Posted December 7, 2020
Written by: Edie Horstman (TULA- Wellness)
Disclaimer: Most of my pregnancy was not during the height of COVID-19. Our baby was born shortly after many U.S. cities and states began seeing spikes, though. Given this unprecedented time, remember that meeting your basic prenatal needs is most important.
Let’s talk pregnancy must-haves. As an expecting mama (congrats!), you might be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of recommended books, podcasts, and products. Fear not. While I am no expert, I can speak from personal experience, and there are a few essentials that may relieve your morning sickness, minimize your growing body’s aches and pains, and give you peace of mind as you enter motherhood. At any rate, just be gentle with yourself. When possible, rest. Honor your cravings. And don’t forget to speak kindly to your changing body.
For countless reasons, I’m very grateful my pregnancy was both uncomplicated and truly enjoyable. That privilege is not lost on me. Throughout those nine months, I constantly reminded myself I was fortunate to be feeling well — let alone be pregnant. If you’ve come across this blog post and are struggling to conceive, are newly pregnant after miscarrying, or are experiencing other fertility woes, you are not alone. Trusting the process, remaining hopeful, and respecting your body’s journey are more important than ever. I see you, and my heart goes out to you.
My first trimester was a blur. Looking back, I felt chronically tired, craved a lot of pizza, and experienced minor morning sickness. Naturally, I felt anxious about properly caring for our developing baby, especially before I could feel him in my belly. I started seeing a neighborhood therapist, and she helped ease my worries in those early months. My sister encouraged me to seek support, and I’m so glad she did. Around 16 weeks, my energy increased, and I began noticing our little one’s kicks and tumbles. Those constant, beautiful movements quickly became my favorite part of pregnancy. At this point, exercise felt great and getting fresh air was a non-negotiable.
As I entered my third trimester, I loved watching my belly grow, and grow, and grow. For the last few months, I had to pee all the time, and I dealt with round ligament pain as the days went on. But despite occasional discomfort, being pregnant was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The female body is a force to be reckoned with. During those coveted nine months, I found a few resources and products to be worthwhile — from insightful books to comfy leggings and supportive sports bras, below are my tried and true pregnancy essentials.
My favorite clothing brands for all-things pregnancy are Kindred Bravely (nursing bras and tanks), Wear Pact (bras, leggings, and t-shirts), Motherhood Maternity (leggings and robes), PinkBlush (dresses and sweaters), and lululemon (leggings and sports bras). As someone who worked from home and was pregnant during the colder months, I kept my wardrobe as comfortable as possible. And yes, I took to my husband’s sweatpants and sweatshirts on the regular.
Although our baby arrived last month, I am still wearing many of my pregnancy clothes. Eventually, I’ll either store them away or donate them. For now, they’re helping me ease into my body’s new set point — whatever that may be — and I’m happy to be getting longer use out of them.
Prior to getting pregnant, I increased my vitamin B12, magnesium, and zinc, under the care of a Registered Dietitian. Implementing these vitamins and minerals — to avoid deficiencies — may have helped minimize my morning sickness. But, it’s also possible I simply got lucky. I started taking MegaFood’s Baby & Me 2 prenatal too, in addition to fish oil, vitamin D, and a prenatal DHA (you can read about the importance of omega-3s here).
A few of my favorite vitamin brands are Nordic Naturals and Pure Encapsulations. Premama makes great supplements and powders for pre and postpartum too. To stay hydrated and maintain my body’s electrolyte levels, I added Ultima (daily!) to my water. I also drank plenty of bone broth. If morning sickness is getting the best of you, check out Pink Stork — this company makes a variety of prenatal and postnatal powders, pills, and teas, including nausea products. Keep in mind I am not a doctor, so please consult with your OB/GYN before making changes to your vitamin routine.
The two iPhone apps I downloaded and used were the Bump and Preglife. Every week, I was able to read about the baby’s development in the womb, his average size, etc.
In recent years, I’ve turned to natural, (mostly) non-toxic skincare and makeup products. Throughout my pregnancy, I used Cocokind, Primally Pure, Ilia, and the Spoiled Mama on my face and body. I still use these as I breastfeed — they’re true staples in my quick and minimal self care routine.
Throughout my first, second, and third trimester, I only read a handful of books. I didn’t want to feel inundated with information, and as I’ve mentioned before, I believe that a good chunk of parenting is an ode to listening to your intuition. Plus, if you have a strong support system — be it family or friends — their guidance / advice is worth a listen. That said, these are the books I found to be practical aids in regards to nutrition, child rearing, and baby’s development in the womb.
Real Food for Pregnancy: As someone who focuses on both intuitive eating and consuming real, whole foods, I found this book to be very informative. It’s chock-full of ways to optimize maternal and fetal health, for those who are interested in pregnancy nutrition. I certainly didn’t follow the guidelines to a T (I ate my fair share of pizza and ice cream during those nine months), but the book was a great resource.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting: This book is basically the holy grail of all-things pregnancy. It’s very, very thorough.
Cribsheet: A friend of mine gave this to me, and I loved it. This book is written from the viewpoint of a mama and economist, and it’s both informative, research-based, and easy to digest.
Bringing Up Bébé: Eye-opening and hilarious, this book is a must. Written from the perspective of an American mother in France, this book dives into the aspirations of French parenting. I was hooked from page one.
Body work. It’s certainly less of an essential and much more of a luxury, but it can make a world of difference during pregnancy. As the uterus expands, you may feel discomfort and pressure in the pelvic area, thighs, and back. In particular, I dealt with round ligament pain, lower back soreness, and tight IT bands. Budget allowing, a combination of acupuncture, treatment from a soft tissue chiropractor, and the occasional massage did wonders. In the very least, make sure to use a couple of pillows (or a maternity pillow) to stay comfortable at night.
Leading up to my pregnancy, I alternated between pilates, cycling, walking, and a bit of yoga. During my first trimester, I essentially kept the same exercise routine. Except, I scaled back on the frequency. I felt exhausted during the first couple of months, so I said sayonara to early morning exercise in lieu of sleep. Naps were a must. Listening to my body was — and still is — so critical. By my second trimester, I stopped most forms of exercise, other than walking and short strength workouts on Youtube. My physical goals were to simply circulate my blood, prepare my body for labor, and maintain strong muscles for postpartum. As I mentioned, be gentle with yourself. Conserving your energy is key. Here are some of the best prenatal online workout classes.
I hope this guide is helpful! Take care, and I’ll be back soon with more pregnancy and postnatal blog posts. Photos by the talented @jackie_segedin.
Edie Horstman is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, freelance writer, and advocate of practical wellness. For wholesome recipes, thoughts on motherhood, and how to live sustainably, head to her website, Wellness with Edie.