The second trimester will likely be when you feel your best. The bone-weary fatigue and morning sickness has often passed and your finding joy in the process of growing a human. People are starting to notice your changing shape, and you'll soon feel your little one moving. This trimester is your chance to do research, prepare for changes, and get your home ready for the new arrival. When the third trimester rolls around, you'll probably be exhausted again, so use this period wisely and enjoy the positive vibes.
Bonding With Baby
Bonding with your baby may seem natural, but it doesn't hurt to do a little research to get you thinking about the possibilities. Whether you write down your hopes and dreams, find out more about what to expect with a newborn, or send loving words into the womb, there is something for every mama-to-be.
- Educational Literature — The Attachment Pregnancy gives you information to help build a deeper connection with your baby and introduce your unborn child to a loving environment. The authors discuss each stage of development for consistent and nurturing care so you can ensure that your baby's needs are met.
- Baby Sound System — At 20 weeks gestation, a fetus has its sense of hearing and from this point forward the ability to perceive 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. Belly Buds Baby Bump Sound System helps facilitate bonding with baby by helping you 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 your baby. Included is an audio splitter, so mom can use headphones to listen along as music has been shown to reduce maternal stress and tension during pregnancy. So why not listen while you soothe and bond with the baby?!
The Five S's: Sleep, Sciatica, Stress, Swelling, & Skin
Pregnancy is a wonderful experience knowing you are creating one or more miracles inside of you. However, there is no denying the discomfort that often accompanies this gift. General aches and pains, actual sciatica, and a big belly make finding a comfortable sleep position challenging. Throw insomnia in and getting through a day of work can be a challenge. Some women have lots of swelling, and proper footwear presents a conundrum. Your skin may also need extra TLC as stretch marks, chloasma, and itchiness can be hallmarks of this time. Along with prenatal massage, swimming, and yoga, here are some products that may help you through pregnancy's pitfalls and make this journey a little easier.
- Body Pillow — FInd a popular full-body support one-piece pregnancy pillow that offers structure and comfort for a budget-friendly price.
- Bath Salts — It's always nice when the best thing is a simple item people have used for years. Epsoak Epsom Salt can help keep you calm and ease aches and pains with a simple tub soak. This product is all-natural and can help you feel better quickly.
- Hot Water Bottle — The Fashy Transparent Classic Hot Water Bottle is a safer alternative to a heating pad. This product has 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 and 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 using it or you end up leaving it on too long or too hot, it is safer to use a heated pad that cools naturally over time to avoid potential problems. The Bucky Compact Wrap and the Bucky Neck and Shoulder Wrap are natural buckwheat seeds that can be heated in the microwave or chilled in the freezer and they come with a machine washable cover.
- Herbal Tea — Yogi Woman's Raspberry Leaf Tea is an organic, caffeine-free herbal supplement that includes no GMOs. This tea is a fragrant and delicious way to support the pregnant body. It includes raspberry leaf, spearmint, peppermint, and fennel to soothe a minor upset stomach.
- Compression Stockings — More than one poor pregnant soul has experienced swollen and uncomfortable feet and legs full of extra fluid with nowhere to go. One way to ease the discomfort is to pull up your compression stockings or leggings. Preggers Footless Tights are a comfy nylon and lycra product with light gradient compression designed to increase circulation, reduce and prevent swelling, and relieve tired, achy legs. Who wouldn't want that? In the Third Trimester article, we also cover various types of maternity support belts which can help even in the second trimester to support the belly, back, pelvis, and even perineum.
- Stretching Skin — While the jury is out on whether or not topical skin products can prevent or reduce stretch marks, we do know that as the belly grows the skin will get tight and itchy. Often regular lotion can't do the trick, and you'll need a bigger dog to get the job done and your skin feeling smooth and itch-free. The two alternatives to 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 an excellent organic option that claims to strengthen connective tissue, regenerates torn skin, and softens and protects skin.
Recording it All
This is one of those times in life when you don't want to miss a thing. No one ever looks back at being pregnant or spending time with their newborn and thinks "I wish I had fewer pictures and video." If you haven't purchased a camera or your due for an upgrade, you might as well figure it out now than waiting till after your baby is born or suffering a camera malfunction during childbirth.
- Digital Camera — If you have the funds to buy a top of the 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, consider purchasing a new smartphone with a superior camera that can take stills and video to ensure you don't miss a thing. These phones do double duty and you'll always have it on you, so you won't miss a thing.
- Journaling — The Mommy Journal: Letters to Your Child is a simple guide to encourage mom to write letters to her unborn child. It is a quick way to record special moments with short entry spaces, so there is no pressure to write long narratives or to journal every day.
- Keepsakes — Keepsakes can take many forms. But, how you choose to memorialize this journey is as varied as the little people you bring into the world. One way to have fun with your big belly is with the Proudbody Deluxe Pregnancy Belly Cast Kit. While this is a novelty and we aren't sure what you'd do with the cast, it might be a fun activity to do with dad or to show little ones when they get older.
There are many options for giving birth, and it is confusing, particularly the first time around. Sorting it 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, there are a lot of decisions to make. We compiled some resources that cover a range of topics so you can begin educating yourself about childbirth.
- General Overview — You can find a book for any kind of childbirth or plan you desire. The following books offer an overview of potential options in a way that seeks to provide information without swaying you in a certain direction. After all, childbirth is tough enough without feeling guilty about your chosen method. While one method works for some women, not all techniques 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 challenging road of childbirth.
- Epidural — When it comes to the big day, everyone's birth story and experience are different. Most will agree that natural childbirth is a Herculean feat, but this route isn't for everyone. Decisions regarding pain management during labor is personal, and everyone should have the right to feel free to make their choices without fear or judgment. 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 available to mothers during childbirth. Included, is a chapter debunking myths about spinals and epidurals with evidence-based medicine. 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 want. 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.
- Use of Imagery — It may sound hokey, but some women swear by the power of positive imagery to get through the difficulties of childbirth. Whether it's imagery of your healthy newborn or mother and baby happy and healthy, there might be something to a "fake it till you make" philosophy. Dream Birth: Transforming the Journey of Childbirth Through Imagery is a good read to get you started.
- Birth Plan — Many parents find that developing a birth plan helps reduce anxiety and promote a bit of calm to the unknowns of labor and birth. We recommend taking a look at the sound guidance given by the American Pregnancy Association on creating a birth plan; at the very least, it provides a template for figuring out your options and expressing your wishes for the big day. However, we caution parents to avoid becoming 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 result which is always a healthy baby and mom.
Whether your maternity leave is long, short, or non-existent, lots of women go back to work after the baby is born. Some women choose to go back to work, others choose to stay home, and some have no choice at all based on finances. 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 the possibilities and the expense can seem disheartening. Finding quality childcare 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 if you look hard enough. We suggest you check with family and friends first. It might surprise you to find that a trusted friend or relative is eager to watch your little one. 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 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 your baby with someone else is to have a background check and confidence in their caretaking skills. Look for those with first-aid and CPR training specific for babies. Be patient, it can take time to find the right fit for your baby and needs.
Creating a baby registry can be fun and terrifying. Take a look at How to Create a Baby Registry: From A to Z for the inside skinny on how to tackle this challenge and come out a winner.NEXT: Pregnancy Essentials: The Third Trimester