The 9th Week of Pregnancy

As you’re advancing into the 3rd month of pregnancy, your baby keeps busy growing. The little one is now almost one inch long and is starting to get the baby-like look more and more each day. The eyes, nose and mouth are becoming more distinct, while tiny ear buds are appearing. Eyes will stay shut for another 5 months, but they have already developed. The essential organs have formed by now and they continue to develop and perfect their functions. Your placenta has more complex functions and has started to produce nutrients and to eliminate waste. You can’t feel anything by touching your belly just yet, but you might hear it. Around this time, your baby’s heart beat should be audible with a Doppler device, so make sure to ask for it at your next appointment.

How to take care of yourself at 9 weeks pregnant

It’s likely that your baby bump is barely visible, and yet all these highly-complex changes are going on through your body. At this stage of pregnancy, most women have symptoms of tiredness and morning sickness. Pregnancy hormones are kicking in, sometimes leading to headaches, backaches, mood swings and other symptoms.  It’s important to take really good care of yourself to diminish the negative symptoms and to make sure your body has enough activity and nutrients to keep you and your baby healthy and growing.

Set your appetite on fruits and vegetables. All day. Every day. There are no healthier and safer sources of vitamins and minerals than the natural ones – fruits and vegetables. If you are having morning sickness, your appetite could be decreased, so try to set up a meal schedule with small and regular snacks. Make it easier to adjust to your new lifestyle by seeking advice from a nutritionist or by informing yourself from the web. There are now quite a few useful apps that can help you follow a nutrition plan for the pregnancy months ahead of you.

Further preparations

Schedule an antenatal appointment with your doctor or midwife if you haven’t done so yet. This is mainly for taking routine tests, but you can also get more informed on your progress and get recommendations on eating, rest and exercise based on your medical history and condition. If you have not had a confirmation of pregnancy from your OB yet, do so by taking the first ultrasound scan, called the Early Pregnancy scan or Viability scan. Based on the early pregnancy scan, the sonographer will calculate your estimated due date and check whether you have a single pregnancy or a twin pregnancy.

After you have had confirmation of pregnancy from your doctor, you now have the certainty needed to make the official announcement to your friends, relatives, co-workers and your boss. You can show the first baby scan photos to your close ones and enjoy the wonderful experience ahead.

The 8th Week of Pregnancy

The baby bump may not be showing by the 8th week of pregnancy in most cases, yet a lot of changes are already going on with your body. Your breasts are becoming more sensitive and tender and you’ll probably need to change your bra to a bigger size by now for proper support. This is caused by the changes in hormonal levels and prepares your body for lactation. In most cases cups will grow by 2 sizes, so it’s practical to buy maternity support bra with two sizes bigger than your current one. You will notice that in this period the areolas around your nipples will begin to darken, also due to the change in hormones.

If you haven’t already followed a nutritional plan, start now. You will need plenty of vitamins and minerals to give your baby all the nutrients needed for a healthy development. Talk to your doctor or a specialist in nutrition about a recommended plan and any supplements you might need. Plan a custom exercise program as well. You will need to strengthen your muscle tone for carrying the weight to come in the next seven months.

Your baby, now at about the size of a raspberry, is growing fast. Although you cannot feel it yet, your baby has already started to move and shift its position. All of the organs have started developing and functioning, and muscles and nerves continue to form. Believe it or not, your baby’s lips begin to take shape around the 8th week of pregnancy, and in most cases fingers and toes are starting to appear. Your baby’s gonads begin to take shape into either ovaries or testicles, although it’s often impossible to see this on the scan that early into pregnancy. You can follow the progress of your growing baby through ultrasound scans now. Many parents find this experience to be magical, as you can actually see the miracle of life unfolding over the course of a few months.

There are genetic screening tests and other tests you can already take during this week. Discuss your family medical history with your doctor to see what tests are needed in your case. Many conditions, such as RH disease, are treatable during pregnancy, so take precautions to reduce all risks and have a safe pregnancy and birth.

Exercise during Pregnancy

Exercising for half an hour each day brings plenty of benefits during pregnancy. Combined with a healthy diet, a few light to moderate exercises on a regular basis will improve your muscle tone and give you strength and energy. You will be more prepared for the moment of labour and it will be easier to get back in shape after childbirth. Another plus is that your mood will generally be better and your sleep quality will improve. Below are a few of the most popular exercising activities and their benefits for pregnant women.

Pilates

Pilates exercises are great for strengthening your abdominal, back and kegel muscles. Check with your doctor for advice on physical activity before starting a Pilates class. You should generally avoid positions that require you to lay on your back, especially after the 10th week of pregnancy. Ask your instructor for recommended positions depending on your pregnancy stage. Most exercises can be easily adapted to your needs and limits, so if you’re well informed you can safely benefit from Pilates exercises.

Prenatal Yoga

There are different types of Yoga, so make sure you choose exercises that are safe for pregnant women, or look for a Prenatal Yoga class. Yoga training will improve your muscle tone, help with back pain relief and keep you flexible. Prenatal Yoga exercises are designed specifically for pregnant women, so they are absolutely safe for you to try.

Jogging

Stretching exercises are great for maintaining the muscle tone and for flexibility, but they need to be complemented with cardio exercises. Jogging will give you a great heart workout and it’s time-efficient. The secret to keep up is routine. Go out for a short, 10 to 15 minutes run every day at the same time, it will get easier and easier to stick to this schedule. Don’t push yourself over the limits, intense workouts are generally not recommended during pregnancy. If you haven’t jogged before, start with a lighter form of exercise, such as walking.

Walking

Walking is one of the safest exercising options during pregnancy. If your doctor advised you to limit physical activities, go out for a walk whenever possible. The best part about walking is that you can combine it with fun activities – such as going for a stroll in the park – and with useful activities – like going to the supermarket. Walking quickly counts as cardio training and will improve your circulation.

Swimming

Swimming is a great exercise during pregnancy, safe and with great benefits at the same time. Most pregnant women enjoy the feeling that their body is lighter in the water. Swimming helps relief back aches and gives your heart and lungs sufficient workout. Join an aquanatal class for water-based exercises designed especially for pregnant women.

Preparing for pregnancy

There are a few things you should do and know about your body and lifestyle before trying to conceive. If you’ve decided to have a baby, having the time to plan and prepare for pregnancy is an opportunity and you should make the most of it. Get a healthy start into pregnancy and plan ahead as early as 1 year to safely prepare your body for the big journey.

Get a full health check-up

Get a complete health check-up before planning to get pregnant. How else will you know if your body is ready for pregnancy? Discuss your medical history with your doctor and your prescription medication, so you’ll be fully informed of all the risks for your pregnancy and your baby. Check if you have immunity to rubella and chickenpox or if you need vaccines. Go to the dentist as early as 6 months before getting pregnant to check if there’s anything to fix so you don’t have to worry about tooth aches while you’re pregnant. Schedule a Pap test right before trying to get pregnant, to know you’re good to go.

It’s also important to know your blood type and that of the father, as they might be incompatible. In this way you can prevent HR disease, which is caused by blood incompatibility and can be treated during pregnancy.

Take folic acid

Taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid as early as 2 months before pregnancy has been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and to improve fertility. Talk to your doctor about the amount of folic acid supplements you need and other prenatal vitamins.

Control your weight

Studies show that women who are significantly overweight or underweight have higher risks of developing complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Plan a balanced diet as early as possible for getting to your ideal weight in a healthy and natural way. Make sure to choose a healthy diet. Severe diets and starving will have negative effects on your chances of conception instead of preparing your body for a healthy pregnancy. You’ll be much more successful if you combine your diet with an exercise routine, to get in shape faster and have more energy.

Eat healthily

Ideally you should get your vitamins and minerals from food and not from supplements. Aim for fixed and healthy meals that include plenty of nuts, fruits and vegetables, as well as red meat and poultry. Oily fish is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, but it is not advised to consume more than 2 fish meals per week. Avoid fish that contains high levels of mercury, such as: shark, marlin, swordfish and tuna.

Stop smoking

Smoking tobacco releases harmful substances that can be stored in your body for longer periods of time so you should stop smoking early before getting pregnant. If your partner smokes too, now is the ideal time for both to stop. Also avoid second hand smoke before and during pregnancy, as it can be harmful for your baby.

Stop using contraception

It is usually advised to get off the pill a few months before trying to conceive. Sometimes, ovulation can be irregular after stopping contraception pills. Depending on the method you use, it may take longer than a month for your hormonal cycle to return to normal. Visit your OB and discuss this in advance.

Travelling by Car while Pregnant

Going on long trips by car can be tiring when you’re pregnant, but if you take good care of yourself and plan enough breaks, you should be fine. Always choose to be the passenger and not the driver, if possible. It’s also less stressful if you’re bringing someone along to help you out and keep you company. Here are the musts for a safe and comfortable travel.

Drink plenty of fluids

Always make sure to stay hydrated when travelling, especially if you’re going to countries with a hot climate. Try to drink around one 8-ounce cup of water or fluids every hour and avoid caffeine. If you feel thirsty or if you feel your mouth dry, that’s a sign of dehydration and you should drink more. Carry bottled water with you at all times while travelling and make sure you don’t run out. If you prefer juice, try to limit the amount of sugar intake.

Make breaks every 60-90 minutes

Avoid leg swelling and aching by taking breaks every hour, hour and a half. Use the break to walk around, do some light stretching exercises, use the restroom and have some snacks.

It doesn’t need to be a strict schedule. You should generally just listen to your body: have a break whenever you feel like stretching or going to the restroom, but try not to sit in the car for more than 2 hours straight. You can also do some bits of stretching while seating: stretch your legs forward if there’s room, stretch your calves, rotate your ankles and wiggle your toes.

Dress comfortably

Dress as comfortably as possible, with loose fitting or stretchy and breathable clothes. Jumpsuits and the like are not ideal for the often bathroom breaks, so opt for cotton dresses or separates with elastic waist pants. Maternity support pantyhose can help relieve swelling and aching and are also recommended for avoiding varicose veins.

Wear comfy sneakers or supportive footwear with contoured insoles and elastic or adjustable straps. It’s a good idea to switch to slippers while sitting in the car.

Wear a seat belt

Wearing a three-point seat belt is perfectly safe for pregnant women. In fact, not wearing your seat belt during pregnancy is very risky, unsafe and frowned upon. Three-point seat belts are safer than lap belts, so if you have the option, choose the three-point. You can adjust your seat belts for maximum comfort, but keep it in the correct position: set the lap strap as low as possible towards the pelvis and never place it on your belly. It’s not recommended to drive while pregnant, yet if you must, adjust your seat so that your belly does not touch the steering wheel but you can still reach the pedals.

The 7th Week of Pregnancy

You’ve reached the halfway mark of your first trimester. Congrats! This is an important mark for most women, as it’s the first time when they can actually see their baby on a scan. It’s also an extremely busy week for your body. Your baby develops extremely fast at this time, with an astonishing rate of 100 brain cells per minute and the heart evolving into a complex organ with dedicated functions. Each baby develops differently, but usually around this week tooth buds and tongue begin to form and arm buds sprout, along with further development of ears, nostrils and eyes. Your baby’s blood type also develops around this time.

For most women, breasts grow at a peak rate and pregnancy aches become overwhelming during the 7th week of pregnancy. This can partly be caused by pregnancy hormones, but discomfort and loss of energy are also due to the fast paced developmental changes in your body. Your taste in food has probably changed. If you’ve already developed aversions towards certain foods, replace them with healthy alternatives to replenish the necessary vitamins and minerals. Due to hormones, urination is much more frequent in the 7th week. Despite that, you and you baby need more fluids intake than ever. Avoid caffeine, it’s associated with some pregnancy risks and it’s a diuretic, which means you’ll pee more. If you’re feeling tired, that’s normal, too. Your system is working swiftly on producing the placenta and developing your baby. Eat as many as 7 small meals a day and exercise lightly to keep your energy levels up.

The good news is that, starting with the 7th week, you’re becoming more aware of your baby and you can already see what’s going on in your tummy with an early pregnancy scan. Seeing their baby for the first time is a wonderful experience for both parents. Your sonographer can check if everything is developing as planned and even calculate your EED (estimated due date). It is usually also possible to detect twin pregnancy during the 7th week.

This is a time of awakening for many women, preparing them psychologically for the journey. Seeing your baby for the first time on the screen and feeling your body change drastically makes you feel closer to your baby and motivates you to eat healthier and get the proper care. You are now much, much closer to becoming a mom.

Healthy Habits for Sleeping Well during Pregnancy

It becomes harder and harder to maintain a good sleeping routine as the pregnancy progresses. Nausea, pressure on the bladder, cramps and mood swings and usually the factors that stay in the way of a good night’s rest. Here are a few tips on how to develop healthy habits that will help you sleep well during pregnancy.

Find a good sleeping position

Sleeping on the side is the best position for both you and your baby. On the opposite end is sleeping on the back: this can result in back pain and problems with breathing and circulation. As the pregnancy evolves, when lying on the back, the weight of your uterus puts pressure on your back and intestines and reduces the blood flow to your uterus. Sleeping on your stomach is not associated with any risks, but it can become very uncomfortable as your belly and breasts increase in size.

As you progress towards your third trimester of pregnancy, train yourself to sleep on the left side. This position is optimal for increasing the blood flow and provision of nutrients to your baby. Shifting positions during sleep is perfectly normal and should not be a reason to worry. If you reach an uncomfortable position, you will wake up. Many pregnant women find it difficult to stick to one position. If you’re feeling tired or uncomfortable from sleeping on your left side, try using pillows to prop up your back or legs.

Create a sleeping routine

Establish a sleeping routine and try to stick to it. Pair it with a ritual that helps you relax before going to bed, such as drinking a glass of warm milk, brushing your hair or reading. Avoid eating, watching TV or surfing the web while in bed. It’s easier to fall asleep when you associate sitting in bed with sleeping and not with stimulating activities that normally occur during the day.

Use relaxation techniques

Relax your body and mind with a massage, stretching exercises and prenatal yoga. Exercising will also help you stay in shape and improve your circulation and your physical well-being. Schedule you exercises in the morning and afternoon, but keep your physical activity low in the hours before bedtime.

Take daytime naps

Take half-hour naps during the day to reduce fatigue. One or two power naps of 10 minutes are also healthy for your mental and physical well-being. You will feel less tired and have better concentration throughout the day. Avoid taking naps that are longer than 30 minutes, otherwise you might feel drowsy all day.

Eat little and often

In between your main meals, include snacks and small meals. This keeps the energy levels stable and it also helps reduce pregnancy nausea for some women. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid spicy or fatty meals to ease your digestive system.

Top 6 Celebrity Diets during Pregnancy

What are pregnant celebrities eating these days? Between struggling to stay in shape and resisting to cravings, sticking to a healthy diet and exercise routine can be difficult. Find below how some celebrities managed to eat for two in a healthy way. A current trend in exercising seems to be yoga training, combined with eating fruits, nuts and fish. As for dealing with cravings and morning sickness, each one has their own unique tricks.

Kate Middleton had a healthy lifestyle before being pregnant as well, so not many sacrifices were needed. Her diet includes healthy snacks of nuts and fruits and nutritious meals with codfish, chicken, turkey and some (craved) vegetarian curry. She gave up drinking coffee and using tanning spray in order to minimize possible negative effects. Kate also reduced her intense workout and changed to lighter exercise activities, such as morning walks and pregnancy yoga. To prevent the appearance of stretch marks, Kate uses cocoa butter, which is rich in Vitamin E.

Curry dishes were also among Lily Allen’s cravings when she was pregnant with her second child, Marnie Rose. Lily also liked to spend lazy afternoons watching DVDs while drinking tea and eating sweet treats like caramel biscuits and sweetened yoghurt.

Victoria Beckham included omega-3 rich foods in her pregnancy diets, with a preference for smoked salmon. Her cravings for marmalade toast with tea are not too bad either. Many pregnant women crave for junk food, high in salt or sugar. To stay in shape, Victoria continued her yoga exercises, combined with pilates and cardio workouts.

Coleen Rooney declared she felt much more comfortable with her curves during the second pregnancy and did not hesitate to sunbathe at the beach. While exercising to stay fit, Coleen is not concerned with the gained weight, but rather with eating healthy. She used scented candles for dealing with her pregnancy cravings and was spoiled by her husband with bath oils massages for reducing backaches.

Sophie Dahl craved for pineapple during her first pregnancy, which is quite healthy and can also help with morning sickness. Sophie likes to eat organic and sustainable food, cooked from scratched and with passion.

Mel B kept a pretty strict pregnancy diet while expecting her third child, in 2011. Breakfast was the most consistent meal, including eggs, turkey and avocado. Lunch consisted of light salads with chicken or fish. She had plenty of fruits for snacks and replaced coffee with herbal tea.

Nutrition Advice for Your Third Trimester

Your baby’s growth rate will be at its highest during your third trimester. At this stage, your baby’s eyes start opening and later on detect light, breathing begins and many vital minerals are absorbed from the intestinal tract. Nutrition in these last months is as important as ever, so make sure to include these essential vitamins and minerals in your diet.

1. Vitamin K

Vitamin K plays an important role in blood coagulation and it helps prevent loosing too much blood during labour. Foods rich in Vitamin K are bananas, prunes, potato skins, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.

2. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is recommended for overall maternal health and for your baby’s development. You will find it in nuts such as almonds and pine nuts and in spinach and green olives. Eating the nuts in their raw form is the healthiest option. Another excellent benefit of Vitamin E is that it helps minimise and heal stretch marks.

3. Vitamin D & Calcium

Calcium complemented by Vitamin D support the calcification of your baby’s bones and prevents forgetfulness in expecting mothers. Spending time in the sunlight is the easiest way for Vitamin D intake, as the human body can synthesize Vitamin D from sun exposure. Calcium-rich foods include dairy products, tofu, sesame seeds, almonds and Brazil nuts. During rainy weather, try including mushrooms and fatty fish like Mackerel and Salmon in your diet for a sufficient intake of Vitamin D.

4. Iron

Iron keeps you energy levels up and minimizes the effects of blood loss during childbirth. There are two types of iron you can absorb from food: heme iron, which is found in meat, and non heme iron, found in vegetables. Heme iron is more easily absorbed that the iron found in vegetables. Rich sources are red meat and poultry. Dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, apricots and tomatoes are not only iron-rich, but contain other essential vitamins and minerals as well.

Try to keep your diet varied, yet keep in mind that it is recommended to not mix heme iron sources with non-heme iron sources in one meal, as the amount of each type of iron absorbed is reduced and thus total absorption is not maximized.

Nutrition Guide for Your Second Trimester

At this stage, what your baby needs most is to grow. Most expecting moms feel more energized during the second trimester and begin to put on weight. Vital systems start to develop and kicking can be felt already. Here are the most important vitamins and minerals you will need for a healthy development during your second trimester of pregnancy.

1. Vitamin E

A good balance of Vitamin E and Omega oils is healthy for you as well as for your baby. Vitamin E helps prevent and heal stretch marks, while contributing to your baby’s development. Vitamin E in excess is not recommended. Avoid taking dietary supplements and try instead nuts such as almonds and pine nuts, spinach and green olives. These vitamin-rich foods are healthiest in their raw form and will satisfy the recommended daily dose in a balanced diet.

2. Vitamin C and Zinc

Vitamin C and Zinc are both critical in aiding your immune system and preventing infections. There is also evidence that Vitamin C and Zinc can help with the development of the baby’s nervous system. Try including strawberries, kiwi and other fruits in your diet, as well as bell pepper, broccoli, lamb, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds and peanuts. Eating one portion of peanuts per week during pregnancy reduces the chances of your child developing allergies later on. Peanuts are recommended only for those without a family history of peanut allergy.

3. Vitamin D and Calcium

During the second trimester, your baby’s bones and teeth begin to harden. Calcium with Vitamin D and magnesium are essential in the formation of bones and teeth, so make sure you spend sufficient time in sunlight and eat plenty of cheese, milk, tofu, mushrooms, sesame seeds, almonds and Brazil nuts. Complete you diet with fish like Mackerel and Tuna, which are rich in magnesium and Omega-3 fatty acids.

4. Beta-Carotene

Beta-Carotene is the most popular provitamin A, widely available in plenty of fruits and plants. Because it converts to Vitamin A within your body, it plays an important role in the development of your baby’s vision. You will find beta-Carotene in orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, beetroots, mangoes and papayas. Sweet potatoes and lettuce are also a rich and healthy source. Beta-Carotene is a safe source of Vitamin A and does not have its toxic effects. It is highly recommended to not use dietary supplements of Vitamin A and to avoid consuming liver during pregnancy.