This month marks a major milestone for me. Out of the past 24 months I have been pregnant for 17 of them! I know I am not setting a record or anything, but I am telling you I feel like I have been pregnant forever. With two pregnancies so close together I have tried my fair share of pregnancy and postpartum items and remedies, so I’ve decided to compile a list of some of my favourite things that will help YOU on this incredible journey. So much of pregnancy and postpartum focuses on baby, but it’s so important to also focus on your own self-care. I've wanted to share this list for sometime, so I figured I would get it out to you all before my baby girl arrives.
***Let me stress, this is in no way an ad. I am not receiving anything for my recommendations — rather, this was written with the intention of simply helping other moms as they navigate pregnancy and postpartum***
1. The non-pregnancy, pregnancy pant
These pants have a secret cult following of pregnant women and after wearing the Lululemon Align Pant through two pregnancies I understand why. I know, I know, Lululemon does not need any help with marketing, but these pants have been hands down the best pregnancy legging I’ve tried — and I’ve tried numerous pairs. They are buttery soft and not only do they stretch with your growing belly, but they don’t “stretch out” so to speak. After a wash they bounce right back to the original size so you can wear them postpartum as your belly shrinks down. There is a negative though — since the material is so delicate, you have to be really careful not to snag them on anything. I have noticed pilling on my pants and it seems the colour has faded a bit over time, but otherwise I love them!
2. Oil Up
In my first pregnancy I lathered on the Bio Oil to prevent stretch marks on my belly. I still got a few marks under my belly button, but overall I think it worked really well. For my second pregnancy I have been using a combination of Bio Oil and organic coconut oil (nothing fancy, literally the giant tub I bought from Costco) and its been working great to relieve itching as my skin stretches again. I love that the same coconut oil I use for cooking is the same one I lather on my skin…just be careful about putting on clothes immediately after. It will transfer!
3. Epsom Salts
Aside from getting my husband to give me massages, I have taken a ridiculous amount of Epsom salt baths to ease all my aches and pains during pregnancy. I didn’t bother purchasing really fancy epsom salts, instead I opted for the lavender-scented drug store variety in the largest size available. This may be something you already have at home and it’s totally safe to use during pregnancy. I usually throw in about a full cup of epsom salts into the bath.
4. Belly Support Band
I have suffered from SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) in both of my pregnancies, so having a really supportive belly support band has been a must to alleviate my pelvic pain. I have been wearing it around the house as I get closer to my due date and it really helps support my growing belly. There are so many on the market, but I purchased one off Amazon from NEOtech Care. Even if you don’t have SPD wearing a belly support band in later stages of pregnancy will help “lift” your belly and alleviate back pain and discomfort. The only downside was the velcro damaged some of my clothes, so be careful.
5. Positive Affirmations
Before you shrug this off as being nonsense, you should give hypnobirthing or hypnobabies audio tracks a try…especially if you are feeling stressed. A good friend recommended it to me and while I had my reservations at first listening to these hypnotherapy tracks really helped me get into a positive mindset before birth. My favourite was the Hypnobabies Joyful Affirmations, which I listen to in the bath or before sleep. It’s exactly as it sounds, an audio track with relaxing and repetitive affirmations to get you in the right headspace for a healthy and safe delivery. It might sound a little out there, but I am telling you it really helped me and gave my the confidence I needed to go into delivery feeling empowered. I will however say that I didn’t buy the whole “labour doesn’t have to be painful” message, but still found this helpful.
6. Intuitive Guide to Childbirth
I highly recommend reading ‘Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth’ whether you decide to go with an OB or midwife or have a unmedicated birth, an epidural or c-section. Before I get into why I think this book is worth a read, I want to share that my primary care provider was a midwifery team, but I did NOT have a natural birth and chose to get an epidural for my delivery with Hugo. My birth plan was to labour as long as I could without drugs, but if I felt I needed it I was going to allow myself to get an epidural. Reading this book really made me feel empowered and helped me realize how incredible my body is. I laboured for about 20 hours without medication, reaching transition before I finally got pain relief and I am not sure I could have done it if I hadn't pulled from the wisdom in this book. It really helped me tap into my feminine intuition and understand how to trust my body. My favourite part of the book was reading about other women’s birthing experiences and how beautiful it can be. I was able to draw on the strength of my grandmothers who both had five children without any drugs.
7. Nipple Cream
When I was first gifted nipple cream I didn’t realize what a crucial item it would become during my breastfeeding journey. I tried many different brands from expensive boutique varieties with calendula extract, but my favourite was the classic Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream which can be purchased at just about any drug store. You can start using it before delivery and continue to use it while breastfeeding to prevent cracked nipples and soreness. It worked for me and also doubles as lip balm :)
8. Knix Leakproof Nursing Tank with Built-in Bra
I am so happy to say that my favourite nursing tank is made by Knix, a Canadian, woman-led business! They have incredible products, but my favourite is the Leakproof Nursing Tank with built-in bra. It is a bit of an investment at $72 when compared to other nursing tanks, but it’s super comfortable, supportive and has kept its shape for more than a year. Breastfeeding can be difficult enough, but this tank made things easier for me - the snaps are easy to undo and re-snap, plus the fact that its leakproof means no need for nursing pads. I love that I don’t have to double up with a bra and tank — paired with my Lulu Align pants, this quickly become my postpartum uniform while at home. I have two of these tanks — one in black and beige.
9. A trusty water bottle
I have never experienced thirst quite like the unquenchable thirst that would overcome me when breastfeeding. This sounds so simple, but I highly recommend getting a large water bottle with a straw that you enjoy drinking from (think about the weight of the bottle and how cold It keeps your water). I really liked the large plastic double-walled Starbucks cup with lid and reusable straw, but really just find a bottle that you love which can hold a lot of water. Every time I would start breastfeeding it was always a relief knowing my water cup was within reaching distance.
10. Postpartum Care
While you are busy “nesting” remember to pamper yourself with some postpartum care products that are going to help you heal after delivery. While it was a little on the pricey side I purchased a number of items from Fridamom, including the disposable underwear, perineal healing foam, instant ice maxi pads and the upside down peri bottle. You could absolutely substitute these products for the generic versions…home-made witch hazel pad-sicles, the peri bottle from the hospital and generic disposable underwear, but it felt really good to treat myself to these postpartum-specific items. I have leftover products from my delivery with Hugo, so all of it is going right into my hospital bag for baby number two :)
11. One More Thing...Homemade Ginger Tea
I suffered from awful nausea and morning sickness in the first half of my second pregnancy and while hardly anything helped alleviate the sick feeling, homemade ginger tea helped the most. Here is how I make mine. Bring about two cups of water to a boil in a medium sized pot. Add in about a thumb-sized amount of fresh ginger into the water (or more if you love ginger). I like to cut the ginger into small pieces to get all the flavour out. Also add about a teaspoon of fennel seed and continue to boil for about 4-5 min. Strain and pour into a teacup and enjoy! A no-caffeine, all-natural family remedy.
This list really could have gone on and on (like the homemade ginger tea which I decided to add last minute), but I wanted to narrow it down to what I felt were some of my most important pregnancy and postpartum items and remedies that are going to help mothers. I would love to hear what your 'must haves' are in the comments below :)