January, 2014

27 January
13

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Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming…

For the first 12 weeks of my pregnancy, Tom hated me doing ANYTHING physical – even walking. I’m pretty sure that, given half the chance, he’d have wrapped me in bubblewrap and left me safely in bed for the whole nine months – but let’s face it, that’s unrealistic. Plus, the constant popping of bubbles every time I rolled over would be thoroughly annoying after a while… I’d get terribly cranky.

In all seriousness, I was knackered for the first 20 weeks of pregnancy anyway. I may have had no morning sickness (yes, that’s correct – I didn’t spew once), but I had an overwhelming need for daily afternoon naps… it’s not something I complained about! Who doesn’t like curling up on the sofa at midday and dozing off whilst cuddling a cat? Thank goodness I’m an author and can work in my PJs at home – making up my working hours as I go! If I worked in an office there’s no way I’d be able to stop myself dozing off at my desk. I found it impossible to stay awake!

But (eventually) I acquired a burst of energy and suddenly felt ready to get out of the house and DO something. Plus, I knew it was time to get active. I’ve read a lot of books and know that fitness is very important in pregnancy – one book even compared it to running the marathon. You couldn’t do one of those without getting your body prepared first. Well, you could, but it wouldn’t be much fun. Giving birth is hugely demanding on our bodies, and therefore I was thrilled that the foggy sleepiness had lifted and that I was ready to get going.

Most women are probably tempted to cancel their gym memberships as soon as they discover they’re pregnant, but actually, I think it’s worth keeping. You may not be training to get your butt into those tight jeans anymore, but you are getting your body ready, and hopefully making things a lot easier for yourself in the long run.

I’ve heard a lot of ladies say that they loved swimming during their pregnancy, and that is why I found myself at my local Virgin Active Health Club (displaying my bump in all its glory in my one-piece costume from Topshop), splashing around and having a jolly good time in the pool. I’m not the strongest swimmer in the world (in fact, if other swimmers splash in my face I have to remind myself that I’m fine and not about to choke on a few drops of water), but I’ve found it really calming. I’m the picture of serenity after I’ve had a float around… actually, that’s a total lie. I’m usually a bloated red mess – however, I FEEL great! It’s nice to have half an hour or so without the weight of my bump controlling my body. Now I’m in my third trimester (nine weeks until my due date – AH!) I’ve been told I might get tired again, but ideally I’d love to keep up my new fish-like-talents – move out the way Ariel, there’s a new Mermaid in town. ;-)

GiSwimming2

Talking about time slipping away from us – we’ve finally started to get organised! This week Tom and I took ourselves off to Mothercare to get a whole heap of essentials for Crumb (a huge thank you to the staff at the Watford store who managed to answer all of our silly questions!). Tom’s most important item to find was a baby car seat (we opted for a black Maxi-cosi Pebble), and for me – I just wanted to get my hands on everything so that I could start nesting properly. Ha! Believe it or not, the item most recommended by you mummies out there was Sophie the Giraffe, so I’m happy to say Sophie is settling into her new home very nicely! Whilst in the shop I also totally fell in love with Jools Oliver’s Little Bird range – it’s just so beautiful and perfect for a spring baby. I’ve ordered her moses basket and a gorgeous patchwork quilt. :-)

We’re waiting for a few bits to be delivered, but I’ll keep you posted on how the nursery is coming together over the next few weeks – so far we’ve emptied it of everything that was in there… Like I said, we’ve made a start.

The week came to a close with a lovely group meal at The Judds, for which Izzy slaved away to make a gorgeous Thai Green Chicken Curry (she really is becoming the model wife).

McFamily

Great to see the boys as always – but even better to have a girlie natter and hear all about Georgia’s wedding planning! Check out this week’s HELLO! mag for an exclusive photoshoot with the gorgeous couple.

GiIzzyGeorgia
In other news, I’ve started to get those nightly leg cramps that I’ve been warned about, but I’ve found a way to fight them off – as soon as I sense one stirring I flex my foot. That’s it. Simple, yet effective! I can actually feel the oncoming pain huff as it scuttles away begrudgingly.

I’ve got a busy week next week – I’m turning 29 on Wednesday (Eek!) AND my sister Giorgina is throwing me a baby shower at the weekend… How exciting!

Have a good one!

Gi. Xx

P.S. A very important piece of equipment arrived this week – my Medela Freestyle breastpump (described to me by one friend as ‘the best’ and also recommended by a few of you). On seeing the device Tom asked what would happen if he tried using it… I’ve no doubt that I’m going to come home one day and see him trying it out. Ha!

TomHmmIWonder

20 January
12

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Getting Prepared with hypnobirthing

When we first announced that we were expecting our first child I had a handful of friends (who are all mothers) get in touch to tell me about hypnobirthing and how wonderful they’d found using the technique during labour. Let’s face facts – we’ve all heard pretty traumatic childbirth stories (people just love sharing them – they revel in the horrified expressions they get in return), so I was ready to try anything to help get me through the ordeal… what I wasn’t prepared for was just how lovely I’d find hypnobirthing, and how it would change my whole perception on the day we welcome our little Crumb into the world.

For me, the main message is that by the time I’m ready to give birth, my body will have managed for nine whole months to create this little human. It will have done that all on its own with no outside guidance and instruction… so why would that suddenly all go to pot? Why not trustfully listen to what my body wants me to do and roll with it?

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I know some of you might be wondering what on earth I’m talking about – so I’ve asked my teacher Hollie to answer a few questions to help explain it all:

What is hypnobirthing?
Hypnobirthing is a completely logical childbirth education programme, but one with a difference. Instead of looking at how a woman can merely “get through” or cope with birth, it focuses on teaching a woman how her body is designed to birth comfortably and gently, and empowers her to do so. We look at where the fear of birth comes from, how it affects birth, and primarily the impact adrenalin has on how our birthing muscle – the uterus – works during labour. Hypnobirthing teaches deep relaxation, breathing and massage techniques to stimulate the production of endorphins – the love hormone – during labour, along with defining the very valuable role of the birth companion.

Does it involve hypnotising the woman so that she’s in a labour-loving trance?
Rather than the hypnosis we see on stage, hypnobirthing teaches self-hypnosis as a deep state of relaxation with a heightened state of mental awareness. When our mind is deeply relaxed, so are our muscles, and learning how to achieve this is the key to a lovely labour. At no point are women in a trance or out of control, hypnomums tend to describe how they felt in labour as safe, empowered, calm and goddess-like! There are no pocket watches involved.

How do hypno-births differ from the births we see on television shows like One Born Every Minute (must stress, this is one of my favourite shows, although I’m currently banning myself from watching it) or in films?
Sadly we’re very used to seeing birth in a set way in our media. More often than not, women are on their backs, legs up, sweating and screaming, whilst poor old dad is watching on helplessly and getting pummelled or sworn at. It’s dramatic and predictable, but it gets ratings. When I show my couples videos of hypnobirths, they’ve rarely seen anything like it before – and not because it’s anything weird or voodoo – but just because the whole atmosphere is so different. Hypnobirths tend to be very relaxed and loving, you’ll see couples completely connected, able to have a laugh, and working as a team to bring their baby into the world. Another big difference is in the babies when they’re born – instead of being bright red and screaming, hypnobabies are often born asleep and calm – a clear reflection of the gentle birth they’ve just been part of.

What has surprised you most about the hypnobirthing technique?
Probably it’s simplicity. I stumbled across it when I was six months pregnant with my son, and quite honestly I thought it sounded too good to be true (and a bit new age). I thought I’d have to buy into something, but in fact, all I had to commit to was the practice. Just understanding how birth worked opened my eyes hugely, and also learning to appreciate that it was a real team effort between me, my husband and our baby. I wasn’t alone, and having someone there who knew exactly what to do for me and how to create this safe environment for our birth was paramount. The other thing that surprised me was the obvious impact it had on our son. He was calm from day one.

What advice would you give mums-to-be about what’s to come?
First, don’t listen to horrible birth stories. If you haven’t had your own experience of birth, your subconscious mind grabs hold of these and stores them as your own. Not helpful. Second, put a lot of thought into your birth environment – have your own music playing, nice lighting, aromatherapy oils. Whether you choose to birth at home or in hospital, you can create a space where you feel safe and nurtured, and this will have a massive impact on your birth. Third, step aside and let your body do what it’s perfectly designed to. Freeing your mind and turning within as this incredible experience unfolds is something I can’t describe. You are bringing a human into the world, and that makes you amazing.

(Hollie runs friendly group courses in East Dulwich and private courses all over London. For more information about course dates and availability, and to read birth stories from the couples she’s taught, visit www.londonhypnobirthing.co.uk. If you’re further afield, visit The Hypnobirthing Association website to find your local practitioner.)

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I like to think of hypnobirthing as a form of guided meditation. It eases your mind and calms your fears – plus it’s an amazing thing to do with Tom. I know it makes him feel really included in the pregnancy – but more than that, it enables him to see how important and needed his input is. Tom will be my main support on the day, and I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather have by my side offering words of encouragement, giving me light touch massages (seriously, they’re blooming awesome) and, well, just being my absolute rock.

Also this week… we took a trip into London for our latest scan (I’m becoming increasingly thankful for my bump badge on the Underground) and I’m pleased to report that Crumb is growing nicely and looking very happy in there – the head is even down, which we’re told is excellent news.

We had dinner with my sister-in-law Carrie and took a trip to the theatre to see Donmar West End’s The Weir at The Wyndhams – it’s a play I’ve heard a lot about over the years, so I’m thrilled I’ve finally got to see it. It’s funny but hauntingly tragic at the same time… I laughed and cried!

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And on top of all that, ideas are being bashed around for my THIRD novel. Yes, I know, you’ve not got your hands on book two yet – but I should be able to show you a cover for that one VERY soon (and confirm the title!).

So I’m frantically calm, but very happy with how the year is going so far!

Love to you and yours!

Gi. Xx

P.S. Last week when I talked about maternity wear I failed to mention my quest to find comfortable underwear (especially knickers) – but I’ve cracked it! Bravado seamless panties are amazingly comfortable and they don’t dig into my new squidgy bits! Ha! Their bras are worth checking out too!

13 January
13

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Help! I’ve Got A Bump To Dress!

Hello everyone!

Hope you’ve been having a great week. It’s been a busy one in our house now that the holidays are over and we’ve had to get back to the daily grind of normal life. On top of that, I hopped over to the Penguin offices this week to talk about book two (which is set to be published May 22nd), there was a 30th birthday meal at Gaucho for my friend Aaron, and another birthday gathering for Tom’s nan. Plus, we had our first class with Hollie from London Hypnobirthing (we finish the course next week, so I’ll tell you all about it then – it’s amazing!).

lovely friends

But this week I want to focus on the topic of maternity wear. As I’ve been getting a lot of tweets about clothes it made sense to write a little blog on my own experience of dressing my changing body (it’s a never-ending challenge). So here goes…

As my bump started to grow bigger (and my pre-pregnancy clothes were getting tighter), my mum and I decided to go on a mother/daughter’s shopping trip in the hope of picking up some maternity bits. We were both really excited – it was the first time I’d been out to shop for my new shape and as I’m the first of me and my sister to fall pregnant, we felt the trip would be quite an adventure. It’s only when we got to about ten shops in, being continuously told that either brands didn’t do a maternity range, that they only stocked a few items in store, or that the entire range was online, that we started to feel deflated. Where do pregnant ladies shop? Is the answer really online? Well, we left the shops behind us (with two pairs of preggo jeans from Topshop – score!) and started to search the web. It was amazing! Not only could I sit on the sofa curled up in the warm, but I could also slurp on a decaf cuppa and munch on chocolate hobnobs while we browsed… What a winner! Turned out retailers were doing us a huge favour by not having maternity clothes lined up next to their items for non-bump-wearing-humans.

clothes

For anyone looking to spruce up their pregnancy wardrobe here are some brands I’ve enjoyed so far:

· New Look have a MASSIVE maternity section. Honestly, I could’ve sat looking at their clothes for hours. Plus, they’re affordable – you don’t have to spend a fortune. www.newlook.com
· Topshop deserve to be mentioned for the jeans that I managed to find on my shopping trip with mum. www.topshop.com
· Isabella Oliver were recommended to me by a friend – their clothes are stretchy, supportive and help you feel relaxed yet sexy. Before getting pregnant I didn’t think I’d want to wear clothes that highlight my bump (I thought I’d be all baggy tops and jumpers) – but honestly, I feel so womanly doing so. www.isabellaoliver.com
· Seraphine (introduced to me by my sister Giorgina) make some extremely comfy pieces and there are some great nursing tops in the range for when Crumb arrives. www.seraphine.com
· Rock A Bye Rosie (www.littleblackdress.co.uk), Tiffany Rose (www.tiffanyrose.com) and Babes with Babies (www.babeswithbabies.com) are great for special occasions and have helped me feel like I’ve got an abundance of choice, rather than panicking that I simply won’t fit into any of my old favourites. Each of these brands prove that maternity wear can be glamorous and dazzling.

tom me stephen

What I’ve found so far is that, when it comes to baby bumps, no amount of squeezing will work and remaining comfortable should be of the upmost importance! You’re growing a human – give yourself a break. Ooh, and make the most of all the winter sales that are still on! Nothing like picking up a bargain!

Before I leave you for another week, I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who commented or tweeted with recommendations last week… I’ve now got a long list of must-haves!

Love,

Giovanna. Xx

06 January
39

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Adiós 2013 and a great big welcome to 2014!

Hello everyone

I’m not one to wish away the years (life is short and we’ve got to make the most of it), but I’m certainly happy to be welcoming 2014! There’s so much to be looking forward to this year – book two being published, my hubby and the McBusted boys heading off on a blooming awesome tour – and (more exciting than them both put together) BABY FLETCHER ARRIVING! Yes, with less than 12 weeks to go until my due date (although Crumb will arrive when Crumb wants to arrive) it’s really time to get organising the nursery and finally we can start BUYING BABY THINGS!
I can’t tell you how excited we are, although with so much choice out there we’ve no idea where to start! Tom’s hot on researching items and I’ve found him looking up reviews on safety for things like car seats a few times – but there’s nothing better than recommendations! So, if any mums out there want to offer advice on good products, please leave comments below or tweet me! 
happy-new-year
We saw in the New Year at home in our signature rock’n’roll style… by having a lovely dinner of steak, chips and spaghetti hoops (it’s my favourite meal) and playing lots of Pucket (Tom won every game but one) and Bananagrams (I won both games).  The first day of the year was slightly more sociable as we went over to my dad’s for a great big New Year’s Day feast with all the family… a great way to kick off 2014!

sibling love

On  day two of the year we took a trip to the hospital I’ll be delivering Crumb to meet the team and so on. We’d also booked in for an Antenatal class for that afternoon. We’ve been reading up so much about the birth that we suddenly realised we’ve got no idea what to do when the baby actually arrives! Well, thankfully we both now know how to change nappies, wind a baby, swaddle and put a baby to sleep… fingers crossed we’ll remember it all! I’ve no doubt Tom’s going to be practicing swaddling on our teddies over the next few months!

meditation

…  And then it was time for a pamper! Seeing as I was ill over Christmas I didn’t feel like I’d made the most of the festive time off – but luckily Tom had planned a relaxing spa break for us. So off to Champneys Tring we went for a couple of days R&R. I swam lots, ate good food, had a meditation class (something I’m hoping to do more of), received a Decleor Vitamin Glow Facial and perhaps the best part of the trip was the Beautiful Bump treatment I received just before we left, which comprised of a foot soak, back massage (us pregnant folk aren’t allowed normal ones, so this was a real treat), a soothing mask of goodness for my bump followed by a gorgeous leg, foot, scalp and hand massage. I felt really taken care of by the wonderful Arlyn, who seemed incredibly enthusiastic about giving mums-to-be a much needed touch of TLC. The treatment was heavenly and the perfect end to the first week of the year!

spa

Love (a very relaxed and chilled) Gi. Xx

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