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Cramping in Early Pregnancy

Cramping in Early Pregnancy

Many women get concerned by cramping that they experience in early pregnancy. Some might worry that this is a sign that their pregnancy is not viable and that a miscarriage is on its way. Fortunately, more times than not, that isn’t the case.

Cramping in Early Pregnancy is Common.  And usually normal.

Implantation Cramping

In the first few weeks of pregnancy, implantation cramping, oftentimes accompanied by implantation bleeding, occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterus.  Some women might feel implantation cramping as soon as seven days after they ovulate, while others might not feel cramping at all.

Cramping may continue throughout pregnancy as the uterus prepares to carry a baby for nine months.  Your uterus is a big organ and as it grows in early pregnancy cramping is not uncommon. If the cramping is constant or too intense for you to handle however it may not be “normal” and you should call your doctor for reassurance.

Round Ligament Pain

Cramping after the initial stages of pregnancy is called round ligament pain.  These cramps may be dull and achy, or a sharp pain that you notice when changing position. This cramping occurs because the muscles under your uterus expand and grow in order to support the weight of your uterus and baby as it grows. This is probably the most complained about cramping in pregnancy, and one most pregnant women will experience.

Should I Be Worried?

Cramping in early pregnancy is usually nothing for a woman to get worried about. Actually you may be comforted by knowing that if minor pregnancy cramping does occur, then your body is probably preparing as it should to sustain the pregnancy.  But as always, if you are concerned or ever feel that the cramping is not normal, be sure to call your doctor for advice.

Could I Be Pregnant?

If you are Trying To Conceive, this could be good news!  Compare your symptoms to other Early Signs of Pregnancy. If you think you may be pregnant, today’s Home Pregnancy Tests can show positive results as early as a week before your period is due.  If you’re not ready to buy a pregnancy test just yet, enter your last menstrual cycle date into our Due Date Calculator to determine when you ovulated last.  That will give you a little insight too!

Did you experience pregnancy cramping? Please share your story with us.


What is Implantation Bleeding?

Many women hear the term implantation bleeding used a lot in regards to the early stages of pregnancy, but unless they receive clarification on what this phenomenon actually is then it can be a scary experience.

What Exactly Is Implantation Bleeding?

During the early stages of pregnancy the ovum, or fertilized egg, attaches itself to the uterine wall. This always occurs within the First Trimester and can sometimes cause a little amount of blood to be released. This is the cause of implantation bleeding. The egg actually attaches itself to the mother’s circulatory system via the wall of the uterus, and this is where the blood comes from.

What Does Implantation Bleeding Feel Like?

Some women might feel Cramping Along With Implantation. In some instances women have already missed a period and are aware of the pregnancy. Not every woman detects implantation bleeding. Remember that pregnancies can be considered perfectly normal whether there is any bleeding in the early stages or not.

What Does Implantation Bleeding Look Like?

Many women wonder how to tell the difference between implantation bleeding and bleeding that could be a sign of something more serious. If you experience light spotting – such as only enough to wear a panty-liner – then it is most likely implantation bleeding.  Additionally, if the spotting is dark and not bright red, and the spotting ends quickly, this points to implantation bleeding as well. Keep in mind that this can be completely normal in the first trimester but you should always check with your doctor whenever bleeding occurs during a pregnancy.

What Else Could It Be?

There are other explanations if the bleeding is not due to implantation. Bleeding beyond light spotting may be a result of your menstrual cycle, and the lighter flow than normal could be caused by any number of things including stress. Changing your Birth Control can also cause a change in your bleeding flow and spotting can also be a sign of infection or abrasions from recent intercourse. When in doubt, contact your doctor.

Could I Be Pregnant?

If you are Trying To Conceive, this could be good news since Implantation Bleeding is one of the Signs of Early Pregnancy.  If you think you may be pregnant, today’s Home Pregnancy Tests can show positive results as early as a week before your period is due.  If you’re not ready to buy a pregnancy test just yet, enter your last menstrual cycle date into our Due Date Calculator to determine when you ovulated last.  That will give you a little insight too!

Did you experience implantation bleeding? Please share your story with us.


13 Early Signs of Pregnancy

Early Signs of Pregnancy
Are you pregnant? Often, our bodies give us the signs of pregnancy before that plus sign ever shows up on a pregnancy test. However, many signs of pregnancy could also be symptoms of a medical problem or even just premenstrual syndrome, so it’s important to take that test as soon as a positive result is possible. Possible signs of pregnancy are:

1. Missed Period

A late or missed period is often the first early pregnancy symptom you’ll notice. Some women may bleed lightly during pregnancy. If this occurs in the first few weeks, it could be implantation bleeding which is usually very light. Heavy bleeding after a period is late or after a pregnancy test has shown you are pregnant could indicate a miscarriage and you should speak with your doctor.

Other factors may also create an irregular menstrual cycle or a missed period. These include:

  • Excessive changes in weight and/or diet
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Stress
  • Going off birth control pills
  • Breastfeeding
  • Travel, esp. involving changes in altitude
  • Illness
  • Antibiotics

2. Headaches

The sudden rise of hormones in your body can cause headaches in early pregnancy answering the question ‘Are headaches a sign of pregnancy.’ But since headaches are so prevalent in women and have so many other causes, this is not usually a good indicator of pregnancy unless accompanied by other symptoms. Headaches may be caused by:

  • Dehydration
  • Caffeine withdrawal
  • PMS
  • Eye strain
  • Stress
  • Cold or flu
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Sinus infection

Am I Pregnant?

What was the date of your last menstrual cycle?

3. Swollen / Sore Breasts

A woman’s breasts may become sore, swollen or tender as early as one or two weeks after conception. However, this is also a sign of PMS so, if you experience sore breasts, you may want to wait until the first day of your missed period to take a home pregnancy test. You may also experience swollen or sore breasts if you have a hormone imbalance or recently started birth control pills or other hormone-based birth control.

4. Implantation Bleeding

Implantation bleeding, in women who experience it, can be a confusing symptom of pregnancy. When the embryo implants into the uterine wall, some blood may be released. However, only about 20 to 30 percent of women experience this bleeding, which is really more like a pink or very light red discharge of blood. Any bleeding that is not your period should be discussed with your doctor.

5. Tiredness / Feeling Sleepy

Extreme fatigue or even feeling more tired than usual could indicate pregnancy and may begin as early as the first week after conception. However, there are multiple other factors that could make a woman tired, so if tiredness is not accompanied by other symptoms of pregnancy, consider other factors first.

  • Are you getting enough sleep?
  • Are you under stress?
  • Could you have a cold or the flu?

Stress, exhaustion, depression, illnesses, a change in exercise habits or even a change in diet can leave you feeling fatigued.

6. Nausea / Morning Sickness

This well-known pregnancy symptom will often show up between two and eight weeks after conception, and typically subsides at the start of the second trimester. Some women do not experience morning sickness at all, while some feel a degree of nausea throughout pregnancy. Rule out other causes first, including food poisoning, irritable bowel syndrome, stomach disorders, stress and a stomach flu.

7. Back Pain

Lower back pain may be a symptom that occurs in early pregnancy, but it may begin at any time during your pregnancy and last until delivery, or come and go based on your level of physical activity and other factors.

Like most pregnancy symptoms, backaches may be caused by a number of other factors, including impending menstruation, stress, back problems, physical injuries such as pulled muscles.

8. Frequent Urination

Around six to eight weeks after conception, as the uterus grows and shifts, taking up more room in your abdomen and exerting force on your bladder, you may experience frequent urination. Frequent urination in the absence of other pregnancy symptoms, however, could indicate a problem such as:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Bladder infection
  • Diabetes

Using diuretics or increasing your liquid intake may also cause more frequent urination.

9. Darkening of Areolas

If you are pregnant, the skin around your nipples may get darker. This may also be caused by a hormone imbalance not related to pregnancy. Areolas may not return to their original color after childbirth.

10. Food Cravings

As any pregnant woman – or her husband who hit the convenience store at midnight for ice cream, with or without pickles – can attest, pregnancy food cravings are not a myth. They can last throughout your entire pregnancy, but usually don’t appear until the second trimester or late in the first trimester.
Dieting, PMS, lack of a certain nutrients, stress or depression can also cause food cravings. Click here to read about some strange food cravings experienced by the BOL bloggers.

11. Enhanced Sense of Smell

For moms-to-be pregnant for the first time, an enhanced sense of smell is often one of the oddest symptoms of pregnancy. This evolutionary trait may have developed to help pregnant women detect – and avoid – spoiled foods before they ate them. It can be embarrassing if you have to leave a room because of someone’s intense body odor or want to gag around people with the scent of third-hand smoke clinging to their bodies.

12. Mood Swings

It’s not just a myth. All those hormonal changes going on in your body can wreak havoc with your mood, too. Of course, mood swings can also be caused by stress or plain old garden variety PMS. Some women actually experience improved moods – or a more stable mood if they previously suffered from PMS-related mood swings – during pregnancy. Others discover that one or two specific individuals “push their buttons” but that people, as a whole, are easier to tolerate.

13. Increased Hunger

Doctors recommend that women not gain much weight in the first trimester, but you may feel hungrier than usual. To keep weight in check, maintain a healthy diet and eat lots of foods high in fiber, which are filling and will also help alleviate constipation. Drink a glass of water before every meal, too. Pregnant women shouldn’t need to increase their caloric intake to accommodate the growing fetus until the start of the second trimester, when they should eat approximately 300 extra calories per day. You can also maintain a high level of physical activity in the first trimester, which will help prevent excessive weight gain.

Later Pregnancy Symptoms

Some symptoms – such as a backache or headaches – may begin in the first trimester and persist throughout pregnancy. Others appear later.

  1. Feeling extremely warm / hot flashes
  2. Varicose veins
  3. Quickening (fetal movement)
  4. Shortness of breath
  5. Stretch marks
  6. Changes in all areas of your body, including hair, skin and nails
  7. Blurred vision
  8. Insomnia

Essentially, “anything goes” when it comes to pregnancy symptoms. If you are concerned about any reactions you’re having or changes to your body, speak with your midwife or obstetrician.

Could You Be Pregnant?

If you are Trying To Conceive and are experiencing early signs of pregnancy, this could be good news! If you think you may be pregnant, today’s Home Pregnancy Tests can show positive results as early as a week before your period is due. If you’re not ready to buy a pregnancy test just yet, enter your last menstrual cycle date into our Due Date Calculator to determine when you ovulated last. That will give you a little insight too!


Effacement, Dilation and Station

Around your 37th week of pregnancy your doctor or midwife will begin checking your cervix for effacement, dilation and station.  Many first time as well as seasoned moms aren’t sure what this means. If reports of “one centimeter, 25%, -2” leave you feeling dazed and confused, this explanation of effacement, dilation and station will keep you in the know at your next check up.

Effacement

Prior to pregnancy and into much of the third trimester your cervix is long and thick.  As labor nears it begins to shorten and thin out.  This action is referred to as effacement.

Effacement is generally measured in percentages by doctors and midwives. When you have an exam your provider will tell you that it is anywhere from 0% (not effaced at all) to 100% (completely effaced and thin). When your cervix is completely effaced it becomes part of the uterine wall and your mucus plug is released, allowing the baby to pass through.

Dilation

Your cervix should stay tight and closed with no dilation until late into your third trimester.  This keeps bacteria away from your precious cargo.  As you get closer to delivery the mouth of the cervix opens and widens, allowing your baby to pass through.  This is measured in centimeters. For most of your pregnancy it should be 0 centimeters, opening to 10 centimeters when it’s time deliver. As the cervix dilates, some people describe cramping and pressure, similar to what you would feel during menstruation.  Yay for labor pains!

If you begin dilating in the second trimester or at a rapid rate before the last month of your pregnancy it can be a sign of premature labor. If this is the case your doctor or midwife will advise you on what to do.

Station

When your provider tells you about your baby’s station, she is referring to how far down your baby’s head has come into your pelvis. If your baby has dropped, but has not yet settled into your pelvis to begin his or her decent, it is measured in centimeters as a negative station. This negative measurement goes from -3 to -1. Once your baby has settled into your pelvis, but before he starts his descent to the birth canal, it is referred to as a zero (0) station. Once your baby starts heading towards the cervix, it is referred to as a positive station from 1 to 3. During this time it is likely that you will feel an increase of pressure and pain in your pelvic bone and vaginal area.  Yay again for labor!

It’s good for a mom-to-be to know where her baby is positioned and how her body is cooperating in the weeks leading up to delivery. Some doctors will check  but not relay this information unless you ask. If you aren’t told, or if you are not offered a cervical check, don’t be shy … ask away!


Pregnancy After 35: All You Need to Know

Statistically an increasing number of women are getting pregnant after age 35.  In fact, the number of older mothers or as some doctors like to call it, mothers of an advanced maternal age, is increasing not only in the USA but in other countries as well.

Why More Women are Delaying Pregnancy

According to statistics, one in five women today delays pregnancy until after the age of 35. In fact, over the last 15 or so years there has been a whopping 50 percent increase in first births to women over 40 years old. The reasons for this are many, but the most common ones are:

  • Getting a career going – Many women delay childbirth to concentrate on building up a career first. Once on a career path, some women find it difficult to take time out for marriage and children.
  • Ensuring that they are financially secure
  • Improved medical treatment and prenatal tests

Improvement in fertility treatments have made it possible for women to
conceive and have a healthy, normal pregnancy and baby despite advancing age. Prenatal tests have also helped in that couples can know whether or     not a fetus will have any genetic abnormalities or defects such as Down     Syndrome.

Of course, one cannot forget the stories of celebrities who have given birth after age forty. The list includes actresses such as Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman, and most recently 48-year old Nancy Grace. They have given hope to legions of women who would have at one time thought they had let the opportunity of motherhood slip by.

The proliferation of online support groups of and for women who have successfully became moms after age 35, whether for the first or tenth time offers added inspiration.

Fertility and Older Women

One interesting fact about getting pregnant at an older age is that although fertility levels fall, the odds of having twins increases. While the use of fertility treatment increases the occurrence of multiples, older women can also naturally have twins without medical intervention.

Interestingly, despite what anyone may think, women over 35 and in their forties having babies is nothing new. If we check back into our family histories we will find that there have been many births to mothers who were well past 35. I know for a fact that my mom and at least one aunt had children while in their forties.

Risks Associated with Getting Pregnant After 35

While it is true that the risk to both mother and baby increases after age 35, it is really not as high as you may be led to believe. In fact, once a woman over age 35 is healthy and has no fertility issues, she has almost the same chance of a healthy baby as a 20-year old. Nonetheless, there are a few things to be aware of if you are over 35 and trying to get pregnant. The main ones are:

  • The risk of miscarriage increases
  • Fertility levels do start to drop drastically after 35
  • Health problems for the woman after 35 include gestational diabetes and hypertension, as well as endometriosis and fibroids. But these can be managed with a combination of medication and lifestyle changes, such as improved diet and exercise.
  • The need for c-section increases, however, many women over 35 have had normal deliveries without the need for surgical intervention.
  • Increased risk of Down Syndrome. It is a medical fact that a woman aged 40 has about 9 times higher chance of having a baby with this chromosomal defect than a 30 year old woman. Don’t start to panic, in statistical terms that is still less than 1 percent, but does increase with age.

So, while age 20 to 24 is the most fertile period of a woman’s life, for many this is not the right time for them to become mothers. In  today’s world, most 20 – 24-year old women are still studying or focusing on climbing the career ladder and in fact, finding themselves. Few are ready at this stage to start a family.

Preparing for Pregnancy after 35

If you are over 35 and thinking of having a baby, here are a few things you can do to improve your chances:

  • Get a pre-conception check-up, in fact, it is a good idea for the father-to-be to get one as well. It’s important to know from the get go that physically you are OK.
  • Look at your diet to ensure that you are eating properly. Forgo caffeine, excessive alcohol, and drugs if you are serious about getting pregnant. If you are on any special medication talk to your doctor before trying to conceive.  Make sure to add folic acid to your supplements as it has been proven to help prevent some neural defects in fetuses.
  • Maintain a moderate level of physical activity. If you used to exercise prior to getting pregnant there is generally no need to stop, but be guided by your doctor. However, it is not advisable to pick up exercising as a new activity while pregnant, except for walking.

The Pros and Cons of Later Life Pregnancy

Apart from the medical issues that can occur with pregnancy and motherhood later in life, other negative issues can occur. These are few however, and include being able to adjust to the changes a baby and young child will cause to a well-structured life. However, in many instances this is countered by the joy a new baby brings. Plus older mothers know that being able to have a child at an older age is a blessing and are more than ready for any change in their circumstances. In fact, older mothers tend to be less ambivalent about their pregnancies and children overall.

It is true that recovery can take longer in older women after delivery, whether by natural birth or c-section. However, because most older mothers have already achieved financial stability they can afford to get help to assist with household chores or caring for the baby if they wish.

Pregnancy at any age comes with risks, but the birth of a precious child is a joy and blessing regardless of the mother’s age.

Author: Jessica McCurdy Crooks


My Baby Has Hiccups!

Hiccups can be a big worry for many pregnant women and new moms. Why does their baby have them? Is their baby in pain from them? What can they do about them? Rest assured, most of the time the baby is not in pain, and the mother is more bothered by the fact that the hiccups have appeared, than the baby is having them.

my-baby-has-hiccups.jpgHiccups in Utero
Pregnant women often mention feeling their baby having hiccups while in the womb and wonder what causes this. These hiccups can start in the first trimester, but won’t be felt by mom until late in the second trimester or during the third trimester. Rarely do the hiccups bother the mother-to-be, however some moms might worry that it is hurting their baby.

The exact cause of your baby’s hiccups is unknown. However, many specialists believe that your baby’s hiccups may be helping to strengthen the diaphragm muscle in order to help the baby breathe both in the womb and once they are born. In many cases your baby will have the hiccups at the same time everyday.

Not only can hiccups be felt by the mom-to-be, but it can also be detected during an ultrasound and picked up on a Doppler while at the doctor’s office for a routine visit. After a woman has been assured that these hiccups are normal and are not bothering their baby, then they become something that can be looked forward to on a daily basis, much like their baby kicking.

Hiccups After Birth
If your baby had hiccups while in utero, it is very plausible that he will have the hiccups after he is born. Some babies that did not have them in utero may still have them after birth. Hiccups can start after birth as early as the day your baby is born. Like the hiccups your baby might have had in utero, these hiccups are generally not painful for your baby.

Hiccups after birth occur when the diaphragm muscle contracts causing your baby to take quick short breaths. Normally these hiccups go away after only a few minutes. If they are really bothering you, try burping your baby more often during feedings. To get them to stop you can try to feed your baby whether you are nursing or bottlefeeding. The constant sucking and swallowing can help that muscle relax and help the hiccups stop.


Ouch! My Breasts!

An early sign of pregnancy, during the first trimester, are swollen or sore breasts. This can begin as early as a week after conception, often before a woman ever misses her period. The breasts might become larger, tender, and ache when they are touched. But what causes this tenderness?

A woman’s breasts are made up of fat, tissue, blood, and milk glands and their sole purpose is for breastfeeding. It is just a coincidence that the men seem to like women’s breasts as much as the babies do.

When a woman gets pregnant her breasts immediately start preparing to feed that baby nine months down the road. Extra blood begins to run through them and the milk glands grow, causing the swelling and pain that a woman might feel. A woman’s breasts will continue to grow throughout pregnancy, although the tenderness should fade after the first trimester. It is normal for a woman’s breasts to be 2-3 cup sizes bigger by the time her baby comes and she begins nursing.

Swollen and sore breasts do not necessarily mean that a woman is pregnant. Many women experience some swelling and tenderness in their breasts every month right before their period comes, or even at ovulation. Sore breasts can also be caused by a hormonal imbalance or starting, stopping, or changing birth control pills midway through a cycle. When in doubt, be sure to call your doctor.


Mucus Plug

As the third trimester weeks crawl by – and they do crawl by don’t they! – many pregnant women look for any sign that labor is impending.  One of these signs is the loss of the mucus plug.  Yes, losing your mucus plug is a sign that labor is likely coming soon!

What Is A Mucus Plug?

The mucus plug is exactly what it sounds like. It is a concentration of mucus that is deposited in the opening of the cervix to block germs and bacteria from entering the uterus.

During pregnancy, the mucus is clear and would look much like a normal vaginal discharge. However, as the cervix begins to efface and blood is released, there may be some blood deposited onto the mucus plug.  As your cervix dilates you will begin to lose the plug, either in bits of stringy, blood tinted mucus over a period of time, or all at once. This can happen up to two weeks before labor actually begins.

The loss of the mucus plug should not be confused with a woman’s bloody show which occurs during labor as a woman begins bleeding prior to delivery. The bloody show will be obviously different than the mucus plug as it is mostly blood and very little or no mucus.

Should I Call My Doctor?

Generally there is no need to call your doctor or midwife when you lose your mucus plug, assuming it is clear or has a little blood showing. Of course, if you feel any concern or have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact them.  It’s what they are there for! You can also mention it to your provider at your next visit. You should definitely contact your provider if the mucus becomes extremely bloody or you continue to experience discharge. It could be a sign that labor has started, or it could also possibly be a sign of a complication like placenta previa or of a placental abruption.

Looks like you’ll be meeting your baby soon … congratulations!

See what else is going on with your baby and your body in our Pregnancy Week by Week Calendar!


HCG Levels in Pregnancy

Whether it is their first pregnancy, or they have been pregnant before, many women have heard the term “hCG” while they are either trying to conceive, or shortly after they conceive, but they don’t necessarily know what it means.

In the medical world, hCG is short for Human chorionic gonadotropin which is a hormone that a woman makes when she is pregnant. It can be detected in a urine sample or a blood sample as early as 10 days before your period should start. However, it can take until several days after you miss your period for these levels to be high enough that they can be detected.

The hCG hormone helps sustain a woman’s pregnancy until the second trimester when the placenta starts functioning fully and takes over. It also helps create the testes, secretes estrogen, and helps develop the placenta.

For women who have faced infertility issues, or who have had problems with miscarriages, doctors will routinely draw blood to check the hCG levels 2-3 times a week in early pregnancy. This is because hCG is supposed to at least double in a 48 hour period until it reaches a certain level, when it starts to decline. If the levels are doubling, it is often a sign that the pregnancy is viable and progressing as normal. If there is only a small rise in the number, no rise in the number, or a drop, it can be the first sign to a doctor or midwife that this pregnancy may not last through the first trimester.

There is no “norm” in the range for hCG levels in a pregnancy. They generally fall into this range.

Week since last menstrual period began Amount of hCG in mIU/ml
3 5 – 50 (less than 5 means you are not pregnant)
5 19 – 7,340
7-8 7,650 – 229,000

If hCG levels are taken and they not only double, but triple, quadruple or more, this is often a sign that there is more than one baby in the uterus. When a woman is pregnant with multiples, her hormones will rise much faster than they do when it is just a single pregnancy.

If you have questions about your hCG levels, be sure to ask your doctor or midwife. They are the only ones who can correctly test, judge, and give you answers regarding the health of your pregnancy.


Gender Predicting Old Wives Tales

There are a lot of old wives tales regarding pregnancy. Everything from taking baths, to the accuracy of ultrasounds will have a tale to go along with it. However there are certain old wives tales that are specific to the gender of your baby.

Shape of Moms’ Belly
Some say if the woman’s belly is big and round it means that she is carrying a girl. Likewise, if her belly is smaller and sticking straight out than she is carrying a boy. The way a woman carries her baby has nothing to do with the sex, but has everything to do with the body shape and type that the woman naturally has, when not pregnant.

Direction of the Ring
Many people believe in the good old ring test as a way to tell what the sex of their baby is going to be. In this test you hang your wedding ring from a string over your belly. If the ring swings back and forth your baby is a boy. If it swings around in a circle then it is a girl. This is not very good indication of whether or not you are having a boy or a girl. Fact is, if you hang your ring over any object or person it is going to swing.

Fast Heart Rate Tale
Some people believe that if your baby has a fast heart rate, near 170 beats per minute, then that means you are having a girl, and that if your baby’s heart rate is closer to 150 beats per minute then you are having a boy. This also is false. You baby’s heart rate will get faster and stronger during the first trimester as he/she grows. Then the heart rate fluctuates in speed during sleep and active times for your baby, just like an adults. So depending on when you listen to your baby’s heart rate, it might be faster or slower than it was the day before, or even earlier that same day.

The Shape of Moms Face
Some people believe that the shape of your face determines the sex of your baby. If your face is round then you are having a girl, long and narrow means a boy. This is just a myth however because where a woman stores fat and water during pregnancy has nothing to do with the sex of their baby. Along with that some believe that if your nose starts to grow or widen then you are having a girl because daughters “steal” mom’s beauty. While this sounds like something out of a fairy tale, it is simply an old wives tale.

The Key Test
Then there is the key test. Some say that if you can tell your baby’s sex by picking up a single key. If you pick the key up by big, round (top) part then you are having a boy. If you pick it up by the narrow part on the bottom then you are having a girl. Then, as if it isn’t detailed enough, if you pick the key up by the middle you are having TWINS!

The Mayan Tale
If you are Mayan then you may follow their beliefs and use numbers to determine the sex of your baby. The Mayans take the mothers age at conception and the year of conception and add them together. If the result is a even number then mom is having a girl. If the result is an odd number then a boy is on the way! The Chinese have a similar way of determining the sex of a baby.

Drain-O Test
So many people believe this old wives tale which is completely false. They are told to put a tablespoon of Drain-O in a cup and pee into it. If the mixture turns green you are having a girl. If it turns blue you are having a boy. Supposedly there is something in the moms’ urine that mixes with the Drain-O causing it to change color and determine the baby’s sex.

Acne Myth
Acne during pregnancy is caused by hormones, not the sex of your baby. However, many believe that if you have an increased amount of acne during pregnancy then it means you are having a baby girl.

Cravings
This one sounds good and can be an “explanation” for many of moms’ cravings, but is it true? Some people say that if you crave salty food while pregnant it means you are having a boy and if you crave sweet food while you are pregnant it means you are having a girl. Does this mean that baby girls are sweet and baby boys are salty?

Do You Smell Like Garlic?
The question should be, “Do you WANT to smell like garlic?” There are people that swear that the garlic old wives tale is true. They say that if you eat a clove of garlic, and the smell comes out through your pores then you are having a boy. If no garlic is detected then you are having a girl. Who really wants to find out THAT bad though?!

Ultrasounds Are Always Right
This one is definitely false. We have heard many stories where a woman has received an ultrasound, and sometimes more than one ultrasound where the doctor claims that she is having either a boy or a girl. The mother buys everything she needs for her little son or daughter, and when the day of delivery comes she is surprised with a baby of the opposite sex. Most of the time the ultrasound technician gets it right, but that is not always the case.

These are just a few of the popular pregnancy old wives tales that deal with the sex of your baby. To see other pregnancy related old wives tales click here.


Stretch Marks!

Every woman dreads stretch marks, and most women have them on some part of their body, whether they have ever been pregnant or not. A woman’s thighs, hips, buttocks, and breasts are all common places that they can be found. But what are they, what causes them, and is there anything to be done to avoid them?

Stretch marks first show up during puberty, and both girls and boys get them. They are caused by rapid gain weight or growth in an area of your body. Collagen, a protein that is partly responsible for skin strength and elasticity is stretched quickly and often leaves scars that are called stretch marks. People who are obese and weight lifters often have stretch marks as well.

Pregnancy is a very common time for a woman to get stretch marks. If she doesn’t have them already on her breasts, they can often pop up because of the rapid increase of growth and fatty tissue that develops as a woman’s breasts prepare to breastfeed her baby. However, a woman’s stomach is the most common place for stretch marks to appear during pregnancy.

Stretch marks generally show up during the third trimester when a woman’s belly begins to rapidly get bigger. During the third trimester the baby is gaining most of his weight, and it is then that he grows at the fastest rate during the pregnancy.

There are several products on the market for pregnant women to use to help avoid getting stretch marks, and to help them go away after your pregnancy is over. Some women swear by them, while others claim that they don’t work. In reality, whether or not you get stretch marks is determined by how much elasticity you have in your skin. If you have a lot of elasticity, you probably will not get stretch marks, or they will at least not be severe.

Stretch marks cannot be remedied gotten rid of by a simple cream. While they may start out a pink or purplish color, they will eventually fade to match the color of your skin, like other scars do. Some people will use artificial tanning sprays and lotions to help make them less noticeable. If your stretch marks really bother you, visit a dermatologist or plastic surgeon to see what options they can make available to you.

If you are lucky you will never get a stretch mark. However, if you do, remember that you are not alone and that most women in the world are just like you and have stretch marks too.


Pregnancy No-No’s

By Leah Hennen
www.ClubMom.com

Pregnancy No Nos When I was expecting my first child, threats to my baby’s health seemed to lurk everywhere. I knew, of course, that alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs of any kind were off-limits. But what about those lattes I’d chugged before I knew I was pregnant? Did I need to get rid of my beloved cats? What sort of environmental hazards was I unwittingly exposing my fetus to? Nine months of caffeine withdrawal, cat avoidance, and breath-holding-around-noxious-odors later, my strapping baby boy arrived.

Unlike me, you don’t have to be paranoid when you’re pregnant. “You can’t put yourself in a glass bottle during pregnancy—all you can do is avoid known risks,” says Dr. Robert Resnik, a professor of reproductive medicine at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine. Since some women, such as those with high blood pressure or gestational diabetes, need to take extra precautions, talk to your doctor about special circumstances that relate to you. Also steer clear of the following:

Too Much Caffeine
For java junkies like me, the research on caffeine during pregnancy has been maddeningly contradictory. Some studies point to problems such as miscarriage and low birth weight, while others show no such relationship. The latest consensus is that only excessive amounts of caffeine (more than 300 milligrams a day) are likely to cause these problems, says Dr. Kathleen Bradley, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the UCLA School of Medicine. The caffeine content of different brews varies, but you should be able to stay under the 300-milligram mark by limiting your daily quaffing to one or two 5-ounce cups of coffee or tea or a few 12-ounce cans of soda. (Since even non-colas can pack quite a caffeine punch, check the label before you imbibe.) And while chocolate does contain caffeine, it typically has much less—1 to 35 milligrams per one ounce—than coffee.

Cat Litter
Cat feces may play host to a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis. The symptoms (fever, fatigue, and sore throat) are similar to those of a garden-variety flu, but the results (miscarriage, preterm labor, or serious health problems in the newborn) can be devastating. Even so, having a baby on board doesn’t mean you need to send your puss packing, says Marion McCartney, a certified nurse-midwife and the director of professional services at the American College of Nurse-Midwives in Washington, D.C. It simply means you should put your mate on litter-box duty for the nine-month duration. It’s also a good idea to wash your hands after heavy petting sessions with the cat and after handling raw meat. Don’t feed yourself or the cat undercooked meat (which can harbor the parasite). Wear gloves when you’re gardening and avoid children’s sandboxes. (Roaming cats may use these as litter boxes.)

Certain Foods
Beware, foodies: Uncooked, soft cheeses (such as feta, Camembert, Brie, and blue-veined varieties), unpasteurized milk and the foods made from it, and raw or undercooked meats, fish, and poultry may contain listeria bacteria. During pregnancy, listeriosis (symptoms include fever, chills, diarrhea, and nausea) can cause miscarriage, preterm labor, or stillbirth. Some seafood may also contain high levels of mercury, PCBs, and other toxins. If these foods are consumed during pregnancy, the baby is put at risk for developmental delays. (Your local health department may be able to tell you which fish to avoid.) Experts recommend that expecting mothers limit their servings of shark and swordfish—which contain higher levels of mercury than other fish—to one three-ounce serving a month. Finally, lab tests have linked heavy consumption of saccharine to cancer. Though you’re not likely to swill enough of the artificial sweetener to equal several times your body weight, you may still want to forgo those little pink packets for now.

Herbal Remedies
You know that many prescription drugs are off-limits during pregnancy, but the natural remedies you can pick up at health-food stores are okay, aren’t they? Guess again: Herbal remedies can have a potent effect on your body—and your baby’s—cautions McCartney. Don’t take anything without running it by your health-care provider first. She’ll most likely tell you not to use any during your first trimester. Throughout your pregnancy, steer clear of goldenseal, mugwort, and pennyroyal, all of which have been associated with uterine contractions (which could possibly lead to miscarriage or preterm labor); Asian ginseng (which interferes with metabolism); and feverfew (though popular for migraine headaches, it has unpredictable effects on pregnant women). It’s also wise to avoid herbal teas that purport to have medicinal benefits.

Home Hazards
If you haven’t been gripped by that famous pregnancy cleaning-and-nesting frenzy, chances are you will be soon. Safety tips for those 3 a.m. floor-scrubbing and nursery-decorating sessions: Read labels carefully. Wear gloves and work in well-ventilated areas. And avoid aerosols (which disperse more chemicals into the air than pump bottles do), oven cleaners, paint fumes, solvents, and furniture strippers. Although frequent, heavy exposure to chemicals in the workplace (home workshops count, too) has been linked to birth defects, Bradley explains, home use of most products is more likely to make you feel faint or nauseous—not a great proposition when you’re nine months pregnant and perched high on a ladder or wedged behind the toilet.

Overheating
Soaking in the hot tub or relaxing in a sauna may seem like the perfect way to pamper your pregnant body, but raising your core temperature—especially during the first trimester—may boost the odds of birth defects. It’s safe to soak in a lukewarm bath, though. Just make sure that the temperature is not above 100 degrees and that you get out after about ten minutes, Resnik advises. Sustained exercise in very hot, humid weather can also raise your core temperature. When you do exercise, be sure to drink liquids before, during, and after, and if you find that you’re heating up, take a five- or ten-minute breather.

Lead
Lead exposure has been linked to miscarriage, preterm labor, low birth weight, and mental and behavioral problems in children. Residue from the toxic metal can lurk in places you might not suspect: houses built before 1978 (the year lead paint was banned), tap water, even calcium supplements. A few precautions will reduce the amount of lead you come into contact with: Call in a lead-abatement specialist if you live in an older home with chipping or peeling paint. (Whatever you do, don’t try to sand or scrape it off yourself.) Filtering your water may help, or have your tap water tested. (Call the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 for a testing lab in your area.) Finally, if you take a calcium supplement, ask your doctor to recommend one that’s low in lead, such as Tums 500 Calcium Supplement.

Oral Sex
Don’t worry, you needn’t swear off oral gratification entirely. (After all, when you hit that physically awkward last trimester, there may not be much else you can do between the sheets.) But when he’s pleasuring you, your mate should be careful not to blow air into your vagina, if that’s something that’s part of his, uh, repertoire. Why? Your blood vessels are dilated during pregnancy, and, though the chances of this happening are very rare, a fatal air bubble could potentially enter your bloodstream, McCartney explains.

Certain Over-the-Counter Drugs
Your back is aching, your heart is burning, and your stomach is roiling—do you have to forgo all pharmaceutical relief? Not necessarily, says Bradley. But since even benign-seeming remedies, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and certain cold preparations, can cause problems for your baby, don’t pop any pill without your doctor’s approval. If one medication is off-limits, she can suggest an alternative. Acetaminophen (Tylenol), for instance, is fine.

Secondhand Smoke
You may have given up cigarettes, but if your mate’s still puffing away, your baby’s getting hefty doses of the 43 cancer-causing chemicals in cigarette smoke. In fact, exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy raises the risk of low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, and other health problems. So ask your partner to quit or to cut down—if not for his own health, then for yours and your baby’s. And tell anyone who lights up around you to kindly take it outside.

Stress
Every time you look down, your growing belly reminds you of just how much your life will change once your baby is born. Exciting, yes. Stressful? You bet. Even so, try to take it easy. Stress causes the release of hormones that reduce blood flow to the placenta and triggers contractions, and it has been linked to miscarriage, preterm birth, and low birth weight, Bradley explains. If you hold a high-pressure job, do what you can to scale back. If you’re feeling the heat in your personal life, practice relaxation techniques, surround yourself with supportive people, and seek counseling if need be.

Vitamin A
As is the case with its chemical relative Accutane (a prescription acne drug), high doses of vitamin A during pregnancy can cause heart and facial defects, says Resnik. How much is too much? Some studies have indicated that problems can occur when pregnant women take more than 10,000 international units (IU) a day, while others list 25,000 IUs and even 50,000 IUs as the threshold. You get a fair amount of vitamin A from the food you eat, and though the dose in your prenatal vitamin should be fine, your doctor can tell you whether it’s an excessive amount.

About the Author
Leah Hennen is a writer and editor in San Francisco and the mother of two, ages four and one. Copyright © 1999-2002 ClubMom, Inc. All rights reserved.


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