First, look at this baby:

I know, right?  She’s pretty great.

Okay, let’s be honest.  To have a successful pregnancy and a baby, you don’t really need much.  Your body, food, water, preferably the advice of a midwife or doctor – that’s about it.  Funny thing is, almost the moment you find out you’re knocked up, you’re mobbed by about a million advertisers, advice givers, and well wishers who insist you need to blow your next seven paychecks on all kinds of gear to get you through.  I’m not talking baby gear – I’m talking preggo mama gear, from jeans to books to support groups.

I’m about to become one of those advice givers.  Sorry.  But I’m going to try to give you the straight shot about what, in my humble opinion, has been incredibly useful for me over the last 9 months, and what has been a waste of time, money, or other valuable resources.  For all you new mamas about to embark on this journey, here is my sage wisdom, almost a year in the making.

The Hits

These are the things I found to be most helpful and worthwhile, the things with the very best bang for the buck, or things that were just plain fun.

1.) A good pillow strategy.  I started having a hard time sleeping almost immediately, and figuring out how to best support myself with pillows was pretty darn necessary.  You don’t NEED a fancy pillow, but I’ve enjoyed my Snoogle and it’s made things a bit easier.

2.) One pair of maternity jeans that makes you feel like your non-pregnant self.  H&M was good for this for me, as I live in dark skinny denim and they were able to provide.  One good pair of jeans that make you feel normal is much, much more rewarding than four pairs that make you feel frumpy.  Just be warned that you probably won’t want to wear them beyond month 8 if they’re at all fitted through the hip.  Which is okay, because you’ll have…

3) Leggings.  News Flash: once you get past the uncomfortable bloaty weirdness of the first and early second tri, you don’t really need specifically maternity leggings – I’ve never had any issues just sitting my regular leggings below the belly and going about my day.  When you get to that “very pregnant” point, you can live in leggings and no one will blame you.  I promise.

4.) Stretchy cotton dresses.  Good Lord, if you hear nothing else I say, don’t miss this.  You don’t need a bunch of maternity shirts.  At all.  Ever.  What you need are a couple of neutral stretchy dresses that can be worn as tunics over jeans or leggings and under all your other shirts and sweaters as they start to ride up and expose the dreaded underbelly.  Scientific fact: Stretchy fabric that hugs a pregnant belly so you can see the bottom of the bump curve = everyone saying how tiny and cute and perfect you are, and you going about your day feeling like some sort of goddess of fertility.  Loose fitting tops that hang from the belly in a straight line = everyone you see going “Whoa, you’ve really popped/grown/exploded/[something else that will make you cringe]” and you feeling like the biggest pregnant person in history.  Go to Target or H&M or whatever.  Get some stretchy dresses.  Thank me later.

4.5) That’s it for maternity clothes.  Really.  Unless it’s summer and you need a swimsuit (good luck with that – ugh)or winter and you need a coat, or you’re in a wedding or something.  Otherwise, really, that’s it.  Don’t waste you money on clothes you’ll only wear for a few months.  Buy nursing clothes instead.

5.) Or take that money you aren’t spending on clothes, and invest in Prenatal Yoga.  Best decision I’ve made, hands down.  If you’re in Portland, I highly recommend Yoga Shala, specifically classes with Shana at the SE Division location.  Amazing.  Amazing.  Amazing.  Life-sustaining.  They also have a great birth class.  On that note, take a breastfeeding class.  Bring your partner.  Seriously.

6.) Once you hit third tri and start getting wildly uncomfortable, hit up Working Class Acupuncture (if you’re not in PDX, do a Google search for community acupuncture and see what comes up).  $15 buys you an unlimited nap in a comfy recliner while you’re treated for all your aches and pains.  Claims about acupuncture are pretty dramatic, from curing all that ails you during pregnancy to inducing and shortening labor.  Sweet.  But even if nothing happens, I’m telling you, the nap is worth it.

7.) Salted almonds and craisins.  Best easy snack of all time.  Also, a high functioning water bottle (read: top you don’t have to remove to sip from bottle (sorry stainless steel), leak proof, light, easy to carry and hook on to things).  Make sure you know how many ounces it holds so you can keep track.  I found that knowing how many ounces I had to go helped to motivate me to drink more.

8.) A place that makes a good mocktail, where you can go with your girlfriends wearing heals (so not somewhere you have to walk to) and feel relatively normal.  That and these books: Ina May’s Guide, Spirit-Led Parenting, and The Happiest Baby on the Block (or save yourself some drama and just get the HBOTB DVD, OMG.)  That’s really all you need for reading.

9.) One good prenatal massage, just to get you through.  Preferably around week 33/34 when everything seems sooo neverending.  In Portland, Zenana is perfection.

10.)The Pregtastic Podcast  – download it through iTunes.  Stupid name, good info, easy to listen to while you do other things instead of reading 4000 pages of repetative text.  Andplusalso these shoes.  Man I love those shoes.

Sometime next week (or maybe later, depending on how baby wrangling is going) I’ll hit you with the misses.  After that, we’ll dive into the gear review for the first two months (fun, right?).  And for those of you who aren’t hanging out in baby land all. the. fracking. time… I do have some non-parenting related plans in the works.  Stay tuned.



  • Liesl December 4, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Can’t wait for the non-parenting stuff cause all you review/post is extremely relavent and useful but I’m surprised how entertaining I found this post and I’m sad there are no “misses” yet. Looking forward to those!! haha…. (fodder for the next 23 baby showers- “have fun with that… Karyn thinks it’s a total waste of $27.50)