“What is a normal bump?” 5 Pregnancy Variables.

At the moment I get a lot of “you’re still so small!” Especially when it comes to weigh-ins and I still haven’t gained since that week of super-gains at the start of the second trimester. But when I look at pictures of other 21 week women online, I see plenty of women my shape and smaller at this stage. And plenty of variety in the shape and size of bumps at all stages. Some women have huge bumps and have hardly gained weight. Some have tiny bumps but are heavier. Some gain more of both, some almost none of either. And these are women who all went on to have perfectly healthy babies. What gives?

Here are five variables I have found that seem to make all the odds.

1: Age of the mother.

A big one: younger women stay smaller for longer, then “pop” more in the third trimester. Almost across the board, the younger you are, the less bump there will be until later.

2: Sickness and cravings.

We will all likely get at least a little queasiness and a bit of the hungers at some point during our pregnancy. But some are affected more than others. If I had had my travel sickness 24/7, I’m pretty sure I would still be 68-70kg today. There is no way I could have ate anything like that. Likewise, if I was as hungry all the time as I get some of these days, I would probably be nearing my 80kg safe-limit already. Your appetite will sway you one way or the other, regardless of how hard you work to eat well.

3: Muscle tone.

I had figured I would “pop” fairly quickly, due to having been obese as a teen. I thought that, seeing as my abs have already been overstretched, there would be no resistance for the baby to grow against. Turns out it doesn’t work like that. Because I do plenty of core exercises in my yoga, lifting and belly dancing, my abs are pretty solid. And solid abs are solid abs, stretch or no stretch.

4: Height.

Yeah, it seems obvious, but if you’re a shorter woman: you could still be carrying a 6-8lb baby. And that means you will have a “regular” bump on your petite frame. It’s going to look huge. Likewise, on a woman with hips as big as mine, or a much taller woman, the same bump may look moderate or even small. It’s an optical illusion you can’t escape.

5: The other mothers around you.

Finally, this will not change how you gain weight, but it can create another optical illusion. As I said, I have been told I was quite small for my stage. Which I may be. But I live in an area where many other women are older, unfit, overweight and happy to snack on sugary things. My culture does not lean towards small bumps. On the other hand, women from a closer group to me (same age, same fitness and dietary habits] tend to be about the same size as me. I might only look small. Likewise, you may appear bigger or smaller if you compare yourself to a demographic which does not represent you.

And you can’t really win with this. At first I was terrified of getting fat. Then I was disappointed at how small the bump was. Then, when I knew baby was healthy, I was proud I was controlling me weight. And now I’m somewhere between thinking I’m too fat, but the bump is too small. No winning at all. I guess you just have to work hard to stay healthy, see where pregnancy takes you and work out where to go from birth when you get there.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

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Fit… Saturday. Meet Our Baby Boy!

Missed Fit Friday yesterday due to being generally busy, but the main update here is: it’s a boy.

It was hard to get a good shot of him, what with all the moving and refusing to cooperate. But this one looked kind of cool, with the skull in full profile. The only way he could look more metal is if he’d flipped his middle finger out at the sonographer.

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Also, if I have another elderberry muffin I will have to revoke my “healthy pregnancy card”. But I haven’t gained an ounce in over five weeks, ie a month, so maybe more muffins are needed. At least the baby is healthy and happy, albeit camera-shy and grumpy like his dad.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

FitFriday, FatFriday XI. I sometimes have a bump now!

Baby.

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Oh, the posture! But I was tired. Still, this is when it’s most obvious: denim skirt, a bit swollen, after exercise. If I wear my jeans I just look like I’ve had a big lunch. :/ Hard to believe I’m halfway there. Well, almost anyways. Still doing great for the most part, but I can already sense the parts of my body that are unhappy with the new weight: lower back, hips, lower abs. Abs might straighten a little bit once the bump moves to belly-button height, though, because I swear this amount of mass isn’t supposed to be held by that one poor hyperextended muscle.

The quickening is… quickening now. Jon actually got kicked last time he rubbed my belly and can hear the heartbeat. He is somewhere between confused, excited and angry, for some reason. But at least he enjoyed it, even if the belly is now a no-go zone due to the risk of being assaulted by a person the size of his hand. I’m unsure how much I enjoy it. It’s fun when it happens, annoying when it keeps going for 5-10 minutes (I assume unborn babies are big aerobics fans] and I can’t focus on work, and somewhere between worrying and disappointing when s/he’s still for over two hours. I seriously can’t make my mind up what I want. 😛

Diet.

I’m not being bad, but I’m not being great either. Trouble is, the only thing that shuts up my pregnancy hungers is ripe cheese. Leaves me feeling full for a day or two. But it worsens my depression, gives me stomach troubles and is a risky food during pregnancy. So I’m managing to eat healthy and then ruining it with at least a chocolate or a piece of cheese a day. :/

Calories are staying within parameter and my weight gain has steadied since the last sudden spike. I now oscillate between 72 and 75 kilos depending on how greedy I have been.

Exercise.

Weights are depending on the day. The power is there and the muscles are doing great, despite all the extra stress on them. But my stamina is shot, so if I spent a day gardening or have been busy or did resistance band work or yoga work, weights aren’t happening. I run out of poke every ten minutes. 😦 Still, workout is workout and a benefit of progesterone is that a little rest won’t make my guns go anywhere. Mother Nature knows what she’s doing, even if I haven’t a clue!

guns

Guns.

How did your week in fitness go? Any tips on keeping active now that I have the stamina of a sea slug?

5 Things You Can Make For A Baby.

I know, it’s been forever since I posted regularly. But there’s been a wedding, a load of jam to make and far too much baby stuff to catch up on. Should be back to blogging now though!

Anyways, here are five things I plan on making for our baby. None are truly bare essentials as in I could buy them at a store or DIY them some other way. But sewing saves money, reduces stress and keeps me from buying every cute thing I see. So if you’re going through the same acquisition urges, here are five things you can make, rather than buy, to save some money and spare your sanity.

1: A nappy bag.

Retail price: From the stats used in my WIP “Baby Budget Diary” book, the average nappy bag costs £50.

Materials cost: Nothing so far! I had almost everything I am using from ages ago and I am repurposing a lot of freebies.

I know I don’t need to make one. A sports bag can be grabbed for a couple of £ and the gods know it’s simpler. But every single penny I can save is a lifesaver when it comes to this new budget book project, and, to be honest, I kind of want a cute, personal nappy bag.

2: Sleep sacks.

Retail price: £20 a piece, total £120 for the first year. I’m gonna faint.

Materials cost: £3.50, and only that high because Jon and I fell in love with this Doctor Who print sheet fabric. Is Doctor Who gender-neutral? Yes, it is. Shhh…

If you want your Winter baby to be as warm as possible and sleep safely blanket-free, you will need sleep sacks. We actually bought a second hand one for £1.50, but usually they cost over £5 even second hand, and I’d rather make some nice, personal, robust ones that can be used by the babies to come.

3: Flannel wipes.

Retail price: From my Baby Budget Diary statistics, a year of disposable wipes costs £310.70 on average.

Materials cost: £0. Free felt and fleece!

Well worth making, for many reasons. Firstly, you have to use cotton and warm water on a baby anyway for the first few months. Secondly, it’s £310.70. Thirdly, all you need is to cut nice big squares of plush fabric, big enough to cover your hand, and probably around 50 of them. You can make them pretty as well and hem them, but the basic is cutting. I will likely be done in an afternoon when I sit down to do this. Couple of days if I decide to sew. Might even drag out the sewing machine!

4: Bibs and burp cloths.

Retail price: According to my Baby Budget Diary stats, £15 average for the first year.

Materials cost: £5 for the bits I’ll use.

I actually spent £20 total on all the fabric I bought this last month. But not all of it is for bibs and rags. Not all of it is even for the baby! Around £5 will go into bibs and rags. So it’s not cheap. But they’re easy to make. Great if you need stress relief. Probably not worth it if you don’t like sewing.

5: Stuffed toys.

Retail price: The average baby’s first Christmas costs £272. Assuming an even four way split between stuffed toys, rattles and travel toys, books and educational tech, that’s £68 on stuffed toys for year one.

Materials cost: Will probably use around £10 worth of fabric at the most.

Stuffed toys are awesome to make. They can be super-cute, you know they’re safe, they are completely personal to your child, you know how to fix them when they break… just win, win, win!

So there you have it, five things I will be making for my baby. I will try and make travel pillows, lactation pads and swaddling blankets as well, but they’re not quite as exciting to talk about.

What things do you like making for babies and kids in the family?

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

5 Diet Tips For Minimizing Morning Sickness.

With week 14 well underway, it’s pretty safe to say: I beat morning sickness. Woo-hoo!

Good thing too, seeing as I have an irrational fear of vomiting that could have put me into shock and possibly meant a hospital trip.

Now, I know a good part of this is luck, maybe genetics, but I did get the odd burst of queasiness. And I managed to not just suppress them, but nip them in the bud. There’s plenty of advice out there on managing morning sickness. This isn’t about that. This is about doing everything in your power not to get it in the first place. And it won’t work for everyone, but it’s just my personal experience in hopes it could help someone else who struggles with emetophobia.

1: Avoid slushy, easily digested food.

The one thing sure to bring on a rumble in my stomach or the smell of reflux was food that dissolves when it hits your stomach. Gooey cakes, yoghurts or even chocolate, any combination of smooth fats and simple sugars is a nightmare. Fast food and other foods with a high GI cause the same mess. Likewise for smoothies, juices and other blended foods. It’s like a food volcano.

Instead, opt for eating whole foods as much as possible. Fresh fruit and vegetables, well cooked lean meats, roughly mashed beans and starches. Minimize simple sugars, fats and salts and focus on fibre, protein and starch for a bedded stomach.

2: Eat plain, dry foods often.

This isn’t just for when you feel it coming on! Almost every well-seasoned mum has told me that if you nibble often, you can mitigate or even send away morning sickness.

Pick something bland and plain, preferably starch or fibre based, that is nice and dry. Corn cakes and home-made bread were my foods of choice, but crisps/chips, rice cakes, crackers and wafers work too. Try and go for whole grain or high fibre options, though, as the plainer and whiter the starch is, the more likely it is high GI or sweetened, which could bring you right back to step one.

3: Trust your nose.

I had an aversion the whole first trimester, but it was a huge one: mussels. Jon and I were eating a Thai fish noodle thing. And he was raving about it. But it tasted… very wrong to be. Still, cause Jon was enjoying it I put on a brave face and finished my bowl. BIG mistake. The next day I had reflux, was almost sick when I sat up and got stomach cramps. Bear in mind this was not food poisoning: Jon, whose digestive system normally can’t handle my “healthy snacks”, ate the whole bowl and then had more the next day and the following day with no issue.

So take this note: sniff your food, lick your food, spit it out if you need to. But don’t swallow something your body is repulsed by. Because even if there’s nothing wrong with it, if your body says “no” it will come out anyway. Your body laughs at wholesome tomato salad. Your body does not believe in a lentil soup. One way or another it will come out.

4: Sip and nibble when in motion.

Motion sickness really got me. Fast moving was fine, but a long car trip was the closest I came to actually experiencing morning sickness in full. Almost constantly queasy, tired, smell of reflux on my breath. And the one thing that beat it down, counterintuitively, was constant sipping and nibbling.

Eating properly will make it worse, as will a proper swig of fluid. But just let morsels the size of an average coat button pass your lips every thirty seconds and you should find yourself not getting (as] sick when you’re out and about.

5: Move deliberately.

Again, this ties into motion sickness. Because a lot of my sickness was actually caused by movement, I worked out that slower, more deliberate movements reduced my motion sickness and made me happier.

Think about your movements before you start. Don’t do anything that could spike or crash your blood pressure, basically. Get up slowly, sit down slowly, lie down slowly, walk slowly, have a good look at stairs and hills before climbing them. Just be mindful of your movements to reduce motion sickness.

And that’s what I did to reduce my morning sickness whenever it surfaced. I understand that for many women it’s just an ordeal that needs to be got over. But anything you can do to reduce it, in any way, matters. So I hope I helped!

How did you handle your morning sickness? Any other tips for women who are having morning sickness troubles?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

5 Baby Essentials I May Do Without.

A post on r/BabyBumps got me thinking about all the things that we have around now for babies that we really didn’t use to use in the past. Some are great innovations. Expecting a baby and having a family history of clotting disorders makes you appreciate things like Vitamin K shots. But others seem… not so useful. So here are five “baby essentials” I can’t see myself using.

1: Bath thermometer.

I know the temperature needs to be right. But I also know how to use my elbow to check temperature. I’m sure a thermometer is more accurate, but I’m not sure the water needs to be exactly 37.50000C. Plus, if I really do panic we have a few waterproof thermometers in the med set that work just fine.

2: A full cot.

There is not a lot of space in the cottage. It’s not a small house, but we have a gym, a tutoring room, two pets and a lot of books. And I don’t think having one cot in one room in an old, cramped cottage with a dog running around will help in the long run. Baby will be in a moses basket, then I will move her/him onto a travel cot, with a decent mattress installed. That way baby can be with me when napping, watch me when I need to keep her/him confined and the cot can go away when we need floor space.

3: Baby bath.

Almost every site for second hand baby goods lists numerous baby baths “never used” or “used once”. Apparently everyone finds it easier to use a sink, or to just hop into a few inches of warm water with baby!

4: Maternity clothes.

Have you seen the prices?! Even the cheaper ones are in the £20 range, for something I will wear for 3 months and store for a year before I need it again.

I’m sticking with my usual strategy for general clothes: good charity shop buys. I have two dresses now that should fit me the whole way, and if I need any more I can just throw on a big dress and go out shopping again.

I struck lucky with bras and have found some sports bras that have no underwire, are soft and elastic and can be comfortably rolled up and down, even one boob at a time, so I might not need maternity bras either.

5: Disposable nappies.

Bit of a trick one here. I know I will probably use a few in the first days as I get the hang of having a baby. But I got what looks like hundreds of reusable nappies for free and in no way do I want to spend money on something I already got.

So those are five “essentials” I really don’t see the point of. What is your angle? Am I getting anything wrong? Is there anything else we can do without, in your experience? Would love to hear from other veteran mums and mums-to-be on the subject!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

10 Things You Can Do For Your Baby Now.

So you’re pregnant. Or you might be. Or you’re TTC and getting way ahead of yourself. And you really want to give your baby the best imaginable start in life. What can you get started on right here and now that will give your baby a better start in life?

Here are ten things I am doing to ensure my baby has the best start I can give it.

1: Eat well.

A good diet for your baby starts well before weaning, before breastfeeding, before even conception.

Your baby’s intra-womb nutrition is very heavily based on digesting the fatty tissue around your hips, upper thighs and buttocks. This is why a low waist to hip ratio and a wide, round bum is appealing to the vastest majority of men: it signals “I have abundant baby food!” Before conception, this fat is very hard for your body to digest short of actually starving yourself. This is why it was so hard to lose your “fat bum” when you hit puberty. Your body wants a fat bum.

So what goes into growing a fat bum, full of healthy baby nutrition, without getting fat everywhere else? Your body shoves a series of types of lipid and nutrient into this fat:

  • omega oils
  • calcium, magnesium, selenium and zinc
  • fat soluble vitamins

Make sure to eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as essential fatty acids, to grow wide hips to feed many babies with. Just keep your portions under control to not grow much wider everywhere else!

2: Get husband to eat well.

His diet matters as much of yours, but mostly it matters before conception. After that it’s a bit easier on him.

The average man needs to follow these guidelines to produce numerous, strong, genetically balanced sperm cells:

  • extra zinc, magnesium and selenium
  • more green veggies
  • more protein
  • some alcohol, less frequently
  • fewer sugars

3: Work.

Whether you are an employee, self employed or a housewife, do as much as you can to make and save money as the baby is on its way. You will likely have nowhere near enough time to make or save money once baby is here, and you will probably be hit by the nesting bug and want to buy more things for the baby very soon.

So make a point of making extra money, saving more, and setting a lot to one side, for peace of mind.

4: Stockpile.

Set aside a small corner. Start collecting baby basics, like wash cloths, weaning spoons, bibs, burping cloths, bra and nipple pads, vitamins… anything you will need during pregnancy and the first few months. Whenever you see something at a good price, snap it up and save it. This will save a lot of panicked, expensive last minute shopping.

5: Take notes.

Go and see the doctor.

Join a baby group, online or in person.

Research.

Ask friends and family.

Find out everything you could possibly want to know about making a baby and take note of anything useful, interesting or unusual.

Not only will it help you feel a bit more prepared and avoid big mistakes, but it will bring some comfort, relief and happiness.

6: Stay fit.

Having healthy hip fat is only part of the battle. If you want a strong and healthy baby, you need to be strong and healthy yourself.

Keep your weight down. Don’t diet, but try and not put on too much fat before or during the pregnancy. Some very overweight and obese women can even healthily lose body fat during pregnancy. Remember: the fat your body feeds the baby is almost a completely different pool to the fat you burn when you diet. Baby will be fine.

Stay active. Go for walks, lift weights, play with the dog. Don’t overexert yourself, but it’s absolutely fine to exercise until you’re a bit out of breath or tired. As long as you aren’t sweating or massively straining your abs, you are doing well.

Get outside. Get in the sunshine, breath some fresh air, experience the calming effects of nature. Not only will you get some vitamin D (crucial for bone development of the baby and healthy bones in yourself) and cleanse your lungs, but being in nature is good for mental health as well.

Keep your immune system strong. Don’t expose yourself to multiple people with the same bugs. Don’t overwash or underwash your hands. Eat well-cooked or very fresh foods. Listen to your sickness. Your body doesn’t need to be overburdened.

7: Meditate.

Sit down and take some time to relax, think about the baby and just enjoy your body.

8: Nurture love.

The baby may come before other people, but it should not push them out. Show affection and kindness to friends and family. Make a place for your partner as the parent of your child. Make sure everyone feels loved and a part of this.

9: Plan loosely.

Start making some plans.

Think about the money you want to have saved by the time the baby is born.

Think about how you will manage finances and work and maternity leave, check what government grants are available.

Think about what names you want to go for.

Think about how you could adapt if your baby is born disabled.

Think about what your partner will help you with.

Plan, but don’t plan too much.

10: Don’t stress.

Chances are everything will be fine. And even if things don’t go according to plan, you will definitely be fine.

And that’s what I’m doing to try and give my baby the best start possible. What would more experienced mamas and papas suggest I start doing to get ready?

TTFN and Happy Hunting.