From the basics of a good maternity wardrobe to high quality prenatal care and emotional support, expectant moms have a variety of needs. During this important and transformative period of your life, it's helpful to understand what you'll find essential and how to get those maternity needs met.
Eight Essentials Every Mom-to-Be Needs
As your body's shape changes throughout your pregnancy, your normal clothing won't fit comfortably (or at all). You don't need to spend a fortune on a new maternity wardrobe. Instead, you can limit yourself to the maternity clothing you'll really need and use on a daily basis.
Be sure to purchase or borrow the following items:
- Two maternity pants extenders - Available in a range of styles, these extenders help you make your regular pants last longer into your pregnancy. You'll need two: one for the wash and one to wear.
- Three or more maternity bras - Maternity bras are usually just larger versions of your regular bra; most women experience breast growth during pregnancy. Buy bras in colors and styles that work well with your clothing choices. How many you need will depend on how often you do laundry.
- Two tank tops or camisoles - Tank tops or camisoles are great for layering, particularly if you're pregnant during the spring or fall. They also add a little modesty to low-cut tops or dresses and button down shirts with gaps between buttonholes.
- One pair of maternity jeans - You'll need at least one pair of maternity jeans. If you stay home with kids or work at home, you may need a second pair as well.
- Up to three pairs of maternity dress pants - If you work in an office, you'll need professional maternity clothes, including a few pairs of dress pants to get you through the work week. Choose neutral colors, like black, gray, brown, or khaki, so the pants will go with a variety of tops.
- Several maternity tops - You'll need six to seven different maternity tops, but the style will depend on your lifestyle and the season. If you work in an office, choose nice button down styles. If you're at home, t-shirts or knit tops should be just fine. Pay attention to the season, choosing sweaters for the winter months and short sleeves for summer.
- One nice dress - A nice dress, whether it's a little black dress or a pretty maxi dress, is essential for nights out and special events. Choose one that flatters your changing shape.
- Seasonal items - If you'll be pregnant during the winter, don't forget a winter coat. Similarly, if you'll be spending time outdoors in the summer months, you may need a swimsuit.
While it's a happy time, being pregnant can take a toll on your emotions. You may find yourself feeling anxious, depressed, excited, overwhelmed, or any other emotion. Between the shifting hormones and the impending life changes, it's completely normal to feel some emotional upheaval.
There are several ways to get the emotional support your need:
- Talk to your significant other about your feelings. Being open and honest will help you stay connected during this time. If you find that the pregnancy is putting excess strain on your marriage, consider counseling to help sort things out before the little one arrives.
- Take time for yourself. You'll need space to think and mentally prepare before the baby. If you have other children at home, arrange for childcare once a week to give yourself some breathing room.
- Talk to your doctor or therapist if you're experiencing signs of depression, including feeling listless and tired, losing interest in daily activities, eating too much or too little, and feeling withdrawn and sad. Some women experience depression during pregnancy, and you may need professional help to cope.
- Be sure you have friends or family members who can offer you emotional support, allowing you to talk about your worries and sharing your excitement about the impending arrival.
Quality Prenatal Care
Great prenatal care is essential for your health and the health of your baby. As soon as you realize you're pregnant, you should call a doctor or midwife to begin care. You'll see the healthcare professional several times throughout your pregnancy. You will have the opportunity to ask questions, receive parental testing, get advice about the birth, and learn about the changes happening in your body.
Balanced Pregnancy Diet
- 300 extra calories each day
- Two to three servings of lean meat or vegetable protein every day
- Three or four servings of milk and other dairy products each day
- Three servings of whole grain bread and other whole grain foods each day
- Two servings of green vegetables daily
- Two or three servings of fruit each day
- Prenatal vitamins
Exercise is important during pregnancy. In addition to helping you stay in shape and keep your energy up, being physically fit can even make your labor easier, according to the American Pregnancy Association. You should aim for at least 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day.
Remember, exercising safely during pregnancy means avoiding strenuous or dangerous activities and working with you doctor or midwife to find exercises that are best for you and your body.
Support at Work
As soon as you feel comfortable, you should alert your supervisor that you're expecting a baby. You should know your maternity leave rights, since you may need additional support at work:
- You might need to take time off during the day to go to prenatal appointments and tests.
- You may need to work reduced hours if you're dealing with extreme pregnancy symptoms.
- If you experience complications or are put on bed rest, you may need to take time off before the baby is born.
- You'll need time after the baby arrives to recover physically and adjust to your new role.
- If you work around toxic chemical and other dangerous substances, you may need to change your duties to accommodate your pregnancy.
Plenty of Rest
You'll need plenty of sleep during your pregnancy to help your body stay strong as it grows a baby. During the first trimester, you may notice extreme pregnancy fatigue. Listen to your body, and rest as much as possible. During the entire pregnancy, you may find that you sleep is disrupted for a variety of reasons. According to WebMD, the following can help you improve your sleep:
- Have a carbohydrate-rich snack before bed.
- Use relaxation techniques, like meditation, to help yourself unwind before bedtime.
- Use a pillow between your knees to help eliminate back pain that can keep you awake.
- Talk to your doctor about medication to help you sleep if you're still having trouble.
Additionally, if you have children at home and are having trouble getting enough rest, consider hiring a mother's helper or babysitter to come in and watch the kids for a period of time while you sleep. You can also ask for help from family and friends.
Having a baby is an expensive undertaking. This is why it is important to research the costs of childbirth and baby's first year before you get pregnant or, at the very least, early in your pregnancy. You should also check the maternity benefits available to you through your health insurance, state agencies, and employer. This will give you time to prepare for the payment of health insurance deductibles and to come up with a plan for replacing your lost income while you are on maternity leave or in the event you end up on bed rest and must quit working long before your due date.
Make a Plan to Meet Your Needs
Understanding your needs ahead of time allows you to make a good plan for meeting them. Having a happy, healthy pregnancy is about more than just a basic maternity wardrobe. Taking care of your emotional, physical, and financial needs is essential for both you and your little one.