With the help of my good friend E., who is the mom of nearly 11-month old twins and one of my pregnancy and parenting gurus, I'm going to be doing a series of posts highlighting the stuff one really needs to have on-hand for a new baby. I'm doing this 99 percent for my own use--once I have something posted here, I know I'll be able to find it again--but also because I thought currently or future-pregnant readers might find it useful. In that same vein, I thought I'd start the series with a post on what the newly pregnant lady should buy/obtain for herself. I got a lot of good advice when I was first pregnant, some of which I did not follow, or did not follow as quickly as I ought to have, and it seems like good citizenship to pass it along.
Please realize this list is by no means comprehensive, and it's based on the specific pregnancy experience I have had--everybody is different.
Things to buy when you find out you're pregnant
1. Maternity body pillow.
Don't wait until you think you need one of these--if you know you need it, you're already uncomfortable. Buy one at the beginning. Seriously. I bought mine at around 14 or 15 weeks, and I can't tell you how much difference in made in my sleep. I definitely could have used it earlier. The one I bought is the Leachco Back 'N Belly Contoured Body Pillow, and it has worked great for me, but other people swear by the Snoogle and the Boppy.
When you are pregnant, your boobs typically grow. This starts early, and it's not comfortable. DO NOT keep wearing the same ill-fitting bras, thinking "well, I'll wait until they're finished growing to get new ones." Your life is too short for that kind of constant discomfort. Either resign yourself to buying new bras a couple of times over the course of your pregnancy/post-natal period, or buy some soft, wireless, expandable bras, like the Motherhood Maternity Wrap Nursing Sleep Bra, which I am told is useful from early pregnancy all the way through breastfeeding. This particular bra doesn't work very well for me, at least not yet, because a sleep bra isn't anything I have needed so far, and they are cut so far in that they show under most of my clothes, making them fairly useless for daily wear. However, I haven't totally given up on the ones I bought, because I can see how they'd be useful after the baby is born. Especially since the bras I am wearing right now, which are two sizes larger than the ones I started this pregnancy with, are almost inevitably going to be too small at that time.
It's probably true that moisturizing your belly and other stretch-mark likely areas doesn't keep the stretch marks away, but you should do it anyway, starting early. Why? Because stretching skin ITCHES, and keeping it supple makes it itch less. My two favorite products for this are Bio Oil and Mama Mio Tummy Rub Stretch Mark Oil. Pregnancy seems to dry out your skin in general, too, so you may want to make sure you're well-stocked with regular body lotion, facial lotion, and lip balm, as well.
4. Flat shoes.
Some pregnant women happily traipse along in heels until the very end. I didn't. By the end of the first trimester, my balance was so bad that heels were seriously a danger to me and to the kid. And so I begrudgingly switched to flats. At this point, my feet are such a puffy mess that anything but pretty accommodating shoes are out anyway. However, please don't feel like you have to just give up and wear Crocs or Birks or whatever your equivalent is, at least not until you really do have to (I can see that I may well yet get there). There are cute and stylish flats that are still comfortable. My favorite brands are Naturalizer and Aerosole, but you may find something else works best for you.
5. Prenatal vitamins.
This is one everybody probably already knows, but it doesn't hurt to mention it. Start taking prenatal vitamins as soon as you find out you're pregnant, or, ideally, before you even get pregnant. You want something you can stomach, with DHA and folic acid.
Trust me. Just have it on hand.
7. Soft waisted clothes.
Even before you get big enough for maternity clothes, it's likely that you will be bothered by restrictive waistbands around your newly-sensitive stomach. Soft waisted clothes are wonderful during this period. I lived in yoga pants at home and jersey dresses and skirts for work.
This one didn't really apply to me at the beginning, because I was too sick to eat much during the whole first and part of the second trimester, but many pregnant women find access to constant snacks really important. Things like nuts, energy bars, etc. are great for this. Lately, as I've able to eat again and needing to eat regularly to moderate slightly wacky blood sugar, I've started stashing Luna bars in my desk, purse, and car. Are they a nutritionally perfect diet building block? No, but they're easy to grab and eat when what you need is simply some instant calories.
From what I can tell, most pregnancy books are more bad than good--they're bossy, fear-mongering, and generally massively unhelpful. However, you're probably going to want some sort of reference material. I like the week-by-week style books, as I'm fascinated with what is happening developmentally each week. You have to be able to just take what you need and leave the rest, though. Really.
10. Heating pad.
Not all pregnant women get back pain, at least not early on. However, a good number do, and it totally and completely sucks, especially in combination with everything else that is going on. Be sure you have a heating pad of some sort to help with it.
11. Something for self care.
This one is really individual, but I think it's important. Pregnancy is hard on you, physically and emotionally, and it can start being hard on you really early. Anything you can do, or you can get the people around you to do, to make your life easier, is a good thing. There are lots of "typical" things that people suggest--massage, pedicures, setting aside special blocks of time for yourself, whatever. Those are ALL good suggestions, and what works for you depends on you. But don't forget yourself in this process. It's easy to focus on everything you need to do to grow a healthy baby, and all of the pressure of impending parenthood, and not stop to think about ways to nurture your body and your mind during what is a pretty damn tough time. So try to keep that on your list.
What essentials did I miss? Mamas and other pregnant women, speak up in the comments!