The bump is big. Yes, yes it is… I am growing a human.
My inner critic has been harassing me a little this week, despite the fact that I am not enormous or about to keel over with obesity but we all have these moments of self-doubt, (don’t we?) and for some reason mine was this week. I’ve not been eating as well as I should have. I’ve had far too many cravings for ludicrous coloured ice creams dipped with hundreds and thousands of hundreds and thousands and I’ve been eating a LOT of chocolate not to mention drinking a gallon of ribena each day! so all in all I think we can safely say “Mama’s got a sweet tooth!”
Aside from that, I also haven’t been sleeping that well as I can’t seem to get comfy now I’m that little bigger and feeling rather more cumbersome. I’m a little snappy with my husband and have already started to feel a little bit like I am nesting. He is well accustomed to it now it’s round too but I still feel bad. Hope he knows it’s the hormones and not actually ‘me’. I think he does (fingers crossed).
But it has been a good week for self-loving though and this is what we are going to talk about in my “Glow with the Flow” session this week.
Here are my self love activities that I can tick off:
given myself about 4 facials in a fortnight. Cleanse, tone and moisturise. I use a bamboo flannel and take 10 minutes to really relax and treat myself.
gone to the woods. Freddie and I go pretty much every Friday. He loves it, I love it and being outside in nature does wonders for the soul – fact.
looked though old photos of Freddie and reminded myself how far I’ve come as his mama and what I’ve learned along the way.
taken a load of naps – the best being yesterday’s 2 and a half hour one and I still managed bed at normal time! Thank you my man!
had a coffee with fellow mama. So good to be able to share this world of motherhood
read my book (this is such a rarity but o so good for the soul!)
chatted on the phone to bestest friends – nothing better.
went swimming in my PJs – not quite as liberating as skinny dipping but fun all the same!
did yoga and balanced with the best of them – gave myself the kudos!
cooked, baked, sewed made smoothies and scrapbooked!
My little one and I have also crafted together but will be writing about that in a separate post soon. ( Easter crafts)
I hope this inspires you to do a little of all the things you love and see how much better you feel in mind and body.
A positive birth story full of truth, drama and magic.
It was my first pregnancy and I was too scared to plan a home birth for my first one. I didn’t know what to expect and it being my first time I was frightened. I’m not a lover of hospitals and so we opted for a middle ground and booked us into the midwife led birthing Centre. I felt happy I could use the birthing pool as I had always envisaged a water birth and having looked around it felt like a home away from home.
2017, it was a hot August and I felt huge, could barely see my toes and I had been working right up until 38 weeks as a primary school teacher and I was tired, slow and ready for baby. Despite the uncomfortableness I felt awash with love and excitement about meeting this little babe that I had grown inside me for 9 months and I like to think I was “glowing”. I had the most amazing class of children and I felt so lucky that I could share my pregnancy with them as they watched me grow; to see how my body changed, stretched and nurtured this precious being inside me. It was such a treat for them to witness nature and new life first hand.
On the morning of 11th August I thought my waters had broken. I couldn’t be sure as it was not a huge amount of fluid, so we went to the birthing centre, just incase, to be checked over. Nothing was conclusive but I was told, if I didn’t go into labour that night then I would need to contact the hospital to check my waters and to ensure the baby was ok. Change of plan number 1. I was not allowed to go to the irthing centre anymore as if my waters had broken there could have been risk of infection. This was the first metal test to now being to visualise myself in hospital. The next morning we went for a walk to see if that would get things moving. Broadwater Warren was laced with purple heather and it was beautiful, Tom and I discussed baby names, took in the views and enjoyed our few hours of being ‘just us’, before I got far too sweaty and could barely walk another few steps without waddling!
We went to the hospital that afternoon and baby was monitored, my waters had definitely broken and so we were given until the following morning to go into labour. Change of plan number 2. I would not be allowed a water birth now, as my waters had broken. All fine with baby and the midwives said that if baby didn’t come that night then we were going to be booked in for an induction the next day. Change of plan number 3. If I’m totally honest I didn’t want to go for an induction. I had had a near perfect pregnancy, very organic and natural and I just didn’t want to be in hospital. Next test I faced was to really begin to imagine me being in hospital and getting my head around that with the used of labour inducing hormones.
But… that night on the way home we stopped off for pizza. On the way back home I did feel a couple of twinges but nothing serious. It felt a little like a period pain but nothing to rave about but we did get a little excited. We ate, I bounced on the ball, we played cards and called my mom to let her know what the plan was for the morning. I would call first thing when I knew the time I was given for an induction so she had enough time to get over from France on the shuttle. I reread my affirmations and focussed on my breathing and we decided to download an app to monitor contractions. According to the app, things were ramping up fast and we were instructed to pack the hospital bag and get the car seat ready. We laughed it off. I went to have a bath with a couple of drops of clary sage and Tom made me a cup of tea. We carried on playing cards but I felt the contractions getting stronger and so went upstairs again but can’t remember what for.
From that point on it gets pretty hazy. I threw myself onto the pillows on the bed (I think because it meant I was in the dark) and breathed through the contractions whilst simultaneously trying to use the app! Tom rang the midwives who told me to take paracetamol… I told Tom very clearly and probably quite aggressively that I did not want paracetamol…. I may have even screamed it! I took the paracetamol.
I faintly remember Tom telling me he was packing up the car and it between the next contraction I was to make my way downstairs. I did as I was told but as I made it to the bottom step I knew the baby was coming as I could feel him between my legs….at that point I was wrestling with fear and trying to remember all the skills and techniques I had been through on my hypnobirthing course.
Tom tells me he had 2 phones on the go, one to the midvives and the other on the line to 999. He was washing his hands and getting the towels. My hero.
Change of plan number 4 – a home delivery.
I remember being scared because I didn’t know “how to be”, which pose to be in, on my all fours or standing up. This was for me the hardest thing. I tried to listen to my body but we were on our own and the baby was coming so it felt frightening but as soon as someone arrived I remember feeling better; someone to take control of the situation. I was debating having gas and air at one stage until Tom said yes I should definitely use it. Crazy I know, but I didn’t feel like I was in pain. To me, the sensation felt like the biggest ball of energy circling in my pelvis. I carried on breathing and needed total silence to focus on each surge. so much for the calming music and fairy lights I had prepared!
It is hard to recall the timings of that evening but I do remember how it felt. The room was filled with 7 strangers ( 2 ambulance crews and a midwife, who arrived 10 minutes before our boy was born) and in our living room, a shooting star – my beautiful baby boy was born safely and with control under a Perseid meteor shower at 00:31 on 13th August 2017.
So despite not going to plan, I wouldn’t want to change a thing.
We both went to hospital to be checked over and to have a little TLC down below (with proper lighting!) and my mom was there waiting at home to welcome us and basically look after us for the next week! (see ‘The Day I became a mother…” blog post)
I hope by sharing this honest account of my labour, it will give you the confidence and strength to know that you can do it and that your body knows exactly what to do, as does your baby in this amazing miracle we call child birth. It is sheer magic and Mother Nature’s greatest work so don’t fear it – we were made for this!
MY BIRTHING TOP TIPS
AFFIRMATIONS– tell yourself daily in the mirror how much you respect your body, how much you trust it and visualise how this baby is going to come into the world.
REST – listen to your body and take the time you need to save up all your energy.
DRINK – lots of water – it is the best medicine there is!
READ -I found reading really gave me lots of knowledge and in turn power. Obviously not everything will match your beliefs or your philosophy but it really gave me confidence knowing that others had been through the same and had experience.
My best reads were:
How to Grow a Baby and Push it Out by Clemmie Hooper
Why love matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain by Sue Gerhardt
What to expect when you are expecting by Heidi Murkoff (more of a dip in and out)
BREATHE – practice practice practice. If you already practise yoga then you will know just how important the breath is to your bodies movement and your mind’s clarity. It served me so well and I would encourage all pregnant ladies to try and master their own breath and see the benefits and how it can empower you when you need it most.
Food – we are spoilt for choice but do we make the right choices?
Food. It can sometimes can be the last thing on your mind post baby and sometimes anything will do for a quick energy boost. I found I went through stages…
Firstly, I remember losing my appetite completely after Baby was born and my mum just handing me egg sandwiches as I fed him, telling me to eat. Let’s just say I was not having a very balanced diet at the beginning of motherhood. I ate what was available and convenient usually toast, chocolate, or cake. I did drink lots of fluids though, but sometimes the water was laced with a lot of Ribena! The sweet syrup that kept me functioning.
Then I got into the rhythm of breastfeeding, a few months in and I drank lots of water. Tick. I had to have a snack every time I sat down with Baby which is surprisingly often….Again I’d have toast and peanut butter or jam and sometimes Nutella (I ate a lot of bread). Other times it was biscuits or chocolate. Mainly biscuits or things I could easily access with one hand!
I wasn’t focusing on my body at all- nor did I care if my tummy was a little squishy and my boobs had increased dramatically. I was a new mama and my brain was (and still is) hard wired to look after the little one and I was clearly burning calories like a long distance runner. I walked daily, regularly breastfed and my mind was constantly working overtime running through a million worries every hour.
Then, when I was more settled and got into my groove of being a mama. I grew in confidence to leave the house. I had a packed diary, scattered with baby classes, mummy meet ups, tea and cake with colleagues and I even went to a BYO baby to a comedy show! Every time I left the house I was always up for tea and cake, coffee, biscuits and regularly stopped off to buy more contraband to ensure we were never out of stock back at the ranch! It was like a compulsion, I just had to have something to snack on in the house. I was still breastfeeding though and I truly didn’t care that I might have been piling on the pounds. My amazing body had, for 9 months, been harbouring a little human and it protected, nurtured and provided for him for all that time and it was still doing all that magic now with the added extra of actually making milk and providing all the nutrients he could need. I was in total awe of it. My body changed so perfectly and I loved it….. except I wasn’t treating it with such kindness from the inside.
Which brings me to now… I’m no longer breastfeeding, and my little man is eating me out of house and home (already a typical boy) which means my focus is about ensuring he is getting the best diet possible. I’m still down the pecking order during the day. Not healthy or smart when you need to be on top form as a mama. I do have a healthy meal for dinner with my husband each night but I guess I’ve just lost sight of looking after me and caring for my body as well as my baby’s.
It’s probably fair to say that at some point in our lives we do care about how we look and feel about our bodies and I’ll always remember what my my mother said to me one day when I made a comment about my body shape. She said “as a woman your body will always been changing. That’s what’s makes women special” and she is so right. I carried this wisdom with me all through my teens, twenties and it’s still true now in my thirties and after growing a baby. I am accepting of my body and much more aware of how it works and have a great respect for it. With the magic of the moon and lunar tides, women’s bodies are continually changing monthly and although I’ve had a baby, I’m still me and I’m proud to have this body. It’s made love, life and birthed a baby and I LOVE it!
So, with all that in mind, I’m choosing to care more and nourish my body from within. Think of it as a form of self- love.
I’m not going crazy, nor is this a strict diet but it’s about being more aware of what I’m consuming and eating the right foods to give me energy and live more healthily. I’ve cut out the unnecessary carbs like bread and cake, thought more about a Paleo diet and ensured I’ve not got the bad stuff actually in the house. I’m tying to go for a jog once a week as well as continuing my yoga practice at home and in class. Plus, I still walk daily with the little one for my well-being.Honestly, time spent outdoors is the greatest therapy.
The biggest diet change I’ve made is to ensure that I have breakfast. One that is full of goodness and gives me energy! All through my pregnancy I ate breakfast daily and somewhere along the line it slipped. I would head out the door to a Baby class clutching a biscuit as I headed out the door barely drinking my tea!
So mama, here is to re addressing our diets and to caring for the incredible vessel that is the female form. What amazing bodies we have – let’s take care of them from the inside out and nourish them with good food, love and endorphins and maybe a biscuit every now and again!?
I already have more energy just from one simple change of habit by having breakfast packed with super foods. This is my chia pudding breakfast with strawberry soy yogurt topped with granola, raspberries and a drizzle of peanut butter – totally delicious!
A couple of my friends are expecting soon and due to our individual geography it is not going to be possible to be there in person, so this blog post is for them and for all those of you about to embark on motherhood for the first time. I just want you to know ladies I am always at the end of a phone / computer / on WhatsApp / Insta message, whatever time of day or night. This is not to burst your gorgeous pregnancy bubble at all, just to expand your thoughts to after the birth.
With May being Mental Health month and this week focusing on Maternal Mental health, I thought I could share what I would give a new mum.
One day you were you. A sassy, strong female striding pavements, swishy hair, lush clothes and with your s*** together. (This was never me by the way but you get the gist…) Then one day you go into labour and a little time later you have a tiny human who needs you like no one has ever needed you before and you haven’t yet had time to process this. Your body has been incredible but it is so changed and you don’t recognise yourself. There is no time to process this though as your baby is crying for food and you are figuring out how to attach this little bundle of flesh to your boob. Why am I struggling? This is something I thought would just happen. Isn’t it the most natural thing in the world? Ouch it hurts, am I doing it right? What do I do now? How do I know when to feed him? When do I change him? How will I know he is full? When should I put him down? Should I just keep him close? What if he gets cold? How will I know? Does he know who I am? Is this love I’m feeling? Why am I so anxious? Why am I feeling full of worry? Your body is awash with a cocktail concoction of hormones and you suddenly realise life will never be the same again.
My gift to you is COURAGE…
COURAGEto realise you won’t know everything at first and you will be learning continuly but it does get easier and you are doing a great job so far.
COURAGEto ask for help when you need it, you will need it and ask for lots! There is no shame in this!
COURAGEto make mistakes and then to be kind to yourself when you make them. We all do and you need to be kind to yourself. Without making mistakes we can’t learn so embrace them. There is a lot of adjusting to do.
COURAGE to accept you will feel differently on different days. Some will be really tough and other days will be dreamy. It’s all part of the ebb and flow.
COURAGEto appreciate that babies have their own agenda and you won’t always be able to tell their cries apart (took me nearly 6 months) they won’t always sleep when you want them too and sometimes they will just be uncomfortable.
COURAGEto trust yourself and your body. You know you and you know your baby plus your baby knows who you are. He/She heard your heartbeat as they grew safe in your womb and you’ve already been getting to know each other for 9 months. Have confidence in Mother Nature, she knows her s***.
COURAGE to believe whatever you are feeling (happy, sad, lonely, overwhelmed, discouraged, scared, excited, overjoyed, delighted, fretful, anxious, calm) will pass and it will be OK. There were times I cried ALL day and was overwhelmed with a mixture of intense emotions and other days I was a bag of happiness. It can be frightening but embrace it, you have just performed a total miracle and sometimes there are no words to express how we feel.
COURAGEto step outside into the big wide world with the most precious thing you own and get a few breathes of fresh air every day. This is such a good remedy and I walked everyday with Freddie.
COURAGEto say no to visitors if you are feeling overwhelmed but COURAGEto have visitors too to help you and make you a cup of tea! Most will bring cake or biscuits some might even bring a roast chicken!
COURAGEto rest and take time to sleep during the day when baby is napping (20 minutes is better than nothing) and your baby will be fine with his/her dad or other family members. You need to recharge your energy levels and let your body heal.
COURAGE to try different things to help you be the best mum you can be. Dummies, and formula milk are not the devil’s work – there is a reason why supermarkets have aisles of the stuff!
COURAGE to talk to other mums and be open. Listen to their experiences and share your own. It takes a village. Have the COURAGE to listen to yourself over anyone else and COURAGE to do things differently. Do what works for you.
COURAGE to step out of the room and take a couple of deep breaths. I used to hum as the vibrations helped to calm me (its a yoga trick). 10 long seconds could be all you need to relax those shoulders and gain composure.
COURAGE to love yourself. You are the most important person to your baby so self-care is paramount.
So, when I was pregnant with Freddie I must have packed my hospital bag about 10 times. It felt like a ritual and a very important one. I was packing a bag for an event that I had never experienced, for a place I’d never been to and packing for a person I’d never met. It was weird and in the end I didn’t even need half the stuff as Baby was born on the living room floor!
But you never truly know the course of your birth so here is a list of things I packed and probably would have found very useful! I’ve also been brutally honest as open.
Those pants! You know the ones I mean… TENA. They will be your best friends right after birth and for a few weeks post baby whilst you heal. Buy more packs than you think you’ll need and trust me its part of giving birth that no one talks about but it’s fine (like a period but different) BUT with everything else going on you just want be prepared and not have to think about an unnecessary leakage.
eye mask – for the hospital/birthing centre when you need some zzzzz and it’s the height of sunny summer. Also very very useful when baby is here and you desperately need day time napping but hormones, worry, adrenaline and glaring sunshine prevent that from happening. If you get a silk one that will also add a little extra luxury.
comfy comfy floaty leisurewear – to be honest anything that makes you feel cosy is essential to help relax you and gives you a sense of normality!
slippers – for those cold toes and protection from the cold floor!
moisturiser -face & body kit because we all like our skin to be hydrated, don’t we?
face water spritzer – This may seem a little extravagant but I was so hot in August and this was an insant little cool down
flannel – they say a warm flannel to your face can calm you – anything is worth a try.
book – who knows when you’ll have time to read but you might need a little escapism
iPad – for Netflix! This is also an essential tool for when breastfeeding in the depths of night – just make sure you find a good resting place for it or invest in a stand!
snacks – I wrote Tom (my husband) a whole list of goodies like nuts/ chocolate/ bananas 🍌
a drink – my beverage of choice was Ribena, full of sweetness and berries and good for a quick sugar/energy rush!
A water bottle with a straw – water is the best medicine – easy to sip from and great when breastfeeding and not spilling on Baby
lip balm – all that breathing on the gas and air tube thing makes our lips dry.
headband/hair tie to keep hair off your face
lavender oil is a good relaxer but anything that smells of Home would be good / blanket/ pillow/ pregnancy pillow – comfort is key!
phone chargers, phone (obvs) and headphones
magazines and music
dressing gown (I packed a short one)
pjs/ nightie (button down front ones are the best choice made from cotton to keep you cool)
comfy knickers – think BIG – Bridget Jones style super comfy in a size that fits and does not cut in!
hairbrush, toothbrush and mascara and concealer just to feel a little more human afterwards. You might want to pack a lovely smelling body wash too and don’t forget the deodorant! Having said that – looking back I think I just wanted to smell like me at the time to help bond with little one. You don’t know how you’ll feel.
nipple cream – I used the Multi-Mam brand and it seems to help but here are a list of others. Personally I am a big fan of the Weleda products so next time I might try that one!
Breast Pads – you might not need them and who cares anyway if you hve leaky boobs – it happens but nice to be prepared.
clean outfit to wear home – please be comfortable. Your body has done something incredible and it’s needs time to heal. I remember feeling very delicate. I wore my pregnancy leggings and a loose and floaty top with easy access to boobs.
2/3 sleepsuits (onsies)
A small pack of newborn nappies
a couple of muslin squares. We used these bibs and I preferred them as they were smaller and very absorbent.
A pack of newborn wet wipes (Water Wipes are very good and very gentle – 99.9% water)
2 pairs of socks, a pair of scratch mittens (their nails are so sharp and grow really fast)
A dummy – I used these but there are other soothers out there so whether you love them or hate them I’d say for your own sanity don’t think of them as the devil!
I know what it’s like – you want to pack every little outfit you received and all the other lovely things you have bought but your baby will be home before you know it, so try to keep your packing light and only take what you think you and your baby will really need. As you go on the journey you’ll figure out what things you need and you’ll want to have some spare pennies kept aside.
**Top Tip** Pack a separate baby bag for your little one so everything is easy to get hold of and pack your bag with your birth partner so they know where to find everything. It will help when you are desperate for lip balm and you can’t effectively describe what part of the bag it is in it will help!
Ideally you should have your bags packed when you are about 36 weeks but if you are like me you’ll be starting now (even if you are due in August!)
And don’t forget your Maternity notes and the camera!
I’d love to know what you packed in your bag or if you have any questions – get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org @onemamaskingdom