I’m feeling a little mind blown (and emotional) that we’re a month away from Elsie’s first birthday. I distinctly remember in those early, hard weeks that the cliche advice every mom gives that “time flies” fell on deaf ears. I couldn’t grasp that because life had seemed to stop, the days and nights ran into each other, and I had no idea what day of the week it even was. But eventually, time did start to fly as our little girl started changing and growing so fast! Since embarking on this journey of motherhood, I knew I wanted to share some of the experience, while keeping some parts private. Just finding the time to stop and reflect and do so hasn’t come easy. So it seems only fitting as we count down to year one to spill a few highlights–both things I learned and things I found helpful–starting with my pregnancy essentials. From the jeans to the body pillow to the books I leaned on during that exciting period of anticipation this time last year, here are my maternity must-haves! Anything you’d add to this list? Other mom or baby stuff you’d like to hear about?
Being pregnant in the summer was really a win, as I was easily able to stretch my regular wardrobe (hello cotton dresses) and only invested in a few maternity pieces. A few of my favorites:
Long tanks: The Liz Lange for Target tanks don’t look like anything special, but they are amazing. I loved them so much I bought up every single color. Then I proceeded to wear them to work, layered under my nice blazers; wear them with a sports bra for weekly workouts; wear them to sleep in; wear them on the weekend with leggings…you get the idea! They’re super soft and flattering and still–a year later–my favorite tanks.
Maternity band: I was able to hold off on buying maternity jeans and kept wearing my regular pants well into my pregnancy by using a BeBand. It was super strange feeling at first, and you have to make sure you wear a longer shirt to cover it, but it really was an essential piece for the first two trimesters.
Jeans: I opted for Citizen of Humanity’s Avedon Skinny Maternity Jeans. I intended to try a couple options, but these were the first pair I ordered and they were really comfortable, so I stopped there. I liked the elastic belly panels as I didn’t want anything that came up over my belly and added extra material there. I took my pre-pregnancy size, and they lasted me through the third trimester.
Bras: I finally started wearing this Cosabella maternity/nursing bra at the very end of my pregnancy and only wish I’d ordered it sooner. It’s so pretty, comfortable and functional. Worth the money. I’m now a big fan of all of Cosabella’s bras.
Basic clothing: Like I said, I really tried not to buy maternity clothing that I’d only wear for a limited time and then pack away. I was pretty determined about that, probably to a fault, and I bet it wouldn’t have been as easy in winter. I wore a lot of flowy dresses and tunic tops. Blazers and my jean jacket came in handy for layering over tanks. And I admittedly wore my favorite pair of black leggings a lot. But if you do want to invest in a few trendy maternity pieces, I suggest HATCH, Storq, and Rachel Pally.
SLEEPING (OR TRYING)
I didn’t sleep well while pregnant, between hitting up the bathroom constantly and tossing and turning in bed. I remember dreaming of finally getting to catch some ZZZ’s once baby arrived and we had established a nighttime routine…little did I know she would take 10 months to finally sleep through the night! But a few things that did help as my belly grew:
Body pillow: A must–I really loved Bump Nest’s perfectly soft, comfortable body pillow. It created a lot of laughs at first, but my husband quickly realized it was oh-so necessary. The cover is machine washable.
PJs: I continued to wear my favorite Eberjey sleepwear, which was soft and loose, for a good part of my pregnancy. Once my belly outgrew it, I wanted as little clothing on as possible, and wore those Target tanks with Hanky Panky boy shorts.
Eating nutritiously, staying hydrated, taking vitamins, getting rest–always important but even more so while pregnant. Just a few basic staples:
Belly oil and butter: Zoe Organics all the way. I don’t know if you can really avoid stretch marks, but using a belly oil every day definitely had a placebo effect. It made me feel like I was doing something and had the bonus of calming any itchiness.
Prenatal vitamins: I used a generic brand from our pharmacy, but was excited to see that Honest has recently come out with a prenatal vitamin they’re selling at Target.
Water bottle: I’ve never been great at drinking enough water, but I really did try while pregnant. Ugh, and guzzling a bunch before ultrasounds–the hardest. I invested in a nice glass, BPA-free water bottle from Lifefactory and filled it up throughout the day at work with lots of ice, the only way I can drink it.
Your body changes in so many incredible, unexpected ways during pregnancy, and after. There’s really no better time to establish a good fitness routine than while you’re pregnant if you can. After I got through the first-trimester sickness, I was fortunate to have an abundance of energy and committed to the most regular workout schedule I’ve had in years (4 days a week). I’m sure there are plenty of opinions on this, and we all have such different bodies and metabolisms and energy levels during pregnancy, so there’s certainly no one-size-fits-all approach. But I most definitely attribute my own body’s ability to readjust quickly after birth to the consistent weekly workouts I did while pregnant.
Yoga mat: I can’t recommend prenatal yoga enough. I went twice a week, and it was both great for my body and relaxing for my mind. In fact, I was so tired toward the end of my pregnancy that I often fell asleep in modified savasana at the end of class! I was lucky to attend a very small class and got a lot of personalized help making safe adjustments along the way from my instructor, a mom of four. Bolster pillows become your friend.
Sneakers: I also attended a small-group, strength-training class twice a week. Again, I was lucky that our gym is very small and our instructors are really like friends/family at this point–they worked with me closely to make adjustments but also ensured I got a solid workout each time. My goal was to establish more strength, particularly in my arms, as I knew a lot of baby holding was coming!
It’s absolutely overwhelming to try to read all the pregnancy and baby books out there. I also think there are a lot of opinions (which gets confusing and you start to question everything), so to some extent your best bet is to trust your gut and do what feels right for you. I personally didn’t get around to reading too many books while pregnant, but I do wish I had done a bit more reading. When you’re sleep deprived in those first weeks and months with a newborn, you really won’t feel like reading–unless you’re the ultimate multitasker and can read while nursing! And speaking of sleep, knowing what to expect and tips on what to do to get baby to sleep are things you’re better off reading up on when you can actually keep your eyes open (trust me: we learned the hard way). Just a few books I found helpful: Happiest Baby on the Block, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and Bringing Up Bébé. Of course, everyone has different parenting styles, so find the few that resonate with you.