7 things I did to promote self-care during my pregnancy, my pregnancy essentials

It has been a year since we announced our pregnancy to the world! We waited 20 weeks to tell our online community because we wanted to video record surprise reactions of our closest friends and it took just about that long to get around to everyone! It was worth the wait 🙂

When we announced I said I’d be blogging more about being a new mom, tiny cottage/house life and work from home photography business owner and guess what? I haven’t! So I’m picking up where I left off. Which feels a little easier to me anyways, I’m starting with where I was one year ago. Pregnancy! I love to research. Everything. Things about me. My pets. My house. Organization solutions. Business practices. Tech. Everything. So when I got pregnant I knew there’d be less sleep involved but I didn’t know it would be because I was searching for every topic imaginable on my phone until 2:30am every morning. I kinda still do that!

So, I’m sharing what was on my mind! What I feared. What I thought. What I loved. How I took care of myself/pretty much what I ordered on Amazon late at night hehe! I’m including my list of pregnancy and self-care essentials!

I joked with Alex that I’d start a blog and call it “Not Another Mom Blog” because it feels like a lot of moms start blogs and as someone with a history in audience development, I’m skeptical (translation–I worked in local news and used data to determine: are we reporting on what people care about, are they consuming what we are reporting and is there a need for what we are reporting?). What I’m saying is–I hope this is useful to you and not just another mom blog. We are one of the first in our friend group in Raleigh to have a baby so I think there’s space for me to share some things that might help other moms. You can follow along with our everyday happenings in the tiny cottage/my work from home mom to Ainsley and 5 dogs life here on instagram. Here we go!

My pregnancy essentials

You’re pregnant! YAY. Seriously how cool. It’s a huge privilege and I’m so happy for you. So now what? My biggest advice to new moms is this: every mom/person that gives you advice is projecting from their own personal experience. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad, but we’re usually just sharing where we personally come from. Take everything with a grain of salt and know that what works for me might not work for you. I was hungry for this type of list when I got my positive test so I’m sharing mine!

I really took the “do things for yourself now” advice to heart and worked on treating my body, mind and soul right while I was growing little Ainsley. It was a rewarding decision. Here are some things I did for myself and how I started taking self-care seriously.


1. I took a lot of baths.

Obviously I was really afraid to do this in the beginning but if you keep the water a reasonable temperature (I’m told) it’s really okay.It was a huge relief for my stress and back pain.. I would put this little tray across my tub and lay on my bath pillow and soak for no joke 1-2 hours.

I usually was googling things on my phone related to the baby or surfing instagram and Pinterest for nursery ideas and sale clothes (if we’re being honest!). I put a few drops of lavender essential oils in the tub but didn’t do bubbles or anything because I was nervous about an infection in the precious area 🙂 I often used epsom salts on days I was really sore or tired! They’re great for making those sore muscles or feet feel better.

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Bath time

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2. I upgraded my comfy clothes and undergarments.

Some might call it a downgrade but I’m a huge fan of my new comfy clothes/wire-free bra life so I’m calling it an upgrade. I stopped wearing wire bras (my boobs hurt SO MUCH my first trimester it was unreal) and started wearing maternity underwear. To date of post, Ainsley is 7.5 months old and I have no plans to start wearing wired bras or other underwear anytime soon!

This is my favorite Wireless bra (not technically a nursing or maternity bra but I have large breasts and can pop a boob out for Ainsley pretty easily). I have multiple colors because I love love love this bra! It’s my main bra. I loved these bra extenders for the end of my pregnancy. Nothing makes ya feel like sausage in casing like being pregnant in July with giant boobs!

Maternity underwear. Make room for that bump momma! These are 100% cotton (the 100% cotton is necessary especially once its hot). If you’re a curvy chick like me, these will fit you. I have smaller built friends who swear by them, too!

Lamaze Nursing/Sleeping Bra. I still wear these to bed and actually labored in one of these. They’re wonderful! I actually liked these more than the Kindred Bravely bras which fell apart on me.

3. I took sleep really seriously

It was so important when I was pregnant. Getting enough sleep was/is critical to managing my anxiety! I work from home and I took A LOT of naps. I really (was privileged to) listened to my body and rested when I was struggling. I had really bad back pain my entire pregnancy (I had pre-existing lordosis and SI joint dysfunction so throw the relaxin/hormones in there and I was a sore gimpy gumby). I slept on my side using the Hiccapop pregnancy Wedge. It felt good to have something holding up my growing belly. I took this to my chiropractor/massage appointments for the side lying treatments, too. It helped me to be able to relax on my side. When sleeping at home I always had a pillow between my legs and usually one at my back. I never bought a pregnancy pillow but I used this one while visiting a friend and wished I had gotten on early on in my pregnancy!  I slept on my back a lot more than I probably should have, but I usually put a pillow under one side of my back so I wasn’t completely flat/stayed tilted to one side.

I drank a lot of decaf tea/warm cozy drinks to help me relax/get ready for bed at night. This is my favorite travel mug (Thermos has always been a great brand in my opinin!) and still is because #momlife = not drinking your coffee right away! When you only get one cup of coffee a day as a preggo, it’s nice for it to actually be really hot and as enjoyable as possible! A friend gave me this Birds and Bees Tea: Ripe and Ready tea and I really loved it in my third trimester. I’m not promising it’s going to do anything for you because I truly have no idea if it worked or not but it’s lovely and I’m all about a good placebo effect! They make some lactation teas too!

4. I read. And researched.

I read a lot. I started following blogs and joining Facebook groups. It takes a village to raise a child and strange as it is…those “villages” exist online now. You still have to find your in person village but there is a lot of community, support and information (some good and some bad) out there for you. I think it’s our responsibility as new parents (okay really members of modern society) to take everything we read in groups and forums with a grain of salt and you should fact check everything you read and vow to not spread misinformation. I’ll share more on how I do that personally in another post. You have more time to read when you’re pregnant than when you’re a new mom so load up on good information now (and hope it sticks inside your pregnancy brain!). I’ll make a post about my favorite online groups I’m part of!

These are my favorites books:

25 Things Every New Mom Should Know: Essential First Steps for Mothers I LOVED this book. I found it so sweet. I love Dr. Sears’ loving and attachment based approach to parenting. I was raised this way and it gave my the warm fuzzies to read this book and get all excited about becoming a mom. I also had my mom read this book so she knew where my heart was/how I was anticipating parenting Ainsley. That way we were on the same page with Alex and I’s approach. As it turns out I’m so much more like my mom than I ever admit and she parented my brothers and me the same way! They make the same kind of book but for dads, too! 25 Things Every New Dad Should Know (a perfect fathers day, birthday or Christmas gift!

Pregnancy day by day book This book helped me pass the what seemed like super looooong days of pregnancy and waiting for Ainsley to arrive. It’s nice to know what’s going on inside your body and it really sets the tone for being an active participant in your health care and having knowledge about what’s happening to you and baby!

The Magic of Motherhood Another sweet book many friends recommended!

I love Daniel J. Siegel’s approach on parenting. It’s not for everyone but we follow the attachment style parenting (if we HAVE to give it a label) and love his gentle and emotionally intelligent guidance! These are two books by him. There are many more but these are the two I’ve made it to. Parenting from the inside out and Whole Brain Child Workbook.

5. I upped my vitamin/supplement game and actively managed my fitness and pesky pregnancy symptoms

I joined Fit4Mom. I super hope there is one where you live! When I was pregnant it was incredible to be in a room with other pregnant women. They just get it like no one else does! I did the Fit4Baby program while I was pregnant. Now that I have Ainsley, we love going to stroller strides. I get a workout in and she gets to socialize with other babies. The moms from this group have become part of my village here in Raleigh, they’re incredible. They also host playdates, moms night out, fun runs, craft day and more! If you’re in Raleigh I’d love to have you join me for a class. Your first class is free. More on that here.

I take Garden of Life Prenatal with probiotic. I love love love these and love that there’s a probiotic in them! I am still taking these while breastfeeding Ainsley. I personally never had issues with getting sick/the after taste. I hope that’s the case for you if you try them too. In addition to prenatals and probiotic I was taking vitamin D, DHA/fish oil, and magnesium. You should ALWAYS talk to your OB/midwife before adding in supplements when you’re pregnant (even when you’re not).

DHA Omega 3 Fish Oil Healthy brain supplements for that growing brain in your belly!Vitamin D 5000 IUI usually have a vitamin d deficiency at my annual physical and pregnancy makes you tired enough so keeping those vitamin d levels up is extra important. Most people don’t get enough vitamin d daily, especially in the winter.Magnesium 500mg I went off of my anxiety medication while trying to conceive and I managed being off them until I was about 24 weeks pregnant when the cons started to outweigh the pros so I went back on them. I still continued to take magnesium to help with my anxiety. I’m told it also helps with leg cramps and more!

I found that keeping my belly from getting totally empty early in my pregnancy helped my blood sugar from dipping and I was far less nauseous as a result. I kept snacks in every corner of my world! I still come across one from my pregnancy every once and a while and it makes me giggle.

I loved this sacroiliac joint support belt for making my tailbone area feel better. For sure research the SI joint/talk to your midwife about this if you think you have it! I had a pretty rough go of it and found myself crawling on my hands and knees to the bathroom at night at a few points of my pregnancy. This car/chair cushion was a dream for long drives and long photo editing nights! I was really sad when I forgot it for long trips. I loved bouncing on this yoga ball at the end of my pregnancy and when I was trying to turn Ainsley from being breech. It felt so good on my back/sore joints. Once she arrived we deflated it and we store it in the attic!

Squatty potty. Do I need to say more? Trying to keep it real!

I had REALLY bad carpal tunnel at the end of my pregnancy. Not a lot really fixed it but wrist braces helped and so did copper compression gloves. I usually wore the braces at night to keep my wrists from bending while I slept. I wore the copper gloves when I need to work on my computer. I ended up going to an Ortho for relief for the carpal tunnel after another mom shared her experience doing the same!

6. I cleaned up my beauty routine

If you follow me on instagram you’ve seen me rave about my new quick hair drying/styling process. This invention has seriously changed my getting ready game. Skip paying for a blowout and use this (it takes me 15-20 minutes to do my hair now!) This thing is still a godsend now that I have an infant/like to do my hair quickly.

I switched to all natural deodorant. I did this while we were trying to conceive/when I became aware of the risk of aluminum in deodorant and something about growing a tiny human/being responsible for growing a life made me want to do things all natural (hey–it’s never too late to be who you want to be as Fitzgerald says). I was using Primal Paste Natural Deodorant and then spraying a pump of Weleda Rose Spray Deodorant on top of it. I still use both! I survived a hot summer being super preggers using it, and it was great.

I switched to a natural/clean shampoo. I use this shampoo and this conditioner. Everything you put on your skin/body matters when you’re pregnant. It matters even when you’re not! I also switched up my skin care products and body wash. I found these products so gentle (and clean rated by the Think Dirty app) that I actually also use them on Ainsley! They’re way cleaner than most products you’ll find in Target labeled “gentle for baby.” This is the body wash I use, it smells amazing and it’s so creamy.  This is the matching lotion; it is also lovely. This is a really great, super hydrating lotion. I use it on my face and on Ainsley when it’s really dry!


I taught myself a “5 minute makeup” routine knowing that in the near feature, it would really come in handy! I’ll share that in a different post soon!

I photographed/attended a few weddings while I was pregnant and LOVED these pregnancy spanx/compression belly/shorts. Made it feel like everything was all held in without squishing my belly.

7. I upgraded my tech products.

I got a new iphone. I guess you could say it was my “push present” but Alex actually got one too! My real push present was Ainsley. I wanted to make sure we had the best camera phone available because I knew we’d be capturing so much of her life with our phones! I am so glad we did this.

We purchased an Echo Show from Amazon. It added a major convenience factor to our home life and I’ve learned to love it even more now that Ainsley’s here. We use Alexa to add items to lists, set reminders and even tell bedtime stories. I have music or NPR playing on my Echo show all day long. It’s nice to stay in touch with the outside world when you’re home with baby some days! We also use the show to watch news briefs, look up recipes and recently, most importantly, we use it to have Disney sing along concerts in our kitchen with Ainsley.

Now is a good time to get in the habit of backing up your photos. We use Google Photos on our phones to backup our phone photos. We also back them up to an external hard drive. Your photos are only considered backed up if they exist in TWO places! And having a cloud storage spot as one of those spots in wise. In the event your home was part of a natural disaster, you wouldn’t want both of your backups in the same place! I keep doubles of everything and use external hard drives to keep my computer from getting full!

I bought a power bank for my phone. I didn’t want to have some kind of emergency and be without phone battery while I was pregnant. I didn’t really want that as a new mom either so I splurged for a battery back that holds 4 charges. I love it and now I use it when on the go to charge some of Ainsley’s USB powered baby items.

This last one is random but once I was pregnant I was extra nervous in the car and having a place to hold my phone/an invention that prevented me from fumbling around while trying to look at Google maps brought me peace of mind. I think it promotes the good habit of staying off your phone while driving!

There you have it. The must haves. My pregnancy essentials and 7 things I did to start really taking care of the body that was growing a little baby. Pregnancy is a weird beautiful, wonderful, nerve wracking and incredible thing. Now that you know my essentials here’s a little behind the scenes look at what I was thinking as a pregnant mom-to-be.

Feel free to reach out on instagram if you have any questions or comments! Thanks for reading.

xo

Jill

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