If all goes well, we’ll be adding another little guy to the fam this spring! Of course we’re super excited, and we thought it would be fun to do a series of posts on pregnancy and baby-related products and tips that worked for me. Maybe they’ll work for you too?
First up, I wanted to share some of the products or tricks that I found useful while pregnant with A. Max, and that have proved helpful this time around too. I’ve made it a point of trying to be low maintenance when it comes to pregnancy and baby-related items, but even with a minimalist attitude, there are still some things that are worth the purchase. Below are my essentials along with some of the tips & tricks that made it easier to buy less maternity-specific stuff. To go to the product pages, you can click the numbered links below each collage or the links provided within the post’s text.
Ugg. I hate taking them every day, but am serious about doing it before, during, and after a pregnancy. Luckily I’ve found the brands that work well for me and minimize some of the negatives associated with other vitamins. I really like this multivitamin. It doesn’t have as strong as a smell as other vitamins, I never get an upset stomach with it, and generally felt healthy (although I never took another vitamin, so I don’t have a good counter example there). I also took a DHA supplement. DHA is one of the omega-3 fatty acids that’s important for brain development. Taking a prenatal DHA supplement is helpful because you won’t get as high of a dose of DHA if you take a basic omega-3 supplement. Also, while this supplement is made from fish oil, I’ve never had any issues with a fishy smell or aftertaste. I didn’t take a calcium supplement with Alex – I just tried to get plenty through my diet, but this time around I found Calcet’s lemon creamy bites, and no I’m hooked! I use them as a healthy treat when I need just a little something sweet, and I like them so much more than the other calcium chews that I took years ago but got tired of. The only thing I don’t like about these is that each chew is individually wrapped in a plastic shell – not that great for the environment, but it seems to be the key to their fresh, creamy texture. So I’ll probably be done with these after this pregnancy or this box… but I had to mention them, because if you need a calcium supplement, these are outstanding.
When it comes to clothes, I’m fortunate in a number of ways. First, I’m pregnant during the exact same time of year, so I’m able to use all of those maternity clothes again. Second, I mainly work from home, and while last time I had to go in to a job, I really only saw people a couple of days a week. So, many days yoga pants and long stretchy t-shirts or tanks were enough to cover my belly and keep me comfortable. I found that many of the dresses I already owned (I love ones from Title Nine with a touch of spandex, like this) were stretchy enough to fit over my growing belly for at least the first 6-7 months of my pregnancy. I was also lucky that sweater dresses came back into fashion – so I picked up a few of the boxier ones, some tights, and my favorite boots to get me through the rest of my pregnancy – this was an especially great outfit for days I had to teach. Once my stomach got too large for my pre-pregnancy pants, I bought four pair of maternity pants and a few shirts to go with them – that’s it!
But, even so, there are a couple of specific items that are worth sharing. This maternity tank from Target is so comfortable, and I love how long it is. Late in pregnancy, it was hard for long non-maternity tanks to stretch around my stomach, but this tank does without trouble. I still have the only one I bought, and am thinking it’s time to add a second one to my closet – they are a perfect first layer under any shirt.
As I mentioned, I bought a few maternity shirts, mainly for work days to go with the pants I picked up. I didn’t know it at the time, but there are whole lines of nursing shirts with ruched fabric around the torso – making them perfect for a growing stomach during pregnancy and a slowly shrinking one afterwards. Buy these, especially if you want to try nursing, rather than buying a maternity-only shirt (I found that the BOOB brand really held up well to the wear and tear that is nursing and carrying a little guy).
Books & Other Info
We are just over halfway through this pregnancy, and it was around this time with Little A that I was ready to start learning about labor, labor support, and breastfeeding. Along with taking a labor class, there were a few books that I found really useful.
- The Big Book of Birth - this book is packed with useful information, so at times it can seem a bit dense, but I really loved the straightforward and concise writing. She covers basic biology of labor as well as types of medical interventions and natural methods for easing discomfort and dealing with different problems that may arise during birth. Calder didn’t read the whole book, but I marked some sections that I thought would be particularly useful for him to read before our delivery, and I think it was helpful to both of us.
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – This book focuses more on natural childbirth and methods for finding comfort and support through it. I have to admit that I didn’t read this one cover to cover like I did the Big Book of Birth, but I did find it extremely useful, and Ina May’s an expert if ever there was one.
- The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers – Before I had Alex, it seems like I often heard about how hard or tricky breastfeeding could be, but I knew I wanted to do it. Knowing that I didn’t want to find myself with a newborn in my hands and unsure of what to do next, I decided to read and learn about the process before having the baby. I found both Jack Newman’s book and his website to be extremely helpful for covering the basics of breastfeeding and providing many useful images and videos of successful and unsuccessful breastfeeding – so I was able to get a sense of what I should look for and red flags for when things weren’t working.
In addition to these books, Calder and I took a seven-week prenatal and labor class together. Our class covered everything from the baby’s development in utero, to the biology of labor, support for labor, types of medical interventions, caring for a newborn, etc. It was so amazing, and really helps you to work through all of that material, especially when you’re working and are so tired that you would rather crash on the couch than read a book. We had the option of taking that class or shortened version of the class over the course of a weekend. I highly recommend spreading your course out over a few weeks – there’s so much information to learn, and you may find that questions develop only after you’ve had days/weeks to think about something from class – there’s no way you and your labor partner would get as much out of a weekend course (but, if that’s all you have time for, it’s better than nothing!).
General Beauty Products
In general, I use very few beauty products, but when I do, I try to stay as chemical-free as possible. One place where that’s hard to do is with nail polish. I would skip it altogether (and that’s what I did with my first pregnancy), but this time around, my nails are really suffering from the dry air. When they are dry, they crack, peel, and just become a general mess. A coat of polish along with daily applications of cuticle oil really helps to keep them healthy. So, this time around I tried Spa Ritual’s 5-free polishes, and really (really) love them. I use them with a base and top coat, and have found that they can go at least 5 days without chipping (less if I’m really doing a lot of mess work with my hands).
Another product that I’ve been devoted to throughout both pregnancies is Burt’s Bees Momma Bee Body Oil. I slather it on my belly after every shower throughout the whole pregnancy and for a few weeks postpartum (about 3 times per week). I was really lucky to end up with no stretch marks last time around. We’ll see what happens this time!
When you’re pregnant, you hear over and over again that it’s important to get plenty of exercise and stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is even more important for me this time around since we’re in a dryer climate.
Honestly, after months of drinking water, tea, and chocolate milk, I start to go crazy for anything else to drink (we’re not big juice drinkers, just as a rare treat). I found a few tricks to help me stay hydrated. I’ll treat myself to cartons of coconut water – you get an electrolyte bonus! Trader Joes’ brand is always a good price, but I’ll take any brand that’s on sale. I also mix up my drinking vessels. The first time around I picked up one of those cold cups with a straw, and found that just switching between my drink bottle and that would have me drinking more. I also found the cup easier to drink out of while breastfeeding and rocking a newborn (rather than having to tilt my head back to use the drink bottle).
When it comes to exercise, having Ca$h the dog was such a big motivator. When he’s with us, I’m his main walking companion – so that meant that I went out on long (30 minutes to an hour+) walks with him twice a day. I did that all the way until the end of my first pregnancy and I know that it really helped me to stay in shape and stay a healthy weight. This time around we don’t have the pooch with us (he’s with Sarah!), but I’m making sure to get plenty of play time in with Alex, and it seems to be working :-).
In addition to the dog walks and Alex adventures, I liked to take some time to do some good, deep, yoga stretching. I tried out a few prenatal yoga classes, and they were great, but I also found it really hard to fit them into my schedule. After a bit of searching, I came across Yoga Download and was an immediate fan. There are a number of ways to access their classes, but I purchased a couple of prenatal yoga classes and downloaded them onto my laptop. It was nice to have access to them at any time and without having to worry about an internet connection. I’ve since purchases some regular (not prenatal) classes and have used them whenever I need a yoga boost – while I would love to go to a studio, practicing at home has become my new norm since Alex arrived.
Finally, there’s one other simple thing that I’ve done during both pregnancies to help myself eat right. Whenever I make a big pot of soup or stew, I put a quart jar of it in the freezer. So far I have about six jars in the freezer this time. This takes zero thought or planning, just fill the jar, label it, and freeze. They are so useful towards the end of pregnancy and during the first few months with a newborn when you’re too tired or busy to cook.
Wow, I know that was a wordy post, but I’m hoping some other expectant moms may find this helpful… or if you know a momma-to-be, you may get some useful gift ideas from this post. A case of coconut water with a big bow around it never hurt anyone!
Did I miss anything that you found essential? I would love to hear what you found essential.