Pregnancy Essentials: From the beginning of pregnancy to labor

By: Rodaina Ibrahim

Pregnancy can be a confusing time, as well as uncomfortable. As your pregnancy progresses, you will need to make a lot of changes in your life to deal with that. Lucky for you, there are some products that you can buy to ease some of the pregnancy pains. This will not be an exhaustive list, but it will include description of things you will most likely need. Let’s begin!

Belly Cream or a Good Moisturizer:

According to Healthline, most pregnant women might experience dry skin due to the changing hormones pregnancy brings. Most women will experience this on their belly, but also in other areas such as their thighs, breasts, and arms. Having a good moisturizer on hand, or a belly cream, is a good idea. Some of these products are also called stretch mark creams. It is important to note that no cream has been scientifically proven to reduce stretch marks. According to the Mayo Clinic , there is no strong evidence that creams successfully reduce the appearance of stretch marks. That said, creams can help with your dry skin!

When buying a product, you need to be careful. According to Parent, look for products that are either labeled as Pregnancy-safe or OB-GYN (Obstetrician- Gynecologist) approved. Look for products that are also hypoallergenic, paraben-free, and fragrance-free. Avoid retinols, since studies indicate that it can be harmful to the baby, as the Mayo Clinic points out.

I hesitate to recommend specific products, since I have never been pregnant myself. If you have been using a moisturizer before being pregnant and it fits the requirements above, check with your care provider whether or not you should continue using it. The best seller in Maternity Skin Care category on Amazon is Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula, but there are many others out there to know about and try.

Comfortable Clothing:

As your body goes through different stages, you will probably need to buy a new wardrobe. With the body aches that can come with pregnancy, having comfortable clothes can make that experience a little better. This will differ widely depending on your own style, preferences, and season, but here are some suggestions to get you started.

Find a comfortable pair of pants, leggings, or jeans, and get a pair or two. It is important to point out that you will only be pregnant for about 9 months, so don’t go overboard with the clothing options. Two or three pairs of jeans will do, and a pair or two of comfortable pants or leggings to wear as well.

Invest in a couple of longer shirts and jackets that are a size or two bigger. This can include blazers, button-up shirts, t-shirts, tank tops, etc. The key is to find something that fits, and that is comfortable for you.

If you know there is a chance of a fancy event coming up, it would be a good idea to get a dress that is both maxi and loose form. This ensures that it will fit you regardless of what stage of pregnancy you are in.

Another underrated clothing you should get is underwear and bras. As your weight increases, or your baby bump increases in size, your underwear might not fit anymore. This is the time to aim for comfort over looks, since you will be spending your entire day in one. Aim for something stretchy and high-waisted to comfortably hug your baby bump. As for bras, they will be a necessity since your breast size will change during pregnancy and nursing. Again, aim for something comfortable, which will often mean wire-less, and with good support. A lot of bras aimed for pregnant women have a removable cup, making them ideal for nursing. If you are planning on nursing, it would be a good idea to invest in a couple since you will be wearing them beyond 9 months.

As for footwear, the choices are endless. You might stick with what you already have, or it might be necessary for you to buy a couple pairs that are a size or two bigger than your normal size. Trainers might be your personal haven, but as your pregnancy progresses, it might be hard to put them on. Invest in some comfortable all-purpose slip on shoes, and maybe even some fluffy slippers.

General tips for you clothing: find something stretchy, avoid material that is see-through when stretched, something that flexes with your body like rushing or oversized clothes, and most importantly, something that fits your own style and is comfortable enough that you can spend a day or more in it.

Pregnancy Pillow:

With pregnancy comes a lot of aches and pains, mainly due to your body having to carry more weight that is added in a short period of time, so your bones and muscles will be straining during the entire time, especially during and after sleeping. According to Verywell Family, a pregnancy pillow can help with these pains by providing extra support when you are sleeping. They are designed with pregnant women in mind, and provide support under your belly, behind your back, and between your legs.

Although they do not work wonders for everyone, they can do the following:

- Ease your adjustment to a new sleeping position

- Keep your neck, back, and hips aligned during sleep

- All gone

- Reduce the pressure around your hips and pubic bone, thus easing the pain

- Improves circulation

- Can improve conditions like heartburn, nasal congestion, and leg cramps

- If it does nothing else, it prevents you from accidentally rolling over onto your back while sleeping, which is unadvised during your last trimester

They come in different shapes and sizes, like a c-shaped, u-shaped, or a edge. I would suggest going into a store and trying each one. It is important to note is that the c-shaped and u-shaped ones might make you hot during the night, but they also provide the most overall support. The wedge is for more targeted support, so maybe consider getting this one if you have a specific spot that is more painful than the rest. Yet again, buy them in material that is comfortable for you.

Pregnancy Belt:

As mentioned above, your bones and muscles are in overdrive during pregnancy, especially your lower back. According to Healthline, pregnancy or belly belts are designed with that in mind, providing support for your belly while taking some of the weight off your lower back and abdomen. They can help decrease your lower back pain, provide some gentle compression when exercising during pregnancy and provide some external posture cues for better posture.

Some important things to consider when getting or using a pregnancy belt:

- Get a belt that provides some gentle compression, but not too much. Too much compression on your abdomen can impair circulation and can cause you to have high blood pressure, heartburn, and indigestion

- Wear it only for a couple of hours everyday to avoid overdependence on them

- Consult your doctor before using them. It might cause more harm than good in some cases so it is always better to be safe than sorry

- They are not a permanent fix. If you want to strengthen your lower back and abdomen, strength exercises that are cleared by your care provider and/or physical therapist can help in this as well

There are different shapes and sizes, so as mentioned above, get one that is comfortable and provides gentle compression to help you. Again, consult with your care provider on which type might be best for you.

Pregnancy bag:

This is not necessarily related to your clothing, but its equally important. This is the bag that you will take with you during labor, which might last quite some time. Here is a checklist from the American Pregnancy Association:

- Paperwork, including health insurance, pre-registration forms from the hospital, any important medical information

- Nursing bras, which support swollen, tender breasts

- Some women find sports bras to be helpful during water births, and can help suppress lactation if you are not planning on breastfeeding

- Breast pads which help stop leaking breasts by absorbing the milk

- Nursing pillows, which help by reducing the strain on your arms, neck, and back when either breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby

- Nightgown and robe, and make sure they can be opened at the front if you plan to breastfeed

- Slippers, since it is recommended for women to walk around during early labor as well as coming in handy when making trips to the nursery to check on your baby

- Socks, some women have cold feed during delivery, so these will help keep them warm

- Going-home outfit, choose something that fit when you were about 6 months pregnant

- Toiletries, for the sake of comfort. They can include toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, chapstick, hairbrush, shampoo, soup, etc.

- Sanitary pad, some women feel more comfortable bringing their own, but the hospital can provide you with these. You will need ones designed for heavier flow

- Hair clip or band if you have long hair

- Pillow for extra comfort

- Washcloths, make sure they are a unique color to differentiate them from the hospital’s

- Magazines, in case you have some down time and want to relax

- Mints of breath strips, a lot of women experience vomiting or nausea so these will help freshen your mouth

- Lollipops or hard candies to help with a dry mouth

- Glasses or contact case if you wear them

- Breastfeeding book for reference

- Baby book, in case the nurse puts your baby’s foot print in it

- Any heat pads or socks full of uncooked rice to help with painful contractions

- Infant car seat and infant head support

- Going-home outfit for the baby

- Hat for the baby, since they lose a lot of their body heat through it

- Breastfeeding book for reference

- Receiving blankets

- Newborn diapers

- Wipes designed for newborns or sensitive skin

- Mittens, since some newborns might have longer nails so this will help prevent them from scratching themselves

This is quite a long list, so make sure to gather these items in a designated bag beforehand. As for the people coming with you, make sure they have food, snacks, or change of clothes if the labor takes a long time. If you and your partner have discussed a water birth beforehand, make sure they have a bathing suite with them.

And this is it for this article! These are the basics only, and if you find yourself needing something outside of this list don’t hesitate to get it if you can. Your comfort and health are important during this time.