Amy Marturana Winderl C.P.T.

How Often Do You Really Need to Wash Your Comforter?

How Often Do You Really Need to Wash Your Comforter?

If your pets sleep in your bed with you, there’s a higher chance you’ll end up with outside invaders in your bed. “Dogs bringing in ticks [which then attach] to owners is a very real and not uncommon situation,” Dr. Russo says. “Likewise, cats go outside and may hunt and kill other animals with potentially dangerous infections, like tularemia, and can infect owners.” Allergens—particularly dust mites—are the biggest cause for concern.While bacteria and sweat aren’t likely to build up enough to make you sick, dust mites sure can. Obviously, not everyone is allergic to dust mites, but if you are, it’s more important to regularly clean your sheets and comforter.“The most common types of allergens found in mattress and pillows and comforters and blankets are dust mites,” Denisa E. Ferastraoaru, MD, assistant professor of medicine in allergy and immunology and attending physician at Einstein/Montefiore and Jacobi Medical Centers, tells SELF. “Dust mites are small, little creatures. They live wherever we live because they feed on our skin flakes.” And they’re most commonly found in the bedroom, she adds.It’s sort of impossible to rid your bedroom of dust mites—everybody has them, no matter how clean you keep the house, says Dr. Ferastraoaru.Other allergens can linger on your comforter, too. If you sit on your bed in your outside clothes, you can transfer things like pollen, grass, and ragweed onto your comforter. And if your dog or cat is running around outside and then sleeping in your bed, they can drag in these seasonal allergens, too. This may cause problems for you, depending on how sensitive you are, Dr. Steele says.How often should you wash your comforter then? You should generally aim to wash your comforter once a week. There are some logistical challenges that make it difficult to wash a large, bulky comforter this often, which is typically what experts recommend to keep linens fresh and minimize allergens. Another option: Slip your comforter into an allergy-proof cover, and wash that once a week, Ryan Steele, DO, board-certified allergist-immunologist and assistant professor of clinical medicine at Yale School of Medicine, tells SELF. “Adding an allergy cover, which might also be called a dust mite cover, will add an extra layer of protection to lock in dust mites and reduce the number of allergens,” Dr. Steele says.These covers work by basically locking dust mites inside the comforter so that they can’t get out and be inhaled, Dr. Ferastraoaru explains. “The fabric is very tight and will not let dust mites and dust mite allergens through.” Even better: If you’re in the market for a new comforter, put an allergy cover on it before you use it the first time to prevent dust mites from getting inside in the first place, she says.Dr. Steele recommends washing your sheets and all covers, including pillow and comforter covers, once a week on the hottest setting possible to reduce the number of allergens. If you have seasonal allergies, use the dryer. “A lot of people like to get that fresh scent on linens by drying them on the outside clothesline. That may be great for the smell, but that is a giant pollen trap,” Dr. Steele says. “Using the dryer is going to help reduce the load of the allergens.”If your allergies are acting up despite regularly washing your sheets and comforter cover, you may need to kick your pet out of the bed, Dr. Steele says. It could be a difficult transition if you’re both used to cuddling all night, but you’ll ultimately sleep more soundly if you eliminate all potential sources of allergens. No matter who’s in bed with you, it’s worth it to keep things clean.Related:

How to Clean a Shower Curtain and Liner to Fight Mold

How to Clean a Shower Curtain and Liner to Fight Mold

When it comes time to clean your bathroom, it’s easy to just go ham on the hard surfaces with a bleach-based disinfectant and call it a day. But cleaning your shower curtain always feels like a separate, somehow more challenging task: It’s not hard and smooth. It’s made of fabric or plastic, or both. If you’re stumped about how to approach it to get it as clean as the rest of your bathroom, you’re not alone: I’m definitely guilty of just tossing a shower curtain or two because cleaning them felt like too much of a hassle. Turns out, it’s actually not that difficult! Here, a germ expert and a cleaning expert explain why and how to clean your shower curtain, the cherry on top of a sparkling-clean bathroom.Why is it so important to clean your shower curtain?A slimy shower curtain is generally not dangerous—just gross. “For people with normal immune systems, the shower curtain probably poses a relatively small threat,” Paul Pottinger, MD, professor of medicine and co-director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at the University of Washington Medical Center, tells SELF. Yes, even if it’s so dirty that there’s visible mold, Dr. Pottinger says it isn’t likely to cause any sort of infection or illness. As for that infamous pink gunk: That’s what’s known as biofilm. It’s essentially a buildup of microorganisms that stick together to form a visible film, commonly in a pink ring around the bathtub. These microorganisms can come from our bodies or the water we shower in, Dr. Pottinger says. They like moist environments, so if your shower curtain is wet, it’s really easy for them to stick and multiply there. “Anything that’s wet tends to breed organisms,” Dr. Pottinger adds.As SELF has previously reported, when foreign bacteria, fungi, or other microorganisms build up enough in the sticky biofilm, they can potentially cause skin infections like staph or bad acne breakouts. But chances are, you’re not rubbing your skin against the moldy edges of the shower curtain (and if you are, this is your sign to stop). The risk of getting a skin infection from your shower curtain itself is pretty slim. Still, it’s not exactly pleasant to look at!A caveat: People with weakened immune systems need to be more careful about potential exposure to harmful bacteria. If you have a healthy immune system, there’s really no need to worry about shower curtain slime. But anyone with a weakened immune system is at increased risk of acquiring germs and infections from the environment, Dr. Pottinger notes. “People with reduced immune systems may be counseled by their doctors to pay special attention to keeping the environment extra clean,” he says. “These people, in particular, may want to pay attention to the shower curtain,” Pottinger adds, “because it can be a source of microbial growth.”What’s the best way to clean a shower curtain?Aim to clean your shower curtain every three months. “This is usually enough to keep it in good shape and stay ahead of any mold growth,” Lauren Bowen, cleaning expert and director of franchise operations at the cleaning services company Two Maids & A Mop, tells SELF. If it hasn’t been three months, but you notice mold or discoloration or a funky smell, that means it’s time for a cleaning. You’ve got a few options for how to do it.How to clean a shower curtain in the washing machineIf you have a washing machine, you can wash both a cloth shower curtain and a plastic one in there. “If the curtain is made of cloth, put it in your washer on the warm water setting and use gentle laundry detergent. Make sure to choose the highest water level and the gentlest cycle to avoid damage,” Bowen notes. Hang it back on the curtain rod to dry.

Here’s How Often You Really Need to Clean Your Bathroom

Here’s How Often You Really Need to Clean Your Bathroom

Cleaning the bathroom is my absolute least favorite chore. I’d rather do pretty much anything other than get on my hands and knees and scrub the gunk out of shower tiles or swirl a brush around the toilet bowl while praying that no human waste particles splash out and hit me. But… the alternative of a grimy, slimy bathroom is far less appealing, so I’m left wondering: How can I do the bare minimum to keep things pristine and sanitary? I talked with a few microbiology experts to figure out how often I really need to clean my bathroom—and a cleaning pro to get some tips for making the job a little easier. Here’s how to get it all done while spending the least possible amount of time hunched over the john.Clean your bathroom once a week as a good rule of thumb.Kelly Reynolds, PhD, MSPH, professor and director of the Environment, Exposure Science and Risk Assessment Center at the University of Arizona, recommends cleaning your bathroom at least weekly. More often than that might be overkill. “A lot of microbes grow slowly, especially when we’re talking about yeast and mold in the bathroom,” Dr. Reynolds says. “That can take days or weeks to grow.” Cleaning hard surfaces—toilet, counter and sink, bathtub and shower—weekly with a cleaner that’s labeled as a disinfectant will kill germs and keep the number of pathogens low.If someone in your household is sick, do your best to clean the bathroom once a day.The exception to the weekly-regimen rule: If someone in your household is sick with an infectious illness, like the stomach flu or COVID, they should try to clean the high-contact surfaces in the bathroom they use daily, Dr. Reynolds says, including the toilet, sink, shower knobs, counters, and doorknobs. “Try to not share the bathroom with them, but if you must, clean it daily.” Especially if the illness causes vomiting or diarrhea, it’s best to get in there and clean thoroughly before someone else uses the same space—and even better if the sick person is well enough to clean it themselves.Find the difference between “untidy” and “unsanitary.”Known infectious illnesses aside, a less-than-sparkling bathroom isn’t likely to impact your health in any meaningful way, Paul Pottinger, MD, professor of medicine and co-director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at the University of Washington Medical Center, tells SELF. “It is unlikely that someone with a normal immune system would be at risk of catching a dangerous infection in the bathroom from one of their housemates via hard surfaces such as the floor or the toilet seat,” Dr. Pottinger says. That’s because we’re already exposed to the microbes that our housemates have on them, and vice versa. That’s even truer when it comes to an intimate partner, Dr. Pottinger says. Even visible mold in the shower probably won’t make a person with a healthy immune system sick, he says.Clean your shower and bathtub to avoid skin infections.One big exception? The fungus that causes athlete’s foot, Dr. Pottinger says, which can be extremely contagious. “The world is covered with germs, and there’s always fungus and mold around us, but it tends not to be a threat unless it settles in a damp area, and that’s where it can then grow,” he says. “You can absolutely catch this superficial fungal infection of [the] feet if it’s in the shower, and that’s why it’s so common.” And the spores can lurk in the bath and shower even if a surface looks clean to the naked eye, Dr. Pottinger notes.Bathtubs can also grow what’s known as a biofilm, or a buildup of microorganisms that stick together to form a visible film—the infamous pink ring—around the tub or drain. As SELF has previously reported, foreign bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms can build up in this biofilm and cause skin infections like staph, or just really bad acne breakouts. The wet environment of the bathtub also creates the perfect environment for them to multiply. Since there has to be enough of an organism for it to cause a problem, this type of environment increases the chance that these bugs could cause a problem.

Pregnancy Fatigue Is So Real—Here Are Some Things That Can Help

Pregnancy Fatigue Is So Real—Here Are Some Things That Can Help

FYI, walking counts. It’s actually a great way to exercise when you’re pregnant. Don’t think you have to take a workout class or do something totally draining for it to “count.” Just moving in the ways you can will be extremely beneficial.Before I got pregnant, working out in some form was a must for me every day. It has always helped me keep my stress levels under control and sleep like a baby. During pregnancy, I’ve tried my best to keep up with movement in ways that feel doable for me. On the days when I am so tired I don’t want to get up off the couch, I promise myself to just take one slow lap around the block. I almost always end up doing an extra lap or two because once I get moving I feel more awake and energized. (And on the days I’m really not feeling up to it, I listen to my body and promptly go back home to sit or lie down again.)3. Find ways to de-stress and reduce anxiety.Even if you had relatively low levels of anxiety pre-pregnancy, I can assure you that you’ll experience it tenfold throughout these 40-ish weeks. There are so many changes happening in your body, so many things to think and worry about in regard to the fetus’s development, impending labor, and an enormous life change on the horizon, whether it’s your first kid or not.It’s totally understandable to have some sort of anxiety about all of that. (FWIW, I am a very low-stress person and have experienced my fair share of worry and anxiety throughout my own pregnancy.)“A lot of those stresses and anxieties can definitely interfere with sleep and can make you tired during the day as well,” Dr. Paik says.Finding a way to de-stress and calm your mind is essential. The best method is going to look different for everyone, but here are a few things to try: prenatal yoga, mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, getting regular prenatal massages, going for walks, and connecting with people you love. Walking and at-home Peloton classes have been an important outlet for me. Another one of my go-to stress relievers: baking and cooking.4. If you can, take naps. Lots of them.Let me first acknowledge that I know this is not possible for everyone. Depending on your job, and if you’re running after other kids all day long, napping may be an absolute impossibility. But for those who are privileged enough to work from home or otherwise have a flexible schedule, I highly recommend taking advantage during this time.Dr. Bianco suggests napping during the day if you can, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. When I feel too tired to keep working or get anything else done, I’ll lie down, set an alarm for 30 minutes (working in some time to actually fall asleep), put on an eye mask, and snooze away. On the weekends, I’ll nap for a lot longer if I feel like I need it.5. Try your best to eat well—and make sure to get enough iron.Food gives you energy, so you want to make sure you’re loading up on stuff that’s full of nutrients and giving your body what it needs to keep chugging along at its new, high level. “Sometimes it’s hard to do that early on, because you’re combating nausea and vomiting and can only tolerate what you can tolerate,” Dr. Bianco says. If you’re not getting enough of your essential nutrients (and maybe loading up on simple carbs that don’t exactly give you sustained energy, like I did all first trimester) this can also contribute to fatigue.

7 Ways to Show Up for a Friend Who Is Dealing With Infertility

7 Ways to Show Up for a Friend Who Is Dealing With Infertility

If you’ve recently passed the wave of engagements and weddings among friends, you may soon notice the chatter quickly turns to another topic: babies. Pretty soon, it can feel like everyone you know is starting a family—or trying to. And with that, chances are you have at least one friend experiencing infertility, even if they’re keeping it to themselves.According to the National Institutes of Health, about 9% of men and 11% of women of reproductive age in the U.S. have experienced fertility problems. And if a friend discloses that they’re going through this, either alone or with a partner, your instinct is probably to reach out and offer your support, right? But figuring out the right thing to say or do isn’t exactly easy, especially if you’ve never been in their shoes.Infertility comes with its own special kind of visceral pain and grief, which is why it’s so important for people to have a support network throughout their journey. At the same time, the difficulty of the situation is also what makes having the right words so challenging. “It’s such a sensitive topic because it’s really an unexpected pain,” Allison Ramsey, MS, LMHC, a psychotherapist specializing in fertility, grief, and perinatal loss, and owner of nature-focused support group Bloom Where You Are Planted, tells SELF. “We’ve all been taught that getting pregnant is so easy, so when it doesn’t work, it just destroys every core of our sense of being.”And that can be especially difficult when someone’s friends and family all seem to be getting pregnant. “Everybody around you is successfully doing this thing that you can’t make happen, and it feels like a knife wound, like getting stabbed. It’s pretty visceral,” Lucille Keenan, PsyD, a psychologist and fertility counselor in North Carolina, tells SELF. “Oftentimes, people have been able to achieve so many things in life by pushing through, by doing more, but then there’s this thing you can’t make happen.”Just being with that person, through the good news and bad news, can be very helpful as they navigate this, Dr. Keenan says. Here, experts share the best things to do and say (and what not to say) to best support a friend who is experiencing infertility.1. Let them know you’re there to listen.“The best thing to say is ‘I’m here if you want to talk,’ and then just be there to listen to them,” Kim Crone, PhD, a psychologist at The Center for Advanced Reproductive Services in Connecticut, tells SELF. “This gives them space during this very distressing experience to talk about it without judgment and without opinions.” If you’re not sure what to really say, you can start with something like: “What’s this been like for you? This must be really hard.” This leaves things open ended so that they can talk and share in the way they want to, Dr. Crone says.Keenan says that texts are a great way to let someone know you’re thinking of them and are wondering how they are doing, because it opens the door for conversation in a low-pressure way. Adding something along the lines of “No need to reply if you are not up for it,” can help make it clear that they are in control. Just letting them know you’re there to support them and talk if they ever want to can go a long way, she says.2. Encourage them to set boundaries.If you want to keep checking in regularly but are unsure if they’d like that, just ask, Ramsey says. Something like, “Do you feel like telling me where you are in the process? If not, that’s totally OK and I will stop asking.” This can help you strike the right balance between managing your own desire to be there for them and their tolerance for discussing this difficult journey, Keenan says. It can also help them identify what they’re feeling and what they need from their support network, since they may be grappling with that as well.

6 Things No One Tells You About Pregnancy Constipation

6 Things No One Tells You About Pregnancy Constipation

While constipation can set in at any point throughout pregnancy, it tends to get worse with time as your intestines become more squished by the growing fetus and your body continues to relax muscles in preparation for labor, Dr. Elborno says. What I’ve learned is that figuring out a strategy to mitigate constipation early is important, so that you can have a game plan for when it inevitably strikes again.3. Forcing it is one of the worst things you can do.Unless you want hemorrhoids, it’s not a good idea to just sit on the toilet and push hoping that you’ll eventually get relief.Why? Well, without getting too technical, pushing harder to try and force a bowel movement can increase intrabdominal pressure, potentially leading to other GI issues, like hemorrhoids and anal fissures, Dr. Elborno says. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus that cause pain, swelling, and bleeding; fissures are essentially small tears in the lining of the anus. Ouch. Neither is a pleasant addition to pregnancy—or really any time in life.Straining to poop also puts a lot of stress on muscles of the pelvic floor, Dr. Paik says. Straining will further weaken those muscles, which will already be put through the wringer during pregnancy and labor. “This can contribute to urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence,” Dr. Paik says.Instead, you want to make it easier for the poop to make its way out with just a normal amount of effort. “The ultimate goal is to try and make poop softer and easier to pass and a lot of times that’s going to come from increasing hydration, having a more physically active lifestyle—movement will increase your intestinal motility—and having a good amount of fiber in your diet,” Dr. Elborno says.4. Fiber truly is your best friend—even if it comes in powder form.Of course, hydrating, exercising, and eating a well-balanced, fiber-rich diet are all easier said than done when you’re exhausted, nauseated, and just simply trying to make it through each day. Luckily, you can totally cheat on the fiber front.“A lot of pregnancy is about survival,” Dr. Elborno says. “I’ve had patients that are like, ‘All I can keep down are Warheads and Pop-Tarts,’ and at the end of the day, you have to get nutrition from somewhere.” If you’re having a really tough time eating fiber-rich veggies and grains, it’s OK to turn to something else like powdered fiber that you mix into water and quickly chug. That’s what I did. The generic form of Metamucil, called psyllium husk, is a powder you spoon into water, mix, and then drink quickly before it gets gelatinous. It works by adding bulk to the stool, which helps prompt the intestines to contract and move stool through.The one I bought was orange flavored, and it was very palatable, even when I was dealing with some nausea and terrible heartburn. But if the powder stuff in water makes you gag (your aversions could be totally different than mine!), Dr. Elborno suggests sneaking it into smoothies, or adding other fiber-rich ingredients like flax seeds. That way, you can get the benefits without having to stomach the taste or texture of something you’re not used to. (I haven’t met a pregnant person yet who didn’t enjoy a fruit smoothie, though I’m sure they exist and if that is you I am terribly sorry!) You can also blend fibrous veggies or powders into soups if it’s easier for you to stomach something hot and brothy, Dr. Elborno adds.5. Don’t be afraid to use other OTC medications.Beyond fiber powder, I also have become quite partial to MiraLAX (the generic name is polyethylene glycol 3350) on occasion. It’s what’s known as an osmotic laxative, which means it works by drawing water into the stool to make it softer and easier to pass. A few days of twice-daily psyllium husk and once-daily polyethylene glycol finally gave me the relief I needed—and is now my go-to whenever I run into constipation again. Of course, always get the OK from your doctor but generally, these things are all considered safe in pregnancy as long as you take them as directed.

5 Things I Learned From Dealing With Unrelenting Acid Reflux During Pregnancy

5 Things I Learned From Dealing With Unrelenting Acid Reflux During Pregnancy

While your stomach is built for handling acid, your esophagus is not—that’s why you feel that uncomfortable burning sensation or the feeling like something is sitting in your throat.As your pregnancy continues, another contributor to acid reflux is your growing uterus and the fetus pressing up on your stomach, says Clara Paik, M, ob-gyn, vice-chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology and chief of the division of gynecologic specialties at the University of California, Davis. “The acid is [closer] to the esophagus, plus the [muscle’s strength] is not so good, so stomach acids will go back up,” she says.2. The foods you crave are probably the biggest culprits.Some foods and drinks just straight up make acid reflux worse. Two categories of common triggers: foods that worsen esophageal sphincter relaxation and foods that increase the acidity of the gastric juices, Dr. Elborno says. According to the National Institutes of Health, those can include chocolate, coffee and other caffeinated drinks, alcohol, spicy foods, tomato-based foods, citrus foods, mint, and greasy, fatty foods.You might notice that some of the foods on this list are the only foods you really want to eat during pregnancy. I know that for a brief period of time, I only wanted to drink seltzer water with lemon in it (like, a whole half of a lemon), and I craved grapefruits, tomato sauce and juice, hot sauce, and literally anything greasy and fried.“Sometimes those really sour or spicy foods can help with nausea and sound good when you’re not craving anything else,” Dr. Elborno notes. “It can be complicated because it becomes a cycle.” You crave certain foods, they trigger acid reflux, your nausea and food aversions seem worse, and you indulge further on the V8 juice and spicy-sour pickle cravings. All that’s to say that it’s hard to follow dietary advice when you’re pregnant and only have an appetite for certain things. So do your best and forgive yourself when you just have to eat the thing that you know is going to make your throat burn.Also, it turns out it’s not my imagination that even water gives me acid reflux. Dr. Paik says that anything that fills up your stomach—even water—can get the acid moving up and out.3. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can help…On top of avoiding irritating foods, Dr. Paik also recommends eating smaller amounts at each meal. “Don’t eat to capacity or to the point where you’re so full, because then the stomach is going to be bloated, the esophageal sphincter will be more open, and your stomach acids will more easily go into the esophagus,” she explains. Eating upright, not lying down immediately after a meal, and finishing dinner at least three hours before bed can also help.These modifications have helped me immensely—especially because acid reflux was keeping me up at night. I’ve cut back on some of the foods that were triggering for me, though I still drink coffee each morning, eat tomato-based foods almost everyday (I deeply crave them), and occasionally indulge in greasy, fried foods and citrus fruit.4. …and so can sleeping upright.When I do eat foods that I know will make my throat burn, I make sure to do it earlier in the day so that I can suffer the consequences well before bedtime. There was also a period of a few weeks where I used a pregnancy pillow to prop myself up so that I could sleep at an incline instead of completely flat. That seemed to really help reduce my acid reflux. (I still do it on an as-needed basis on nights when it strikes hard.)

33 Best Gifts for Pregnant People

33 Best Gifts for Pregnant People

So, a loved one recently announced they’re pregnant. And now you want to send them a little something to say “Congrats!”—except figuring out the best gifts for pregnant people can be difficult, especially if you’ve never been pregnant yourself before.Pregnancy is a long journey full of endless physical and emotional changes, and a thoughtful gift for a new mom-to-be can go a really long way. Chances are, they are tired, maybe nauseous, and overall overwhelmed as they navigate this new stage of life and get ready to welcome a little one into their life. The best gifts you can give any mom-to-be are ones that show you’re there to support them—whether that’s through self-care products that help them pamper themselves, maternity clothing to make them more comfortable, cute baby gear that fuels their excitement and helps them prepare, or honestly anything that makes the waiting game easier and more enjoyable.Below, we rounded up some of the best gifts for pregnant people from retailers like Amazon, Nordstrom, Etsy, Uncommon Goods, and more. Some of these things I also personally found to be great gifts or purchases while I’ve been pregnant. Your care and support alone during the pregnancy and postpartum periods (even just texts to check in and ask how they’re feeling) mean the world, but if you’re looking to make a soon-to-be new mom a little extra special, the right gift can be really meaningful.All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

10 Great Stretches to Do After an Upper-Body Workout

10 Great Stretches to Do After an Upper-Body Workout

When you’re all done with your upper-body workout, it’s definitely tempting to call it a day. But leaving time for upper-body stretches afterward is really crucial.Stretching after your workout—whether we’re talking about a full-body routine, an arms workout, or one filled with upper-body strength exercises—doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t need to take a whole lot of time, either. Even setting aside just a few minutes after your workout is completed to cool down and show your muscles some extra TLC can pay a whole bunch of dividends.But what upper body stretches should you be doing when your workout is in the books? There are a whole bunch of options, and it all depends on what muscles you worked during your routine, what areas may be feeling a little bothersome, and what moves simply feel amazing for your body. From chest stretches to triceps stretches, and upper back moves to ones that loosen up your traps, you’ll be sure to find some new ones to slot into your cool-down! But first, let’s talk a little bit about the benefits of stretching these muscles.Why should you stretch after an upper-body workout?Just like a warm-up is important going into a workout, a cool-down—which, yep, includes stretches—is vital to ending it on a good note. That’s because stretching regularly can help you relieve muscle tightness and improve your flexibility and mobility over time.While static stretching after a workout does not prevent injury or cure muscle soreness, it can help change your perception of pain, Dan Giordano, DPT, CSCS, cofounder of Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy in New York City and Seattle, tells SELF. What does that mean? Because stretching after exercise feels good, it may cause a placebo-effect of sorts when it comes to soreness. But the benefits of stretching are more long term, Giordano adds.The more you stretch, the more your body will get used to it and your flexibility will hopefully increase—though everyone has different flexibility capabilities (yay genetics!) and things like muscle imbalances can also impact how bendy you are. Greater flexibility will allow you to move your muscles through a wider range of motion (ROM), which ultimately, can really help you do more exercises with proper form. It also will let you move easier and more comfortably through daily activities.Which muscles should you stretch after an upper-body workout?The exact muscles you stretch after an upper-body workout depend on which exercises you hit during your workout. For instance, if you did a lot of pushing or pressing work—like chest exercises such as chest presses, or shoulder exercises like overhead presses—it’s important to stretch the big muscles in the front of your body, like your pectorals (chest muscles) and your deltoids (shoulders) with chest stretches or shoulder stretches. Because your triceps (the muscles on the back of your upper arms) assist in these pushing movements, you’d also want to stretch them, too, with some arm stretches.

The 20 Best Maternity Dresses for Fall and Winter

The 20 Best Maternity Dresses for Fall and Winter

As someone who spent the first 24-ish weeks of pregnancy in the spring and summer, I lived in dresses. I was surprised to learn that the best maternity dresses aren’t even maternity dresses at all.As my body has gone through changes, I’ve been so grateful that I could just throw on a dress and not have to worry about a tight and uncomfortable waistband over my growing belly. I’ve navigated the inevitable wardrobe crisis any pregnant person will feel once they can no longer button their jeans (or in my case, jean shorts), and learned that certain dress styles and cuts—smocked, tiered, wrap, bodycon, and anything with a high and elastic waistband—can take you through your entire pregnancy and beyond.Ultimately, I’ve relied on a mix of non-maternity dresses and maternity dresses so far. And turns out, I’m not alone. When I asked pregnant people for their best maternity dress recommendations, they all echoed the sentiment that you can find great dresses both meant for pregnancy and not.Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best maternity dresses to carry you through this fall and winter, from retailers like Amazon, Nordstrom, Target, and other maternity brands like Hatch and PinkBlush. Because let’s be honest, comfort is priority number one during this stage of your life, and dresses often tend to be the easiest and most accommodating option when your belly is growing noticeably bigger from one week to the next.1. Old Navy Fitted Rib-Knit Midi Cami DressOld NavyOld Navy Fitted Rib-Knit Midi Cami DressWhile it’s not technically a maternity dress, this rib-knit dress stretches right over your growing baby bump and is so easy to just throw on with a jean jacket or cardigan. I love that I could wear it all summer and can also transition it into fall—and I can keep wearing it post-pregnancy, too.Available in sizes S, XL-3X and Petite XL-XXL.2. Ingrid and Isabel Cozy Dress + Sweater SetI’m so excited to wear this dress and sweater set all fall long. The material is thick and stretchy and not at all itchy (is it just me or does everything make my belly itchy lately?!) and the silhouette accentuates my bump in the cutest way. It goes great with white sneakers, but you could also wear it with heels and a blazer to dress it up.Available in sizes XS-XL.3. KIM S Boho Flutter Short Sleeve Maternity DressAmazonKIM S Boho Flutter Short Sleeve Maternity DressA smocked dress is another great style for pregnancy. “It’s accommodating and also doesn’t require a bra or nipple pads (usually),” says Arielle P., 32. The delicate flutter sleeves and pretty pastel colors of this smocked dress make it a great choice for a baby shower. Throw on a jean jacket and you’ve got an easy, cute option for the fall months ahead.Available in sizes S-XXL.4. Pinkblush Floral Short Sleeve Maternity Maxi DressPinkblushPinkblush Floral Short Sleeve Maternity Maxi DressI bought this floral dress for my fall baby shower, and I absolutely love how it fits and feels. The wrap neckline and tie waist (with elastic underneath) sit at just the right spot, and the slit on the side is a nice addition. The pattern and colors are really beautiful and perfect for the season. Overall, I feel like a pregnant goddess in this flowy number.

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