My first pregnancy was 15 years ago. Fifteen. Years. Ago. It’s funny because I really don’t feel “old” enough to have had something occur 15 years ago, let alone something of so much significance. At a cocktail party recently, an acquaintance pointed out that I will have a child born in every decade– 2006, 2012, and soon 2021. This by no means makes me an expert on carrying children, but it does put me in a unique position from which to speculate on the act. In actuality, it makes me the quintessential Millennial Mom. I put together this list based on my experience and occasional chagrin with the process of creating new life in hopes that other moms-to-be can pick up some useful tidbits.
1. Separate your wardrobe
The first time, I didn’t need to start wearing maternity-specific clothing until around Month 6. Everyone’s body is different, but this timeline is generally pretty on track for a first pregnancy. Essentially, when you start truly “showing” is when you will find that you can no longer button up your existing clothing. Since I was young (20) and over-eager, I immediately purchased a bunch of Maternity Clothing being under the commercialised impression that you needed these items. By my second pregnancy (I began showing at the end of Month 4), I knew which things you truly needed in “maternity”. I had also learnt of a life hack: use a hair elastic to extend your buttonhole on your pants. Now, on my third pregnancy at the age of 35, I have decided on what is a necessary purchase for the nine month period and what is not.
The first thing I did with this pregnancy when I hit Month 4 (being seasoned and adequately frugal) was go through my existing clothing and retire items that I would not be able to wear for another year. I gave my daughter (now 14 and wearing the same size as me) an entire stack of jeans and pants that won’t fit me properly again until Summer 2021. I removed all my shorts that did not have forgiving, elastic waist bands. Any blouses that I didn’t feel comfortable wearing and all strappy, tiny cocktail dresses, constricting fabric work dresses or tighter bandage style dresses also went into storage. This would make it less frustrating to get dressed since I wouldn’t be pawing through items that couldn’t be worn. It also allowed me to take an inventory of what I already had on hand that could carry me through.
Items that stayed in my closet:
- beach wraps
- bodycon mid-length skirts
- bodycon mid-length dresses
- flowy dresses
- maxi dresses
- t-shirt dresses
- sweat pants
- soft-banded leggings and yoga pants
- bike shorts
- over-sized t-shirts
These pieces that you may already have in your wardrobe are a great start to your new maternity clothing selection. Essentially, “maternity wear” is just stretchier, flowier, or longer than normal clothing. Some say that you can size-up in regular clothes and get by, but I actually do find that there is some merit to certain specifically branded maternity purchases. For one thing, maternity tees and tanks are useful because they aren’t just bigger. They are roomier in the belly area, not wider, and longer so as to cover your growing bump. The same goes for cotton dresses. Another item that I find really nice to acquire in maternity wear is leggings. They have extra fabric at the top so the band doesn’t cut across your belly. You look ridiculous in them if you don’t have a shirt on since they literally go all the way up to your under-boob, but once you don’t parade around like that, you’re good.
An area you will need to invest in is bras. One of the pluses of pregnancy is that you will have the best breasts of your life, but this can also mean needing to purchase new accessories. Save money by buying your new bras in the nursing style since you will need those anyway. With my first pregnancy, (being 20 years old, remember) I couldn’t afford nursing bras so I destroyed my regular bras by yanking them down to feed the baby. With my second pregnancy, I allocated funds specifically for these. A nursing bra is absolutely essential for the breastfeeding mother, and chances are you will save money by purchasing your “bigger” bras in the nursing style from the jump.
(I always order my actual size in pre-pregnant life when ordering maternity clothing because their sizing coordinates with that. For bras, measure yourself and take into account your new cup size before ordering.)
Items I purchased in Maternity Wear:
- 6 t-shirts
- 4 pairs of leggings
- 2 cocktail dresses
- 4 cotton casual dresses
Between the small investment in maternity wear and utilising my existing clothing, I plan on getting through my third pregnancy in a stylish way without going over budget.
2. Lighten up on the lattes
If you are a coffee drinker like me, you will find it’s a bit depressing to give up. The good news is that you can safely consume a cup of coffee daily while pregnant. One cup. So keep it there. This includes other caffeinated beverages, too, so make sure you monitor your consumption. It’s especially helpful to know during your first trimester when you feel the most tired. Related: I always take my coffee black, but during pregnancy I cannot stomach it (no pun intended), so I add milk to my morning mug.
3. Pay attention to your supplements
I posted on my Instagram stories about my vitamin regime and was surprised by the feedback from different women disclosing that they didn’t actually know about prenatals during their pregnancies. A prenatal vitamin is like a souped-up version of a multivitamin including increased amounts of certain elements that meet the requirements you need for pregnancy. You should make sure that you get enough folic acid and iron especially since they are important for healthy growth. Pro tip: always take your prenatal after a meal (especially if it contains iron) otherwise you will feel nauseous. Additional pro tip: just keep your bottle of vitamins in your purse because you will never remember to take them when you’re supposed to. In addition to my prenatal and folic acid tablets, I’m also taking my regular dose of Vitamin E (I wasn’t satisfied with the amount contained in my prenatal) and my probiotics.
I stopped taking my cranberry supplements when we began trying for the baby since there is not enough research on their effect on developing foetuses. Another thing I stopped using prior to conception was my retinol night cream (I use prescribed Retin-A). Topical Vitamin A is not safe for pregnancy, so if you use a product that contains this, stop while pregnant or trying to conceive. Make sure you talk to your doctor, or do some research regarding any other supplements you normally take and how they affect pregnancy.
4. Take lots of photos
No matter how you feel about your body, take photos. I have never met a woman who said “I wish I had less photos of my pregnancy”. My first child was conceived and carried during the transitional period into what we know as smart phones, so it wasn’t as simple to catch a moment. This means that I basically have a handful of low-megapixel digital camera images of her gestation. With my second, I documented every week and had two professional maternity photoshoots done. Now, with the advances in technology, my iPhone is capable of capturing DSLR quality images, so I’ve got pseudo-professional weekly shots by either having my boyfriend or my teenager take some snaps.
There is also an art to timing when you should schedule your professional shoot. It’s easy to become over-excited about the entire experience and want to have it done straight away, but if you are spending big bucks, make sure you time it right. For my first pregnancy, I had one professional photo (which is now lost in the pool of whatever Snapfish account I had then since social media wasn’t big at the time and my old laptop is long gone). The picture was taken in my soon-to-be-born daughter’s nursery and I was 9 months pregnant. Since I was young, relatively skinny, and it was my first pregnancy, I was not the size of a house at that point. I would not advise you schedule your maternity shoot for Month 9, ever, though. In your final month, the baby has dropped (this just means its in the position needed for birth) and your belly may appear low and heavy. Your face might be puffy and you will not feel pretty or glowing or all that photogenic. Chances are you will also have become really over the whole “being pregnant” thing and not be in the best of spirits.
For me, the truly magical month to schedule a professional shoot is Month 7. Your belly is round and cute, you aren’t retaining water, and you still feel lithe and energetic. This was when I scheduled my professional shoots with my second child and will be doing the same this time around.
You should drink a lot of water anyway, but during pregnancy it’s even more important. However, with carting older children to extra-curriculars, a demanding job, and a busy life– it’s hard. I keep a bottle by my bedside and one on my desk at work, but I still had the red glow of embarrassment when my midwife told me I needed to up my water intake after our visit last month. There are some pretty cool apps available that help remind you to drink enough water throughout the day, so take advantage of those.
6. Eat on schedule
Prior to becoming pregnant this time around, I had been intermittent fasting for close to three years. My body was so used to this schedule, that even new pregnancy didn’t throw it off kilter. The thing is, when you are pregnant you need a lot more nutrition and you can’t be on any trendy diet plans. I have had to force myself to eat three meals a day and sometimes, I don’t hold to this because I simply don’t always get the “I’m hungry” alarm in my brain. If you are like me and used to eating in this manner, make it a habit to have meals at the regular times, even if they are small ones. You can pick your eating fads back up after pregnancy (and nursing).
7. Don’t let social media affect your experience
Although social media existed through each of my previous pregnancies, it was not to the level of integration in our daily lives that it is now. In 2005/2006, the extent of my social media was first-generation Facebook and a pro-boards message forum for pregnant women, both of which were only accessed when I was sitting in front of the computer. In 2011/2012, Facebook was a little more like the iteration we know today, Instagram was still chronological, I didn’t blog or have a platform that I felt compelled to maintain, and I was looking at these on my Blackberry or iTouch. Either way you approach it, something important with which we now contend was missing from both those decades: influencers. Being pregnant in 2020 means you are constantly comparing your experience to people who have tailored what they show you. It’s important to remember that curated pregnancy content is just that– the best (or strategically-posed worst) of what it has to offer. You won’t see anything beyond the aesthetic that they chose to share, so don’t compare what is in front of their cameras to what is behind yours.