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Parenthood related topics written by the founders of charlotte+asher.

Filtering by Category: Pregnancy

Preventative Measures: Getting the Flu Shot During Pregnancy

Chantal Standafer

Nothing like family snuggles. 

Nothing like family snuggles. 

As we get into August, thoughts of flu start to pop up. Not because it's going around yet, but the signs offering the flu shot are appearing at pharmacies. It's a gentle reminder that the flu season (generally October-March, but even into May) is just around the corner. 

The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza viruses. It is contagious, believed to be passed by droplets created when infected people cough, sneeze or talk (so basically normal daily life being in contact with other humans). People can be contagious before they show signs of the illness, and can remain contagious for a number of days after coming down with it. This illness is characterized by a number of not so lovely symptoms including fever, fatigue, and body aches, among others. To put it mildly, it's not pretty. 

Getting the flu while pregnant can be especially challenging and dangerous. According to the CDC, because of the natural changes in women's bodies during pregnancy, they are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu, including hospitalization, preterm labor and delivery. 

Good news is that woman can receive the flu shot! While there are two available deliveries of the vaccine, the Mayo Clinic makes a clear recommendation that pregnant women only receive the shot and should steer clear of the nasal spray (the latter is made from a live virus, which is to be avoided during pregnancy). The effect of the vaccination is two-fold. Just like when getting the Tdap during pregnancy, the mother is protected, plus she transfers immunity to the baby. This is extremely important because infants cannot receive a flu vaccination until they are 6 months old. 

Be sure to talk with your OB/GYN or midwife about any questions you have. They are there to help and want you to have the healthiest pregnancy possible! Plus, there's a good chance you can get your flu shot at one of your upcoming appointments. But don't worry, if that's not an option most pharmacies can administer the shot too (and usually without much of a wait)! 

Kicking the pregnancy back pain

Chantal Standafer

Bumpie pregnant with baby #2, Spring 2015

Bumpie pregnant with baby #2, Spring 2015

Being pregnant brings on so many new things. There's excitement, some nervousness perhaps....and most likely at some point some physical discomfort. I mean, you're growing a person. And your body is shifting things around in order to accommodate that little peanut. ACOG has a whole FAQ sheet on back pain during pregnancy! Clearly it's a thing. 

When the pain shows up and the severity of it can differ. I know for myself I experienced discomfort much earlier in my second pregnancy than in my first. There were various factors involved. One of the major ones was that because of having limited activity during part of my second pregnancy, my body just didn't feel as strong and able to keep up with my shifting center of gravity and the growing baby. But there are ways to ease that discomfort. And you don't even have to leave your house to do it!

While nothing new or earth shattering, stretching can be one of the key components in relieving pain. Remember growing up when you did sports (or even just PE class), you'd have to stretch? Well, the same reason stretching was important then is still relevant now. If muscles in your body are tight, they can be pulling on other parts, making you uncomfortable. Good news is that there are so many wonderful, simple stretches you can do to help with the pain. The Mayo Clinic suggests doing the Cat-Cow yoga pose to stretch the lower back. Sarah Isaac of FitMom Charlotte put together this short video (using yours truly as the model) of three simple stretches that can make a huge difference.  As long as your doctor gives you the ok to be up and about, there's always something you can do to help with the pregnancy discomfort! 

What are your favorite ways to alleviate pregnancy back pain?  

How to survive when baby arrives

Chantal Standafer

Baby Boyd resting peacefully at the hospital. 

Baby Boyd resting peacefully at the hospital. 

When we had our first child 3.5 years ago I didn't have a bunch of seasoned moms around me. Most of my friends were not yet having children. I had ideas of how things would happen, and had read some blog posts. I felt prepared in terms of what to purchase. But I really wasn't sure what I was getting into. 

On one hand I thought I'd be able to do it all, while on the other I was totally freaked out and wasn't sure how I'd get anything done. But mostly I was under the impression that I could, and therefore should, take care of everything. I had planned to have our freezer stocked with meals. But we moved a couple of weeks before my due date and it was crazy hot. So I didn't feel like turning the stove or oven on to cook. And Gaby was born a week early. Needless to say, we weren't completely unpacked and we didn't have meals on hand. 

And then my mom came to the rescue! She moved her flight up a week, and helped us finish unpacking, fed us and helped with the baby. She even stocked our freezer with meals for us to have after she returned home. Like I said, mom for the win. 

But once my mom left, I still had to figure out how to get meals on the table. And get the laundry done, and shower, and sleep, etc. Basically I had to figure out how to do it all on my own. And I didn't know how to ask for help. It took a while, but eventually I made simpler meals, and cooked extra so we didn't have to cook every night. 

 

Just when I thought I had found a safe space for the baby to rest, the toddler figured out how to climb into the crib. 

Just when I thought I had found a safe space for the baby to rest, the toddler figured out how to climb into the crib. 

Fast forward two years and I felt way more prepared when we had our son. I knew I would have extra demands because it wouldn't be just me and the baby. With a toddler on hand I wouldn't be able to nap as easily during the day, I'd need to get out so she could run around, plus our business had launched. I knew that I would need help! 

One of the best ways that the help came was in the form of a meals from friends. One close friend offered to set up an online meal schedule where people could sign up to bring dinner. For a couple of months we received a meal or two a week from some wonderful friends. It definitely took pressure off my plate--not needing to plan meals and figure out when to make them made a huge difference! 

So my key to surviving after baby's arrival: have a friend set up a meal schedule (we used Meal Train). No matter if it's baby number one or two, three, etc., having this checked off your list for at least a couple times a week will make a huge difference! 

What is your top suggestion for helping new parents? 

 

New Beginnings: First Pregnancy

Chantal Standafer

My first pregnancy not only was the beginning of my daughter’s life, it was also the beginning of my journey into parenthood. As in many journeys,  I didn’t know exactly how it was going to be. There was a general structure, in this case approximately 40 weeks of growing a person inside of me. And that brought about a lot of change, which ranged from downright miserable (morning sickness) to absolutely amazing (baby kicks!). Here are some of the major ones I experienced during my first pregnancy:

In the first trimester, there was so much excitement when we found out that I was pregnant. But that was nearly overshadowed by hearing baby’s heartbeat for the first time during the 8 week ultrasound. Along with those highs were some not so lovely symptoms though. I was absolutely exhausted. Luckily my schedule was flexible and I could take a solid nap in the afternoon. I was also extremely nauseous. The nausea started around the 5 week mark and the only thing that helped relieve the symptom was lying down. Thinking about cooking made me feel ill, and I had aversions to anything remotely fresh and healthy. My go-to food was pasta with tomato sauce, which I tried to pass off as a solid vegetable choice. But that quickly changed (at the time it felt like forever).

In the second trimester, I started to feel better and have more energy. Salads were back as a staple in my diet and I was hitting the gym more. I actually felt pretty great. My body started to noticeably change and I had to get some maternity clothing. Going shopping for pants was a somewhat traumatizing experience, but we’ll save that story for another day. The upside was that baby was getting bigger, and I was able to feel the kicks and movements. Which was absolutely awesome. This was hands down one of my favorite experiences during my pregnancy.

In the third trimester, I still felt much better than the first trimester but not quite as awesome as in the second. The low of this one was the glucose tests. They were gross. And yes, that’s right, I had to take both the 1 and 3 hour tests. I also had to get used to my growing and changing body.  It was awkward to sleep and get up in the morning. But neither of those things were the end of the world. Plus there were also really fun times, including baby showers and eventually meeting our little one! I was really just so excited to meet baby, and spent a lot of time wondering if it would be a boy or girl (we chose not to find out during the anatomy scan), what being a mom would be like, planning how to best organize the nursery, etc.

The 39 weeks I spent pregnant felt like both an eternity and a blink of an eye. In hindsight, the length, changes and highs and lows of the pregnancy were a taste of parenthood to come. It was a visual reminder that life is not static. And it came in very handy once baby was born….because she was constantly changing!

What was the biggest change for your during your pregnancy? What did you most enjoy about this journey? 

The Ups and Downs of a Second Pregnancy

Laura Hahn

D meeting my friend's newborn and getting in some big brother practice!

D meeting my friend's newborn and getting in some big brother practice!

I always knew I wanted to have 3 kids, but after my first, I didn't even want to think about another child until my son was at least one year old. I wasn't taking any chances so I got on birth control ASAP, plus I really wanted time to have my body back to myself since I nursed for a year. When we decided we were ready to try for #2, we fortunately ended up getting pregnant right away. Getting that positive pregnancy test was definitely exhilarating, but it also opened up a lot of emotions that I wasn't expecting (beyond the expected hormonal onset of pregnancy). Here are just a few:

  • Sadness. I love my son so much, and there's something so special about your first child since he or she is what made you a mom. We have a special bond and relationship since I can give my undivided love and attention to him. When it started to sink in that he would have a sibling soon and it would no longer be just the two of us, I actually cried thinking about it when I was rocking with him before bed, just like I did every night when he was an infant. I know that having a sibling will enrich his life and their relationship will be special in a way that I will never be able to provide, but I can't help but mourn for the end of our exclusive time together.

  • Dread. This mostly refers to the newborn phase. I love babies, but I found that I am really enjoying age 2 right now with my son (I am terrified for age 3 though). I don't have to carry him everywhere, he can follow instructions and therefore help me out with little things, but mainly he sleeps through the night and I'm not nursing him. I'm already exhausted at the end of each day, so I'm not exactly stoked to sleep less, go through physical pain and a long healing process, and nurse around the clock--while still having to care for another child. Which brings me to...

  • Fear. I know a lot of moms with multiple children who say it was hardest for them to adjust from zero to one child, but I think because I have so many nieces and nephews, I knew ahead of time certain ways my life would change and I was prepared for that. But, since I'll be the one caring for the kids most of the day, with a second I'm now going to be outnumbered and that scares me! At this point I feel like I can keep it together most days with my son (read: we’re alive and can make it out of the house), but throwing a baby into the mix is definitely going to take some time to adjust. The good thing is that infants are stationary for awhile so at least I won't be chasing after two kids right away (moms of twins or more--I am not worthy). Another parent told me that at least you have two hands to handle two. Three is a different story I guess!

  • Excitement. Of course, it’s not all bad! I shared earlier that we are expecting a girl this time, and I am definitely excited to have a different experience with her. Though pointing out trucks has become second nature to me now, having a little mini me, someone to hopefully send to my women-only alma mater, and a daughter to do fun girls' stuff with is just the beginning; I’m super excited to experience a different kind of bond with my daughter than with my son. But even if I were having another boy, it's exciting to see how your second child's personality will differ from your first and what that relationship will be like.

  • Joyful anticipation. Honestly, it’s hard for me to fathom loving another child as much as my son, but there was a glimmer of hope when I had my first ultrasound for the new baby and my maternal love kicked into gear. I’ve also heard from numerous other parents that you don’t divide your love for your kids; it multiplies and grows. While it took me about a month or so to become head over heels in love with my son--I wasn’t one of those women who immediately fell in love with their baby--it’s amazing to think that my heart will be capable of encompassing that much love. Darian has also been demonstrating incredible big brother traits already, like kissing my belly and saying, “love you, baby sister!” that while I’m going to be giving up a lot of control over my body, time, and let’s face it, cleanliness, I can’t wait for baby girl to get here and be part of our family.

What were some of your experiences like anticipating your second pregnancy? Were there any similarities with your subsequent pregnancies?

Predicting your baby's sex

Laura Hahn

When I was pregnant with my first in 2013, I wanted a girl so badly. I have two sisters, and growing up with girls meant that I didn’t really know what I would do if I had a boy, even though I had two nephews (and three nieces). I fantasized about all the cute outfits and bows I would dress her in, and there were so many girl’s names I was debating between. Even though we had a boy’s name picked out, in the back of my mind I didn’t think that I would really need to use it.

Naturally, when I had an ultrasound at 17 weeks, it was clear as day that I was going to have a boy; my OB got a perfect crotch shot of my son’s goods. It was hard for me to mask my disappointment, and as soon as I walked out of my appointment I called my husband, told him we’re having a boy and said that we needed to go back to the name drawing board because the one we picked out suddenly wasn’t good enough. After I calmed down, I realized that I did still like it, but we kept it as his middle name--which is where the second name of our company, Asher, meaning happy or blessed, comes from.

Looking back, I should have known that I was going to have a boy--and for the record, I am over the moon in love with him! I had such typical, old wives’ tale symptoms that I could have at least gotten a clue from those. I had amazing shiny and thick hair, glowing skin, only gained weight mostly on my belly, was super hungry all the time and craved a lot of ice cream. I even had a dream I was having a boy and the Chinese gender predictor agreed, but I rationalized that I got pregnant a month after my birthday so it could be off.

Now I am pregnant with my second, and we found out at 20 weeks that I am having a girl! Though we loosely used the Shettles method, I wasn’t sure if it was going to work and heard from many other women with more than one child that their pregnancies were either completely different or relatively similar with the same sex. However, once I started to notice certain symptoms, I became more and more convinced that I was carrying a girl. They say girls “steal their mother’s beauty,” and that’s definitely what I was experiencing. My hair was flat and dry, I got hormonal acne (found this symptom to be very common for girl moms!), I was gaining weight in areas I hadn't before, and I wasn’t that hungry even in my early second trimester (I didn’t get much morning sickness during either pregnancies). The Chinese gender predictor also said I was having a girl, and there were only 2 months out of the year that that would be true for my age. No idea how the chart is over 90% accurate!

While symptoms and charts aren’t necessarily an accurate predictor for your baby’s sex, I do believe ones based on science may have some merit (so not what direction your bed faces or the way a key moves around your belly. Where did those even come from?). The Ramzi Theory has a 97% accuracy rate, which is staggering. Some women just have a maternal intuition, and there was even a study that said 71% of educated women correctly guessed what sex baby they’re having based on a dream or intuition. The dream theory was accurate for both of my pregnancies! Of course, if you get a cell-free fetal DNA blood test, you can now know your baby’s gender for sure by 10 weeks.

Did you guess your baby’s sex correctly? What signs or symptoms gave it away or threw you off?

How I worked out while pregnant

Chantal Standafer

Disclaimer: This is my own experience working out while pregnant and being followed by an OB/GYN. Please talk to your doctor for her clearance and advice for your own workouts.

As I heaved the wall ball up one last time, I thought to myself, “I sure hope this helps this baby come out!” At 38 weeks 6 days pregnant with our first child, I was ready to not be pregnant any longer. And doing squats would surely help with having a baby, I reasoned! I also thought that if that didn’t work out, then I would move onto the “inducer wod (workout of the day)” one of the trainers had mentioned to me. But I had no need to worry -- less than 24 hours later my water broke and I was in labor. And in just over 24 hours we were holding our little baby girl! Ironically, with our son, I was at the gym doing a wod the day before he was born, too.

I have found CrossFit to be a wonderful way to stay active and in shape. I don’t have to plan anything, other than what time I’ll be making it to a class. Once I show up, all the programming is set. And I work harder because I’m in a class with other people. Luckily, recommendations for physical activity during pregnancy have adjusted over the years. Barring any health concerns,  most doctors now encourage their patients to have some physical activity while pregnant. So, strange as it may sound to some, I continued doing CrossFit while I was pregnant.

When I met with my OB we discussed working out with CrossFit while pregnant. I explained that I had been doing it for nearly a year by that point, and my doctor gave me the green light to continue what I was doing. As a first-time mom (and rule follower), I wanted hard and fast rules to stand by while doing so, but really her advice boiled down to “listen to your body, you’ll know when it’s time to stop.”  So while each pregnancy was different, here’s the form working out took for me during those two 9-month periods:

Pregnancy #1

The first trimester was rough with feeling nauseous, so I didn’t make it to the gym as much as before the pregnancy. Also, I modified movements that made me feel ill. The big one here was front squats because of the barbell pressing against my neck.

Once the second trimester hit I had so much energy that I was at the gym nearly everyday first thing in the morning (I already had trouble sleeping at that point). I was able to do front squats normally again without feeling like I was going to be ill, but I did start modifying other movements. Around the 20 week mark I started cutting back on situps, eliminating them fully before the third trimester. Also in the second half of the trimester, I modified any exercise that required cleaning the bar because my belly began to impede the path of the bar. I simply did the same movement but with dumbells instead.

In the third trimester I scaled back on the activities that I found to be uncomfortable. I stopped running a couple of months before my due date because one of my knees started to hurt, replacing any runs in the workouts with rowing. And I stopped jumping rope because that was just no fun! But other than that, I kept doing the workouts, just with lighter weights than I had been lifting previously.  

Pregnancy #2

I continued on as normal at the gym when I found out I was pregnant. Actually, this time I did not have morning sickness and my first trimester workouts really did not suffer due to being pregnant. But just short of 13 weeks pregnant, I experienced bleeding (not associated with a workout) and was found to have a subchorionic hematoma. Following my doctor’s recommendation, I stopped working out until the blood clot resolved, which took about ten weeks. During that time I noticed a difference in how my body felt -- my back hurt much more and I felt a lot weaker than I had remembered from the first pregnancy. I also felt like I had less energy, although I’m not sure if this was due to lack of activity or keeping up with a toddler while pregnant. I did keep up any level of activity that my doctor said was O.K. At first I wasn’t supposed to do anything, and then slowly I was able to go for walks. Eventually, at 23 weeks with the blood clot fully resolved, I was able to work out again.

Due to the time I had taken off from the gym and my growing, slightly awkward belly, it took some time to find my rhythm again. I had to ease myself back into the workouts, first starting with only bodyweight exercises and then slowly building my weights back up. But within a few weeks I was able to do the normal workouts with only slight modifications. However, this time I carried even lower than during the first pregnancy so some modifications, particularly rowing in place of running, were uncomfortable. I would have to stop frequently during the rows in order to adjust my belly.

My workouts did not keep me immune from backaches, but I definitely reaped some of the other benefits such as extra energy and increased strength. Plus, I felt a lot stronger and more able to carry Gaby around while pregnant with Boyd, because let’s face it, tantrums and strong wills do not stop for the pregnant mama.

What do you do to stay active while pregnant?