Category Archives: NURTURE

Nest, Nourish, Nurture: preparing to welcome autumn

September 26, 2018

NEST / NOURISH / NURTURE

Nest, Nourish, Nurture: A list for the beginning of Autumn With the Autumn Equinox on Sunday, this week marks the true beginning of the new season. When I woke up on Monday morning  I swear I could sense the change in the air. Sure, that might have had something to do with the cool 15 degrees the temperature in our bedroom had dropped to, but whilst my husband grumbled about the cold I couldn’t help but feel a flutter of excitement about the seasonal shift.

Along with an undeniable love for the autumnal aesthetic, there’s something about the season which genuinely lifts my spirits. I find myself with a renewed energy as the weather gets cooler. I can’t wait for crisp days, gorgeous early golden hours and cosy nights.

Sat in bed with a warm cup of tea and my baby playing next to me I began to write my to-do list for the week but it quickly turned into more of a list of tasks and plans for the coming few weeks. So here are some of my ideas for welcoming autumn; things to do and prepare around the home, in the kitchen and beyond.

Autumnal walk

NEST

// Bleed radiators.
// Wash blankets and sheepskins and (preferably) dry in the sun.
// Pack away summer clothes for another year and replace with winter wardrobe items – bring on the woollies and tweeds.
// Have a little wardrobe clear out while I’m at it, do a charity shop drop and consider what items I need in my closet for the cooler months.
// Prep the house for colder weather. I’ve got floorboards gaps to fill and some very drafty drafts to exclude!
// Get the windows cleaned.
// Switch up fragrances in the oil burner. Out with citrus and florals in with wood and spice.
// Stock up on candles and tea lights.
// Treat yourself to some deliciously scented new products for the bathroom.

NOURISH

// Clear out the freezer and turn those scraps you’ve been saving into stock and bone broth. And on that note…
// Dust off the slow cooker.
// Fill your larder with immune boosters – echinacea, manuka, turmeric, ginger and lemons. I plan on staving off those sniffles before the begin.
// Eat all the figs! I forget just how much I love fig season.
// Stock up on oats and porridge toppings for a warming start on cold days.
// Bake – especially on Tuesday to accompany GBB.
// Plan brunch with friends.
// Fill your home with pumpkins!

NURTURE

// Set some manageable business goals for Q4 that will set you up well to head into a new year.
// Do some autumn hashtag research. There are so many lovely Instagram challenges and hashtag to join in with at this time of year (including my own #squashwatch).
// Start a new habit for the last quarter of the year – why wait till January?
// Go for a walk at golden hour and collect leaves for Instagram for a garland
// Dig out your favourite autumn playlist.
// Keep a journal.
// Borrow some autumnal reads from the library.

 

The 52 Project: Spring ’18

September 7, 2018

NURTURE

Considering we’re swiftly heading towards the end of summer, I’m so far behind on keeping up with my 52 Project. It’s so lovely to look back on these little snapshots though so I hope you enjoy this little bomb of Casper cuteness.

8 weeks is a long time in baby days and you can really see the change in this set. He goes from barely wanting to hold himself up to being able to sit up unaided! 💔

project 52 baby tummy time at 4 months

Week 15 // Still not sure about tummy time. 

baby froggy legs at 4 months

Week 16 // Those little froggy legs.

Week 17 // My little dribble monster (shot by Kasia Kiliszek)

baby on sheep skin at 4 months

Week 18 // Recreating a snap of Daddy around the same age.

baby on sheep skin in the sun at 4 months

Week 19 // His first taste of warmer weather.

baby sat on sofa at 5 months

Week 20 // B is for Baby and Bowie.

baby in Ergo carrier in the park at 5 months

Week 21 // Discovering the world strapped to daddy’s chest.

baby in the park at 4 months

Week 22 // Park life.

The 52 Project: A Catch Up

May 30, 2018

NURTURE

A portrait of my baby every week for a year.

I guess it was pretty inevitable that I’d fall behind on the 52 Project. Despite there being no shortage of photos of this little bub, blogging has undoubtedly taken a back seat whilst the weeks and months have continued to fly on by. So here’s a little catch up on Casper’s portraits from early in the year. It already seems like such a long time ago – the weather and the baby are almost unrecognisable!

You can see my previous 52 Project post here.

(Above) Week 5 // Everything is so exciting when you’re 10 weeks old!

Baby photography 2 months old

Week 6 // Watching him learn to play and figure things out is such a joy.

Baby photography 2 months old

Week 8 // Mummy’s little pumpkin!

Baby photography in the snow 3 months old

Week 9 // All wrapped up in the snow. I wonder how long it’ll be until he sees another snowfall like the one we had this winter.

Baby photography 3 months old

Week 11 // My little bandit’s first trip to see family in Devon.

Baby photography 3 months old

Week 12 // My little spotty baby. It’s funny looking back on pictures that show his baby acne

As this has only taken us up to week 12 I’ve still got another couple post planned to catch up on – hope you don’t mind the baby spam!😉

Embracing The Fourth Trimester

March 22, 2018

INTENTION / NURTURE

Maternity Photography, Floaty, feminine, baby bump

Early in March my baby turned three months old, this means I have now come to the end of my ‘fourth trimester’ – the last stage of pregnancy. The fourth trimester is a phrase coined to acknowledge the significance of the first twelve weeks after birth for both mother and baby. There’s plenty to read online about a baby’s development in the early months and how certain things may help ease their transition into life outside the womb. However, that time after birth is also a period of great change for a woman and embracing the concept of a fourth trimester can help us connect with the idea that birth is not quite the end of our pregnancy journey.

While I was pregnant, I set the intention to really let these first few months be a time for recovery and adjustment. To go slowly and not to put pressure on myself (or my body) to do or achieve too much. For me, this has meant deciding not to worry, or even think about certain things during this fourth trimester. It hasn’t been a time for routines, to-do lists or getting back to pre-baby shape; but for bonding with my baby and gently adapting to a new way of life.

Maternity Photography, Maternity Photography, Floaty, feminine, baby bump Maternity Photography, Floaty, feminine, baby bump

This is not to say that embracing the fourth trimester has meant new parenthood has been easy. I’ve had days when I’ve been blue, felt exasperated and overwhelmed, have fought with my partner and cried over the tiniest things…basically, I’ve been as exhausted and hormonal as any other new mamma. Surrender is the word which has accompanied this time. I’ve done my best to surrender to the extreme tiredness, the three-nappy-changes, being covered in puke and screamed at. “This too shall pass”…and all too quickly. Surrendering to the tough moments may not make them any easier but it has definitely helped manage my wellbeing and my headspace.

Now I’m three months postpartum I’m not planning on changing things suddenly. I’m not about to go on a diet, become obsessed with getting into a routine or returning to starting an exercise regime. To see the three-month mark as some sort of end point, I feel, would somewhat defeat the point of a gentle transition period. This is only the beginning of this parenthood journey and I know the adjusting and adapting is now pretty much a constant, life-long process.

I do believe embracing the forth trimester has helped see me through the crazy newborn haze and I would encourage any pregnant women or new mammas to do the same. It’s been so important to honour the final stage of pregnancy.

Images by the brilliant Kasia Kiliszek (www.kasiakiliszek.co.uk) shot for an upcoming story on thisiswomb.com.

Read on… Me & My Bump: Body Confidence In Pregnancy

The 52 Project: January 2017

February 4, 2018

NURTURE

52 project one month baby and daddy A portrait of my baby every week for a year.

I definitely day dreamed about joining in with The 52 Project way before Casper was a twinkle in my eye! I discovered the photography project back in the day through Bleubird Vintage blog and James’s gorgeous portraits of her kids. I’ve always enjoyed watching others bloggers document their little ones growing week by week. I’ll admit that I’m pretty excited to join in with a blog series that has contributed to a fair amount of broodiness over the years!

52 project one month baby and daddy Week one // Our little squidge in Daddy’s arms

52 project one month baby on daddyWeek two // Those eyes. Sometimes they are the deepest blue and sometimes grey. At times like in this photo they make him look quite solemn. They always make my heart burst.

52 project one month babyWeek three // Our baby seems to live in a cosy cloud of grey and white. It’s all very calming and angelic…and super handy for hiding at those milky stains.

52 project one month baby on sheepskin rugWeek four // Suddenly so awake and engaged. I can tell we’re gonna have fun this boy and I!

Are you taking part in the 52 Project this year? Let me know so I can follow along.

The Babe With The Power

January 7, 2018

NURTURE

New Born photography baby boy

Casper Bowie Swift, our baby boy, made his grand entrance into the world a month ago on December the sixth at 4.06 in the afternoon, weighing in at 6lb 6.

He was born in water and delivered at the wonderful midwife-led centre in Bristol, Cossham Hospital. I’ll save my birth story for another time, but the experience was everything I could have hoped for – natural, intimate, intense but also very calm.

With a due date of the twelfth, we had spent much of the last nine months worrying that our baby’s birthday would be very near or even on Christmas Day. I joke about it, but I honestly would not have believed any child of mine would be early. Anyhow, at 39 weeks he was good and ready to join us Earth-side, in plenty of time to be completely oblivious to our quiet Christmas Day celebrations a few weeks later as a new family of three.

A month in and he’s already changed so much. Our diddy delicate little newborn is transforming before our eyes as he grows. His kicks are getting strong and those little headbutts he throws hurt!! I must have already kissed that head over a thousand times and have taken hundreds of photos. I want to remember all the little details of this first stage; his little hand gestures that seem to convey so much expression; the manic wild thing he becomes when he’s ready to feed; the sweet satisfied coos and sighs; the way he stares with his old-soul eyes, taking in the new world around him.New Born photography baby boy

New born photography baby boy

The first month of parenthood has been beautiful, raw and humbling. I’ve quickly surrendered to being woken after 45 minutes sleep, being covered in bodily fluid and having to do most things one handed. There’s been tougher times and tears but the magical moments have far outweighed the overwhelming ones.

I’m already bursting with love and pride for this little person I’m only just getting to know. As we pack away his first newborn outfits the feelings are bittersweet, I can’t believe how quickly this first month together has flown by but I’m so excited to see him grow and see my little Starman’s personality emerge.

Taking Stock: The end of the third trimester at the begining of December

December 5, 2017

NURTURE

Taking Stock December

Back with Blogmas day five. I maaay have cheated a little and backdated the last couple of post to catch up but hey, done is better than perfect and all that.

For today’s post, I’ve taken inspiration from my friend Franky who recently shared a Taking Stock post on her blog Love Audrey. I believe the original prompt comes via meetmeatmikes.com. I thought it was a lovely way to have a little catch-up and capture a snapshot of this moment in time. Of course for me right now that means all things nesting, christmassy and waiting for the arrival of baby swift.

Here’s what I’m…

Making // A birth playlist. Going for mellow, chilled out folky albums and some favourite soundtracks. What did you have on yours?
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Cooking // Hearty dishes batch cooked and frozen for eating during those postpartum days, although our tiny freezer is now full!
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Drinking // Raspberry leaf tea as I’ve heard it helps to strengthen the uterus wall! Might as well give these things a go eh?
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Reading // ‘The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother‘ and rereading Northern Lights for some cosy non-pregnancy related escapism.
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Trawling // Online for a unisex baby sleep sack which isn’t overly cutesy and not too pricey. Went for this one, our baby’s wardrobe features so much grey!
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Wanting // To sleep through the night, pregnancy insomnia is still going strong. And, yes I know, sleep is soon to be a thing of the past anyhow.
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Looking // Forward to this new chapter of life.
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Deciding // To join Me & Orla’s new ‘Gloom & Grow’ course. Even though I know I’m not be able to follow along in the next few weeks.
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Wishing // My tax return could do itself.
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Enjoying // Stocking our cupboards with Christmassy treats.
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Waiting // For any signs of labour. Could be tomorrow, could be another three weeks – it’s a funny time not knowing when it will happen.
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Liking // Getting friends and family to place their bets on when the baby will arrive. You can add your guess to my Instagram post here.
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Wondering // Who’s in there?!
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Loving // Our new La Redoute rug and leather vintage armchair – upping the cosiness of our living room ten-fold.
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Pondering // On the culture of ‘pink for girls and blue for boys’ and how to achieve a balanced gender-neutral approach without going OTT and driving myself mad.
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Listening // To our Hypno-birthing relaxation track and birth affirmations.
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Considering // What to cook for a Christmas for two. We’ll be at home with a newborn so I know it has to be easy and simple but still…it’s Christmas!
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Buying // Oh so much – even trying to keep things minimal this baby-prep requires a whole lot of stuff!
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Watching // The OA on Netflix finally.
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Hoping // That I get to enjoy a little while longer on maternity leave before the baby arrives, but also that they are here before Christmas…asking for too much?!
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Marvelling // Constantly at just how chilly our house gets!
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Cringing // At the idea that people are going to hear me on Lucy’s What She Said podcast – but honoured to be interviewed!
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Needing // The last couple of items for the hospital bag – big black knickers and nipple cream…TMI?
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Smelling // That real Christmas tree smell!
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Wearing // Stretchy trousers, my new Mere Souer tee and a big cosy cardie.
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Noticing // Little feet in my ribs and baby hiccups almost everyday.
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Knowing // Life is about to change forever.
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Trouble-shooting // Our central heating.
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Thinking // About everything and everyone I’m grateful for. Especially such a wonderfully supportive husband, who is taking his role of birthing partner very seriously.
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Admiring // Everything in the gorgeous new collection from A Woodland Gathering.
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Bookmarking // Instagram posts from amazing, inspiring mammas. I love the way the IG community shares their struggles along with the joy and I’m saving posts I know I can return to for a boost of support and solidarity when needed.
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Opening // Chocolate that I was saving for Christmas.
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Closing // Up shop. After just over a year of being self-employed I’m taking stock and taking a break as I start maternity leave. It’s scary and exciting!
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Feeling // Full of energy on some days and all tuckered-out on others.
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Dreaming // About birth a lot, some are amazing empowering dreams, some straight-up nightmares.
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Hearing // That husband of mine learning to play Christmas songs on his ukulele.
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Celebrating // Good friends getting married and a fair few baby showers too.
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Embracing // Nesting and resting on repeat!

Pregnancy Massage with Relax Bristol

December 2, 2017

INTENTION / NURTURE

Relax Bristol Pregnancy Massage Table

In collaboration with Relax Bristol.

Trying out Relax Bristol’s pregnancy massage could not have come at a better time…As I headed into the third trimester those aches and pains associated with pregnancy that you hear about, really began to kick in. I had to quickly make a few lifestyle changes, choosing the bus or train where I would have usually rushed about on foot and I had to start leaving my computer at home instead of lugging around for meetings and later pay the price physically. Despite doing my best to make sensible decisions not to push myself I’d often wake up feeling achy and sore after a bad night’s sleep with my hips, back, shoulders and neck reminding me that they’re baring the strain of growing a little human.

A local independent company, Relax Bristol offer massage treatments in your own home. With customers being able to book a massage treatment at a time and date that suits them, including evenings and weekends. Alongside pregnancy massage, Relax Bristol’s therapists can provide a whole range of therapies including Thai massage, reflexology, sports massage and bespoke treatments. The online booking process is super simple and with a just few clicks, you’ll have a confirmation that an experienced massage therapist will arrive at your preferred time, ready with their equipment and oil to effectively transform your living room into a home spa. You can even book a massage for the same day!

I decided to book my treatment for the Friday before we headed off on our babymoon. My thinking was it would be a lovely way to begin a week dedicated to relaxing, self-care and quality time unwinding with my husband. It turned out that Friday would also happen to be the end of a very stressful week. After days of battling a broken computer and feeling like I was falling behind on my workload, let’s just say I was *tense*! Certainly not the productive week I’d planned in order to feel good about taking a week off. Although I was tempted to cancel my appointment and use every last moment to play catch up, I’m sure glad I didn’t as, of course, it was exactly what I needed to release the tension and help let the stress go.

Relax Bristol Pregnancy Massage Candles at homeDining room Relax Bristol Pregnancy Massage

Relax Bristol had included suggestions for how to prepare myself and my space for receiving a treatment at home and I decided to fully embrace the idea of creating a spa-like environment. I lit candles, burnt my favourite essential oil and chose some relaxing background music. When my therapist Olga arrived right on time, she effortlessly set up her table, finishing my dining room’s transformation into a treatment room.

Before she began Olga was sure to check on the details of my pregnancy, confirming how many weeks along I was and if I’d experienced any particular issues that she should be aware of and checked if I was happy for her to massage my bump – understandably, not all pregnant ladies like having their tummies touched. Olga, and the other Relax Bristol therapists that can be booked for pregnancy massage, have gone through training to provide a treatment that is specifically comfortable and safe for pregnant women. The treatment felt mostly quite similar to other massages I’ve had before, apart from having to lie on my side opposed to my front to allow Olga to work on my back. I was instructed to lay on my left side as this improves circulation and blood flow to the placenta and a cushion was placed under my bump for extra comfort.

As I closed my eyes and relaxed into receiving the massage, I can’t quite explain how wonderful it felt to not only have the tension of the week melt away but also have all this attention given to my aching body that has been working so hard and going through the most intense period of change. Instead of letting my mind wander whilst receiving my massage, I chose to focus on my body and cultivate some internal loving kindness – something I’ve learned through my meditation practice. I extended gratitude to the part of my body being worked on and consciously released any tension I was holding.

I felt so relaxed after the hour-long treatment and having a therapist come to my home meant that I could fully enjoy that post-massage feeling. It really was the perfect way to let go of all that stress ahead of our babymoon week away. I would urge any fellow pregnant ladies to think about booking a massage for themselves or better yet – wouldn’t it make a perfect baby shower or Christmas gift for a mum-to-be friend?!

If you’re local you can book with Relax Bristol here: www.relaxbristol.co.uk and readers of my blog can receive 10% off any treatment over 60 minutes throughout December using the code SNOWFLAKE.

Relax Bristol kindly offered me this complimentary pregnancy massage, but all opinions are my own. 

Me & My Bump: Body Confidence in Pregnancy

November 15, 2017

NURTURE

Pregnancy bump in bath

Oh my how time ticks on! This week marks one month until our due date and I am working on processing the fact that – assuming that the little Gelfling doesn’t see fit to make an early appearance – we’re having a baby next month!

I do so admire those “proper” bloggers with weekly pregnancy diary entries. As-per-usual although I’ve got journal pages filled with scribbled, insomnia-fuelled musings on pregnancy and impending motherhood, I’ve really not done a great job at documenting my pregnancy here in blog form at all. That said, as I wind down things with work I’m hoping that I’ll find time for a little more blogging. So over the next few weeks, I’m going to do my best to get some of these posts that have been floating around in my head down and indulge in squeezing in a whole bunch of bump pics!

Nine months is of course not such a long time in the grand scheme of things, but looking back on the year it definitely feels like I’ve been pregnant for a long time. Although it’s a constant marvel I’ve also got very used to my new shape and as we head towards the finish line, I can’t help but wonder about how much I’ll miss this bump of mine.  I know my arms will be full of a wriggling baby instead of my tummy, but I feel like I’m bound to miss these kicks, rolls, and hiccups that have become such a familiar and comforting part of me.

4 months pregnant 4 month pregnant4 months to go – August afternoon on Troopers Hill.

I’ve found that pregnancy has brought a sort of body confidence that I’ve never really experienced before. There’s been a shift in the way I feel about my appearance, a pride in my changing shape and swelling belly. I suppose it’s not particularly odd to feel more positive about your body during pregnancy after all a bump gets larger and rounder as a direct result of a healthy babe growing inside and of course that’s something to be celebrated.  But it’s really made me realise how much of a difference there’s been to my mindset since becoming pregnant.

I wouldn’t have said that I had particularly low body confidence but I didn’t realise how often I would judge and berate myself until that nasty internal voice had been replaced with an altogether gentler supportive one. I would also have claimed to have had a pretty healthy relationship with food but with hindsight, I realise how much I would restrict certain food groups or beat myself up for having ‘treats’.

5 months pregnant Widbrook Grange 5 months pregnant zara dressThree months to go – Celebrating our second wedding anniversary at Widbrook Grange

It was a change that came quickly too. When my weeks young fetus was barely strawberry sized I was quite happy to see my tiny bump start to show under my clothes even though it was basically all bloating and gas. I guess I was just excited to see that something was happening but still, as someone who’s spent a large part of my life sucking my belly in it felt like quite a big attitude shift.

Don’t get me wrong living in my pregnant body hasn’t been all rainbows and light by any means. There have been aches that have lasted for days and carpal tunnel syndrome that shoots pains through the joints in my hands and feet. I now understand the true meaning of the phrase bone-tired and I have literally cried about how big the bags under my eyes have been…needless to say, that didn’t really help the situation. But despite those grumbles it’s hard for me not to feel anything but immense gratitude and kindness towards my tired aching body.

cup of tea on 7 months pregnant bumpTwo months to go – “look Ma no hands!”

How this will leave me feeling about my postpartum body is a mystery. Will this newly found self-love continue when it’s just me in here? When it’s not deemed a beautiful by society’s standards to walk around proudly rubbing a pot belly, will I still approach my appearance with kindness and gratitude?

I hope so – I hope I can still marvel and celebrate a body that is able to sustain another human. To nourish myself with food and exercise but not to beat myself up if I don’t. To greet my reflection with a kind and gentle internal voice. At the very least, I would like to think that regardless of having a son or a daughter, I can avoid teaching them that it’s normal to look in the mirror and criticise what you see or that some foods are good and others evil.

Because really; pregnant, postpartum or not – wouldn’t it be nice if we could all be a little kinder to ourselves and feel good in our own skin all the time?

I’d love to know how you’ve felt about your pregnancy or postpartum bodies. Any advise for keeping the good vibes going?

Me & Bump: 5 Months To Go

July 18, 2017

NURTURE

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen the little announcement that I shared over the weekend… Baby Swift is due in just under 5 months on December 12th.

I’m currently 18 weeks pregnant which means the baby is the size of an artichoke in there. Considering when we found out and begun tracking it was just an apple pip it feels pretty incredible to have got to this point. We’re patiently impatiently waiting to feel some movement, which could happen at this stage. I’ve felt a few light flutterings which could have been soft baby kicks but nothing that I’ve been 100% sure of. We have our next scan coming up soon and although we have a tendency to be quite an indecisive couple we are pretty set on not finding out the baby’s gender.

I’m already finding that being pregnant such an amazing and fascinating time so I want to be sure to document it well, in both words and photos.  I’m looking forward to taking more portraits as time goes on and I grow bigger and bigger. For my first bump self-portrait, I’ve taken inspiration from my new favourite hashtag #BotanicalBodyHair. I loved the little heart shaped leaves on my belly so much I didn’t want to take them off. I even thought a little string of hearts motif would make such a pretty tattoo. Not that I’ll be getting one of those while I’m pregnant!

I’m so grateful for all the lovely comments and messages of support and encouragement which I’ve received. I don’t have many friends in Bristol who are parents so it’s comforting to have so many amazing mamma friends on Instagram who I know I can bother with ridiculous baby questions if I need some advice. I also feel very lucky that my little sister just had a baby last month so I’ll almost certainly be turning to her and getting some baby practice in as Auntie Charlie!

I hope you’ll enjoy following my pregnancy journey. If there’s anything specific you’d be interested to see my blog about I’d love to know.

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