Top 10 Pregnancy Essentials for the First Time Mum

This checklist crowdsources top 10 essentials that I couldn't have survived pregnancy without.

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Here goes:

Essential pregnancy items

1. Folic acid

When your pregnancy test gives you a positive result, even before your first prenatal visit to your obstetrician or gynaecologist, get started on folic acid if you have not.

In fact, it is recommended for ladies who are trying to conceive (TTC) to supplement with folic acid to prepare for a healthy pregnancy.

Folic acid prevents birth defects of baby's brain and spinal cord and is critically important in the first trimester of pregnancy.

2. Arsenal of anti stretch mark products

Over the course of weeks and months, your stomach will constantly expand to support your ever-growing baby, and your skin needs to stretch along with it.

The sad news is -- there isn't a miracle anti stretch mark product. Research says that applying anti stretch mark products will not prevent the development of those dreaded lines on your body.

But religious application of anti stretch mark creams, salves, and oils will moisturise an itchy belly and improve skin elasticity.

I like to spread a generous film of natural coconut oil over my belly when it is all tensed up during Braxton-Hicks contractions, and imagine myself getting a prenatal massage.

For all the mysterious (and terrible!) itching that frequently occurred towards the home stretch of my pregnancy, natural coconut oil reduced the irritation and prevented me from leaving angry red scratches across my belly skin.

3. Pregnancy pillow

Your partner will LOATHE that pillow for taking up half of your bed space. That is not an understatement.

But you will love it. And he will adjust well to the reduced bed space in time to come.

During the first and second trimesters, I suffered a repertoire of nausea, heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux nightly. I stacked two head pillows on top of my pregnancy pillow for added height. Propping myself up into this slightly more upright sleeping position helped relieve those symptoms and I found myself drifting into dreamland more easily.

For that nasal congestion that strikes out of the blue? My pregnancy pillow was a lifesaver too. I could breathe more easily amid a stuffy, blocked nose when I leaned against my throne of pillows.

Sleeping on my side does not come naturally for me. Let me lie on my stomach or sleep on my back any day! For the third trimester, it was frankly quite a torture getting into a comfortable side-lying position with a giant baby bump in the way.

Having a pregnancy pillow helped to transition me into a side-sleeper. Placing one arm of the pregnancy pillow between my legs as I laid on one side kept me in position because the other arm of the pillow would support my back.

4. Mobile baby apps

Not trying to be overdramatic but I was an obsessive, information-hungry mum to be. I craved to know baby's development weekly especially during the first and half of second trimesters when it was too early to feel baby's movement and half the time I was wondering if baby was growing (or alive!)

My favourite mobile baby apps are: the bump, babycentre and what to expect.

5. Maternity bras and extenders

There will come a point when your jiggly sisters' sizes will grow and take you by surprise. Get wireless bras for your upsized boobs (Uniqlo has really good ones) or try bralettes for more freedom and if you are not too worried about a lack of support.

Bust tightness will also start to haunt you as your rib cage expands to increase your lung capacity as well as make room for the growing uterus. This is when bra extenders will save the day.

I started with using one bra extender during the second trimester to accommodate the expanding rib area. By the third trimester, I am using two!

6. White or light-colored undergarments

I experienced crampy sensations on and off during the whole of my pregnancy and was also fearful that I would experience spotting or bleeding.

Changing my wardrobe of underwear to white and light-colored ones eased my paranoia because I could clearly see the color and amount of vaginal discharge everyday.

Make sure to choose stretchy and seamless maternity undergarments.

7. Feminine wash

Because pregnant women are more prone to vaginal infection than non-pregnant women and there is more vaginal discharge going on during pregnancy!

It was important for me to feel fresh and clean amid the other bodily changes that somewhat altered my self-confidence.

8. Maternity support belt or belly band

To combat ligament stretching pains, back pains and hip pains! I need to thank the inventor of maternity support belt and belly band.

I wore this on my long-haul flight from the United States to Singapore which relieved a lot of aches and helped me pace the airplane aisles.

The belt also enabled me to do light exercise or even walk around the mall more comfortably.

9. Non toxic physical or mineral sunscreen

I was one of the unlucky few to experience “mask of pregnancy”, scientifically known as melasma and chlosma, which causes dark splotchy spots to appear on a pregnant woman's face.

With increased pigmentation due to hormonal changes in pregnancy, a particularly prominent and noticeable dark spot appeared on the skin above my upper lip (big sobs!)

To prevent this annoying facial spot from darkening even further before I can safely treat it with skin lightening products during postpartum, I used a physical sunscreen daily to protect my skin against sun damage.

I read about how chemical sunscreens can contain ingredients like oxybenzone that can enter the bloodstream and potentially cross the placenta to affect the baby.

These chemical ingredients are not proven safe for pregnancy, therefore it is best to avoid them.

10. Pregnancy reads

Being informed and knowing what to expect during the different phases of pregnancy is important to me, a first-time mum. It helped me to shape my diet for each trimester to boost baby's growth.

In summary -- folic acid for the first trimester, protein for the second trimester to build tissues, muscles and cells and omega-3 fatty acids , especially DHA, for the third trimester when brain development is most rapid.

I was blessed to receive Mayo Clinic's Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy book from a friend which was a very informative read. I went on to get the Mayo Clinic Guide to Your Baby's First Year e-book (free if you have a Amazon US baby registry account!) so I could feel more assured about how to take care of a newborn when the time comes.

Good to have pregnancy items

- Humidifier

Helps to clear that nasal congestion I talked about earlier!

Also beneficial for the little colds and coughs pregnant women are susceptible to because of lowered immunity.

- Compression stockings

Puffy feet and ankles are very common during pregnancy due to fluid retention.

I can definitely attest to that because my feet and ankles once swelled to the extent that the only footwear that fit were my flip-flop slippers.

On those bad days, I put on compression stockings to relieve the swollen feet and ankles and they also help with achiness. Heaven sent!

For long-haul flights during pregnancy, compression stockings are recommended to reduce the risk of blood clots and varicose veins. I wore them on above-mentioned flight from the United States to Singapore and they kept blood circulation flowing -- I had zero discomfort in my legs, ankles and feet.

- Sea sick wrist band

Pregnancy wasn't kind to me because I spent the first and half of my second trimesters bent over the toilet bowl emptying my stomach's contents. Nausea and vomiting hit me like a train every single day.

I didn't want to resort to medications to relieve the dreadful morning (it's actually all-day) sickness.

By chance, I saw another pregnant woman wearing a sea sick wrist band and decided to give it a try.

How it works: The sea sick wrist band had a plastic stud attached to its inside. When you press on this stud, it exerts pressure and stimulates the Nei-Kuan acupressure point. Putting pressure on this acupressure point relieves nausea and vomiting.

It didn't put me out of misery as I continued to experience nausea and vomiting but it kept me sane and in-control during brief moments when I was out and didn't want to pollute the streets with puke.

The plus point is that sea sick wrist bands don't use drugs so there are no side effects from its usage.

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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.

Hi! Thank you for taking time to read my blog. I am a stay-home Singaporean mama living in Seattle who is passionate about child-led and open-ended play for children in a conducive home environment.

Discovering Montessori and Reggio has been a life-changer for me. It made me an empathetic and mindful parent who follows my child’s needs and interests in the activities I plan at home. I hope the Montessori-friendly and Reggio inspired baby and toddler activities I share here inspire you too.

Happy reading!