Hello baby smuggler. And congratulations on your new pregnant status. This is going to be a magical, life (and body) changing experience – filled with highs and lows. And to make things a little easier, we at Parent Hive wanted to share our special guide: Pregnancy Essentials, our list of must-dos and must-haves. So grab a cup of something that won’t make you feel sick, put your feet up, and join us…

1. Download The Bump app

There are a lot of pregnancy tracking apps out there, but The Bump is our favourite. It’s chic, it has an amazing 3D “inside the womb” feature and there are tons of handy articles highlighted for your particular gestational period as you go through your pregnancy. Download it here.

The Bump App

2. Join a Facebook group via one of the pregnancy forums

As soon as you become pregnant it’s like a monster takes over. A Google monster. Be honest: You’ve Googled a lot lately. From symptoms, to how your baby looks right now, to whether something is normal. And guess what – this is totally normal. It’s a scary and fascinating miracle carrying a child. You are bound to wonder (and panic). During our co-founder’s pregnancy, one such Googling session led her to discover the WhatToExpect community boards. Here you can join a forum especially for women with the same guess date as you. From there, you will probably be invited to a secret Facebook group. We say join. It’s comforting to see and read about things that other women are going through, you can ask questions, or you can quietly stalk from the sidelines. But that support group is golden.

3. Pass time by sorting out your baby registry and signing up for the best baby list on the Internet

Pregnancy is long. Real long. And early pregnancy – when you can’t tell anyone about your tiny little secret – is especially long. We advise passing the time by sorting out your baby registry. Not only will it add to your excitement, but you can also get that major ‘to-do’ ticked off your list. Our co-founder spent the first 11 weeks of pregnancy knee-deep in baby and pregnancy research, finding out all of the essentials and best things she needed (dive into Parent Hive’s Newborn Essentials Guide here), and used babylist.com to document everything. You can then share your online registry with friends or family, or keep it as a personal shopping/reference list. But either way – we loved the elegant interface and the fact that you can add a ‘Add to BabyList’ toggle to your browser and easily add items (plus their direct links) to one digital list.

The Baby List

4. Download these books to your Kindle

Go check out our dedicated ‘Parent Hive’s Must Read List for Parents’ here

But the books worth a special mention for expecting mamas are: The Gentle Birth Method by Dr Gowri Motha, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, Not In Your Genes: The Real Reason Children Are Like Their Parents by Oliver James, Gentle First Year: The Essential Guide to Mother and Baby Wellbeing by Dr Gowri Motha, First Time Parent: The Honest Guide to Coping Brilliantly and Staying Sane in Your Baby’s First Year by Lucy Atkins, Birth and Beyond: The Definitive Guide to Your Pregnancy, Your Birth, Your Family – from Minus 9 to Plus 9 Months by Dr Yehudi Gordon and The Nursing Mother’s Companion (Sixth Edition) by Kathleen Huggins.

The Mini Manzil Must-Read List

5. Get clued up about supplements and avoid synthetic Folic Acid like the plague

Okay. First things first: Your doctor has probably recommended that you take a leading brand pregnancy supplement, and get the recommended daily dose of Folic Acid. We are going to be rebels and tell you to chuck those in the bin, immediately. They do no good for you.

  • Taking artificial supplements is no way near as beneficial as taking organic, whole foods supplements (just like eating a McDonalds is not as good for you as eating a homemade organic burger). Unfortunately, almost all of the brands that GPs and OBGYNs recommend for pregnancy are synthetic. Don’t ask us why.
  • Folic Acid is the synthetic form of Folate (i.e. what you really need to be taking), and heavily linked with tongue tie. Which is not only nasty (as it involves having your baby’s tongue snipped at birth), but can also severely impair breastfeeding during those crucial first weeks.

Tip: If you want to read more about Folic Acid and tongue tie, plus the negative effects it can have on your health, visit this informative article or Google it yourself to do your own reading so that you can reach an informed decision.

So what do we recommend you take? Anything that is derived from whole foods, organic and preferably, vegan. We adore Cytoplan’s prenatal (which are also great for breastfeeding Mums), but you could also use The Honest Company, New Chapter, and Mega Food. All of these tick the boxes (i.e. not synthetic, not using “fake” Folic Acid, derived from whole foods, organic and vegan). And if you feel you don’t need a prenatal supplement because your diet is rich enough in organic, whole foods, just make sure you get the recommended dose of Folate – we love the Solgar brand. Make sure you look for the wording ‘Folate’ or ‘Folic Acid as L-methylfolate’ but avoid anything that just says ‘Folic Acid’ only like the plague.

6. Fill your bathroom cabinet with these essential pregnancy beauty products

We definitely recommend investing in a great belly and bust cream or oil. We especially love The Tummy Rub Butter by Mama Mio. It’s really rich and nourishing but easily absorbed into the skin. Crucially it is also free from parabens, petrolatum and colourants, xenoestrogens, PEGs, phthalates and glycols. We also rate the brand’s Boob Tube bust cream. You also can’t go wrong with Bio Oil, and if you are on a tight budget simple coconut butter, almond oil or extra virgin olive oil will also do the job.

Bath salts – especially Epsom bath salts – are also a lifesaver for bloating and swollen legs and feet. A lot of people think that Epsom salts are for after pregnancy, but their benefits can be enjoyed during pregnancy with great success – also, do some research about how much salt you should be adding: Because we guarantee you it’s a whole lot more than you would think. Many people seem to think that you should be avoiding baths whilst pregnant because of miscarriage risk and we feel it’s all just fearful hogwash. It’s a no-brainer that you shouldn’t sit in a boiling hot bath for very long any time – let alone when you’re pregnant, but we (along with plenty of other women) enjoyed daily medium-hot baths filled with Epsom salts and never had a single problem. We believe the key is if you are sweating – it’s too hot, get out. Of course, we won’t judge anyone who wants to be cautious and avoid them, we’re just saying: You don’t have to suffer if you are a bath lover like us. Go right ahead. Dip those chubby little toes in. We did.

Bulk buy Rennies. Chances are you are going to suffer from the dreaded pregnancy-induced heartburn at some point in your pregnancy, and these are truly a lifesaver. Sadly they aren’t exactly “clean” but they do the job and heartburn is just the pits.

If you are the kind of woman that suffers from swollen feet in the heat or on flights, you are also probably going to suffer from the same symptom at some point during your pregnancy. Particularly during the last trimester. A lush cooling foot cream will be your BFF, plus some compression stockings worn at night and a great sturdy pillow or two to elevate your legs will help you no end.

7. Try these anti-sickness tips and tricks

If you feel sickly during the beginning, middle, end or (you poor thing) all of your pregnancy. Know this: You are not alone. Almost everyone experiences nausea at some point. Here’s a list of things that can help combat this miserable period:

  • Ginger, lemon and honey water. Recipe: Simmer filtered water, fresh ginger (preferably organic and about 2-thumb knobs), a squeeze of lemon and honey on the stove. Leave it to bubble away gently for around 20 minutes. Enjoy hot or cold. Tip: Make big batches of this and keep it in the fridge for when sickness strikes.
  • Regular snacking. Eating something regularly can really help to control nausea. Put nausea-soothing snacks like satsumas and crackers on your bedside table –  just a small bite of each will help ease the dreaded feelings first thing in the morning or during the night. Foods that can help ease sickness are basically all fruits, UK-icon Mini Cheddars, any crackers, ice lollies and sour/pickled things like gherkins and sauerkraut (the latter of which is packed with gut-friendly bacteria, to boot).
  • The great outdoors and fresh air. Even though you feel like hell and probably can’t imagine anything worse – a light walk outside can do wonders for sickness. It’s something about the fresh air. If you need to be close to the toilet just open a window. Every little helps.
  • Seasickness bands. We don’t know if these really work or if it’s a mind thing but we’d recommend purchasing one (they are so cheap) if you get desperate.
  • Go gentle. You can unintentionally aggravate your nausea by doing too much or getting up too fast. It’s such a bore, but going gently will do you the world of good.
  • Avoid large meals. We don’t know why they call it morning sickness because we (like many women) experienced ours during the night – and on particularly bad periods, all day long. Whenever yours strikes, we suggest avoiding large meals. Eat light meals more frequently. See what works for you and stick to it.

10. Take photos and document your experiences

You may feel like a giant Heffalump, and taking pictures of yourself might be the last thing you want to do – but trust us: You will regret it if you don’t. It’s so nice to look back on this life-changing period, and we are sure your tots will love to see how Mummy looked pregnant, in the future. We absolutely love this genius little app called One Second Everyday. As the name suggests, every day you take one second of video footage or a photo, and this app stitches them all together into one little neat film.

Tip: This is an essential app for when the baby arrives too, so it’s worth the investment.

Download it here.

It’s also a good idea to keep track of your symptoms and feelings. Whether you do this with a snazzy pregnancy journal or just use the Notes feature on your iPhone to keep a pregnancy diary, this will not only be handy for updating your OBGYN at your checkups, it’s also going to be a great reference point for when you decide to take the plunge and get knocked up again. Plus, it’s fun to look back and remember what you went through. Trust us: You will soon forget as soon as you look into your baby’s eyes for the first time.

So, in summary:

  1. Must-have: The Bump pregnancy app.
  2. Must-do: Read as many books and websites as possible to help pass the time during early pregnancy (and that super frustrating stage where you can’t tell anyone) – but most importantly to educate yourself on this life-changing thing that’s happening to you.
  3. Must-do: Use BabyList or something similar to start to keep track and note of things you love, want and need.
  4. Must-do: Discover other women’s journeys and stories. They are comforting and sometimes just plain hilarious. Use blogs, websites, forums and Facebook groups.
  5. Must-have: A natural folate supplement and if you feel you need/want it: A natural, whole foods prenatal multivitamin.
  6. Must-do: Try all of the tips and tricks (including ours above) for nausea if you suffer with it and do what works for you. Nothing will cure it, unfortunately, but there are little things that can help soothe you a little and they are worth their weight in gold.
  7. Must-have: A good belly and bust cream to keep your stretching areas hydrated and help prevent stretch marks. We absolutely adore the Mama Mio products.
  8. Must-have: Rennies for heartburn and trapped wind or whatever works for you if you suffer from this.
  9. Must-have: Epsom salts and mineral salts for baths, if you are a bath person.
  10. Document your experience with photos, videos and note taking. We adore the One Second Everyday app.