I was really lucky to have a relatively smooth and uncomplicated pregnancy with no major health issues – i.e. no high blood pressure, no gestational diabetes, and no preeclampsia – but that doesn’t mean there weren’t tough days!
The biggest challenges for me were…(brace yourself because it aint sexy):
-mild nausea in the first trimester
-constipation in the first trimester
-hemorrhoids in the first and third trimester
-bacterial vaginosis x2 (yay, hormones!)
-yeast infection (from the antibiotics to treat the bacterial vaginosis)
-low blood pressure during the second trimester which resulted in dizziness and lightheadedness
There were a lot of things that were helpful for me when pregnant, but the following are what I considered must-haves based on my personal experience:
- Staying hydrated: I purchased a 32 oz water bottle which I took everywhere I went and constantly re-filled. Pro-tip: Purchase the straw lid for hands-free convenience. This was especially handy during labor and after my baby arrived during nursing sessions. To ensure maximum hydration, I popped in a hydration packet into my water bottle which I purchased from Costco. There are a ton of benefits of drinking enough water during pregnancy some of which include 1) helping deliver essentials to your fetus by absorbing essential nutrients into the cells and transports vitamins, minerals and hormones to the blood cells 2) helping prevent UTIs, constipation and hemorrhoids (I still got hemorrhoids and constipated but that’s pretty common), and 3) helping with fatigue, headaches, swelling and overheating.
- Epsom salt baths: I am not a bath person…I repeat I am NOT a bath person, but seriously if you have any type of soreness or pain – i.e. back pain or groin pain, epsom salt baths are the business! On top of the normal pregnancy aches and pains in my back and groin, I have lived with moderate scoliosis my entire life so chronic pain is no stranger to me. Right before bedtime, my husband so thoughtfully would draw a nice warm relaxing bath for me and I would make it a mini-spa night – turned on some relaxing music, lit some candles, closed my eyes and went into full-on relaxation mode. During the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I LIVED in the bathtub. (I would recommend checking with your provider that this is safe to do.)
- Pregnancy yoga (or some sort of exercise): I was super lucky to be pregnant before COVID and had the opportunity to join a prenatal yoga class in-person with other pregnant women. We did breathing exercises and pregnancy-safe yoga poses for ex. cat pose, cow pose, warrior, squats to name a few. Not only did we do some exercise, but we were also able to share pregnancy woes (and wins) with each other. It was so helpful to feel like I wasn’t alone in my pregnancy journey and often times I would get helpful tips from the other women.
- Pregnancy pillow: Sleep is SO important….especially when you are pregnant because when baby arrives it all goes out the door. I remember when I was pregnant people would tell me, “Get as much sleep as you can.” And toward the end of my pregnancy, I just remember thinking “How the hell am I supposed to sleep when everything hurts?!” For me, the further along I got in my pregnancy and the bigger baby got, the more aches and pains and more difficulty I had sleeping at night. A co-worker of mine generously gave me her extra U-shaped pregnancy pillow. This was extremely helpful to support my lower back from the weight of the baby since it’s recommended to sleep on your side vs your back after 20 weeks.
- Leggings: Toward the end of my pregnancy, I LIVED in leggings. (Honestly, I still do now lol). As baby grows, it was so important for me to be comfortable because wearing my jeans with one-button undone wasn’t quite cutting it after awhile. I had trouble finding leggings that I really liked but landed on leggings from Uniqlo and stretchy leggings and jeans from Asos. I found that these were not only super comfortable, but they were stylish and matched a lot of tops I had.
- Belly band: A belly band was crucial for me to help provide extra hip, back, and groin support as I progressed through my pregnancy. Due to my scoliosis and the weight of the baby, my usual lower back pain was accentuated. Luckily exercise and stretching helped to alleviate this pain, but toward the last few weeks of my pregnancy, my baby’s position was putting a lot of pressure on my rectum so it was too difficult to work out. I really liked the Blanqi maternity built-in support bellyband which helped redistribute the weight and gave me so much more support. What was also nice is that the material was thin, yet felt sturdy which blended in nicely underneath clothing I also purchased a thicker support band off of Amazon which I used when sleeping.
Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, but it’s also HARD work – it involves lots of physical and emotional energy. You are creating another human being…How crazy does that sound when you think about it?! I hope my list of essentials helps you in some way with your pregnancy journey.