I should start by saying that I actually like being pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely do my fair share of complaining. (My belly itches like crazy!) But all in all, it is amazing, and I am so grateful I have been able to experience it twice.
Buying a lot of fancy products really doesn’t fit in with my minimalist tendencies, especially when they are only going to be used for a very short period of time. There are, however, are few things that have made the last 9 months a lot more enjoyable.
Here is a list of my pregnancy essentials:
1. Prenatal vitamins. Yes, you should be eating a high-quality, nutrient-rich, well-balanced diet. But you also need a super prenatal vitamin. I like the Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal Multivitamins because they are gentle on your stomach, include probiotics, and come from raw, real ingredients. They are also vegetarian, gluten free, and dairy free, if those things are important to you. I also take a DHA supplement to support baby’s brain and eye development.
2. Maternity clothes that don’t look like maternity clothes. I am convinced that there is a conspiracy against pregnant women. Put the word maternity on anything and it instantly doubles in price. And gets about 10 times uglier. During my first pregnancy, I was so excited to grow out of my regular clothes that I ran straight to the nearest maternity store. Then I cried. Everything was awful. I ended up finding a few staples that got me through both of my pregnancies in style. And throughout the 4th trimester, because let’s be honest – I wasn’t ready for regular clothes for months. Some nice under-the-belly maternity jeans are a must. The J Brand Skinny Maternity Jeans have a strategically placed patch of elastic on the waistband that allow them to fit comfortably over your growing belly, but they don’t look like maternity jeans (i.e. no horrible panel over your belly) so you will be able to comfortably wear these until you fit back into your pre-pregnancy jeans, and no one will ever know they are maternity! I also found some awesome long tanks from H&M and Target, that are the perfect length to cover the bottom of your belly even at the very end, and work just as well after pregnancy. Add a few non-maternity maxi skirts that can be worn under your belly and a cardigan or two and you are set.
3. Lotion, oil, or cream. Your skin is going to stretch more than you ever thought was humanly possible. And that doesn’t always feel very good. I like to lather my belly with either organic, cold pressed coconut oil, or super rich and creamy East African Shea Nilotica. Both are super moisturizing, all natural, and have been shown to prevent stretch marks. I ended up making my own belly balm from all natural ingredients that also worked wonders. There are a ton of commercial products that promise to prevent stretch marks, but most contain petroleum products, which I didn’t want on my body, and they are all pretty pricey. (Remember what I said about the conspiracy against pregnant women!?!)
4. A pregnancy journal or app. I loved watching how quickly and drastically my belly changed during each pregnancy, and taking a weekly photo was an integral part of both of my pregnancies. I received The Belly Book as a gift and it was the perfect way to keep my weekly belly pictures and ultrasounds, a well as write down little things that I never want to forget (like when I felt the first kicks). During my second pregnancy I used the Sprout Pregnancy App, which I highly recommend. You can track your prenatal doctor’s appointments, keep track of questions for your doctor, track your weight gain, kicks, contractions, and more. It also gives you a description and an image for what your developing baby looks like each week.
5. A Book for him. If your husband / partner is anything like mine, the pregnancy announcement may throw him into a state of shock. And your 600 page long Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy will do nothing to ease his anxiety. I needed something short, light and humorous, and The Guy’s Guide to Surviving Pregnancy, Childbirth and the First Year of Fatherhood was perfect. He enjoyed it so much that he has actually given it as a gift to many of his guy friends.
6. Pillows. Lots and lots of pillows. Whether you go for a pregnancy specific pillow, or just bring in a few extras from other rooms, pillows will make the difference between tossing and turning trying to get comfy and getting a solid night’s sleep. It is true, you + your belly + the pillows may make it hard for anyone else to sleep in the bed with you. But trust me when I say it’s worth it. Without my millions of pillows and this comfy bra I wouldn’t have ever slept.
7. Crunchy natural remedies. There is nothing worse than being pregnant and getting the cold of all colds. Since I avoided all medications religiously, I relied on daily use of a Sinus Rinse, along with a good salt water gargle to keep the preschool germs away. I also drank hot honey lemon water when I got a little sniffly, which is unavoidable when you have other kids in the house.
8. Yoga, Meditation, and Hypnosis. I have been practicing yoga for years, and continued to attend my normal class 4 times a week until about 2 weeks before I gave birth. I had a wonderful instructor who was able to give me modifications for the things that aren’t safe during pregnancy (no twists!) and I much preferred this to a specific prenatal class. I liked the challenge of my power vinyasa class, and I know that it is because of this practice that I stayed sane during my pregnancy and kept my weight gain in check. (If you haven’t been practicing for long, or are unsure of what is and isn’t safe during pregnancy, I definitely recommend a specific prenatal class.) Additionally, I started listening to Hypnobabies as a way to relax and help me sleep during the third trimester, and relied heavily on it right up to and during my delivery.