For a first-time expectant mother, the prospect of getting an ultrasound is an exciting but scary one. Your first ultrasound is your first look at your unborn child and should be a special moment for you and your partner to enjoy without fear of the unknown putting a damper on the experience. Here is what to expect from your first ultrasound.
The Basics: Types of Ultrasounds
Typically, at least one ultrasound is conducted per trimester. The first ultrasound usually takes place around seven or eight weeks into the pregnancy. There are two main types of prenatal ultrasounds: transvaginal and transabdominal. Here is a brief overview of both.
Transvaginal ultrasounds are typically used in the early stages of pregnancy because they make it easier to view the tiny fetus. In this type of ultrasound, a wand-like probe called a transducer is inserted into the vagina. The transducer emits sound waves that bounce off the fetus and create an image of your baby. The procedure may be a little uncomfortable, but you shouldn’t expect it to hurt.
Transabdominal ultrasounds are used after the early weeks of a pregnancy and work by sending sound waves through the abdomen that reflect off the baby to create an image. When you get this type of ultrasound, the doctor will rub a clear gel on your abdomen to facilitate the transmission of soundwaves. He or she will then move a transducer, which emits sound waves, across your abdomen. This may feel a bit funny, but it will not hurt or cause discomfort.
Transvaginal and transabdominal ultrasounds are the two most common methods, but they are not the only ones. 3D ultrasounds, which allow you to see a 3D image of your baby, are sometimes available. There are also some types of ultrasounds that focus on a particular part of your baby, like the heart. The two main kinds of ultrasounds work for most pregnancies, but if you feel that another kind would better suit you and your baby’s needs, do a little extra research and discuss it with your doctor.
How To Prepare for an Ultrasound
Now that you have learned what to expect from your first ultrasound, here are a few tips for how to prepare.
Come with a full bladder
For most ultrasounds, especially early on in a pregnancy, your doctor will ask you to come with a full bladder. When your bladder is full, it expands, which pushes your uterus upwards and moves the intestines and other organs out of the way.
Wear the appropriate outfit
While fashion advice seems out of place in this situation, it is really quite applicable. Consider the type of ultrasound you will be having when choosing what you will wear for the procedure. For a transvaginal ultrasound, you may be given a gown to wear. For a transabdominal ultrasound, wear something with two pieces to keep your stomach easily accessible.
Don’t be anxious!
When you are preparing for an ultrasound, don’t be anxious! Understanding the specifics of how an ultrasound works will reduce any anxiety or fear, and a good doctor can help reduce anxiety during the procedure. Ultrasounds are a normal and healthy part of pregnancy so there is no need to dread them.
Christina Duron is a writer living in the Chicagoland area. Her passion for writing and mental health help create thought provoking and engaging pieces and hopes to use them to empower mothers and women to embrace the beauty of motherhood.
So far, I have spent almost 2 years of my life being pregnant.
I am now 22 weeks pregnant with my third baby. Just over halfway there! As a family we have decided that this will be our last baby, and with that comes a roller coaster of emotions. When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I knew we had planned for 3 kids in total, so I feel as though I did not appreciate every moment of that pregnancy.
But there’s something different about the last pregnancy:
This will be the last time I will feel those flutters and kicks, so I am trying to stop and really feel every movement.
This will be the last time I grow a life inside of me.
The last time I will wash newborn clothes and prepare a nursery.
The last time I will choose a name for a new person.
I thought maybe I would feel sad about it, but to be honest, I am feeling very at peace about the whole experience. In a way, I feel like this little bonus baby is a gift for my two girls. Both my daughters, who will be 6 & 3 when baby arrives, are beyond excited about the arrival of their new sibling. I think their excitement elevates my own. In a way I think it’s so special that I am growing this little gift for them, who they lovingly refer to as theirbaby.
With my first pregnancy, I was so anxious about everything.
I had no idea what to expect. I was your typical first time mom, I read everything, I googled and researched and went to birthing classes. I bought everything brand new, planned fashionable outfits and decorated a beautiful nursery with matching bedding. We spent hours looking for the right stroller and car seat. I thought all the right “things” would be so important. Looking back now, I laugh at myself for putting so much effort into the things that didn’t matter as much.
With my second pregnancy, I worried about the adjustment to having two kids.
I worried about my oldest daughter feeling replaced. I worried about how to care for two lives. I worried about how to love them equally. I worried about the logistics and how to manage being out in public with two kids. I worried about how I would split my time and attention. I worried so much, I couldn’t sleep. And when she finally arrived, life worked itself out, just like everyone had assured me it would. Her older sister was in love with her, and I learned just what exponential love really was. Just like that, our love had doubled.
Now with my third, I am excited.
I know that this baby will add another level of love. I have heard from other moms of three (or more) that a second baby is a harder adjustment than a third and I believe it. I am already so busy and I am already used to juggling schedules and attention. After the initial first trimester where I was a pukey nauseous disaster, I am in that second trimester sweet spot. I am still getting sleep, I can eat anything I want and I can walk without waddling. I know that will all end very soon, but for right now, I am enjoying this stage. And while I am SO excited to meet this baby, I am in no hurry. I am savoring every last minute of this pregnancy… the stretchy maternity pants and all!
So while the thought of this being my last pregnancy does feel like the end of an era, it also feels right for me and my family. I will try my best to keep you updated on this journey with my growing family. I appreciate the outpouring of love I have received as I start my own adventure Running in Triangles.
If a woman in your life has recently given birth, then there’s a 1 in 5 chance they are struggling with postpartum depression.
It might be your partner, daughter, sister or friend but no matter who they are to you, it’s normal to feel helpless seeing them in pain. It can be even more discouraging when you try to help them and they shut you out. But don’t be offended, mental illness is a tricky situation and displays in many different ways. There are still several ways to help a mother with postpartum depression, even if she tries to push you away.
From a mother who has battled it first hand, here are a few tips that might help you understand her better and be able to provide the right type of support.
1. Know the symptoms
It’s very common for a mother to be in denial about their postpartum depression at first. Even if she does have her suspicions, it’s unlikely that she will admit it out loud. Often, it can be hard to tell the difference between the common baby blues and a real mental health disorder unless you know what to look for. The best way to help a mother with postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety is to recognize the symptoms. Even if she doesn’t want to talk about it, you can get her the help she needs.
[Think you or someone you love might have postpartum depression? Check out this post to find out what to do next.]
There is a lot of stigma around postpartum depression and many people still don’t believe it’s a real disease. If she does open up to you about having postpartum depression – believe that her pain is real. She is not being overly dramatic. She is not “just tired.” Motherhood is overwhelming in general and it will be for a very long time but postpartum depression is different – it’s uncontrollable. Sometimes, just being on her team is the best way to help a mother with postpartum depression.
Sleep deprivation can aggravate postpartum depression but postpartum depression can cause insomnia so it’s a lose-lose situation. Do whatever you can to help her rest. If she cannot sleep at night, then make sure she gets frequent, short naps in throughout the day. Invest in a new mattress to see if it makes a difference in her quality of sleep. Here’s an excellent one that you can try for an entire year.
With a new baby, it’s natural and understandable to be sleep deprived. If you’re having a lot of difficulty getting baby to sleep, consider hiring a sleep training expert.
But if baby is sleeping through the night and mom isn’t, then there’s definitely something wrong.
4. Don’t tell her things could be worse
It’s natural to want to tell her stories about someone else who had it worse in the hopes of making her feel better, but it can have the opposite effect. Your horror stories won’t help a mother with postpartum depression, only cause added stress. Instead of being thankful that she isn’t having suicidal thoughts, she might see her pain as insignificant and feel guilty for having such a difficult time when others are going through “things that are worse.”
It’s still important to make sure that she knows she isn’t alone, as long as she knows that debilitating pain from postpartum depression comes in all forms.
5. Don’t try to explain why
It’s not her fault.But she will try to blame herself anyway. Trying to find a reason why this has happened can inadvertently put more guilt on her. Yes, she’s tired, yes, breastfeeding is hard, yes, labor was intense but those are not the reasons why she has postpartum depression. If labor and recovery were a breeze, baby was nursing fine and sleeping well she could STILL have it.
Knowing that postpartum depression does not discriminate and there was nothing she could have done to avoid it will relieve some of her guilt.
6. Keep it on the down low
For some reason, having a mental illness is embarrassing. While it’s important to check in on her and ask her how she’s feeling, don’t put her on the spot or force her to open up about it if she’s not ready.
And definitely don’t go advertising that she has postpartum depression without her permission. The last thing she wants is everyone at your office knowing about her postpartum depression and offering to help. She will be mortified if someone she barely knows confronts her about postpartum depression, no matter how good their intentions might be.
It takes time to come to terms with postpartum depression for many reasons. The more public it is, the more guilt and pressure she will feel about disappointing others.
The day will come when she will openly want to talk about it but it should be her who decides when that is.
7. Send her a text message but don’t expect a reply right away
Don’t expect her to answer the phone when you call. Better yet, don’t phone her. For someone with postpartum depression, their emotions change throughout the day without warning. Chances are, when you want to talk, won’t be when she wants to talk and vice versa.
Checking in and asking how she’s feeling is a great way to help a mother with postpartum depression. A text message will allow her to reply when SHE feels up to it. You can even include something like “you don’t have to reply right away – whenever you feel like talking, just text me.”
Postpartum depression has a way of making a new mother withdraw from society and it has nothing to do with how she feels about you.
8. Don’t force her to socialize
And don’t be offended if she doesn’t want to see you. She’s not trying to keep the baby all to herself. Going out or hosting visitors means putting on a smile and talking to people when all she wants to do is be alone. Even her inner circle can be extremely irritating.
In addition to feeling socially withdrawn, many women with postpartum depression also suffer from social anxiety. She may feel incredibly uncomfortable in public, even in small groups of close friends.
Allow her some time to avoid social interaction, and gradually work your way up to larger social gatherings.
9. Cook food for her
Appetite changes are a major symptom of postpartum depression. She will either not want to eat anything at all or not be able to stop eating. Having a fridge stocked with healthy ready-to-eat food will help her get the calories and nutrition she so desperately needs (especially if she’s breastfeeding) without all the added exhaustion of having to prepare it.
Proper diet and nutrition plays a big role in managing her symptoms, so it’s important to make sure that she has access to healthy food.
10. Clean the house but don’t make a big deal about it
Do it while she’s napping so she can’t tell you to stop. Cleaning will be the last thing on her mind but looking around at piles of laundry, overflowing garbage bins or dishes in the sink will cause her unnecessary stress and anxiety. It’s one thing to tell her not to worry about the cleaning, it’s another to make the clutter magically disappear. A clutter free environment will help her mind to feel clutter-free as well.
If she’s breastfeeding, you may feel like there’s no point in getting up for night time feedings.But those dark, lonely hours can be the scariest times for a mother with postpartum depression. If for no other reason than to keep her company – get up with her. She may tell you that she’s OK and to go back to bed. But at least get up and check on her. Check if she needs anything, rub her feet or her back while she nurses.
Breastfeeding in itself can cause a lot of stress on new mothers. If you see her struggling, let her know there are online lactation courses available, so she doesn’t need to do it alone.
12. Help her find strangers to talk to
Don’t try to force her to talk to you about her feelings. Sometimes, the best way to help a mother with postpartum depression is to find someone else she can talk to. It’s much easier to talk to strangers who understand and won’t judge her. She can be completely honest and vulnerable without having to worry about hurting someone’s feelings.
Whether it’s an online forum, support group or a therapist – she will be much more comfortable talking to someone who has been in her position before and/or who has experience to share.
Not happy, dressed up, perfectly posed pictures but real pictures. Pictures of her nursing in her pajamas, pictures of her holding or sleeping beside the baby and pictures of her when she hasn’t showered in 3 days and has dried breast milk all over her shirt. Take pictures of her crying. Aim for honest pictures of her so that she can look back at them when she is better and remember this part of her life.
Reassure her that you will never show them to anyone else or post them anywhere, they are only for her.
14. Wait it out
Don’t try to rush her recovery. Helping her find the right path to recovery is important but don’t keep asking if she’s feeling better yet. If she has a good day, don’t assume she’s past the worst of it.
She may go years without an episode, only to have it triggered by stress, sleep deprivation, illness or something else entirely. Many women will battle postpartum depression for years, if not forever. So if you’re in this with her – prepare to go the lengths for her.
Know that there is no cure for mental illness, only treatment options to keep it under control.
Postpartum depression is one of the most under-diagnosed conditions in North America for a reason. Women, moms in particular, pride themselves in being able to handle it all. Admitting that they are struggling or need help is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. While these tips may help the woman in your life open up to you, nothing is ever certain when it comes to postpartum depression. Many women experience it in different ways. The best way to help a mother with postpartum depression is just to love her and support her and don’t ever give up on her.
Sleep training a newborn is all about establishing a good routine and developing the sleep habits that will become an important part of their lives. It’s about teaching them how the world works – when we sleep, when we eat and when we play – in order to be a functional human being. Sleep training a child is a long process, and the earlier they can learn, the easier it will be in the long run. By following a strict routine with a newborn, you may even be able to avoid sleep training in the future.
The goal of this sleep training guide is to:
Help your newborn baby identify the difference between day time and night time.
Establish a daily routine that focuses on healthy sleep habits.
Lay the foundation for stricter sleep training at a later age.
Help you predict what your baby needs and recognize the reason they are crying.
The reason why sleep training a newborn is so essential is because sleep at this age is instinctual and not something they have learned to fight (yet). This promotes a much more positive experience for both parent and baby. Remaining positive throughout the sleep training process is important to successful sleep training as the child gets older.
Here is a guide to sleep training a newborn (0-6 months), which includes routines to follow during the day, at nap time, bedtime and in the middle of the night.
Sleep Training in the Morning
Open the curtains
Let as much sunlight into your home as possible or sit by a sunny window. The point is to associate “daytime ” with brightness and noise.
Change baby out of their pajamas
It may seem like a tedious and unimportant task because many newborns stay in sleepers all day long. But the simple, routine, act of changing clothes in the morning will signal to your baby that it is time to start the day, and not just another one of their many wakeful periods.
Skin to skin contact
Several times a day, strip baby down to a diaper and lay them on your bare chest or cuddle next to them in bed. This is a great thing to do while nursing or bottle feeding baby as it can also keep them awake and stimulated so they will feed better.
If you’re a busy mother, or have other children to take care of and don’t have the time to lie in bed all day, then consider carrying baby around in a wrap-style baby carrier while shirtless.
A lot of effort should be put into those daytime feeding sessions. Feed baby as often as they want to during the day, whether it’s breast or bottle.
If you’re breastfeeding, now is the time to master the latch and try out different breastfeeding positions. Make sure to empty each breast even if it means feeding on the same side twice in a row. That will increase your supply and provide baby with more hind milk. Try using the breast compression technique to ensure baby is getting enough of the fattier hind milk and to help speed up the session.
Try your best NOT to let baby fall asleep during the feeding! Sucking is extremely soothing for a baby and it’s natural for them to drift off or get tired halfway through. If baby continues to fall asleep while nursing, they won’t get full enough and will wake up wanting more just a short while later.
Get a good burp
Different methods work for different kids but this is so, SO important. Try gentle bouncing or laying them on their tummy across your arm or leg instead of patting their back. Adding a little bit of pressure against their tummy with the palm of your hand, or holding their stomach against your rib cage as you bounce up and down can help to eliminate gas.
The number one reason why newborn babies cry after a feeding is because of gas. Often, babies will put their hands to their mouths or root around when they need to burp which can be confusing if they just finished nursing. For babies who are struggling with gas, try using colic tablets or essential oils to ease their tummies.
Get a good poop
This will usually happen on it’s own, so it’s really just a waiting game. You can try “pumping” their legs or holding them in a “sitting position” to get things moving along. The reason why you want to watch for this before putting baby down for a nap is so that they will be comfortable as they sleep and will have no reason to wake up before they’re ready to.
Newborn babies can poop frequently throughout the day (especially breastfed ones). Make sure to use a good bum balm to help avoid rashes with frequent changes. Hypoallergenic, eco-friendly diapers are also a good alternative for avoiding diaper rashes. With time, you will learn how often and when they need to go. Their specific habits and routine usually remain constant as they grow older so this is just another way of getting to know your baby.
Talk or sing to baby, have tummy time and lots of skin to skin contact. A colorful play mat is a great tool to have for keeping young babies entertained. The environment should be stimulating and playful but not over-stimulating, so watch for cues that baby is done with a certain activity.
If you’re not sure exactly how to play with a newborn, then just take them around with you as you go about your day and talk to them while you do it. Babies don’t need a lot of entertainment at this age but they love to hear voices and watch faces.
Watch for signs of sleepiness
Throughout the day, keep an eye out for signs that they are ready to sleep. Some babies get very fussy, others may simply stare off in one direction and start the “slow blink.” As soon as you catch the hint that they are sleepy, prepare yourself to initiate the nap time routine.
Sleep Troubles? Watch Out for Signs of Sleep Apnea
Around 2 to 3 percent of children suffer from sleep apnea; infants can be affected too. Apnea means cessation of breathing, so a child who has sleep apnea can experience episodes in which they stop breathing for a few seconds during sleep. Read this guide to know more about sleep apnea in children.
Sleep apnea is a medical condition. If you notice your baby displaying any symptoms of sleep apnea, consult your doctor immediately. Sleep is essential to the growth and development of babies and older children, so anything that can disrupt your child’s sleep, especially a medical condition, should be taken seriously.
Sleep Training At Nap Time
Put baby to sleep in their bed
Wherever you want baby to sleep at night time is where you should put them for naps as well. It may be tempting to hold and rock that baby for the next 2 hours but the sooner you can get them accustomed to sleeping in their own bed, the better (don’t worry, you can get in lots of cuddles during “playtime”).
Try to avoid letting baby nap in a car seat, bouncer or swing, as this can develop bad habits as they get older. Remaining consistent about where they sleep will help them get used to their bedroom and learn not to fear it.
Make sure that baby’s room is as comfortable as possible. Try using a warm or cool mist humidifier to make sure that their room is set up with the right conditions for them to sleep.
Keep the curtains open
Daytime sleep needs to be different from night time sleep, so keep the room bright. If it’s a dark or cloudy day, then leave a light on while baby naps. Make sure that there is a significant difference in baby’s room during nap time versus at night.
It’s common to try to avoid any and all noise while baby is napping, but that will become something you need to keep up for years. Most newborns are deep sleepers (hence the term “sleeping like a baby”).
Play music in the background, use a sound machine or open a window to let in street noise. If you have older children, don’t shush them while baby naps. Basically, go about your regular every day activities. This will teach baby to nap despite life happening around them.
Some babies tend to startle in their sleep when they hear loud noises, such as a dog barking or a car horn. Swaddling can help keep the startle reflex from waking them up.
Wake baby up after 2 hours
… and start all over again. It might sound cruel to wake up a sleeping baby but wouldn’t you rather save that sleepiness for 3 am? Several smaller naps throughout the day work better than a few longer ones at the newborn age so that baby can eat more often.
Sleep Training at Bedtime
Make sure that baby has been up for at least 1 – 2 hours before bedtime
Even a 10 minute nap in the car can sustain a baby with enough energy to last all night. It will take some work to plan out baby’s nap times but it is much easier to put a sleepy baby to bed than it is to wrestle with an energetic one.
Dim the lights
The wakeful period before bedtime should be focused on darkness and quiet – different than the wakeful periods during the day. Dim the lights, close the curtains or install blackout blinds.
You still want to make sure baby gets a really good feed, burp and poop
*Ahem* this is your life now…
Tone down the playtime
In the hours before bedtime, choose less vigorous playtime for baby. Avoid swings and bouncy seats or over-stimulating toys. Talk in quieter voices and play soft background music. Try to avoid having the television on.
Bathing and massaging baby are a great way to wind down before bedtime. Opt for sleep-inducing essential oils and use calming bath products designed to help baby relax. Let baby have some time without a diaper on before that longer nighttime stretch. Make sure that playtime before bed is calming and soothing instead of stimulating.
Change baby’s clothes
This is the other part of the day when it’s important to change baby’s clothes to signal that it’s bedtime. It doesn’t really matter what you put baby to sleep in because it’s just the act of changing into pajamas that will create that routine habit.
Try NOT to feed baby right before bed
A feeding before bed is important to keep baby full but if you don’t want to nurse them to sleep every time they wake up, then you need to disassociate it with bedtime. Aim for a half hour before bedtime so that they don’t fall asleep while nursing. You can feed baby first, then gently bounce or dance around with them to get out all those gas bubbles. Or change them into their pajamas after the feeding.
Initiate the “BEDTIME ROUTINE“
This is the last thing you will do with baby before you put them to bed for the night. It can include a bedtime story or lullaby, turning on a projection nightlight, some gentle rocking or cuddling in a chair, or goodnight kisses and hugs from everyone in the family.
Over the years the bedtime routine will evolve as your child grows. But it should always include a calming activity that is reserved specifically for bedtime so as to give your baby the bedtime signal.
Put baby to bed when you see the early signs of sleepiness
It’s worth repeating here – put baby down when they are sleepy but not actually asleep. The younger the baby, the more they are acting on instincts and as long as all of their needs are met, they shouldn’t protest when you put them down.
If baby cries when you put them down…
Try feeding or burping again until they get drowsy. If baby falls asleep while nursing, just try to get them into bed as soon as possible afterwards. Try your best to remain positive about the process, or baby will sense your anxiety.
Once down for the night – DO NOT WAKE BABY UP TO EAT.
Newborns need to eat on a regular schedule, but because you have been pumping them full of food during the day, you can worry a little bit less about how much they are eating at night. They WILL wake up when they are hungry but it should be longer than 2 hour intervals. The older and bigger they get, the longer they will be able to go without a midnight snack.
Use a baby monitor to listen for when baby wakes up, and try to get to them as soon as possible. Try not to let baby cry for too long, as this will stimulate them more than necessary. Newborns will normally only wake up to feed so there is no point in letting them “cry it out.”
Sleep Training in the Middle of the Night
If and when baby wakes up in the middle of the night…
Do not turn on any lights
Keep the room as dark and quiet as possible. A soft nightlight or mood light offers just enough lighting for you to see what you’re doing but the idea is to help baby associate night time with darkness and quiet.
Keep baby dressed
Save the skin to skin contact for the daytime. If you swaddle baby then it’s up to you whether or not to unswaddle them, but the idea is not to disturb or stimulate baby any more than necessary.
Because you’re pumping them full of milk during the day, you don’t need to worry about how much they’re getting in the middle of the night. This is a great time to use the breast compression technique while breastfeeding. Most likely, baby will fall asleep during nursing. If they do, try to get them back into bed as quickly as possible.
Do not talk to or stimulate baby in any way
If you’re smooth enough – you might be able to convince baby that this is just a dream and that they aren’t really awake at all…
Only change a diaper if it’s poopy
If baby had enough poopy diapers during the day then the chances of a poopy diaper at night are slim (though they do happen). Good quality diapers can normally retain urine for an entire night’s sleep. If you find that baby is soaking right through them, try a different brand or move up a size. Some babies are prone to diaper rash, but skin can also become too sensitive with frequent changes. If you absolutely must change a diaper, use a warm wipe or washcloth and try to make it as quick as possible so you’re not overstimulating baby.
Get a good burp
But don’t try any fancy positions that might overstimulate baby unless they seem to be having a lot of trouble with gas.
Immediately return baby to crib
Don’t make a big deal out of night time wake ups. Try to make them as quick and quiet as possible and don’t take baby out of their room.
Continue this routine for all night time feedings until morning and then begin the daytime routine all over again.
By following a routine with your newborn throughout the day, you will be able to get them on a consistent schedule. This will help you to predict what they need and when, so that when they cry, you can rule out the common reasons. Having designated awake and nap times will also allow mom to get more rest and/or work done without having to constantly wonder when baby will be ready to eat or sleep. You could even try using an app to track baby’s sleep patterns. The routine will eventually become second nature to mom and baby, and will continue to change and evolve as baby grows. It will also help to reduce the stress and anxiety caused by sleep training at a later age.
Have you tried all these tips and your baby is STILL not sleeping through the night?
There could be something you’re missing. All babies are different, and there isn’t ONE plan that works for everyone. Don’t be afraid to seek help from an expert. Read my review of The Baby Sleep Site for more information.