bring a risk of gingivitis-keep up on your oral hygiene!
Over the course of your pregnancy, your baby must grow and
develop from the size of a single cell to a wailing, wonderful seven-pounder
(give or take). Nine months may seem interminably long to you, but your body
must undergo countless changes in preparation for the big event. Here are some
ways to keep comfortable while you wait:
Get Enough Water
You think about every morsel you put into your mouth -
whether it's to wonder, "Is this good for my baby?" or "If I eat
this, will I ever lose the 'baby fat'?" Are you drinking enough water?
Although it has no calories or vitamins, water isn't the same as nothing. It
transports nutrients through your blood to your baby; keeps your urine diluted
to prevent bladder infections, which are common during pregnancy; helps prevent
constipation and therefore helps prevent hemorrhoids; and dissipates body heat
through your sweat and breathing. How much water is adequate? About eight
glasses a day plus a cup for each hour of light activity.
Do Pelvic Tilts
As your baby grows, your abdominal muscles are stretched,
and more and more stress is placed on your lower back. Pelvic tilts relieve
lower-back pain and, when done at least once a day, even help prevent
Here's how to do tilts in the all-fours position: Get down
on your hands and knees. Keeping your back flat, curve the bottom of your
pelvis forward, like a puppy curling his tail under. Hold for a count of five,
then return to the neutral position. Do ten per session.
Keep Up With Your Kegels
Your vagina, bladder, rectum, and other structures in your
pelvic area are supported by a "sling" of muscles called the
pubococcygeal (PC) muscles. (They're what you'd use to stop the flow of urine
in midstream.) Among the many potential benefits of strong PC muscles: an
easier delivery and recovery, prevention of hemorrhoids and urinary
incontinence, and enhanced circulation in your pelvic area. The best way to
strengthen your PC muscle is to do Kegel exercises every day.
Here's one way to "Kegel": Gradually squeeze your
PC harder and harder until you can't increase the squeeze; hold for up to ten
seconds. Slowly release. Do 25 repetitions four times a day. You can Kegel
anytime, anywhere, and no one needs to know.
Don't Forget Your Feet
You may not like hearing this, but most women's feet grow
throughout pregnancy. Several factors contribute to this: normal secretion of
the hormone relaxin loosens all the joints in the body, including those in the
feet; extra fluid in the tissue means swelling in the feet; and excessive
weight gain adds fat to the feet. If you stick with your usual shoe size,
you'll probably be uncomfortable, especially in your last trimester. Your best
bet is to be measured by a reputable shoe salesman, and buy one or two pairs of
shoes that fit you well - preferably with heels no higher than an inch or so.
You won't feel good unless your feet do.
Take Care of Your Teeth
Because of the hormonal changes in pregnancy, many women
notice "pink toothbrush" - that is, their gums bleed slightly and may
be puffy and sensitive. If you neglect these early warning signs of gingivitis,
you may wind up paying for it later on. The best tack to take? Prevention. See
your dentist for a cleaning at least once during your pregnancy (some experts
suggest going at least once per trimester); floss and brush religiously; and,
to prevent cavities, avoid sticky and starchy foods.
Take a Hike
A moderate amount of exercise is recommended for most
expectant mothers. It will keep you fit - including, most important, your heart
and lungs - and some experts believe a steady program of moderate exercise
during pregnancy may even help shorten labor. Your doctor or midwife can
recommend which exercises, and how much, are safe for you. Walking is safe for
most pregnant women. Warm up first by strolling slowly for ten minutes, then
stride hard enough to make conversation difficult, though not impossible.
Afterward give yourself a five-minute cooldown - that is, walk at a slow pace
to allow your heart rate to return to normal. Your goal should be to work up to
15 minutes of strenuous exercise three to five times a week. Your clothing -
especially your shoes - should be comfortable. Don't exercise if it's humid or
Eat Often, or "Graze"
You need plenty of calories to nourish yourself and your
baby, but your best bet is to have five or six smaller, though healthful,
meals, instead of the three large ones you're probably accustomed to. In the
early months, grazing will help stave off morning sickness, because a woozy
stomach is likely to be an empty stomach. As your pregnancy progresses and your
growing baby crowds your stomach, you simply won't have much room for food - so
much so that in the eighth and ninth months, grazing becomes a necessity,
because eating too much at a sitting may force food and digestive juices up
into the esophagus, causing heartburn.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common during pregnancy.
To avoid them, drink plenty of fluids so you urinate frequently and keep your
urine diluted; avoid "holding it in," which can increase your chances
of UTI; urinate before and after intercourse; and always wipe from front to
back after using the bathroom. When you urinate, lean forward to empty your
What's the most soothing balm for pregnancy discomfort?
Keeping in mind your reward: a beautiful, brand-new baby!