Thank you so much for being such a beautiful and supportive community throughout my pregnancy! I am so grateful for all the mama wisdom and advice that you’ve shared with me, so I wanted to share a tried and tested list of all the essentials I’ve used on my journey, along with a few learnings for anyone interested. Here it goes…
I love my sleep. I’m a snoozy 8-9 hours a night kind of gal who loves to sleep on her tummy! A few weeks into my pregnancy, after lots of practise sleeping on my side, I started to suffer from the achiest hip and leg cramps in the night and couldn’t sleep on my side. It turned out my body had started to produce relaxin – the hormone which relaxes the ligaments in your pelvis. This meant I needed help getting my snooze on. Here’s what I did:
- The BB Hugme Pregnancy Pillow. It seems very expensive for a pillow, but everyone was so passionately raving about theirs. I plucked up the courage to buy one andI have now used it for every sleep and nap since. I can’t sleep without it. It’s literally come everywhere with me – even for snuggles on the sofa. This is a must buy, if I lose mine, I would buy it again in a second.
- Relaxation exercises before bed. As exciting as pregnancy has been, it has also surfaced countless worries and anxieties – especially during Lockdown and towards the end of the journey. I got some breathing and relaxation practices in place early on to really wind down from the day before a calm night’s sleep. Listen to affirmations and breathing practices in soothing tones via the Gentle Birth app. It is really calming, especially when life feels a bit challenging! I’ll talk about it later but the KGH Hypnobirthing course has also really helped.
- Journaling before bed. I’ve never been into journaling. I’ve tried and stopped shot so many times. That said, this time, the act of putting thoughts to pen to paper was really empowering. It helped me to hear my own voice, work through any anxieties/concerns and also to understand the unfolding pandemic better! I started writing a page a day in a journal from week 12, and started each entry with “Dear Baby” – as if I was speaking to the human in my tummy. I bought an alphabet journal from Anthropologie with the letter B on it for Baby, as we hadn’t decided her name yet. It has become a calming ritual before bed most evenings and is now so amazing to look back on - I plan to give it to my baby girl when she’s old enough to appreciate it.
Me time. Before getting pregnant, I had made a promise to myself to prioritise my mental health and well being. As much as I love my business, I was sprinting at a crazy pace, designing and launching new products and campaigns and trying to be everything to everyone... except myself.
I was eating healthy meals but snacking in between on lots of sugar (M&S sweeties bags galore!) drinking lots of caffeine to get through the day, and then beasting my body with HIIT and Spin Classes for an adrenaline hit! My caring sister-in-law recommended that I start working with a coach to reflect on my routines and bring about a healthier lifestyle than the constant burnout I was experiencing. It is the best thing I’ve ever done.
- The Woman’s Body Coach. One of the many reasons I love working with Alex (coach not husband!) is that I don’t have to set foot in a gym – and Alex has made it so reasonable and personalised. We have a FaceTime call each week and she tailors my weekly workouts so that I can do them at home, around my busy schedule. In our call, she offers me support around how I’m feeling physically, as well as helping me emotionally – our minds are so intricately linked to our body. We do meditations, visualisations and yoga together.. It’s an all round service! She helped me transition my needs for pregnancy, which ultimately has given me more energy and support to feel better physically and mentally. At 39 weeks, we are still chatting weekly and have been focused on pelvic floor exercises and gentle yoga to ease my aching pelvis. I look forward to seeing her every week!
- Pregnancy Massage. I’ve been seeing Carolina for the last year, indulging in her amazing at home facials and when I got pregnant we moved onto gentle pregnancy massages. Essential oils, soothing music and a sure way to indulge me and my baby.
- Reflexology. My lovely sisters-in-law bought me a session with Kate -The Wellness Midwife in Hertfordshire as a baby shower gift, and it was the most relaxing treatment. I couldn’t help but close my eyes and drift off... It’s a wonderful way to feel totally relaxed, grounded and connected to your body as she massages pressure points on your feet and toes!
- Allplants. Allplants has been an absolute saviour, especially through lockdown. The prepared meals are so delicious and easy… and their desserts are meltingly oozy, and refined sugar-free. You must try the chocolate pots. Side note, in case you don’t know, this is my husband’s company! And we’ve got the freezer stocked up in time for baby’s arrival as we want to keep healthily fuelled for the sleepless nights coming up – as have our NCT group!
I’ve been a fan of the following products for years, but they have really come into their own throughout pregnancy – helping me keep the glow. I am going to try my best to continue my routines once baby arrives, ensuring I spend at least 5 mins a day looking after myself!
- Cleanser. Every morning and night I use Pai - Camelia and Rose Gentle Cleanser with the cleansing cloth.
- Moisturiser. In the day I use Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream. In the evening after cleansing I use either L’Occitane Over night Reset Serum (Spring/Summer months) or Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum. (Autumn/Winter months).
- Body Cream. I haven’t skipped a day using my Mama Mio Tummy Rub Butter all over my tummy and hips. No stretch marks yet! It really seems to work.
- Boob cream. My boobs have really suffered throughout pregnancy. I went up about 3 sizes and it happened very quickly, I’m so nervous for what will happen when my milk comes in and what effect breastfeeding might have! I’ve had rashes, itchiness, soreness, folliculitis... It’s been the thing I’ve complained most about. The only products that have helped are Mama Mio Boob Tube for Pregnancy smothered on every night before bed, and when they were really itchy and rashy, I used Cetraben ointment to soothe.
- Shower time. I had to stop using any perfumed products early on as it was irritating my rashy chest, but I’ve loved using L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil. It has been delicate enough for my skin and smells delicious.
- Bath time. I’m obsessed with long baths. I’ve been adding a few drops of Bio Oil into the bath and lighting an Elizabeth Scarlett candle with each dip.
- Hospital Bag Preparation. I’ve had friends mentioning this for years, but it’s been amazing to finally get to use my Everyday Pouches for this very purpose. I’ve divided all my labour and hospital toiletries using the new Bee Dusty Pink Velvet Everyday Pouch and Bee Black Velvet Day Bag. I’ve also snuck in a British Blooms Black Velvet Eye Mask to use when focusing on powering through contractions/surges with my trusty tens machine!
I really didn’t know anything about pregnancy and growing a baby when I got pregnant (“what’s a trimester”!?) so it’s been a wild 9 months of learning and swotting up!
I’ve been reading:
I actually read this just before I got pregnant. I had moved my birth control to Natural Cycles and was interested to learn more about my cycle. It’s a must and so interesting! I can’t believe how much I didn’t know about my own body before reading this.
I had a real anxiety about how I was going to manage being pregnant and running my business, and was recommended this by fellow female business owners. It was described as “a welcome dose of evidence based sanity”. It is exactly that! I loved it. Easily the best pregnancy book I’ve read and in some parts made me laugh out loud.
When I told her I was pregnant, my dear friend Holly Scarsella sent this to me. It’s great because it summarises a few weeks in one go. These bitesize chunks make the learning manageable and not too overwhelming, especially at the beginning of pregnancy.
Reading all the positive birthing stories here was really helpful in my third trimester. I found it quite heavy going towards the end though. Perhaps read earlier on in your pregnancy than too close to your due date!
I’ve also read some really lovely fiction books, just to give myself a break from all this learning!
Favourites have been..
- We took an Antenatal NCT class which I highly recommend! Our course leader was amazing. It was on zoom over one weekend, followed by a breastfeeding class a few days later. We learnt so much and we’ve met a lovely bunch of new parent couples who live very close to us – all the mothers are giving birth around the same time so we’ve been in touch a lot and it feels very supportive to know they are going through the same things at the same time. I loved that Alex took the course with me as it was a great time for him to get involved in the learning and feel like he was part of the process.
- We took a KG Hypnobirthing online course. I highly recommend this too. We stretched it over two weeks and did a session each evening before bed. I’d heard great things about Katherine Graves and am now her biggest fan! We have our relaxation recordings ready to go and positive affirmations printed and stuck around our flat in preparation for the big moment! As well as preparing me for birth, it helped me learn more about natural birthing and encouraged me to develop my personal perspective on the more medical vs. more natural birth.
I tried my best not to buy too many maternity bits. I was at my biggest during the summer months, so it was easier to just wear floaty, smock style dresses which I picked up a mix from H&M, Urban Outfitters, Christy Dawn, and Asos. The real learnings were on...
- Bras. This was a real struggle, especially as we were in lockdown and ideally you would head to the shops for a bra fitting. I started with these John Lewis Willow Bras in the first trimester which were so soft, comfortable and most importantly had no underwire. I moved on to these John Lewis Leah Bras in the second trimester as they were nice and light for summer, again non- underwired. And for ultimate softness and comfort in my third trimester I’ve been using Seraphine Bamboo nursing bras.
- The best leggings. Although quite pricey, I bought two pairs of Lululemon Align Pants in a size up in Spring time, and I have lived in them. Still wearing them everyday now! They are high waisted and have a supportive band for your tummy, which really helps as you get heavier. They don’t lose their stretchiness or sag. I love them!
- Pyjamas. Trust me you want to be as comfy as possible when you sleep. Seraphine has been by far the best for soft Bamboo nighties and pyjamas. They are all able to use whilst nursing too so I will get lots of wear out of them.
The only other thing I can recommend is to take lots of pictures of your growing bump. We had a pregnancy bump photo shoot session with Susheel Schroeder last week and it was such a lovely couple of hours, I will treasure the photos and look back on them to remember a special time.
See you on the other side!