I wasn’t really prepared for how much stuff pregnancy brings into your life. I’m not talking about the baby paraphernalia – that is a whole post in itself and a little bit insane (and I might write one once I know what is useful and what isn’t) – but the things that you need just to stay comfy and healthy during your pregnancy. I had one or two items in the first trimester, now I’m in the third my list of pregnancy essentials is pretty long! These might not all be true for everyone, but they are certainly a fairly good guide if you’re just embarking on this amazing journey, or want some advice on what brand works/doesn’t, along with some tips I’ve picked up along the way. I’ve ordered them roughly from the things I needed earliest on, to those which were only necessary in the later stages (for me, everyone’s pregnancy is different of course). I hope you enjoy reading (and don’t get too scared, it really isn’t as bad as it sounds!), and feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.
1. Pregnancy Vitamins and Omega 3 Oil
As soon as you discover you are pregnant you need to start taking a good pregnancy vitamin to ensure your baby is getting everything they need on a daily basis. Almost all will include the essential daily dose of Folic Acid. It is obviously important to keep eating a balanced and healthy diet, but even if you do, your midwife will recommend a supplement. I have been using Biocare Pregnancy and Lactation Formula. They are a little more pricey than the likes of Pregnacare etc, but the vitamins are in a more bioavailable format so your body gets all the benefit from them, rather than some of it being flushed through your system as can happen with cheaper ones.
Also crucial is that you get enough Omega 3 for your baby’s brain development. Your best source is oily fish (though be careful with types and amounts, as some can contain mercury, e.g. tuna), but I am allergic to fish so I am taking a supplement. I have tried many over the years for my own health but always stopped because they had a horrible way of repeating on me throughout the day (nothing is so disgusting as fish burps, even if you like fish!). However, Bump and Glory promise not to do this and miraculously, it is true. Initially I did have a little repeat about half an hour after taking it, but now there is nothing. I will continue taking these even when I am no longer pregnant.
2. Decaf Coffee and Tea
If you’d told me I wouldn’t mind drinking decaf throughout my pregnancy 9 months ago, I would have laughed at you! It turns out, you just need to find the right ones and you can really hardly tell the difference. My favourite everyday tea is Twinings Earl Grey, and their decaf version tastes spot on (though takes longer to brew) but coffee was harder. We sometimes use a cafetiere or Aeropress, sometimes our pod coffee machine, so I needed good options for both. I discovered this locally-made Darkwoods Lamplight decaf coffee about half way through pregnancy and I wish I had found it sooner – it has absolutely no compromise on taste or quality and is absolutely worth the slightly higher price tag than other bean coffees – it also smells almost as good as the real deal when you grind it (which is my favourite part of the coffee-making process). For pods, the Taylors of Harrogate Brazil decaf are brilliant. Not quite the oomph of the freshly ground Darkwoods, but really tasty and I haven’t felt I am missing out on my morning coffee at all.
3. Pregnancy support pillow
Perhaps it’s true that pregnancy prepares you for the sleepless nights ahead with a newborn, because I have struggled with sleep since early in the second trimester. So many people recommended a pregnancy pillow for the later stages that I decided to try one early on, and I am glad I did. Medical advice these days (because it’s always changing, right?!) is that you should sleep on your side (preferably left) whilst pregnant, though as a back sleeper I really struggled with this and found myself waking up hugely guilty for naturally having rolled onto my back again. The Dreamgenii pregnancy pillow really helped with that, with a curved pillow down one side to hug into, and a second section on the other side of you to stop you rolling back over. So much so I am pretty much used to side sleeping now, though perhaps it is the weight of a giant belly anchoring me there! I have actually found in the last few weeks that the pillow is a little too high for my stomach now, so I’ve stopped using it, but the brilliance of this one is that it can also be used as a breastfeeding support when the baby arrives. They are expensive, but I got mine on eBay secondhand (and bought a new cover) for less than half the price, and it has been worth every penny.
Ummm. Yes. The less said about this the better really. You almost certainly will get constipated at some point in pregnancy (especially if you’ve been taking a lot of heartburn medication), and this is one of the few things you can take to help, other than eating lots of fibre. Anyway, it works. Take one sachet and wait for it to do it’s thing – do not decide to take two if you haven’t had an immediate effect, you will regret it!
5. Bigger Underwear
My chest became even bigger than normal almost overnight at the very beginning of pregnancy, and I needed to buy some new bras 3 cup sizes larger. Now at full term, they are bigger again and I am struggling to find comfy bras which fit, but waiting til the baby is born and my milk comes in to try to buy some nursing bras. I’d especially love to find a decent sleep bra for larger chests (all recommendations gratefully received), but anything I have tried so far has been useless.
I have also found that anything which cut in at the bottom of my bump has been extremely uncomfortable, so I’ve resorted to buying some giant M&S knickers that cover my bump half way. They are hideous and hilarious, but importantly, comfortable, and right now, that’s all I care about!
6. Fauxsecco and Mocktails
I love wine. Like, a lot. I thought 9 months without alcohol would be very difficult indeed. However, I’ve actually found it a lot less terrible than imagined – after all, it is for the best possible reason! I normally don’t really drink any soft drinks other than the occasional diet Coke, so I was getting very bored of my options until I started devising mocktails for myself of a Saturday night. My Moscow Donkey (like a Mule but without the kick!) is pretty good, and I love the Cawston Press drinks with some sparkling water and fruit (especially the cucumber and mint one and the apple and rhubarb). But the best discovery has been a non-alcoholic prosecco which tastes as good as the real thing! Most supermarkets have a non-alcoholic wine offering, most of which are too sweet for me, but the Rawsons Retreat non-alcoholic sparkling wine from Tesco is absolutely spot on. I may have got through a few bottles in the last 4 months since discovering it, and I am fairly tempted to continue on with it when no longer pregnant (or even breastfeeding) – loads of lovely bubbles and no hangover – what’s not to love? Except I just tried to add a link to it and Tesco website says it no longer sells it. Argh! If anyone knows where else you can buy this please shout. A glass in a hot bath of an evening has been blissful occasionally.
7. Comfortable Maternity Jeans
You will need maternity jeans. After a while it just becomes far too uncomfortable wearing your old ones below your bump, even if your bum hasn’t also grown out of them. I wrote a whole post in praise of some extremely comfy ones from Bump It Up Maternity, but I also bought a very smart pair from Seraphine which were expensive but are really great in terms of quality and looks. I am now barely fitting into either, and relying on maternity leggings, which I got in a 2-pack from George at Asda and which have been my staple wardrobe at home for most of the third trimester and no doubt will last me well after the birth too!
8. Heartburn Liquid
I have never had heartburn pre-pregnancy, now I have it after everything I eat and all night. At first I took my husband’s tablets, but I hated the chalkiness and fact you ended up with teeth stuck with little bits, so I splashed out on liquid Gaviscon, at £7.99 for a 150ml bottle. It was so much better – instant relief and none of the nastiness. I quickly got through that first bottle and was on to a second and realising we were probably going to need to remortgage the house for me to fund my Gav habit. Then my midwife prescribed me Peptid, so it was free. But even if you don’t get a prescription, it is 500ml for £2.99, a massive saving on Gaviscon and does exactly the same job! (59p per 100ml v £5.30 per 100ml). Do yourself and your bank balance a favour and stock up on Peptid.
9. Creams and Sanitary products
This is where it gets unpleasant. For the last 3 months I have suffered with haemorrhoids so Anusol has been essential (can’t believe have admitted that on the blog, but this post is designed to be useful to first time pregnant ladies so honesty is helpful!), and I have also needed to use Vagisil on occasion. All manner of things are going on down there, and you just have to be practical about them and not embarrassed (so much easier said than done). I have found also that I have needed to wear a pantyliner daily, and towards the last few weeks also sanitary towels, so stock up on these.
10. Sacroiliac Belt
This has been a godsend. I was suffering from really bad pelvic girdle pain when on long dog walks (to the point of being almost unable to walk by the time we got home), and rather than give up the dog walks, my acupuncturist recommended I get one of these, and specifically recommended Serola. I wasn’t convinced it would help, so bought one secondhand on eBay for under £10 (new they are around £40), but it has been excellent. It just carries a little of the weight of the bump for you and supports your lower stomach when you are exercising. I have been able to walk without pain since getting it until really the very last few weeks, when the pain has returned even with the belt. It is not recommended that you wear this all the time, because the muscles can weaken, but I highly recommend one for exercise.
So there you have it – my top suggestions for a comfy, healthy pregnancy. Although let’s face it, even with all the best gadgets and gizmos, pregnancy is not the most comfortable experience, but so worth it! What do you think? Were any of these pregnancy essentials for you too? Or was there something else you swore by which I haven’t included? Feel free to add your own must-haves in the comments!