Sarah Turner (AKA The Unmumsy Mum) doesn’t need much introduction. Started in 2013, her blog The Unmumsy Mum was one of the first forums which took an honest and often hilarious look at parenting, and what it really means today. She’s inspired a great number of women to follow in her tracks, putting pen to paper (and squares to insta) to share their tales of motherhood, and the challenges raising a family poses. Now an established author with not one, but two best selling books (The Unmumsy Mum and The Unmumsy Mum Diary) to her name, I was absolutely thrilled that Sarah took the time to sit down and share with me her thoughts on pregnancy, style, and new motherhood.
Here is Sarah’s pregnancy story:
As this isn’t your first pregnancy, tell me a bit more about your family…
Well, I’m married to James (who I’ve been with since I was 16 – we met just before I did my GCSEs when I went clubbing underage!) and we have two boys, Henry (5) and Jude (3). We live in Exeter and I can’t see us ever leaving Devon – we love it here. James is a Civil Servant and in June 2017, a couple of years after everything with the blog and books had really taken off, we reassessed our work/home division of labour and James reduced his hours so I could increase mine. He now works three days a week and I work five (loosely speaking – I work every day but around school runs and nursery pick-ups).
How far along in this pregnancy are you?
I’m 35 weeks.
Do you know if you’re having a boy or a girl?
Yes, we’re having a little boy! We do seem very proficient at making boys in this house …
How has this pregnancy been treating you so far?
A bit of a mixed bag, to be honest! In some ways, this has been the hardest pregnancy yet – I was still being sick at 17 weeks and from around 23 weeks I’ve been suffering from pregnancy insomnia which sees me WIDE awake between around 1am and 5am every night. The flip side is that I am still strangely enjoying it all more. I think it’s because this feels like a bonus pregnancy somehow – it was planned, but we’re still a little bit in shock that we took the plunge …
Do you feel different in this pregnancy from your previous ones?
The interesting ‘quirks’ of this pregnancy have certainly been the same as my previous two. I am addicted to ice cubes (I’m crunching my way through around 5 trays of ice a day, and despite ice cravings often being associated with an iron deficiency, I recently had my iron levels checked and they were fine, so I have no idea what’s causing it!). I have also become obsessed with cleaning again. The cleaning bug hits me at around week 25 in every pregnancy and is pretty extreme – we’re talking bi-daily skirting board bleaching, door handle disinfecting, soft furnishing laundering and an intense love of cleaning sprays. I’ve actually started ordering cleaning products on the internet in the dead of night (when I’m not sleeping) and then lying to James about how many I’ve ordered. I just can’t get enough.
Have you been experiencing any anxiety in this pregnancy?
Yes! I am probably the most anxious I have ever been this time around. I have this real worry that we are pushing our luck somehow – we already have two wonderful, healthy children and it seems like it’s just too much to ask to complete the set with a third. I also think that worry intensifies with age. I was 24 when I had Henry and, on reflection, I was very blasé and naïve about the whole thing. I just assumed I would carry a healthy baby to full term and since then I have read so many stories of heartbreak and loss than I am no longer taking anything for granted. I have been joking about not wanting baby number three to arrive on Christmas Day (he’s due 6 days before!) but in all honesty, I just want him here safely.
How would you describe your pregnancy style?
Pretty casual! I’m not the most stylish of people at the best of times (I’d say I’m moderately interested in fashion but that I generally ‘play it safe’) and pregnancy sees me opt for ease-of-wear and comfort over anything else.
Hide the bump or show off the bump?
Show off the bump, 100%. In fact, I look back at pictures of my first pregnancy six years ago I most definitely made the mistake of trying to hide the bump. I think I believed that doing so would make me look slimmer, when in actual fact I just looked like I was wearing a tent! I have come to realise that something figure-hugging is usually more flattering to the pregnant shape than a mass of baggy, black material. My boobs are also massive this time – I’m usually a ‘B cup on a good day’ (the bra-fitter’s words, not mine) but right now I’m busting out of a D cup and quite enjoying the extra cleavage.
In terms of clothes, what are your maternity essentials?
Skinny maternity jeans with an over-the-bump panel, long sleeve tops, a small selection of dresses and tights. And trainers or brogues, because I honestly wouldn’t trust myself to waddle in heels.
What’s your favourite maternity clothes brand?
Generally, I stick to the high street, with H&M being a firm fave, but I also have several tops from Isabella Oliver (including two I snapped up second-hand on eBay) and I wear them ALL the time, seriously they are basically on rotation.
Are there any high street or independent brands which aren’t maternity but you’ve felt work really well for pregnancy?
I find that Zara is always pretty good for layering and by upsizing, particularly when it comes to cardigans or shirts, I have been able to get away with wearing their ‘normal’ range for the bulk of this pregnancy. That said, now that I’m into the final six weeks I’m finding I have pretty much outgrown everything normal so tend to stick with maternity clothes. Or my husband’s pyjamas (SO comfortable, though I fear I have wrecked the elastic waistband on a couple of pairs – sorry Hubbs).
What beauty products do you swear by for pregnancy?
BB cream, bronzer and a highlighter – anything to aid my slightly washed-out complexion (the ‘pregnancy glow’ never reaches my face). I probably should pretend here that I am religiously massaging my bump with posh stretch mark preventatives but the truth is I slap on supermarket-own baby oil after every shower and (touch wood) my skin is coping pretty well, stretch-mark wise. An increase in cellulite is the biggest bugbear (so many extra bum and thigh dimples) but I’ll tackle that once he’s here. Probably.
Is there anything you feel is still really missing from the maternity fashion market in the UK?
Colour! Things have definitely improved but Jesus Christ, the materntiy section of most shops and websites is often so bland compared non-pregnant sections. And almost everything is Breton stripes?! I appreciate a good Breton stripe but I don’t want to live in the same mum-to-be uniform for three quarters of a year.
What can you not live without in pregnancy?
Ice and cleaning products! If you took those away, I would lose my shit.
Have you done a lot of reading / research about pregnancy and childbirth?
Not reading and researching as such but for the first time I am doing a hypnobirthing course and already I’m finding it really helpful. I didn’t have a very good birth with my second baby and I am really keen to come away with a more positive experience this time. Fingers crossed …
Sum up pregnancy in 3 words…
Bizarre, incredible, (a) blessing.
Is there anything you miss being pregnant?
BOOZE. And yes, I know one shouldn’t admit to struggling without it but I do love a glass of wine (or two) on a Friday night. I will be packing a mini bottle of champagne in my hospital bag.
What’s your favourite thing about being pregnant?
The sense of excitement and the promise of new beginnings. When I am stretched out on the sofa in front of trashy TV, watching the bump move and kick, I feel so very content. I can’t wait to see what he looks like.
What would you say is the worst thing about being pregnant?
The uncertainty, the worry and the lack of control! This pregnancy has seen a low-lying placenta (we had to be re-scanned at 32 weeks) and with five weeks to go he’s currently breech. I had a very straightforward pregnancy with Henry but on the day I went into labour I was diagnosed with preeclampsia and my ‘birth plan’ went out of the window. I think that taught me that you never know how things are going to pan out so there’s no point obsessing over them.
What advice would you give to other pregnant women?
Trust your gut instinct and never be afraid to ask a ‘stupid question’. Also, remember that you are not obliged to cherish every single moment of pregnancy. Yes, carrying a tiny human is an incredible blessing but it’s also bloody hard work and having the odd moan about aches, pains, insomnia and nausea doesn’t make you ungrateful – it just makes you human!
If you could go back and give your pregnant first time around self one tip/ piece of advice what would it be?
Take more pictures! I am TERRIBLE at documenting things and never remember to get any pictures. I have hardly any photos from my first two pregnancies and reckon I’ve managed to capture no more than three or four bump shots this time. I must try and get some more before he arrives.
What would your one bit of advice for new mums be?
Cut yourself some slack. Parenting is an absolute rollercoaster and having the occasional ‘off’ day is part and parcel of the experience. Always ask for help if you’re struggling and remember, you are doing a great job.