Am I Pregnant? 10 Early Signs

In the first few days and weeks of pregnancy, you might not know if you’re pregnant, but your body does! Pay attention for these early pregnancy indicators, even before you head to the doctor or the pharmacy for a pregnancy test!

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image credit: EU Mom

1. Missed menstrual period. Stress and other things can cause you to miss a period, but this is usually a main indication that you may be pregnant!

2. Slight spotting. It is possible that instead of a full-on period, you’re just spotting a bit. Bleeding at the time of implantation or in the early months of pregnancy can be confused with menstruation.

3. Fatigue – Suddenly feeling tired even though you had a full night’s sleep? Dozing off at work?  When you become pregnant, your body needs huge amounts of energy to adapt and nourish this new life.

4. Nausea –  It might be the flu– or it might be morning sickness!  If you’re feeling queasy or horribly nauseous,  vomiting or have dry heaves you may be experiencing Morning Sickness!

5. Aversions to strong smells. Anything at all might make you nauseous, even your own cooking! You could call it a baby-protective mechanism, since things like coffee, alcohol, and cigarette smoke, all things that you should avoid during pregnancy, seem to make you ill.

6. Food cravings. The pickles-and-ice cream jokes are getting old, but once you become pregnant you may crave foods that you hardly ate before. Your tastes may change from sweet to salty or vice versa.

7. Breast changes. Similar to premenstrual sensations, but often more dramatic:  tingling, tenderness, fullness; the areola begins to darken, and tiny glands on the areola enlarge.

8. Cramps. Also similar to the pelvic cramps you feel during menstruation. (Note that a sharp one-sided pain is not normal and your doctor should be notified.)

9. Frequent urination. In the beginning of pregnancy, it’s the hormones that cause you to urinate more often. Later on, there’s the additional pressure on the bladder from your enlarging uterus!

10. Constipation. Pregnancy hormones slow the action of your intestines. The slowing of your intestines plus their competition with the expanding uterus for room to work may leave you feeling constipated.

Get more information on what to expect during the FIRST MONTH at Dr. Sears.com!

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

How Early Can You Take a Home Pregnancy Test?

The suspense is killing you… could you be pregnant? Some pregnancy test kits say that you can use the test three to four days before your missed period, but it might be too early to be accurate. If you do, you’re more likely to get a false negative (the test says you’re not pregnant but you really are).

You will get a more truthful reading if you wait until after your period is due. Menstruation occurs on average 14 days after ovulation, so the likelihood of a false negative is low once a period is late.

Whenever you decide to do it, you’ll get the best results if you test first thing in the morning, and follow the test’s instructions. If it’s positive– congratulations! If it’s negative, and you still haven’t gotten your period, try again in a few days. If you get a faint positive reading, you probably are pregnant, since false positives are very rare. Wait a couple days and test again.

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How Pregnancy Tests Work

Pregnancy tests detect the chemical markers associated with pregnancy, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which can only be detected after implantation. It is commonly believed that an egg implants in the uterus wall 7 days after conception, but research shows that first appearance of pregnancy hormone, hCG, due to implantation occurred 6-12 days after ovulation, with the majority of pregnancies implanting 8-10 days after ovulation.

Every woman is different, and the time it takes for the fertilized egg to implant in your uterus wall can vary.  If you don’t get a positive sign on your pregnancy test, it doesn’t mean that you are not pregnant. You may have ovulated later than you thought (meaning that conception and subsequent hCG production didn’t happen as you calculated) or that, for you, implantation took longer than the average.

If you want a review of  different types of pregnancy tests, click over to Parents.com: 10 Home Pregnancy Tests (and How to Use Them)

The sensitivity of the pregnancy tests on the market today vary greatly. The more sensitive the test, the greater the chance it will pick up your pregnancy before your period is due. Visit Baby Hopes’ pregnancy test comparison page for info on various types’ sensitivity in picking up the pregnancy hormone hCG.

Spring 2011: Maternity Fashion Trends

Aren’t you ready to shed the layers? Winter doesn’t seem to be quite over yet, but those heavy sweaters and coats are getting to be so last season! Let’s take see what we have to look forward to as spring blows in! Here are a few of the latest maternity trends for Spring 2011!

Classic Americana

Red, white, and blue are star colors this season, while stripes are always classic. Preppy plaids, jeans, and rolled-cuff khakis give you some relaxed looks for weekend barbecues in the yard.

Short Sleeve Bow Detail Maternity Dress
Orange Pin-tucked Top by Gap $39.50
Short Sleeve Bow Detail Maternity Dress by  Motherhood Maternity $24.98

Military

The military look continues to be popular and versatile.  Light military jackets are great for the transition between winter and spring, or for layering when it’s cool outside.  Military accents can also be found on dresses, pants, and tops.

Convertible Sleeve Button Front Maternity DressClassic Long Sleeve Maternity Coat by Olian Maternity

Convertible Sleeve Button Front Maternity Dress by Motherhood Maternity $38.98

Classic Long Sleeve Maternity Coat by Olian Maternity $120.40

Vintage Floral

This look comes in beautifully ruffled dresses, tiered tops, and artisan tees. Dress it up with sequins and bows, or dress it down with stud details, cargo pockets, and military jackets.

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3/4 Sleeve Trapeze Maternity Blouse by Motherhood Maternity $34.98

Embellished Slub-Knit Tees by Old Navy $16.50

Soft and Feminine

Celebrate pregnancy with clothes that make you feel womanly. Soft pastels, pristine whites, feminine ruffles, and pretty prints paired are accentuated by belts and bows to show off your blossoming figure.

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Sleeveless Sash Belt Maternity Blouse by Motherhood Maternity $24.98

Embellished Drop-Waist Tops by Old Navy $16.50

Vitamin D Levels for Pregnant Women: Experts Recommend 8 Times Higher than FNB Levels

Thousands of studies over the last 10 years have shown that high doses of vitamin D are crucial to maintaining health in many areas. The Vitamin D Council, a highly regarded non-profit organization states: “Higher doses of Vitamin D help in many areas of health, among them: heart health, brain health, pancreatic health, muscle health, nerve health, eye health, immune health, colon health, liver health, mood health, skin health, and especially fetal health.” (emphasis added)

For this reason, the Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) has created a tumult for stating that the high levels of vitamin D currently being recommended by many health professionals are unnecessary and may even be toxic (November 2010). The FNB only slightly increased its recommended daily intake of vitamin D from 200 IU to 600 IU. In contrast, Harvard newsletter (December 2010) recommends 1,000-2,000 IU of vitamin D per day, while the Vitamin D Council recommends up to 5,000 IU a day.

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image credit: Mother Earth News

The fact that there is no difference between the amounts of D a 15 pound baby and a 300 pound man should take is deemed “absurd” by experts. When it comes to pregnant women, the FNB also makes no differentiation.  But respected vitamin D experts recommend at least 4,000 IU a day, and 6,000 for nursing mothers.

In response to the conclusions of the FNB panel, the Vitamin D Council statement responds:

“Disturbingly, this FNB committee focused on bone health… and ignored the thousands of studies from the last ten years… Tens of millions of pregnant women and their breast-feeding infants are severely vitamin D deficient, resulting in a great increase in the medieval disease, rickets. The FNB report seems to reason that if so many pregnant women have low vitamin D blood levels then it must be OK because such low levels are so common…

“Pregnant women taking 400 IU/day have the same blood levels as pregnant women not taking vitamin D; that is, 400 IU is a meaninglessly small dose for pregnant women. Even taking 2,000 IU/day of vitamin D will only increase the vitamin D levels of most pregnant women by about 10 points, depending mainly on their weight. Professor Bruce Hollis has shown that 2,000 IU/day does not raise vitamin D to healthy or natural levels in either pregnant or lactating women. Therefore supplementing with higher amounts — like 5000 IU/day — is crucial for those women who want their fetus to enjoy optimal vitamin D levels, and the future health benefits that go along with it.

“My advice, especially for pregnant women: continue taking 5,000 IU/day until your 25(OH)D is between 50–80 ng/mL (the vitamin D blood levels obtained by humans who live and work in the sun and the mid-point of the current reference ranges at all American laboratories).

“Gestational vitamin D deficiency is not only associated with rickets, but a significantly increased risk of neonatal pneumonia, a doubled risk for preeclampsia, a tripled risk for gestational diabetes, and a quadrupled risk for primary cesarean section.

“Today, the FNB has failed millions of pregnant women whose as yet unborn babies will pay the price. Let us hope the FNB will comply with the spirit of “transparency” by quickly responding to our Freedom of Information requests.”

How To Get Enough Vitamin D

There are 3 ways for adults to ensure adequate levels of vitamin D: (Vitamin D Council recommendations)

  • regularly receive midday sun exposure in the late spring, summer, and early fall, exposing as much of the skin as possible for 20–30 minutes (being careful to never burn). (Those with dark skin will need longer exposure time — up to six times longer.)
  • regularly use a sun bed (avoiding sunburn) during the colder months.
  • take 5,000 IU per day for 2–3 months, then obtain a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. Adjust your dosage so that blood levels are between 50–80 ng/mL (or 125–200 nM/L) year-round.

Pregnant Women Should Avoid “Silver” Dental Fillings

If you’ve been to the dentist to have a cavity filled, you may (or may not!) have been offered a choice between the silver filling (also known as dental amalgam) or bone-colored resin (more attractive, as it blends in with the color of your teeth). Although slightly  more expensive, added uncertainty about the safety of the mercury-based silver fillings should be enough for pregnant women to choose the resin filling.

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feature image: Top News

Recently, a U.S. advisory panel declared that it wants the FDA to look at the latest data and reassess its guidance after the agency last year declared the fillings safe.  Mercury has been linked to neurological damage at high exposure levels and makes up about 50% of a metal filling.  “Vulnerable people” such as children and pregnant/nursing women should be especially wary.

Some dentists and trade groups cite data showing that the fillings pose no harm once set in a patient’s tooth.  Other dentists testify that mercury is too risky and that they no longer use such fillings. Dozens of patients also detailed how their health deteriorated after getting amalgams and urged the panel to push FDA to reverse course and initiate strong warnings, especially for children and pregnant or nursing women.

The Environmental Protection Agency lists mercury as a neurotoxin. It can interfere with brain development and cognitive and motor skills. In addition, groups such as Moms Against Mercury and Consumers for Dental Choice say mercury fillings may trigger health problems, including:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • brain damage
  • kidney damage
  • migraines
  • multiple sclerosis
  • irritability (erethism)

Short of banning amalgams altogether, patients should at the very least be warned about the dangers of these metal fillings and offered a choice. Amalgams have already been banned in some European countries.

Read more: Rueters, World Dental.org

Getting Kids Excited about a New Baby

Younger toddlers won’t have a clue about a baby “growing in your tummy.” Because they can’t see it, they won’t be able to understand much of the explanation. Even when you are in your ninth month, big as a house, your older baby won’t take much notice of the bulge, except to realize that it is harder for her to sit on your lap.

Being pregnant with young children in tow can be both challenging and exhausting. Involving your kids in your pregnancy makes things a bit easier and is often fun. Here are some ways to involve everyone in the “family pregnancy” and prepare them for life with a newborn.

Arrange Baby Time

Make to be around very young babies. This lets your children see what they look like, hear how they sound, observe you holding one now and then, notice that they need comforting, and learn about nursing.

Baby Talk

Small kids: Once your belly is really big, eight months maybe, talk about the new baby. Your toddler will feel more secure if you refer to it as “Suzy’s new baby.” Let her feel kicks, help her talk or sing to baby, and stroke your belly.

Bigger kids: Tell older toddlers and preschoolers about the baby early on in the pregnancy. The older the child, the sooner you can tell him; very young children may be confused or disappointed when the baby fails to arrive the next day. With an older toddler or preschooler, try all of the toddler suggestions above, and in addition, use the diagrams in books on birth to talk about how the baby is growing, month by month. You’ll be surprised by questions like “What part did baby grow today, mom?”

Read Books about Babies

Show her simple children’s books about new babies. Show pictures of when she was a tiny baby and tell her about all the things you did for her. Say things like “Mommies hold tiny babies a lot because they need that.”

Explain Your  Moods

Depending on the age and level of understanding, tell your child why you are feeling so tired, grouchy, short-fused, impatient, and whatever else you feel while pregnant: You might say, “Baby needs a lot of energy to grow, and that’s why mom is tired and sleeps a lot…” Or, “The hormones baby needs to grow make mommy feel funny…”

Talk about the  Future

For example, let them know babies cry (some cry a lot) and they like it when you talk to them and make funny faces. Explain to them “You can help me change the diaper, bathe baby and dress baby. Babies can’t do anything for themselves for a long time, and they can’t play games until they grow bigger. They need to be held a whole lot, just like I held you when you were little.”

Hands on Demo

Usually by the fifth or sixth month, older children can feel their baby brother or sister move. During the time of the day when your baby moves the most, sit down and invite your children to feel the show. Let them guess which body part they are feeling.

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image: The Johns Hopkins Gazette

Baby Bonding

Invite your children to talk to and about the baby. If you already know the gender and have chosen a name, you can encourage them to use it when referring to the baby. Or you can welcome the baby nicknames your child invents. Babies can hear around 23 weeks of age, so this is a good time for the kids to start talking to the baby so he or she will get to know them. After about three months of this, their voices will be very familiar to the baby still in utero, and bonding will already be under way. Studies show that babies tend to turn toward voices they recognize right after birth.

Little Helping Hands

Realize that it’s impossible to give other family members the same degree of attention they are used to while you’re pregnant. Sooner or later the children will realize that they must share mom with another tiny taker in the family. Fortunately, pregnancy provides you with plenty of time to prepare your older children for what life will be like after the baby arrives. Getting them used to helping you while baby brother or sister is still inside is actually another good tool for bonding. The children will have invested their time and energy already even before baby comes, and the baby will have more personal value to them.

Adapted from 10 WAYS TO INVOLVE CHILDREN WITH YOUR PREGNANCY

feature image: The Johns Hopkins Gazette

Sweet Summer Sundresses for Under $30!

It’s summer time, and it’s finally time to put away the sweaters, flannels, and corduroys. It’s the weekend, you want to get some sun, and you want to wear something breezy, pretty, and comfy… like a colorful little sundress that’s bright and airy! But if you are pregnant, you may discover one problem… you don’t have any that still fit you!

Never fear! There are lots of them out there, and here are some of summer’s sweetest sundresses for UNDER $30!

Old Navy: Crinkled gauze fabric, breezy style, and adjustable straps. $29.50

Kiki’s Fashions: Lots and lots of adorable dresses, all under $50! Yellow & white print dress $28.99, Pink plaid dress $27.99
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Motherhood Maternity: Soft jersey knit, smocked, spaghetti straps. $19.98
Spaghetti Strap Smocked Maternity DressSpaghetti Strap Smocked Maternity Dress
Old Navy: Soft gauze, crochet trim, graceful tiered hemline. $29.50

Pregnancy Warning Signs You Should Never Ignore

Aches and pains, weird skin conditions, fatigue and mood swings are all part of a normal pregnancy. But sometimes you  may experience something that could be a potentially serious warning sign.  Most women don’t want to bother their doctor over every tiny thing, so how do you know what warrants immediate attention and what can wait until your next doctor’s visit?

WebMD consulted the experts, who say you’re always better safe than sorry. If you are concerned that something is not normal, call your doctor. And every pregnant woman should be aware that there are some symptoms during pregnancy that need immediate attention.

WebMD presents the seven top signs of a potentially serious pregnancy complication:

1. Bleeding During Any Trimester

Bleeding during pregnancy is serious and always needs to be evaluated immediately. Call your doctor or go to the emergency room. Some serious causes for bleeding include:

First trimester: Heavy bleeding, severe abdominal pain, menstrual-like cramps, and feeling like you might faint could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. This happens when a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus, and it can be life-threatening.

First and second trimester: Heavy bleeding with cramping could also be a sign of miscarriage.

Third trimester: Bleeding and abdominal pain may indicate placental abruption, which occurs when the placenta separates from the uterine lining.

2. Severe Nausea and Vomiting

If it gets to the point where you can’t keep anything down, you are at risk of becoming dehydrated and malnourished, which can cause serious complications ranging from birth defects to premature labor.  Proper nutrition is very important for you and your baby.  Your doctors can prescribe safe medications for controlling nausea, and may also advise some dietary changes to help you find food you can keep down.

3. Baby’s Activity Level Decreases Significantly

What does it mean if your previously active baby is not moving as much as it used to?  It is possible that he is not getting enough oxygen and nutrients from the placenta.  To find out if there really is a problem, eat something or take a cold drink. Then lie on your side to see if this gets the baby moving.

You can also count kicks, although “There is no optimal or critical number of movements.” As a general guideline, you should count at least 10 kicks in two hours. Anything less, call your doctor as soon as possible.

4. Early Contractions

Contractions could indicate preterm labor. First-time mothers may be confused by real labor and Braxton-Hicks contractions, which are false labor pains.  Braxton-Hicks are unpredictable and do not increase in intensity. They generally subside in an hour, with activity, or after drinking. On the other hand, regular contractions start off about 10 minutes apart, and over time increase in intensity while becoming closer together.

If you are feeling contractions and don’t know what they are, don’t take a chance! If it is too early for the baby to be born, your doctor has ways to stop labor.

5. Your Water Breaks

Sometimes water breaking is a dramatic gush of liquid, but other times it’s just a subtle trickle.  Then again, it could be urine leakage due to increased pressure on your bladder. One way to tell is to go to the bathroom and empty your bladder. If the fluid keeps coming , then your water has broken… time to call your doctor or go to the hospital!

6. Severe Headache, Abdominal Pain, Visual Disturbances, and Swelling

These are all symptoms of preeclampsia, a serious and potentially fatal condition. Other signs of preeclampsia are high blood pressure and excess protein in your urine. It usually occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy.  You need to call your doctor and get your blood pressure tested. With good prenatal care, you can catch and treat preeclampsia early.

7. Flu Symptoms

Pregnancy puts added stress on the immune system, so pregnant women are more likely to catch the flu when it’s going around. They are also at a higher risk for more serious flu complications.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. If you think you’ve got the flu, call your doctor first instead of rushing into his office where you could spread it to other pregnant women.

Something else to be aware of is that a fever greater than 101.4 degrees could indicate an infection. So even if you don’t have the flu, you should call your doctor so he can evaluate your condition.

For more information on health and pregnancy, visit WebMD

feature image from US Moms Today

The Truth about Celebs’ Post-Baby Bodies

Have you noticed the new “trend” of famous new mom’s flaunting their flat stomachs just weeks and months after giving birth? iVillage calls attention to a gorgeous Kourtney Kardashian in a red bikini on the cover of Life & Style Weekly, with not a stretch mark or love handle in sight (although the post-pregnancy bosom is most definitely there)!

Before that there was bikini-clad Kendra Wilkinson, who graced the cover of OK! in February, just eight weeks after giving birth to her son. And last May, Elisabeth Hasselbeck posed for the cover of  Fitness, with baby Taylor only 6 months old. And famous octo-mom Nadya Suleman posed for the cover of Star in January one year after giving birth to her crew.
Pregnancy and weight loss are two topics that are sure to sell magazines, but as iVillage puts it, “There are so many things sadistically wrong with our post-baby celebrity body obsession.” You can probably figure out what the problems are yourself, but here’s what iVillage has to say about it:

The magazines are misleading

Kardashian’s cover reads “How I lost 33 pounds! My super-fast weight loss, flat stomach in days, new secret slim-down shake.” Just whip up your own slim-down shake, curl up with their magazine, and your pregnancy weight will disappear too! (We won’t mention the fact that you don’t have a private trainer, personal nutritionist, full-time nanny or cosmetic surgeon like she does.)

Some celebrity moms are lying too…

Octomom’s bikini cover reads, “No nips, no tucks, no lipo.” While it is technically possible that she dropped 150-ish pounds without surgery, you can’t get rid of that much stretched out skin with exercise alone.

Photoshop works miracles!

We all know that magazines retouch all their photos. Bye-bye stretch marks and love handles! Take a look at this altered cover image of Kardashian for evidence of how far digital “shaping” goes. Thankfully, she objected to it!

(photo credit and story here)

Not the role models we need!

You know what your priority should be after you have a baby? Your baby. Not weight loss, calorie intake, or how you look in a bikini.  The newborn period is so short, and before you know it this sweet, tiny little creature will be… well, not newborns anymore. Take time to bond with your baby and take care of yourself, too. That means eating hearty, healthy meals, getting enough sleep, and ignoring the pressure to looking perfect again.

Now here’s a photo we can all be comfortable with… Halle Berry, post baby, out shopping as happy as can be (note: not exercising!) and feeling comfortable in her own skin. She looks great, and that baby belly– well that’s pretty much what any normal postpartum mom looks like! It’s an old picture, but I’m liking it! ( photo source)

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