Baby Shower Themes and Planning Tips

Often, the first step in planning a baby shower is picking a theme. Even picking a color theme can make your planning easier by narrowing down the choices! Blue for a boy and pink for a girl are traditional, but of course any palette can be charming.

Fun and creative baby shower themes

Tea Party: A chic alternative to your standard baby shower, guests can dress in formal attire and enjoy a sophisticated sit-down party with real china, fresh flowers, and elegant food.

Book Shower: All the guests are invited to bring their favorite children’s book! You can include something fun like a stuffed toy or game that matches the subject of your book.  A great way to start baby’s library!

Mommy Shower: Focus on the mom-to-be instead of the baby! This is a great idea especially if she’s already got a lot of the baby paraphernalia she needs. Guests can bring gifts for mom such as gift certificates to her favorite (grown-up) store, fashion accessories, books, etc.

Scrapbooking Shower: If the mom-to-be is a scrapbooker, have all the guests bring something meaningful, useful, or funny to include on her scrapbook page. It can be something written, like a story, poem, letter, or parenting advice. It can be photos or other objects that recall a fond memory. Lots of creative options!

Noah’s Ark: A fun theme for the mom expecting twins–guests bring 2 of everything!

Nine Months: Everyone is invited to come to the party nine-months pregnant! Stuff your top with pillows so the mom-to-be won’t feel self-conscious… it’s a great ice-breaker too if your guests don’t all know each other!

Freezer Party: If mom is expecting a second or third, she may not need all the stuff that new moms need. Instead, each guest can bring a freezer-friendly meal to be put away for later! Now the family has a home-cooked meal to eat even when mom does not feel up to cooking.

Baby Shower Invitations

Once you’ve got an idea or theme for your party, the next step is picking out invitations!

E-mail or Snail mail: Email is the economical choice, but it’s always fun to send and receive real paper invitations. There are so many lovely colors, patterns, and designs to choose from!

Plan Ahead: Give your guests a few week’s notice. This will hopefully prevent them from scheduling something else on that day, and give ample time for gift shopping!

All the Info: Make sure to include all the important information such as date, time, and location, who it’s for and RSVP instructions. Include registry information if the mom-to-be is registered anywhere. If you’re having a theme, let the guests know so they can plan/dress accordingly!

Baby Shower Planning

Here are some helpful guidelines and tips for planning a shower!

Hosting: Although traditionalists will say that a non-family member should throw the party (so it doesn’t look like anyone’s begging for gifts) it’s really OK for anyone to be involved in the planning.

When: Showers are usually held near the end of the pregnancy, when excitement about the new arrival is peaking. Having a baby shower after the baby is born is fine too, especially if the sex of the baby is being kept a surprise.

Guests: Consulting with the mom-to-be is definitely best when putting together a guest list. You don’t want to leave out anybody important! Baby showers are traditionally a women-only affair, but co-ed parties are becoming more popular… especially if Dad wants to be part of it.

On the Agenda: Showers usually consist of some sort of refreshment or meal, an activity or silly game, socializing, and gift opening. You can offer prizes for the game winners, or party favors for everyone. A theme can make the planning a lot easier to pull together!

Energizing Foods for Pregnancy

Being pregnant… it’s exhausting! And in the early months, when there’s not much to show for it, your hard-working body may not get much appreciation or relaxation.

But what is making you so tired? How can that tiny little growing being inside you be sapping so much of your energy? To fuel the baby-making, your body is producing more blood, your heart rate is up, your metabolism is working overtime, and you’re using up more nutrients and water. It also takes four months until the baby’s placenta  is complete. So it’s no wonder you are always fighting fatigue!

So when a nap is not an option, and the show must go on, what kind of energy boost can you hope for?  Sugar and caffeine may give you a temporary high, but after the initial surge in blood sugar you’ll plummet lower than before. What you need are some nutritious, energy-boosting foods to help you get through the day.

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image credit: all diets review

Grazing (eating 5 or 6 small meals instead of 3 big ones) may be the best way to eat while pregnant. You’ll keep your energy levels even and avoid the nausea that may accompany a too-large meal. And be sure to drink plenty of water.

And while you’re not literally “eating for two,” your body does need about 300 extra calories per day.  Bon appétit!

Protein: Recommendation for pregnancy: 75 grams of it per day. Helps keep you energized and aids in the development of your baby’s rapidly reproducing cells.

  • milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • eggs
  • lean meat and poultry
  • fish and seafood
  • beans, lentils, split peas
  • quinoa
  • nuts and seeds

Complex Carbohydrates:

  • whole-grain breads, crackers, and cereals
  • fresh, dried, and frozen fruits
  • fresh vegetables
  • baked potatoes with skin
  • dried beans and peas

Iron: Fatigue can be related to iron-deficiency anemia, especially in pregnant women. Iron-rich foods will keep your irons stores elevated and help pump up your energy level.

  • dried fruit
  • spinach
  • soy products
  • lean red meat
  • duck
  • cooked shellfish
  • cooked dried beans
  • oatmeal
  • iron-fortified cereals

Putting it all together: Here are just a few meal and snack ideas to help you get that little extra energy-lift.

  • Sandwiches of whole-grain bread filled with grated cheese, tuna, lettuce and tomatoes.
  • Salads with fresh veges and feta cheese
  • Low-fat yogurt with dried fruit and granola
  • Hummus with bread or vegetable sticks
  • Fresh fruit
  • dried fruits and nuts
  • Hearty soups with veges, beans, legumes, chicken or meat
  • Oatmeal or unsweetened breakfast cereals
  • Fruit-shakes and fresh-squeezed juice
  • Chicken breast with baked potato and steamed veges
  • Whole-grain pasta topped with grilled veges and salmon

Hair Loss After Pregnancy

Although you may put “hair loss” and “pregnancy” together, it is usually after birth that women begin to notice their hair is falling out at a faster rate than usual. During pregnancy, on the contrary, a woman’s hair tends to be fuller and more luxurious than usual! If you are experiencing unusual hair loss during pregnancy, this may be due to a vitamin or mineral deficiency.

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American Pregnancy explains that this condition actually has a name: Telogen effluvium is the excessive shedding of hair that occurs one to five months following pregnancy. It affects almost half of all childbearing women, but like most changes during pregnancy, it is temporary.

If you are concerned about thinning hair, American Pregnancy recommends a few things you can do to reduce hair loss after pregnancy:

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How to Sleep Better During Pregnancy

You’re tired. You also have a bit of heartburn. Your back hurts, your legs are cramping. Maybe you feel restless, anxious about the future, overwhelmed with so many things going on at once. You might feel short of breath, and find it hard to get comfortable. And then, as you finally start to drift off, you get that uncomfortably-full feeling in your bladder and up we go to the bathroom yet again!

In your first trimester, you’ll find that you feel extra sleepy all the time, which is brought on by high levels of progesterone. Your second trimester might bring a period of peaceful sleep, but don’t get to used to it because when the third trimester comes along, with that beautiful belly getting bigger every day, sleep may seem like a distant memory.

You’re exhausted, but you can’t sleep! Help!

Sleep Position:

Lying on your side with your knees tucked in is likely to be the most comfortable position. It also take some stress off your heart, because it keeps the baby’s weight off of the inferior vena cava, the large vein that carries blood back to the heart from your feet and legs. Also, if you sleep on your left side, it helps take the pressure of your uterus off your liver. It also helps with digestion and improves circulation to the heart, fetus, uterus, and kidneys.

Pillow Relief:

Some women feel more comfortable with a pillow under their tummy, between their legs, or at the small of your back may help to relieve some pressure. This is something you’ll have to experiment with a bit, and maybe try one of the various “pregnancy pillows” on the market.

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maternity pillows

Watch what and when you eat:

Take it easy on the caffeinated drinks like soda, coffee, and tea. If you can’t give up your caffeine, try to restrict it to earlier part of the day.

You need to get plenty of fluid and nutrition during the day, but try to avoid eating and drinking a lot within a few hours of bedtime. Eat larger meals for breakfast and lunch, and a smaller meal at dinner. If you’re bothered by nausea, a few crackers before you go to sleep may do the trick.

Relief for Heartburn:

The first step is to avoid foods that trigger heartburn. Some common culprits are carbonated drinks, alcohol, caffeine, citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, mustard, vinegar, mint products, processed meats, and any foods that are spicy, highly seasoned, fried, or fatty.  Again, eat small, frequent meals, and chew your food slowly and thoroughly. Don’t eat for a few hours before bedtime.  Elevating your head and upper body may help keep stomach acids where they belong.

Create an inviting sleep environment:

If you can get into a routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, it will help you fall asleep at night. Try to do something relaxing just before you get into bed, like taking a warm bath, drinking something soothing, like tea with honey, or ask your partner for a little foot massage. Exercising during the day may help your body release pent up energy which will help you sleep at night, but don’t exercise right before bedtime.

Leg Cramps:

No one can sleep through a leg cramp! To make it go away, try pressing your feet hard against the wall or to stand on the leg.  Also, make sure that you’re getting enough calcium in your diet, which can help reduce leg cramps.

Reduce Stress:

If your days are always spent on the go, consider a prenatal yoga class or some other relaxation exercise to help you unwind. If you are worried about the birth or how you will cope with a new baby, a childbirth or parenting class will help you feel more confident about the future. Knowledge, and the company of other women in a similar position, may be comforting and help you sleep better at night.

Take Naps:

Regardless of everything you do, there are times when you just can’t sleep. In these cases, short naps during the day can be a life-saver. Instead of tossing and turning, get up and do something: read a book, catch up on letters or email, put in a load of laundry, wash the dishes. Eventually, you’ll probably feel tired enough to get back to sleep.  Then, you’ll have cleared up some space the next day for a nice hour’s nap!

The Case Against Planned Inductions

The last few weeks of your pregnancy are not “optional.” They are an important time for your baby’s development which should not be cut short by an early induction. If there are valid medical reasons for labor induction, your health-care provider will help you decide on the best course of action. But if you just want to schedule an induction for the sake of convenience or any other non-medical reason, here are some things to consider:

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feature image: Baby Announcement Wording

1. Less than 10% of babies actually arrive on their “due date.” Experts agree that a normal pregnancy lasts between 38 and 42 weeks. About 7 out of 10 babies are born after their due date! There is NO way to predict with absolute accuracy what day your baby will be born, you will have to trust your body and your baby to let you know w hen it’s time!

2. Unless you have had a first-trimester ultrasound, gestational dating is largely inaccurate. Later ultrasounds can be off by 2-3 weeks, meaning an induction at 38 weeks might actually be taking place sooner than intended.

3. First time mothers are more often overdue than not! Even 42 weeks PLUS is “normal” and is not a reason to rush into an induction.

4. The last few weeks that a baby spends in utero are an important time for baby’s development, most importantly brain development. A surge of hormones in your baby’s body might play a part in initiating labor.  According to Lamaze, research indicates that once your baby’s lungs are fully mature, he releases a protein that tells his mother’s body that it’s time. A baby born even a few weeks early is at an increased risk for breathing problems, admission to special-care nurseries and breastfeeding difficulties.

5. Which brings us to our next point: Full-term babies (39-40 weeks) are healthier! According to Time: “It’s kind of surprising that insurance providers haven’t curtailed the practice of early elective deliveries entirely as babies born sooner tend to have more health complications and cost more. Even babies delivered at 37 to 38 weeks can end up costing 10 times as much as a full-term newborn, according to the March of Dimes. One study found that reducing early elective deliveries to under 2% could save close to $1 billion in health care each year.”

6. An induced labor is likely to be longer, more intense, and more invasive than a natural labor. You will need IV fluids and continuous electronic fetal monitoring. You will be more likely to use an epidural to deal with the intense contractions. Inductions don’t always work according to plan, often necessitating  forceps, vacuum assistance, and c-sections. Relative to c-section babies, babies who go through labor are born more alert and are better able to breathe and latch on at the breast. (Read this article in Time.com)

7. Better in than out! All of my babies were over-due, and 3 children later I have come to the conclusion that babies are much less trouble in the uterus than out! That is my own personal opinion, of course, and I do love my children dearly!

Bottom line: Be respectful of your baby and let him be a player in his own birth. The safest birthing option for you and your baby is to wait for labor to begin on its own, and in this way you’ll give him the best possible start as he enters our world.

Beautiful Summer Maternity Clothes for Under $30!

It’s July and we are definitely feeling the summer heat, aren’t we?! For the pregnant ladies, hot is even hotter, and we want to help you cool off a bit. We’ve rounded up some sizzling fashions that you can buy with a click of the mouse, so you don’t even have to get off your chair.

Skirts, tops, leggings, dresses, swimwear… Check out these great summer maternity fashions for UNDER $30. They’ll keep you looking hot, at prices that won’t have you breaking out in a sweat!

Below: Sleeveless Stretch Dress in Pink (also Black) only $19.98 by Motherhood Maternity.

Sleeveless Stretch Fabric Maternity Dress

Below: Sleeveless V-Neck Knit Dress -Underwater Jade $27.99 at Target

Product Image Liz Lange® for Target® Maternity Sleeveless V-Neck Knit Dress -Underwater Jade

Below: Shirred-Neckline Dresses $29.94 by Old Navy

Below: Short Sleeve Flutter Sleeve Dress $24.98 by  Motherhood Maternity

Short Sleeve Flutter Sleeve Maternity Dress

Below: Green Print Strapless Maxi Dress $29.99 Kiki’s Fashions

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Below: Smocked Lace-Trim Dress $29.94 by Old Navy

Below: Elbow Sleeve Hardware Detail Top $19.99 by  Motherhood Maternity.

Elbow Sleeve Hardware Detail Maternity Shirt

Below: Tons of tanks & Camis for just $9.99 at Target

Product Image Liz Lange® for Target® Maternity Long and Lean Tank - Fresh White Product Image Liz Lange® for Target® Maternity Cami - Black

Below: Green Striped Short Sleeve Shirt $22.99 by Kiki’s Fashions

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Below: Sleeveless Tie Detail Blouse $24.98 by Motherhood Maternity

Sleeveless Tie Detail Maternity Blouse

Below: Fold-Over Skirts $17.50 by Old Navy

Below: Fold-Over Panel Crop Pants $19.99 at Target

Product Image Liz Lange® for Target® Maternity Fold-Over Panel Crop Pants - Black

Below: Knee Length A-Line Skirt $19.98 by Motherhood Maternity

Secret Fit Belly(tm) Knee Length  A-line Maternity Skirt

Below: Maternity Bootcut Pants $22.99 Kiki’s Fashions

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Below: Maternity Jersey Legging 2-PACK $19.00 by Old Navy

Below: Ruffled Bandeaukini Swim Top $24.99 at Target

Product Image Liz Lange® for Target® Maternity Ruffled Bandeaukini Swim Top - Black/Blue

Prenatal Vitamins Help Prevent Autism

Another huge reason for taking prenatal vitamins! In addition to warding off birth defects and assisting with proper fetal growth, a new study shows that taking prenatal vitamins may help prevent autism and autism spectrum disorders, reducing the risk by some 40 percent.

According to researchers, the three months before conception and the first month of pregnancy are the most vital times for taking prenatal vitamins. So women who want to or may become pregnant should be particularly vigilant during this time frame.

Folic acid is one of the essential ingredients in prenatal vitamins, and plays a major role in healthy fetal development.  Talk to your doctor about a healthy diet and appropriate prenatal vitamins.

Are Hopsital Births Now “Scarier” Than Home Births?

AP reports that home births are on the rise by a dramatic 20 percent, from 2004 to 2008, accounting for 28,357 of 4.2 million U.S. births. And lest you think it is only the tree-huggers or families who are uninsured and can’t afford a hospital birth, think again.

Sherry Hopkins, a Las Vegas midwife, has attended the home births of many well-educated, affluent, informed women, including a pediatrician, an emergency room doctor and nurses. Home births are the new “it” thing to do.

“I do think there’s a backlash against what’s happening in hospitals,” said Gina Crosley-Corcoran, a Chicago blogger and pre-law student, who gave birth to her third baby (a V-bac) at home. “Women are finding that the hospital experience wasn’t a good one.”

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The hospital birth experience does seem to be becoming increasingly invasive and drug-dependent.  There are relatively minor inconveniences such as being poked by needles, fetal-monitoring, and being told what position to labor in. Then there are bigger concerns such as cord-clamping,  inducement, soaring C-section rates, and brachial plexus injuries. And then there is the matter of comfort: birthing mothers want to feel at ease in their own surroundings, going at their own pace, without interference from doctors who want to speed things up so they won’t miss dinner.

Dr. Joel Evans, a board-certified OB-GYN who supports home birth, calls the medical establishment “resistant to change, resistant to dialogue, resistant to flexibility.”  For many women, hospital births have become a stressful, medicalized experience where every birthing woman is treated under the same protocols.

Home births are not for everyone, especially those who are high-risk. Emergencies do happen, so it is important to be close to a hospital in case you need to be rushed there. An informed decision, careful examination of the pros and cons, together with expert advice, is always the way to go.

Robbie Davis-Floyd, a medical anthropologist at the University of Texas at Austin and researcher on global trends in childbirth, says: “Women who are truly educated in evidence-based maternity care understand the safety and the multiple benefits of home birth.”

Read more: Home birth on the rise by a dramatic 20 percent

If you have had a home-birth of are thinking of having one, we’d like to hear about it! Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Summer Pregnancy Health: Water, Water, Water

Long periods of time in the sun and heat can take a toll on anyone, but pregnant women should be extra vigilant about drinking enough water. Don’t run the risk of dehydration this summer… read on!

Why We Need Water

A woman’s body is made up of about 55% water, and a newborn baby’s body is about 75% water! Water is a vital part of many bodily functions: it  flushes waste products from the cells, aids in liver and kidney function, regulates body temperature, protects joints and organs, and generates healthy skin. Because blood is made mostly of water, it’s especially important to drink a lot during pregnancy, as mom’s blood volume increases significantly.

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What Happens When You’re Dehydrated

When your body starts running low on fluids, you may experience fatigue, constipation, blood clots, preterm labor, and, in severe cases, miscarriage. It is also dangerous because it can compromise your baby’s nourishment. Proper hydration is important for producing adequate breast milk, too.

Signs of Dehydration

Sweating in the summer is one way your body cools itself off, but it can cause you to lose a significant amount of water. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Dry mouth and thirst
  • Cool or pale skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rising pulse
  • Feeling dizzy, weak, or lightheaded
  • Bad headache that doesn’t improve with acetaminophen
  • Abdominal cramping lasting 15 minutes or more
  • Fever of 102 degrees F. or higher
  • Feeling confused or disoriented

If you experience any of these symptoms, stop immediately to rest in a cool place and drink water. If the symptoms don’t subside within 30 minutes, call your doctor. You may need to be put on an IV to rehydrate yourself.

How Much Should I Drink?

To prevent dehydration, you should try to drink at least 8-12 eight-ounce glasses of non-caffeinated fluids every day. Caffeine can actually dehydrate you. Fruits and vegetables count too, since they contain substantial amounts of water. You may not always feel thirsty, but try to drink at regular intervals throughout the day anyway.  If it’s very hot or you are exercising, increase your water intake. Your urine should be light yellow, and you should need to go to the bathroom a few times a day.

Your Beautiful Baby-Making Body

As your entire body seems to expand to accommodate and nurture your growing baby, it’s important to banish any feelings of resentment over the extra weight gain. Some women naturally rejoice in their new status as a mommy-to-be, while others find it difficult to do in today’s body-obsessed culture.

It’s important to be positive when viewing your new figure, appreciating not only your enhanced bra size and glowing skin, but also your wider hips, fuller face, and stretch marks.

Purge your vocabulary of words like “fat” and “huge.” Embrace words such as soft, womanly, voluptuous, curvy, nurturing, fertile, radiant, miraculous. You have been chosen to receive a tremendous gift, a new life, and your very own body is a partner in the creation of this baby.

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“Pregnant women become spiritually and physically attractive,” writes Frederick Wirth, MD, author of Prenatal Parenting: The Complete Psychological and Spiritual Guide to Loving Your Unborn Child. “There’s a serene radiance of fertility and ripeness.” That’s a wonderful way to think about the beauty and wonder of your body changing in response to your baby developing inside you. Believe in that and nurture yourself during this time. The way you act, feel and think as an expectant mother actually has a profound impact on your baby. (Lamaze.org)

You may not be thrilled with the weight gain, but keep in mind that your body is working toward a very high purpose.  Your body is doing exactly what it was made to do!  Take care to nurture yourself physically by eating wisely, drinking lots of water, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Charge yourself emotionally by reading magazines, web sites and books that help you build confidence rather than cause you to worry. Spend time with good friends and family, and make time for yourself as well. Nourish yourself spiritually by believing in yourself and recognizing that you are a partner with God in bringing a new, precious soul into the world.

Picture to yourself the moment when you will hold your newborn baby in your arms, and know that it is all worth it.

Read more at Lamaze.org

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