Friday, April 25, 2014

Homestretch!! 20 End of Pregnancy Must-Haves

For me, the homestretch of pregnancy isn't marked by trimester or month or even week, but by milestones.  Not the fun ones like baby can hear your voice, or baby's lungs are developed, or baby's the size of some random fruit you've never heard of.  Oh no, I'm talking about what I've come to know as "end of pregnancy milestones" like swollen feet/ankles/hands/face/body, inability to get out of/into bed, sciatic nerve pain so bad it cripples me, and heartburn that makes me swear I'm turning into a dragon.  Guess which of these I hit this week?!  Yep, you guessed it - all of them! (though not as bad as they were with Annalyn... yet)  So I decided to compile a list of all of my end of pregnancy must-haves so that a) you can maybe use some of them, too, and b) I don't have to search for them so hard next time around.  Here's how Mama rides out those final weeks of waiting for baby:

1 -support belt - As I've probably mentioned in a previous post, this little guy has been a big help with both of my pregnancies.  Although I usually start wearing it to work late in my second trimester, these last couple months are when I really need it.  I hate to admit it, but lately I need it for work, grocery shopping, zoo trips, walk around the block, etc.  Basically any time I'm moving or lifting anything, I'm a lot less sore afterwards if I wear it. 
for me, the size large works from end of
second trimester when I need it until end of pregnancy
so it's pretty adjustable

2 -compression socks - Similar to the support belt, compression socks help hold me together in my last weeks of pregnancy.  Since I've just started to notice some swelling this week, I got out the light compression socks (sometimes listed as travel or nursing socks) that provide just a little added compression.  Some are even graded compression so they are tighter in areas you need it most (like feet and ankles).  They aren't comfortable or stylish or easy to put on in the morning, but man does it help with swelling, soreness, and tiredness after a long day at work.  With Annalyn, I eventually worked my way up to higher compression (20-30mmHg) socks (these to be exact), but I also waited until the swelling was pretty pronounced to start wearing them.  Hopefully, by starting now, I'll avoid the tighter ones a while longer.  They come in a lot of different brands/styles/colors, but I prefer the knee high athletic sock type.  They are just more comfortable than the pantyhose or trouser socks in my opinion.  Each manufacturer should have a sizing chart that may include calf measurements to ensure proper fit.  Here's a couple I've used:

(higher compression, really tight!)
(lower compression)

3 -ring holder necklace - For me, this is just another reality of end of pregnancy - eventually, my wedding ring will no longer fit.  I noticed it getting snug over the weekend (probably a combination of too much salt, too much time on my feet, and hotter temperatures), and was super excited to find this ring holder necklace on Etsy for $40.  Granted, any necklace/string/piece of yarn would work, but I liked the idea of having a clasp that would minimize wear and tear to my ring.  Plus it's shaped like a heart - win/win!  The price was right (especially compared to similar ones that were close to $200!) and the shop owners were very friendly and shipped the necklace right away.
I just love how it looks with my ring on it
so simple, but so pretty!

4 -notes from my hubby - This could also read supportive, understanding husband, but some days I swear the little notes he leaves me just make my whole day.  On my days off, I usually don't get up before he leaves so he will write me little notes and leave them on the table for me to find.  Honestly, this isn't a new thing, he's been doing it for years, but I love how they've evolved from notes/lists to me to notes/lists to me plus notes to Annalyn and even Emelina sometimes.  Usually they are words of encouragement, thanks, and love, with the occasional reminder thrown in (which I always appreciate now that my brain is mush half the time).  Lately they're mostly things like "be sure to rest!"  "put your feet up,"  "have fun and snuggle Annalyn," and "don't worry about the laundry, I'll do it when I get home."  Mostly, I just love that while he's drinking his morning coffee and reading the news, he's thinking about us.  Written words are such a lost art.  I still remember my best friend from high school telling me how his dad would eat breakfast on a paper plate then write his wife a note on it before he left for the day.  I remember thinking "wow, she must feel special each morning!"  And here I am a decade later with a husband who does just that (and no, I never told him that story, he's just that considerate).  Lucky lady.  A supportive spouse/partner/friend/relative is definitely key to keeping those crazy emotions in check.

5 -pregnancy pillow - Again, I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but this little guy definitely helps me attempt comfort at night.  Notice how I say attempt.  I'm pretty sure I'm past the comfortable sleeping stage.  If I remember right, it comes back somewhere around 6 months postpartum when baby starts sleeping through the night.  But this curved pillow does help minimize pressure on my hips and keep me from sleeping completely flat on my back (which I find myself attempting a lot lately due to heartburn, hip/pelvic pain, and general sleep comfort).  I'm sure a body pillow would help, too, but I really do love the curved shape of this one.  If you can afford to splurge, do it!

apparently comfy for daddies, too!
(I found him this way over Easter weekend - I guess he needed nap time like Peanut)

6 -lists... lots and lots of lists.  What to pack in a hospital bag.  What we need to get out of the attic.  What needs cleaned/organized/purchased for baby.  Meals to freeze.  Pictures to take.  Plans for Annalyn.  Things to get done around the house before baby.  Things to get done at work before baby.  Numbers to call for insurance/maternity leave once baby comes.  Lists of other lists I need to make... Ok, so maybe not that last one, but you get the picture.  Lists keep me sane.  Lists help my totally preoccupied mind focus.  Lists give Michael some insight into my priorities (sometimes they're even numbered).  Lists are a must for this mama.

7 -water - this might seem like a strange addition to the list, but water intake is so important at this stage.  Water helps minimize swelling (sounds counter intuitive, but it's true).  I try very hard to consciously drink more water, especially at work.  I don't really have any secret tricks to help with this one, but I've tried fun water bottles, straws, adding lemon slices, etc.  To be honest, nothing seems to work better than the other for me.  I just know that I have to do it.

8 -TUMS! - I hope the old wives' tale is true that the more heartburn you have, the more hair baby will have, because if so, Emelina will have lots like Annalyn did!  Just like last time, I have constant heartburn.  I have heartburn when I'm hungry.  Heartburn after eating.  More heartburn after drinking lots of water (yes, even water does it!).  And heaven forbid I wake up at night because, WOW, more heartburn!  Hence the Tums - about 6-8 a day to be exact.  On the bright side, my kids and I should have super strong bones!

9 -comfy shoes - This is an absolute must for any mama-to-be, but especially those of us required to be on our feet a lot.  I recommend shoes that stretch but have support, and about a half a size bigger than usual for the end of pregnancy swelling and/or thick compression socks.  I have two pairs that I'm currently rotating and both seem to stand up to my 13 hour days.  One is a pair of black leather Sperry's that I've had for a couple years, so they're very broken in and comfy (sorry, can't find the exact link, I've had them forever!).  The other is these Sketchers Go Walks, also in black, because basically everything I wear to work is black or at least goes with black.  They are very light, don't even need broken in, and don't look completely ridiculous with skirts/dresses (a major plus for me lately!).

10 -bra extenders - I don't know how it took me so long to buy these, but I finally realized that instead of buying bigger and bigger bras, I could just extend them a bit and keep wearing them.  These probably saved me a lot of money and will allow me to wear some of the same bras once baby is born.  Seriously, a game changer in the expanding chest department.  I found this 3-pack of nude/black/white extenders at Target for about $7.

11 -stretchy pants/dresses - I've worn these throughout my pregnancy, but now I'm basically down to just stretchy pants, skirts, and dresses.  For whatever reason, I hate the big elastic waist bands this pregnancy.  In fact, aside from my support belt, I can't stand to have anything tight around my waist.  Luckily, it's spring, so I can get away with wearing a lot more skirts and dresses.  The great thing about a lot of maternity dresses/skirts is that I'll be able to wear them this summer after baby is born, too.  Most are even stretchy enough to accommodate breast feeding.  Here's a few of my favorites this time around:
     - Old Navy:
these roll-panel yoga pants;
this ruffle front maxi dress in both coral and turquoise;
this chevron maxi skirt (also in black);
these low rise leggings to wear under dresses for work or when it's cool outside.

     - Target:
this Liz Lange sleeveless maxi dress in both navy and coral striped (when I find something I like at this point, I just go all out).
Another quick note:  especially in the spring/fall, light cardigans are a must!  The open front bolero kind or even button up ones that can be left open.  I don't think any of mine are actual maternity ones, just regular cardigans from my non-pregnant wardrobe (I love when I wear "normal" clothes!)

12 -ON maternity tank tops - I wear one of these jersey knit tanks almost every single day.  I use them to layer underneath tops/dresses, especially for work when I'm wearing the support belt (not very comfortable on bare skin).  They are really long so they are great to layer with many of my shirts that are starting to feel too short to wear comfortably.  Lately, I've even been sleeping in them since I've been really hot at night.  They are soft, inexpensive, and come in a variety of colors.  Plus, I was able to wear them after pregnancy, so I didn't feel bad about buying say, six of them total (watch for sales and stock up!).

13 -help/support/friends - these sort of all go together and go without saying, but everyone needs help and support from friends and family during this time.  Especially with subsequent pregnancies.  I can't do everything on my own and sometimes forget how much I need my friends, even if it's just for an afternoon out or dinner/ice cream while we try out our new nanny.  It helps so much to just vent, talk about something other than my giant belly, and enjoy some adult time.  Not to mention knowing they are all just a phone call away any time I need them.  You definitely shouldn't have to go through all this without your friends - take time to spend with them now since soon you'll be a little preoccupied with cuteness/tiredness overload.

14 -sleep/rest - perfect segue to my next point - SLEEP!  I know everyone says it, especially with your first, but sleep as much as possible now.  Not only am I ready for bed before Annalyn, but I'm starting to recall all too well the inevitable sleepless nights ahead.  I can only imagine how those first weeks will go with a toddler also in the mix.  I took full advantage of this the first time (in fact, I remember napping the morning before my water broke with Annalyn - coincidence?  Probably not.  I'm guessing my body was gearing up!).  To be honest, it's a little harder to nap when Annalyn naps since it's the only me time I get in a day, but I have been really good about going to bed after I tuck her in and sleeping in as long as possible on my days off.

15 -fruit - cold, juicy, sweet, healthy.  I just can't get enough!  Favorites have been cantaloupe, honey dew, and strawberries, but it all tastes good.  For an extra special treat, try my frozen fruit slush recipe.

16 -dry cereal - especially Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  I had the same craving at the end of my first pregnancy.  I think it's the sugar and spice part of what little girls are made of.  It'll be interesting to test this theory if I ever have a little boy... hopefully I won't crave snails and puppy dog tails (isn't that how it goes?).

17 -Quick or make ahead meals with leftovers - The other day, I made a list of some of our go-to meals that are quick, easy, and don't involve me standing over a hot stove for a long time. (Many can be found in either my Working Mama Meal post or the Freeze Ahead Meals post.)  Lately, I've just had a hard time coming up with meal plans off the top of my head, so it helped to write some ideas down to pull from each week while making grocery lists.  Especially because I just want to grill burgers every day that it's nice.   Leftovers are also clutch so I have something to take to work the next day and Michael & Annalyn have dinner.  Easy lunch ideas are another area I've been working hard to improve.  As busy as I've been, I rarely take time to make complicated lunches, so I need meals that work well in a hurry (or provide leftovers from the night before).  Especially for work days, I've really started trying to plan/prepare everything the night before so I just have to grab it in the morning - meals, snacks, drinks, everything! (including Annalyn's lunches for the nanny).

18 -pregnancy journal/blog - to capture all the memories, good and bad.   With Annalyn, I kept a very detailed daily journal, and my intention was to do so with this pregnancy, but it just didn't pan out.  Honestly, it's easier and more fun to blog about it anyway.  I am grateful to be able to look back and compare, especially for times like now when everyone at work keeps telling me things like "you're soooo much bigger than last time!" and "wow, they must have your due date wrong, because you're about to pop!"  Well, actually, my measurements and weight are exactly the same - as in down to the centimeter and pound.  At one point they were actually slightly smaller.  And judging by this picture and my comments in my old journal, I'm way less swollen and uncomfortable at this point.  So I'm glad I can go back and look, even if it's just to prove to myself that I'm right where I should be.   Not to mention, it's nice to be prepared for what's coming next and remember what my doctor suggested to help, or I found that worked best.

19 -prenatal Pilates video - although I admittedly don't do this nearly as often as I should/did with Annalyn, it does help with flexibility.  I struggle with hip problems and sciatic nerve pain throughout pregnancy, but by the end it's pretty much impossible to do most of these exercises.  But it doesn't stop me from trying.  And Annalyn - oh man, a two year old "dancing to pilates with Mama!" is hilarious!  I even lay a little blanket down for her as her mat.

20 -massage roller - I had almost forgotten how much I loved this thing until I rediscovered it last week.  Looks simple, but feels great on a sore back.  They had them at our childbirth class we went to before Annalyn was born and I loved them so much I found them online later that same night.  I especially like to sit on our ottoman and lean over a pillow on the couch - have to get creative when you can't just lay on your belly for a massage.  They also offer prenatal massages at our hospital (and probably some spas?), but I'm freaked out by the idea of people touching me.  Not just pregnant, always.  I also have a thing about pedicures, so I'm still struggling to reach my toes enough to keep them painted.  But I digress... back to the Omni massage rollers

This might seem like a lengthy list, but I tried to cover all areas - clothes, food, tangibles, intangibles, you name it.  Literally anything I might need/want during my last couple months (weeks!) of pregnancy.  Granted, many of these I've used throughout pregnancy and even afterwards, but this is my go-to list for the time being.  Don't think you have to go out and buy all of the clothes/products I suggested - everyone and every pregnancy is different - but if you happen to experience some of the same things, here's a reference to come back to.  What are/were your go-to's as you counted down to D-day?  (fun fact:  my due date is on actual D-day this time.   One of my favorite patients who's also a veteran got quite a kick out of that when he asked me when D-day was, meaning my due date.)  

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I didn't have a fraction of these with at least Miss Mia, I don't remember that detailed about the other 2 for that. I think I only had lists, because I am a list person 365 days a year lol, water, the chewy strawberry tums, halley's body pillow (I swiped it during 1st trimester so I wouldn't sleep on my belly lol), of course my comfy pants but also my maternity jeans (that was a first for this 3rd child!) and I had to get long tank tops. I had trouble finding maternity clothes per say and I lost so much weight with Mia that I had to buy smaller clothes from my normal ones, my rings all got too big, and now nothing fits right :-( And I've never had any swelling with any of them, thank goodness.

    I absolutely could not have survived without my snacks, honey chex- dry, kelloggs strawberry fruit snacks, and dannon oikos strawberry yogurt, along with fruit and veggies. If you didn't know I have cealic disease so being cautious of what I eat was a major especially toward the end!

    Which leads me to the one thing I absolutely couldn't live without in my last trimester- my bathroom wipes and hemorrhoid ointments (maybe tmi lol)! Mia was so low with so much pressure in the last 16 weeks or so that it was almost unbearable and made the hem really bad. Those are still 2 things I can't live without today that she's 11 days old because oh buddy, her being over a pound and a half bigger than the other 2 girls really makes a difference and has been a nightmare for pain :-(

    I also found it extremely necessary to be prepared and have everything overly planned out, our due date was Easter and Nick's b-day so I had to have those done, Riley's B-day is next weekend so I had to have that done and reserved, I did 10 weeks of lesson plans for homeschool even though we took a break because I needed one, and I did enough grocery shopping to last for a month so I didn't have to worry about it, and it was very important to me to have the house spotless to lessen the daily load on me.

    When they used to say all pregnancies are different I didn't really believe them, but oh yeah now I do! I'm glad you know what you need for the end and I'm sure this list will come in handy for you down the road if you have anymore :-) You look fabulous despite the support belt, swelling, and anything else that might be going on! Only 8 more weeks, give or take :-)