Your second trimester is usually when most women feel their best. The extreme fatigue and morning sickness has usually passed and your finding joy in the changes of your body. People are starting to take notice of your changing shape and you soon will be able to feel your little one moving about. This is your opportunity to do a little research, prepare for the changes ahead, and get your house in order for the new arrival. By the time the third trimester rolls around you are likely to be back to exhausted again, so use this time wisely and enjoy the good vibes.
Bonding With Baby
Bonding with baby may seem like it should be natural, but it doesn't hurt to do a little background research to get you in the right frame of mind. Whether you want to write down some of your hopes and dreams for baby, find out more about what to expect after baby is born, or send some thoughtful words straight into the womb, there is something for every mama.
- Educational Literature — The Attachment Pregnancy gives moms information to help build a deeper connection with baby and introduce your unborn child to a loving environment before birth. The authors give advice for each stage of development for providing consistent and nurturing care so you can ensure that baby's needs are always met.
- Baby Sound System — At 20 weeks gestation, a fetus has developed its sense of hearing and from this point onward, the ability to perceive beat and distinguish a mother's voice begin to blossom. A 2013 study published in Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience titled Linking Prenatal Experience to the Emerging Musical Mind substantiates an incredible yet sensical finding that the learning of rhythm, timbre, and melody begin in a mother's womb during the third trimester of pregnancy. Belly Buds Baby Bump Sound System helps facilitate bonding with your unborn child by allowing you to send sound right into the womb. The speakers on the buds comfortably attach to mom's belly via high-quality silicone adhesive and can relay music, sounds, and voices to baby inside. Included is an audio splitter as well so mom can use her own headphones to listen along which is key as music has been shown to reduce maternal stress and tension during pregnancy. So why not listen along to soothe and bond with baby?!
The Five S's: Sleep, Sciatica, Stress, Swelling, & Skin
Being pregnant is a wonderful experience knowing you are creating one or more little miracles right inside of you. However, there is no denying the discomfort that can accompany this true gift. General aches and pains, actual sciatica, and a big belly can make finding a comfortable sleep position challenging. Throw insomnia in there and getting through a full day of work can be a challenge. Some moms have lots of swelling and proper footwear can present a conundrum. Skin may also need extra TLC during this time as stretch marks, chloasma, and itchiness can be literal hallmarks of pregnancy. Along with engaging in prenatal massage, swimming, and yoga here are some products that may help you along your path through pregnancy's pitfalls, and make this part of the journey a little bit easier.
- Body Pillow — If you want the cadillac of maternity body pillows and are willing to spend extra for eco-healthy 100% Latex made in the USA, look no further than the Lotus Leaf Therapeutic Pregnancy Pillow for $200. Designed for side-sleeping by a prenatal massage therapist who consistently heard about her clients' trouble with uncomfortable sleep, she focused on a design that would suit women of different shapes and sizes. Though it constitutes multiple parts and pieces and will take up a good portion of the bed, this is a good option for sleeping in a king-sized bed with your partner and also breaks down into parts that can be used for post-pregnancy sleep. However, for a fourth of the price, the Leachco Snoogle is also a popular favorite full-body support one-piece pregnancy pillow that offers structure and comfort for a fraction of the price.
- Bath Salts — Its always nice when the best thing for you is a simple basic item people have been using for years. Epsoak Epsom Salt can help keep you feeling calm and ease aches and pains with a simple soak in the tub. This product is all natural and can get you feeling better in short order.
- Hot Water Bottle — The Fashy Transparent Classic Hot Water Bottle is a safer alternative to a heating pad. This particular product is made with thermoplastic materials that are safe, effective, hygienic, virtually odor-free, and able to hold hot and cold water. You'll want a cozy and fashionable cover for the bottle; we prefer the Home Top Hot Water Bottle Knit Cover or you can find cozy cashmere covers on etsy.
- Heating Pad — Using an electric heating pad can be dangerous, whether you fall asleep while wearing it or you end up leaving it on too long for too hot, it is simply safer to use a heated pad that cools naturally over time to avoid potential problems. Both the Bucky Compact Wrap and the Bucky Neck and Shoulder Wrap can be heated in the microwave or chilled in the freezer depending on your needs. They come with a machine washable cover and are made with natural buckwheat seeds.
- Herbal Tea — Yogi Woman's Mother To Be Tea is a caffeine free herbal supplement that is organic and includes no GMOs. This tea is formulated as a fragrant and delicious way to help support the pregnant body. It includes raspberry leaf, spearmint, peppermint, and fennel to soothe minor upset stomach.
- Compression Stockings — More than one poor pregnant soul has ended up swollen and uncomfortable with feet and legs full of extra fluid with no where to go. One way to ease the discomfort is to don some compression stockings or leggings. Preggers Footless Tights are a comfy option made of nylon and lycra they feature light gradient compression designed to increase circulation, reduce and prevent swelling, and relieve tired, achy legs. Who wouldn't want that? Below in Third Trimester, we also cover various types of maternity support belts that can help sometimes even in the second trimester to support the belly, back, pelvis, and even perineum.
- Stretching Skin — While the jury is still out on whether or not topical skin care products can really stave off stretch marks, it is known that as your belly grows your skin will get tight and itchy. Often standard lotion won't be able to do the trick and you'll have to call in some bigger dogs to get the job done and get your skin feeling smooth and itch free. The two options outside lotion are oils and "butter". Weleda Stretch Mark Massage Oil is a natural formula that nourishes skin. With regular use this almond oil and extract from organic arnica can potentially prevent the appearance of stretch marks. Mambino Organics Oh Baby! Belly Butter is a nice organic option that they claim strengthens connective tissue, regenerates torn skin, and softens and protects skin.
Recording it All
Trust us when we say this is one of those times in life when you won't want to miss a thing. You are highly unlikely to look back at being pregnant or spending time with your newborn and think "Gee I wish I had fewer pictures and video of that time period." If you haven't purchased a camera yet, or your due for an upgrade, you might as well get it out of the way now than waiting till after baby is born or suffering a camera malfunction during childbirth.
- Digital Camera — If you have the funds to buy the top of line camera we really like the Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 III. This camera is Sony's most recent version of the RX100 II, which won Editors' Choice award on our sister site OutdoorGearLab for its superior performance and features including video capabilities. If funds are limited the Best Value from OutdoorGearLab is the Canon PowerShot G16 that is also a great camera with great features and performance. It has fewer megapixels than the Sony and its slightly larger, but its also a few hundred dollars cheaper.
- Journaling — The Mommy Journal: Letters to Your Child Is a nice simple guide that encourages moms to write letters to their unborn baby. It offers a quick way to record special moments of childhood with short entry spaces, so there is no pressure to write lengthy narratives or to journal every day. This allows mothers to record special moments they want to remember forever.
- Keepsakes — Keepsakes can take many forms such as journaling discussed above. Yet, how you choose to memorialize this journey is as varied as the little people we bring into the world. One way to have a little fun with your big belly is through the Proudbody Deluxe Pregnancy Belly Cast Kit. While this is somewhat of a novelty and we aren't sure what you'd do with the cast after the fact, it might be a fun activity to do with dad or to show little ones when they get a bit older.
There are many options for giving birth and it can feel confusing, particularly the first time around. Sorting it all out without one-sided bias is key. From epidural pain management to natural childbirth to embracing particular philosophies and methods such as Lamaze, Bradley, and Hypnobirthing to who is going to be there to guide you through your labor and delivery, there are a lot of decisions that can be made if you so choose. We have compiled some recommended resources that cover a range of topics so you can begin the road to educating yourself about childbirth.
- General Overview — You can find a book for just about any kind of childbirth or birth plan you want to have. The following books offer an overview of several potential options in a way that seeks to provide information without swaying you in one direction or another. After all childbirth is hard enough without being made to feel guilty of your choice of method. While one method might work for some women, they don't all work for everyone, and sometimes no matter what you plan it will all work out differently in the end. Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide (5th edition due in March 2016) and The Big Book of Birth present some of the options and information that can help you navigate the complicated and often difficult road of giving birth.
- Epidural — When it comes to the big day, everyone's childbirth story and experience is different. Most will agree that natural childbirth certainly is a Herculean feat, but by no means is this route for everyone. Decisions regarding pain management during childbirth is as personal as it gets, and everyone should have the right and feel free to make their choices without fear or judgement. And, accepting pain management during childbirth should not cause a woman to feel anything less than the warrior she is. Epidural Without Guilt: Childbirth Without Pain written by Gilbert J. Grant, MD and published in 2011 does an excellent job of providing up-to-date, accurate information about state-of-the-art pain management techniques that are available today to mothers during childbirth. Included, is a chapter debunking commonly held myths about spinals and epidurals with evidence-based medicine. In this book, Dr. Grant has been the director of obstetric anesthesia at the New York University Medical Center for 20+ years.
- Natural Childbirth — Being committed to natural childbirth is a respectable goal and with some preparation and luck you might be able to have the perfect birth you are looking for. Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond and Natural Childbirth Exercises are both good options for learning more on natural childbirth and the resolve it will take to have one.
- Use of Imagery — It may sound hokey but some women swear by the power of positive imagery in helping them process the difficulties of childbirth. Whether its imagery of your healthy newborn emerging into the world successfully or mother and baby happy and healthy, there just might be something to this "fake it till you make" philosophy. Dream Birth: Transforming the Journey of Childbirth Through Imagery is a good read to get you started on finding your image.
- Birth Plan — Many parents find that developing a birth plan helps to both reduce anxiety and promote a bit of calm surrounding the unknowns of impending labor and birth. We recommend taking a look at some sound guidance given by the American Pregnancy Association on creating a birth plan; at the very least, it provides a template for getting starting in figuring out your options and expressing your wishes for the big day. However, we caution that parents avoid becoming overly attached to their birth plan. Just like every baby is different, so is every birth story, and few birth stories match the mother's original birth plan to a "T". To some extent, "going with the flow" can help facilitate a positive end result which is always a healthy baby and mom, something everyone on your team will agree is the goal! No matter how baby decides to make their entrance into the world.
Whether your maternity leave is long, short, or non-existent lots of women will go back to work after baby is born. While some women make the choice to go back, others choose to stay home, and still many have no choice at all. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, you are likely to need childcare even if it is only on a part time or occasional need. Researching your options and the expense can seem daunting and disheartening. Finding quality child care no matter what your choice can feel futile. No matter if you are seeking a daycare, in home care, or a live in nanny it seems the news is full of enough reasons and bad apples to make you want to chuck the whole thing and live on a commune.
Don't despair there are options out there if you look hard enough. We suggest you check in with family and friends first. It might surprise you to find that a trusted friend or relative is eager to watch your little one for free or a small compensation. Next you can ask friends with children for recommendations on who they use or where they take their children. Last, you might consider using a service like Care.com to find quality care that includes a background check and references. The success of these kinds of sites depends on how big of a city you live in, so use the free service to look around before paying for in-depth information. The most important thing when leaving baby with someone else is to have a background check and confidence in their care taking skills. Look for those with first aid and CPR training specific for babies and be patient, it might take time to find the right fit for your situation.
Creating a baby registry can be fun and terrifying at the same time. Take a look at our article on How to Create a Baby Registry: From A to Z for all the skinny on how to take on this challenge and come out a winner.
NEXT: Pregnancy Essentials: The Third Trimester