Surviving lockdown 3.0

Covid-19.

It’s impossible to escape the travesty of the relentless virus that has caused a global pandemic, killing thousands in it’s wake.

No matter where we turn, we’re constantly reminded of the severe impact of Covid-19; news reports, social media memes, social distancing posters, lockdown measures and face-masks galore.

We’re reminded of death rates, R rates, deadlier strands and the dramatic burden upon the NHS. We’re told to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives. We’ve watched in disbelief as people have panic shopped, shielded and missed loves ones.

We’ve seen shops close, businesses go bust, countries close their boarders and economies come to a grinding halt.

In this new world, where a hug is invaluable and a trip to the supermarket is a weekly treat, how do we stay sane?

Here’s a quick fire guide for a healthier Lockdown 3.0. It’s by no means a cure- but adding one of these into your routine each day will work wonders:

I like to move it, move it

Nothing is better for the mind, body and soul than exercise and fresh air, It’s scientifically proven that exercise releases happy chemicals into the body, improves energy levels and reduces both anxiety and depression.

My advice? Take advantage of your 1-hour exercise window and get moving. It doesn’t have to be an intense workout or marathon run (although this totally works), it can be a simple walk, a short yoga vide, PE with Joe Wicks or a wild dance around your living room.

I’ve been back in my home gym 4-days a week and aiming to achieve 10,000 steps a day, and it has made me feel so much more energetic. On days where Aurora-Vogue is slightly more clingy, we blast a Disney playlist on Alexa and, well, the living room is my dance floor.

Don’t over think it, just move it!

And breathe

The first thing we do when we’re born is breathe. And we do it every day of our lives. In fact we do it so often we take it for granted.

Did you know that mindful, slow, deep breathing pumps your body full of oxygen and can calm your mood, kill pain, reduce stress and anxiety, improve posture, clear your mind and lower your blood pressure.

The best part is that you don’t have to spend ages meditating to feel the benefits. Just 1 minute every 2-3 hours.

Apple watches even have a breathe function which reminds you and coaches you through deep breathing. It couldn’t be simpler.

So no excuses, set your alarm. Clear your mind. And breathe.

Self-caring is self-loving

Pamper package is a must.

Sure there are a bunch of expensive products available, but it’s just as easier to relax and unwind on a budget.

Find 30 minutes for a face mask, hair mask and quick fake tan. Persuade your partner to give you that all important foot massage. Or tune into some whale music and light the incense burners.

Whatever your pampers potion may be- do it.

I personally opt for a fave mask, hot bubble bath and layer of tan, and I feel catwalk ready!!

Fantasise & indulge

We all know how to fantasise. Remember back when you were yay high and dreaming of becoming a mermaid, owning a private jet or finding out your real parents are really the King and Queen of a secret kingdom?

No? Just me?!

Okay, either way, now is the time to daydream.

Make a list of all the things you’re going to do when lockdown is lifted. Who will you go for cocktails with? Where will your first holiday be? And which restaurant will you book a VIP table for?

It’s basically a wish list of the great things you’ll do post lockdown. After all, Walt Disney once said “if you can dream it you can do it” (unless your dream is to be a mermaid- cheers Walt!)

Stay connected

The one great thing about a pandemic in 2020 is the incredible amount of technology available to help you remain connected to loved ones. WhatsApp, Zoom, FaceTime, the list goes on.

Better yet, you don’t have to worry about getting stuck on a call with nothing to say. From bingo to themed cocktail evenings and escape rooms to dance offs, there’s something for everyone and ideas aplenty to keep calls cool. Here’s a bunch of ideas, with loads more available on the web.

Be the best version of you

We’ve forever longed for time to reflect and invest in ourselves.

Whether you’re working, on Furlough or spending lots of time at home and alone, now is your chance to develop you.

What’s the one skill you’ve been longing to learn? Or maybe there’s a job you want to apply for but haven’t found the time?

In lockdown 1.0 I learnt how to bake bread, in lockdown 2.0 I set up my blog and social media, and by lockdown 3.0 I was attempting motherhood and preparing to start a new business.

Whatever it is, big or small – develop you. Enrich your own life and make sure that when you emerge from the other side of Covid you’ll be living your best life.

Netflix and chill

Okay, if all else fails, you can Netflix and chill. And it doesn’t have to be Netflix.

You can Prime Video, Catch Up or Disney +. Pick your poison and binge away. There are very few times in life that this would be accepted (aside from when nursing a hell of a hangover or if you’ve been dumped!)

Bonus points if you’re Netflixing in pjs while eating popcorn, ice cream or a gin float!

We hope this is enriching- and please- if you’ve found a secret solution to lockdown survival, let us know in the comments below x

Packing for labour: hospital bag unpacked

It goes without saying that every mum-to-be stresses over the actual labour part of pregnancy. There are so many if’s, but’s and unknowns. Bizarrely, one of the things that was stressing me out the most was the hospital bag, and what I needed to take with me for my labour.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a light packer and someone who can make a backpack of essentials last for a 3-week Far-East expedition. I’m also a firm believer in ‘don’t stress, if you don’t have it with you, you can buy it there.’

Until now.

Suddenly (and probably due to my lack of control on all other elements), I needed to know exactly what to pack and make sure I had everything needed for me and my unborn.

For all the mum’s-to-be who love a checklist and want to know what to pack, here’s my list of hospital essentials. Including items packed that I didn’t use.

Click here to download our simple hospital bag checklist.

Essentials for Mummy

For Mummy:

Toiletries

  • Deodorant
  • Skincare essentials: I recommend the Tropic Skincare Discovery Kit – it’s a perfectly sized travel kit which is light, natural and incredibly refreshing – much needed after a sweaty labour and night in hospital. This also includes a flannel cloth and a travel bag great for storing your other toiletries.
  • Face Wipes
  • Toothbrush and paste
  • Shower Gel and body creams: I recommend going for something light, natural and unscented to prevent any irritation to baby during that skin on skin time.
  • Nipple cream: I recommend Lansinoh, which was a God-send for me, especially as my baby was tongue tied and so didn’t latch properly at the beginning. The nipple barrier cream really helped to reduced that awful sucking sensation while allowing me to continue my attempt at breast-feeding.
  • Spritz for Bitz: Another can’t live without essential – this magic spray is great for helping with swelling and pain if you have a natural birth, and can also be applied to the c-section scar during healing. I recommend storing in the fridge for extra soothing effect – a real treat for mums!
  • Maternity Towels: we’ve all heard the horror stories about the post-pregnancy period, and it’s true, especially in the first couple of days. these are a must have!
  • Breast Pads: I used Tommee Tippee disposable pads. I took them in my hospital bag with me, but didn’t produce milk while in hospital so didn’t end up using them until the following few days. I’m on day 14 of motherhood and have used up my first pack and ordered a second!
  • Make-Up and hair brush: I know that some people don’t agree with this level of vanity, but I needed this to feel more ‘me.’ While I packed my entire make up bag, I ended up using a light foundation, concealer and bronzer on my dispatch day. I also recommend packing some hair grips – mine ended up being plaited for the duration.

Clothing:

  • Flip Flops or slippers: you’ll thank me when trawling back and forth to the loo at night.
  • Large, elasticated panties: seriously, forget the glamour here. You need big, stretchy Bridget’s to get you through, especially if you have a c-section where you won’t want anything close to the scar! Four pairs should be enough.
  • Night-shirts: I found the perfect night shirts in Primark. They were £10 each and were button down on the front – which was amazing for skin-to-skin and breast feeding. They have also been a dream since. If the Primark ones aren’t available, I’d recommend sizing up and going for a shirt that buttons all the way through for easy access. Boohoo have a great selection in the maternity range also. I took two but only wore one.
  • Nursing Bra: I spent most of my time in hospital bra-less – until going home time. At this point I used my Boohoo Maternity bra for comfort. Again – not sure you need it in your hospital bag, but definitely have used mine non-stop since – mainly for nights.
  • Going home outfit: There are tons of recommendations for going home outfits. My advice would be something baggy, especially if you’ve had a c-section. I wore sized-up high waisted stretchy leggings and an oversized t-shirt with trainers. Note- you may still be wearing your DVT socks which are slightly harder to style! The main advice is comfortable and loose!

Snacks:

  • Mixed Nuts or a slow-release non-perishable alternative
  • Dried Mango: this was a personal craving of mine throughout pregnancy and worked really well for a light pick me up post birth – the majority of hospital food served can be quite heavy and stodgy.
  • Snack Bars: I opted for a bunch of cereal and protein bars for pre, during and post labour.
  • Coconut Water: Again, a healthy and slow-release pick me up to refresh throughout.
  • Bottega Prosecco or a sparkling alternative to celebrate your efforts and the arrival of your teeny package.

Technology:

  • Phone charger: You will want to be on your phone for the duration of your stay in hospital. Especially if, like me, your partner is not able to stay with you due to Covid-19 restrictions. Please don’t forget to pack a charger, they are not available in hospital and you will regret not having one with you! Plus – you’ll be using your phone a bunch for all those adorable pictures.
  • Tablet & charger (equipped with movies): I downloaded a bunch of movies and shows to my tablet before heading into hospital and found this really useful on two occasions; during pre-active labour, which was very slow and boring and on the ward post delivery when my partner had gone home and I wanted to zone out.
  • Headphones – because other people probably don’t want to hear you watching reruns of Desperate Housewives for 6 hours!
Essentials for Baby

For Baby:

  • Bib: I packed four bibs and didn’t use any of them as baby hardly eats during the hospital say. I’d recommend taking a couple of multi-purpose muslins instead of bibs.
  • Muslin: Next are great for new-born essentials and offer a great selection of muslin squares in a variety of different designs and colours. These have become an absolute staple item for us and we can’t get enough of them. I took four to the hospital and used two.
  • Hat: The advice is to put baby in a hat during any transport between climates i.e. from the hospital to the car etc. The hospital will put a knitted hat on baby at birth, but chances are you’ll want to be in charge of the style of this (Aurora arrived in a stripy white and burgundy hat and resembled a Christmas Elf!) We’d purchased a first size hat from Next, which was super cute, but still a little big for her teeny head!
  • Scratch mitts: Another Next purchase for us! We didn’t end up using these while in the hospital as her nails weren’t an issue, and all the baby grows that we’d purchased had built in scratch mitts – would recommend having these available at home, but not essential for your hospital bag.
  • Baby Grow / Sleepsuit: We packed four sleep suits for our hospital visit and this worked perfectly for her 1 night stay. She wore one after birth, one for her first night, one for her second day and one for her journey home. I’d recommend purchasing a couple of sizes (our baby was much smaller than we expected and so everything swamped her) and go for the ones that have built in mitts. Again – Next do a great selection and is where we purchased ours, but you can also get a great range in most supermarkets.
  • Vests / Body Suits: These are great for under sleepsuits, and come in a variety of patterns and designs – again we packed four, two vest style and two with short sleeves, both available from Marks & Spencer.
  • Blanket: We have a bunch of these at home, and found that lots of early gifts from friends and family were baby blankets. Aurora’s favourite, and the one that we used at hospital was her fleece blanket from Amazon. We also took a spare cellular blanket in case it was warmer than expected (we gave birth right at the end of the Covid Heatwave!)
  • Water wipes: Strangely there’s quite some controversy around wipes and cotton wool for new-borns. We purchased Water Wipes following a bunch of recommendations from friends and packed one pack in our hospital bag. These are super kind to baby skin – and have become an essential item for us since. Amazon offer a great subscription deal for extra savings!
  • Cotton Wool: Everyone advised that I wouldn’t be able to get cotton wool in hospital and to pack this with me – I did, but didn’t use it.
  • Newborn dummy and clip: Again, I packed these but didn’t use them. The advice in hospital is that if you’re breast feeding you shouldn’t use dummies. I still haven’t used ours yet, but plan to once those sleepless nights arrive!
  • Nappies: We under packed nappies for our hospital visit, we had six in our bag and finished these on day one. Thankfully the hospital provided us with a Bounty pack which had additional nappies, but this was frowned upon! My recommendation – take the entire pack of nappies with you! Again, Amazon have some great subscription deals available.
  • Formula: Again, we’d heard lots of different stories about the hospital’s approach to feeding. While it’s clear that breast is preferred, they won’t discharge you unless baby is feeding, and the hospital will provide formula where baby won’t take to the breast. If you know that you don’t want to breast feed though I’d recommend packing a couple of ready-made formula bottles, which can be given to baby straight from the bottle.
  • Baby car-seat: For taking baby home!

PS. Why are you telling me this?
Hopefully this will provide some structure to your hospital bag packing. Please note that all links in this email are from my personal recommendations, none of the items mentioned here are endorsements or advertisments.

Pregnancy in a pandemic

When I first found out I was pregnant, I was more than a little apprehensive (understatement alert! Check out ‘A positively un-positive result’ for my actual reaction.)

My journey of pregnancy-acceptance had barely started when the entire world came to a grinding halt at the hands of a worldwide pandemic: Covid-19. Initially I had no idea how this would impact my pregnancy journey as a first time mum-to-be.

Now, 39 weeks on and in a mood of reflection, I can say that it has been a roller-coaster of uncertainty and hesitation. There have been lots of lows (loneliness and lack of connection) but also a couple of highs (weight gain without witnesses!)

For those who have been pregnant in this pandemic- I applaud you! And please note – this is not a criticism of the measures taken by the NHS who have been amazing.

First, we’ll look at the downsides:

1. Loneliness

Did the word ‘alone’ need to be in red capitals?

The biggest impact was loneliness. Throughout the pandemic partners were unable to fully be in the pregnancy journey. Sadly for this first time Dad-to-be, he was re-positioned to the outskirts of the experience; unable to join midwife sessions, scans or hospital visits, and despite best endeavours, we weren’t permitted to Facetime during appointments.

Infact, aside from our 12 week scan, the first time that he got to see our baby and hear her heartbeat was at 32 weeks during a ‘Born to be a star’ 4D scan (courtesy of Window to the Womb.) Even this was almost out of reach for as all 4D scans were stopped during lockdown, leaving us one day between clinics reopening and me being too pregnant to be scanned!

2. Lack of personal interaction

‘Welcome’ to reception

As if the loneliness of the experience wasn’t enough, the introduction of masks, distancing and scarcely scheduled appointments made the prospect of pregnancy incredibly sterile and removed the opportunity of personal interaction.

Each consultant, doctor, midwife and advisor was masked (rightly so) and sat as far away as possible. When checking in for appointments you’d often have to stand in the centre of a waiting room and call your name and personal details out to the receptionist at high volume.

In one instance at a midwife appointment, a young mum arrived for her appointment with a young toddler in tow. She was refused entry and told she’d have to reschedule her appointment as she couldn’t have a guest visiting with her.

These physical boundaries made it very difficult to build trust or feel relaxed, adding another layer of isolation. Infact I’ve been seeing my midwife for 9 months and I don’t think I’d recognise her without her mask on!

3. Social experiences

As social creatures, we humans love to take advantage of social experiences, with millennial’s famed for their need to gain meaningful experiences over substantive possessions. Well, you can certainly say goodbye to that desire if you’re pregnant during a pandemic!

Aside from the removal of social encounters; NCT classes to Zoom, abolition of the Baby Shower and closure of stores (say goodbye to trialling that pushchair or baby sling.) If you are trying to improve your Mum network, and do find that one mum who is willing to brave the pandemic and meet up, be prepared for mega-awkwardness when it happens!

Can you touch the baby?
Should you wear a mask?
Can you even look at it?

Joking aside, each pregnant person or new mum responds differently; some enforce self-imposed quarantine throughout whereas others continue daily routines. For me, I continued working and networking, but completely respect each persons prerogative.

4. Fear of the unknown during labour

While much normality seemed to have resumed in my run up to the birth, the ever-changing government and medical guidance as a result of the pandemic were rather disconcerting. Add to this the Mum-network rumour-mill and it was hard to know what to expect.

From tales of birthing restrictions including suspension of birthing pools, removal of birthing partners, refusal of visitors through to aftercare delays; no health visits, no birth registration service and recommendations to prevent family to stay distanced, it was hard to know what to believe and what to trust, adding another layer of fear of the unknown during labour.

I am, of course, a balanced individual, and so this blog wouldn’t be complete without sharing the upside of pregnancy in a pandemic.

So, let’s take a look at the upsides:

1. Working from home

The decision to impose lockdown and only allow people to visit their place of work if they were critical was very tough to accept at first. However, as my pregnancy progresses I realised that working from home had it’s benefits.

There was no need to invest heavily in that amazing new maternity wardrobe (Fabletics leggings and a tank were the new wiggle and stiletto.)

Removing the need to travel to and from work (usually around an hour and half a day) meant more time for much needed baby-baking rest.

2. Weight gain without witnesses

Perhaps the biggest silver lining was the ability to gain weight without witnesses! Don’t get me wrong, when I did see people there was certainly a look of horror in their eyes at the sheer size increase (okay, a slight surprise at an announced pregnancy), but still I could ‘enjoy’ my enlarged stature with minimal stares!

What become abundantly clear throughout, was that as a pregnant and mum-to-be community, we’re all in this together. That pained yet acknowledged look from behind the face mask is an expression we’ve all worn at some point in our pregnancy journey.

I’m hopeful that things will return to ‘normal’ soon (good news – dad’s can now go to scan appointments), but in the meantime, let’s stick together and take advantage of the online platforms available in this new virtual world.

Loadsalove, jess x

PS. Why are you telling me this?
I shared this blog because I realised that what should be an incredibly exciting time was suddenly laced with loneliness. I think it’s important that others don’t feel alone and that we talk about the impact and the importance of our partners feeling part of the journey. If you’re feeling lonely about your pregnancy journey reach out on here or via our Instagram page.

Feed Me. I'm Pregnant.

Feed me. I’m pregnant.


According to the experts at Cambridge Dictionary, a craving is a ‘strong feeling of wanting for something.’ Turns out this is another pregnancy perk which kicks in as a result of hormones, changes to how we smell, and our bodies desire for growth nutrients for our beloved babies… Lucky us!

While I’ve heard many tales of weird and wonderful cravings throughout pregnancy, I’ve been surprised by the number of people who who want to know ‘any strange cravings?’

In my mind I want to tell them about my cravings to bathe in a tub of champagne, to lie on my front just one more time or squeeze into my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans without a waist expander (yes, this is an actual thing)… but I couldn’t possibly say something that shallow – could I?

While the majority of cravings sound perfectly normal; chocolate, fruit and ice-cream, one thing I’ve learnt is that people love to share the bad bits of pregnancy. As a result I’ve listened feigned amusement as enthusiastic friends and relatives share horror stories of the ladies who craved freshly cut grass sandwiches, had overwhelming desires to lick lumps of coal and those who craved the scent of chewing tobacco or petrol.

This is usually finished up with ‘but you’ve got to eat whatever the baby craves… just don’t think of the weight gain!’

Double. Ouch.

Thankfully, my pregnancy cravings have been relatively ‘normal’:

First Trimester Cravings:

My first trimester was a slight shock. Pre-pregnancy I gym-med six times per week, ate two shakes and one very balanced meal per day. Roll on trimester one and I soon learn, following an unfortunate incident with a tuna sandwich, the need to opt for the ‘yellow food’ diet.

Bland. Colourless. And most important of all: Odourless.

Thankfully most fast food chains were closed as much of my pregnancy was in lockdown. However, I filled my stomach with chicken nuggets, hash browns, french fries and salted crackers. This need for savoury over sweet was, according to Old Wives, was a certain sign that I was having a boy.

Second Trimester Cravings:

By my second trimester my taste buds had transitioned into the ‘rebel’ phase. Basically, they wanted anything I wasn’t allowed to have; Liver, Soft Cheese, Red meats, Sushi and Cocktails (mainly gin based!) Thankfully this only lasted a few weeks before these cravings stabilised into something slightly more manageable, which seemed to last for the duration of my third trimester too.

I soon found myself reliant upon a fresh glass of milk upon waking, at least one can of Diet Coke per day, and as much mango as I could get my hands on.

I noticed that my aversions stayed pretty consistent throughout pregnancy too, with my arch-enemies becoming coffee, tea and sugary foods. Such a shame given my borderline coffee addiction pre-pregnancy!

With little over a week left, I’ve packed a bottle of Prosecco into my hospital bag, and can’t wait to go on an immense foodie spree as soon as they release me from hospital!

Did you have a any weird and wonderful pregnancy cravings, and did your pregnancy diet impact the foods that your little one loved to eat?

Loadsalove, jess x

P.s Why are you telling me this?
I loved hearing about cravings during pregnancy and often wondered whether mine were common cravings. I was also really keen to find out whether the baby would like the foods that I craved the most when she arrived. I’m still counting down the days for that beloved Sushi and Champagne plate post pregnancy.

A positively un-positive result

For as long as I can remember I enjoyed the indulgence of ‘positive’ praise. Perhaps it’s the pride trait of a Leo or perhaps I just enjoy admiration – either way I strive for positive results.

My school test results needed to be A+, around friends I inwardly sought their approval on my latest outfits or fashion choices, and with others I was at my best when I made people feel good.

Infact, the only time that I didn’t glow with delight when receiving a positive result was when 2 lines appeared in teeny white box on a freedom pregnancy test.

Instead of an overwhelming sense of achievement, I experienced an alternative wave of emotions from ‘what the hell’ and ‘this cannot be right’ to ‘I’m supposed to be out for cocktails tonight’ and ‘will my jeans still fit?!’

On the plus side, this explained the nausea I’d be feeling. Until this point I was convinced that I had finally lost my ability to handle excessive weekend alcohol splurges. I was doomed to be punished by the ‘Hangover Gods’ with an eternal hangover, of which I was merely five-days in.

But pregnancy?
Suddenly the prospect of an eternal hangover wasn’t such a bad thing!

So back to my shock and horror moment. I did what any normal person in denial would do. I rapidly shook the test result with growing force to try and convince the teeny screen to change its mind and display a negative result. FYI – the test didn’t change it’s mind.

Fast-forward a few days, and I soon realised that my reaction to pregnancy was not considered acceptable to society. Whenever I expressed my feelings of shock and denial I was corrected and told;

“You’re just saying that, you must be looking forward to it.”
“You’re used to being selfish, that will have to change!”
“Consider yourself lucky, it’s a blessing”
And my personal favourite; “It’s a good job you’re doing it now, you’ll be too old otherwise!

While this was not the Fairy Tale beginning to motherhood, it was a moment that was sure to redefine the rest of my life as I knew it. Here I was taking the first step in my journey to becoming a Mum… while clinging onto my current life with perfectly manicured nails!

Loadsalove, jess x

P.s Why are you telling me this?
When I found out I was pregnant, despite being in a happy and steady relationship, it was an unplanned pregnancy and my reaction was shock; a child was not on my plans. When I mentioned this I felt as though my feelings being judged and I was seen as inappropriate which made me question myself. I now realise that ‘all feelings are fine’ and that some reactions may not be the norm, but they are perfectly acceptable!