New Lockdown Beauty Habits


 
It is a guilt-free time for our skin to enjoy weeks (even months?) of breathing free from layers of make-up and escaping the pollution and congestion that comes with commuting into cities and on public transport. In the early days of lockdown, I was meticulously trying to keep to my normal routine and continued whacking on make-up every day. It definitely had an effect of making me feel good and every now and then I venture to slap on a bit of blusher and lippy before a daily walk for the same boost. But gone are the heavy foundations and with it my video camera firming stays ‘off’ during work Zoom calls. Now I can sit in my pyjamas and a face mask until midday and no one even knows! Here are my new beauty habits I’ve adopted during lockdown…

Time for a Detox
I’ve had a jar of Elemis’ Cellular Recovery Skin Bliss Capsules in my cupboard for (possibly several) years. It is an amazing detoxing duo serum system; a Rose oil for the morning application and a Lavender oil capsule for evening application. Just to note, these are to be applied to the face… not ingested! As the name suggests, these oils have a deep-cleaning action on your skin, are incredibly restorative, but have a habit of causing breakouts. Breakouts are, by the way, a totally normal occurrence whilst doing a detox - think of it as evidence that your pores are being deep-cleaned and chucking out all the dirt and grime that’s been residing there - it’s a case of short-term pain for longer-term gain. What better time to tolerate a few pimples than in lockdown?! Also it's a great time to bare that beautiful face, give it a break from slapping on layers of make-up. The jar I have is a 30 day programme with 60 capsules in total. 

Roll with it.
I’ve had this Herbivore Jade Facial Roller for several months now. After obsessing over getting hold of one (they were sold out of every Space NK I tried!), it has somewhat collected dust over recent months. However, I’ve unleashed it from its velvet pouch and given it a spin - or, more accurately, a roll all over my face! I watched a couple of YouTube tutorials to get the best tips for how to adapt the massage to different parts of my face for the best de-puffing and drainage. If I’m honest, I can’t really tell if it’s making much of a noteworthy difference to my face per se, but rolling the cool jade over my face of a morning, especially on these warmer days, is especially refreshing and calming. Given I’m not getting up at the crack of dawn and rushing out the door with a half a shoe on these days, it’s the perfect indulgence to add into my morning routine during lockdown when I have the extra minutes to spare.

Damn, that tan.
Pale skin has been the bane of my life for as long as I can remember. Teachers used to look at me worryingly and ask ‘Are you ill?' or 'Bit under the weather today, Rose?' to my make-up free, adolescent porcelain face. Perhaps it was the dark bags under my eyes which have always resembled an 80s shade of lilac eyeshadow, but I’ve always blamed my pale skin for these suggestions I look ill when bare-faced. I’m not a sun worshipper at all but I do envy anyone who can be out in the sun for more than ten minute and not get burnt! I’m either deathly pale or lobster sunburned - the state of being 'tanned' and dare I write, a bronze goddess, forever evades me. These days, I prefer to opt for the fake stuff. I have bottles and bottles in my bathroom but am pretty lazy about actually applying it and my lack of practice shows when I do. I am always guilty of that hard line between the neck and face, you know the one. But then I discovered Tan Luxe Illuminating Self-Tan Drops which you add to your moisturiser (day or night) to give you a subtle glow. They are a REVELATION! If you are fair skinned like me, add just one or two drops every couple of days. If you want to dial it up to more Mediterranean vibes, go for 3 or 4. I tried this when I was on holiday last summer and for once, my face matched my body. I now add it into my weekly skincare routine to give myself a dose of healthy colour to my chops.

Healthy hit.
If you aren't getting the freshness of fruits and veg to your lockdown diet, don't fear, you can turn to the Elemis Superfood range to pack the vitamin punch your skin needs to look and feel its healthiest! Given I used to work for the brand, Elemis is a staple in my bathroom vanity but it was a new experience for me hearing about a product that had launched and having played no part in its arrival (spoiler: I was green with envy!) So, I managed to get my hands on this Elemis Superfood Cica Calm Hydration Juice and it is the perfect addition to my Spring/Summer skincare routine. 'Hydration Juice' is spot on in terms of how your skin feels during and after application - there's a plush, cushiony feel to the texture which reminds me of freshly-squeezed aloe juice from a plant that is super cooling on the skin. I was so keen to try this on my hormonal skin I've been experiencing in my pregnancy and, whilst there's no claims relating to spots, applying this is ever so soothing to my tender jawline. Whilst I may be missing my Pret Green Juice of a morning, at least my skin is getting its green smoothie to start the day right.

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Maternity Clothes Shopping & Wardrobe Favourites

I’ll be honest with you; I found maternity clothes shopping absolutely soul-destroying. Not, as you might suspect, due to some sense of panic about my changing body shape (I was actually quite happy to see my tummy expand and not have to worry about holding it in!!) - but because between sizing and style, I found nothing that felt like me! Order after online order, still I had nothing that fit. Many online stores advise you to order in your pre-pregnancy size but that varies hugely from store to store and, unlike my favourite go-to brands, I had no idea if they came up large or small. Given most maternity collections are online only, you’re forced into the Post Office returns cycle as there aren’t the stores to visit and try on!

It’s infuriating and those hormones on top don’t help. My husband found me in tears one weekend with half a leg in a pair of my old jeans and decided to take action. He took me to the only shop in our home town - Jojo Maman Bebe - and picked out clothes for me to try on. I left with a pair of black over-the-bump jeans and a dungaree dress. The jeans ended up being returned but it gave me the confidence to throw some money at some more online orders and get my maternity wardrobe fixed. Here are the best picks from my capsule maternity wardrobe that have helped boost my confidence and my go-to brands I’ll be recommending to friends.

My Go To Shops

My favourite for Demin... H&M
They have a great selection of maternity wear including jeans, dresses and gym-wear and all reasonably priced. The pieces feel relevant with today’s fashion and not stuck in some timewarp. Plus, as fast fashion goes, there are lots of styles to pick from. This is my no.1 brand for maternity denim and I have 3 or 4 pairs of jeans hanging in my wardrobe and worn on rotation!

My favourite for Jumpers...Seraphine
Probably a brand you won’t have heard of pre-pregnancy, they occupy a more premium-end of the high street. A few of my first purchases came from here and were jumpers (like this one) that helped disguise the Month 3 and Month 4 bloat whilst my pregnancy was still under wraps. It also seems they’re quite a favourite with celeb mums-to-be if you're fussed by that sort of thing. Worth checking out their skin-to-skin tops whilst you’re there...

My favourite for sleep bras...M&S
That early pregnancy boob burn is incredibly painful and so I very quickly had to order something to help keep the ladies contained. A short term fix were low-impact sports bras I already owned but as soon as these arrived, I was rotating these day and night. Super comfortable, stretchy and soft material - they're an absolute pregnancy staple for me. 

My favourite for sexy bras...Figleaves
A general theme to all this maternity shopping is that the feel-good factor is squashed below the practicality factor. But there will come a time you’re fed up of wearing bras that look like something either a 12 year old or 70 year old would wear. Enter lace. Enter Figleaves.

My favourite for dresses...Next
I had a massive haul of maternity dresses arrive that catered for work days, weekends and holidays (back when there was a prospect of a baby-moon!) I loved Next’s lifestyle model shoots which showed many of the dresses paired with Converse and a leather or denim jacket - that’s a look I could get onboard with! I kept 3 of their dresses and have been rotating them on our sunny Spring days during lockdown. (Though the one in these pictures is actually an H&M dress - whoops! Similar linked here

My Favourite Pieces

H&M Exercise Leggings
I flipping love athleisure clothing and wish I could find a job where it’s acceptable to wear that to the office. I know it’s easy to be spendy on brands such as Sweaty Betty and Lulu Lemon and yes, every influencer I see in an outfit I love is usually from one of those two brands. However, I have, thus far, refused to spend £75 on a pair of leggings when I can get some great waist-cinching, butt-shaping pairs from H&M for twenty quid! I probably have about five pairs of gym leggings that I love but from about Week 14 I really felt I was outgrowing them and the comfort level around the tummy was reaching 'discomfort'. I made a panic order of two plain black maternity gym leggings from H&M and kept the best ones. I’m even considering ordering a second pair as I’ve stepped up my exercise routine since lockdown.

H&M Black frayed jeans
Black jeans and a blazer has been my signature workwear uniform for some years so finding my well-worn pair starting to cut in at the waist became quickly in need of replacing. Around Week 10 I made my first purchase with a pair of under-the-bump Topshop jeans from the Oxford Street Maternity entrance on Regent St. That felt like a pregnancy bucket list moment in itself after years of walking past that window display. Only the Topshop pair refused to stay up and I soon became tired of the hike every four minutes to keep them from escaping down to my ankles. Trying to find a new staple black pair of jeans was like searching for a toilet roll at the start of lockdown. However, when I finally opened this pair up from an epic order of approximately ten pairs of jeans, I had my ah-haa moment and made these my new besties. 

Another Good Hack

Charity Shops
Before lockdown, I spent a Saturday afternoon with my mother trawling the nearby village's umpteen charity shops. It's a past-time I actually enjoy, more so for books than anything else. In fact, I generally ignore the clothing racks. However, with my maternity hat on, it's amazing what you can find and for a fraction of any online prices. I spent about £30 and managed to find some incredible buys, including a jumper, a couple of cardigans, a blazer, a shirt for work and a lightweight jacket. I was buzzing - not to mention the ability to try things on! (Obviously this was pre-lockdown... but just think of how much charity shops will be inundated with donations from everyone's lockdown clear-outs!) 

A Final Word

I am so happy with the pieces I invested in from maternity & nursing brands, high street mother-to-be collections and charity shops. I think the moral of the story is you'll need to do a bit of legwork in terms of research to find the brands that reflect your style and prepare for the back and forth to the Post Office with returns. I have to credit my wonderful friend, Emily, for giving me her brand recommendations from her pregnancy which led me straight to H&M's denim section amongst other things. Make sure you speak to your fellow expectant mothers or new mums for their recommendations. Whilst I know spending money on a maternity wardrobe can seem a little frivolous given the relative short time you'll be dressing bump, I don't think you can put a price on feeling confident in your appearance when pregnant. Plus, if you're planning any subsequent pregnancies, you'll have great foundations to re-open this capsule wardrobe second/third/fourth time around!

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The Best Aluminium-Free Deodorant

There were two things my mother asked of me when I moved back from New York:

1. Buy organic meat.
2. Use an aluminium-free deodorant.

After all, those two things alone would have cost the earth whilst we lived in NYC. I had *actual* daydreams on the regular of trolley dashing Boots or Superdrug. And don’t get me started on how excited I was to go to a British supermarket. The Yanks just do food *so* differently!! Of course, access to supermarkets and shops is back on my daydream circuit as lockdown has changed normal life.
My reluctance to embrace aluminium-free deodorants was simple. None of them effing worked. The one thing I need from deodorant is stop B.O. I don’t know what it is about aluminium that makes that do the job but it does, at least that's what my trial and error was telling me. Of course, it’s not ideal to slather chemicals into your very active underarm pores every day! Tester after tester my mum passed onto me from all different brands BUT zero-aluminium meant zero-results. 

The one brand I had actually come to trust to keep me dry and smelling beaut was Mitchum. However, I had some concerns about how potent their formulations were as, at times, I found the skin under my arms going red after application. When I heard about Mitchum’s new zero aluminium deodorant, I hoped this would be the saviour! SPOILER ALERT: It was.

What’s it like?

It’s a cream stick made from 96% natural ingredients. It rolls on better to warm skin so I've found it best applied fresh from the shower, as when my body temperature is on the cooler side it can drag a little across the skin. It has a mild but pleasant fragrance. There are two to chose from: Eucalyptus and Coconut. I’ve only managed to get my hands on the Eucalyptus one and I bloomin' love the smell of it. I’d love to try the coconut one too as it's one of my favourite scents.

Why does the brand say?

Mitchum claims it has 24 hour natural wetness protection, WITHOUT ALUMINIUM, providing 24 hour odour protection. What I say to that is, it works. With competitor products I had found I either developed sweat patches or started to whiff - neither of which are acceptable in my opinion! This gives me all the maximum strength protection I had come to trust from Mitchum deodorants but in a more natural, kinder-to-skin formula. I am a convert!

What does it cost?

Around £4.50. Think of it like buying organic meat - you get what you pay for in terms of quality.

Where can you buy it?

I’ve only managed to find it in my local Boots store which is quite a large one. It’s been out of stock on the Boots website for quite a few weeks but is also officially stocked at Superdrug, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s and Wilko.

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Like I say, I'm a convert. I feel so much happier knowing the formulation I use everyday is more natural and gentle on my skin. I know a roll-on stick isn't for everyone but I'll take it whilst I'm sure they're developing aluminium-free sprays and liquid roll-ons. For now, I've stocked up on my supplies and repaid the favour to my mother too.


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Second Trimester Pregnancy Tips

The second trimester is often referred to as the “honeymoon period” of the pregnancy. I was fooled into thinking the moment I turned 12 weeks I'd wake up feeling like a new woman. For me, it was more like Week 15 or 16 and that ‘new woman’ feeling isn’t quite at the level of You-post-two week-beach-holiday. I think my expectations were a little out of whack with reality... It was more a case of realising I wasn't fighting tiredness at 8pm and that underlying feeling of nausea had disappeared. Hallelujah! 

The other wonderful aspect of the second trimester is that the big news is ‘out there’ or perhaps more widely known now. We waited until we had had our 12 week scan before telling our family which happily coincided with Christmas Day and a fun use of make-your-own Christmas crackers! Telling people is honestly so lovely so make sure you keep a note in your pregnancy journal of who you told and how they reacted. Which leads me to my first tip...

Treat yourself to a pregnancy journal
I had already done a little research in this department for friends and I ordered this one. It combines some useful week-by-week tips as well as prompts for pictures and poses questions which you might not think to reflect upon so it is good in that respect. I did, however, find I had more things I wanted to write and it wasn't the most flexible template. I started to keep notes on my phone so I could document how I was feeling each week and any significant milestones or memorable developments. Similarly, Ryan and I also started taking photographs of my growing bump so we would be able to see the transformation over time. I'd love to say we were as creative as Tom and Giovanna Fletcher but, frankly, the closest we got was standing in the same place most weeks some time after 10.30pm when we were both shattered. But I'll be grateful we have those to look back on!

Wear some (invisible) noice-cancelling headphones
Once everyone in our immediate circle knew, it suddenly felt more real. There can be a certain amount of overwhelm, fear and invasion of personal space that comes with the territory. Why is it people just love to touch your belly (which in my case was more fat than baby around Week 12 so just felt plain awkward)?! Plus, around this time, people will love to tell you how painful labour will be, not to mention sharing their own/a friend's/their cat's labour story no matter how traumatic, and warn you to get your sleep in now because that’s the last of it etc. I would recommend building a barrier to this kind of negative dialogue where possible; nod, smile along, think about what's in your Netflix to-watch list and try to forget anything that crept through the defence. If you, like me, decide to go down a hypnobirthing route, there really is no value in that kind of talk. We have enough drilled into us from TV that we need to re-programme, knowing your neighbour's 52 hour labour story really isn’t going to help.

Telling your employee
Hopefully you won't have any reason to be nervous about telling your employee your exciting news, though I found I had a lot of anticipation and adrenaline when it actually came to it. I had waited until I was nearer 16 weeks to ensure I had smoothly sailed into my second trimester and I was over the worse of the early stage symptoms. I think many women may worry that their employer might think their productivity will go down as a result of being pregnant and I was, perhaps unnecessarily, worried about that. I admit I was lucky that I wasn't terribly sick - I know that won't be the case for everyone and sometimes sharing the news earlier can be a relief so that you can get the support you need, e.g. working from home or shifting your hours if that helps work around morning sickness, or simply offloading the pressure of it being a secret. At this meeting you are not required to give any specific information regarding your maternity leave or plans, it's just so they know you are expecting and roughly when! After your 20 week scan your Midwife will be able to issue you a Mat B1 form which confirms your estimated due date (EDD) - you may need to chase her for this! You will need to scan and send this to your Employer before Week 24 so make sure that's on your to-do list. Your HR dept. or Manager should inform you of anything you need to do to ensure you are eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay. There's lots more technical information about this on the gov.uk website.
Relish those extra evening hours
As a seasoned night owl, I was back to relishing my late night hours! For me, that meant I got back into watching boxsets with the husband, actually cooking our Hello Fresh meals and enjoying eating them(!) and I got back to writing (my favourite late night activity). What will you do with that extra dose of energy? 

Do all the socialising
After months of avoiding nights out which would either expose my lack of drinking or be physically impossible due to exhaustion, I so enjoyed getting back to socialising. Get those dinner dates in the diary and girly get-togethers. Visit exhibitions or book trips to the theatre (I can highly recommend Waitress for a great show!)
Get your exercise in and up
You may have taken your foot off the gas altogether due to morning sickness and/or fatigue but now is the time to get your body moving. I had gone from exercising most weeks pre-pregnancy (though I’m definitely no fitness junkie) to literally being sedentary for the entire first trimester. The only movement I was getting was walking and even then I barely scrapped 5,000 steps a day. By Week 14, and assuming you are low-risk, is a good time to find a local pre-natal pregnancy yoga class. It’s a great way to meet other expectant mothers in your community and follow an instructor who knows what movements are safe to do during pregnancy. Lockdown curtailed this activity for me but I found some great resources online:

Busy Lizzy - They offer 4 mums-to-be yoga classes each week for £20 a month membership via their private Facebook Group. They also offer Mother & Baby classes (including Baby Yoga and Baby Sign) for after your little one arrives. Find them here. 

PilatesPT - Just as lockdown struck, Hollie Grant of PilatesPT launched her Bump Plan; a series of tailored trimester workouts for safe cardio and strengthening exercises to support your body throughout pregnancy and prepare it for birth. For £10 a session, you join via Zoom and there’s the option of Bump Plan: 1st & 2nd Trimester, Bump Plan: 3rd Trimester and Pre-Natal Pilates. Follow Hollie on Instagram.

Psycle - One form of exercise I have missed since living in New York is Barre. I was super excited to discover that Psycle are offering a series of free Live and IGTV workouts during lockdown. Barre 45 is safe for mommas-to-be but check out the 10 minute video about adapting certain moves for pregnancy before you do one! I love feeling that burn!! Tune into their Instagram Live classes.

Peloton - Yes, they are outrageously expensive but, boy, is it amazing to have a plethora of classes at your fingertips. You can sign up to a Peloton membership for £39 a month (it does require the bike). My favourite thing to do is the 10 minute arm exercise with weights. I’m not an avid spinner (though the husband is) but I didn't want to be stressing my body out with a new form of exercise right now when it already has so much going on. Though I am enjoying some gentle scenic cycling and other prenatal yoga classes they have to offer.

Baby's first kicks 
And, of course, the biggest highlight which I haven't mentioned yet is the first kicks!! As a first time mum, it was something I was SO excited to experience. Those early day movements felt like bubbles, wriggles and little belly flips - that's how they are often described wherever you read about what to expect. My experience was they felt more like wind moving along my digestive tract... I guess, to date, that's what I associated with movement in that part of my body! I had suspected a few light flutterings when lying very still one night with my hands on my lower abdomen, just above my pubic bone. The next day I had my 16 week midwife appointment where they assessed baby's position and listened for the heartbeat. As a result of this, I knew exactly where baby was lying so when I went home that evening, Ryan and I lay quietly with our hands poised and felt the first kicks. It was super delicate to the touch but felt more significant to me. Of course, the kicks, wriggles and turns get more profound as the weeks fly by and you'll soon forget what life was like before a constant wriggler has bedded in your tummy. It really is magical.

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I think that's all for my second trimester tips - it really is the 'easiest' of the three in my opinion so 'enjoy' it if you can! Of course, you are physically and mentally still going through huge changes so it's not unusual to have down days and panicky thoughts. Make sure you have someone you can talk to and be sure to be an open book with your midwife so they can offer you the right support.

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Weekend Reading Vol. 7

It's been a while since I've compiled a Weekend Reading List... I think my lack of a routine and commute means that I'm possibly reading less articles. Like many people, I've been burying my head in the sand a little too, and avoiding the news for its anxiety-inducing effect. I read a daily bulletin from The Daily News In Brief and The Spoon on the weekdays courtesy of my work inbox. However, these articles below brought me nothing but joy and insight which is why I'm passing them on. I hope you have been able to enjoy this special VE-annivesary 3-day weekend and maybe your Saturday can be spent either in bed or in the fresh air enjoying these...



Ever wondered what an author thinks of reading and her most defining books? Hear from one of my favourite authors, Marian Keyes, for The Guardian

I recently signed up to the Goop newsletter after binging the Goop Lab Series on Netflix. Sometimes, I admit, I'm just not in the mood for their sometimes damn outrageous content but this post I think is incredibly relevant for so many of us right now.

A Complete Guide to Organising Your Bathroom & Beauty Cabinet
This ticks so many of my boxes (though my husband might disagree) but I love to organise. The early weeks of lockdown were definitely filled with clearing out cupboards, drawers and re-organising. I still want to Marie Kwando my underwear drawer but this article is for all your beauty hoarders, including all the best storage containers to buy!

The 11 Best Foods to Eat When You're in a Bad Mood
This was written around November last year but I've just re-discovered it - and I think many of us can resonate with feeling in a bad mood most weeks! And, don't worry, it's not a weird or wacky list either - in fact, the banana I had this morning may be to thank for my good mood this morning!

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How to Celebrate a Birthday in Lockdown

Birthdays: some love them, some hate them, some try to bypass them altogether. Whichever camp you fall into, I’m sure a birthday in lockdown will be one you won’t forget. For most, you might associate birthdays with parties, get-togethers, blowing out candles whilst your work colleagues awkwardly warble their way through Happy Birthday To You. But for Spring babies, celebrations have been muted and moved online. The postman is likely holding a few birthday cards hostage and you’ll feel the need to disinfect them and your hands after any land on your mat, eyeing them like unexploded grenades. Yes, it’s an odd time to have a birthday. HOWEVER, having just celebrated my father’s, my husband’s and my birthday all in lockdown, I’ve figured out some ways to make it special for a loved one or yourself.

Birthday Cake
We know the world is going bonkers right now for banana bread and if that floats your boat, then get baking for that birthday slice (or three). A chocolate cake was on my to-bake list and had been my intention for my birthday before my husband came home from a weekly M&S food shop bearing a Colin the Caterpillar – the staple office cake that is actually bloody delicious. With only two of us to fight over the feet, it was gone in a matter of days. For my husband, a March baby, I baked up a Lemon Drizzle with more sugar in the icing than in the cake itself – it was a hit. I kept the sugar fest flowing with some blueberry pancakes to kick off the day. Let’s be honest, food is the source of happiness right now. The sweeter the better.

Birthday Decorations
Digging through my present’s drawer, I uncovered some bunting that had never seen the light of day. It was a perfect way to spruce up the mantel piece. Whether you have a few rogue balloons you can blow up, can make your own bunting or simply make sure any cards get pride of place, make a little splash somewhere in your home for the occasion.

Treat Yo’Self
Whilst you might have to hold off the big party or celebratory plans, this is no time to be demure about treating yourself. And this doesn’t have to mean expensive online orders… It can be as simple as a guilt-free lie-in, a request for breakfast in bed, a luxurious soak in the bath or an I.O.U for a massage once lockdown is lifted. My present to myself was 1 kilo of pick’n’mix. Yes, you read that right, ONE WHOLE KILO OF SWEETS from Pick Yo Mix! Best £15 I’ve ever spent and happy that my greed supported a small business. 

Take Your Time
One thing I have always loved to do on my birthday is really take my time and enjoy getting ready. That means that no step is missed in a very indulgent morning beauty routine. From a face mask and hair mask before a steaming hot shower to exfoliating head to toe, a spot of body brushing and applying body lotion to my parched skin. Provide entertainment whilst you apply your make-up with a favourite podcast, audiobook or phone call to a friend. Making myself feel pampered and dressed up is a massive mental gamechanger in lockdown life so I say embrace the abandoned make-up bag and try to remember how you styled your hair before the messy bun moved in.

Birthday Food
We’ve touched on it already but meal-time really is the highlight of every single day for me. On my birthday, it’s even more a source of joy. Plan that weekly shop in advance and make sure you have every urge covered. I ensured I had my favourite coffee in the cupboard, fresh bread for a bacon butty in the morning, cake for lunch and steak for dinner. 

Zoom to the Party
Whatever app you choose (House Party, Zoom, WhatsApp), get your family and friends on multiple calls throughout the day to ring in those birthday wishes and renditions of happy birthday your ears could do without! Pop a bottle of bubbly with friends, make a Quiz Night of it or go all-out with a murder mystery evening if you’re into that sort of thing. I found myself on a long call with my immediate family being asked to open my presents ‘virtually’ – which meant picking a present off my parent’s coffee table by pointing at the screen and watching my mother unwrap it for me (having just wrapped it up herself before the call). She even went to the lengths of explaining how it felt before opening so I could hazard a guess at what laid beneath the wrapping paper. What dedication!

Alcohol
It’s a lockdown essential but on your birthday, even more so. There’s no waiting for 5o’clock somewhere. Get that Bucks Fizz on the breakfast tray or whatever tickles your fancy. Even I broke my abstinence with a mini bottle of Prosecco.

Document It.
A birthday in lockdown may not feel like something to celebrate given its anti-social implications, but it is a birthday to always remember. Capture it with photographs of the day – even if it’s you unwashed in your PJs for the 50th day running. Do it for posterity’s sake (and to show your grandkids).

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How Does It Feel To Run The London Marathon

Last weekend marked what would have been the London Marathon, I remembered asking my sister a few questions not long after she had passed the finish line in 2018. I know how much time and energy goes into preparing your mind and body for a race like that (not personally, I might add) and I cannot fathom how all those who were training towards this year's marathon have been feeling these past few weeks. We have noticed on our daily walks how many more people there seem to be out for a run and I can imagine that the roads may be getting even busier as people blow off some steam. 
In some respects, as sisters, we are alike. When it comes to running... we are not. My sister, Grace, very much takes after my father who also completed the London Marathon in 2009 and like father & daughter, they both find solace in tying up their trainers and pounding the streets for a run. Like mother & daughter, when we all lived under one roof, we preferred the slower paced yoga and pilates classes and despite being a gym member, I was more keen to make going to the gym about what I needed to do to enjoy lunch in the restaurant after with friends!

Side note: Both my mother and I have discovered there is some joy in running since then. A lot in fact. In 2019, we both discovered the 'Couch to 5k' app and managed to actually stick to the three runs a week (give or take the odd week). After years of both of us saying "We can't run" it felt good to prove to ourselves we absolutely could. I managed to train up to a 10k which I completed in late September last year - the second ever longest run of my life and a PB of 1h 10m. For someone who couldn't run straight for 10 minutes straight not many months before, this is an achievement of which I am super proud. Now that Spring has arrived, my mother is back repeating the Couch to 5k (there is also a Couch to 10k extended podcast you can train to) and I'm seriously missing it! As soon as I am fit to run post-birth, I hope I get back on it. I've even noted in my Goals list for 2021 I'd like to do my 3rd 10k.

Back to the long-distance runner and the marathon! If you've ever wondered what it feels like to run a marathon, read on. If you've ever wondered whether running for 26.2 miles around London can actually be enjoyable, read on. My only single comparison is perhaps sky-diving when I jumped out of a plane in New Zealand and whilst I'm incredibly glad I have done it and have the video footage to prove it, I would never do it again - so how does that compare to considering a second London Marathon?

WHAT WAS YOUR MOTIVATION FOR RUNNING THE LONDON MARATHON?
Grace: It's a challenge I've always wanted to take on, ever since I started running. Seeing my friend Lale run and experiencing the atmosphere of London as a spectator in 2017 made me realise I had to make it happen for 2018.

HOW WAS YOUR TRAINING FOR THE BIG RUN?
Training was fairly straightforward and for the most-part the reward of successfully upping the mileage week on week outweighed the hardship / sacrifice. Naturally, there were some exceptions. Such as when I lost 3 weeks training to a tight IT band which left me hobbling about - all because I’d yet to learn about foam rolling! Or once I’d reached peak pre race mileage (20 miles) but still had long runs left to do, often in terrible weather conditions. That’s when the mental endurance battle started kicking in.

HOW DID YOU FEEL THE NIGHT BEFORE?
Mostly calm with a distinct tinge of excitement. And rather full from all the pasta! 

HOW DID YOU FEEL AT THE START LINE?
Excited. Fairly focused. Ready. Not a total adrenaline frenzy (just as well, needed to conserve energy!)

"I was living the experience I’d been waiting for."

WHAT WAS THE ATMOSPHERE LIKE?
At the start line, it was lovely! Everyone was really friendly, positive and pumped. A mild sense of apprehension around the heat (had been confirmed it was set to be the hottest ever marathon).
HOW DID YOU FIND THE RUN?
In some ways as tough at Mile 7 as it was at Mile 25. It felt harder than I thought it would at Mile 7 and better than I thought it would come Mile 25.

High points: 
  • Fire brigade getting their hose out (around mile 7-9 I think) to cool us all down properly 
  • Seeing my family near Bermondsey
  • Running over Tower Bridge looking up at the view with bright blue sky back drop 
  • People shouting ‘amazing Grace’ ‘you’ve got this’ ‘looking strong Grace’ 
  • A couple cheering for me and making rhymes from my name ‘Go Grace, you’re looking ace, keep up the pace’ 
  • Seeing Rose and Lizzie on the final straight towards Buckingham Palace
  • Accelerating and overtaking people on the home straight 
  • Smiling most of the way around  
  • The cheer from friends and family on arrival at the picnic 
  • Mum & Dad saying they were proud
  • All the kind message of support from friends, family and people I barely know or hadn’t seen in ages - pre and post the race. 
Low points:
  • Running belt bouncing all over the shop during the fast & hilly bits early on. The thought of dealing with it jigging around for the next 4 hours was not ideal...
  • Seeing two women and a picnic table quaffing Prosecco one mile and two men sucking on ice lollies the next... torture in 24C! 
  • Running alongside Miss Whippy Guinness World Record attempt which meant a mile of people yelling ‘ice cream’ ... I would’ve bloody loved an ice cream!! 
  • Seeing people collapsed / injured en route being looked after by paramedics 

DID YOU LISTEN TO ANYTHING ON THE RUN?
My Marathon Mix whilst waiting on the start line and then up to around Mile 10/11. Nothing but the crowds after that. Marathon mix tunes were all about positivity, accomplishment or had distinct positive associations for me personally. 

WHAT WAS THE CROWD SUPPORT LIKE? 
Absolutely incredible. The crowd really made the whole experience. Any future marathons have a lot to live up to in that front. 

DID YOU HIT "THE WALL" AT ANY POINT? 
Nope. Pleased to report I did not. Sounds awful. 

HOW DID YOU KEEP YOURSELF GOING? 
Between the crowds, sunshine, regular water, showers and liquid sugar on hand, what’s not to like? Reminding myself that I knew I could do it all the way up to 21 miles and that I would do it from there on because there was no other reality in my mind. 

"Knowing how much I had wanted to be exactly where I was, doing what I was doing for so long and now I was getting to do it and it was just as - if not more - fabulous than I’d hoped!"

WHAT WAS IT LIKE CROSSING THE FINISH LINE? 
Great, surreal. Almost anticlimactic. It wasn’t, just calmer for me personally than I’d thought. 

WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE TO NEXT YEAR'S MARATHON RUNNERS? 
Follow a training plan, they work! But use it as a guide, listen to your body, when it needs sleep don’t do the early run. When it needs 2 or 3 consecutive rest days, take them. Invite and lap up the support of friends and family, it’s invaluable and really the best bit.

WHAT'S THE ESSENTIAL MARATHON TOOLKIT?
  • A good pair of trainers and Hilly marathon socks. I came away with no blisters and all my toenails intact! 
  • Comfortable storage for phone/gels/keys, this was my biggest bugbear, still yet to crack it. 
  • Pedicure the week before (toenail reinforcement)
  • Sturdy sports bra 
  • Breathable clothing
  • Suncream & cap if it’s sunny

WOULD YOU EVER RUN ANOTHER MARATHON?
Yes yes yes. Again, again! 


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How I'm Coping with Lockdown

Some days I can say I’m totally coping. Other days, I’m most definitely not. I think that most of us find ourselves on a rollercoaster of emotions right now. Going through the motions of feeling like we're on a steady part of the track to suddenly free-falling down a steep drop or on a stomach-churning loop-the-loop. From panic to boredom, I can be fired up and motivated one day and then not want to get out of bed the next. Pregnancy hormones* aside (*which I’m sure do play a part), I had a good couple of weeks at first when the novelty was distorting and shielding my brain from processing the gravitas of the situation. From there, it has slowly ebbed into an exhausting marathon in which I have been known to burst into tears* (*see pregnancy hormones reference). However, at the end of an iffy fortnight, I can say it has been a 50:50 mix of good days and bad days.

‘Stay home and carry on’ is the M.O. and strive on we must. It really is as simple as staying home. An opportunity I’d mostly definitely opt for on most "normal" work days given the choice. But 'choice' isn't a luxury we have and I think that is the hardest part of this restrictionI’d never ‘choose’ to avoid my family. I’d never ‘choose’ to take all my friendships online and abandon IRL connections. But there isn’t a choice and that’s where we are having to adapt. So, after that rather doom and gloom introduction (sorry!) I wanted to share some new habits I've formed that are really helping as coping mechanisms. You never know, they might work for you too...

Gratitude Journaling

And you don't even have to get out of bed to try this one! I like to start the day, before I’ve even risen from bed, opening an app on my phone called Morning and writing down 3 things I'm grateful for and 3 things I would like to happen that day. At first, you might struggle to even list three, but soon it won't feel like 3 is enough. I vary from jotting down the ‘big stuff’ - my health, my family's health, the twitching lockdown comrade lying next to me, the roof over our head and my job - to the ‘small things’ like having coffee in the cupboard, a breeze blowing through the window and warm feet under the duvet! I find it very centering and it helps me have perspective of all the positives in my life in the midst of a negative world.

The Secret

I've spoken on my blog before about Rhonda Byrne's law of attraction theory that culminated in the film, book and app called The Secret. Tuning into a positive frequency each morning helps frame my thoughts for the day - positive thoughts attract positive actions. Naturally, living through a pandemic, nothing feels particularly positive right now so I purchased the app for a daily teaching to help provide some focus. It's not for everyone, I get that, but it works for me.

Meditation

Taking 3, 10 or 15 minutes to focus on my breathing and clear my mind feels essential right now. It’s a habit I’d been trying to form for some time but always found my commuting lifestyle meant there wasn’t always time. Now I make sure I spend a few minutes with the Headspace app sat in peace and quiet. I can really notice the difference when I’ve skipped this practice so find it a balancing, calming start to the day that stays with me for the hours that follow.

Reading

Escaping into the pages of a book is the biggest luxury. I’m averaging one book a week which means my bookshelf is getting some attention. Plus, the Kindle app is providing a steady-stream of more recent reads, especially as I've become slightly addicted to the thrill of buying a .99p Kindle book most days! There are a number of great book clubs you can join on Instagram if you’d like a recommendation - my favourite is @bethsbookclub_. Or you can rely on the much-loved High Low podcast hosts to provide an endless supply of great reads.

End of the day signpost

Now my home is also my office, it has been increasingly difficult to switch from ‘work mode’ to ‘relax mode’. A few tips I’ve picked up along the way include packing away my laptop and all work-related paperwork out of sight once I’ve clocked off. I also like to use the time I would have been commuting to either take a walk or an exercise class. It helps bookend the day.

To Do Lists

Whenever I feel stressed, I turn to my to-do list to help with gaining clarity and setting priorities. Sometimes, I’ll write the list out fresh and pop an ‘!’ next to the urgent tasks so I can clearly see what needs to be done and help form a plan of attack. I love the idea of having no more than three tasks per day on my to-do list so it feels more accomplishable but I haven't quite managed that one (yet!)

Get Creative

You may feel like this is a big ask right now. I consider myself 'creative' if I manage to wear something other than pyjamas or gym kit of a day. But, on my good days, I also enjoy exercising my creative flair through baking, gardening, colouring, or making vision boards (check out my Holiday Vision Board on Pinterest!). It is so much fun to escape down a rabbit hole - I spent my morning in Santorini putting this together!

Bucket List

I don't know about you, but I couldn't be more excited about the small things of normal life that I totally took for granted. Of course, top of my list will be seeing friends and family, having big hugs, reunions and generally wanting to lick their faces when it's safe to do so. But, assuming that is some time away, I've taken to writing a bucket list for life after lockdown. From trying a new local restaurant or bar we've discovered on our daily walk to missing my sweet coffee hit from the coffee shop that has been closed for weeks. I can't wait to book a massage, get my nails done and go out to a restaurant for brunch or dinner. What are you looking forward to the most?

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Best Body Oils to Prep Your Skin for Summer

Whilst most of us find ourselves at-home a lot more at the moment, there's never been a better time for some skin-TLC and body prep for the summer. It's no wild guess that as soon as we're allowed to safely leave our homes, we'll be tearing out of the door to every social invite we receive and, of course, all in a big group of our much-missed nearest and dearest! After emerging from our chrysalis, we'll sure want to look and feel our best. And, for all the ever-important hand-washing we're doing at the moment, you may have noticed your skin is appearing drier than usual and perhaps even scaly (please don't tell me it's just me!)

Enter: Oils.

I can't remember how many times I've added 'moisturise more' to my resolutions each year, yet making it a new habit has certainly been a challenge in the past. It's funny that such a relaxing, nurturing act often gets neglected in favour of "just one more episode" on Netflix in the evenings. Summer holidays are a bit of an exception to the rule in that when I'm away, I seriously up my beauty regime. With days spent out in the sun and my pale complexion to contend with, I always make time to apply a rich body oil or body butter in the evenings. I think it's the escape to a new, much more relaxed pace of life that allows for it in my 'getting ready' routine (something that's more apparent in my current day-to-day life in lockdown). My go-to holiday oil has for many years been Elemis Frangipani Monoi Body Oil. If you know, you know, that this precious petal-powered oil smells INCREDIBLE. Prepare to be transported to a Tahitian sun-drenched setting and meander through frangipani-filled gardens at sunset...(even when you're in Spain and not the Polynesia!) It is DIVINE. 

Snapping out of that summer haze and back to reality, finding out I was pregnant was like a wake-up call that now is the time to take care of my body and that goes for my skin too. I reached straight for all the lotions and potions in my bathroom cupboard to up my moisturising game. I'm lucky to have worked in the beauty industry so there's been a hefty backlog of these products to work my way through. Let me share with you the three top body oils I've been using (and will be repurchasing)...

FOR THE BUMP & BUST

Elemis Japanese Camellia Body Oil Blend, £40
I can definitely attest to my skin feeling more dehydrated than ever as all my nutrients are directed to my womb so applying this treasured oil daily feels like such a nourishing act of kindness. Having worked at Elemis, I learned of this particular product's benefits for expanding bellies some years ago. Stretch marks seem to be most expectant mothers' main worry when it comes to their changing physique. I was recently told stretch marks are, more often than not, hereditary; if your mother had them, it's quite likely you will too or vice versa. 

I've taken to slathering this fragrance-free decadent oil onto my stomach daily. It's a lovely moment to take stock of your changing shape, growing bump and have a moment of connection at the start and end of each day with your baby. Being fragrance-free, it is perfect for that "super-smell" stage of the first trimester - this won't cause any offence! It's even good enough for Victoria Beckham to have used throughout each of her pregnancies so I've been sure to gift this to expectant friends and keep a little stash for when my time came. I'm two bottles down and onto my third... 

TOP TIP: Whilst your focus will be on your stomach and bump itself, don't neglect your back. A beauty therapist recently told me that the 'stretch' of your skin actually starts from your back and wraps around so you want to make sure that is as nourished as possible so it's up to the task! Plus, don't forget your bust which undergoes its own expansion journey! It's the least they deserve before becoming chew toys...

FOR THE LEGS

The Sanctuary 4 Day Long-Lasting Moisture Body Oil Spray, £7.50
This is at the affordable, mass-market end of the spectrum and can be picked up in your local Boots. I am a bit fan of The Sanctuary and even remember going to their Covent Garden Spa back in the day. Ever since I've been a little bit obsessed with the fragrance of their products and treated myself to the odd body product on occasion. I was a sucker for the '4 day long-lasting moisture' claim for my ever so scaly legs and this definitely does a great job. I can't advocate the four-day claim as I usually reapply more often (and generally feel the need to). However, if the thought of oils makes you think of gloopy, sticky and thick textures, this couldn't be further from that thought. It's a lightweight oil that can be sprayed for a mess-free application and feels more like a 'dry oil' so sinks in super quickly with minimal drying time.

FOR THE HANDS & ARMS

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Floral Multi-Purpose Body Oil, £29.50
I fell in love with Nuxe last year and bought their entire suncare range pre-holiday. The fragrance is to die for, plus I certainly rate their SPF products for protecting my fair skin. I had heard many good reports of Huile Prodigieuse - their hero product - and when I spotted the Floral edition I couldn't resist seeing what all the fuss was about. For the best part of £30, it works beautifully during the warmer months serving as a body moisturiser and perfume combined. That's why I've taken to applying it to my hands and arms during these warmer days as I waft around my house and garden. And the 100ml bottle certainly lasts a long time!
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Given the timing of this post also coming at an unprecedented era of hygiene, I think the earth's hand lotion consumption has just hit an exponential high and is out of stock in many places. I have a little hack up my sleeve that will leave hands feeling nourished and quenched and that's applying a spritz or a drop of oil to your hands each time you wash them. The difference to your skin texture is clear to see immediately and you can literally feel the tension in your dehydrated skin ease. It really is one of life's small luxuries right now. I keep a bottle in my bathroom and another on my desk next to a hand cream - strength in numbers!

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Pregnancy Tips: Surviving the First Trimester

 That first trimester of pregnancy is a tricky time. There’s the sickness, the paranoia, the wondering whether to tell people or not? Typically, it’s when the side effects are most prevalent. Morning sickness is the arch nemesis. Now, I have to confess, I think I had it relatively easy. I haven’t actually *touches wood* been sick but I did spend around 7 or 8 weeks *feeling* sick 24 hours a day. What can make this more challenging, and it was in my case, is if you decide to keep the pregnancy under wraps.

We're Pregnant: To Tell or Not To Tell?

When I first heard about keeping a pregnancy under wraps for the first twelve weeks as a teenager, I was convinced I would adhere to it “to be on the safe side”. I recall my mother telling me she and my Dad had kept their pregnancy with my older sister a secret for almost sixteen weeks and they cherished the time when it was just the two of them who were in on it together! Listening to Giovanna Fletcher’s Happy Mum Happy Baby podcast where she discussed her miscarriage, made me think differently. If the worse did happen, that’s when you need your friends and family around you! But when faced with a positive pregnancy test, I had to keep it to myself for five days before my husband was back from an international trip and I felt it was only right that he be the first person to know.

Read more: FINDING OUT I'M PREGNANT - and how I told my husband!

Once we were both in on this amazing secret, don't get me wrong, there were many occasions I wanted to tell my Mum or girlfriends but each time I stopped myself. I felt a pressure on my body to keep this pregnancy going - I couldn’t bear the thought of more people knowing and, in turn, more pressure from outside sources. For me, in the end, we kept it out little secret. The timing meant that Week Twelve would be around Christmas Day and as we were hosting for everyone, it seemed like it would make a Christmas never to forget if we could hold out until then!

Getting Prepared

Whilst there's nothing really you can do to prepare for pregnancy, I have always followed the school of thought that 'knowledge is power'. That is why I have always been fascinated by One Born Every Minute, Emma Willis: Delivering Babies and reading books on pregnancy and motherhood before it was even on our five year plan! It may go back to my 16-year-old dream of being a midwife that I've always had a fascination but I found that when it is *actually* happening, sometimes you just want your peers to tell you like it is. Thank goodness, then, for YouTube. And in particular, Lily Pebbles, Fleur DeForce and Carly Rowena for recording pregnancy diaries when I know, for sure, sitting in front of a camera and speaking would be the last thing you wanted to do! They gave me three different versions of the upcoming weeks and so I had a taste for what *could* happen so I was somewhat prepared. 

Coping with the Sickness

Due to my longer-than-average cycle, when Ryan found out the news, we were already five weeks pregnant (don't get me started on pregnancy maths!) and by Week Six there were still no symptoms. The biggest thought I had on a daily basis was: am I still pregnant? Turns out that thought stays with you for quite a while. By Week Seven, it was a different story - I felt sick from the moment I woke up, like a horrible hangover just without the alcohol! Other symptoms I experiences were exhaustion, constant hunger, the most excruciating breasts and bloated AF. With just the two of us in-the-know, it meant double the effort from me to conceal just how I was feeling 90% of the day, especially at work!
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Here are my survival tips for getting through the early weeks.

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Tip 1 | Mints & pressure bands.

I was super grateful for a little care package that arrived thanks to my husband who, in his helpless state, had researched what could help me going through this time. Included in this little box were anti-sickness mints, wrist acu-pressure bands, anti-sickness teabags and a fragrance-free body butter. My “super smell” superpower was really tricky to navigate and often enhanced my feeling sick so fragrance-free was the only way to go. During those first few weeks most of our Hello Fresh meals were cooked in vein as I could not stomach complex flavours. I wanted plain, plain, plain. I can remember walking through a train station and thinking I can smell a fry-up (usually the reaction would be: I want one) but my nose managed to pick up the smell of the oil. Yuck. I had to hold my breath just to get passed it quickly without gagging! Needless to say, I wore the anti-sickness wrist bands daily, sucked on a mint whenever a wave of nausea hit and had a cup of tea before bed whilst applying the Mama Bee body lotion EVERY DAMN DAY.

Tip 2 | Bananas

These were the perfect potassium-rich hangover cure of my University days and they really came back into their own again here! I had heard that keeping food with you at all times was important because, funnily enough, eating helps curb the sickness. And it's true, it does! I'm not one for rice cakes but I had to have a fruit bowl stocked with bunches of bananas. Every morning, the first thing I would do (post-wee, obvs.) is eat one. It gave me an instant fix to help me get ready for work and into the office before breakfast number two (of three!)

Tip 3 | Water... by the gallon!

If there is one positive side effect its being constantly thirsty, it's hitting my 8 glasses of water a day! The colder the better, there was very little that truly quenched my thirst during these early days. In fact, my penchant for melon, mango sorbet and cucumber (yes, I would eat half a cucumber every day...my colleagues have since told me they *did* think that was a bit odd!). I invested in a new reusable bottle with a sippy straw (Lily Pebbles mentioned this particular bottle was handy in labour) and it was a lifeline whilst commuting on the hot London Underground. Oh yeah, have I mentioned yet that your body temperature will soar and you'll perpetually feel hot?! More reason to keep hydrated!

Tip 4 | Sleep Bras

The boob situation was off the chart. My god, I have never know pain like it. Getting up out of bed every morning felt like a rush of a thousand pins & needles to my boobs. Over time, it became a reassuring sign that Yes, my boobs were still pregnant! It was like my nipples had been burnt and anything that touched them was agony. Don't even THINK about coming near them! Very quickly I couldn't face the discomfort of wearing my usual bras so I wore sports bras for the first few days and nights. Oh yes, sleeping without some sort of containment was excruciating. I found these sleep bras at M&S and have lived in them ever since! (Side note, by about Week 14-16 I was back in my normal bras but with a wayyyyy more impressive cleavage. Soon you might need clasp extenders or new bras altogether to contain the new cup size you'll be hosting!)

Tip 5 | Sick Bag

I know that many people have a phobia of being sick. After several nasty hangovers, I kind of know the signs to read when I'm about to be sick. Excess saliva being one of them and pregnancy does come with its extra bodily fluids! To be on the safe side, I carried a paper sick bag (one of those that airlines give out on flights... you can stock up on some from Amazon) and that was for peace of mind. Luckily, it hasn't been used but I did have to randomly get it out the other morning around Week 20 so keep them on you just to be on the safe side!

Tip 6 | Secret Stash of Sweets

I observed this tip from a colleague who ate Fruit Pastilles the entire way through her pregnancy. Food cravings - or more realistically aversions - leaves little to the imagination when you know you should be eating but can't face much. Sweets seemed to be the exception to the rule. Whilst not nutritionally the best for you, I was doing what I needed to do to get through those train journeys and something sweet with a hit of energy did just the job. Keep some in your coat pocket, handbag(s), dressing gown and bedside table.

Tip 7 | A Private Scan

If all these obvious pregnancy symptoms aren't enough to reassure you that your body is doing its thing and growing a baby plus an entire new organ - the placenta - there is nothing quite like seeing the proof on an ultrasound screen. I felt like Week Five to Week Twelve was this never-ending no-mans land between pregnancy test and 12 Week Scan and I just needed reassurance that everything was OK. Ryan and I discussed it and decided to pay for a private scan around Week Nine. I was completely unprepared for the nerves and anxiety whilst sitting in the waiting room at The Birth Company Ltd. on Harley Street. Ryan did an amazing job of talking to me about the fish in the giant fish tank to get me through the wait before our turn! Luckily, a little bean-shaped sack was on the screen and a super fast heartbeat sound filled the room. It was INCREDIBLE and worth the £150. We left reassured baby was in there - just the one! - and doing fine. It was the perfect motivation I needed to keep calm and carry on!

Tip 8 | Ovia App

In the early days, I didn't have any recommendations from friends of apps to use so the Ovia app came to me quite late into my pregnancy but is definitely far superior to the What to Expect app I was relying on for the first trimester. Not only does Ovia have a handy food checker where you can type in and see what you can eat and what's recommended you avoid. You also get daily updates which is a great dose of motivation to get through each day and combat all the symptoms that are thrown at you! Plus, you can keep a record of your symptoms and side effects for each day. Having been so used to doing this with Clue during my monthly cycle, I had felt a little lost not having this in my daily routine during those early weeks so highly recommend downloading. Plus, it's FREE!

Tip 9 | Seedlip & Nosecco

Navigating weddings, birthdays or, in my case, Christmas parties, without drinking alcohol is tricky. Particularly when I'm known for loving a glass of bubbles or wine. To be honest, in those early weeks, alcohol - or the lack thereof - was the last thing on my mind. However, it seems when you move house and the G&Ts come out at 5pm in celebration or the Champagne gets popped on a Friday afternoon in the office, it's hard not to draw attention to your abstinence. Enter: Seedlip. A non-alcoholic gin-flavoured drink. My husband made sure he was on drinks duty throughout every social occasion, particularly at Christmas, to pour me my very special Seedlip G&T whilst the rest of the family were on the Bombay Sapphire. The perfect decoy! Nosecco, as you've probably guessed, is a alcohol-free alternative to Prosecco which comes in a fancy bottle with cork and all the bubbles. It looks the part so if you're seen holding one of these drinks in your hand, your secret is safe!

Tip 10 | Get Your Partner / Husband This Book!

I was lucky that Ryan found this book - We're Pregnant! The First Time Dad's Pregnancy Handbook - for himself as I did not have the mental capacity to think about how he was finding the first trimester (lucky bastard was my general day-to-day opinion). But, it has so many great tips for how your partner can support you: leaving you to get an early night (I was often asleep by 8pm), taking on the household duties of cooking and cleaning and to prepare him for the epic hormonal meltdowns that will invariably happen. I recall two occasions when I literally was hyperventilating with tears over the most irrational, minor things* (*I can see that now!) and he seemed perfectly prepared for these little outbreaks. It's the perfect advice from a father-of-four to a father-to-be.
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I hope these tips help you through your first precious weeks of pregnancy. It may be rough now, but it is totally worth it! Don't feel like you need to suffer in silence, my husband sure got the brunt of my moaning and there are people you can speak to via Peanut or similar apps to know you're not alone if you have decided to wait out the twelve weeks. By Week 16 you will feel like your old self again, be able to stay awake past 11pm and get your appetite and flavours back!

All for now,
Rose (her bump, and her rose-tinted spectacles)


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