A Type of Mum Culture We Need to Say Goodbye to

motherhood, Uncategorized

On my mat leave, I was never the mum who went to baby clubs. I was terrified of them, in fact. Baby changing and feeding rooms were panic inducing for me and soft play completely off limits unless Rob or good friends were by my side. But, why?

The above statement seems dramatic, but it’s totally necessary. You see, there is a mum culture that I have had enough of and want no part in. It’s the school gate gossip, cliquey, judgemental groups. The people who cast their opinions upon you after just a glance. The ones who want to fit you into a pigeon hole, a niche, and want you to stay there.

My first year of motherhood was an unexpected one. It bought with it so much joy, but it was a massive learning curve for me when it came to other mothers and the attitudes of other people. Taken aback from my experiences, I am also so grateful at what it taught me.

I went to a baby group at my local library when Ted was a few months old. Previous to that, I’d never really socialised with mums I didn’t already know. It was daunting and I spent the night before awake and worrying about the finer details- when I’d need to leave the house, how long it’d take for me to get there, how early I’d need to be, whether I needed to set an alarm, what I should wear.

Waking up the next morning, I put on my absolute go-to outfit. A checked mini skirt and a roll neck. I sat and did my make-up on the sofa while Ted was feeding, drank my coffee, and felt excited at who I might meet or who I might connect with. I always remember my mum saying to me beforehand that even though baby classes weren’t my thing and didn’t appeal to me (I’m a massive introvert and find it hard to trust people) that there would be someone there that felt the exact same way as me. That was all the reassurance I needed.

I arrived. Mums gathered in familiar groups. I said hello to each group as I walked in. A few reluctantly said hello back. I smiled. A few smiled back half smiles, the others ignored me. I tried hard to mingle, complimenting other mums. For example, one mum was tandem feeding on a soft play bench and I told her how amazing she was doing. She smiled and I felt safe. I sat next to her and fed Ted too.

Five minutes later, another mum came over, followed by two more. They were friends with this lady, and she introduced me to them.

No hello. No ‘nice to meet you.’ Just, simply:

“You’re a little overdressed for a baby class.’

Silence. I said nothing. I felt weak. I carried on feeding Ted and looked to the floor.

Ten minutes later:

‘How did you have that much time to get ready?’

I replied explaining that I’d been awake very early and that I did my make up while feeding my son.

‘I don’t think this is really your sort of place is it?’

There was an expectation that now that I’m a mum, I should have a messy mum bun and be wearing a hoody, jeans and trainers with sick down the front, minimal make-up, if any at all. Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally okay to be that mum too. I am that mum on some days. But today is made an effort because I was nervous and because that’s how I felt most comfortable meeting new people. The point is it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter.

I distinctly remember at that moment, looking around the room at the variety of faces staring back at me, and not understanding why anyone would be someone who was ‘different’ or didn’t belong there. It was a room full of diverse, beautiful women, all feeding their babies in different ways, all dressed differently too, and I’d never felt so secluded and singled out.

Not long after I was sat at the park where I was told by another mother that I was disgusting for breastfeeding.

And again, not long after that I was sat in the feeding room in Mothercare and a woman told me that I needed to leave because breastfeeding was wrong. Yep. In an actual FEEDING room.

I was then unfortunately put in another situation with a group of women where I overheard them on numerous occasions talking about me. One of their children even said to them in front of me once ‘look who is here mum! It’s her! Shush!’ I apparently believed I was ‘better than them’ and one of them even made comments about Ted’s behaviour (he was just over 1 at the time) when in reality they’d never spoken to me properly, knew nothing about me and were judging me based on perception. Luckily I don’t have to see those people anymore, and I’m also really lucky to have had a good friend who was also involved with this group of women and her and her partner helped me massively with this situation. Never having to see that group again is an absolute blessing.

Firstly, let’s remember that we are all completely different people, with totally different priorities, interests, agendas, opinions, thoughts, the lot! Being different is what makes the world what it is.

Secondly, when was it okay to make other people feel like this anyway?

My perspective on the world changed for a while after all of this. I focused on doing the exact opposite of what others made me feel. No matter how bad someone made me feel, or makes me feel, I won’t stop treating them with kindness. More often than not, people are behaving in that way because they are feeling bad. More often than not, this is a defence mechanism and your kindness with shock them. Be the bigger person and pretend you’re not bothered, even if like me at the time, you really are. The world is much bigger than the pettiness we are forced into. Cry about what has happened. Complain to your friends. And then move on.

There’s a competitive nature to all of this that I am just not a fan of, and it’s something I’ll talk about in a future blog. When mums work together, wonderful things happen. Woman power is like a super power, and oh my god can we change the world when that force is combined rather than a rivalry. Please please please, when you see that awkward new mum forcing a smile and holding her newborn at your next baby class, clearly looking for friendship and a good chat, ask her how she is. Ask her if she wants to sit with you and find out all about her. Ask her if she wants to get coffee afterwards. Be kind and love each other, because being a mumma is tough enough as it is and tearing each other down is not okay on any level.

Labour Stories: Zoe & Skyla

Labour Stories, Mum, Uncategorized

I had a very normal pregnancy. I actually loved being pregnant! Crazy how much I miss my bump and it was nearly two years ago now. I was due on the 16th of July. I had my midwife appointment on the 17th and decided to have a sweep. I wasn’t sure at first as I heard lots of mixed views, but it was actually a very quick process and I didn’t find it too uncomfortable and then I was sent on my way!

The day after, the 18th of July, was when my princess Skyla decided to join us. The day started as a normal day. I remember my mum ringing me at midday as she wanted to know if I was having any twinges. I wasn’t having any at this point- not a thing! A little back ache, but I’d been having that for weeks at this point.

My brother and his girlfriend came for tea and I remember when it got to about 7 I was just super tired and asked them to leave. It got to half 7 and (sorry but TMI) I had to keep going the toilet. I thought it was just constipation. It just clicked that this was it, and the pains were getting more intense and there wasn’t any rest in between. I still thought it was mainly constipation at this point!

Skyla now… all grown up.

I rang my husband at 8 and told him he needed to come home as this was it. He rang the ward for me and we pretty much set off straight away as at this point I was feeling a strong urge to push! We picked my mum up on the way. We got the hospital at around 9, I think. I was examined and I was at 6 and a half cm. I told them that I wanted a water birth, and to my luck they had one available. As soon as I got into the pool, I was ready to start pushing. I only had gas and air and I felt that biting down on it helped. The water was just so relaxing for me and it really helped me to get in the zone and just push!

At 11.03 pm my beautiful girl came into the world in her waters! I remember just being so proud of myself and it really was just love at first sight.

Labour Stories: Kayleigh and Harry

Labour Stories, Mum, Uncategorized

Written By Kayleigh Williams

Labour is something every pregnant woman goes through, and whether it’s a c-section or natural, we all have different memories of it each time. I refused to listen to anyone’s labour stories purely because deep down I didn’t want to face the fact I was going to be ruined by this bundle of cuteness. I had my heart set on a calming water birth followed by returning home with Harry within the hour. I was determined that’s what was going to happen and although I had people telling me:

“You’d be surprised”

“It doesn’t always work out like that”

I really wish I’d listened to everyone because oh boy, labour is HARSH, on a whole different level of pain. 

Harry was due on the 20th August 2018, but made an appearance on the 24th of August 2018. I envied everyone I knew who had a baby within those 4 days because I prayed it was me everyday, as I waddled through town with this, huge space hopper attached to me, everyone looking at me in the 33 degree heat asking me how I’m coping and how they’re not jealous of me. Oh, I hated peoples opinions towards the end, it was not something I wanted to sit down with a cup of tea and actually enjoy listening to. I knew I was in pain, I knew my bump was above average and no I wasn’t coping. Those 4 days felt like 4 weeks. 

I was having my sweep done on the 23rd of August and my midwife asked me if I was in any pain or so, and I said no- why? She told me I was already 6cm and listen to this, I didn’t feel a thing. I felt completely normal, uncomfortable yes, but no pain down there. She told me to get down to the hospital because if my waters go, I’m going to be having this baby on my bed and I wasn’t ready for that kind of birth. I had to head down to the hospital so off me and Owen went, excited we were going to meet our baby. Much to our disappointment we spent 5 hours in hospital waiting and waiting. No pain, no signs of labour at all so we were sent home. By this point I was frustrated because my whole day had been wasted all for nothing. 

It was around 1am when what I thought was my waters, went. I got out of bed and let everyone know it’s time for me to go. I started having tiny pains and each time they got worse. Owen drove me to the hospital and that was probably the worst drive I had ever been on. I was in SO much pain, almost unbearable at times but I knew it was going to be okay. The hospital got everything ready for me. My waters hadn’t actually broken, the midwife had to brake them for me and oh my goodness, it went everywhere. Harry had pooped inside of me so it was a case of getting me into the room and getting this baby out of me. The pain was so bad at this point and I had to reach for the gas and air as I was panicking and needed to calm myself down. Owen was by my side supporting me, letting me know everything was going to be okay. I started to become a little drowsy from all of the gas and air so I began to lose concentration of what was going on around me. The midwife told us we were losing Harry, he’s getting stressed and he needs to come out now. In came I reckon about 15 doctors and nurses, who helped take me down to theatre as this was then classed as an emergency so theatre was needed. Owen was left in a room all by himself for around 20 minutes bless him. I don’t remember this at all but I’m guessing he felt scared and worried for us all. 

In theatre I was given an epidural as the pain was getting so unbearable I was crying, I physically could not move anywhere. Harry’s heartbeat was slowing down, so I had to be cut twice down below, and Harry was given forceps and ventouse as he was almost stuck inside of me. By this point I didn’t feel a thing, i couldn’t even feel my toes let alone the pain. Pushing whilst not feeling a thing was so difficult. Harry then came at 4:43am on the 24th August. My whole world changed from that moment and it was the best moments of my life. I’d just been through the most traumatic time of my life but all that mattered was Harry in my arms and Owen right next to me. 

I was not expecting what I had in store for my labour. It was truly the worst experience my body has ever been put through. I regret not educating myself a bit more with it. The only positive thing from it was Harry. My little bundle of joy. 

What Being A Mum Means To Me: Alice

Mum, Uncategorized, What Being A Mum Means To Us

From an early age, I had the desire to be a Mum. I fantasised about falling in love and being married and building a dream life. Whether it be down to overwatching of Disney films or a natural, animal instinct, I knew that having a family of my own was what was meant for me. I’ve always loved babies and children, but nothing prepared me for the level of love that you feel when you have your own.

When I discovered I was pregnant I was totally shocked. It was unexpected and I was unprepared, but there was something so magical about seeing that little heartbeat for the first time, and from that moment onwards things seemed to fall into place. I got engaged and bought a flat with the person I loved. Even though he came earlier in my life than I expected, Ted has been what I needed at just the right time. I was feeling lost about my place in the world, where I was going and what I was doing, and being a mum has helped me refocus on my goals.

For me, being a mum is about learning to love in a brand new way. It cannot be compared to any other sort of love. It’s both unconditional and indescribable. I look at him and I can’t believe that I created this little ball of energy and curiosity who is so clever and strong with the most charming personality already and a smile that is going to break hearts. How could he possibly be mine?

I love that I can share my passions with a mini me. I dream of the day we can write stories together and have Marvel movie marathons and read Harry Potter until we fall asleep. But most importantly, I can’t wait to see what he enjoys and what his passions blossom to be. I find myself full of wonder and what-ifs. Is he going to be good at football? What subject is going to be his strongest at school? Will he go to university? Will he have a family of his own one day?

However, the anticipation of the future does not stop me from enjoying each and every moment with him. Putting my phone down, turning the TV off and singing to him, reading to him, playing with him, and listening to him giggle and look up at me with his big gummy smile is the reassurance I always need to know that maybe, just maybe, I am doing a fantastic job.

Being a mum has been full a sacrifice for me also. Breastfeeding has meant I have had to miss out on nights out and time with my friends. I can’t afford to be selfish anymore, spending money on holidays and endless amounts of clothes. I can’t just go out and do what I want. But I was always prepared for that sacrifice, and as Ted is getting older I am getting more and more of a break, and a little bit of freedom and ‘me’ back. What is very poignant is that whenever I’m not with Ted, he is all I think about still.

However, motherhood has also opened up new opportunities for me. It’s got my creative juices flowing and meant I’ve finally committed to something I love- writing. Without being a mum, this blog would never have come to be. It’s also meant I’ve made new friends, and become closer to my old friends, who respect me as a mother and what I have achieved.

Being Ted’s mum is a new chapter to the book of me- a new part of my identity. I’m never going to be a conventional, stereotypical mum. You won’t find me baking or attending sensory classes, but I will always be there when Ted needs a cuddle. When he needs feeding. When he needs love. When he just needs his mummy. Being a mum has made me so much more confident as a person. It’s helped me embrace who I am and also made me realise I don’t care if others don’t like that person. Yes, I can be shy and a bit awkward. Yes, most the time I am in my very own Wonderland. Does that matter to Ted? No. He looks at me like I am the most wonderful person in the world. That little look of love is the drive behind my every choice and motivation and I am grateful that motherhood has been so kind to me so far.

A Mother’s Judgement

Mum

Written By Alice King

I don’t think any of us will ever deny that motherhood, although full of exciting firsts and pride, is also the most difficult of times. What mothers can do without, whether post-pregnancy in a stitched-up, heeling body, walking into your first baby class after it taking you weeks to pluck up the courage to even leave the house and go, or on that emotional first day of school, hugging your little person for that bit too long, is judgement. That awful ‘j’ word. Just thinking about prying eyes (and the thoughts that accompany them) of others feels me with dread and anxiety. Unfortunately, as human beings we expect judgement throughout life, but nothing hurts more than being told how you parent is ‘wrong.’

Where our loved ones are concerned, we easily get our backs up and want to fight for our beliefs. I’ve been judged for breastfeeding, feeding past 6 months, weaning too early, for having a baby that wakes throughout the night, for wanting to go back to work, for wanting more ‘me time,’ and even sly and passive aggressive Facebook statuses about how boring writing a mummy blog is…yawn…

However, I’m also not fully sold on the ‘mum knows best’ mantra either. My belief will always be that a mum has a choice, and as long as a mum is informed and educated in those decisions (that won’t cause harm to their child) that really that is what matters.

You see motherhood is really a lifetime of winging it. No one is an expert. You birth your little bundle and then that’s it. There is minimal support once you are shipped off to the postnatal ward where you are left to fend for yourself amongst the rest of the clueless first time mums. Even the second, third, even fourth time mums (maybe more) are in a daze, eyes cautiously wandering the room in the hope that a first time mum doesn’t ask them how it’s done.

In the midst of the confusion that tiredness brings, I’m unsure how anyone can not respect another mother. Okay, if they are neglecting their child or committing some hideous crimes then I get it, but that is a very, very small percentage of women. My passion is for the support we can offer each other, rather than the criticism. Sometimes I wonder how people have even got the time to put their energy into commenting on others parenting rather than focusing on their own. Without the support of other mums, I wouldn’t be half the mum I am now. Whether it be all the time that mine and my partner’s families put in to helping me in those first few weeks, or simply friends asking if I want to go for coffee, just so I can have a rant, there is something beautiful about women helping women rather than standing back and gossiping. Women are powerful creatures and we are even stronger when we stand together.

Labour Stories: Meg and Delilah Rose

Labour Stories, Mum, Uncategorized

Written by Meg Brooks

It was the day before my due date- 23th Feb. I spent this day jogging around my house and eating a super spicy curry for my tea. Little did I know these theories would actually work!! (or was it just a coincidence?)

At around 8pm, me and my partner got into bed all comfy, stuck a film on and tried to settle down for the night. I had been getting slight pains in my tummy for hours before this but I didn’t think anything of it as it was very very mild. However, when I was lying in bed they seemed to get worse and worse, so I began to time them. They started off being 20 minutes apart, to 10 minutes apart!

I rang my mum panicking asking for her opinion. She told me to stay calm and ring the midwives soon if they get worse. I was in deep pain now. I knew it was contractions! Suddenly, I felt a weird feeling down below, like if I moved my legs then I would wee myself. So I sat up hoping to go to the loo, and then it happened. My waters broke all over my bed! It felt like I just weed myself. I rushed to the toilet, got myself sorted, and I tried to remain pretty calm until I looked up and saw my partner running round like a mad man… he was worse than me! 

Anyway, we met my mum along her road and picked her up (she was that excited she forgot to bring the car seat which was at her house), and we got to the hospital. Every bump on the road was awful with contractions. Getting into the hospital was a bit of a blur really. I was that shook and in that much pain. The midwife examined me and told me I was 4cm already.

I remember being in my labour room with my mum and boyfriend, and I was bouncing on the medicine ball while my midwife was filling up the bath for a water birth! I hoped the pool would ease some pain, as I was starting to think I couldn’t do it anymore. I tried some gas and air, but I didn’t like it as it made me feel a bit sick. The word epidural popped into my head, but when I told my midwife she said I was already far too gone and she could tell it was going to be quite a quick labour so I couldn’t have one! Gutted.

Every contraction got worse, being 3 minutes apart each time. Apparently at one point I had my mum in a headlock- poor woman. The pool took hours to fill up. I couldn’t bare this being on no pain relief anymore! Isn’t it crazy when you’re scared and in pain, you suddenly turn into a little child again? I remember just wanting my mum, shouting ‘Mum! Mum!’ My poor partner probably felt I didn’t need him there. I was only 20 at the time, so I was only a little baby myself.

After a little while my birthing pool was ready. I was so relieved! I sat in it… and within a few seconds I felt a bit better. The pressure of the water really helps! I recommend it to any of you pregnant mummys.

Next I had an awful contraction, and suddenly felt like I was going to poo. I shouted ‘OH NO IM GOING TO POO IM GOING TO POO!’. Funny looking back, but at the time I was so scared I was going to take a dump in the pool. The midwife checked the babies heart after my contraction, and her face dropped. She said ‘you need to get out of the pool now. You need to stay calm but be really quick’. The babies heart rate had dropped suddenly. I was so scared. I turned really brave and toughened up and got out of the pool, walked over to the bed, almost slipped on the wet floor, and laid down. Gutted I was only in the pool for 2 minutes!

On my next contraction the midwife said I needed to push. It was the worst pain ever. The contractions were so bad now, at their peak. I was screaming “I can’t do it!!! I really can’t do it” but everyone was so supportive telling me I can do it and I’m nearly there.

After 20 minutes of pushing, out popped her head. The midwife told me she had loads of black hair, which made me smile and feel excited… my baby girl was almost out! I did one more big push and out popped her slippery little body. I was so relieved and shocked and amazed. She was put on my chest, slightly crying, but starting to settle. She was so beautiful, thick black hair, little intense eyes, a teeny button nose and long nails. From that moment on my life changed. I was a young mum with a new meaning in life, a new responsibility. She came and changed my world for the better and we all love her dearly. I would go through all that pain all over again for her!

Planning for Birth (In Hindsight)

birth, c section, Hypnobirthing, Mum, pregnancy

Written by Laura Grant

While I was pregnant I wrote a mammoth blog post over on life by Laura about why I think it’s important to have a birth plan. I was hoping for a natural, home, water birth in front of the twinkling lights of my Christmas tree. How picturesque! I imagined getting those early contractions and snuggling up to my husband on the sofa, all excited, watching Christmas films … and what did I get? The exact opposite, a stubborn breech baby and an elected c section.

So looking back, do I think researching birth and making a plan was a waste of time? Absolutely not!

I may not have got the birth I’d planned for but I was totally clued up on all styles, my options and was able to make informed decisions. I knew what questions to ask and could better assess the pros and cons of my situation. This was in a large part, down to the hypnobirthing course I did online via the positive birth company and from reading Milli Hills positive birth book (both of which I highly recommend).

My birth plan not only included my #goals scenario but also options for induction, assisted delivery and a c section should these be needed. Personally I think it’s much easier to have thought about this in advance, rather than trying to think about it in the moment when emotions are high and hormones are raging! I mean think about how difficult it is to make decisions when you’re hangry… then multiply that by a million.

A plan is also useful so that your birth partner can be completely informed and take over some of the communication for you, should you not feel up to it. And of course they need to be aware if you would like to be hand fed grapes and fanned with leaves like the absolute queen you are! (No request is too much, be bougie, it’s your last chance to make it all about you before the baby comes!)

We hear of too many women who end up having traumatic birth experiences and feeling out of control, I think this largely down to being uninformed and not knowing what on Earth is going on. Medical professionals asking you questions which you don’t understand, having decisions made for you. I think that if women took the time to do a little research, they would feel more empowered in their experience and have the best birth they can.

A lot of ladies decide to shut out the birth, choosing not to think about it and to just go with the flow and I totally get that! It’s a scary thought, it’s something we’ve never experienced before, whether we’re pushing a watermelon out a much smaller sized hole or having major abdominal surgery. But for me personally hypnobirthing made me feel so at ease and actually excited to have my baby. Knowing exactly what would happen to my body, what options were available to me and when I should ask questions made me feel less helpless. And not going to lie… having a plan laid out made the organisational freak in me extremely happy!

Your plan doesn’t have to be an extensive 5 page essay, in fact I discourage this ( no midwife will have time to read that ) but just a few things jotted down ( or you can use the icons Milli Hill suggests in her book which I absolutely loved! ).

Do you want pain relief? Do you want to be mobile? Would you like a birth pool? Are you happy to be induced? Would you like baby to have the vitamin k injection or oral drops? Would you like to birth the placenta naturally or have the injection to bring it on quicker? Do you want delayed cord clamping? Immediate skin to skin? These are all things to consider and again, it’s easier to do this with a clear fresh mind than a split second decision in the moment. Research what these things are and why they’re done so you will have an informed opinion and won’t feel silly when being asked your preference.

This is the biggest day of your life so far, reclaim some control, feel empowered and have the most amazing experience.

Good luck mumma’s!

Welcome to Mum & Style

Mum

Mum & Style began from the desperation and a little bit of confusion at finding the new ‘me’ in my post-pregnancy, fresh into motherhood state. The first few months as a mother, although full of elation, can also be isolating. My way of dealing with this was sharing my experiences with other mothers- women I believed I could trust, who gave me whole-hearted reassurance. Sometimes I had full support. Sometimes I had criticism and judgement. Sometimes I felt like Wonder Woman- a multi-tasking queen who felt great in this new body with this new identity. Sometimes I felt like a failure- unable to sit down for five minutes to just enjoy a cup of tea, feeling like a blob with this wobbly body, and quite simply, completely lost.

The blog features posts on fashion, lifestyle, and all the complexities that motherhood brings for each unique and individual circumstance. The aim of Mum & Style is to bring together a collection of experiences and thoughts of mums and mums-to-be on an open platform. We wish to offer support in a light-hearted way to those who feel they are alone. By celebrating each other, we can create a safe place for mums to turn to for a boost or a sigh of ‘I’m not the only one!’ relief. We are much stronger together than we are against each other. Happy reading and happy parenting!