it. You should stop exercising and consult your doctor/midwife immediately if you experience the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Persistent contractions
  • A headache that doesn’t cease after rest and Tylenol
  • If you feel faint, light-headed, dizzy or nauseous
  • Experience a gush of fluid from your vagina or a trickle or steadily leaking fluid
  • Have shortness of breath or sudden muscle weakness
  • Notice an irregular or racing heartbeat

 

Did you exercise during your pregnancy? What are some of your favorite ways to exercise while pregnant? 

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