There are certain things money can’t buy when it comes to what pregnant women really need, and mamas-to-be need to take care of themselves, their mental health, their bodies, their surroundings, and their lifestyle; those things go well beyond their baby registry.
Below are 10 things women need while they are pregnant:
When it comes to pregnancy, there are a lot of unknowns. New moms, especially, have a lot of questions - “Is this normal?” “Should this be happening / not happening?” “What foods should I eat and avoid?” “Can I workout?” “Are these symptoms normal?” “Can I worry less now that I’m in the second trimester?” Pregnancy brain is REAL, and a mom needs a lot of TLC while her body is working hard to grow another human. Show up, listen, call her, check-in, bring her snacks, offer to watch her kids if she has little ones with a baby on the way; rub her feet, treat her to a prenatal massage, and most of all, just be there…
Growing a little human being is exhausting. Pregnant mamas need to remember to rest whenever they can. If she works full time, she needs to try to put her feet up at lunch and unplug. If she works from home, she can try to take her lunch break to sneak in a nap. At bedtime, she needs to put the world on hold and go to sleep early. During pregnancy, women can experience disturbed sleep patterns, increased trips to the bathroom, nausea, sore boobies, headaches, heart burn, leg cramps, inability to “settle in”, vivid dreams, back pain, snoring and disordered breathing, restless leg syndrome, and anxiety , which can all lead to lack of restful sleep. The best thing she can do to get a good night’s sleep despite all of these symptoms? Create a sleep schedule, cut down on fluids two hours before bedtime, take a warm shower before bed, create to-do lists, take catnaps during the day, stay up-right before sleeping to aid digestion and avoid spicy, greasy foods, increase calcium intake, invest in a sleep pillow, make relaxation and mindfulness a priority, take evening walks, and harness nesting instincts .
3. Eat Healthy Foods / Avoid Harmful Foods + Take Prenatal Vitamins
During pregnancy, a woman’s body needs extra vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, and most women need up to 500 extra calories a day . Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy is essential for Mama’s health and her babe’s development .
According to American Pregnancy, all pregnant women should avoid the following: raw meat, deli meat, fish with mercury, smoked seafood, fish exposed to industrial pollutants, raw shellfish, raw eggs, soft cheeses, unpasteurized milk, pate, caffeine, alcohol, and unwashed vegetables . During pregnancy, women, when possible, should consume pasteurized dairy, legumes, sweet potatoes, fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids, eggs, broccoli and dark, leafy greens, lean meat, fish liver oil, berries, whole grains, avocados, dried fruit, and water .
When it comes to taking a prenatal vitamin, every pregnant women should be doing so. Prenatal vitamins typically contain more folic acid and iron than do standard adult multivitamins, because “folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects and iron supports the baby's growth and development” . Look for prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid, calcium, iron, and vitamin D. The Mayo Clinic also suggests that it might be beneficial to look for a prenatal vitamin that contains vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc, iodine and copper . Like all vitamins and supplements, remember they are there to complement a healthy lifestyle and diet, not replace specific nutrients and food groups. Remember that eating healthy whole foods and focusing on good nutrition and a well-balanced diet is the best way to get vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week . Pregnant women should keep in mind that they also need to remember to eat healthy calories to meet the needs of their pregnancy and their exercise program . When it comes to working out, mamas-to-be should finishing eating at least one hour to exercise and drink plenty of water before, during, and after their workout . A pregnant woman needs, on average, approximately 10 cups (2.3 liters) of fluid per day .
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists state that, “If you are new to exercise, start out slowly and gradually increase your activity. Begin with as little as 5 minutes a day. Add 5 minutes each week until you can stay active for 30 minutes a day. If you were very active before pregnancy, you can keep doing the same workouts with your health care professional’s approval. However, if you start to lose weight, you may need to increase the number of calories that you eat” . You can divide the 150 minutes into 30-minute workouts on 5 days of the week or into smaller 10-minute workouts throughout each day . Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activity via the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists include brisk walking and general gardening (raking, weeding, or digging).
5. A Village
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that couldn’t be more true. Connecting to other parents, fellow pregnant women and moms, neighbors, friends, and family members is imperative for a mother’s mental health and overall well-being. Remember it is completely necessary and more than okay to ask for help, and during pregnancy and after childbirth, you’re going to need to do just that. Learn to speak up, learn to reach out, and learn to tell people you need their help and support. Join a local mom’s group - whether it’s a fitness program like we offer (find your nearest location here), through Meetup, or from a local flyer hanging in your favorite coffee shop or OBGYN’s office - GO. These new friends will become your resource through parenting. I joined a local mom’s group when my son was 6 months old and I moved to a new town where I didn’t know anyone and didn’t have any family or friend support; he is turning six this summer, and we all still get together and have a text thread. Did a fever spike in the middle of the night and I need someone to reach out to? I text our group chat. Is someone needing support of which day-care to enroll their child in? Someone texts our group chat. The list goes on and on of how we support each other, but we are like family to one another, and the TLC and support from other moms - other women who get it - will always be there for you, rooting you on, getting you out of the house, and helping you raise your babies as if they were their own. Create your village, Mama. You and your little one(s) deserve the love and support that comes from one.
6. Research Day-Care Options Now
Ugh, this one stings. If you know you only have a small chunk of maternity leave, the last thing you want to do is eat up the entire time having anxiety over which day-care you’re going to enroll your child in when you have to go back to work. This is SO HARD. Imagining someone else taking care of your new baby for 8+ hours a day can be devastating and haunting. Researching day-care options when you’re pregnant will help take the load off of this task…Parents Magazine rounded up these 8 tips  to help you chose the best child-care for you and your family: 1. When you're visiting a potential site, pay attention to how the staff interacts with the children. 2. Ask for a commitment - Babies need consistent, predictable care. 3. Do a policy check. 4. Drop by and spy. 5. Keep talking, ask questions, and make sure you feel you can openly communicate with the day-care staff at drop-off, if you call mid-afternoon, and at each and every pick up. 6. Address any problems right away. 7. Trust your gut. 8. Be open to change.
Remember that no matter how many hours your child will have to stay in child-care, YOU are the main caregiver, and no one can replace that special bond and the fact that YOU are mom.
7. Order a Womb Box
After you give birth, whether that’s vaginally or via c-section, you and your body need TLC. Womb Box is a premium care kit for the modern, mindful mama, and all boxes are packed with high-quality, healthy, and safe products for expecting moms. At baby showers, the baby is usually the one to receive all the pampering and gifts, but what about Mama?! Moms need support, too - for their bodies and their mental health. All items in the Womb Box are hand-picked to best help moms recover after birth. To purchase, click here and receive 20% off using the discount code FIT4MOM.
8. Line Up Postpartum Care
New moms move mountains to go through childbirth and the journey from woman to mother. Did you know as many as 40% of women do not attend their postpartum 6-week visit at their OBGYN after childbirth? . “Maternal postpartum care has the potential to improve outcomes for women, infants and families and to support ongoing health and well-being. In the weeks after birth, a woman must adapt to multiple physical, social and psychological changes. She must recover from childbirth, adjust to changing hormones, and learn to feed and care for her newborn. In addition to being a time of joy and excitement, this ‘fourth trimester’ can present major challenges like lack of sleep, pain, depression, lack of sexual desire and urinary incontinence. Postpartum care visits with obstetrician-gynecologists or other obstetric care providers can help women navigate the challenges of motherhood” . This counseling between new moms and their OBGYN should begin DURING pregnancy, setting the mother up to feel comfortable expressing her emotions and physical needs post-birth and in the ‘fourth trimester.’
9. Practice Mindfulness
The National Institutes for Health's US National Library of Medicine includes a systematic review and meta-analysis called “Mindfulness-Based Interventions During Pregnancy.” The pregnant women who participated in mindfulness during their pregnancies showed there may be a benefit to using mindfulness intervention and practices for anxiety, depression and overall perceived stress . The mindfulness interventions implemented and studied “encourage practice of awareness and acceptance of one’s thoughts, emotions and body sensations, building stress tolerance, reducing reactivity and avoidance of uncomfortable experiences. The seven-attitudinal factors covered in mindfulness-based interventions include non-judging, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance and letting go” . While there needs to be more studies on the exact effects of mindfulness during pregnancy, women with high levels of stress during pregnancy have a 25 to 60% higher risk for delivering early even after accounting for other established risk factors for a preterm delivery . Practicing mindfulness during pregnancy can help lower stress, lower anxiety and depressive symptoms, and strengthen attachment and bonding with baby during pregnancy, all of which can help improve mother’s emotional and physical health, baby’s health and reduce the risk of postpartum mood disorders. .
10. Chose Safe Cleaning Products & Safe Beauty Products
During pregnancy, moms-to-be should be extra conscious of ingredients used in cleaning supplies and beauty products. Exposure to toxins during pregnancy can have long-term effects on reproductive health . The EWG puts out dirty dozen lists for foods and other products/ingredients, including things like endocrine disrupters, commonly found in household products. What to look for in products while pregnant? Fragrance-free, BPA-free, no parabens, no phthalates, and no DEA  says Annie Gabillet, who writes for POPSUGAR and interviewed Nneka Leiba, director of healthy living science for the Environmental Working Group. While most cleaning products are considered safe during pregnancy, sneaky chemicals are most likely hiding all over your home. Industrial compounds and pollutants can be impossible to avoid, as they are found all over the place (like in our soil and water), but Women’s Day outlines the following ten culprits to look out for, which can be lurking in certain foods, cleaning supplies, and/or beauty products, : 1. Lead 2. Mercury 3. PCBS 4. Formaldehyde 5. Phthalates 6. Flame Retardants 7. Toluene 8. PFOA of PFOS 9. Asbestos 10. BPA
Pregnancy is a beautiful time in someone’s life, and should be cherished. These 10 things go beyond one’s baby registry to help ensure a healthy, happy pregnancy filled with love, support, and nourishment. What would you add to this list?