One thing I have found since being pregnant is that it makes you a real target for marketing and advertising. You can barely open instagram without being served another advert for a must-have cream, supplement or pillow that are heralded as essentials, with the promise to make what can be a difficult period a whole lot easier. It’s hard to know which items that you really need, and which you can save your money on, so I’ve put together a list of the products I absolutely could not have lived without over the last few months, and the items where I wish I’d saved my money. I am about to be 39 weeks’ pregnant, so it won’t be long before lots of these items are packed away… though I can’t ever see myself stopping wearing my maternity leggings, and I’m fairly sure they will be transitioned into my day to day wardrobe. (Why did no-one tell me years ago how comfy maternity leggings are?)
General pregnancy accessories
BabyGo Birthing Ball, £24.95
I couldn’t be without this now as it’s got too uncomfortable to sit on the sofa, so when we’re watching TV in the evenings I’m always sat on the yoga/birthing ball as well as doing hip circles/pelvic rotations. At my 34-week scan I was told that baby is in a great position (head down, engaged and sitting low in my pelvis) and birthing balls are recommended to encourage a good birthing position so maybe this helped!
What I didn’t rate:
BabyGo Support Belt, £22.95
I bought this when I was getting pelvic pain and lower back pain but I don’t think it really worked, it felt really restrictive and the velcro would come undone all of the time. People seem to really rate them but it didn’t work for me at all.
Epsom Salts – £5.99
I’ve suffered a lot with restless legs at night, which at times has driven me completely wild with the discomfort and pain caused by it. I found that having an epsom salt bath before bed really helps, I have this one on my Amazon Subscribe and Save so I don’t run out, as I really notice the difference when I don’t use them.
Magnesium Sleep Body Spray, Better You, £12.95
Once restless legs do kick in, stretching them out and spraying with this is the only thing that helps alleviate them. It’s a bit of a stinger at first but once it settles I find I can usually go back to sleep within half an hour or so.
As you’ll see below, I didn’t get on with any of the large pregnancy cushions but this has been a GODSEND. I bought it thinking it might be a useful breastfeeding cushion but have ended up using it every day since I bought it. I sleep with it between my legs, use it to prop myself up in bed or just use it as a pillow, it’s fab.
What I didn’t rate:
Pharmedoc Pregnancy Pillow, £51.99
So many people recommended to me the full prenancy pillows but I just didn’t get on with mine, I found it way too cumbersome and it took up so much room in the bed! I slept so much better just with the BabyMoov cushion between my knees, lying on my side with my hands under my pillow.
Books, courses and hypnobirthing materials
I quite fancied doing a hypnobirthing class ‘in person’ but obviously that didn’t work out and this was a great alternative, and a real bargain at £39. I have also read Siobhan’s book (Practical Ways To Make Your Birth Better), and I have her Freya app for counting contractions/surges and for calming hypnobirthing tracks and guided meditations.
Your Baby, Your Birth – Hollie de Cruz – £9.49 (Kindle)
I bought this book as an Audible audiobook and it was my first real introduction to hypnobirthing. I found it really easy to understand and work my way through; it’s written in an accessible and engaging way and interspersed with positive birth stories and Hollie’s own experiences.
The Positive Birth Book – Milli Hill – £5.62 (Kindle)
This is another absolute must-have for me, I will be buying it for any pregnant friends in future! Sometimes it’s overwhelming having conversations about birth as there’s so many different opinions and options out there but this breaks it all down in a non-judgemental, easy to understand way to help you make confident, informed choices. I wrote my birth plan using Milli’s toolkit and the book as a reference guide and it helped me understand the different stages of labour and has made me feel much less nervous about birth.
Katharine Graves Hypnobirthing Relaxations – 99p (Google Play Store)
I have lots of hypnobirthing tracks loaded onto my phone and iPod but the Katherine Graves tracks are my favourites – most of them are 99p on the Google Play Store or you can buy the full set on iTunes.
Spiritual Midwifery – Ina May Gaskin – £6.40 (Kindle)
I am about halfway through this book and I’m absolutely loving it. Ina May Gaskin is often called the ‘mother of authentic midwifery’ and her stories of supporting women through birth in the 60s and 70s (usually in carvans or tents, with no pain relief, describing the births as ‘far out’ or spiritual and sacred) are just so warm and lovely.
What I didn’t rate:
I don’t think I’ve bought any books I haven’t found something useful in to be honest – one thing I would say is to check that anything you are looking at is designed for a UK audience as approaches to birth are so different in the US (I did buy a book about breastfeeding that informed me that my insurance company would pay for my breast pump!)
Love Leggings maternity leggings, £15.50
Anyone who follows me on instagram is probably bored of me mentioning these leggings by now – I now own five pairs and they are the comfiest thing I’ve worn throughout pregnancy – they are great quality and I’ve worn them from about 16 weeks right up to now as they have a good amount of stretch.
H&M Soft Leggings, £17.99
These have also been a pregnancy favourite, I lived in these for most of the second trimester and was very sad whenever they were in the wash! They are soft, comfy and a total dream to wear. I really rate H&M for their maternity clothes, they are good quality and I have several items (like a denim shirt) that I think I’ll still be able to wear post-pregnancy.
H&M Nursing Bras, £19.99
My bra size went from a 32F to a 36H within a few months of being pregnant, and that was the last time I tried bras on in an actual shop, who knows what they are now. I couldn’t keep up with my changing bra size and couldn’t bear underwires so soft ‘sports-bra’ type shapes have worked best for me. I’ve worn my Calvin Klein sports bra style crops a lot and a couple I’ve had for ages from Decathlon but these are my new favourites and the crossover style means I can still use them for breastfeeding.
What I didn’t rate:
I excitedly did a massive order of Boohoo maternity clothes a few months in but almost all of it went back because of the quality or sizing. Even though it’s tempting to buy cheaper options, I would recommend instead getting a few staple pieces from H&M or Gap and building a small maternity capsule wardrobe. I mostly recycled leggings, t-shirts and shirts, joggers from Gap or H&M and sweatshirts from ASOS. You can also get bargains on eBay, where brands like Seraphine are obviously much cheaper.
M&S lace bralettes
So many people recommended the M&S lace bralettes as comfy but cute bras during pregnancy but I just didn’t get on with them, they made me so itchy! There are definitely some great options for pregnancy or nursing bras in M&S however, especially worth having a nose when they have a sale. I loved the idea of still being able to wear ‘pretty’ or feminine lingerie but sadly I had to lose those expectations and favour comfort over style to stop me feeling uncomfortable or irritating my skin.
Skincare, wellness and pain relief
Bio-Oil, £8.95 for 60ml
I started off using Bio-Oil – it has a great reputation for preventing stretch marks and making tight pregnant belly-skin more soft and supple. I wasn’t greatly worried about stretch marks but the bump has felt dry and uncomfortable at times and a nice massage oil or body oil is really soothing. Although Bio-Oil is great I was finding I was re-buying it a lot and it was getting expensive so I switched to just using Sweet Almond Oil or Hemp Oil. I also made my own Belly Butter adapting recipes I found on Pinterest – this one is a good one.
This is the pregnancy supplement I’ve been taking, as recommended by my acupuncturist. It has folic acid in the active methylfolate form which may be more beneficial and bio-effective. Your midwife or other healthcare professional should be able to point you in the right direction of the most effective supplements, I know a lot of people rate the Pregnacare supplements too.
Pregnancy unfortunately comes with added aches and pains, especially lower back pain. I couldn’t be without my wheat bag now, it’s great for bedtime to help soothe any discomfort before you try to sleep. I found it a bit unclear as to whether you could use Deep Heat when pregnant, so I avoided it and just used this instead, which my Physio said was fine.
What I didn’t rate
Gaviscon and Rennies!
I had terrible indigestion and acid in the second trimester and was prescribed Omeprazole by my GP, which is the only thing that helped. A lot of people find comfort in Gaviscon Max Strength but it didn’t work for me. If you end up really suffering with those symptoms I definitely recommend speaking to your Doctor and seeing if that’s an option for you – I know a lot of pregnant ladies who have ended up having to resort to getting this on prescription.
Anti sickness/nausea bands
I was so nauseous up until about 23 weeks and did a lot of dry-heaving or being sick. Nothing I tried brought any relief unfortunately, and though I tried some of the acupressure/travel sickness bands, unfortunately they didn’t offer any relief. I got used to just snacking instead of eating bigger meals, and I just accepted that at 10am, 4pm and 10pm I’d be stood over a sink (glad that phase is gone!)
Nosecco, Stowford Press 0.5% and Elderflower Cordial + Soda Water
I can’t deny I’ve found it hard to go without a glass of wine during pregnancy, especially during Christmas and New Year’s, and now the weather is warming up and I’m longing for a cold cider. These three have been my go-tos during pregnancy for an alternative to fizz and cider. You can get the first two in most supermarkets and the third I’ve been having in a wine glass with lots of ice to try and make me feel like I’m having a fancy drink! I haven’t found a no-alcohol wine that doesn’t taste horrendous, and I haven’t tried the Seedlip non-alcoholic spirits as I can’t bring myself to spend £25 on a bottle of something that isn’t going to get me drunk – though I know a lot of people rave about them.
So, there you have it – my pregnancy must-haves, and the items you can probably save your money on. What would be on your list?