Pregnancy Survival Guide


Are any of you pregnant right now, or hoping to be soon? Inspired by my friend Abbey’s pregnancy guide, I figured I’d share a few things that I found helpful during my own pregnancy, and please share your tips, as well! Here goes…


Usually I love reading and research, but I was surprised to find that pregnancy guide books made me anxious. Most of the books I flipped through seemed to lean toward natural childbirth (and I knew I’d probably want an epidural) or felt unnecessarily scary (“What can go wrong during your fifth month? Let’s discuss!”). So, I just stopped reading them, which felt super bold at the time! Instead, I followed my doctor’s instructions (no wine, no hot tubs, etc.) and then followed my natural instincts. It was great to listen to my body for cues about eating and sleeping, use common sense, and try to trust that everything would be fine. If I had specific questions, I’d ask my friends, my mom or my doctor. (Did you find a pregnancy book you liked, though? If so, I’d love to hear…)

(Also, as I’ve mentioned before, Great With Child, the memoir about pregnancy, motherhood and marriage, was also wonderfully reassuring.)

(P.S. If you think you’d like to have a natural birth, a few my friends absolutely loved the book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.)


* Did you have any cravings while pregnant? I wanted BEEF! My friend wanted anything salty, and my mom said she craved eggs when she was pregnant with my sister and me. What about you?

* Certain types of fish have high levels of mercury, and pregnant women are supposed to avoid or cut down on them. Just stick this handy fish list in your wallet to consult when ordering in restaurants and doing grocery shopping.

* Coconut water is great for morning sickness. A glass has more potassium than three bananas, and it’s super refreshing. We ended up buying it in bulk.

* I’m a big fan of white wine, and, I have to admit, I missed it when I was pregnant. So, one night while pregnant and pining for a glass, Alex brought out a martini glass filled with coconut water. It made me laugh and feel like a grown-up again. Izze Fortified Sparkling Juice is also good if you have friends over and want something to sip along with them.

* Herbal tea. Every night before bed, I’d have a steaming cup of Bengal Spice tea. It’s super cinnamon-y! And it was nice to have that cozy ritual every night.


Pregnant women always look incredibly beautiful, but when feeling bloated or tired, I’d do these little things to help myself feel beautiful…

* Bright lipstick. An easy way to instantly transform your look is to wear lipstick. My two absolute favorite lip colors this spring are Poppy King for J.Crew (it’s that bright coral that the J.Crew models wear!) and NARS Niagara, a soft peachy pink that brightens up your whole face.

* Natural sunscreen, to keep your skin protected and chemical-free. My favorites are here.



Great maternity shops: HATCH has gorgeous statement pieces, and I also like GAP, Target, LOFT and ASOS for lovely basics.

Plus a few specific pieces to consider…

* A nice dress. For date nights, parties, work events and weddings, you might like to have at least one maternity dress that makes you feel great. (I had a purple wrap dress from GAP, and this one is lovely.)

* Maternity Spanx! At first, I thought these sounded weird, but they are AWESOME. Your belly gets tons of room, but the Spanx slim and smooth everything else to make you look great, especially when wearing a dress. (You can also get this cool Spanx shaper.)

* Belly band. Your pants sit below your round belly, so you can wear a soft belly band to cover any skin that peeks out between your pants and your shirt.

* A long cardigan, which is flattering, cozy, and feels like a big hug. I wore this exact one almost every day of my pregnancy.

* Maternity underwear (or just a few pairs of cotton underwear in larger sizes), so you don’t stretch out your fancy underwears while you’re pregnant. (Apparently they can be saggy afterwards! A friend told me that, and I’m so grateful she did!)

* Slip-on shoes, since it becomes tricky to bend over your giant belly to tie shoelaces. Chic ballet flats and cute Bensimon shoes are great go-tos.


* Sleeping with a giant belly can be tricky, so I LOVED LOVED LOVED the maternity pillow in the middle months of pregnancy. They look crazy, but I swear by them. You can wrap your arms and legs around them and sleep soundly through the night. Alex joked that it was like having a third person in our bed, but it was soooo worth it. I even lugged my giant pillow on a cross-country trip to California!

* Long walks with books on tape. Walking is great, low-impact exercise, and it’s much more fun with a book to listen to. Ruth Reichl wrote an incredibly entertaining memoir about being the New York Times food critic and dressing up in crazy costumes so restaurateurs wouldn’t recognize her–and she reads it herself. So does Tina Fey!

* Acupuncture. Many moms-to-be say that acupuncture helps with aches, pains, headaches, morning sickness, fertility, inducing labor, whatever you may need…Toward the end of my pregnancy, Toby was facing forward in my belly–sunny-side up!–but he should have been facing back. My doctor was concerned that I’d have a more difficult labor if he didn’t turn himself around. On a friend’s recommendation, I went to the wonderful Sharon Yeung at Five Seasons Healing for an acupuncture session, which was incredibly relaxing and soothing. And by next doctor’s appointment, Toby had turned!


* Baby kicks feel like bubbles at first. I hadn’t realized that Toby had been kicking until a nurse told me that–then I started noticing them all the time!

* “Nesting” seems like a real thing. Movies and TV shows joke that pregnant women will suddenly become obsessed with preparing the house for the baby’s arrival. And maybe it’s true! One night, I literally sat up in bed at midnight and turned to Alex and was like, “We have to do the nursery right now.” I was totally ready to bound out of bed and start hammering the crib. Did you experience anything like that?


Expect some crazy moments and let yourself experience them. While pregnant, I was sometimes so emotional, I’d just start crying for no reason! I hadn’t expected that. You don’t always feel like yourself, and being pregnant (and all it entails) can be overwhelming at times. Two of my cousins were also pregnant when I was, and the one thing that we ALL went through were a wide range of emotions. (I remember my sweet cousin Livvy emailed to me, “Do you find yourself feeling very shaky and crying at the drop of a hat…or no?” and my other cousin Emma wrote, “Are you excited or very scared about being a Mummy?” Such sweet–and leading–questions!:) Know that it’s totally OK (and normal) to feel nervous now and again. As my friend Abbey once pointed out, you’re growing a soul. And all the pregnancy aches and pains are worth it 1,000 times over once you’re holding your sweet baby in your arms.

Most of all, sending you a kiss and a pat on your beautiful bellies! Pregnancy is an amazing thing, and as my mom would say, “Take gentle care of yourself.” Lots of love to you. xoxo

What pregnancy tips would you share? Any cravings? Things that make you feel better? Funny observations? Did people pat your belly all the time? :)

P.S. What to register for your new baby, and packing your hospital bag.

(Top and bottom photos from my belly shots; beef chili photo by Smitten Kitchen; red lipstick photo by Garance Dore; little girl photo by Our Labor of Love; bubble photo by Richard Heeks)

  1. Liz says...

    Awww, I know this is an old post but it’s just so darn sweet at hopeful!

    I’m 8 weeks along and just so sick and it feels so surreal. Nausea and food aversions are a constant presence in my life now and I feel like every single molecule is changing.

    My sister is so cute and excited and keeps giving the baby cute nicknames and telling me how much she already loves the baby. And I’m just kind of sitting here being like, dude 1) you better be real, 2) you need to cut this nausea nonsense out and let me eat a vegetable and 3) you better be really cute when you come out.

    It feels like my whole world’s turned upside down and it’s only the beginning.

    • Sof says...

      I am in the same boat! Was perusing old posts for tips on early pregnancy! I’m 7 weeks, constantly queasy, and living off saltines and ginger ale. 2nd trimester can’t come soon enough! Can’t wait to start getting excited instead of feeling crappy all day!!

      Totally feel your 3 thoughts!! I keep thinking is this real and the baby better be insanely cute lol!

    • Elizabeth says...

      Yes, Liz and Sof! I’m 7 weeks and looking for any pregnancy posts to bring me comfort or relief. I’m constantly riding waves of nausea that I even had to unfollow NYTimes Cooking and Bon Appetit on Instagram because their food posts were triggering me!
      However, I did hit a turning point today: I’m trying acupressure bracelets for the first time and they are absolutely bringing me some relief. Maybe it’s a placebo, but I’ll take what I can get. Along with the occasional ginger lozenge, these bracelets might be worth a try!

    • Lauren E. says...

      This thread made me so happy!! I’m 8 weeks today. No nausea whatsoever which is scary in itself. I feel you on the “dude, you better be real.” I still can’t believe it. So grateful for this community, past and present.

  2. Amelia says...

    I have also put away the baby books, they made me feel overwhelmed and anxious. I have just found a great book called Bumpology by science journalist Linda Geddes. It is based on facts not opinions so you can work out how you feel about things with the right information. It is well written and researched. I had so many things wrong just by taking crazy Internet advice as fact!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that book sounds fantastic, amelia!

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  5. I just found this lovely post. I git the news yesterday, After a very long wait and lots of treatments we are finally pregnant! Cant’t stop crying. Thanks for all the information.
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  6. Hey Joanna,
    You have covered everything related to pregnancy here.The maternity Pillows are extremely helpful during pregnancy. My Sister recently bought a Snoogle Total body pillow and she is quite happy.

  7. Thank you very much for this wonderful post, am always looking for the to buy.

    Thank you.

    • Liz says...

      Awww, I know this is an old post but it’s just so darn sweet at hopeful!

      I’m 8 weeks along and just so sick and it feels so surreal. Nausea and food aversions are a constant presence in my life now and I feel like every single molecule is changing.

      My sister is so cute and excited and keeps giving the baby cute nicknames and telling me how much she already loves the baby. And I’m just kind of sitting here being like, dude 1) you better be real, 2) you need to cut this nausea nonsense out and let me eat a vegetable and 3) you better be really cute when you come out.

      It feels like my whole world’s turned upside down and it’s only the beginning.

  8. I find myself sitting here, reading this, and bawling for no reason other than I am pregnant and this is so sweet. This is my first pregnancy, and I am in my first trimester and it has been so hard! Sick around the clock, uncomfortable all the time, and LITERALLY overnight…NONE OF MY PANTS FIT ME ANYMORE. I always dreamed of pregnancy as the most perfect and glowingly beautiful time of my life- after all that’s what all my mommy friends tell me. They forgot to mention that it all kicks in second trimester!

    I crave cream cheese, baked potatoes, french fries, and bloody rare beef. The protein in peanut butter really helps with sickness if you can get it in soon enough! And my God send are Chimes Ginger Chews. I ordered a five pound box on Amazon. Best purchase ever.

  9. I haven’t managed to read all the posts so I don’t know if someone has said this already. (There are so may comments!!! You’ve really hit the mark with this post!) However I just thought you should know that the amounts of potassium in coconut water can be dangerous if it’s not balanced out with drinking water in between. I am a doula and I didn’t know this, until one birth a couple of weeks ago where the mother was drinking only coconut water. The staff freaked that she was in danger of OD-ing with potassium, which can cause muscle weakness, vomiting, and in extreme cases, the heart can stop beating. I suppose, as with any food while pregnant or breastfeeding, the best advise is moderation in everything! Blessings, Sarah Vine.

  10. This was beautiful. Thank you for sharing your sweet thoughts..i like all the belly clicks..
    Thanks for sharing nice info
    Pregnancy guide

  11. Love this post! I’m 18 weeks now and completely baby obsessed. Thanks! Oh! Also, I just read Teresa Strasser’s pregnancy memoir and it was so funny. What a big difference from other preggo books – which I’ve stopped reading as well. It does feel bold and rather amazing to just follow my own instincts. :)

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  13. I’m so glad I came across this post! Thank you for sharing! =]

  14. Geat post even for someone (like me) who is hopefully soon “non bio mom/social mom”, though we are still working towards pregnancy! But I’m already reading everything thats related to it!

  15. Super post! I have almost hit the 20 week mark. I had a pretty major hemorrhage @ 9 weeks, and this pregnancy has taught me to just let go of a lot of things…not worth worrying over! I am finally just starting to enjoy being pregnant.

    thanks for share this great post with us.

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  18. meikechristina says...

    hi joanna, i’ve been following your blog since the beginning of my pregnancy and i love it. thank you for all the wonderful ideas, insights and inspiration. i live in germany but i’ve been to nyc twice and it’s so nice to imagine you over there and keep up with my english at the same time (i’m an english teacher). again, thanks for all that!

  19. I just had a baby in December and I am LOVING IT!!!!! I so regret waiting until I was 33 to have my first. I would love to have … 5 kids if I were younger and money wasn’t an issue. I am surprised at how much I am loving motherhood since I never was the mommy type ;)

  20. Thanks for that post. I’m a big fan of your blog.
    It’s like having a big sister or a good friend. <3

    I’m in week 23 and I’m feeling great. My only cravings are Evian water, fruits and I have a sweet tooth now, which I didn’t have before. I’m in love with the French Ladurée Macrons – do you know that in N.Y.?

    I’m trying to go to the gym everyday which helps me a lot to feel comfortable with my figure and it is good against the back pain which I have right now because of the growing of Little One.

    I can still go jogging, which I really enjoy.

    I don’t drink alcohol since it’s not good. This is a fact and you never know what it does to the nervous system of your baby. And it’s not hard to skip it for 9 months. There are many mocktails you can drink. I really miss beer. But sometimes I just smell at the bottle and that helps a little. I make a lot of homemade ice teas (with white tea). They are really tasty. What I also like is adding fresh peppermint leaves to apple juice – simple but delicious. And it looks good. Or frozen raspberries into lemonade…

    I’ll definitely go for a epidural. What’s the thing about having pain the natural way? I would never go to the dentist to pull a teeth without narcosis, although this would be very natural, too, no?

    No books!
    No forums!
    I tried but I found out as well, that they just scare me. There are only horror stories what might happen and what might rip and so :(
    You can not choose how your birth will be, so why scare yourself before. I hope everything will go well, I would never wanted to have a c-section. I’m really scared of this. Is it true, that you can choose a c-section in the US? It’s not allowed in Europe. They only do it in case of emergency.

    I found out that especially women, who are not mums yet, are telling you what to do, eat or telling you birth horror stories. I have no clue, why is that so?

    I’m looking forward to next Motherhood-Monday!


  21. do you have any recommendations for good non-scary books for dads-to-be? my husband was given a book by one of his male coworkers. I flipped through it and all it talked about was what to expect from your wife during each trimester. BORING (he’s never going to get through it). I was hoping for something that would address any scary “Oh my God I’m going to be a dad” feelings as well as give hints/tips on how to handle issues that come up with each trimester. Did Alex read anything to prepare himself?

  22. This is wonderful- I’m sending the link to my little sister Annie, who is pregnant with her first!

  23. n says...

    Prenatal yoga – 3 times a week! And lots of swimming. I am currently 39 weeks pregnant and in disbelief I am about to birth a human being! I also had “labor preparation acupuncture” and several chiropractic massages and adjustments throughout. My doctor says i’m 4 cm dilated and I haven’t felt a single contraction yet! So far I feel fantastic-hopefully all of the preparations will be worth it and I can have an easy and speedy delivery.

  24. One small thing I forgot to say…

    I’m not a huge fan of the image chosen for the Food & Drink part. Something like lemonade icy poles would’ve been easier to glimpse as I scrolled down. Not very nutritious but I think they saved my life last week.

    Did someone say picky?

  25. Hello everyone,

    I’m laughing because I am currently just 8 weeks along, and I came here to CoJ for a distraction!

    Thank you for the book recommendations- they seem much better than all the ones I have read so far.

    Big-ups on the sparkling juice recommendation- I don’t usually go for fizzy drink, but it does seem to quell nausea (and mine is so bad, I need all the replacement fluids- and medicine- I can get). On that point- you can get medicine for nausea and vomiting, and it’s better than being dehydrated and unable to function.

    In Australia I have heard a funny anti-nausea tip. We have fizzy life-saver type lollies called Fruit Tingles, and apparently they are a good “natural”(if you want to call acidic artificially coloured candy natural) remedy for morning sickness. I wonder if you have them in the USA and if Mums use them there, too?

    Thanks again, Jo!