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Libby Matthews' Pregnancy Page: My pregnancy essentials & what you can live without

In her exclusive pregnancy column, the nutritionist, naturopath, and author shares what she's used most of during pregnancy.

Libby Matthews' pregnancy essentials
Libby Matthews is a first-time mum-to-be, who along with sister Julia, has inspired Kiwis with the popular lifestyle blog, Julia & Libby. Over the next few months, Libby will share the highs and lows of her pregnancy with us here at the Weekly.
I’m currently 32 weeks pregnant, and my baby is due next month! It’s crazy to think that I thought my belly was big a month ago because this week I am feeling huge and it’s only going to grow even more.
Sleep is starting to get uncomfortable, exercising is getting awkward due to my belly getting in the way, and with the temperature being in the mid 30’s here in South Africa, I am feeling like an oven. However, my energy levels are up and I’m finally getting the nursery sorted which is very exciting.
When you’re pregnant, sometimes it’s the little things you can’t live without. It can be a stressful, exhausting and swollen time. Each week brings a new list of symptoms that your body will go through and there are some pregnancy essentials I've discovered that bring me relief.

Belly Oil
Throughout pregnancy our bodies go through some huge changes, and the most obvious is a growing belly. Fluctuating hormones can often leave the skin feeling dry and itchy, and when this happens, it is common for stretch marks to appear.
Although there is often no way of avoiding them no matter how much oil you rub on your belly, it is important to keep your skin nourished and hydrated.
Every evening after my shower, I apply oil to my belly when my skin is still warm. It can be used on other growing areas that are prone to stretch marks such as thighs and breasts too. Oil is also great to use on any sore and achy areas of your body such as your feet or legs.
Ideally I like to use oils that have natural ingredients, as 80 per cent of what we apply to our skin is absorbed directly into our blood stream.
Vein support
During pregnancy, varicose and spider veins go hand in hand. A pregnant woman's blood volume increases by 40-50 per cent and her expanding uterus puts pressure on main arteries - with both these factors meaning varicose veins and spider veins can appear or worsen.
No matter how active I am staying, I still noticed broken veins down the back of my thighs which I did not have before. Due to this, I have been using the ‘Vein Support Oral Liquid’ by Artemis Health which is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. This product contains plant extracts that support healthy veins and circulation and I've been taking the liquid three times daily.
Varicose veins run in our family (thanks Dad!), so I want to make sure I am taking something to strengthen my veins, reduce swelling and minimise pain caused by weakened blood vessels.
The oral liquid can also be taken in higher doses when flying to prevent swelling and blood clots. Since I have been flying regularly I have been doubling up on the dosage which is recommended.
The Right Bra
During pregnancy your breasts will go through some big changes, and the last thing you want is to be wearing a bra that is two cup sizes too small and cutting into your breast tissue. Before I was pregnant I lived in sports bras and lace bras which unfortunately don’t fit me anymore and probably won't again.
Along with growing breasts we also gain weight and our rib cages expand, so there are certain items of clothing you'll need to buy.
Bras can be expensive, but finding the right maternity bra doesn’t have to be. Some of my favourite and affordable maternity bras I have purchased are from Cotton On and Rose & Thorne. The bras start from $15 and are super comfortable. Last week I purchased two sports bras from Lorna Jane which are supportive and have an adjustable back so they don’t cut into you while exercising.

Pregnancy multi vitamin
Nothing is more important than the health of your baby but sometimes getting all the nutrients into one day is hard. If someone has morning sickness and cannot keep any food down or can only live off crackers, chances are they won’t be getting all the nutrients they need for the baby.
When I was really sick, I could hardly keep any food down, and when I could, it was only vegetables. I made sure I was taking a multi vitamin that had everything I needed in it including folic acid, vitamin D, iron and calcium to counteract anything I was missing from my diet.
Some pregnancy multi vitamins can be very expensive and it is just another added cost with everything else that needs to be purchased while pregnant, but there are economical options. I really like the Swisse Pregnancy Ulitvite and Ultra Ceuticals InNatal plus Iron as they can be used during pre-conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding, and aren’t too expensive. I’m also taking an Omega 3 supplement as I have found my skin and hair are drier than normal.
Comfortable Clothes
Dressing for pregnancy can be a challenge because you are suddenly dressing a body that is completely foreign to you, and you have no idea what’s going to look good on it.
When it comes to my pregnancy wardrobe, I stick to a pretty simple assortment.
Due to it being extremely hot in South Africa, jeans are out of the picture which is great because whether they are maternity jeans or not, they aren’t the most comfortable when you really start to show. Some of the items I can’t live without are my Lulu Lemon leggings - they're a soft and light fabric with a really high waist so you can pull them right over your belly.
I found some long, loose singlets for $15 each on ASOS, which I have worn throughout my pregnancy and can keep wearing once the baby is born. At Cotton On I purchased some basic tunic dresses which have been a lifesaver, as they can be dressed up or worn around the house.
Sometimes dressing in oversized clothing can make you look a lot bigger than you are which is why I have tried to embrace my bump and worn some of my long singlets I had before I was pregnant. I don’t think it’s necessary to go out and buy a whole new maternity wardrobe when you grow out of everything so fast and might not wear again. It's worth trying some of your stretchier pieces from pre-pregnancy to see if you can still work it in.
Libby x