Back pain, stretch marks, swelling and nausea may not be the highlights of pregnancy but they are facts of life for those 40 blessed weeks. Today’s expectant moms need not take it lying down; there are products on the market designed to ease almost every malady associated with pregnancy.
When planning for your favorite mom-to-be’s birthday or Mother’s Day, save the infant sleepers and wipe-warmers for the baby shower. Instead, focus your gift on improving the nine most productive months of her life.
Deliver relief from morning sickness in the form of Preggie Pops. These nausea-fighting lollipops can be found at Gilbert-based Once Upon a Child for $3.50 per pack of seven.
Nauseous moms will also appreciate supplies of ginger ale, saltines, ginger tea and candied ginger (available at most health food stores). Many women swear by the power of sea-sickness bands, which deliver relief from nausea and vomiting through acupressure. Pairs of Sea-Bands are available for about $10 at Walgreens.
Pregnancy can wreak havoc on an expectant mom’s entire digestive tract. Chandler mom Erin Daniels received a pregnancy gift basket bearing witch hazel pads and Preparation-H (for hemorrhoid relief), Tums (for heartburn) and Peri-Colace stool softener. The card read: “Things you wish you didn’t need, or will be lucky to not need (so pass them on to another!)”
“It was the oddest, yet most useful gift ever…unfortunately,” Daniels says. Be sure to consider your relationship with the recipient of this basket before rushing out to the store!
The rules of fitness change during pregnancy. Nothing too strenuous, no working out on your back and watching for signs of distress are all part of the game. Yoga programs designed for pregnancy are good for keeping strong and balanced. Low-impact aerobics get the heart rate up. Get the best of both worlds with Leisa Hart’s “FitMama Prenatal and Postnatal Pregnancy Workout” DVD, $14.99 at Target.
Ali Kamen, owner of Zenergy Yoga studio in Scottsdale offers pre- and post-natal yoga classes. At the prenatal stage, “we teach different poses for relief, staying careful not to overextend ligaments that are loosened by pregnancy hormones,” she says. “The post-natal class focuses on safely rebuilding core strength and relieving the aches brought on by carrying baby and items like diaper bags and car seats.”
The Chris-Town YMCA offers lots of exercise classes for pregnant women. Branch administrator Jared Pitts especially recommends Kundalini yoga (which emphasizes strong, continuous breathing techniques coordinated with postures, meditation and chanting), chair yoga (seated poses) and water aerobics. He says that most exercise classes are appropriate for expectant moms and that staff instructors allow self-pacing and assessment of individual skill sets to ensure safety.
The perfect attire for women doing yoga for two? Chewylou Designs (a company owned by Tempe mom Alyssa Dinowitz), offers a shirt that says “breathe” on the front and defines it with the words “believe, release, expand, align, trust, heal, exhale” on the back; $32.
Former model and yoga instructor Kristi Bell founded Scottsdale-based Amon Maternity, a line of maternity lingerie designed to provide support for active moms-to-be. Amon’s ultra-soft brief, designed for everyday wear, recently was included in Pregnancy Magazine’s guide to “best products for 2009.” The brief offers an integrated under-tummy support band, back support panel, breathable microfiber fabric and a front section that expands for the varying stages of pregnancy; $22.
Working out the kinks
Sleep becomes elusive for the expectant mother as her tummy grows. Side sleeping, recommended by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is a balancing act from the second trimester on. A body pillow props mom on her side, supporting all the right places. These pillows can be found as inexpensively as $10 to $15 or up to $50 for pillows designed expressly for pregnancy. Shop Target or Babies R Us for the latter.
If the pillow alone doesn’t ease an aching back, prenatal massage should help. A gift certificate for a massage—or any spa service at the Amomi Pregnancy Wellness Spa in north Scottsdale is the perfect treat for any mom-to-be. Operated by doctors, the spa offers a full range of services including facials, peels and pedicures. The Refreshing Peppermint Pedicure, $60 for one hour, is sure to get an achy mom back on her feet.
Baby’s got the munchies
When baby’s hungry, Mom’s hungry, which makes Belly Bars—a great-tasting nutrition bar formulated specifically for pregnancy—one of the greatest inventions ever. The bars are especially helpful for moms who get sick or faint when their blood sugar level drops. The “Baby Needs Chocolate” Belly Bar is like a meal in your purse, covered in chocolate. It doesn’t get much better than that! $1.99 each at Whole Foods Market.
When Mom’s blood sugar isn’t in question but her need for small indulgences is, a taste of her favorite junk food is a terrific way to boost morale. “Cheetos were at the top of my pregnancy comforts list,” confesses Kristina Green of Chandler, who balanced periodic splurges with pilates. (She recommends the “Pilates for Pregnancy” DVD by Mari Winsor). Gotta have balance, right?
Bath products bring pampering home but if you go this route, remember that pregnant women have sensitive skin and noses that are sensitive to odors. Unscented lotions designed for sensitive skin are your best bet. The Basq Deluxe Gift Box is $62 and a high-rated item from pregnancy gurus Pickles & Ice Cream Maternity Apparel.
Nine months to remember
As experienced moms know, a type of brainwashing occurs once baby arrives. Sleepless nights, constant feedings, diaper changing and the shift of focus away from self have the effect of deleting both precious and not-so-precious pregnancy memories. (This is what allows women to want more than one child.) Help mom preserve those memories with a gift that will last. A maternity photo session captures the fleeting shape of a woman-with-child. Done tastefully, “belly shots” become family heirlooms, often cherished most by the featured child.
- Ivy Studios in Gilbert offers a variety of Baby Love photo packages. The most popular is a maternity, newborn and three-month baby photo combo priced at $795. It includes three one-hour sessions, digital images and an album.
- Gilbert photographer Ana C. offers a maternity and newborn package combo for $250, which includes a 20- to 30-minute maternity sitting and two to three hours with your newborn.
- Scottsdale emergency room physician Michael Alberti, M.D. is another photographer who specializes in pregnancy images (some of his photos are displayed on the walls at Scottsdale’s Amomi Pregnancy Wellness Spa).
- Artistic Impressions by Mara Fine Art Photography in Phoenix also specializes in preserving memories of pregnancy and childhood. Mara Blom Schantz, the mother of two boys, has been working in photography since the age of 3, when her photographer father used her as a model.
The Pregnancy Journal: A Day-to-Day Guide to a Healthy and Happy Pregnancy by A. Christine Harris, $15.96, relates daily tidbits about baby’s growth and development, leaving space for moms to record their feelings, memories and specific information about obstetrics visits.
A good birthing book, such as Hypnobirthing: A Natural Approach to a Safe, Easier, More Comfortable Birthing by Marie Mongan or The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth by William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N. are great gifts for any woman with childbirth on her horizon.
For voracious readers, tack on a breastfeeding book, a child development book or a pregnancy-related novel (try Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner) to keep her last days of “free reading time” interesting.
Entertain and enlighten
Movies like “Nine Months,” “Father of the Bride 2” and “She’s Having a Baby” have entertained generations of moms who need to laugh about what ails them. “Where the Heart Is,” the hopeful tale of a homeless teenage mother, will work up a good cry, which I’ve heard is good for relieving pre-labor tension. Bed-bound moms will especially appreciate any good books or movies and maybe a bottle of sparkling apple cider.
The greatest gifts you can give a mom-to-be have no price tag. Throw together a casserole to pop in her freezer. Stick a bow on top to make it formal.
An at-home pedicure can be just as relaxing as a trip to the spa. As a gift, Maricopa-based doula Shannon Tuke, whose profession is all about providing birth support, brought a footbath to her friend’s home. She soaked her friend’s feet and lent a listening ear. That gift was a big hit.
Tuke suggests making an IOU book full of promises—to vacuum the house, watch older children or paint those hard-to-reach toenails. Your time, support and a little elbow grease will go a long way toward improving the quality of a woman’s nine most expectant months.