pregnancy

5 Beautiful Beauty Picks for New and Expectant Mums

 

Today we’ll be tackling a spiritual heavyweight of a topic. One of the most frequently asked of all my FAQs… *drumroll please*

‘What beauty products can I use to get rid of my stretch marks/eye bags/general zombified demeanour during/after pregnancy?’ (AKA What can I buy as a gift for my pregnant or new Mum?)

Heaven knows why anyone would want my opinion on beauty picks, seeing as my leading look for AW17 is a heady hybrid of ‘effing knackered’ and ‘dragged through a hedge backwards’ but here we go..!

[[Aside: I’m not going into the fundamentals here because they’re kinda boring and I’m completely with you on preferring to throw a bit of cash at the situation, but a good start is to drink lots of (preferably filtered) water, eat lots of (ideally organic) fruit and veggies, get plenty of sleep (ha) and do as much of the yogas and meditations as Father Time and your little person will allow. Anyhoo…]]

  1. Boots Botanics All Bright Refreshing Eye Roll On

Boots hibiscus all bright eye roll-on tired pregnancy eyes new MumThis formula contains Hibiscus to give a skin-brightening dose of radiance to any sad puffiness under tired eyes. The metal roller ball feels deliciously cool and I genuinely think shadowy areas look as lightened and tightened as I could reasonably expect from a little tube of gel. The label suggests using twice daily and I did try it straight from the fridge a few times, (bliss) but in real life it lives in my car cup-holder and gets pulled out when I pull up at work, my Mum’s house or any other place where looking like a functional human being is a prerequisite.

Find it
at Boots

 

  1. Lush Therapy Massage Bar

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 11.23.34This miracle product found fame amongst the yoga Mums when I recommended it for the early beginnings of some stretch marks. The next week they were better, the week after they’d vanished. (Yep, her bump was still getting bigger). Obviously, the idea of a cure-all for stretchies is ridiculous and I don’t find them offensive (nor do I think they’re ‘battle scars of Motherhood’ because I can’t see them as that important or defining a feature…) but this bar is so deeply moisturizing and nourishing it’s probably as close as we can get. Plus it’s free of all the nasties found in a lot of alternatives. Much of the leg-work is done by a blend of cocoa and shea butter, and there’s organic lavender oil to chill you out, and wild orange and neroli to lift the mood.

The lady in the shop also told me it’s gentle enough to apply to baby’s skin, although I’ve never felt the need to use it on my own little dude. This is why the bar features 3 notches and a nobble; apparently 3 out of 4 babies have ‘in-y’ bellybuttons, and 1 has an ‘out-y’. It can go soft or liquefy in warm weather, but – let’s face it – that’s not something we need to worry about around here. At £6.75 I balked a little bit when I first purchased it (hey, big spender), but it gets the job done.

Find it at Lush

 

  1. Lush Ickle Baby Bot BathbombScreen Shot 2017-10-26 at 11.23.50

Another Lush hit, this bathbomb is kind enough for baby’s over 6 months so you can multi-task getting a relaxing, yum-smelling bath whilst bossing the tiny one’s bedtime (or two’s, or three’s, etc. if you’re a Mum of many). At least I presumed I was supposed to be in the bath too…

Bubbles, blue-ness and lavender – it’s soothing for irritated skin and spirits alike. Pretty good valu
for a Lush product at £1.95. It’ll even do 2 baths if you’re feeling frugal.

Find it at Lush

 

  1. Hairburst For New Mums

3 months after giving birth my hair was still a wild, untamable mane. I thought I’d escaped the fabled post-partum fall-out. I was wrong. Just shy of four months, the downfall began. And not just the extra stuff that supposedly grows during Hairburst for new Mums pregnancy breastfeeding vitamin postpartum hair losspregnancy, which is what Google said to expect. As much as I hate the word ‘clumps’, it best describes how I was losing it.

I was FREAKING OUT.

My hairdresser recommended a sea kelp formula but I couldn’t find one that was safe to use whilst breastfeeding so I chickened out and picked this up. It’s pink and vegan and – more importantly – works. First my nails started growing faster and stronger, then the hair situation started to pick up. £19.99 will get you a month’s supply.

 

Find them here

 

  1. TERRANOVA Prenatal Multivitamin Complex

Terranova prenatal vitamins pregnancy supplements yoga diet prenatal postnatal fertilityWe’re all told how vitally important it is to take prenatal vitamins but the commonest mass-marketed
formulas gave me the heebies. They either weren’t ethically made, weren’t plant-based or used folic acid rather than folate*. After many hours of research, I found a company called Terranova, who take their supplements seriously and the ingredients are natural and top quality.
I didn’t stick unconditionally to the two-a-day dosing schedule as I was confident my plant-heavy diet provided all the nutrients me and bubs needed. However, taking them put my mind at ease during busier spells at work, and also made me feel better when my midwives reached the ‘vitamin’ box on their tick list. The capsules didn’t aggrevate my nausea and I feel like they contributed to my high energy levels and general sense of wellbeing. I continued to take the remaining capsules post-natally as they’re safe for use whilst breastfeeding
and think they’re a great boost for those looking to prepare their bodies to conceive in the near future.

Find them  https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00D2R6BOM/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=driftyoga-
21&camp=1634&creative=6738&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B00D2R6BOM&linkId=fdb5ac6a98c6a06619f25844b48f332d

 

Do let me know how you find any of the above and remember, if you feel like you’re having a completely bleurgh day, people are probably way too busy looking at your cute little bump or bundle to even notice.
I know when I see other newbie Mums I’m usually too blown away by how beautifully they wear Motherhood to see the exhaustion.

Lots of love, as always,

Sal x

 

* Folic acid is a synthetic form of vitamin B9 also known as pteroylmonoglutamic acid. It isn’t metabolized to the acive form of B9 in the same way as natural folate, so has the potential to build up in its unmetabolised form. Studies have even found in otherwise fasted people. This excess has been associated with certain health problems and there’s speculation about the correlation between folic acid intake and childhood cancers. Whilst folic acid is cheap to manufacture and stable in mass-produced foods and has undoubtedly reduced rates of neonatal neural deficits, we’re perhaps a little too accepting of its presence in our food supply. It’s always worth doing your own research into what you’re personally comfortable with.

 

** The above amazon links are affiliate links. Clicking them costs no extra, but kicks back some spare change to the website to help out! It’s very much appreciated.

What Every Woman Should Know about Pregnancy and the Uterus

 

Long before my love of all things yoga, pregnancy and lycra there was my love of hard science. And – albeit in a veterinary sense – reproduction was kinda my thing! I even taught it at Cambridge. (Yep, actual Cambridge, the one with dreaming spires, Pimms o’clock and really hard exams. Hard to believe when I’m in my unicorn leggings, I know…).

My nerd-ish tendencies have had a few consequences:

a) If you’ve ever wondered what species boasts a corkscrew-shaped penis, full-pint ejaculation and the 30-minute female orgasm, I’m your girl!

b) I’m really passionate about applying science to making pregnancy and birth safer and easier.

So, with that in mind, here’s today’s science bit A.K.A. what’s actually happening to your uterus in labour, simplified.

Yoga and the Uterus

We can think of the uterus as a muscular bag designed to hold a baby during pregnancy. The muscles it’s composed of are involuntary. Just like the muscles that give us goosebumps or make our heart beat, we can’t consciously control them. We can, however, influence their action with the bodily environment we create – and that’s where yoga comes in.

The uterine muscles (myometrium) sit in two main layers. One runs vertically up and over the top of the uterus (the end which finishes near the rib cage at full term) and one runs horizontally, forming bands or loops encircling baby and the placenta as they grow.

During pregnancy, the upper vertical muscles remain relaxed while the tone in the strong horizontal muscles – especially those at the bottom of the uterus close to the cervix – hold baby up and in, exactly where we want them to be.

During labour, their roles reverse. Working as a pair, much like your biceps and triceps, their action draws baby down the abdomen and out of the uterus into the birth canal.

pregnancy yoga prenatal uterus muscles myometrium hypnobirthing relaxation

When a woman is calm and relaxed these muscles work in easy harmony.

During a contraction (rush or surge) the upper vertical fibres actively contract and shorten. This draws the inner layer of horizontal muscle fibres – thickest just above the cervix, baby’s way out of the uterus – up and back. This action causes the cervix thin and dilate (open) – eventually reaching that ‘magic number’ of 10cm.

We can often see this action on the outside as Mum’s tummy gets hard or tight, appearing to lift upwards during each rush.
pregnancy yoga prenatal uterus muscles myometrium hypnobirthing relaxation

Unfortunately, when a woman is nervous or tense, this team can’t work quite so harmoniously. From an evolutionary point of view, it’s just not sensible for your body to deliver a baby quickly and in its immediate environment if it senses stress hormones. Unable to differentiate from genuine or perceived threats, our bodies err on the side of caution.

In this case, the horizontal muscles also tense up so are unable to move upwards as the vertical muscles pull on them. It’s a bit like trying to straighten your arm with both your biceps and triceps muscles contracted. The tension from these now opposing muscles combined with the pressure of the baby’s head pressing down onto a cervix that isn’t easily able to open or thin causes pain. When a woman feels this pain, it confirms her worst fears about the impending agony of labour are true. This only heightens the state of stress that initially caused the problem. This leads to a circle of feedback:

More stress hormones = more opposing muscular action = a longer, more painful labour.

Not so great.

Thankfully, the mindfulness and breathing techniques we learn in yoga teach us to go with each wave or surge, instead of resisting it. Even if the strong sensations of a rush do start to cause panic, we’re less likely to be overcome by it as we’ve taken the time to really understand that each rush – like everything else in life –  is transitory, We trust our body’s ability to birth our baby and know that each surge brings us closer to meeting our long-awaited baby.

As always, I’m more than happy to answer your questions – just comment below!

If you’re interested in giving pregnancy yoga a try, there’s a new 6-week course starting on the 3rd of June and enrolment is now open! This will be the last course until (at least!) November 2016, so feel free to join us whatever stage of pregnancy you’re at. Find out more here, or to register fill in the form below or send me a message on Facebook.

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