Becoming a mummy can be an overwhelming desire from a very young age for some girls. I wasn’t one of them. Maternal instinct instead was something that crept up on me, tapped me on the shoulder and gradually made itself comfortable in my consciousness a little after I turned 30 (yes, that pesky biological clock). It was however, my first nephew’s arrival that unearthed a broodiness I thought I was genetically incapable of and really set the old clock a-ticking. But to become a mum, I had to conquer one considerable and unavoidable fear – being pregnant.
The idea of being pregnant scared me. I wanted the end result more than anything in the world, but was nervous about the nine months leading up to cradling the little bundle of joy that would change my life forever. The necessary lifestyle changes didn’t bother me – I love a glass of wine (or many) but knew the switch to designated driver wouldn’t feel that much of a sacrifice. Equally giving up smelly cheeses and perfectly pink cooked steaks weren’t things that particularly crossed my mind. On the other hand, just the thought of the changes to my body, hormones and the other physical elements of carrying a baby scared me senseless.
As an enthusiastic exerciser and a sucker for healthy eating fads (clean eating anyone?) having control over my body has always been one of my ‘things’. Getting pregnant meant relinquishing most of this and letting the foetus growing within me take charge. Terrifying.
Letting go was hard. So where I could maintain some power over my body I snapped it up. First up came developing a pregnancy style that catered for my blossoming bump (and busoms!). Being petite I was very obviously pregnant from early on (I was a beach ball under the jumper type) and there was definitely no disguising me being ‘up the duff ‘ by the end of the first trimester. However, I refused to give up my skinny jeans (I got some great under the bump numbers from Gap that were convincingly unmaternity-ish) and squidged myself into my favourite leather biker jacket right until the bloated end. This allowed me to still feel like me.
But there were some style compromises I had to make with my maternity wardrobe choices. Investing in good quality maternity friendly clothes may seem pointless (you’ll only wear them for a few months afterall) but for me it was worth every penny. My go-to retailer was Isabella Oliver and I stocked up with some bump flattering basics (I lived in their tops, vests and jersey dresses) which were a wee bit boring for my taste on first glance but a great fitting blank canvas for me to dress up with accessories that reflected more of my own fashion personality.
But there was more to my bump maintenance than clothing it appropriately. My body had to grow. And my skin had to stretch beyond what I thought was physically possible. Plastering on Mama Mio Tummy Rub Oil, Boob Tube and Lucky Legs became a morning and nightly ritual for me. These products are all made from good, pregnancy friendly ingredients and are less sticky and greasy than the (many) others I tried. They make your skin feel great and they smell amazing, even to super sensitive pregnancy nostrils. The result? Although my body shape has inevitably altered as a result of carrying and breastfeeding two babies, I’ve survived two pregnancies relatively unscathed in terms of stretch marks and skin sagging. How much this is down to genes (thanks mum and dad) and eating well during pregnancy I don’t know, but I like to think the obscene amount of cash invested in skincare also contributed. And if it didn’t, it made me feel good at the time anyway!
And my final pregnancy survival tactic? Exercising. Sensibly. When it comes to pregnancy I’m a worrier. I followed guidance to the letter and stressed myself senseless if I slipped up against any of the masses of rules. I massively admire women who run three times a week even into their third trimester, but I wasn’t going to be someone who was comfortable jiggling my bump around quite that vigorously. Yet I found the thought of just watching my hard earned strength, tone and fitness dwindle before my eyes unbearable. I found a combination of lots of walking, a little yoga and the Tracy Anderson pregnancy workouts kept me relatively fit, flexible and maintained some signs of muscle tone, which (my non-existent abs and battered pelvic floor aside) is making my return to exercise post-pregnancy slightly less demoralising.
So despite my fears of nine months of misery, I’ve survived pregnancy (twice) mainly smiling and tantrum free. I can’t honestly turn around now and say with convincing fondness that I loved every second of being pregnant. I didn’t. Do I miss having my bumps? Not really. But I love, adore and cherish the two little beings my annoying at times and bulging body created more that I could ever imagine possible. And this makes my pregnancies magical. In retrospect anyway .