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My pregnancies have run the gamut — from sick the first trimester to feeling great the second and third to feeling pretty good the whole time to feeling pretty awful the WHOLE time. Here are 14 pregnancy essentials I consider a must-have. Some I had, and some I wish I did.
Here are the 14 essential pregnancy products pretty much in order of when you’ll need it:
1. Prenatal vitamins — before pregnancy.
Actually this one you probably know you need. For a healthy pregnancy, experts recommend starting a prenatal vitamin at least 400 micrograms of folic acid when you are trying to conceive.
We recommend Healthy Mama brand prenatals. It comes in a combo pack with the multi-vitamin that contains all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to grow a baby plus a DHA soft gel for baby’s healthy brain and eye development. The pills are designed to be easy to swallow and taken only once a day. This may not seem like a big deal, but often pregnant women have trouble taking pills. So it can be really miserable if you have to take a handful multiple times a day.
Motherlove has a whole range of organic herbal products to help you through various discomforts of your pregnancy all the way through postpartum and breastfeeding.
2. Pregnancy journal — as soon as you know.
I’ve done this both ways and I have to say… I wish I had kept a journal of my subsequent pregnancies. During my second I thought I would just keep notes next to the notes I took in my first journal. I thought it might be interesting to have a side by side comparison of pregnancies. But there wasn’t really room to take proper notes for a second pregnancy and if I were to give the journal to the child later in life, I can’t split one journal into two. So now that you heard of my pregnancy brain fail (one of many, I assure you) you can make your own decision.
There are many pregnancy journal options available. The one I used for my first — and only real — journaling experience was The Pregnancy Journal: A Day-to-Day Guide to a Healthy and Happy Pregnancy. I liked it because much of it was like filling out a form otherwise I would have completely forgotten to chart some of the details. Plus, it offered what was happening on the inside with the baby that I couldn’t see on a day to day basis. Remember mom brain starts during pregnancy and continues through parenting so get this pregnancy essential so you can remember… years down the line when it’s nice to reminisce.
3. Safe beauty and skin care products — as soon as you know.
You know the saying, “You are what you eat.” Well that definitely goes for what you put on your skin since your skin absorbs what you put on it. And both can affect baby. Most commonly used products are safe but there are a handful of ingredients that pregnant women should avoid.
It seems to be hit or miss when it comes to how your skin handles pregnancy. Some people have that glow and some people break out like they were a teenager. I was a mixture. Plus, I had this strange growth on my back that came when pregnancy was a sure thing and left about two days after giving birth. I won’t go into too much detail about this except that I called the bump my “alien baby”. It was really weird and gross and no doctor could explain it.
Quite frankly way back then I didn’t think about needing special skin care and I didn’t hear anything about it during my pregnancies. It may be because I was already using organic products and no make up. Nowadays there are several brands like Belli and Mama Mio that cater to pregnant women and their skin care needs. We were just introduced to this natural, homemade skin care by Ola Cré great for new mamas and babies.
Get your guide about safer driving practices for during pregnancy
One other tip since we’re talking about self care. It is common for pregnant women to deal with frequent bloody noses and bleeding gums. Every time I flossed, I bled. So I recommend using a water flosser instead to keep those pearly whites. My dentist recently told me they might be even better than flossing because flossing can push gunk down in your gums. Hmmm.
4. Safe cleaning products — as soon as you know.
You might as well start using safer cleaning products now because you’ll probably want to when you have a baby crawling around putting everything in his mouth anyway. Plus some of the chemicals in some cleaners are really not safe for your baby when you inhale them or absorb them through your skin. So for that healthy baby, have your husband do all the cleaning!
OK that’s not likely to happen. So use natural safe products like Seventh Generation or The Honest Company or make your own. I personally have always like Seventh Generation and even used their disposable diapers when I was traveling or for some other reason not using our cloth diapers. Is it really essential to clean during pregnancy? I suppose so; just sounds exhausting.
5. Bellaband — not quite ready for maternity clothes yet.
You may not even see much difference in your belly yet but your clothes definitely inform you something is changing. For when your are in the in between stage of your clothes and maternity clothes, there is the Bellaband. This allows you to wear your pre-pregnancy pants a little longer by leaving them unbuttoned but covered. Much better than the rubberband method I tried during my first pregnancy! With a top on, it just looks like you layered your shirts.
6. Itch lotion and or belly butter — not quite ready for maternity clothes yet.
It’s probably not bad yet but as your baby bump increases in size, it will likely itch. Sometimes a lot! It’s annoying! Seriously during my third pregnancy I thought I was going to scratch a hole in my tummy and the baby would pop out that way. I didn’t and he didn’t. Thank goodness!
Needless to say… It. Was. Itchy!
I had an organic itch cream for the itch and shea butter for the moisture to to help reduce stretch marks. I don’t know if I can completely thank the shea butter I’d lather on or a combination of shea butter and good genes but through three pregnancies I didn’t get stretch marks. Instead of using two products like I did, now there is DreamBelly Stretch Mark Butter. The company claims no itch and no stretch marks with all natural ingredients. I didn’t try this particular cream but it looks divine.
7. Tummy Shield — as your belly grows and you get ready for maternity clothes (if not earlier).
This is one of those safety pregnancy essentials you really shouldn’t do without. “Researchers have also found that a mother’s uterus and bladder are not as protected by the pelvis after 12 weeks gestation and can be more easily injured by blunt trauma,” according to YASA.
Going through a compilation of studies about driving during pregnancy, we found that an estimated 3,000 pregnancies are lost every year from car crashes. The U.S. National Library of Medicine says car crashes “are the largest single cause of death for pregnancy women and the leading cause of traumatic fetal injury mortality in the United States.”
That makes safe driving during pregnancy a rather big issue that’s not being discussed.
The Tummy Shield is the only highly engineered pregnancy seat belt positioner that safely redirects the seat belt away from the baby bump. It has been crash tested to prove that the seat belt still works as intended but without the possible intrusion into the belly and while eliminating the potential of the pregnant woman to slide under the seat belt causing the seat belt to move up on her belly. The Tummy Shield has been strength tested to prove it can withstand as high amount crash forces as the seat belt system itself.
The Tummy Shield didn’t exist during my first two pregnancies and existed only in Australia during my third. Otherwise I would have jumped to get it merely for the discomfort I always felt when seat belted in the car. Since learning about all the safety implications, I only recommend it that much more.
8. Comfortable maternity jeans — time for maternity clothes.
I lived in yoga clothes and dresses through much of my second two pregnancies. But there is something to be said about a great pair of comfortably fitting, stylish maternity jeans. My favorite were Gap’s Long and Lean style. I found them to be divinely comfortable with soft stretchy denim. Really, what more needs to be said?
9. Pregnancy Pillow — when/if you have trouble sleeping.
With everything going on in your body you may have a hard enough time sleeping (I would wake up having to sit up in bed to burp for crying out loud) so you might as well be comfortable. By now you’ve been to maternity stores and you’ve seen these strangely shaped body pillows. From C shape to U shape to just a wedge, these pregnancy pillows help you get comfortable enough to sleep.
10. Sleep phones — when/if you have trouble sleeping.
Forget pregnancy essentials this is an ongoing sleep essential. I don’t know about you but my husband snores. The combination of that and being a light sleeper means I need something to drown out the snoring. Sleep headphones are amazing for that. I’ve tried regular headphones before but they just hurt my ears to sleep in. I’m a side sleeper so there’s no getting around laying on an ear. My sleep headphones (I use a ZenBand) have wide flattish head phones inside the head band which makes it comfortable to wear. I think listening to white sound or soothing music would be relaxing and help pregnant women sleep better.
11. BellyBuds — about midway.
I think it’s really cool that you can experiment with music and see how your baby reacts in the womb with BellyBuds. A baby in the womb can hear starting at about 20 weeks gestation. BellyBuds baby-bump speakers allow you to safely play music and even messages from loved ones directly to the womb.
12. Pregnancy photo shoot — about 7 months.
Since I’m a photographer too, I did photo shoots at various times throughout my pregnancies to document my growing baby bump. I have to say around 7 to maybe 8 months is a great time to have a pregnancy photo shoot. At this time, you have a nice size bump but are still mobile and feel pretty good about yourself.
13. Belly wrap — after birth.
I didn’t use anything like this after my first two pregnancies but prior to my third I still had a bit of a pooching belly. During my third pregnancy I thought, if there was a way to take advantage of the remaining relaxin in my body to help reshape it, that would be way cool! Belly binding looked much too difficult so I bought a Cinch tummy wrap. I bought the one that allowed for a cool compress to go inside. It was great in the beginning but in short time I didn’t need the cool compress and I found the Cinch did show more in form fitting summer tops. Then I wished I had purchased the less noticeable couture style.
Now there are a lot more options available when it comes to postpartum belly wraps. Comparatively speaking, using a belly wrap did seem to help though it didn’t completely get rid of the poochy belly.
14. Postpartum Care — after birth.
I don’t know if it’s a taboo subject but no one really talked to me about postpartum care before my first pregnancy. My midwife took care to have postpartum bath herbs ready for me after my second two pregnancies. After all that your body goes through with giving birth, you deserve a little tender loving care. And if you are breastfeeding you need some self care to get you through the start of that too. So remember postpartum when buying your pregnancy essentials.
I really love the Earth Mama Angel Baby and Motherlove lines of postpartum and breastfeeding care products. We also used their Angel Baby Bottom Balm as our diaper cream of choice. I love that their products are natural or organic, safe herbal alternatives that really work.
Share your comments below about your pregnancy essentials.
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
Copyright 2022 Safe Ride 4 Kids. All rights reserved. You may not publish, broadcast, rewrite or redistribute this material without permission. You are welcome to link to Safe Ride 4 Kids or share on social media.
We originally published this post in August 2017. We updated the article for accuracy and comprehensiveness.