Since starting this series of interviews for women to share their pregnancy stories, and announcing my own pregnancy a lot of people have been asking why I haven’t done a pregnancy story for me. It felt a little funny given the usual interview format, but now I’me nearing the end of my pregnancy (I’m currently 38.5 weeks) I thought I’d ignore that and share my story.
Don’t worry, I didn’t sit and ask myself the questions aloud, even though it might read like that… Here’s my thoughts on pregnancy and style, and what I’ve learnt along this amazing journey….
Here’s a little more about my family…
I have a two year old son Jack, who is now pretty aware that he has a little sister on the way, but has zero idea of the tornado it’ll be for him when she arrives.
How far along are you?
Almost 39 weeks at the time of writing this.
Do you know if you’re having a boy or a girl?
We’re having a girl. We decided to find out this time around, partly because we had the experience of a surprise from first time round, and partly because we had no idea on names, and wanted to narrow down the choices. Here we are, almost 5 months after finding out the gender, and we still don’t have a name, we didn’t even discuss it for months. After a brief discussion about a week ago we have a very short short list so hoping she comes along resembling at least one of those choices!
How has this pregnancy been treating you?
The first trimester was really tough, I was much sicker this time than first time around, and felt generally utterly exhausted. Since then though touch-wood I’ve been feeling generally well. Think I’ve found it more tough though, especially in these last stages when I feel very heavy and immobile.
Do you feel different in this pregnancy from your previous ones?
Just generally more exhausted. I’m not sure if it’s being that bit older or having a toddler to run round after, but the tiredness is so real and so constant! Also things seemed to happen much sooner this time around. My bump “popped” earlier on, and I felt movement much sooner than with my son who waited til about 21/22 weeks to start doing somersaults which is apparently pretty common. I’ve had the same sweet tooth I had with my son, but probably a bit more extreme this time round, it’s not helping with keeping the lbs off in this final stretch!
Have you been experiencing any anxiety in this pregnancy?
Yes, unfortunately lots. To start with I worried pretty much every day about the impact on our son. I know the majority of people have siblings, and (just about) survive it, and we’re probably inclined to overthink the impact of a new baby nowadays but it did, and still does really worry me. One thing I tell myself is that I’m sure it won’t be long before being a four just feels like the norm for all of us.
I’m not a hugely laid back person, so I worried in my last pregnancy too about the things which can go wrong, and this has probably heightened in this pregnancy. I’ve always really envied people who can just relish every moment of pregnancy without a worry. It’s what it should be like but it’s just not in my nature. As we approach the birth I’m a little nervous, but also excited. I’m working on some hypnobirthing techniques to try and keep the worries at bay when the time comes.
How would you describe your pregnancy style?
The whole point of starting The Bump Edit was that I felt there was such a lack of good maternity wear out there in the UK. The more I spoke to women the more I heard they were feeling the same, so my focus has been to find ways to maintain a sense of personal style through pregnancy, and I try to practice what I preach. That means wearing a lot of non maternity wear which works with a bump, and trying really to stay true to what I would have worn before I was pregnant with a few adaptations (just sizing up is not the answer…). The exception is trousers/ skirts which I invested in maternity versions of early doors – the point isn’t to be uncomfortable.
Hide the bump or show off the bump?
Show off the bump. Last time I was pregnant it was summer time, and I could get away with some floaty dresses without feeling too massive. Now it’s winter I think it’s important to give your body some sense of silhouette so you don’t feel like you’re dressing in a tent. Plus I think no matter the changes to your body you should try and embrace it. It’s nice not having to worry about mum tum for this short time, so enjoy that!
In terms of clothes, what are your maternity essentials?
A good pair of jeans, not necessarily skinny ones, which can drive you nuts once you hit week 34-ish. I’ve worn mum style jeans much more than I did before this pregnancy because the fit is much more comfortable, but I’ve gone for ripped versions so they don’t feel ‘mumsy’.
A comfortable jumpsuit. I’ve got one from Beyond Nine, and I love it!! it’s perfect for the days you want to be super comfortable and relaxed.
A leather jacket. It doesn’t sound like a maternity staple but it can make a huge difference to an outfit. Same with accessories, stock up on statement jewellery, and great shoes, and you won’t worry so much if you’re only feeling wearing very plain maternity wear.
What’s your favourite maternity clothes brand?
There’s a few… I love independent brands like Little Yellow and Beyond Nine which have small ranges, but they’re run by mums who have put a huge amount of thought in to the designs to make them perfect for pregnancy.
From the high street, ASOS is good for the variety, and it’s cheap but the trade off is that the quality can be hit and miss. New Look has also served me well this pregnancy for basics, and jeans, and it is excellent value so if you’re looking to keep spends down it’s a good place to start.
Are there any high street or independent brands which aren’t maternity but you’ve felt work really well for pregnancy?
Monki is top of the list, they do great oversized shapes, and bang on trend items for really good value. I didn’t shop there before I was pregnant because I’d never heard of them, but will definitely continue to shop there post baby. Reserved is another one I’ve discovered recently as it’s only just come to the UK. Again it has some great shapes for pregnancy, is affordable and on trend. If you’re looking to spend a bit more then Cos and Oliver Bonas also tend to do silhouettes which work really well with a bump. Time it right and hit the sales in these two as well…
What beauty products do you swear by for pregnancy?
A good bright lipstick – it disguises a tired eye, and will make you look like you’ve made an effort even if you haven’t. I love Charlotte Tilbury (I bought a little set of minis while I got used to wearing it) as it lasts and lasts.
I’m torn on the stretch mark debate. So many people tell me it’s a genetic thing, but I’ve always suffered in the past when my weight has fluctuated, and have a tonne of stretch marks on my legs and arms, but have managed to stave them off in both pregnancies more or less (the boobs haven’t escaped unscathed).
What can you not live without in pregnancy?
Carbs for sure. I basically spent the first 3 months eating like a fussy toddler, everything beige. I also use a pregnancy pillow which I’d highly recommend, whether you go for an expensive or cheap one. Sleeping gets pretty uncomfortable as you go through the trimesters, so anything which helps is worth the investment.
Are there any style/ fashion lessons you’ve learnt along the way in your pregnancies?
in my first pregnancy I really fell in to a “whatever is easiest” trap, and I was determined for that to not happen again this time, as I look back now and certain things think what was I thinking?! I think the key thing is that you can still maintain some of your own sense of style even though you’re pregnant. Don’t buy in to the myth that because you’re pregnant you HAVE to dress a certain way. I would never wear a wrap dress and leggings in normal life so why should I because I’m pregnant and that’s what so much of the offer is?! Be clever, and you can generally stay in non-maternity apart from jeans/ bottoms, or buy maternity stuff which represents who you are.
Accessorise accessorise accessorise – a great pair of shoes or piece of statement jewellery will completely transform an outfit and last you way beyond pregnancy.
Think about price per wear – some independent maternity brands can be more on the pricey side. Invest in a couple of great items early on in your pregnancy like the start of the 2nd trimester, meaning you’ll get a load of wear out of them and bring price per wear right down. You won’t feel guilty if you spent a bit more but wore the hell out of it. I would tend to go for the independent brands though as some of the most popular / well known higher end brands are expensive but their quality isn’t any better than their high street counterparts.
Is there anything you feel is still really missing from the maternity fashion market in the UK?
There’s still a sorry lack of on trend items which are good quality. ASOS do some great bits, and often have versions of their standard range in maternity which is great. There’s far too little of that out there. Breton tops and wrap dresses are all well and good but there needs to be more that reflects what women want to wear in their life outside of pregnancy. I firmly believe you shouldn’t have to want to burn all your maternity clothes as soon as the baby arrives. That’s why I’ve stuck more to non-maternity items, but I don’t think this should be the case, you should be able to wear maternity clothes way beyond pregnancy, but there’s very little out there at the moment to be able to do that.
Have you done a lot of reading / research about pregnancy and childbirth?
I’m not a big fan of reading too much about pregnancy. I find it overwhelming which stresses me out, and I think it’s better to trust your instincts. I can google with the best of them but only do it if I’m anxious about something specific, and I stick to the major sites like the NHS to answer any questions, and try to NEVER go down a mums net rabbit hole. This time I have though I did buy Clemmie Hooper’s book How to Grow a Baby and Push It Out which I really enjoyed. It’s not so detailed you get bogged down / start to worry about things and it’s packed full of women’s positive stories of birth and pregnancy. I think reading positive experiences is key to going in to birth confident and positive so can’t recommend this book enough. If you are someone who wants the encyclopaedic day to day guide to all things pregnancy then it’s probably not for you.
What else if anything have you done to prepare for birth?
This time round I’ve been doing pregnancy Yoga since about week 16 which has been amazing. I’d love to say I practice at home too but it would be a lie, and even doing once a week has helped me stay more flexible and hopefully left my body better prepared for birth. I’ve also been doing pilates every week which has been great to maintain my strength, and I think to date has helped me keep off some of the additional lbs.
I’ve also done a hypnobirthing session which I was hugely skeptical about, but now am a total convert. I still have my anxieties but I feel like I’m going in to having this baby much more prepared mentally, and so more calm and confident as a result. Though naturally won’t know the full benefits till we’re on the other side.
Sum up pregnancy in 3 words…
Miraculous, exhausting, occasionally frustrating
Is there anything you miss being pregnant?
Honestly I miss having a couple of drinks. I rarely go out and get drunk nowadays as I find the hangover isn’t worth it with a toddler to look after, but being able to go out for dinner and have a couple of glasses of red is something I really miss.
What’s your favourite thing about being pregnant?
Feeling all the kicks and knowing you’re essentially performing a miracle and growing a life. Women often say the movement keeps them awake at night but I find it really relaxing and soothing, and will often send me back to sleep if I’ve been awake with pregnancy insomnia which has plagued me a bit this time round.
What would you say is the worst thing about being pregnant?
Physically this time it’s been the stomach issues. Wind, constipation, haemorrhoids, sickness you name it I’ve had it this time round. Never suffered too badly with my last pregnancy so it’s been an unwelcome surprise. It’s little things like this that can get you down being pregnant, and I think it’s ok to admit that. Much as with motherhood you don’t have to love it every second of every day!
On the non-physical side it’s how vulnerable you can feel. I’m used to being very self sufficient, and can charge through the commute with the best of them. Having to take a step back and realise you are more vulnerable can be really difficult. Also having to rely on other people more can be tricky. Sometimes it’s nice being waited on but when it’s a necessity it can lose it’s edge.
What advice would you give to other pregnant women?
Do some pregnancy yoga! It’s been amazing for me to take the time each week to focus on strength and breathing to try and prep better for birth. I would recommend it so highly. It’s also a good way to meet other expectant mums – NCT isn’t the only place to do this. Be kind to yourself, take time to rest and look after yourself. You’ll never have a better excuse to not go out to an event you’re not keen on, or just stay in and hibernate. Take it!
If you could go back and give your pregnant first time around self one bit of advice what would it be?
Don’t work so hard! I did everything I could at work to act like I wasn’t pregnant first time around and it didn’t do me any favours. I told myself I didn’t have time for yoga or anything else like that which was for me, and only did the essential midwife appointments and NCT. If I could go back I would do things differently and make more time to focus on myself and what my body needed.
What would your one bit of advice for new mums be?
Don’t rush to get back to normality, it will come with time. There’s an immense pressure on new mums to get out and about as soon as possible after the baby arrives, both from others and yourself. It might seem like a good idea at the time but chances are it’ll mean you take longer to recover, and you’ll look back and wish you’d taken advantage of one of the only times in your life when it’s acceptable to lie in bed or on the sofa and hibernate. Trying to do too much will seem like a certain kind of madness when you’re out the new baby fog – a baby mum friend of mine suggested wine tasting 2 weeks after my son was born, and I worried about why I couldn’t face doing it. Now I look back and say thank god I didn’t do it, it would have been complete and utter insanity!!! So give yourself a break and the time you need, no matter how long that is, and it doesn’t matter if that’s longer than everyone else in your baby friendship group! Oh, and everything is a phase, which you’ll say often but never truly believe until you come out the other side and see it for yourself.