We haven’t had much time as a family of 3 and with Baby B arriving in just a few short weeks, we wanted to capture some of these fleeting moments before they’re gone. We decided to do a relaxed shoot at home and Luca stole the show, as expected. I still think of our toddler as a baby and now we have another smaller baby on the way – life is about to get a little bit more hectic!
Here are some of my favourite images from our recent shoot with Hannah Mentz at 35 weeks pregnant.
I find that a lot of discussions and focus for pregnancy is around preparing for birth. Women put so much effort into preparing for birth (which is largely out of our control at the end of the day) and not nearly as much effort into preparing for what happens after birth (which is much more in our control)! I’m talking about looking after MOM here. We get so caught up in looking after the needs of the baby that the mom, who’s done all the grunt work and has undergone an incredible body and emotional change, gets left out of the picture.
Here are my tips for looking after yourself postpartum, because it is actually SO important. (I ran the topic past anyone who cared to contribute on my Instagram stories and most of what I have here is backed up by other moms who’ve been through the postnatal period, so it’s legit, guys!)
If you’re looked after and feeling good, you can look after your family better.
In the weeks before birth, start stocking up on healthy freezer meals. If anyone asks “Let me know if there is anything I can do for you”, say “Thanks so much, a meal for our freezer would be amazing if you’re keen on that”. Cook an extra batch of whatever you’re making every now and then and chuck it in the freezer. Freeze leftover soups, muffins, whatever. When the baby arrives and you’re too exhausted to make food, you’ve got what you need right there. You can also consider meal delivery services or meal packs to make dinners a lot easier to deal with.
“Sleep when the baby sleeps”. Although this is true, are you also going to clean when the baby cleans, shower when the baby showers, or cook when the baby cooks??? Beef up on your domestic help if you have it and call on family and friends to help out from time to time, like ask if a friend can pick up some laundry to have done at the laundromat rather than you trying to find time to do a load of washing, hang it, fold it, have it ironed etc. Time is precious here and when you have an opportunity to sleep you want to be able to do so without worrying about everything else that’s being neglected.
Look after your belly. After everything that it’s been through, it’s probably looking very different to what you remember! Don’t stress about this now, the swelling will go down, the fluid retention will subside and once you’re back up and running again it will change again for the better.
Look into investing in a belly binder or belly wrap. It provides lower back and abdominal support in those early days and helps to compress and support recovering muscles post-birth, while shrinking the uterus back to its original size. It also helps to slim down the belly a lot quicker. I’ll be using the Upspring Baby Shrinkx Belly Postpartum Belly Wrap this time around (available from Breastpumps and Beyond)
Now is also a good time to use skincare products that are designed to treat stretch marks, skin tone and cellulite as it will help immensely with recovery. If you’re looking for natural/vegan products, I recently tried out Natralogic which is natural, cruelty-free, toxin-free and gentle on your pregnant and postpartum skin.
Have your essential toiletries fully stocked: Haemorrhoid cream (just get some, guys, you won’t be sorry if you find yourself in a situation that you desperately need it and can’t get out of the house), nipple pads, nipple cream, maxi pads (loads of these), constipation remedies (that first poo after what feels like 100 years after birth I’m sure is worse than actual labour)
Have comfortable post-birth underwear ready. With everything still a little tender for a while, you don’t want anything digging into you. There are a few good finds in this department:
Feeding camis: These are cami tops with inner support and drop-down straps that I basically lived in for a long time after birth. You can buy them online from one of my favourite local maternity/nursing clothing brands: Cherry Melon. You might as well stock up on nursing clothing here as well at this point!
Underwear: Comfortable nursing bras are really important (have a look at Mama Noo for some really pretty options, also available online). For panties, some moms have said that they are quite happy with the mesh panties while in hospital, but on leaving, they would love to have “real” ones. Mama Noo has recently introduced a post-birth brief as an alternative to those oh-so-unflattering mesh hospital panties – they’re washable or disposable and affordable enough for you to not mind throwing spoiled ones away and popping on a new pair – definitely worth considering!
Hydrate. Be prepared to be very thirsty while breastfeeding. Have a big bottle of water on hand and also look into something like “Jungle Juice” that’s said to help milk supply but is also a really nice break from so much plain water.
Extra PJ’s for night sweats. Why did nobody warned me about post-birth night sweats? Well, here’s your warning (you’re welcome). The extra fluid you’ve been carrying around while pregnant, is all going to come out after birth and very often in night sweats. This means that you’ll need extra PJ’s to change into when you wake up drenched in sweat.
C-section wound care: Women tend to be very scared of c-section recovery, but I honestly don’t remember it being that bad. Pay attention to your doctor’s instructions about wound care and follow them to a T. You’ll likely be taped up straight from surgery and can leave this on for a while while the cut starts to heal (it’s waterproof and meant to be kept on for a long period of time). Once the cut has closed, you’ll probably also have been given some micropore tape to aid in post-surgical scar formation. A fantastic option here as well, which I’m definitely going to try out this time around (this ain’t my first uterus slice by along shot), is a “C-panty”. This is a panty designed for c-section recovery, providing compression (to reduce swelling) and has a silicone panel in the scar area which also aids with scarring. (I’ll be using the Upspring Baby C-panty, available from Breastpumps and Beyond)
Don’t stress about exercise or your postpartum body. Argh, we are all under so much pressure to “get our bodies back” soon after birth. For some people it happens naturally, for others it is a struggle. This is not a struggle you need to worry about right now. You literally have the rest of your life to put things back into some sort of shape, if you choose to. My biokenticist does, however, suggest that you at least get going on those kegel exercises as soon as you feel ready and get checked out for diastasis recti before starting any exercise again. But listen to your body – everyone heals differently.
Baby blues and postnatal depression. With all the hormonal (and life) changes you go through after birth, it’s totally normal to feel a bit down for a week or two. If this persists or start later on, however, then this may be a sign that you should check for postnatal depression and make a quick visit to your doctor to suss it out.
Good luck to all the moms-to-be! You’re about to embark on an incredible journey. Look after yourself too while you’re on it 🙂
*Disclosure: Products sponsored for this post are Upspring Baby Shrinkx Belly Postpartum Belly Wrap, Upspring Baby C-panty and Mama Noo Post-birth brief
The husband surprised me with some time out at a spa, to help relieve some of the pregnancy aches, pains and lack of sleep of late (1 billion husband points to him on this one!). One of the treatments was floatation therapy, which I thought was going to be a bit strange but was actually so incredibly relieving on my aching muscles!
So what is it, exactly?
It’s basically a warm pool, heated to body temperature, in a dark room lit in candlelight style and highly salted with Epsom salts to allow for floatation. I went to Life Day Spa for my treatment where it’s a pool in a private room and not a tank, some places have special tanks for this.
(If you’ve ever been in the Dead Sea – I have, it was so weird – then it’s the same weightless floating you’ll experience there, but in a relaxed treatment setting and not surrounded by a million tourists doing the same.)
What does it do for your body?
“Floatation Therapy allows you to escape the added weight of pregnancy by floating in a weightless environment, thus taking the strain off the body and spine. It promotes excellent sleep, a lovely sense of well being, and can help with all the aches and pains normally associated with pregnancy.”
The weightlessness really did took all of the pressure off my spine (such a relief), the quiet was very welcome and the Epsom salts soaked into my sore muscles.
I was sceptical, but it was wonderful for my pregnant body 🤗
I’d highly recommend this treatment for sore, pregnant (or not) bodies.
So we all know the importance of eating healthy foods during pregnancy, staying away from refined sugars, alcohol, caffeine and foods that are dangerous for pregnancy, but have you thought about what’s going into your body through your skin?
It’s probably best to think about it a little bit, do a little bit of research and then stop because what you’ll find in your everyday skincare products is quite frightening. Given that our skin is our biggest organ, it absorbs a large amount of chemicals and toxins through our skincare products.
Look, this post is not meant to frighten you, but rather to make you aware of this, especially during pregnancy when you’re trying so hard to keep your body in the best possible condition to grow your very own little human. If you want the low-down on why you should be using natural skincare products, have a look at this post by Natralogic, which goes into detail on it all.
In the meantime, I’ve been trying out some of the Natralogic natural maternity skincare products and am really loving them. I wish that I’d found out about them earlier in my pregnancy. They are 100% natural, vegan and safety approved for use during pregnancy. I’m currently using the exfoliating creme (gentle enough to use every day), the tummy creme and my personal favourite is the toning massage oil that focuses on problem cellulite areas (all of these are actually available together as a starter pack which works out cheaper than buying them all separately!). I haven’t had a chance to try the nipple creme, but it’s waiting for me for when Baby 2 arrives soon… These products smell and feel amazing and I am honestly loving them, especially knowing that I’m not putting any nasties into my baby-growing body at the same time.
Because what you put ON your pregnant body is just as important as you what you put IN.
Sorry, my title is somewhat misleading – you’re not going to get a detailed account of why I’m making this decision about the upcoming birth of our little girl, but that is exactly what I want to touch on in this blog post.
I really don’t understand why society puts so much pressure on moms and moms-to-be to do things in certain ways. At the moment, natural and drug-free birthing is all the rage (yes, there are trends in birthing too) and I feel like I have to justify my decision not to do that when people ask me how I plan to give birth. Please, I mean no disrespect to anyone hoping for this kind of birth – I wanted a natural birth the first time around that ended in a c-section – but my point is: have the birth that you want, it’s none of my business!
Let’s quickly take a look at what society dictates for us moms-to-be and new moms… We must put our bodies through hell (whichever way you do it, it’s not easy) and then quickly “get our bodies back” and post on Instagram a gorgeous bikini pic on the beach, holding our few month old babies with some motivating caption about “bouncing back from pregnancy”. We must breastfeed until the baby is at least 1 years old (but not too far past that and try and keep it out of the public eye because that also becomes undesirable for others to see), but also not keep ourselves away from the real world out there and be back at work as quickly as possible to juggle the multi-tasking, pumping, sleepless life of a working new mom. Be sure not to let the nanny raise your child though!
Because that is what people want to see.
Guys, this is nonsense. The pressure is unnecessary.
Stop justifying your decisions about your own body and your own children. Nobody else is going to live your life for you, so you’re the one in charge here! As a mom, you will always do what is best for your entire family and you of all people need to trust your own gut and your own decisions.
Fed is best. A safe birth is best. Your decisions are what’s best and there is no need to justify any of it.
With my first pregnancy, I didn’t invest in decent nursing or maternity underwear – I bought one or two cheapie bras, large panties and that was it. I had a really hard time with breastfeeding and also had an unplanned c-section, so having uncomfortable underwear in the mix as well was all just a big mess. I wish I’d thought about things differently before the baby arrived because by then it was too late and lingerie shopping didn’t even make it to my to-do list!
In planning things for this next pregnancy, I’m not keen to make the same mistake again and top of my list is to make sure that I’m comfortably dressed this time around and am hoping for a more pleasant baby growing and nursing experience to follow!
So you have no idea what’s going to happen to those magical “assets” of yours, but it is guaranteed that they will grow. As soon as you feel that your underwear is uncomfortably tight (usually around 3-4 months), it’s time to invest in some maternity lingerie that will see you through your growing pregnancy and the breastfeeding journey thereafter.
Measure yourself and head off to get some basics – every day bras, an active bra and some preggie panties. I tend to shop online more than going in-store and this is always my go-to for shopping, so good measuring upfront is essential. (Try Mama Noo, you won’t be disappointed.)
You may have been told to avoid underwire and this is mainly so that you don’t restrict movement or flexibility. This may not be the case for bigger-busted women, though (that’s definitely not me, lol) as you may need more support (with comfort of course), and often benefit from underwire/boning on the sides and a bra with more structure that offers more support. *However, if you’ve had a history of mastitis, underwire is not recommended.
In terms of where to start on your hooks, first check how many hooks the bra caters for. Some will have three rows and some have 5. Make sure that the hook setting you start on allows space to go bigger during pregnancy (but this is also very individual) and smaller after birth as one’s chest shrinks again after 6-12 months.
In the end…
It’s actually pretty easy! If you have any questions or issues with measuring, contact Mama Noo for some help and if you’re in the Stellenbosch area, you can even pop in for a fitting 🙂 I’ve been trying out their *sports bra over the past few weeks and am thoroughly impressed!
*It’s called the Lifestyle Nursing Bra (featured in this post’s image) and provides sufficient support for medium and high impact activity and is made from a double layer of stretch cotton for breathability and comfort. It has drop-down cups and a studded centre front for easy breastfeeding. I’m loving this bra now while I’m pregnant and am sure I’ll be wearing it way past breastfeeding days!
I’ve always been quite an active soul and since having a baby I have really struggled to get back into being as active as pre-baby times. Tired, no free time, back to work and a baby attached (most of the time screaming in my case) all contributed to a difficult time in trying to stay active.
The best thing that we invested in was a decent jogger pram from Thule which means that we can pop out quickly for a walk/jog easily. Living in Hout Bay, we don’t have many flat or pram-friendly roads around (bearing in mind I am also pregnant so options are particularly limited) so I’m always on the lookout for somewhere nearby for a good walk.
These are my top 3.
1. Sea Point Promenade
My all-time favourite spot is the Sea Point promenade. It’s 11km of easy, flat, very pram-friendly surface to walk/jog/whatever on. It’s easy to get to, there is loads of parking and the view (accompanied by the fresh sea air) is hard to beat.
2. Constantia Nek
This is substantially more challenging, but not impossible. There is a decent jeep track all the way up the mountain from the Constantia Nek parking lot. Parts are quite steep, but definitely doable. I took the husband with as well to take over some (most of the) pramming because of my pregnant heart rate on the hills. It’s great to feel like you’re out in the mountains on a hike with as little hassle as possible.
3. Bantry Bay to Camps Bay
This is another beautifully scenic route. It is relatively flat (some hills here and there) and can get quite busy on the weekends, but is pram-friendly and easily accessed. This coastal road walk is about 3km long .
Who knows what’s going to happen with another baby in the mix soon, but that’s a problem to solve for another day! In the meantime, we will continue to enjoy our beautiful walks wherever we find them.
If you know of any other great pram-friendly spots, please do let me know in the comments.
You all know that I’m all about a healthy lifestyle and particularly so during pregnancy. I was quite fit and healthy when I got pregnant the first time and maintained a fit pregnancy right up into the third trimester and it did wonderfully for me. Now, having not quite having lost all my baby weight yet before getting pregnant again, it’s even more important for me to be dedicated to a fit pregnancy (again).
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to sit on the couch eating pickles on ice cream (well, you can if you want to, but you don’t have to) for fear of harming your baby with your daily exercise routine. Obviously this is all dependent on your specific pregnancy and if your doctor says you’re okay to continue with exercise into your pregnancy.
I’m not a sports professional in any way, but here is what I learnt from my first pregnancy and am taking with me into my second:
Myth 1: You can’t run when you’re pregnant
You can. If you’ve been running before you fell pregnant, you can continue to run during your pregnancy. The goal now is just maintenance and you should forget about chasing speed and distance, you’re now a plodder 🙂 The key is to listen to your body and never push yourself. I do some light jogging (when it’s cool) and walk when my heart rate goes into the endurance zone. It’s also important to make sure to run on a good path where you’re unlikely to trip or lose your balance (which will go out of whack for a while).
Myth 2: Only do light exercise
Again, if you’re cleared to exercise, there’s no reason that you can’t do moderate exercise. In fact, it’s good for you to exercise moderately every day during your pregnancy. Avoid the high intensity workouts which spike your blood pressure. I would recommend that you start adding prenatal yoga into your routine from the early days, though. It really helps to loosen and tighten the right areas and can help with preparing you for natural birth. It’s nurturing and meditative as well and good for those mad pregnancy hormones!
Myth 3: Stick to light exercise, like stretch classes at the gym
It’s probably a good idea to stay away from stretch classes. When you’re pregnant, your body produces Relaxin, which helps the body to relax the cervix and ligaments during delivery. This means that you can likely stretch much further than you’re used to and can overstretch, causing injuries.
Myth 4: Ditch the weights
You don’t need to stop using weights, just use lighter ones. Lifting heavier weights can spike your blood pressure so use lighter ones with more reps to maintain muscle tone.
Myth 5: Don’t work your abs during pregnancy
You can, but you’ll need to modify the exercises for pregnancy. Maintaining core strength will help with the belly weight and back pain later on, but you do need to be careful. Lying on your back after the first trimester can restrict blood flow and you also want to avoid exercises that can cause diastasic recti (where the abdominal wall separates). So make sure to do the research properly on this one and avoid crunches and normal plank exercises. Best to approach a professional here!
And there you have it – my top 5 myths that I’ve busted along the way in my pregnancy journeys. So now you can lace up your takkies, slip on some gorgeous new maternity active wear and hit the gym!
It’s all a lot more enticing with good quality workout gear, let me tell you. I’m wearing Fit Mama maternity active wear and it is honestly amazing. It’s been made with the growing bump in mind and their range has varying support levels for different types of activity, so you know that you have the right support for what you’re doing. I feel great in it, I’m supported and it also looks great!
Having a baby is quite scary. Getting pregnant, being pregnant, growing a healthy baby … it’s all a big deal and then the time starts to draw near when you need to think about getting the baby out. I found it completely overwhelming and terrifying. I intended to have a natural birth, missed the antenatal class that actually dealt with details of the birth (it overlapped with our baby shower) and was armed with Dr Google information. Our baby came 2 weeks early and it was a wild ride, ending with an emergency c-section after 13 hours of natural labour and a very drugged up new mom who felt like she needed to sleep for a week.
With all of the anticipation and uncertainty around birthing a tiny little human that you’ve made in your own body (it’s still a bizarre concept to me), you can at least be prepared for your hospital stay. Having something that is certain and planned can help to ease the anxiety that comes with this exciting time of a new mom-to-be’s life.
What I found:
A lot of the experience is a bit of a blur to me, but I dug out my research from when I was pregnant and freaking out about the birth and pieced together bits of my memory and created a downloadable checklist for you. It’s based on a 3 night’s stay in hospital in a private room. I’ve left some space for you to add some extra items that I might not have thought of or maybe didn’t find necessary but you do. (I’d add some earphones if you’re sharing a room, because I’m sure it can get pretty noisy and when you’re needing a nap you’ll want to be able to.)
I included nursing vests as I found these far more useful than nursing bras. The first 2 days I couldn’t fathom getting changed into pyjamas, never mind putting on a bra so those nursing tops with the built-in support and clip-off straps are amazing and comfortable.
I added in maternity panties and large cotton panties because those maternity panties are not amazing. When you get up for the first time after a c-section (I’m not sure if this happens with natural birth as well), there is a scary amount of blood and the maternity panties are good for this. Once that calmed down I wanted to be in normal panties – just make sure they are quite large and stretchy to be comfortable when you’re still so round and also tender.
Don’t underestimate the amount of maternity or maxi pads you’ll need. Rather have more than less. The hospital provided me with a pack in my welcome pack as well as some newborn nappies, a newborn hat and a few toiletries as far as I can remember.
Don’t bother with any nipple cream other than Lansinoh and remember your breast pads else you’ll stain your bra/top with the oils from the nipple cream.
I’ve been told that the squirt bottle and ice pad is a life saver after natural birth but we didn’t go the whole hog with that so I can’t tell if it’s true or not. Pack them just in case!
Juice was an essential item for me. I was insanely thirsty for some reason and I asked every visitor to bring me juice! It might have been the pain meds that had me so thirsty. The hospital does supply some juice and water, but I needed far more than they were giving me.
To be honest, I waited about 2 days before attempting to dress my baby. He was wrapped up so nice and snuggled in the wraps provided by the hospital that I didn’t feel the need to. Depending on what size you think your baby is going to be, pack a size smaller and bigger in case he/she comes out bigger or smaller than you expected! Our baby needed Premature sized clothes of which we had none.
The vaseline is necessary for baby’s first sticky black poo… it’s quite a shocker and the vaseline helps.
You’ll spend a lot of time trying to get the hang of breastfeeding and your baby will need to feed A LOT while there so a nursing cushion is a must for comfort.
And that’s it! There’s a lot that you are going to discover and figure out for yourself and a lot that you don’t see coming, but at least you can be prepared for your hospital stay 🙂
In light of World Breastfeeding Week, I’d like to share my point of view as one that is not often told by moms who stopped earlier than they imagined they would.
I’m here to tell you that it’s okay.
We all know how beautifully beneficial breastfeeding is on so many levels, but sometimes it just doesn’t work for you and that’s okay. As moms we hold on to so much guilt and anxiety around doing what’s best for our babies and at the end of the day, your decision is always going to be what’s best for your baby and for you, so there’s no need for the guilt.
I don’t miss the freezing cold middle of the night icing of my nipples to try and have a feed that doesn’t make me shoot through the roof in pain. I don’t miss the crying, the anxiety, the nipple shields, the expensive specialist consults, or the uncertainty as to whether my baby is getting enough.
We now have many beautiful moments of cuddle and bottles and snuggles and I’m totally okay with that.
Whether you breastfed for a week or a month or whatever, well done! What should be the most natural thing in the world isn’t always so and it’s a true labour of love.
I’d love to hear about your breastfeeding experience, if you are brave enough to share it!