Pregnancy can be an exciting time when it’s seen positively and the odd sensations are viewed as milestones, rather than “symptoms”. There are, however a few discomforts that can sometimes be associated with pregnancy and it’s nice to have a group of women around you who also view pregnancy positively and laugh and groan with you as you experience them. Your doula and midwife can talk to you about how best to manage these discomforts, but it’s pretty safe to say that they will both tell you to REST and take some time for yourself. It’s hard work growing a human!
Here are some of my favorites in the world of pregnancy stuff:
(Check out the first post in this series)
1. Your Community. Your Birth Team.
Yep. You knew this was coming. I can’t say enough about building a strong, supportive, knowledgeable community. This is a spectacular time to visit some local breastfeeding support groups or parent groups to hear experiences from real humans in the flesh. Doulas and midwives would love to meet with you to answer your questions and talk about your hopes and expectations for your baby’s birth. She might recommend that you continue to interview other providers so that you can make an informed decision based on education, experience, and connection with you. Do your homework, but trust your gut on this one.
2. Regular Chiropractic Care.
While we’re on the subject of your birth team, we may as well discuss your care outside your birth. As you may already have noticed, there are some pretty wacky/AMAZING changes happening in your body. Even if you haven’t used chiropractic care in the past (that was me-I’m raising my hand right now) pregnancy is the ultimate time to start since your skeletal-muscular system is in constant flux for the next year or two as your body responds to this new little being inside you. Your chiropractor should have experience with pregnant women, be trained in the Webster technique, and also provide newborn and child services. CranioSacral and acupuncture training is a important bonus. If you live in the Sioux Falls area my recommendation is to interview several, just as you would the rest of your birth team.
There are many philosophies on how to go about learning about birth. Some of the most common methods are delivered by ICEA, Bradley, and HypnoBirthing instructors. Hospitals also offer courses, however these courses sometimes focus on educating the average patient, rather than the custom family focus that some of the other methods offer. Your doula and midwife are great resources for this type of information and can refer you to reputable local resources. During this time, you can also make decisions about where you would like to birth. You may have more options than you think.
4. Daily Planner
You probably already have a calendar on your phone and in your email and in your kitchen. But what I’m recommending is a smaller, printed planner for the sole purpose of documenting pregnancy sensations, milestones, appointments, and provider questions. This is a planner you can take with you to appointments to document your fundal height, provider recommendations, and baby name ideas. It also helps track pumping amounts if you plan to head back to work following maternity leave. Some moms have also used it to track fertility before and after conception. Also, go ahead and splurge on a nice pen. It’s worth it.
5. Personal Health & Comfort
Listen up, Momma. This part is important (not that the rest wasn’t…). I’m not going to go into all the details of your glorious birth bag right now, but there are some items that you may want to consider during pregnancy and early postpartum.
-Nutrition, Vitamins & Supplements. Your midwife can recommend the supplements that are best for you, but it’s important to ensure you’re getting proper nutrition, fiber, iron, protein, and probiotics daily. It’s best to get your nutrients from natural food sources and eat frequent, small snacks and meals to stave off nausea and low blood sugar. Also, you’ll high-five yourself later (at your birth, while breastfeeding, & while sitting in a chair with a baby sleeping on your left arm) when you take a drink of water from a really good, one-handed water bottle with a straw.
-Hemorrhoid treatment. Whether you make your own with witch hazel or buy it at the store, there’s a good chance you’ll want this. If you’re 4 weeks pregnant and you’re saying, “Whaaaaaat!? I’M not going to get hemorrhoids”. Here’s a little ‘it’s gonna be OK’ hug. Some mommas also swear by the numbing spray after birth. There are also some natural home remedies (see: witch hazel freezer pads) for those uncomfortable downtown sensations.
-Comfy clothes. You might want a few new clothing items. They can be used during pregnancy and postpartum as your body changes. A really soft robe, some larger full-bottom undies (for postpartum), and a nice collection of maternity clothes will make your life much easier. On that note, pamper yourself. Go ahead and buy some natural pregnancy and postpartum bath soak tea bags. It will help keep your mind calm and your bottom healed:)
-The Belly Book. This is one of my favorites. It’s the only tangible “fun” item I purchased during my pregnancies and I will buy it again and again. You may have noticed that your mind is CONSTANTLY focused on that baby and buying stuff and making lists and and and…Well, I recommend you buy this book and spend your time documenting memories and sensations and emotions instead of buying stuff. You’ll thank yourself later when you can’t remember how you felt or what you did to prepare for that little person. It’s especially nice during those first couple months if you’ve chosen to keep the news private and you just need to TELL SOMEONE!
6. The Staples.
There are few staple items that you might want to buy in bulk now and keep for the REST OF YOUR LIFE.
Pregnancy is a perfect time to stock-pile these items.
-Unrefined, organic, cold-pressed Coconut oil is your new best friend. This glorious (inexpensive) oil can be used in hundreds of ways, guilt-free. We prefer the Kirkland’s brand and we like to portion it out into smaller glass Ball containers with plastic lids to use for different purposes around our house. We slather it on baby bottoms during every diaper change to prevent rash. You can probably toss your diaper creams. It’s also great for cooking, skin care, deep conditioner…I could go on and on and on and on. Go buy it now.
-Chapstick. This stuff doesn’t go bad and you’ll always need it and eventually your toddler will eat one of your tubes and you’ll wish you had more. Grab some from Marnie, a local momma who makes fantastic products.
-Hair ties and headbands. Of course these will be nice for your birth bag, but let’s be honest, you’re going to need them until forever. Plus, they make for awesome cabinet babyproofing and you’ll start losing them left and right when your baby steals your brain. Stock up.
-Baby wipes. Whatever kind you buy or if you choose to make your own, just go ahead and buy now. You’ll use them for a heckuva lot more than baby bottoms and you can stash them around your house in your changing stations.
-Essential Oils. People use oils for a variety of reasons. They can be used for health, home, relaxation, and more. I would suggest attending a class first so you can get a better idea of how you might use them and then buy a starter kit, adding to it as you learn more over time.
-Books. They’re right. You can never have too many books. Pregnancy books, birth books, kid books, fiction, non-fiction… Whether you buy them digitally or in print, you can’t lose. It’s the perfect activity to fill the time while you wait for your little nugget to arrive, and then you can (put your smartphone down) and read while he falls asleep on your chest in a few months;) Check out some of my recommendations on the @ovobirth Pinterest board.
These are the must-have items in my book. You’ve likely heard about the abundance of baby stuff that exists but I like to keep it simple and prioritize what’s really important in the beginning. Sure there are other items that were handy, but certainly not critical. When you start with less, you learn more and then buy what you really need. Feel free to shoot me a message on Facebook if you have other ideas or questions. I’d be happy to share some of my other recommendations with you!
Lisa Groon is a certified birth doula and lactation counselor and feels passionately about the concept of building a community to support families during the incredibly challenging and rewarding journey of parenting. Lisa loves to laugh and you’ll inevitably be greeted with a big hug and a little sass. She enjoys staying busy and spends much of her time chasing her two adorable little boys with her exhausted husband Jason.
Stay tuned for future blogs about my recommendations for the “must-have” baby stuff for everything from birth bags to newborns to toddlers!