My Pregnancy Resource List
I put this list together to share with you the resources, products, and practices that I’ve used throughout my pregnancy. I definitely don’t claim to know it all, but I would have loved to have had all of these ideas in one place when I was in my early pregnancy. These aren’t in any particular order and are a bit random, but you’ll find that pregnancy can be as equally random and unpredictable, so buckle up!
What to Expect
There are many pregnancy tracker apps out there and I tried a few from the start. I settled on What to Expect because of the way it delivers information from week to week. It sends you a notification each week telling you where you are in your pregnancy and then when you dive deeper into the app, you can select articles or watch videos about specific topics pertaining to your stage. I find the info provided by the app to be easy to understand and positive overall. You do get lumped into a public forum that sends what has seemed to be a daily email of forum updates. I’ve tried to unsubscribe, but it didn’t work, so I just delete these emails without opening them. The forum is made up of conversations between all of the app users who have a due date in the same month as you. I find that the forum topics are sometimes fear-based conversations and it was something I decided not to expose myself to. Some users may get a lot of support and comfort from this part of the app though, so definitely decide what works best for you.
Prior to getting pregnant, I used Flo. This is a period tracker and when you indicate that you’re trying to get pregnant, it will start to alert you of ovulation times. I love this app and how it helped me to have such a clear understanding of my cycle.
My Pregnancy Uniform
I have a unique experience with maternity clothes because of the fact that I work in the wellness field and have the absolute privilege of wearing leggings everyday without it being deemed unprofessional. I understand that this is not everyone’s reality and so if you need to buy some new clothes for your pregnancy, by all means, do it. My mindset around maternity clothes was that I didn’t want to invest in anything that I was only using for a short time. I often have sustainability at the top of my mind and the idea of buying a bunch of new things that would only end up donated or inevitably in a landfill, wasn’t the route I wanted to go. I purchased two items of clothing for my pregnancy. One was a second pair of the Align Pant from lululemon and the other was a pair of maternity joggers from H&M. Otherwise, I asked my recently pregnant friends to borrow their maternity clothes and made it work.
The align leggings are perfect for your pregnant belly to continue to grow into and are likely a pair of pants that you can also wear postpartum. They are soft and giving enough to go over your belly without digging in or causing discomfort. I swear by these and HIGHLY recommend them to all you preggos out there. Because I’ve been my biggest during the winter, I have gotten away with wearing sweaters that I already had in my wardrobe and supplementing with borrowed maternity tops. Pregnancy jeans are, in my opinion, a product from hell, but I did find one pair from a friend that I can tolerate. They are a pair of boyfriend style jeans so you don’t feel that nagging sensation to pull up your pants all day since the look is meant to be more on the baggy side.
I’ve also been using a Make My Belly Fit jacket extender for my winter coat. This has allowed me to wear my normal winter jacket and expand it as my belly grows. I got mine from someone on Facebook marketplace for just $45. This piece will also come in handy after the baby is born because I’ll be able to zip my coat over the baby carrier.
In retrospect, I think I could have put a bit more thought into maternity clothes. Since your body changes so much, sometimes it’s only the clothes that you put on that can give you that little boost of confidence that you’re craving. I can completely understand that for some pregnant people, investing in some clothes that truly fit will make a world of difference mentally. I just suggest that you make sure they get a useful second home once you’re done with them.
Hypnobirthing — The Mongan Method
Some people opt to take a course or use a coach for learning about hypnobirthing, but I was really determined to research and learn on my own. Hypnobirthing sounds really out there, but I promise you, it’s not. It’s simply the idea that the mind plays a huge part in the birthing process and that by preparing the mind appropriately, through meditation and relaxation techniques, you can better support your labour and birth. It helps those who study it to unlearn a lot of the fear that is portrayed to us about child birth and gives you a newfound optimism as you head into your own experience. I love the method for it’s unwavering belief in women’s bodies and their innate ability to endure pain and give birth. Reading this book built my confidence in a major way. I found the way in which it outlined its resources and tools to be a bit confusing so I sought these outside of the book in order to put the method into practice (some listed below). The thing about labour and birth is that you can’t ever know how your experience will go, but the hypnobirthing method is a great resource for helping you to prepare and feel some control over your own mind as you go into an unknown experience. For me, this is what will be the most beneficial thing to come from studying up on it, no matter what unfolds for my labour and birth.
The Happiest Baby on the Block
Recommended by friends of ours, this book is something both Adam and I have read and absolutely love. The general idea is that human babies are born too early and that the first three months of a newborn’s life should be treated as the ‘4th trimester’. They introduce you to the 5 S’s, which are tangible tools new parents can use to emulate the womb for their newborn, and in doing so, soothe them as they get used to their out-in-the-world existence. This book feels a bit like the closest thing you can get to an instruction guide for your baby. For people like Adam and I who are planners and info-lovers, I think it really hit the spot. The learning curve is steep for all new parents, but I really agree with this book’s theory and am looking forward to testing it out.
This book was given to me by a friend, and over the last couple weeks, it has become my go-to. I have half of the book tagged with sticky notes and I’m finding it to be a great tool that’s calming my nerves about labour and birth. Written by a doula, Nurture is a really well-rounded look into each stage of your pregnancy. Providing readers with recipes, meditations, movement recommendations, and knowledge in each month. It’s right up my alley in terms of its holistic approach to your overall health and wellbeing. The section of the book that I’m currently devouring is all about labour. I’m reading this after we’ve taken our prenatal course and I’m finding it even more useful than the course itself. She has information, tips, and advice for every stage of labour. It’ll be the perfect thing to pull out and reference if my early labour is long and we’re seeking comfort at home in that time. From massage, to movement, to food and essential oils, she includes a ton of resources so that any type of labour and birth can be supported. Lastly, the whole end of the book is about early motherhood. She goes deep into breastfeeding, soothing, and healing after birth. I’m sure I’ll come back to this book again and again in the first month or so.
We chose to do our prenatal classes online with a local company called Centre for Growing Families. It came recommended by our midwife and in moving through the program, we definitely agreed that it fell a little short. I actually really liked the online nature of the program which gave us a lot of flexibility and allowed us to tune in from the comfort of our home. The thing that was disappointing was the lack of leadership that the instructor took during our weekly video call, in which she put a lot of responsibility on us to come with questions in order to get anything out of those calls. It was a very ‘woo woo’ approach with meditations at each session and a bit abstract in its information. I would have preferred something a bit more grounded. All in all, we made the most of it by preparing a lot of questions and getting curious about the experience. In moving forward, we feel really supported by our midwifery team and are lucky that the relationship comes with postnatal visits from them. Because of this, we feel like we’ll have lots of support when it comes to labour, birth, and early postpartum days, despite not being fully satisfied by the classes.
One thing that was really great during the prenatal class was an exercise we did around letting go of fear. Our instructor had us confide in our partner and share what our biggest fears were when it came to the baby, labour, and birth. It was therapeutic to say these things out loud and understand what the other person had on their mind. This was a big emotional release for me and one that didn’t necessarily take the fear away, but instead, took away its power. By naming it and letting Adam in on the insecurities I was feeling, I can now better manage it when it comes to the surface.
Getting All the Stuff
Everyone tells you that babies come with a lot of stuff. This is true, but there’s definitely a line that some people cross where they go from necessity to excess. Not only do we not want to cross that line, we aren’t really able to, seeing as we live in a one bedroom apartment. We’re already leaning to the side of minimalism and introducing baby products to our space has helped us to downsize what we own even more so. I did research before building a registry and tried to stick to any blog post, list, or vlog that used the words ‘necessity or minimal’. This helped me to narrow our list to just what we needed and cut out the nice-to-haves or wants.
I used MyRegistry.com and Amazon Baby Registry for putting together a list of the things that we would need. It’s nice because you can link your Amazon list right to MyRegistry. You can also set up cash gifts on MyRegistry so that loved ones who would rather give a gift of money can simply give to you online.
Before getting pregnant, I was consistently active. I was weight training and doing HIIT workouts on a regular basis, I biked everywhere in the city, and thrived from moving my body. When the 1st trimester swept me up for a 3-month snooze and vom-fest, I stopped everything altogether. The most I was doing was biking on my commute.
Once I started feeling a bit better, I would stop at the city pool on my way home and swim laps. And then as I was further along in my pregnancy, I gave up the bike for safety reasons and started walking the 4km to work each day. Walking became my main form of exercise in the fall and early winter. If I was seeking something a bit more targeted or vigorous, I would follow a prenatal workout online at home.
Now in the 3rd trimester, I walk as much as I can and swim laps at the YMCA. Mostly, I focus on my stretches and routine from both my pelvic physio and Spinning Babies (will share below). Movement looks different for everyone in their pregnancy. I have friends that barely changed the way they worked out and I know others who didn’t exercise at all in their pregnancy. I think I struck a bit of a middle ground and am constantly trying to listen to what my body needs instead of what my overachiever mind is always babbling on about.
This resource was recommended to me both by my Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and the doula who taught our prenatal class. It’s an incredible website with an overwhelming amount of information, tips, and guides for movement during your pregnancy that will support the health of your body and positively impact the positioning of your baby. Ideally we want our babies to naturally make their way into a head-down position by a certain time in pregnancy — and this usually happens on its own. Sometimes this doesn’t happen though, which means the baby is breech. The Daily Essentials video from Spinning Babies can teach you some stretches and postures that are easy to do on a daily basis and promote the head-down position of the baby. Of course, it’s not guaranteed and sometimes little babies just don’t want to make the flip — which is no fault of the mama. I do a series of stretches/exercises from the Daily Essentials video, as well as from my physio each morning.
We chose midwifery care for my pregnancy. In this process, we’ve been matched with a team of three midwives, two of whom will be there on the day that I give birth. We’ve both really loved the experience with these care providers and have felt like their approach really aligns with our values. The first visit with our midwives laid the groundwork for how we work together which is with the belief that having a baby is a normal and healthy life event. They check for signs of any concerns at each visit, but nothing about the process is pathologized. We get a 45 minute appointment each time we go and the conversations in our appointments are really enlightening beyond just talking about how I’m feeling and checking on baby’s position and heartbeat. Our midwives have demonstrated so much love for the job that they do, and in doing so, have made us feel like our experience is really an important.
Pelvic Floor Physio
I had learned a bit about pelvic floor physiotherapy from working at the yoga studio, but after also hearing about my friend’s positive experience, I knew it was something that I wanted to do during my pregnancy. Based on a recommendation, I decided to see a practitioner at Octopus Garden here in Toronto. Many women find themselves concerned about the separation of their ab muscles and weakening of their pelvic floor through the process of pregnancy. Seeing this physiotherapist taught me so much about the muscle groupings in the pelvic floor and gave me an accurate sense of how I could both strengthen mine, as well as learn how to intentionally release those muscles to better prevent tearing at birth. I added these physio exercises to my daily routine, saw my practitioner 3 times prenatally, and will visit with her 6 weeks postpartum.
This was both something I wanted to incorporate into my preparation for labour but has become a necessary practice during pregnancy. I have found that listening to a short affirmation recording on an (almost) daily basis has given me a ton of peace. I’m so aware of how powerful a role my mind plays in all of this and starting my day with repeated good thoughts about my baby, health, and motherhood has been such a positive practice. Here’s the one I use most.
When I was experiencing more prominent anxiety at the start of my pregnancy, I decided to write down some positive intentions or manifestations that I could come back to when I needed them. I wrote down positive notes about the baby, words of confidence in my body’s ability to give birth, and hopeful sentiments for the future. I folded up each note and have kept them on my dresser. My sister bought Adam and I a candle as part of our wedding gift and it has become a bit of a ritual for me to light it when I need a reminder of these positive manifestations. I just dive into this simple ritual as a way to signal to my brain that I can release whatever it is that I’m worrying about and focus my attention back on the good things that I know to be true.
In addition to this ritual, I’ve been wearing a bracelet of crystals that one of my dearest friends made for me. She created it specifically for a healthy pregnancy and birth. I find that having a physical reminder of good energy is exactly what I need sometimes. It’s comforting to wear it to midwife appointments or just day-to-day. I’m also planning to wear it during labour and birth. Jenny is the creator or RAUQ and can customize a bracelet for your pregnancy too.
Pregnancy Pillow & Belly Wedge
This one is super practical and in my opinion, an absolute must. Thanks to my friend that was about 5 months ahead of me in her pregnancy, I received this U-shaped pregnancy pillow and started using it about a month or so into my second trimester. It helps you to sleep more comfortably on your side and since I’m a back-sleeper, it actually prevents me from rolling to my back in the night. Not to mention, the pillow support between your knees is a game-changer. Another friend of mine has let me borrow this pillow wedge as well. I use it under my belly every night and it has prevented me from having lower back pain. I know this because I spent two nights without my pillow set up and my body felt like a total mess. It may be quite the ordeal to roll over during the night, but it’s completely worth it.
Bathing has been my go-to form of soothing throughout the third trimester. Being pregnant in the winter definitely plays into it, but I find myself taking a bath almost every other day just to soothe sore legs and hips, and to find serenity in my body and mind. I’ve never been a frequent bather but with such tight hip flexors and sore feet from this new weight that I’m hauling around, it’s been the best medicine.
I started taking prenatals about a month before I got pregnant. Once morning sickness hit, it was pretty touch and go on whether or not I even kept the prenatal down. My care givers assured me that the baby was getting all they needed by feeding off of nutrients that were already in my body. So yes, I would feel depleted, but the baby was still growing and getting their share. I ended up switching brands throughout my pregnancy, just for the sake of convenience, but here’s the one I used for the longest. My one tip would be to find a once-a-day tablet.
I have also been taking DHA each day since probably mid-second trimester. Good for the baby’s brain! I wouldn’t stress too much about supplements, especially if you eat clean already. Just check in with your care provider and they’ll guide you in the right direction. Everyone’s experience and needs are different.
Everyone loves to discuss pregnancy stretch marks, so I thought I’d include this too. I just so happened to be using almond oil as a moisturizer when I found out I was expecting, so I started using it on my belly when my bump began to grow. No stretch marks to report so far, but now the baby is really running out of room in there, so the possibility still lingers. From what I’ve read, this type of thing is mostly genetic, but what they don’t tell you pre-pregnancy is just how itchy your belly gets as it stretches. Soothing itchy skin has been the main benefit of moisturizing a ton.
I’ve been using this bad boy on a regular basis to just sit on in our home. It’s a nice alternative to sitting on a static chair and relieves back pain while also allowing me to sit in an optimal position for my hips. I’ll also use the ball during labour.
The Most Important Resource
When it’s all said and done, I would highly recommend that you surround yourself with the most supportive dream team possible. I wouldn’t be having the experience that I’ve had without my incredible partner. He has been an absolute miracle during the entire process. He took on my share of our chores when I was out of commission with morning sickness. He draws baths for me without me having to ask. He rubs my IT bands at night and rearranges my crazy pillow situation so that I can comfortably roll over. He is engaged and curious about everything pregnancy and parenthood. He rubs my feet now on a daily basis and was so excited to do research on the best stroller for us. He has cleaned up my puke and held me as I’ve cried. He is a constant and reliable reminder of all that’s going right when I’ve convinced myself that something is wrong. I am eternally grateful for this human and hope that every pregnant person out there has someone in their life to support them this way. I also have my sister, parents, in-laws, and friends who check in on me all the time, offer to bring me things, and celebrate my belly photos even when I’ve maybe sent too many. Raising a human takes a village and that definitely starts when they’re in the womb. I wish for you the most incredible village to surround you with the loving support that you and your baby deserve.