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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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:
- The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers (by Jack Newman and Teresa Pitman)
- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (by La Leche League International)
- The Breastfeeding Book (by Martha Sears and William Sears)
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.