When we found out I was pregnant, I was pretty nervous. We don’t have many friends with babies, I don’t have any sisters, and I felt like we had no idea what we were doing.
But you know what? You figure it out as you go along. We downloaded an app (Ovia) that gives us weekly updates on the baby’s development. My OB gave us a list of medications to avoid, and dangerous symptoms to watch out for. Once my bump became undeniable, I started receiving plenty of advice – solicited and unsolicited. I now know about 100x more about epidurals, baby-led weening, and prenatal vitamins than I would’ve imagined back in April.
Here are 9 essentials that have helped me survive the last 32 weeks:
Top to bottom, from top left:
- Cocoa butter massage cream for stretch marks – I was pretty bummed out to learn from my OB and others that stretch marks are overall pretty unavoidable and are linked to genetics. There’s not much you can do to prevent them. However, there are all kinds of products to help minimize their appearance and to keep your skin hydrated. (Having an itchy belly is common while pregnant.) This cream is silky and long-lasting, and I love the almond scent.
- Nuts – I’ve gone through phases throughout my pregnancy where I am ravenously hungry. As in, eat a big meal and have a growling stomach an hour later. The only way I can make it between meals is by snacking on mixed nuts, which I keep stashed in my desk drawer.
- A great water bottle – The only thing worse than summertime in Houston is summertime in Houston while pregnant. I’ve been drinking water like it’s my job for the last 32 weeks. I love Lifefactory’s glass water bottles – and clumsy as I am, mine has survived being dropped all over the place (including onto hard concrete).
- A comfy body pillow – My regular doctor recommended this for acid reflux, and it’s been a game-changer for sleeping comfortably while pregnant. My husband has picked up on how great it is and routinely tries to smuggle it from me while I sleep.
- The perfect pair of maternity jeans – I outgrew all of my jeans almost immediately. The exception was, funny enough, my cheapest, most worn-out jeans – an old pair of Old Navy Rockstar stretchy skinny jeans. I can still squeeze into those, but life is so.much.better. with a stretchy waistband. These Paige jeans are perfect in every way. (Hint – you can find lightly-worn designer maternity jeans on eBay for far less than the astronomical prices at A Pea in the Pod. Mine were $20!)
- A go-to soft, plain tee – I planned to be an active preggo. I planned to be at the gym 5 days a week keeping my weight down, cooking healthy meals packed with vitamins, and busily checking off our pre-baby bucket list. Instead, here I am in a cotton tee and raggedy old yoga pants, halfway through a box of Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice cheesecake cookies. (Yes, they’re amazing, and you should probably run, not walk, to the closest TJ’s and try some yourself.) The entire Gap Pure Body line is incredibly soft and comfy and provides plenty of stretch as your body grows. I bought some v-necks in neutral colors and basically live in them.
- Chewable vitamins – OK, my main prenatal vitamins are massive horse tablets that smell like seaweed. (I made the mistake of buying a 300-count vitamin bottle off Amazon and feel obliged to use them all up. Sigh…) But I love these chewable calcium “truffles.” I chew two in the morning when I wake up, and I take my prenatal at night before bed, since calcium prevents iron absorption and it isn’t recommended to take both at the same time.
- Second-hand maternity clothes – Look, I know in your pre-pregnancy days, you eyed the maternity section at Target and couldn’t wait to fit into that stuff. But the reality is that clothing yourself over three seasons – 9 months of outfits – is basically like replacing your entire wardrobe, and that ain’t cheap. I’ve become a big fan of ThredUp, a great online source for second-hand maternity clothes which are usually under $10 per item. My favorite brands I’ve scouted on ThredUp are H&M, TopShop, Loft Maternity, Gap Maternity, and ASOS, although there are thousands of options in all different sizes. You can also find cute designer maternity clothes on eBay for much less than the tag prices.
- Realistic, break-it-down-to-the-basics registry advice – I’m kind of baffled at baby registry checklists that go on for several pages. Babies don’t actually need that much stuff. A wipes warmer? Nice to have, but babies have survived for most of history without them. Lucie’s List gives simple, honest advice on what you’ll really need and offers a few recommendations for the major stuff, like car seats and strollers. Figuring out what you need is exhausting; this takes out most of the guessing work.
Mamas and mamas-to-be – what are your pregnancy essentials?