My Top Must-Haves for Enjoying Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a totally miraculous, gift of an experience, but practically speaking, it can be really HARD. Physically and emotionally HARD. And admitting as much does not make you a terrible, ungrateful mother - it just makes you human! Having been fortunate enough to experience it three times now (and I DO mean 'fortunate'), I feel like I've kinda got a handle on how to make it a bit more comfortable for Mamas, and have narrowed down a list of must-haves for enjoying your pregnancy.
I'll preface this list by saying that pregnancy is always going to be quite uncomfortable, but I hope these little tips will help you through ten months of growing a human, and allow you to savour every moment of a phase in your life that might seem pretty crappy while you're in it, but which you will - believe it or not - desperately miss once you're out of it. Pregnancy is magical, it just doesn't feel that way when you're actually pregnant!
1. The Knixwear Evolution Tank
Physically you are highly uncomfortable through the various stages of pregnancy, so a lot of the items I have listed here are to help combat some of that discomfort. The Knixwear Evolution Tank is one item in my closet that has literally taken me through all three trimesters with ease, proving valuable for different reasons in each stage.
During the first trimester it allowed me to ditch the bra when my breasts were at their most sensitive and painful - if you've been been pregnant before you know what I'm talking about! You think they hurt when you're on your period? YOU KNOW NOTHING JON SNOW. And bonus! I've actually found they were way worse this time around and much sooner...something about my body having been to this rodeo before - all the physical changes started sooner and more intensely! Anyway, the Evolution Tank, with it's built in, wire-free bra and seamless fit, was perfect for keeping them in place both with comfort and security - exactly what I needed.
Through the next two trimesters I've mostly utilized it as part bra, part shapewear (rather than as an actual top as I would have pre-pregnancy). It's kept my growing figure neatly secure underneath my tops, and offered the added bonus of wicking away moisture and odour - both lovely bi-products of growing a human :)
Next up will be the postpartum stage and I can already see how great it will be for nursing, and again, those lovely postpartum sweats. Oh the magic of pregnancy!
For those wondering, yes I did have to size up in the tank but was pleasantly surprised by how accommodating the tank was with my growing figure. I wore a size small at first, and now continue to wear a medium at 37 weeks pregnant, but if I'm honest I could definitely use a large!
Shout-out to Knixwear's Leakproof Underwear, Thigh Savers and most recently the Wing Woman Bra for also being CRITICAL pieces in my wardrobe throughout pregnancy. Get 10% off your Knixwear order using code CONFIDENTIAL10.
2. PranaVida Breeze Leggings
My sister and I were seven weeks apart during our pregnancies (she now has a beautiful daughter!), and during the first trimester she gifted me with a pair of PranaVida Breeze leggings, being very familiar with the brand as a yoga instructor herself! I love the fact that this brand, much like Knixwear, is made in Canada and run by a female power house, and PranaVida is super eco-friendly as well. The Breeze leggings are marketed as perfect for early pregnancy and postpartum, but I've actually worn them throughout my entire pregnancy and only now (as I sit here wearing them while drafting this), are they getting a little uncomfortable around my waist line (but to be fair, everything is!).
They are high-waisted and medium thickness, breathable, totally opaque (my thighs have grown quite a bit and you still cannot see my skin peaking through), and carefully designed so that they'll never give you the dreaded camel toe! I know they'll take me seamlessly through postpartum too, and I can't wait to pick up a few more pairs!
High quality leggings that can grow with you through pregnancy are seriously key - no one wants to have to keep purchasing new maternity clothing as you continue to grow. It's both expensive and disheartening!
3. FRE Glow Body - Nourishing Dry Oil
Here's the thing about stretch marks - they are almost entirely down to genetics. So you can slather on all the expensive cream and body oil you want to, but if your Mama had them, then girl, you will too! If you ask me, that's not a bad thing - hello mama warrior stripes! - but that's for another discussion :)
So why the body oil then? Well, I did say 'almost'! There's no doubt that a good body oil will nourish your skin and increase its elasticity and suppleness - all things you'll very much want for the skin that's being stretched across your torso. It also hydrates your skin, preventing that awful itching feeling a lot of pregnant women have across their bumps and they continue to grow. So, I've always used body oils during pregnancy for that reason, and while yes, I've avoided stretch marks almost entirely (again, I got it from my Mama!), it's those last couple of reasons I've listed that I've been so committed.
In the past, I always used the standard drug store brand. But this year one of my favourite skincare brands, FRE, came out with a new bodycare line that included a Nourishing Dry Oil, and holy heck - I'm in love! The word 'dry' is key here - don't get me wrong, it's still providing all the moisture and relief your skin needs - but it's absorbed super quickly into your skin unlike most body oils, which means you're not a slippery, greasy seal for an hour after putting it on! It also means you can get changed into your clothes quickly after applying without worrying about adding oil stains to your clothing. Honestly, so key!
Lastly, FRE is vegan, cruelty and paraben-free, and SAFE FOR PREGNANCY. Hey, if it's something you're going to absorb into your skin everyday, that last point is kinda critical.
Get 15% off your FRE order using code CONFIDENTIAL.
4. A Home Work Out Program - PWR At Home
Some of you will groan when you read this, and I feel you I really do - I would have groaned too during my first two pregnancies when I was largely inactive beyond a lot of walking. But this is my first pregnancy that I've maintained a consistent work out routine and it's been quite the game changer.
For me it was critical that I found a program I could do from home, required minimal equipment, and was challenging, but low-impact in order to suit pregnancy. Now I know there are a lot of programs out there tailored specifically for pregnancy so maybe one of those is more suitable for you, but I think if you're going into pregnancy at a, let's not call it 'advanced', but maybe 'higher than average' fitness level, than you might find those programs a bit slow and ineffective. That was my experience at least!
So, I've been using Kelsey Wells' PWR At Home program via the Sweat app throughout my pregnancy and have really enjoyed it. It's a weight-training program that combines free weights, resistance band and bodyweight exercises in resistance sessions divided into targeted body-area work outs. It does include cardio, which I completed well into the second trimester, but is mostly focussed on weight and is low impact. I avoided the exercises that focussed on core work obviously, but for the most part didn't have to modify the work outs too much.
Each session takes approximately 45 minutes, but I found it flew by - something about the way its been formatted really makes it very do'able. Hey, if I could drag myself out of bed at 6am ahead of the kids in order to get it done before work, it's gotta be good!
For those interested, I filmed a lot of my work outs and noted the modifications, which can be found in my pregnancy exercise highlights on my Instagram page.
5. SHELLE Belly Bands
So along with this active pregnancy of mine came the need for some extra support for my bump (back, pelvic floor, etc.) during those work outs! And another lovely, super local (Toronto!), female-run brand has saved the day!
I was really skeptical of belly bands before trying SHELLE, but this handy little accessory quickly became a must-have for remaining active. It's made of a seamless, supportive, breathable athletic fabric that basically gives your bump a hug while you're moving your body though a tough work out. It can also be worn on a daily basis under your clothes to provide back-pain relief and support for your pelvic floor, and I've found that in this late stage of pregnancy I've been using it for just that.
The lovely ladies behind the brand are offering $10 off your purchase until October 31st when you use code KATIE10.*
6. A Non-Restrictive Nutrition Plan - BARE Guide
Carbs, carbs, carbs. That about sums up the first trimester am I right?! And listen, I'll be the first one to send you all the bagels and crackers you can handle during that nauseous, terrible time - no judgment included! But once the nausea starts to subside, if you're anything like me you'll start to think about your diet and get a little more intentional about what you are putting in your body - knowing full well that it's going directly to baby too. I'll preface all of this by saying that I am FAR from restrictive when I am pregnant (or not pregnant for that matter!), but pregnancy was actually the number one thing that improved my relationship with food. For real.
See prior to my first pregnancy back in 2014, I thought a lot about calories, and tried all the fad diets leading up to social occasions when I wanted to fit into a particular outfit. It wasn't healthy or, frankly, sustainable. But when I got pregnant I started looking at food in a very different way - it was nutrients and vitamins for my baby, it was fuel for my body, and the calcium, iron, etc. etc. that I was craving for actual scientific reasons! Sure, it was also delicious, and I deifnitely let myself indulge in all the treats when I'm pregnant because if you can't then, WHEN CAN YOU?
So it felt kinda serendipitous when I had just found out that I was pregnant again to be approached by the BARE team led by Leah Itsines to be an ambassador for her new food guide. At first I thought, nah, I'm pregnant, this isn't a great time be promoting a food guide, but then I stepped back and realised it was the PERFECT time - for me at least! The BARE Guide stands for 'Balanced and Realistic Eating'. It is NOT A DIET, and thank goodness for that because diets are crappy on a good day, never mind a pregnant day! There's no restriction with BARE, it's just a lot of delicious, simple recipes (great for Moms!) that ensure you're getting a balanced diet of protein, healthy fats, grains, carbs and so on. Exactly what you need during pregnancy, and frankly, always!
Next up: meal prepping using the BARE Veggie Guide in preparation for postpartum life!
Get $10 off the BARE Guide or VEGGIE BARE using my code KATIE10 here*
So a lot of these items are designed to keep you physically comfortable during an uncomfortable time, but the emotional strain of pregnancy cannot be ignored either. I've personally found this pregnancy my positive experience yet, and I chalk that up in large part to the online community I have via Instagram, and my willingness to share my journey with followers. My point? Seek out women in a similar stage to you - whether online or in person - or someone who has been through it before, and try and be open about how you're feeling throughout the process. I promise you, someone else is feeling the same way too. Foot rubs from a loved one also help :)
*In all transparency, I do receive free product and in some cases (FRE and BARE) a small commission from each purchase, for the promotion of these items/brands. However, I hope you've come to trust me enough to know that I do not partner with any brands, no matter the incentive, that I don't personally use and truly love. I only share product with you that I think very highly of and would recommend as a friend.