Ultimate TTC & Pregnancy Guide for First-Time Mommas

Hi, friends!

I wanted to write a post for those moms who either 1) just found out they’re expecting, 2) are in the first trimester but haven’t broken the news yet, or 3) are hoping to get pregnant soon. Those first months can be hard, not only because the fatigue and morning sickness are so real, but also because if you’re keeping things to yourself, whether trying to conceive or only 5 or 6 weeks along, you want advice, resources, and just general camaraderie, but don’t know where to get it. This post is for all of you girls who secretly want allll the pregnancy info, tips, and ideas!I’m going to cover several different topics, so if you’re looking for something specific in this post, take a quick skim through the headlines to land on a topic. But if you can’t find what you’re looking for here, PLEASE reach out to me – I’d be happy to help in any way I can!

***Please also note that this post covers before & during pregnancy (including preparing to try & actively TTC) – but not after. I’m planning to do another post just like this for all things postpartum and another one for baby faves & necessities. (I do have a little post on after-baby care tips for new moms! You can read it here!

Ultimate Comfort Items

While every woman is different, and all of us have a different experience, there are a few heavenly things that I believe were sent by God to make pregnant and TTC momma’s lives easier.

  • PREGNANCY PILLOWS. This is literally the first thing I bought when I found out I was pregnant. I cannot recommend these enough, whether you’re pregnant now or TTC and just want to treat yourself to the most comfortable sleep position possible. I have a full body-length one, but this U shaped one is on my wish list, especially because I already sleep with pillows on both sides.
  • LEGGINGS. Always. Before you even have a bump, you can wear the maternity ones that go nearly up to your bra. THEY ARE AMAZING. My faves are the Ingrid & Isabel Maternity line from Target.
  • Tops – Long flowy tees for summer (I personally am obsessed with PEPLUMS), and oversized sweaters for winter – Enough said.
  • Buy something SHERPA. A blanket, a pullover hoodie, whatever. JUST DO IT. Preferably sherpa-lined on the inside so you can feel the softest, most cozy material when you’re dying of fatigue, nauseous AF or dealing with cycle troubles.
  • Foot Care – Okay. Not everyone is so fortunate to experience swollen achy feet, but if you are one of those “blessed” mommas, BUY A FOOT MASSAGER. Preferably one that holds hot water and rolls/vibrates all over your feet. After long work days, sitting and soaking my feet in this was a lifesaver. ALSO – most of your shoes probably won’t fit. Invest in a pair of sneakers, work shoes, and dressier shoes in your bigger shoe size. Your feet will thank you.
  • A relaxing home atmosphere. Clean up clutter, get rid of stuff you don’t need/want anymore, light candles and/or diffuse your favorite oils, and put on a great playlist. This does wonders for helping you love your home, no matter if it’s your dream home or an apartment you can’t wait to leave. My favorite candles are the soy candle line from Target which always has amazing seasonal scents. Fave essential oils are orange, grapefruit (anything citrus) lavender and seasonal blends like cinnamon/nutmeg/whatever. My only caution for diffusing oils is to make sure that you clean out the residue from your diffuser before starting another session, and don’t diffuse for long hours. Generally, just follow the guidelines on your oils, if they have them. (Side note – If you want some great oils but don’t want the whole starter kit, I can hook you up by ordering one or two that you want with Young Living at my discounted price. Just contact me!)
  • Nausea – Ginger candies if you can handle ginger. Anything hard to suck on will help a lot. I survived on Saltine Goldfish, this Lemonade, and Gatorade for about two straight months when I couldn’t even drink water. BEST TEAS FOR NAUSEA are peppermint, chamomile, and ginger. There are pregnancy blends that combine these herbs as well as other helpful herbs. My favorite blend is Pregnancy Tea by Traditional Medicinals – it has a subtle, pleasant herbal & minty taste that isn’t too overpowering and is great on it’s own without milk or sweetener. I always drink my teas plain, but if you can’t do that, a few drops of honey or agave will do the trick!
  • BEST TEAS FOR WOMEN’S GENERAL HEALTH – These are my absolute FAVORITE teas that all have major benefits for women in relation to cycles, hormonal balance, and general wellness. The herbs in these teas are all linked to healthy cycles and hormone balance, and they have helped me greatly in relation to my crazy hormone swings, skin issues, and mood. I literally drink these teas ALL THE TIME and have a bag/box of each in my drawer as we speak!
    • Raspberry Leaf Tea (Used for many years to help women in all stages of their cycles, from menstruation to pregnancy and postpartum. This one has an earthy taste like a breakfast tea. It’s really good on it’s own, but also great with a bit of almond milk)
    • Nettle Superherb (I LOVE THIS ONE SO MUCH. it has a subtle vanilla & mint taste- so good!)
    • Get Gorgeous (Has a yummy berry flavor from the orange peel & chamomile)
    • Dandelion (legit smells & tastes like COOKIES.)
  • BONUS: Bows for Baby Girl – Girl moms, you can get a month of 3 adorable bows for free with Little Poppy Co! I subscribe to their bows and they are the most adorable, not gaudy or too girly/loud, stylish bows! I subscribed as soon as I found out RJ was a girl, so I got fun mail each month that had me dreaming of her being here to wear them. You can go to their Instagram for details, or just contact me and I’ll find the info for you. 🙂

Clean House

I kind of touched on this above, but a clean house will do wonders for your mood and overall mindset. I know it can be so hard with the extreme fatigue and insanely low energy levels (In those early weeks of pregnancy, I felt like I’d been hit by a semi every morning), but when you find that you feel a bit more energized, pick one or two areas of your home that could use a good clean, and get to work. My two areas of choice were always the kitchen and either living room or bedroom – just the places where we spent the most time. It really helped me to be able to relax when I knew the kitchen was spotless and I could sit in a clutter-free living room and read or watch a show.

Plants

I love the touch of lively green that plants bring to my home, but I’m actually pretty bad at keeping them alive. I’ve even killed succulents – the things that thrive on neglect and are super durable and resilient and aren’t supposed to die ever). But here are some of my favorite plants to brighten up a room:

  • Rubber plant/tree
  • Snake plant
  • Spider plant
  • Various succulents

Fresh Flowers

If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, they are the best for inexpensive bundles of fresh flowers! I usually pick up a $4 or $6 bouquet every time I stop by. They look gorgeous and are carefully arranged, but you can buy their bouquets and create your own arrangement if you’re feeling creative! I love mixing stems I get in their bouquets with wildflowers I cut from outside in the spring/summer. A simple vase on the kitchen table, coffee table, or in the bedroom can literally brighten up the entire house.

(SHAMELESS PLUG FOR GROVE COLLABORATIVE) I know some of you will ask. I get natural and amazing-smelling cleaning supplies from Grove Collaborative. You can get a Mrs. Meyers set for free that includes:

-dish soap

-hand soap

-multi surface spray cleaner

-walnut scrubber sponges and a

-walnut scrubber dish brush

And you’ll get them all in a big box shipped to your house for free! All you have to do is buy $20 worth of things you already buy at the store like laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, toiletries, hand or dish soap, and other household items. It’s a giant box of natural cleaning supplies to your door to help you make your house look and smell amazing! Click here to get it!)

Advice for the Hopeful Mama-To-Be

When you want to have a baby, but it’s just not happening, life kind of just sucks. Your body has a mind of it’s own, and it isn’t cooperating at all with your carefully timed “activities” and cycle tracking. I’ve known many friends who are put through the exhausting roller-coaster of trying to conceive, and I know it can be utter heartbreak. Every month your hopes come up, and then they come crashing down the day your period arrives or when you see that negative test. Going through this month after month is absolutely devastating.

For you, and for those moms who want more than anything to start the TTC process but haven’t been able to for whatever reason, my heart truly goes out to you. I don’t have the magic answer to make your body start ovulating, balance your hormones, or fix whatever issue there is. But sometimes, there really isn’t anything wrong. One thing I wish I had known is that getting pregnant USUALLY doesn’t happen right away. It typically takes six months to a year to get pregnant for couples who don’t have another issue. So, if you’ve just started trying or are only a few months in, don’t lose heart. It’s likely that there is nothing wrong. Getting pregnant is truly a miracle when you think about all the things that have to take place for a baby to actually be conceived. The timing has to be concise and perfect. But don’t lose heart.

And if you have been on this journey for way longer than you’d hoped or anticipated, or have been to specialist after specialist, please know that you aren’t forgotten. You aren’t overlooked, and I see you. In a season where you see another pregnancy announcement every time you open up social media, are invited to a baby shower every month, and see pregnant bellies literally everywhere you look, please please know that you’re not excluded. I know it can feel like you’re just on the outside looking in to this exclusive “mom-club”, but please know that while I’m a mom myself, there is no club here. I don’t divide friends on a mom-side and a non-mom side, and neither do I do that for single vs. married friends, democrat vs. republican friends, or whatever else divides. You are welcome here, and I apologize on behalf of all the moms who have been insensitive to you, ignorant, or simply just rude. My heart is for you, and I will never stop rooting for you. Here’s a post I wrote as a letter just to you.

Practical TTC Tips

When you’re getting ready to start trying, or when you are actively TTC, there are a few things you can do to make sure your body is in optimal shape for pregnancy:

  • Start taking a prenatal vitamin. Look for one with folate rather than folic acid, as the body absorbs folate better in that form. Right now you might like a pill, but when you get pregnant and start getting nauseous, you will LOATHE swallowing a pill. I recommend tiny pills (which can be hard to find since you can’t see the size on the bottle) or gummy prenatals for pregnancy.
  • If you don’t already, start tracking your cycles. I love this app for cycle tracking. The calendar and diagrams are SUPER easy to follow and understand, and aren’t overloaded with data. This book is a great way to learn about knowing your body’s signs and how your individual cycle actually works. And here’s a workbook that is amazing! FYI for those who don’t know – the best time to get pregnant is within a few days BEFORE you ovulate – contrary to popular belief. There is a very short window for the egg to actually be fertilized before your body starts to reject it. Also contrary to popular belief – a clockwork, 28-day-cycle is RARE. If you want to conceive but it’s not happening, even though you think you’ve been trying at all the right times, your body might actually be ovulating way before (as in days or weeks) or way after the time you think it is. It’s important to find out when you are actually ovulating so you can fine-tune your “trying”.
  • With cycle tracking, I used a thermometer that I got from Walgreens and kept it on my bedside table. I set my alarm for the same time every day, even on weekends, so I could take my temp, mark it, and either get up or go back to sleep. To get an accurate reading, you need to take your temp at the same every day.
  • Be active! I tried to go for a walk or run every day after work. Of course I was terrible at doing it every day, but the key is just to make sure you’re moving so you’re in at least OK shape.
  • There are tons of foods that are good for TTC – most common are leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fish, whole grains, eggs, and water – tons of water. If you don’t like plain water, add some cut up fruits, veggies, and herbs to a pitcher or water bottle to flavor your water. I LOVE adding strawberries and basil to mine, cucumber, mint, blackberry, etc.
  • Try to avoid excess alcohol, caffeine and sugar because each of these will do a number on your reproductive health – not to mention your overall health. One cup of coffee a day isn’t going to hurt though.

TTC Natural Wellness

I first want to highlight a few natural herbal supplements that really balanced my hormones after terrible, dramatic highs and lows. You can read some of my story here, but if you don’t know already, I discovered that my body had an excess of estrogen which was sabotaging my liver and causing issues with my hormones, leaving me completely out of whack and giving me things like weird cycles, anovulatory (missed ovulation) cycles, and terrible cystic hormonal acne on my chin and jawline. I suffered with these symptoms for years in my early twenties before doing some digging and finding some answers. Estroblock literally changed everything and balanced my hormones completely naturally when paired with Burdock Root and Chaste Tree Berry (also called Vitex).

These supplements ultimately balanced my cycles to where I was ovulating regularly and at proper times for my body, eventually leading us to conceive after 5 months of stopping prevention methods.

Best Apps for Pregnancy & Baby Tracking

First time moms will no doubt download ALL the pregnancy apps. I’m pretty sure I had about 6 on my phone at one point. I loved reading the different weekly and monthly updates, and seeing the size comparisons. While each app has something special about it, I’m going to share my faves, and the ones I kept after pregnancy for baby milestones:

The Bump

This one is in my top 3 for sure. I still have it on my phone and I still get monthly updates on Riles as she’s been growing and changing during her first year. It’s adorable and contains so much helpful advice, and I love their “Top Questions” that come with each update, because they’re things you’re already wondering, and it’s like they read your mind!

Ovia Pregnancy Tracker

Okay, this one had the most ADORABLE feature – each week/month, you can see the actual size of your baby’s darling little hand and foot if it were resting on your phone, with the full size it will be at birth as an outline! I was constantly looking at this and watching it grow and dreaming of having my baby’s real hand and foot on my phone! The app itself has a cute/pretty interface and was not overloaded with information to make you feel overwhelmed.

Baby Center

This app was the best for videos and life-like diagrams of how baby is developing. But they don’t just cater to pregnant & postpartum mommas, they also are amazing for trying to conceive. There is so much valuable information for every stage of family planning on this one. The only word of advice I have is to not get too caught up in the forums for real answers – but instead go to a trusted source instead of getting your questions answered by internet moms who all have a vastly different experience. 😉

What To Expect

I enjoyed this app! Just a good general pregnancy app with adorable size comparisons! I don’t have much else to say on this, but it’s a good app!

Motherly Email

So this isn’t an app, but I really enjoyed the affirming, encouraging notes about how great I was doing growing this little human every month! You can enter your baby’s due date and sign up for emails here.

Prenatal Care

If you’re seeing an OB practice for your prenatal care, rather than going a natural/midwife/Home birth Route, here are a few tips:

  • This goes for pretty much any medical visit, but if you can, try to schedule your appointments in the mornings, because you’ll have less wait time.
  • Don’t pay attention to the weigh-ins. It can feel scrutinizing at times to have your weight judged at every single visit, but not only are you fully clothed and also wearing shoes (they may ask you to take your shoes off) but your body is growing in exactly the way it needs to to accommodate your baby, and gaining weight is just part of the gig that we can’t avoid. Don’t let it get you feeling down about yourself or effect your body image in a negative way.
  • ASK QUESTIONS. Don’t be afraid to speak up, even if you feel like it’s a stupid question. And while you’re at it, don’t let anyone rush you through a visit and make you leave feeling like you missed something or aren’t sure about something. Even if you’ve googled it, still ask your doctor. You want the opinions of a professional who has gone to school and studied everything you’re going through, not the internet, even if you may find some good stuff there.
  • This goes along with the point above, but if you feel like just a number to the doctor or if he or she doesn’t make you feel heard and understood, or doesn’t take the time to really listen and answer your questions, SWITCH. Don’t be afraid to ask to see another doctor at the practice or switch to a different practice completely. This is your body, your baby, your pregnancy and you deserve excellent care. Also, if a doctor or practice is not very attentive or kind during prenatal visits, they probably won’t be any different during your labor & delivery, and that’s the last thing you want.
  • The Glucose test is THE ACTUAL WORST. Not only are you forced to starve yourself all day until your appointment, you are also required to guzzle down a drink that tastes similar to cough syrup but with 1,000x more sugar that completely burns your throat. I don’t have any good advice about this, just commiseration. However, I do recommend picking a lemon lime flavor if they let you choose. It seems like the less terrible option.
  • There is no way to pee in a cup without splattering everywhere. Again, no good advice, just commiseration. On the bright side, peeing in a cup a million times is a small price to pay for a healthy babe.
  • Just a quick word about iron levels. Many women (myself included) develop iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy and even before. I actually dealt with this before I was ever pregnant. Anemia can make you even more exhausted and sluggish on top of your extreme fatigue. It’s the actual worst. Your doctor can approve an iron supplement that will help, but these can also make you nauseated. The best way I found was to take my supplements with saltine crackers and lemonade. For some reason, lemonade always cuts nausea down for me. And on top of supplements, drink lots of water, get some sun, and eat some yummy steak and other iron-rich foods like spinach.

Caring For Your Spouse

While it may seem backward to care for your guy during pregnancy, the truth is that if you’ve got a good man, he’s going to be doing all he can to take care of you and tend to your needs, but he’s feeling many of the same emotions you are, and even though he isn’t physically going through pregnancy, he needs a little self care, too! By no means was I perfect at this, but here are a few ideas for helping your spouse feel more involved and not forgotten in the whirlwind that is trying to conceive, baby planning and anticipating.

  • This seems obvious, but I’ve been surprised at how many guys I’ve heard of that haven’t actually been to their wife’s OB visits. Have him come along to your appointments – of course, he’ll want to see the baby, hear the heartbeat, and just glean the info you get from your check-ins. This was what helped my husband feel like it was his baby too, and allowed him to ask questions as we both learned about what was happening with the pregnancy.
  • Make him a dad-to-be gift. It can be something as simple as a mug, but the idea is to get him anticipating. It can be hard for guys to really do this sometimes, because they can’t feel or see the baby and life is basically the same as it’s always been. But a dad gift can make him remember – Oh yeah. Something awesome is happening. I’m going to be a dad!
  • Based on my own experience and my conversations with friends and other guys, men generally feel super nervous about becoming a dad. I mean, it’s only natural. The responsibility they feel when wanting to give their child the best, take care of their wife, and support their family can be a lot to take in. So encourage him throughout those months. Just remind him how awesome he is, and that you’re all going to be ok, and that he’s going to be a great dad. He’s probably not too sure about his parenting skills at the moment, which is also normal, but take the chance to tell him that you know he’s going to do great.
  • Treat yourself to a date night often. Before baby arrives, spend all the time you can investing in your marriage and enjoying the time you get without the added responsibilities of a child. You’ve got less than a year to enjoy going places without dragging bags and carseats and strollers and your entire house with you, and without counting down the time until your baby starts screaming in public, so enjoy them!

I also wanted to quickly include links to a few of my other blog posts that relate to these topics.

Hormonal Balance Part 1: Before Baby

 New Mama Care Tips

Read Riley’s birth story here

And you can check out the Pregnancy & Postpartum tag for all posts in this category.

If you liked this post, I hope you’ll share it with a friend or two who may also like it!

I hope this post has been helpful, but if I’ve missed something really important that you are dying to know about, PLEASE LET ME KNOW, and I’ll do another post! Also, if you’d like to see a post on any other topic related to women’s health, hormone balance, pregnancy, postpartum care, baby stuff, motherhood, parenthood, singleness, dating, marriage, or ANYTHING ELSE, tell me! I’d love your input!

Until next time,

HR

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