Feeling a little less limber than you once did? You’re not the only one! Pregnancy affects your body in so many ways, and as your bump grows heavier, your posture can start to suffer, leaving you uncomfortable, and at worst, in pain. We ask Chiropractor Dr Michelle Zhou McCulloch of UP!health for her advice on keeping yourself fit, flexible and free from pain, all the way through pregnancy and beyond.
Is back pain just part of being pregnant?
Absolutely not! However, according to statistics up to 50% of pregnant women will end up with some sort of back pain during their pregnancy, and it becomes even more common in subsequent pregnancies; so if you’re in this group, please be reassured that (unfortunately) you’re not alone.
Many pregnant women will first visit a chiropractor when they start to experience spinal discomfort or pain, typically during the second trimester, as the bump grows larger. In many cases this can be really quite debilitating – particularly if you’re busy working, or have a younger child to care for. But rest assured that there are effective treatments available to combat this, so you don’t have to just put up with pain.
What are the most common complaints that you treat during pregnancy?
Lower back pain and pelvic pain are common, with the sacroiliac joints most often affected. Sacroiliac joints in the pelvis are held together by strong ligaments that help to keep us stable. But during pregnancy a number of factors, including hormonal changes, can cause these joints to stretch and loosen, causing weakness in the pelvis that often results in that familiar pain in the lower back area.
Another associated factor is your growing bump, as this shifts your centre of gravity forward, putting even more strain on your lower back when it’s already working overtime. Your abdominal muscles also stretch to accommodate your baby, which weakens your normal core muscle support, causing yet more strain to the spine and pelvis. All in all, it’s really no wonder so many women experience this type of pain!
So what can be done?
When it comes to physical therapy, one, or a combination of therapies can be considered for treatment of pregnancy and postnatal back pain. Some of the more commonly utilised therapies include chiropractic, physiotherapy, osteopathy, acupuncture, massage and clinical Pilates. As a chiropractor, my following advice is focused predominantly on the management this type of pain from a chiropractic perspective.
I advise any woman who is thinking of conceiving to have a check-up with a chiropractor before they fall pregnant – this is especially important if you already suffer with back pain. A thorough assessment of your alignment and posture, along with a few readjustments where necessary can highlight any potential issues before they become major problems, and can actually go a long way to prevent you from developing the dreaded backache once you do fall pregnant.
During pregnancy For pregnant women who are experiencing pain, chiropractic adjustments are gentle, drug-free and safe when administered by a qualified practitioner. Look for government-registered practitioners, and don’t be afraid to ask your chosen chiropractor if they are experienced in working with pregnant women.
Some recent studies have shown that chiropractic treatment during pregnancy can actually reduce your labour time by as much as 24% for first-time mums, and 39% for subsequent births, which makes it an important tool as you consider your birth plan.
If your OBGYN has given you the all clear, then exercise that strengthens the core, such as pre-natal Pilates, can be helpful to maintain strength and a good posture through the different stages of your pregnancy. Gentle workouts are also great energy and mood boosters, which really helps when you are feeling heavy and tired! I encourage my pregnant patients to practice a lot of self-care; make sure you are being easy on yourself and don’t hesitate to pamper yourself with massage when you need it.
As a part of your recovery, I’d recommend a posture and spinal alignment check after your delivery. This can be scheduled at around four weeks after a vaginal delivery, and six-eight weeks if you had a C-Section. If you are unsure as to whether you’re ready to see a chiropractor yet, make sure you get the okay from your OBGYN first. Your chiropractor can also help you to maintain good posture when carrying your newborn, or breastfeeding, for example – both things that can commonly cause aches and pains.
Once you feel ready and have the doctor’s go-ahead then you can also resume some gentle exercise – but please take it slowly, as overdoing things in the early days can often cause more harm than good! Post-natal Pilates is great for re-training the core, while gentle yoga helps keep the body supple, and is a great relaxation technique for some very much-needed me-time.
Let’s be honest: travelling with young children can be challenging at best, with tantrums, tears and lost teddy bears all threatening to derail the most carefully-laid plans. Here are five must-pack items to make everything run just a little more smoothly, and get your holiday off to the right start.
For Reluctant Sleepers
A true stroke of genius that’s perfect for kids that struggle to wind down on planes, the Jetkids BedBox is a three-in-one product that will have everyone feeling well rested at arrivals. The design is reminiscent of a certain other famous ride-on suitcase, and allows ample space for kids to stash their toys, books and coloring for the journey. But the real magic happens once those cabin lights are dimmed. The case is designed to fit the vast majority of economy class seats, transforming them into a cozy flat bed that will have kids lulled to sleep quicker than you can say “business class”. Suitable for kids from newborn all the way up until seven, this is a savvy investment for families that love to travel.
When faced with a long-haul flight, even the most diligent parent will often relax a little on screen time. But as well as being pretty uncomfortable, standard-issue airline headphones usually have poor sound quality, which can result in kids turning up the volume to potentially dangerous levels. Enter Buddyphones, who produce ultra-safe, volume-limited and thoroughly kid-proof children’s headphones, which fold neatly into a drawstring bag for travel. The entire range limits volumes to levels approved by the World Health Organization, and are built to be twisted, sat on and generally abused by kids without damage. Squabble-free sharing is made easy with a built-in headphone splitter in the cable, and the headphones all come in bright colors, with fun stickers to personalize their cans.
Picture the scene: A late-night connection in an unfamiliar airport. Everyone is tired and grouchy, and your gate-checked stroller won’t reappear until your final destination (and even if you’ve asked for it to be delivered at the plane door, it’s quite likely to end up on a baggage carousel, what feels like kilometers away from your arrivals gate!). Save your sanity and some backache too by investing in an ultra-lightweight, travel-friendly stroller that can be stowed in the overhead bin, ready to deploy as soon as those seatbelt lights are switched off. The innovative Goodbaby Pockit is the world’s smallest stroller, folding in two easy steps to a handbag-sized unit that weighs less than 5 kilograms! Suitable from six months (or newborn, if combined with a suitable infant capsule as a travel system) up to four years, you will more than get your money’s worth out of this stroller.
When filling your hand luggage for a trip, it’s important to consider worst-case scenarios. Spillages, smears and – let’s be honest here – travel sickness can easily render outfits un-wearable, so ensure that your carry-on contains spare clothes for everyone in the family (Moms – make sure you pack a soft bra, as spills easily soak through outer layers… our Easyfit Sleep and Nursing bra is perfect as it’s super-comfortable, and packs into a tiny space!). Pack plenty of wet bags to seal off any outfit emergencies – these can be re-purposed as laundry bags later on in your trip. Super-cute Planet Wise wet bags are designed for reusable diapers, so you know they’ll keep everything well contained, making laundry a cinch at the end of your journey.
It’s always amazing just how many snacks kids will consume, and with airplane meals often of questionable quality, it’s essential to pack a few tasty treats that can be distributed little and often, keeping hunger at bay and behavior at its best! But sugary snacks plus young kids can be a recipe for disaster, and so stealth health is the key to success. Ella’s Kitchen was founded by a UK dad who wanted to feed his children healthy and appealing food – without the junk. The range now includes baby food purees, cereals, sweet and savory snacks, and even gluten and lactose-free options, meaning you’ll find something for even the pickiest eater here… without fear of a sugar crash tantrum at 36,000 feet.
Available worldwide from all major supermarkets and health food stores; costs vary by product.
Picture this: you’ve just taken a pregnancy test and it’s positive! You and your partner are absolutely thrilled – who’s the next person you tell? Your mom? Your best friend? Your in-laws?
For many couples, news of a much-wanted pregnancy can come with a side order of family drama that’s guaranteed to cast a shadow over what should be one of the most joyful moments of their lives. So how do you share your news in a way that provokes the most positive response? And what should you do when the response really doesn’t go the way you hope? Read on for some real-life pregnancy announcement stories… and how not to break the news to your family!
Pick Your Moment
Laura and Ben decided on what they thought would be the perfect place to announce their new addition to the family – Laura’s sister’s wedding. Laura explains, “We figured that a wedding is such a happy occasion anyway, and all the family would be gathered in one place, so it made perfect sense to us to make the announcement then.” Sadly, Laura’s sister and her new husband didn’t feel the same way. “My sister was totally furious with me – she felt I’d hijacked her wedding day, which of course made me feel terrible.” She continues, “ She actually didn’t speak to me for nearly six months, until just before my son was born”. Picking the right moment to share your pregnancy is vital to help ensure a positive reaction, as Laura says, “If I could go back in time and do it again, I would have just kept everything low-key”.
Manage Your Expectations
While it’s understandable that your pregnancy is the most exciting thing happening in your world right now, try not to take offence if your family don’t respond exactly how you’d like them to, straight off the bat. For example, when given the happy news of his only child’s first pregnancy, your author’s loving dad responded with a rather confusing, and some might say, pretty insulting, “Oh really?? Was it planned?” To clarify, at this point I had been married to my husband – a guy Dad absolutely adores – for nearly ten years, so I can only put his response down to the fact that he was unprepared, and so simply went with the first thing that came out of his mouth, filter-free. Incidentally, he’s a great Granddad, and managed a far more normal reaction second time around, although by then I’d braced myself for something just as inappropriate!
Make The Right Choice For You
Have you ever heard the phrase “You can’t change other people, but you can change your reaction to them”? When Ellie’s mom learnt of her impending grandparent-hood, her reaction wasn’t one that Ellie – who isn’t married to her long-term partner – had anticipated. “She burst into tears and started wailing about how she was too young to be a grandma, and asking me how she tell was supposed to tell her work colleagues that her unmarried daughter was ‘knocked up’. To say I was hurt would be an understatement.” The conversation blew up, resulting in Ellie storming off and a now-strained relationship with her mom. She’s since made a conscious decision to minimize contact until she feels stronger. “My baby is due in five weeks and I haven’t even told her the due date.” She continues, “I feel like by not engaging with her, I’m protecting my own feelings a little more – I have enough to think about right now, and so I am choosing to focus on the positive.”
Like Ellie, a conscious decision to focus on the positive will help to reduce the impact of any negative reactions; after all, you and your partner are the only people who really matter when it comes to creating your own happy family.
Mayarya sits down for a chat with Midwife and birth educator Sofie Jacobs of Urban Hatch (urban-hatch.com) about regaining intimacy after birth.
Q: How soon after birth is considered “normal” to re-start your sex life?
A: There’s no such thing as “normal”! Every couple is different. The key to finding the right time is to talk to each other. Timescales can vary from just a few weeks after childbirth to six months or more – all are entirely normal. There should never be any pressure – just an open discussion about each of your wishes. After all, feeling understood and supported really are the most vital ingredients to feel turned on.
Q: What would you say to a new mother who feels insecure about her post-natal body?
A: Firstly, try not to worry! It’s very rare that a new mother wouldn’t have concerns of some sort after having a baby. Your body changes so much in such a short space of time that it’s important to allow yourself time to heal and also to get comfortable with yourself. Many women worry whether their partner will still find them attractive, but explaining your insecurities to your partner offers a good opportunity for reassurance and intimacy – you’ll soon realize that they don’t see your body with the same critical eyes that you may do.
Q: What impact do new-mom hormones have on your sexual relationship?
A: Women will experience a lot of hormonal highs and lows after having a baby, so it’s quite natural to feel low in mood, tired and teary – hardly emotions to get you in the mood for sex!
It’s also worth noting that your body prioritizes stress hormones over sex hormones, and that having a newborn baby can be a time of stress as you both adjust. To help regulate your hormones, try to ensure that every meal includes protein, healthy fats and fiber, and avoid the quick fix of a sugar high.
On top of your fluctuating hormones, you’re also dealing with reduced sleep, as well as lots of emotional and physical demands, all while navigating your new life as a mom. After a while, you’ll begin to feel more secure in your new role, and you may surprise yourself when your libido returns, as strong as ever.
Q: Will my partner view me differently?
A: Very often partners can also suffer from a lower sex drive after welcoming a new baby to the family. And while seeing you as a mother may be part of the adjustment period, there’s also stress, worry and exhaustion to add into the mix, making a sky-high libido pretty unlikely. Often partners are concerned about hurting you, or waking the baby, not to mention the risk of an unwanted pregnancy so soon after you’ve given birth.
On the other hand, some partners may feel sexually frustrated or rejected during the post-birth period, and while it may sound like a cliché, talking really is the best medicine in these scenarios so you can be mindful of each other’s perspective.
And an important point: while you may feel that having sex is something that you just need to ‘get over and done with’, it’s very important to feel both emotionally and physically ready first.
Q: My partner and I seem to bicker constantly – how can I rebuild intimacy after birth?
A: I’ve seen a lot of couples feel overwhelmed by life with a new baby and this can result in them feeling isolated from each other. It’s easy to fall into feeling disconnected from your partner during early parenthood, so regardless of whether you feel able to have full sex, finding moments of intimacy is important to strengthen your relationship. Put aside time to simply snuggle, kiss each other goodnight, have a quick embrace when they arrive home, or share a shoulder massage or foot rub. All of these things allow you to physically connect with each other, enabling sexual intimacy to become more natural.
Of course, from now on, sex will become something that works around the demands of parenthood. But while having children means sex becomes less spontaneous, it doesn’t have to be boring! Scheduling a night or two each week for sex can actually do wonders for your relationship, giving you both something to look forward to. By prioritizing intimacy, you allow your relationship to thrive – even in amongst the craziness of family life!
Q: Will sex feel the same after birth? After giving birth, you may feel disconnected to your pelvic floor and core, and it is quite normal to need help in getting that connection back. Discuss your pelvic floor with your healthcare professional at your six-week postnatal check, and remember that if you are struggling, a few appointments with a women’s health physiotherapist may be all you need.
A: The pelvic floor muscles are essential, both for bladder control, but also for your sexual pleasure. And while it can be hard to remember to do your exercises every day, if you can remind yourself – say, when you’re washing up, or cleaning your teeth – your multi-tasking will result in greater sexual satisfaction in the long run. It’s a win-win!
That said, it’s important to get these exercises right, as a pelvic floor that is too tight can have as much of a negative impact on someone’s sex life as one that is too weak. My message to all moms who aren’t exactly sure how to do their exercises is to get themselves checked – ideally by a women’s health physiotherapist or midwife who understands core and pelvic floor functionality.
Author: Kitty Lo, Mayarya Women. You can take a look more for her writing here.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably going into labor soon or you’re just downright curious. I will not skip the gory details so if you dare, do read on! Actually, i felt like it was not as gory and scary as I anticipated.
So, it was Christmas Eve and we had a simple family dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. I remember that it was gloomy and raining when we were driving back home. When we reached home, I retreated to bed because carrying an extra 25-pounds does tire you out. I was scheduled for an induction on boxing day because my baby has to be taken out on the estimated due date even if he doesn’t want to come into this world just yet as I had gestational diabetes. Me, out of all people when I had been eating healthy, working out but what the heck, that is a story for another day.
I was reading up on failed inductions because I have been told that it does happen and if it does, there is a possibility that I had to do the Caesarean delivery to take my baby out. I was so ready to push and do it the natural way that I was praying and hoping that my baby would come out just before boxing day(26/12/17). I was watching this video of vlogger documenting her whole induced labour & delivery and getting stressed out about mine, texting mum and close friends that I was going to do c-section and getting upset about it.
In that exact instance, i felt a gush of liquid coming from down below but i was in a lying down position so it was more of a trickle…… i stood up and went to the bathroom to check it out. When I sat on the toilet bowl, the liquid wouldn’t stop rushing out…. so i had this thought in my head like, OMG, I can’t believe this is happening and I screamed from the toilet… “I think my water broke!” and Kyle, (my husband) replied… “Are you sure? Should you check with your mum?” I replied… “I’m pretty sure my water broke hun”, he was on the phone at the time, hung up and quickly ran towards me.
I think he started to have this moment of panic. You know how you feel so ready for something and yet, when it happens, you are absolutely NOT ready. My husband’s hospital bag was NOT packed, we did not have any CASH, somehow, i misplaced my wallet…. it was a big hoo-ha moment until we gathered ourselves for the drive to the hospital. I remember shaking, I was standing up but my legs felt like jelly. I was feeling all sorts of emotions; scared, happy, excited, panic, you name it. At this point, I did not feel any pain at all and I kept asking my mum, “When is the pain going to start?”, “Is this normal?”, and “What is happening?”
When I got to the hospital (A&E), I was dramatically wheeled into the labour room. And, this part, NO ONE TOLD ME and I’VE NEVER READ ABOUT IT ANYWHERE! I did not know how much it was going to hurt when the midwives or the obstetrician checked me to see how much I have dilated. I swear, their fingers had entered regions of my down below that no man has entered before. It was SOOOOO deep!! I think this was more painful than the delivery itself, i kid you not. When the midwife checked me, I was only 2cm dilated (you had to be 10cm to be able to start pushing). So, they told me this was going to take a while as I was not having contractions just yet…. They hooked me up to a machine and I was having contractions but very far apart – about 14 minutes in between and I honestly did not feel the contractions just yet.
I was then checked into my hospital room and changed into a pink hospital outfit(it was pretty cute), there was also a bed for my husband so we slept soundly throughout the night. The nurses came in twice during the night to check on my contractions and blood pressure. I had such a good sleep. Things started to get interesting at around 7am…. I started feeling a bit more pain but it was still manageable, I can only describe it as a menstrual cramp like feeling and informed the nurses. They said that the doctor should be here by 8am. He came in at around 8.30am and checked me AGAIN to see how much I have dilated. THIS, I SWEAR WAS THE WORST! I hate it so much. I was only 3cm dilated, after a full 8 hours sleep.
My doctor said that I was to be induced at 9am in the labor room. In my childbirth plan, I mentioned that I wanted epidural as my main choice of painkiller and I wanted it quickly. (This was the best & smartest thing I did) It was in my medical notes and my midwives asked me if i wanted epidural the night before but i was not feeling any pain at the time. So I opted out. When I was in the labor room, they started attaching a drip into my veins to start off my labour and the doctor did a quick check before he carried on with his daily work schedule as I had a while to go. He said that it should take another 4-6 hours or so for the real work(pushing) to start if all goes well. He advised me to use the epidural now if that was what I really wanted. Mind you, if you are dilated 7-8cm and if you wanted the epidural then, it will no longer be an option and you will just have to bear with the intense pain. I was feeling moderate, regular pains in my lower abdomen when he asked and I immediately said YES! Perfect timing! They rang the anaesthetist up to the labour room.
At 9.30am, I was feeling a considerable amount of pain at closer intervals and Kyle could see everything as I was hooked onto the machine and you can see a peak and trough whenever there was a contraction. He was very intelligent in a sense that he quickly learnt how to read the machine and the discomfort on my face. Luckily, the anaesthetists came in just in time to save the day. The use of epidural, especially the process of injecting it into my system was a dangerous procedure that could cause spinal puncture and leads to paralysis, headaches, numbness among other life-threatening risks. I was briefed for about 15 minutes before I was made to sign a waiver form that will release the hospital and the doctor of all liabilities if anything goes wrong. The epidural, is a HUGE ass injection that goes right into the spinal cord and the tricky part is that, when it gets injected into your system, you CANNOT move at ALL. Otherwise, you will be at risk of all of the above.
I was worried about that as I was extremely scared of needles. But, I was feeling an 8 out of 10 pain intensity at this point, I needed the epidural to take me through the next couple of hours, or so I thought. When he injected the epidural, Kyle was kneeling in front of me, comforting me, telling me to look at him and not to move. He was my rock, literally. The anaesthetist used the lowest minimum possibly effective dose so as to ease the pain but not to totally eliminate the pain. If we used a higher dose, I would feel too numb to push when I am fully dilated. I was told that the medicine kicked in at around 20 minutes. I remember looking at the clock and did a mini countdown in my head. Finally, the epidural kicked in and helped eased the pain effectively. I could still feel pain but it was manageable.
At around 1015am, the most intense,agonising cramps that I’ve ever felt started at a regular 4 minutes apart and I had tears in my eyes. My husband was with me the whole way, we were breathing together throughout and he adjusted my breathing techniques that I learnt from pre-natal yoga classes (Ujjaiyi breath) according to my contractions. Breathe IN 3 seconds, Breathe OUT 6 seconds – OMG, it did wonders! It really helped calmed me. The cramps started to feel like intense, diarrhoea, “i-need-to-poop” kind of pain so I excused myself to use the loo and tried to poop and pee. I did let it out but nothing was helping the pain go away. I asked the midwives if I could increase the epidural or if could i push now. Then, the midwives checked my cervix at around 1030am and I was dilated at 7-8cm. So, it was time for them to call the doctor to come up to the labour room. It was nearly showtime. EEK!
My husband unintentionally became the best labour coach anyone could have asked for. He filmed himself saying to our little baby, “Little Keyon, look at how much your mum is suffering because of you”, and I literally had tears in my eyes. My husband said to me, “Babe, we don’t need to have many kids if you are going to suffer like this.” I could not reply, I just smiled. He is just the sweetest, sweetest person who loves me so damn much, how did I get so lucky.
While waiting for the doctor to come up, the midwives continued to monitor the fetal’s heart rate and my contractions. One of the midwives pressed my lower abdomen and asked if i needed to pee AGAIN, i felt the urge but nothing was coming out. OK, this was the second MOST painful thing that happened to me during delivery. They had to use this tube to take my pee out and insert it through my pee-pee hole. I think…. I could not see what they were doing but it hurt!! AND it hurt even, after delivery for another week or so. They thought that i could not feel much because of the epidural but I could feel EVERYTHING!
FINALLY, the doctor arrived and I said i really needed to push because the pain now, was unbearable and he checked my cervix(again) and yes, I was finally a 10! Good to go! They brought in this HUGE bright LIGHT to shine down on my down below and told me to spread my legs widely. They propped my bed up and they had these foot pedals I can step on to lift my butt even higher. I was shaking so much because I couldn’t believe it was happening. After 9 months of waiting to meet my baby. After a whole night of anticipating in my hospital room and the longest 2 hours of my life, breathing through my contractions with tears streaming down my face. As i put my feet up the pedestal, my thighs could not spread apart as I was shaking so badly. I was asking kyle, “What’s wrong with my legs? I’m shaking soooo much”, he reassured me and told me he would be there for me throughout the whole way.
At 10.55am, everything was in place, everyone was ready. The doctor told me to push when I felt the contractions. Honestly, I did not know what “PUSH” meant, I thought I was pushing but the doctor said my face was doing all the pushing. It was pretty funny at the moment. I can’t imagine the face that I was making. He instructed me to use my core and push DOWN but i still did not get it. I was being so thick…… Then, he inserted 2 fingers into my down below and said, “TRY TO PUSH MY FINGERS OUT”, I did and it was working! I kept using the same muscles and I was initially afraid to poop but at this point, I just did not care. After working through 10 minutes or so, the doctor said he could see the baby’s head coming through the birth canal and I just needed one last push. He asked me if he could cut me open a little bit down below as he could already see the head. I gave him my go ahead and trusted him. After a couple of seconds, I felt this pooping sensation as I pushed. I honestly thought I’ve embarrassingly pooped… But i heard crying sounds in that same instance and it was the most beautiful sound I’ve heard.
My baby was out! They handed him to me right away. He came out at exactly 11.14am. When I held him in my arms, I did not feel any more pain, even as they were stitching me up. All I felt was love, a kind of surreal, unconditional love that you never knew existed. He was crying as I was holding him. I had tears in my eyes so did my husband. It was such an emotional moment and perhaps, the most emotional one of my life. Kyle kept saying “Babe, you did it. You did such a good job.”, it was really nice of him to be so encouraging and I said, “No, we did it! Thank you for being here with me.”
The entire birthing process was such a positive experience for me, for us. My baby got cleaned up and the midwives passed him back to me. He was so tiny, yet so precious. It was such a perfect moment and to this day, I still can’t believe he came into our lives. After going through this hand in hand with my husband, my love and respect for him grew even stronger. We are so blessed to be parents of little Keyon who has already brought so much joy to us.
I am so excited to share more stories, tips and advice on pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood. I know this is a really long post but I hope you enjoyed it! If you’re going through childbirth soon, I wish that you have a smooth delivery. Stay calm and be positive!
The entire birthing process was such a positive experience for me, for us. My baby got cleaned up and the midwives passed him back to me. He was so tiny, yet so precious. It was such a perfect moment and to this day, I still can’t believe he came into our lives. After going through this hand in hand with my husband, my love and respect for him grew even stronger. We are so blessed to be parents of little Keyon who has already brought so much joy to us.
I am so excited to share more stories, tips and advice on pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood. I know this is a really long post but I hope you enjoyed it! If you’re going through childbirth soon, I wish that you have a smooth delivery. Stay calm and be positive!
So you’re having a baby? Congratulations! With the appearance of that faint blue line come so many decisions. Find out the gender, or wait for a surprise? Planned C-section or natural delivery? Yellow or cream cashmere booties? And, the real biggie: breast or formula feeding?
You may believe that this is just another relatively straightforward parenting decision to make in conjunction with your partner – perhaps after a chat with your midwife or OBGYN following an assessment of your preferences, lifestyle and maybe even a quick flick through your preferred baby book… sorry to break it to you, but the breast vs. formula debate runs much deeper than that!
With this one, seemingly innocuous, decision, you’ll be categorised one way or another. With the choice of how to feed your baby, you could be judged for making a political statement, condemned as a wilful exhibitionist or dismissed as selfish and feckless. It’s bare-knuckle match with other parents, healthcare professionals and even strangers in the ring. Pick a team; it’s going to get dirty!
Your so-called support network of other parents, friends and family members will all have opinions based on their own decisions, regrets, old wives’ tales and often crazy theories. Want to hear about the cousin’s baby who developed digestive issues from a formula milk diet? Or the friend-of-a-friend whose breast milk was insufficient to feed her baby? No? Well, you will hear those tales, and many more like them, regardless of whether you wish to! Thought your baby = your decision? Think again!
New parents invariably find that others have strange views on what is – and isn’t – acceptable for their infant. A mother choosing to formula-feed her newborn is often condemned for “not making the effort” to nurse her child. After all, we are constantly reminded, “breast is best” so shouldn’t she be ensuring that her baby gets the optimum start in life instead of selfishly suiting her own needs?
But not so fast! Skip forward to a few months down the road, however, and a breastfeeding mum may find that she is met with disapproval, or even outright disgust, for nursing her toddler. There is often an implication of something inappropriate about nursing a child beyond an ill-defined and unscientific “socially acceptable” age – at which point mums may feel that bottles are the only acceptable method to feed their baby in public.
Ah yes, feeding your baby in public. Another topic to invoke the breast vs. bottle battle, erode the confidence of new parents, and further muddy the waters of this endless, and, let’s be honest, pretty pointless, debate.
“It’s perfectly natural!” argue the breast feeders. “If it offends you so much to see a lactating breast, look elsewhere!”
“Bottles are more convenient!” cry the formula feeders, “Why shouldn’t women reclaim their bodies after childbirth?”
In fact, both sides of the debate have sensible points to make. However, the topic has become so fraught with emotion, defensiveness, and downright ignorance, that rational discussion is almost impossible. A quick browse online will show you just how polarising the topic of infant feeding is!
If this is all sounding a little daunting, then take heart. Your child will grow up healthy, happy and well nourished no matter how you choose to feed them. If you are worried about making the right choice, consider the adults around you. Can you tell who was breastfed as an infant and who was formula fed?
So how about we all pledge to politely ignore the judgments, comments, and, yep, sheer nosiness of others, and have the courage to raise our kids our way. In a few short years, we’ll all be wrestling over homework, video games, and chores, and wondering what all the feeding fuss was about. And please, at that point, do try and resist the temptation to share your own words of wisdom…
So it may be just about time to reveal the bump. The secret bump only very few know about. But just how shall you do it?! Who will you tell first? How big should the ‘announcement’ really be? Well however you want to share your news with the ones you love, here’s some helpful inspo for you from some of our favourite celebs:
Queen Bey (let’s start with the big guns!)
You would have been living under a rock if you never hear about the excitement that was Beyoncé’s twins! And this incredible announcement was 310% Instagram worthy! Those flowers, the mismatched underwear and the all important veil. It was pregnancy bliss. And let’s be honest, there are really no more words we can say, other than “Awww, we love you Queen Bey!”
So the Queen’s announcement is certainly one of the best, so it’s not surprising that since it hit our screens that many more have tried to re-create it in their own way. One of our faves would be this effort from writer and comedian Zoe Foster Blake.
Zoe had the flowers, she found a veil, and she gave us a giggle. Would you be able to recreate the work of the Queen?
Olivia Wilde went matchy matchy!
Another memorable photo that’s been recreated a few times recently, this had major ‘aww’ factor and is a great idea to steal for its simplicity!
Stacy Keibler went for a different angle altogether.
Let’s be honest here, not all pregnant mummas feel up to having their photo taken, especially in the first few months. From all the morning sickness, to the constant fatigue, photos that are going to be publicly shared probably aren’t really your thing right now. That’s why a quick and easy announcement like this is brilliant!
Serena went for a bumpie.
The Bumpie is another very simple way of sharing your special news. And we’re loving how casual Serena is in this famous image. Whether she meant to actually share it or not, we’re so glad she did! Although some may view this as a ‘no frills’ approach, it’s a handy bit of inspo if you don’t have someone else around to take a photo!
Eva Longoria had all hands on bump!
Although we’re not entirely sure whom the hands belong to, we love how this photo makes us feel inside! We’re really feeling the love!
Michael Phelps and his wife left it up to the kids.
There is just so much joy in this photo and we can’t get enough of it! It’s highly likely that two seconds after this was taken, this child actually realised he was going to have some competition and lost the plot, throwing the pregnancy test in the air. But hey, at least they got ‘the shot!’
How did you announce your pregnancy? What inspo would you steal from these celebs?
As soon as the pregnancy test gives you a positive result, it begins. The baby shopping. And once it starts, it never ends! The baby industry is incredible, there is a product for absolutely everything and it doesn’t come cheap either. The choice in most of these baby stores is so overwhelming and confusing. If you don’t buy the most expensive car seat are you putting your unborn child in danger? Which brand of nappies are the better choice? Do you really need that wiz-bang swing contraption that people ‘swear by’? What do you actually need?
Cot – obviously baby will need a place to sleep (that is when they finally go to sleep!) a cot, although a simple set up, it needs to be safe! Always check stickers and info attached to the cot to ensure it compiles with all of the safety guidelines.
Pram – a good pram can last you and your baby anywhere from birth to about 5 or so years. There are hundreds of brands to select from and making the final selection is pretty tough, but do your research, and again focus on those safety guidelines.
Car Seat – Most hospitals these days won’t even let you leave without a reverse-facing baby seat professional installed in your car. Again, there’s a lot of safety guidelines that need to be followed when making this purchase. But spending the most doesn’t always bring a higher level of safety. Again, do your research on this and work out of you need a capsule or a convertible seat.
Changing table/mat – baby will need a lot (and we mean a LOT!) of nappy changes in their first few years. Investing in an area to make this as easy as possible is a good idea.
High Chair – once the solids begin, so comes the mess. A high chair is a great way for baby to learn to sit at the table for meals. They can see the world from a whole new perspective.
Nappies and wipes – whether you head down the disposable or reusable path, you’re going to need a whole lot of nappies and wipes! Find the brand that works for you and your baby and then do your shopping. You might be surprised with how often they are on sale. Buying in bulk will save you more in the long run.
Feeding equipment – even if you’re planning to breastfeed, a few bottles can come in handy at times. Along with a sterilizer (not just for bottles, but handy for toys, and dummies too!) and a breast pump.
Clothing – when it comes to dressing babies, their needs are only simple: they prefer comfort over style. Always keep this in mind when shopping for a new outfit. Lots of buttons can be tricky too. Aim for zip closers. Starting a collection of sizes can be helpful too when those sudden growth spurts occur.
What are your baby essentials missing from this list?
“Come on girls, let’s get a drink!” – it’s a line you’ve really come to enjoy. A night out on the town with your besties, while sipping cocktails and sharing some laughs. These occasions are always so much fun! Except right now it’s just a little different. You have a secret. And you want to keep it a secret just a little while longer. Instead of excitement at the thought of what the night will bring, your first reaction is one of terror. How will you say ‘no’ without offending them? How will you decline, without them catching on?
We’ve all been in this position: secretly pregnant while masking a severe case of morning sickness and discovering new ways to disguise a small, but almost noticeable bump. So here are our top tips/excuses/lies/escape plans when moment like these occur:
The ‘I’ve just started a new detox/diet/cleanse’ – everybody loves a new diet and fitness craze. And these days there are so many new ones popping up all over the place, no one can keep up – ideal for you pregnant lady! Mostly all of these fads will require zero alcohol, and adjustments to your eating habits, a nice little disguise for all the early changes you’re going through. For extra points, signing up to, or having some info available to ‘promote’ your diet to your friends will definitely help your cause.
The ‘I have to drive home’ – this one is always a real winner! It’s simple, doesn’t require much of an explanation and will get you over the line every time. Not only can you use the driving card for avoiding a drink, but it means you can also leave early to ‘pick up your Husband’s Aunt’, and catch up on some extra sleep!
The ‘we’re saving hard right now’ angle – another oldie, but a goodie! When you think realistically how much one night out on the town costs, missing a few nights here and there can really add a few extra dollars to your savings account – an excellent point to share with your fellow night owls. Savings don’t always have to mean something big like a car or a house. You could be saving for a new designer bag or weekend getaway. The more creative, the better!
The ‘my drink looks alcoholic, but it’s not’ – a few times at a bar, I actually asked the bar-keep to make me something that looked alcoholic, but wasn’t and boy did that work a treat! A mix of juice infusions, sparkling water, ice and there was the world’s best looking cocktail! Although it tasted like rubbish and still cost the price of a real cocktail, it was very convincing.
The ‘whoops, I spilt my drink…’ – this one you can really only pull out the one time, so make the most of it! You can play this two different ways: the slow spill, which is spilling your drink at intervals slowly. So that essentially instead of sipping your beverage, you’re spilling, which can go completely unnoticed. Your other spill ploy is the major whole drink spill. This can be used as an exit strategy too, if you’re extra crafty.
How did you hide your early pregnancy from those closest to you?
As soon as your bundle of cries arrives, you’ll feel like you have an instant target on your back. To some members of the public, they see a mother and feel it is their human right to shower that said new mother with unwanted thoughts and unhelpful advice. No one asks for it. No one really needs it either, but still it goes hand in hand with having a child. Here’s what to expect and how to avoid more of these ‘attacks’ in the future.
The bags are forming under your eyes, sleep is something rare these days. Enter the “gosh you look tired. You should be sleeping when baby sleeps. I know the best way to put a baby down…” the speech goes on. And you actually believe in this moment you could fall asleep. Strangers always feel the need to onboard their ‘this is how and when a baby should sleep’ comments. They are never ground breaking or helpful. And it’s highly likely these people also never had a sleeping baby, or they actually never had a child at all. Ear plugs and headphones are a welcome purchase to keep in the nappy bag for these people.
“Are you feeding?” My, what a question! Am I feeding my baby? What kind of person do you think I am for not feeding my new child… most of the time we know this question is actually a double barrelled inquisition into if we are actually breastfeeding or not. This is no one’s business whatsoever and as a new Mum, you should never feel like you need to respond to this question. A quick exit from this point is more than acceptable.
If they open with a “back in my day…” RUN! Do anything you can to leave! You do not want to hear what comes next. Most likely this phase is followed by a “you girls have it so easy these days” line. And boy that never goes down well with a new mother just surviving with 2 hours sleep, a child screaming while hanging onto her boob, covered with at least 5 spots of fresh vomit on her top! Yeah, it’s ‘so easy!’ Do anything you can to end this ‘lecture’.
Probably one of the worst things you’ll be asked, especially in those first few weeks is the “when is your next baby due?” – while pointing at your prominent stomach. Come on, what the actual?! Can these people not see a freshly birthed newborn sitting in the pram? It is actually physically impossible to already be about 5 months pregnant with a baby only a few weeks old! For most of us, it can take a number of months for that belly to deflate, comments like this do not help a new mom in any way!
“What’s the child’s name?” – I never get the reasoning behind this question. Are they really interested? Do they plan on greeting my child by his name next time we encounter one another, (which is probably never!)? My favourite part of this question is the follow up “oh they’re naming kids with some funny names these days” – a nice back hander on my well-chosen name. I’m training my child to start kicking people in the shins when they start commentating in this manner on his name. Hopefully then they’ll get the message!
What other annoying questions and advice have you received as a new parent?
I remember when my boobies first ‘came in’. I was in my early teens and they just appeared all of a sudden, along with a horrendous batch of pimple face and bad-boy crushes. I ever so proudly paraded around in my size 32A/70A (AU 10A) bra and so very arrogantly took the modest size and perk-ability for granted. Boy I miss those days. So do my boobs.
Today they are post-child-birth-knockers and they’ve really seen much better days, let’s be honest. And it’s looking like by next week they’ll edge in on my hipbones, totally the type of boob any female dreams of…
The old ‘fun bags’ look like their best days and are so far behind them. They’ve stretched and shrunk so many times in the last year, it’s shocking to think they belong to a girl in her early 30s and not her late 80s! And although I feel like I could almost throw them over my shoulders, just to keep them in the same spot, it’s not a realistic approach to the situation.
A boob job is out of the question for me at this stage in my life, so I have found the best solution to be finding good, supportive bras. Not only post-birth, but before pregnancy and during too! Your boobies need a LOT of support, no matter what size they grow to be. The thing to remember though is that during pregnancy, birth and breast-feeding, your ‘girls’ will go through so many amazing changes and because of this, this isn’t a one-bra only solution. You’ll need to add a few to your wardrobe and of course we’re going to point you towards some of our (super comfy!) designs.
During pregnancy, even from the very first day, (yep, it can be that soon) your boobies will start to feel tender and sore and the last thing you want to be doing is throwing on is something with uncomfortable wire! Trust us when we say invest in a good quality, wire-free bra. Our top-pick is the Mayarya by Amoralia cupcake maternity and nursing bra. It’s wire-free, made from super soft cotton and it actually looks really nice, which is an excellent bonus!
Post-birth those boobies of yours will be ready to retire, especially if you’ve been trying to establish breastfeeding. In the first few weeks post-birth, we highly recommend sleeping in a bra. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but it will assist you in getting a comfortable nights sleep. Enter our Easyfit Sleep Maternity and Nursing Bra. Made from the finest and softest fabric of Micro Modal Air, it is so smooth and light against sensitive skin. Exactly what you’ll need!
If you’re nursing, you’re going to need a bra that is easy to pull down to feed, but also provides on going support for those tired and overworked boobies. Something like the No-wire lace push-up maternity & nursing bra (insert link in title) is ideal. The attractive lace design and stretchy fabric will grow with you too.
How are your boobies? Have you been kind to them lately?
Just recently I was in a foreign town busting for the toilet. And when I say ‘busting’ I mean just about to wet my pants, as I’ve not all that long ago given birth and my bladder just doesn’t have the same stamina it once did. So I made a mad dash across half the city trying to locate a toilet, until finally, there it was: the world’s smallest, most inconspicuous toilet. And I was thrilled, I actually hadn’t been this overjoyed in quite some time (perhaps I need to get out of the house more, but that’s another blog for another time!). However then I looked down at the baby in the pram that I’d been running around with all over town and thought how the f%$@ do I go empty my bladder, with a baby…?! Do I leave the door ajar, so baby (and any walkers by, hello!) can still see me while I ‘go’? Do I pull him out of the pram and cradle him in my arms? Or do I hope that he will keep sleeping just outside the cubicle while I take the quickest of dashes to the loo?
After sharing this major debacle with some of my other mum friends, I realised I wasn’t alone. One mother actually didn’t quite get to the toilet in time and from that day forth she always carries a spare pair of knickers in the nappy bag. But it turns out once you become a mum, it’s not only just going to the toilet that becomes a challenge.
Wanna see a movie? Nice idea, but unless you have yourself a babysitter locked in, heading out to see a movie, going to the theatre or any other outing that requires a little bit of ‘shhhh’ is something you won’t be doing any time soon.
A long lunch that turns into dinner, into just ‘a quick drink’, into rolling in home at 3am, is certainly something you won’t be involved in for a long while either. Because a) that little clutch bag you used to wear wouldn’t be big enough to carry the large amount of nappies, wipes etc you’d need for an occasion away from home for that long and b) can you really be bothered, it’s hard enough to wash your hair most days!
Which brings us to the beauty routine. Or lack of. If you haven’t yet opted for a ‘mom cut’ you’re most likely the pin-up girl for top-knots. And make-up you ask? Umm unless you’ve mastered the art of applying your mascara while feeding, rocking, and singing a lullaby, I’d kiss that luxury goodbye too!
Always hitting that snooze button, because you’re really not a morning person? Well don’t read on… Babies bloody love mornings! 2am in their eyes is the optimal time of the day to just ‘be alive’. This baby is now your ruler on the sleeping time zones in your household. Which means the next time you’ll enjoy a sleep-in will be in about 20 years time.
What else is missing from this list of those ‘little luxuries’ you can no longer participate in as a new parent?
So you’re pregnant. ‘Up the duff.’ Got a ‘bun in the oven.’ You’re ‘with child.’ Expecting. Reproducing the world’s best looking offspring and now all you gotta do is just wait out the next nine months, before someone hands you your new child. Piece of cake, right? Until that wave of fear overcomes you and it sends shivers down your spine, while you ask yourself the question, “how do I actually get this child out?!”
Have you seen the size of some newborns these days? They can be the size of a three year old! And if you’re on your way to deliver that three-year-old human, there are a few things you might like to prepare yourself for (and please note, when we say ‘not-so-glamorous’ in the title, we really mean it!)
Contractions are bloody painful!!!!!! (the extra exclamation marks are necessary here) Think of your worst period pain and then times it by a million, and you’ll be in the ballpark. Although they may only last a short while, they are very intense and bizarrely, you can continue to experience minor versions of contractions after the birth.
There will be stiches, because just before babe arrived, there was someone waving scissors about. You thought they were just extra organised for the moment to cut the cord, but how wrong you were. Ouch! But on the scale of pain at this point, this cutting is the least of your worries.
Prepare for blood and goop and a bit of “did that all come out of me?!” moments.
You and your fresh baby could also be covered in poo. Eww! It could be yours, it could be babes, who ever it belongs to is not the focus here, I just hope you’ve got a room full of helpful people holding things like towels to get rid of it, stat!
So baby is born, you are done. Drop the mic. But wait, it’s not over just yet! Now you have to give ‘birth’ to the placenta. Hopefully you will be too distracted by the amazing little human that’s just arrived to notice this step of the process… Hopefully.
You may be bed-bound for a little while. If you’ve had an epidural that can take a few hours to wear off before you get your sea legs back. If you’ve had a caesarian, it will be at least a full day before you’re out of bed. This can be tough when all you want to do is walk around and cuddle that new little thing!
Not only the newborn will be going home in a nappy, there’s a high chance you will be too. After birth, regardless of it being natural, or through the ‘sun-roof’, the majority of women will have an on-going bleed; this unfortunately can last up to six weeks! Yay, a six-week period! Making up for all that missed time during the pregnancy.
For the first weeks following the birth, when you walk you will actually feel like your bottom is about to fall out. That’s the best way we can describe it to you.
You will have experienced all of these things and so much more, but at the end of it all, you have the most amazing miracle! You won’t think about the contractions, you’ll forget about the poo. You’ll only think about this new little person in your life and imagine what sort of life you’ll share together.
What was the most memorable part of birth you won’t ever forget?
In the olden days (you know those days that feel like centuries ago when you were childless), if you wanted to getaway for a few days, you’d grab a bag, throw in a few clothes, a tooth brush and you were pretty much good to go. These days, you have the added extra of a small human(s) to include in this getaway. And boy do they make it difficult to travel with. Nappies alone take up at least half the suitcase, and that’s check-in size, not even carry-on! Then there’s the pram, baby bag, bassinet, 5-times the amount of clothing you actually need, toys and what am I forgetting…oh, 20 packets of wipes and…this is going to take longer than I thought!
Well once you’ve finally got baby packed and organised – fingers crossed you haven’t forgotten anything essential – it’s now time for you. ‘Time for me?!’ I hear you ask, I know, I know, but mumma needs a bag too! And when time is limited (mum-life reality) one needs to be as efficient as possible. Our extensive collection has been designed by mummas, for mummas. We know how demanding and tiring being a mom can be, so when a holiday is finally on the cards, we want to help you celebrate it, while feeling amazing in our clothing. So here are our top picks for your next vay-cay with bay-bay.
The perfect, easy to wear, casual and super comfy dress: The striped a-line maternity and nursing dress. This a-line beauty not only allows for easy nursing access, it is also suitable for a growing bump. The fabric is durable yet breathable, and so easy to just throw in the wash whenever you may need.
A beautiful, bright floral print is always a winner while on getaway, and this ‘Tropical Firework Maternity and Nursing top’ is one of our favourites! This off the shoulder top was made for nursing mothers in mind and is so on trend right now, let’s be honest. It’s a must!
If you need a little more privacy when nursing, I would suggest adding a couple of these Nursing Covers to your cart! You can wear this gorgeous scarf in a number of ways: simply tie at the neck as a scarf, or fasten the poppers and wear as a shawl to breastfeed baby in confidence! It’s also great for a sudden change in weather, or for those cooler evenings. You could even use it as a blanket for baby on a flight!
With babies and children, there is always going to be mess and spills and 98% of time, they spill their food and drink on you. This doesn’t change while holidaying, which is why we highly recommend you pack our Water-Resistant Jeggings, available in over, or under-the-bump, whichever you prefer. Probably the comfiest jeans you’ll ever own, they are wonderful for relaxing in, thanks to their 4-way stretch. And the best bit is they will repel all those stains that will come your way. Dress them up or down, they will flatter your shape during and after pregnancy.
A nightie that provides both style and comfort, while also being suitable for pregnancy and nursing, does it even exist? Yes it does, because we designed it! Stretchy and comfortable, The butterfly bell sleeve maternity & nursing dress will be all you want to sleep in, and yes, you will get to sleep to enjoy it.
What is your go-to travel item when you’re traveling with baby?
App-arantly nine months is a long time. When you’re pregnant, it feels like about a year and a half. Then once the baby arrives, you blink and the child is a few years old! Luckily to by-pass this time there are a long list of apps to assist you in some way. We’ve done the hard work for you and selected our top picks of app-solutely amazing apps you should download on your phone right now!
Deliveroo – Being pregnant all day certainly makes you hungry. And long before the cravings arrived, my husband insisted he’d be available 24/7 to provide me with any cuisine my pregnant-self craved. But whenever a wave of hunger arrived, he conveniently had to be at other places, like ‘work’. And there was no way I was going to waddle down the street to collect my own take away. Fortunately the only person I could rely on to bring me my cravings was my new best friend “Deliveroo”. Anything I wanted, at anytime, and it was even delivered with a smile. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, ready on demand.
The Bump – like to compare your bump to random pieces of food? Well have I got an app for you my friend! Week by week during your pregnancy you’ll be able to compare the size of that wee bump to edible objects you’ll find all over the house; from pineapple to chili and even a whole watermelon (yep, not a half one, a whole one!). Plus you’ll be equipped with some other useful tips to help through all those glorious symptoms that arrive during the 40 weeks.
Babyname – I don’t know about you, but I never got to use the dating app ‘Tinder’ to find another and I was always a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than happy with the lucky guy I’ve got and I don’t think Tinder would have been my place to find him, but gosh I would have loved to have a go at that swiping thing! Enter “Babyname”. Link up the app with your partner and you’ll be swiping right and left all night long. No, not for a date, or a random hook up, but swiping to find yourselves a baby name. Give it a swipe to the right for the ‘yes’ names and one to the left for a ‘no’. When there’s a name you have both swiped right for, it will come up as a ‘match’, which is such a massive thrill! Finally my tinder dreams were realized, minus the awkward small talk, but let’s be honest, a few free meals wouldn’t have gone astray.
The wonder weeks – “Surely they can’t just let us take this baby home with us, don’t we need a license or something?!” – my exact thought when the hospital shoved us out the door. No instructional how-to booklet. No midwife baby-carer. Not even a student ‘wannabe’ midwife. None of it! It was just me, the husband and this new bundle of cries, sent out into the world alone, without a clue. While there isn’t exactly an app to feed and wash the baby while mum takes a quick eight-hour snooze, there is an app to assist you along the way with helpful advice. “The Wonder Weeks” will have you looking out for new ‘leaps’ in your child’s development and ideas and activities you can use to expand on new skills as they develop. A must app for any new parent.
What app have you found useful for pregnancy and beyond?
Written by: Penny from @meanmumsy – a Mayarya Woman.
During the long nine months of my pregnancy, there was one over-arching message that I was made well aware of. I heard it from close friends, I heard it from health experts and I heard it from the brands I trusted. These people continually spruiked, “breast is best.” In my tunneled pregnant world, I felt like I attracted the message, like it was posted on every billboard I came across. And I knew that was the only way I was going to feed my unborn child. Of course I would breastfeed my child and of course they would be fed my breast milk. That’s the whole point of the ‘fun bags’ anyway isn’t? I knew of a few girls who had gone through their pregnancy before me and they just gave their newborn a bottle. Are you serious?! That would certainly not be me. I instantly judged these ‘lazy’ new mums and thought they were in some way ‘selfish’, depriving their newborn of the most valuable nutrients only they could provide. I wouldn’t be ‘selfish’ like these women. I wouldn’t be ‘lazy’. I would exclusively breastfeed my child for at least 12 months, just like my mum, just like my friends did and every other mother before me. That was my plan and it was the only plan I had. Full stop. That was until my newborn arrived.
He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and I was going to be the best possible mother I could be for this little boy. So naturally once the moment to feed him for the first time came around, I would be the best possible mother and give him all those nutrients he needed to thrive. Except it wasn’t that easy. It wasn’t like they advertised. This pain, this difficulty wasn’t what I read about in brochures at the doctor’s office. My breasts were letting me down. They produced small amounts of milk, nowhere near enough for a 9-pound plus baby boy. But the lactation consultants continued to tell me that my milk was ‘on its way’ and I hung on with so much hope.
And I tried and tried and tried some more. I sat in tears too many times than I care to remember, while I struggled to feed my boy. He would scream. He would bite. He would be frustrated. He was starving. I was struggling. The milk wouldn’t come. I would pump for hours and only produce 15mls. I was forced to give him the bottle and doing so felt like I was feeding him poison. I had very quickly become one of those ‘lazy’ mothers I had judged for so long. How could breastfeeding my baby be this hard? What about that lady I saw smiling at my local cafe that attached her baby to her chest with such ease? What about that girl I went to university with who breastfed her baby until she was 18 months old? What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t that my story?
This inner monologue played over and over in my mind for the first months of my baby’s life. I felt so alone. I felt like I not only let down my baby down, but that I let myself down. But I had to open my eyes and see my baby who took to the bottle better than a fish to water. He couldn’t get enough of the powdered stuff! He was thriving. He was super healthy. He was absolutely perfect! By the time he was 6 weeks old, I had ‘given up’ on breastfeeding. I was exhausted and I had to be true to myself. I had to treat myself better and this was the only thing I could do, as ashamed as I was at the time.
My son is almost a year old now, but there is still a small part of me that carries guilt because I couldn’t breastfeed. And to be perfectly honest, I shouldn’t feel like that at all. While I was struggling through the continual messages of ‘breast is best’, it was finally a social media post that changed my world for the better. “Fed is best,” it read simply. And no words could ever be truer. No words could have ever provided more comfort to me.
Breastfeeding, I agree is a very important source of food and nutrition for a newborn and if you are able to breastfed, I celebrate you, albeit with a hint of envy. But if breastfeeding just doesn’t happen for you, that is actually ok. It really is. At the end of the day, as long as your child is being fed and is thriving and healthy, that’s all that matters, not whether the original source is bottle or breast. Know that struggling to breast-feed is not a new-age thing. It’s actually happened to more mothers than you realise. Talk about it. Talk about it all. Talk to your partner, friends, doctors, other new mothers, anyone you trust. Talk and talk and talk. It’s so important. And know that these early days are only such a very small part of your wonderful life together.
So you’re around 67 weeks pregnant, or so it feels that way. You never thought that growing a human could actually feel this horrendous and tiring. And if you have one more person tell you about your ‘glow’ (that’s really just relief you’re not currently throwing up), you will either kick them in the shins or sit on them; whichever requires less effort. Right now you feel like the only pregnant woman in the world and if people don’t start to move out of the way, you will, ummm, you’ll….you will decide on something later, as all this thinking is starting to hurt and gosh an ice cream would be great right now!
Which brings us straight to Pregnant Problem
PP #1 – The Cravings - Cravings can be weird and wonderful and hopefully in never-ending supply. I purchased myself a nice little ‘servant bell’ which I ring anytime a craving arrives. Someone (normally my husband) comes running, it’s his favourite part of the day, to cater for my every need quite literally. 2am ring-a-lings are a favourite. A slave like this is essential during these nine agonising months. They get a real kick out of it too (reminding them seven times a day that their part of the pregnancy was over in 60 seconds helps with this).
PP#2 – The Mood Swings - telling a pregnant waddler she’s having a mood swing is the worse thing one should ever do, if they value their own life. One moment you’re angry and frustrated about the fact you can no longer reach your toes to give those nails a good paint, (or at least get rid of the last of the polish that seems to survive a nuclear attack!) then the water works arrive because *someone just ate the last piece of chocolate in the entire house (*you). A quarter of a second later, you’re laughing uncontrollably at a video of a white cat diving into a pool of mud. Then you’re crying again because your toes are really too far away and you miss them.
PP#3 – The Bladder - Do you know how many times a day I have to pee?! I mean honestly, this giant child inside me thinks my poor bladder is some sort of trampoline! My work colleagues watch me parade back and forth from my desk to the toilet so many times a day that one of them told me I should just sit on the toilet with my laptop. A comment like that does not go down well at all and definitely reduces the chances of being invited to the baby shower.
PP#4 – The Morning Sickness - just reading those words makes me feel sick. Why aren’t there more photos of a tired pregnant lady heaving over a toilet on billboards, with the caption, “welcome to nine months of joy”?! It was some wickedly cruel human who put the word ‘morning’ in there. That’s a laugh. It’s more like, ‘mourning’ sickness. Mourning the life you once had, where you didn’t have to carry around a very large bump and an emergency ‘vom-bag’.
PP#5 – The Pregnancy Brain - Lost your keys and found them four hours later in the freezer? Ahh, we’ve all been there! Everyone will get a real kick out of your lapses in memory and the extremely unusual places they should expect to discover important items like keys. If you’re thinking it will all return back to normal, don’t be delusional, ‘Mum brain’ effects more new mothers than you think. All the best with that one.
What have been your most challenging symptoms of pregnancy?
Once you attain the title of Mother, it may feel like you’re the first in world going through all of these monumental changes. However, there are many women right now experiencing exactly what you are. So why not attempt to be friends with them, while attempting to keep your new ‘bundle of cries’ alive. And so became the start of the ‘Mother’s Group’. Here’s what you may just encounter when you first enter this new and exclusive club. The “My birth story is more horrendous than yours” conversation: Many people have a variety of views placed upon the importance of sharing the intimate and gory details of how the new human in your life entered this world. When this topic comes about, you’ll soon realise there are 3 types of people:
The ‘over-sharer’ mother; by the time she’s finished talking, you’ll not only have an extremely thorough timeline of her entire labor and birth, but you’ll also know the same details of her sister’s, cousin’s and best friend’s birth. If only her lecture had been an acceptance speech at the Oscars; she’d have been cut off by the band once she reached the seven-minute mark.
The ‘no one else has ever experienced birth like I did’ mother: she’ll hook you in and have you thinking that she were the first human ever to experience this incredible phenomenon of ‘birth’. Your eyes may well up, as she tells of the unbelievable pain she felt and how she….wait hang on, you just gave birth too! Next speaker please.
And finally, the ‘leave it to the imagination’ We like this one best. She’s well aware that all of the females in the room have just given birth. Her lecture is a nice and manageable two and a half minutes and she even throws a joke in there about her husband putting on a gas mask to change a nappy. I’m adding her as a friend on Facebook.
The “what was the size of the baby you birthed” conversation:
The baby beauty pageant has already begun once this question is thrown around. To some, it may feel like a mini contest to determine which mother was the bravest, pushing out the largest human. That is, until the mother with the twins steps up. You thought one was brave enough at six pounds. She had two of those. But then there’ll always be that one mother, let’s call her the ‘tough mudder’ (oh, she’s competed in that 3 times too by the way and the last time she was 6 months pregnant). Yeah, I rolled my eyes too! Anyways, ‘tough mudder’ has stood up by now, as surely it’s her 8.9 pound baby that will take the title of the biggest. However she’s soon shut down by the mother (who you actually thought was a model that gave birth via surrogate) whom floors the lot with her 10.3 pound Buddha. At least you got that out of the way early.
The “Oh, you got that pram did you, I got a better one” conversation:
When you enter the room for your first meet and greet, you’ll instantly have the eyes of all the other mothers on you. Are they looking at your outfit, that may or may not have a few spots of spew?! No. Your amazingly adorable new baby, that’s possibly the cutest thing alive?! Nope. They are looking at only one thing; your pram. Pram envy is a sad reality that exists in parenthood. See previous post “Pram envy is a real thing. How to select the best stroller for your baby and society”. Prepare yourself for judgment on your well-selected baby pusher, along with each mother giving you a ‘sales pitch’ on why their stroller is the better choice. Earplugs or noise cancelling headphones are a welcome purchase at this stage of the meet and greet. At the end of the day, if you were able to pick a pram you like and most of all, your baby likes, congrats. Enjoy it!
What are some of the conversations you’ve come across during your mother’s groups?
Remember those “single days” when you’d go out to a bar on the prowl for the “one”?! You’d look around the room, spot a handsome someone, and your eyes would do that quick dash to see if they were wearing a wedding ring. The ‘my-eyes-are-so-quick-I-could-be-a-ninja’ eye dash, you thought was extremely subtle, but every person in the room just saw you do it. Well you’ll feel like you’re re-living those days in some way, when you spot another parent walking down the street, pushing a pram. A (ninja) quick eye dash to the brand name stamped across the stroller and wham, bam, thank you mam you are smack bang in pram envy territory. Ouch!
Pram envy is a real and dangerous thing in 2017 and somewhere along the line, you will experience it. There are a million different makes and models in the myriad of strollers to choose from, and if you don’t get the ‘Roles Royce’, are you subjecting your unborn child to some sort of neglect because you didn’t spend a house deposit on said pram?
Don’t panic, take a breath and follow our guide on what you should be spending your money on when you make your stroller purchase.
Your pram will need wheels. Well, duh! But, when we’re talking about wheels here, we mean ones that are smooth turning for a steady, stable, comfortable ride. Think of the old power steering in your car, you want stroller wheels that allow for quick and easy maneuverability, especially when pushing with only one hand while juggling a macchiato in the other.
The hood on the stroller is such an important feature. Does it move to at least two different positions to keep the sun out of your baby’s eyes? Will it cover them and keep the light out while they’re sleeping? A good hood on your stroller will mean you won’t have the need for extra wraps – making life much easier.
Folding and Unfolding
Don’t be that parent spending a good 15 minutes trying to fold and pack up your pram into the boot of your car. There are so many wiz-bang strollers that can fold up in seconds. Well, depending on whether your partner can read the instructions. Get one of those!
On those wonderful days when your baby wants to sleep in their pram (horary!) you’ll want one that will lie flat. Make sure your stroller’s seat will recline with ease and back again whenever you need. As we know, sleep can come and quickly go at anytime!
Trust me, there will be many days you don’t think there’ll be a chance of rain when you go for a walk and then suddenly it pours! A rain cover is a must for your stroller and can easily be stored underneath, just in case. You may think pram envy is bad enough, but ‘rain-cover-pram-envy’ is next level. Most prams these days will come with the rain cover, but if yours doesn’t we highly recommend you get one.
Even if you already have a baby bag, a smaller organiser to sit on the handlebars of your stroller can be super-handy. Perfect for your wallet, phone and keys, along with some baby changing essentials and food, when your little one gets their hungry scream on. You’ll find so many uses for this accessory. There’s a few out there, so do some research and find one with lots of pockets.
Foot Muff/Sleeping bag
If you’ll be out and about in all kinds of weather conditions, a foot muff for your pram might be a welcome addition. This isn’t an essential, but if your child refuses to keep the blankets on, especially on those cold winter days, this will be worth every cent!
There are so many other accessories you’ll find yourself wondering whether you’ll actually use them at all. From cup holders, to umbrellas, skateboards for siblings, phone holders, there’s a lot! Good luck resisting them all.
What are your essentials for shopping for your pram?
Kamana is a Fashion and Lifestyle blogger @SocialandStyle. Kamana writes about all things related to fashion, fitness, travel, and her experience as a Mom-to-Be! Check out her latest blogpost at www.socialandstyle.com.
I can’t believe I’m already 34 weeks pregnant! It feels like yesterday when I was in my first trimester, nervous about everything. Since then, I’ve learned to relax and enjoy my pregnancy. Now that I am in my last weeks, I’m reflecting on all that I’ve learned during these last 8 months. It’s amazing how much your body goes through and how you learn to trust and listen to your body (and growing baby!). It’s both mentally and physically exhausting, but truly a beautiful time. As I get closer to 40 weeks, I can feel the Baby’s movements more vividly every day. I wonder what it’s going to going to be like after pregnancy and that sets off a whole new feeling of nervousness! For now, I am trying to stay healthy and active as I finish the home stretch. Through out my pregnancy, I’ve received a lot of questions from what I am craving to where to find fashionable maternity wear. I’m sharing the realities of pregnancy in my Pregnancy Myths Decoded today! Pregnancy Myths Decoded
Cravings: The question everyone asks is, “What are you craving”?! It’s funny because I was actually looking forward to finding out what odd cravings I would have. Personally, I haven’t really had many cravings (so boring I know). Sometimes I do find myself fixated on a certain type of food like quesadillas, falafel, and in the beginning Kimchi flavored fries!
All You Can Eat: Unfortunately this is not true. Honestly, you have to watch your diet more when you are pregnant. Sugar, fats, and protein have to be thought through with each meal. While I would love to eat sweets and desserts, gestational diabetes is very much a reality that I am trying to avoid. In these last few weeks, I have been eating way more than I have in my first and second trimester. I’m not too worried about the extra pounds as long as the baby is healthy.
Fitness: There are so many misconceptions about working out during pregnancy. I wrote about my fitness routine trimester by trimester. To this day, I still get messages from people saying I should take it easy during pregnancy and not work out. Discussing my workouts with my OB helps me decide how much I should be working out while making sure the baby’s health is top priority.
Body: Every woman’s pregnancy is unique. What and how you feel changes so much day-to-day. There are some days where I’ve never felt better and others when a 5 minute walk feels like a mile. As a blogger, you tend to focus more on how you look in photos. At times, it was tough to see my swollen ankles and cheeks in pictures. Then I quickly put things in perspective. My hair has never been fuller, my skin has a natural glow, and all my fine lines went away with the extra weight gain!
Emotional: Yup. Pregnancy is full of emotions. From the joy of seeing your little one on the ultrasound for the first time to cry sessions that pop up out of nowhere, your hormones can take you on quite the roller coaster. Thankfully most of my tear sessions happen with Hubs.
The Hubs: Your relationship with your husband goes through a lot during pregnancy. As we both prepare to become parents, we also learn to rely more on each other. Since my husband travels a lot (90% of the time) we make the most of the time we have together by getting ready for Baby B’s arrival and spending time with each other. Our 4-week parenting class helped make life with a baby more real. We both learned everything from what delivery will be like to how to soothe a crying baby. They also taught the husbands how to massage their pregnant wives, which has helped my achy back, feet, and arms!
Bump Style: One of the biggest myths in pregnancy is that maternity wear has to be boring! Thankfully I’ve found comfortable and fashionable maternity wear. I love the chic and affordable styles from Mayarya. This fuchsia dress is one of my favorites. I’ve worn it so many times with a jean jacket, blazer, and on it’s own!