Unplanned pregnancy + mental health

Every woman can relate to the struggle of trying to not get pregnant. Balancing having a great sex life with the fear of becoming pregnant when you don’t want to be is difficult. And I’m sure 90% of women have had that ‘shit… am I?’ moment when they’re a few days ‘late’.

Personally I have always made the choice not to use artificial/hormonal birth control (and continue not to), having only in the last couple years managed to regulate my cycle and being an athlete – I try not to interfere with my body as much as possible. So I’m a natural methods kinda gal…if you know what I mean. (until we decide to try for another little squish hehe)

But no matter how safe you think you’re being…it can always fail you. Being in a long term relationship…this is a scenario me and Kieran and discussed and ‘thought’ we had prepared for if it were to arise.

When I took the test, even though i was a few days late, i was sure it wasn’t going to be something that would happen to me. In hindsight….that was pretty naive. I specifically remember seeing the two lines and feeling like everything had just gone blank, like I had just received a bit of information that my brain couldn’t process. I was three days away from my 18th birthday and two weeks away from my A-level exams…boy I felt like I’d messed up (which I hadn’t…it wasn’t anyone’s fault, just a fact of life that happens more than you would think)

In the weeks following this…I went through all the motions to get a termination, because this is what society made me feel like I had to do. I spent my 18th birthday on the phone to The Marie Stopes Foundation doing an assessment. I went to a clinic in Maidstone in the middle of my exams for a second assessment. I even travelled to Kings College Hospital London for a third assessment (The termination system in this country is a complete mess, every woman has the right to a termination and I really feel we are failing our women with the way it’s set up…but that’s a discussion for another time)

This was by far, the darkest time in my life, I couldn’t sleep – the only thing ever on my mind was the thought of being put to sleep in the operating theatre, and waking up without my baby. Our society continually tells us that teenage pregnancy is one of the biggest failures you can make. That it’s something that should be hidden, with young girls dragging themselves to termination clinics to ‘get rid’ of the problem. Yet it is something that happens ALL THE TIME. Our society makes young women like me feel isolated, pushing us to have a termination when its often not what we want. This has to change, what young women need is support and compassion – and most importantly to know we have OPTIONS.

I knew I didn’t want a termination right from the start, but had been made to feel like I didn’t have a choice because if I didn’t, my life was over there and then apparently. It took me right until I was outside the doors of the hospital on the day of my termination to stand up and say ‘actually, I want this, I can do it, and I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it’.

And here I am, doing it. I haven’t failed, I have the brightest future ahead of me, I have a wonderful little family. I am a teenage mother, and no less of a mother because of it.

Becoming pregnant when you didn’t plan it has a huge effect on your mental health, no matter your age. But as a society, we need to stop stigmatising young girls who choose to have their babies – because they made that choice and they are entitled to it. We need to love and support them and show them that they are still capable of anything they want to achieve.

And to all the people asking me if I’m ‘managing ok’ in that slightly sheepish tone of voice. I am bloody great – I absolutely love my life, I am incredibly proud of what I have achieved and what I have ahead of me. So please don’t go asking me questions that you wouldn’t ask a mother who is 10 years older than me.

Georgia X

Body Image and confidence

It takes a long time to truly find ways that make you feel confident in yourself, and even when you get to a point where you feel great there is always further to go. Finding your confidence and having a good relationship with your body is a continually evolving journey.

Now this may just be the sociologist in me, but personally I think the most important thing is to know why and how we are all conditioned to have poor body image. After all, knowledge is power right?

Corporate businesses sell us all an idealised version of ourselves, be it beauty products or underwear adverts showing body types that are genetically unobtainable for 95% of the population. They do this because by selling you a way of ‘reaching’ those unobtainable standards, you buy into their products and they make money. In short, rich people are thriving off societies ingrained self hatred. Alongside this, women are continually objectified and degraded to be nothing but items of beauty. Something that happens right from birth, girls are continually referred to as being ‘pretty’ or ‘kind’ etc while boys are ‘strong’, ‘funny’, ‘clever’ – notice how boys are valued for things completely unrelated to their appearance? As a result, women relate their confidence to how they look, not what they’re doing.

When I first began to understand all of these things (Thank you A-level sociology) the first thing I did was clear out my social media. EVERYONE should do this. Unfollow all those accounts who’s pictures make you feel awful about yourself, block all those people you don’t want in your life anymore and fill your feed with things that inspire you. Social media is your tool, to use how you wish, and that can either be extremely detrimental or extremely beneficial – you decide.

Deadlifting with a tiny baby bump

I slowly began to focus on what my body could DO, not what it LOOKED like. Here’s where Powerlifting completely changed my life – suddenly all I cared about was my performance in the gym, and it was achieving goals within that that gave me confidence – not having abs or fitting into a certain size of clothes. (I urge everyone to invest in their personal fitness or take up a sport)

When I fell pregnant, all the confidence and positive image I had built was really challenged. Your body changes so quickly and beyond your control. It is one of the only times in life that you have to just step back and let it happen, and that is hard. My advice to get through this, would be to have trust in your body that it is doing exactly what it needs to do – even if you do gain more than the ‘recommended’ weight (we all know those numbers are bollocks anyway) or you get more stretch marks than the ‘average’ woman (trust me there’s no such thing as average). Your body was build to do this and it knows exactly how to do it without any input from you, so don’t waste your money or time on stretch mark creams or any other item sold to reduce the effects of pregnancy on your physical appearance.

Now, postpartum is a whole other ball game – just when your getting used to your pregnancy body, you give birth and your left in a strange in-between stage. You’re no longer growing life, but you don’t look or feel anything like the you before pregnancy.

Number one, don’t jump straight back to trying to put on your old clothes – they most likely wont fit. Number two, give your body and mind time. The most important thing in those first weeks is looking after you and your baby, focus as much as you can on soaking up all those first moments. Also try not to place to much importance on that stupid ‘6 week’ mark. Women are continually sold this idea that everything will go back to ‘ normal’ at six weeks – you resume your sex life, start exercising and supposedly look like how you did before pregnancy. All complete lies given how different we all are. For me, I had sex at 4 weeks, began working out at 3 weeks and am never going to look how I used to.

As a young mother, there’s increased pressure to ‘get my body back’ (a ridiculous phrase). As an 18 year old I’m supposedly meant to be wearing tiny clothes, showing off my flat stomach and going clubbing. For one, I wear nothing but sports clothes (you’ll catch me in heels and a tiny dress when i’m dead) and for two i hate the idea of clubbing and is most likely something I will never want to do. I’ll do me, you do you and we’re all happy right?

Here’s to building each other up, raising confident women, and placing our self worth in the things we are achieving.

Georgia X

Pregnant powerlifting

Before I found out I was pregnant, I had been training as a powerlifter since I was around 16. I started by using my dads home weights set up, then I got a commercial gym membership before finally joining a real powerlifting/bodybuilding gym.

Squatting during comp prep

I competed in March 2018 at the South East winter divisional. After the competition I decided to prep for another max test around the end of May…I then found out I was pregnant on the 27.05.18. Little did i know i had actually maxed out all my lifts at 4 weeks pregnant…Oops. (safe to say I didn’t get the numbers I had hoped for…I was rather confused at the time as to why my strength wasn’t where it should be)

As soon as I found out I was pregnant I knew my training was something I was going to continue right to the end. Not only because I NEED to throw some iron around for my mental sanity, but because I knew it was best for my body and my health.

Unsurprisingly, everyone had something to say about this. As soon as people find out you’re pregnant it’s like everything you do is suddenly up for debate. (A note to anyone passing judgement on a pregnant woman; it’s their body, their baby and their choices.) I did my research, I spoke to people and I listened to my body. I switched up my training to a more bodybuilding style format, while ensuring to start with one of the main lifts (squat, bench, deadlift) each session. This way I was creating greater hypertrophy while maintaining my strength and technique in powerlifting.

Deadlifting 75% of my comp max at 35 weeks

Here’s the shocker…I actually made strength GAINS in pregnancy. My strength on the main lifts dropped slightly, but in all other movements it either increased or stayed the same. Alongside this I also took cardio more seriously in pregnancy (everyone knows powerlifters are pretty lazy really) and I greatly improved my cardiovascular fitness.

Something else I decided to work on was unilateral strength, to help with balance and overall function. So I added in things like weighted step ups, single arm dumbbell press and pistol squats. Along side this I worked on my pelvic floor and did movements to engage my deep core muscles to help with diastasis recti. (I am by no means a health professional or PT, so I simply did what worked for me and what I thought was best given my research)

All in all I stuck to weight training 4 times a week, walking a 4 mile round trip to the gym and adding cardio into my sessions right until the end of my pregnancy. I had a completely natural birth, which was very fast (24 hours from the very first twinge to holding my baby), and made an 8Ib4oz baby boy (trust me that’s a fairly big baby).

The key to training in pregnancy is to adapt, yes some things you wont be able to do for a while but that doesn’t mean you have to stop. Trust your instincts, your body will tell you if you shouldn’t do a particular movement.

I am beyond excited to be starting training postpartum and working my way back to the platform, I have so many fitness goals for the next few years so watch this space. Postpartum fitness blog post coming soon…

Georgia X

A note to my non-breastfeeding self.

Breastfeeding is an experience you can do very little to prepare yourself for; the idea of using my previously purely sexual assets for their actual purpose was rather foreign before giving birth.

Every Tom, Dick and Harry has a different opinion on breastfeeding (and yes even men think their opinions on it are important). To pump or not to pump, to use formula or not to use formula, to feed in public or not to feed in public – the list is endless.

Now two weeks into my breastfeeding journey (having gained an understanding of why mamma’s refer to it as a ‘journey’ – it is very much an evolving journey!) I realise I am extremely lucky. Arlo knew exactly what to do right from the start, we have had no issues with latch or supply like I know many women do; so for that I count my blessings. I would tell my non-breastfeeding self that you can’t worry about breastfeeding until you start because you simply cant predict how it’ll go.

You hear all these stories about how beautiful breastfeeding is, making you picture yourself lovingly looking down on your perfect baby as you provide all the nourishment they need almost as if you’re both in a little mamma-baby bubble. Now let me reassure you, these moments definitely exist and they are as wonderful as they sound; BUT it’s almost certainly not always like that. Such as when your baby is screaming and your firing milk up their nose with the right boob while simultaneously soaking their clothes with the let down of the left boob. You very quickly learn to find a big wet patch on the bed or on your top and have the response of ‘eh its probably just boob milk’. This is where I would very firmly tell my non-breastfeeding self that breastfeeding is messy, and that’s okay.

Our first public feed on day 7.

Breastfeeding in public is a very controversial topic, some mothers pump and only bottle feed in public, others find the most private place possible and some will feed almost anywhere. All of which are completely valid and more than acceptable in my opinion. Personally, I’m usually happy to feed anywhere; we’re currently on day 15 and I’ve fed Arlo in Cafes, in the pharmacy and on a train. I’ve yet to receive any backlash from members of the public thankfully, although I’m sure that day will come so I’m mentally noting any witty come backs I can think of.

I’m aware that so far I’ve made breastfeeding sound relatively magical, but me and Arlo have (and are currently having) our own trials and tribulations. Night feeds. Need I say much more. Here’s where I fall down, and am currently trying to figure out how to master them – so I think that’s a post for a bit further down the line. (Here I would most definitely tell my non-breastfeeding self that sleep is precious, enjoy it while you can)

weight training at 8 months pregnant.

So that is where we’re at currently, but with me returning to training in a few weeks me and kieran are considering introducing some formula and taking a mixed feeding approach for more flexibility. Something which I am very excited about and can’t wait to share. (I am so excited to get back to powerlifting and regular training!)

Georgia X

Welcoming our boy earth side

On the 27th of January 2019 at just gone midnight I went into labour; and at 23:58pm our son was born – narrowly making the 27th as his birthday. Which is rather ironic considering 27.01.19 was our original due date before we had our dating scan, and it was also the date I had guessed our little one would be born. Mothers instinct must be real huh.

Birth is an experience that is incomparable to anything else and finding the words to describe it is near on impossible. Processing birth AFTER its happened is also another thing entirely; and so I’m not quite ready to share all the details of what happened in that 24hours. For the foreseeable future my labour story is remaining something shared only between me and Kieran.

Arlo Tobias Woolf
8Ibs 4oz

But I can say, the moment our son was placed on my chest after 24 hours of labour, an overwhelming sense of peace encased us in a little bubble among the chaos around us. The three of us were finally together, and that was unlike anything else in the world. (You will have to excuse the bad photo quality, this was taken only an hour or two after he was born)

Arlo Tobias Woolf. We finally decided on his name after around 7hours of having him earthside. We had two full names in mind but waited until we had met him to chose one. We still don’t know where we found the name Arlo, but its one of the first names we both instantly loved (in the early weeks when we spent hours reading off endless lists of baby names there weren’t many either of us liked – typical). Arlo is also an anagram of my sisters name (Orla) which we rather liked the sentiment of.

As I write this I am deep in the first week of motherhood, which is beautiful and messy all rolled into one. But more details on that to follow soon.

Georgia X