Something that is highly recommended during pregnancy is taking care of yourself and your unborn baby. You might hear from relatives and midwives that you need to take it steady, get plenty of rest, put your feet up but not many people told me about the things I might actually need telling such as what the best body creams were for stretch marks or what products I should be using to keep me and the baby in our best shape.
While not everyone has the same feelings, experiences and side effects during pregnancy there are plenty that most expectant parents can experience at some point during pregnancy whether it is the ligament stretching pains, the backache or even those horrible “fanny daggers” as my friend calls them.
After doing research and speak to honest friends who were happy to tell me everything they learnt and experienced I decided to get myself some key items that would take care of me and our unborn baby during pregnancy. I even found some helpful items that are perfect for using during and after pregnancy.
Here are some of the top products I have been using during and after pregnancy to look after both myself and our little bundle of joy along with plenty of tips you can use to make the transition to a new life with a newborn easier.
1. Create A Skin Care Routine
I am not just talking about your face, I have one for that area already and I have no need to change it. No, I am actually talking about the skin around your stomach, tops of your thighs and breasts. This skin needs some extra supple help from creams, oils and ointments during and after your pregnancy.
Again every person is different so what works well for one person might not work well for another so take some time to research into what you feel would work best with you, what brands you like already and what you want from the cream.
I went into this pregnancy fully aware that I might be covered in stretch marks, have a few or non at all and I was prepared to come out of the hospital looking like I was attacked by jaws himself. I wasn’t actively looking to stop anything that was bound to happen (in my eyes anyway!) but I found myself wanting to take care of myself for our unborn child.
I found soothing coconut oil baths were great for my skin especially when I needed the rest and the time to chill out and just give my body the time off it needed. I also found a number of creams and moisturisers that worked well for stretchmarks or just a follow-up care from my bath, these were to help keep my skin soft, subtle and help those stretching cells go a little further.
Here are my top skin products I used during & after pregnancy;
Nuture Recovery Cream
Nuture is a vegan-friendly brand that create well-made quality products to help not only expectant parents but everyone who is looking to give their skin some love and attention after any type of surgery, treatment or just during a hard season with your skin.
I found using this during pregnancy was great because the cream itself was light, easy to apply and never felt greasy or sticky. I found this product most useful when I had any really dry patches, since I suffer from combination skin especially on my face I found this worked great as I could just apply it to those especially dry areas.
I also liked that the ingredients are very clean, pure and nothing was over fragranced or made with a lot of chemicals as I often suffer from bad reactions to over perfumed creams and moisturisers.
You can buy Nuture At Boots online or in stores.
My Little Coco Bump Sheet Mask
Much like the skin on your face can benefit from a sheet mask so can your bump. I originally found this in a little bumper pack along with some bath oil and moisturiser (which I used both of, obviously!) in Boots.
I found the mask was a great way of getting me to sit still and enjoy a bath, I don’t have baths often at all as I often get bored and like to get things done so this was perfect for making me sit still and actually relax for once.
You can use the bump sheet mask at any point in your pregnancy so even if you feel the need to do it at 12 weeks then go for it. Your skin will thank you for it in the long run and honestly, during those first few weeks, your body and mind will thank you for it as you are so tired and feeling crummy!
Nourisil Silicone Scar Gel
Scar creams are probably one of the most searched things during pregnancy with many worrying about stretch marks and not being able to have that bikini body back ( I personally never had one so wasn’t too worried for the after-effects of birth) but for some, it is easily just as important as picking the right pram (no judgements from us on your priorities).
We actually found this worked really well on Cora’s skin, though she wasn’t treating stretch marks she did have to have a lump surgically removed from her hand and it left a very poignant scar. Over time using the scar gel it helped it fade and become more of a subtle skin tone than the harsh pink/red it often was.
You can buy Nourisil MD Scar Gel here.
Nuture Stretch Marks Cream
I personally loved this product during and after pregnancy, while I didn’t necessarily worry about preventing stretch marks I found this cream great for using after a bath or shower or those days where it felt dry and sometimes itchy.
The cream is soft, easy to apply and you don’t need a lot of it to go a long way. I also liked that the cream wasn’t greasy or watery so it was easy to apply and would soak in nicely to my skin leaving it soft and supple.
You can buy Nuture At Boots online or in stores.
2. Nap, Sleep And Rest When You Can
Something I am tired of hearing is “get all the sleep you can now before the baby arrives”, that is all well and great until you hit a point that your body decides that is no longer can sleep, your struggling with hip pain or that pesky bladder wake syou up 4+ times a night.
I was really lucky and didn’t struggle with sleep and bladder problems until I hit the 30th week. I found sleeping easy and even being restricted to my side didn’t feel the need for my pregnancy pillow (often anyway) or the need to wee in the middle of the night.
Once I hit the 30th week however it was all downhill, I was waking up with major hip pain (from sleeping on my side for so long), waking up for a wee multiple times a night which also led me to wrestling around my pregnancy pillow like Steve Irwin and a crocodile! And I didn’t even look cool doing it, even in the dark I knew!
So my advice goes as follows, nap when you can, whether this be on a lunch break, afternoon if you work from home, go to bed earlier if possible to try and prolong the sleeping hours you do get and make sure you make time to put your feet up and give yourself time to get your breath back.
Power Naps Rock!
I know there are plenty of expectant parents working in an office or environment that isn’t there home (like me, yes I am lucky, very very lucky) so just nipping off to bed or the sofa for a nap isn’t quite as easy. But you can still make time in the day to have a little power nap.
My sister during her first pregnancy would take herself off to her car in the car park and have a nap (she always intended to go and get jobs done during that time). Now I am not saying you need to go and sleep in your car but see if there is a space in which you can go and have 10-15 minutes of down time.
Even if you don’t achieve a full on sleep, sometimes just the calmness and letting yourself not think about anything for those few minutes can make a big difference to your mental and physical energy.
Go To Bed Earlier
My wife is amazing like she’s the best and there wouldn’t have been anyone better to help me navigate these new feelings or even put up with my grumpy moods.
Quite often if I had a bad night or she knew all I needed was sleep she would tell me to go off and sleep and rest. I tend to push myself a little too much and don’t give in to what I really should do for myself so shes that influence I need.
We actually started going to bed earlier on a night, sometimes just by an hour sometimes more if I was really struggling so that the time I had in bed (no matter how many wee’s I had to get up for) I could still get a decent nights sleep or the chances of one at least.
I found my best hours of sleep were the first few as I didn’t have hip pain, my bladder was freshly emptied and I was relaxed and ready for bed. This meant I could slip off into a blissful sleep and get a solid few hours before any of the problems kicked in. So going to bed an hour early really helped prolong that time so it meant I had another 30 minutes – 1 hour of sleep before the constant wee trips, hip pain and shuffling started.
Nap When Baby Does
Though we haven’t quite got to this stage a lovely friend of mine told me she actually did this and it was a dream. I know full well what I think life with a newborn will be like vs what it actually is like are still very different in my mind so this is coming from a new mum who has given me some amazing advice about what to expect and how to prepare.
If you like me value your sleep and know that to function well and like an actual human (I become a hideous person when I am tired so I value sleep) you need so much sleep to do that, remember to rest, nap or sleep when you can.
You might think you are being selfish, you might feel guilty and you might even be worrying about that washing up that needs doing. Do the essentials like make sure your clean, the baby is clean and you have something to eat. This goes to partners too, they will be affected by the sleep so take it in turns to have the baby while the other one naps.
Call around those inlaws and siblings to do the washing up, take the laundry to the launderette and make sure you are taking care of yourself, your partner and child(ren) first.
3. Be Prepared
I like to be prepared and so does Cora, we are both planners and like to know what’s going on, when it is happening and what we need to do or have for that thing/event and so on. So it is no surprise that we made a plan and a backup plan for a number of things during and after pregnancy.
With me being self employed we were working on what we would do with our business and how we would arrange work flow, money etc so there were many things we were getting in place ready at the start of our pregnancy.
No matter your working situation get prepared in advance for many things so you can give yourself the time to rest before the baby arrives and after when the baby is here.
Create A Baby Wishlist
Something we did not just for the baby arriving but for his first birthday was to create a wishlist. We used Amazon to create ours but you can do this by a note on your phone, any other app that allows you to take notes or with another store registry if you prefer.
We made ours fairly early on as we were browsing shops and looking at things we would like or wanted (not always for the purpose of asking someone else to buy but to catalogue items we wanted but didn’t need to buy yet) that way we could look at better alternatives, research the reviews and the item or even just have it there ready for when someone asked what we wanted for the baby.
You can include anything you want on there, stuff for the baby or even stuff for you as the expectant parents to make life easier. People often like to buy the one who is carrying the baby a little treat so don’t be afraid to add something on the list for yourselves.
This will really help when that good old baby brain kicks in and you forget half of the stuff you actually wanted and remember 2 months later and you have to try and find it again. Do your future self a favour and make a list!
Outsource As Much As Possible
Outsourcing is probably one of the most revolutionary things I ever learnt and it is adaptable to anything you want. We worked out how much time I spent cleaning the house per week, we then worked out how much that would be if I paid myself per hour. From there we worked out my time was better used on working for myself and getting major jobs done that I needed to do while we hired someone to do the cleaning for us.
I like cleaning but it often came to tasks within cleaning I didn’t want to do such as pulling hair out the drain, cleaning the bathrooms (I never found the skill for glass either) and other tasks so we hired a cleaner to come once a week to do those deep clean jobs neither of us wanted to do.
We found this really helpful when it came to having a newborn as it was one less task for us to think about, worry about or even stress about. We knew that at that time the cleaner would come, clean the house and we had nothing else to do but pay her.
While you might not be able to afford a cleaner or gardener or someone to do your washing, outsource these tasks to family. We moved house during our pregnancy and so much of the heavy lifting I couldn’t do so we hired a man and a van. We also didn’t have a washing machine for the first couple of weeks of living in our new place, Cora’s mum without complaints took our washing and got it done for us.
Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to ask friends and family to help out. It isn’t a sign that you are weak or not coping, it is just a sign that you are putting yourselves and your child(ren) first. Simple things like washing up the mug they just had a cup of tea from before leaving, hanging the washing out for you or bring a few simple food items from the shop on their way.
Make A List Of Things You Need, Want Or Need Doing Before Baby Arrives
Simply put anything you want hanging, doing or need before your baby arrives write on a list ( a massive list) that holds everything so you and your partner can go through it and mark stuff off bit by bit.
This will help you feel like your nesting and getting ready for the baby and help reduce stress nearer the end of your pregnancy and after the baby has arrived. We did loads of small things to help us feel ready for when our baby arrived so we didn’t panic last minute or get home with a new born and flap around like headless chickens.
Here are some of our top things we did to get prepared before the baby arrived:
- Had a changing box with nappies, wipes, clothes etc in each room of the house
- Got any DIY projects done – hanging hooks, furniture building (whether for the baby or not)
- Cleared out some useless clutter that was just getting in the way – we did this before and after moving house
- Created a station for the bottle steriliser
- organised clothes by age for the baby so we had only what we needed to hand
- Get things done for you and your partner – we needed some new shoes, clothes etc so we got those before the baby arrived
- We bought and wrapped gifts for christmas (our baby was due in November) though you can do this for birthdays, weddings etc too
We chose to do all these things beforehand so we could really take the time off when the baby arrived to be with him, look after him and take the time we needed as new parents to sleep, get in a routine and get used to being someones parents.