Skin Saviours.

Well, with just 1 week to go before my due date (although my money is on Monday!) I thought I would write a little on the products which have helped get me through the hormonal turmoil my skin has been subjected to! I have always felt I have had poor skin, with blemish after blemish haunting me, but with the joys of pregnancy also comes more of those wonderful side affects; in my case even more spots! It is said that if you are carrying a girl they can “suck the beauty out of you”… As we don’t know the sex yet I can’t blame that reason, but what I do know for sure is that when pregnant our skin produces more sebum to keep it as supple as possible (think of the help with stretch marks!) and this sebum can block pores and cause all manner of problems. You may have noticed your skin is more greasy than usual? It is also more sensitive than normal; so approach a new beauty regime with caution so you don’t bombard your skin with too many new products at once.

My first product on the list has to be Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish – £15, in my opinion a must have staple of any girl’s bathroom regime, and I am sure most of you are already aware of its existence! But in case you haven’t been introduced to it, here’s the lowdown – Containing all natural, plant based active ingredients it is so gentle on your skin, however the hot cloth muslin gives a real feeling that you are getting deep down cleaning action. Using Liz Earle products is pure luxury, from the moment they arrive in the post in their hand wrapped parcels to the excitement of finding what this month’s free mini included in the box is. Followed by the Instant Boost Skin Tonic £13 it refreshes and brightens your skin making it feel loved and smooth with no tightness often felt with some toners. It’s no wonder these products have won so many awards.

Liz Earle cleanse-and-polish-100ml-pump-starter-kit-medinstant-boost-skin-tonic-200ml-bottle-med

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Next is the Clearing Skin Wash from Dermalogica – £24; a foaming cleanser which breaks down the oiliness of my skin helping relieve breakouts. It also contains an antiseptic ingredient which cools inflammation and clears blocked pores. I also have the PreCleanse product – £19, which lifts debris from your skin before using the cleanser, however it bought my sensitive skin out in a dry rash so I have put that on hold until I get my non-pregnant skin back.

Clearing skin wash                   Precleanse

Whilst in Paris, I picked up a few products from BioDerma; a brand I learnt of from a fellow blogger. I went the whole hog whilst up against the language barrier and bought about 100 Euros worth of product (ensuring Stuart was aware of how it was half the price in France than it would be at home of course, and therefore an essential purchase!) but for this post I will talk through just a couple of products; 

Sebium Purifying and Foaming Cleansing Gel – Around £14; it balances out the skin, and reduces sebum secretion, therefore in theory reducing breakouts. It’s a soap free formula which lathers up and really feels like it is cleaning my skin deep down. It doesn’t really have a particular scent to it so you know it’s not coating your skin with perfumed chemicals but leaves you feeling refreshed and clean. I follow up with the Bioderma Sebium Pore Refiner Corrective Concentrate – £16, which refines the texture of my skin, tightening dilated pores and mattifies their appearance – over time reducing the size of the pores which are creating this extra oil causing me such dismay.

Bioderma wash bioderma023_0001-mainProduct

Finally the Clarins Daily Energizer Cleansing Gel – £12. A fresh and zesty foaming cleanser which lasts quite a while and gives my skin a feeling of being clean. In honesty, I think my skin has grown out of this product since I’ve been using it as I am not as impressed with the results any more; I also found the Energizer moisturiser cream was a bit too greasy for my already greasy skin, and the fragrance was a little too much for my sensitive skin. That said I do love the Clarins products and will re-visit this and other of their ranges once my skin regains some normality.

cla_daily_energiser_cleansing_gel-475x475

I, for one, am still waiting for the “pregnancy glow”…with just a week to go I take it it’s bypassed me altogether! Luckily, I have so far escaped the puffy water retention stage – maybe there is something in all that water I always talk about drinking after all 😉

I hope you find these products useful if you feel you have similar problem skin. It’s important to mention that like the weather, your skin also changes with the seasons, and any other factors in life – such as pregnancy. So what works for now, might not work in a few months – which is great for someone like me who will jump at any excuse to try new products!

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Back and rib pains.

As my pregnancy progressed, so did my back pain. In fact from 23 weeks I
have suffered from intense rib and back pain on the right hand side, and it
has not gone away. I wanted to write a blog in case anyone has
suffered the same as I have found a few remedies which really helped me so I
hope if you are suffering they could help you also.
Most days I would feel that I had been beaten up from the inside – not from
the plentiful kicks, but from the skeletal movement and inflammation of the
rib cartilage. At 23 weeks the uterus is nowhere near that high up, so I
knew it wasn’t the baby, but all of your organs are pushed up to the top of
your torso from their original lower down, spread out locations and of
course those pesky hormones have a part to play in this by altering the
ligaments and muscles in between your ribs by changing the shape and
position.
Me at 34 weeks
No matter how I sat, stood or lay I would have this stitch like, aching, stabbing pain. I personally decided not to take any paracetamol, however it is perfectly safe to take throughout pregnancy; although I was a little shocked that my doctor prescribed me to take codeine every day – I wouldn’t even do that not pregnant! So I needed to find another remedy to help ease the constant pain.
By the end of the working day it would be pretty unbearable, so a nice warm shower with the jet of water in the localised area or a bath would bring an instant feeling of ease.  (not too hot remember!)
It is also worth trying a pregnancy support belt. I liked the Nexcare, available at high street stores, or online at Amazon. It helps to lift the abdomen & take the pressure off of your back and is fully expandable – just like your waistline!!
Nexcare support belt
JoJo Maman Bebe also do a fab one which is really comfortable and gives great support. Make sure you buy the right size for your shape so you don’t cause more problems than you began with.
JoJo Maman Bebe
Of course, at night the support of your pregnancy pillow will help ease the pain and take the weight onto a different area. As you know, I am a real fan of the Dreamgenii which just helps in so many ways, especially taking the pressure off of my back, ribs and pelvis.
Dreamgenii
If your partner is able to, a massage around the area I found would really help. Plus it gives you a sense of him sharing some of the pain you’re experiencing!
Exercise will also help, so try a pregnancy pilates DVD to really stretch off the area – mine is STILL in the wrapper…I really must stop being so lazy! Try going on all fours and letting the pressure of the baby fall away from your back breathe in and then as you breathe out pull your belly button in. Or stretching one arm up and over your head with the other hand on your hip and feeling the pull of your side, alternate sides for 5 seconds each way. Swimming is also a fab way to ease the pain as it takes the pressure off of your joints – if, unlike me, you can bear to put on a swimsuit that is!
If I knew I would be spending the day walking around I would invest in some self heating patches, I found the Cura-heat ones lasted the longest time and were large enough to cover a good sized area – they were a blessing when out and about.
Cura-Heat
My ultimate relief was to be found in a dog wheat pillow that a close friend loaned me from her little girl…Popped in the microwave for 2 minutes it heats up and can be placed directly onto the painful area – well worth all the jokes at work about me carrying around my teddy bear! I tried several wheat pillows (as I managed to cremate doggy no. 1 by getting him stuck at the back of the microwave) but this one maintained the temperature for a good 2 hours and was the best by far – made by Intelex and purchased on Amazon they come in a selection of furry animals and my trusty little dog has not left my side for months!
Intelex Heat pillow
It’s important to say that if you are worried about your rib pain then don’t feel you shouldn’t visit your GP – especially if it worsens after you eat as this could be a sign that something more ominous is occurring and they may wish to screen you for gall stones – bought on by the extra oestrogen your body is producing.
I hope you find your relief!

Babymoon in Paris!

The babymoon;  No longer just the name to describe the period of time couples spend adjusting to their new roles as parents and getting to know their baby, but more so now – with a considerable amount of help from the travel industry – a modern day name for a trip for a couple to take before they become parents; any excuse to travel in my opinion and a lovely chance to get away just the 2 of us before life is turned upside down! We wanted to go as late into pregnancy as possible, so flying was out of the equation, so we decided to jump on board the Eurostar and pop across the water to Paris.

Paris in the spring…Or so I thought! It was absolutely freezing, and in fact snow covered most of northern France! I wouldn’t be returning from this trip bronzed after all. **un-packs Maxi dresses**

A friend of mine had been recently and was so passionate about it she gave me loads of great tips of where to go and what to see which was great as we were only there for a few days so it was good to know we were fitting everything in to a short space of time, including the extra places which aren’t in the guide books. So, off we went with my itinerary in hand! The Eurostar was such a seamless process; I would recommend it to anyone. We stayed up in London the night before then it was a short walk across the road in the morning to check in and half an hour later we were on the train! (Well, actually Stuart’s time keeping rules of never being late (which still haven’t brushed off on me after 5 years) meant we were actually there an hour before, but you get the picture!)

St. Pancras

We arrived in central Paris just a few hours later and after a few Franglais confused conversations (with some Spanish thrown in for good measure) we jumped on the Metro to get over to Pigalle where we were staying – the home of the Moulin Rouge. After dumping our bags at our boutique hotel we ventured out to make the most of our first day in the Romantic capital.

 Stuart at our hotel

We strapped my painful back up with heat patches, donned our hats & scarves and off we went to walk as far as my little pregnant body would take us! Over the next 2 days we walked around the main sites of Paris, and got lost amongst the back streets and cobbled hillsides lined with cafes and quirky boutiques. There is so much to see in this cosmopolitan city; here’s a selection of what we managed to cram into our few days in the French capital.

The Trocadéro, site of the Palais de Chaillot, It was absolutely freezing as we arrived as it’s an open site at the top of a hill. There are some great photo opportunities here though as it has a fantastic view of the Eifel Tower from across the river.

Eifel Tower

The tree lined wide streets of the Avenue Champs Elysees is home to hundreds of divine shops to tempt the purse strings and eateries to sit and people watch from (I was hoping to spot the Beckham’s, as David was over playing for PSG, but it wasn’t to be unfortunately!) from here you can see the Arc de Triomphe which has to be marvelled at close up, the intricate details crafted by hand in the 1800’s.

Triomphe

You can climb up inside it for views over Paris and a walk around the museum inside; it’s often said that it’s actually better than a trip up the Eiffel Tower. Even if you don’t choose to climb it, go there just to wonder at the 8 lane roundabout where each car appears to have no right of way over the next and hundreds of cars per minute weave their way around this chaotic motoring masterpiece! Not forgetting of course the Louvre, home to the world famous Mona Lisa (And I thought the one hanging in my downstairs toilet was the real one!) and hundreds of other iconic art works. It is huge and there are guided tours to help you around different sections of the museum. Notre Dame Cathedral is absolutely incredible with architecture dating back to the 12th century and a great position on the Ile de la Cite (right next to the beautiful Ile Saint-Louis). Entry is free, although there are paid tours which you can take. The detailed Gargoyles, workmanship of the ceilings and beautiful stained glass windows are amazing to see, especially knowing they are over 800 years old!!

34 weeks pregnant

After a flying visit to the Luxor Obelisk, we walked the Rue de Rivoli to find the famous Angelina’s tearooms; a former favourite of Coco Chanel. This came highly recommended and I have to say we were not disappointed! The queue, as anticipated, was a hundred people long so we opted for a take away signature hot chocolate. I was warned beforehand not to attempt a cake and a hot chocolate, which I thought was a cautious statement especially for a pregnant lady, but in fact we could have actually shared one cup between us! It was pure liquid chocolate, absolutely divine but hugely sickly!!

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We also took a river tour down the Seine, which unfortunately was slightly marred by it being at the same time as what seemed like every single junior school from England; Certainly not a romantic trip! But it gave some good views of all the sites from a different angle and perfect for anyone who just has a day or 2 to explore Paris.IMG_4513

One more must see to mention is the Sacre Coeur, in Montemartre. The highest spot in Paris which boasts fantastic views (including the Eifel Tower) We visited on the last day as it was right by our hotel. By then I barely had enough energy to walk to the local boulangerie without  stopping to catch a breath, let alone up to the dome of the Basillica but it was fantastic all the same from the bottom of the hill; make sure you go via one of the many chocolate shops along the way!

IMG_4487  IMG_4485  IMG_4484  Sacre Coeur

The Metro took us everywhere we wanted to go and gave us (well, me) some good respite in between all the walking. It is really easy to navigate, even without speaking the language.

Pigalle Metro station

Being 34 weeks pregnant and exhausted by 7pm, we spent our evenings around the local area which had a plethora of bars and restaurants. In fact there was so much character in these little paved streets and the non-assuming restaurant fronts that half the fun of going out in the evenings was to choose which of the many tiny, non-commercial restaurants to go with. We dined on traditional French food and Stu tasted some of the local wines while I indulged in litres of San Pellegrino – my staple pregnancy drink! The walk home afterwards not only helped with digestion (as any preggo would tell you it’s incredibly uncomfortable if you overindulge – which was hard not to “when in Rome”) but also offered more opportunities to people watch and enjoy the many interesting sites of the area around the Moulin Rouge.

We had a fantastic time and I hope this helps anyone thinking of popping over to the city of love 🙂

Stuart and me at the Eiffel Tower

Slept like a baby??

As I am sure any parent or Mummy to be would agree, sleep is precious – and sometimes rare! For me, I haven’t slept properly since about 20 weeks and over the past 10 or so weeks getting more than a couple of hours is a complete treat. Yes, I know it’s preparation for when the baby arrives and yes, I am “making the most of it” But it still doesn’t make going to work like a zombie every day any easier!

No Sleep

In fact I seem to sleep best in the morning stint between 5am and when the alarm goes off at 7am which is typical as when I have to get up for work I feel like I’d be able to sleep for hours – roll on maternity leave!

It’s said around 8/10 pregnant ladies have insomnia and sleeping difficulties and it is down to a plethora of reasons;

  •          Physical Discomfort – your body has changed shape and you have to find a new way to get comfortable (is there such a position?!) in between the leg cramps, heartburn & restless leg syndrome.
  •          The constant need to empty your bladder – every couple of hours! I try to drink most of my few litres during the day so I don’t have too much in the evening which helps combat this. (Or reduces it to just 2 or 3 times per night – this will get worse as the time goes on regardless of how much you drink!)
  •          Too hot or too cold – That internal hot water bottle doesn’t help when it comes to regulating your temperature. Wear loose fitting clothes and have an extra blanket to hand in case you wake up freezing cold.
  •          Anxiety – thinking about all the changes coming your way and the many to do lists can often keep you awake. Try to make a list during the day to save doing it in your head at night. Clear your mind and concentrate on your breathing to help calm & relax yourself.
  •          Kicking and shoving from the little cherub inside of you doesn’t make it easy to drift off, and unfortunately there is little you can do to stop this – your baby is in tune with your own heart rate and stress levels, so enjoy those movements and relax knowing they are perfectly happy in there practicing their dancing/football skills.
  •          Vivid dreams – and boy are they insane these days! Strange, disturbing, erotic, scary…You will probably encounter them all, they are down to the increased Progesterone and REM your body is experiencing and the all of the extra worrying bringing a new life into the world brings.
  •          Hunger or queasiness – try to have a little snack before bed to stop yourself from waking up hungry – or not nodding off because you feel sick. Make sure it’s not a high sugar snack though, so stick to a rice cake or piece of wholemeal toast.

 

Try to have a warm bath or shower before bed, listen to some music and turn off electrical devices an hour before you get your head down; swap your phone, TV, iPad etc. for a magazine or book. If you haven’t drifted off after around 20 minutes of trying take a little wonder to another room and then go back to bed, sometimes this really helps. Some of my friends swear by a white noise app on their phone such as Relax Melodies or Sleep Pillow Sounds so maybe give one of those a go if you’re really struggling?

 no mobiles

My main piece of advice when it comes to comfort at night would be to invest in a good quality pregnancy pillow. My ultimate recommendation would be for the multi award winning Dreamgenii Pregnancy Pillow.

Dreamgenii                        Dreamgenii

It costs around £45, although some stores such as Mothercare often have £5 off; whatever you pay for it, it is worth every penny! It supports your back, knees, hips, pelvis and bump and encourages you to sleep on your left side which is recommended by professionals. It also promotes the best position for your baby to adopt which gives a better chance of a shorter and less painful labour. I have not heard a bad word said about these pillows, so invest early, I am sure you wont regret it!

 Dreamgenii                                   Dreamgenii Cherry

Sweet dreams 🙂