Through both pregnancies I've learned that well designed products can really make this time easier and help a mom-to-be in many ways. Here is a small list of tried-and-true products that really made my two pregnancies so much more bearable and a few items that I haven't tried but others I know have highly recommended. As always, what works for one mom may not work for another, but we're here to help each other navigate through an overwhelming amount of stuff.
1. Pregnancy Body Pillow: Your first pregnancy may be the last months of decent sleep you will have in a long time, make the most of it! Not all body pillows are created equal, some will take up literally half a queen bed. I used the Dreamgenii and loved it! It was compact and supported not only the belly, but my back as well, and the legs. Without it I couldn't get any good sleep. I also used it to support nursing the baby after birth.
2. Prenatal Vitamins: After you get your beauty sleep, a good prenatal is a must because simply put, even the healthiest of diets will be lacking some nutrients that are depleted from our soils. Not to mention that pregnancy takes a lot out of your body. Do not buy cheap, synthetic vitamins sold at most stores - they are at best useless for your body and at worst toxic in accumulation. Make sure to buy food-based vitamins such as Rainbow Light Organic Prenatal One, New Chapter Perfect Prenatal, or Mega Food Baby & Me. If you're low on iron like I was, Floradix is by far the best option without unwanted side effects (i.e. constipation).
3. Belly Cream: While some women come out of pregnancy with no stretch marks, for many they are unavoidable. But you can significantly lessen or avoid them all together if you regularly use a natural belly balm all through pregnancy, and not necessarily just on the belly! I used Burt's Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter with great success and no stretch marks. Other popular natural brands are Earth Mama Angel Baby, Mama Mio Stretch Mark Oil, and Motherlove Belly Salve.
4. Belly Support: A necessity if you want to lessen back pain and avoid back problems, this is a must have for 6 to 9 months. I have actually tried several back support bands and my favorite was the Mamadoc Belly UpIt, it was so comfortable! It really helped alleviate back strain and mostly wasn't noticeable under clothing. I regretted it big time that I didn't have it with my first baby! I love the soft, bamboo material it is made of, never cut into my skin. The Upsie Belly by Belly Bandit is similar in design, though I haven't tried it.
5. Belly Band: Many smaller frame women like myself don't start showing until the 4/5 month mark and we literally drown in most maternity clothing. A belly band was a lifesaver for me, I could comfortably wear all of my own pants with a belly band until about seven months. It works great for any size woman really, and saves you time and money searching for comfortable pants. There are many out there, but beware of some of the cheaper ones that are low quality and will fall apart or stretch out in the wash. The consensus among moms seems to be that the BellaBand works best, but I also loved my QueenBee Organic Support Belly Band (from Australia).
6. Yoga pants: The single most worn item all through pregnancy? The comfy yoga pant with roll down waist! While you can get by without maternity jeans, which can get pricey, you cannot get by without yoga pants. A stretchy, roll down waist is the key. You'll be living in these, and not only through pregnancy! A bonus that they don't have to be expensive and you can buy them in your own size virtually anywhere. These bamboo or organic cotton ones are great options.
7. A Photo Session: Okay, so this one you can really do without, but I can guarantee that you will regret not having any nice, good quality belly pics when pregnancy is over with. You could splurge and hire a professional, or you can find a photography student who needs some experience and a model, most of them are really good. The photo above was taken by a photography student! I found her on Craigslist. You could also attempt a DIY maternity photo session. Here is some inspiration on Pinterest!
8. Comfy Flat Shoes: This is obvious, but remembering myself pre-kids - I didn't have many flat shoes that were roomy enough for pregnancy. Inevitably, your feet may swell a little, especially in the last trimester. You may find your comfy shoes not so comfy anymore. My absolute favorite ones were the Nada shoes (similar to these). Some other options would be the Merrell Delight Glove and the Vivobarefoot Kali Flat. Oh, and don't worry, you'll be wearing these a lot more when the baby actually arrives. Chasing toddlers in heels may look glamorous, but trust me, it's no fun!
9. A Journal: Mommy brain is probably already kicking in if you're pregnant, but before you forget everything you really, really want to write it down. Years later you will wish you could remember your pregnancy, a journal is just the thing you need. Not only that, it's therapeutic and relaxing to write out your thoughts, worries, fears, hopes, and dreams. It will be fun to read to your kids when they grow up too! You could just use any notebook or pick up a cheap journal at Target. Some of my favorites are the Tree of Life Journal, Soar Journal, and the Embossed Leather Butterfly Journal.
10. Healthy Snacks: You will find you are hungry all.the.time. (at least after the first trimester). That growing baby needs to be nourished, so make healthy snacks available for yourself so you don't resort to something from a vending machine or a fast food joint. Keep plenty of bananas, apples, avocados, and berries available. If you're pregnant through summer, at least those will be a little cheaper. We have a few recipes which make great healthy mama snacks, such as the Farmer's Cheese Dessert, Wheat Free Pancakes, Gluten Free Millet Leek Cakes, Turkey Kale Cutlets, Sprouted Flour Soaked Crackers, and Strawberry Cake Bread. If you need pre-packaged healthy snacks on-the-go, you could keep some of these in your purse, our favorites: Peeled Snacks Mango, Pure Bar, BumbleBar, Organic Walnuts, Organic Beef Jerky, and Organic Medjool Dates.