Slideshow: Looking and Feeling Your Best in Pregnancy
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As you look forward to that special day when your baby will be born, you're expecting your waistline to expand! But did you know that pregnancy affects your body in other ways? Early in your pregnancy, hormones cause your breasts to feel full and tender. Hormones can also cause bouts of morning sickness, especially in the first trimester. You might feel really tired and need to take frequent naps. Often these things get better in the second trimester.
You've Got That "Glow"
It's not a myth: Pregnant women often "glow" because of greater blood flow and more oil production in the skin. Some other changes to your skin can include melasma, a discoloration of facial skin, more breakouts, itchy skin, and stretch marks. Lotion or moisturizer can soothe itchy skin and stretch marks. Be sure to check with your doctor before using any acne medicines on your skin.
Stay Active During Pregnancy
Exercising during pregnancy gives you more energy and gets your body ready for childbirth. As long as your doctor says it's OK, healthy women should aim for at least two and a half hours of exercise each week. Choose low-impact workouts like walking or swimming. If you were active before your pregnancy, check with your doctor about continuing to run, do aerobics, or lift weights. Be sure to drink plenty of water, and stop exercising if you feel dizzy or faint.
Massage and Spa Treatments
A spa day can be a real treat during pregnancy. Massage relieves tension and soothes muscle aches and pains. Find a massage therapist certified in prenatal massage, and always check with your doctor first. Many spa treatments are safe, but avoid those that raise your body temperature, such as mud baths and sauna sessions. Your skin may be more sensitive than usual to other spa treatments, like facials.
Stretch and Relax
Yoga can relax your body and your mind. You'll have better balance as your center of gravity shifts. Look for a pregnancy yoga DVD or find a class for prenatal yoga. A certified instructor will know which poses you can do safely and will help you adapt poses as you get closer to your due date. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise, including yoga.
Are Mood Swings Normal?
You might feel like you're on an emotional roller coaster during pregnancy. You're excited about the future with your little one, but you have concerns about childbirth and parenthood. With pregnancy hormones in the mix, it can feel overwhelming. You're not alone -- many pregnant women have mood swings. Take care of yourself: Get plenty of rest, try stress-relieving activities like exercise, or talking to a friend. If you feel depressed, tell your doctor.
Hair Care Dos and Don'ts
Your hair might feel thicker and fuller. One benefit of pregnancy hormones is that you don't lose as much hair as you normally would. Having certain hair treatments such as permanent hair color is generally OK, but your doctor may suggest waiting 'till after the first trimester. After delivery you might lose more hair than usual, but within six months of the baby's birth, your hair growth should be back to normal.
Makeup and Your Changing Skin
Your skin is changing and your makeup routine might need freshening up, too. If your skin feels dry, use liquid or cream foundation. If it gets oily, try powder foundation and blush. Dab on concealer to cover up dark circles and uneven skin tone. Use subtle shades and a light touch when applying makeup. Treat yourself to a makeover and get tips from a makeup pro. Read the label on your makeup and avoid products containing mercury.
Affordable Maternity Clothes
If you were at a healthy weight before, you might gain as much as 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. You can still dress fashionably, comfortably, and affordably when pregnant. Invest in key garments like a pair of jeans or pants, a nice dress or skirt, and a couple of comfortable tops. Get fitted with a supportive bra. Trade in your high heels for comfortable, low-heeled shoes with solid support. If you can, borrow maternity clothes from a friend or shop at secondhand stores.
Healthy Eating for Two
You'll probably need an extra 100-300 calories a day when "eating for two." Choose those extra calories wisely from all the food groups -- grains, fruits and vegetables, meats and beans, and dairy. Don't skip breakfast, and eat healthy snacks in between meals. Stay away from foods containing raw or undercooked eggs or meats, certain kinds of fish that are high in mercury, unpasteurized dairy foods, and cold cut meats, unless they have been heated through.
Prenatal Vitamins Are a Must
You need extra folic acid, calcium, and iron when you're pregnant. The best way to get them is through healthy food. But you should still take the prenatal vitamin and/or supplement suggested by your doctor. Prenatal vitamins have nutrients that your baby needs for growth and development. Some pregnant women may need supplements to target specific vitamin deficiencies, such as iron or B12.
Hydrate for a Healthy Pregnancy
Being properly hydrated will help keep your energy level up. It also helps prevent bladder infections and constipation. Drink plenty of water or fluids: The Institute of Medicine recommends 12 cups each day (you get about 20% of your daily water intake from food). Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. Stick with water, juices, and non-caffeinated beverages. If your urine is pale yellow, you're probably drinking enough.
Get the Sleep You Need
During the first trimester it might seem like you sleep all the time. By the third trimester, getting a good night's sleep is more difficult. Frequent urination, heartburn, discomfort, and even anxiety can keep you awake. Try sleeping on your left side, using pillows behind you and between your legs. Exercise during the day rather than the evening. Don't drink too many fluids before bed.
Medication? Ask Your Doctor First
Unless your doctor tells you to, don't take any medications while pregnant, even over-the-counter medicines like cold or allergy tablets, anti-inflammatory drugs, or pain relievers. Anything you take eventually makes its way to your baby, so it's best to be safe. If you took medication before you got pregnant, your doctor can tell you whether you need to keep taking it or adjust your medication.
It's Fine to Get Frisky
Unless your doctor says otherwise, having sex is safe during pregnancy. You may have to try some new things to accommodate your new figure. Your breasts and nipples might be sensitive. Talk to your partner about what feels good to you. As your belly grows, you might need to try different positions. Let your doctor know if sex causes any cramping or bleeding.
Time for Two Before Baby Arrives
Some couples take a trip, a "babymoon," before the birth of their child. Many resorts have travel packages for parents-to-be. Talk to your doctor before you plan a trip far from home, and try to go before your 36th week. You may want to think about how far you can drive or fly comfortably, and what medical care is available at your destination. If you can't get away, maybe you can spend a night at the best hotel in town or plan a special date.
Feel Confident, Not Self-Conscious
This is such an exciting time! But with the changes taking place in your body, it's easy to feel self-conscious. Take charge of your attitude. Surround yourself with positive friends or join a pregnancy support group. Read books or talk to your health care provider about what to expect. By eating right, exercising, and having a positive attitude, you can enjoy your pregnancy to the fullest.
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(2) Ruth Jenkinson / Science Photo Library
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(4) Steve Mason / Photodisc
(5) Dana Hoff / Photographer’s Choice
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(7) Jorn Georg Tomter / The Image Bank
(8) Tom Merton / Digital Vision
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(12) Comstock Images
(13) Dorling Kindersley
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(17) Lori Adamski Peek / Worbook Stock
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.