Category Archives: Wellbeing

Embracing The Fourth Trimester

March 22, 2018

Pregnancy + Parenting / Wellbeing

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

My Intentional Year: A Gentle January

January 27, 2018

Wellbeing

A Gentle January blog title

In my last post I shared that I’ve not made any resolutions this New Year, instead of focusing on plans and goals I’d like 2018 to be the year for being more mindful and intentional. Rather than think about what I want to achieve each month, when I take some time to set my intentions for the coming few weeks I’ll be thinking about how I want things to feel and what mindset I want to cultivate as I navigate through my days. To help guide me I’m choosing a word for the month that encapsulates these feelings.

This month, I knew that more than anything I wanted to prioritise going slowly, taking things easy and being kind to myself and my family as we adjust our new lives together. So my guiding word for January has been gentle. Although you’d hope a new mum would know not to put too much pressure on herself I’m afraid it’s all too easy to let those nagging, negative thoughts creep in. When overwhelmed by tiredness – thinking I should be doing better or achieving more, it’s been helpful to come back to the idea of gentle and g e n t l y reassess how I’m approaching or feeling about a moment or situation.

bunch of gypsophila baby's breath lace ribbon handsbunch of gypsophila baby's breath lace ribbon

New baby aside, I think we all need a reminder, especially at this time of year, to approach things in life more gently. You’d think that after a month dedicated to spreading joy and cheer it wouldn’t be so difficult, but it seems as though after the excess of the festive season, January brings about a collective guilt trip. Dry January, Vegan January, a plastic-free month – as worthwhile as these lifestyle changes may be, I can’t help but feel that they still come from a place of beating ourselves up!

Last week’s Blue Monday may be mainly there to give marketers something to Tweet about during a slow season, but there certainly seems to be more people suffering from the blues during January. Even us ardent winter-lovers are searching for signs of spring! When things seem a little bleak ‘gentle’ seems to be a good solution. Gentle doesn’t tell you to “cheer up” or “try harder”; Gentle instead speaks of not being to hard on yourself and of sitting with those uncomfortable feelings knowing they will pass.

And yes, I know there’s only a few days left of January, but maybe, as we come to the end of this long month, it’s the perfect time to have a little check in. And if your 2018 hasn’t got off to the best start I hope you can choose to be gentle with yourself.

Join the conversation on Instagram using the hashtag #myintentionalyear to share your gentle moments this month.

My Intentional Year

January 8, 2018

Wellbeing

My Intentional Year

It’s that time of year for reflecting on the past twelve months and making plans for the next. Although I love that fresh start, clean slate feeling that January brings, it seems these days, we’re mostly in agreement that a ‘new year new me’ mentality is not a sustainable way of bringing about real change. Read more, eat well, buy better, declutter, write more, exercise – whatever your list looks like, a generic and vague set of life ‘improvements’ only serves to become something to beat ourselves up about come the end of a long winter. That’s why this new year, I’m choosing to focus on intentions rather than outcomes or achievements.

If there are goals, dreams or habit-shifts you’d like to see come about in 2018, then by all means, lay them out and take steps to work towards them. However, I think it’s important not to get caught up in the big picture and be sure to focus on what is needed for this particular season, month or moment of your life.

This is especially apparent for me right now as I start the year as a new mum with a one-month-old baby. I have no idea what the next couple of weeks will look like or demand from me, let alone the next few months or rest of the year. That said, although I might not know what to expect from our day-to-day, I do have an idea of how I’d like to navigate our new lives together.I want to prioritise quality time and connection. I would like to be present in the moment as much as possible; to remember all the fleeting little details and find meaningful ways to document them. I want to be mindful of my emotions and ride out the tougher times without spiralling into negativity and becoming overwhelmed.

dried hydrangea petals in hands dried hydrangea petals

I know that when I’m living more intentionally I’m calmer and more content. Not mindlessly scrolling on my phone; knowing my limitations and not trying to do everything at once, taking time for reflection, meditation and mindfulness – the actions that help me feel aligned may well look different now my priorities have changed but by keeping intentionality at the forefront I hope to be able to bring about that same sense of calm.

I’m starting my intentional year by deliberately taking January gently and slowly. If you’re not feeling the New Year buzz (or maybe you’ve already lost it) then I recommend emerging into 2018 gradually, without putting pressure on yourself this month. I’ll be publishing a post later this week on having a gentle January.

My plan intention is to share my journey into a more intentional year here on the blog and over on Instagram using the hashtag #MyIntentionalYear. I’d love it if you would like to join in with the tag to share your own moments of intentional living this year.

How are you feeling about the new year? My friends online seemed to fall into two camps –  those who are raring to go and those who would rather ease themselves gently into the new year.

Pregnancy Massage with Relax Bristol

December 2, 2017

Pregnancy + Parenting / Wellbeing

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. 

An evening with Yoga Brunch Club

July 19, 2017

Food + Recipes / Wellbeing

Yoga Brunch Club Yoga Brunch ClubYoga Brunch Club

As evening fell on a warm June day, I joined a group gathered to enjoy a yoga class with a difference. Yoga Brunch Club – as the name suggests – can usually be found popping up on a weekend morning, with brunch clubs held regularly in Bristol and London. Switching things up for this midsummer event, Yoga Brunch Club’s founder Clem Balfour hosted a yoga supper club which consisted of a vinyasa flow class, followed by a delicious Italian feast; all taking place in the beautiful setting of The Forge.

It was the day following the hottest of the year and with fans running and windows open wide, I think we were all grateful for the drop in temperature as we arrived and settled on our mats ready for an hour of yoga. Having not attended a yoga class for a good few years I was honestly a little anxious about my ability to keep up, not to mention being nearly four months pregnant obviously needing to be considered. However, Clem took the time to chat with me beforehand, mentioning a few poses I should adapt or skip, which put my mind at ease. She also made her way around the room before commencing the class, checking in with all the attendees.

As she led the class, Clem was sure to include options to adjust poses accordingly for the variety of abilities in the room along with providing gentle words of encouragement. I particularly remember her pointing out to the class that yoga is not about striving to attempt the perfect pose, but maintaining awareness of your own body during the practice. As my particular combination of tight hamstrings and little arms have a habit of making me feel like the least flexible girl in the room this felt like a very good reminder for me as a novice – plus I realise that pregnancy is probably not the time to lament not being able to touch my toes!

I really enjoyed the flowing nature of the class and as we rested in savasana at the end of the session I had that lovely satisfied feeling of an hour well spent.

Yoga Brunch Club A Tavola Food Yoga Brunch Club The Forge Yoga Brunch Club A Tavola FoodYoga Brunch Club The Forge

Having visited The Forge for all sorts of events I’m always impressed by the versatility of the space, which on this occasion seamlessly transitioned from yoga studio to dining room half way through the evening. Cocktails were served as mats and blocks were replaced by two long rustic tables, which looked so pretty decorated simply with flower stems in vintage bottles.

Bristol based caterers A Tavola had prepared a three-course Italian feast for the evening meal. As the sun set, we tucked into a delicious starter of spring broth, handmade ravioli main accompanied by two incredible salads followed by panna cotta with strawberries and pink peppercorns. Natural Italian wines were also available to enjoy with the meal. The food was so fresh and delicious, perfect for a midsummer’s evening and a lovely balance of hearty and wholesome which felt just right to follow our exercise.
Yoga Brunch ClubYoga Brunch Club

Having got into meditating regularly over the last year, I’ve been really wanting to give yoga another go as the two practices obviously compliment each other so well. Yoga Brunch Club was a lovely reintroduction for me and I’m definitely going to seek out a local pregnancy yoga class, although I may be disappointed in the lack of yummy food to follow!

Whether you’re also an absolute beginner or if unlike me you’re a seasoned yogini, I think you’ll find Yoga Brunch Club a beautiful way to spend a morning or evening.

The next Yoga Brunch Club in Bristol takes place on September 10th at The Forge with Vietnamese brunch menu from Uncle Ho’s. Early bird tickets are available for £30. Or you can catch Yoga Brunch Club in London with their next event in Brixton on August 13th.

Follow Yoga Brunch Club: Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Website

All photos shot by the lovely and talented Kasia Kiliszek: InstagramPortfolio

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I was invited to this event by Yoga Brunch Club but all opinions (and tight hamstrings) are my own.

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