Tomorrow marks 36 weeks of pregnancy! Kent and I found out that we were expecting on New Year's Day, so 2018 has quite literally been the year of maternity life. Though learning that we were expecting Baby Bray was the single most special moment of my life, we've experienced a lot of the normal ups and downs of morning sickness, exhaustion, and worry. The first trimester of pregnancy happened to coincide with my busiest wedding season ever, and during weeks 8-16, I spent every non-working moment laying on the couch, snoozing. :) By the second trimester, I felt much better, but between buying our first home and moving studio spaces in the same month, my best intentions of sharing more about our pregnancy journey fell by the wayside. Now that we're settled in our new home, our nursery is largely complete and the majority of my pre-maternity leave projects are wrapping up, I'm excited to spend the next month (fingers crossed!) of nesting sharing more about what I've learned over the last seven months to help other expectant families.
Throughout my pregnancy, I've gathered so many helpful tips from fellow mamas. Between building our registry, preparing for the postpartum stage, and developing a vision for birth, I've relied on other women who have come before me. For that reason, I wanted to share some of the products and resources that have been helpful in our journey preparing for parenthood. Please note that this is not a sponsored post; I'm simply a fan of everything I share below and want to spread the word! There are so many products that one can buy specifically for the maternity season, and I found that it simply wasn't necessary to go overboard.
All the praise hands for stretchy pants that fit all the way through pregnancy! Typically, I'm a bargain shopper, but with staples like yoga pants, I'd much rather opt for quality over quantity. While I did find a few lower-cost maternity yoga pants and leggings, I found them to be way less comfortable than the Wunder Under Crops that I had in my wardrobe pre-pregnancy. The pair that I have happens to be a size larger than my normal size in Lululemon, but at 36 weeks, the waist still comfortably stretches around my bump and I find myself washing these many times a week so I can wear them all the time. I will note that my other go-to "All the Right Places" yoga pants from Lululemon stopped fitting comfortably the second I started showing a teeny bit (right around 10-11 weeks). However, I will look forward to wearing the All the Right Places pants that have WAY more compression as I adjust to post-partum life. Or once they fit again. :)
Hydration is key for pregnancy; most sources will recommend up to 100 ounces of water per day. I found it necessary to make sure that I always had a cup with a straw with me. This helped me stay accountable to getting enough water in. Though we had a lot of straw-type water bottles in our kitchen, none of them fit in my car cup holders and ended up spilling water and rolling around in my car. The one I've linked above is 24 oz (so easy to remember 4 of these per day!), and while it doesn't keep ice solid for any length of time like a more expensive Yeti would, it does keep water COLD. It fits perfectly in my cup holder and I was pleased to find that it fits in my stroller cup holder as well. For me, the easier it is to tote my water bottle around on the go, the more likely I am to get my water in! I found this one at Target for $10 and I may get the next size up for the nursing stage.
3. Maternity Hand-Me Downs from the Gap
Oh, maternity clothes. For awhile, it's such a gamble trying to figure out what will continue to fit as your belly grows. I was fortunate that many of my flow-y tops, dresses, and rompers fit well into my second trimester, but at a certain point, I really ran out of options. My friend Katie was such a blessing to us with a HUGE stash of hand-me-downs, mostly from Gap maternity. This eliminated the need for me to buy large quantities of maternity clothes. I loved the Gap options. I found their stretchy tank tops, maternity maxi skirts, and pants to be super comfortable all-around. Before you invest a ton of money into maternity clothes (even if you have future babies, you may be pregnant in a totally different season!), ask around and see if anyone has any gently-used maternity clothes they could sell or loan you. (Side note: If you live in an area with a Rhea Lana consignment sale, look there! I volunteered for a local Rhea Lana's sale and there were racks and racks of maternity clothes at good prices.)
4. New Undies - If Needed!
Early in pregnancy, my chest was so sore that stretchy sports bras were the only thing that I could comfortably wear. While I don't advocate for buying a million maternity things, I highly recommend investing in new bras or sports bras when needed. I also bought stretchy nursing bras from Amazon way ahead of time; they were comfortable when I removed the nursing pads and used them more as sleep bras. Now I have a few on hand for the hospital before committing to a certain style or size once nursing kicks off in earnest. As far as undies, I found Hanky Panky stretchy lace underwear and Honeydew Intimates from my pre-pregnancy stash to be the BEST. Hanky Panky undies are a splurge for certain but are well worth it. I find both at my local Nordstrom Rack.
I live in Oklahoma, and it feels like it's been upwards of 100 degrees for months now. Socks and shoes are just no longer a thing in my life. I looked around one of my baby classes and noticed that one hundred percent of the expectant moms had flip flops on. By week 30 or so, it was no longer comfortable for me to put on sandals with a strap without the help of my husband. Even on my daily walks, sneakers were a big no. I happened to have a pair of foam Teva flip flops from a camping trip that I took several years ago, and these have been a God-send. They are supportive enough for 30+ minute walks on gravel and super easy to get on. They also seem to last forever. I wore them on our 10 mile trek around Boston at 32 weeks and not once did my feet hurt. Fashionable? Maybe not so much, but comfort is key at the moment. :) My other go-to flip flops, by the way, are Havianas, but they have far less support.
We don't have a Walmart close to us so I rarely shop there, but I happened to make a trip for a specific errand and found this gem of a $9 tank dress. This one is not exactly the same as the one I purchased (a light grey stripe), but it seems to be the same shape and material, a thick knit. It's not a maternity dress, but I bought a size medium at around 30 weeks and it still fits my bump now that I'm in the ninth month. It washes well and is cut high. Such a steal!
If you are newly pregnant for the first time, you may not know about the magic of the C-shaped pillow. It's a game-changer for a lot of people. This one is the one we purchased on Amazon when I was about 15-16 weeks. While I didn't have a very big bump at the time, I slept far more comfortably when my hips were supported, and after using this pillow for one night, I got WAY better sleep. I will say that now that I am at 36 weeks, the pillow is less comfortable for me, as it's hard to get in a comfortable position in general. However, it does help you stay in the recommended side-sleeping position. If you are going to get one, I recommend getting one earlier than you think you'll need it! (Side note: My husband despises it. It takes up a ridiculous amount of room, but it's become a running joke. My sister said that her husband burned hers after their baby was born, and I'm still not sure if that was a joke! Haha!)
As I mentioned above, I didn't make a TON of maternity-specific clothing purchases, but I did buy a few items from the Isabel Maternity line. I had some favorites--specifically, these jeans and these tanks. I actually outgrew some of the maternity tops that I bought from Target early in pregnancy; the Gap maternity clothes seem to have way more stretch. However, I found a few really great dress options in the Isabel line as well that continue to fit at 36 weeks.
I'm leery of even mentioning this here because prenatal vitamins can be such a touchy subject. Of course, the best route is to ask your care provider for his/her recommendation. However, I found these vitamins to be highly rated online and food-based, which is important to me. While I know that some people love shopping online, I appreciate when I can get products locally and easily at the Target down the street, and these are $16 for a 50 day supply at Target. I actually started taking them before we got pregnant and I will continue to take them postpartum. I do recommend eating breakfast before taking them to avoid nausea.
10. FitBit Charge 2
I got my FitBit a little over a year ago, and it has been such a huge motivator in helping me stay active. (Note: I do not have an Apple Watch, and if I did, I wouldn't have gotten a FitBit.) While there are many kinds of FitBits, some at lower price points, this one reads your heart rate, which is super interesting to monitor during pregnancy. Before I was pregnant, I ran fairly regularly and monitored my heart fitness on the app. Once I was pregnant, I would start to jog and would get extremely out of breath; my heart rate would skyrocket unless I was just fast-walking. The monitor has helped me stay in a safe zone. The FitBit also tracks sleep, and of course, steps. While I once had a 10k step goal per day, I found this harder to maintain during pregnancy for obvious reasons. Instead, at the suggestion of my OB, I now focus on getting my "active minutes," periods of time when my heart rate is elevated, with a goal of 30 minutes or more per day. I can also use the FitBit app to track my weight gain through pregnancy, which was especially important for me because we had an umbilical cord complication and for that reason, watch weight gain carefully. While there are surely other pregnancy apps that track weight gain, I found it easier to use the one that I already referenced daily.
My friend Brittany Viklund gifted us the Promptly Journal at the very beginning of our pregnancy and I have LOVED it. As an alternative to a traditional baby book, it's considered a childhood "record," with prompts for all three trimesters of pregnancy, prompts throughout the first year, and then prompts yearly until age 18. I love that there's plenty of space for notes and stories, but not so much to fill in that it's overwhelming. Of course, the fact that it includes 18 years worth of journaling space makes it an extra special keepsake that we will continue to use for years and years.
There you have it: eleven of my favorites for this incredibly exciting and ever-changing season of pregnancy. I'd love to hear additional ideas in the comments below--as well as any questions you may have! I'm here to help! And if you're newly expecting, congrats and welcome to the adventure!