Pregnancy is such a strange and special time in your life. Especially if it's your first baby, you want to make sure that you do everything absolutely right, not just medically, but in terms of what to buy to make your pregnancy go smoothly, to make sure that baby is absolutely 100% taken care of inside your growing womb.
Unfortunately, this cocooning need of pregnant women has been exploited by brands. At one of the most financially vulnerable times of our life, we have been convinced that we need every kind of special lotion, potion, pillow, vitamin, book, superfood, clothing item and yoga class just to get through pregnancy. While I am absolutely an advocate of massive amounts of self-care during pregnancy, I think that we are being sold so much more than we need and there really are budget friendly alternatives.
If you're pregnant with your first baby and are anything like me, you'll want to read the most you possibly can on the subject. I wanted to know everything! How to BE pregnant, what to expect, what to eat, how to have an easy birth, what to do with the baby once it arrives...reading anything you get your hands on however, can get a bit expensive. Pictured above are the books I've actually bought because I found useful last time around. For the rest, use your local library. You don't need a personal home library full of pregnancy books that you probably won't touch again.
- How to grow a baby and push it out, Clemmie Hooper: A really lovely, beautifully accessible guide to pregnancy and birth. Includes great pages on prenatal yoga, hypnobirthing and how to dress your bump. Written by a British midwife, it's a lovely guide to pregnancy for the instagram crowd.
- Expecting better, Emily Oster: Really one of my favourite books, Emily Oster is an economist who uses her professional skills to debunk myths about pregnancy and childbirth, leaving the pregnant mother better informed and more empowered in her decisions.
- The first forty days, Heng Ou: My only REALLY essential book, Ou's beautiful book really highlights the importance of self-care for mums in the first forty days post-partum. Her advice is stellar and her recipes are out of this world.
- Zen, un jeu d'enfant, Elodie Garamond et Lise Bilien: This one is in my essentials for second time mums. It really has nothing to do with pregnancy and all about teaching your toddler to be zen - which sounds just lovely doesn't it?! It's been really helpful for us when I've wanted to do some yoga or have some quiet time, as it's helped Arthur do some simple poses with me or some easy breathing exercises. It also exists in English translation.
- Mindful Hypnobirthing, Sophie Fletcher: A very accessible guide to hypnobirthing. Worth a read even if you're not intending to go "The whole hog" with hypnobirthing for the breathing techniques. I've found it really helpful.
Rest & Relax
Prioritising sleep, rest and relaxation should be top of your list during pregnancy. It get's much harder the second time around when you've got young kids under your feet but it's still so important, especially as finding a comfy sleeping position gets harder and harder as your baby gets bigger. Do everything you can to get a good night's sleep: eliminate screens an hour before bed, head to bed earlier than you would normally and make sure you've got everything you might need within reach. Some things to consider:
- Pregnancy pillow: There are some extortionately expensive options for this long sausage-like pillow on the market. Honestly it doesn't do anything that two separate pillows won't do and the cheaper options work just as well. Mine is second hand, passed on from another mum and the cover is from HEMA, I think it was about €9. I do love it, but like I say - two pillows work the same way!
- NEOM Organics Tranquility set: This is my one splurge on this list, but I do use it all year around - not just during pregnancy and I honestly haven't found anything that works as well for me. I light the candle one hour before I intend to go to bed and spritz my pillow with the mist and then I sleep like a baby. I ask for replacements every Christmas and Birthday, so maybe something to hint heavily to relatives at?
- Maternity leggings & t-shirt: Comfy sleepwear is so essential. There's nothing worse than waking up sweaty, entangled in loose pyjamas or night dresses. Simple, fitted, cotton maternity leggings and a t-shirt have been my go-to this time around. I like the brand Mamalicious at Galeries Lafayette for leggings and Monoprix organic cotton t-shirts.
- Pre-natal yoga: It goes without saying that exercising during pregnancy is so good for you and your baby. Yoga is a great pre-natal exercise as it's low impact, stretches you in all the right places and can teach you some great techniques for labour. If you can afford classes, do. It's much safer to do with a qualified instructor than on your own. However, there are many youtube classes you can take with great instructors for free - you just need to do a bit of research.
- Coconut oil: On everything and for everything. It's a great moisturiser and some of my friends swear they don't have stretch marks because they used it! Don't use it on your stomach the week before a scan though, you'll be told off by your sonographer because it makes their picture harder to see.
- Maternity clothes: This is down to individual taste but take a good look at your wardrobe and see what you can continue to wear through pregnancy. It's exciting to have a reason to shop but I've mostly found that affordable maternity clothes are absolutely hideous. I would say leggings, a pair of jeans, some nursing tank tops and a coat are the only real essentials.
What have I missed? What did you find absolutely essential during your pregnancy?