I didn’t want to post too much about pregnancy until I’d been all the way through it once. It drives me crazy when someone 2 months pregnant tries to tell me All About ItTM. Now that our little guy is almost 4 months, I feel like it’s time to record what worked well for me: both before I forget, and so I can share with friends nearing this stage in their own life.
There are lists and lists of things to buy for new babies and pregnant women, but there is, depending on your luck, some time between deciding you’d like to try for a baby and actually being pregnant. And it might be nice not to buy it all at once. Once you’re pregnant you can start buying the maternity and baby items without feeling like a crazy person. Up until that point…not so much.
When we first started trying, I searched THE ENTIRE INTERNET for a list like this. A list of things that would be useful to a pregnant woman or new mom, that you can buy yourself now, that aren’t specifically for maternity or babies. I would have enjoyed a list like this to feel like I was being more proactive with the process. These would also be good gift ideas for a family member or friend, whether she is thinking about it, has just started trying, or she is going through fertility treatments.
1. Bike Desk
Cardio is a tricky topic with pregnancy. When trying to concieve, you want to be at your healthiest (meaning plenty of cardio), but also not doing anything too strenuous. I saw a lot of advice saying “not to try anything new” at this time. It was easy for me to feel like I shouldn’t do anything, especially after a month or two. I blamed myself for doing a 5k, for a strenuous bike ride with hills, and for weight lifting, and eventually just STOPPED working out. That could not have been a helpful way to address that concern. I eventually bought a bike desk because I wanted to have a way to exercise that I knew would not be harmful.
For a pregnant woman, a stationary bike is one of the safest ways to get some cardio in. I also have a bike trainer so I can use my regular road bike as a stationary bike, but I can say from experience that at around the 7-month mark it was not super easy to get on the bike without my belly touching the handlebars. A regular bike is also not designed for you to be doing other activities, so it can get a little bit monotonous just riding in place.
The bike desk is nice because:
- It is safe to use even when your balance is off.
- It’s a low impact workout (important if, like me, you incur an annual ankle injury).
- It’s quiet – You can make phone calls or take zoom meetings from the desk, provided youre taking it easy enough not to be out of breath. My bike trainer is not quiet enough for this.
- It’s easy to deal with work items or emails during your workout.
- Once your baby is there, it is quiet enough to use during naptime.
- It folds up like an ironing board so you don’t really need a dedicated workout room. I kept mine in the corner of the living room for a long time because it was easy to fold and move out of the way.
2. File Cabinet
If you don’t already have an organizational system for your paperwork, now is the time to get that figured out. Things you already likely need a file cabinet for:
- Work, especially if you’re working from home for the first time.
- Taxes. Ideally you don’t want to be directing a search party for your tax information every single year like I do.
- Important documents. Passports, Social Security cards, Birth Certificates, Marriage Licenses.
During any treatments, pregnancy, and with a child, keeping your documents organized is still important, but you’ll also need it for:
- Medical Paperwork. Even with the COVID pandemic causing a lot of my prenatal appointments to be cancelled, there were a lot of doctor’s visits and a lot of written instructions. It’s helpful to be able to reference the documentation on what you can eat, what medications you can take, what will be needed or done at the next appointment, etc. New babies seemingly have even more appointments, and it will help to be organized.
- Insurance Information. Even if this information is available to you online, it can be helpful to have hard copies in case someone else (spouse, parent, someone else helping you out) needs to reference it for you. I have never spent as much time interacting with an insurance provider as I have the past year.
- Medication. We use our top drawer as “The Pharmacy.”
3. Heating Pad / Warmie
I’ll preface this by saying that I’m the kind of person that needs a heating pad anyway. I’m always cold. During pregnancy I needed a heating pad on my lower back almost the entire time. I’ve never had back problems before or since. I also had a very hard time sleeping for the first time, and snuggling with a warm, lavender scented sloth helped me get a little bit more relaxation in.
Both of these items are lovely the rest of the time too. I was slipping Mr. Sloth under the sheets near where I put my feet while I got ready for bed all winter. An electric heating pad is amazing any time I have the shivers or am sore for any reason.
I also 100% required the heating pad on my back almost constantly during the first month of breastfeeding. I was certain my back was taking permanent damage, although it’s actually fine now.
4. These Leggings
I wrote about these exact leggings in my post about Zoom meetings. They look like regular black leggings but the wide waistband is made of legging (no compression or elastic), and they feel like t-shirt. I have a few pairs of these, and they have fit me everywhere from a size 2 to a size 10 maternity. I had a stomach ulcer a year and a half ago, and although that has apparently healed, it seems to have permanently put me off of having my midsection compressed. During early pregnancy as well, I haaaated having anything squeezing me in the middle, even a little bit, but didn’t have enough of a belly for maternity pants.
My pants options were these leggings, or pants that were so big they didn’t stay up on their own. Although they are not maternity leggings, I skated by without having to buy any maternity-specific leggings because I had a few of these and they have remained comfortable throughout. Awesome things about these leggings:
- They are size agnostic. Very stretchy, soft at the waistline, no extra elastic or compression.
- They pass as real clothing. Nobody will see you in these and think you are wearing pajamas. If you have a longer cardigan and a loose top, you will be about as comfortable as wearing pajamas, but look like you got dressed.
- This is especially helpful for traveling. See my post on Travel Day Outfits.
- They work as maternity-wear. I have 8-weeks left, and they fit as well as they did when I was in the best shape of my life so far.
- They are comfortable enough to wear as pajamas. This is extra helpful if you end up needing daytime naps, but also nice if you are in PJs and might need to go outside or socialize (like while traveling).
5. Jayda Dress
It can feel a little pointless buying clothes that you know won’t fit during pregnancy, and may or may not fit in the postpartum near future. On top of that, most maternity clothes are theses terrible printed jersey fabrics (washable, but cheap looking). So… if you have a shopping problem like I do, what are you supposed to do?
Buy the Jayda dress. It comes in a few different sizes and lengths. It’s not exactly inexpensive (although some are on sale), but:
- It’s seasonless. I wore this dress in the summer when our AC was out. I also wore it with tights for our stay-home NYE party.
- The waist ties. We all know how much I love a dress that ties at the waist, because it can be tied above the bump during pregnancy (or with this specific dress, left untied like a tent dress), and can be tied as tight or loose as needed afterwards. I lost 37 lbs during my first month postpartum, so I was a different size almost daily.
- It zips down the front. This makes it the most breastfeeding-friendly dress I’ve ever seen that wasn’t SPECIFICALLY designed for that purpose. I feel like such an idiot for ever buying anything not nursing-friendly. When did I think I’d wear it? Even a t-shirt is more trouble than it’s worth. This dress is easy (and not printed-knit-jersey).
- I’m pretty sure you are supposed to dry-clean it but I’ve washed it on delicate and hang-dried many times with no issue.
After a year of staying home to avoid Covid, I don’t have to convince you you need a caftan. I WILL tell you why I bought one:
- They’re stylish. Caftans are the gown of choice fashionable lounging.
- They can be a dress, nightgown, robe, or swim cover. This is not a one-time-use article of clothing.
- They are loose enough for some airflow. This is another article of clothing I wore while our AC was out during the summer.
- If the thought of any clothing touching your body sickens you, but you still want to go outside at some point, this is an option.
- You can wear one during any stage of not-pregnant, pregnant, postpartum, regular fat, regular skinny (important for fluctuators such as myself). If you can’t fluctuate 40 lbs and still wear your caftan, you bought it too small to begin with.
7. Freezer Ice Mask
I get migraines. Generally it happens about once a month, I take my migraine prescription as soon as I feel a twinge, and I survive. My doctor recommended I not take that prescription anymore once I was pregnant, and to wait until I’m done breastfeeding to take it again. She said I can take Tylenol though! This does not help.
On top of this, the shift in hormones during early pregnancy meant that instead of having a migraine once a month like usual, I had a 4-day migraine every week for the first 15 or so weeks. That is almost ALL THE TIME. The only reason I partially survived was that I:
- Took the allotted amount of Tylenol as soon as I felt a twinge. I had to eventually switch to the powdered kind for kids because I hate taking pills.
- Set my alarm for when I could next take more Tylenol.
- Made sure I drank the exact same (small) amount of coffee every single day.
- Bought three of these and kept them in the freezer, so I’d always have a stash of them ready.
I’d wrap one of these around my head, and lay in bed/on the couch, and moan in pain while trying to listen to a book on Audible or a podcast. These ice masks made more of a difference than the Tylenol (although it was still not pretty). I still use them for migraines, but they’re also lovely for cooling off when it’s hot outside, de-puffing eyes, and falling asleep. Yes, Warmie at my feet and ice on my face. Sexy.
8. Felt Handbag Insert (And maybe the bag itself)
This is going to sound insane, but I REALLY wanted a Louis Vuitton Neverfull to be my diaper bag. I know they make nice-looking diaper bags now, but how long do you really use one for unless you have a million kids? The Neverfull GM was the exact size I wanted (could just put the whole baby in there if necessary), and was also perfect for work trips where I didn’t want to look like a tourist – the suitcase is usually a dead giveaway. I bought my bag about a year before getting pregnant because:
- If you admit you want a Louis Vuitton tote as a diaper bag, people will think you are unhinged.
- Babies are expensive, and even if you have the money around baby time, people might still side eye you for buying a Louis Vuitton bag – “The money is for the baby!”
- Apparently I care WAY too much what the people around me think.
Because I am not COMPLETELY unhinged, I also bought a felt organizer for my bag. No poop will ever come into direct contact with the bag! (Probably) They don’t sell the exact organizer I bought anymore, but Amazon has quite a selection available. I bought one that holds my Yeti water bottle upright in the bag. It fits everything I would ever need in a diaper bag (diaper supplies, changing pad, multiple changes of clothes for each of us, my work stuff if I ever end up somewhere I might need to stick around a while) -OR- supplies for a 5-day work trip. Yes, wrap dresses are involved. I would never call a Louis Vuitton tote a “good investment,” but if you already WANT one, I wouldn’t wait until you have a baby to fit that into the budget. And get an organizer.
9. Air Purifier
This is something I bought for Josh’s benefit. He’s “afraid” of bad smells. The first time I ever went to his house, he had LEFT cinnamon candles burning while we were out together, like a crazy person. Per my request, he no longer leaves candles burning in an empty house or overnight, but he did have some concerns when I mentioned I wanted to try cloth diapering.
These purify the air and neutralize scents without emitting a “cover” scent. We put one in the little guy’s room, and one in the living room next to the changing table. We have not had a smell problem with the cloth diapers.
Other places these would be helpful:
- Near a trash can
- Home Gym
- Pet Areas
- Rooms that don’t get enough ventilation
10. BeatsPro Earbuds
I know everyone loves their AirPods, but they don’t have ear clips. How do they stay in? Aren’t people worried about them falling out and rolling around on the airport floor? I’ll never know.
Pre-Pregnancy: Walking the pup and listening to podcasts. Work calls. Long personal phone calls.
Pregnancy: Audible & Podcasts while moaning in migraine pain on the couch.
New Mom: Every single work call (as I pace around the kitchen holding the little guy trying to keep him quiet),* Podcasts while getting him to sleep, any personal call ever.
*We thought we’d have a nanny, but I don’t think I can trust that anyone is being safe enough from Covid at this point. For reference, I don’t go to the grocery store because I’m afraid of exposing the little guy.
Josh ordered his own pair the day mine arrived. I particularly like that you can use just one at a time, leaving the other ear free to hear whats happening around you.
11. Shhhower Cap
If I had to get my hair wet every time I showered, I would not be getting enough showers. I have long curly hair that takes half a day to dry, and I don’t want it to be constantly wet. For some reason, using a hair dryer seems to BARELY speed up the process, and also makes it crazy frizzy. I can spend 30-40 minutes doing a blowout, but I also never leave the house, so why?
During pregnancy, I felt like I was sweating ALL THE TIME. As someone who doesn’t normally sweat much, this was disgusting. I was also dealing with the migraines, so I ended up showering multiple times a day. Having a cool shower cap made this a little easier.
As a new mom, I finally get why people say they can’t shower with a baby in the house. He sleeps, and you’d think I could shower then but NO. He waits until my hair is fully wet, and then wakes up crying, and I feel AWFUL and have to throw on a towel and go rescue him, dripping all over the place. However, with a shower cap, I can stealthily put that on, take a lightning fast shower without washing my hair, and be reasonably clean on a daily basis.
12. Pyrex Containers
I bought a set of these (all same size and shape, very important) to prep dinners. I was particularly thinking this would be helpful around when I gave birth. It was – my mom came over, picked up the pyrex dishes, and dropped off dinners for us. Since they were all the same size and shape, they stack well in the freezer full of meals, or in the cabinet empty. This size is perfect for two adults, maybe more if you’re light eaters or have a side dish.
Since buying these though, I only want more of these to replace everything else in the kitchen. They’re great for work lunches, leftovers, prepping and freezing EXTRA dinner when you’re cooking, cookies, brownies, quinoa – so you can add a scoop to dinner every night but just make one batch…etc. Much easier than playing freezer tetris with different shapes and sizes of containers, or always having to find the exact lid.
13. Giant Yeti Water Bottle
I’ve never been into hydrating. I know it’s supposed to be good for you, but I really only ever want to drink coffee and beer, sometimes tea or wine. Or bourbon. However with pregnancy and the migraines, I realized I was SO THIRSTY all the time. I filled this with either water or iced herbal tea in order to survive. Ice in this bottle has lasted multiple days. And yes, I bought a purse organizer that specifically fits this massive bottle in it.
The real game changer is the straw lid though. When I was dying of migraines, being able to sip ice water while laying down was possibly the only thing keeping me alive. It made me wish I’d had this when I was younger. Every time in my life I’ve ever had a hangover, I’ve had to google “can you die of a hangover,” just in case. Hydrating while laying down probably would have sped up the recovery process.
14. Magnetic Meal Planner
I do the cooking in our household. Josh is an amazing cook, but he’s more of a “special occasion” type chef and less of a “we have to eat something every day” type of line cook. This notepad seems super basic, but it is genius. You write what you’re going to eat each day on the left, then add the ingredients on the right. It’s perforated down the middle, so you can take the shopping list with you to the store, but leave the meal plan. There’s a magnet on the back, so you can leave it on the refridgerator.
What does it have to do with pregnancy? Nothing really, except that your kitchen time has to get more efficient. During the third trimester I could only stand for about 10 minutes at a time, so I couldn’t be puttering around the kitchen. I needed to get IN and OUT and BACK ON THE COUCH.
As a new parent, I somehow can’t ever remember anything (apparently that’s a real thing), so writing everything down has been pretty essential.
15. Laundry Rack
We bought a laundry / garment rack so we could hang-dry items next to our washer and dryer. However, it’s also super useful:
- During pregnancy and postpartum when you need a LOT of clothes. Look, I tried not to buy literally EVERYTHING, but I was a different size every single week for like a year. Being able to hang it all up to get organized is lovely.
- In guest rooms. The closets in guest rooms aren’t for guests. They’re for wrapping paper, office supplies, camping equipment, tax documents (probably), your wedding dress, clothes you bought that you were convinced you’d love but actually aren’t crazy about in person but wanted so much in the first place that you can’t bring youself to return… etc. But it could be nice to let your guests hang a few things up. Maybe you can fold it up, move it to the guest room, and forgo hang drying until after they leave.
- Seasonal Go-Through-The-Clothes Day. Creating a capsule wardrobe. Anything with organizing clothes. It’s much easier to do when you have a separate place to hang everything that’s not the closet.
- Air-drying rugs or comforters. Just drape them over.
Bonus: Permanent Eyeliner / Microblading / Botox
These aren’t things you can do during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so it’s not a terrible idea to do them beforehand. I haven’t done any of these things, but I do wish I’d gotten them done ahead of time. Eyebrows and liner, because putting on makeup is mostly in the past for me, but I still enjoy looking nice, and Botox for the migraines. My doctor mentioned she could do it (although not while actively trying to get pregnant – you have to have some time afterwards). Some people never get a migraine again, and some people need a top off. Since a lot of women who get migraines see them get worse during pregnancy, it’s not a bad idea to take care of it ahead of time.
I hope I didn’t put anyone off of trying for a baby altogether with this list. I just wanted to be as realistic as possible about my experiences. Once you see the positive test, there are plenty of other things to think about so having your life as streamlined as possible ahead of time is a great idea. Don’t forget to share this list with your friends and family in this stage of their life!