Pregnancy essentials & must-have products

8 Dec 2015

Today I am 35 weeks pregnant, which means I have been documenting and sharing my pregnancy with you all for 20 weeks now, since just after I hit the 15 week mark and felt brave enough to publicly share the news. If you missed my announcement post, when your life changes forever, you will know that I was in two minds about whether to share such a personal aspect of my life so publicly, but I am glad I did. This blog is an extension of me and I have never shied away from sharing my life before. With such a huge thing happening in my life offline, I don't think I would have been able to keep it secret online.

It seems like I've been sharing these weekly posts with you all forever and I have to admit that with only 5 weeks left to go until my due date, I will miss sitting down each week in the countdown to baby arriving and sharing my thoughts, excitement and nerves. Of course I'll still be posting weekly with a baby themed post, but they will be very different from my pregnancy posts, documenting life as a first time mum with a newborn and getting to grips with being a parent. Parent, that is a scary word! I'm going to be a mum, wow.

As I'm now nearing the end of my pregnancy, I thought it would be a good time to share with you all the essentials which have helped me along the way. We found out we were expecting very early on at 5 weeks pregnant, so it's been a long 30 weeks for us and in that time there's been more than a few products and brands which have become staples in my daily routine, some of which I have become pretty attached to over the months and will actually miss once I am no longer pregnant! Of course everyone's pregnancy will be different and what works for one person won't necessarily work for everyone else, but these are the things which have worked for me.

Essential body care
There's been a few key products over the past 8 months which I have come to really love and look forward to using, mostly ones specifically formulated for caring for the skin on my ever-growing bump. As my bump has grown - and has another 5 weeks of growing to do - it's really tested my skin which has been stretched and pulled in all directions. Luckily I have managed to avoid stretch marks thus far, which I think is down to two things. The first being that I have always been a very big girl and before losing a substantial amount of weight over the past couple of years, I was only one size smaller than I have come to be during my pregnancy. That means my skin was already used to being big and stretched, I'd had stretch marks since my very early teens. So far my body has simply re-stretched old stretchmarks, so although I haven't had any new stretch marks come through in their bright red and irritated state, I can clearly see where my old ones have been stretched to their maximum.

The second reason I think I have managed to avoid any new stretch marks so far is down to the amount of care and attention I've given to looking after my skin during my pregnancy. As I've mentioned in previous posts I've always had a pretty decent body care routine, but this has really intensified during my pregnancy. Two oils specifically formulated for growing bumps which I have been using throughout my pregnancy include the Weleda Stretch Mark Massage Oil, which is ultimately my favourite, as well as the Mama Mio The Tummy Rub Oil, which is the oil I am currently using. You can get a more in-depth view on the Weleda one in my September favourites and the Mama Mio one in my showcase post on Mama Mio for pregnancy skin. I apply a bump-specific oil onto my bump, bum and hips both morning and night, taking care to massage in well and ensuring every last bit of my skin that needs to be, has had a generous helping.

Oils aren't enough for me though, and I do like to 'double up' both morning and night, mainly because I find because my skin is being stretched so much, the skin tends to get drier quicker. In the mornings I'll follow up with the Argan+ Argan Oil Mum to Be Stretch Mark Body Butter* which is one of the nicest body butters I have ever tried. It smells delicious, it leaves my skin feeling soft as silk and it is super luxurious, with a rich, thick consistency. It's perfect for keeping my skin softer and more hydrated for longer. At night I'll follow up with the Secret Saviours Night Cream, but more on that later.

Another essential for me body care wise is another one from Mama Mio and that's the Lucky Legs Cooling Energising Leg Gel, which is a favourite of mine to reach for after a long day. You can get a more in-depth view on this one in my Mama Mio for pregnancy skin post!  

Healthy inside and out
When you are pregnant you are basically on a ban from any medication which you might turn to when you're poorly, as many things can transfer through to your baby and some can be more harmful than you would ever consider possible. That's why during pregnancy it's important to make sure you are getting the right amount of the right vitamins and minerals, and that when you do need something to make you feel better, you are turning to things which are safe to use whilst pregnant.

I've been using Vitabiotics Pregnacare Original since I turned 8 weeks and my midwife recommended I switch from the basic Folic Acid and Vitamin D tablets I was taking at the time, replacing it with Pregnacare with provided a bigger variety of the minerals and vitamins you are recommended to take during pregnancy. I have taken my Pregnacare tablets every single day since and each time I have had routine tests done at my midwife appointments my tests have all come back perfect, which shows these tablets are working to keep me as healthy as possible for my growing baby. I plan to continue using Vitabiotics post-pregnancy, when I will start taking the Pregnacare Breastfeeding and Pregnacare New Mum tablets.

When I have needed an extra boost I have, on recommendation of my GP and pharmacist, been taking a simple Vitamin C tablet which I picked up from my local chemist. I had been relying on hot honey and lemon water with fresh ginger to get me through colds and low-energy days, but it got to the stage where it just wasn't enough, so on the days when I'm feeling like I might be coming down with another cold (anyone else find colds are regular occurrences when you're pregnant?!) is on it's way, I make sure to take some Vitamin C which seems to keep it at bay!

Another must-have for me is Tums Assorted Fruit Antacid Tablets, which have been a saviour for me on the - thankfully rare - occasions where I have been suffering with heartburn. I'm actually amazed at how quickly and effectively these work for me, and they are completely safe to take during pregnancy - although make sure to read the instructions carefully as you can only take a certain amount of these per day when pregnant.

Bump support and care
Secret Saviours is a 3-step system I have been using from very early on in my pregnancy and it's a system that I've become a little bit besotted with. Featuring two body care products; the Day Gel and the Night Cream, alongside a Anti Stretch Mark Band, it is a range which I can't stop telling people about!

For me the key product in the range is definitely the band, which is an absolute essential for me and something I now wear every single day, although in the first half of my pregnancy I would tend to use it more on days out and about when I needed a little more support. It's available in 4 sizes; Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large, and comes in 2 colours; Black and Pink. I started off with a Large when I was around 17 or so weeks pregnant, when I was still a size 14 overall but my bump was expanding and I was starting to wear size 14 maternity clothes, and I am now in the Extra Large band whilst being a size 16-18 in maternity clothes. Each band is hand finished and has been produced using ethically sourced yarns and basically works to offer some much needed support for your lower back and your bump. For me it is a complete saviour and has massively helped with supporting my bump, which as you can imagine is pretty darn heavy, and also makes me feel more secure. Whenever I have had hospital appointments or midwife appointments it's raised a lot of curious questions, and my midwife excitedly pointed out that the 'suction pad' pattern across the inside of the band would work to stop blood collecting in one large area, helping to prevent stretch marks. That makes sense, considering Secret Saviours is the only scientifically proven system which has shown to help prevent stretch marks. Individually the bands cost £29.99 and having used them throughout the majority of my pregnancy, it is definitely a purchase I would recommend - even if you don't get the accompanying products. Even better? This is an investment that will last, as you can simply pop it to one side with your maternity clothes for use in future pregnancies!

The Day Gel is a soothing gel which is advertised as a vital partner for use with the band, but I have to admit I don't use it every single day, more so when I know I'll have the band on from day to night and could use the extra help. It works alongside the band to help prepare your skin so that the pads on the inside of the band gently grip to your skin. It contains ethically sourced ingredients such as Centella Asiatica, which helps to boost collagen content and skin strength as well as improving blood flow and cell regeneration, as well as Vitamin B5, which has shown to accelerate wound healing. It's quite a tacky gel when massaged in, which is why I don't use it unless I'm out all day, definitely one that means a trip to the bathroom sink to wash your hands straight after application. Individually the Day Gel costs £23.99.

Last but not least and a product which featured in my recent October favourites, I absolutely adore the Night Cream which is a product I apply to my bump, bum, hips and boobs each night before bed. It has the most beautifully soothing scent of what I think is Lavender, and instantly makes me feel relaxed once applied. Also containing Centella Asiatica and Vitamin B5, it's become quite a comforting product for me as it instantaneously makes me unwind. It also manages to keep skin pretty soft and happy too, so a winner all round! Individually this also costs £23.99.

If you're on a budget and can only afford one product from the Secret Saviours system, then I would definitely go for the band. If you can afford to go for the full system then you can pick it up in the Secret Saviours Anti Stretch Mark Pack* for £69.95.

So those are my pregnancy essentials and must-have products. Do you have any essentials or products which have helped you through your pregnancy? Or perhaps some post-pregnancy products you think I need in my arsenal? I'd love to hear your recommendations, tips and tricks!

Last Week: Theraline Original Maternity and Nursing Pillow
Next Week: Neal's Yard Remedies Mother & Baby Organic Collection

*PR Samples - Disclaimer.