I probably should have written this last year when I was nearly at the end of being pregnant (rather than 6 months after she was born...) but hey, the advice can be relevant at any time really :-)
The First Trimester
- High waist 'granny' pants - let's start with a good one; almost right from the moment we found out, it was really uncomfortable wearing low fitting underwear or even anything tight across my middle (I lived in leggings). Big pants in big sizes were my saviour.
- Sea sickness bands for morning sickness - luckily I only had one week of being properly sick but I did have several weeks afterwards of feeling nauseous. Wearing these bands on my wrists (complete with a variety of long sleeved cardigans) seemed to help; it might have just been a trick of the mind but hey, if it works...
- Pregnancy+ app - I know there's loads of apps for tracking your pregnancy but I found this one the best. There's lots to it: the obligatory fruit size calculator plus a variety of information and check lists. It has a contraction timer too which we used in the early stages of labour.
- What To Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff - the book that's almost a cliché (and there's even been a film made of it) but it is actually surprisingly useful as pretty much anything and everything you can think of will probably be somewhere within its pages.
- Sleep - Oh my, the tiredness in the early days is like nothing I'd ever experienced. Even doing night feeds with a newborn, nope, still not as tiring as the first few weeks of pregnancy. My only advice is just try and grab as many winks as you can!
The Second Trimester
- Asda maternity range - They had a fab range of maternity dresses and tops (like the stripy one below) and all not too expensive; the only thing is you have to keep reminding yourself not to buy hundreds as you won't be wearing them forever!
- New Look maternity range - Same as above, I pretty much lived in dresses and leggings for the majority of my pregnancy.
- Seam-free leggings - Fairly obvious but yep, if you buy leggings, go seam-free so it's all neat and tidy over your bump.
- Cross-body handbags - When you've waited so long to actually be pregnant, all you want is a bump and for people to notice it. During those 'is she pregnant or just a bit chubby?' weeks, wearing a bag with a long strap across your body helps to emphasise that yup, it is baby and not just too many cream cakes.
- Dreamgenii pillow (and extra pillows) - Sooo comfortable! Kick the other half onto the sofa or a spare room and fill the bed with as many cushions and pillows as you need.
- Pregnancy yoga - I started doing yoga when I was 22 weeks (although I could have started at 12) and the best bit about it was meeting lots of other ladies in the same boat and sharing advice, woes and gossip. It was very relaxing as well and the teacher I had always supplied tea and cake too.
- The Baby Show - I convinced Andrew to have a mini break in London when I was about 27 weeks, he said it wouldn't be worth it but it absolutely was. Quite apart from the amount of free things we ended up with (about 3 bags worth), you also had the chance to try out pretty much every pushchair brand imaginable, all under one roof. I'd already put together a spreadsheet (obvs) of what we were looking for and compared online prices and we'd narrowed it down to a shortlist, all of which we looked at on the day. We then managed to get the one that was our joint favourite at a 50% discount (£810 down to £405, and about £170 cheaper than the lowest price online) with all accessories included - so definitely worth the trip to London!
- NCT Nearly New Sales - An excellent way to pick up lots and lots of things really cheap and lots of branches offer early entry to pregnant women so you can get your pick of the bargains.
- New look jogging bottoms - These. Are. So. Comfortable. Both when I had a huge bump and in the days after having given birth.
- Birth Skills: Proven pain-management techniques for labour and birth by Juju Sundin - I reckon this book was the best of all the pregnancy books I read, practical advice about breathing and imagery without being too hippyish.
- A grabber - One of those picky-uppy things (something like this), perfect for when you can't bend over any more.
- NCT course - One of the best decisions we took was to do the NCT antenatal course rather than the NHS one. I think we were lucky though as our teacher was very open-minded to talking about everything (rather than the cliché of a "natural" birth) and everyone in our group got on well; we all still keep in regular contact and see each other on average once a week. I have heard stories the courses can be a bit iffy depending on where you are though.
- TENS machine - we hired one for about £25 for 4 weeks and it was very useful during early labour; a bit of a strange sensation but okay once you were used to it. It also kept you distracted by fiddling around with the buttons and controls!
- Pregnancy ball - oh so incredibly comfortable in the last couple of months (even if you do feel a bit of a weirdo sat on it) but strangely, not great at all during labour.
- Stocking up the freezer - I spent the last few months of pregnancy cooking double the amount for dinner and putting the extra portions in the freezer. My lovely friend M also very kindly made us several portions too. That meant we had a good few weeks of dinners stored for after Lily was born. If you can make a load, do!
- Pregnancy massage - I was rather lucky and ended up with two, one from my work colleagues as a leaving present and one from Andrew just well, because. I did them at 36 weeks and 38 weeks and they were absolutely lovely, really relaxing. The one from Andrew was at the Thermae Bath Spa and we added on a swim in the spa afterwards - which I'd definitely recommend! We went two days before Christmas and even amongst all the hustle and bustle of the festive season, floating in the warm water I just felt as if "yep, I'm ready for this now, bring it on".