Has motherhood changed me?

Before I fell pregnant I was, I would say, a fairly average teenage girl. I was unsure in myself and in what I wanted to do with my life, I struggled with my body image and confidence and was just starting the path to really learning about myself.

I had a place at University to study Medical Biochemistry. A subject I had chosen (after lots of discussions with different people) due to being convinced that it would be a waste of my intelligence to study anything that wasn’t highly academic with professional, well paid job prospects.

I placed a lot of emphasis on valuing myself based on other peoples standards, I would put what other people thought of me above what I thought of myself.

I was allowing difficult relationships to take up space in my life, which consequently were affecting my mental health. This was also something that heavily affected me during pregnancy.

And then I gave birth to my son.

I’ve heard the phrase ‘with Birth, the woman is born too’ a few times, and I very much believe that holds a lot of truth. Becoming a mother has changed me in so many ways.

I have completely disregarded anyone else’s opinion on what route I should take my life down and as a result am now holding a place to study Sport and Exercise Science. My true passion. Becoming a mother has given me unrecognisable confidence in myself to do what I want to do, this is my life and my life only.

I now only place value in my own opinion of myself. Being a young mother you have to face a lot of negativity; people thinking you are less capable than someone older or people thinking you’ve somehow messed up your life. I am incredibly proud of myself, of what I have done and what I am doing. Me, and my family, have an amazing life ahead of us.

Arlo clearly wasn’t happy about this…

Becoming a mother has given me clarity in what I want to do and who I want to be. It has given me the space to flourish as a woman and grow confidence I never thought I could have. I have gained unconditional love and respect for my body, something I had been working very hard on for the last few years.

A lot of people want to tell you all the negative sides to becoming a parent, about how you’ll loose your own identity and it will test your relationship. Something that is emphasised when you’re younger, as you can add ruining your career prospects etc into the mix. But personally, I have found non of those things to be true. Mindset makes a lot of difference to your experiences in my opinion.

Alfresco dining

Arlo has taught me so much, bringing so much love and happiness with him. He has brought me and Kieran so much closer and not only helped us grow in ourselves but as a couple. Seeing Kieran be a better Dad than I could ever have asked for will always make me happy.

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!

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

Pregnant powerlifting

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