Pregnancy can be a joy, but it can also be uncomfortable. In fact, it can be worse than uncomfortable. The tough part is that it's different for each woman, so it can be hard to know exactly what will work for you to make your pregnancy a bit easier.
Today I'm sharing a minimalist list of nine items that have helped me or made me more comfortable during this pregnancy. This post idea was sparked by a suggestion from Kate over at BeyondtheSafeHarbor.com. (A great personal development blog).
I wish I could guarantee that this list will solve all your pregnancy-related problems, but I can only say that these are some of the things that have helped me have a happier and more comfortable pregnancy than otherwise. Please don't take anything on this list as medical advice. As always, do your own research and consult your doctor when it comes to treating health issues during pregnancy or any time.
Minimalist Pregnancy Essentials
This post contains some links that may be affiliate links. As always, all opinions are 100% my own and not for sale.
1. Delicious Prenatal Vitamins
I'm a fan of adding a bit of deliciousness to anything you have to make a daily habit of. When it comes to taking a prenatal, you really don't want to forget, especially in that first trimester when it's important to get folic acid. My prenatal vitamins taste like candy. This makes it really fun to remember to take them every day.
These are the vitamins I've been taking during this pregnancy.
2. Additional Vitamin D Supplementation
I read that Vitamin D may boost your immune system. During pregnancy, catching a cold is especially onerous because you can't take many of the medicines you may have reached for to help you feel better when not pregnant. Every time I felt like I may have been exposed to a virus, or just felt tired and that I might be coming down with something, I took additional Vitamin D. Please do your own research to make sure you are taking a safe amount. The prenatal vitamins I recommended already have some vitamin D in them so take that into account. This pregnancy I also was in a cold northern climate over winter for the first time, so I think the Vitamin D was probably helpful for my whole system since I wasn't getting a lot of sunshine.
3. EXERCISE, Especially Yoga
There's a slight tendency for women to feel discouraged from exercising during pregnancy. However, as long as I listen to my body and not overdo it, it really seems to help my mental state and just to make everything a little easier. I've been taking a weekly yoga class on and off for years, but I find that during pregnancy, yoga is especially enjoyable for me. It seems to align and stretch everything at a time when physical changes are happening fast. Each class feels different for my changing pregnant body, and that makes it more interesting.
If you want to do yoga at home, simply searching “prenatal yoga” on YouTube always leads me to amazing (free) videos.
Beyond yoga, what works for me is cardio and light strength training about 3-4 times a week and a yoga class once a week. In general, my cardio is walking or using the elliptical machine (it's lower impact than a treadmill) at the gym. My strength training is squats, push ups, and weight machines at the gym. I will also do about 3-5 minutes of light yoga before bed. Every chance I get, I also hang from my hands (as in on the monkey bars). I'm not able to do a pull-up right now, but simply hanging stretches my arms, shoulders, and back out in a way that feels good.
4. Social Support
I think some people go through pregnancy feeling relatively private about the matter. It's not something they need or want to talk/complain about much. They draw inward, and that can feel really healthy and safe for them. However, for me, I love when people ask how I'm feeling, how pregnancy is going, and offer to help when I need it. I have long conversations with family and friends about how my pregnancy is going and what I can do to deal with certain pregnancy symptoms. This social support has been essential to me this pregnancy. I'm so grateful to my family and friends who have listened to me complain or vent for hours.
5. Coconut Oil
Most nights before bed I rub some coconut oil on my belly and anywhere on my skin that feels dry or like it's being stretched with pregnancy weight gain. It's a soothing evening ritual. Some claim that coconut oil can help prevent stretch marks, but I've heard that whether or not you get stretch marks is mostly a matter of genes. Still, it's nice to feel like I'm doing something to help my skin stay comfortable and moisturized.
I tend to buy coconut locally, but if you want to get it online here’s one to try.
6. Encircled Tees
I'm a big fan of The Nomadic Tee by Encircled. It’s not a maternity shirt (or a maternity company) but I find these shirts long and stretchy enough that they are still fitting me now in my third trimester. Encircled clothing is ethically and sustainable made. It's nice (and money-saving) to have something to wear that fit me before pregnancy and will fit me after pregnancy.
As far as other maternity clothes, I found that I needed to size up frequently with bras, buy larger leggings, and get a few pairs of maternity jeans. Other than that, I was the grateful recipient of lots of hand-me-downs from women in my community who had maternity clothes sitting around that they were done with. Once I'm done with them, I'll pass them along too.
For my first pregnancy and this one, Hypnobabies is my choice for pain-management during labor. Using medical-grade hypnosis, I was able to relax enough when my first son was born that I didn't find the experience painful. Exhausting and intense, yes, but pain was not part of my vocabulary during the experience. It's amazing what mental training and visualization can do. While I'm really happy that epidurals and other forms of pain management exist as an option, I wanted to fully experience natural birth with as few medical interventions as possible. (And want to again, if that tells you anything.)
It's a very personal choice, but if you're curious about learning to relax deeply to allow birth to be a pain-free process, check out Hypnobabies.com. The training involves listening to 30-minute medical grade hypnosis tracks several times a week during your last trimester (although technically you could start earlier). It's mostly about un-doing a lifetime of incorrect cultural programming that says birth has to be painful, as well as learning visualization and deep relaxation techniques.
8. ASMR Videos
You either get it, or you don't, when it comes to ASMR. You've probably heard of ASMR, which stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. It's a relaxing, often tingly feeling some people get in certain situations, like when getting your hair cut or listening to rain patter gently against a window. For many, a video including both visual and auditory triggers enhances the relaxing feelings. For example, in real life when someone is chewing gum I don't feel much. However, if I'm watching a video of someone chew gum, I find the sound and visuals very relaxing to the point I may fall asleep. Weird, I know.
There are a huge number of different ASMR triggers people enjoy. Thousands, maybe millions, of people use ASMR videos to help them relax, recover from anxiety and trauma, and go to sleep. I've dealt with quite a bit of insomnia during this pregnancy and ASMR videos have helped me finally get to sleep. Simply search “ASMR” on YouTube to explore the world of relaxing videos. Here’s one I’ve enjoyed that is specific to pregnancy, if you’re into that.
9. Glow Nurture App
I've enjoyed the Glow Nurture App (search for it in your smart phone's app store) for the updates and forums. Every week it gives me a fruit or vegetable that is comparable to my baby's current size (this week it's honeydew melon). There's also a little cartoon picture of what the baby looks like and lots of brief articles covering pregnancy related topics. There's an active forum too, which I find fun to dip into occasionally. While it does get feisty once in a while, in general the "mommy wars" are absent from the forum connected to the app. There's also a function called time lapse that lets you upload photos of your bump each week, then loads them into a video so you can see how you've grown.
That's it! Those are my 9 pregnancy essentials as a minimalist.
I hope something on this list helped you solve a pregnancy-related problem or enjoy this time in your life more.
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