Now that I’ve been pregnant twice, I’d like to think I’ve become well-versed on all things pregnancy. Over the course of spending 17 months knocked up (but, I mean, who’s counting?!) I’ve accumulated a pretty exhaustive list of favorites. I’ve broken down these pregnancy essentials into four categories: 1. Essentials for Style, 2. Essentials for Health, 3. Essentials to Read, and 4. Essentials to Treat Yo’ Self. Each item has a link for purchasing along with a blurb about why I love that item. I numbered everything for ease of skimming because it’s rather lengthy, but I wanted to be sure I shared all the important details as I really do love all of the things on this list.
So, without further ado I give you my pregnancy essentials…
Essentials for Style:
Your boobs are going to undergo some ch-ch-ch-ch-changes during your pregnancy, and you’re probably going to have to size up on your bras. While your first thought might be to just run out and buy your usual bra in a bigger size, I highly recommend purchasing some nursing bras instead. Why nursing bras when you’re not actually nursing yet? Well, in the event that you don’t have a massive milk supply like I did, or once your girls shrink back down a bit, you might find yourself in one of those pregnancy-size bras — and wouldn’t it be nice if you already had a nursing version in the size you needed?
The maternity bras I bought during my pregnancy with my daughter actually ended up being the right size once my milk supply settled in, so I was definitely glad I already had the right bras equipped with nursing clips. I really like Bravado’s nursing bras. My favorites are the Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra (great for night time, but let’s be real, I totally wear this during the day too because it’s so comfy) and the Bliss with Lace Nursing Bra (a little lace always feels pretty). I tend to avoid underwire bras for nursing because I have an irrational fear of clogged milk ducts/mastitis, but they also carry those too. Also, the Essential Embrace Bra is a great option for moms who aren’t sure how much their sizing will change post-baby since the bra has this special four-way stretch fabric that grows with you. I’m in between sizes so mine doesn’t actually fit yet, but I have one on hand for when my milk does come in. The fabric is also quick drying, which is super convenient for those obnoxious milk leaks.
When I’m pregnant I don’t increase so much in cup size as I do in band size (Apparently mammary glands even live in your arm pits! What?!!). Because of this, it’s pretty much impossible to find my bra size. With boobs that are on the small size, they don’t make large enough bands — even most of the maternity bras I’ve tried (except the Bravado ones I mentioned above) tend to be tight on me, which is why bra extenders are brilliant. Basically it’s an inexpensive and easy way to simply add a few extra hooks to the bras you already have or the new ones you need that don’t quite come in your size.
Last pregnancy, I rocked a belly band for a good chunk of time. They did a pretty decent job of holding up my pants and all, but after a while they lost their stretch and just weren’t cutting it anymore. On top of that, I was wearing long tanks underneath all my tops as well, and the layering situation wasn’t ideal. This pregnancy I discovered Blanqi Body Stylers and I’m in love. They work as a long tank for extra coverage and a belly band to help hold up your pants during those early days (and postpartum!). They also help lift and support your belly and disperse your pregnancy weight around. It gives you extra back support to help you adjust to carrying around a big bump in front and eliminates any bumps and bulges to give you a nice smooth look. I also love the under-bust cut that allows you to wear whatever bra you wish throughout/after your pregnancy — and the design is great for nursing postpartum too!
4. Storq Basics
Storq is pretty much your one-stop shop when it comes to all things pregnancy: Basics, Body, and Beauty. One of the most overwhelming things about pregnancy is the fact that it can suddenly seem like you need to run out and buy so much “stuff,” like a whole new wardrobe for your expanding body and an entirely restocked medicine cabinet of bath and beauty supplies. Storq takes the guess work out of this process and simplifies it down to the basics. Instead of buying an entirely new wardrobe, just buy the basics bundle from Storq (a dress, leggings, skirt + tank in versatile blacks and whites), and you can mix and match throughout your entire pregnancy because the clothes will grow with you! It’s seriously brilliant and the quality is so good (plus, the fabric is ridiculously soft!). Basically it has everything you need to look chic and effortless throughout your 9 months of human-growing. More on the body and beauty aspects later on in this post…
A lot of women simply skip the swimwear when they’re pregnant, but we have a hot tub and a daughter who likes to go swimming, so swimwear is a must for me. There are a lot of super heinous maternity swimsuits out there and the ones that are cute are crazy expensive. The best value I found in my search was at ASOS. Cute suits and not obscenely expensive. Here’s the suit I have (top and bottom). I went for black because it’s most flattering and I liked the fun tie detail. Two pieces are also a must (though there are some really cute one-piece options) because I plan on wearing the suit during my water birth. I wanted to option to ditch the bottoms … for obvious reasons.
I never buy maternity tanks since discovering the long camisoles at H&M. They’re brilliant for pregnancy and postpartum because they’re super long and the price is right at only $5.95! Sold. I have a ton of these in different colors … but mostly black because it’s most versatile and I’m boring like that.
I am a total jeans girl. Actually, I don’t even own any other type of pants (aside from leggings, but those don’t count). During my first pregnancy I ignored this simple fact and tried to go the cheapskate route and buy any old maternity jeans. It’s only 9 months, right? WRONG. If you are a jeans girl too, then jeans are the one item in your wardrobe you should probably invest in. I hated every pair of maternity jeans I owned, but I sucked it up and carried on. This time I got smart and splurged. After trying on like 18,000,000 pairs of maternity jeans (which by the way is way worse than shopping for regular jeans in case you were wondering) I found the holy grail of maternity jeans — at Macy’s of all places! I was actually about ready to wave the white flag of jean shopping defeat when my mom suggested I try Macy’s. Highly skeptical that I would find anything other than mom jeans, I went in and emerged victorious with a pair of dark wash skinnies from A Pea in the Pod. Who knew? I’m a devoted fan after my experience and I even bought a pair of jean shorts too (which I wore pretty much every day of our Caribbean cruise). But seriously, these jeans are the perfect amount of stretch and have room for growing hips without being baggy. I’ve worn them almost every day since so the price per wear is pretty fantastic.
Essentials for Health:
*Disclaimer for these health essentials: I am not a physician and as always you should consult your doctor or midwife before trying any of these exercises of remedies.
If you don’t know me, then you may not know that I’m a bit of an exercise hater, but I LOVE Barre3. I started doing the workouts online and then in-studio after having my daughter, and they totally changed my body (you may remember reading about my Barre3 journey here), not to mention the way I looked at my body and exercise. I love Barre3’s combination of ballet barre meets yoga and pilates and the fact that it can be modified to work for you wherever you’re at. It was perfect to get me into shape before getting pregnant and has been just as wonderful throughout my pregnancy. If you have a studio nearby, I highly recommend taking a class, but even if you don’t they have online classes and a Glow Prenatal workout designed specifically for pregnant mamas. I cannot say enough good things about it.
2. Rescue Sleep
Sleep can be hard to come by during pregnancy with all those aches, pains, and restless thoughts. On those occasional nights when I really can’t get any sleep, I use Rescue Sleep. A couple of sprays on my tongue helps calm me down enough to drift off to sleep. My midwife said this was OK to take during pregnancy, but pregnant or not it’s not meant to be an every night type of thing. I use it when I’ve exhausted my other resources. Maybe it’s just a placebo, but I don’t really care if it works!
I’m not gonna lie … this stuff tastes like crap (like cranberry-flavored pennies), but I have low iron levels and taking Floradix totally helps me. When I don’t supplement with iron I get crazy fatigue and this helps keep my energy levels up … plus apparently babies need iron or something.
Now, I’ll preface this by saying that I don’t get crazy bad heartburn during pregnancy, so this might not be the best heartburn solution if you get really terrible heartburn. I actually didn’t get it at all with my first pregnancy, but this time around I’ve definitely experienced it in the evenings. Papaya enzymes are basically an alternative to TUMS and they definitely help with the heartburn relief.
CalMag can be a great way to calm restlessness and relieve weird pregnancy aches and pains. My midwife recommended taking it before bed because I kept getting these weird shooting pains in my upper thigh and butt, and it really helped!
Confession time: I have a serious phobia of choking, hence I can’t (OK, don’t) swallow pills. Even if I could swallow pills though, prenatal vitamins are seriously like horse pills and there’s no way I was ever going to be able to choke them down. Thus began my hunt for a chewable option. Now, I know a lot of women love those gummy prenatals, but if you read the ingredients you’ll quickly realize that they are missing some of the most important ingredients (they have folic acid which is most important, but have zero — yes ZERO — calcium or iron which are prenatal staples). I took them for months before realizing this and making the switch to Bellybar chewable prenatal vitamins. I’ll admit the Bellybar vitamins aren’t quite as delicious and sweet as the gummy versions, but they taste decent and have all the main ingredients pregnant women need. It’s the best and most complete chewable option I’ve found.
Essentials to Read:
This book was hands down my favorite read during pregnancy. It explained what was going on in my body and what I could expect from labor in a way that left me feeling empowered, removing the fear that surrounded birth. While I didn’t actually bring myself into a hypnotic state during childbirth, I did employ quite a few of the techniques and found them to be really helpful.
This book is fantastic for helping to normalize birth. If you come from a background where birth is fear-filled like I did, this book will be a breath of fresh air. It is filled with encouraging birth stories that helped to change my mindset about what birth could really be like. Anything by Ina May is pretty much brilliant though.
Essentials to Treat Yo’ Self:
One of the hardest parts of pregnancy for me is not being able to drink coffee. I know I could, but it makes me worry too much, so I just avoid it. During my first pregnancy I didn’t even drink decaf, but this time I’ve had a decaf mocha almost every morning. I’ll be the first to tell you that decaf is totally not as good as regular, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. That said, the El Toro Blend Decaf from Water Avenue Coffee is the best decaf I’ve ever had. I’d even drink it if I weren’t pregnant, which is saying something. One of the owners started roasting it for his wife when she was pregnant, so you know it’s legit.
I mentioned earlier in the style essentials section, Storq also has beauty and body bundles filled to the brim with every pregnancy-safe beauty treat you could possibly need. You can purchase the items as a bundle or separately, and they have everything you’ll need to look, feel, and smell pretty throughout your pregnancy. My favorites are the lipstick and the nail polish. It’s a nice way to treat yo’ self when you’re feeling a little less than glamorous during pregnancy. Even the packaging is beautiful!
The one thing I miss most about pregnancy is being able to have a cocktail now and again. I’m not a big drinker, but I definitely love a good cocktail on occasion. Ginger ale does a decent job of filling the void, but not just any ginger ale. My absolute favorite has been Trader Joe’s (seasonal) Triple Ginger Brew, but since it’s only available around Christmas, I went on the hunt for something comparable and discovered Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew, which is now my favorite. I like my ginger ale to be less sweet and super gingery/spicy. Most ginger ales are far too weak for my taste and I don’t like the regular version of Reed’s ginger ale — but this extra ginger version is like heaven. One word of warning though: It doesn’t pair well with spicy foods since it’s already pretty spicy!
4. Bump Nest
When I was pregnant with my daughter I never had a pregnancy pillow. I stubbornly refused to use one, instead opting for the use of no fewer than eight pillows every single night. It was a problem. This pregnancy I got a Bump Nest pillow and I have to say it’s been pretty fantastic. It’s also nice not having to readjust a bajillion pillows every time I roll over in the night!
Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble.