PREGNANCY SURVIVAL GUIDE: 10 MUST-HAVES
When I found out I was pregnant, it was a rush and a shock. But, I was so excited. The excitement is dulled a little when you realize that little baby rooted in your belly is the cause of your constant nausea, first-time-in-your-life heartburn, complete and utter exhaustion…to name a few. There is hope though – toughing it out through those 9 months aren’t exactly easy (for some women!), but here are a few things that ACTUALLY worked for me:
- PAPAYA ENZYME – this is what I started taking for my heartburn. Truly, in all my life, I never experienced heartburn, and then I got pregnant. HOLY MOTHER OF PEARL. Literally I would wake up in the middle of the night with what felt like hydrochloric acid surging up my throat. OK, so I’ve never actually drank hydrochloric acid, but that’s what I image it would feel like. Seriously, I would sit up gagging with tears in my eyes – it was horrible. Anything and everything I consumed gave me heartburn. Sugary foods seemed to be the worst – ironic since I have the biggest sweet tooth ever. Papaya enzyme tastes waaaay better than TUMS plus it worked so much better for me! I took it all.the.time.
- WATER BOTTLE – if for nothing else this helps with the heartburn. Truly. If I had forgotten the papaya enzyme and I was at work, I would just guzzle cold water all day. I mean, you’re going to be peeing nonstop all day anyway, so why not. Plus, it’s recommended for pregnant women to consume 96oz. minimum per day – compared to the 64oz minimum for nonpregnant women. I would always shoot for a gallon (128oz), which is MUCH easier to do if you have a great water bottle. I used this one during pregnancy and in the first few weeks postpartum. It’s 34oz so you only have to refill it twice (drink three full bottles) to meet the 96oz requirement. But I’ve since switched to this one, which is 40oz and super convenient for breastfeeding and keeping my water cooler in the summer months. You can also purchase a 2-pack on Amazon. I purchased this one with the straw lid for my 6 month old. She absolutely LOVES it – and she had zero trouble with figuring out how to use the straw. Plus I love that it isn’t plastic like sooo many of the sippy cups out there.
- COMFORTABLE SHOES – I found out I was pregnant three days after I returned to school to finish a nursing degree. I had left my corporate marketing role to work as a Patient Care Assistant at a Level 1 Trauma hospital in Indianapolis for slightly over minimum wage. Every day I was on my feet, physically working hard, day in and day out. Plus I am cheap so I would walk 1.5 miles to class on all of the days I didn’t work in the hospital instead of paying $300+ for parking at the college campus I was attending. Seriously could not have survived without comfortable shoes. Between the fatigue, nausea, constant trips to the bathroom and eventually swollen feet and ankles – I would not have survived in anything less than athletic shoes. These are the ones I wore allllll the time (unless I was wearing my slippers!). They are super lightweight, breathable, great arch support and cushioned so well. Truly, so much comfort. Plus, once my feet were swollen enough I didn’t even need to tie them…silver lining, folks.
- COMPRESSION SOCKS – this ties right in to the comfortable shoes thing – compression socks kept my legs from cramping and swelling (at least until month 8). These also helped to prevent any varicose veins, which, come on… stretch marks on your belly, chest and hips, scars in [other] places, loose skin, acne everywhere…anything to prevent one more mark on my body – worth it. I wore these all the time, but be warned they were a little bit hot. Like I said though, worth it for all the other reasons! I’ve heard good things about these in terms of breathability, they are just a little bit pricier.
- WEDGE PILLOW – I didn’t really start to get big or even look pregnant for the first 5ish months of my pregnancy. But hooooooly cow I could feel it. To give you some perspective I am 5’1” and about 115lbs pre-pregnancy (on a good day), Tess was 21 ¼” long and 8lbs 2oz. So, she was literally born already stretching MORE THAN A THIRD of my size. Talk about feeling cramped. That poor little one was squished in there. I mean, I have a relatively long torso buuuuut there are lots of other essential things in there, you know, like organs and whatnot. By the time she was stretching out those legs, I was getting so uncomfortable whenever I would lay down. It felt like she was bruising my ribs by just growing! The only relief I could get was by wedging myself up on pillows and leaning back to pull my ribs away from her feet and rear end to try to create a little bit of space in there. I didn’t have this exact pillow, I had a much older one that my mom bought for me when I was in 6th grade for reading in bed. But seriously, the wedge pillow was a lifesaver. I know some people swear by the snoogle and other pregnancy pillows, but those would have done nothing to help me sleep because of her position and size. So, if you’re feeling completely squished, try the wedge.
- LAVENDAR ESSENTIAL OIL – Throughout my pregnancy was when I first started to use Young Living Essential Oils. Diffusing the lavender essential oil at night would help me to relax and fall asleep so much quicker than without! I will say that it didn’t completely alleviate the pregnancy insomnia…but it did help me to fall asleep faster and that counts for something! I would use a couple drops in my bath, add it to my lotion and stretch mark oil, use it on my skin to soothe some of the redness and irritation from my acne. There are lots of things out there about not taking hot baths during pregnancy, so just be aware. But I definitely took a couple warm baths to ease some of the aches. I swear it was the only way for me to feel any relief for my stretching skin and growing belly.
- LEGGINGS – just all the leggings. For real though. If leggings didn’t exist, I don’t think I would get pregnant again. There are so many different types of maternity leggings out there, but like I said I didn’t really even start showing until I was more than 5 months along, so I didn’t end up purchasing maternity leggings. Maybe next time though. I’ve always loved my Wunder Unders, and I wore my high-waisted Lulu’s until they were too tight on my belly – about 6.5-7 months along. On a whim I bought a pair of these from Athleta. Um seriously, I lived in them, they have a light compression and they are low-rise which was perfect for me – anything “over-the-bump” felt super restrictive rather than supportive. Plus, they are the perfect length on my 5’1” frame! I struggle a lot with pants/leggings being too long, so I’ve opted for buying 7/8 pants wherever they’re available. And as if I didn’t love them enough before, after going through my postpartum C-section recovery I didn’t take these off for like a month. The wide band and buttery soft fabric was perfect for my tender scar and sore belly. They are so comfortable. I will buy 3+ more of these for my next pregnancy. For sure.
- LONG-LINE BRALETTES – Let’s be honest, when you’re pregnant it’s all about the comfort. The last thing I wanted to do was strap the girls into an underwire bra – could think of few things more uncomfortable. Especially with my little girl pressing on all areas of my ribs and torso. I opted for sports bras for a time and they were great. But at some point you feel so frumpy and/or unattractive that all you want is just one article of clothing that feels at least the tiniest bit feminine and pretty. Cue long-line bralettes. Seriously, these are so unbelievably comfortable, plus they offer enough support. Not to mention, they are lacey and feminine and cute. This was all I wore after Tess was born too – they are comfortable enough that I even sleep in them. From the time she was born all the way through…well, the present! They’re great for breastfeeding too because they are cut low, so you don’t have to lift them up and over your boobs you just pull it out of the way. Something you never think about, I mean nursing bras are great and everything but eventually you are just over unhooking and rehooking your bra. That’s when I realized that these were just more convenient! I wear these religiously. They go on sale for less than $20 all the time, so just watch Aerie for deals! Plus they have free returns on all their bras. These are also a really cute option. Just be sure that when you are washing these postpartum (like every other day, honestly) let them air dry. They will hold up a lot longer! I’m impressed with the quality, honestly. Because when you’re getting spit up on, pooped on, and have milk coming in, you basically need to wash them every other day.
- THE BUMP APP – One of the first things I did when I found out I was pregnant was research. I started looking up everything from the best foods to eat to developmental progress of the baby to newborn essentials. You name it, I probably Googled it (or Pinterested it…that should totally be a verb now too since that’s my go-to search engine.) Basically all-things baby were on my mind, all the time. There are a lot of apps out there for expecting Mamas, but I found the Bump to be the best and most reliable resource. It’s got everything – baby registry suggestions, diet tips, work outs for all trimesters of pregnancy, breast feeding advice, developmental milestone calculators – I mean everything! Plus it’s free, and what better resource than a free one? You are able to enter your due date and track your babe’s progress too – which was awesome. I loved the fact that it gives you a countdown too! That was something I looked at OFTEN. You get the cliché fruit comparisons but also details on what’s going on in terms of physical development with your baby that week too. But it also clues you in to what are “normal” pregnancy symptoms based on the week you’re in, which is helpful and eases your mind too! I mean there are some weird things that happen during pregnancy, so having a list of the norms definitely soothed some of my pregnancy insomnia! At the bottom of each page (it’s divided by weeks) you get a pregnancy checklist – it tells you what you should be doing/have done like scheduling appointments, when to look for a Pediatrician etc. Plus the 3D feature on the app is so cool – it lets you see what physical traits are developing and when.
- PALMER’S STRETCH MARK OIL – I know that it’s vain but one of the things I worried about immediately upon discovering I was pregnant was the ways in which my own body would change. I mean, I knew that the end result would be worth any and all of the changes, but I also wanted to preserve what I could (AKA my skin!!). Stretch marks are a part of pregnancy, your skin’s elasticity will be tested – trust me! It was about 8 months before I really started to notice how itchy and dry my skin became. I was also 8 months pregnant in November/December, smack in the middle of Midwestern winter so that didn’t help matters! I used a combination of things for a while, but the BEST by far was Palmer’s Soothing Oil. I used their Stretch Mark Massage Lotion Right out of the shower I would use the soothing oil, then before bed I’d try to remember to use the lotion. If you’re like me and you don’t regularly moisturize (whoops, I know! Trying to get better about it) it’s best if you can get into a routine; apply lotion/oil at a time that you’ll remember every day. For me that was definitely after I showered – if I was in bed early and exhausted, there wasn’t a very good chance of me crawling out of bed to apply lotion. I did end up with a few stretch marks, but they’re very minimal compared to other Mama’s I know! If you get up really close or I point them out, then you can see them. But I have no problem strapping on my bikini. We’ll see how I feel after baby #2 comes along.