Monday, November 9, 2015

Maternity "Essentials" - For the Cheap, Practical Woman of Simple Tastes

When I first got pregnant, I read a lot of blog posts about what items are essential.  Now, nearly 9 months later, I find that concept highly amusing, and yet here I am writing my own version.  It's amusing to me because everyone is different.  You may even have vastly different experiences from one pregnancy to the next.  Every woman is different and every baby is different, so every pregnancy is different.  Therefore, it's a bit silly to say something is essential to every pregnancy, other than like, food and clothing.  (Which would be a true blog post, but a very unhelpful one.)

So, here is my input into the vast world of maternity essentials.

Category 1: Clothing

First of all, think about your sense of style.  If you're like me, you don't have one, so this part is really quick and easy.  Second, realize that this will probably not change.  So many people told me that I'd just want to wear dresses and leggings all the time, but I've never felt comfortable in dresses and leggings.  If I didn't feel comfortable in something when I was cute and tiny (so, like, in high school), I'm not going to feel comfortable wearing it while rapidly increasing in size.

Now, in my following list, I'm assuming you can do laundry about once a week, and that your sense of style is like mine.  (If it's not, keep looking; you're sure to find another blog post that meets your standards more closely.)

  1.  Shirts, 6-7 per season.  In the summer, I had 2 XL men's t-shirts and 5 maternity t-shirts. For fall, I have 3 maternity shirts that are 3/4 length sleeve and 3 maternity shirts that are long-sleeved.  I can also supplement with my short-sleeve shirts by combining them with cardigans or sweatshirts.  I find I'm warm enough that I don't even need to be able to button or zip up my sweaters.
    When it comes to brands/styles, they are all so different.  I'd recommend going to a store and trying on different brands to see how they fit you.  I ended up owning 4 shirts in the same style (two different sleeve lengths, three different sizes, and four different colors) just because I found they fit me really well.  I have a long torso, and all my research into "what should long-torsoed pregnant women wear?" led me to two options: tunic-style tops or adding extra layers with long tank tops.  This shirt, though, is still long enough to cover my belly.
  2. Shorts/Pants, 1-2 per season (2 is really best).  I only own one pair of maternity shorts and one pair of maternity jeans.  I'd really recommend owning at least two of each, as this makes laundry day easier.  (I also own one pair of maternity dress pants, and I wear either these or Caleb's sweatpants for laundry day.)
    For shorts, I had a pair with the wide elastic under-belly band.  This was okay since I was wearing shorts earlier in my pregnancy, but since I have a long torso, it wouldn't have been sufficient coverage for me during the later months.
    For jeans, I have a pair of jeans by Motherhood Maternity with a navy full-belly panel.  I really like that panel.  I know some women prefer it in a lighter color, but I like that when my shirt gets scrunched up (or is just too short), the navy blends in with the jeans (and doesn't look like my belly is hanging out).
  3. Comfy clothes - for pajamas and lounging.  Most of my pre-pregnancy lounge clothes were already over-sized, so these still mostly fit me.
    I also have been stealing some of Caleb's clothes.  I would like to hypothesize that the real reason most women are attracted to men who are larger than themselves is not, in fact, because they feel a larger man could protect them better.  No, I believe it is our natural instinct to know that their clothes will fit us and be more comfortable than anything else when we're 8 months pregnant.
  4. Sweatshirt/Jacket/Coat (depending on season) that can fit over your growing belly.
  5. One dress outfit appropriate for weddings/funerals/similar functions - I didn't read this on any other list I looked at, and even though I only needed this a few times, I still needed it!  It was really nice to not have to do extra shopping in a hurry because I had a funeral the next day.
You may also need work appropriate clothes, but I had to leave my job before my pre-pregnancy clothes stopped fitting, so this wasn't a need for me.

That's it.  Supplement with things from your pre-pregnancy wardrobe.  Cardigans will still fit, even if you can't button them up.  Scarves and jewelry are one-size fits all.  Socks and shoes should still fit you, unless you have a lot of swelling.

There are a lot of other items that other women would list as essential.  Here are my reasons why I didn't find them essential:
  1. Belly Band - If you don't know what this is, look it up.  I tried one on and found it too tight and uncomfortable.  Many women like them.  Try one and see for yourself.
  2. Maternity Undergarments - I figured I'm going to need new undergarments for nursing/post-pregnancy anyway; I may as well stretch out what I have now.  You may find yourself needing new ones if you grow a lot.
  3. Maternity leggings - Again, I'm not really a leggings/dresses person.
  4. New shoes - My feet didn't grow or swell too much, so I didn't need new shoes.  My old ones were already very comfortable.
  5. Little black dress - I don't think I need to explain to you why I didn't find this essential.
To finish off the clothing category, here's where I found everything: garage sales, thrift stores, consignment shops, and my husband's closet.  If you have a maternity consignment shop in your area, that will probably be one of your best bets.  Around here, we have a store called Little Posh that sells baby and maternity items on consignment.  It is a really nice store and I found a lot of items there. As much as I love thrift stores like Salvation Army and Goodwill, it can be a lot harder to find quality maternity items there.  You'll pay a few more dollars per item at a consignment shop, but the clothes will be a lot nicer.  I also just discovered that Burlington Coat Factory has a maternity section.  I didn't spend a lot of time checking it out (because there's no point this far in my pregnancy), but I did notice that the shirts were priced around $6-8, which is incredibly reasonable.

A lot of people will shop new, but if I can't justify paying $20 for a new shirt that will fit me until I wear it out, I certainly can't justify paying $20 for a new shirt that will only fit me for 9 months.  (I will say, though, that if you can't find maternity jeans anywhere else, buying these new is probably worth the investment, especially if you wear jeans every day like I do.)

Also, a lot of women find they can borrow maternity clothes from their friends.  If you can do this, I'd highly recommend it.  This was not an option for me, however, as all of my friends who have been pregnant before were either pregnant again at the same time or are five inches shorter than I am.

Category 2: Food

Obviously, you should be trying to eat healthfully. There are a million resources out there for your general diet.  I'm not even going to get into cravings here, because everyone is different.

A lot of people recommend Preggie Pops for morning sickness.  I was given a box so I tried them.  While they tasted good, they didn't make me feel any less nauseated.  This doesn't mean they won't work for you, though, because many women swear by them.

When I had morning sickness and couldn't keep many things down, my greatest resource was Edy's Outshine Fruit and Veggie Bars.  They do have added sugar, but they're also made from fruit and vegetable juice.  I found these super great on days when I felt like nothing else would stay down. Popsicles in general have always been soothing to my stomach, plus they're a decent way to help stay hydrated when water tastes horrible.  I also felt like I was at least getting a little bit of my fruit and vegetable requirements.  There were days when I had 5-6 of these.

Category 3: Gear

Most people talk about what gear a baby requires, not the pregnant woman, but I'm including this category solely for The Snoogle.  A stupid name, yes, but a product that saved my sleep.  I can't say this is essential for every woman, but I found it to be so.  We purchased one early in my pregnancy, and I'm so glad we did.  Being an insomniac, I figured I'd need any help I could sleeping, and this pillow has definitely been worth the $60.  One of my biggest concerns (other than the price!) was that it wouldn't be long enough for a tall, long-torsoed person, but it fits me just fine.

Some people will say that you can accomplish the same things the Snoogle does by just using a lot of smaller, less-expensive pillows.  This is very true, but I roll over at least a dozen times a night, and not having to rearrange 6 pillows is very nice.  If you can get into one position, fall asleep, and stay there until morning, you can certainly manage without the Snoogle.

I liked it when we first got it, but as I got bigger and bigger, I found it more and more helpful.

And that wraps up my list of essentials.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me.  I may have left out some things, too.

Love and Not-Leggings,
Leah Joy

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