Blog - Pregnancy

What to pack in your hospital bag

January 5, 2015

Hospital BagWhen I had my first baby I was the most informed woman on earth!  I read scores of blogs about hospital bag must-haves for myself, hubby and baby.  I was ready for the big day, and I was counting down the two months remaining so that I could finally use all the stuff I packed in my hospital bag!  In the end, I ended up leaving most of the bags untouched.  Yes, I said BAGS.   Looking back, I packed like I was going on vacation for 2 weeks, not staying in a hospital for 3 days.

Now that I’m getting ready to deliver baby #2, I’m wiser, smarter and more relaxed.  Did I pack two months in advance?  Yes, because you never know when you will go into labor, but the bag is filled with what matters.  Remember, the only package you should worry about bringing home is the little bundle of joy – not the scores of luggage.

Hospital Bag Essentials – For You & Baby

  1. Pretty Pusher Gown. If you can purchase this – do it!  Hospital gowns tend to make most women feel vulnerable and dumpy, but this gown makes you feel powerful and secure.  When you are able to wear what you want during labor it adds comfort during the labor process.
  2. Depends for Women Underwear. Yes, the old lady panties – but let me tell you why. The hospital gives you these huge net boy shorts and extra super long pads, but after awhile they begin to stretch and cause leaks.  Once I changed over to Depends – not another leak.
  3. Your own pillow.  Because your pillow is perfectly shaped to you it can help ease some of your discomfort.  You will be able to help relax and get better sleep.
  4. Familiar PJ’s & Nursing Bra.  Be sure to include a soft, stretchy nursing bra (Bravado’s The Original Nursing Bra) and PJ’s.  After baby arrives, you will be sitting in bed – walking around – talking to visitors – and bonding with baby.  The last thing you want to put on is a loose, scratchy hospital gown.
  5. Your favorite Maternity outfit. Maybe you haven’t heard yet, but most of us still look about 6 months pregnant the day we go home from the hospital. Bring your best flattering maternity outfit.  Remember, you will have beautiful pictures of you leaving the hospital.
  6. Travel size toiletries. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and your favorite lotion for new mom skin (Mama Mio).
  7. Slipper Socks. Hospitals are cold and so are their floors. Keep your feet warm whether you are walking your rounds or recovering in bed.
  8. For Baby – A going home outfit. That’s about it. I’m serious! With my first baby I had a whole diaper bag packed to the gills with everything I could think of, and I didn’t touch any of it! The hospital provides baby with everything diapers, wipes, creams, hats, socks, blankets, mittens, pacifiers and the list goes on – plus they typically send you home with a bunch of it.

Written by:

Cheniese Ruhnke



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Is My Baby a Boy or a Girl?

November 7, 2014

Is it a boy or a girl?

Dr. Piegari photoWhen seeing patients in the office for their first prenatal visit, by far the most common question I get asked is “when can I find out what I am having?” With a good ultrasound machine and ultra-sonographer, the sex of the fetus can be determined usually around fourteen weeks with pretty good accuracy.

Did you know that there is an accurate, safe, rapid and noninvasive test that your provider can order as early as nine weeks that can not only tell you the sex of your baby, but can also detect chromosome abnormalities that are routinely tested for later in the pregnancy?

Currently there are four companies that now offer this test. By extracting fetal cell-free DNA form maternal blood, Trisomy 21 (Down’s syndrome), Trisomy 18 and Trisomy 13 can be detected with a very high sensitivity and specificity. Other chromosomal abnormalities and genetic disorders can be tested for as well and it’s growing by the day. Most important to some, the sex of the fetus can also be determined with nearly 100% accuracy.

This test does have its limitations, so I recommend that you talk to your healthcare provider about NIPT (Non Invasive Perinatal Testing) if you are interested.

Michael Piegari, M.D.

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Thank you to our Labor Doula

September 1, 2014

We arrived to Houston from overseas when we were 7 months pregnant of our first baby girl Ariana. We had from the beginning very clear the labor and delivery that we wanted, but we needed to find the right doctor and right doula to make it possible.thank you, labor doula
We were recommended to the Memorial Hermann Hospital and soon after we arrived to the city we began to look for the right OB/Gyn, whom we found very quickly. We asked her at the first appointment to recommend a doula and she recommended us the Motherhood Center.  We contact them right away and set up an appointment with Kate Jones. After meeting her for first time we decided to work with her, she was knowledgeable, understood from the beginning what we wanted and knew how the medical system worked here which was very important for us since we were coming from out of the country and never had a baby here in the US.
After that, she always followed up with us every time she knew there was an appointment, ultrasound, test, etc. share articles and borrow interesting books.
But all this help was nothing compared to the great help we received at early stage of labor which lasted almost four days. She came to our home walked us through all the stages, help us to manage the pain and until the waters broke. She went to the hospital with us and always try to make the medical doctor staff to fulfill the items listed in our birth plan.
We can say only good things about Kate. She cares and she is compassionate also she is someone we felt we could rely on and that we felt comfortable being around her during the time of labor and delivery.

We recommend Kate to anybody and thanks to her we have a precious and healthy baby girl.

Monica & Paul 

Motherhood Center Labor Doulas provide emotional and physical support to expecting families. For more info call: 713.963.8880
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I’m Healthy, Why Can’t I Get Pregnant?

May 29, 2014

Dear Docs,
I eat a healthy diet and work out every day of the week. Why can’t I get  pregnant?
Answer from Dr. Ginny Weathers:
The process of conception takes so much coordination that it is hard to believe it happens so often, but the human body is capable of many miraculous things. First you should understand that even with an optimally healthy woman, the average time to conception is 6 to 9 months of trying perfectly every month. Other things that factor in are a woman’s menstrual cycles- is yours regular every month? Are you in fact ovulating with each cycle? Ovulation kits at the drugstore are a great way to confirm this. Also timed intercourse around the ovulation period is crucial.

Exercise is always great for the human body but too much of anything can be a bad thing. Strenuous daily exercise could actually be taking a toll on your body and stressing your system out too much. When women areover exercising or if a woman is too thin, it can interfere with ovulation and menstrual cycles.

Now ask the next question- what is healthy eating? Growing up we were taught that many foods are healthy, when in fact a lot of women’s bodies don’t tolerate these “healthy” foods very well at all. Foods like grains, dairy, soy, and complex carbs can cause inflammation in some women, which leads to massive dysregulation of hormones and nutrition, which can then lead to infertility. Also, making sure you have normal levels of all your vital vitamins and enzymes that keep your hormones normal is very important. A daily prenatal vitamin, omega 3 fatty acids (DHA) and Vitamin D is crucial.

Last of all, don’t forget sleep! Everyone should strive for 7-8 hours of sleep a night to keep their body functioning at healthy levels. A recent article showed how lack of sleep could alter your body’s hormones, metabolism and many other important functions.

Don’t get discouraged. Just get informed! Houston has a lot of great resources for you! 

For more info on  Dr. Weathers and Women’s Specialty Healthcare click here!

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Labor or Postpartum Doula? What Is That?

March 26, 2014

Postpartum DoulaThe moments of pregnancy and birth are so special for the mother, baby and the entire family.  Everyone gets involved in the joy and excitement of expecting a new baby.  Unfortunately, it’s very easy in all of the excitement of waiting for the baby to come, to forget how much work it is and just how exhausting it can be those first few days after the baby is born!

In many cultures, women stay indoors and are expected to do nothing in the few weeks after having a baby, and they have plenty of helpers who come over and do their chores, take care of the other children and the house, and give the new mom a much needed rest.  However, in our culture, most people don’t have the time to drop everything and help the new mom!  Many new mothers are surprised, not only at how difficult it is to care for a baby directly after giving birth, but also at how their well-meaning loved ones don’t really know how to help them. Add to that the high expectations of modern-day mothers and it’s no wonder that so many new mothers are exhausted trying to keep up with it all and missing out on important moments with their baby.

A Houston postpartum or labor doula can help you with this.  After you have the baby, your labor doula will come to your home and take care of all of the little things while you relax and bond with your baby.  Your labor doula can be your baby nurse, your light duty housekeeper, and your breastfeeding support – offering all of the help that you need in those tender days after giving birth.  Because she isn’t there with a desire to see the baby, but rather to serve you, she’s the ideal baby nurse.  Unlike your family helpers, she’ll take the baby when he needs a diaper change and then let you hold him when he’s sleeping sweetly – most visitors will do the opposite…handing the baby back to you when he cries or needs a change!  This is why having a labor doula for postpartum support is the perfect option.  In addition, unlike most family helpers, a labor doula is trained and knowledgeable about the latest and best baby care techniques and she will leave you feeling empowered and well-prepared to care for your baby with the wisdom she shares.

A lack of social support has been linked to higher incidences of post-partum depression, which is not a good condition for the mother, baby or the entire family.  Invest in the health and happiness of your family by hiring a labor doula for your postpartum care.

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Preparing Your Body for Pregnancy

February 13, 2014

pregnancy, prenatal careOur post today is by guest blogger Dr. Ginny Weather, MD, who works with Women’s Specialty Healthcare. Dr. Weather’s interests include comprehensive obstetrics and gynecology, advanced gynecologic surgery and she is pursuing certification and proficiency for robotic surgery. In addition, she is focused on the special nutritional needs of adolescents, pre-natal and menopausal women as well as those with gluten sensitivities.

Preconceived Notions: Preparing Your Body for Pregnancy

So, you and your partner have finally decided: you are ready to have a baby! While the emotional and financial timing may be perfect, you also need to ask – is my body physically prepared for pregnancy?

Your OB/GYN has the answer. It is important to schedule an appointment as soon as you begin considering pregnancy especially if you are in your 30s or 40s. Your nutritional status, weight, chronic medical conditions and other lifestyle factors all influence your ability to conceive and carry a healthy child. Improving your health prior to conception helps ready your body for the challenges of pregnancy and optimizes fertility, fetal development and birth outcomes.

The first step is a healthy diet including nutrient dense fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. In addition, it is vital to take a prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid, iron and DHA at least 1 month prior to conception. The baby’s neural tube develops during the first month of pregnancy, often before you are aware you are pregnant. Taking folic acid before conception helps prevent spinal and brain defects. Iron helps deliver oxygen to your organs and the baby while DHA can improve fetal brain and eye development.

We also encourage Micronutrient Testing to detect low levels of specific micronutrients. New research shows a link between certain vitamin deficiencies and the development of serious health issues including learning disabilities. Women’s Specialty Healthcare is engaged in a study comparing nutritional deficiencies in mothers and the cord blood of infants and how it relates to birth outcomes.

A woman’s pre-baby weight is also an important consideration when talking about diet and potential complications of pregnancy. Excess weight and obesity are associated with gestational diabetes, high blood pressure during pregnancy, preeclampsia, fetal abnormalities and a risk of having a large baby resulting in fetal injuries during delivery. Gestational diabetes is associated with many of the above-mentioned complications, and gaining too much weight early in pregnancy can increase your chances of having this condition. Your doctor can help you with a diet and exercise plan to address weight issues before they become a risk for you and your baby during pregnancy.

A crucial part of your initial visit with the doctor should focus on your medical history. Chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, eating disorders and depression should be under control before conceiving and may require special care during pregnancy. Age also carries certain complications and risks that should be discussed with your doctor.

Your lifestyle before conception plays a significant role in the success of your pregnancy. Lifestyle factors that affect conception and pregnancy may include stress, sleep habits, exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption.

If you find yourself pregnant before achieving these health goals, don’t panic. As physicians, our purpose is not to scold or frighten you, but to educate you.  We enjoy being part of your journey to motherhood, guiding you through your pregnancy and delivering your sweet child into the world.

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Pregnancy Weight Gain & Chart

January 27, 2014

Pregnancy Weight GainPregnancy can bring a lot of different emotions and one of them, for many pregnant women,  is concern over their weight gain
and how much to gain. You WILL gain weight when you’re pregnant, and that gets frustrating sometimes, especially when you’ve spent a lot of your life watching your weight! You want to gain enough weight to have a healthy baby, but no so much that it endangers you or the baby, or makes it really hard to lose once the baby’s here.

Eating for two is what you need to do, in moderation. You don’t want to eat twice as much – the baby is not that big yet! You do want to eat healthful and nutritious foods because that will make you AND the baby healthier.

There’s no “one size fits all” approach to gaining weight during pregnancy. Everyone is different, and everyone begins at a different weight. Various factors have to be determined, like BMI, pre-pregnancy weight, and your health. Work with your doctor to make sure you are on the right track. In the meantime, here are some general guidelines*:

Pre-pregnancy weight Recommended weight gain
Underweight (BMI less than 18.5) 28 to 40 pounds (about 13 to 18 kilograms)
Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9) 25 to 35 pounds (about 11 to 16 kilograms)
Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9) 15 to 25 pounds (about 7 to 11 kilograms)
Obese (BMI 30 or more) 11 to 20 pounds (about 5 to 9 kilograms)

When you are carrying twins or multiple babies, some of these general recommendations will change.  Again, check with your doctor to make sure:

Pre-pregnancy weight Recommended weight gain
Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9) 37 to 54 pounds (about 17 to 25 kilograms)
Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9) 31 to 50 pounds (about 14 to 23 kilograms)
Obese (BMI 30 or more) 25 to 42 pounds (about 11 to 19 kilograms)

Being overweight before pregnancy increases the complications of health problems, both in you and your baby.  If you’re planning on becoming pregnant, please check with your doctor for a healthy weight loss program to get you down to your “fighting” weight!   If you’re already pregnant, work with your doctor to determine the best course of action for you.

If you’re underweight, there is a risk that you and your baby may not get the nutrition you need.  Check with your doctor to see if you need to eat more, or add supplements to your diet.


*These are just general guidelines. Motherhood Center is not a doctor. See your doctor for your tailored and customized weight gain information.

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5 Tips to Better Sleep During Pregnancy

December 9, 2013

By: Stephanie Duhon

I always knew I’d be sleep deprived once the baby arrived, as newborns require around the clock feeding and care, but I was surprised at how little sleep I was able to get during the pregnancy! And I’m not talking about the last couple of months where it’s hard to even move, much less get comfortable. I had trouble sleeping from the second month of pregnancy until my daughter was born! I was jealous of my mom-to-be friends who said they were sleeping great, including extra naps whenever they could. I could sympathize with others who were more like me, lucky to get 3 to 4 hour stretches at a time. Toward the end of the pregnancy, I would get so frustrated when a well-meaning person would remind me to get my sleep before the baby comes! But that’s the thing … I couldn’t!

It’s so important for expecting mamas to get their rest. Lucky for me, my friends at The Motherhood Center were full of good advice since they see moms and moms-to-be every day! They made great suggestions that helped me get a few extra hours of sleep here and there before the baby arrived. Here are five tips to help you sleep better during pregnancy.

pregnancy-wedge-pillow-41 – Prenatal Pillow Wedge: Support that bump with a pregnancy body pillow or wedge. These pillows are specially designed for use during pregnancy and not only make you feel more comfortable, but promote better spinal alignment and help you maintain a position of sleeping on your side, which is recommended, especially later in pregnancy, for optimal blood flow. You can find a prenatal pillow wedge in The Motherhood Center’s retail store.




2 – Light Exercise: Light exercise not only keeps a mom-to-be in shape, but it can relieve stress and release energy to help you sleep more quickly and deeply at night. Some moms are hesitant to head to the gym during pregnancy, but most doctors agree that for a healthy pregnancy, you can generally keep up a comparable workout to what you did before. Just be sure to modify it for your pregnancy and avoid any movements that affect your belly, such as crunches. If you are unsure of how to exercise safely during pregnancy, try a prenatal yoga class at Motherhood Center! Prenatal yoga offers a low-impact workout that improves flexibility and balance and helps relieve stress. Breathing exercises used in prenatal yoga also come in handy during labor! Since each pregnancy is different, you should always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program to make sure there are no special concerns.

3 – Prenatal Massage: A professional pregnancy massage reduces stress, encourages relaxation, increases circulation and soothes aches and pains commonly associated with pregnancy, all of which help you to sleep better too! Massage therapists at Motherhood Center are specifically trained in prenatal massage therapy.

No time for a full massage? Have your husband or significant other rub some Mama Mio tummy rub on your growing belly. Not only will it be relaxing, but it’ll give dad a chance for some bonding time with baby and help protect you against stretch marks!
4 – Get Comfy: Wear as much or as little as you need to be comfortable at night. Make sure nothing is tight fitting and offers plenty of room for your growing baby. Buy a sleep bra if you need extra support. Motherhood Center staff can help you find the right style and size for your needs.

5 – Embrace the Late Night Snack: Is your growing belly making your tummy rumble at night? You and the baby need the extra calories, so don’t worry about giving in to the occasional midnight snack. Just make sure to munch on something nutritious, such as a bowl of fruit, that won’t be too heavy and keep you awake.

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Holiday Gift Guide: Mommy-to-Be

November 29, 2013

Whether you’re looking for gift ideas for a friend who’s expecting, your expectant daughter or your pregnant wife, our top picks for the momma-to-be can make your shopping a snap. Everything on our list ensures the remainder of her pregnancy is as comfortable and enjoyable as possible!


miopregessentialkit8001. Mama Mio Pregnancy Essentials Collection

Mama Mio Pregnancy Essentials is the perfect gift for expectant moms this Christmas. Pregnancy is the biggest challenge a woman’s skin will ever face. These safe, award-winning products will protect against stretch marks and sagging so skin bounces back quicker after baby. Plus, they ease bloated legs and ankles.

Tummy Rub Butter is primarily designed for one thing: increasing skin elasticity through Omega 6, 3 and 9.

Boob Tube will moisturise and protect the delicate skin on your bust from cup size changes. With Omegas, antioxidants and Shea Butter, Boob Tube will be a mommy-t0-be’s new ‘bust’ friend.

Lucky Legs is safe to use throughout pregnancy, and all ingredients will  leave tired legs feeling feather-light, reducing discomfort and helping circulation.


belly_bandit_upsie_belly_2_12. Upsie Belly by Belly Bandit

Upsie Belly™ is an expecting mom’s dream! It provides immediate relief to pregnancy discomforts, making it easier to increase range of motion and daily activity. Featuring revolutionary SecureStretch™ materials that mold to the body with just the right amount of tension. This allows for strong support and a stable fit while the exclusive soft-front closure allows to free movement, without digging or discomfort. It also:

  • Minimizes stretch marks
  • Adds back and abdominal support
  • Helps relieve bladder discomfort
  • Increases circulation and blood flow
  • Eases sciatic, back and leg pain
  • Provides extra support to hips
  • Decreases varicose veins, hernias & hemorrhoids

Any expecting mama on your list will be extremely thankful for this thoughtful gift! Don’t worry about sizing–we can help you figure that out!


Woman massage3. Prenatal Massage 

This gift is sure to be any expecting mom’s favorite gift this year! Motherhood Center’s licensed prenatal massage therapists can help with swelling, lower back discomforts, as well as eliminating many of the toxins that commonly build up when pregnant. Prenatal massage also helps with body alignment and with loosening and realigning ligaments, and most importantly it provides time to relax and clear your mind throughout your pregnancy. Available for 1-hour or 90-minute massage. Call for gift certificates: 713-963-8880 or come by Motherhood Center, and we’ll help package it to make it a beautiful presentation for the expecting mom in your life!


Flexible pregnant woman.4. Prenatal Yoga Package

Motherhood Center offers the best prenatal yoga class for expecting moms in Houston. The relaxation-inducing practice has been shown to lower stress levels, fight depression, reduce inflammation, among other health benefits. And for mothers-to-be, a prenatal yoga practice can not only relieve stress but also contributes to a healthier pregnancy and prepare the body for labor. For expecting moms who enjoy being active or have mentioned interest in yoga, this is the perfect gift. MHC Yoga offers 3 different packages:

  • 5 Class Pack
  • 10 Class Pack
  • 20 Class Pack

Click here to purchase packages: Motherhood Center Yoga

Make the gift extra special: Add yoga accessories to go with her yoga package! Motherhood Center has a great line of brightly colored yoga mats and Lululemon yoga wear perfect for the stylish mommy-to-be! Let our team help you put together the perfect yoga holiday gift set!



pregnancy-wedge-pillow-45. Pregnancy Support Pillow

This is the pillow used by our massage therapists during prenatal massage sessions. It’s loved so much by our expecting clients that most have purchased their own. The wedge pillow is used to support the belly while in the side-lying position,  relieving back and abdominal stress and fatigue. The Support Pillow is made from a soft supportive foam with an eggcrate foam top to aid circulation while adding comfort for a restful night’s sleep. Our moms prefer this over other pregnancy support pillows! Bonus: It can also be used after baby’s arrival, for extra support and comfort for mom and baby while nursing.




6. Maternity Photography Shoot

If you are looking for a unique and thoughtful gift for the mother-to-be in your life, then a maternity shoot is the perfect gift. This is a gift that will truly be cherished for life. Maternity sessions at the Motherhood Center are completely reflective of the expecting mother. While some women choose a more conservative look, others desire more intimate photos. MHC Photography will provide a completely personalized experience for her. Whether she would like her photos taken at the Motherhood Center studio or in the privacy of her own home, this gift will be all about her. You just p urchase the package!

For more information: Motherhood Center Photography or call 713-963-8880 x 108 on gifting options.




Avoid the holiday hustle and bustle of busy, overcrowded shopping malls. At Motherhood Center, you’re always given the care and attentive help from our expert staff! Let us help you make your loved one’s holidays extra special!

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Managing Stress During Pregnancy

November 13, 2013

PregnancyPHFY_WEBWhile everyday pressure is a part of modern life, a high level of chronic stress can boost your odds of preterm labor or of delivering a low-birth weight baby. If you’re used to caring for others or giving 110 percent at work, making yourself a priority may seem unnatural or even selfish. But taking care of yourself is an essential part of taking care of your baby. Cutting down on stress — or learning how to manage it — makes for a healthier pregnancy.

How can I calm down?

Here are a few ways to manage your stress and reduce anxiety at work and at home:

  • Practice saying “no.” Now’s as good a time as any to get rid of the notion that you can do it all. You can’t, so learn to let your superwoman ideals go. Make slowing down a priority, and get used to the idea of asking your friends and loved ones for help.
  • Cut back on chores — and use that time to put your feet up, nap, or read a book.
  • Take advantage of sick days or vacation whenever possible. Spending a day — or even an afternoon — resting at home will help you get through a tough week.
  • Try deep-breathing exercises, yoga, or stretching.
  • Get regular exercise such as swimming or walking.
  • Do your best to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet so you have the physical and emotional energy you need.
  • Go to bed early. Your body is working overtime to nourish your growing baby and needs all the sleep it can get.
  • Limit “information overload.” Reading pregnancy books, surfing pregnancy Web sites, and listening to your friends’ pregnancy stories are fine — but don’t delve into all the scary things that might (but probably won’t) happen during your pregnancy. Focus instead on how you’re feeling and what’s happening to you now.
  • Join a support group. If you’re coping with a difficult situation, spending time with others in the same boat can ease your burden.
  • If you’re under unusual stress or feel like you’re at your breaking point, ask your healthcare provider to refer you to a therapist, who can better assess how strong your anxiety has become and what you may need to do to feel better. Listen openly to what she has to say. Getting help during pregnancy will protect you and your baby from unnecessary risks and reduce your chances of postpartum anxiety and depression.


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