Do you have a little one on the way? Refer to this list for helpful items that can alleviate back pain and swollen feet. Image Credit: Unspash/Juan Encalada

Whether it’s your first or next baby on the way, every pregnancy is a learning curve. Expectant mums are constantly adjusting to bodily changes – a bigger belly, the anticipated backache, nausea, fluctuating hormones, and the list goes on. As you learn to carry a new life inside you, it becomes more crucial than ever to ensure a smooth-sailing, healthy term, for both the baby and the mum. If you're expecting a little one, browse this checklist of practical items that can help you ease into maternity lifestyle.

We spoke to two mums in the UAE who sought out pregnancy essentials online, and are firm believers of their merit. Something as readily available as a pillow can transform your sleep and relieve pressure off your back. Before we jump right in, consider picking these products up from Amazon as a Prime member to get them delivered to you within a day.

“You don’t really need specialty stores for items like pregnancy pillows. Pregnant women have it easier when they get things off online sites, such as Amazon, where it’s practical to shop and returns are easy,” said Tanya Haroun, a 39-year-old Syrian-Siberian-French mum in Dubai, who’s expecting her second child.

Another Dubai-based expat shopped for nearly all her pregnancy necessities on the retail giant’s website. “Everything under the sun is on Amazon – I’ve also noticed it’s a lot faster than what it used to be, so I get things delivered in a day or two,” said Aliya Baradia, a 30-year-old Kenyan-Indian mum of a toddler and an infant.

A pregnant mum’s checklist

pregnant woman
Your essentials list will depend on what's best for your body, per health professionals. Image Credit: Pexels/Anoop VS

When Haroun was with her first baby, she recalls having a smaller bump. Maternity clothes never made it to the list: “I have a little boy, who’s three-and-a-half years old, so I expected my second pregnancy to go pretty much the same as my first. I never thought it’d be so different." Now, with a heavier belly and noticeably more fatigue, Haroun’s made some revisions to her essentials.

For this expectant mum, her number one must-have is a belly cream, butter or oil for stretch marks. “I highly recommend that pregnant women use a bump cream from day one. It’s so important to start preparing from the outside, because our skin can and will stretch a surprising amount,” advised Haroun.

She coats her baby bump in Bio-Oil Skincare Oil once a day. This multi-purpose formula works for all skin types, thanks to the purcellin oil that facilitates the absorption of vitamins and plant extracts into the skin. The oil helps with scars, stretch marks, uneven skin tone and dehydrated skin.

Her other favourites also include Palmer’s tummy butter, which is “a thick butter that’s super concentrated and smells rich”. We’ve picked a pack of three to see you through months. Its intensive treatment butter is formulated with cocoa and shea butter, and features vitamin E, collagen and argan oil – all of which help improve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of stretch marks.

1. Bio-Oil Skincare Oil, 200ml

2. Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Tummy Butter Balm for Stretch Marks and Pregnancy Skin Care, 4.4 Ounces (Pack of 3)

Something that’s going to come in handy during pre- and post-natal times is a maternity or pregnancy pillow. Both mums, Haroun and Baradia, swear by the U-shaped support for their belly and back. “I used to have a lot of back problems,” Baradia recounted her recent pregnancy, “and the only thing that helped me, especially with sleep, was this long pillow I bought on Amazon”.

For Haroun, who's a side sleeper, the pillow has been a game-changer. “Some women sleep surrounded by multiple pillows, but really, you just need one U-shaped bolster. It’s worth investing in because this short period is the only time we get to rest before the baby comes,” added Haroun.

The Mrimaya pregnancy pillow not only supports the back and belly, but it also cushions your hips and legs, as attested by reviews. It comes covered in a soft velvet material that’s hypoallergenic and machine-washable.

3. Mrimaya U-Shaped Pregnancy Pillow

Another belly-supportive product that Baradia incorporated into her routine, was the maternity belt. “I was getting very heavy; my belly was huge! A maternity belt definitely helped with the weight,” said Baradia. Meanwhile, Haroun is actively considering one for similar reasons: “I think I need to start looking into pregnancy belts for the third trimester. Prior to my pregnancy, I had lower back problems, and a belt might help with lifting the belly,” added Haroun.

The Kindred Bravely maternity support band has an additional soothing feature. It comes with a gel pack for cool or warm therapy that can be inserted into the back pocket to alleviate backaches. The Velcro closure makes it much easier for mums to put the band on and take off, with three sizes to choose from.

Another alternative is the Odwoj maternity support belt that cradles the bump gently to relieve discomfort in the lower back, hips and abdomen. If you have an ongoing workout routine, wear the belt for extra belly support. Mums in the reviews love how soft and flexible the material is, unlike most bands that can be stiff. It wears both over and under the clothes.

4. Kindred Bravely Maternity Belly & Back Support Band

5. Odwoj Maternity Support Belt

If maternity clothes are not yet part of your budget, there’s a clever hack to make your favourite jeans fit. Baradia shopped for elastic waist extenders to transform her existing wardrobe into pregnancy-friendly articles. This comprehensive kit by Love Your Bump is especially useful for an early pregnancy belly. There are four extenders, all of varying sizes with buttons and clasps, which work on trousers, skirts, shorts and pants.

6. Love your Bump, Belly Belt

When it comes to prenatal supplements, a good mix should contain folic acid and iron with multivitamins for the baby’s development, says Haroun. “We’re producing a lot more blood, so we need all that extra iron, as well,” she said, suggesting the 21st Century Prenatal Tablets. These daily tablets contain vitamin A, C, D, E, B6, B12, calcium, iron and 800mg of folic acid. Make sure to circle back with your physician for the green light.

7. 21st Century Prenatal Tablets, 60 Count (Pack of 3)

If pregnancy nausea is getting the better of you, quick remedies like ginger drops or candy can relieve the sensation. These along with bland foods, like bread and cereal, helped Haroun keep her food down during her first pregnancy, when nausea had amplified.

Expectant mums in the reviews recommend the Tummydrops Natural Ginger lozenges, which assists in upset stomach, motion sickness, as well as morning sickness. The drops are individually packed and completely natural with a spicy kick to them; plus, they’re gluten-free. Do run these by your doctor before you commit to them.

8. Tummydrops Natural Ginger, 3.7 oz /105 g, 30-33 lozenges

Another essential in Haroun’s bag for the second trimester is a bottle of water-based sunscreen by ISDIN. “It’s very common for us to get melasma (a pigmentation disorder) on the face due to our fluctuating hormones, when our skin becomes really sensitive to the sun,” she explained. The Fotoprotector ISDIN Fusion Water SPF 50+ is an ultralight daily sunscreen that’s oil-free yet delivers intense hydration with hyaluronic acid and vitamin E. Reviewers say it leaves behind no greasy residue.

9. ISDIN Fotoprotector Spf 50+ Fusion Water 50 ml, (1-Pack)

An underrated must-have item is a huge bottle of water, says Haroun. “Invest in a big water bottle and refill it throughout the day, since you need to hydrate two times more than the amount we normally drink,” she said. Our pick is a 100-ounce (2.95 litres) bottle with time and amount markers. It’s 100 per cent BPA (bisphenol A) and toxin-free, made from food-grade reusable plastic. There’s a handle for easy carrying, but the best part about it, note reviewers, is the removable straw that helps you sip without lifting the heavy bottle.

10. ST-YIBEN 100oz Large Water Bottle

And if you’re catching flights during your pregnancy, maternity compression socks can help reduce the swelling in the lower legs. “I’ve been travelling throughout my pregnancy, so my doctor recommended that I wear compression socks on the flight, which was over 20 hours long. There’s the air pressure in the cabin and sitting idle the whole time... these helped,” said Haroun.

Sockwell has women’s compression socks in two sizes and applies moderate pressure on four zones, to minimise swelling. Pregnant mums vouch for the quality with five-star reviews, with some saying these soothed calf cramps, as well.

11. Sockwell Women's On The Spot Graduated Compression Socks

Remember, your very own essentials list will vary from mother to mother. Baradia advised pregnant mums: “Don’t buy what you don’t need; just see what’s necessary for you by discussing very closely with your obstetrician-gynaecologist (OB-GYN) – that’s important”.

Other lifestyle changes that can put you and your spouse at ease, include actively educating yourself on contractions and birthing know-how, says Haroun. For instance, hypnobirthing classes worked wonders for Haroun and her husband. “I’d say invest in your body and mind during this time.”

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