My Pregnancy 'Must-Haves'!
In light of an upsurge in my friends announcing their pregnancies (lockdown, I’m looking at you here), I’ve decided to comprise a list of ‘must haves’ for mummies-to-be!
Obviously, there are things below that are not technically ‘must-haves’ as you don’t need to purchase anything extra to grow a baby, but I thought I would suggest a few things that I really found helped me to be more comfortable and prepared during my two pregnancies.
I honestly don’t think I could have slept during the latter stages without my pregnancy pillow. To the extent that I left it behind at a hotel once and chose to drive back on an hour’s detour to retrieve it!
There are a few different shapes of pillow on offer, but I found the curved shape of the Dream Genii with the extra back support coupled with the bump support to be perfect. I also liked that I could buy different covers for it and alternate them as I was washing it.
During pregnancy it is recommended to sleep on your side (ideally on your left) to maximise blood flow for you and baby. I found that this pillow helped keep me in the ideal sleeping position as it prevented me from rolling onto my back. It also helps to align your body which helps with the dreaded pregnancy back-pain in the third trimester.
It’s not just your stomach that expands during pregnancy, you’ll find that your breasts will grow also. This is due to an increase in the progesterone levels and growth of your milk ducts in preparation for feeding your baby. There’s a belief that wearing wired bras could restrict blood flow to your breasts and as a result, restrict the production of milk. There is not any conclusive scientific evidence for this theory but there is a good reason to ditch those pre-pregnancy underwired bras, comfort!
Buying a maternity bra means you’ll have more room to grow and they often provide additional support with thick straps and larger back extending options. They can also be a good investment if you buy a combined maternity/nursing bra as they can be used to make breastfeeding easier. Nursing bras have clever clips at the top of the cups to allow you to unclip the cup to feed your baby, without having to take your bra off or having to slip down your strap.
Some women find they need to sleep in a bra when pregnant to give them support, which they may not have had to do pre-pregnancy. A non-wired bra is definitely more comfortable during the night. You may even find that cami top bras/bralettes give you that extra nighttime support, without having to wear a full bra when sleeping.
Another essential that I really think is worth purchasing to make pregnancy more comfortable. Pregnancy balls are essentially exercise balls, you don’t actually have to source one with ‘pregnant’ on the label and can buy them inexpensively. Just make sure you look at the size guide for the ball you are buying as it is important to find the right fit or you might find it does more harm than good!
Generally, if you’re 4’8-5’3 you’ll need a 55cm ball, 5’4-5’10 you’ll need a 65cm ball, 5’11-6’4 a 75cm ball and over 6’4 an 85cm ball.
To double-check it fits correctly make sure it’s inflated fully and when you sit on it your knees should be parallel to your hips, you shouldn’t find your knees are higher than your hips if it’s the right size. Also, make sure you can get up and down onto it safely.
There are so many positions that you can use your pregnancy ball and it helps with your posture by keeping your back straight when you are seated on it. It can also help give baby room to move around in your belly. It’s another great tool for combating back-pain and there are stretches you can do on it to help release the discomfort as baby grows and takes up a lot of room!
Finally, they are great for use in labour and encourage you to be upright and active during the first stages. I go into much more detail about how you can use your birth ball during labour in my course and provide examples of positions to help you move your baby down.
All in all, you get a lot of bang for your buck with this purchase. Especially as you can use it as an exercise ball once baby is here.
Maternity Jeans and Leggings
My advice is to invest in a few pairs of maternity jeans and leggings. Some women really resist maternity clothes due to cost/fashion, but I assure you pregnancy jeans are heaven, even post birth as your uterus takes a while to go down. I found the ones with no waist band and the stretchy panel for over my stomach were the comfiest and were able to accommodate a growing bump.
You don’t have to break the bank either, usually the high street has a maternity range with jeans priced in the same bracket as their regular collection. My favourite jeans were from H&M and I kept them for both my pregnancies. ASOS were great for sourcing more formal maternity dresses and they have a large range of everyday maternity clothes. You’ll find that not many brands stock maternity clothes in store but there are many options online.
Top Tip: You can stick to your ‘normal’ size when purchasing maternity wear, but you might want to go up a size for later in your pregnancy.
On topic of maternity clothing I had to include maternity pyjamas. Some women find they can get away without needing to purchase specific pregnancy pjs but as sleeping is hard enough when pregnant, I found maternity pyjamas were worth buying. They are also lovely post birth when your body is still adjusting so you’ll definitely get more use out of them than you think. They also make a great gift so if you’re looking to buy a pregnant friend/partner something special a pair of maternity pjs would be well received!
Top Tip: If you prefer nightdresses it might be worth buying a few cheap ones a few sizes up. They are great if you feel hot at night and are good to wear during labour as no bottom half is required but still gives you some cover!
I have so many pregnancy book recommendations but I’ll stick to my top two essentials for this post!
The Hypnobirthing Book by Katherine Graves is obviously my number one as it’s the basis for the Hypnobirthing course that I teach to my pregnant clients. If you book one of my courses a copy of this book is included and will be sent out to you, as well as a few other goodies. It includes techniques, stories and practical advice on how to achieve the best birth for you. It contains so much information and I love being the person to help you digest it all and get the best from the content.
The second book that I would love every pregnant woman to read is Why Induction Matters by Rachel Reed. It contains an abundance of information about the process of induction and pulls from scientific studies but is written in a very concise and accessible way. With 1 in 5 labours being induced in the UK I would argue this book is essential reading.
If you book a course with me, I give all my clients access to my extensive pregnancy and birth library so you can borrow Why Induction Matters from me directly or you can purchase it easily online.
Please consult your midwife or doctor before taking any supplements or vitamins during pregnancy.
The NHS advises all pregnant women to take 400 micrograms of folic acid for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (some women choose to take it throughout). Vitamin D supplements are also advised by the Department of Health and Social Care.
There are many multivitamins marketed to pregnant women, you may choose to take them but you can ensure you are getting the right levels of vitamins and nutrients via your diet, so they are not necessary, but many women like to take them to be sure.
However, ensure you are not taking a multivitamin containing Vitamin A or cod liver oil during pregnancy.
Top Tip: Boots usually run a ‘3 for 2’ on their Vitamins range so you could stock up during that promotion!
Top Tip: Some women find taking folic acid/vitamins can make them feel nauseous so taking them just before bed or after a meal can help to prevent this.
Your skin is going to do a lot of stretching during your pregnancy so do your research into a moisturiser that suits your skin type that you can use on your whole body.
Many women like to use targeted oils such as Bio Oil to try to prevent “stretch marks”. There is no conclusive evidence that moisturising will prevent or lessen the appearance of stretch marks. In my opinion it comes down to three things; genes, skin type and luck!
Moisturising isn’t just about stretch marks though; you may find that your skin on your stomach feels itchy as it grows so some added moisture could help to relieve that feeling.
Top Tip: Pay attention to the fragrance as some moisturisers aimed at pregnant women have a very sweet smell which may trigger your nausea!
I suffered terribly from restless legs at night-time during both of my pregnancies and spoke to a pharmacist who suggested it could be down to a magnesium deficiency. I purchased a magnesium spray from Holland and Barrett and used it at night. I did find that it helped but a warning that it can nip your skin.
Top Tip: You can purchase a milder magnesium spray for sensitive skin if you’re worried about the stinging!
There you have it, my top pregnancy products. Are there any that helped you during your pregnancy that you would recommend to your friends?