This question has been playing on my mind a lot lately. Does it end when we have our 6 week check? When baby has been out longer than they were in? Or does it never end?
Of course, I don’t have a scientific answer to this – is there even a scientific answer? But I think it’s an important question that acts as part of a wider discussion around motherhood.
A lot of people (including healthcare professionals) talk about feeling ‘normal’ again after having a baby. What an annoyingly awkward phrase. Just think, right now, about how you would define ‘normal’. You can’t can you?
I remember sitting with my health visitor (who is a LOVELY lady – those people do an incredible job) and her saying ‘You’ll probably begin to feel normal around 9 months after having the baby’. I just sat there and thought…but I feel normal now? Right now is MY normal. For me, this kind of ‘talk’ just highlights the bounce back culture we live in. Comparing how we feel ‘now’ to how we felt ‘then’ and how we will feel ‘soon’.
As a society we need to focus more on being present, on embracing the ‘now’ and taking that as our current ‘normal’. If we are constantly comparing how we feel or look to how we used to feel/look, we are stealing the joy of the current moment without even realising it.
Postpartum essentially means ‘after baby’. So in my opinion postpartum doesn’t end, but evolves. I will always be living ‘after’ I gave birth to Arlo (unless someone invents a time machine…which would be quite exciting). I am constantly changing, healing, growing but I am always postpartum.
Along with how we ‘feel’ as mothers, comes an important discussion around how we ‘look’ as mothers. With the phrase ‘your tummy will shrink back to its normal size’ or ‘your stretch marks will fade and begin to look like normal skin soon’ being thrown around all too regularly, women are experiencing a tidal wave of emotion around what ‘normal’ really means.
Let me set this straight. You were normal two months ago, you are normal right now and you will be normal in two months time. Your postpartum tummy was normal 2 minuets after birth, it is normal right now and it will be normal in two months time. Growing your confidence is about defining your own ‘normal’ and living by it.
Postpartum isn’t a mere fleeting 6 week time period, it is a completely new chapter that is now your own individual ‘normal’.
So, as all of you who follow me over on Instagram will know, we made the decision to switch to reusable nappies! This is one thing on a long list of changes we have started to make in our family towards zero waste living.
Me and Kieran have been conscious of our environmental impact for a while now, and as we have welcomed a new addition to our family we have been even more aware of it – babies *can* produce a lot of waste!
Before I get to talking about reusable nappies, I’ll walk you through a few of the other changes we have made over the last 2 years.
Reusable water bottles.
I honestly can not remember the last time I bought a plastic water bottle. Me and Kieran both have Chilly’s bottles – which keep liquids either hot or cold. I always carry this on me – so not only am I helping the planet, I’m drinking more water too! (I also have a Doppler bottle which I bought in Amsterdam – it’s super lightweight which can be handy!)
Reusable coffee cups
For my 18th birthday, Kieran bought me a Keep cup (with yellow on it of course!). I use this if I want to take a coffee from home out with me or if I know I’ll be grabbing one on the go – I love that its glass too, makes the coffee taste better!
90% of the time, me and Kieran take lunch from home when we’re going out. Kieran uses glass tupplewear to take his lunches to uni – BPA free, better for the environment and you can pop them straight in the microwave! We also have some stainless steal pots for snacks.
Klean Canteen sippy cup
Now this is slightly ahead of the game, given that Arlo can’t hold his own bottle yet. But we couldn’t resist when we saw it! It’s a beautiful stainless steal sippy cup, which also turns into a little water bottle for when he’s older – simply switch the cap!
I’m sure most people are doing this now – but we have loads of reusable bags, I pretty much have them coming out my ears. Stuffed in the pram, in almost every rucksack we own – they’re everywhere!
Me and Kieran both use wooden toothbrushes, they’re really cheap and feel much nicer to use! I can’t wait to buy Arlo his first little wooden toothbrush.
No more plastic bottles! We both use unpackaged bars of soap, Kieran loves a company called Wideye which we discovered on a day trip to Rye a few months ago. They may look more pricey but they last so much longer! And they smell AMAZING.
Kieran shaves using a reusable metal razor – he just replaces the blades every few shaves. I’m looking into buying one of these myself – so if anyone has any suggestions of brands let me know!
Now that my period has returned after having Arlo, I decided to return to using a mooncup. I used one for a while a few years ago, but for some reason stopped, but I bought another one and I am so excited to get back to using it! No waste and a hell of a lot cheaper – they cost around £20, but once you’ve bought it it’ll last years!
Me and Kieran decided before Arlo was born that we wanted to have a majority of wooden toys. I think they’re beautiful, will most likely last longer and better for the environment than plastic. Lots of wooden toys like blocks also encourage open ended play to build the imagination.
So this is a new one that we have been working on recently – and as we don’t have our own home we haven’t invested in it as much as we are planning to just yet. But we have made a start with reusable washing up ‘sponges’ and brushes. We also discovered a brand called OceanPods, so we’re hopping to invest in some stainless steal spray bottles and give them a go instead of buying lots of chemicals in plastic bottles.
NAPPIES + WIPES!
So, before Arlo was born we looked into reusable nappies a lot and we almost bought them…but as we don’t have our own home and they were a very big investment we decided against it. But 3 months into being parents, now that we have a pretty good hang of this whole ‘keeping a small human alive’ gig, we started looking into it again. After some discussions with some other mammas that use cloth, we took the plunge.
Anyone who knows me will know I’m often an ‘all or nothing’ type of person. Which is sometimes a positive and sometimes a negative. So I told Kieran that if we were doing cloth…we were doing it all the way. Nappies, wipes, fleece liners – the lot!
So, lets start with wipes. I will say that even if you don’t want to use reusable nappies, you should 100% buy reusable wipes. They’re cheaper, far superior at cleaning up poop and better for the environment. Oh and so easy to wash its almost silly!
We got ours from cheeky wipes. We have a clean wipes box and a mucky wipes box. The mucky box has a mesh bag insert so you don’t have to touch the mucky wipes when you chuck them in the washing machine. You simply put a little water in both boxes, put a few clean wipes in the clean box (blue) and away you go! We also have a little wet bag from Babaandboo for taking pre soaked wipes out and about with us.
We have a total of 20 nappies, from a variety of brands, they are all whats called ‘birth to potty’ all in one nappies. They all have lots of poppers on the front which means you can adjust them to the size of your baby and make them bigger as they grow. Each nappy comes with an insert or two, which absorbs the wee. And then we bought a pack of 20 fleece liners that you place on top to catch the poop.
What do you do with the dirty nappies? I hear you say…
At home we have a big bucket with a mesh bag inside. When we change a nappy we simply chuck it in the bucket until you put a wash on. If it’s a poo, we rinse the worst of it off the liner (in the toilet) and then we store those separately until we put a wash on. If we’re out and about, we put the dirty nappy in a wet bag (that is specifically for dirty nappies) and then deal with it when we get home.
How do you wash the nappies?
We put the fleece liners and the wipes on a rinse cycle. Then we put the nappies in and do a second rinse before putting them on a long wash with a little bit of washing powder. (some people wash at 40 degrees and some at 60 degrees, different nappy brands recommend different things so you have to decide yourself on that one)
How do you dry the nappies?
If it’s a good day we hang them on the line and they all dry in around 6-8 hours. The sun is also a natural bleach and so it helps to remove any stains. If it’s not good weather then we hang them on the airing rack with the window slightly open and they dry in about 24 hours.
Which brands do you use?
We have bought nappies from Babaandboo, Totsbots, Tickletots,
LittleLamb and Wonderoo. Our favourites have been the Babaandboo or the Tickletots.
But if your on a tight budget the Little Lambs are amazing for the price!
So there you have it, our little journey towards zero waste living. All these things are definitely an investment and may seem far more expensive than the throw away alternatives. But they last much longer and so are actually far cheaper in the long run! But it’s a process to make all the changes and can be quite a culture shock at first as we live in such a throw away world.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask! Or simply pop over to my Instagram for a chat,
Becoming a mother at the age of 18 was not something I ever envisaged happening. I guess I had always thought I would do my degree, climb the ladder in my job, buy my own house and then think about children at about 30. That’s the way society tells us we should do it right? That’s the ‘right’ way if you like.
When we began to announce our pregnancy we received mixed responses. A lot of people had the view that we were setting ourselves up for a life of hardship.
Each time someone gave us a negative response, I felt more and more as though I wasn’t entitled to be pregnant because I was so young.
Some people wanted to take control, to give us copious amounts of pushy advice while outlining all the negatives to having a baby. As a result, I didn’t fully appreciate the whole experience at the time – I didn’t take pictures or really ‘connect’ with my baby. Mostly because I felt it was something that ‘shouldn’t’ be happening and so I subconsciously ignored it.
I regret this wholeheartedly – and only now can I see that that is how I felt.
Alongside this, me and Kieran were not able to live in our own house during my pregnancy. As a result I was constantly made to feel I owed more than I could ever give back and that my security could disappear at any moment – because I ‘shouldn’t’ be pregnant.
Young women who find themselves pregnant, by choice or not, experience this kind of negativity from all angles. From the disapproving looks from strangers in the street, to a feeling of not “belonging” when they’re shopping for baby things.
This sort of response contributes far more to a negative outcome than the pregnancy itself. If young women are supported, given options and told that they can still achieve whatever they want (all be it in a different way, that may take a bit more hard work) then don’t you think a positive outcome for mother and baby is far more likely?
Experiencing pregnancy as a young woman and becoming a young mother has many challenges, but they’re just different challenges to those that may be faced by an older woman. There is no right or wrong time for any stage of life.
So as I sit here, happier than I have ever been, I’m still having to spend the time to emotionally take back ownership of my pregnancy, birth and experience of motherhood. Something I shouldn’t have to do, but is an unfortunate reality of the stigma society puts on young parents.
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.
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.
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…