For the pregnant ladies:
1. Maternity shirts that double as nursing tops (they have flap things) -- buy them at 6 months pregnant and you will have shirts to wear while pregnant AND while nursing! It is really annoying (and expensive) to have to go out and buy tops that work for nursing because you only have 3 tops that work for nursing and you will wear them non-stop for the first so many weeks after the baby is born. Wish I had known this.
2. You can buy special pregnancy pillows which are probably awesome, but at $50, I was too cheap even if my back bugged me. Ikea has these longish thin body pillows for about $10. Ultimately, nothing will be comfortable but for a while these were a big help.
3. Cheap maternity clothes -- best option new is Old Navy but bless those girlfriends willing to share theirs as you are going to wear them for all of a few months.
For the baby:1. I do like the video monitor. I know it's not really necessary and I know I'm obsessing, but it is really reassuring to see the baby is OK. It's different to see the baby is OK than to hear silence which means the baby is PROBABLY ok, but if you're insane like me, you want to khow the baby is DEFINITELY ok. So, if you're not insane, a regular monitor is fine..
2. If you can get a copy of the Happiest Baby on the Block video from the library or borrow or buy, I recommend it for yourself and so your partner will watch it. You may have obsessively read all of the "how to take care of a baby" books but your partner likely rolled his/her eyes at you and continued to read "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" book. Watching the dvd is a fast easy way to teach them how to soothe the baby so they don't hand the baby back to you the second the baby starts to cry. So worth it. And your partner will be so thrilled when it works for them which is super cute to watch.
3. I think the swaddle thing was a big help to us (at least for the first few months). So blankets that actually are built for swaddling help a lot as they have places that hold their arms because babies are little houdinis with getting their arms out of the blankets.
4. Baby carriers rock (ha, pun intended) but it is amazing how different they all are. I've tried the Moby, the Ergo, the Bjorn, the BabyHawk and all have their pluses and minuses. If you can borrow one from someone even temporarily before you buy it will be a huge help. I wore the Moby for a while and liked it a lot but now I need more head support for her. I'm wearing the Bjorn as I type but I anticipate we'll be moving into the Ergo as soon as she is big enough as the shoulders are much easier in the Ergo. But the Babyhawk that dear Susan sent me may work as well -- we shall see.
5. I have liked the stroller system where you have the car seat that snaps into just a lightweight frame. Nice and light and easy to throw in the trunk. We now are looking for the more permanent stroller to get around the city, but for quick trips while she is still little, the stroller frame works GREAT.
A final note: never underestimate borrowing/inheriting items from your friends and family. We have been so lucky to be inundated with enormous amounts of wonderful items from them from the cradle we got from Mr. Right's parents (in which Mr. Right slept when he was a baby) to the swing from dear Elizabeth which she got from dear Claudette, to the carriers inherited by the incredibly generous Kris and Susan, both of whom have two toddlers they are having to manage while still taking the time to help the hapless new mom. It truly does take a village!