Pregnancy is an incredible and empowering time that also tends to bring nausea, aches and pains, and a million questions along with it. Whilst Google is a tempting place to start (yup, we’re guilty of this, too) it can be more than a little bewildering to see endless pregnancy products suddenly flood your algorithm!
It’s especially confusing when you don’t know if any of these products are actually worth it – what are the basic pregnancy essentials, which products are just nice to have, and where should you invest?
Pregnancy essentials you didn’t know you needed
Everyone has a different pregnancy experience. You’re only pregnant for nine months so emptying your savings account probably isn’t necessary, but there are a few essentials that many depend on, especially in the first trimester, that we think are relevant and helpful to any pregnancy.
To help reduce overwhelm, we’ve made a simple list of must-have pregnancy essentials that we feel will genuinely support your health and comfort. From anti-nausea products to natural oils to prevent tearing, read on to find out why these are the pregnancy products you won’t want to be without.
1. Compression or maternity socks
How can maternity socks help to ease pregnancy pains? As your uterus grows throughout pregnancy, pressure is put on your vena cava, which is responsible for carrying blood to the legs, feet and heart. This added pressure can slow blood flow to the legs and feet, creating swelling and tenderness. This can be particularly important for people who have a high-risk pregnancy / blood clotting disorders. You should speak to your doctor or midwife for advice on this.
Compression socks are good for not only relieving pain and discomfort, but also for managing varicose veins and reducing the risk of developing blood clots as it helps with circulation. You can also sleep in compression socks as there are no risk factors to wearing them. They are typically used to relieve pain, or to wear on long travels where you will be sitting down for most of the journey, such as long car trips and flights. It is important to consult a pharmacist, who will measure your legs to ensure that you get the right fit.
2. Pregnancy pillow
Believe it or not, most pillows and mattresses aren’t made with accommodating pregnant women in mind. A pregnant woman’s body has unique shapes and requirements that just aren’t supported by regular pillows and mattresses. Pregnancy pillows are specifically designed to support you through your pregnancy and make sleeping as comfortable as possible, while you are busy growing a whole person (or two)!
Helping back and joint pain during pregnancy is one of the biggest target areas for pregnancy pillows, although they also help to ease leg cramps, pelvic stiffness, and insomnia. However, there are a multitude of different shapes and sizes, and so finding the one that’s right for you depends on your personal needs.
Here is a list of the different shapes and what benefits they have:
- Wedge – this is a versatile pillow that supports any target area that you use it on. For instance, you can use this behind your back for support or between your knees and under your belly etc. This also helps to prevent rolling over in your sleep.
- C-Shape – this pillow can be positioned behind or in front of you to support your belly or your back and it keeps your legs and hips parallel. The size and shape can also be comforting and encourage a less disturbed sleep.
- U-Shape – This pillow supports your whole body and attempts to prevent joint pain during pregnancy. It supports your back and your neck and prevents rolling. It also keeps your legs and hips parallel and aligns your neck and back, which can ease discomfort and pain.
These pillows make it easy to adjust your positions at night and help prevent joint pain during pregnancy, which is a worthwhile exercise.
3. Nausea-relieving wristbands
There are plenty of pregnancy nausea products out there, but sickness wristbands are seemingly effective, as they are backed by the ancient Chinese medicine practice, acupuncture.
Sickness wristbands are standard wristbands, except they have been specially designed to perform acupressure on a certain point in your wrist to counteract sickness. Manufacturers do so by sewing a button onto the inside of the wristband, so that it will press against the P6 acupressure point.
You can purchase standard sickness wristbands or wristbands that come with shock waves to target the area. Some wristbands can also be purchased with essential oils to provide calming effects. This is arguably a good alternative to other pregnancy nausea products, as there is no risk factor and so you can wear the wristbands day and night, whenever sickness strikes.
As this is a low-risk product, clinical trials are not necessary for companies to claim that they definitely work. However, a few, small studies have been conducted and have shown promising results. One of the studies found that if pregnant women put the bands on immediately when feeling sick, symptoms were almost completely gone. But, 60% of the patients reported an ease of pain but not complete elimination and 9% claimed that the product did not work for them. The overall feedback was that, in order for the wristbands to be effective, they have to be correctly positioned.
Related Video – Fertility Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs for fertility
4. Oils to prevent perineal tearing
Perineal tearing is very common during labour and it is good to prepare for such a common and anticipated injury. Studies have shown that women who performed a perineal massage (which is the use of oil and massage to soften and elasticise the skin) 1-2 times per week saw a 17% reduction in risk of tearing.
There are oils that can help with elasticising the perineal area and softening the skin. These are affordable oils that are probably already in your kitchen cupboard, such as organic sunflower oil, coconut, almond or olive oil. There are, of course, oils specifically made for the perineal area yet they typically use the same ingredients, for a steeper price.
Whatever you choose, do not veer off from this list of natural oils. They can’t be substituted for synthetic oils, like baby oil or petroleum jelly. And if you are going to use coconut oil, make sure it is the kind that goes solid under cold temperatures, but melts from the heat of your palm, because any coconut oil that is permanently liquid usually contains added ingredients when all you need is the pure form of the natural oil.
5. Hot and cold breast compress
Breast tenderness can last up to or beyond the first trimester and can begin even a few days after conception. However, severity and longevity varies in all women, so you may be looking for solutions to your breast pain early on in your pregnancy.
Hot and cold compresses for breasts are one of the easiest ways to ease pain without medication. Depending on what temperature works best for you, you can buy two-in-one breast compresses that can be microwaved or frozen for optimal pain relief. However, the temperature you choose does provide different benefits; a hot compress can help with soreness, encourage milk flow and unclog ducts, while a cold compress can reduce swelling and pain. You can also find breast compresses that can be used while using a breast pump so that you don’t have to wait for relief.
Hopefully, this comprehensive list of pregnancy essentials has given you some insightful ideas on how to help ease pregnancy discomfort and feel more prepared for your birth. Often, people believe that it is just giving birth that is the difficult part of pregnancy and they forget that your body is making a whole new person – which isn’t easy or pain-free!
For more useful tips, guidance and shared stories, subscribe to The Ribbon Box so you never miss an update.