Pregnancy All-in-One For Dummies book cover

Pregnancy All-in-One For Dummies

By: The Experts at Dummies Published: 05-16-2016

Your all-encompassing guide to having a happy, healthy pregnancy

Are you an expectant parent looking for sound, expert guidance as you prepare to welcome a new addition to your family? Pregnancy All-in-One For Dummies has done the legwork for you, offering a one-stop compilation of the hottest topics and most relevant information culled from several successful For Dummies pregnancy titles. Covering everything from conception to the delivery room—and beyond—it gives moms and dads-to-be the reassuring answers they need during this very special time.

Your pregnancy and childbirth experiences should be happy ones, but they're bound to be rife with questions—especially if you're a first-time parent, having a child later in life, or embarking on your first multiple birth. Luckily, this friendly guide is here to put your mind at ease, offering authoritative coverage of everything you can expect to encounter in the first, second, and third trimesters of pregnancy, as well as all the special considerations you may come across along the way, such as diet, exercise, labor and delivery options, breastfeeding, and so much more.

  • Make pregnancy and childbirth an enjoyable experience
  • Find out about nutrients that are critical to your baby's development
  • Get authoritative guidance on making a birth plan

Why turn to dozens of pregnancy resources when all the helpful, down-to-earth guidance you're looking for is right here, in one convenient place?

Articles From Pregnancy All-in-One For Dummies

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42 results
42 results
What to Expect When You’re Admitted to the Hospital for Delivery

Article / Updated 09-03-2021

Whether you’re in labor, being induced, or having a cesarean delivery, you need to be admitted to the hospital’s labor floor. If you preregistered earlier in your pregnancy (ask your practitioner about the process), your records are already on the labor floor when you arrive, and a hospital unit number is assigned to you. When you arrive at the hospital or birthing center, you go through an admission process and are assigned to a room. You settle into your hospital room, following a fairly standard routine: You change into a gown. A nurse asks you questions about your pregnancy, your general health, your obstetrical history, and when you last ate. If you think water has broken or you’re leaking fluid, let your nurse know. A nurse, midwife, resident, or other practitioner performs an internal exam to see how far along in labor you are. Your contractions and the fetal heart rate are monitored. A nurse may draw your blood and start an IV line in your arm (for delivering fluids and possibly medications). You’re asked to sign a consent form for routine hospital care, delivery, and possibly cesarean section. You sign the consent form when you’re admitted in case you need an emergency cesarean during labor and you don’t have time to sign consent forms. Signing a consent form doesn’t mean you’re limiting your care options. You may want to hand over any valuables you have with you to your partner or another family member (or simply leave them at home). Most hospital rooms include some standard features, so the room you’re placed in probably includes all of the following: A special bed: In a room used for both labor and delivery (also known as a birthing room), the bed is specially designed to come apart and be turned into a delivery table. Some hospitals have rooms where you labor, deliver, and even remain for your postpartum recovery. These rooms are called LDR (an acronym for labor, delivery, and recovery) rooms or LDRP rooms (the p stands for postpartum). Doppler/stethoscope: Your practitioner or nurse uses these portable tools to listen periodically to the fetal heartbeat instead of using the continuous fetal monitor. Fetal monitor: This machine has two attachments, one to monitor the baby’s heart rate and one to monitor your contractions. The fetal monitor generates a fetal heart tracing, which is a paper record of how the baby’s heart rate rises and falls in relation to your contractions. Infant warmer: This device has a heat lamp to keep the newborn’s body temperature from dropping. IV line: This tube is connected to a bag of saline (salt water) containing a glucose mixture to keep you properly hydrated. It also provides access for medications in case you need pain control or have an emergency. Rocking chair or recliner: The extra chair is for your partner, your coach, or another family member.

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5 Tricks to Healthy Eating While Pregnant

Article / Updated 09-03-2021

If you want to feel great during pregnancy, radiate good health, wake up refreshed and energetic and stay that way all day long (well, most days, anyway), avoid major health problems, and provide all the nutrients your baby needs, you must regularly eat well. Here are five tricks that will set you on the right path during your pregnancy: Fill up on the good stuff. When you need a snack, grab an apple or banana, not a cookie or box of crackers. Eat before heading out for errands and bring healthy snacks with you in your purse. When you’ve had a bad day and think that the pint of your favorite comfort food or memory food is the only way to solve your problems, first make a big stir-fry with lean chicken (or pick up a container at your local Chinese takeout restaurant), drink a large bottle of water, and then — if you’re still hungry and stressed — put a scoop or two of ice cream in a small dish and see how that feels. Don’t completely deny yourself anything tasty. A doughnut once a week doesn’t compromise your health, but a doughnut every day, combined with other unhealthy eating habits, quickly has negative effects on your health. Turn off or otherwise ignore all food-related advertisements. The companies advertising food don’t care about you; they care about profits. Whether you struggle with illness or general feelings of blah is completely irrelevant to them, as long as you keep buying those foods. Take charge of your eating by eliminating the influence of commercials on your healthy lifestyle. This goes double for the many unhealthy recipes found in the food section of your local newspaper, many home and garden magazines, and gourmet food publications. Look for publications that cater to healthy eating, especially those that provide recipes that are low in fat and include fresh vegetables. Immediately look for the one or two healthy choices upon entering any restaurant, party, or other social gathering. If you’re not doing the serving or bringing a dish with you (as is the case at a restaurant or wedding), search for the veggie plate, a big salad, a lean meat option without any sauces, or a legume or whole-grain food. Serve or bring healthy foods, and limit the number and size of treats. If you’re serving the meal, offer an enticing array of brightly colored vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and lean meat, and then offer small slices of a delicious fruit pie with a spoonful of low-fat frozen yogurt. Your guests will be amazed at how colorful and delicious a nutritious meal can be and will be clamoring for recipes. If you’re at a potluck gathering, such as an office party or baby shower, bring one or two healthy dishes that you know you’ll eat, and quickly evaluate what other healthy foods are available at the gathering. All that said, if you’re unable to keep food down during any part of your pregnancy, find foods that you can tolerate and, until you’re able to keep down other foods, don’t worry about whether what you’re eating is healthy. Sometimes, pregnancy causes you to reject even the healthiest foods, so make gaining weight normally your number-one priority, with healthy eating number two on that list.

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9 Ways to Avoid Heartburn While Pregnant

Article / Updated 09-03-2021

Heartburn is common during pregnancy and can happen at any time throughout your 40 weeks, although it often gets worse in the second and third trimesters. Heartburn has two causes, and both are related to the sphincter muscle that connects the esophagus to your stomach. The progesterone your body produces relaxes that sphincter muscle, and your growing uterus presses on it. The result is that gastric acids, liquids, and food from the stomach travel back up your esophagus, leaving you uncomfortable. Heartburn typically worsens as your belly grows and puts more pressure on your stomach, causing the sphincter muscle to allow acid back into the esophagus. You can lessen the symptoms of heartburn by trying the following tips: Stop eating two to three hours before lying down for bedtime or a nap. The less you have in your stomach, the less likely you are to experience acid reflux. Sleep propped up to avoid lying flat. When you elevate your upper body, gravity helps keep your stomach acids down. (If you’re past your first trimester, you shouldn’t lie flat, anyway; lying flat can cut off circulation to your baby and your legs. Lie on your left side for optimal circulation.) Practice good posture when sitting. When you slouch, you put more pressure on your esophagus, which can lead to heartburn. Avoid big meals. Eat small portions so that you don’t overfill the stomach and cause extra food to come back up the esophagus. Sip liquids with meals instead of drinking large amounts. Because you want to avoid having large amounts in your stomach at one time, drink small amounts at meals and stay hydrated by spreading your liquids out between meals. Avoid greasy or fatty foods. High-fat foods, specifically fried foods, tend to trigger heartburn because they don’t stimulate digestion but do take longer to digest (they just sit in your stomach). Skip spicy and acidic foods. Acidic foods, like tomatoes, citrus, and peppers, can be problematic for many women. Onions and garlic are also on some women’s problem-foods list. Avoid caffeinated and carbonated beverages. These drinks have been known to cause acid reflux. Sorry to say, but chocolate can also irritate the esophagus, so you may want to avoid it, too. Take an antacid when you’re uncomfortable. Talk to your doctor about which one to choose or about a safe prescription medication if over-the-counter antacids don’t work for you.

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6 Tips for Finding Time for Fitness after Your Baby’s Born

Article / Updated 09-03-2021

During pregnancy, your biggest stumbling blocks to regular workouts may have involved getting motivated to work out, finding the energy to exercise, and finding time to work out on long days that included visits to your healthcare provider. After the baby is born, however, your biggest challenges may be what in the world to do with your new baby during your workout and how to find time between all those feedings, changings, and your baby’s other needs — in addition to still being short on sleep and time. Here are some suggestions that can help you continue the work you began during pregnancy, from carving out time for your workouts to finding a safe place for your little one while you get your body back to your pre-pregnancy shape: Exercise during your baby’s nap time. When your child is very young, you can plan to exercise during one of his normal nap times, using a baby monitor or setting up a crib or playpen right near your workout equipment. If you’re planning to leave your baby in his crib and to use his baby monitor to warn you if he awakes or needs you for other reasons, you may want to select a baby monitor that lights up when your baby cries. This way, you don’t have to worry about not hearing the monitor over your workout video or treadmill. Opt for a quieter workout. If you’re using a loud machine, such as a treadmill, rowing machine, or indoor bicycle, he may not sleep very long amidst all that ruckus. Likewise, the music and instructions on an aerobics video may wake a sleeping baby. But quieter workouts do exist — from weightlifting to some elliptical trainers to yoga — and working out with your baby couldn’t be much simpler. Take your baby along. If she’s properly dressed for the weather and not exposed to extreme temperatures, you may be able to take your baby with you on your workout. When she’s very young and still lightweight enough to carry, you can keep her in a hands-free, front-mounted baby sack (also called a baby pouch or baby sling) or in a hands-free, back-mounted baby backpack while you walk or hike. Just be sure that she isn’t getting jostled around, isn’t too hot or cold, and isn’t exposed to a draft. When your baby can hold her head up and wear a helmet, you can bring her along in a bike trailer or an easy-to-maneuver running stroller. Join a gym or pool that offers childcare. Make sure that you check the credentials of the sitter(s) the gym or pool has hired and that you understand the childcare’s policies. Start a mothers’ exercise club. Do you know other newish mothers at work or in your neighborhood who want to work out? Consider starting a mothers’ exercise club in your area. Before starting your own club, check to see whether one exists in your area. Get your partner involved. If your partner has been involved in your pregnancy fitness routine and enjoys it, chances are he wants to continue this routine after your baby is born. If you work out together in early morning, after work, or on weekends, you may want to take the baby with you, using the ideas described here. Another way to involve your partner is to alternate workout times.

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7 Signs Your Morning Sickness Is Something More Serious

Article / Updated 09-03-2021

For a few pregnant women, vomiting during pregnancy becomes so excessive that it can harm them or their babies. This condition is called hyperemesis gravidarum. Typically, hyperemesis gravidarum is characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss of more than 5 percent, and evidence of dehydration. Check your symptoms and compare to the information below to recognize the difference between morning sickness and serious illness. Typical Signs of Morning Sickness Signs of a Potentially More Serious Sickness Your nausea goes away after 14–16 weeks. Your nausea doesn’t go away. Your nausea leads to occasional vomiting. Your nausea leads to severe vomiting (several times per day). Your vomiting doesn’t cause dehydration. Your vomiting causes severe dehydration. Your vomiting still allows you to keep some food down. Your vomiting doesn’t allow you to keep food down. Your nausea and vomiting are annoying. Your nausea and vomiting disrupt your life. You don’t experience any significant weight loss. You experience weight loss of more than 5% of your body weight. Nausea and some vomiting are your only symptoms. Dizziness, weakness, and fatigue accompany your vomiting.

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8 Questions to Ask When Your Doc Recommends an Unscheduled Cesarean Delivery

Article / Updated 09-03-2021

It’s one thing to know, plan for, and write a birth plan based on a scheduled cesarean birth; it’s quite another to get into labor — sometimes nearly all the way to the end — and then find out you need to have a C-section. Most of the time, an unscheduled cesarean isn’t an emergency. In that case, you have a chance to ask questions and make your wishes known about who will be in the operating room with you and whether you want to have your baby with you right after birth (as long as neither you nor the baby has life-threatening complications requiring immediate care). When your doctor says she wants to do an unplanned caesarian delivery, consider asking these questions before she wheels you down to the operating room: Why are you recommending a cesarean now? Although you probably already have some idea, you’ll feel better if you get your doctor’s input firsthand. Make sure she discusses both the pros and the cons. Can we try any other options first? These options can include getting in a different position, walking up and down the hall, simply giving labor a little more time, augmenting your labor to strengthen your contractions, turning the dose down (or off) if your baby appears to be stressed, or waiting for your epidural to wear down a little. Is my baby in immediate distress? In most cases, if your baby is in distress, you’ll know it by the flurry of activity in your room. If your room is still fairly quiet, ask your practitioner what she feels the risk to your baby is at this time. Am I in danger? If the danger isn’t immediate, ask your doctor for an explanation of why a C-section is the best option for you right now. What kind of anesthesia will I have for the surgery? The anesthesiologist may talk to you about the pros and cons of putting a higher dose of medication in your epidural for the surgery versus putting in a spinal. One benefit of using the epidural is that you can use it for pain medication after your surgery. Can I hold my baby right after the surgery? If your baby isn’t in immediate distress, this should be an option. Who can come into the operating room with me, and where will they be? Hopefully, you decided ahead of time (and put in your birth plan) your first choices. But if you’ve been in labor for a while, you may have a clearer idea of who’s a good choice and who isn’t. How long will the surgery take, and what type of incision will I have? Keep in mind that the incision on the uterus and the incision on the skin may not be the same. The baby is usually out within five to ten minutes, but putting everything back together again can take up to an hour.

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Enhancing the Atmosphere During the Birthing Process

Article / Updated 09-03-2021

Most delivery rooms are sterile-looking places because, in fact, they have to be germ-free. However, that doesn't mean that you can't do something to enhance the atmosphere while you're delivering your baby. You won't be allowed to light candles in a hospital, but you can tape some photos to the wall, bring a boom box to play some background music, and even spray a favorite scent into the air. By placing your mark on your surroundings, both of you feel more in control of the situation. While the delivery room may never be what you would call a romantic setting, you can enhance the romantic aura with a little planning. Playing it safe In the attempt to create a greater sense of intimacy during the birthing process, some couples choose to have their babies at home. If something does go wrong during the birthing process — and it can — you want to be as close to an operating room as possible. If you can be quickly wheeled into the operating room, most of the time doctors can right whatever goes wrong. However, if you have to wait for an ambulance and then drive to the hospital, it may be too late. Because many couples would prefer a more homey setting, some hospitals do have labor rooms that are decorated to look just like a bedroom. Of course, if an emergency develops, the operating room is just around the corner, so they offer the comforts of a home delivery with the safety of a hospital. If you want this type of experience, see whether your doctor is affiliated with a hospital that has such rooms. Be forewarned that even if this is a possibility, you may end up in a normal delivery room if many women give birth on the same day. Enduring labor day You can't predict how long labor will last. Some women give birth in a few hours; others take a few days. The longer the process takes, the more uncomfortable you are going to be. In addition, as the hours of discomfort continue to mount up, you're going to become crankier, also. You can't take your frustration and pain out on your doctor or the nurses, so who's likely to bear the brunt? Your husband. To lessen the impact this stressful time can have on your relationship, you have to talk about what to expect ahead of time. If you're both aware that labor may be long, grueling, and tense, he'll have an easier time shrugging off your bad mood, and you'll be more likely to recognize the cause of your griping and apologize before doing it again. One of the reasons this can be such a frustrating experience for both partners is that most men are natural fixer-uppers. If you tell a man there's a problem, chances are that he's going to look for a solution. In this case, there's nothing he can do other than to give you some ice chips and tell you to breathe properly. When you scream at him "Make this stop!" he's going to want to do exactly that, even though you are only venting your own frustrations. Moreover, if this behavior has been going on for hours, you're both going to be tired and your tempers will fray. In the "good old days," men were left to pace in the waiting room, and such interaction between husband and wife didn't occur. Before that, husbands waited outside the house while midwives ministered to their wives. The father-to-be is now the birthing coach, and, right after the delivery you go back to being husband and wife. With those facts of life in mind, you're both wise to forgive and forget any words or acts delivered at the most emotional moments of this wonderful process.

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Pregnancy All-in-One For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 09-03-2021

Moms-to-be and their partners have a lot of questions when they first discover they’re expecting. The first questions of many soon-to-be parents focus on big-picture issues: how the baby develops, how to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy, and what to expect during each trimester. Yet even small comforts can mean a lot when you’re carrying another human being inside of you. This Cheat Sheet addresses a few of those, telling you what to expect when you’re admitted to the hospital, how you can avoid the nuisance of heartburn, and how to find time to work out after your little one is born.

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What's a Birth Plan?

Article / Updated 09-02-2021

Put simply, a birth plan is a document you create to communicate your wishes and requests to your medical practitioner, the birth team, and your support team (whether that's your partner, a doula, or someone else). You write the plan months before labor begins, when you have time to research and think through your options — preferably before contractions make concentrating difficult! Planning ahead also allows you to switch medical practitioners if your current doctor or midwife isn't on board with your plans. Despite the name, a birth plan also includes your wishes for the immediate postpartum period, like how you intend to feed your baby and where you want her to sleep if you're giving birth in a hospital. Birth plans also cover the fun options, like who will announce the baby's gender and who cuts the cord.

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Visualizing Your Ideal Birth

Article / Updated 09-02-2021

Everyone's ideal image of birth is different. One mother may consider the perfect birth to be in a well-equipped hospital with an immediate epidural, and another mother may consider her perfect birth to be at home, with no drugs, and in a birthing pool. There's nothing necessarily right or wrong about these different visions (although most people think their ideal birth is the best one!). Every birth choice has its risks and benefits, but many birth choices have more to do with comfort and personal philosophy than statistics. Don't panic if you're thinking, "But I have no idea what I want. I don't even know what my options are!" Lots of moms and dads have no idea what they want at the beginning of the pregnancy. In fact, their "ideal birth" may change from pregnancy to pregnancy. As you find out more about birth and about birth plans, you'll get a better idea of what you want.

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