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!)
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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!!
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.
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!
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.
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 🙂
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!
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?
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.
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!
Sweet dreams 🙂
So this morning I poured my apple juice over my cereal…Just one of many things which I now do daily which frankly are a little bit weird. It inspired me to write this blog as I am constantly doing something insane, and I can only attribute this to the famous “Baby Brain” or “Preg Head”, and I know I am not the only one!
Apparently, there is no scientific proof surrounding this phenomenon, with the evidence showing that the capacity of the brain is not altered; in fact an Australian study gets pretty hot under the collar about women blaming pregnancy for any memory loss. However I can vouch; as I am sure certainly most pregnant women can, that there definitely something afoot that happens to all expectant Mums.
It is said that pregnancy doesn’t alter your IQ, but it can affect the way your brain prioritises activity. You will also have a lot of extra knowledge and information in your brain, which takes up more of what you think about – meaning your short term memory may suffer. For me it wasn’t just my memory which was affected, I would even have trouble getting my words out sometimes.
I remember in the early stages I would be in a meeting at work and would literally stop mid-sentence and have to get my colleague to finish it for me as I’d completely forgotten what it was I was talking about! Or walking over to talk to one of our sales guys about something important and in the 7 seconds it took me to get to them I would have entirely forgotten what it was I was going there to say. Often I would ask Stuart what my plans were for that night or what we had that very afternoon for lunch.
Nowadays I am more likely to be found refusing point blank that I was told about that important event Stu had booked in for us, or losing my keys in the fridge or some such place. Owning a diary has never been more important!
So is there anything we can do to help ease the symptoms?
Well, lack of sleep certainly doesn’t help, so make sure you are getting enough Z’s at night (easier said than done, I know!)
Eat right & keep hydrated – lack of essential minerals and vitamins can lead to poor brain function.
Make a list – not only did it help me remember essential things, but also made me feel organised.
Don’t take too much on – you’re adding to your day to day activities such as going to work, looking after children, doing the shopping etc with a whole load of baby related jobs and info, so make sure you get support from your partner or friend to run those few errands you need not do yourself or take a back seat with the paperwork at home.
Exercise – this will increase oxygen in the blood helping your brain work better, and is a great stress buster. (Or so I’m told…that pregnancy yoga DVD I bought 4 months ago is still in the wrapper)
And if all else fails, cover everything with post it notes!
So, although scientifically we can’t blame pregnancy to account for all the missed appointments or messages you never managed to get around to replying to, I think there’s enough of us out there to at the very least not make us feel like we’re losing the plot entirely. I am reliably informed that it gets no better once the baby arrives either! So if you see me at the school gates with my child on the lead, whilst waving off the dog with his packed lunch, then you’ll know why!!
I’d love to hear your anecdotes of how the dreaded “mumnesia” has affected you!
With so much to learn about our upcoming adventure in parenthood, we decided to book on to do an antenatal class. Following on from many recommendations we opted to go for the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) option which was split over 6 sessions and cost around £250, rather than one 8 hour NHS class. Knowing there was so much to take in we decided it was the right decision for us to split it into bite sized chunks so we didn’t leave the course feeling more bamboozled than when we began!
We were really impressed! Our course had a really informal feel to it and we were able to cater it to what we wanted to learn as a group (of 10) at the speed that worked for all of us. We also got to meet some really nice people who we are still in touch with now. I think that’s half the charm of the NCT option; that you get to spend a lot of time with the other people on the course. You get to know them and they go from being complete strangers, to possibly the ones you call in the middle of the night when your baby just wont go to sleep, or when you can’t get them to latch on. You know they will be going through the exact same things at the same time.
NCT have about 50 years of experience, and we found out so much extra info to help us feel prepared for the big day, and of course beyond – when the real work begins! Our teacher was fantastic and made everything very simple to understand whilst including answers to every question or extra piece of info we asked for. We covered numerous subjects, such as;
Complications of pregnancy – Back ache (don’t I know about that one!) breathlessness, heartburn, constipation, headaches, swollen hands/feet, cramps, CONSTANT weeing, sleeplessness (again, one of my specialist subjects) as well as more serious complications such as pre-eclampsia, Group B strep and Obstetric Colestatis.
Birth options – Active, water, positions, Caesarean, assisted delivery, induction, breathing techniques.
Pain “management” (because as it happens not even an epidural is guaranteed to block out all of the pain!) – TENS, water, Pethidine, Meptid, Epidural, gas and air, massage techniques (i.e. not a rough rub leading to pretty much just a friction burn!!)
Feeding – breast/bottle, (with a dedicated girls only breast feeding class) and lots of information about support groups and drop in centres for anyone struggling to breast feed.
Signs of labour – period pains, pressure in bottom, constant backache, waters leaking, a show, bleeding, nesting, diarrhoea etc.
Care for the baby – changing, winding, holding, sleeping, feeding, etc.
Preparation for the birth – what to take with you to the hospital (maybe that suitcase full of clothes isn’t necessary after all?) Getting the essentials bought and set up at home, what to include on your birth plan.
The list goes on and on, we certainly felt that we came away equipped to deal with what was thrown our way on the big day…Well, in theory at least!
It was great for Stu to learn so much as it means he feels in a better position to support me on the day and he knows what to expect. He also knows that when I get to the stage just before I’m ready to push (transition) and I begin to regress into a primitive cavewoman and tell him I’ve had enough and I am going home out via the window, that we’ll possibly have a baby within the hour.
What ever option you go for, I hope you find it informative and helpful. If nothing else, do it for the biscuits 😉
Way before my first scan, I was showing…It seemed to pop out of nowhere and just kept getting bigger each day! (Making it particularly difficult around the office, let me tell you!) My thoughts turned immediately to preventing the dreaded stretch marks. They say these are hereditary so unfortunately destiny may have already decided whether or not you or I will get them, but I thought I would give as much chance to my poor skin as possible as I knew it was about to get a lot more stretched as the weeks went on.
So what are stretch marks and why do we get them?? They are caused by the dramatic changes your body goes through when the the skin is stretched suddenly and the middle layer of your skin (the dermis) breaks in places; making room for the the new life growing inside of you. They start red, pink, dark brown & can even be purple, and as time goes on after pregnancy they will fade to lighter red or silvery, but unfortunately they won’t ever go away without laser surgery (and that isn’t always guaranteed to work). At least half of pregnant women will get them and they won’t just be on your tummy, they can be on your thighs, bum, boobs & hips too – lucky us!
I know I always go on about it, but water really is such a super help to so many functions of our bodies – Make sure you keep hydrated and try to drink 2 or more litres of water a day as this will really help your skin. (I know those loo trips every 20 minutes are annoying but it’s a small price to pay when it can help with water retention, swelling, stretch marks, nausea, constipation, bladder infections and even to help prevent preterm labour caused by dehydration) I already feel my bump is massive at 33 weeks, and I have no idea how it is going to keep growing – especially as the baby will put on half its birth weight from now until it is born!
Here are a selection of some of the best oils and creams I have come across over my time being pregnant, are there any you have tried which you can recommend to me?
- Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Cream for Stretch Marks 125g
A moisturising cream which I found helped with general dryness. It helped make my skin feel more supple although I felt I needed something a bit more heavy duty to feel like I was combatting the threat of stretch marks. It is only around £3 which made it a great budget buy.
- Mama Mio Tummy Rub Stretch Mark Butter 125ml.
A pricier option at around £23, which I found was incredibly thick and nourishing. It has a great fresh citrus scent to it and doesn’t leave a greasy residue like some creams.
- Clarins Stretch Mark Control 200ml
This lighter consistency cream rubs into the skin really easily. It is around £30, but you get a lot more for your money and it seems to go quite far. I would say this cream is more useful for the fading of stretch marks, rather than the prevention so I will definitely be stocking up on some more for after if I get any!
On to some oils…
- Cowshed Udderly Gorgeous Stretch Mark Oil. One of my faves!
Before I write anything, it’s important to mention this should only be used after the first trimester due to some of the botanical formulations which are in it. I found the oil felt really lovely and moisturising, all the while feeling like I was having a pamper morning and night. Cowshed also do a fab Balm which is gorgeous and smells divine!
- Bio-Oil 200ml.
I have added this in because it was the first thing I used, and I know it is very popular – However…I didn’t find it suited me at all. The greasy formula sat on my skin and sank into my clothes once I got dressed, making it difficult to apply in the mornings. I also found I was always really itchy after a couple of hours where it felt like it hadn’t moisturised; it just felt like it was coating my skin rather than sinking in. That said, many find they get on really well with it & it’s also on the low end of the budget scale at £8-£9. Maybe one for after to help heal stretch marks.
- Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Nourishing Body Oil – My every day potion!
I had this recommended to me by a friend who has 2 children and I have to say I have not looked back. It is around £10 and admittedly I do go through a bottle every 6 weeks, but it is so lovely to use. It has a lemony scent which doesn’t disturb even the most sensitive nauseous noses! It soaks in quickly and leaves my skin so soft and supple. They also do a lovely Belly Butter which feels lovely all over my body.
- Neals Yard ‘Mothers Balm’
I am yet to try this one, but I wanted to add it to the list as I love the brand and know that this will be as luxurious and gorgeous as their other products. Definitely one to try next!
Whatever you do, try not to get down about them, there are lots of websites out there where people share stories and photos of themselves which can help if you are feeling down about them – you’re not alone, it is normal after all! And remember, they are testament to that miracle your body went through to give you that beautiful baby at the end of it.
I wanted to write a little on this subject as I especially felt I wasn’t giving my baby anything good or healthy for a long time. In fact it wasn’t until about 17 weeks that I felt able to let any fresh produce pass my lips!
I went from having salads for lunch and fresh veggies with fish for dinner, to living off of jacket potatoes and anything suitably stodgy and carb related.
My main piece of advice at this stage would be that pregnancy is not a time for dieting! As time goes on, you’ll realise that there is absolutely no way you’re fitting into your best skinnies, even if you don’t succumb to your cravings or must have sickness saviours!
Having said all of this, I always vowed never to utter those famous words “I’m eating for 2” and even before I was pregnant I made Stuart promise that if ever he heard me say it, he would rip that cookie or tub of ice cream out of my hand there and then!
The truth is, you really only need an extra 300 calories and that is only in the last trimester. Here’s a few reasonably healthy food ideas for anyone feeling like I did;
- Wholegrain Cereals – My extra large bowl of Weetabix started my day off every morning and ensured my blood sugar levels were maintained to help ease my nausea.
- Smoothies – If like me, you can’t face the idea of fruit, but you know you want to give your body and your baby the vitamin boost it provides, then smoothies are the perfect resolution. Depending on the season, try whizzing up some blueberries with a banana and milk, or try some red berries with kiwi and ice.
- Cheese – A great source of calcium if you can’t bear the idea of milk and want to steer clear of the caffeine in chocolate. Cheese on wholemeal toast makes for a good lunch.
- Fish and Chips – It is recommended to eat no more than 12 oz. of fish per week, and limit oily fish such as tuna to 4 portions per week, however it contains essential Omega 3 which is great for healthy baby brain and eye development so for me I found Friday night fish and chips were carby enough not to induce me into nausea but helped me provide these great nutrients to my little one.
- Eggs – With only 90 calories per egg and packed full of protein eggs can be your supper saviour if you’re too exhausted to cook. A couple scrambled up on wholemeal toast is perfect.
- Greek Yoghurt – It contains twice the protein of normal yoghurt and full of calcium. It’s really important to have enough calcium to give to your growing baby’s skeleton but not sacrificing the amount you need to keep your bones healthy and strong. Pop some honey and blueberries on top for a healthy sweet fix.
On top of any food I managed to stomach, I also decided to take a supplement to top up the many vitamins and minerals I felt I was missing out on. I went with Vitabiotics Pregnacare Max, which included Omega 3, Folic Acid and around 20 other vitamins and nutrients.