My pregnancy nighttime routine

Nighttime sleep doesn’t always come easily, especially towards the end of pregnancy. I’d never struggled with insomnia until the end of my third trimester. So, through trial and error, I created a nighttime routine to help signal to my body that it was time to rest and to make myself as physically comfortable as possible.

8:00 pm: warm milk with molasses. I love having a warm, cozy beverage after supper. Since molasses is a good source of iron, calcium, magnesium and other trace minerals, I started mixing it with warm milk over the stove (about a cup and a half of milk to a tablespoon of molasses). So relaxing and good for you as well!

9:00 pm: warm shower. I’ve always preferred to shower at night, but especially during pregnancy. It really helped put me in bedtime mode, and the warm water relaxed my muscles.

9:20 pm: tart cherry juice. I’ve written about tart cherry juice and its incredible sleep properties before. Every night, immediately before bed, I mixed about two tablespoons of tart cherry juice with warm water to help me sleep. I swear it works like a charm!

9:25 pm: heating pad. My neck, shoulders and upper back are my problem areas and where I hold tension. I kept this neck and shoulder heating pad plugged in beside my bed and fell asleep with it on low every night. It helped relieve my discomfort and felt so soothing.

9:30 pm: pregnancy pillow. This pregnancy pillow helped support my growing belly and aching back and hips during my last two trimesters. Highly recommend.

2:00 am: stretching. Inevitably after falling asleep, I would wake up several hours later with back and hip pain. The only thing that made me feel better was light stretching. My go-tos were a forward bend (with my hands on the edge of our bathtub), cat/cow, a deep squat, butterfly, head to knee pose and a figure-four stretch. That combination really worked for me.

4:00 am: Ensure Plus Nutrition Shakes. At least once during the night, I would wake up hungry. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, I kept a stash of Ensure Plus Shakes by my bed for convenience. They have 27 vitamins and minerals and 16 grams of protein. That was amazing for me because I struggled to get enough protein in my diet, and during pregnancy, you should aim for at least 50-75 grams of protein per day.

Gift guide for expecting moms

It’s that time of year! Below are the best products I used during (and after) pregnancy, plus a bonus gift idea that I regret not getting while I was expecting. Happy Holidays!

This pregnancy pillow helped support my growing belly and aching back and hips during my last two trimesters. And after the baby is born, the pillow can be used for breastfeeding, as a baby lounger (create a circle, cover with a blanket and place the baby in the center) and as a protective bumper when the baby is learning to sit.

We used our yoga ball throughout pregnancy, labor and postpartum. I swapped out my desk chair and sat on the ball while I worked. It helps strengthen your lower back, supports your pelvis and helps with the baby’s position (which is super important towards the end of pregnancy). During labor, I kneeled on it and leaned forward over it for support. You can also bounce on it during contractions to help speed things along. After our baby was born, an Occupational Therapist suggested that we bounce our daughter face up on it to help relieve gas. I was always too nervous to try to balance her on the ball like that, but my husband did it basically every night for the first two months. It was sometimes the only way she would fall asleep. (We got ours from TJ Maxx; they have really good prices.) Here’s a great article on choosing the right sized ball based on your height.

I love, love, love The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth and recommend it to everyone I know. It is so comprehensive, so accessible and such an easy reference guide. Don’t be intimidated by the word “natural” in the title; Genevieve gives advice that’s appropriate for all types of birth plans, not just non-medicated ones. The book has recipes, simple descriptions of complex healthcare terms and great advice for maximizing your health during and after pregnancy. I loved the ritual of reading the book at the beginning of every week, and the content was always spot on for the growth of the baby, how I was feeling and the decisions we were making at each stage.

Everyone swears by Hatch Belly Oil to nourish the skin and help prevent stretch marks. It’s made with calming botanicals like calendula, which is healing and soothing for the skin, so it’s safe for mom and baby. It’s a little on the pricey side, so it would be the perfect luxurious gift!

Beautycounter is the only clean brand I know of that’s Environmental Working Group (EWG) Verified for its skincare and makeup products. EWG is an amazing resource for information on a product’s toxicity, allergens, supply chain and animal testing policies. Clean products are important for everyone, but especially while pregnant, breastfeeding and even before trying to conceive.

I think MORROW+MINT has the most gorgeous alternatives to the utilitarian nursing bras that we’re all accustomed to. The brand focuses on designing bralettes that are as comfortable as they are beautiful. What an uplifting way to support a new mom! You can buy their gift cards online.

Other than not getting acupuncture to help with morning sickness during my first trimester, my only regret from pregnancy is not keeping a pregnancy journal. I love the idea of chronicling your pregnancy journey, your transition into a mother and all of the little details (cravings, dreams, growth milestones, etc.) that you’ll never want to forget. This Growing You journal is such a sweet, gender-neutral heirloom that can later be passed on to baby.