Pregnancy and Birth Must-Haves
As a birthworker and mom of three, these are my honest product recommendations for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.
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1. Extra hydration! Keep whatever water bottle you've got on hand filled, and consider adding electrolytes. During pregnancy, your body produces a higher quantity of blood (and other fluids), and you have a greater need to address things like potential dehydration, nausea, muscle cramps, nerve pain, etc. I love DripDrops because they have less sugar, but they taste great and don't change the texture of your water like other electrolyte powders.
2. Nausea relief! If you're one of the many pregnant people who experience nausea during the first trimester (or beyond), there are many ways of temporarily feeling some relief. My go-tos for relief of mild nausea are these aromatherapy inhalers.
3. Comfort! Starting around the second trimester, that bump will be bumping, and sleep may be hard to come by due to gravity pulling down at your belly, causing rib pain, back pain, and possibly a very annoyed sleeping partner. What you're going to want to do is go right on annoying your sleeping partner, but in a different way: with a pregnancy pillow. They're big. They're bulky. They're heavenly. Your body will be supported every which way, and you will finally get some well-deserved sleep. This is a good one.
4. Moisture! For your belly. There isn't really anything you can do to prevent stretch marks. They're in your genes or they're not. BUT, your belly deserves something nice and moisturizing, because all of that growing and stretching can itch. You don't need anything fancy. Just some coconut oil will do.
5. Moisture! For your perineum. During the homestretch of your third trimester, it's a good idea to begin perineal massage if you're planning a vaginal birth. Perineal massage has been shown to reduce the chance and/or the severity of tearing during childbirth, and this is done with a perineal massage oil. This one smells lovely and can also be used during labor and on baby's skin.
1. A birth ball! Or an exercise ball, or a yoga ball - they're all the same thing, it just depends on their use and purpose. Using a birth ball while in labor can help to relieve pressure in your pelvis and lower back. Sitting upright can also allow your pelvis to open up to help baby descend. You can also lean on them for extra comfort, or sit/lean/rock in whatever way feels intuitively good to you, especially if you have freedom of movement during your labor.
2. A rebozo! Rebozos are traditional Mexican shawls that are used in a myriad of ways. They're used to support pregnant people in labor and delivery via different hip- and- belly-wrapping techniques to relieve pelvic and back pain and pressure, or even to coax baby into a more optimal position for birth. Many doulas are trained in using a rebozo to support you during birth and may even have their own, but will certainly use yours if you have one (which is totally worth it, since they can even be used for babywearing after birth!).
3. A heating pad! A heating pad can be a great natural natural pain relief option, as it relieves pain and helps you feel more relaxed. Just be sure to only use a heating pad on areas that you can feel, i.e. areas that haven't been numbed by an epidural or other medical pain relief options, so that you don't accidentally burn your skin. A plug-in one like I've linked above is great for portability, but if your place of birth has a microwave, then this is a wonderful option, too.
4. A BIRTH DOULA! A doula can be your #1 support resource in labor and birth. The benefits of having a birth doula are many: reduces medical interventions during labor, reduces the need for cesareans, reduces the need for tools like vacuums and forceps, shortens the length of labor, physical support (counter pressure, comforting touch, rebozo use), emotional support (motivation, advocacy for your rights and wishes in your birthing place, unwavering faith in your strength and abilities, a listening ear, a hand to grab), and informational support not only during labor but beforehand via prenatal meetings and after birth. Here is a good starting point to find a doula, but feel free to take your search far and wide, as it's a very special, personal relationship that you want to be sure of. Interview different doulas and hire the one that's a good fit for YOU!
1. Adult diapers! ...Wait, don't go! Okay, it's not the suggestion you expected to start off with, nor the one you wanted to think about. But hear me out! Did you know that you will experience postpartum bleeding whether you've had a vaginal birth OR a c-section? Your uterus will have a fairly large wound from where your placenta was attached, and no matter how baby comes out, the placenta is going to come out, too. This, plus extra blood, tissue, and other discharge that your uterus needs to expel after birth is called lochia. Stock up on pads of various sizes, of course (and totally take them ALL home with you if your birthing place provides them), but, again, hear me out: adult diapers. They're soft, they're comfy, and they hold a lot, which makes them great for the first couple of weeks postpartum where your lochia will be on the heavier side. I found these to be particularly nice - make sure you choose the correct size for your body (small/medium or large), and you're good to go.
2. A peri bottle! These are essential, no matter what kind of birth you had. If you had a vaginal birth, you may feel sore or even sting-y, especially if you had stitches to repair any tearing and can't exactly wipe the way you're used to. Peeing might especially sting, and spraying yourself gently with water, cool or warm, whichever feels better, while peeing will help you feel more comfortable. And if you had a c-section, these are still essential as you're still bleeding and will want to clean everything away whenever you use the bathroom. Yes, your birthing place will likely give you one or two to take home. But this one -- the Frida Mom Upside Down Peri Bottle that you see on every postpartum care checklist known to man and woman -- is legitimately better. You can aim. You're not just pointing what looks like a diner ketchup squeeze bottle down towards the unknown and hoping for the best. You can actually spray precisely where you need it.
3. Sitz baths! If you had a vaginal birth that required repairs, you're likely going to be ordered to take sitz baths. These can be done in a shallowly-filled bathtub, or a special seat for your toilet, and they are usually comprised of Epsom salts, soothing essential oils, and gentle herbs that help promote healing. As someone who emerged from my second birth with a third-degree tear, I can confirm this is an A+ soothing, comforting experience, and necessary for healing.
4. Numbing spray! While we're on the subject of healing from perineal tears, a numbing spray is going to be one of your best friends. This one soothes and cools anything that's sore and tender instantly, is safe for use postpartum, and relieves ITCHING. Did you know that stitches itch like mad when they're healing? Neither did I, initially (refer to third degree tear aforementioned in #3).
5. Nipple butter! If you're breastfeeding, especially for the first time, your nipples are going to go through something they haven't before. They're going to be sore, tender, and may even crack and bleed. This isn't to dissuade you from breastfeeding -- if your goal is to breastfeed your baby, please know that this discomfort does subside (and if it doesn't, a lactation consultant will help you to troubleshoot things like latch, tongue ties, lip ties, and other things that may result in breastfeeding being more uncomfortable than it should be). In the meantime, a good nipple butter will help keep everything soothed before and after feedings (and pumping, too!). This one is safe for babies (no need to wipe it off before a feed!), organic, smells like chocolate, and can be used any place on your body in need of a little love.
5. A POSTPARTUM DOULA! In case you've never heard of this one, a postpartum doula assists families during the postpartum period. They educate and support parents in terms of newborn care, step in to care for baby while you take care of yourself, offer emotional support, allow the birthing parent to talk about and process their birth story, and some will even do light housework and meal prepping. Start here to find your best postpartum doula match. Or, check out my virtual postpartum doula service packages here!