I’m very excited about this afternoons post. Becky Hay, who normally writes Florence’s Florals, is about to have a baby and as such, she will now be writing a column about her experiences as a first time Mum. Hopefully (baby permitting) these will be monthly and I’m equal parts excited and nervous to see what motherhood may have in store for me in future. I also know that so many of you reading are considering starting a family, pregnant or have small ones around, so I do hope you’ll get involved.
Welcome back Becky!
I’m writing this on my due date. 40 weeks of pregnancy quite literally under my belt. In an attempt to take my mind off my impending labour, I thought I’d write a little about my experience of pregnancy as an introduction to my ‘new mum’ posts.
I’ve been very lucky that my pregnancy has run extremely smoothly. It’s been a much easier ride in comparison to getting pregnant. I’ve never taken it for granted though; especially as I’ve seen some of my closest friends really suffer with sickness in their pregnancies.
Each and every pregnancy is different but I hope that some of my experiences which I’ve broken down into sections will give at least a few of you an insight into life with a bump.
I’m yet to find a pregnant woman who didn’t experience nausea at some point. Mine wasn’t morning sickness, it was all day sickness. I was never physically sick but the best comparison I can make is to a hangover from hell where you don’t know if you need to throw up or eat to feel better. This is the time when plain white carbohydrates are your friends…..potatoes, crackers, crisps etc. I found that constantly grazing was the best way to get through it.
The other way to keep your mind off it is to keep yourself busy. My nausea was at its worst during my busiest time at work. With hindsight, this wasn’t such a bad thing as I had no choice but to plod on through.
You’d better get used to it. Unless you are the most chilled out person ever, there’s always something to worry about. The 12 week scan, the 20 week scan, the fact you’ve not felt the baby move yet, then when you do, is it moving enough? What you’re eating and drinking, every twinge, the size of your bump etc. etc. We all deal with worry differently but my only advice would be to stay away from the internet when you’re feeling particularly anxious. My husband Ed very sensibly banned me from searching forums and googling symptoms early on in the pregnancy. The easiest way to calm yourself is to ask your midwife or your GP. If you do use the internet, make sure it’s a reputable UK based site such as NHS Choices, Mumsnet, Emma’s Diary or Bounty
You’ll be given it by the bucket load from friends, relatives, colleagues, acquaintances, and total strangers. Sometimes it’s great, other times, not so much. I’ve jotted down all the good bits in a notebook or on my phone throughout my pregnancy. The stuff that reduced me to tears is what I’ve tried to forget. What you have to remember is that the majority of people are only trying to help. There are a few who will try to make themselves feel better by making you feel worse. It’s best to put some distance between you and that sort of advice.
During my pregnancy I’ve learnt that timing is crucial. At 30 weeks, I thought I should start considering what to purchase for my hospital bag. As I left the M&S underwear department in a hot sweat, I realised I wasn’t quite ready for that stage. At 36 weeks however, I took Primark by storm in preparation. The best piece of advice I can give is to trust your instinct and do things when they feel right for you.
My job is pretty active. I’m on my feet for large chunks of the day and I also have a dog who needs walking twice a day so staying active throughout my pregnancy was essential. From around 20 weeks, I started to incorporate activities that are better suited to pregnancy. I started swimming on a regular basis and took up pregnancy yoga. I’ve continued both activities right up to the end of my pregnancy. Even later on, when the drag of my bump in the pool made swimming lengths a little more challenging, I’ve found as much enjoyment from midwife run aqua-natal classes.
The weightlessness that the water offers is a total relief from the pull of gravity your bump experiences on dry land. I’ve also loved being able to get my heart rate up whilst jumping about in the pool, safe in the knowledge that the water is cushioning me.
Yoga was something I’d never tried before but I cannot recommend it enough. It gave me a guaranteed hour and a half every week of total relaxation; a time when I could focus on my posture and breathing, both very important tools for labour I’m told.
I don’t know for certain yet but I’m hoping that having remained active will stand me in good stead for labour. It’s also meant the extra weight from all the cake I’ve been eating hasn’t attached itself to every part of my body. The other huge benefit from these classes has been the group of Mums to be that I’ve met through participating. Many of us are due around the same time and we’ve already formed friendships outside of the classes.
Pregnancy and fashion can go hand in hand, it just becomes very time consuming. Most shops devote little or no floor space to maternity wear. You’ll find the majority online. Normally I’m happy to shop online but when you have no idea what size your bump will require and getting to the post office to return parcels is more difficult, it can become a bit of a drag.
Don’t go overboard with buying new clothes early on. Your bump will change every week and you’ll be surprised by how much you can adapt from your existing wardrobe with the addition of a long vest. Anything that stretches is your friend. Leggings are a lifesaver, as are long vests, low cut waistbands and shirts. A winter pregnancy will require more layers. Wrap style cardigans and scarves are both bump friendly.
If you’re going out somewhere special, try to plan your outfit a day or two in advance. I’ve been caught out at the last minute on too many occasions where I thought I knew what I was going to wear, only to find my bump had outgrown it when I went to put it on.
My favourite pick of shops:
Topshop – the large stores have a small selection of maternity wear in store with more online. I found a good selection of varying length jeans and the Tall range also gives extra length to cover your bump without being ‘Maternity’ wear.
GAP – Good for jeans, casual tops, and knitwear. The sales are always great and I had success buying regular t-shirts in a larger size to normal. The larger stores have a selection of maternity wear in stock but for the best choice you need to look online.
ASOS – Fashionable and very affordable. Like Topshop, less ‘Maternity’ in style which is always a bonus. They do a great selection of dresses if you have a party or a holiday looming. The tankini I bought has been my most useful item of clothing throughout my entire pregnancy.
Isabella Oliver – If your budget stretches, the quality of their leggings and jeans are excellent. They were all a little snug for my ‘chunkier’ legs but I was very sad to have to return them. I was lucky enough however to be loaned one of their wrap dresses from a friend for a Christening. I’ve never had so many compliments on an outfit beside my wedding dress. A little out of my price range for a one off party outfit but if you are pregnant over the Christmas period or a Summer where you have a few weddings to attend, I’d recommend having a look at their collection.
Primark – comes into its own when you are shopping for your hospital bag. Nightshirts, pyjamas, big packs of granny pants, slipper socks, and dressing gowns. These are not items of clothing that you will want to be spending a lot of money on!
NCT online shop – this is a great resource for bras (maternity & nursing)
Other shops I should mention are Dorothy Perkins, Next, and Mothercare. I personally didn’t have much joy but different shaped pregnant friends have rated them very highly.
And finally, for those who are on their feet a lot and suffer from swollen sore legs. These maternity support leggings were a lifesaver for me. I loved the fact they were more like leggings and not tights so they’ve seen me through the summer and into the Autumn with a pair of socks inside my boots.
Nothing needs to change from your usual routine here apart from the fact you have a little more skin to cover. I’ve used Bio oil on my bump from 12 weeks of pregnancy and touch wood, not a stretch mark in sight. If you’re lucky, you might be treated to some ‘Mum to Be’ products from loved ones. My favourites have been The Sanctuary Mum to Be range, Burt’s Bee’s Bump Butter, and Clarin’s Tired Leg Emulsion.
A coffee and a piece of cake, a pedicure, a massage, a bubble bath, a girly lunch, a daytime trip to the cinema or a weekend away with your other half. Make sure you organise plenty of treats to enjoy throughout your pregnancy. I thoroughly recommend saving a pedicure for near the end when you really can’t reach your toes anymore!
Amazing advice Becky! Please do get involved in the comments box below with any of your tips and look out for part 2 coming soon