- Women's Health
The Best Pregnancy Products
Pregnancy products you can't live without
There's no doubt that pregnancy is one of the most amazing experiences a woman can have, but it's not without its share of craziness too. Your feet will likely go up a shoe size, parts of you will stretch to previously unthinkable proportions and finding ways to sleep comfortably - without snoring and dribbling - becomes something of a mild obsession, and that's before we even start on the closet challenge. Happily there's a whole world of fabulous products geared to making your life easier during pregnancy. While it's not really necessary to buy into every faddy idea, experienced Moms know it's wise to invest in a few essential pieces of kit. If you're looking for a few handy hacks to get you to the finish line in style and comfort, put your feet up and check out some of these suggestions.
Your Pregnancy Closet Checklist
It's surprising how long you can get away with your many of your regular clothes, but after a few weeks, it's all starting to get a little tight, uncomfortable and well, things just don't always hang so well with a melon shaped lump appearing where your waist used to be.
It's tempting to want to rush out and go a little crazy with maternity clothes (never pass up a credible shopping opportunity hey girls?) but it's wise to hold back a little and assess what you really need to buy from the get-go as opposed to what you can borrow from friends or relatives or purchase as gently used. After all, there's a good chance you'll wear some items for just a few short weeks only as your bump grows. Your requirements will depend largely on your lifestyle. If you work, you'll need to think about a few comfortable staples that can accommodate your changing figure and can be mixed up a little with different accessories and additions. Of course, personal style is what ultimately guides our maternity purchases, but here are a few essential wardrobe items you probably shouldn't be without:
1. MATERNITY BRA - this is one item that needs to fit well (no wire though) and it's worth getting properly fitted and consider paying a little extra for 2 or 3 really great bras. If you're purchasing later into your pregnancy, it's worth considering nursing bras at this point which will see you through till baby is weaned.
2. SUPPORT UNDERWEAR - you'll be able to get away with your regular panties for a while, but there will come a point when comfort is your guiding principal and, the bigger the better for many women. Many brands also offer more technical, built-in support which can really make the difference if you're suffering from lower back and pelvis pain. Pregnancy panty hose (tights) are often designed to support in this way too.
3. A WRAP DRESS and tops work wonderfully with a pregnant figure and suit most body shapes - think Diane Von Furstenberg with a bump. Incredibly versatile these can be dressed up or down and take you through from day to night very easily.
4. LEGGINGS - essential to wear under tunics, t-shirts, shirts and come in a variety of styles aside from regular lycra, from jeggings to heavy wool, and they also work in the winter time too. Consider also a wide leg jersey pant (yoga pants) - can be dressed up or down and flattering on any figure.
5. FLAT SHOES - ballerina pumps are hugely popular with pregnant ladies and small wonder; fastenings are a no-no once your bump gets beyond a certain size. It's incredibly common for feet to swell and bones to relax a little so your feet to go up an entire shoe size too. A pair of cushioned ballet flats by a brand like Geox is a great investment and will likely see you far beyond maternity.
6. TUNICS - yes it's something of cliche but the humble and incredibly versatile tunic is the saving grace of many a pregnant woman's wardrobe. Go short, go long, but do consider at least one tunic and it's likely to be your 'go-to' item of choice during your pregnancy.
7. JEANS - you won't regret buying great maternity jeans. See below guide for a complete 'how to' guide.
Stylish and incredibly practical, this gorgeous, flattering cowl neck jersey tunic style sweater will see you through maternity and nursing in style.
Comfy cotton briefs with a versatile waist band that can be folder down or worn over the belly.
A classic patent pump with a cushioned sole that will work with just about any outfit.
A classic and versatile pair of pants for day or evening and ideal for the office.
Pregnancy Poll - It's just for fun folks!
What is your top 'must-have' pregnancy item?
How to find the perfect pair
Maternity jeans are one of the THE essential items for your pregnancy checklist. Here's a checklist of Do's and Don'ts to help you find the right pair:
- Do order your regular size, maternity jeans are tailored to work around your bump
- Don't be tempted to make do with a larger size in your regular style
- Do consider two pairs - one for the early weeks that sits under the bump and another pair for later with a wider waistband that fits comfortably over the bump
- Don't scrimp - you'll very likely live in your jeans and a great fitting pair will make you feel good and will be worth the investment
- Do buy online but ensure you can try them on at home and send back any styles that don't work
- Don't be afraid to try a number of different styles; skinny, bootcut or wide leg - what works best with a bump may differ from your usual style
Which style is right for me?
- Under bump styles usually incorporate a supportive, stretchy panel and work well if you're slim framed or in the early stages of pregnancy when the bump isn't so big. Some have a traditional fly-front with elasticated panels at the sides. A belt may be required to keep these styles up but work well if you find over the bump styles too constricting.
- Over the bump styles have elasticated waistbands a in variety of options, some have jersey side panels instead which can be let out as your bump grows, while others have a full elasticated band that can be adjusted and rolled down for flexibility and comfort. These styles can work well for fuller figures.
Everyone is different, and every pregnancy is different and what works will largely depend on how you're carrying your bump, your natural frame and your lifestyle requirements. The great news is that maternity denim has come a long way in recent years and there's no need to compromise your pre-pregnancy standards; from perennially popular skinnies to slouchy boyfriend versions, a bun in the oven needn't be a reason cramp your style.
Needing Style Inspiration? - Celebrities who nailed it in maternity denim:Click thumbnail to view full-size
Maternity Jeans - Get the look with these five great styles:
Gwen Stefani loves her Paige Skyline jeans with discreet elasticated band - and they're made in the U.S.A too.
So good they named them twice! Copy Natalie Portman's slouchy boyfriend look or dress them up for a little va va voom.
Beauty & Wellbeing
Looking good and feeling fine during pregnancy
Dark blotchy patches, breakouts and streaky stretch marks; your skin won't know what's hit it at times. Then there's the aches and pains, strange new habits and cravings, water retention, and of course, the nausea. Pregnancy can be a mixed bag of joy and let's face it, discomfort. Your body is no longer your own and while your baby is probably blissfully unaware of all of this, she still demands nothing less than 100% physical commitment at all times. Happily, there are a few reasons to be cheerful. Once those first tumultuous weeks are behind you, things settle down somewhat and you may even start to acquire the famed pregnancy bloom, with lustrous, thick hair and glowing skin; and becoming the envy of your non-preggo friends. For the lucky few this happy state of affairs lasts well into the final trimester, but if you're looking for ways to regain a little equilibrium, these products and tips might be just the thing:
Pregnancy Health & Beauty Tips:
- BELLY SUPPORT BAND - it's incredibly common to suffer with aches and pains in the lower back and pelvic area throughout pregnancy, particularly in the last trimester, but you should always discuss with your doctor in case it's a sign of something more serious. Many women find enormous relief with a belly support band; essentially a thick, elastic belt that fits snugly under your bump (and underneath clothing) and provides much needed support to the belly, lower back and pelvic areas. It's particularly helpful in more serious cases such such as Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD).
- TAKE REGULAR MASSAGES - a monthly massage with a qualified therapist trained in pregnancy massage will do wonders for your wellbeing and is a great way to help relieve back pain, swollen ankles and tired feet. Go on, you're worth it!
- TAILOR YOUR SKINCARE REGIME - thanks to all those hormones, your skin is likely to be acting a little differently now you are pregnant, and some of your old products may cause a reaction. Consider altering some of your skin care products accordingly. A sensitive, or combination range with sunscreen, that is developed for use during pregnancy could be the answer, but ensure it doesn't contain Vitamin A, which has been linked to birth defects.
- FAKE IT - with a mineral bronzing powder; a fantastic way to give tired skin an instant lift and give your skin a glow. Try using a highlighter on cheekbones, under the brow and on the chest bone to add a little definition there too.
- EAT RIGHT - without wishing to get preachy, maintaining a healthy weight and ensuring you eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day (green leafy veg particularly) is the best way to ensure you feel good inside and look good outside. A great tip to get your five is to drink a mixed fruit smoothie, packed with berries and a cube of frozen spinach, to give you a vitamin-fuelled boost in one hit. Consider investing in a juicer. It'll last for years and smoothies are a great way for kids to get their five-a-day too.
- DRINK WATER - it may seem counter-intuitive when you're running to the bathroom every 15 minutes as it is, but it's the best way to keep your skin and cells hydrated and can help to reduce nausea symptoms too.
Tips for getting better sleep while pregnant
- Get a BODY PILLOW. They come in various shapes and sizes but most women agree a body pillow is one of THE essential pieces of kit when pregnant. A larger, curved body pillow provides support to your bump and provides a comfortable buffer between your legs, allowing you to sleep comfortably on your side, which is better for baby too.
- Sleep on your LEFT SIDE. This is also better for baby as it helps with blood flow to the placenta, and your own vital organs
- If you snore and dribble, it's worth getting your blood pressure checked out by your doctor, but it's probably just 'pregnancy nose'; NASAL STRIPS are safe to use and can help to open up the airways a little, meaning you'll be able to breath more comfortably through your nose, cutting down on the dribble factor too!
- A HUMIDIFIER can help with a stuffy, dry nose as it replaces moisture and is great for dry pregnancy skin. An ultrasonic ionising version will purify the air too, without the risk of microbial growth - a 2003 study in the New Scientist found ionizers reduced infections in hospitals.
- Try to MAINTAIN A HEALTHY PREGNANCY WEIGHT - significant excess weight gain can impact your quality of sleep and is associated with heavier snoring
Sleeping Like A Baby?
How pregnancy can put your sleep seriously out of whack
Your pregnant body is a miraculous machine and giving life to and growing another human is quite an awesome feat when you think about it. You've essentially grown not one, but TWO new organs. Yup, baby aside, the placenta is a feat of biology all in itself; a vast, life-giving network of blood vessels, tissues and membranes that, at its fullest, weighs up to 2 pounds and will be pumping 1 pint of blood every minute into the uterus. When you factor in all the extra energy your body requires to keep everything running in a tickety boo fashion, small wonder you can now fall sleep at the drop of a hat. The trouble is, your growing bump is kind of awkward to say the least, and so, between baby and all the extra hormones causing your mucous membranes to swell, well there's a good chance your precious sleep time will figure somewhere along the lines of 'girl, interrupted'.
Best of the Rest - Five more essential pregnancy products:
the #1 bestselling body pillow on Amazon and at such a great price. Perfect for full body support.
Pregnant or not - these strips are a really simple, non-surgical solution for snoring and the tan colour ensures they blend with your skin.
This adjustable band adds much needed support to the uterus and lower back and can help reduce stretch marks.
Another #1 bestseller on Amazon - this delicately scented all-natural oil is easily absorbed, incredibly versatile and is great for smoothing over bellies, breasts and can even be used for perineal massage too!