We scheduled this session months ago, knowing the it would be after the crash of wedding season and closer to Cortney’s due date. So there was no way of knowing what the weather would be like. We’ve had finicky weather all year (brutally hot when it is normally mild and really cold when it’s normally not), but Saturday morning we woke up to the first snow of the season and it was perfect given that Cortney’s due date is Christmas day!
We had a few locations in mind and went around and around on what to choose, but we finally landed on Kent Park. In part because we knew it would be mostly untouched, fresh snow out there, but also because that’s where I photographed their engagement session! It felt special to go back to the same place to photograph them now, just weeks before holding their daughter in their arms. (I also photographed a night session downtown and their wedding day!)
Going along on couples’ journeys from engagement to marriage is always a beautiful honor, but it’s even more amazing to see them beyond that…to now becoming parents! Cortney and Christian, thank you for letting me be part of your story in my own invisible, behind-the-lens way. I am so so so excited for you to welcome your baby girl and see you guys embrace parenthood!
This is my second pregnancy and I have some new things that I am loving this time around. (Here’s what I loved last time. I still advise the TempurPedic, by the way!)
I’m still loving this Mother’s Special Blend oil. I used this during my first pregnancy and it was the first thing I ordered again this time. It claims to help prevent stretch marks and that has been true so far for me, but the real benefit here is that it helps prevent the itchy, tight skin that pregnant women complain about! I use this after every shower or bath. I added 10 drops of Frankincense and 10 drops of Gentle Baby to it as well to help keep my skin healthy as it continues to stretch and expand.
Here’s a roundup of some of my most-used essential oils during pregnancy (I use Young Living oils): Gentle Baby, Frankincense, Lavender, Peppermint, Ginger, Sleepyize, and Lemon. I forgot to add Thieves, but I also use that because no pregnant woman has the time to get sick and if you do get sick, there’s pretty much no medicine you can take while pregnant anyway. So here’s a quick breakdown:
Gentle Baby: this one is probably one of my favorites! It’s super versatile as it’s both a calming oil as well as a healthy skin oil. It helps reduce stress and it’s the most wonderful smell ever (it has Rosewood, Geranium, Palmerosa, Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Ylang Ylang, Lemon, Jasmine, Bergamot, and Rose in it sooooooo basically your all-star lineup). It reduces stretch marks and scar tissue and is super soothing for chapped skin. It’s great for babies too (thus the name; it was designed for pregnant mamas and newborns) so it’s a good one to have on hand for after your baby arrives!
Frankincense: supports beautiful, healthy skin so you can just go right ahead and apply a drop to your face after you wash your makeup off. (It also reduces wrinkles and helps prevent stretch marks and fades scars so there you go!) This is one I’m planning to use after labor as well as it is a mood booster and increases focus and concentration.
Lavender: it’s the everything oil, but I love it most for it’s calming scent. Diffuse at night or rub on the bottoms of your feet. Put a drop in your mascara for some lovely lashes. Add a few drops to your unscented body lotion. Drop some in a 1/2 cup of epsom salt for a relaxing bath. Use as a skin moisturizer. Make a linen spray with lavender, witch hazel, and water and your bed will smell like a spa.
Peppermint: this one is generally not advised for use in the third trimester, however, it is powerful during the first 2/3 of your pregnancy, especially for morning sickness! Also great if you get a craving for peppermint brownies.
Sleepyize: this is in the kid’s essential oil line, and it’s just as great for adults. I diffuse this at night to help get lots of rest (and to help me go back to sleep after I get up to go to the bathroom for the 408th time). (The Tranquil roller is also amazing for sleep!)
Lemon: morning sickness (the fresh citrus is amazing) and it’s also great for later on when acid reflux hits! Just rub a drop on the front of your neck/sternum in the evening. (I also love to add a drop to my water!)
Thieves: build your immunity. There’s no time for getting sick.
DiGize: morning sickness and acid reflux! This one is a game changer when it comes to eating food and not regretting every decision you just made.
Ningxia Red for energy and boosted immunity! Just 1 ounce has the same antioxidant power as 100 oranges, 814 blueberries, 22 medium carrots, 10.85 pounds of spinach, 59 broccoli florets, 73 strawberries, and 93 apples. Drink it plain (I like it cold; not room temperature!) or add it to a smoothie! I prefer the 2-ounce packets because they’re easy to take on the go, but if you’re a pour and drink kind of person, you can grab the bottles of this magic juice.
This Deep Relief roller is so great for those achy muscles. I have worked out during both of my pregnancies so there’s been a lot of general exercise aches as well as growing aches (evenings seem to be the worst). Deep Relief is great for pounding temples as well as any tender tension areas like shoulders, low back, and neck.
I didn’t have a pregnancy pillow during my first pregnancy and I didn’t really need one until I hit about 30 weeks in my second pregnancy. And by “need”, I mean “want really, really badly.” If you don’t have one, you can obviously make do with a fort of about 8 pillows around and under you, but a pregnancy pillow just makes sleep life so much easier. I especially like to have some pillow support under my belly and between my knees.
Longline, basic tank tops are so great in normal life and I’ve been using these from H&M for my whole pregnancy (they’re not maternity, but they are stretchy!). They are slender enough to easily wear under sweaters or as layering pieces and are also perfect for bedtime!
Super B vitamins are a life saver! My doctor recommend vitamin B6 to help with nausea and then I started taking Super B. Folate is essential for the healthy development of the fetus, especially in early pregnancy and Super B contains Orgen-FA, which is a naturally derived source of folate from lemon peels, plus all 7 other essential B vitamins! I take it in the morning because it gives me a huge energy boost (which is especially helpful since I ditched caffeine) and if you need another boost, take a second one at lunch.
AlkaLime is formulated to neutralize acidity and maintain desirable pH levels in the body so, you know, bye-bye reflux.
Gin-Gins were a lifesaver during the first trimester and I bought them in bulk so I still have plenty left for car rides.
Find yourself the most comfortable maternity leggings and wear them every day of your pregnancy. My favorite are these Isabel Maternity ones from Target. They are just thick enough that you can’t see through them, but are not too thick that they’re hot. They also have just enough spandex in them that it’s easy to brush off crumbs and other things that you will inevitably spill on yourself.
As you can tell, I’m all about basics this time around. I’m already a mom so my priority for clothing has been minimalistic, affordable, and comfortable. I’m on the floor playing, I’m cleaning up potty accidents, I’m cooking meals…I need an easy wardrobe. I grabbed this white maternity tee on clearance at Target when I first found out I was pregnant and actually hated it at first because it seemed too long. It wasn’t until I got bigger that it fit exactly how it should and now I wear it several times a week; as often as I can throw it in the laundry! Since I alternate between being cold and hot all the time (hello, third trimester!), I often wear this with my leggings and layer a cardigan over it.
Progessence Plus serum helped me a lot with nausea. I put a roller on the top of the bottle and did a swipe on the back of my neck every morning during that first trimester.
Pregnancy is not the time for buying a ton of new bras. You change sizes quickly and you’ll probably change a few more sizes up or down before it’s all over (and afterwards!!). But if there’s one thing I can recommend, it’s finding a really comfortable bra (no underwire!! It’ll hurt so bad once your belly is big enough to press up against your boobs!). I adore these from True & Co and bought several because I wear them every day. They have them in regular sizes and also in larger sizes for those of us who got more than we bargained for. The wide straps help distribute weight so there’s less back and shoulder pain and it’s an easy pullover design with no weird bulges.
I just recently got Claraderm. It soothes dry and itchy skin and is great to massage onto pre- and post-pregnancy bellies. And in other news, it’s great for promoting healing to stressed skin before and after childbirth.
It’s been almost 6 years since I photographed their wedding (theirs was, I think, the eighth wedding I had photographed) and I still remember every detail from that day. Her lace dress, the white tent at her family farm, the candy apples, the perfect ceremony location under the overhang of the barn…it was all so beautiful and perfectly them. And now, after living their vows for years, they are so excited to welcome their daughter in the next few weeks.
Lisa & Andrew’s story has had ups and downs, including struggling through infertility. They would both say that it has been worth it, every injection, every doctor’s appointment, the egg retrieval, the embryo transfer. It is already worth it and it will be even more so when they hold little Vaida in their arms for the first time.
It was such an honor to be asked for document this part of their journey; the joyous, expectant part. The part where sadness is a memory and happiness is the present.
These are some of the things that helped get me through my pregnancy. I’d love to hear what you would add to this list!
1. Mother’s Special Blend Oil – This claims to tighten skin and prevent stretch marks. I’m not sure that it truly does that, however, I didn’t get any stretch marks so…genetics or oil? Jury’s out. The biggest benefit though was that my stomach never itched like a lot of pregnant women complain about. This oil is really moisturizing without being sticky or heavy. I love it so much that I still use it now after I shower and will happily continue using it, pregnant or not.
2. Apples – Towards the end of my pregnancy, immediately after I finally stopped vomiting, I had acid reflux. It didn’t matter what foods I avoided, any time I ate, I felt miserable. My sister told me about eating apples and sure enough! An apple or two a day helped my acid reflux! (To note: it worked best as a preventer, but did still work as a treatment if the reflux had already begun.)
3. Sprout app – I purchased this app early on in my pregnancy and I absolutely loved it! I could “see” my baby’s growth each week as well as his developmental milestones. It also includes medical tips, a hospital bag checklist, a to-do list, a planner for doctor visits, a kick counter, and contraction timer. I mostly loved every week checking the newest thing happening with my baby. I think this app is probably most exciting for the first-time mom who has nothing else to do but obsess over her growing child, but I think it would also be a fun app to use with older children who can understand the concept of a growing baby.
4. Cardigans – I didn’t like spending money on maternity clothes knowing I wouldn’t be in them long. So when cold weather hit, I layered my maternity tank tops (these were my favorite) with cardigans. I tried to maximize my regular wardrobe as much as possible and now, post-baby, I’m so glad I have regular clothes to wear again…and not many maternity clothes to put away! (My favorite maternity clothing stores are ASOS, H&M, and Liz Lange for Target. Because I’m a wedding photographer, I purchased several maternity dresses to wear throughout my pregnancy, but I also milked my high-waisted skirts for as long as possible.)
5. “The Pregnancy Countdown Book” – This was–hands down–my favorite book during pregnancy. There’s a page for each day of pregnancy including tips, “advice from the trenches” (from real moms), medical information from a board-certified OB, and general things to know. During a first-time pregnancy, this was especially invaluable as there were a million things changing in my body and it was nice to hear that what was happening was normal.
6. Water – It’s hard to make yourself drink water when you’re already peeing non-stop, but water helped alleviate my headaches and neck tension. Aside from the fact that it’s healthy and necessary and blah-blah-blah, I truly felt better when I’d get my high daily intake of water. I craved a lot of ice during my pregnancy (hello anemia) so I’d fill my water bottle with ice and water and sip/chomp the days away.
7. Jolly Ranchers – I had tasted these as a kid, but completely forgotten about them until they were at a wedding reception I was shooting. These became a staple for my purse and I just sucked and sucked on these darn candies!
8. Walking – Going from 6 days a week at the gym to 1 to 2 days a week was really hard for me. I missed being able to exercise like I used to, but at the same time, I just didn’t have the energy for it anymore. Getting out and going for walks helped keep me sane. The fresh air and exercise did wonders for me mentally and physically. I had a few different loops that I would walk and they were all between 3-5 miles. I’d try to walk at least 4 times a week and usually averaged between 12-15 miles a week. Towards the end, the biggest problem was that there were no bathrooms along the way. I will admit to squatting in the woods and praying no one would come along the path.
9. Prenatal yoga – I should’ve started these classes at the beginning of my pregnancy, but I didn’t begin until I was 28 weeks along. I had to stop teaching Pilates at 20 weeks (doctor’s orders) so I was desperate for a non-cardio workout that would be feasible and safe for me to do. The things I loved most about this class: meeting other moms-to-be, commiserating and sharing our fears/anxiety/excitement, equipping myself with breathing techniques and muscle strength to use during labor, and learning some poses that would keep me comfortable during pregnancy. Was it hard to drag myself to yoga at 6:30 at night when I just wanted to go to bed? Yes. But it was absolutely worth it every single week.
10. TempurPedic mattress – Okay, I realize you probably aren’t just going to go buy a mattress. It’s a pretty big investment. We were sleeping on a mattress that I had back in high school (and it had been purchased used at that point). I graduated 10 years ago…so we guessed it was between 15-20 years old. We were definitely in need of a new one and my pregnancy insomnia and discomfort prompted us to finally make the purchase. We had long been interested in a TempurPedic, but still looked around and tested out various memory foam mattress brands. We ended up purchasing one of the TempurPedic Cloud mattresses. I couldn’t wait for it to arrive and, boy, when it did, I slept!! Let’s just say I slept better at the end of my pregnancy than I had before I was ever pregnant. It is magic.
What were some of your favorite things to get you through your pregnancy?