Pregnancy can be a scary experience, especially if you’ve experienced miscarriage or infant loss. And even if you haven’t, if you’re pregnant for the first time, it can be a a whirl wind of emotions, anxiety, and weird things that can happen during pregnancy! So how do you handle it all? If you’re anything like me, you tend to lean on actionable items like making lists and buying products to get you through the chaos. This is where must-have pregnancy essentials come in.
For example, if you find yourself unable to sleep, then you probably go out and buy a new pillow or download a new meditation podcast.
By the same logic, when you get pregnant, you probably buy prenatal vitamins for pregnancy that help you feel better about the nutrition you and baby are getting.
But honestly, pregnancy essentials are a little more complicated than picking out a prenatal supplement or buying a new set of clothes. Your body will go through a host of changes trimester by trimester, and you’ll want to be able to support yourself as your belly changes and your heartburn flares. You’ll need new bras, sunscreen for pregnancy, pregnancy-safe skincare, maternity pants for work, and more!
Stick with us, mama. We’ve got all the pregnancy essentials you need to survive this wild, joyful, gassy, enlightening, and empowering experience–one trimester at a time.
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- Pregnancy Essentials: First Trimester
- Pregnancy Essentials: Second Trimester
- Pregnancy Essentials: Third Trimester
- Pregnancy Things To Buy List
- Pregnancy and Maternity Essentials You’re Sure to Love
Pregnancy Essentials: First Trimester
Here’s the thing about the first trimester of pregnancy – it’s a pretty bittersweet experience.
Sure, for the most part, it’s a total lovefest. If this is something you have been dreaming of, your days are likely sprinkled with more joy than you can stand. And chances are that you’re living on a high from the surprising announcement that you’re about to have a baby.
On the other hand, though, first trimester side effects can be wicked, and you’ll want to be prepared for them.
So how can you prepare for all this? The list of products below will help you get through the wild ride that is the first trimester. We’ve surveyed our community of seasoned mamas, and this list is comprised of their favorite items to help you through it!
When it comes to pregnancy essentials for the first trimester, prenatal vitamins are absolutely essential to keep you and baby healthy.
Why methylated folate? So glad you asked! We know, we know, all the ad campaigns rave about folic acid. But did you know that some women cannot properly process folic acid, while they can process methylated folate, with the same beneficial effects?
Some estimates suggest that nearly half of the population has a form of the MTHFR genetic variant, and certain types of that variant inhibit the proper absorption of folic acid.
So when we recommend prenatal vitamins, they will always use methylated folate as the primary folate source!
And if you’re curious about how to know whether or not your body can process various nutrients (like folic acid and more), we highly recommend that you read our honest Genate Test Review.
The Genate Test is an exciting new development in the world of prenatal nutrition that gives you personalized results to better support your pregnancy nutrition (and your baby!).
(2) Download a Pregnancy App
These fun apps will cover everything under the sun. Whether you need help naming your baby or want to know what size fruit your little one is month-to-month, you’ll be covered!
Here are a few of our favorite app options:
- WebMD Pregnancy App
- BabyCenter Pregnancy & Baby App
- What to Expect’s Pregnancy Tracker
- The Bump Pregnancy Tracker
(3) Morning Sickness Solutions
Oh, morning sickness. Most pregnant women experience it most severely during the first trimester.
While it’s one of the most common first-trimester symptoms, the healthcare community still isn’t entirely sure why morning sickness is most frequent during the first trimester.
The most likely theory is that it stems from the ever-increasing levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), the pregnancy hormone.
I, for one, was pretty stereotypical and had near-constant nausea during the first few months of my pregnancy with our first daughter. I searched the internet high and low for the most beneficial treatment options available.
Aside from carrying around bulk-sized bags of ginger chews everywhere I went, I discovered a few other pregnancy essentials that helped settle my stomach, including:
- Nibbling on crackers first thing in the morning. To keep morning sickness at bay, never let your stomach be empty!
- Using peppermint everything, such as drinking peppermint tea (our favorite is this blend from Earth Mama Organics that has both ginger and peppermint), diffusing peppermint essential oils, and sucking on peppermint candies
- Drinking ginger ale or sucking on Gin Gins hard candies
- Sucking on Preggie Pop Drops
- Wearing sea bands on your wrists
If your morning sickness is so severe that you can’t keep down food or water, or if it persists well past the first trimester, have a serious conversation with your doctor about the possibility of hyperemesis gravidarum (HG).
This disease is far worse than typical morning sickness, and it often requires mom to advocate for herself with her healthcare team in order to get quality care for a beyond-miserable condition.
If you feel like you might have HG, please contact your doctor immediately! There are risks associated with this extreme pregnancy symptom, like severe dehydration and more.
(4) Cute Pregnancy Water Bottle
We all know drinking enough water is important on a regular basis. When you’re pregnant, however, it’s even more critical.
Not only does it help produce more blood and amniotic fluid needed to care for your baby, but it can also help with pregnancy symptoms, such as:
- Low Energy
Did you know it can also help reduce a mother’s risk of preterm labor and birth.
Pregnancy, especially if you’re a first-time parent, can be really overwhelming! For example, keeping track of everything you will need to care for yourself, along with your growing baby, is a LOT!
We hate to toot our own horn, but in this case, we don’t mind too much because Undefining Motherhood’s Pregnancy & Baby Planner is AMAZING! With tons of 5-star reviews, moms love it because it’s hyper-organized and will walk you through everything you and baby need (and nothing you don’t).
Most pregnancy planners on the market are more like journals or keepsake books. This one has checklists, brand recommendations from our community, pockets for ultrasound photos (and more), and information about what you can expect during labor, delivery, and postpartum.
It’s super comprehensive, and with over 300+ reviews and a 5-star rating, other mamas agree with us!
While your belly might not be growing too much during the first trimester, it’s still important to get ahead of the game. Your body is going to be doing a lot of stretching during pregnancy, which can lead to stretch marks.
By applying a high-quality cream, like Earth Mama Organics Belly Butter, early on, you can help prepare your skin for what’s to come.
You can even turn a routine of using belly lotion into a bonding experience with your partner.
My husband used to rub my belly with lotion every night before bed. It was a quiet moment where we would reflect on the day and talk about the amazing things yet to come.
(7) Sleeping Bra
Didn’t know this was a thing? Most people don’t until some angel of a friend mentions it as a fix for excessively sore boobs during pregnancy.
Once your chest gets sore during pregnancy (often one of the earliest signs of pregnancy), you’ll want to invest in a good sleeping bra because you’ll wear it the rest of your pregnancy, and it can double as a nursing bra (if you go that route!)
We know we mentioned the pregnancy planner before, but a pregnancy journal is different than a planner!
A planner is meant to help you work your way through what you will need for yourself and the baby, while a journal helps you sort through the myriad emotions and feelings that come along with growing a tiny human.
Writing about the emotions and feelings you have about early pregnancy is one of the easiest ways to process and record how you’re feeling during this exciting (and sometimes difficult!) time.
I swear to all things holy that I could not TOUCH or LOOK at eggs during my first trimester of pregnancy with BOTH my girls. It was awful! I went on a deep dive to find foods that will actually fight nausea during pregnancy.
There are the usual anti-nausea foods like ginger and peppermint, but did you know that foods like lemon, broth, crackers, anything with vitamin B-6 (tofu, spinach, bananas), and watermelon are all great for fighting first-trimester morning sickness?
Pregnancy Essentials: Second Trimester
Compared to the first trimester of your pregnancy, the second trimester can often feel like a breeze!
Usually, your morning sickness will start to subside, and you’ll begin to get some of your energy back. At least that’s how it was for me – I hit the second trimester and suddenly felt like taking a two-hour nap after work was no longer necessary. Thank goodness!
Despite the simpler months you have to look forward to, this doesn’t mean there aren’t still lots of things a pregnant woman needs to help her through.
When it comes to pregnancy essentials in the second trimester, these are some of the top picks in our community.
From setting up your baby registry (not just what to include, but how to know if you need it, brand recs, and more!) to writing a birth plan, delegating tasks to your support network, and caring for baby, we’ve got you covered.
Truth time: towards the end of my first trimester, I suddenly realized my pants weren’t fitting quite as nicely as before.
This worked for a while, but suddenly I discovered something I liked even more: belly bands.
This simple piece of material slips right over the top of your jeans and keeps everything in place and pulled up just the way it should be.
I also discovered that rather than fight with a hair tie all three million times a day that I needed to pee, a belly band was a more practical option for using the bathroom.
(2) Pregnancy Pillow
If you slip into my bedroom on any given night, you’ll catch me sleeping with no less than three pillows. (But please don’t, because that would be creepy!)
What can I say, I’m a pillow girl!
When I was pregnant, I really upped the pillow ante. I was constantly looking for ways to burrow myself more comfortably into my bed. Enter the most exquisite thing I’d ever seen: a pregnancy pillow!
This full-body pillow’s snake-like design is soft, fluffy, and can be wound around your body to support all the nooks and crannies that feel so uncomfortable when you’re growing a baby and trying to get some rest (easier said than done).
What’s even better, is that they still work just as well for supporting your postpartum body!
These pillows are truly an investment in your bedtime routine!
And if you just can’t handle the snake idea, it’s probably at least time to invest in a small belly wedge.
As your belly begins to grow during the second trimester, the phrase “pregnancy essentials” takes on a whole new meaning.
With a growing baby getting bigger each day of your pregnancy progression, you’ll suddenly be looking for any way to alleviate the stress on your body and reduce the amount of pain you’re experiencing.
When it comes to maternity essentials, a high-quality belly support band should be at the top of your list.
These devices offer a variety of benefits, as they:
- Prevent poor posture
- Prevent back, hip, and pelvic pain
- Support the weight of your growing belly
- Reduce bladder pressure
You can find support bands in all brands and styles, but in terms of quality, there is absolutely zero question that your best choice is the ProBump from BaoBei. I first tried it after complaining to my pelvic PT that none of these problems actually worked, and friend–my life changed. WORTH. IT.
You can find support bands in all brands and styles, but in terms of quality, we think Belly Bandit has completely cornered the market here. Theirs are unrivaled, in our experience.
(4) Nasal Strips
Nasal strips might seem like an unlikely pick for a list of pregnancy essentials, but hear me out.
Pregnancy hormones can be a leading cause of annoying side effects like nasal congestion and clogged sinuses during the second and third trimesters.
Since there are only so many cold medications that are safe in pregnancy out there, this is a great over-the-counter, natural option for when you get a cold!
(5) Bump Support Leggings or Tank Top
Will you get more support from a belly band? Yes! But sometimes you’ll want a break from it, or need to wear an outfit that it shows through. Form-fitting outfits don’t look awesome with belly bands underneath!
If you’re one of those people, a support tank that goes under your shirt can be a total game-changer.
Friend, I cannot tell you how much I LOVED having maternity pajamas. I’m a stickler for anything soft, and my closest friends call me the “Legging Queen” because I pretty much live in leggings and a long top.
So when I discovered the the absolute joy of a good pair of maternity pajamas, to say I was stoked was an understatement. The best part about maternity pajamas is that they also double as great nursing and postpartum pajamas!
And if you’ve ever read any kind of maternity list from us, you’ll know that Kindred Bravely is our absolute favorite brand for pajamas and comfy nursing clothing.
You can’t go wrong with their organic cotton Sloan pajama set!
Pregnancy Essentials: Third Trimester
By the time your third trimester arrives, you might be feeling a little bit over the whole pregnancy process.
There’s also a good chance you could start experiencing some less-than-spectacular side effects, like being sleep-deprived and generally uncomfortable.
Thankfully, though, there are some great pregnancy and maternity essentials for the third trimester to help you towards the finish line.
With every week of your pregnancy, the likelihood of swollen feet will begin to rise.
By the end of my pregnancies, the very idea of putting on shoes caused a small spike of anxiety. Alas, public places aren’t the best for bare feet.
Find yourself a comfortable pair of shoes that will make that whole walking thing more bearable. And if your feet are really swollen, you might even want to consider going up a size.
We also really like the idea of comfy inserts for your work shoes or to use if you’re on your feet quite a bit throughout the day.
By the time you reach 40 weeks, and your baby is approximately the size of a small pumpkin, the rest of your organs might feel like they’re being pushed up into your throat.
With everything running out of space, your digestive tract can’t function the way it needs to, which can lead to awful heartburn.
You might want to consider taking a bottle of Tums with you anywhere you go!
You’re to the point of pregnancy where swelling is a serious, legit issue. Wearing compression socks is a great way to reduce foot swelling and increase comfort by supporting good circulation in your legs!
And while they might not be the sexiest thing in the world, they do help support your pregnant body, which is worth a lot!
While many of your family and friends might surprise you with meals after the baby is born, it’s always best to plan ahead.
Consider making up some casseroles and other dishes that can be safely stored in freezer containers.
When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I would make two to three large dinners a week and freeze the leftovers for later. It was a lifesaver when the meals stopped coming after we had been home for a few weeks.
(5) Birthing Ball
A birthing ball, otherwise known as an exercise ball or a yoga ball, is a valuable commodity during pregnancy and labor.
It’s best known for helping manage labor pains if you’re hoping for a natural childbirth or to dilate to a certain point before an epidural. But it can also help with your labor progression, preparing your cervix for labor.
As someone whose body was slow to jump on the dilation train before labor, I was fully committed to my birthing ball.
I would park in front of the tv and bounce nonstop while I watched!
By the third trimester of pregnancy, my hormones were going crazy, and my pregnancy acne was ungovernable. It sucked. You know what didn’t suck, though? The sheer amount of pregnancy-safe skincare that IS available and safe to use during pregnancy.
Check out our full article on pregnancy-safe skincare, but we do have to mention a few of our all-time favorites here, too:
Pregnancy Things To Buy List
As you can see, being pregnant is about more than just showing up to doctor’s appointments and watching your belly grow.
It’s important to find all the right things you need to make the experience more enjoyable.
If you’re confused about where to start, we’ve created a handy printable “Pregnancy Essentials Checklist: Everything You Need to Thrive through 40 Weeks” to help you out!
Pregnancy and Maternity Essentials You’re Sure to Love
Making a baby is not an easy thing to accomplish. Why not spoil yourself a little during the process? All of these pregnancy essentials are highly beneficial to any woman experiencing pregnancy.
Everyone loves to focus on what the baby will need after they arrive, but it’s important to think about what YOU will need during each trimester. We hope our favorite must-haves help support you through each phase of this important journey!
Have you been pregnant before? Were there any must-have pregnancy or maternity essentials you couldn’t live without?
Katy Huie Harrison, PhD, is an author, mom, recurrent miscarriage survivor, & owner of Undefining Motherhood. She lives in Atlanta with her husband (affectionately known on the internet as “Husband,”) son (Jack), and daughter (Branham). She believes our society puts too many expectations on women that make womanhood and motherhood restrictive. Her goal is to shift the paradigm about what it means to be a woman and mother, giving all women a greater sense of agency over their own lives. You can find Katy and her work featured in places like CNN’s Headline News, Romper, Scary Mommy, Love What Matters, & more.