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Saturday
Nov142009

Essential Pregnancy Products Guide

Are you a newly pregnant mom? Or are you looking to buy a gift for a pregnant mom? Check out this crowd-sourced list of essential pregnancy products for ideas on what to buy.

BellaBands

I loved my Bella Bands and consider them an essential pregnancy accessory. I didn't know about them during my first pregnancy, but I wore them just about every day during the second.It is basically a stretchy band that you wear around your waist to keep your pants up and cover your belly. This product was mentioned by probably close to a dozen people immediately on twitter when I asked about essential pregnancy products.

You can use them to:


  • Extend the wear of your non-maternity pants (wear them unbuttoned with the bella band over top)

  • Keep your maternity pants from falling down

  • Help keep your belly warm if even your maternity shirts are getting a bit too short as you reach into the last month or two

  • To keep your belly flab in check, out of sight, and nice and warm when you are lifting your shirt to nurse post-partum

You can buy a single BellaBand or get a pack of 3 BellaBands (get different colours to match different clothing). I had a black one (great with work pants or when wearing a black top), a white one (great under white tanks or creates a layered look with any colour) and a dark blue one (perfect with jeans).

Full Body Pillow

Almost everyone I talked to about this mentioned a full body pillow or at least extra pillows as a pregnancy must-have.  When your belly starts getting big it can be really difficult to get comfortable on a regular mattress. Adding in the full body pillow is a big help in getting comfortable and keeping your spine aligned nicely.

The one pictured here is a Snoozer, which is a hypoallergenic full body pillow designed for pregnancy. A few people (including @HauteSingleMama) specifically mentioned a Snoogle, which is another brand and @that_danielle (Danielle Friedland) mentioned the Boppy Total Body Pillow (I didn't know Boppy made body pillows!).

During my first pregnancy and parts of my second pregnancy I also used a wedge pillow (which was also suggested by @MariaWJ from A Piece of My Mind) , just to put under the belly to keep it from straining my back at night. Turns out Boppy also makes a wedge pillow.

Body Butter

I don't use moisturizer or any other skin product very often. But I did find during my pregnancy that my belly got dry and itchy as it stretched out. Having some rich moisturizing body butter to rub into your skin and sooth the stretch marks and the dry skin can help you feel more comfortable and protect your skin too. The jury is out on whether it actually makes a difference in preventing stretch marks or not, but if your skin is feeling dry or itchy, it certainly can provide some relief (as @julieartz from Terminal Verbosity says the cocoa butter for your belly and boobs is to "help the skin stretch more comfortably"). A lot of people swear by cocoa butter of some sort, like the Palmer's Cocoa Butter Tummy Butter. Others, like @summerm from Wired for Noise swear by the Earth Mama Angel Baby Body Butter, which uses shea butter. If you're buying for a Mama To Be, Earth Mama Angel Baby also has a Gift Set for pregnant women that includes Happy Feet, Stretch Oil, and Lip Balm.

Water Bottle

I always have a water bottle with me. Always. On my desk, in my car, next to my bed. If you aren't usually in the habit of drinking water all the time, pregnancy is the time to get into that habit. Rather than sending tons and tons of plastic bottles to the land fill or even the recycling, you should get a few stainless steel water bottles and have them in convenient spots so that you can keep filling them up and taking sips as the day passes.

If you are looking for a great BPA-free water bottle to use during pregnancy, I would highly recommend checking out Zrecs 2009 BPA Free Water Bottle Showdown for a comprehensive review of dozens of brands. One of their top picks that we own and love are the Klean Kanteens. Nice and simple and available in a variety of sizes and colours with different styles of caps.

Thanks to @dsfq from babyREADY for suggesting this very important item to add to my list.

Tank Tops

Maternity tank tops with a built in shelf bra were a staple of my wardrobe when I was pregnant. I wore them all the time along with non-maternity hoodies, button-down shirts, cardigans, suit jackets, and any other top that could be opened in the front. It was a great way to be able to keep wearing some of my favourite pieces even when they didn't fit around my belly anymore.

I definitely had some maternity tank tops from Old Navy, Motherhood Maternity, and other brands. But more than anything I wore regular tank tops from lululemon, which makes most of its tank tops extra long. The advantage of wearing the lululemon ones is that I could keep wearing them postpartum because they stretch right back into regular shape when the belly is no longer there.

Yoga Pants

Comfortable pants are essential when you are pregnant and it helps if they stay up too! Numerous people suggested this, including @xxcaro from Breeder Brain, @CrunchyGoddess from The Crunchy Domestic Goddess and @onefallday from One Fall Day.

I found yoga pants to be the most comfortable during pregnancy. I think I may have had one pair of maternity yoga capris, but mostly I wore regular non-maternity pants from lululemon (like the tank tops, it means that you get more wear out of them because they aren't just for your pregnancy). They are stretchy enough and low enough that you can wear them below the belly (ideally with a Bella Band, but not essential). Here is a great post on lululemon's blog about why they don't have a maternity line (i.e. you can wear their regular stuff all through pregnancy and beyond!).

Practical Shoes

Shoes can be so important during pregnancy. They need to be easy to get on and off, especially in the third trimester. They need to be able to accomodate swelling feet. They need to be sturdy and comfortable enough to support and protect your feet as you waddle along with 30 odd pounds of extra weight on your body.  Personally, I swore by flip flops during my first pregnancy (the wonderful thing about having my third trimester in the summer). In my second pregnancy I wore slip on shoes with easy fastening whenever possible. Some people, like @lauraleemoss from Teacher Transitions to SAHM swear by their Crocs - easy to put on and spacious enough for expanding feet.

Pregnancy Support Belt

Sometimes the weight of the belly can get to be too much for your back. In my first pregnancy, I ended up going to a physiotherapist because of the back pain I was having. In addition to some exercises that she recommended, she also suggested a pregnancy support belt. @Hobo_Mama from Hobo Mama said she used one when she "took long walks and my hips felt like they were falling apart". I don't remember which brand I had and it has long since been passed along, but some of the available brands include the Mom-EZ Maternity Back Support, the Medela Maternity Support and the Motherhood Maternity Support Belt.

Pregnancy and Birth Books


There are lots of pregnancy books out there. There are a few though that I found more helpful than others.

The Mother of All Pregnancy Books (by Ann Douglas)

This book starts with the question “Are you really ready to have a baby?” and goes all the way to life after baby and everything in between. It is a well organized, well written book about considerations in getting pregnant, being pregnant and bringing a baby into this world. It touches on the major issues you need to be aware of at each stage and is peppered with stories from people that have been through it before and with practical resources that you can reach out to. There is both an American version and a Canadian version of the book and the information and resources are customized for each country (fabulous!). Buy the American version on Amazon.com or buy the Canadian version on Amazon.ca.

Having a Baby, Naturally (by Peggy O’Mara)

This excellent book by the editor and publisher of Mothering, walks mothers-to-be and families-to-be through issues that they need to consider during pregnancy, labour and delivery, and the postpartum period. It assumes that the couple is predisposed to wanting a natural approach to both pregnancy and childbirth and presents information, options, and advice based on that assumption. The book strikes a great balance between dealing with the medical issues and the emotional issues of pregnancy birth and beyond. It balances very technical sections like “today’s pain medications” with information designed to help with your mental state and perspective, such as “pain with purpose”. It treats pregnancy and childbirth as a family life event, rather than a female medical condition and medical procedure. For more information read my review of the book.

The Birth Partner (by Penny Simkin)

I got this book on loan from my doula and it is wonderful. It is extremely practical and easy to read. It is written for the woman’s partner or labour support, but I read the book cover to cover myself. I  found that it went into details and clarified things in a way that many of the other books didn’t. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is trying to learn more about the birth process, writing a birth plan, or trying to understand what to expect during labour and delivery. Read it yourself and flag specific sections for your partner or other birth support to read.

Other Books

The three mentioned above are my top three pregnancy books, but you may also want to look into Birthing from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz (suggested by @kblogger from the SeriousShops.com blog). I also enjoyed The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer.

It is also a good idea to read about breastfeeding before the baby arrives. The more knowledge you have, the more likely you will succeed and that you will be able to recognize bad advice when it comes your way. Some great breastfeeding books include:

Essential Services

Products are great, but for a lot of people it is services that help get them through their pregnancy. Some of the services that women swear by during their pregnancy (outside of their primary care provider) include:

  • Doula: In addition to your primary care provider (OB or midwife), having a doula to support you during your birth is wonderful. Your doula can help you relax and stay focused. She can help you to be more comfortable during the birth by suggesting ways to deal with the pain or different positions to try. When preparing for your birth, she can talk through your birth plan with you. She is truly there to watch out for you and your well being.

  • Yoga or Prenatal Fitness Class: Finding a way to get out and exercise during pregnancy can keep you in shape, relieve stress, and help you prepare for birth. I took both yoga and cardio/strength classes through FITMOM and would highly recommend their services. You can also buy a prenatal fitness or prenatal yoga DVD to stay in shape at home. I found getting out of the house and working out with other pregnant moms to be nice, but I also owned a Prenatal Yoga DVD that I used at home sometimes too.

  • Prenatal Massage: A massage is a wonderful thing during pregnancy, especially towards the end. Some massage therapists have tables designed especially for pregnant women with a cutout in the table equipped with a support hammock for your belly that allows you to lie on your tummy during the massage. Others will just have you lie on your side. But be sure to ask if your massage therapist is trained in prenatal massage.

  • Quality Take-Out: There will be times when you are too tired or too nauseous to cook. Sure those pregnancy cravings may lead you to not so healthy take-out choices sometimes (a poutine almost every Friday during my first pregnancy...), but you don't always want to reach for McDonald's or Burger King when you don't feel up for cooking. Find out about a quality food service near you where you can pick up tasty, healthy, ready to serve meals.

  • Chiropractor: A lot of people who had back trouble during pregnancy swear by their chiropractor. Personally, I have never used one but I have heard of many other people who did and loved it, including Kelly (@kblogger).

What did I miss?

Do you have additional suggestions? I covered the things that were essential to me and that got mentioned by numerous other people when I asked for suggestions. But there were many individual suggestions that didn't make it into the post. Feel free to add your individual thoughts in the comments on which products you found essential and why in the comments section. Also if you have specific brand recommendations for any of the types of products I mentioned, feel free to add your thoughts too.

Disclosure: I did not receive free products or compensation for mentioning any of the products listed in this post. They were all selected based on my own experience with products I purchased myself and the suggestions of others.

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Reader Comments (45)

Hmmm..some things I agree on but most of your essential list definitely was not on my essential list during my pregnancy. Funny thing, I was hoping to love the bella band but found it didn't work for my figure. Prepregnancy I had a tiny waist and curvy hips and the band would always roll up. I even tried different sizes.

November 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMama in the City

[...] Essential Pregnancy Products Guide | PhD in Parenting [...]

November 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHappy kids – have them g

I'm not sure how much of that I would really call 'essential'. Nice to have, certainly, but not really essential.

That said, for the belly balm? Check out Spa Sisters, a small WAHM company from Ontario. https://www.spasisters.ca//thespasisters/home THey just introduced their baby line, and I was lucky enough to get to test some of it, including the belly butter, and it's fabulous: https://www.spasisters.ca//thespasisters/store?category_id=52

(I'm friends with one of the sisters, in the interests of full disclosure!)

November 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmma

I found a birth/exercise ball essential. It helps alleviate back and pelvic pain, helps with posture and is great for getting the baby into the optimal position for birth. It's also just a comfortable seat when hard chairs are unbearable and soft ones don't give enough support.

November 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNoble Savage

I would agree with tank and yoga pants. You can often manage your non-maternity shirts over a nice maternity cami for a while. I never used a big pillow, bella band or support belt.

I found one of those microwave rice packs very helpful for lower back pain. For working moms, I'd definitely also say any sort of ergonomic additions to the office chair or extremely supportive shoes if they're on their feet at work.

Lavender essential oil was important for me for helping with sleep (not applied to the skin.) I had to use hand lotion after I washed my hands do to extreme dryness but I never really liked doing a belly butter. Since my eyes became extremely dry during pregnancies, I had to have good quality eye lubricant on hand and couldn't' wear my contacts for two months.

November 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

Great ideas. I want to add that I also loved the Baby Silk liquid powder (goes on like a cream, dries to a powder) for under the enormoboobs when I was pregnant. Couldn't have lived without it. I hear the Maryon Good Baby balm is great for the same reason.

(And by the way, I never would have thought for a minute that you received anything for your suggestions.)

November 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMom101

Oh YES to the preggo yoga! It saved it.
I also used some of the positions for pain relief in labour -- very helpful.

November 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDesiree Fawn

I was a winter 2nd/3rd tri mom, and I needed comfy, slip on shoes that could make it through lots of rain and snow.

My favorite were the winter clog type style of shoes from Columbia.

November 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

I had The Mother of All Pregnancy Books and loved it-- I loved having a book that acknowledged that not all pregnant women experience X symptom during Y month. Another book I found extremely helpful was Dr Sears' "The Birth Book." I didn't have much in the way of natural childbirth classes available to me at the time, so most of my preparation came from that book. I found it to be very helpful and comprehensive, with a lean towards natural childbirth but without as much pressure/guilt as elsewhere. They encouraged finding out about ALL your options in case you ended up needing an epidural, c-section, etc, and did a great job of preparing you for all the possible outcomes. A friend of mine needed to have a scheduled c-section and she found The Birth Book to be very helpful for her.

I had several long maternity tanks from Old Navy and Gap and lived in them. Not only are they nice for extending the wear of non-preggo clothes as you mentioned, but also for layering under other maternity tops-- I found that a grand majority of maternity tops were very low cut for some reason (maybe they're trying to make them nursing tops, too? I don't know). So it was nice to have a tank top I could wear under those to not show tons of cleavage if I didn't want to.

My fave slip-on shoes during my first pregnancy were Danskos. They were easy to put on and off (at a time I couldn't even think of trying to tie anything), and very very supportive and comfortable to wear.

November 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMarcy

I wouldn't consider all of it to be truly essential, but definitely a great list to start from. (As a person who's definitely into products, I only had a couple of these and didn't find life without them to be lacking.)

I'd say a big service left off of this list is a breastfeeding class. The time to learn about breastfeeding is during pregnancy, and that knowledge is more essential than any product.

November 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy (@HappyMomAmy)

@Amy: Yes- that is a good point. A breastfeeding class is a great idea. It all depends on your learning style, I suppose. I didn't go to prenatal classes or breastfeeding classes, but I did read a lot and discuss things with my doula.

November 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I found myself nodding at each and every one of your recommendations! I also recommend prenatal aquafit (I was hugely pregnant in August).

I cannot say enough good things about The Birth Partner. We both read it cover to cover and then came back to it probably 20 times during my lengthy (2 weeks) prodromal labour for reassurance. By the time my water broke (at home) I was over 6cm dilated! I likely would have hit the hospital several times during those 2 weeks, and maybe even ended up with artificial augmentation, if we hadn't read in Simkin's book about the normal progress of labour, the chain of interventions, etc.

For shoes, I lived in Clarks sandals - a bit orthopedic but they kept me stable on my feet and not too hot.

November 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commenternatalieushka

I would say,"Beware 'alternative' medicines," such as chiropractic. Although they can have benefits for certain conditions, they tend to advertise themselves as cure-alls, and are not without their dangers (e.g. risk of stroke associated with chiropractic manipulation of the neck).

And once your baby's born there'll be promises of treatments for everything from sore nipples to bed-wetting from homeopaths, cranial-osteopaths, reflexologists and their kin.

November 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRob A

I really appreciated having a doula for the birth of my daughter. However I recognize not all couples can afford one. It's too bad doula services aren't covered by benefits plans but if you can afford to have a doula, she can be a great supporter for you before, during and after the birth of your baby.

Also - totally agree that a breastfeeding class is a must during pregnancy! Breastfeeding is natural but it's not always easy!

November 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelany Gallant

Essential Pregnancy Products Guide | PhD in Parenting...

Are you a newly pregnant mom? Or are you looking to buy a gift for a pregnant mom? Check out this crowd-sourced list of essential pregnancy products for ideas...

November 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermomshare.net

I'm totally with you on the belly balm! I used regular lotion when my tummy was just itchy from stretching, but when I was dealing with Braxton Hicks contractions I used Lunabalm (http://www.lunapads.com/product.aspx?ProductID=76&deptid=6&), which is made for menstrual cramps but worked like a charm during pregnancy, too! Often the only way I could get to sleep was by rubbing it all over my belly.

November 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCate

Interestingly, I birthed at Lexington Medical Hospital in West Columbia, SC and they provided a doula for free! There is only 1 doula a day and it is first request, first serve. But lucky for me, my husband told every nurse from the moment we entered that we needed the doula! And we got her! She was great! She not only assisted during labor, but was able to tell me what to anticipate being in the hospital setting attempting a natural child birth. :)

November 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersmoaksmom

I agree with full body pillow, pregnancy/birth books (i think i read 10!) and prenatal yoga! I also could not have lived without Tums. I had some MAD heartburn. Yuck!

November 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersmoaksmom

I sucked a lot of peppermint when I was pg to help combat the queasy-nasties. I also found decently soft tissues a blessing for pregnant nose. Also, decent cloth pads for the third trimester when you can't move your head too quickly without urine escaping.

November 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterslee

I'm a huge fan of acupuncture during pregnancy. It can be helpful for everything from 1st trimester morning sickness to 40th week inductions.

I also swear by nettle tea to keep swelling down. And I love any product by Earth Mama Angel Baby!

November 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Great books mentioned, but I would definitely add Ina May's Guide to Childbirth (http://www.inamay.com/). It's amazing and it revolutionized how I saw my body during & after my second baby's birth. I really can't express just how good this book is. Check it out!

November 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterColleen

I can't believe you missed out dungarees! ;) I don't think I could have survived pregnancy without mine!

November 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnji

Also consider a doula who is trained but not yet certified. They will often offer their services for very low price or free, in return for your filling out an evaluation form after your birth. Local doula trainers often have lists of new doulas looking for this experience.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

Thanks for posting this list... this preggo does read these things!

In the last few weeks I have been given a new pair of Crocs, home blended body butters, a bottle of mother's special blend skin toning oil and my best friend DONA certified to be my doula for the birth of our baby in June. I think others look for this kind of list for gift ideas too.

December 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkia

Can't speak from personal experience but I've been told by a couple of people to AVOID the much publicized book "What to expect when you're expecting" or at least read it with a grain of salt as it focuses a great deal on what can go wrong and worst-case-scenarios - some people want to know everything and be ready for whatever may come but for more nervous mama-to-be's it might not be the best choice.

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterchapeskie

I love most of these ideas but I really think it's a bad idea to encourage flip-flops. They don't provide any support, which means they can actually add to all the already existing aches & pains! A family friend who's an orthopedic surgeon cautioned us against them strongly enough that I wore sneakers (had to loosen the laces eventually) my entire pregnancy, even 39 weeks pregnant in July, and I don't even own any flip-flops anymore. I did wear crocs to the hospital though so I wouldn't ruin my sneakers!

November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaman A Droit

for the breastfeeding book - i'd add this book to the list - http://www.lifeforcefamilyhealth.com/breastfeeding_book.htm - it is really a picture book and i find it very helpful, especially for first time moms. i always bring this to breastfeeding classes being conducted by my group to show pregnant moms various breastfeeding positions, perfect latch, etc. etc.

November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

I think the recommendation for fitness is very important. To get exercise and relieve some of the stress on joints and back pain, I recommend swimming. It has numerous benefits such as the weightlessness, cardiovascular workout, non-jarring for joints, no worries of falling or losing balance, etc.

December 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

One must have (or really nice to have) would be some good foot lotion. I had some peppermint foot lotion that my husband would rub on my feet, which by third trimester was SO necessary!! Your feet take such a beating carrying around that much extra weight, so a good food rub really rejuvenates them.

I agree 100% on the body pillow! As soon as I was pregnant the second time, I ran out and bought one. And my favorite pregnancy book was the Mayo Clinic Guide to a healthy Pregnancy. There's week by week guides of how your baby is developing, symptoms check lists, and TONS of info on what your body is going through and why.

The belly butters are great, but it would be good to get one without too strong of an aroma. Someone gave me some my last pregnancy, and I couldn't use it because the smell made me so nauseous (even after first trimester).

December 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSara

For me essentials include a good supportive pillow. My Snoogle is too flat to be truly supportive, so I am going to switch to a foam pillow/body pillow combo. I also love using pure coconut oil on my belly. The smell is fresh enough and dissapates quickly enough not to bother me. Chobani yogurt is another necessity. It's got twice the protein of a normal yogurt, so it's a very good snack.

I was not a fan of bella bands. I found that they squished my digestive tract too much and contributed to nausea. I try to avoid anything that's tight across my belly.

I long for a pair of Lululemon yoga pants, but, alas, they're out of my price-range.

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMolly A

My wife found a body pillow to be a huge help! It really helped with her back pain. As well, she had regular visits with her chiropractor, which were also helpful for this issue.

We read a number of books, none of which are really worth mentioning. They were all kind of alarmist, and not very positive.

Great list, by the way! I'll be directing relatives here next time we get pregnant, so we'll get useful gifts instead of more baby clothes. Thanks!

I am glad these things were helpful to you, but except for the books and belly support,were any truly essential? It's a very middle class consumerist list.

Must also point out it is a list for a certain kind of pregnancy - a normal one. After two HG pregnancies I have a much different list - and mine involves IV fluids and medication.

June 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCin

I've been looking to surprise my wife with a few items for our pregnancy. I hadn't even thought about footwear. Thanks so much, this entry helps me a lot!

Dadzooks

June 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdadzooks

I loved my bellyband as well, was so useful especially on my second when my bump was very big! Also loved the body pillow. I think book wise - I second the other poster who suggested InaMay Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth. It is invaluable - I always recommend it to women, so many inspiring stories and great information. I think towards the end of pregnancy it can be useful to start thinking about how you would like to parent (well for me it was anyway), so The Baby Book by Dr Sears is a helpful book to have.

I found GentleBirth hypnobirth Workshop and CDs (www.gentlebirth.com) invaluable on my first as I so nervous about the birth yet was hoping for a natural birth at home and didn't feel I'd be able to manage it until I went along to the workshop and starting listening to the CDs - along with Ina Mays book I felt confident and fear free and I attribute the preparation to my two beautiful births.. I loved the course do much I now teach the classes in my part of the world.

Finally I also second the idea of doing a breastfeeding class BEFORE baby comes along when you can take it all in!

November 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

I loved my bellyband as well, was so useful especially on my second when my bump was very big! Also loved the body pillow. I think book wise - I second the other poster who suggested InaMay Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth. It is invaluable - I always recommend it to women, so many inspiring stories and great information. I think towards the end of pregnancy it can be useful to start thinking about how you would like to parent (well for me it was anyway), so The Baby Book by Dr Sears is a helpful book to have.

I found GentleBirth hypnobirth Workshop and CDs (www.gentlebirth.com) invaluable on my first as I so nervous about the birth yet was hoping for a natural birth at home and didn't feel I'd be able to manage it until I went along to the workshop and starting listening to the CDs - along with Ina Mays book I felt confident and fear free and I attribute the preparation to my two beautiful births.. I loved the course so much I now teach the classes in my part of the world.

Finally I also second the idea of doing a breastfeeding class BEFORE baby comes along when you can take it all in!

November 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

i, too, found that the bella bands roll up. i also don't see how they would be strong enough to hold up pants...

i use them as boob bands! i have a DD rack when not pregnant and it expands a LOT when I am pregnant. maternity shirts are often very low-cut and reveal the huge, huge bras I wear. a bella band over my boobs does the trick just fine!

also, the chiropractor who is certified in Webster technique can help to ensure optimal fetal positioning for labor and delivery.

November 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaty

I'd be interested to see a guide like this for the first year of baby's life. Especially because there are SOOOOO many products, most of which aren't necessary or even useful to a lot of people.

December 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary E

My essentials are not really things that I'll have afterwards. I found for my pregnancy having a steady supply of OJ (it helped prevent bouts of morning sickness following taking prenatal vitamins) and TUMS for heart burn. Other than buying comfortable maternity clothes including yoga pants, I didn't use a single thing on this list.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Belly bands always rolled up on me & I regretted buying one. I didn't want to spend a mint for a huge body pillow that would take up half our bed, I just used an extra two regular pillows, one between my knees & under the side of my belly, the other behind me to stop me from rolling onto my back (because later on the discomfort would wake me up).

I used some pregnancy oil on my belly & that helped with the itchiness, but I don't believe for a minute that it does anything to prevent stretch marks.

Prenatal aquafit was awesome--some type of prenatal fitness class is definitely an essential. I'm not much for swimming (never could get the rhythm of breathing right & I always feel a bit desperate to get air) but you don't need to with aquafit. I particularly liked the deep water class, where we used flotation belts & pool noodles to keep floating while we swished around. There were lots of games & partner activities designed to get you interacting with other preggos, plus tips & ideas from the instructors who were well trained & had all been pregnant before.

Chiro & massage really helped keep my hips & back from getting painful. Though my labour was short--8 hours--my doula had some great tricks that helped me. It was great to have an extra pair of arms to do double hip squeezes & take photos.

I lived in maternity tanks, as I was due in August. I found I went through a few sizes of maternity pants though--I kept growing out of them. The only thing that fit all the way through was a gathered skirt I made. Flat comfy shoes are a must any time.

I think one thing I'd add to this list is a nice supportive chair & foot rest. I used an Ikea Poang set to put my feet up & read or use my laptop. It wasn't easy to get out of when I was really pregnant, but it was super comfortable. Since Sprout was born I've used it as a nursing chair. Because the bentwood frame is flexible, you can bounce in it a bit to help get babies to sleep & it was WAY cheaper than a glider or rocker.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Extra pillows were a must during pregnancy. A pillow that I wish I had though during my pregnancy was the Nneka Nursing Pillow.

http://www.nneka.ca/site_anglais/nneka_a.html

It's a tube pillow filled with buckwheat and is perfect for putting behind the back when side sleeping. It's really heavy so it stays in place perfectly. I still use it and my baby is 10 months old! Post partum, I have used the pillow to keep baby in place during side lying breastfeeding or as a buffer between me and baby. It's very firm so safe for baby. I'd give this pillow to all my pregnant friends. It's actually another mom that recommended it to me.

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichy

The only thing here that was essential to me was a bella band. It saved me money because i could wear non-pregnancy shirts longer. The rest is extra. I dont like it when things like this make new moms think that they need tons of stuff, especially if they have limited funds. All you need is clothes to keep you covered, and enough information to be ready to make informed birth and breastfeeding decisions.

March 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeather Quick

Whether they are essential or not depends on your perspective and situation. Without the support belt and body pillow, I would have been in a lot of pain and spending money on physiotherapy instead. Having a stainless steel water bottle is a lot less expensive and an easier way to ensure you get the amount of water you need than buying bottled water. Buying yoga pants instead of maternity pants meant that I could keep wearing them after my pregnancy (I still wear the yoga pants that I wore 6 years ago when I was pregnant).

March 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I agree. I would call the support belt and the extra pillows "essential" in the true sense of the word. The couple of days I didn't wear my ugly support belt, I was in so much pain I could barely stand by the end of the day. And as for pillows - absolutely - the body pillow itself isn't necessary, but Annie says, and I agree, that extra pillows, for me, were essential (actually I used a buckwheat nursing pillow called a Nneka nursing pillow - I used it for nursing, belly support during pregnancy, and back support while nursing lying down - it has paid for itself a million times over).

I think this list is great. I didn't disagree with any of it - while I'm sure I wouln't have died without them, these are "make your life easier and more enjoyable" items, not "make your life prettier" items.

March 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJuliette

Ha I didn't see this when I posted below. I agree completely. I bought one when my daughter was about 6 months old and used it every night until she was around 3 for night-nursing behind my back.

Then I used it during pregnancy with my son, for nursing in the early days, and now behind my back again. I figure I'm at about $.005 cents/use at this point!

March 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJuliette

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