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Pregnancy

Surprising Family Planning Tax Deductions You May Not Know About

mom in chair

mom in chair

It’s tax filing season and if you are expecting or just had a new baby, there are some expenses related to your journey to parenthood that you may or may not know about.

The fact of the matter is that babies do in fact change your tax situation and here are a few tax tax deductions and credits available to families this year.

[FILE TAXES ONLINE FROM ANYWHERE WITH H&R BLOCK]

Before Baby

Pregnancy Test Kits. Birth Control Pills. Fertility Enhancement. These count as medical expense deductions. For medical expenses to be deductible, you’ll have to itemize your tax deductions, and your medical expenses must exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.

Expecting Baby

Nursing moms can include the cost of breast pumps and supplies in their medical expense deductions. Lactation expenses are also deductible as are laboratory fees that may be a part of your medical care.

The New Arrival

The tax deduction that comes with your new arrival can’t match the joy, but this still should make you happy.

Under the new tax law, the child tax credit has doubled to $2,000 per qualifying child. And, unlike a tax deduction, which reduces the amount of your income subject to tax, a tax credit reduces your tax bill dollar for dollar.

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Planning for Baby’s Future

The new tax law lets parents save tax-free for their child’s education. Under the law you can use up to $10,000 per child from a 529 plan to pay qualified expenses for elementary and secondary school and home school.

The 529 plans can also be used to pay for college.

Speaking of college, if you want to think that far ahead, two tax credits are available to help with qualified educational expenses. Those credits are the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides a credit of up to $2,500 for qualified tuition and expenses for the first four years of college, and the Lifetime Learning Credit, which provides up to $2,000 per return.

Use College Backer as your global ‘529’ Plan

I apologize if I’ve gotten too far ahead of you by talking about schooling and college and all those things. I’ll bring it back to the here and now by reminding you that whether your bundle of joy is born on January 1 or December 31 of the year, you can take a full $2,000 child tax credit.

And remember, as your child grows, the tax code is bound to change. You’ll want to make sure you get all the tax deductions to which your family is entitled. The best way to do that is to talk with a tax professional. It’s their job to keep up with the tax code. And, because they do their job, you can do yours, enjoying life with your new addition

tax saving

How to Pick or Predict Your Baby’s Gender, According to Old Wives Tales

Photo by Fallon Michael on Unsplash

A lot of women want to know what sex their baby will be before they give birth. There are tons of old wives tales that offer clues and these non-scientific predictors, although not proven for sure, are sometimes accurate.

If you are having a boy, it’s been said the fetal heartbeat on the doppler fetal monitor will be over 14o beats per minute. Others have said if you are having a boy, you will carry the baby out front like a basketball, develop large and dark nipples or bright yellow color of the urine are all signs too.

Some of the signs indicating a baby girl, according to the Old wives, include a heart rate of less than 140 per minute, bulges in the back and the hips, watermelon looking belly, dull yellow urine color, breasts that are blossom and appearance less than normal.

Then there are the fun voo doo tricks.

Tie your wedding ring to a string and watch it sway over your bell. If it sways in a circular motion, then it is thought to be a boy whereas the sideways movement indicates baby girl. Craving for salty and sour foods are known to be there in case of baby boy whereas sweets and orange juice cravings indicate baby girl.

Another way to find out is by adding your current age to the month of perception and if the number comes in even then it is a boy and if it comes an odd number then it is considered to be a girl. 

There are even thing they say you can do to make yourself more likley to conceive one gender or another. 

If you wish to conceive a baby girl then prescribed diet includes food items like corn, eggs, yogurt, coffee, beans, plums, fish, meat and liver. The restricted food items should be oranges, watermelon, alkaline foods and potatoes.

If you wish to conceive a boy then you should include lentils, pine nuts, sprouts, almonds, avocado and royal jelly in your diet.

Dairy products and foods having calcium and magnesium should be avoided.  Here is an old wives tale infographic shared before for you to Pin.

Eco Friday: How to Have a Plant-Based Vegan Pregnancy the Healthy Way {Plus Book Recommendations}

I’m one of those off ramp/on ramp vegans and currently I am just vegetarian, but for each of my pregnancies I didn’t dare stay away from dairy or meat because I feared iron deficiency knowing that baking a baby requires even more iron than normal.

Also, the fat from dairy, I thought was needed.

But for people who have been completely vegan for at least a decade straight, is it possible to have a healthy pregnancy while vegan?

The Examiner’s: The Vegan RD , Virginia Messina offered these tips for a Vegan Pregnancy recently:

Pregnant vegans can meet nutrient needs by following just a few simple guidelines:

  • Consume at least 5 servings per day of protein-rich plant foods. A serving is ½ cup cooked beans, tofu, or tempeh; 1 ounce of meat analog, or 1 cup of soymilk. (Fortified almond, rice, coconut or hempseed milk are fine to drink, too, but they are too low in protein to count as a protein-rich food.)
  • Include a good source of vitamin C at every meal to boost iron absorption. Good choices are cantaloupe, kiwifruit, mango, citrus fruits and juices,  papaya, pineapple, strawberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, sweet peppers, and tomatoes.
  • Eat plenty of leafy green vegetables like collards, kale and spinach. They’re good sources of folic acid, a B-vitamin that is especially important in the very early stages of pregnancy. (Vegans typically have higher folate intakes than meat-eaters but still may not meet the needs of pregnancy.)
  • Include a serving or two of nuts and seeds in your daily menu to help meet zinc needs.
  • Emphasize calcium-rich foods in your daily menu: leafy green vegetables, calcium-set tofu, tempeh, soynuts, fortified plant milks and fortified juices are all good choices. If your diet falls short of the RDA (1,000 milligrams), a small supplement can help make up the difference.
  • Your doctor will most likely prescribe a prenatal vitamin supplement that includes iron and folic acid (usually recommended for all pregnant women). Make sure your supplement includes zinc, copper and iodine as well. Pregnant vegans (like all vegans) should be sure to have a chewable vitamin B12 supplement, too, providing 25 to 100 micrograms of B12 per day.

Talk to your doctor about the need for a supplement of the omega-3 fat DHA. The jury is still out on whether pregnant women need these supplements, but vegan versions are available.

  • Avoid super-restricted types of vegan diets. Diets that are too low in fat or are based on mostly raw foods can reduce nutrient absorption and make it harder to meet nutrient needs.

Finally, here are some Vegan pregnancy books to get you started:

The Vegan Pregnancy Cookbook: Over 200 Recipes to Keep You and Baby Happy and Healthy for All Three Trimesters (and Beyond)!by Lorena Novak Bull

The Whole 9 Months: A Week-By-Week Pregnancy Nutrition Guide with Recipes for a Healthy Start  by Jennifer Lang MD

Disease-Proof Your Child by Joel Fuhrman

Skinny Bitch Bun in the Oven by Rory Freedman

Creating Healthy Children by Karen Ranzi

Feeding Baby Green by Alan Greene

Rawsome by Brigitte Mars

Happy Healthy Pregnancy!

What to Add To Your First Baby Registry

It has been a long while since I have highlighted what’s popular and most wanted on Baby Registries these days so I searched  the web sphere and revisited my past posts then cross referenced to determine a List.

Now this is not necessarily the essentials.

Below are some of the top items and I urge Moms-to-be to still consider my list of things you do not need no matter how many books or ads tell you that you do

Diapering

Burt’s Bees Baby 100% Natural Ointment ($8.45; amazon.com)

Hiccapop Wipe Warmer and Dispenser ($34.92; amazon.com)

Sophie The Giraffe Teething Toy ($23.75)

Infant Quickchange Portable Changing Pad ($7.99; amazon.com)

 

Out & About

Ergobaby Carrier Omni 360 ($171.49; amazon.com)

Britax Back Seat Mirror ($34.99; amazon.com)

No Cow Protein Bar(box of 12) ($27.99; amazon.com)

Sustainable On-The-Go Essentials

Reusable Food Storage Bags ($10.99; amazon.com)

Welly Traveler Stainless Steel Bamboo Water Bottle ($33; amazon.com)

Rosti Mepal Ellipse Reusable Lunch Pot ($16.95; amazon.com)

Nursery

LectroFan High Fidhttps://amzn.to/2Mkc9PQelity White Noise Machine ($49.99; amazon.com)

Google Nest Cam (169.89, originally $199; amazon.com)

aden + anais Silky Soft Bamboo Swaddle Blanket ($42.75; amazon.com)

Sandra Boyton Board Books Library (54.95)

Feeding

Boon Bundle Feeding Set ($29.87; amazon.com)

BEABA Babycook 4 in 1 Steam Cooker ($149.95; amazon.com)

 

Medela Pump In Style ($196.97)
Inglesina Fast Table Chair ($69; amazon.com)

For Mom

Traditional Medicinals Organic Mother’s Milk Tea ($23.33; amazon.com)

My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow ($42.99; amazon.com)

Milkmakers Lactation Cookie Bites ($27.99; amazon.com)

Bath Time

Skip Hop Moby Bath Spout Cover ($9.95, originally $13; amazon.com)

 

hop skip jump

Baby Nasal Aspirator ($17.63, originally $20; amazon.com)

nose frida

The Honest Company Shampoo + Body Wash ($8.99, originally $9.99; amazon.com)

honest

Happy registry making!
baby registry 1010

Amazon Baby Registry Start Up Guide

As any brand new expecting couple understands, the process of starting a family is daunting, from conception, to appointments, to dietary restrictions, to the unsolicited advice to the actually prep for getting ready to add a brand new member of the family.

It’s a good thing that there is a lot more technology these days that is taking the headache out of some of the items on the long to-do-list.

In my day, over a decade and more ago, if you wanted to create a baby registry for your family and friends who wanted to help you out with your initial childcare expenses, you had to load yourself and your growing girth in the car, stand in line for a clerk who’d give you a scanning gun and then, you’d have to waddle all over a big box store like Target or Walmart scanning items to add to your list. After that, you had to go back in line and have another clerk upload the list. Phew!

These days, there is Amazon Baby Registry

Here is how it works:

Got to the Amazon Baby Registry landing page and click the “Create a new Baby Registry” button.  You’ll be directed to a page with questions you need to answer, enter the address to have gifts sent to and then create the registry.

After that, you can start adding gifts you want. As you probably already know, Amazon has the Earth’s Biggest Selection of products to fill your house with all the right baby things.

Now, here is a bonus that you get with Amazon that you won’t get with other one off stores, if there is a product that isn’t carried or available on Amazon, you can add it using the University Registry option. It’s a browser plug in and you can add items from any site to your registry.

Mobile On the Go

If you are not at your desktop and you think of something to add, you can do it via the Amazon app on your phone. It allows you to access and update your registry whenever you want, from wherever you are.

Instant Organization

Once you’re done with your registry, Amazon works its magic and organizes it by categories to make it easy for your family and friends to search and decide what they want to buy.

Publish It

Once  you’re done, you can decide if you want to make your registry public so anyone can find it by  searching your name.

You can also limit your registry so that only people with the link can access it. Or you can make it totally private to yourself only as you build it out and before it’s ready for public consumption.

Gifts for Parents Just for Creating the Registry

When you sign up, Amazon sets you up with a welcome box with up to $35 worth of baby products. Yay!

Option for Group Gifters

When your co-workers, or college friends want to go in on one large expensive gift like a stroller, glider or car seat on the list, they can utilize the Amazon group gifting option.

Friends and family or coworkers and associates can pitch in towards the purchase of one costly item.

The average annual cost of diapers for the first year of life for an infant is $550.

Another option for friends who want to help offset the expense of a new baby is for them to contribute to Diaper Fund. Friends and family can contribute any amount of money, up to $550 total, toward diapers.

You’ll get this money in the form of an electronic Amazon gift card, which can be used toward diapers and a variety of other eligible baby products as well.

For Gift Givers

All you have to do is go to the Baby Registry search page and look for the name of the mom-to-be, pick gifts, then check out. You can opt to pitch in towards a large group gift or contribute to the Diaper Fund.

If you don’t have Amazon Prime, you’ll have to spend at least $25 to be eligible for free shipping. If you have Prime, you’ll get the regular, two-day free shipping rates you’ve come to know and love.

What happens if you don’t get all the items on your list

Once you’re registry is closed, or after baby is born, you can go back and order items unpurchased for 10% off or 15% off if you are an  Amazon Prime member.

Returns are Generous and Easy

If you have to return an item, don’t worry about rushing because Amazon gives you an entire year to return items from your list! That’s the best part if you ask me!

And you have no store to drive to, just print out the return label and drop it off at an Amazon location or ship it back through regular carriers like USPS.

Start your Amazon baby registry today

 

Here Is Your Pregnancy and Postpartum Exercise Guide

pregnant woman running with weights

reposted from Havenlife with permission

Moving while your pregnant is so important. It can be five minutes in the morning or ten minutes at lunch. The time of day doesn’t matter, just as long as you can fit it into your schedule.

Being fit as a mother doesn’t mean spending hours at the gym. We talked with Jaime McFaden, a mom and trainer with audio fitness app Aaptiv, and asked for her top tips for staying in shape during and after pregnancy. Check them out below.

The best exercises for pregnant women

Regular exercise during pregnancy can improve health, reduce the risk of weight gain and even help with delivery. Jaime says that while it’s important to move throughout your pregnancy, it is also important to listen to your body. During pregnancy, your body goes through so many changes. Before you begin exercising, listen to what your body is telling you. Below are some safe exercises for pregnant women.



Kegel exercises for pregnant women

Kegel exercises are something you should do every day even if you’re not pregnant, Jaime says. Learning how to contract and release your pelvic muscles is so important for women’s bodies. This exercise can be done anywhere and only takes a couple of minutes.

How to do kegel exercises: In a seated position or standing up, take a deep breath in. In the inhale, release muscles in the pelvic region, and when you exhale, clench up those pelvic floor muscles. These are the muscles that control urine flow. Repeat this exercise for about 2-3 minutes.

Recommended reps: Every day for 2-5 minutes

Ab exercises for pregnant women

The ab exercises you do should vary throughout your pregnancy. Listen to your changing body. Jaime says to “avoid crunches, laying on your back and any twisting exercises as you progress in pregnancy.” Below are three recommended ab exercises for pregnant women.

Bird dog

How to do it: This exercise requires you to get on all fours and do opposite arm and leg extensions. Start with your right arm and left leg. Move both limbs away from your center and then pull them back in. Then, repeat. Do the same thing with your left arm and right leg.

Recommended reps: 12-15 on each side

Knee side planks

How to do it: Lay on your side with your knees bent on top of each other at a 90-degree angle. Raise your upper body by lifting yourself up on your right forearm. Your elbow should be directly under your shoulder bent at a 90-degree angle. To do a rep, contract your abdominal muscles and lift your hips off the ground. Hold this for 30 seconds and then lower yourself to your starting position. Do this same movement on the other side.

Recommended reps: Hold each side for 30 seconds

Reverse plank

How to do it: Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Place your palms on the floor behind your hips. Press into your palms and lift your body upwards. Looking up at the ceiling, make sure to point your toes and keep your arms and legs straight. Keep your body in a straight line and squeeze your core. Hold this for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Recommended reps: Hold each side for 30 seconds

Lower body exercises

“Building lower body strength is a huge help when it comes to labor and delivery,” says Jaime. Strong lower body muscles will also help with all the lifting and carrying you will be doing as a mom. Squats are a great option. They not only keep you strong and healthy, but they also help build the muscles you will be using during birth. Below are some exercises to help strengthen your lower body.

Pilé squats

How to do it: A pilé squat is a version of a squat where you keep your legs wide and toes turned to the outside. To do a rep, lower down your hips as you were going to sit in a chair and come back to a stand.

Recommended reps: 12-15

Lunges

How to do it: Standing with your feet hip-width apart, take a big step forward with your right leg. Lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your right knee is directly above your right foot. Press your weight into your right heel to drive yourself back up to your starting position. Repeat this on the other side.

Recommended reps: 12-15 on each side

Back exercises for pregnant women

Most women endure back pains at some point in their pregnancy. “So much of what you will do as a mom is forward—make sure you build your back muscles to keep good posture and support,” Jaime says. Below are her top recommended back exercises for pregnant women.

Good morning

How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place your hands behind your head. Take a deep breath and hinge forward from your hips. Allow a slight bend in the knees and keep your back flat. Lean forward until you are horizontal (do not go beyond horizontal). You should feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings and back. Then, exhale as you reverse the move to stand up. You can do this exercise without weight, with a resistance band or with a barbell once you get comfortable.

Recommended reps: 12-15

Deadlift

How to do it: This exercise requires a barbell. Again, listen to your body and reduce your weight as needed. Between 22 and 30 weeks, consider switching to an alternative exercise as your bump may be too big.

To do this exercise, stand next to the barbell and hold a neutral spine. Taking a deep breath, bend from the hips (maintaining a neutral spine), and grab the barbell. Exhale as you lift up. Once you are at your starting position, breath in on the way down until your barbell is back on the ground. As you exhale, repeat the exercise by lifting the barbell back up. Remember to keep a neutral back throughout.

Recommended reps: 12-15

One-arm row

How to do it: With a 5-10 pound weight in your left hand, place your right knee on a sturdy chair and leave your left foot on the ground. Bend forward with your back parallel to the floor and place your right hand on the seat. Hold the weight in your left hand with your palm facing in and extend down. Bend your left elbow back up to form a 90-degree angle. Hold for a couple of seconds and then return to your starting position. Repeat this on both sides.

Recommended reps: 12-15 on each side

Yoga exercises for pregnant women

Yoga is a great way to condition the body and soothe the mind during pregnancy. “I strongly advise women even if they have never tried yoga to give it a try during pregnancy,” says Jaime. However, it is important to not over-stretch. During pregnancy, your body will produce more of the hormone relaxin. This hormone has a tendency to make you feel more limber than you are.

With that in mind, try out the exercises below. These poses are great for any stage of your pregnancy as they do not include a ton of twisting or balance.

Cat cow

How to do it: This move is great for stretching your back, releasing tension and shifting the weight of the baby away from your spine. To do the cat cow pose, start on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. As you inhale, raise your head slowly and look up. On your exhale, bring your chin towards your chest and round your back. Press your hands into the floor and push the center of your back up (similar to a cat stretching).

Recommended reps: 3-4 breaths

Downward dog

How to do it: To do this pose, start on your hands and knees. Spread your fingertips wide and tuck in your toes. From here, lift your hips up so your heels are now touching the ground and your body is in a triangular position. Press through your fingertips to draw your chest towards your thighs. If your calves are tight, bend one knee forward and repeat with the other side. When you are done with your downward dog, you can bring your knees down and rest in child’s pose.

Recommended reps: 3-4 breaths

Pigeon

How to do it: The pigeon yoga pose is a great move for you to cool down with. For pregnant women, it is excellent for releasing tension in the lower back and hips. To begin, start on your hands and knees. Stretch your left leg all the way back, keeping your foot relaxed. Bring your right leg forward and bend your knee, so your right knee is at your right wrist. If your belly allows, come down to your forearms and connect your hands. Repeat this on the other side. Any variation of this position will work and as the baby grows you may need to adjust to create space for your bump

Recommended reps: 3-4 breaths

Best workouts for pregnant women by trimester

 

While it is important to move throughout your pregnancy, make sure to get your doctor’s clearance before doing any exercise and check in regularly through each trimester. Jaime says the most important thing to do is to listen to your body. If you feel tired, get some rest. If you’re hungry, eat. Your body is going through a lot of changes, so you should listen to what it’s telling you.

First trimester

According to Jaime, “the first trimester is where women either feel fine or crappy, so you have to take it day by day.” She recommends sticking to normal strength and cardio exercises. If you didn’t do much working out before your pregnancy, aim to establish good exercise habits gradually. Start by taking a few 10-minute walks every week and then gradually build up to a 30-minute walk three to five times a week. If you are someone who exercises regularly, talk to a doctor or personal trainer about how you can lower the intensity of your workouts.

Yoga is great during this trimester as it will allow you to gently stretch and develop strength. You can also pair this with some light strength training such as squats, lunges and deadlifts.

Second trimester

In months four to seven of your pregnancy, many women generally feel great. “As the baby gets bigger and your belly starts to grow,” Jamie says, “you may surprisingly feel good and have some energy back so you can exercise.” She recommends doing about 60-70% of what you are used to. Rather than focusing on a particular area, stick to full body workouts. When doing your abs, lower body and back exercises stick to 10-12 reps as opposed to 15.

Third trimester

You’re now in the home stretch with only a few more weeks to go! This is when your body is being stretched and pushed the most. Many women feel they need a break during this time. However, if you are still looking to get your heart rate up, Jaime recommends avoiding exercises where you are on your back. “A vein pumping blood called the Vena can be disrupted if you lay on your back for extended periods of time,” she explains.

Avoid any high-intensity workouts. Consider activities like walking, swimming or prenatal yoga. If you’re looking to tone muscles, stick to squats and lunges. As always, make sure you are practicing your Kegels.

Postpartum exercises

 

If you’ve just welcomed a new baby into your life, finding the time to workout can be tricky and feeling comfortable in your body again can feel even harder. “Doctors say not to go for physical exercise until 6 to 8 weeks after birth,” Jaime says. For the first few weeks after birth, your priorities should be to rest and spend time with your new baby. Your body takes several weeks to recover from the changes of pregnancy. Do not overdo it by rushing back to the gym.

If you’re ready to get back in shape, start making an effort to move a little bit every day. Once you are feeling comfortable again, try the below postpartum exercises.

Kegel exercises postpartum

Just like you should be doing kegel exercises during your pregnancy, you should also be doing them postpartum. During the birthing process, these muscles are weakened and therefore should be exercised regularly after giving birth.

However, it is important to give your body the time it needs to heal so wait until about six weeks after delivery. You may find that doing kegel exercises is challenging at first. Do not be discouraged. This is normal and will take time and patience to get back to normal.

Low-impact exercises

If you are just starting out, it is best to begin with lower-impact activities. These can include swimming, walking, stretching, water aerobics or yoga. If you are going to the gym, try the elliptical, stationary bike or stair climber for a lower-impact workout that will still get your heart racing. Start with 5-10 minutes and then build on your duration and intensity the more comfortable you feel.

Core strengthening

According to Mahri Relin, founder of the exercise platform Body Conceptions and a trainer who specializes in postnatal workouts, “core strength keeps you safe, centered, and prepared for childbirth—and it’s the same area you want to keep strong after.” One way to regain your stability and heal your abdominal muscles is to do postpartum core exercises.

However, it’s important to get the green light from your MD before attempting these exercises. Your abdominal muscles have gone through a lot of pulling and stretching in order to make room for your new baby. Avoid traditional sit-ups and crunches and instead opt for the moves below.

Leg and arm extensions

How to do it: Starting on your hands and knees, draw the core up and bring your right elbow into your right knee. As you inhale, reach your right arm out and your left leg straight behind you. Exhale, and contract your muscles while bringing your right arm and left leg back to your center. That’s one rep. Once you have completed your reps, switch sides.

Recommended reps: 10-12 each side

Yoga boat

How to do it: Sit on the floor with your knees bent. Tighten your abdomen and slightly lean your torso back while lifting your feet off the floor. Lift until your shins are parallel to the floor and your hips are flexed at 90-degrees. Keep your back straight and extend your arms forward to maintain balance. Hold this for 30 seconds and then repeat.

Recommended reps: 10-12

Raised leg extensions

How to do it: Lie on the floor with your legs bent at 90-degrees. Engage your lower abs and lift both legs up a few inches so they are in a diagonal position. Hold for a few seconds and then return to your starting position.

Recommended reps: 12-15

Exercises for diastasis recti postpartum

Diastasis recti is a separation of the rectus abdominis, what we refer to as our “six-pack” muscles. This happens to about two-thirds of women and can occur either during or after pregnancy. Maura Shirey, a certified pregnancy fitness educator and owner of Bodies for Birth, says that after birth “the core remains overstretched and the woman is left with a belly that feels very different.” She recommends focussing on strengthening your transverse abdominis. This is the deepest muscle in your core and your best bet for regaining strength and stability.

Kristin McGee, a yoga/pilates instructor and mother of twins, says that “while you’re healing your diastasis, you want to avoid any exercises that put too much strain on the abdominals and can cause the belly to cone or dome.” She advises her clients to avoid crunches, planks, backbends and any exercises that can cause the abdomen to stretch further. Below are some recommended exercises to help strengthen your rectus muscles.

Transverse abdominis side bracing

How to do it: Lie on your right side with your knees bent and feet resting on the floor. Place the fingers of your right hand on top of your stomach—just above the hip bone. From here, tighten your abs and draw your belly button in towards your spine. Hold this position, then relax and repeat. You should be able to feel your muscles contract under your fingers.





Recommended reps: 3-4 breaths

Toe taps

How to do it: Lie on your back and lift your legs into a tabletop position. With your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, lift up your right leg and tap your toe on the ground. Alternate between legs.

Recommended reps: 10-12 on each side

Heel slides

How to do it: Lie on your back with your legs bent. Lengthen one leg forward and hover it over the floor, keeping the hips still and drawing your abdominals in and up. Bend the leg back into the starting position and repeat on the other side.

Recommended reps: 10-12 on each side

Postpartum back stretches

As a mother, your back muscles work harder from moving and lifting your baby all day. Many mothers begin to experience postpartum back pain. To combat this, try to do the below stretching exercises at least ten minutes a day. For the first six to 12 weeks, stick to gentle postpartum stretching such as side-to-side neck stretches or toe touches.

Pelvic tilts

How to do it: Lie on your back and bend your knees at a 90-degree angle so that your feet are flat on the floor. Then, lift your hips off the floor and squeeze your butt. You should feel a nice stretch in your lower back muscles and buttocks.

Recommended reps: 10-12

Knee to chest stretch

How to do it: Lie on your back with your legs straight in front of you. Bring one leg up and use your hands to hug your knee into your chest. Hold this for about 30 seconds and then switch to the other side.

Recommended reps: 10-12 each side

Supine lower back release

How to do it: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Extend both arms out into a “T” position. Roll both knees to one side while keeping your shoulders on the ground. Hold this for 20-30 seconds and then return to your center. Repeat this on the other side.

Recommended reps: 10-12 each side

The US and State Workplace Breastmilk Express Laws You Need to Know

pump at work

pump at work

 

Even though the United States is the only high-income nation without guaranteed paid maternity leave for workers, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, most states still given women rights to express breast milk at work.

There are patchwork extra protections provided by states, and some do not apply to all workers or employers, explains employment lawyer Tom Spiggle of The Spiggle Law Firm in Washington, DC.

Federally, new moms benefit from a relatively new law called the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law which was part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act from 2010 which amended Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Specifically, the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law requires employers to provide a suitable workplace location and reasonable time to break from work to do so until the mother’s child  turns one-year old.

This law gave relief to many moms who had been forced to pump milk in unsanitary bathrooms and possibly docked pay or penalized for taking time to pump.

The  National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 29 states plus the District of Columbia have at least some sort of workplace breastfeeding laws in effect which are similar to the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law. For the most part, they require employers to provide unpaid break times and reasonable locations (other than a bathroom) where an eligible employee can express breast milk. Some of these jurisdictions include:

  • Washington, D.C.
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado

A complete list of the other 27 states, along with the corresponding statutes, can be found at the NCSL’s Breastfeeding State Laws website.

Mental Health Check Ins to Make During and After Pregnancy

mental health

 

mental health

Giving birth to your little one signals a new chapter in your parenthood journey. But in many ways, it’s also a return to getting to know yourself again — this time, through the lens of motherhood.

However, a lot of mothers find it difficult to jump back into their old life, and it’s not just because of the bodily changes (although that does play a huge role). The past nine months have been all about preparing for your baby’s arrival, which means that moments of genuine self-care — where you were only thinking about yourself — were probably few and far between.

Read on below for some tips on how to get yourself back on track after giving birth:

Check in with your mental health

Perhaps the first and most vital tip on this list is to take stock of your mental health. The Office on Women’s Health notes that mood swings are common after giving birth, listing symptoms like irritability, insomnia, and loss of appetite. Having these symptoms last for two weeks or longer may be a sign of postpartum depression, which can make your post-pregnancy adjustment even more difficult. Take a moment to ask yourself how you’re doing, and do yourself a favor and don’t try to shove any negativeness under the rug.

Instead, acknowledge what you’re feeling so you can take actionable steps.

After all, our bodies undergo so much change during pregnancy, but you only really notice the effects after giving birth. And while it’s normal to feel a little insecure about these changes, you should also take the time to celebrate the amazing miracle that your body was able to do.

Pick up a creative hobby

On the subject of celebrating your body’s accomplishments, why not pick up a creative hobby? Whether it’s sketching or collaging baby photos, it’s good to remind yourself that your body can also help you make beautiful artistic pieces. The Spruce’s list of decorative painting techniques shows that painting your wall is not only a creative booster but also a good way to get your body moving.

Sketching or journaling is another way to exercise your creative faculties and reflect on your journey thus far. You can use this time to chronicle how you’re feeling; a good practice could be taking at least five minutes of sketching or journaling time to write down things about yourself that you’re thankful for.

Find your own personal style

The rise of body-positive retailers does away with traditional sizing in order to embrace women’s bodies in all forms, which is great for post-pregnancy moms who are acquainting themselves with their new physical forms. The button-down shirt on Woman Within is made from breathable cotton – in fact, the inclusive brand’s entire range is built around basics that suit any body type. Universal Standard is another brand whose ranges focus on the basics, making it easy to create a capsule wardrobe.

You may have relied on a rotating set of old tees and sweatpants during your pregnancy, but it’s worth taking the time to dress up. Model Ashley Graham has been spotted donning her baby bump in everything from Vex Clothing’s latex dress to a dotted Tommy Hilfiger number, proving that style and mom bodies are a match made in heaven.

Slowly get back into exercise

Whether you’re a seasoned fitness buff or an exercise newbie, postpartum fitness is all about taking it slow and rediscovering how your body likes to move. Going hard right away makes you very susceptible to injuries, and you may also get discouraged if you find that your fitness level has dropped in those nine months. Good Housekeeping suggests swimming as an easy exercise to get into, as you can slowly raise your heart rate by varying up your tempo (but taking it slow provides a good workout, too).

If water sports aren’t your thing, Pilates is another option which can be done anywhere with minimal equipment. There are lots of fitness diagrams and videos built around Pilates and bodyweight exercises, allowing you to take 15-minutes of your day for a quick sweat session.

Meditate

Parenting expert Nancy Bardacke has developed the concept of mindful baby holding. This practice is akin to meditation, where you really zone in and focus on how you and your baby are feeling. Not only does this practice put you in touch with your body, it also helps you form a stronger emotional connection with your baby.

Bardacke emphasizes the importance of your breathing; focusing on slowly inhaling and exhaling to calm your body down. This also makes it easier to tune in with your body and see how it feels to carry your baby, whether you’re sitting down or standing up.

Taking care of yourself after a pregnancy is key to becoming a good parent for your child, as it gives you clear headspace and a positive sense of self-esteem. Being patient with yourself and understanding the changes your body goes through is important, and is something to always keep in mind throughout your post-pregnancy journey.

How to Dress Your Bump for Halloween {Ideas}

juno costume

Halloween is right around the corner.

If you are expecting and plan to celebrate the day and dress up, there are loads of fun costumes you can dress you bump up as. You can just paint your pregnant belly or wear a costume of a famous pregnant person from pop culture like Juno from the movie.

Here are a few other ideas from the adventurous to the fun and cute from Deavita.net:

Witches Brew

The Solar System

A Ninja Turtle

An Octopus

Delivery Day Countdown: 20 Things to Do Before Baby Arrives

Are you in your last month of pregnancy and flustered about what you need to do and worry if you have the time? No fret, cousin JJ is here to give you a checklist of crap you need to haul ass and get done.

A list should ease the stress:

What to Pack in the Baby Bag:

1. A warm and comfortable blanket but one you don’t mind getting ruined with all the juices, balms and secretions that accompany labor. It won’t be the same after. errrr.

2.  Mint or lollipops – You may be restricted from eating. The sugar in the lollipop can help curb hunger pangs and keep you from stink breath. Stink breath is no bueno.

3. Lip balm – You may get dehydrated. Keep your lips moisturized. I like ESOS!

4. Moisturizer – Get a very thick tube of moisturizer. I recommend Aquaphor because you don’t need a lot to do the trick.

5. Smart phone camera or digital camera – No explanation necessary

6. A couple pair of granny undies – But no more because you will get the mesh disposable undies plenty at the hospital. You can even take home extras the nurses bring in your room. They’re the best!

7. Baby going home outfit – This is the outfit you dress baby in when the hospital photography company comes by.

8. Gifts for the nurses – Some go above and beyond to make your short stay pleasant. Purchase a box of candy, or a mini spa kit or a journal or cards. I love Steep Seep’s Grapefruit Bergamot gift set which costs under $20!

9. Music – have a playlist of soothing music on a CD or on your phone’s portable speaker that you can plug in and help you calm down and get through a long labor.

10. Breast pad – You may leak so breast-pads and some Lansinoh Nipple Cream may come in handy for cracked or sore nipples from nursing.

LAST MINUTE NESTING

11. Get the carpets cleaned and get rid of any cat or dog hair and other allergens.

12. Create a music playlist for labor and delivery.

13. Buy all the creams, lotions, medicines, and miscellaneous  items you need for yourself and baby.

14. Buy clear plastic containers to organize baby clothing, accessories, toys and a label maker

15. Organize baby’s clothes and label the bins: newborn, 0 to 3 months, 3 to 6months, 6 to 12 months.

16. Create a “call list” on your smart phone so your hubby, spouse or partner knows who to contact after you give birth.

LAST MINUTE GROOMING

You have to make sure you are presentable for labor and delivery, photos after baby arrives and just for feeling good about yourself and the end of the 40 week journey. Don’t know who said letting yourself go was okay during pregnancy, but they lied. If you feel fresh, clean, primmed and prepped, you will feel energetic and ready for pushing out that baby.

17. Get your nether regions waxed. You really don’t want doctors and nurses seeing your business looking like the Brazilian rain forest. Opt for a Brazilian wax instead. If it’s out of the budget, consider going with Nair Bikini removal gel which will not require you to use a razor and nick yourself, but be careful.

18. Wax your eyebrows. You’ll feel better and look great in the post birth pics. But if you’re going for the Anastasia the Russian Gladiator look, then no.

19. Get a Mani and Pedi – A mani because your hands will be in pics and you don’t want to cut baby with your hang nail. Not good.  A pedi because your toes may be in the air and/or in stirrups during the pushing stage and you don’t want to be embarrassed by crusty and ashy hammer toes in people’s faces.

20. Get a hair appointment and get your hair in braids and/or cornrows. You need a low maintenance style bc you will not have time to do your hair after baby arrives and braided styles look great in pics.