Almost as quickly as I began to celebrate the conception of my second child, I also began to suffer from the same nausea that plagued me for seven months during my first pregnancy. I was surprised and disappointed. Hadn’t I heard that every pregnancy was different? And yet, just three months into this pregnancy, I was feeling as tired, bloated, and nauseous as I did while carrying my daughter Sofía.
With six long months to go, I knew I needed to stock up on anything and everything that would ease me through the challenges of pregnancy. With information from new mothers to great-grandmothers, I’ve compiled a list of pregnancy comfort essentials that should help ease any mom-to-be’s occasional pregnancy woes.
Beatriz Gonzalez, a mother of three, admits that during much of her first pregnancy, vanity kept her from wearing maternity clothing. “I went into denial at the beginning,” she says. “I didn’t want to go shopping for maternity clothes, but regular pieces just wouldn’t fit.” Once she began to feel her baby move, Beatriz found it easier to accept the changes that were affecting her body and began to look for maternity clothes that accommodated her growing belly, without overwhelming her petite frame.
Many women find that, despite clothing manufacturers’ claims, maternity wear should not be purchased in the mom-to-be’s pre-pregnancy size. Consider purchasing items one size larger than your normal clothing size to avoid uncomfortably tight pieces later in your pregnancy. Mom Susan Bassett advises buying a few maternity tops that “show off the great boobs that most women have” while pregnant, as well as a few smaller items “to look forward to wearing post-pregnancy,” as a reminder that you won’t always be wearing small tents and muumuus.
Despite the popularity of flip-flops, they’re not really appropriate footwear for the majority of working women. I never invited more unwanted comments from strangers than when I wore comfortable, open shoes during my pregnancy! Besieged by warnings of permanently wider feet, I found myself searching for shoes that would ease the strain on my feet, while still providing support and looking fashionable. “Flats and small wedges, always in leather, expanded with my feet and my wardrobe,” says Susan. “I wore two pairs of shoes throughout my entire second pregnancy!” As a bonus, flats can ease the back strain and pain that are often associated with pregnancy.
A support bra is a must for larger-breasted women and those who experience breast tenderness during pregnancy. Specialty maternity bras can be a great option, and athletic bras will also offer comfortable support for some women. Many women find that wearing a bra to bed eases night discomfort.
So what about your lower half? Tina Figueroa hails “Lane Bryant’s undies” as “the best thing that happened to me during my pregnancy.” Though she doesn’t normally shop at the plus-sized store, Tina notes that the lycra/spandex panties “were comfortable and sexy, not like the ugly pregnancy styles that reminded me of old ladies.” For some women, investing in pretty undergarments or a silky nightgown may be the key to getting out of an “I feel fat” rut, whereas others may prefer the comfort of a large pair of soft flannels.
Skin and Body
Lotion is a universally-accepted “must-have” for all pregnant women. Keeping skin emollient can reduce the appearance of stretch marks and alleviate the itching that often accompanies growing bellies, breasts, and hips. With hundreds of brands available, it’s really an individual’s preference as to what lotion, cream, or body butter is the best. Don’t forget to add daily sunscreen as a vital part of your skincare routine, as pregnant women’s skin often becomes more sensitive to the sun’s rays.
A trip to the spa or salon can do wonders for aching muscles and weary feet. New mom Michelle Enderle-Jacobs advocates pedicures, especially once reaching your own feet becomes a challenge. Tina agrees, adding “having your toenails polished will make you feel more pulled together.” Additionally, some spas offer pregnancy facials and massages that will invigorate pregnant bodies and give expecting women an emotional boost as well.
Barb Stice, owner of Blossom Maternity, says that herbal scented eye-pillows are excellent tools for easing the sinus pressure and pain that are common in pregnancy. She adds that body pillows are popular with many pregnant women, as well. These pillows—some which are designed especially for moms-to-be—support growing tummies, ease tired muscles, and can help expecting women get a better night’s sleep.
During a visit to the OB-GYN or midwife, most women are given a list of food items that can help alleviate pregnancy-induced nausea. Crackers are a time-tested standby; you may not think of Saltines as a “pregnancy comfort essential,” but for me they’ve come in handy more than once in the middle of the night. Michelle found that hard sour candy worked best for her, while Susan kept a constant supply of lemonade on hand. Doctors often recommend ginger or vitamin B-6, proven to reduce nausea symptoms in pregnant women. (For safety, check with your doctor for the appropriate dosage.)
If you just can’t find the perfect food to ease your queasiness, try acupressure bands—originally designed to combat seasickness—to reduce nausea.
Some of the things that make women feel best aren’t always found on a list of typical pregnancy essentials. Barb advises pregnant women to shop for a temporary wedding ring with a larger band size to accommodate swelling fingers. She adds that some of the best things to do for comfort aren’t bought in a store. Prenatal yoga classes “help relax the body, keep you limber, ease pain, and tone the body—all at once,” she explains.
Michelle notes that “hearing reassuring stories about successful pregnancies and babies” was truly comforting, as was having her head scratched. “This addressed my physical and emotional discomfort,” she says.
I found refuge in the humor of “been there, done that” books such as Cynthia L. Copeland’s The Diaper Diaries, with an in-your-face style that had me laughing out loud and actually looking forward to sleepless nights and mysterious diaper deposits.
Pregnancy, although truly miraculous, can be challenging for a mother-to-be. Dealing with nausea, exhaustion, and the occasional beached-whale feeling isn’t easy. Finding what works best for you may take time, but once you’ve found your own comfort essentials, you’ll be able to relax more and focus on the beauty of carrying and nurturing your child.