Many physical changes occur during pregnancy but no one ever talks about them or dares to admit to them…until now. From ‘burger nipples’ to rice-krispie -style skin tags and a hairy belly. I take a humorous stance and aim to share, be open and provide plenty of laughs, literal warts n’all.
Click on the story below to have a giggle but if you’re of a delicate disposition, look away now!
With the arrival of baby no.2 imminent and in expecting a girl, I feel an enormous amount of pressure(s) and responsibilities – moreso than I ever felt with my son – and she is not even here yet!
In a world where men STILL get paid more, boys are more often defined by their character, as opposed to girls who are defined by their looks. Where girls grow up in a society where they’re constantly compared, knocked down and limited – I share my thoughts on what I’ll be doing about it.
Click on the below story to have a read. What are your thoughts?
Being a busy mum is a full-time job in and of itself, and that is why it can be so stressful. Buy mothers these days feel like they have no time for anything else. And this can really bring them down and make them feel depressed or upset. However, there are plenty of things you, and other mums, can do to help make yourselves feel better.
Many of these you might have to make time for. But some of them you could probably fit into your working week without too much stress. Take a look at this list, and try to use some of these ideas to help make you feel better in your daily life.
1. Spa Day
As a busy, working mother you need to take the time to look after yourself. You live an intense and stressful life and it’s easy to let things get on top of you. That’s why you have to take as many opportunities as possible to relax, unwind and help make yourself feel better. That’s why a spa day should be at the top of your list. You can use it to get a bit of a pampering and feel good about being you again! Use the spa facilities to put your mind and body through a detox, and make sure you get a massage too. If you can’t afford it, plan ahead to a date and save up or ask for it as present next birthday / anniversary / crimbo.
2. Take a Nap
Nobody said that being a mother was an easy thing to do. Parenting on top of holding down a job is enough to wear anybody out, and that’s the big issue that a lot of mums face; they feel awful every day because they’re so exhausted. So, a great suggestion to help you feel better would be to have a nap. If you get an hour or so to yourself at least once a week – fab, but even 20 minutes helps to energise and rejuvenate you.
3. Little Black Dress (and Glam Accessories)
Sometimes, if you’re not feeling good about yourself, you need to get yourself a dress. Simple. The dress often makes the woman, and, as such, wearing your little black dress is a great way to make yourself feel better. Women always have their LBD as their go-to sexy outfit. And it might be a case of having to don the dress and head out into town. Or, you may just want to put it on, look in the mirror for a while and think ‘I’ve still got it’. So what if you’ve got a stained t-shirt on underneath. Heh heh.
4. Have Date Night
Parenthood brings a lot of stress with it and if you find yourself drifting from your partner, you need some time to be just you two again. Arrange to have a date night, get a family member, friend or a sitter in to watch the kids and go out and have a proper date. This is an excellent way of keeping the romance alive in your relationship, and giving you time away from the kids. I’m sad so I plan way ahead and we’ve scheduled in date nights for the next six months. We have a ‘bank’ of reliable sitters, put money aside for things like this each week so it all adds up and we also swap sitting duties with friends to save money. This ‘scratch each others backs’ set up works well for everyone in involved.
5. Relax in a Deep Bath
There’s nothing quite like relaxing after a hard day than sliding into a lovely hot bath. It’s perfect for helping you to unwind and keep calm. Running a lovely, deep bubble bath is something you can look forward to all day. It’s up to you whether you have bubbles in your glass too 😉 So reward yourself by having a long and slow bath and make a night of it.
6. Shopping Trip
We all know that the secret to happiness for most women is a spot of retail therapy. So, if you’re feeling a bit stressed and overwhelmed as a mother, why not take a shopping trip? Get your friends together and you can all hit the high street for a shopping spree. Book somewhere nice for lunch to give you a break midway through the day. Try to come up with a list of things you’d like to get while you’re shopping. These will make you feel good, and the trip will be more worthwhile. If you don’t normally like shopping or just don’t know where to start, try a Personal Shopper. Topshop offer the service for free and you get to try loads of clothes on that that they fetch for you while you sip tea or fizz in their plush and spacious suite!
Sometimes, after a long week, you might look in the mirror and feel like you look ten years older. Without fail – I moisturise every day from top to toe and makes the biggest difference. I know this might sound terribly fickle but it works – trust me. Applying some moisturiser a couple of times a day is the secret to younger and healthier looking skin. This is something you can always keep up with because it doesn’t take long to do. Make sure you keep up with it and focus on making yourself look good and feel good.
8. A Makeover
One of the things that is guaranteed to make any woman feel better is getting a makeover. You can try new fashion styles if you get bored of your look, and turn to the pros for free for their help (see point 6.). Start small by getting your hair and / or nails done at a salon or ask around for a reliable and experienced stylist / beautician who can visit you at home. If you want a bigger change, achieve the smile you always wanted through dental work and whitening – something that will make a huge difference to your overall look and something I want to personally try in the near future. You can do your own makeover at home, or, you might want to visit a makeup stand and get the pros to give you one. All great ways to make you look great and feel better.
9. Buy Some Shoes
We all know how important retail therapy is for making us feel better. And this leads directly to the major vice of most women – shoes. They look good even on a fat day. I’ve got more shoes than I know what to do with, but no woman can ever have enough! Saving up and buying that new pair of heels you’ve been eyeing for months is a wonderful way to help you feel better. Think of it as a reward for all the hard work you’ve done over the years…then get a taxi everywhere when you wear them 😉
10. Girls Night
Even when you have a family, it’s still crucial to keep your friends in mind. You still need to make time for them and look at why they matter to you. Good friends will be with you your entire life so try to maintain and strengthen these friendships as much as possible. Though you all lead separate lives now, you should endeavour to get together for a girls night now and then. You could head out on the town, or go over to someone’s house.
11. Wine and a Book – by Candlelight
No matter what you do in your life everyone deserves a glass of wine and a good book. This is the classic chill out option for mums across the world. It provides you with important time alone with just your thoughts for company. You can catch up on the novel you’ve been reading for several months, and have a couple of glasses of guilt-free wine. This is an important step in the process, and it’s important to spend some time on your own sometimes.
12. (Pregnancy) Yoga
It’s important to find a neutral head space and try to work on ways you can feel better. Of course, exercise helps a lot with this, but you also need to sort out the mental side of things and one of the best things you can do is to take up yoga. My yoga teacher, Clare Maddalena runs Lush Tums which now nationwide. I currently do pregnancy yoga at Lush Tums and experience first hand what Clare says it helps with, ‘pregnancy yoga helps keep pregnant women strong and comfortable as pregnancy progresses. It also keeps common pregnancy ailments at bay and helps reduce stress and anxiety and prepare ladies for birth through the movement and breathing exercises we do’. Clare has helped me massively – we met during my first pregnancy and now she is reviving, rebuilding and empowering me during my second! i can’t wait to do her yoga classes post natally too – with and without baby.
There are some poses you can try at home too as recommend by Clare:
Connecting to Baby – siting with your right hand on your heart and left hand on your tummy, take a few deep breaths and long sighs to relax, closing your eyes and focusing on the baby. Noticing the sensations on your hands and sending smiles and love to your babies. This is good to do every day, even just for a few minutes. Great to remember where we are at in the moment, especially when life can be a whirlwind!
All 4s Circles and figures of 8s – get on all fours and move your body round in a figure of eight, as if sketching the number 8 out with your nose. This is great for baby positioning and can feel like a little massage for the shoulders and hips too.
Standing, with knees micro-bent, doing tiny circles with the pelvis, then tiny tilts to rock the pelvis forward and back – great to do if you’ve been sitting for ages and get up feeling creaky.
NEWS FLASH: I have recently been involved in a very exciting project with Lush Tums and Fitta Mamma – the pregnancy fitness wear. We’ve filmed some pregnancy yoga videos so look out for news of those soon. For now, you can download a number of free resources including videos on birthing tips and guided meditations.
13. Pregnancy Pilates
I’ve also discovered online pregnancy and post natal fitness expert, Dr. Joanna Helcke and have been enjoying pregnancy pilates from the comfort of my own home. You can fit in her online workouts when (and where!), it suits you with guidance that, quite literally, grows with you each week of your pregnancy. Joanna’s helpful advice and caring hints really help plus her free nutrition advice and the forum where mums swap notes, ask questions and get Joanna’s expert guidance are extra brilliant benefits.
Joanna says that pilates was not, of course, developed with pregnancy in mind and ‘so after the first trimester – once a bump is showing – it does need to be modified very significantly for the pregnant body. Whilst Pilates is all about controlling movement from the “centre” (the deepest layer of abdominals) and whilst keeping these muscles gently toned is good for mums-to-be, many of the traditional Pilates exercises are simply too strong and tough for mid- to late pregnancy. Moreover, many of Joseph Pilates’ moves involve lying on your back which can make many women feel faint in pregnancy or lying on the tummy – you can imagine doing that with a big bump!’
‘So what pregnancy Pilates does is take the underlying principles of this form of exercise and apply them to movements and exercises which are specifically beneficial for the pregnant body, such as moves that help keep posture strong, protect you from back pain, manage pelvic girdle pain and – importantly – keep the deep abdominals gently toned which can contribute to a speedier postnatal recovery.’
If you suffer from lower back pain like I currently am, here are some exercises that can be helpful for this sort of backache. A word of warning: if you give them a go and find it a painful experience then Joanna advises to please stop. It means they are not the right exercise for your specific problem.
I also asked Joanna,
- What are the most effective moves post natally to pull in your ‘mummy tummy’ and strengthen your core, and how long after giving birth should you wait?..
‘First of all, we mums need to be kind to ourselves and not beat ourselves up about fitting in X amount of exercise every day. Psychologically, this is just so unhelpful. It’s all about looking at what is truly manageable, achievable and genuinely FUN – with emphasis on the word “fun”. This is hugely important for emotional wellbeing in early motherhood (and beyond, I would add!). So what I would suggest first of all is making cardio exercise truly sociable.’
‘How? Quite simply by taking up buggy power walking with a group of postnatal friends who are on maternity leave with you. Decide amongst yourselves what days of the week you are going to meet and where – make sure it’s pretty parkland with a few choice hills – and then go for a VERY brisk walk. You know all that chatting you’ll be doing? Well it needs to be really breathless! Secondly, I always encourage new mums to squeeze 10-15 minutes of deep abdominal work into their days (along the lines of postnatal Pilates) so as to help heal the “mummy tummy” and protect themselves from the dreaded mummy back pain.’
‘What I always tell people to remember is this: the effects of exercise are cumulative and see you don’t need to find a full, uninterrupted 15 minutes to workout. Doing 3 lots of 5 minutes spread out across the day is just as effective.’
‘A word of warning: please make sure that your “mummy tummy” exercises have been tailored by a specialist in postnatal fitness who knows the dos and don’ts – otherwise you could end up doing yourself more harm than good.’
Joanna’s week by week online postnatal Pilates programme is designed to be truly safe, effective and manageable for new mums.
14. Eat Right
It’s not rocket science, what you eat effects how you look and feel so if you eat healthy, fresh and good quality produce – you’ll feel that way too! Take a look at the food chapter on my blog for recipe ideas for all the family and have a read of >this blog< giving you tons of nutrition advice – both great places to start.
It’s no secret I love floatation – pregnant and not. It truly is miraculous once you get your head around it. Simply put, floatation is a practice where you float inside a special pod of Epsom Salt water and zen out. In a space where it’s just you, no noise, no hassles, your body lowers its levels of cortisol (the main chemical component of stress), while your brain releases elevated levels of dopamine and endorphins (feel good vibes). Read more here.
Being a mum these days is not something that’s particularly easy and stress-free and that’s why it’s important to make sure you do what you can to relax and unwind. It is the least you deserve!
Can you share any tips with me? PLEASE! 🙂
I love to read (when I get the chance), and have always been encouraged to do so from an early age by my mother. She used to read mountains of books to me, bringing to life the story with her illustrative voice and choosing stories I could learn from. My mum would often ask me at the end, ‘and the moral of the story is..?’ Which prompted me to think about the lessons hidden in the book. Today I stand as a published author and writer so she didn’t do a bad job did she!
My son has really started to show interest in his books now, which I’m thrilled about and recently, we were kindly sent a personalised book for Frankie around a special subject, by I See Me!. They specialise in personalised story books for babies and children aged between 0-8 years. The books make wonderfully touching gifts that they will treasure for a lifetime. I still have my favourite childhood story books and enjoy reading them to my son.
The idea of a personalised story is to capture their imaginations by engaging them fully, placing the child at the forefront of the story so they’re the star. They can be anything from a Princess to a Pirate which builds their imagination, confidence and learning. Seeing their name in print may also help develop their spelling and vocabulary.
Since we have baby number two on the way, we chose a book that helps our son prepare for becoming a sibling with ‘What Big Brother (Frankie) Does Best‘. The story takes Frankie through scenes of how he can relate to his new sibling, from playing pretend and sharing snacks and ending with, ‘but most of all, Frankie can give you lots and lots of love’. My husband and I welled up when we first received the book (soppy g*ts, I know), since it is so special and actully captured the beauty of what we hope will one day be a reality. The reality of shouting, fighting and hair pulling can be parked for now 🙂
Frankie loves this story and reading to him is definitely improving his speech and knowledge. We attended a mini parents evening at his nursery this week and he is excelling in reading and writing.
Already beloved by celebrities such as Courtney Cox, Brooke Shields and Jessica Alba, they’re beautifully illustrated and made specifically for the child you gift, using their name throughout to form part of the story plus a dedication at the front of the book.
Some books allow you to upload the child’s photo which will be used throughout the book while others allow you to customise the story right down to the details of the child’s skin tone, hair colour, hometown, birth date, favourite colour and best friend’s names.
I See Me! books are now available to UK customers with a turn around time of just 2 weeks and shipping of £6.50 – that’s still enough time to order for Christmas!
Being a mum doesn’t mean you have to stop being fashionable or checking care in the way you dress. For all mums reading this, there are great ways to shop on a budget and still look your best. At the minute, the most popular is charity shop shopping. The bargains are insane, and some of the products are better than the stuff you can buy from the high street.
Above image: My boots and coat are both from charity shops
But, before you delve into the world of charity shops, take this knowledge with you so you don’t end up with a bunch of old tat and will instead, end up with armfuls of bargain finds while helping a good cause…
Dos: Shop Unisex
The occasional jumble sale layout often means everything isn’t going to be in its rightful place so shopping in the men’s and women’s section is a tip that will help you spot a diamond in the rough. I have a few mens hats, shirts and jumpers that all look great so keep your eyes open across the entire store.
Don’ts: Don’t Feel Guilty About The Price
A lot of people will go into a charity shop and think ‘this isn’t as cheap as I expected.’ Do you know what they do next? They buy it anyway because they feel guilty. There is nothing wrong with a charity shop being overpriced in your eyes. You have a budget that you want to stick to, and that remains the same whether you are shopping in a fancy boutique or Oxfam.
The price in a charity shop is often not set in stone. Again, people feel guilty about haggling in charity shops, but again there is nothing wrong with the practice, especially if you buy a number of items and support them regularly. If you don’t think an item is worth what it is priced it or it needs repair, haggle. They are known for their informality, so they are not going to look at you funny if you ask. Plus, if you don’t ask you will never know and it’ll be fun shaking on it eventually.
Don’ts: Don’t Be Afraid To Make A Mess
Take your time and root around for the best finds. Obviously, don’t treat it like a tip and start throwing clothes everywhere. But, don’t be afraid to pick things up and put them back roughly where you found them. The best part of charity shop shopping is the experience. I am always on the lookout for resale shops near me so I can hone my skills and find something special.
Dos: Try Things On
You should try everything before you buy it to make sure it is just right. Regardless of whether it costs you a fortune or a small amount, you don’t want to have to return it because that WILL bring on the guilt! All it takes are a few minutes to slip something on and have a check in the mirror.
The next time you go into a charity shop, you will be ready for the battle.