All About Baby

During your 26th week of pregnancy, your baby-to-be opens her eyes for the first time. She’ll open and shut her eyes as she gets used to her new ability. Your little one is still on the small side. Her body may look fully formed on the outside, but inside there’s fine-tuning taking place, including her lungs and her brain. Your unborn baby still has some growing to do!

All About You

Looking for a fast way to relieve back pain and relax? Pelvic rocking is a great way to ease back pain, strengthen the pelvis for labor, and reduce stress. To rock your pelvis, stand against the wall with your knees slightly bent and, as you inhale, gently press the small of your back against the wall. Exhale and release. Repeat 10 times.

Managing Stress

You’re almost done with your second trimester! You may have noticed swelling in your face, hands, feet, and ankles. This swelling, called edema, happens as your body retains fluid to keep your blood volume high. With more blood flowing, your vessels are forced closer to the skin’s surface. Your tender gums may bleed when you brush your teeth. Drink plenty of water and try moderate exercise such as walking to ease swelling and help your circulation. Increased blood flow may also cause swelling inside your nasal passages, leading to congestion.

Pampering Yourself

You’re past the midway mark and delivery day is around the corner — it’s time for some R&R! Giving yourself a break doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. By learning how to relax now, you’ll be more likely to use those same techniques later when midnight wake-up calls and endless feedings leave you needing a recharge.

Massage: Work out your knotted muscles with a massage. If you go to a professional massage therapist, ask first if he or she has experience with pregnant clients. Certain positions and massage techniques can be uncomfortable and potentially harmful to your unborn baby. Pregnancy-trained massage therapists will know just how to make your aching back more comfortable.

If you’re not up for a full massage, try a manicure or pedicure instead. More convenient and less expensive, manicures and pedicures can help you feel more relaxed. Besides, you probably can’t reach your toes to trim and paint them anyway.

Don’t forget that your partner makes for an excellent massage therapist! Look for local couples’ massage classes or ask your pregnancy masseuse if your partner can come along and learn some techniques. Check out books or DVDs from the library to figure out some simple massages you can do in the comfort of your own home.

Babymoons: One hot trend in pregnancy, babymoons. A clever take on honeymoons, babymoons have the same goal — to provide you and your partner some special time together. Many hotels offer babymoon packages with activities and extras with pampering in mind. Some packages include mini-fridges stocked with pickles and ice cream, or a couple’s massage with a pregnancy-trained masseuse.

You don’t need a “babymoon” package to get pampered though. Opt for a fine hotel to get the same service, or create your own babymoon atmosphere at home with your partner. Let your partner treat you to “room service” and have breakfast in bed — maybe even lunch and dinner too!

Prenatal exercise classes: Exercise may not sound like pampering, but choosing the right fitness class can give you a boost. For example, prenatal yoga classes will teach you relaxation techniques you can use during your pregnancy, labor, even after. Plus, you’ll be surrounded by other round-tummied classmates who understand what you’re going through.

Here’s a fun pregnancy exercise you may have not considered: bellydancing. That’s right, plenty of pregnant women are baring their bellies and learning moves that help them have fun and relax.

Ask your healthcare provider about prenatal classes in your area if you haven’t found any on your own.

Cutting back on your schedule: One of the best ways to pamper yourself is to trim your schedule. Prioritize so you can get done the things you need to (don’t add anything extra!). Enlist friends and family to help you accomplish what you’d like to finish — but that you don’t have the energy for. Accept invitations for older children to play at friends’ homes so you can get some rest. You should take breaks as often as possible so you feel energized and recharged.

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Q & A

What’s happening in Week 26? Other women have wondered…

Q: What are ways that we can decorate a gender-neutral nursery?

Gender-neutral nurseries have come a long way from yellow, yellow, and yes, even more yellow. The good news is that now there are more and more cribs, changing tables, and nursery furniture that come in a variety of wood tones and various neutral shades, steering clear of pink and blue altogether. Read more ideas for a gender-neutral nursery.

Q: Why do I have shooting pains in my vaginal area and down my leg?

What you’re describing sounds like the ’round ligament’ pains of pregnancy. When the uterus (womb) is the size of a pear in the non-pregnant state, the round ligaments help hold the uterus in place in the pelvis. But as the uterus stretches out during pregnancy, they never recover their supportive strength after delivery. Read more about round ligament pains.

Your Partner

Learning to De-Stress

Will you be able to afford another little person in your life? Do you need to make changes to your home in preparation for Baby’s arrival? Will you need to move? The more your partner shows, the more stressed you may feel. Why? Money is a significant stressor for many men. As fathers-to-be, we are programmed to believe we should be the financial providers for our families.

But stress doesn’t end with the checkbook. You may also be concerned about your partner’s health (as well as that of your baby). If you’re about to become a dad for the first time, that is no doubt a source of anxiety as well. We hate to tell you, but when your little one comes into the world, you’ll no doubt add her to your list of worries, too.

Now is the perfect time to start thinking about (and implementing) ways to reduce stress and refuel your tank so you’ve got the energy needed to face what lies ahead. Maybe it means taking more of your lunch hour to relax, read, or listen to music — something solely for yourself. Maybe it means finding podcasts, satellite radio, or music to listen to while working out, commuting, or working. Look for things that stimulate you and make you feel better. Don’t forget exercise as a great stress reducer, too.

When your baby arrives, your life will become more chaotic and challenging. Learning coping strategies and figuring out ways to de-stress your life now will help you prepare for your new role. Leaning how to manage stress will also give you the tools necessary to interact more effectively with your spouse and your child.