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Top 13 Necessities & Must-Have Essentials for Expecting Moms

Expecting a baby is an exciting moment in your life. It’s the beginning of an adventurous journey for the entire family. With each pregnancy comes a bundle of joy and laughter, but it also comes with demands, both physical and financial.

While everyone compliments your pregnancy glow, inside you may be suffering from acute pain, nausea, and the stress of trying to figure out how costly this child will be for your household. There will be many child-related financial expenses, so here are the top cost-effective necessities every pregnant woman will need, many of which I used myself.

Top Necessities for Every Expecting Mom

1. Tennis Ball or Foam Roller

The average woman gains 35 pounds during her pregnancy. The extra weight that quickly accumulates is unfamiliar to the body, causing strain in multiple areas simultaneously. A prenatal massage from a masseuse or from your partner is something every pregnant woman needs on a daily basis, but partners typically aren’t very experienced and professionals are costly. With chronic tightness in my calves and shoulders, and sciatica running down my back and legs, I needed to somehow mitigate the pain.

Using a tennis ball or foam roller eased the pain in my problem areas. For specific trigger points, I would lay on a tennis ball to apply pressure to the tense area. This is ideal for treating knots on your back and hips. For tightness in my legs, I would put my body weight on a foam roller and slowly roll out my quadriceps and calves. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials on how to massage specific areas of your body using either of these inexpensive items.

2. Foot Support

In addition to massages and acupressure, another way to alleviate pain caused by the extra weight of the baby is to wear comfortable shoes. However, for those like myself who find that comfortable shoes don’t provide enough relief, you can add insoles for additional support. Not only does this prevent back pain, but it also eases the pain from plantar fasciitis, another side effect of weight gain. When I was pregnant with my second child, the extra foot support was crucial for keeping up with my son at the playground.

3. Body Pillow

According to the American Pregnancy Association, pregnant women should sleep on their side with a pillow between their bent legs. This alleviates discomfort and positions your body so that blood, oxygen, and nutrients flow at an optimal level to your baby. Sleeping on your back or stomach should be avoided.

The most comfortable way for a pregnant woman to sleep is by using a pregnancy pillow. Pregnancy pillows are ergonomically designed for a woman and her growing belly, allaying the discomfort and pain that comes along with pregnancy. Although it isn’t the cheapest item on this list, this item can be multifunctional.

I used my body pillow as a protector for my newborn as he co-slept on my bed the first few months of his life. We were able to tuck him into the body pillow between me and my husband, which made night feedings so much easier. It also gave us peace of mind knowing that he was safe within the barriers of the pillow and we couldn’t accidentally roll too close to him while we slept.

4. Belly Butter

As your baby develops and grows, so does your belly. The rapid growth pulls on the skin, and for many women, this creates stretch marks. To bypass stretch marks, it’s important to keep your skin hydrated using products that are void of chemicals to prevent any harm to your baby. I gravitate toward Burt’s Bees for inexpensive, safe, and effective products including their belly butter, which is made specifically for growing bellies. They have products for your newborn as well – all nontoxic and light on the price tag.

No matter which lotion or cream you go with for your skin, please read the ingredients before you apply it. Your previous skin care routine may contain products with ingredients that are harmful to your growing baby. For a comprehensive list of what ingredients you should avoid, please read BabyCenter’s Guide to Safe Skin Care.

5. Nontoxic Shampoo, Conditioner, and Body Wash

What you apply to your body is absorbed by your baby, including the shampoo and conditioner you use on your head. My favorite product is the Honest Company’s Shampoo/Body Wash and Conditioner. It doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals, and it can be used by the entire family, including infants. The shampoo and body wash combination uses one formula for both purposes, which means one less bottle in the bathtub. What else can a mom ask for in a product?

6. Nontoxic Cleaning Products for the Home

Pregnant women unconsciously begin to nest during their third trimester, which translates into a desire to clean and organize their homes. The chemicals and fumes in traditional cleaners can be harmful at this stage of pregnancy – and are equally dangerous for a baby once they begin crawling around. Some common chemicals found in cleaning products that should be avoided are alcohol, ammonia, bleach, chlorine, parabens, phosphates, sulfates, and triclosan.

The preferred choice for my household is the Better Life All-Purpose Cleaner. It cleans everything from toilets, countertops, walls, floors, fabrics, and toys. Derived from coconut, corn, and soap bark, Better Life is both environmentally friendly and nontoxic. Not only is it safe to use, but it’s one of the only nontoxic brands I’ve found that’s actually effective for cutting through grease, grime, and dirt. I’ve stored a bottle on every floor of my house so that I’m ready to quickly clean up any mess my children have made.

7. Prenatal Vitamins

Eating a healthy diet is important, especially for an expecting mother. But with pregnancy symptoms like nausea, it may be difficult to consume all of the recommended foods you may need. In order to cover any nutritional gaps, it’s a good idea to take prenatal vitamins. They contain key vitamins and minerals necessary to grow a healthy baby, such as folic acid, which reduces neural tube defect, and iron, which is needed to produce new blood cells in the body. Instead of purchasing any prenatal vitamin at the drugstore, ask your doctor for a prescription; not all vitamins are created equal. Keep in mind that prenatal vitamins are intended as supplements to a healthy pregnancy diet, not replacements.

8. Nausea Remedies

According to BabyCenter, up to 75% of women experience nausea during pregnancy. Pregnancy nausea is usually caused by Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone that rapidly rises during early pregnancy. Conditions in which women have higher levels of hCG, such as carrying multiple babies, are associated with higher rates of nausea.

There’s not much that can be done to prevent nausea, but you can alleviate it with certain foods and drinks. I prefer Chimes chewable ginger candies, lemonade, or any citrus-flavored seltzer water to keep nausea at bay.

Nausea Morning Sickness Remedies

9. Community

Parenting is one of the most challenging and isolating jobs one can have. As a mom, you will have tons of questions during and after pregnancy, regardless of whether this is your first child or your third. Each child comes with their own unique personality and situations. Join a community on Facebook that you can relate to, whether by location or parenting style, so that you have a group of people you can seek information from or simply vent to.

10. Maternity Clothes

There’s no need to get a new wardrobe full of maternity clothes. I got away with not purchasing any during my first pregnancy by wearing loose dresses during the summer and oversized sweaters and leggings during the colder days. All of these items were already in my closet.

However, with my second pregnancy, I found that those same leggings were squeezing my stomach a bit more than before, so I decided to purchase a pair of maternity leggings. Luckily H&M offers maternity basics with prices that justify their short shelf life during your pregnancy. Even still, I’d recommend holding off on purchasing any maternity wear until it is absolutely necessary.

11. Cotton Underwear

Unfortunately, pregnancy isn’t a practical time to wear your cute lace underwear. Your skin becomes hypersensitive during pregnancy, and everything that grazes its surface will be irritating. And, this isn’t a topic that is commonly spoken about, but there will be more fluids and leakage when you’re pregnant than what you’re accustomed to. Avoid ruining your expensive underwear by stocking up on undergarments that are easy to wash or replace. You won’t have any buyers’ remorse since you’ll be using them during the postpartum period.

I recommend the “Breathe Collection” bralettes and panties from Gap. You may be lucky enough to avoid purchasing maternity wear, but it’s a good idea to begin swapping your undergarments for cotton ones that are breathable and will stretch to accommodate your growing belly. 

12. Delivery Service

Pregnancy can be debilitating, and running simple errands can become extremely laborious as time goes on. Whether it’s for a single meal, groceries, new furniture for the nursery, or basic household products, delivery service will (literally) lighten your load and save you both time and exertion. Consider signing up for services like Amazon Prime, which is every mother’s best friend as diapers, wipes, and other baby necessities need to be constantly replenished. Additionally, services like FreshDirect can deliver fresh groceries right to your door.

13. Reusable Water Bottle

Many parents leave cases of plastic water bottles in their trunk so that they can conveniently retrieve fresh water whenever they go out regardless of where they are. This may save you the hassle of having to refill a water bottle, but it comes at a cost that you don’t want to pay.

Plastic water bottles contain BPA or BPS – toxic chemicals that can contaminate your liquid, especially when exposed to heat, sunlight, dishwashers, and even regular wear and tear. The problem with these chemicals is that they mimic estrogen when ingested, which can change the way your endocrine system functions. Exposure to these chemicals has been linked to asthma, cancer, higher infertility rates, and other chronic diseases. Furthermore, they’re harmful to the environment.

So, what should you use instead? I use Life Factory water bottles, which are glass bottles with a protective silicone sleeve. The glass is BPA and BPS free, which means there aren’t any toxins going into my body. I like the 22 oz bottles because they hold a lot of water. However, the glass can be heavy and dangerous for children. So, for my son, I use Pura 9 oz water bottles, which are stainless steel insulated bottles with a leak-proof sport top that is easily opened and closed by a two-year-old. With a medical-grade silicone sleeve, it is durable, lightweight, and plastic-free.

14. Hospital Bag

You will spend at least one night in the hospital after delivering. If you need to be induced, or you or your baby experience any complications during or after delivery, you can expect a multi-night stay. Either way, it’s important that well before your expected due date you put together a hospital bag with everything you’re likely to need in your maternity suite.

Choose a practical, compact, easy-to-carry bag, like a gym bag or weekender duffel. Pack it with labor necessities – tennis balls, pillows, and ice packs, for starters. Include toiletries you’d bring on any overnight trip, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, and shampoo (the hospital may provide these items, but that’s not guaranteed, and they may not be up to your standards anyway). And don’t forget items you’ll need once your baby arrives – nursing bra, diapers, wipes, and at least two changes of infant clothing.

Unnecessary Purchases for an Expecting Mom

By nature, all mothers want to be proactive in preparing for their little ones. However, there are items on many women’s “must buy” lists that I believe are not always necessary. Below are products that shouldn’t be added to a baby registry and should only be purchased when absolutely needed.

Maternity Clothes

As stated earlier, it would be wise to resist dashing into Destination Maternity for a new wardrobe to accommodate your growing belly, since most women’s clothing is forgiving and has extra stretch. During the summer months, loose summer dresses are the ideal staple, while cardigans and leggings will get you through the winter.

Pregnancy and Parenting Books

There are thousands of books about pregnancy, taking care of a newborn, and parenting available. And within those categories are subcategories outlining different birthing options, sleep training, breastfeeding, vaccinations, education, etc. Being educated may be imperative to being a competent parent, but it can also lead to something I like to call “analysis paralysis.” Information overload can lead to anxiety and can quickly become overwhelming. As a new mom, it may be best to initially refrain from acquiring all the recommended books.

From my experience, deciding how to nurture and parent my firstborn came naturally to my partner and I. For example, we came to to the conclusion to breastfeed my son because he latched on easily and I was able to supply his demands. Sleep training our son was a reluctant but inevitable decision because he wasn’t able to put himself to sleep and was cantankerous and irritable all day. Before he was born, I hadn’t planned on allowing my son to “cry it out,” but circumstances have shown me that plans have to change according to needs.

Babies are unpredictable – as are their personalities. Parents should be abreast of the fundamentals, such as CPR, diaper changing, and baby-proofing your home – all which your ob-gyn or the nurses at the hospital will teach you. However, the most beneficial way to prepare for your newborn is to prepare for the unexpected. Watch and listen to your newborn and they will tell you what’s best for them.

Final Word

Nothing can compare to the joy and sense of purpose that comes with bringing a child into this world, but it comes at a cost that is both physically and financially taxing. Preparing for these challenges by purchasing only the essentials will help lighten the burden you carry.

Moms, do you agree with this list? Which items were on your list of must-haves?

Yoojin Lee
Yoojin Lee graduated from NYU with a background in business and worked in the fashion industry for almost a decade before becoming a mom to son, Theodore. Instead of labeling herself as a "stay at home mom," she utilizes her education, experience, and skill sets to learn how to be a resourceful mother and wife while striving to pave a career for herself as well.

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