So, you’re gonna have a baby? Welcome to a different world, Mama. Your body will be going through some amazing, exciting, gross, hilarious, and unbelievable changes and experiences in the next nine months. Luckily, there are tons of great products and services that will make your pregnancy as smooth and easygoing as possible. Here are 20 of the Top Pregnancy Essentials that no stylish Mommy should be without!

(in no particular order of importance or value)

1. Tennis Balls. I know, you’re like, “Wha?” But seriously, keep a couple of these handy. When you’re further along, have your hubby or significant other roll one around on your lower back with his hand using firm pressure; it’s amazing. You can even do it yourself, using a convenient wall and a bit of balance–but be careful! Also great during back labor. Or, you can throw them at the man responsible for putting you in that uncomfortable position in the first place–though we don’t really recommend it. Except in fantasies.

2. Snoogle Total Body Pillow by Leachco. Experienced moms know to have something like this well in advance of the later months, but it’s also a great item for before, during and after pregnancy. Ideal for putting between knees, supporting a burgeoning belly, or elevating knees, it also will become your husband stand-in for nighttime cuddling. A definite must-have!

3. HoMedics Massaging Water Bottle. This is fantastic for an aching back or anywhere else you want to put it, combining the benefits of gentle, soothing heat with a light massage. Genius!!

4. A Good Massage Lotion/Cream/Oil. You will get dry feet, hands, ankles and knees even worse than usual during pregnancy, and of course, you’ll be unable to reach certain areas easily. Massaging the extremities is important to keep circulation up, and some women experience pregnancy carpal tunnel syndrome (moi included), which massage eases. Choose one that is refreshing and/or soothing, with ingredients like peppermint, lemon, jasmine, or cocoa butter.

5. Ginger. No, not a redhead, unless your significant other is a ginger-head. Ginger is wonderful for dealing with morning sickness, especially that kind that never goes away! I loved candied ginger, it’s slightly chewy and spicy-sweet, but you can also add it to foods or try it in homeopathic remedies.

6. Heartburn Remedies. Never had heartburn or acid indigestion before? Trust me, you’ll get it. Pregnancy causes the stomach and esophagus to relax, making it easy for the weight of your gravid belly to push stomach acids up where they don’t belong. You can eat mashed potatoes and you’ll still feel like you’re burping up fire. So, a great remedy are Tums. Chalky yet fruity or minty-yummy, they supply much-needed calcium and banish the burn for a while.

7. Tummy/Stretch-Mark-Bane Oil or Lotion. If you’re like me, you had some stretch marks prior to getting preggo, but you get more the further along you go. Women of color and translucent-pale people like myself ALL have skin issues during pregnancy. As your skin stretches it damages the collagen fibers that give it elasticity. You’ll feel tightness, itchiness and occasional burning, but try not to scratch, which makes it worse! Minimize the damage by using a good remedy regularly. I recommend Bella B Belly Butter, Earth Mama Angel Baby Oil and Mama Mio Tummy Rub Stretch Mark Oil. Or, if you want to do it yourself, try cocoa butter, shea butter, and aloe vera.

8. A Great Pair of Maternity Jeans. OK, so you’re swelling visibly, it seems, and you can’t pack yourself into your favorite jeans anymore, not even but leaving them unbuttoned or below your belly. That’s life–but you don’t have to settle for looking frumpy. There are so many options out there now, unlike when I was pregnant the first time 13 years ago(!!!), when the only choices I had were ugly stretch pants and…well, ugly stretch pants. Invest in one or two pairs of maternity jeans.

9. Comfy Shoes. Yes, I know, that is a naughty phrase to fashion-conscious Urban Mommies, but be real here, ladies. If you can’t see your freaking feet, you shouldn’t be wearing heels. Being pregnant makes you klutzy–your joints are looser, your center of gravity shifts, you get odd pains and spasms, and you can’t see where you’re walking as well. High heels cause back, hip, knee and ankle pain, and besides…sorry…but your feet will get bigger. They may never go back to their old size, as I can testify. You need something that is supportive (arches and ankles when possible), will expand a little, comfortable and still fashionable for work, so choose carefully. Cute leather or fabric ballet flats, classy and old-fashioned loafers, or kicky mules should keep you pretty, safe and comfy. Of course, traipsing around the house in a nice pair of flip-flops is its own little version of heaven, too.

10. The Right Bra. Ok, another thing about being pregnant: it changes your boobs. Some women find they get bigger, some actually get smaller. Go figure. Regardless of whether you shrink or expand, a good bra is your girls’ best friend, because it’s supportive like her, and doesn’t leave you hanging. A good bra should feel like a warm hug: it should fit well, keep the breasts in place (they’re more sensitive than usual, right?), and allow for a little give. Underwire is a matter of preference. Do yourself a favor and hit the department or maternity store and get a maternity bra. There ARE some pretty ones out there, too.


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11. A Good Eye Mask. You’ll discover that you’re exhausted all the time during your first trimester, and that sensation returns again during the third…and it won’t go away till your kid’s around…oh, say 35? However, being pregnant isn’t an easy sleep time, exhaustion notwithstanding. You’re more sensitive to light, heat and pressure. You’re also annoyed and uncomfortable. Make your time more conducive to sleep by investing in an eye mask. Oh, and perhaps some earplugs. Oh, and a hotel room, far far away from your house.

12. Good Information. Although by the time you’re a few weeks along you’ll have received more advice than you ever wanted, needed or asked for, the more information you have about pregnancy, childbirth and raising your offspring, the more prepared you’ll be. So, get the best basics: What to Expect When You’re Expecting, The Mother of All Pregnancy Books, and Belly Laughs. The first two will tell you everything you need to know about the process–and the third will make you laugh about them.

13. Your iPod, iPad, PDA or eReader. You will need something to read those on when mobile, or when laying around at home with your feet up (do it often, please).

14. A Baby Story. This Discovery Channel/TLC show is a must-see for moms. I watched it through all three pregnancies, and learned a lot, laughed a lot, cried a lot, and said, “Oh my God, she’s CRAZY” a lot.

15. Tissues. For the tears you’ll cry when watching and reading the above material, plus for the drooling you’ll do occasionally without realizing it. Seriously.

16. Healthy Pregnancy Snacks. Everyone has cravings of some kind, even if it’s as simple as there’s nothing else but that food that you can eat without barfing. For me, it was potatoes. But, since chowing down on chips would’ve increased my girth exponentially (besides the salt), I chose healthier options: I baked my potatoes at home and put healthy stuff on them. Excess salt, sugar and fat aren’t good for you at any time, but your body is especially sensitive during pregnancy, when you can slip into pregnancy induced hypertension/toxemia or gestational diabetes so easily. Try to avoid processed stuff. Craving salty/crunchy? Try low-fat peanut butter on whole-wheat toast or crackers, low-sodium air-popped popcorn, or toasted nuts that haven’t been salted. Creamy stuff? Check out Greek yogurt, light cream cheese on a half bagel, or make a banana smoothie. Sweet? Fruit (as long as you don’t have diabetes–check with your doctor first), frozen low-fat yogurt, or juice pops. Every now and then it’s ok to indulge a little, but remember, you’re eating for two, and you owe it to BOTH of you to stay healthy!

17. The Belly Bandit. Think of this kinda like a bra for your belly. Beyond the cosmetic aspects, it’s super helpful for your back and hips, since it gives your belly a wider support base. It streamlines your figure without compressing like a corset, and helps you keep and get back your pre-pregnancy figure faster and easier. It’s used by celebs galore, from Jessica Alba, Kourtney Kardashian and more.

18. A Good Facial Regimen. You will likely discover that during pregnancy you revisit your teen years, and not in a good way: zits, oily skin, etc. It’s the hormones, baby. However, much to your chagrin, you realize that products with salicylic acid (in almost all anti-acne washes) is a no-no, as are retinoids and other skin-clearing products. So, invest in a gentle oil-balancing cleanser, toner and moisturizer, preferably organic ones. Drink lots of water, too.

19. Foot support. No, this isn’t the same as comfy footwear. Many women need some extra support while pregnant, which is where inserts come in. You’ll be amazed at what a difference using them makes to your feet, ankles, knees, back and shoulders. Plus, get hubby to give you a foot rub. Then fall asleep so he can’t blackmail you for anything in return (wink).

20. Pregnancy Multivitamin. Your doctor or midwife will likely recommend one, but you have to listen to your body. Some women are nauseated by the high concentrations of iron (which also make your poop hard and worsen constipation) or are sensitive to other ingredients. So, check around and clear other possibilities with them, such as Flintstones Chewables (seriously) or other non-pregnancy-specific pills. Make sure you’re getting enough folic acid, calcium and iron.

Anything to add… mama? ; )

20 Top Pregnancy Essentials for heartburn, stretchmarks and more.