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Track Your Weight Gain
We know — you’re eating for two. But packing on too many extra pounds may make them hard to lose later. At the same time, not can gaining enough weight can put the baby at risk for a low-weight birth, a major cause of developmental problems. Recently the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued new guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy. Here’s what the IOM recommends, based on a woman’s BMI (body mass index) before becoming pregnant with one baby:
– Underweight: Gain 28-40 pounds
– Normal weight: Gain 25-35 pounds
– Overweight: Gain 15-25 pounds
– Obese: Gain 11-20 pounds
Check in with your doctor frequently to make sure you’re gaining at a healthy rate.
Go Shoe Shopping
At last — a perfect excuse to buy shoes! As your bump grows, so may your feet — or at least they may feel like they are. That’s because your natural weight gain throws off your center of gravity, putting extra pressure on your tootsies. Over time this added pressure can cause painful over-pronation, or flattening out of the feet. You may retain fluids, too, which can make your feet and ankles swell.
To prevent these problems, wear comfy shoes with good support. Many expectant moms find they need a larger shoe size even after they give birth, so go a step up if you need to.
Rethink Your Spa Style
Pregnancy is definitely a time for pampering, but you need to be careful. Avoid saunas, which can make you overheated. Ditto for hot tubs: According to the American Pregnancy Association, it takes only 10 to 20 minutes of sitting in one for your body temperature to reach 102 degrees Farenheit — nearly the limit of what’s considered safe for pregnant women. Also, certain essential oils can cause uterine contractions, especially during the first and second trimester, so check with your massage therapist to make sure only safe ones are being used. On the taboo list: juniper, rosemary, and clary sage.
Eat Folate-Rich Foods
“Folic acid is crucial for the proper development of the baby’s neural tube (it covers the spinal cord), and it’s vital for the creation of new red blood cells,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D., author of the new book Feed the Belly. Even before you find out you’re pregnant, it’s smart to start eating plenty of folate-rich foods like fortified cereals, asparagus, lentils, wheat germ, oranges, and orange juice.
Recharge with Fruit
Most doctors recommend limiting caffeine during pregnancy, since it can have harmful effects on you and the baby. Cutting back can be tough, though — especially when you’re used to your morning java. For a quick pick-me-up, try nibbling on some fruit. “The natural sugars in fruits like bananas and apples can help lift energy levels,” says registered dietitian Frances Largeman-Roth.
In a 2007 study of more than 12,000 children, researchers found that youngsters whose moms ate the most fish during pregnancy had higher I.Q.s, plus better motor and communication skills, than those whose mothers did not eat fish. Scientists say that’s because fish is high in omega 3s, a nutrient critical to brain development. There’s just one catch: Some kinds of fish contain mercury, which can be toxic to both babies and adults.
To be safe, the FDA recommends that pregnant women eat no more than 12 ounces of fish per week. Stick with canned light tuna, shrimp, salmon, pollack, or catfish. Avoid swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish, which are all high in mercury.
Preterm birth (delivery before 37 weeks of pregnancy) has been linked to significant short and long-term negative health effects. Almost 3 out of every 4 newborn deaths are linked to preterm delivery.
“Preterm birth is a leading cause of infant disease and death and occurs in approximately one in 10 pregnancies globally. Anything we can do to better understand the conditions that lead to preterm birth will be important in helping to improve survival and long-term health outcomes for children,” said Dr Jessica Grieger, the leader of the research team.
The research team from the university’s Robinson Research Institute had looked at the eating habits of over 300 women in South Australia. They found that women who had diets consistently abundant in protein and fruits before conception had a lower chance of having a preterm birth. On the other hand, those whose diets were high in fats, sugars and takeaways were about 50% more at risk of preterm births.
“In our study, women who ate protein-rich foods including lean meats, fish and chicken, as well as fruit, whole grains and vegetables, had significantly lower risk of preterm birth. On the other hand, women who consumed mainly discretionary foods, such as takeaway, potato chips, cakes, biscuits, and other foods high in saturated fat and sugar were more likely to have babies born preterm,” said Dr Grieger.
Diet during pregnancy important too
Of course, what a pregnant lady eats during pregnancy is also very important. Another study published earlier in 2014 in the British Medical Journal had revealed that pregnant ladies who consumed a “prudent” diet containing good amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and who drank water had a markedly lower risk of preterm delivery. The researchers from Iceland, Norway and Sweden also found that a “traditional” diet of boiled potatoes, cooked vegetables and fish was associated with significantly reduced risk as well.
“It is important to consume a healthy diet before as well as during pregnancy to support the best outcomes for the mum and baby,” added Dr Grieger.
The bottom line
A woman who wishes to have a healthy pregnancy and to give birth to a healthy child needs to consume a healthy diet. This applies to both during and before pregnancy. A well-balanced and varied diet containing lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, healthy protein and water is recommended. At the same time, the consumption of high-fat, sugary and processed food should be cut down, if not ceased altogether. Organic foods are preferable, while non-organic produce should be washed to remove toxic chemical residues.
Another key point — it is never too late to make positive dietary changes.
“Diet is an important risk factor that can be modified. It is never too late to make a positive change. We hope our work will help promote a healthy diet before and during pregnancy. This will help to reduce the number of neonatal deaths and improve the overall health of children,” Dr Grieger also said.
If you’re thinking about getting pregnant — or if you already are — you probably know some of the basics about taking care of yourself and the baby. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink. Get your rest. Here are more tips, from taking vitamins to what to do with the kitty litter, that can help ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Take a Prenatal Vitamin
Even when you’re still trying to conceive, it’s smart to start taking prenatal vitamins. Your baby’s neural cord, which becomes the brain and spinal cord, develops within the first month of pregnancy, so it’s important you get essential nutrients, like folic acid, calcium, and iron, from the very start.
Prenatal vitamins are available over the counter at most drug stores, or you can get them by prescription from your doctor. If taking them makes you feel queasy, try taking them at night or with a light snack. Chewing gum or sucking on hard candy afterward can help, too.
Staying active is a must for most moms to be. Regular exercise will help you control your weight, improve circulation, boost your mood, and help you sleep better. Plus, getting into an exercise habit now will help you set a good example for your child after she’s born.
Pilates, yoga, swimming, and walking are all great activities for most pregnant women, but be sure to check with your doctor first before starting any exercise program. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Listen to your body, though, and don’t overdo it.
Write a Birth Plan
Determined to have a doula? Counting on that epidural? Write down your wishes and give a copy to everyone involved with the delivery. According to the American Pregnancy Association, here are some things to consider when writing your birth plan:
– Who you want present, including children or siblings of the baby
– Procedures you want to avoid
– What positions you prefer for labor and delivery
– Special clothing you’d like to wear
– Whether you want music or a special focal point
– Whether you want pain medications, and what kind
– What to do if complications arise
Even if this isn’t your first baby, attending a childbirth class will help you feel more prepared for delivery. Not only will you have the chance to learn more about childbirth and infant care, but you can ask specific questions and voice any concerns. You’ll also become more acquainted with the facility and its staff.
Now is also a good time to brush up on your family’s medical history. Talk to your doctor about problems with past pregnancies, and report any family incidences of birth defects.
Kegels strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support your bladder, bowels, and uterus. Done correctly, this simple exercise can help make your delivery easier and prevent problems later with incontinence. The best part: No one can tell you’re doing them, so you can practice kegels in the car, while you’re sitting at your desk, or even standing in line at the grocery store. Here’s how to do them right:
– Practice squeezing as though you’re stopping the flow of urine when you use the bathroom.
– Hold for three seconds, then relax for three.
– Repeat 10 times.
Change Up Chores
Even everyday tasks like scrubbing the bathroom or cleaning up after pets can become risky when you’re pregnant. Exposure to toxic chemicals, lifting heavy objects, or coming in contact with bacteria can harm you and your baby. Here are some things to (hooray!) take off your to-do-list:
– Heavy lifting
– Climbing on stepstools or ladders
– Changing kitty litter (to avoid toxoplasmosis, a disease caused by a parasite which cats can carry)
– Using harsh chemicals
– Standing for long periods of time, especially near a hot stove
Also, wear gloves if you’re working in the yard where cats may have been, and wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat.
The single most important thing that you can do for your baby is to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. A well-balanced diet is one that includes foods from all food groups in appropriate amounts, so as to ensure proper nutrition. Proper nutrition ensures that all essential nutrients (carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and water) are supplied to the body to maintain optimal health and well-being. Good nutrition is essential for normal organ development and functioning; normal reproduction, growth and maintenance; for optimum activity level and working efficiency; for resistance to infection and disease; and for the ability to repair bodily damage or injury. While pregnancy is a normal alternative condition for the female body, it is stressful, and all nutritional needs are increased in order to meet the needs of the pregnancy.
Dr. Tom Brewer found through more than 30 years of research that each day, pregnant women need a well-balanced, high-quality diet that includes 80 to 100 grams of protein, adequate salt (to taste), and water (to thirst), as well as calories from all of the food groups. The World Health Organization recommends that a pregnant woman eat a minimum of 75 grams of protein per day, but protein is just a marker for a nutritious diet. It must be obtained from a wide variety of whole food sources in order to get all of the important nutrients a woman needs during pregnancy. While the government’s food pyramid is a good example of a well-balanced diet, pregnant women need more protein and calories in general. This means including:
2 to 3 servings of meat, fish, nuts or legumes, and tofu
2 to 3 servings of dairy (milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese)
2 servings of green vegetables; 1 serving of a yellow vegetable
3 servings of fruit
3 servings of whole grain breads, cereals, or other high-complex carbohydrates
salt to taste
6 to 8 glasses of clean, filtered water each day.
While this may seem like a lot of food, it will supply the 2000 to 3000 calories needed per day to make a healthy baby.
saladA study conducted at Harvard University found that by eating at least 75 grams of protein per day, pregnant women could prevent diseases of pregnancy such as preeclampsia (metabolic toxemia of late pregnancy). During pregnancy a woman’s blood volume increases as much as 40 to 60 percent, and in order to reach this necessary level and maintain it, a woman’s body needs adequate protein, salt, calcium, potassium and water from her diet. In April of 1996 the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article indicating that calcium may also help reduce the incidence of preeclampsia. Other recent research indicates that pregnant women need adequate folic acid (a B vitamin) to prevent neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida. The Food and Drug Administration now recommends that breads and pastas be fortified with folic acid to ensure that all women of childbearing age get enough of it. Four hundred micrograms of folic acid a day is recommended. This can be obtained by eating whole grain breads, citrus fruits and dark green leafy vegetables.
As long as junk food and excessive sweets (sugar) are avoided, or kept to a minimum, weight gain should not be an issue. The diet listed above (or something similar) should provide all of the necessary nutrients, and a woman should have little problem obtaining everything she needs. A “whole food” is one that is unprocessed and is as close to its natural state as possible. While vitamin supplements are very popular these days, there are risks to taking supplements of certain vitamins while pregnant (i.e., vitamin A), and others are simply poorly assimilated (i.e., calcium or iron). The B vitamins, for example, must be taken in congress (B complex supplement), as absences, insufficiencies or excesses of one or another can cause problems. Check with your care provider before taking anything while pregnant. Vitamins and minerals should be obtained from natural, whole sources whenever possible, to ensure quality and proper assimilation by the body. A qualified nutritional expert should assess special dietary needs.
Cravings for foods are common in pregnancy and, in theory, can indicate a need or deficit in a diet. Cravings for healthy foods can be indulged, but cravings for non-food substances such as clay or laundry starch, a condition known as “pica,” can be harmful and should be reported to your care provider.
eggsMilk, eggs and other dairy products are inexpensive sources of calcium and protein. For those who are vegetarian, or simply to provide variety in an omnivorous diet, soy products, beans and nuts can be substituted. Dark green vegetables provide carbohydrates, water, bulk fiber, vitamins A, C, and B, calcium, iron, and magnesium; the darker green, the better. It is best to eat these vegetables raw whenever possible, but steaming or baking will also retain most of the nutrients. Citrus and berry fruits provide a great deal of vitamin C, and yellow fruits and vegetables such as cantaloupe, sweet potato, carrots and mango are good sources of vitamin A. Both of these vitamins are important for fighting infection, boosting the immune system, cell structure development and preventing placental detachment (abruption). Zinc is another important mineral for pregnant women, as it aids in supporting the immune system. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, zinc also helps to improve birth weight and certain aspects of fetal development.
Soybeans have a wealth of health benefits, including the ability to improve the metabolism, help people gain weight in a healthy way, protect heart health, defend against cancer, reduce the effects of menopause, improve digestive health, promotes bone health, protect against birth defects, increase circulation, decrease the risk of diabetes, and generally tones up the body.
Soybeans, which are also known as soya beans, are a species of legume that have become one of the most widely consumed foods in the world. They are extremely useful for human health, and they are easy to cultivate as well. They are produced in greatest numbers in the United States and South America, but they are actually native to East Asia. Their scientific name is Glycine max, and they are classified as an oil seed, rather than a pulse, like most legumes. Soybeans have become so wildly important and popular in recent decades because of the rise of soy food’s popularity, including soy milk and textured vegetable protein. The high levels of protein make it an ideal protein source for vegetarians, and the wide variety of soy products has created a massive new market.
One of the reasons it is so widely cultivated is because it contains more protein per acre of land than any other crop. They grow up to 2 meters in height and is a green, low-lying plant. The soy protein are so universally useful that this small, unassuming bean has become globally significant. Furthermore, soybeans are packed with other essential nutrients, making it extremely important for people on diets, those who need to improve their general health, and vegetarians and vegans throughout the world. We can talk about the importance of soybeans all day, but why are they so important? What exactly is contained in these wonderful beans? Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional facts of soybeans.
SoyabeanNutritional Value of Soybeans
The many health benefits of soybeans comes from the wealth of nutrients, vitamins, organic compounds, and other nutrients, including a significant amount of dietary fiber and a very large amount of protein. In terms of vitamins, soybeans contains vitamin K, riboflavin, folate, vitamin B6, thiamin, and vitamin C. As for minerals, soybeans contain significant amounts of iron, manganese, phosphorous, copper, potassium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and calcium. It is also a good source of organic compounds and antioxidants, further boosting the healthy impact of soybeans.
Health Benefits of Soybeans
The many health benefits of soybeans include the following:
Metabolic Activity: As mentioned above, soybeans are an extremely important source of protein. When you have enough proteins in your body, then your metabolic functioning and overall system will get a major boost. Proteins are the building blocks of cells and blood vessels and basically every essential part of the human body. Proteins from soybeans ensure the proper health and regrowth of cells if they need to be repaired or replaced. It can be difficult to get enough protein when you follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, so soybeans provide an excellent replacement for the proteins normally acquired in red meat, chicken, eggs, dairy products, and fish.
Healthy Weight Gain: Soybeans actually work in both ways, actually. First of all, soybeans and soy-based products have been associated with appetite suppression, which can help people eliminate overeating, which can lead to obesity and all of the related risks. However, soybeans also provide a decent amount of fiber and protein, which can help lead to weight gain, if soybeans are eaten in large quantities. Therefore, soybeans are beneficial for people that want to both lose and gain weight. Furthermore, the weight that it can provide your body is not unhealthy high-fat or high cholesterol in nature, which protects you from dangerous conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Cancer Prevention: The levels of antioxidants in soybeans make it generally good for preventing the onset of various cancers. Antioxidants seek out and neutralize free radicals, which are the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism. These free radicals can cause healthy cells to mutate into deadly cancer cells. Furthermore, the high fiber content in soybeans means has been connected to a reduction in colorectal and colon cancer, since fiber helps to ease the digestive process and put far less strain on the gastrointestinal system.
Heart Health: Soybeans do supply some fat, but it is not supplying you with a saturated fat diet. Soybeans are a source of healthier, unsaturated fat, which helps you lower your total cholesterol. This can allow you to prevent conditions like atherosclerosis, which can easily lead to heart attacks and strokes. Furthermore, there are some specific fatty acids that are necessary for a healthy system. Two of those fatty acids are linoleic acid and linolenic acid. These two fatty acids, found in significant amounts in soybeans, regulate smooth muscle function in the body, and helps to maintain appropriate blood pressure levels. Finally, the fiber in soybeans has actually been shown to reduce cholesterol levels in the body by scraping that excess off of the walls of blood vessels and arteries.
Menopause: Soybeans are a very good source of isoflavones, which are essential components of the female reproductive system. During menopause, estrogen levels drop significantly. Isoflavones are able to bind to estrogen receptor cells, so the body doesn’t feel as though it is going through such a dramatic decrease. This can ease many of the symptoms of menopause, such as mood swings, hot flashes, and hunger pains. Menopause can be a traumatic time of life for many women, but soybeans are a great way to ease that major life transition.
Digestive Health: One of the most common elements to be lacking in a person’s diet is fiber. Fiber is an essential part of a healthy body, particularly in terms of the digestive system. Fiber actually bulks up your stool, making it move through your digestive system smoothly. Furthermore, fiber stimulates peristaltic motion, which is the contraction of the smooth muscles that pushes food through your system. Fiber is vital to our bodies because constipation can be a very serious condition that can lead to more serious conditions, including colorectal cancer.
Bone Health: There is a very high vitamin and mineral content in soybeans, and the impressive levels of calcium, magnesium, copper, selenium, and zinc are very important for a variety of processes in the body. Perhaps most important is their role in bone health. All of these elements are essential for promoting osteotrophic activity, which allows for new bones to grow and also speeds up the healing process of bones. Eating soybeans can be a long-term solution for problems like osteoporosis, which commonly occurs as we age.
Birth Defects: The vitamin B complex levels in soybeans is impressive as well, and the high levels of folic acid are very important for pregnant women. Folic acid ensures the prevention of neural tube defects in infants, which ensures a happy and healthy baby.
Circulation and Oxygenation: Copper and iron are to minerals found in abundance in soybeans, and both of these are essential for the formation of red blood cells. With an appropriate amount of red blood cells in the body, extremities of the body and essential organ systems can get the blood flow and oxygen that they need to function efficiently. This maximized metabolic activity and increases energy levels, while also avoiding dangerous conditions like anemia.
Diabetes: This dreaded disease has been on the rise in the global population for more than a decade. Soybeans are an effective method of prevention and management of this disease, primarily because soybeans have shown an ability to increase insulin receptors in the body, thereby helping to manage the disease effectively or prevent it from occurring in the first place. Early studies focusing on this specific relationship of soy products to a decrease in Type 2 diabetes are still in the early stages, but the early results are very promising, primarily in Asian populations.
Sleep Disorders: Soybeans help to regulate a number of aspects of the metabolism, which should be able to help in reducing sleep disorders and the occurrence of insomnia. However, soybeans also have a high content of magnesium, which is a mineral that is directly linked to increasing the quality, duration, and restfulness of your sleep.
A Few Words of Caution: Although there are a wide range of beneficial aspects to consuming soybeans and related soy products, there are also some potentially negative health effects of consuming soybeans as a part of your diet. For example:
Estrogen Levels: Since there are estrogen-mimicking compounds in soybeans, men can occasionally develop a hormonal imbalance if they consume high amounts of soybeans or soy milk, for example. In men, this can lead to infertility, sexual dysfunction, lower sperm count, and even an increase in the chances of certain cancers. Additional research is ongoing in this area.
Goiters: There are certain anti-thyrodi compounds contained in soy that can disrupt the activity of the thyroid gland and result in goiters, as well as an interruption of normal hormonal activity in the body.
Besides these effects, which are seen in a relatively small portion of the population, soy is a healthy and beneficial choice for millions of people around the world. Give it a try!
Could you be pregnant? Some early pregnancy symptoms may show up about the time you’ve missed a period – or a week or two later. In fact, 7 out of 10 women have early pregnancy symptoms by the time they’re six weeks along.
If you’re not keeping track of your menstrual cycle or if it varies widely from one month to the next, you may not be sure when to expect your period. But if you start to experience some of the early pregnancy symptoms below – not all women get them – and you’re wondering why you haven’t gotten your period, you may very well be pregnant. Take a home pregnancy test to find out for sure! If you are pregnant, visit our Newly Pregnant area for a quick overview of what’s in store.
If you’re newly pregnant, it’s not uncommon to feel repelled by the smell of a bologna sandwich or a cup of coffee, and for certain aromas to trigger your gag reflex. Though no one knows for sure, this may be a side effect of rapidly increasing amounts of estrogen in your system. You may also find that certain foods you used to enjoy are suddenly completely repulsive to you.
It’s common to have mood swings during pregnancy, partly because of hormonal changes that affect neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain). Everyone responds differently to these changes. Some moms-to-be experience heightened emotions, both good and bad; others feel more depressed or anxious.
Note: If you’ve been feeling sad or hopeless or unable to cope with your daily responsibilities, or you’re having thoughts of harming yourself, call your healthcare provider or a mental health professional right away.
Hormonal changes in early pregnancy may leave you feeling bloated, similar to the feeling some women have just before their period. That’s why your clothes may feel more snug than usual at the waistline, even early on when your uterus is still quite small.
Shortly after you become pregnant, hormonal changes prompt a chain of events that raise the rate of blood flow through your kidneys. This causes your bladder to fill more quickly, so you need to pee more often. This symptom may start as early as six weeks into your first trimester.
Frequent urination will continue – or intensify – as your pregnancy progresses. Your blood volume rises dramatically during pregnancy, which leads to extra fluid being processed and ending up in your bladder. The problem is compounded as your growing baby exerts more pressure on your bladder.
Feeling tired all of a sudden? No, make that exhausted. No one knows for sure what causes early pregnancy fatigue, but it’s possible that rapidly increasing levels of the hormone progesterone are contributing to your sleepiness. Of course, morning sickness and having to urinate frequently during the night can add to your sluggishness, too.
You should start to feel more energetic once you hit your second trimester, although fatigue usually returns late in pregnancy when you’re carrying around a lot more weight and some of the common discomforts of pregnancy make it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
One common pregnancy symptom is sensitive, swollen breasts caused by rising levels of hormones. The soreness and swelling may feel like an exaggerated version of how your breasts feel before your period. Your discomfort should diminish significantly after the first trimester, as your body adjusts to the hormonal changes.
Light bleeding or spotting
It seems counterintuitive: If you’re trying to get pregnant, the last thing you want to see is any spotting or vaginal bleeding. But if you notice just light spotting around the time your period is due, it could be implantation bleeding. No one knows for sure why it happens, but it might be caused by the fertilized egg settling into the lining of your uterus.
Note: About 1 in 4 women experience spotting or light bleeding during the first trimester. It’s often nothing, but sometimes it’s a sign of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. If your bleeding is severe or accompanied by pain or lightheadedness, or if you’re at all concerned, call your doctor or midwife.
For some women, morning sickness doesn’t hit until about a month or two after conception, though for others it may start as early as two weeks. And not just in the morning, either: Pregnancy-related nausea (with or without vomiting) can be a problem morning, noon, or night.
Most pregnant women with nausea feel complete relief by the beginning of the second trimester. For most others it takes another month or so for the queasiness to ease up. A lucky few escape it altogether.
A missed period
If you’re usually pretty regular and your period doesn’t arrive on time, you may decide to do a pregnancy test before you notice any of the above symptoms. But if you’re not regular or you’re not keeping track of your cycle, nausea and breast tenderness and extra trips to the bathroom may signal pregnancy before you realize you didn’t get your period.
High basal body temperature
If you’ve been charting your basal body temperature and you see that your temperature has stayed elevated for 18 days in a row, you’re probably pregnant.
And finally …
The proof: A positive home pregnancy test
In spite of what you might read on the box, many home pregnancy tests are not sensitive enough to reliably detect pregnancy until about a week after a missed period. So if you decide to take a test earlier than that and get a negative result, try again in a few days. Remember that a baby starts to develop before you can tell you’re pregnant, so take care of your health while you’re waiting to find out, and watch for more early pregnancy symptoms.
Once you’ve gotten a positive result, make an appointment with your practitioner. Now head over to our pregnancy area and check out amazing pictures of how your baby develops during your pregnancy week by week. Also, don’t forget to update your profile and sign up for our My Baby This Week newsletter. Congratulations!