Is the 12 week announcement ‘rule’ suppressing women?

The first twelve weeks of pregnancy seem to flash by without you even realising, and those early weeks hold very different things for every woman. Some may not find out they’re pregnant until they’re a few months gone, some may be filled with anxiety waiting for the first scan, some may be full of fear of miscarriage and some (like me) may be facing the huge decision of if they want to seek a termination or not.

All these things are so impactful on a woman’s life, emotionally and physically, yet society swears us to secrecy. Most women wait until their 12 week scan to announce their pregnancy – as the chance of miscarriage decreases after this week. But why is this? Should we really be doing this when what a woman needs most in this time is support?

When you unexpectedly discover that you’re pregnant it’s often difficult to decide who to confide in, if anyone.

When I discovered I was pregnant I was around 4 days late on my cycle. I remember taking the test at 5:30am and when I saw those two pink lines appear I instantly felt like was holding a big secret.

Me and Kieran spent the next few days discussing what we wanted to do, but came no closer to a decision. (Thank god for living by the sea and having the beach to escape to) We started the process of seeking a termination as I knew it was a lengthy process and the further through your pregnancy you are the higher the risks of complications. Me and Kieran spent the next few weeks sneaking off to termination assessments and having phone calls to different clinics. We were holding such a huge weight on our shoulders but were made to feel as though we couldn’t let anyone know. For some reason society makes things like terminations and teenage pregnancy seem shameful, which is more than wrong. What me and Kieran needed most was support and people to talk to outside of each other.

I will also note here…that attending your 18th birthday party…and trying to secretly not drink when you’re supposed to be getting absolutely plastered is interesting to say the least.

Me and Kieran on my 18th (it’s a Polaroid)

I was quite sick during 6-12 weeks, had a fair few incidences of running to the toilet to throw up…and trust me doing that without anyone noticing is quite a challenge. Sometimes I wonder how i managed it. Life would have been a hell of a lot easier if it was socially acceptable to be open about early pregnancy. Especially considering I was at school and sitting my A-level exams…that was interesting to say the least. I have distinct memories of walking around Tesco at 7am trying to find something I could stomach to eat before my exam…but retching at the sight of almost everything.

Eventually Kieran confided in his parents and I confided in one of my closest friends. It was so hard to tell people, but the second you share something as big as that with someone you trust it feels like a little bit of the weight is lifted. Even though me and Kieran were the only people who could make the decision on what to do, having people to talk things through with was a life line.

We are indirectly creating a culture in which women feel the need to hide early pregnancy, and this is contributing to the suppression of women. By not openly discussing these topics, we are reinforcing the idea that they are not worthy of thought and women should deal with them alone.

So after getting through the first 12 weeks you then face the question of how to announce your pregnancy…and who to tell first?

Once we had decided to continue with the pregnancy, we were of course very excited about it all. Yes we had big changes to make to our future, and some things about having a child so young were daunting…but not once were we ashamed of our decision or worried about being able to make it work. But I can say, it’s extremely hard to maintain that positive mentality when people react to your news negatively…or instantly start asking you lots of intrusive questions about money, housing, education etc.

Pregnancy is a fact of life – it’s how we’re all here after all. Yet we still hold a huge stigma around things such as termination, miscarriage and teenage pregnancy. If women felt able to talk openly about the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, maybe we would be able to get the support we need…whether that’s being able to run to the toilet to throw up without the added pressure of trying to hide it, having people to discuss your options with or those who experience a miscarriage having people around them to help them through it.

I know I will be raising my children talking openly about my experience, and I hope that the future holds a society in which these things are not stigmatised.

Georgia X

Is the ‘instant bond’ with your baby real?

Lots of women talk about feeling that ‘instant bond’ to their baby right from when those two pink lines appear on the pregnancy test. About how they feel this unconditional and fierce love for their unborn child, and the moment that baby is placed on their chest they feel eternally bonded. For some, this may be very true. But are some of us saying this in fear of judgement for not ‘instantly’ loving and bonding to our babies?

With the rise of social media, we are all constantly comparing ourselves in all aspects of life…and that definitely does not exclude motherhood. Mum shaming is everywhere…and with that comes guilt for our personal choices and emotions in parenting.

I most certainly did not feel that instant bond when I found out I was pregnant…nor did I strongly feel it during pregnancy…or when I first met my baby. Does that make me a bad mother? Absolutely not. Am I ashamed to say that? Not in the slightest.

I am a very logical person, and very scientifically minded. A ‘see it to believe it’ kind of person. I found pregnancy hard to comprehend. The idea that this growing bump and the fluttering kicks were from an actual human being that we had created was foreign. Don’t get me wrong, I felt fiercely protective and definitely had very strong maternal instincts but I just couldn’t ‘love’ someone that I didn’t know.

All in all, I didn’t feel hugely connected to my baby or the experience of pregnancy. This, I think, was mostly down to it being unexpected and me and Kieran not having our own house and stability. The difficult relationships I have with my family didn’t help either – just goes to show that the external circumstances hugely affect how we feel about our experiences. Now that I have my boy with me, I can look back on my pregnancy very differently. Knowing that it was Arlo kicking around inside me, makes it feel all the more magical. That’s what makes me feel eternally bonded to my baby, knowing that for 9 months my body sustained his life.

I feel that a lot of mothers are being denied the space to feel this way about pregnancy…as it’s considered ‘wrong’ to voice anything but overwhelming love for your child…born or not.

After an intense and physically draining labour (what labour isn’t!), a baby was placed on my chest. I can say that at this moment I felt a strong responsibility for the safety and welfare of him, but I didn’t ‘know’ him like I know all the other people that I love. I think that as a society we need to be allowing mothers to freely express how they feel without fear of judgement. After all, how can we support each other if we don’t feel able to talk openly?

Here I am, 10 weeks in to having Arlo with me and getting to know him, and I love him more than I ever thought was possible. It feels as though each day my love for him grows, and I am loving being his mamma more than anything.

As i learn more about Arlo and he learns more about me, our bond strengthens. I definitely have that ‘I miss him when he’s asleep’ kind of feeling now.

The way i feel about my pregnancy and birth has also changed with getting to know my little boy. All the kicks, scans, contractions – all suddenly have meaning. My respect for my body and the process of creating life has grown exponentially, with that comes the beginnings of unconditional love for my body and my experiences.

Not feeling instantly bonded with your baby does not make you any less of a mother, and not having the ‘magical’ pregnancy experience doesn’t either. Perspective changes with time.

Georgia X

Best buys for baby + mamma

There are so many options when it comes to baby purchases, at many different price points. It can be a bit of a minefield to work out which items will actually be useful and which are a waste of money. I’ve teamed up with the lovely Beth (@happycornishmama) to give you our top items for both baby and mamma!

The Johnson’s bath range

I’m sure we are all aware that Johnson’s is a household name when it comes to baby products, but with so much more choice on the market now it’s hard to know what’s best for your baby. (it’s mostly trial and error as every baby is so different). Me and Kieran both have sensitive skin, so we wanted to choose the most simple skin products possible. Arlo hasn’t had any negative reaction to these, and they smell so lovely! My good friend Phoebe (Arlo’s unofficial auntie) gifted some of the Johnson’s bath range to us as Arlo’s Birth present – possibly the most useful present we have received! Click here to shop the range.

The White Company sleeping bag

Now this is possibly one of the most used items in our baby collection. As babies need an extra layer or two to stay warm its often difficult to know what to put them to bed in as temperature can fluctuate overnight. It’s also dangerous to leave a baby with lots of blankets unless they’re secure due to suffocation risk. The sleeping bag solves all of those problems instantly, not to mention the fact that it looks super cute! It also means you can leave the baby in it while you feed them at night in order to have minimal handling so that they go back to sleep easily. (every parent knows the struggle of trying to delicately place a baby down without waking them up!) I don’t think they sell this print anymore, but click here to look at some other gorgeous prints.

A baby wrap and carrier

Having a pram is great, as you can put the baby down, but so many places are not pram friendly – here’s where being able to carry your baby is very useful. Me and Kieran often like to go out on walks or do trips to places like London etc, and having a carrier has been amazing! While Arlo is still little we’ve found this baby wrap to be the best option, as it keeps him well supported and all snuggled up! As he gets a bit bigger we will start using the Integra Baby carrier that is more durable and Kieran can wear too, which was kindly gifted to us by my lovely cousin as she recommended it.

The White Company Fleece Romper

This little bear suit is possibly the softest thing ever to exist, it’s so cosy that I wish they made them for big humans! This is perfect for taking Arlo out and about in, we always put him in it when he’s in the pram to save us faffing with lots of blankets when we’re out if it’s chilly. And of course it just looks bloody adorable!

Gap maternity sports leggings

As I am a powerlifter, I go to the gym 3-5 times a week and do very high intensity training (which I kept up throughout my pregnancy). It’s also a 2 mile walk to and from my gym…so I am always on the hunt for durable sports wear, and when I fell pregnant I thought it might be difficult to find good maternity sport clothes. But these from Gap were amazing, I pretty much wore them everyday for 9 months…and boy did I put them through some intense workouts.

All these products have been used endlessly in our first 10 weeks with little Arlo, I couldn’t recommend them more!

Georgia X

Beth and Freddie!

Hi there! My names Beth and I’m a first time Mum to Freddie. We’re winging our way through life and motherhood, fuelled by caffeine and hidden behind concealer. We live in the beautiful county of Cornwall and love nothing more than exploring the world around us!

When you have a baby, you are faced with so many options. Do you breast feed or bottle feed? Do you co sleep or use a Moses basket? Do you stay at home or go back to work? It’s no different when it comes to buying products for your little one. There are hundreds of companies attempting to entice you in with their product, claiming it’s the best of the bunch. 

Here are my top 5. We have been gifted some of these brilliant products, however I would happily purchase them as I’ve found them fantastic! All products that have been gifted have been stated in my posts.

1) Love nest ergonomic baby pillow from @babymoov_uk. The pillow is designed with a special incline to distribute the weight of the babies head evenly across the back of the head. Suitable for up until 4 months or when baby can roll over. Freddie has quite a flat head on one side and as we are seeing a physiotherapist to help treat it, I am making a conscious effort to use his pillow more and more and I think it’s really helping Freddie! – Gifted.

2) Gummee Teething Purple Heart shaped silicone teething ring. This teething ring has been an absolute god send. It’s so light and easy for Freddie to hold, he absolutely loves it. I pack it in our bag and take it out with us wherever we go. It’s suitable for babies aged 3 months+, also at £4.99 it’s really affordable. – Gifted.

3) Giraffe comforter.  We were given this comforter as a gift from a relative and it’s Freddie’s favourite. He had lots of different comforters of all shapes and sizes, different in price but he absolutely loves this one. It’s from Primark and retails at £3. An absolute bargain, so much so I’ve bought 3 more in case we loose any! It’s super soft and snuggly.

4) Little Tikes suction toy. Whenever any person see’s me and Freddie with this toy I rave about it. It’s AMAZING. It has a suction pad that sticks to a highchair tray perfectly, meaning it can’t be continuously dropped on the floor (isn’t that the most annoying thing!?). Freddie thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread, it has a little mirror and spins around too.

5) JoJo Maman Bébé changing travel wallet. I managed to get this in the sale a couple of months ago for only a fiver, it was originally £12 which I would also happily pay as it’s fab. The wallet has a zip at the front where you can put nappies, on the inside there is a zip section to store nappy bags and a pouch to keep wipes. It folds out to reveal a portable changing matt which is really handy for changing baby on the go, especially as some baby changing facilities aren’t always super clean or comfy!

I highly recommend all of these products and I don’t know what I’d of done for the past 5 months without them!

Managing expectations postpartum

This is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. As with all aspects of life, the postpartum period holds so many different expectations. Expectations on how to parent your child, how your body should ‘bounce back’, how your relationship with your partner (if you have one) should be flourishing etc etc etc. As mothers, how should we managed these? How can we not fall into the traps of comparison? And as members of society, how can we support our pregnant + postpartum women better?

I am extremely into my fitness, and while I was pregnant I was able to maintain a fairly intense training program. Throughout my pregnancy I received the comment ‘oh but you’re fit and young, your body will bounce back’ more times than I could even count. The irony being that I didn’t keep up my training in an attempt to ensure I got my pre-baby body back postpartum, I kept it up because I love it.

There are so many things wrong with this comment, and it’s been bugging me because no one ever talks about why we shouldn’t be saying such things to pregnant (or postpartum) women. Without talking about these things, we can not expect to change them.

When someone said something like that to me, it didn’t fill me with optimism and confidence, in fact quite the opposite. It piled on the pressure for me to go back to looking how I did before I got pregnant as quickly as I could after giving birth. It made me feel as though my identity as a powerlifter relied on how I looked after giving birth. This filled me with anxiety during pregnancy, I felt like who I was was hanging in the balance, waiting to see how my body would look and perform 2,4,8 weeks postpartum.

Why are we doing this!?

Our bodies are fluid, constantly changing, adapting, improving. And when a woman grows, carries and births a baby her body unsurprisingly changes too. I haven’t ‘bounced back’, I haven’t lost all the weight I put on during pregnancy, I haven’t started exceeding the fitness levels I had before pregnancy. BUT, I most certainly haven’t lost my body, instead I’ve transitioned into a new one.

So how about instead of denying women the right to embrace the changes we experience during pregnancy and birth by enforcing this ludicrous idea of ‘bouncing back’, we support them to see life (and our bodies!) as an ever evolving journey? Stop placing such unobtainable expectations on our women, and let them experience the changes; the softness of motherhood, the vulnerability of those early postpartum weeks, the intricate and unique nature of the transformation our bodies and minds undertake.

In addition, if one more person comments on how I look like I’ve ‘shifted all the baby weight’, or ‘gone back to how I used to look’ I might just explode. Have you seen me naked recently? I didn’t think so…so how the hell would you know the ins and outs of how my body has changed?. Yes I am training incredibly hard in the gym, day in day out, but that is purely because it is what lights my fire. I don’t want my ‘old’ body back, I want all things that represent my journey to stay – stop telling our women they should think otherwise!

As a society we have dug our women such a big hole that it’s so hard not to fall into it. I suspect many postpartum women find themselves comparing themselves to pictures of other women at the same stage as them (I know I have been guilty of this). ‘oh but she hasn’t got any stretch marks anymore’, ‘she got her abs back 10 days after giving birth’….I could go on. Almost like it’s one big competition. We must start supporting women in their own postpartum periods by applauding and validating them as individuals, as every woman will have a wildly different experience.

As for expectations on how to parent your child…well they can take a running jump. Motherhood seems to have become this huge commercial, opinionated, debatable subject. Erm…why? It’s the most instinctive, natural process there is. YOU know how to parent YOUR child. Mamma, stop second guessing yourself. When I was pregnant, I made the conscious effort not to read a single book about parenting and still vow never to do so. Society is teaching our women to suppress their instinct, and replace it with advertised products or methods etc….oh look it comes back to the big commercial giants making money. We need to be giving our women confidence in their choices. Want to bottle feed? Great. Want to go back to work 4 weeks after birth? Great. Want to be a stay at home mum until they leave school? Fab. Want to co sleep? Fantastic.

Please, lets stop comparing ourselves. Lets start supporting the beautiful, chaotic journey that pregnancy and motherhood is. We must stop forcing expectations on our women and start giving them the tools to embrace their own unique experiences.

I hope this isn’t just a ramble and actually gets my point across. I am so passionate about changing how we are valuing our women and helping them through what is possibly one of the most vulnerable stages of life.

Georgia X

London, projectile vomit + poosplosions

Me and Kieran have had quite a few big days out to London since we met. It’s become some what of a tradition as it’s where we had our first proper date. By that I mean that we met up once to have a drink on the beach, but then I went away on holiday with my family…so we met up in London for a day out a couple weeks later. Here are some pictures of our first ‘proper’ date (pancakes for breakfast was the highlight…and buying Harrods bears of course)

In keeping with our parenting ethos, we were not going to let having a baby stop us doing all the adventurous and spontaneous things we have always enjoyed…so now that Arlo is 9 weeks old we decided to have our first day in London as a family of three!

The first debate was if we should take the pram or just use the baby wrap. In the end we decided against the pram as negotiating rush hour trains to London with a rather large pram seemed less than ideal.

We were up and out the house by 7am. The train ride there was nice and easy, not too busy for the first half and Arlo was very content. We arrived at London Bridge, popped Arlo in the baby wrap and went to have a tour round, courtesy of Kieran. I love looking round Borough market, all the smells and beautiful food displays. Kieran showed me Flat Iron Square and we went past the pancake house we had our first date – nothing like a trip down memory lane.

Arlo needed feeding so we made our way to a little cafe called Mouse tail which is connected to a library. First we went to change Arlo and never have I been in such a hot baby changing room – it might as well have been a sauna. After grabbing a table and making up a bottle Kieran started to feed Arlo before he headed off to his lecture at 10:30am.

I was busy sorting out our bags when I heard Kieran gasp…I looked up and Arlo had been sick all over Kieran, never before have I seen a face of such distress. Just as I was getting a muslin out the bag Arlo projectile vomited a second time. Kieran was now dripping in it…the floor was covered…and I had completely lost it laughing. You couldn’t have made it up. All this commotion going on in the corner of a silent library. And just to top it off, as we gathered our stuff and made our way back to the sauna of a changing room…a man came and sat in Kieran’s chair. We got back into the changing room, and here’s a funny picture for you – Kieran was topless (as he had to change tops), i was having a wee and Arlo was naked crying on the changing table…all while we are sweating our balls off. I was basically crying laughing at this point.

Kieran headed off to his lecture (sick covered jeans as his new fashion staple) and I went and chilled out in Pret with a coffee.

A couple hours later me and Arlo went to meet a few of Kieran’s friends from uni in Starbucks…you can pass that baby round to anyone and he’s not phased in the slightest.

Me and Kieran headed off to walk to the science museum (note that its an hour and a half walk from where we were). Its funny walking through London with a small baby strapped to your front…you either get disapproving looks or looks of adoration.

We stopped off in a park near the London Eye to have some lunch and give Arlo another feed (this time without the projectile vomiting). There were lots of small children running around the play park…i can’t believe Arlo will be that big in the not so distant future.

We then continued to walk to the science museum, sight seeing along the way. Passing Waterloo station, Trafalgar square and Buckingham Palace. Arlo perfectly content in the baby wrap – he goes straight to sleep when I put him in it! Even with all the noise in London.

Very tired from all the walking, we finally reached the Science museum at 4:30pm, had our bags checked and headed to the pattern pod to have a sit down. Arlo needed a nappy change and a feed, and one of the staff recommended a place called ‘The Garden’ to take Arlo…sounds nice right?

Just as we came out of the changing room and made our way to the lift (I was carrying Arlo)…Kieran looked at me and pointed at Arlo’s back. I turned him round and to my horror he had done a poo…all the way up his back and through his clothes. You have to laugh. Somewhere in the 10 second walk from the changing room to the lift he had decided to give us a lovely present. We made our way down to ‘The Garden’ and found another changing room. Kieran cleaned up all the poop (Dad of the year) and changed Arlo’s clothes while we hysterically laughed at the situation.

Having all recovered from the poosplosion, we went and sat in ‘The Garden’ to feed Arlo…I will highlight the extremely false advertising here…as it was actually a dingy basement with a few benches and a poor paint job. Here’s a picture for accountability;

It’s now 5:30pm…closing time. A security guard comes to usher us out and we pack up all our stuff and made our way outside. In short, we came to the science museum to clean up lots of poo and enjoy the delights of the basement. Me and Kieran just stood outside and laughed…parenthood truly is a hilarious adventure.

Believe it or not we had a great day…I have so much love for my little family and can’t wait for more adventures.

Georgia X

Birth Story and Q+A

Birth Story and Q+A

I’ve wanted to write this for a long time, but its taken me a while to process my birth experience and understand how I feel about it. (as well as remember what happened in what order…but we will get to that later)

Whilst I was pregnant I spent a fair bit of time wondering what birth would be like. It’s one of those life events that happens all the time, but there is no way of knowing what it’s actually like until you experience it. (Although I think most mothers could agree that the depiction of birth in films etc is not very helpful, nor is the fact that no one TALKS about birth)

When I was past the half way mark in my pregnancy and it felt like birth was drawing ever closer, I decided to read a book about hypnobirthing by Katharine Graves. I wont go into what hypnobirthing is but anyone who is pregnant should do some research into it (no matter what kind of birth you are having – natural, Cesarean, epidural etc; hypnobirthing is for anyone who is bringing a baby into the world) The Positive Birth Company is also incredible.

I decided I wanted a completely natural birth, in the midwife led unit and in a pool if possible. Although I was preparing myself to have whatever kind of birth me and my baby needed.

My due date was the 27.01.19 based on my cycle, but that was moved to 25.01.19 when I had my dating scan.

SATURDAY 26TH OF JANUARY

Me and Kieran decided to take our dog Archie on a long walk along the beach and grab a coffee in town. I’d been experiencing Braxton hicks contractions at random for the last few weeks, so didn’t take much notice of them while we were out – although looking back they were much more frequent that day. I will note that at this point I was fully setting myself up to be pregnant for the next two weeks…everyone tells you that first babies are late.

We got home, cooked some dinner and had a relaxing evening watching telly in bed (if I recall correctly I think I managed to bag myself a massage from Kieran too) we went to sleep at around 10PM (by this point in pregnancy sleep was a distant memory amongst all the peeing and turning over to stop my hips aching)

MIDNIGHT

At around 5 minuets past midnight I was woken up by what I can only describe as period pain, strange I thought – even though late pregnancy is full of pains and twinges I had never been woken up by anything before. I tried to go back to sleep – but unsurprisingly that was not successful. (I will admit I was laying in bed glaring at Kieran slightly pissed off that he was fast asleep)

12:20pm, the pain came again. They continued to come for the next two hours, but completely randomly and at all different intensities. Slightly disheartened at the fact that it was probably just Braxton hicks, I went to cuddle the dog and get some cereal (if anyone knows me they know that cereal is my solution to almost any situation)

I then sat bouncing on my birthing ball in the dark in our bedroom (might I add that Kieran is still fast asleep)

At around 3am the contractions started to get stronger, and were coming at more regular intervals. what started off as slightly irritating period pain was now requiring me to focus on my breathing a little more to get through it. Here’s where I decided to wake Kieran up (no easy task). It took about 15 minutes from waking Kieran up to having a functioning Kieran who understood what was going on…amusing now, not so much then.

We started timing the contractions…but they were still slightly irregular and about 6 minutes apart. So we went to make hot cross buns and tea and sat in the dimly lit bedroom having a mini picnic at 3am…slightly strange but was just what I needed at the time.

4:30am. I was trying to wait until I really needed it to get in the bath…water is a really amazing pain relief in labour but I didn’t want to jump the gun and not get the benefit. But I definitely needed it at this point…being on all fours and burying my head in a pillow was no longer working. Kieran ran a hot bath and we both went to camp out in the bathroom for a while. Can I say, getting into a hot bath has never felt as nice as it did then. All the tension I had built up over the last 4 hours seemingly melted away. I think I stayed there for a good hour, timing the contractions with Kieran. There was something so calm and safe about being locked in the dimly lit bathroom in a hot bath while it was dark outside and the rest of the world was still asleep.

9AM – TIME TO CALL THE HOSPITAL

The first time we called, the contractions were not quite 3 in every 10 minutes, so the midwife said it would be best to relax at home for a while longer. Here’s where I had my second bath…might sound a little excessive, but being in the bath was the best place for me.

11AM – SECOND CALL TO THE HOSPITAL

The hospital I was down to give birth at is a 45 minute drive from our house…believe it or not there was no other option. I was dreading getting in the car…the thought of not being able to move about was horrific. So the majority of this call to the hospital consisted of debating if I should come in…because if I wasn’t in established labour (4cm dilated) they would send me home, and I was not going to do that journey more than once.

In the end they agreed to send a community midwife to my house to see how dilated I was and make the decision from that.

The midwife who arrived was a lovely woman who had seen me a few times during my pregnancy, she checked all my vitals and sat with me for a while. She was hesitant to give me an examination as I seemed so calm and so she assumed I wasn’t dilated very much. But I convinced her as I really just needed to know where I was at…much to everyone’s surprise (but me of course) I was 4cm and in established labour.

We all got in the car and made our way to the hospital. I put my headphones in and listened to one of my chill playlists on Spotify. Much to my surprise I was completely calm, eyes shut and focusing on relaxing into each contraction. I’ve never felt so relaxed and focused in on myself as I did in those 45 minutes.

We arrived and were shown to our room in the birthing centre, I had all my vitals checked and got straight into the big pool…absolute bliss. Kieran sat by the side of the pool holding my hand and we just relaxed there for a few hours. (we did change rooms somewhere in the middle of that as the temperature regulation of the pool stopped working…but that’s a minor detail)

3:30PM. I had a second examination only to find I was still 4cm…the midwife immediately wanted to break my waters and was preparing the equipment AS she was asking me. I told her to stop and explain the pro’s and con’s to me, and decided to wait a few more hours but try to walk around and use the birthing ball more to move things along. I wanted as little intervention as possible, and was determined to have trust in my body. We spent the next few hours with Micheal Mcintyre in the background and pacing around the room – intermittently burying myself into Kieran which was more than comforting.

A few hours later we decided to have the midwife break my waters in the hope it would naturally release more hormones and move things along. I decided to have some gas and air at this point…after a fair bit of deliberation as I was terrified of it making me throw up. But thank god it didn’t…just made me slightly delirious and say a few strange things. I used it for a couple of hours and then left it.

8PM – SHIFT CHANGE OVER

Here is where I was assigned a new midwife – Laura – an absolute angel. I got back in the pool for another hour or so, but had started feeling like my body wanted to push. (believe it or not, you body just does it for you and you don’t get very much say in the matter – incredible right?) Laura said she could see what was called MEC (where the baby does a poo inside) which can have a few complications, so she wanted to move me to a room in the labour ward as a precaution. Despite being hesitant, I agreed in the end. We all up and moved room for the second time (quite comical really)

10PM – THINGS GET REAL

Everything suddenly moved on very very quickly. I had gone from 4cm – fully dilated in around 4 hours. (which all the midwives were pretty shocked at, despite me being on my knees telling them that this baby was coming, dilated or not)

At this point I was leaning over the edge of the birthing pool, Kieran was standing next to me with his hand on my back. Suddenly what looked like rather a lot of blood appeared on the floor…I could hear Kieran in the background concerned and checking with the midwife that that was normal, which it was she reassured him. (I was too focused to care)

I got back onto the bed and little ones heart rate began to raise slightly. By this point I was exhausted…I hadn’t slept in 48hours, nor had I eaten much in the last 24. The midwife said it would be best to give me some fluids through a canula…but I refused and knew I had the strength in me somewhere to do this completely by myself.

11:30PM – ANOTHER MIDWIFE JOINED US.

Lead midwife Becky joined us as little one (still unnamed at this point) was crowning, but his heart rate showed a little bit of distress. After a discussion between me, Kieran and the midwives they decided to give me a small episiotomy to get baby here quickly and safely.

11:58PM. With one push, a squirming, vernix covered baby was placed on my chest. I’ve had Kieran confirm that my first words were “oh my god that’s a baby”…as if i hadn’t noticed that he had been inside me for the last 9 months.

Kieran gave me a kiss and we waited for the cord to finish pulsating before he cut it. Our baby was here, safe and perfect. I’d brought him here with nothing but two doses of paracetamol and a few hours of gas and air. Proud is an understatement.

I felt the very first twinge at around 0:05am on the 27th, and our boy was placed in my arms at 23:58pm on the 27th – just about fitting his entire birth into the 27th, his original due date. Kieran was by my side the entire time. Birth is an incredible experience, and it truly showed me my strength as a woman. I would do it again in a heartbeat, and not just because you get a baby at the end of it – because the whole process is something so very special.

Arlo Tobias Woolf was named at around 7am on the 28th. 8Ibs4oz.

Q+A

‘Did you do any antenatal classes prior to birth ?’

Yes, I attended the half day course offered by the community midwives – but if I’m honest it wasn’t very enlightening. The best source of information for me was the research I did on hypnobirthing. I also started following lots of positive birth accounts on Instagram, in order to expose myself to all different kinds of birth and make me feel prepared for any scenario.

‘Do you think exercising during pregnancy helped you during labour?’

YES! I can not emphasise this enough, labour is like a marathon. Personally each contraction was not a type of pain that I couldn’t handle, but the relentless nature of labour is tough. Endurance is built through exercise, and if I had not of kept up my training throughout my pregnancy I don’t believe I would have had the birth I did.

Are there any things you would do differently?’

Although I am incredibly proud of my birth experience, there are a few things I would set up differently for next time. I 100% will be having a home birth, something I would have done this time if we had been living in our own house. I will also pay for a private midwife if I have the money, as seeing the same woman throughout pregnancy and then at the birth I believe would make a world of difference. I would also like a birth photographer – one thing I do regret is not taking enough pictures.

Georgia X

Self care + parenting

As an individual, I have always been introverted. This means I need time alone to recharge and thrive in all other areas of life. In short, I very much enjoy my own company. (Don’t get me wrong, I love meeting with my friends and going on family holidays etc – I just have to have time to myself to balance it out)

Having time to myself in the Lake District when me and my Dad walked the 192 mile Coast to Coast path

This was something I was worried I would have to sacrifice when becoming a mother, as I had been told that babies need your attention 24/7 and so getting to take a 5 minuet shower would be a luxury. I have definitely had to change how and when I get time to myself, but I have been lucky enough not to have the kind of experience I just mentioned.

Me and Orla in Greece

Before giving birth, I made a promise to myself that I wasn’t going to let the things that make me me disappear and become just ‘Arlo’s mum’ – which I know is something lots of stay at home mothers struggle with in terms of their identity. I am a partner to Kieran, a powerlifter, a self-proclaimed science nerd, a long distance walking lover, a woman with big ambitions for her future (the list could go on, but you get the idea) AND a mother. So I still find time to train 3-4 times a week, study, go for walks along the beach etc – and to me that is invaluable.

The hour or so that I get in the gym to blast music through my headphones, get really sweaty and move some weight around allows me to have time to switch off from all the responsibilities of being a mother and just be ‘Georgia’. I truly believe that life is about making time for the things that are important to you, everyone told me I wouldn’t have time to train anymore while I was pregnant, but I knew it was something I was not going to give up. Not only does it make me happy, it gives me the headspace to be a better mother.

Mine and Kieran’s trip to Amsterdam

Another thing that me and Kieran had discussed was that we didn’t want our relationship to get lost in the mist of parenting. Just as much as we have become a family of three, we are still a couple separate from that. We have always loved going for long walks where we can talk and focus on nothing but each other, something that became even more of a habit while I was pregnant. This is something we still make time for now, just one of us is pushing a pram. Parenting is about adapting – you can still do all the things you did before, you just might have to change how you go about it.

Me and Kieran take an extremely relaxed approach to parenting – no routines, no expectations and an acceptance that things can change at any second (be it Arlo suddenly stops sleeping, or we have a sick explosion just before we leave the house). This allows us to not only have far less stress, but to find time to be individuals and live lives that are separate from each other as well as together. I would like to note here, I am extremely lucky to be part of a relationship where we will each take Arlo to let the other go and have a long bath or get an extra gym session when we need it. In my opinion, continuing to feel like individuals as well as a couple is paramount to having a happy family.

Self care looks different for everyone, and for me it is most definitely not painting my nails and doing a face mask (more like breaking my nails lifting barbells and having an O’natural face mask of sweat). But if that’s your thing then keep doing you.

Georgia X