Tag Archives: pregnancy

What to Pack for the Hospital - SmartMom

What to Pack for the Hospital

Photo by Eden Frangipane

One of the first things that you’ll learn as a mom is that you need to be prepared for everything. Along with planning your baby registry, organizing and stocking your nursery and baby proofing your home, one more thing you need to prepare if you plan on a hospital or birth center birth is thinking through what to pack for the hospital.

To stay ultra-organized, have your bag packed before you hit full-term, which for most moms is 37 weeks. Before you stock up on nursing pads and newborn diapers, ask your hospital or birth center what supplies they provide — you might be able to save a few dollars!

Hospital Bag Must-Haves

Paperwork: Most hospitals and birth centers require you to have all of your insurance information and hospital forms filed prior to your delivery. Some will offer you the opportunity to preregister, while others will give you the forms to fill out at home. The last thing you’ll want to do when your water breaks is fill out your medical history!

Comfortable Clothing: Even though you’ll likely be issued an ever-so-stylish hospital gown, some moms prefer to labor in their own t-shirt or nightclothes. You’ll also want to have a warm robe or sweater on hand, as well as two or three pairs of warm, non-skid socks in case you need to walk the halls during labor.

A supportive maternity bra and nursing pads. If you plan to breastfeed, come prepared. Though many hospitals and birth centers have lactation consultants who will help you navigate those early days of nursing, it’s better you come equipped with the proper gear than have to send your partner on a last-minute store run.

Toiletries and personal items. Though your hospital stay might feel a bit like a weekend getaway, your bathroom won’t be equipped with hotel-sized shampoos and lotions. Pack your lip balm, hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, face wash, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, contact lens case and solution. You might not care what you look like during labor, but afterwards, you’ll want to feel human again!

Headband or ponytail holder. If you have longer hair, you’ll want to bring something to keep it away from your face. Avoid clips or anything metal, as you won’t want any additional pain or distraction with a baby on the way.

Cell phone and charger. Hospitals aren’t known for having the best cell phone service, so be sure to bring your charger. You might want your smart phone to time your contractions — and to send your baby’s first photos to friends and family after the birth.

Camera, battery or charger. Even in the midst of your post-birth bliss, you’ll want a few snapshots of the special moment. If your partner is your labor coach, delegate the photographic responsibilities to a nurse.

Clothes and basic hygiene products for your partner. Even though the focus will be on mom and baby today, dad might want to take a shower and freshen up for the onslaught of visitors who want to meet your newest addition.

Clothes for your baby. Bring a few outfits for your baby, even though they’ll probably be fine in a diaper for the first 24-36 hours. Bring at least one “going home outfit” and then one or two more changes of clothes. If you’re planning on using cloth diapers, bring those along too, as most hospitals will provide disposables.

Hospital Bag Nice-to-Haves

Extra pillow. Hospital bedding isn’t the most luxurious, so if you’re in for a multi-night stay, you might want a few comforts of home. Outfit your pillow with a case that you don’t mind ruining or leaving behind.

Comfortable going-home clothes. Contrary to what you read about celebrities amazing post-baby bodies, it can take some time to get back into svelte shape. Bring maternity clothes to wear home, in six to nine month maternity size. Even if they’re too big, you’ll want to feel comfortable.

Birth tools or supplies. If you’re planning a natural childbirth, bring along anything that will help you focus, like a labor playlist loaded onto your iPod or an exercise ball for bouncing. Your labor room may be equipped with these, but if they’re essential to your birth plan, better that you come prepared.

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baby proof your home

How to Baby Proof Your Home

Photo by Jamie Jones

When your little bundle of joy becomes a baby on-the-go, you’ll sleep better knowing that your home is baby-proofed.  Most parents wait until their children start to crawl before baby-proofing the home, but to avoid a last-minute panic, you can begin the baby-proofing process  before your baby even arrives.

Whether you’re a first time parent or a veteran looking for a few more savvy tips, here’s everything you need to know about how to baby proof your home.

Straighten up with the “Toilet Paper Rule.” 

Once your baby can crawl, she’ll want to put everything in her mouth. Before your baby arrives, make sure that everything small enough to fit in a toilet paper roll is placed securely out of reach. Who has time to clean once the baby arrives anyway?

Cover Outlets and Install Latches.

Once your baby is here and you become consumed with late-night feeding schedules, it’s going to be harder to remember some of the most minute details. Simple outlet covers are available at your local hardware store or you can reduce clutter with a version equipped with cord shortener. You can also place child-guard latches on every drawer and cabinet that your little one can reach. It might be an annoyance at first, but you’ll be glad this is taken care of once they’re crawling or even taking first steps.

Place Potential Dangerous Items Out of Reach

You’re already nesting, so in between cleaning the house and stocking your the freezer, take a moment to assess what items could pose potential danger for a crawling infant. Place your cleaning agents, medicines, hand sanitizer, vitamins, toiletries and other potentially toxic items out of reach, such as on a high shelf or tall cabinet. Remove any houseplants that could contain potential toxins (such as philodendron) and move them out of reach.

Secure Unstable Furniture

Sometimes, the most fashionable and modern furniture for homes can be the most unstable and dangerous for babies. Attach corner and edge guards to any sharp corners, such as on your coffee table or bookshelves. If you have tall shelving units or chests of drawers that could topple over, anchor them to the walls. Anchor your flat-screen TVs or heavy lamps to sturdy furniture with safety straps so that they don’t fall over and keep additional heavy items as far from the edge as possible.

Check Loose Cords or Drapes

If your child can reach any cords or drapes in your home, replace or shorten them to avoid strangulation. If you can’t replace them, tie them so that they begin at a higher length and avoid placing your baby’s crib or play space nearby.

Are you baby proofing while pregnant? Here are a few helpful ways to prepare for a newborn from your mom friends at SmartMom.


My daughter has recently started crawling. Does anybody know how we can baby proof our fireplace? It’s brick and I’m nervous about the corners.

Any advice on baby proofing your house?

Tips on baby proofing the house what is most beneficial?


What are some ways that you moms have baby proofed your houses?

I have not baby proofed my house yet. We moved to our house in November and may be moving into a different house again. (My husband is military). What are the basic necessities I will need? No stairs in this house currently, but our next one will. My son is turning 6 months on tues.

I have a wine rack built into the end of our cupboards. Our baby is now very mobile, I’m trying really hard to just teach him no instead of baby proofing, but I was hoping somebody might have some great ideas as to how to baby proof the wine to stay in the rack so he can’t pull it out.

Any baby proofing tips/tricks? I have twin boys who are about to start walking. Also, we live in a townhouse and the bottom level has concrete floors. I’ve already purchased a couple baby gates

I was so excited when Eli became mobile….then this happened. Guess I need to do some more baby proofing!

My 8 1/2 month old boy is crawling full time and pulling himself up. What are some things I need to watch out for that I may have missed. And what are some suggestions on baby proofing the house?


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7 Things New Moms Do to get back into Shape - SmartMom

7 Simple Things New Moms do to Get Back into Shape

Hey, mama!  Looking to shape up this New Year? As long as you have your doctor’s blessing to start exercising again, these are the 7 simple things you can do to get back into shape.  Ready?

1) Take the Stairs (Again, and Again)

If your home has stairs, a few runs up and down (think 3-4 at a time) can get your heart pumping and boost your daily fitness (and steps!).

2) Incorporate Baby

Forget lifting weights. Your baby can make exercises even more effective. Try holding your wee one while doing squats. For older babies with neck control, try laying on your back and lifting baby (like you would weights). They’ll love the fun game and your arms will get a great workout.

3) Mommy and Me!

Check your local fitness centers and yoga studios (as well as pools!) for mommy and me options. You and baby can have fun while also diving back into light workouts.

4) Park Farther

The further you park from the entrance, the more steps you will take getting there. That makes hitting the 10k steps a day goal easier. And, for toddlers, it can be super fun if you sprint with them in the carriage to and from the door. Those giggles are worth every step.

5) Turn up the Tunes

Have music, will move, right? Turn up the tunes and dance your way through house cleaning. Who knows, your little one might even bop around with you. Faster music is your best bet, since you’ll probably raise your heart rate while dancing to it.

6) Nap Time Videos

There are tons of 10 minute exercise videos out there – select one on Netflix or pick one up at Target. Then, when baby settles for her nap, pop it in for a quick spurt of exercise. You could even do a few 10 minute workouts back to back!

7) Stroller Time

If it’s warm enough where you are, get out your stroller and head to a nearby park for a long walk. Be sure to keep up a good pace, and – for older kids – bring snacks and a drink. In cold areas, head to the mall for some indoor walking. Some even malls even open their doors early for exercisers to get moving.


Wand some help with this goal? Check out our post about looking good in 2014


Anybody feel too self-conscious to go to the gym by yourself?

Any pumping or nursing moms that have successfully lost weight with diet and exercise?

I’m a SAHM and it’s so hard for me to find time to exercise

Workout ideas for the summer for a busy mom?

I have a 6 month old and a husband that works a lot, how can I get in shape?

I had a c-section 6 weeks ago and want to get pregnant again. Should I get back in shape before trying?

I’ve lost 30 pounds in 9 months but still have more to go. Any tips?

How do you moms get in shape while balancing childcare and full time work?

I’m ready to get back in shape. Any suggestions how to do it?

I need to get in shape but I don’t have the energy.

Get more great advice and meet other moms. Download the SmartMom app today.

jamie's birth story

Jamie’s Birth Story

Whenever I talk to people about labor and birth photography (or birth stories, as they are more commonly called) I get one of two reactions. Either people love the idea, or they are completely mortified by it.  In my experience, I have found that those who are repulsed by the idea of a birth story are those who haven’t actually seen one.  So today, I’d like to share mine with you.

Bringing a baby into this world is HARD, and I’m not just talking about labor and delivery. I’m talking about the 9 months of eating nothing but dry cereal and vanilla ice cream because it’s all that sounds good to you, and then throwing it up 20 minutes later. I’m talking about the extra pounds and inches which, I’m sorry to say, get harder and harder to work off after each pregnancy. I’m talking about the aching bones, the creaking hips, the sleepless nights, and the I’m-so-tired-I-can’t-remember-my-last-name moments that every pregnant woman battles at one point or another.

Oh yes, having a baby is hard work. However, it’s also one of the most exhilarating, and rewarding mountains you will ever climb, and when you reach the summit, you will realize you are a different person than you were when you started your journey. It is a monumental accomplishment that should be celebrated and remembered.

My son’s journey into our family was a difficult one. I had lost three babies in a row prior to getting pregnant with him, two of which were 16 weeks along when they passed away. I had a very difficult pregnancy, which ended with me on bed rest at 36 weeks due to a separated pelvis. Life had been hard for a while. One thing I learned over and over again is that you can’t always count on tomorrow. You never know how much time you have with the ones you love. One of my biggest regrets is that I don’t have any pictures of myself during my prior pregnancies. I kept saying, “Oh, I don’t feel well”, or “I look terrible right now… I’ll do it tomorrow.” Those babies left an imprint on my heart that will last forever, but there’s no physical evidence that they were here, or that they were a part of me.

That was one of the reasons I began thinking about doing a Birth Story.

At first, most people thought I was crazy. They couldn’t seem to wrap their minds around why I would want a stranger shooting graphic, text book shots of my baby crowning. (Which FYI, is NOT what a Birth Story is!)  They told me all about their labor and delivery stories, and how they did everything possible to avoid the unforgiving lens of the camera.  After all, puffy and swollen isn’t a great look for anyone! They didn’t understand how I could actually WANT, and PAY FOR pictures of myself, looking like I had been hit by a bus.  Thankfully, my husband understands me and my compulsive need to document everything in my life, so we went ahead and booked a photographer.  It was one of the best decisions we have ever made.

Birth Stories

Cascio Photography

Birth Stories

Cascio Photography

Birth Stories

Cascio Photography

Birth Stories

Cascio Photography

You can view the rest of the photos from that day here

I love these pictures.  They are absolutely priceless. Every time I look at them, the memory of that beautiful day flows through me as if I’m experiencing it all over again. I’ll never forget looking through them with my husband for the first time.  He turned and looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “this was worth every penny.”

So what do you think? Have you ever done a Birth Story? If not, would you do one in the future?


Q: I don’t like pictures of myself on a normal day, why would I want pictures of me puffy, vulnerable, and exhausted?

A: I’ll admit labor isn’t beautiful in the typical definition of the word. However, I think it is the epitome of beauty in it’s truest form. Sacrificing of yourself to give life to another human being is a miraculous and powerful experience. A good photographer will know what angles to shoot from, and how to capture the moments that will make you feel beautiful, powerful, and strong, both inside and out.

Q: What about the doctors and nurses? Aren’t there hospital rules about who can be in the room with you? 

A: Always check with your doctor first before hiring a professional photographer. My doctor didn’t mind at all, and the nurses at the hospital were great to work with.

Q: Having a baby is such an intimate experience… didn’t it feel awkward to have a stranger in the room with you?

A:  I don’t know if I’m the best person to ask about this because I actually knew my photographer pretty well, so it wasn’t awkward at all. When I was first admitted into the hospital things were light and fun. The excitement in the air was tangible. We laughed and chatted with our photographer during those first few hours, but as things got harder, I noticed her less and less. There was a palpable change in the energy of the room as I tuned out my surroundings and turned inward, finding my inner strength. For a while the world became very still, and my photographer respected that. For the majority of my labor she was a fly on the wall, quietly clicking away. And my nurse was sweet to make sure that my husband and I got enough alone time, which was important to me.

Q: I have seen some shots I really love. How to I make sure my photographer will meet my expectations?

A: Don’t be afraid to speak up! When you book your session, tell your photographer if there are any details or shots that are important to you. Which moments do you want to capture? A little communication goes a long way!

Q: Birth Stories seem to be kind of pricey. Why is that? 

A: I think Birth Stories, just like any other kind of photo session, vary greatly in price depending on who you hire. Just remember that you get what you pay for. Labor, as you are well aware, is unpredictable. Your photographer has to be ready to go at any moment, and will spend an average of 12 hours with you. Keep in mind, a good photographer is going to document so much more than just the actual delivery. They’ll capture the little details that you are going to be too busy to even notice. For example- one of my favorite shots from my session is of my husband and his mom, wrapped tightly in each other’s arms, with tears of joy in their eyes as they watched me hold my baby boy for the first time. It is absolutely beautiful, and yet I didn’t actually see it happen… I was a little preoccupied. I am so grateful my photographer captured that moment for me.

Most photographers will also include post-birth pictures, such as family and friends holding the baby, or older siblings meeting the baby for the first time. Those shots are priceless! My baby was born during cold and flu season, and the hospital wasn’t letting any siblings visit, but my photographer knew how important it was to capture my girls interacting with their new little brother, so she offered to come to my house when we were released from the hospital and took family pictures of us there. She was amazing!

Now, that being said, I understand that hiring a professional photographer may not be a possibility for everyone. In that case, you can have a friend or family member snap a few pictures for you. After all, any picture is better than no picture at all.

Q: So now that I have all these great pictures, what should I do with them? How much is too much to share?

A: Here’s the thing ladies, we live in a world where the word “Selfie” actually exists in day-to-day conversation. We are living in a time where people love to document and publicly share everything that goes on in their lives, from what they had for dinner, to their dog’s new hair cut. I get it- it’s cool! But when it comes to your Birth Story, think long and hard about how much you really want to share. Even though my pictures are all rated PG, they are still very personal. A good picture can stir emotion in others, and make them feel as if they were there! But you’d hate to have people feel like they were there against their will. As beautiful as it is, not everyone wants to be there. Nor should they be.

Obviously, I’m not a shy person.  After all, I’m sharing these pictures with you, a total stranger. But I didn’t post these pictures on Facebook or Instagram. I just didn’t want them popping up unexpectedly on my friends’ newsfeeds. That being said, I have loved ones spread across the globe, and I wanted to share this experience with them. So I uploaded the pictures onto my personal blog, and then posted a link to my blog on Facebook so that people could choose whether or not they wanted to see them.

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Celebrity Moms Maternity Fashion

Celebrity Moms’ Maternity Fashion We Adore

There is no need to sacrifice style during pregnancy.  Gone are the days of hiding behind stretchy waistbands and oversized muumuus that match your living room upholstery. Pregnancy-friendly styles, smart fabrics, and affordable maternity brands have made way for huge trends in the world of maternity fashion.

Comfortable and versatile, these styles are designed to highlight and accent your belly- not make it disappear. With the help of these celebrity trend-setters, you can dress your baby bump in the latest fashions.

Gisele Bündchen

Gisele Bündchen via lilsugar.com

Gisele sports nautical stripes in an oversized cotton tunic for a laid back look.  Look for cotton tunics with cinched sides to accentuate long legs.

Ellen Pompeo

Ellen Pompeo via lilsugar.com

Ellen Pompeo shows how versatile a simple linen button up can be in this breezy look.


January Jones via lilsugar.com

A maxi dress is perhaps the most popular maternity fashion.  Add a high-waisted belt for a more put-together look.

Jenna Dewan does lunch for two at Urth Cafe

Jenna Dewan via lilsugar.com

Here’s another maxi-dress look.  Don’t worry about buttoning up your jean jacket – cuff the sleeves and leave it un-bottomed for a more casual look.

Kristen Bell

Kristen Bell via lilsugar.com

A tunic or shirt dress with tights and heeled boots – this look can work even in very cold weather!  Heeled boots give you more ankle stability than regular heels, and still add a feminine touch.  Add a statement necklace for an extra pop of color.

reece witherspoon shirtdress

Reece Witherspoon via lilsugar.com

A shirt dress works well in the summer, too.  The draping effect is very flattering, especially when worn in the right fabric.

Sienna-Miller (1)

Sienna Miller via lilsugar.com

This is a great winter look, as well as a great reminder than you can wear many of your pre-maternity pieces even farther along in your pregnancy.  This wool coat ties Sienna’s whole look together without needing to be buttoned up.

Jessica Simpson and BFF Cacee Cobb Shop Up A Storm

Jessica Simpson via Celebrity Baby Scoop

Black is very slimming and a great classic for maternity-wear.  Worn with heels and a draping scarf, Jessica achieves a very elongated, sophisticated look.

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What I Didn't Expect

What I Didn’t Expect: An Interview with Mae

Last week, I sat down and spoke with my friend Mae, who is pregnant with her first child.  She had a really difficult first trimester, and has also been working as nanny throughout her entire pregnancy.

“I had some pretty severe side effects in the first trimester.  I was nauseous from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed.  I tried everything short of prescription drugs- nothing helped.  I got so sick of ginger because I kept thinking it might cure my nausea.  Now ginger makes me sick.  I was basically out of commission for 10 weeks.  I’d throw up about 3 times a day.  I couldn’t keep anything down.

During the first 10 weeks, even talking about food made me sick.  If (my husband) started discussing plans with friends, and what restaurant to go to – I had to ask him to stop.  Even thinking about where to eat was more than I could handle.

But I still had to work.  I’m working as a nanny right now.  Being a nanny during my first pregnancy – now that’s been an experience.  It was hard because I couldn’t turn it off. There were always kids I had to entertain.  I never felt good, and because they weren’t my kids I couldn’t just turn on the TV.  I had to be there for them, give them what they need.

There was this one moment in my 6th week of pregnancy when the 5 year old was crying in the living room because his toy broke, the 3 year old had thrown his body on the kitchen floor and was screaming that he wanted candy, and I was kneeling on the bathroom floor puking.  That was terrible.  In that moment I was just wishing there was a way I could be put under for the next 2 months.

It was really tough.  I felt like I was on my third child but it was my first.  I had to do what my boss expected of me, and I didn’t tell her for a while.  I didn’t ask for any time off because I hadn’t told her I was pregnant.

I didn’t want to tell her until I was in my 2nd trimester.  I’ve had a few friends who miscarry early on and I didn’t want to have the risk of coming into work and telling my boss I wasn’t pregnant anymore.  The risk drops significantly in the 2nd trimester so I wanted to wait until then.

I thought being pregnant would just be fun and cool.  I thought growing a little life inside me would be a magical experience.  And that is happening, but it isn’t nearly as magical as I expected.

It’s much harder than I thought; I didn’t expect to be so sick and so tired.  Also, you don’t look cute at the beginning.  You get wide everywhere before you start growing out and showing.  I ended up hating all foods.  Actually, I still don’t love food. Food has not been something I’ve enjoyed during pregnancy.

It was also tough being with my husband.  Being sick was tough on our marriage.  But I think looking back, it has brought us closer together.

Before I got pregnant I wanted it so badly.  I would say, ‘Oh, I cannot wait to have a baby.’  And now I’m excited but more nervous.  I keep asking myself: Am I ready?  Is this going to be good?  Will I have to give up things that I want?

I’m definitely more selfish with my time now.  There are a few things I was wanting to do before the baby comes.  One thing was to take a short “baby-moon” – that was great. We went up to Madison, WI for the weekend.  It was great to have time to celebrate being pregnant before having the baby and just enjoy each other.

Another thing I’m trying to do is be a little more intentional about my health.  To be working out, figuring out meal planning, get used to waking up early, etc.  I want to prioritize those things now so that the systems are in place when the baby comes.

One thing I did not know would happen during pregnancy is that your nipples grow and crack and get itchy.  This is probably the most annoying thing because you’re constantly itching your boobs.  I would recommend this really good nipple cream by LUSH – it’s called “Lovely Jubblies“.

Also, I had a hard time with the regular prenatal vitamins because they were so large and difficult to swallow, and I was already feeling nauseous all the time.  But I discovered that they have prenatal vitamins in gummy form, so I switched over to those, and they’re really great.  

I’m feeling much better now!  I still don’t really enjoy food.  But I don’t feel nauseous all day like I did before.  I still can’t eat meat by itself. Like, the idea of a piece of steak or a burger patty, makes me feel sick.  But I feel so much better than during the first trimester.  In fact, I almost forget how bad it was, until I start thinking about again, and then I’m just glad it’s over.”

Mae is a nanny for two little boys on the West side of Chicago, and is currently growing a little girl inside of her 🙂  She is due in February and is getting excited for a massive baby shower with all of her friends and family.  

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