Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth

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Authors in The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth: More than 900 tips that 60 doctors who are also mothers use during their own pregnancies and births (Mommy MD Guides) 

More than 900 tips that 60 doctors who are also mothers use during their own pregnancies and births. Here are ten of our favorites! 

Trying to relax: Meditation is a huge part of my life. It gives me a buffer from reality. I have a fairly intense life, and I do a lot of listening. Sitting quietly in meditation allows my brain to rinse out like clothes in a washing machine. The chance to sit quietly and to learn to be an observer is a helpful skill in pregnancy—and also in parenting. It helps you to be more receptive to what your kids are trying to say.
—Nancy Rappaport, MD

Taking prenatal vitamins: Vitamins are no good to you if you throw them up. One trick if you have morning sickness and can’t choke down your prenatal vitamins is to chew a children’s Flintstones Vitamin instead. Flintstones Complete vitamins, for instance, contain 400 micrograms of folic acid, which is what most experts recommend pregnant women get each day.
—Ashley Roman, MD, MPH

Taking a pregnancy test: When I thought I might be pregnant, I took a home pregnancy test. Actually, I took a lot of home pregnancy tests. When the first one came back positive, I worried perhaps there was something wrong with the test. So I took another. It was positive too. But I took another one the next day just to be sure. I took about four of them before it was all said and done.
—Kerri A. Daniels, MD

Telling your partner the good news: I took my pregnancy test at the hospital, and my med school classmates knew that I was pregnant before my husband did. When I took the little stick home with the positive sign, I just rang the bell and stood there with it in front of my face. My husband’s jaw dropped, and then he just smiled!
—JJ Levenstein, MD

Coping with morning sickness: At some point in the pregnancy, I stopped being able to tolerate flat liquids of any kind—even water. Seltzer water always came to my rescue. It worked best during those times when I was at a restaurant and I felt the nausea wave coming. If you don’t like plain seltzer, try one with fruit flavoring.
—Tyeese Gaines Reid, DO

Fighting fatigue: I was in my last year of residency during my third pregnancy. Standing on my feet was simply too exhausting, so I made great use of the rolling stools in our practice. I sat on one every chance I got. I’d even roll it in the hall between exam rooms instead of walking. Sometimes I’d ask other people to push me! When you’re tired, don’t walk if you can stand, don’t stand if you can sit, don’t sit if you can lie down, and sleep whenever you can.
—Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

Caring for pets: When I was pregnant, we had a hamster. They carry a disease that can be dangerous for pregnant women. So I relinquished my hamster care duties to my husband. He didn’t think it was so great.
—Sonia Ng, MD

Easing the (heart)burn: When I was pregnant with triplets, I had terrible, unrelenting heartburn. I discovered that eating ice cream and sipping a little milk helped. So I coated that heartburn with some ice cream! The ice cream (plus medication my doctor prescribed) eased the heartburn enough that it wasn’t waking me up anymore. Of course, by then I was waking up for a zillion other reasons.
—Sadaf T. Bhutta, MBBS

Taking the heat. I was pregnant during the summer in Texas, and I was warm all of the time. At night, I set the air-conditioning to 65, but still I was sprawled out on the bed. My husband slept in flannel pajamas under a goose-down comforter. If he rolled over and touched me, I screamed, “Stop touching me! It’s too hot!” I was so miserable.
—Marra Francis, MD

Enjoying sex during pregnancy: Before I got pregnant, my husband and I had a healthy sex life. We had a lot of sex while I was pregnant too. In fact, we had sex the morning my water broke. We just found ways to make it happen. Sex was relaxing for me and lovely for him. It’s good to bank up a lot of “credit,” because after the baby comes, you won’t be able to have sex for a while.
—JJ Levenstein, MD

Handling unsolicited advice: When people give you unsolicited advice, feel free to blurt out the rudest
thing you can think of. Then blame it on the pregnancy hormones.
—Ellen Kruger, MD

Treating back pain: During the third trimester of one pregnancy, I had sciatica, which is pain in the lower back that runs down the leg. There’s not much you can do for that when you’re pregnant. I went to a massage therapist who specialized in treating pregnant women and had a massage. The massage did help a bit—temporarily. But better yet was the hour of relaxing and being pampered.
—Lezli Braswell, MD

Easing swelling. During my pregnancy, I had bad swelling of my feet and fingers. Whenever I had the chance, I’d put my feet up, especially at night when I was watching TV. I think it’s helpful to keep a foot stool nearby. Also, it sounds counterintuitive, but it helps to stay hydrated. Don’t stop drinking if you’re swelling. I drank a lot of water during my pregnancy, and an occasional caffeinated soda.
—Aline Tanios, MD

Coping with cravings: I think it’s important to listen to your body. Cravings are a normal part of pregnancy. They’re not a sign that anything is wrong. If you’re craving something unhealthy, try to eat something healthier, such as yogurt instead of ice cream. But if you really must have that ice cream, eat it.
—Erika Schwartz, MD

Considering cord blood banking: My husband and I decided to bank each of our children’s cord blood. We thought we would do that just in case something happened. Researchers are finding more and more applications for stem cells, so I think that in the future cord blood might be even more useful. It’s like life insurance.
—Dianna K. Kim, MD

Decorating your nursery: I’m a total pragmatist, and I don’t spend a lot of time decorating. It’s not
my gig. When I was pregnant with my twins, I did paint a big picture on the wall of the nursery of my older daughter and the twins holding balloons. While I was painting it, my daughter walked into the room. She took off running, and I heard her yell, “Daddy, Mommy’s painting on the wall!”
—Susan Wilder, MD

Breathing easy despite shortness of breath: My middle daughter was a long baby, and I carried her up high in my ribs. Toward the end I was very short of breath. It was awful. I would feel like the wind was getting knocked out of me. When I had to run in the hospital to deliver a baby, I’d have to sit down and catch my breath before I could catch the baby. I tried to walk as much as possible, not run, and I sat down to catch my breath a lot.
—Marra Francis, MD

Choosing a pediatrician: I went into preterm labor with my first baby. I was terrified that she would be born early, and I found a pediatrician who was also board certified in neonatology. She’s cared for my children ever since, even though we’ve moved twice and it’s now a 45-minute drive to her office. She’s awesome.
—Ann LaBarge, MD

Soothing itchy skin: During my pregnancy, I had itching on my belly. I put a lot of vitamin E and cocoa butter lotion on the area. If the itching was very intense, I put an ice pack on it, which really helped.
—Diane Truong, MD

Preparing your pets for the baby: Our cat was our baby before our babies were born. My husband and I bought a tent for our baby’s crib to keep the cat out of it. We were concerned how the cat would react to the baby because she was already five years old when our daughter was born. We were right. When the baby came home, the cat was not very happy!
—Mary Mason, MD

Packing your birth bag: I packed my bag around a week or so before I went into labor. I packed reading materials, outfits for the baby, and my Boppy nursing pillow to help me breastfeed. I also took my computer because the hospital had wireless Internet. I was actually able to use my computer because the
baby slept a lot!
—Amy J. Derick, MD

Easing your fears: Pregnancy is overwhelming. This is probably good preparation for parenting, which is even more overwhelming. At some point during my pregnancy, I realized that I was doing my best, and then I would just fake the rest. I stopped trying to control every variable. We all muddle through. I just try to use my best judgment.
—Ellen Kruger, MD

Resting up before delivery: I snuck in a pedicure the afternoon before my water broke. That was my
last pedicure in a very long time, and I was so glad that I got it in just under the wire.
—Ashley Roman, MD, MPH

Dealing with foot pain: Be good to your feet, or they will make you pay. My favorite shoes during pregnancy are the brown Hush Pup-pies loafers that I still wear now. They helped me stand for hours while ob-serving surgeries then and now. Of all the orthopedic brands, Hush Puppies had the trendier styles. Before my Hush Puppies, my arches would ache endlessly. They definitely quieted my dogs.
—Tyeese Gaines Reid, DO

Going into labor: When I went into labor, my husband and I both panicked a bit. He’s a cardiologist, and he started telling me to breathe.
“How do you know I need to breathe?” I asked.
“It’s what they do in all of the movies,” my husband said.
So we mimicked what we had seen on TV and in the movies, and it was fine. I don’t remember early labor being very uncomfortable at all because it happened so quickly.
—Diane Truong, MD

Going to the hospital: My second child arrived on time, in the middle of the night in a rainstorm.
My husband sang the Billy Joel song In the Middle of the Night to me in the car on the way to the hospital. I think of that night every time I hear that song.
—Elissa Charbonneau, DO

Controlling pain during labor: I wanted to have an epidural, but I really wanted to feel what contractions
felt like first. I was induced. My mom kept saying that she thought I had been having contractions prior to going in, but I didn’t feel a thing. She insisted I was having them and just didn’t know! 
“I’ve never had a contraction before,” I said. “But I think I’d know it if I felt one.”
Then the contractions got started.
“Nope, I didn’t feel that before,” I said. “I’ll take that epidural now.”
—Kerri A. Daniels, MD

Seeing your baby for the first time: I cannot adequately describe how I felt when my babies were born. At the time, the analogy came to me forcefully that it was just as if I had died and there really was a Heaven with the Prophets and the Angels, and that you could look at them clearly and see they were like real people, with eyelashes and fingernails. My baby’s eyelashes and fingernails seemed that impossible and vivid to me. Just to look at them seemed impossible.
—Elizabeth Berger, MD