Pregnancy // My Essentials So Far {Hypnobirthing, maternity clothes, stretch mark oils, supplements and more}

February 25, 2019

A guide so far to all that I've found to be really helpful during pregnancy in the first and second trimester. 

Vitamins //

 I think I've talked about vitamins in my first trimester post but I really can't talk highly enough about Wild Nutrition. Since finding out I was pregnant, and being recommended them by a close friend who had just had her first baby, I've been taking the Food Grown Pregnancy supplement {which has folic acid and Vitamin D in which are the two crucial vitamins} along with the Omega 3 mix {recommended for essential healthy brain development during pregnancy}. And I definitely put these vitamins down to the fact that this is the first Winter that I've felt so well. I shared this on my Instagram story the other day and had some messages from some of you who take them and feel the same - miracle cold prevention! Being food grown, they're the best bio-available nutrients for your body to take. Granted, they're not cheap but I'm really placing an emphasis on the quality of them and importance of health during this time. I hope to go onto to take their breastfeeding supplement once the baby is here, and am probably hooked for life on their general multi-vitamins now. You can find them online here at Amazon or subscribe and save direct from the Wild Nutrition website. Their customer service team are really helpful too if you have any vitamin questions.

BB Hug Me Pillow // 

Again, this was recommended to me by a close friend and I'd read lots about this pillow as being a saviour for helping you get comfortable at night and sleep when your bump gets big. It can also help beyond pregnancy, as a comfy support for both you and the baby whilst feeding. I was kindly sent mine from Scandiborn and am only just starting to use it/feel the benefits properly now that my bump has begun to appear and now that I'm approaching the time where laying on your back at night isn't advised anymore. It's a big sausage shape that you can adjust to exactly how you want using the adjustors, and the idea is that you wrap your body around it at night to sleep comfortably on your side whilst your hips and back, knees, bump and ankles are supported and in a good position. This is especially helpful if you're suffering from pelvic pain/SPD but I'd recommend for any pregnant women during their late second trimester and beyond. You can get lots of jazzy covers for them now too. I found this youtube video  helpful in understanding the correct position to use it in. Online here from Scandiborn.

Maternity Clothes // 

My bump has only just begun to show now, at around 5 months, but my regular jeans were too tight from around 12 weeks so came this new world of maternity shopping! Everyone is so different though and pops at different times, I've heard that second babies show a lot quicker and this whole bravado about staying in your old jeans for as long as possible is stupid. I think the key thing is that you're comfortable, the last thing you want is for something to feel tight across your stomach at this time. 

So far, I'm trying to make as much as my old wardrobe work as much as possible, nearly all of my tops/jumpers still work with a pair of maternity jeans but I think I'm on borrowed time and probably only have a month or so left for most of them still to fit depending on how it grows!

In the meantime, I've been ordering some new clothes ready for when I will be too huge for my old wardrobe to fit. I'm due in the summer, so it was great timing for the ASOS post Christmas sale to pick up some summery maternity clothes - in fact I think ASOS have the best maternity range out there, lots of really stylish pieces and good prices. I've found that it's rare that high street stores have good maternity sections in the shops, H&M sometimes have a bit but mainly I've had to go online. So it feels like actually going shopping is a bit pointless right now.

A few bits that I really love {that are still available online, most of what I ordered was past season annoyingly}
These leggings under long jumpers
This dress {in the photo below}
This dress, in the sale, photographed below

Sportswear - Isabella Oliver kindly sent me these leggings and a yoga top from their new Spring range and they're the best pregnancy leggings that I've found {and trust me, I've been on the hunt!}, they're stretchy and crucially not see through. Really lovely quality that will last and last. Good sports leggings in general are hard to find. I also have this dress - love a bump in stripes for Spring/Summer, and this polka dot top, pretty for the Spring from their new range.

And dungarees/jumpsuits are HEAVEN. It's something I'd have never worn before I was pregnant but now I'm addicted to them. I have this wool Zara maternity knitted jumpsuit which I think unfortunately is now past season, but I also have this one for Spring/Summer to layer with t-shirts/long sleeves/blouses.

It's recommended that you go and get measured for bras a couple of times during pregnancy as your boobs will grow. Something I've neglected to do so far but really must. I've just taken a guess so far and ordered maternity bras online, that are SO comfortable and don't have underwire in to dig in. I really like these that are pretty and also got one really cheap, but not very pretty, in the sale from La Redoute which I've worn to death so far in a short space of time just pleased that it was so much more comfy than my old, normal, bras. 

It's a weird time style wise for me right now. I'm so used to looking in the shops at all of the gorgeous new season bits but for a few weeks, felt a little weird and sad that actually there was no point in looking as none of it would fit properly. Yes, some items might work if you size up, but you only need it bigger over your bump area so most of the time things will look silly or too big everywhere else, and it's really not worth spending money on non-maternity clothes when there is so much expense, and fun to be had with baby buying or buying sensible maternity pieces. At the same time, you feel this weird new identity with a changing body. Especially at the point where you have a tiny bump but it's not big enough to dress properly or show off yet. So you're in this weird limbo stage, where your maternity clothes are all too big/just hang but your old stuff might feel tight or not 'show' your bump much. 

I'm also being careful not to go crazy on the maternity clothes buying as it's a relatively short space of time that you'll wear things for, unless they're nursing friendly/flattering for a while once you've had the baby so it feels wasteful to go and buy a whole new wardrobe when in reality you can try and be a bit more clever about it. 

These past couple of weeks, since getting back from California, I've felt a bit lost with what to wear. I think I'll feel a lot better when a) it's warmer so I can get my legs out/wear sandals again which is always my favourite kind of dressing and b) I have a proper bump to show off and my maternity clothes will fit! I guess, in the meantime I should make the most of all of my old wardrobe whilst I still can. 

Hypnobirthing //

 Hypnobirthing is something I've known I've wanted to do for ages when/if I was lucky enough to get pregnant after hearing so many incredible stories over the years about it. But lots of people aren't sure what it is, I think the name is quite misleading as it's really not as hippy dippy or full of hypnosis as you might think. There has been calls for it to be called Mindful birthing instead. But essentially, it teaches you to relax and stay positive for whatever comes your way. It's not about creating a perfect, natural pain-free birth, but it's about making it a positive one and preparing as much as you can for it. It makes a lot of scientific sense too, biology doesn't allow us to give birth easily/naturally if we're feeling adrenaline through fear or stress and this adrenaline encourages fight or flight mode instead of focusing the blood where you need it - which is to your uterus to progress. If you think about animals in nature and women in the past, evolution doesn't allow birth unless you feel safe and reasurred. By knowing this, we can focus on oxytocin which is the hormone we want to progress birth by creating a safe, relaxed environment and hypnobirthing teaches you the tools to increase oxytocin and decrease adrenaline.  

I feel like we all prepare and practice so much for things in life like learning to drive a car/prepping for an interview, yet birth is probably one of the biggest things I'll ever go through so I want to try and do as much as I can to prepare, and learn about it. 

There are so many amazing hypnobirthing options available these days for all budgets, locations and time scales. I've always really liked The Yes Mum's program, recommend from Mother of Daughters and serendipitously taught by a local friend. 
Ben and I have booked a private one to one course which we felt would benefit us the most. It's 2 lots of 3 hour sessions where we then have homework, and then we'll book a small refresher in closer to my due date. 

We've booked ours with The Mindful Birth Group, who is Hertfordshire/London based but she also teaches via Skype if you're further afield and has audio only packages. Em is a friend of a friend, and just the most perfect woman to teach us as she is so calm and knowledgable. She actively looks up, and researches more about any specific concerns/conditions you have and encourages you to message her at any point about any worries. Even back before we'd properly booked in, she was so kind sending me informed information about certain things I'd mentioned, and is almost like a birth mentor as well as 'just' our hypnobirthing teacher. 

In the course, we discuss all sorts of things including our personal fears and we're informed about all the different aspects of birth/birthing options/centres so that nothing is a surprise on the day. It's all about being as informed as you can to be accepting of whatever comes your way and keeping really calm about it all whilst focusing on the techniques taught to manage it all as positively as you can. There's new language to learn, contractions are called surges for example and the negative emphasis on pain and fear is taken away. There are MP3s to listen to, with positive affirmations and relaxation ones to listen to at night before bed so that you associate it with feeling relaxed, the idea being that when it all goes into your subconscious to then play on the day of your birth to recreate that. I think my favourite part of it all though is getting your birth partner involved and giving them a big role. They're taught ways in which they can support you, creating a team between the two of you, and taught things like soft touch massage which will help to release oxytocin. 

We've only had one session so far, and still have a lot of work to do before we feel prepared with it all, but I'm SO pleased we've decided to do it and I felt so incredibly informed and positive from just our first initial session and learnt so much already.

Even if you're not sure about a course, I'd definitely recommend reading The Yes Mum's book online here which helps to explain the magic of hypnobirthing. 

Stretch Mark Oils //

A lot of people say that stretch marks are genetic, and you're either prone to getting them or you're not. But I think regardless, from the start of your second trimester, it's a nice ritual every evening to massage your bump with oil which will help the skin to stretch, and not itch or dry out, as it grows and should help to minimise any stretch marks should they appear. So far, I've been using Bio Oil  - that I bought in a double pack from Costco, Cowshed's Udderly Gorgeous oil and Elemis' Camellia Oil . So far, I've been rotating them and they all feel really lovely on your skin and have all got amazing reviews from mums to be. For ease of pouring, and the least greasy/quickest absorbing, I'd say the Cowshed oil is my favourite for the least mess but I'm sure I'll restock on all three during the next few months - I've been slathering it on over my stomach, hips, round my sides/torso and even my boobs as lots of people said they got stretch marks there. I've also been advised to keep using them for a few weeks after giving birth as that's when stretch marks can suddenly occur when things start to shrink, which I'd have never have thought of. 

Books // 

I seemed to be engrossed in trying to read as much as I could during the first trimester - and really love Mother of Daughter's book How to Grow a Baby - which is perfectly honest, beautifully illustrated and written for our generation of 'insta/millennial' women in mind, and journal - which whilst I haven't used it as a journal to fill in, because I'm writing everything on the blog, it has some great weekly/monthly reminders about things to think about as you go through pregnancy. It's a lovely gift to give too.

I think I've talked before about this incredible nutrition guide by Henrietta Norton who started Wild Nutrition - you get it free when you order a certain amount of vitamins, this bumper Day by Day Pregnancy Book that my Mum got me, but over the past few weeks I haven't actually picked them up. I think, maybe now I've just settled into pregnancy and know what to expect a bit more and equally can talk about it with everyone rather than that secret first trimester where you're desperate to read as much as you can. 

Recently, I've started to read more birth related books - The Yes Mum's 'Your Baby, Your Birth' book as it goes with our course and is just so positive and informing so I'd definitely recommended this. On holiday I started - Ina May's childbirth book which is like an institution that lots of natural women I look up to have recommended. To be honest, whilst this has some amazing birth stories in and is meant to empower women, I feel like it's not the best read as it's very focused around 'The Farm' which feels like it wouldn't be relevant to our NHS system. It has some great ideals in but I wouldn't recommend reading unless you feel like you've read absolutely everything else. 

Whilst I want to be as informed as possible, I feel like you only need to pick a couple of books you trust will have enough information in to avoid information overload.

But if you are looking for more reading material, I've heard really great things about this book
and I love this book for reading about the next stage of self care when post-partum. 

I feel like next up, I need to start reading books that cover more about the newborn days/baby development rather than pregnancy. Any recommendations gratefully received!

John Lewis Nursery Appointment // 

Friends told us to book in for a free 2 hour nursery appointment with John Lewis and we're so glad that we did. It was our first foray into looking at this whole new world of baby kit. Although we don't want to go overboard with buying every 'newborn essential' as there is just SO much on the market, some things are actually essential {like a car seat, muslins, bottles even if you plan to breastfeed and a pushchair as a minimum} and we were amazed at how strict the safety standards are when thinking about newborns. John Lewis was the perfect starting point for this, you book an appointment online {we went to a store near us called High Wycombe which is the biggest stand alone store for the most choice and to see as much on display as we could}, where a nursery advisor will take you through the brands that they stock and give you things to consider. We lucked out with an ex-nanny, called Rebecca by the way if you live locally and are looking, who really knew her stuff and how to fold buggies/alll the safety advice. She was amazing and talked us through everything, giving her real honest opinion, not at all salesy or pushy and actually talked us out of a few things I thought we'd need. It was really fun to look at prams - and I'll write a full blog post on which we chose in the end and the reasons behind it - because there is so much to think about and how it will fit with your lifestyle and needs. It was really handy though to be able to collapse them down to see how small it will go and test out pushing them. John Lewis have everything, from all the leading carrier brands to bottles to sleepyheads to cots to muslins to bouncers to gro-sleeping bags. I'd heard about so many brands online, Instagram or recommended by friends, so it was the first time we'd actually seen them all in the flesh.

The safety side of things was all new to us, and they talked us through the different regulations with the new iSize safety for car seats, the fact that you need a base for them to be safest in a car and things that we didn't realise - like that babies shouldn't be in a carseat for more than half an hour for the first six weeks. She also talked us through which brands would fit on different buggies. It was important to us that we could lift the carseat out of the car and put it onto wheels for a quick whizz around the shops for example if they were sleeping. But again, I'll share what we've actually decided on and why in another post soon. We later went to Mothercare that afternoon, to look at a carseat that John Lewis didn't stock, and although they had a lot of stock, it just didn't have the same feel as John Lewis or as friendly staff from the time that we were in there. John Lewis will also price match any pushchair, and you can set up a baby registry to share with friends/family although I don't think we'll do this as it feels a little presumptuous! 

The Baby Show // 

The Baby Show is this weekend in London and I'm really excited to go with my Mum to look at everything. I was in two minds whether to go or not as I'd heard mixed things, so I'll let you know how we find it. But it's meant to have allll the baby brands and you often get big show discounts so a lot of people have said that they ordered their buggy there. I've heard that the weekends are crazy busy, so if you can go on the Friday it's worth doing so. We're going to the Excel show as the timings work best for us, but they have others throughout the year at Olympia and the NEC. 

A Few Luxuries/Babymoons //

Lastly, it's not really an essential at all, but one thing I've tried to prioritised occasionally so far during pregnancy is to just try and take a bit of time out for some pampering. Time really does fly, especially now we're past the halfway point, and I'm well aware that my days won't be my own for much longer - and wouldn't want it to be any other way. So I'm loving the odd pregnancy massage {Cowshed have a great maternity range at their spas, I had my first at Babington House at Christmas and have booked one for around my Birthday at Farmhouse} and have booked to go to the House of Elemis at the end of March for their famous, signature pregnancy treatment. You have to be careful with regular oils/massages and can't lay on your front or back during pregnancy so it is worth trying to find a good maternity focused spa near you, that can help with any aches/pains as your bump grows and make you feel relaxed. 

Also, Ben and I have always loved, and prioritised travel when we can, but now that a baby is imminent, we're soaking up the babymoons and as much time together as just us two whilst we can. <3. Everyone says that the second trimester is the best time to go away, as it's that real golden stage where you should feel at your best. And although of course we had that little blip/hospital scare in California, it got sorted fast and we were then able to really enjoy the rest of the trip. We're going somewhere tropical in a couple of weeks though, so I'm just hoping that all will be well and there will be good hospitals nearby should we need it! We've planned a last babymoon to Ibiza when I'll be on the cut off for flying after that, so I'm hoping all will be well and we'll enjoy that last proper holiday as just us before everything changes! 

What would you add to this list? I'll try and write another one as I go into and through the third trimester as I'm sure when I have a big bump, I'll feel a bit differently about what will help.

R <3 xx 

{I was gifted the pregnancy pillow and the Isabella Oliver clothes but not with any obligation to post about them, all opinions are 100% my own and as always I'd only recommend things that I truly love}.

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