Health & Wellness

  • Sex During Pregnancy: What’s Safe and What’s Fun

    Pregnancy is full of ups, downs, and constant physical changes. The same is true for your sex life while you’re expecting. Every woman’s sex drive is affected differently by pregnancy. The first and third trimester normally bring a decrease in libido as fatigue, morning sickness, and other discomforts of pregnancy are at their worst. Lots of women report an increase in sex drive during the second trimester as first trimester symptoms pass. Regardless of trimester, it is generally safe to continue having sex throughout a normal pregnancy. Here are some things you should know about how to have safe and fun sex while you’re expecting.

    Communication is key. During pregnancy, sex often feels different than it usually does. On any given day during any trimester, these changes might make sex more pleasurable or more uncomfortable. Positions you try regularly might start to hurt or feel awkward. You might be more sensitive in particular areas, like your breasts, which can either be a turn off or a turn on, depending on how you feel at the time. Don’t be afraid to be vocal about what feels good and what doesn’t, even if that changes day to day. While it can be awkward to have conversations about sex, it’s also important to do so. You should be open with your partner about your sex drive, how intercourse feels, and any concerns or thoughts you have now that you’re pregnant.

    Some positions are better than others. You’ll want to experiment with your usual positions, and maybe try some new ones, to see what feels best for you and your partner. As your bump grows, your sex life will likely adapt along with your changing body. Often, positioning yourself on top is most comfortable, especially as you get bigger. Side-by-side positions are a good bet, too, since your uterus won’t be bearing down on you during sex. Lying on your back should feel fine early in pregnancy, but painful as the weight of your uterus increases. By the third trimester, you might want to avoid any position that leaves you on your back.

    Oral sex is still on the table, with modifications. Obviously, there’s no barrier to you performing oral sex on a partner, if that’s what you choose. But you can be on the receiving end of oral sex while pregnant, too. There are considerations for oral sex, though. It’s critical that your partner not blow into or around your vagina. That could cause an air embolism, which could be life-threatening for the baby. Also, if your partner has ever experienced oral herpes, you should avoid oral intercourse during the third trimester.

    There are many ways to be intimate. While you’re pregnant, your sex life is likely to undergo some changes, and that’s okay. No matter how you normally get intimate with your partner, you may need to get creative during pregnancy and try something you never have before to stay connected. There are loads of ways to be close with your partner, and you might discover something new that lasts long after the baby arrives. If intercourse isn’t going to happen for one reason or another, try a different way to get intimate. Some options are cuddling, spooning, massaging one another, watching adult movies together, or mutually masturbating.

    You’re allowed to feel sexy. Pregnancy can be a hard time for some women, when our bodies don’t quite feel like our own anymore. It’s also a period when we’re acutely aware that we are, or soon will be, mothers. And moms aren’t supposed to be sexy, right? Remember that you’re still you, and you don’t need to feel badly about having a sex drive. Likewise, a lower libido is no reason to stress, either. Whatever you feel about sex while you’re expecting is valid, so don’t let shame hold you back.

    Don’t shy away from the topic with your doctor. Like with so many other activities, it’s best to keep your doctor in the loop about what you’re doing while pregnant. You probably won’t need to go into detail, but you should check in with your practitioner to be sure that having sex won’t be harmful to you or your baby. There are some circumstances in which intercourse is not advised, and your doctor knows you and your condition better than anyone.

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  • Natural Cures for Morning Sickness

    For many women, the first sign of their pregnancy isn’t a positive test or an expanding midsection. It’s morning sickness, and it affects more than 50% of pregnant women. Nausea, sometimes accompanied with vomiting, can put a real damper on the happy news that you’re pregnant, and on most other parts of your life. Fortunately, there are ways to manage that sick sensation, so you can get to the fun parts of pregnancy, like eating ice cream and picking out new maternity clothes. Here are ten all-natural remedies we’ve found to help ease morning sickness.

    Ginger settles the stomach and promotes digestion, making it a favorite all-natural remedy for morning sickness. Ginger ale is a well-known cure for queasiness, but you’ll want to find sodas that are made from real ginger, not the standard supermarket sodas. You can also try chewing on ginger candies, crystallized ginger, or grating fresh ginger into hot water for ginger tea.

    Keep your digestive system healthy with probiotics. When your digestive system is functioning well, your morning sickness and nausea can be less severe. Eat fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, and Greek yogurt for probiotic health and to keep your system balanced. It’s also recommended that you not lie down immediately after eating, since that can slow down digestion and exacerbate an upset stomach.

    Sip peppermint tea for a simple nausea remedy. Peppermint is soothing to your stomach, and is usually pregnancy-safe. Of course, you’ll want to check with your doctor before you begin drinking new herbal teas. If cold liquids are more comforting, you can brew a batch of tea and leave it in the refrigerator overnight for a cool, calming start to the morning. You can also try sucking on peppermint candies for a similar effect.

    Lemons pack a double-punch against morning sickness. Drinking cool water with lemon is recommended to combat nausea and vomiting. But even if you can’t keep liquids down, the aroma of lemon could help make you feel better. Whether you add lemon to water, tea, or simply squeeze out the fresh juice into a cup to sniff, the lemony scent is said to help alleviate feelings of nausea.

    Make your own Morning Sickness Elixir. Made with ingredients you might have in your kitchen already, this anti-nausea drink has been known to soothe upset stomachs. Mix 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar into 1 quart water and stir in the juice of two lemons. Add 1 tablespoon honey. Combine the ingredients well, and sip the drink throughout the day to combat nausea.

    Tick up your B-vitamin consumption. Research has shown that an increase in B-vitamins, especially B6, can help ease nausea, though it’s still unclear why it’s such a relief. Before you start taking new supplements while pregnant, talk with your doctor. You can also try sprinkling brewer’s yeast, which is high in B-vitamins, on your food, or add more bananas, green beans, potatoes, carrots, and lean fish to your diet.

    Motion sickness bands can put your nausea out to sea. Are you prone to motion sickness? Sorry, but you may be more likely to experience intense morning sickness while pregnant. But motion sickness bands, particularly the ones that wrap around your wrist, can help calm your stomach. Many pregnant women swear by them!

    Acupuncture may bring morning sickness relief. Before you schedule any appointments, you’ll want to check with your doctor. But many women say that acupuncture, with a specialist who is fluent in the pregnant body, diminishes the symptoms of morning sickness, especially in the first trimester.

    Try eating small, frequent meals throughout the day. Eating small amounts of food regularly can curb your nausea by ensuring that your stomach is never empty. This can be tricky if you’re feeling too sick to eat, but if you can snack on high-protein foods and complex carbohydrates, you might be feeling better soon. Avoid foods that are overly rich, spicy, greasy, and high in fat; these are difficult to digest and can exacerbate your symptoms.

    Stay well-hydrated. Like with small meals, it might be hard to keep liquids down while you’re experiencing morning sickness. But drinking fluids will keep your system balanced. Try cold drinks and carbonated beverages to soothe your stomach. And if you have been vomiting, have a sports drink that contains potassium, glucose, and salt, to replace what you’ve lost and to ease nausea.

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  • The Benefits of Prenatal Massage Therapy

    Pregnancy is a wonderful time, but we can’t ignore the difficult parts that come along with it. Along with the dewy glow of your skin and excitement over a new baby, often comes aches, pains, and strains on your body. Growing a baby is tough work, so it’s important to take care of your body and show it extra love while you’re expecting. As mothers and mothers-to-be, we can forget that we need support and care along with our little ones. So when you’re expecting, your to-do list should include at least one massage to pamper and relieve some of the discomfort that comes along with pregnancy.

    As your body changes, so does the tension. With a growing baby and increasingly heavy uterus, there is tremendous new strain on many parts of your body, especially areas that felt fine pre-pregnancy. By releasing the tension on various body parts during a massage, a good therapist can help relieve hardships like sciatic nerve pain, headaches, lower-back pain, leg cramps, heartburn and acid reflux, stiffness, and even constipation. Although you may be feeling discomfort in various and specific areas, massage therapy is a way to holistically address your pains and soothe many parts of your body.

    Believe it or not, massage can reduce the troublesome swelling that comes with pregnancy. During pregnancy, your joints tend to swell, which is a condition called edema. It’s caused by reduced circulation and escalating pressure on major blood vessels. When you get a massage, your soft tissue is stimulated and there is a reduction of fluids accumulated in the joints, which brings you back to pre-pregnancy status-quo.

    Massage therapy gets your blood flowing and encourages lymph circulation, which has many positive effects on your changing body. When your blood circulation is increased, both you and your baby are provided with more oxygen and nutrient-rich blood flow. Also, the movement of lymphatic fluid in increased, which is what cleans away toxins and other metabolic waste. Encouraging blood flow throughout your body, especially to the areas experiencing the most pain, can relieve muscle tension. These effects can be felt after one massage, but are even improved after regular appointments.

    Massage is relaxing, and you deserve to lower your stress when you’re expecting. Even during the “easiest” pregnancies, there is a lot to think through and possibly worry over. First-time mothers especially can be concerned about anything from baby gear to labor to sleep schedules. Fully relaxing your body and mind during a massage isn’t just a nice perk, it’s actually very helpful to promoting overall calm and wellness. With regular massage, your stress hormones ebb while dopamine and serotonin levels increase, which can stabilize the nervous system and set the stage for a more balanced labor.

    Choosing the right massage therapist will put you even more at ease. When searching for massage therapists in your area, start searching for a therapist who specializes and is certified in prenatal massage. Maybe you already see a massage therapist who is knowledgeable in prenatal needs, but if you’re starting from scratch, look for the specialists. Read their websites and get a sense of their philosophy and mission. Do they go into detail about why they practice prenatal massage? Do they seem to have a grasp on what a body goes through while pregnant? If you feel calmer just by reading their website, it’s probably a good match. Don’t be afraid to call the massage therapist and ask questions to get a good sense of what the appointment will entail. You might ask about the oils and scents used during massage, the position you and your belly will be in on the table, and which body parts they tend to focus on. And of course, talk with your doctor before you schedule an appointment to be sure massage therapy is right for your pregnancy.

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  • What's the Best Breast Pump?

    Breast pumps fall in the category of those baby gear items that are totally mysterious until you use them. Then you fall completely in love and wonder how you ever thought you could live without them! If it’s your first time shopping for a breast pump, the variety of options can be overwhelming. Even if you’ve used a breast pump before, there are always new, state-of-the-art models making the pumping experience more manageable.

    When you’re looking at breast pumps, you need to evaluate them on several points. Cost, portability, size, frequency of use, and noisiness are all factors to consider when shopping, and will be varyingly important based on your own unique set of pumping circumstances.

    No matter what you’re looking for, there are a handful of forerunners in the breast pump market that deserve your attention.

    Medela Symphony is a heavy duty, no-messing-around workhorse of an electric pump. With its double-pump system and 2-phase expression pumping, it makes pumping go faster and more simply than many other electric pumps you’ll find.

    Medela’s Pump in Style Advanced is a darling of working mothers because of its portability, storage space, and design for multiple uses per day.

    Lansinoh Smartpump steps up your pumping game with technology. The pump connects, via bluetooth, to the Lansinoh app so you can track milk quantities, pumping sessions, and more.

    Ameda Purely Yours Ultra is lightweight, very user-friendly, and high-powered enough to get you efficiently through your pumping sessions.

    Spectra S2 PLUS is a powerhouse and has a variety of settings for you to choose from, making it simple to customize your pumping experience based on your needs of the moment.

    Avent Comfort Double makes pumping as comfortable as possible thanks to its design: there’s no need to lean forward or bend over the device to make the pump work effectively, like with some other pumps.

    Medela Harmony Manual Pump is the best manual pump we’ve found. Many women keep a spare manual in case of emergencies and if you’re out for a date night or afternoon with friends, and electric pumping isn’t realistic. The Harmony pump is small enough to fit in a large purse, easy to manage and maneuver while pumping, and simple to keep clean.

    When shopping for breast pumps, it’s important to understand your purchasing options. Talk to your OB and your hospital, since some hospitals have programs that give breast pumps to new mothers. Health insurance also may cover the purchase of your breast pump. If it gets too confusing, there are many organizations that help new mothers navigate the resources available to them. Yummy Mummy (based in New York City), La Leche League (international), KellyMom (online) and The United States Lactation Consultant Association are all great places to contact to be sure you get the best pumping care available to you.

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  • Pregnancy Acne and How to Treat It

    We hear all about how pregnant women are supposed to “glow,” right? Sometimes, though, that infamous glow takes a backseat to another common side effect of pregnancy: acne. Acne is quite common during pregnancy and can affect women no matter their skin type. The most likely cause of pregnancy acne is—you guessed it—hormones. During the first trimester especially, your hormone levels increase, along with your skin’s production of natural oils. An increase in the hormones called androgens causes your skin to overproduce an oily substance called sebum. Sebum clogs pores and can also cause bacteria buildup and inflammation, which then leads to breakouts.

    Pregnancy acne is natural, and once hormone levels even out post-pregnancy, the acne usually disappears. It's safest for you, and your growing baby, to avoid heavy-duty acne medication, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through breakouts for nine months. Here are some safe, at-home solutions that can help you deal with pregnancy acne.

    Amend your cleansing routines. You want to be kinder to your skin, so stick to two gentle face washes a day. Washing more than two times a day can overstimulate your oil glands, which can lead to more breakouts. When you do wash (ideally at the end of the day or after a sweaty workout), choose calming cleansers free from alcohol and oils. It’s suggested you use lukewarm water to rinse and avoid harsh steaming water on the face. Since your hairline is close to where acne may form, you also want to be careful of the shampoo you’re using. Shampoo every day using a gentle, pregnancy-safe wash like Nine Naturals Citrus+Mint Nourishing Shampoo. If you find acne breakouts in other areas, follow the same guidelines and check out Nine Naturals Citrus+Geranium Soothing Body Wash.

    Be mindful of your diet. If you’re expecting, you’re probably already hyper-aware of the foods you’re eating. But if you find you’re dealing with problem skin all of a sudden, you might do a diet check-in. Are you focusing on eating whole foods and foods that have been minimally processed? Are you getting hefty daily doses of veggies and fruits? Are you doing your best to avoid sugar? Are you drinking enough water? The food you eat makes a difference in your skin, so be sure you’re being mindful of what you’re consuming. Some foods that make your skin happiest include avocados, salmon, and leafy greens.

    Go for straight-A’s. Speaking of food choices, upping your intake of vitamin A could help out with your pregnancy acne. Vitamin A is instrumental in keeping skin healthy. Avoid the supplements and go straight for the vitamin-rich foods like milk, fish, eggs, and carrots.

    Change how you wear makeup. During pregnancy, you may find it helpful to switch up your makeup routine. Ditch the makeup that are oil-based and opt for water-based products with the label noncomedogenic; this means that the makeup is not pore-clogging. You could also try an oil-free moisturizer or moisturizing product to help maintain balance in your skin.

    Notice the little ways you can take care of your skin. Acne is caused by bacteria, so the more you can avoid bacteria on your face (or wherever your breakouts occur), the better. Keep your hands away from your face, and try not to pick at the pimples. Change your pillowcases frequently as a defense against bacteria buildup. Keep your cellphone at a slight distance, and not pressed against your face. These small tricks can help you battle a massive amount of acne-causing bacteria.

    Talk with your doctor, because not all acne treatments are pregnancy safe. Pregnancy acne is a major pain, but it’s also usually temporary. With that said, it’s best to steer clear of chemically laden, and potentially dangerous, over-the-counter or prescription acne medications and treatments. If you want a natural at-home acne treatment, here’s a recipe we’ve tried: blend together raw honey, cooked (and cooled) oatmeal, and a touch of lemon juice. Apply to your skin and leave on for about 10 minutes. Wash off, then lightly moisturize. Save the intense acne treatments for postpartum, if you still find the need to restore balance in your skin.

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  • Baby Food by Stage

    Happy Family’s founder shares some of her favorite recipes for baby.

    Article & Photo courtesy of Well Rounded NY

    Baby’s first feeding is a huge milestone. And while we know it’s fun and exciting, it’s also overwhelming and sometimes even nerve-wracking. It’s not always easy to create healthy, nutritious meals when we’re busy or distracted or simply trying to adjust to a picky palette. But, what your child eats during those first few months and years has the potential to impact him for his entire life.

    Nobody knows this better than the founder of Happy Family Brands, Shazi Visram, who’s been helping moms provide healthy food for their babies for 10 years. “From the moment you conceive through your child’s second birthday is a vital period where everything you feed yourself and your child will ultimately shape their healthy eating habits,” she says. “Tastes develop in the womb and these seemingly small decisions will result in big outcomes for your child’s future.”

    Shazi’s celebrating Happy Family’s 10th anniversary in a big way — she just published The Happy Family Organic Superfoods Cookbook For Baby & Toddler, with more than 70 easy-to-prepare recipes made with wholesome and easy-to-find ingredients for children from 4 months and beyond, AND gave birth to her second baby, Asha (son, Zane is 6 years old). Below, Shazi shares some insights on balancing her babies, business and book, and provides 3 easy recipes for your baby, no matter what his stage.


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