What’s​ In My Bag? The Mum Edition

I was really quite excited to purchase my changing bag but was disappointed to be met with an array of spotted, striped and floral designs which, while clearly practical, weren’t really what I had in mind. Losing my sense of self after having a baby was, to a degree, inevitable, but I would be damned if I was going into the experience without suitable arm candy! For some reason, a lot of my hopes and fears seemed bound up in the outward appearance of my changing bag. As if it would be a measure of what kind of mother I was or how well I was coping. I wanted to convey an unruffled, glossy visage of an impeccably groomed woman who clearly had her shit together (and just happened to have a baby). So in my hormone addled pregnancy fog, that meant that by hook or by crook I would have me a killer bag – but where to find it?

The Bag

I discovered the ‘Jemima’ by Jem + Bea about half way through my pregnancy. Everything that I had seen up until that point was the stereotypical changing bag outlined above – a bit too wipeable to be chic. Though considerably more expensive than the majority on offer, I reasoned that this was going to be something I carried with me pretty much 100% of the time and would be in need of for at least the foreseeable future. Even before Luna was born I was hyper aware of the psychological impact having a baby could have. I had no idea how I was going to look, what clothes I would be able to wear or how I would feel in my own skin. Having an amazing bag seemed a no brainer.

It should come as no surprise that the girls behind Jem + Bea have some serious fashion credentials. With backgrounds in law and designing for the likes of Mulberry and Anya Hindmarch respectively, these new breed of baby bags were never going to be anything short of impeccable!

Whats In My Bag - The Mum Edition | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Whats In My Bag - The Mum Edition | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Jemima is a large tote made from super luxurious textured leather and has a pocket for everything! The ‘Jem + Bea’ logo is subtly embossed in gold (another tick – you know I love my gold) and for an extra £21 you can have a personalised leather tag (if I’m honest that kind of sold it – love me a monogram!) I also snapped up the stroller straps which have made carrying the bag on the pram a breeze.

Whats In My Bag - The Mum Edition | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Whats In My Bag - The Mum Edition | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Contents

  • Nappies – I’ve tried a number of brands and always come back to Aldi! Soft, substantial and super cheap
  • Wipes – Water Wipes always. An amazing and very ‘wet’ wipe with no hidden nasties! (I always have a packet stashed on my dressing table for any makeup mishaps)!
  • Spare Babygro and Vest. There is nothing more gorgeous than a baby in a simple white babygro. I’ve tried M&S, John Lewis, and Mothercare but these ones from Mamas & Papas are far and away my favourite! They are ridiculously soft and don’t seem to suffer any shrinkage in the wash!
  • Sippy Cup. I’m very conscious that Luna doesn’t become dehydrated and I’m forever thankful that she LOVES water, so we always have a sippy cup to fill up on the go.
  • Muslin. Brilliant for everything from protecting yourself from projectile vomiting cleaning up said projectile vomit, a makeshift bib, a sun shade or as something to lie on for emergency nappy changes. Aden & Anais make the most gorgeous muslins and I always have one of their ‘Jungle Jam’ styles stashed in my bag.
  • Snacks – I usually have some wafer biscuits for Luna and a granola bar for me for munchie emergencies
  • Purse. The Jemima bag comes complete with a small pouch – great for phone, change, keys, lipstick – anything you want to be able to grab in a hurry. (I’ve found this so handy that I’m eyeing up the gorgeous blush ‘Mama’ pouch  as a bit of an ‘extra’).

Whats In My Bag - The Mum Edition | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Whats In My Bag - The Mum Edition | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Overspill (I.e the cast of In The Night Garden)

Shhhh. Ok, so one bag really isn’t enough – particularly as your baby gets older and needs to be entertained pretty much constantly! Though it’s nowhere near as glamorous as my ‘Jemima’ I love my Fjallraven ‘Kånken’ backpack! I would call it ‘utility chic’ and it really is brilliant for housing the never ending pile of books, soft toys and plastic bleepy rubbish you end up carting about with you! It might seem excessive to lug two bags and a baby around but trust me – there is nothing more likely to spoil your day than forgetting your pre-packed entertainment!

Whats In My Bag - The Mum Edition | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Whats In My Bag - The Mum Edition | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Jem + Bea – My Top Picks

  1. The Jemima (which now comes in grey…Be still my beating heart)!
  2. The Amber – It was a toss up between the Amber and the Jemima – the Jemima won on sheer size but oh dear lord the Amber is just to die for!
  3. The Jamie Backpack  – so cool. I think if this had been available this time last year it would have been a serious contender for my back up bag!

I have no doubt that my love affair with Jem + Bea will continue for some time and if we are lucky enough to have a second baby, there is every chance I could be tempted to another. Did anyone else get caught up in the world of changing bags? What do you keep in yours? Can you have too many baby bags? As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Browse The Jem + Bea Website HERE

Postpartum Fitness – The Journey So Far

Call me naive but I was completely unprepared for the way I would feel about my body after giving birth to my baby girl. I had read all the books and I had all of the necessary information, but there’s just something about pregnancy that makes you kind of, mentally block out the thought of anything potentially ‘icky’ or uncomfortable. Consequently, the profuse leakage, aching knees (seriously, no one ever tells you), and sheer bone exhaustion (not to mention the sizeable gut) came as something of a shock. Now I don’t mean to sound dramatic. Putting experiences down on paper seems to make them appear ten times worse and, if I’m honest, everything has been perfectly manageable  – that’s not to say I wasn’t caught off guard!

I’m about as far removed from a health and fitness fanatic as it’s possible to get – this is not a tale of how I grew to love exercise or a detailed testimony of I got my pre-baby body back. Simply put, 9 months down the line I still struggle every day with motivation (or the lack thereof) and lack of confidence in my own abilities. It’s been a long hard slog and I still have a way to go. Here are a few discoveries I’ve made along the way.

  • No one tells you why your body looks and behaves the way it does. At each postnatal check, my midwife would feel my tummy. I never thought to question why as it seemed a perfectly logical thing to do. My tummy had, after all, recently housed an 8Ib human so it made sense that someone would ‘check’ that it was doing o.k. in the aftermath. I wasn’t aware that she was checking the extent of my abdominal muscle separation (Diastasis Recti). If I’m honest I wasn’t aware there was such a thing!
  • Most women have some degree of separation after childbirth – some are lucky with only a minimal gap that will reduce over time. Others have a more severe separation that does require targeted core strengthening techniques to rectify and can be MADE WORSE by the wrong types of exercise.
  • Planks, crunches and other advanced abdominal exercises are the worst possible thing you can do for a post-baby pooch! Without regaining core stability these exercises will do very little for your mum-tum and may even make matters worse There is a definite lack of information as to how to optimise postpartum workouts.
  • Postpartum bodies do not simply snap back to what they were before. I think this myth needs busting right now. Yes, some women recover more quickly than others – every woman’s body responds differently and every woman has a different experience of both pregnancy and birth. Keep in mind that old saying – 9 months on 9 months off (in fact give it a good year or more).
  • As much as it pains me to say it (believe me I’m eye rolling myself right now), you do need to do something to help your body along. I love sweets, I love tea, I hate getting sweaty. It has taken an enormous amount of effort and willpower to summon the energy to prioritise my health and well-being. As I said, this is not the tale of how I now love exercise. It is hard! I don’t love it and it really is a struggle especially when you are in a permanent state of sleep deprivation. But here’s the depressing truth – exercise works! When I get out for a walk first thing in the morning I do feel better. When I finish a workout, I do get a buzz (simply from the sense of satisfaction at having completed it without keeling over) and after 12 weeks of core exercises, I am far less likely to end up in a puddle of wee when I sneeze! Having babies is nothing if not glamorous!

Postpartum Fitness - The Journey So Far

Postpartum Fitness - The Journey So Far

Click Here for a full review of the targeted postpartum system I have used to get to grips with healing my body post pregnancy.

*Update…Going Forward – BBG & Beyond

If I’m being honest, this post has been sitting in the drafts folder for a number of weeks. I just haven’t known when was ‘the right time’ and I certainly don’t feel qualified to advise anybody on the rights and wrongs of getting the ‘old bod’ back in action. Since completing my 12 weeks on the Mutu System, I’ve found myself wanting to (tentatively) take my fitness journey to the next level. My friend Kim recommended the ‘Kayla Itsines’ BBG Programme to me and, after four weeks (of beginner level) I’m certainly feeling stronger though the workouts are INTENSE! As I said I am no great exercise lover so would be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned that I might not be able to go the distance – particularly as I have a holiday coming up! I have a feeling this could be an ongoing saga…watch this space!

Postpartum Fitness - The Journey So Far

I would love to hear anyone else’s experiences of working out or dealing with body woes after pregnancy. If you have any tips, tricks or stories to tell please do leave a comment below!

Postpartum Fitness MuTu System – A Review

Approximately 6 minutes into my favourite pre-baby workout I realised things had changed. The body that had previously responded to anything I had asked of it felt out of sync, alien and simply as if it didn’t belong to me. I was tired, dazed, confused and completely unable to connect to the body I once knew. Is it any wonder the workout didn’t, well, work? I decided to do a bit of research into post pregnancy fitness and was amazed to learn about diastasis recti (abdominal muscle separation) and horrified that a weak pelvic floor could remain so indefinitely! I felt I needed specific exercises targeted at women seeking to regain their core stability after having children and a quick Google led me to MuTu System.

About MuTu System

MuTu is a system is ‘for women who want their bodies to look, feel and function better after having a baby. It is a solution for mummy tummy, diastasis recti, pelvic floor weakness and core that isn’t as functional or strong as you’d like it to be.’*

The system is a 12-week programme with exercises starting gently and slowly building in intensity as you begin to regain your strength and stability. Walking is key and Wendy (MuTu’s founder) emphasises the importance of correct alignment and posture in restoring your core to strength. Core exercises include the use of resistance bands and a pilates ball to train your core as a whole using squats and lunges. For me, this insistence on gradually building up your strength and essentially teaching your body how to function properly again was so reassuring. I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Someone was telling me not only was it was ok not to want to hammer myself with burpees, mountain climbers and jump lunges (ouch), but that it could be potentially harmful. It was helpful to be reminded just how much of a trauma carrying and birthing a baby (whether naturally or via c section) is and that it is not realistic to expect results quickly. Wendy said, “your muscles don’t need boot camp, they need a little love.”*  I’m not going to lie, this sounded so appealing to someone who was in a permanent state of exhaustion and welded to a mini human!

 

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Picture Credit MuTu System

 

Results

For the first six weeks of the programme, I was highly motivated and followed the guidelines to the letter. Then I got sloppy. Sleep deprivation meant the sugar crept back into my diet and I started missing the odd core workout. Despite these little lapses, the improvement I continued to both see and feel was incredible. I was very lucky not to have too much of a problem with abdominal separation but my pelvic floor was shot. Walking every day and learning how to properly engage my core using my abs, back, hips and pelvic muscles as a whole made such a difference both to how I felt and how I looked. People actually noticed a change and I could see my shape starting to come back.

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This is NOT the exercise programme to get you ripped but it is ESSENTIAL for anyone who has had a baby! I truly believe that this is the best foundation for building up your strength post pregnancy. I am not fixed – I don’t know whether that is even possible but as long as the exercises continue to help my body heal then I will continue to practice them. I now have an awareness of my core muscles and can apply that knowledge to my everyday movements. I have recently started a more intensive exercise programme to try and gain muscle and definition but MuTu has taught me to make every exercise a core exercise and to really think about and engage my core muscles in the correct way so as to avoid stress or injury. I wouldn’t have been able to attempt any of these more advanced exercises had I not firstly worked on my core strength. I am genuinely very grateful to have found MuTu at a time when I was vulnerable and floundering and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the system to anyone who has had a baby and just doesn’t know where to begin.

*For More Information visit www.mutusystem.com

Post Pregnancy Skincare Routine

After the first few queasy months of pregnancy, my epidermis took on that fabled mum to be glow! I know, I lucked out and I wish I had savoured the moment as since having my baby, breastfeeding and sheer exhaustion have definitely taken their toll! However, I’ve found that by sticking to a dedicated routine and obsessively stalking skincare guru Caroline Hirons have kept things from going downhill too rapidly! (If you have any concerns regarding your skin check her out – she is the business)!

Cleanse

I am religious about cleansing my skin – it’s non-negotiable! In the evenings I ‘double cleanse’ firstly with a balm (I love Emma Hardie’s ‘Moringa Cleansing Balm’) to remove makeup or SPF. I follow that with something light and luxurious like Oskia’s ‘Renaissance Cleansing Gel’ to clean my skin. Nothing feels as good as taking the day off your face with a lovely hot flannel.

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Exfoliate

I’m not talking about ripping your face to shreds with something that started out life as an apricot (that’s one skincare ritual best left in the 80’s)! The new liquid exfoliants contain acids (not as scary as it sounds) in varying strengths that help to lower the skin’s ph. This makes everything that comes next that little bit more effective! Pixi ‘Glow Tonic’ is great in the evening to slough away those dead skin cells and Alpha Hs cult classic ‘Liquid Gold’ is my twice weekly go to for a serious freshen up. I’m addicted to that warm post exfoliation tingle!

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Spritz

This is a completely unnecessary yet hugely enjoyable step in my routine. After a quick swipe of my chosen exfoliant, I’ll always give my skin a spritz of something calming, soothing and moisturising. My all time favourite is ‘The Jasmine Garden’ by May Lindstrom (seriously, for anyone who loves jasmine as much as I do, this is utterly, utterly delightful). However, it is prohibitively expensive and so I do use it sparingly! My daily spritz of choice would probably be the Clinique ‘Moisture Surge Face Spray’ (I actually had my husband spritz me with this during labour so it definitely does the trick)!

Les Yeux

There’s a bit of a debate about the necessity of an eye cream but I love a targeted eye product. (Particularly as I now only manage, at most, 3 hours of sleep in a row – the joys of motherhood)! If money is tight then taking your serum up to the eye area is perfectly acceptable, but I personally feel that this extra step is worth the effort. Zelens ‘Triple-Action Advanced Eye Cream’ is pricey but pretty unbeatable at smoothing the whole eye area and if I’ve had a particularly hard night then the Wei ‘Correcting Eye Treatment Pads’ are like a slice of heaven!  My baby turns from the demon of the night to the angel of the morning so I can usually find ten relatively peaceful minutes to lie back and chill why these luscious little pads work their magic!

Treat

Serums seem to be the most misunderstood part of any modern skincare regime. Simply put, a serum is there to treat whatever ails you – be that, pigmentation, blemishes or fine lines and wrinkles. It can take the form of a cream, an oil, a gel, can be thick, thin, runny or gloopy.  My current favourite is the ‘Organic Skin Oil’ by La Belle Lune. It smells delicious and keeps my post pregnancy skin calm and feeling super soft even when my hormones are having a fiesta!

Hydrate 

I generally think less about my moisturiser than any other aspect of my skincare routine preferring to target my problem areas with a good facial oil or a high tech serum.I tend to favour something simple and hydrating such as the Alpha H ‘Essential Hydration Cream’ and use it to lock in everything that’s gone before it.

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Added Extras 

If I’m going out or attending an event, nine times out of ten I will begin by prepping my skin with the Charlotte Tilbury ‘Goddess Skin Clay Mask.’ For clay, it smells divine and leaves my skin plumped up, glowing and with a perfect base for applying makeup. On the other hand, if my skin is acting up and irritated, or if I’m planning on being in the house all day, ‘The Blue Cocoon Beauty Balm’ by May Lindstrom is beautiful but again prohibitively expensive so do apply sparingly!

If anyone has any suggestions about how to achieve that ‘lit from within’ ‘J-Lo”  glow on minimal sleep and diet that consists mainly of tea, toast and giant chocolate buttons, then please share all! Obviously not eating said chocolate buttons and upping the water intake would help but, you know, baby steps!