When does postpartum end?

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’.

Georgia X

Minimal waste living

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!

Food containers

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!

Reusable bags

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!

Toothbrushes

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.

Soap

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.

Razors

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!

Mooncup

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!

Wooden toys

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.

Cleaning

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,

Georgia X

Arlo’s 12 week update

Firstly, I am aware that this post is a little late….given that Arlo is now approaching 14 weeks. But hey ho…better late than never? And boy has a lot happened between 8 and 12 weeks.

Kieran has been on his Easter holidays for the majority of this time (although he has gone back to uni now) so we’ve managed to squeeze quite a lot into these 4 weeks! And given the extra pair of hands, I have lots of photos too!

Arlo had his vaccinations at 8 weeks…he was not at all phased at the time. However it did have some after affects for the week following…which Kieran was not best pleased about. I got a good laugh out of it non the less.

When Arlo was tiny, he really hated tummy time…I’m talking screams within 5 seconds of being on his tummy kind of hate. But as he has got older, with the help of our trusty belly roller from Aldi (thank you Kirstie!), he has started to enjoy it more. The coordination between his limbs is so much better and he can now hold his (rather heavy) head up for much longer.

Now that Arlo is a lot more alert, he always wants to be facing the world. Any opportunity to sit propped up or sit in someones lap facing outwards, he’ll take it. Along with that…if I’m sitting in a place particularly interesting and I try to cuddle him facing me…he tells me off. I suppose I’m just not as interesting as the man in the coffee shop steaming milk and pouring latte art?

This does however, have it’s up sides…at least when he’s sick it goes on his clothes instead of mine.

We took Arlo to Brighton for a few days to stay with my Dad. Tried him out in his new travel cot…which he did look rather small for, but he didn’t seem to mind one bit! In Brighton we also discovered his newfound fascination with patterns. In particular geometric bears…which makes a change from plain walls and ceilings.

As it’s been getting warmer, we’ve been taking Arlo outside a lot more – for walks in the baby carrier or to have a look at the sea. And I can most certainly tell you that Arlo dislikes wind with a passion. He pulls the funniest faces whenever the wind is blowing in his direction.

Along with the arrival of some slightly warmer and sunnier weather…we had to go and buy Arlo a sun hat. Which I have to say has a slight primary school nativity feel about it. You know…tea towels on the head? We’ve also been spending a lot more time in the garden with Arlo in his bouncer which, providing it’s not windy, he seems to like. (Especially if he has his favourite Auntie with him)

Arlo is growing so quickly, and becoming more of a little character by the day. But even though he is more interested in looking at whats going on and is beginning to have a lot to say for himself…he will always be my little boy who falls asleep on me and wants cuddles.

Georgia X

Embracing clothes postpartum

Now I will start this one with a bit of a disclaimer; I very strongly dislike clothes shopping and so am most definitely not about to give you tips on fashion. Partly because I know nothing about it… and secondly because I don’t like the idea of things being ‘in’ or ‘out’ of fashion. I will wear what I want when I want thank you very much.

So you have this new body. It has bumps, marks and everything else all in places they weren’t before. Nothing you used to wear fits or looks right… and the idea of going shopping to find new clothes is not something that sounds fun. Sound familiar?

Firstly, don’t attempt to try on old clothes/buy new ones the second that baby pops out. Your body changes most rapidly in the few weeks after birth, so spend as much time as you can in those comfy maternity leggings and oversized t shirts. Enjoy not giving a shit about what you put on in the morning for a while.

Then, when the speed at which everything is changing slows down (that will be a different time for everyone I might add) start thinking about updating your wardrobe. After all, you’ve most likely just spend 9 months in boring maternity clothes so you deserve it.

I treated myself to some new sports clothes at first… they’re comfy and will still fit me if I change size. Reebok is one of my favourite brands. I waited until about 11 weeks postpartum to go ‘normal’ clothes shopping.

The first mistake I made was shopping for my so called ‘old body’.  I picked out a load of clothes that I would have worn a year ago… only one size above my old size and went to try them on. I probably don’t need to say it, but nothing fitted and anything that did fit was the complete wrong shape/style. Not my most ‘body confident’ moment to say the least (and to add to it… changing room lighting is often awful)

I put everything back, left the shop and we went for a coffee. I definitely needed a breather after that experience. A bit of a pep talk from Kieran in the coffee shop (which I might add he is particularly good at, that man can read my mind without a word coming out my mouth) and we went to try shop number two… with a much better mindset.

Zara is a shop I have always loved, especially during summer, so we went there. I picked up lots of different style clothes (some I would have never worn a year ago) in LOTS of different sizes and went to try them on. I’m not too bothered about the number on the hanger… I know full well that clothes look better and make me feel better when they fit. Small, large or otherwise. Low and behold… I LOVED some of the things I tried on. And I really mean loved. I think I even stood in the changing room grinning like a Cheshire cat at a couple of the items – things I would have never liked the look of on me before, suddenly looked great. Shop the jumpsuit here, and the shirt here.

Que the love and respect I have for my body shooting through the roof in this moment. Success.

After this we went to a few other shops and picked up some more bits;

So in summary, pick things up you would never have worn before and in LOTS of different sizes. You’re new shape/size body is just as amazing as the ‘old’ one… but most likely suits different clothes. And most definitely don’t give shit about the number on the hanger… I can wear an 8 in one shop and a 16 in the next, so it’s all bollocks anyway.

Georgia X

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

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