As I near the “end” of my pregnancy (less than 8 weeks to go!), I have been reflecting on the experience. There are as many unique pregnancy experiences as there have been pregnancies, but as I have navigated my own, I’ve relied a lot on the women who came before me to put information out into the world about what I might expect.
Without them sharing their own experiences, I would have had to wing this on my own. Even though the tips and tricks and heads-ups from my friends and that I found on the internet didn’t all apply to me, inevitably I found someone who had already experienced what I was going through and had just the right solution.
Even though this blog is usually a self-centered documentation of my day-to-day experiences, and certainly isn’t an “advice” blog, I’m hoping to be able to pay it forward by posting my own list of “pregnancy must-haves”. This list is unique to my experience, but maybe someone will find it in their own desperate search for answers and something on it will be exactly what they needed. If that person is you… welcome to the sisterhood! I’ve linked to anything that can be linked to, so if you want to go all-in and copy me, you’ve got an easy way to do it!
Carolyn’s Pregnancy Must-Haves:
- Old Navy Jeans – A lot of people I talked to, and a lot of people on the internet, hate maternity jeans. Not I. Oh no – I have loved my maternity jeans. Especially since I’m allowed to wear jeans at work. They have spelled comfort for me in a very uncomfortable time. I went for the cheapest available option, and I’ve been in maternity jeans since… 8 or 10 weeks in? I bought two pairs – one in dark blue, and one in black. Old Navy is great because they always have a sale going on so you don’t have to break the bank. My preference ended up being the full-panel style, but Old Navy has the low-rise and the side-panel options too. My advice? Embrace the maternity jeans as soon as you’re uncomfortable in regular clothes.
- Old navy tanks – The rib-knit tanks from Old Navy are God’s gift to pregnant women. They’re soft, comfortable, come in a million colors, and can be had for $5 each if you catch the right sale. I wear one every day under whatever top I’m wearing.
- Yoga pants – No surprise, I went to Old Navy for these, too. Because of the cheap-factor (duh!). But no matter where you choose to get them, get a pair. I got the full-panel version of these as well, because that’s the most comfortable for me. If I could live in them every day forever, I would. They’re even coming to the hospital with me when the baby comes, so I can wear them home.
- A few nice things to wear – I mostly went with basic clothing items. But check out Pink Blush Maternity for some fun things. They usually have a good sale going on, and the clothes are generally very trendy. I couldn’t imagine 9 months of solid colored t-shirts, because I didn’t want to look as blah as I felt. It really lifted my spirits to have something fun to put on in the morning.
- $10 Target Bras – Your boobs will explode when you’re pregnant. Right away. And then they won’t stop. For this reason, I found getting the cheapest possible bra worked for me so I could replace it each time I grew out of the last one without sweating the expense too much. Nothing beats $10, and I found some that I liked at Target. It turns out that the ones I liked were in the Junior section, and they only go up to 38D. But that worked for me. Bras are very important for comfort, though. So if you can’t find a cheap bra that feels good, definitely
splurge. Just plan on splurging several times as you keep growing.
- Sports bras – If you’re used to sleeping bra-less, a comfy sports bra can be helpful for sleeping when your boobs start to get out of control. I know it is
physically impossible, but I sometimes felt like I was tangled in my own
flesh when I tried to roll over in bed at night. Throwing on a sports bra solved that
problem immediately. These will also be handy if you start to leak
during the latter stages of your pregnancy. I liked the cheapo ones from
target, but go for whatever solves your problems. Like I said, splurging on your
breasts is a great idea.
- Honeydew Undies
– Comfort wins again. Toss
your thongs into the “pre-pregnancy clothes” bins and pull them out
again after your body is recovered from birth. Replace them with some
comfortable full-butted undies for pregnancy. I hear postpartum will
require an entirely different philosophy for underpants, but for
pregnancy I really loved the Honeydew undies. I got my first ones as a
gift from my sister-in-law for my bachelorette party. They’re super
duper soft, and super cute too. It can be a real boost to find a way to
comfortable AND feel cute at the same time during pregnancy. The real
bonus of the Honeydew brand, though, is that they have lace trim,
which means there isn’t a terribly harsh underwear line when you wear your comfy yoga pants or a dress. They’re almost as good
as thongs on that front.
- Sperry Angelfish Boat Shoes – Even if you have a loving partner who would move heaven and earth for
you, you’re going to find yourself home alone at some point, staring at
your shoes, preparing for battle. Do yourself a favor – get yourself
some slip-on shoes. And do yourself a double-favor – make sure they’re
cute. I love Sperrys. I have two pairs – tan, and black with gold polka
dots. Since getting too big to comfortably reach my feet, I haven’t worn
- Dry Vanilla Bean Soda – This is pregnant lady crack. It has less sugar than a traditional soda (by a LOT), which also translates to less calories. Plus it is all-natural and only has 4 ingredients. Basically, it is a lower-guilt way to get some bubbles, feel celebratory, and satisfy a sweet tooth. I’ve loved these on holidays especially, because having something special makes me feel included. The downside is, it really is less sweet, so if you’re really really craving sugar, it might not do the trick. And it is also ridiculously expensive. But for a special occasion, I have splurged. And sometimes a bottle of it can turn around an entire day for me.
- Food as medicine – Especially in my first trimester, food was not for fun. Food was medicine. I ate to keep myself from being nauseous,
mostly. For me, that meant potatoes, cheetoes, and saltine crackers (i.e. CARBS!!!).
Later in my pregnancy, “food as medicine” turned into looking at food as
a way to get all the nourishment my baby needed. I figured out what
things I was not good at getting in my normal diet (cookies aren’t a
great source of anything nutritious, it turns out), and I kept things on-hand to
fill in the blanks. Important things like protein, calcium, fruit, and
iron were particularly difficult for me. So I stocked up on items like
100% fruit juice, peanut butter, eggs, milk, etc. I think every pregnant
lady should make a short-list of the items she is absolutely not
allowed to run out of under any conditions (probably with the advice of a doctor), and keep
those things on-hand at all times. They can be nutrition-boosters,
nausea-fighters, or craving-satisfiers. But we’ve all got something that
we must have at home to keep ourselves feeling good and growing a healthy baby. Use food as a tool.
- Kotex panty liners – Pregnancy is not glamorous. Get some of these.
- Kleenex – From the very beginning, my nose was super stuffy and runny. And then came the nosebleeds. I have tissues by my TV-watching
chair, by my bed, in the bathroom, in my purse, at my desk at work, in my car, and
in the pockets of every coat I own. Even if you somehow avoid the stuffy
nose, you might find yourself crying at anything and everything. So
keep tissues everywhere.
- Breath mints – Not only did I have hunger-induced nausea during my first trimester, but you may recall that I had a horrible sour
taste in my mouth all day long too. If I didn’t have food or a breath
mint in my mouth, I was miserable. Go get yourself some breath mints,
girlfriend. Even if you don’t have the sour taste problem, you might be
puking. So you’ll want these.
- Pedicures – Long before
it became impossible to touch my toes, it was uncomfortable
to touch my toes. There is something about squishing your uterus that is
just downright unpleasant. So even though I could have put my own shoes on and cut my own toenails much longer than I did, I didn’t want to.
And if I don’t want to squish my uterus, that’s my choice. And since my
husband drew the line at helping me with my shoes, I have been getting
regular pedicures to tame the talons on my toesies. Worth. Every. Penny.
- Easy to wash 100% cotton bedspread – With your hormones raging, you’re probably going to get sweaty. Or maybe your breasts will leak. Or you’ll get a nosebleed. Or you’ll blow your nose in the middle
of the night and the tissue won’t hold. Just take my word for it…
there is going to be a reason that you will want to be able to wash your
bedding easily. And stuffing a king-size blanket into a duvet cover
when I’m large and pregnant is a) exhausting, and b) the worst thing
I’ve ever had to do. Plus, synthetics and down aren’t breathable enough to keep the sweating at bay. Get a simple cotton bedspread. Trust me.
- Extra pillow – For aches and
pains and general sleep discomforts, there are a million different kinds
of pillows you can sleep with out there. I was given a crazy weird pregnancy body pillow
that I thought I’d love early on. And upon first trying it, I did love it. FOR
NAPS. But for a full night of sleep, that thing was a demon. It was too
huge for me to be able to roll over, and there was no way for me to use
my beloved regular pillow for my head while using the gigantic pillow,
so I ended up with a crick in my neck. I abandoned it and slept without a
body pillow for most of my pregnancy. But in my 3rd trimester, I have
encountered those typical aches and pains, and I found that the
simplistic approach to the pillow-assist was the best for me. I took a
normal pillow, and shoved it between my legs. The end. I sleep way
better now. But whatever size/style of pillow you end up liking, I would
bet money that you’re going to want something.
- babylist registry – I wish I could work for them. That’s how much I love their online
registry. You can register for anything from anywhere on the internet. I
hated the idea of being confined to what they sell at one or two
stores. Because when it comes to my baby and his gear, I wanted to read every single review I
could find, and pick accordingly. And sometimes the thing you like best
isn’t available at Babies R Us! The other great thing about babylist is
that you can add gift cards and favors to your registry, not just
material items. You can really customize it to your exact needs!
- Weekly Pregnancy Emails – I love getting these
every Friday (if you sign up, you’ll get them on the first day of each new week of your pregnancy). They were especially fun in the early weeks of pregnancy,
because a lot was changing with the baby, and the emails told you about
all the stuff you couldn’t see. Now, towards the end, the baby is
mostly just getting fatter, so they’re more geared towards what is going
on with my pregnant body. But I still get an update on the baby’s size
every week, which I love. My favorites are:
- Over App – I have been labeling my weekly photos with this app on my phone. The
app also creates its own folder in my photos on my phone, so I can
conveniently scroll through my pregnancy week-by-week without any of my
cat pictures getting in the way. I’m going to treasure the photos forever. And I
can’t wait to show my future children what their mama looked like while
they were growing inside of me.
- My own blog – Pregnancy is tough. Everyone is going to find their own coping mechanisms. For me, documenting everything in this blog has been life-saving. It helps me sort through my
thoughts, keep track of my progress, and keep the all-important sense of
humor alive. Plus it is a wonderful way to share the experience with my
loved ones (near and far!) without having to write a million emails and
make a million phone calls. And I look forward to having this record of
my pregnancy forever, so I can come back and reflect on the experience
long after the memories have been filed away in the deepest recesses of
- Budget spreadsheet + schedule – Oooh my never-ending love affair with my budget and my schedule. Maybe you’re not as neurotic as I am,
but maybe you are. Whatever… I needed to budget endlessly and work off
of a schedule in order to feel in control of myself. It has worked for
me. It has made my pregnancy easier. And I recommend giving it a try. It might just make income-less maternity leave and nursery preparations feel less daunting. I know it did for me.
- Childbirth class – WORTH EVERY PENNY. Make your husband/partner go with you. You can research the birth process like crazy online (I know I did!) and you will still learn something new in class. And the peace of mind that comes with having your questions answered is priceless. We did it through our local hospital, and it was under $100. Just spend the money.
- People – I cannot say enough about the people I have in my life and the roles they’ve played in my pregnancy. They’ve been every kind of support I’ve needed. You’re going to want people too. To help you put on your shoes, plan a baby shower for you, let you cry about stupid things, comfort you when you’re scared, celebrate the milestones with you, share the baby kicks with, come with you to appointments, feed you when you have no energy, etc. If the people don’t just come out of the woodwork for you, or you’re a transplant with little-to-no family/friends in the area… find some people. You’re going to need people. Go to a class, or pregnancy yoga, or a mommy group. There are people there that you may bond with for life. And maybe they need people too.
- Sense of Humor – I would never have gotten through my pregnancy without a sense of humor. You give your body over to this process, and it goes on autopilot. You’re just along for the ride, with no say in most of what happens to you. If you let the lack of control and the changes upset you, you’ll be upset the whole time. Very early on, I decided that I would be amused instead. I don’t succeed 100% of the time, but making that my intention from the start meant that I was able to keep a positive attitude more often than not. This has made the roller coaster of pregnancy fun (for the most part) instead of torturous. And I think my sweet husband has been grateful that I’ve been willing to laugh my way through it with him, too.