okay. okay. so there are a lot of these lists out there, and i recognize this list probably isn’t going to shatter anything you ever knew about pregnancy…but i still think sharing in one place things that i personally find essential to a more confident, comfortable, encouraging, and empowered pregnancy will be helpful for you mamas out there.
this was actually quite hard for me to narrow it down to 10…so i actually had to make it 11. haha. false advertising! you get 11 for the price of 10! i could go on and on about wonderful things to have available during pregnancy, but i had to cut it off somewhere. so by the end of my list you might be screaming at your screen (or gently speaking to it with kind words of corrective feedback, right?!) about something i didn’t put on the list…add it to the comments! i also steer clear of any supplements, homeopathics, etc…not that i don’t think they are wonderful and awesome during pregnancy, i just think that is up to you to decide what is best for you beyond a simple prenatal vitamin.
with all that being said…in no particular order….here ya go!
11. a care provider you LOVE. did you know that you can LOVE going to your prenatal appointments? that you can leave feeling confident and encouraged and excited? that you can be heard? and understood? and validated? that you can be given information that is evidence based, with full informed consent? finding the right care provider for you comes down to asking yourself what YOU want from the experience and what you think your baby wants. what kind of care do you desire? what kind of birth do you think your baby desires? (anyone else have their mind blown when asking themselves that question? dang!). there are providers who LOVE their moms/families and invest their time, efforts, and energies into providing evidence based information and care practices…sometimes you have to be a little sleuth to find out who they are in your community, but it’s worth the extra effort. it’s worth the insurance hassles. remember how many caterers you tried out and cakes you tasted before making the final decision for your wedding, right?! you wanted the best, and you were willing to pay for it in most cases…this is the birth of your baby, demand the best. and remember- YOU are the consumer here. you are paying for the care you are receiving…demand the best. you would send a dinner back if it was wrong or had things you specifically stated you were allergic to or whatever…so keep that in mind as you assert yourself in your hunt for the best care possible. i personally see so much benefit to the midwifery model of care, but there absolutely are doctors who practice with that in their hearts, too…again, it just might take some sleuthing to find!! i can’t emphasize how important this is though. it sets the tone for SO much. so so so much. will help alleviate fears and encourage relaxation and an embracing of the normalcy of the process. all around: yes, please.
10. a good workout routine. not that you need to be in the best physical shape you’ve ever been in in your life, but you want to be active. in whatever way that looks for you and your abilities and desires, great. if it’s walking a bit every day, awesome! if it’s yoga, if it’s any of the barre method classes, if it’s pilates, whatever…do what feels best for you (and, if necessary, talk to your care provider about your plans/activities). think about your activitiy level before pregnancy and tailor it from there. just because you are pregnant doesn’t mean you are now unable to engage your body in these ways…it may begin to look a bit different, but different is better than nothing! engage your body, do some squats, too! your birth experience will thank you for it. you will feel better about your pregnancy, you’ll be healthier…and you’ll feel GREAT.
9. a body pillow, a contouring pillow, or just a big stack of pillows you can turn into your own little pillow fort on your side of the bed. your body is changing and needs support, and sleeping can start to get a little tricky as you get a little bigger, things start shifting around…any way you can find comfort you should jump on it. i personally just used a $5 random body pillow from target (although they have fancy pregnancy pillows out there too if you like that sort of thing), and it did the trick. i wrapped myself around it in a million different ways and even used it during parts of my labor as well.
8. proper education about nutrition. what? nutrition? i can imagine many of you are thinking "don't tell this pregnnat mama what to eat!!!" ... sorry! i'm not telling you what to eat, but i am encouraging you to engage in conversations about nutrition and how that can encourage you and your body and your baby to remain low risk, your labor to remain low risk, and even your postpartum to be as low risk as possible. nutrition MATTERS. it is said that 80% of pregnancy related issues- from random aches and pains all the way through pre-eclampsia can be eased or even eradicated through proper nutrition. whether it's actual foods orcertain supplements, it's crazy the effect what we put into and on our bodies can have. i personally love midwifery care for this reason: they care about you and the state of your pregnancy and the development of your baby and have a large investment in keeping you low risk...and what is one of the biggest ways they do this? nutritional counseling. in a nutshell: protein protein protein, water water water, salt your dang food with real salt. lots more to share, a great spot to check out some beginning information can be found here.
7. reusable water bottle. a “must have”?! out of everything out there?! yeah, i think so, at least for the majority of us. this relates to #6, too. most people don’t get enough water as it is, and when you are pregnant you need a LOT of water every day. so many of my moms aren’t aware of how much water they are drinking when they just use cups around the house or mugs at work, etc…so getting a reusable water bottle that you can look at and know how many ounces, liters, etc you are getting?! brilliant. i am a big fan of glass bottles, that way you don't have any potential leaching of any funky chemicals.
6. a good book to read. which one though, right?! well, that depends on you. mindful birthing is an absolute favorite of mine, so many wonderful nuggets to bring into the pregnancy, birthing, and parenting experience. it is awesome to see a birth book go beyond "just" birth and discuss how to bring some of those same principles to breastfeeding, parenting, etc. You can't go wrong with pretty much anything by ina may gaskin as well, she is just full of awesome nuggets, too. her guide to childbirth is probably the most commonly read of hers, although anything is great! gentle birth, gentle mothering is another one that has some great stuff in it, and, as you can guess, it goes into more than "just" birth. i also am ALL about this article for prepping for what is lovingly known as the 4th trimester, after the baby comes. i don't necessarily recommend you spend your entire pregnnacy reading, but selecting a book or two is great. (none of these links are affiliate links, just as a heads up).
5. a remote control. what?! not so that you can sit around and watch tv, but so that you can TURN the channel in certain situations. i know you want to soak up everything pregnancy and birth related and so you find yourself DVRing every episode of “a baby story” ever made…and then you sit and watch them and you are feeling increasingly freaked out about birth, feeling a little less stoked about pregnancy…turn the channel. no more overly dramatic shows about pregnancy and birth. you want to surround yourself with positive notions about pregnancy and birth…and you don’t often find that on tlc or abc or anywhere else that has birth and/or hospital drama shows…or romantic comedies that think it’s hilarious to show a laboring mom wanting to punch everyone and screaming at the top of her lungs. do yourself a favor and watch realistic births…whether it’s watching a dvd like organic birth, or seeing the birth videos at the end of a great prenatal yoga dvd, watching videos online like this one, you need to see real, empowering birth. so pick up your remote control and change the channel, will ya?!
4. a birth ball. well, really, it’s just one of those exercise/physical therapy balls but they call it a birth ball because it is super useful during labor. but, this is specifically a “pregnancy” 10 top ten, right?! WELL, it is super useful pre-labor as well (and post baby, too- babies love to fall asleep to that gentle bouncing movement). beyond using it for actual exercise, simply sitting on the ball during pregnancy is going to all sorts of wonderful things for your joints, encourage opening, proper posture and optimal positioning for baby. keeping everything aligned and open…great prep for birth but great things just in general as well. use it instead of your chair at work/home. lean over it to relieve back discomfort. it’ll be your new bff. and that relationship will grow when it comes to birthing, too. sit on it, roll your hips in dramatic circles and figure 8s. mmmmmmm.
3. a chiropractor. i was thinking about adding a massage therapist here, too (who can work WONDERS, too) but ended with a chiropractor because of the changes i’ve seen in both myself and in so many of my moms who have been to a solid chiropractor during their pregnancy. it can help keep your body aligned, help encourage baby to be in the most optimal position, alleviate certain aches and discomforts, and prepare your pelvis for birth. it is all around a wonderful, healthy decision for you and your baby, truly! check out this post for more about the benefits.
2. childbirth education program that focuses on physiological birth and the normalcy of the process. while this isn’t a blanket statement for EVERY class at EVERY hospital everywhere, but i highly recommend taking a class outside of a hospital. you’ll want to do your research and see what FEELS right for you and your baby. what kind of birth are you desiring? what kind of birth do you think your baby desires? take time to think about those things, and make decisions regarding your care and your preparation from there. you will (or should hopefully!!) learn about the process of birth, tools to work with your body through it, and generally feel more aware and prepared for how to engage in the process rather than sink away from it. that in and of itself will certainly shift your birth experience, but it will shift your experience of your pregnancy. feeling more comfortable, confident in your body and the journey you are on. knowledge is POWER people. POWER. gi joe had it right all along. my classes are available in group form at Babies in Bloom Birth and Wellness Center, and also available in an online format via fun pre-recorded videos that can be watched from any where at any time (in your pajamas, too! you know you want to!). check out here for more info.
and drumroll please….
1. a doula. and i’m not just saying this because i am one. doulas are not JUST for birth. they are for pregnancy as well (and postpartum, but that’s for another post!), and can help you feel even more loved and supported through the process. having someone who has experience in the pregnancy/birth world you can turn to easily to ask questions, get advice, be encouraged by…it makes a difference. i would never dream of going without one. and i am one!
okay! there you have it! my essentials of the essentials. what else would you add to this list?