Are any of you pregnant right now, or hoping to be soon? Inspired by my friend Abbey's pregnancy guide, I figured I'd share a few things that I found helpful during my own pregnancy, and please share your tips, as well! Here goes...
Usually I love reading and research, but I was surprised to find that pregnancy guide books made me anxious. Most of the books I flipped through seemed biased toward natural childbirth (and I knew I'd probably want an epidural) or unnecessarily scary ("What can go wrong during your fifth month? Let's discuss!"). So, I just stopped reading them, which felt super bold at the time! Instead, I followed my doctor's instructions (no wine, no hot tubs, etc.) and then followed my natural instincts. It was great to listen to my body for cues about eating and sleeping, use common sense, and try to trust that everything would be fine. If I had specific questions, I'd ask my friends, my mom or my doctor. (Did you find a pregnancy book you liked, though? If so, I'd love to hear...)
(Also, as I've mentioned before, Great With Child, the memoir about pregnancy, motherhood and marriage, was also wonderfully reassuring.)
(P.S. If you think you'd like to have a natural birth, a few my friends absolutely loved the book Ina May's Guide to Childbirth.)
FOOD & DRINK
* Did you have any cravings while pregnant? I wanted BEEF! My friend wanted anything salty, and my mom said she craved eggs when she was pregnant with my sister and me. What about you?
* Certain types of fish have high levels of mercury, and pregnant women are supposed to avoid or cut down on them. Just stick this handy fish list in your wallet to consult when ordering in restaurants and doing grocery shopping.
* Coconut water is great for morning sickness. A glass has more potassium than three bananas, and it's super refreshing. We ended up buying it in bulk.
* I'm a big fan of white wine, and, I have to admit, I missed it when I was pregnant. So, one night while pregnant and pining for a glass, Alex brought out a martini glass filled with coconut water. It made me laugh and feel like a grown-up again. Izze Fortified Sparkling Juice is also good if you have friends over and want something to sip along with them.
* Herbal tea. Ever night before bed, I'd have a steaming cup of Bengal Spice tea. It's super cinnamon-y! And it was nice to have that cozy ritual every night.
Pregnant women always look incredibly beautiful, but when feeling bloated or tired, I'd do these little things to help myself feel beautiful...
* Bright lipstick. An easy way to instantly transform your look is to wear lipstick. My two absolute favorite lip colors this spring are Poppy King for J.Crew (it's that bright coral that the J.Crew models wear!) and NARS Niagara, a soft peachy pink that brightens up your whole face.
* Natural sunscreen, to keep your skin protected and chemical-free. My favorites are here.
Great maternity shops: HATCH has gorgeous statement pieces, and I also like GAP, Target, LOFT, Boden and ASOS for lovely basics.
Plus a few specific pieces to consider...
* A nice dress. For date nights, parties, work events and weddings, you might like to have at least one maternity dress that makes you feel great. (I had a purple wrap dress from GAP, and this one is lovely.)
* Maternity Spanx! At first, I thought these sounded weird, but they are AWESOME. Your belly gets tons of room, but the Spanx slim and smooth everything else to make you look great, especially when wearing a dress. (You can also get this cool Spanx shaper.)
* Belly band. Your pants sit below your round belly, so you can wear a soft belly band to cover any skin that peeks out between your pants and your shirt.
* A long cardigan, which is flattering, cozy, and feels like a big hug. I wore this exact one almost every day of my pregnancy.
* Maternity underwear (or just a few pairs of cotton underwear in larger sizes), so you don't stretch out your fancy underwears while you're pregnant. (Apparently they can be saggy afterwards! A friend told me that, and I'm so grateful she did!)
* Slip-on shoes, since it becomes tricky to bend over your giant belly to tie shoelaces. Chic ballet flats and cute Bensimon shoes are great go-tos.
AWESOME THINGS TO MAKE YOU MORE COMFORTABLE
* Sleeping with a giant belly can be tricky, so I LOVED LOVED LOVED the maternity pillow in the middle months of pregnancy. They look crazy, but I swear by them. You can wrap your arms and legs around them and sleep soundly through the night. Alex joked that it was like having a third person in our bed, but it was soooo worth it. I even lugged my giant pillow on a cross-country trip to California!
* Long walks with books on tape. Walking is great, low-impact exercise, and it's much more fun with a book to listen to. Ruth Reichl wrote an incredibly entertaining memoir about being the New York Times food critic and dressing up in crazy costumes so restaurateurs wouldn't recognize her--and she reads it herself. So does Tina Fey!
* Acupuncture. Many moms-to-be say that acupuncture helps with aches, pains, headaches, morning sickness, fertility, inducing labor, whatever you may need...Toward the end of my pregnancy, Toby was facing forward in my belly--sunny-side up!--but he should have been facing back. My doctor was concerned that I'd have a more difficult labor if he didn't turn himself around. On a friend's recommendation, I went to the wonderful Sharon Yeung at Five Seasons Healing for an acupuncture session, which was incredibly relaxing and soothing. And by next doctor's appointment, Toby had turned!
TWO PREGNANCY OBSERVATIONS THAT SURPRISED ME
* Baby kicks feel like bubbles at first. I hadn't realized that Toby had been kicking until a nurse told me that--then I started noticing them all the time!
* "Nesting" seems like a real thing. Movies and TV shows joke that pregnant women will suddenly become obsessed with preparing the house for the baby's arrival. And maybe it's true! One night, I literally sat up in bed at midnight and turned to Alex and was like, "We have to do the nursery right now." I was totally ready to bound out of bed and start hammering the crib. Did you experience anything like that?
Expect some crazy moments and let yourself experience them. While pregnant, I was sometimes so emotional, I'd just start crying for no reason! I hadn't expected that. You don't always feel like yourself, and being pregnant (and all it entails) can be overwhelming at times. Two of my cousins were also pregnant when I was, and the one thing that we ALL went through were a wide range of emotions. (I remember my sweet cousin Livvy emailed to me, "Do you find yourself feeling very shaky and crying at the drop of a hat...or no?" and my other cousin Emma wrote, "Are you excited or very scared about being a Mummy?" Such sweet--and leading--questions!:) Know that it's totally OK (and normal) to feel nervous now and again. As my friend Abbey once pointed out, you're growing a soul. And all the pregnancy aches and pains are worth it 1,000 times over once you're holding your sweet baby in your arms.
Most of all, sending you a kiss and a pat on your beautiful bellies! Pregnancy is an amazing thing, and as my mom would say, "Take gentle care of yourself." Lots of love to you. xoxo
What pregnancy tips would you share? Any cravings? Things that make you feel better? Funny observations? Did people pat your belly all the time? :)
P.S. What to register for your new baby, and two moms who look adorable with a bump.
(Top and bottom photos from my belly shots; beef chili photo by Smitten Kitchen; red lipstick photo by Garance Dore; little girl photo by Our Labor of Love; bubble photo by Richard Heeks)