Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Essentials for Pregnancy

I am not an expert on pregnancy. I have not even finished my first one, but I thought I would share some products and ideas that helped me make the most of this time with my little one growing inside, the same little one who is responsible for some less-than-desirable symptoms!



1. Ginger Ale, Sprite, and Water


These three are your friends from the very beginning. The ginger from the Ginger Ale is helpful for nausea and most general tummy issues, while the bubbles from the Ginger Ale and Sprite can have the same soothing affect. Switch over to drinking water as soon as your upset tummy will allow - both these carbonated beverages have lots of sugar in them, which can be counterproductive for your health in the long run! Water is extremely important in all stages of pregnancy for the health of you and your baby, so you may as well get used to drinking a ton of it. Sometimes water can be the cure-all for whatever is ailing you - hydrating is key.

How to Help Yourself Drink More Water

Not a big water drinker? No problem. You can easily spruce it up by adding a few lemon slices or plop in a few pieces of frozen fruit to add some flavor. I used a water bottle with fluid ounce measurements so I could track how much I was drinking per day. Or you can simply use the same water bottle and just remember how many times you need to refill it each day to get the recommended 64 ounces a day. My water bottle holds 33 ounces, so I made it my goal to drink 3 water bottles full each day. Or at least get through 2.



2. Bio Oil and Palmer's Stretch Mark Massage Lotion


You will need (and want) a good moisturizer throughout your pregnancy. One, to combat stretch marks, and two, to combat dry itchy skin. All is fair game in pregnancy - each pregnancy is different and no two people have the same experience. Be prepared for your skin to change in various ways and invest in a good moisturizer!

Bio Oil is an expensive but amazing product. It is what is says...an oil. But it absorbs super fast and really gives your skin a deep moisturization that you can feel until your next shower! The only con with this item is that I noticed some oil stains on my bra from when my belly got bigger and my breasts rested on my belly while sitting or reaching down (yes, this will happen to you too!). The oil stains didn't come out in the wash. I'm sure if I tried harder and used a stain remover it would come out, but I'm not wasting my time on that until miss Ava gets here and my belly size goes down. Bio Oil can be found at drugstores and will run about $20 for a little over 4 ounces. But it is so worth it! I used it on my torso and areas where I could tell I was gaining weight and wanted to avoid stretch marks (inner thighs and buttocks). I also found that the Bio Oil was a great remedy for when I wear skirts or dresses and my thighs rub together. I was able to prevent chaffing by putting the oil on my inner thighs the days I chose to wear skirts or dresses. This girl definitely does NOT have a thigh gap! It lasted all day! I would love to use it head-to-toe, but it's too expensive for that, so then I use...

Palmer's Stretch Mark Massage Lotion!

This is an indulgent cream lotion that goes on nicely and also absorbs quickly. I use it on my arms and legs to combat the dry skin and itchiness. You could easily swap this product out for Bio Oil and use it head-to-toe if you wanted to save a bit of money. Sometimes stores run some sort of deal on Bio Oil - the other day Target was offering a $5 gift card with purchase. My recommendation - if you see it on sale, BUY IT! You can use it even if you're not pregnant. It's an amazing moisturizer that also claims to help with aging skin, wrinkles, and scars.


3. A good sleeping pillow


Your body is going to stretch and hurt in all sorts of weird places. A pillow for side sleeping is a must! It's up to you to decide which one; everyone prefers different things. An extra bed pillow for between your knees could be enough for you. Or a body pillow. I bought a Boppy brand pregnancy pillow and loved it at the beginning. It has three parts connected by velcro that you can customize based on your comfort needs. I used my own pillow and the bottom two parts. But halfway through my pregnancy, I was disappointed to see how flat the pillow was getting (blame the polyfill) and was getting annoyed at the increasing effort it took to reposition the pillow every night. I used a body pillow cover to help protect my pillow since it did not come with a cover of its own. And I'm sure if it did that it would have cost just about as much as the pillow did! So of course, that pillow case does not fit properly and is constantly sliding off and bugging me in the middle of the night. Now that my belly is bigger, I don't really need the middle under-belly support my pillow has, so I removed that section of the pillow. Now the bottom part of the pillow is able to fit in the body pillow case, zipped up. So now I can say in hindsight, to save money, I think a body pillow is probably a good one to start with. I don't think my pregnancy pillow will last for another pregnancy unless I cut it open and add more polyfill. And I probably won't ever do that! I don't really think it was worth the $60 I spent on it, even with the $10 coupon towards a Boppy pillow for baby.


4. Fiber One bars and Activia yogurt (or other fiber-rich foods)


Your digestive system will slow down. Significantly. All for a good reason - your baby! But it really can make your days miserable if you are not getting enough fiber in your diet. I supplemented my fiber intake by eating a Fiber One bar and an Activa yogurt every day. I could tell when I had missed a day and regretted not eating these snacks! Trust me on this one, just go buy some sort of fiber snack and some yogurt. And eat it. I've had really consistent bowel movements and I owe it all to my fiber regimen! Of course, you will want to try and get fiber from natural sources, and there may also be some fiber in your prenatal vitamin. Water also plays a large role in how backed up your plumbing can get. Drink as much as you can to keep things moving! It's a little bit of effort that can go a long way in keep you more comfortable. I've also personally experienced that a cup of coffee (decaf for us preggers) can get things moving pretty quickly, too!


5. Yoga pants, yoga pants, yoga pants!


This one is simple. Buy some yoga pants. Even better if you can find the fold-down waist ones. Now wear them! You will be so happy! I have a few pairs that I still wear in the 9th month. They feel great!


6. Travel-size pillow


I have found having a small pillow was great for the second half of pregnancy when my back started to become very achy very quickly. I use mine for when I'm at home lounging on the couch to get extra support. If you have a desk job, you could easily take this to work with you and use it there. Or even in the car! It's a small thing that can make a BIG difference! Back pain is a symptom that practically every pregnant woman will experience at some point!


7. An exercise plan


I am using the word "plan" very loosely. What you plan to do and what you can actually do are two very different things! You will need to get some form of exercise during pregnancy. You can't be sedentary for 9+ months and expect your body to be prepared for delivery at the end of it. Walking is the best way to get the exercise you and baby need. You control the speed, you control the distance, you can stop and take breaks whenever you need to, and its not harsh on your joints and stretching ligaments. A walking buddy can keep you accountable and keep you company during your walks. Some days my dog just doesn't cut it. I walk too slow now for him, anyway! My doctor advised me to keep my heart rate under 140, but most importantly, to listen to my body. I purchased a cheap (like, really cheap) heart rate monitor watch off of Groupon to help me keep an eye on my heart rate while walking and exercising. Some days I can hop on the elliptical for awhile, and other days it just doesn't feel good. Some doctors will support you continuing a more intense exercise regimen, as long as you were doing these workouts prior to pregnancy. Always talk to your doctor about what kind of exercising is right for your pregnancy - don't assume what was okay for one momma will be okay for you!

I also purchased prenatal yoga and Pilates DVDs. I loved the yoga one - there were a few positions that didn't feel good (so I skipped them) and some that I wanted to stay in all day. I'll admit...I never opened the Pilates one. I didn't feel like I was at a level to start that one. I'll use it after baby is here or just save it for the next pregnancy!


8.(Cautiously) Indulge in those Cravings


Don't feel like you have to ignore your pregnancy cravings! As long as it is something that is not on the do-not-eat list, go for it! Just don't eat it all day, every day. Even too much of a good thing can be bad. Remember, everything you eat, baby eats too. But there's no reason to be miserable if you really want cheese fries for dinner. Just balance your day by making better choices at your next meal. Or, like in my case, if you are nauseous for weeks and the only thing you can tolerate is a crappy, 69 cent frozen chicken pot pie, don't fret. Whatever! First trimester is a joke when it comes to eating healthy, anyway! I don't know of a single mother who ate well during her first trimester. At the beginning of pregnancy, I feel like it is all about surviving to the next day! Take the opportunity once your nausea is gone to establish healthier eating habits. With the occasional craving food thrown in, of course!


9. Treat yourself to a pedicure

Look at those fat preggo piggies!! :)
This is an absolute must! Once you've hit the point in pregnancy where bending over to reach your feet is no longer comfortable or possible, consider getting a pedicure. You'll get to sit in one of those massage chairs and target those aching back muscles and someone else can tidy your cuticles. The foot rub-down is a definite relaxer, too! I've heard that you should be cautious of pressure points on your ankles because they could potentially put you in labor, but I don't know if that's just an old wives tale or not. You could always get a pedicure that doesn't involve rubbing your ankles or legs; most basic spa pedicures involve just the feet. I recommend getting the shellac polish that is dried (cured?) with a UV light for a lasting paint job. It might cost you up to twice as much, but it should last twice as long as a regular-polish pedi. No chipping, denting, or smudging!



10. Relax!

...in every sense of the word! Don't try to do too much! I had to continuously remind myself that I needed to "slow down" or "be careful" or "let someone else lift that". It was hard for me because I like to do things myself and hate waiting around when it's something I could be taking care of. But overdoing it can be a big problem during pregnancy. Your body's purpose right now is to grow a healthy baby, so this should be your main mental focus as well. I feel very fortunate that I have not had to work for this second half of my pregnancy. I worked up until about 18 or 19 weeks, right when things were physically starting to get difficult on the job. If you are working while pregnant, and especially if you have a job where you are on your feet most or all of the time, be sure to communicate with your superior that you need extra breaks and don't be afraid to speak up if there are tasks you can no longer do without discomfort and/or pain. Remember, you cannot be fired for being pregnant! It is against the law! Your employer is required to work with you until your maternity leave if you choose to keep working. Your main focus should be your baby and your health.  No paycheck can ever replace the health of your baby.

It is important for you to find time to mentally relax, too. Getting ready for a baby can be a stressful time, whether it was a planned pregnancy or not! Be sure to talk with someone if you are feeling overly stressed out or depressed or anxious. These feelings can be very normal, but also should be appropriately addressed with your doctor. Don't feel bad if you feel this way!

Some ideas for relaxation:

yoga
warm bath or shower
reading
going for a walk
having some quiet time in the nursery
sitting outside
"alone time" with your husband
resting/napping
going for a car ride

...or any other thing that makes you feel relaxed and in a better metal state! What relaxes one pregnant woman may be stressful to another. Maybe hanging out in the nursery stresses you out because you still have so much to do. Or walking makes your back hurt, or riding in a car makes you nauseous. And maybe "alone time" with your husband isn't so fun because your body changes almost on a daily basis! Practically everything in pregnancy is considered "normal"!

Even some time away from the house can be relaxing too, like an evening out with friends. This can easily take your mind off of all the preparations. And laughter is always a good medicine!


11. Buy Maternity Clothes and Wear them Whenever You Want

I started buying maternity clothes pretty early on (mainly because most of the summer stuff I was going to need when I got big was on clearance) because I am the type of person that wants to be prepared. You won't need maternity clothes until one day you realize that you just do! It was nice to have some options at home already so I didn't have to run to the store and settle for something full-price or not really what I was looking for. It felt kind of odd to wear maternity jeans so early on when my regular jeans still sorta fit, but I was so comfort driven that I didn't care. I tried using a belly band, but that didn't work well for me. My waist-to-hip ratio was just too big, and the band just rolled up to my natural waist and didn't stay put enough to be helpful. So I went straight to the up-to-my-armpit jeans.

Be sure to check out my post about Maternity Clothes...one little paragraph just isn't going to cut it!


12. Buy Some Bra Extenders


I got this tip from a friend. As your pregnancy progresses and baby begins to fill your torso area, your ribs will expand to fit everything in! To extend the life of the bras you have, buy these extenders instead of buying new bras! For about a week, I couldn't understand why I was so uncomfortable in my upper stomach right above my bump in the evenings. Then I realized it was because my bra band was too tight! I let it out 2 clasps and instantly felt better! Like me, you may not realize how much you've "grown" until suddenly a piece of clothing is very uncomfortable! 

I had to buy new bras at the beginning of my second trimester because the cups were too small. My "girls" grew the most in the first trimester, so I bought the new bras to fit me at that time. I had to go up a band size and a cup size, and now that I am at the end of my pregnancy, the cups still fit, but I have moved the clasps to the last row. And some days I use these extenders for added comfort.

These extenders are also good for strapless bras - I knew I would occasionally need to wear a strapless bra during pregnancy, but I didn't want to spend the money on a larger one if I wouldn't wear it very often. So while the cups were a little bit too small, I was able to make it work by expanding the bra as far as it would go, and then adding an extender. Plus, you can use 2 extenders together if you need to!

13.  Food Prep

Toward the end of the pregnancy when you start planning for the arrival of your little one, you may find it helpful to arrange for people to bring you dinner after the birth. It might be easier to have a friend or family member coordinate this so you don't feel like you are begging. People will be happy to help out! Or, you can prepare freezer meals and have your own stash. Anything from dinner to snacks to desserts will be of help because all your focus will be on your new arrival! The last thing you will want to do is concern yourself with how you are getting your next meal.

Check out my post on Freezer Meals for ideas and tips!

14. Stock Up

Another final thing that may be helpful for your family is to stock up on household items before the birth. Things like toilet paper, hand soap, food for your pets, deodorant, and a stash of pads to spare your husband from having to pick them up! This will save you the inconvenience of someone having to make a run to the store for things you've run out of, when it could have been taken care of beforehand.



...So that's my list! Pretty generic list if you have an overall smooth pregnancy. 







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