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Mum To Be Party Self Care Retreat

Mum Self-Care Retreat



Why? For whom?

Because your body is sacred,
Because taking time for yourself and reconnecting to your essence is sacred and essential, after having a baby.

“This Self-Care Retreat is for women who wish to reconnect with their true identity and with their body”

It is not only a question of post-partum recuperation, but also the cultivation, deep within oneself, of the resources needed to manage the many roles that are demanded of us when we become a new mother.

“Together. Carried by kindness and attentiveness of the group”

 

How?

Being a mother in the modern-day world is both an immense blessing and a great challenge. We are engaged in a delicate balancing act of playing many roles at once : mother, wife, lover, career woman, stay at home mum, the list goes on… and often find ourselves exhausted and overextended in caring for others. It is easy to lose ourselves in all of this and not receive the care that we really need, especially when time can feel so limited.
This intimate 3 night retreat has been thoughtfully designed with all of your current struggles and needs in mind. Nestled in nature, far from the stress, speed, noise and constant connectivity of the city, we will take time to ground, slow down, and breathe.

We have created a process to support you in reconnecting to your self, to rest and restore, and to learn what ‘’self-care’’ can really mean – encompassing but going well beyond hot baths and massages.

We will explore the deepest roots of sustainable self-care for mothers of young children.  We will examine what stands in the way of caring for and loving ourselves, which often takes the form of beliefs and conditioning that was passed on to us, but which does not serve us…

You will emerge from these precious 4 days, not only rested and rejuvenated, but also prepared to return to your busy life, empowered with tools and wisdom to support you as a woman and as a mother.

Join us….being a mother means learning to mother ourselves, and this takes practice, patience, and courage. We are here to support you in this process.

Self-Care Practices for mothers of young children:

• Gentle, restorative yoga that heals and nourishes the female reproductive system (womb, perineum, breasts) and endocrine system
• Grounding, tonifying yoga to build the blood and bones and cultivate fortitude, trust, stamina and stability
• Breathing and meditation to ease stress, tension, anxiety and/or depression
• Ample free time to rest, recharge, reflect, and enjoy the surrounding nature.
• Time spent in sacred circle with other mothers cultivating the capacity to listen, share, support and process without the filter of fear, judgement or expectation. Simply learning how to be present and receptive.
• Tools for developing self-awareness aimed at cultivating a healthy body image, self-love, compassion and acceptance as well as affirming boundaries, limits, and needs.

The Venue

We chose ‘La Ferme du Bouchot’ to host our retreat, an eco-friendly, warm-spirited and family run venue in the heart of the Sologne region of France, 2.5 hours from Paris. This 300-year-old farm has been renovated with ecologically responsible materials and is based upon the three basic principles of Permaculture: to take care of and respect the Earth and all human beings, to create abundance, and to share ethically.

Our hosts, Anne and Jean-Philippe, conceived of an innovative space in which to reconnect to nature, to oneself, and to others: SELIGONIA. This beautiful Forest-Garden, in the form of a Mandala, produces all the fruit and vegetables needed to nourish both the inhabitants and the visitors of the farm, and is also home to the Zome, an unique and stunning dome structure, used for workshops and ateliers.

4 good reasons to appreciate La Ferme du Bouchot

• An ideal place to relax and recharge, in a peaceful and secluded farm with a huge garden.

• Original: the dome, located in the center of the garden, makes for an inspiring and light filled yoga studio.

• Intimate and friendly: the calm and respectful ambiance of a small group will be conducive to deep sharing and reflection. The warm and comfortable rooms, in typical country style, will be shared between mums.

• Wholesome food: around a large, shared table, our mums will enjoy generous meals of homemade, fresh, seasonal produce, straight from the garden or locally grown. Snacks and refreshments will be available throughout the day.

4 good reasons to appreciate La Ferme du Bouchot

• An ideal place to relax and recharge, in a peaceful and secluded farm with a huge garden.

• Original: the dome, located in the center of the garden, makes for an inspiring and light filled yoga studio.

• Intimate and friendly: the calm and respectful ambiance of a small group will be conducive to deep sharing and reflection. The warm and comfortable rooms, in typical country style, will be shared between mums.

• Wholesome food: around a large, shared table, our mums will enjoy generous meals of homemade, fresh, seasonal produce, straight from the garden or locally grown. Snacks and refreshments will be available throughout the day.

Who will accompany you?

Alexandra Macdonald and Sheila Chacko are the co-founders of Sanctuary Self Care Retreats, specializing in self-care retreats for women in Europe. They are holistic yoga teachers with a passion for women’s health and wellbeing, each with over two decades of experience. They will honor us with their presence for the first time in France, animating the yoga classes, self-care workshops, and sacred circles of this retreat.

Christel, the founder of Mum-to-be Party and mother of two, will also be present, ensuring that you have a fluid and enjoyable stay.

Weleda, a pioneering brand in natural, organic cosmetics, will be our chosen partner for this retreat. Their beautiful products will stimulate your senses and nurture your body, heart and soul, making your four night stay in nature unforgettable. In the spirit of Self-Care, a specialist from Weleda in Paris will come especially to give a workshop on facial self-massage.

Nourish Paris, a unique catering service especially for new mums, will collaborate with La Ferme du Bouchot to create a special, seasonal menu, both fortifying and revitalizing, for our new mums. The founder, Sophie, will come in person to explain the program and menu.

Detailed Program of the Retreat

The program below is a guide and the content may change slightly to allow for greater fluidity and suitability. The content of the workshops, evening integrations, and circles will be revealed upon arrival to allow for a spirit of discovery and surprise.

Monday 10th June
15h-16h30: Arrival and check in
17h-19h: Opening Circle
19h-20h15: Dinner
20h15-21h: Evening Integration

Tuesday 11th June
8h-9h30: Morning Yoga Practice
9h30-10h30: Breakfast
10h30-12h30: Self Care Workshop
12h30-14h: Lunch
14h-16h: Free time
16-16:45: Weleda Presentation
17h-19h: Yoga and Sacred Circle
19h-20h15: Dinner
20h15-21h: Evening Integration

Wednesday 12th June
8h-9h30: Morning Yoga Practice
9h30-10h30: Breakfast
10h30-12h30: Self Care Workshop
12h30-14h: Lunch
14h-17h: Free time
17h-19h: Yoga and Sacred Circle
19h-20h15: Dinner
20h15-21h: Evening Integration

Thursday 13th June
8h-9h: Breakfast
9h-11h: Closing Ceremony

Questions?

Who is this retreat for? This retreat is aimed at mothers with children aged up to 2 years old. However, those with older children are most welcome to come and share their experience and benefit from this unique retreat experience. Please note that the retreat will be given in both French and English, so it will be necessary to have grounding in both languages.
Can I bring my baby? The objective of this retreat is your wellbeing. Yours. Away from your family for a few precious days, in nature, with other mums. It is for this reason that it is a mums only event, without baby or partner.
What if I am breastfeeding? A nursing kit will be provided for breastfeeding mums who would like to pump and conserve their milk, as well as a special breastfeeding tea blend by Weleda, to keep you hydrated.
Do I have to have yoga experience? Have done pelvic floor reeducation? What if I gave birth by cesarean? Practices are safe and appropriate for all levels of experience including complete beginners, as well as breastfeeding mothers, those having undergone a cesarean, and pre and post pelvic floor reeducation.
What if I have special dietary needs (allergies, intolerances, vegan…)? Please let us know when you register and we will take your needs into account when preparing the menu.
Can I come with another mum? Of course! The stay is conceived of as a group experience, but if you wish to come with a friend and share a room, please let us know when you fill in the registration form and indicate their name accordingly.

How do I get there? The venue is located 2.5 hours away by car from Paris. We advise you to come by car (either your own, a rental car, or car-pooling with other mums), as access by public transport is very limited. Count around 60€ for tolls and petrol and at least 110€ for car rental for 4 days from Paris (petrol included). A private Facebook group will be created to put all mums in contact so that you can exchange with each other both before and after the retreat., but also to organize logistical things such as carpooling from Paris or even from Orléans, the closest city to our venue.

What should I bring? A more detailed list will be given to each participant, but here are some essentials:
• Comfortable clothes
• Shawl
• Light blanket for relaxation after yoga
• Notebook
• Water bottle/thermos
• Walking shoes
• A yoga mat if you have one

How do I register?

Places are very limited for this retreat to allow for a quality of exchange and presence that ensures intimacy and tranquility. Reserve quickly to guarantee your spot!

First Edition tarif: 750€ TTC (instead of 900€) includes:
• 3 nights accommodation in a double room
• full board including tailor made meals from local, seasonal produce
• snacks and refreshments
• yoga classes and workshops given by our international guest teachers
• facial self-massage session given by a Weleda specialist
• welcome pack from Weleda featuring a gorgeous selection of specially chosen products for mums
• a farewell pack from Weleda featuring products from their new baby range

* Please note that transport and others personal expenses are not included in the price

>>> INSCRIPTIONS : https://www.weezevent.com/mum-self-care-retreat

How do I register?

Places are very limited for this retreat to allow for a quality of exchange and presence that ensures intimacy and tranquility. Reserve quickly to guarantee your spot!

First Edition tarif: 750€ TTC (instead of 900€) includes:
• 3 nights accommodation in a double room
• full board including tailor made meals from local, seasonal produce
• snacks and refreshments
• yoga classes and workshops given by our international guest teachers
• facial self-massage session given by a Weleda specialist
• welcome pack from Weleda featuring a gorgeous selection of specially chosen products for mums
• a farewell pack from Weleda featuring products from their new baby range

* Please note that transport and others personal expenses are not included in the price

>>> INSCRIPTIONS : https://www.weezevent.com/mum-self-care-retreat

General Conditions :
• Your reservation is confirmed upon the payment of 750€ TTC
• As soon as your registration is confirmed, all will be organized so as to welcome you in the best possible conditions; the venue, our international guest teachers and our Weleda collaborators. For these reasons, to ensure the viability of the event, we cannot reimburse you in case of cancellation, no-show, or a reduced stay.
• Your registration will be fully reimbursed if the event is cancelled by the organizers, who reserve the right to cancel the retreat if there are insufficient registrations.
• Each participant must have a valid health and accident insurance and must confirm in writing that she has no health complications. Any change in health status must be communicated to the organizers.

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Motherhood: Breastfeeding

I never really thought about breastfeeding that much when I was pregnant. I mean – I got all the equipment I was told I’d need; nipple cream, pillow and breast pads – and it never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t breastfeed. I never even considered what foods to eat, how to rest properly, how much energy it would take to nourish another human with my body.

It was only that I started breastfeeding this second time around that I truly appreciated the energy involved, the dedication and the complex emotions surrounding it – not to mention what to eat and drink to help me. 

Breast feeding is HARD. It’s vital to surround ourselves with help if we want to meet our feeding goals, and so important to be kind to ourselves when things don’t go to plan. 

Some of you might know that I recently launched a small family catering company called Nourish & Bloom. We supply food for every season of family life but my first aim was to support new mothers with healthy, nourishing food that would support their postpartum and breastfeeding journeys. With that in mind I thought I’d write a small post about what to nourish your body with during those first weeks of breastfeeding and into the weeks and months to follow.

 YesMum motherhood affirmation cards from  here
YesMum motherhood affirmation cards from here

The following is just general advice to help support you while you breast feed. I’m not a nutritionist and any advice I give comes from talking with lactation consultants, nutritionists, cooking for other mums, my mother and grandmother and my own experience of breastfeeding. There are no “miracle cures” to make breastfeeding suddenly easy here. Listen to your body and your baby, relax, notice what works for you and adapt things as you go. 

Hydration

Keeping adequately hydrated is something my mum told me about on day one. Many of you will have noticed an almost unquenchable thirst in the early days of breastfeeding and you’ll need to replenish liquids lost in labour and support your body in making breastmilk. I always have a big bottle of room temperature water with me or within arms reach, particularly at night but also drank a lot of herbal teas, broths and soups in the beginning. You can find breastfeeding tea in most pharmacies and bio stores in France and it’s great for keeping hydrated and giving your milk supply that extra boost. 

Boosting Production

And speaking about boosting your milk supply, you’ll need to consume around 500 extra calories a day for the first six months of breastfeeding. (I didn’t really find this an issue as I was RAVENOUS all of the time) It’s important to eat properly because when blood sugar drops too low, eating can trigger stress hormones which in turn reduces the production of the hormones that create your milk supply and the let down reflex. Great things to eat include:

  • Good fats: Eating good fats increases the fat percentage in your breast milk and supports growth in your baby – hooray! Good fatty food includes: Avocados, nuts and seeds, olives & olive oil, salmon, tuna, dark chocolate and eggs.
  • Fenugreek, Ginger & caraway have all traditionally been used in boosting milk supply. They’re from a group of herbs known as Galactagogues and adding them to your cooking is a great way to give your supply a helping hand. My favourite way to do this is by making a quick gingery egg fried rice from left over brown rice (which is a great source of selenium – another mineral important during breastfeeding!)

Lactation Consultants

If you are struggling with breastfeeding you are certainly not alone! For something that is so natural, there is so much that feels difficult, strange and straight up painful! Fortunately help is out there if you know where to look.

If you’re in Paris or its suburbs and are in need of an English speaking lactation consultant, Meagan LeCoq is a South African midwife, doula and lactation consultant. Her years of professional experience were vital to me as a first time mum. You can find her website here. I honestly can’t recommend her enough!

Happy feeding! If you have any questions about Nourish & Bloom’s postpartum packages or what else we offer please don’t hesitate to send me an email!

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Pelvic Floor Re-education…What, Why & How?

Today I want to write about a topic which is always surrounded by much intrigue in our English Speaking Mums in Paris facebook group: Perineal re-education. Not a week goes by where I don’t see a question about this mysterious therapy asked by a mum who’s been prescribed it after giving birth. I asked the lovely mums in our group what they’d like to know about re-education and got some fantastic responses. It seems that there’s a lot of mystery and myth surrounding re-education, what to expect and why it’s practiced so widely here (hint; it’s not, as the myths might suggest merely to make monsieur feel a little more snug!)

I’ve enlisted the help of three experts in their fields to explain to you all the what, why and how of Perineal re-education.

  • Vicki is a UK based physiotherapist specialised in female health care and she’ll be telling us all about the amazing muscle, or group of muscles that make up the pelvic floor and why it’s considered so important to re-educate them.
  • Sharon Bales is a wonderful yoga teacher whom I’m sure many of you know personally. She specialises in fertility, pre and post natal yoga and is also now teaching hypnobirthing classes here in Paris. She’ll be talking about how we can care for our perineal muscles in our daily movements and how to keep them healthy.
  • Diana Powell-Bodrone is a midwife and lactation consultant who works here in Paris under the French healthcare system and is going to tell us all about how to get your free re-education sessions.

Vicki

  1. What is my pelvic floor and why might it need to be “re-educated”?
    The pelvic floor is a layer of muscles within the pelvis. Its functions include support of internal organs (bladder, bowels and womb), maintaining continence of both the bladder and the bowel, assisting in bladder emptying and sexual function.

    It can be weakened by both pregnancy and childbirth, menopause, recurrent coughing, constipation/straining, lack of general fitness and neurological damage and the common conditions associated with pelvic floor weakness include incontinence, prolapses of bladder, bowel and womb and faecal incontinence. 
     

  2. Why do I need to worry about this if I’ve given birth, either vaginally or by c-section?
    When you’re pregnant with the growing foetus inside your womb, the muscles are stretched significantly over a long period of time. Without muscle retraining, they will not necessarily spring back into place following childbirth (whether you gave birth vaginally or via c-section). Therefore exercise is needed to shorten and tighten the muscles again, reducing your risk of the above conditions associated with a weakened pelvic floor. 
     
  3. Why have I never heard of this reeducation where I am from?
    Unfortunately, lack of education. This country (The UK) is particularly poor at education in the ante natal period. People are handed leaflets within a pack of information regarding childbirth and pregnancy by their midwife but are not specifically trained or educated regarding the importance of this muscle. 
     
  4. Why is this so important?
    Leakage of urine is a common and well known problem for women following childbirth. It is known to affect 1 in 3 women.

    The incidence of 3rd degree tears is as high as 1-9% of all vaginal deliveries, as recognised by the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RCOG). This could have a huge impact on a women’s continence, both bladder and bowel in the short and long term. It can also affect sexual relations due to pain. The incidence of faecal incontinence as a result of these tears is as high as 50%, but is not discussed as openly as urinary incontinence. Failure to manage these conditions at the time of injury could be detrimental to a women’s quality of life and many become socially isolated as a result.

    The menopause can highlight problems with discomfort, leakage, pain and prolapse as a result of hormonal and vascular changes. These symptoms can be minimalized in the future with regular pelvic floor training immediately following childbirth and for life. Up to 30% of women who attend physiotherapy on their first session are not correctly performing a pelvic floor muscle contraction. It is vital that you know how to do this correctly for long term protection.
     

  5. How common are these problems?
    1 in 3 women suffer with Stress urinary incontinence
    50% of women have some degree of prolapse
    1 in 10 people suffer with some form of bowel problem
    21.8% of women complain of pain with intercourse

Sharon

The first step in maintaining a healthy pelvic floor is to establish a healthy connection to it.  There is so much bad and old information out there about the pelvic floor.  Many women never even consider their pelvic floor until pregnancy or post-birth recovery, and many, many women honestly have no idea what the pelvic floor is.  Understanding that these muscle bundles, which should operate in harmony with the respiratory diaphragm are in fact an integral part of your core strength is key.

Another great myth of the pelvic floor is that every woman needs to tighten and strengthen and do kegel exercises to achieve this.  Oh dear, this is such an oversimplification that it is simply worthless information.  It’s important for the pelvic floor to not only be able to contract and be strong, it is just as essential to be able to relax these muscles.  In fact, a “too-tight” pelvic floor, or what is called a “hyper-tonic” pelvic floor, is often the culprit in pelvic pain and other pelvic issues.

Once you can connect with your pelvic floor and it’s clear which muscles we’re talking about, learning to engage these muscles in movement will make you feel stronger… because you are stronger when using these muscles correctly!  We have so many movement habits in our lives, it’s important to start thinking about the way we move, sit, stand, and carry things and how this impacts the balance of those muscles.

Connecting with and maintaining the health of your pelvic floor will not only strengthen your core power, but will also do much to prevent prolapse of pelvic organs, allow you to breathe more deeply and efficiently, prevent and resolve some pelvic pain issues including pain during sex.  Training those muscles to engage and release properly will usually resolve problems with leaking pee when you laugh, cough, jump, etc.  

Diana 

  1. How can I obtain my free re-education sessions in France?
    Usually you will be given a prescription when leaving the maternity. This is however, changing a little and is not always prescribed upon discharge to mothers who’ve had “normal” complication free births. This does not mean that you’re not qualified for it. Ask your midwife or gynaecologist at your six week check up for a prescription and they’ll be able to give it to you. You can also ask your general practitioner or gynaecologist at any point for a prescription and they will give you one for ten, or more sessions. 
  2. What are the methods of re-education? 
    On the prescription there is usually three things:
    Sondre (this is a wand used for internal muscle stimulation when there is no feeling)
    Manual (this is the part when the practitioner goes through various exercises using their fingers to work the internal perineal muscles)
    Abdominals (It’s really important that this is included in the re-education programme as these are the support of the pelvic muscle)
    Both sage-femmes (midwives) and kinéstherapistes (physiotherapists) can perform just one, or a combination of these techniques to achieve results. You should ask, upon meeting your practitioner, which techniques they practise and make a choice based off of your preference.

Ladies I just cannot over-state the importance of these re-education sessions, if only if as a tool to get to know your pelvic floor. If a medical environment is not your thing, get yourself to one of Sharon’s classes, take a beginners pilates class (lots of pelvic floor connection!) do some reading about your muscles and learn about how your amazing bodies work! Putting some good work in now can truly make a difference in the fight against some of the above listed conditions and, as women we need to take the time to take care of ourselves and do some preventative healthcare! 

If you need any help or advice about pelvic pain, incontinence, pain during or after sex or any other problems, do ask your gynaecologist, midwife or general practitioner what can be done to help. There are options out there!

You can find all of Sharon’s details here.

And all of Diana’s details here.

And finally, these gorgeous designs are by Duvet Days and you can get them here. Designs by Duvet Days Is a subsidiary of DuvetDays.org – An organization that uses design to create awareness, self discovery, and a space for self-love while supporting those affected by rape and domestic abuse. 

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Three Plus One Makes Four

Here we are, deep into the fourth trimester. I wish I could say it’s been slow, sleepy and spent mostly in bed – but that would be a lie. Such is the fate of a second child (and mother of two!). 

Luckily we’ve found Fred to be generally calm natured. He’s slotted in nicely to our small, toddler dominated space. Arthur’s somehow found it in him to make some room for his brother, even asking me if Freddie can share his bed this evening (hard pass; too much risk of erratic kicking from both boys). I was worried about this dynamic; that my precious first born would feel ousted, that our firm routine would suffer, that our apartment would descend into a molten pit of dirty nappies, dirty dishes and disturbed sleep…and don’t get me wrong, things have changed but here are my thoughts on how to have a calm, restorative fourth trimester with a toddler in tow:

Let go of any and all expectations

You have two children now – it will take some getting used to. When they both cry at the same time you will momentarily have no idea who to go to first. If you have a partner around – divide and conquer, if you don’t – prioritise. I find everything generally goes better if I put my boob in Fred’s mouth first. The situation immediately drops a couple of decibels and I’m able to tend to whatever Arthur needs (learning how to breastfeed while baby wearing really REALLY helped this one.) It doesn’t look glamorous or Instagramable, you don’t look glamorous or Instagramable and your apartment CERTAINLY doesn’t look glamorous or Instagramable but the baby is fed, the overall volume of things has massively decreased and your first born is getting attention. That’s a win in my books. 

Nothing will look anything like you expected. Which is why you must…

Accept all offers of help 

All of them. Including the things you thought you’d never accept. Like a long bubble bath at your mate’s house while she holds the baby because you don’t have a bath and your back is SO stiff from all that falling asleep upright. 

Let your mother-in-law hold the baby, let your friend do your washing up, eat the cake that people bring you even if you’re freaking out about the baby weight. Nobody will ever bring you baked goods over in such quantities with no judgement at how fast you eat them ever again. Take advantage. 

Let the little things go

No. You don’t need to mop the kitchen floor right now. 
Yup. Your toddler can in fact watch Cars 3 for the second time this week and it will not kill him.
Who gives a sh** that it’s dry shampoo? (I HIGHLY recommend H&M’s dry shampoo.)

Cling to the structures that help

Having said all of that, if you have systems and structures that keep you sane already in place, cling to them. For example, I made an effort to shower & put my makeup and clean clothes on every day in the couple of weeks postpartum when you don’t really feel like doing that. It helped me feel fresh on next to no sleep, prepared for the day with my kids and happy about myself. I also like my environment to be tidy – so I take at least 10 minutes a day to do a superficial tidy away of surface mess (hide it in cupboards). Do what works for you and don’t apologise for it. Sometimes self-care is a reluctant shower and a speed clean. 

Nourish and love your body 

The big one. You just had a baby! Your body is incredible! Reward it with nourishing food, warm drinks, hearty soups, stews, casseroles and stir fry’s. Hopefully some kind soul (or yourself) have filled your freezer with at least a couple of meals that take minimal effort from you and only require one hand to eat. Treat your body with respect and love – it’s just given you the greatest gift and does not want to hear any “Snapping back” “Shedding the baby weight” bollocks the Daily Mail might want to throw at it – in fact, just step away from tabloid newspapers and “Women’s magazines” altogether. 

Finally, give yourself a massive hug. This mum stuff isn’t easy, but you’re going to be just fine.

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The Eighth Month

As I write this I am 35 weeks pregnant. We’re in the home stretch – just waiting for baby to make his appearance now. I’ve been thinking a lot about how this pregnancy has been different from my first and wrote some thoughts on the eighth month:

Anxiety

I was an anxious mess during my first pregnancy. It’s totally normal I think; our bodies are doing something they’ve never done before and even if we’ve read every book, we don’t really know what to expect. When I was pregnant with Arthur I read ALL of the books, googled incessantly, ate very cautiously, went to A&E twice thinking that he’d stopped moving and generally drove my husband up the wall. Honestly I’m surprised that Arthur isn’t a stressed child from all the second hand stress he received from me in utero!

This time around I’ve been MUCH more relaxed. I think just knowing what to expect helped me massively, I don’t like feeling out of control and this time around I knew what was happening to my body and how my baby was growing. I do not google, I have a few select pregnancy books that I love, have eaten with a little less caution and more understanding of the reasons of why to avoid certain things and am generally much calmer and happier. 

Nesting

I get a very strong urge to nest around month six. This has been a little frustrating for me this time as we’ve had literally NO baby gear to buy – we’re reusing everything from Arthur. We never really had a lot of stuff for him either, but we’ve whittled down on what we did have (the baby bath is gone, along with some other things we bought on recommendation but never used.) This time around has been focussed on cleaning! I cleaned last time around too – Stan came home to find me one day having taken all of the blinds down, cleaning every single slat – but this time has been more intense and more long-lived. I’m talking mopping the floors every day, cleaning out cupboards and decluttering like a maniac. 

Labour

Is anyone ever really prepared for labour?! I wasn’t last time, I don’t think I really am this time. I know that everything can change in an instant and even the best laid plans aren’t always what’s best in the moment. I trust my hospital and the midwives there. I am however reading some hypnobirthing books and listing to the MP3s that go with them. Mostly I’m just trying to take it easy, strengthen my body with yoga and enjoy these last weeks of being three. 

Becoming four

This is the part that’s giving me the most trouble at the moment. We’ve had two years of being the three of us – adding in Arthur’s new personality to our family was easy, everything was new! Adding in a fourth personality to our mix will, I think be a unique challenge. We can do all the baby stuff, we’ve done it before but I wonder about this little human’s place in our unit. I know he’ll slot right in and really it will be like he was always there… 

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Minimalist Me: Pregnancy Essentials

Pregnancy is such a strange and special time in your life. Especially if it’s your first baby, you want to make sure that you do everything absolutely right, not just medically, but in terms of what to buy to make your pregnancy go smoothly, to make sure that baby is absolutely 100% taken care of inside your growing womb. 

Unfortunately, this cocooning need of pregnant women has been exploited by brands. At one of the most financially vulnerable times of our life, we have been convinced that we need every kind of special lotion, potion, pillow, vitamin, book, superfood, clothing item and yoga class just to get through pregnancy. While I am absolutely an advocate of massive amounts of self-care during pregnancy, I think that we are being sold so much more than we need and there really are budget friendly alternatives. 

Books

If you’re pregnant with your first baby and are anything like me, you’ll want to read the most you possibly can on the subject. I wanted to know everything! How to BE pregnant, what to expect, what to eat, how to have an easy birth, what to do with the baby once it arrives…reading anything you get your hands on however, can get a bit expensive. Pictured above are the books I’ve actually bought because I found useful last time around. For the rest, use your local library. You don’t need a personal home library full of pregnancy books that you probably won’t touch again. 

  • How to grow a baby and push it out, Clemmie HooperA really lovely, beautifully accessible guide to pregnancy and birth. Includes great pages on prenatal yoga, hypnobirthing and how to dress your bump. Written by a British midwife, it’s a lovely guide to pregnancy for the instagram crowd. 
  • Expecting better, Emily Oster: Really one of my favourite books, Emily Oster is an economist who uses her professional skills to debunk myths about pregnancy and childbirth, leaving the pregnant mother better informed and more empowered in her decisions.
  • The first forty days, Heng Ou: My only REALLY essential book, Ou’s beautiful book really highlights the importance of self-care for mums in the first forty days post-partum. Her advice is stellar and her recipes are out of this world. 
  • Zen, un jeu d’enfant, Elodie Garamond et Lise Bilien: This one is in my essentials for second time mums. It really has nothing to do with pregnancy and all about teaching your toddler to be zen – which sounds just lovely doesn’t it?! It’s been really helpful for us when I’ve wanted to do some yoga or have some quiet time, as it’s helped Arthur do some simple poses with me or some easy breathing exercises. It also exists in English translation. 
  • Mindful Hypnobirthing, Sophie Fletcher: A very accessible guide to hypnobirthing. Worth a read even if you’re not intending to go “The whole hog” with hypnobirthing for the breathing techniques. I’ve found it really helpful. 

Rest & Relax

Prioritising sleep, rest and relaxation should be top of your list during pregnancy. It get’s much harder the second time around when you’ve got young kids under your feet but it’s still so important, especially as finding a comfy sleeping position gets harder and harder as your baby gets bigger. Do everything you can to get a good night’s sleep: eliminate screens an hour before bed, head to bed earlier than you would normally and make sure you’ve got everything you might need within reach. Some things to consider:

  • Pregnancy pillow: There are some extortionately expensive options for this long sausage-like pillow on the market. Honestly it doesn’t do anything that two separate pillows won’t do and the cheaper options work just as well. Mine is second hand, passed on from another mum and the cover is from HEMA, I think it was about €9. I do love it, but like I say – two pillows work the same way!
  • NEOM Organics Tranquility set: This is my one splurge on this list, but I do use it all year around – not just during pregnancy and I honestly haven’t found anything that works as well for me. I light the candle one hour before I intend to go to bed and spritz my pillow with the mist and then I sleep like a baby. I ask for replacements every Christmas and Birthday, so maybe something to hint heavily to relatives at?
  • Maternity leggings & t-shirt: Comfy sleepwear is so essential. There’s nothing worse than waking up sweaty, entangled in loose pyjamas or night dresses. Simple, fitted, cotton maternity leggings and a t-shirt have been my go-to this time around. I like the brand Mamalicious at Galeries Lafayette for leggings and Monoprix organic cotton t-shirts. 

Everything Else

  • Pre-natal yoga: It goes without saying that exercising during pregnancy is so good for you and your baby. Yoga is a great pre-natal exercise as it’s low impact, stretches you in all the right places and can teach you some great techniques for labour. If you can afford classes, do. It’s much safer to do with a qualified instructor than on your own. However, there are many youtube classes you can take with great instructors for free – you just need to do a bit of research. 
  • Coconut oil: On everything and for everything. It’s a great moisturiser and some of my friends swear they don’t have stretch marks because they used it! Don’t use it on your stomach the week before a scan though, you’ll be told off by your sonographer because it makes their picture harder to see. 
  • Maternity clothes: This is down to individual taste but take a good look at your wardrobe and see what you can continue to wear through pregnancy. It’s exciting to have a reason to shop but I’ve mostly found that affordable maternity clothes are absolutely hideous. I would say leggings, a pair of jeans, some nursing tank tops and a coat are the only real essentials.

What have I missed? What did you find absolutely essential during your pregnancy?