It takes some getting used to – being called a ‘mom’. You’re just your normal self for all your life and then you’re another thing all of a sudden. Like you’re supposed to know and understand this new thing that you are and just ‘be it’.
Maternal instinct is a very real thing and unconditional love for another human being is also a very real thing, but it doesn’t make you automatically know all the ‘mom things’. You don’t always know what to do when the baby is screaming, you don’t know how to rearrange your life around the dysfunction of sleep deprivation, you don’t know how you’re keeping it all together in the chaos. You don’t know if everything you do is the best that is possible for your little human and for yourself and for your marriage and for your career and, and, and…
I finally feel like I’m in a space now where I understand it. A space where I just am a mom without trying to wrap my head around it. It doesn’t define me, but it is me. It’s been in me my whole life. My love for my baby has filled a space that I didn’t know was there to be filled.
I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while now – since I had my baby 6 months ago, in fact! I love to tackle those awkward topics that nobody really wants to talk about (did you read about the labour haemorrhoids?) and if you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I’m always keen to show honest real life, not just the highlights version. So let’s talk about how to visit a new mom.
It’s often a situation where a someone just doesn’t understand what a new mom is going through and their visit causes more stress than support, or it’s someone who knows that things are chaotic when a new baby is born and don’t know how to visit without it being awkward so they rather just don’t. So here’s the deal with visiting a new mom. Call it the unwritten (now written) rules.
Never just pop in. It’s a continuous cycle (24 hours, day after day after day without a break) of 2-3 hourly stretches with very little sleep within any of those. Every tiny moment where mom is able to be apart from her baby is used for things like showering, napping, going to the toilet or eating a meal – never all of those in one stretch, though, it’s a case of prioritising which of those is most important. Every hour of the day is precious and a pop-in when she’s planned a quick shower or a nap is not going to go down very well to say the least.
Bring something useful. Ask her for a shopping list of things you can pick up from the grocery store or pharmacy. She’s not able to get out to buy anything and someone offering to pick up a few things is a massive help. Offer to get the awkward things too, like nipple cream, or maxi pads – she will be so damn grateful!
Be flexible. Don’t be offended if she cancels with you last minute. She may have been able to create a little gap in the day to take a much needed nap and that is more valuable than pure, solid GOLD. There is no schedule that you can fit into, you just need to go with the flow and be okay with it.
Do something helpful. Wash some dishes, make tea, throw a load of clothes into the washing machine etc. Do so in a helpful way without making her feel like she doesn’t have things under control.
Be okay with boobs. If she is breastfeeding, you will see boobs at some point – guaranteed. Don’t be weird about it. It’s not easy and most of the time there’s a lot to do with a boob out and a crying baby and fumbling and that’s just how it’s going to be. Offer her a cup of tea while she’s feeding.
Wash your hands. Always wash your hands before going near the baby. Tell her that you’re going to wash your hands before you touch the baby so that she knows and don’t need to worry about any germs you may have brought in with you.
Bring food. She’s not going to have the time or inclination to cook and a meal that she can keep in the freezer and bring out whenever it’s necessary is hugely helpful! Do a bit of research into what’s okay for breastfeeding. Newborns have gas and colic and all sorts of nightmarish things that are exasperated by certain foods like spicy foods, onions, garlic, dairy…
Those newborn days are so hectic and the support and help is really so appreciated (as long as it doesn’t cause additional stress – that’s really so avoidable.) Now you know!
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.
Just because life now includes a teeny, tiny little one, doesn’t mean that fun as we know to has to stop. If you’ve been following me on my social media accounts, you’ll know how much I love my weekend getaways and this is never going to change.
With our little guy at 9 weeks old, we packed our (now gazillion) bags and headed off for a last minute weekend getaway, starting off in Stanford at the gorgeous Blue Gum Country Estate.
We enjoyed our time there immensely. We stayed in a gorgeous Mountain View suite and spent a lot of the time lapping up the luxury of the king size bed with perfect cotton sheets, in our robes in front of the fireplace while deciding what to order for room service.
It’s kid-friendly, with a swimming pool and playground and we took our Little Luca on his first walking trail too!
The best news is that they’re running some winter specials so now is the time, folks… Winter doesn’t have to be boring, you know? Pack those bags and head out on an adventure with the promise of wine and a fireplace at the end of your road trip.
I’d say it was a success! Goodbye cabin fever, hello nature. We’ll be back, thanks Blue Gum 🙂
Expect to see some more posts around child-friendly stays in the near future…
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 🙂
Why should you donate your ponytail to CANSA to make wigs for cancer patients? The answer is simple, really:
Because hair grows back. Unless you’re going through chemotherapy. Then it’s falling out. And amongst all the other horrific things you need to deal with as a cancer patient, worrying about how you look bald should not be one of them. Your long and healthy hair can provide someone with a beautiful wig to maintain some dignity.
My mom died of breast cancer about 6 years ago and what stuck out for me was the change in her confidence level once she decided to buy a wig and had some hair on her head again. Such a simple thing can make such a huge difference.
So I decided about a year ago that I was going to grow my hair as long as I could bear and donate it to CANSA for a wig. It was so easy. Okay, so it took what felt like an eon to grow the length required and my cut afterwards ended up being way shorter than expected, but it’s worth it.
You should do it too.
Check out all the details on www.cansa.org.za. You need to donate at least 25cm of ponytail.