Pregnancy is a wonderful time for most women. I know I had a newfound awe and respect for women in general as my body was growing another human being. How incredible is that!? But along with this amazing miracle of life, the ailments that accompany pregnancy can be tough. Nausea, fatigue, increased tension and muscle soreness, aches and pains in areas you didn’t even know existed. With my first pregnancy, I had the time for frequent naps (no wild boy running around for me to look after) and I also devoured pregnancy and birth materials and education like mad. I wanted to know everything I could and I also wanted to be prepared for a natural birth. To help combat things like morning sickness and fatigue, I found some pregnancy must-haves that were invaluable to me the first time around, and have found them just as great this time around too. I’ve also discovered some new awesome products that I added to my natural pregnancy must-haves list.
Tummy Soothing Drink – Ginger-ale or Ginger Tea
With my first pregnancy, I drank A LOT of Santa Cruz organic gingerale. Even though it still has cane sugar, it’s made with real ginger and isn’t sugary sweet like the commercial pop gingerales. I found it really soothing. This time around though, I tried to either make my own, or sipped on ginger tea mixed with honey instead. This morning wellness tea from Earth Mama Angel Baby is not only delicious, but works wonders for nausea.
Substance by the Matter Company makes an amazing belly butter made with all natural ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, vitamin E and lavender. A little goes a long way and it helps keep your skin’s elasticity as the baby grows and the belly stretches. It’s best used every day, and even more as pregnancy progresses. I ended up running out of belly butter in my last month of pregnancy, so I used good old almond oil, which works really well, but doesn’t spread in as easily as the belly butters. Earth Mama Angel Baby also makes a great belly oil, which I only recently discovered.
Body pillows offer some much-needed support, especially as pregnancy progresses. Being comfortable and properly supported at night is key to a good’s night sleep. I found placing a pillow between my knees made a huge difference for the recommended side-sleeping position. A pillow tucked behind the back will help with back support as well. There are a lot of body pillows made specifically for pregnant mamas, with the most popular being the Snoogle. But because I have neck issues on a regular basis, I need the support of my good ergonomic pillow and actually prefer something like this pillow instead so I can still use my own head pillow. If you’re tight on space in the bed, try having a pillow between your knees, behind your back for support, and maybe something small to support your belly as it gets bigger, like a simple wedge.
Snacking on small meals throughout the day can help combat some of the nausea. Plus, I find myself constantly hungry as the months go on. Keeping a stash of nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews and sunflowers seeds, can be a quick pick-me-up snack that also gets essential nutrients into you. Some other quick and healthy snacks are: fresh fruit like apples and bananas, hummus and vegetables, energy bars (like these great ones from Oh She Glows) or a couple squares of organic, dark chocolate. Check out Pick Any Two’s huge list of healthy snack ideas for pregnant moms.
Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth
This book is a must for any new mom. I found it invaluable, empowering and so incredibly helpful in helping me prepare for a natural childbirth. Ina May is North America’s leading midwife. I watched her in a couple of pregnancy and birth documentaries and have been awed by her knowledge and experience ever since. I also love all the stories of natural birth included in this book.
Dr. Sears Pregnancy and Birth Books
I’m a big fan of Dr. Sears books. I find them to be perfect balance of traditional and natural medical advice and have found his books very helpful at every stage, from pregnancy to raising a child. The Pregnancy Book has tons of information on how to have a healthy, natural pregnancy, and The Birth Book is also a wealth of information including different options for pain relief and comfort.
Many women are already naturally low in iron to begin with, and pregnancy almost always makes it worse. I make sure to take a good-quality iron supplement throughout all of my pregnancy. Liquid iron is absorbed faster and easier by the body and can help eliminate any constipating side effects that some women experience from iron supplements normally. I’m a big fan of Floradix. Some other great sources of iron are molasses (add a tablespoon to your smoothie!), cooking with cast-iron cookware, and lots of beans, seeds and quinoa.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea (for third trimester)
Red raspberry leaf tea has been shown to help strengthen the uterine muscles and has also been though to make labour go a little bit quicker and easier because of this. It might just be a coincidence but I drank it daily during my third trimester and I fortunately had a relatively straightforward natural birth. Because it can stimulate the uterus, it isn’t recommended until you’re at about 32 weeks. Earth Mama Angel Baby also makes a great third trimester tea with red raspberry leaf, stinging nettles (great for iron), chamomile for calming, rosehips for vitamins, and Oat straw for calcium. Another winner!
Prenatal Yoga Video or Classes
Yoga is the perfect, gentle exercise for any pregnant woman at any level. I really enjoy Element’s Prenatal Prenatal and Postnatal yoga video for its variety of ease of use. I’m also a fan of the 10 Minute Solutions pilates video if you’re looking for something a bit more challenging. Or, join a local yoga centre for their prenatal yoga classes. You’ll get in necessary exercises and stretches while also meeting fellow pregnant moms.
Comfortable Bras and Clothes
This is a must! I pretty much live in yoga pants or tights when I’m at home and pregnant. Also, invest in some comfortable bras, especially as your breasts start to grow and ache.