Pregnancy Must Haves that Will Prepare You for Birth

I have been pregnant four times and have seen all of the "pregnancy faves" posts - you know - the posts with the cute robes, socks, maternity outfits, pillows, and such. While those are all great, I couldn't help but feel like a few other "must haves" are often left off of the list. When I was first pregnant, I craved to learn more than what cute clothes and facial serums or stretch mark creams where out there. I remember sitting there thinking, “What on earth do I do? Floral robes are cute, but… how do I prepare mentally and physically?!”. So, without further ado, here are a few other must haves I'd like to add to the bucket.

First-time mom’s, I have been where you are. Pregnancy and birth can seem terrifying, and you may feel like you don’t know where to start - I’m here to say - don’t worry.

I have birthed three little girls into this world ( feel free to read their birth stories ). The first time I found out I was pregnant, I was mortified. Why? Well, not only was I taught through media that birth was to be feared, but I also had the luxury of seeing the effects of birth trauma and had heard horror stories from almost every woman in my immediate family ( I’m talking your worst nightmare style: stillbirth, pre-eclampsia, emergency cesareans, shoulder dystocia, mistreatment by care providers, micro-premies - you get the picture ). Right after I shared the sweet sweet news with my husband, I immediately scoured the internet looking for any information I could get my hands on. I came across so many "pregnancy must have" posts ( you know, the ones on Pinterest with photos of all of the cute robes, socks, maternity outfits, pillows, and such). While those are all great, I still felt unprepared for birth. I remember thinking “I’m so excited, but I’m so scared… ” I craved to learn more than about what cute clothes, facial serums or stretch mark creams where out there. I remember sitting there thinking, “What on earth do I do? Floral robes are cute, but… how do I prepare myself mentally and physically?! I don’t feel ready….”, then the real digging began. So, without further ado, I give you a few other must haves I'd like to add to the bucket of Pinterest pretties - and I hope they at least give you a good starting point in your journey to prepare for birth. Just remember, mama, education is power!

Your Tribe:

I'm putting this at the top of this list, because it will help you throughout pregnancy and beyond. Do not isolate yourself. The phrase, "It takes a village" still rings true. Find your people, get out and be with them ( ask me how I know ). I'll be writing a blog about this later on.

Education:

Knowledge is power. Have an empowered pregnancy, birth by educating yourself!  

After doing a bit of research throughout my pregnancies these are a few of my favorite resources in terms of education on preparing for birth, postpartum, breastfeeding and parenthood.

  • Evidence Based Birth - "Evidence Based Birth® is an online childbirth resource that informs, empowers and inspires expecting parents and birth-care practitioners globally, to understand the latest, proven, evidence based care practices."

  • Bradley Method - "Teaches natural childbirth and views birth as a natural process. It is our belief that most women with proper education, preparation, and the help of a loving and supportive coach can be taught to give birth naturally."

  • Hypnobirth - "The method teaches you that, in the absence of fear and tension, or special medical circumstances, severe pain does not have to be an accompaniment of labor."

  • Spinning Babies - "An approach to optimize the physical relationship between the bodies of the mother and baby for the easing of childbirth."

  • ICAN ( International Cesarean Awareness Network ) - "Non-profit organization whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by reducing preventable cesareans through education, supporting cesarean recovery, and advocating for vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)."

  • Improving Birth -

I recommend browsing these websites a bit and reading some of the articles. Maybe even get fancy and take a class! Why? Ladies, not only will you become educated about birth, but the knowledge you acquire will have more benefits than you realize. Imagine rolling into the last few weeks of pregnancy with confidence - because you'll know  what to expect. I also recommend can also use what you learn on these sites to create a birth plan that works for you. Knowledge leads to confidence which leads to less anxiety which leads to less tension which equals a higher potential for a better overall birthing experience. Regardless of what type of birth you are planning to have, educate yourself!

 

Birth Team:

Choosing a birth team should not be taken lightly, make sure all personalities match well and you are confident in who you have chosen ( because you have a choice here ). The people you allow in your birth space have a major impact on your experience altogether!

  • Care Provider ( OBGYN, Midwife, etc. ) - Picking out the right care provider for you and your birth goals is very important. You'll want to be upfront about your birth goals and make sure your care provider is on the same page and supportive. Not sure what birth goals are? Things like are you planning to have an unmedicated birth, waterbirth, VBAC? Do you want to have intermittent fetal monitoring? Would you like to have a gentle cesarean? Skin to skin contact right afterward? All of these things are great to talk with your care provider about. . . and you'll want to make sure they are aware upfront so you aren't stuck in your 3rd trimester trying to find a new one or going into birth feeling anything but confident. I knew I had the right provider when I felt respected as a human being. Aka: when I asked questions I wasn't scoffed at, I could tell they took time to listen to me and I was more than a number, if there were things they were not 100% on they would tell me if they were uncomfortable with it and explain why ( giving me the ability to make an informed decision ). If a care provider doesn't feel comfortable with a VBAC - it doesn't mean they are the devil, either. It means they aren't comfortable with it - respect that and if you are bent on having one - that is your choice! That just means they weren't the right provider for you and your birth goals :). ( See where I'm going with this? ). Ok - so you'll want a provider who is respectful and supportive.

  • Doula - Bouncing off of the support role, I highly recommend a doula! Whether you are having a medicated, unmedicated, vaginal or cesarean birth... whether you are going to be in a hospital, birthing center or squatting in a field somewhere... whether your partner, parent or sister will be in the room with you... A doula should still be considered. I'm just going to leave this article that Evidence Based Birth ® wrote on the Evidence on: Doulas right here, and move on to my personal story. I'll keep it short - I ( personally ) will always have a doula. I had one with all three children and it allowed Matt to be able to be present, not freaking out over what to do, etc... I felt completely confident in my birth knowing I had a doula by my side... guys... these are the Mary Poppins of the birth world! A doula bag has stuff in there you wouldn't have even thought of bringing in your hospital bag - haha!

  • Chiropractor - I add this because for my third birth, I saw my chiro while in early labor ( contractions 6 mins apart ). I walked out of there wondering why on earth I didn't know to do this with my other two! It felt like heaven! No limping because my right leg hurt, no intense pelvic pain... it all melted away like butter. I also had a fantastic postpartum ( aka: I didn't feel like my pelvic floor was going to crumple up and fall out or that I broke my tailbone ). Just be sure they are familiar with the Webster Technique.

  • Birth Photographer - As most of you know I have been doing birth photography for 4 years. It is a passion of mine and it has been an honor being a part of many birth teams. I wanted to add this not to suggest everyone needs one on their birth team because I know some people are not comfortable with it and that is fine. However, I wanted to add it because I have noticed many photographers who are not aware of the birthing environment advertising birth photography. I could write a whole post on this - but I will try to keep it short. If you choose to have a birth photographer as part of your team please be very picky. Look at their birth portfolio ( is the quality something you'd be happy with? ). If they are just starting out, ask if they have been at a birth or understand the nature of the birthing environment. The last thing you want is someone who is insensitive and only in it for the shot / building a portfolio and not taking your experience into consideration - this could lead to a terrible birthing experience as well. However, if you have someone who is aware of the nature of birth it can lead to a great experience along with keepsakes that will make your ovaries want to bust for a lifetime! :) One more thing - make sure they have a back up photographer and it is written in a contract. I have had many last minute calls from moms in labor asking if I could make it, because the photographer they hired bailed on them and didn't have a backup. Ok off of my soapbox.

    Note: When interviewing / searching for people for your birth team: 1. When considering pricing, think of it as an investment. Trust me - it is.. 2. Meet with / interview them. It is important to make sure your personalities mesh well. 3. Take your time and be picky!

Health:

*Exercises: Here are a few easy but highly beneficial exercises you can do during pregnancy. They do not take much time and (in my opinion) are like the super-fruits of prenatal exercises. Of course, check with your care provider to make sure they are safe for you during each pregnancy ( as every pregnancy is different ).

  • Cat / Cow

  • Tailor Sitting

  • Walking

  • Squats

  • Kegels


Brewer Diet: 

Diet and nutrition are important and can set the tone for the health of your body through pregnancy, developing baby and even your birth! The Brewer Diet is a large part of the Bradley Method that I mentioned above. It focuses on keeping tabs of what you are eating and ensuring a balanced diet during pregnancy while considering at all aspects of health and nutrition needed to support your baby. I noticed a big difference when I followed the diet vs. when I didn't, so I highly recommend checking it out and discussing with your care provider.

Products:  Here are a few of my favorite products to to buy before birth, and keep your health up to par during pregnancy.
Squatty Potty - avoid hemmroids, constipation, better positioning for bowel movements… ( I also liked using it during labor )
Serola Belt - for back / hip pain releif, SPD, etc. 
Water bottle - hydration is everything during pregnancy

*Magnesium - helps with sleep, anxiety, constipation, headaches, etc.
 Ancient minerals Mag oil 
 Epsom Salt Baths

*Supplements:
I recommend a whole food diet for optimum nutrition, but sometimes that is not always feasible. So, here are a few of my favorite supplements to fill in some gaps:
Garden of Life Vitamin C  - This is my favorite way to get Vitamin C, you spray it under your tongue! I don't use every day, mainly around cold/flu season or if I find myself getting sick. I do ( try my best to ) take a multi every day through pregnancy + nursing.
Smarty Pants Prenatal - Speaking of multivitamins, I love this one! Mainly because it uses Methylfolate as their form of folate ( rather than folic acid ) and is easily absorbed.
Garden of Life Prenatal Probiotic - For improved gut health

I personally was given the "ok" to take Red Raspberry Leaf Tea . However, I save it for the third trimester. Although this may be anecdotal, I did take it with all three and had pretty seamless unmedicated vaginal births. The American Pregnancy Association says, " Red Raspberry Leaf (Likely Safe) – Rich in iron, this herb has helped tone the uterus, increase milk production, decrease nausea, and ease labor pains.  Many pregnancy teas contain red raspberry leaf to help promote uterine health during pregnancy. There is some controversy about whether this should be used throughout pregnancy or just in the second and third trimester, so many health care providers remain cautious and only recommend using it after the first trimester"

*Before taking any supplements or doing any exercises, please run them by your health care provider

Disclaimer: some links in this post are affiliate links - which means when you purchase through them you are helping support my small business at no cost to you! Win-win. :)

What are your pregnancy must haves?!

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First-time mom’s, I have been where you are. pregnancy and birth can seem terrifying and you may feel like you don’t know where to start - don’t worry. I have birthed three little girls into this world ( feel free to read their birth stories ). The first time I found out I was pregnant, I was mortified. Why? Well,

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