Everything You Need to Maximize Comfort During Pregnancy

July 16

Pregnant woman sitting on floor mat to maximize comfort

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Staying comfortable while pregnant can be near impossible without the right products and techniques. But do not fear! I am MASTER of comfort and I am here to share what I learned while I was pregnant so you won’t miss out on one comfort enhancing thing! Maximize your comfort level even though it feels as though your pregnant body is working against you.

Check out my post on What No One Tells You About Pregnancy to find out more on EVERYTHING pregnancy related!

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Maximize Comfort Even Through Morning Sickness

I have an entire post on combating morning sickness symptoms. I have always had a STRONG aversion to nausea and vomiting (hence the detailed post).

These are just a few highlights from the post:

First, find the prenatal vitamin that works for you. I used Rainbow Light Complete Prenatal System and Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA. There was barely any added nausea, and bonus, the prenatals give you just a little boost of energy as well. I made sure to always take my vitamins in the middle of my meal so that I wasn’t taking it on an empty stomach and I also wasn’t burping up vitamin smell either.

Second, carry some alcohol swabs with you at all times. Rip one open and smell it anytime you come across a noxious smell. It neutralizes the gross smell and helps to clear away any potential gagging episodes. As nurses, we used this trick in the Emergency Room often when we had to deal with. . . lets say. . . less than pleasant aromas.

And third, mentholated cough drops are your friend! I wasn’t partial to any one particular brand. Any cough drop with that refreshing, icy menthol flavor did the trick to relieve that dreaded nauseated feeling.

If you are curious about the 8 other easy to implement remedies I have for morning sickness, see my post on 11 Unique and Effective Morning Sickness Remedies to Stop Nausea in it’s Tracks.

Maximizing Comfort While Horizontal

You don’t appreciate how comfortable it is not being pregnant until you are pregnant. You basically have a constant ache in your lower back and lower belly. Thanks a lot, gravity. Even laying down becomes a pain.

Horizontal comfort can be difficult to achieve when that belly starts to grow. But there are things that can really help assist in achieving that pre-pregnancy comfort level we didn’t know we would miss so dearly.

The Snoogle!

This thing was my life saver! The Snoogle is probably my FAVORITE pregnancy product that I recommend to EVERYONE I know who is pregnant or planning to be pregnant!

You may not think you need it. You may be thinking, I’m fine with the 4-5 pillows I strategically place around my changing body. But sleeping while pregnant was definitely a lot easier with my Snoogle.

Let me tell you, you have NOT experienced comfort at this level (well, at least not while you are pregnant). This thing wraps around you like a big bear-hug.

I started getting noticeably bigger (pregnant looking) after my 20th week. When my belly started to get heavy feeling, I could not get comfortable for the life of me!

pregnant woman laying on bed with pillow over her face

So I started googling. I came across many pregnancy pillows but I liked this one because it doesn’t take up as much room as some of the other extremely large ones.

I am often a belly sleeper, and I was practically in tears towards the end of my pregnancy because all I wanted to do was sleep on my stomach. Pregnancy made it physically impossible to do such sleeping.

But if you roll up the Snoogle like a ginormous doughnut, and stick you belly right in the middle of it, and plant your face on a pillow in front of the Snoogle, you can sleep on your belly while pregnant!

Insider Tip: I recommend only doing this doughnut technique for short naps though, just to get your belly sleeping fix. Once my nap lasted about 2 hours and my legs fell asleep so intensely that I was afraid the circulation would never return! Of course it eventually did, but it was a very painful 5-ish minutes.

There are so many positions you can do with the Snoogle! You can roll it up behind you and lean back on it. You can snuggle with it as if you are hugging it. But the best position for me was side-lying, using one end as a pillow, wrapping the rest of it around my back tightly, pulling the other end up in between my legs, and the kicker, tucking the last little end piece right under my ever growing belly.

That little extra bit really helped to support my belly from underneath when I was laying on my side (trying to nap on the couch while watching TV). Otherwise gravity would be pulling my belly down and cause some serious pulling discomfort in my abdomen, back and legs.

It was getting to the point that as soon as my body snuggled into that Snoogle I would be asleep. Even my husband used it sometimes! Once I had to pry it off his hibernating body (not an easy feat when you are super pregnant).

Do the biggest favor for yourself and GET THAT SNOOGLE! You will not regret it!

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Maximize Comfort Even When Your Back Starts Hurting

pregnant back pain

Back pain is almost inevitable, especially towards the later stages of your pregnancy. Having the right products on hand can be the key to keeping the aches and pains at bay!

Belly Band

When it starts to feel like you are carrying one of those mini watermelons with just your lower belly, then it’s time to get an belly band. You definitely want this band before your belly gets too big.

In my second trimester I thought to myself, maybe I don’t need this yet, I’m not even that big yet. It probably won’t help. BOY was I WRONG! After I strapped that thing under my growing belly, my back actually forgot it was pregnant for a minute!

Working 12 hour shifts in the Emergency Room, on my feet for the majority of that time, this thing was a back saver! It supported the weight of the belly and dispersed it so my entire body was working to hold up that belly, not just my lower back.

There are MANY different belly bands out there. I’m pretty sure I spent days on Amazon reading all the reviews before deciding on this belly band.

It is not as wide as a lot of the others, it is slightly breathable, and super easy to use. There are photos on Amazon that shows you how to use it.

Even though it is breathable, it does tend to feel a little scratchier than I’d like (I am super picky about what material touches my skin). You can remedy this situation easily by using it with a pregnancy undershirt/camisole.

I used these all the time during the later stages of my pregnancy since I didn’t buy that many maternity clothes. I just wore pregnancy camisoles and an open button up shirt over it, then put the belly band over the cami and under the over-top.

What I did OFTEN was use them on top of fold-over yoga pants when I was at home in my comfies!

This belly band worked like a charm for the majority of the time during my pregnancies (next section). It eased and supported the constant pressure from the pulling of the growing belly. My lower back instantly felt better when I wore this. Sometimes, even laying down didn’t compare to using the belly band.

Kinesiology Tape

pregnant belly supported with kinesiology tape

This is something I wish I knew about when I was pregnant! It is new for use during pregnancy since I’ve had my babies. My sister is a dancer and she used this stuff ALL THE TIME for when she was hurting. She and all her dancer friends loved this tape!

Pregnancy belts can sometimes get hot and uncomfortable, but Kenisio Tape is elastic yet supportive, like an adjunct to your skin. This can greatly increase your comfort level. No re-adjusting or re-applying after every bathroom break or shower.

Kinesiology Tape is safe to use during pregnancy and drug free! Each application can last for 3-5 days at a time and is water resistant. Bonus! They come in super fun colors if that’s your style!

Be sure to apply it correctly to maximize it’s benefits.

I only wish I had come across using it for pregnancy when I was pregnant. . . Sigh. . .

The Cat-Cow Yoga Pose

Years ago I was really into Yoga. Thankfully I still remembered the Cat-Cow pose when I got pregnant! Later into your pregnancy, your back starts to do this thing we medical folks call lordosis. It’s a condition where your lower spine is pulled too far forward from the weight of your belly, and let me tell you, it hurts!

All I wanted to do was to be able to curl up into a ball to relieve the constant pressure. But my ginormous belly was preventing this from happening.

I highly recommend you start doing these stretches before your belly starts growing. It will help strengthen your lower back and abdominal area for better support when your are bigger. If you start early, later on, muscle memory will kick in as well. So when you are bigger it will be easier for your body to do these stretches.

vector of woman doing cat and cow pose
Cat Pose and Cow Pose

Do at least 10 very slow and deliberate repetitions daily. Even better if you can do them twice a day (morning and evening).

Not only is it supposed to be good for back and abdominal strengthening, and relieving back pain, it also helps with pelvic alignment, and optimal baby positioning for delivery. Love it!

Maximize Comfort Even When Swollen

The majority of my swelling didn’t happen until the last month of my pregnancies. Up until then the swelling was relatively mild. I credit at least 60% of that to my adamant use of TED hose and Pregnancy Stockings.

Come to think of it, I did have a couple months off before giving birth, so I was at home and did not bother to pull them on. Thinking back now, maybe I should have continued to wear them. Maybe the swelling would not have been so bad that last month.

TED Hose (Medical Compression Stockings)

At the hospital, patients sometimes wear something called TED hose. They are stockings that basically squeeze your legs tightly to help increase circulation and decrease swelling.

Nurses realized that these TED hose work well not just for patients, but for nurses themselves! Since we are on our feet for 12 hour shifts, our feet and legs swell by the end of the day. Even more so when you are pregnant!

I realized that when I wore them my legs felt less heavy and I had more energy throughout the day. It’s as if they make you feel like your legs are lighter, not as heavy. So you can walk with a bounce in your step again!

Co-workers would say, “You don’t even seem pregnant! How are you still so energetic? Aren’t your feet swollen?”

And I would show them my TED hose and tell them how much they help. I even converted some guys to wearing them at work!

TED hose work great, but are thick and can get super hot when you have them on for long periods of time (as with the belly band). Also, they can be quite difficult to pull on when your belly is really big. That’s why I transitioned to Pregnancy Stockings.

Pregnancy Stockings

Pregnancy Stockings are different from TED hose. They are not as thick and tight (although, you can find the medical grade ones, but I’ve only tried the regular ones).

Pregnancy Stockings are like pantyhose with extra material that makes room at the belly with reinforcement under the belly for extra support.

They are not as hot and thick as the TED hose and the belly band. If you are somewhere very cold, you can stick with those but if it is warm out, the pregnancy stockings work almost as well without being so hot. Wearing them to work was a MUST!

They seemed to help push my circulation in the correct direction instead of pooling at my feet and lower legs giving me increased energy.When I would forget to wear the pregnancy stockings to work, I was so much more tired and my legs were so swollen! My legs felt like cement blocks by the end of the day without them.

Bonus! TED hose and Pregnancy Stockings are supposed to help prevent varicose veins too!

Sandals, sandals, sandals, Uggs. . .

I LIVED in sandals when I was pregnant. Who am I kidding, I STILL live in them! But they really do help when you are pregnant.

First off, you can’t really bend over to put on sneakers when your belly is gigantic (don’t even get me started on tying shoelaces). Second, you can put them on while in a standing position (super helpful not to have to sit down and get up, trust me). Third, and most importantly, you can wear them even when your feet start swelling (they can still fit for quite some time).

Be sure to get at least a half size up if your swelling is significant.

My sister had foot surgery (both her feet) resulting in lots of pain and swelling for weeks. The ONLY footwear she could use were her trusty UGGS. Even sandals were too tight because the swelling was so bad. Loose sandals would leave indentions in her feet as if there were tourniquets on them.

I was lucky that my feet didn’t swell to enormous proportions until my last month. I never got the opportunity to use UGGS for swollen pregnancy feet due to the fact that it was already pretty warm outside in California at that point. Hence the sharing of my sister’s lovely foot surgery story.

Maximize Comfort Even When the Itching Starts

woman scratching arm

Increased Blood Volume

One surprising reason for generalized itching during pregnancy is increased blood volume. Your pregnant body needs to be able to grow the placenta, support the uterus’ need for approximately 1/5 of the blood supply, and. . .

Our bodies are so AMAZING! But this increase in blood supply can cause mild to moderate itching as early as mid-first trimester.

There is no getting around the increased blood volume, but I minimized the itching by keeping my skin as cool as possible. Loose cotton clothing was my friend. So was air conditioning, ceiling fans, spray bottles, and ice.

Your body eventually gets used to the increase in circulation and the itching pretty much goes away. But until then, the aforementioned cooling measures were implemented on a regular basis.

Bright side: Increased blood volume is partially responsible for pregnancy glow! Yay!

Pregnancy Rash

Towards the end of my first trimester (in both pregnancies), I developed what my OBGyn diagnosed as pregnancy rash or PUPPS (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy). She said its pretty common and normal in pregnancy. Well it did NOT feel very normal to me. Her suggestion: hydrocortizone cream, bah!

The rash covered my entire back, my upper arms, bottom, and thighs. I would have gone through the entire tube in 2 days flat. Also, I was weary of applying that much medicated cream to my body while pregnant, so I didn’t use it.

For me, some serious exfoliation in a hot shower with my Korean body scrubber and extremely generous application of Cetaphil calmed the itching until my hormones balanced out enough to where the rash went away.

I would even take a small container of lotion out with me or to work to apply it whenever the itching got unbearable. Life saver!

Also, rinsing off with cold water at the end of my super hot shower would calm the itch. Some people may do better with luke-warm/cooler showers rather than hot showers to keep the rash from becoming inflamed and more itchy. I personally don’t feel clean unless my shower is scalding, that’s why I did the cold water rinse at the end.

Skin Stretching

Skin stretching is inevitable in pregnancy. Your belly has to accommodate your growing baby (and all the other stuff like amniotic fluid and placenta).

If skin stretches too fast and too much it can cause those dreaded stretch marks! See what you can do about it on my post for preventing stretch marks.

The tell-tell sign that your skin is stretching too much and/or too fast is ITCHING!

In order to prevent the itch, be sure to gain weight as slowly as possible. Try not to gain more weight than you are supposed to either. Be sure to keep lotions or oils nearby to apply to the itchy areas to keep them moisturized. This will keep the itching to a minimum and help maximize your comfort.

ICP (intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy):

emergency sign with phone

AKA: Obstetric Cholestasis. This is a dangerous condition that can occur usually during the later stages of pregnancy. You must receive medical treatment for this! ICP/OB is very dangerous for you and your baby.

One of the main symptoms is itching, particularly in the hands and feet but can be anywhere. Another symptom is dark urine. This condition affects the liver so you may also experience some yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Usually OC doesn’t start until the last trimester of pregnancy but it sometimes can occur as early as the first trimester.

Be sure to call your doctor IMMEDIATELY if you are experiencing these symptoms!

Maximizing Comfort with Everyday Wear

My everyday wear had to be adjusted after I got pregnant. You can only use hair-ties and pregnancy pant bands for so-long to extend your favorite jeans. I needed to maximize my comfort level and my regular clothes just weren’t making the cut.

Fold-over Yoga Pants

I had a few pairs of these in my closet already. Super convenient! Almost every woman I know has at least one pair of these fold-over yoga pants somewhere in their closet.

The fold-over part of the pants were the key. When your belly is still small, wear them like you are supposed to (folded over). The extra, stretchy material really helps your belly and back feel supported.

When your belly starts to get too big for the folding over, unfold them and stretch them over the bottom part of your belly. This makes the material a little thinner and stretchier to extend the life of the pants.

When the bottom part of your pregnant belly has this soft, stretchy, supportive material pulled over it, you just feel SO much more comfortable in these than regular pants.

Pregnancy Tights/Leggings

Eventually I had to give in and buy some maternity tights (the yoga pants could only stretch so far without sliding off me). But I found these wonderful Pea in the Pod brand ones.

To give you an idea how much I love these maternity leggings, I wore the same pair for both my pregnancies and I STILL wear them regularly, even though I bought them when my 3 year old was in my belly!

In fact, I’m wearing them at this very moment! They are great quality and so, so comfy!

I highly recommend getting at least one pair of pregnancy tights. They will become your go-to pant even after having the baby.

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Staying Comfortable Throughout Your Pregnancy

pregnant woman sitting comfortably on bed

It is NOT impossible to stay in a relatively comfortable state while pregnant. Finding the right products and techniques can make quite a tremendous difference.

But just because you are more comfortable than before using these products, doesn’t mean your body is as comfortable as not being pregnant. Just remember, there is an end to this seemingly unrelenting strain on your body.

Eventually the baby will come out, you will heal, and your body will return to it’s normal state (almost). Your life will not, but your body will come close.

But the fact is, no matter what you do, you will experience some sort of discomfort. The secret trick is to learn to be okay with the annoying symptoms. You can learn this with my easy 4 step technique:

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This method will help in EVERY aspect of your pregnant mommy and soon to be mommy life.

Find out so much more about pregnancy in my post What No One Tells You About Pregnancy!

Leave me a comment below! I would LOVE to hear about any products that help you through your pregnancies. I’m always keeping an eye out for the next best thing!

All the love!

-Jen

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