Motherhood: Simple Pregnancy + Postpartum Essentials
I am by no means an expert when it comes to pregnancy and postpartum, but I do feel as if I’ve learned a few things along my journey. A few tricks and realizations that I wanted to share in hopes that others may find calm and comfort in these incredibly transformative periods as a woman. Please note that I use the term “essentials” quite loosely. Only you will know what is truly essential for your own well being, but these are my own essentials and what I would recommend to a close friend or family member. It’s what worked for me, and I hope they work well for you, too.
P R E G N A N C Y E S S E N T I A L S
I like to keep a very simple and paired down closet, so adding a bunch of stuff for the short duration of my pregnancy just made no sense to me. I originally tried to wear all of my normal clothing but quickly found out that non-maternity bottoms just weren’t going to cut it after the first trimester. I decided to invest in a few basics that would carry me through the duration of my pregnancy and work with some of my normal pieces (jackets, button-up shirts, dresses, etc.). The items shown here are basically all that I purchased, and although I was kind of sick of them by the end of it all, they worked extremely well. I liked them all enough that I already stored them away for the “just in case we decide to have another baby”. I figure that’s evidence enough of my love for these pieces - I would actually wear them all again!
By the way, I do want to preface that I did not invest in any formal or business professional attire for my pregnancy. While I do work in a corporate setting, I am fortunate enough to work from home about four days a week. On the days when I am in the office, we are allowed to wear jeans, so I didn’t have a need for anything fancy. I just wore the same jeans with different jackets and shoes to spice things up when I was in the office or attending conferences.
Cotton Tank : I bought this tank in five different colors and wore all of them a ton. They seemed a bit overkill in the beginning (really long!), but by the end of it all, I was SO glad I had these. They were comfortable and flattering - especially the navy which I wore the most. I bought mine during a sale, so I think I paid around $7 a piece.
Bringing Up Bebe : I wasn’t sure whether to put books in pregnancy or postpartum, but regardless, this is the only book I purposely decided to seek out after reading this article on Cup of Jo. I LOVE this book and the French parenting philosophy it chronicles.
Maternity Denim : I hated to spend a bunch of money on maternity denim, but this pair from Madewell was, hands down, worth every penny. I’m fortunate that my office allows us to wear denim, but that also meant that I had to have a good pair on hand. These were comfortable and fit for the duration of my pregnancy. I most definitely got my money’s worth, and I would buy again. I would recommend sizing down, however, as these run really large. I ended up with a size 23 but normally wear a 25 in Madewell denim.
Massage : I’ve never had a professional massage, although I’m sure that could be a great option for many people. Instead, I enlisted Tyler’s help during pregnancy! My calves would get super tight by the end of the day, so we ended up with a daily routine of a calf massage before heading up to bed and doing my stretches. It helped SO much.
Babywise : This book was given to us by someone Tyler works with. I had never heard of it, but I decided to give it a shot since I had hardly done any research and knew next to nothing about caring for a baby. I didn’t love the first few chapters, but I stuck with it and ended up getting a lot of fantastic information from this book. I liked the straightforward approach as it appealed to my analytical self. While we aren’t following this to an exact science, it has been a great guide to getting us into a nice routine that works well for our family.
Denim Shorts : I basically lived in these shorts for the last 3-4 months of my pregnancy. When I absolutely had to wash them, I often stood in the closet scratching my head thinking, “okay, so now what am I supposed to wear?”. Ha! I ordered a size 2 in these which proved to be a good choice. They were a bit big at the beginning and teeny bit snug by the time July hit, but I absolutely loved them and would highly recommend. They didn’t feel maternity to me at all and were very flattering.
Stretching : From about 10 weeks until the night I gave birth, I did pushups, sit-ups, and STRETCHED. Every. Single. Night. Yes, really. I didn’t do it to stay fit (although I don’t think it hurt), I did it to stay comfortable! The female body experiences a myriad of changes throughout pregnancy and postpartum, many of which are the expansion and contraction of joints, muscles, and ligaments. It can be incredibly painful for many women. I definitely experienced some “growing pains”, but they were easily remedied with regular activity and stretching. Figure out what stretches work best for you, and stick to them!
Workout Tank : While my elastic waisted workout shorts and leggings fit me the entire duration of my pregnancy, I can’t say the same for my workout tops. I had to order something to fit over my belly AND make me feel comfortable. This tank fit the bill and was worn exclusively the last 3-4 months of my pregnancy.
P O S T P A R T U M E S S E N T I A L S
I had no idea what to expect of the postpartum period. Everything I read gave me such mixed feelings and anxiety, and that’s precisely what I hope to relieve for someone else! First of all, you know your body best. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. The items listed here are what worked well for me. If they strike a cord with you as well, great! If not, that’s totally okay. Postpartum is such an intimate time, so at the end of the day, figure out what is going to keep you feeling calm, relaxed, and able to heal both mentally and physically.
Nipple Butter : I started applying this religiously after every feed, starting on day 1 in the hospital. I had heard so many people say how sore and cracked their nipples got with breast feeding, so I wanted to avoid that at all cost. I’m happy to report that I haven’t had a single issue and am still applying this butter after every single feeding. I don’t know if my good fortune is due to this stuff or not, but I can’t imagine that it hurt! Money well spent in my book.
Cotton Tank : I’ve had this tank from Everlane for quite some time and always really liked it, but it has proven to be the perfect sleep shirt postpartum. It’s incredibly soft, has just the right amount of stretch, and works really well for breast feeding.
Perineal Spray : I bought this after reading the reviews while I was on my Earth Mama buying spree. I’m a big fan of the brand, and it turns out that this spray was really nice to have on hand. It may not be essential to postpartum recovery, but I was glad I had it. It was very soothing, especially for those first few days post birth.
Bikini Underwear : I’ve been wearing Everlane’s underwear exclusively since it was released over a year ago, and it remains my absolute favorite. I wore my same size (small) throughout pregnancy and postpartum with absolutely no issues. I wanted to feel like my normal self, and as strange as it may sound, wearing my normal underwear really helped me do so. I love that these are cotton, lightweight, and don’t ride up at all.
Fridet : I totally bought this because I saw so many other people recommend and rave about it. I’m not sure I would consider it an absolute must-have, but it was really nice to have. The hospital gives you a normal squeeze bottle that works perfectly fine, but this guy with his unique design makes the whole process even easier. I had some stitches, so I wanted to make sure my lady parts were really clean to prevent the risk of infection. I would buy again.
Nursing Bras : I posted on Instagram during pregnancy about my disdain for bras. While that hasn’t changed and I’m looking forward to the day I can go sans-bra again, I can say that these nursing bras from H&M work quite well. They are comfortable and frankly, necessary, to keep nursing pads in place. I attempted to sleep without a bra or nursing pads when we first arrived home, and I awoke to a completely soaked shirt the next morning. Lesson learned!
Feminine Pads : It probably sounds extremely petty, but I absolutely could not wrap my mind around the idea of wearing an adult diaper post-delivery. I had heard so many people say that they not only wore them in the hospital, but they bought some to wear at home as well. For my own sanity, I just couldn’t do it. I decided to purchase some feminine pads instead, and it worked out just fine. It may be TMI, but I hadn’t worn a pad since I don’t know… 7th grade? Anything other than a tampon just seemed like A LOT to me, and I had no idea what to purchase. I stood in the aisle at Target looking at my options for a good 15 minutes. I ended up with these and they worked out just fine. If I were to do it over again, I would probably buy a Size 1 or 2 instead of the 3, but I think everyone is going to have a very different postpartum experience. I didn’t have much bleeding, thank goodness, so I could definitely get away with a lighter/smaller pad.
Perineal Balm : Similar to the Perineal Spray, this balm may not be a make or break, but I was really glad I had it. I think it helped my stitches heal and got me feeling back to my normal self quickly. The cooling effects were really soothing. I would recommend and purchase again.
Nursing Pads : These pads have worked out extremely well. They are soft but very absorbent. I like that I can easily throw them in the wash and am not adding anything to the landfill. I hardly even notice I’m wearing them.
Sprout Baby : I’m not even sure why I selected this app out of all the options on the market, but I’ve been using it since arriving home with Marin and have been really happy with it. You can purchase the more advanced version which gives you analytics (free for the first few days), but I’m still using the free version and would recommend. We track feeding, pumping, diapers, and anytime we give her a bath. I’m sure I won’t use it long term, but it’s been so nice to have an easy place to record everything during the early newborn days when details quickly run together.
Liners : I moved to using these organic panty liners pretty soon after arriving home. I like them SO much better than a pad. They seem quite absorbent for their size, although I know everyone has varying needs in this department.
Clothesline : A postpartum essential? For me, absolutely! I realize many people may not be able to have a clothesline due to limited space, HOA’s, etc., but I am an avid believer in the power of sunshine and wind. Even if you just hang items over a chair or railing (I hung all of our towels over the balcony of our first apartment!), it does wonders for your energy bills as well as your laundry. The sun instantly bleaches out stains (baby poop!) and leaves clothes smelling AMAZING, not to mention the fact that it instantly removes all wrinkles! It’s like drying and pressing your clothes in one fell swoop. We have an old fashioned clothesline, but the one linked here may be a good option if you have a smaller footprint.
P O S T P A R T U M N I C E T O H A V E ‘ S
These items are completely optional and I’m sure everyone would have varying opinions on nice-to-have’s, but these are mine. I spend next to nothing on “self-care”. I get my hair cut once a year, I’ve only had a pedicure once in my life and it was because of a bachelorette party, and I’ve never had a professional massage, acupuncture, etc. I always think those things might be nice, but I just can’t bring myself to spend the money nor get over a stranger touching me. Ha! So in lieu of those luxuries, I spend my money on a few quality skincare products that help me start and end my day feeling refreshed. If skincare isn’t your thing, figure out what is and invest in a few items just for you!
Facial Cleansing Milk : I received a sample of this in the mail, and I’ve been hooked ever since. It smells AMAZING. I literally stop and inhale the fragrance every time I wash my face. I’m super sensitive to smells, so it’s kind of amazing that I actually found something I like! It’s been worth every penny.
Vitamin E Eye Balm : I actually bought this through a third party going out of business sale on a whim, but I have been really impressed. I had never used an eye balm or cream before, but this one is super hydrating and fantastic for the postpartum period where sleep is a bit sporadic. This tiny container lasts forever!
Hydrating Facial Cream : I use this at night and love how hydrating it is. The smell is also fantastic, so that’s a plus. I have sensitive skin, but this works well and doesn’t cause break-outs or irritation.
Active Botanical Serum : You spent HOW much on a bottle of serum? Yes, I know. In my defense, I actually won a bottle of this about two years ago on Instagram and have been hooked ever since. It really is amazing stuff. I use just a few drops each morning to stretch out a bottle as long as possible. If you’re looking for a less expensive option, I actually tried and really liked this one. I didn’t notice quite the same results as with Vintner’s Daughter, but I would totally buy again and recommend for the price.
This post is not sponsored or in partnership with any of the aforementioned brands but the article contains affiliate links. When you shop via the links above I may make commission on a sale at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.