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!
As a brand spanking new mom who’s not in a circle of new mom friends, I’ve had to figure out a lot on my own – from conception to postnatal – and it’s been quite the ride! Thankfully, though, these days things are a lot easier with the digital help at our fingertips and I’m ever-so-chuffed with some of my discoveries that have helped me immensely along the way.
Lucky for you, I like you guys, so I’m sharing my ultimate New Mom’s App Survival Guide with you!
You’d think that this is the easy part, right? Well, often it’s not. There is such a short window period of opportunity for conception and things can start to get really complicated if you don’t fall pregnant right away.
I used an app called Clue (free) which tracks your cycle and lets you know when your fertile window is coming up and what’s happening to your body as it changes with your cycle. It also adjusts to you as it goes, so try using it for a while before you start trying to conceive so that it knows your cycle really well at the start.
I was so excited to be pregnant and wanted to know EVERYTHING that was happening in my body and the little human that was forming inside. It’s mind-blowing to think about all that’s going on inside yourself in order to create another human life. MIND=BLOWN
I used two apps to track my pregnancy and my baby’s development in the womb:
Both give you week-by-week updates and have amazing videos of your baby’s growth through the stages of development in the womb. Baby Centre also has a chat forum which is handy and I tracked my growing belly every week with a photo in their “Bumpie” album.
Once you’ve got the baby… then what? What do you do with it (other than keep it alive) during it’s “awake time”. Am I stimulating my baby in the right way for his development? Who knows… I do know that there is only so much that cuddling and oogling can do. I then discovered BabySparks, which guides you through your baby’s development day-by-day, by providing activities for playtime that work towards meeting certain baby milestones. I love it. It gives me a list of activities for the day and I tick them off and feel like a good mom. It’s not free, though, but isn’t expensive either.
BabyCentre also has a Baby section for once your baby is born and this also tracks development and provides great articles tackling issues around breastfeeding, baby sleeping, growth tracker etc.
I also got a bit stuck with singing to my baby. I don’t know baby songs and make up my own (they’re amazing), but also came across Rockabye Babyalbums on iTunes from one of the Instamoms I follow. Okay, this one isn’t an app, but it’s on your phone so I’m allowing it. It’s a whole bunch of albums of lullaby renditions of artists that we know and love. Pearl Jam for baby? No problem. I’ve personally been brushing up on my Bon Jovi tunes from back in the day (no judging, please).
Anything I may have missed? Drop me a line in the comments and I’ll have a look.
Breastfeeding mammas – here’s a jungle juice recipe! It’s a special concoction said to help hydrate you and stimulate lactation. It’s also delicious and refreshing.
I’m living on the stuff at the moment and at least my mind is at ease that I’m staying hydrated, calm and producing milk.
Recipe (fits in a 2L jug)
• 1,5 L boiled and cooled water
• 500ml berry juice
• 1 sachet blackcurrant Rehydrate 9available from pharmacies)
• 60ml blackthorn berry elixir (in the vitamin aisle at pharmacies)
• 10 drops rescue remedy (or more if your baby is a screamer like mine and your nerves are shot)
• 1 effervescent Cal-C-Vita
Drink it out of a wine glass to feel fancy, because there’s not a lot about early motherhood that’s fancy, let’s be honest!
We spend so much time preparing for pregnancy and birth, but once that’s all done, then what?
So much happens to our bodies during pregnancy and labour/delivery and once it’s all over, we’re left with a bit of a mess, to be honest. The baby room’s all ready, you’ve had your baby bag for the hospital packed for weeks and you’ve stocked up on nappies and bum cream, but there is so much more that YOU need to be able to get through the few weird weeks after birth.
If you’re squeamish, stop reading here because I’m about to get all kinds of weird real with you.
I went through the natural birth process and then ended up having to have a C-Section as we started the pushing phase, so my experience is a bit of both kinds of birth and post-birth happenings.
Here’s my experience of what you can expect postpartum. It’s not meant to freak you out, but rather to help you make sure that you’re prepared for the looking after that you need after birth, so that you can enjoy your new baby without having to worry about how the hell you’re going to ask the next visitor to bring you more maxi pads.
I’m not sure if it was from the painkillers and anti-inflammatories or from the breastfeeding, but the thirst was insatiable. You know the kind where water just won’t cut it after a while? Take some juice boxes with you to hospital and ask visitors to bring some for you too, it’s necessary!
I did not expect to bleed so much, to be honest. I bought 2 packs of hideous maternity pads thinking they were enough. They were not. Buy all the maxi pads in the world – you will be bleeding for a long time (some women up to 6 weeks) after birth, regardless of what kind of birth you had. Be careful when you get up for the first time and have someone help you – you’re likely to feel quite faint and lose a lot of blood in that one movement, which can be quite scary.
The baby blues
You might not feel the immediate overwhelming motherly love for the strange little screaming creature in your arms immediately. You’ve been through a lot physically and emotionally and your hormones are completely out of whack for a while. You may have a few days of feeling down instead of elated, this is okay. If it continues, it may be signs of postnatal depression so check up on those symptoms to be sure you don’t need treatment for that.
The night sweats
This took me completely by surprise. For some women postpartum, their bodies need to get rid of excess fluids and hormones for quite a while after birth and this results in night sweats. I would wake up for feeds in the middle of the night, freezing cold and soaking wet. Have a few pairs of extra pyjamas (that are feeding-friendly) on hand unless you want to be washing them every day.
Your breast milk doesn’t appear immediately. For the first few days you produce colostrum, which is sufficient to feed your baby initially, but he may get hungry and scream for real milk at some point. It’s just a waiting game then to see when your milk comes in.
Well this is awkward. If you didn’t get haemorrhoids during pregnancy, you’re likely to get one or few during childbirth. This, along with constipation makes for a very uncomfortable “glowing” new mom. Do yourself a favour and make sure you have haemorrhoid cream and stool softeners ready and waiting. It’s hectic.
They will hurt. Stock up on nipple cream from the get-go and apply that stuff all the time. It will save you. Don’t bother with anything other than Lansinoh cream. Also make sure you stock up on breast pads – there will be leaking and you don’t want to worry about that when you’re dealing with a hundred other things.
Oh gosh, I haven’t painted a very pretty picture, have I? The first few weeks after birth are hectic, so at least after reading this you are prepared for all these nasties and can just take them in your stride. This is the time we need to be enjoying our teeny tiny little humans while we can – they are so precious!
I wrote this post before our little boy surprised us 2 weeks early and didn’t get a chance to post it, or really even go through all the photos, before rushing off to the hospital to give birth. Looking back now, I can’t believe that there was such a perfect little human growing inside me. Also, water retention, OMG. Side note: perhaps 37 weeks is a bit late for a maternity shoot – we got ours in just in time but didn’t get a chance to enjoy it much before baby arrived… nonetheless, here’s what I wrote pre-baby and some of my favourite pics from the shoot.
This pregnancy has been such an exciting time for me, it really has. Amongst all the aches and pains and weird stuff happening to my body, I’m in awe every day that there is a tiny little human inside of me.
I have become obsessed with my baby bump and spent most of my pregnancy just waiting for it “to pop” so that I could show it off as much as possible. And even though I’m probably one of the worst models in the history of modelling, I decided that we needed a photoshoot to capture this very exciting and very short time of transition in our lives.
But not just any photoshoot. Maternity shoots are very often cheesy and posed and they make me cringe. I’m not a ‘flower-fairy in a field with my belly exposed’ kind of girl and my husband would actually rather die than have to pose and fake-smile his way through an hour of his life.
So I first searched for a natural photographer who uses natural light and beautiful locations to enhance what the camera sees, not to create what you want the camera to see, if you know what I mean? I managed to find this in Hannah Mentz and we could not be more impressed with what she created with us!
I chose one of the most gorgeous and secluded locations in Hout Bay, Cape Town: Orangekloof, where I often ride my horse (not now that I’m pregnant, obvs) through the protected mountain reserve. It’s sensational there! And to make things even more challenging, I brought my horse for a guest appearance. The potential for ‘cheese factor’ was very real with this addition, but it worked out just beautifully. Even better than I imagined.
So thank you, Hannah, for capturing this special time for us, we couldn’t be happier with the results!
Here are some of my favourites from the shoot, shot at 37 weeks (exactly one week before he actually arrived!)
When I first found out that I was pregnant, I was determined to have a fit pregnancy. I had worked so hard to be fit and healthy and wasn’t about to let that all fly out the window and turn into a whale. Getting fit in your 30s is a whole new ballgame and it’s freaking hard work!
What I didn’t realise is how intense pregnancy body and hormonal changes really are and as much as you want to fight it, the body is designed to slow down and take it easy during pregnancy.
My focus has shifted from “must do what I can within the preggie limits to not get huge” to “must do what I can for both of us to be as healthy as we can be” from the first to the third trimesters. Growing a human life inside your own body is a concept that cannot actually be described. It’s exciting and terrifying at the same time and carries a huge amount of responsibility. I mean, this little life that we have created is dependent entirely on what I put into and do with my body. It’s insane.
What I also didn’t realise is that a fit pregnancy is not only for mom, but is so beneficial to baby too. Here’s why:
A healthy mom = a healthy baby, there’s no doubt about that
During early pregnancy, exercise increases the growth of the placenta, meaning more nutrients for baby!
A fit pregnancy is said to result in “easier” labour and moms are less likely to need to be induced
Babies of fit moms tend to be a healthier weight at birth
Babies of moms who exercised during pregnancy have a more stable heart rate during labour
So moms-to-be: squeeze on those workout shoes while you still can and get moving! It’s hard when you’re feeling sick, tired, heavy and bloated, but all you need to do is move for 30 minutes every day.
I ran up until about 22 weeks and have continued strength workouts throughout my pregnancy, along with regular brisk walking and prenatal yoga. It’s all slowing down dramatically now at 34 weeks, but I’m keeping these balloon feet moving, even if they can’t fit into shoes anymore 🙂
I can’t actually tell if my pregnancy yoga is for me, for my baby or for the bond between me and my baby. Isn’t that an amazing confusion?
I started prenatal yoga at about 9 weeks into my pregnancy and even though I could have continued with my normal yoga (with modifications), I just didn’t feel confident enough that I knew enough about pregnancy to know what’s safe and what’s not. So prenatal yoga it was.
With no belly to show and nausea to spice things up a bit, I entered into the pregnancy yoga world not knowing what to expect. A bunch of pregnant woman just lying around and stretching and arm or a leg here and there? A whole lot of child’s pose? Will we even move?
It was everything I didn’t expect. Having been an ashtanga and vinyasa yogi for years and continuously pushing my body and my mind through yoga flow, this was a strange new world to me. This is a world where you don’t push yourself. You don’t see how deep you can take a pose, you don’t try and stretch that little bit further, you don’t try and take your mind into deeper place. You “just be” and move with yourself and your baby in a way that soothes your soul, your baby and your body.
When we found out that we were pregnant, a friend gave me a card with a quote in and at the time, it didn’t sink in how powerful it really was, until I had actually spent time with my pregnancy, through yoga.
I’m going to end off with this quote and let it sink in for you.
To be pregnant is to be vitally alive, thoroughly woman, and distressingly inhabited. Soul and spirit are stretched – along with the body – making pregnancy a time of transition, growth, and profound beginnings.” – Anne Christian Buchanan
If you read my blog post about the first trimester of pregnancy, you might be put off ever wanting to grow a little human in your body. Sorry. It was crappy. But it’s not forever and the uncomfortable bits of it didn’t actually last very long for me and life took a delightful turn just before the 12 week mark for me.
The second trimester has been wonderful for me.
Here’s what they didn’t tell me about the second trimester:
The fat roll becomes a noticeable baby bump and you don’t need to keep announcing to the world that you’re pregnant, not fat. I honestly thought that this would happen much sooner in pregnancy, but it’s really only half-way through the second trimester that I was noticeably “pregnant-looking”
You can get away with scaring the crap out of people who ask when you’re due or congratulate you on your pregnancy by saying “Oh no, you think I’m pregnant? This is still the after-effects of Christmas”
People compliment you because that is what you do for pregnant women. People HAVE TO tell you how great you’re looking and how you’re glowing and all that wonderful stuff. I think it’s written in a secret book somewhere. Even if you’re not, they HAVE TO tell you these things.
You feel the baby move around and it’s incredible! Every day is an amazement at what is happening in your body and it all becomes very real.
A lot of the first trimester was about feeling fragile and uncertain. This goes away in the second trimester. That baby is stuck in there and becoming a “proper human” more rapidly than you expected. The feeling of certainty and excitement cements itself in.
Enter the pregnant appetite! You’re sometimes going to feel ravenous and that is totally understandable, given what your amazing body is up to. I used this as an excuse to pump even more healthy foods into my body than usual (as well as treating myself to indulgences of chocolate and cheese when the need arises, no questions asked). This is not a time for deprivation or ignoring hunger pangs. EAT THOSE GREENS!
Get used to strategically positioning yourself near a bathroom at all times. Your baby is literally squashing your bladder so you will need to pee ALL THE TIME.
Sore feet. Like, walking on knives kind of sore feet. A great excuse to keep your feet up whenever you can. Prep your partner for foot massages – I haven’t won this game enough but I keep trying.
You feel like a normal person again. Like you did before you got pregnant, except more excited, bigger and slower.
You can still exercise, making sure it’s preggie-friendly. It’s actually so important to look after your body while it’s going through these drastic changes and while you can still move easily. I’ve been walking a lot, continuing (amazing) pre-natal yoga and doing trimester-specific home strength workouts.
Candles. I have nothing to say about these. We’ll just ignore them.
What an amazing experience it is to be growing a little human inside my body and I feel so grateful to have this privilege.
I’m still feeling great as I enter into the third trimester, growing and growing and growing this precious little human life.
I’m not much of a fan of New Year’s Resolutions, mainly because it’s a once-off “I’ll go to gym every day this year” or “I’m going to quit smoking” promise that lasts a few weeks before everyone goes back to their same selves for the rest of the year.
Don’t get me wrong – the mere thought of wanting to change one’s self for the better is great, but let’s think more realistically here. Why aren’t we focusing on things that actually change us in the long run and make for a happier, healthier lifestyle in general? Call them HEALTHY LIFE Resolutions, if you will.
Here are my top 8 Healthy Life Resolutions that you can actually stick to:
1. Look after yourself
You’re no good to yourself or anybody else if you’re not in good condition – physically and mentally. It’s not only okay, but incredibly important that you take time to look after yourself.
2. Say goodbye to jealousy
This is a wasted emotion. It has more to do with your own insecurities than anything else. Sort those out.
3. Accept others’ shortcomings
There will always be sharks out there and there will always be morons. Find a way to work around them instead of getting stressed out or frustrated because of them. They’re unlikely to change their ways.
4. Be kind
5. Stick to your guns
Don’t get taken for a ride. It’s okay to say no sometimes. We don’t always have to bend over backwards for other people and agree with them when we actually don’t.
6. Make healthy decisions
With everything. What food you put into your body, what lifestyle choices you make, what you say in a fight with your partner.
7. Make more time for things that make you happy
This is important.
8. Do more yoga
Or whatever it is that helps you to calm and focus your mind. A strong mind is the cornerstone of a healthy life.
Who really knows who “they” are, but I feel that they should have told me a few things about the first few months of pregnancy. We hear very little about the first trimester (other than that there’s a big chance of morning sickness) and I think it’s because people are just trying to forget about it, really. Lol. Joking (not really). Perhaps it’s because it’s more often than not kept as a secret until the big 12 week mark when they’re feeling a thousand times better in any case?
Nonetheless, here’s what ‘they’ didn’t tell me that I wish ‘they’ did.
Your body is no longer controlled by you
Motherhood is really all about self-sacrifice, it seems. There are things going on that I just can’t do anything about. Morning sickness is not actually morning sickness, either. Whoever decided to call it that may have never been pregnant in their lives, ever. This person may have arguably been a man. For me, it was all day sickness. And not the kind that eases if you get it all out, but rather the kind that is a mild, underlying nausea that’s just enough to make you the grumpiest woman alive while trying to make it through each day alive.
Baby Gale don’t eat no kale
Food aversions are a real thing. I LOVE healthy food intensely, but during this time it was all about cheese and bread. I now understand why expecting moms put on that extra weight whether they like it or not! Our digestive systems slow down to some bizarre snail pace and energy levels drop to what I would imagine would match someone in a coma.
Lying is much harder than you think it is
Especially when I had the patience of a (what has zero patience?) and didn’t have the energy to come up with stories as to why I didn’t want that wine, was exhausted 24/7, can’t ride my horse, didn’t feel like going out for dinner/cooking (2 of my favourite things) and felt sick most of the time. And we have to keep this up for at least 2 months! I wasn’t very good at it at all. I think our pregnancy ‘announcement’ wasn’t much of an announcement at all to most people 😄
You don’t actually feel pregnant
I don’t actually know what I expected, to be honest. I thought maybe I’d all of a sudden feel this intense maternal power or feel something happening in my belly (other than bloating and gas). That is not real life, ladies, sorry. There’s not much to “show” for everything that you’re going through yet, which makes it even more difficult. We decided to have an ultrasound at around 7 weeks just to be sure that the foetus was in the right place, had a heartbeat and was actually real! I’d highly suggest this. You can actually see the heartbeat at this stage and it helps to feel that this is all actually real!
You will feel human again soon
I woke up one day at around 12 weeks and felt like an actual human being again. I had so much energy that I baked cupcakes at 7am for breakfast. Thank the holy pope. Now my poor husband doesn’t get to lie around and sleep while I’m “woman-down”, he has to galavant around Cape Town with me again and try all my weird and wonderful healthy cooking experiments! Hallelujah.
Side note: Enjoy your tight-fitting clothes for now, the bump is coming SOON. Fast and furious.