Having a baby is pretty neat when you think about it. You literally create a tiny human from scratch. Your body KNOWS how to make a human! The shit thing about having a baby – no instruction manual. You are left in the dark about raising this creature that is quite literally dependent on you for its very survival. Having just evicted a very real, little human from the comforts of my uterus, I did a learn a few things that the books/friends/Facebook left out. And I thought, why not document this for another unassuming person who is embarking on the same journey? Just remember that I am absolutely no expert at all on the subject. I will say it again – NO expert. However, if my discoveries, babbling and hyperlinks to products I am in no way affliated with helps someone else, I am all for it. 

Your skin will either being amazing, or well, shit.

Mine was the latter. I was so excited to get my pregnancy ‘Glow’ on that everyone babbles on about, that it was a complete let down when my skin turned into a dry, flaky mess in the middle of summer. I was finding myself bathing in moisturising lotion to absolutely no avail. Then, the breakouts happened alllll over my chin which had me reliving those awkward teenage years all over again. WHERE the freak was my glow?!

Now the reason for the lack-of-glow and breakouts is due to the mammoth hormone surges that occur predominately around the first trimester (I’m looking at you, progesterone) and the excess fluids your body is now retaining. Progesterone while incredibly important for growing your offspring causes your glands to increase the production of sebum. This overproduction of sebum can then clog up your pores, causing a build-up of bacteria resulting in breakouts. Sounds fun huh? Doesn’t stop there. You may even be lucky to get something called back-nea (back acne), arm-nea (arm acne), chest-nea (chest acne – you get the idea)… You have pores everywhere my friend and that oil secretion happens to ALL pores. Some people have a flare up during the first and leading into the second trimester, but it is completely normal to continue having break outs throughout pregnancy and for a month or so post-partum.

So, what can you do about it?! I found that sticking to a good skin care routine really helped my skin, along with the occasional skin needling for good measure. I double cleansed every morning and night with a pre-cleansing oil and a cleanser. I also used a konjac sponge ($6 from Kmart, get on it) as I found that this really helped give my skin a good clean and gently removed all traces of makeup/dead skin/remnants of food etc from the day. Twice a week (when I remembered cause pregnancy brain is a thing) I exfoliated with my all-time favourite – Blue Lagoon Lava Scrub. Just remember whenever you scrub, moisturise!! As my skin was super dry, I utilised a leave on hydrating moisture mask by Origins. Smells good enough to eat (but don’t, it tastes rubbish) and it didn’t leave my skin super oily.

** One thing to look out for is that you do not use Retinol or vitamin A derivatives as well as salicylic acids (also known as beta-hydroxy acids) whilst pregnant. These creams and serums can be harmful to the growing bambino in high doses. Make sure you read what is in your skincare if you want to continue to use it throughout pregnancy.

*** Oh, and no anti-wrinkle injections or dermal fillers until you finish baking your bundle AND finish breast feeding. I’m not crying, I promise…

Me, finally getting the hang of this boobie feeding thing.
Note: Mandatory Mum-Bun and still in PJ’s at 1pm. 

You will feel like Daisy the Dairy Cow

Be prepared to spend a great deal of time with your Koala permanently attached to you. And unless you are choosing the formula route – which absolutely no judgement here at all! YOU DO YOU BOO xx – feeding your sidekick will come at a cost to your nipples. I’m not sugar coating it – they feel similar to having had your nipples sandblasted off or having a super bad Chinese burn to your areola. And the tiny humans while incredibly clever in FINDING the source of food, still have their L Plates on too. So, getting them to latch can be difficult (and hilariously frustrating to watch) but if they do not do this correctly, your nips may end up a little bruised and battered. The biggest help that I found was chatting to a Lactation Consultant prior to discharging from Hospital. My sassy LC’s advice made a world of difference when feeding my bebe and I became far more confident whipping a boob out going forth.

THE THING THEY DO NOT TELL YOU – is that when your milk comes in, other than the fabulous emotional hormone showers – you may actually appear like you have had a physical shower from night sweats! I felt as though I had a raging fever, woke up drenched night sweats. Do not use silk sheets for the first month or so post-partum unless you like having your sheets sticking to your skin.

** To help with sore nips, invest in these babies – Hydrogel Breast Discs. These act much like a hydrogel wound dressing, bringing much needed moisture to the area. A brand that kept popping up is the Body Ice’ brand of icepacks for your boobies – but at $45 each, they are pricey AF. If you, like myself, cannot justify spending that, head across to Chemist Warehouse (we love Chemist Warehouse) and pick up a set of Manicare soothing eye gel patches. For $6.99 you can clean and reuse them and when your boobs are fine, you can always use them for your eyes! While your there, invest in Medela Tender Care Lanolin Cream. Perfect for when you’re out and about. Rub and repeat as much as you like! And do not stress if your lovebug eats some of it – totally non-toxic for them. Probably doesn’t taste good, but hey, it won’t kill ‘em!

Your hair will become a luxurious mane … but you may lose your eyelashes.

This one was novel to me. While I was relishing in my now thicker locks, the eyelash thing took me by surprise. I initially thought my mascara had stopped working as my eyelashes seemed to be well, shorter. I hadn’t visited my brow lady in a few months to get them tinted (thanks, COVID) so I thought that their lack of visible presence on my face was due to the tint fading away. BOY was I wrong. When I finally was able to return to my gorgeous Rani my eyebrow lady, she confirmed the sad, sad truth. My eyelashes were indeed shorter and less of them had survived pregnancy. I didn’t expect this to even BE a thing because eyelashes are hair. And my hair was growing at a rapid rate. However, this again is a cruel joke your body can play on you. I learnt that I was somewhat special in the fact that it is not overly common occurance with most pregnant people. Seriously, why do bad things happen to good people?

One reason why you may go through the loss of your fluttery fringes is again, hormones. During pregnancy, you will have changes in your thyroid function due to the excess production of estrogen and human chronic gonadotropin (Hcg). This may send your thyroid into an overactive state – hyperthyroidism – which in turn, causes hair to become thin, dry, and brittle causing your eyelashes to fall out. Another possible reason can be linked to nutrient and vitamin deficiency including iron, B12, zinc, biotin, and protein to name but a few.

If this happens to you which I hope it doesn’t, there are a couple of things you can do to get your lashes back. Just make sure you do check in with your GP to get your thyroid function test checked JUST in case your levels are a bit skew-whiff.

  • Take a biotin supplement 

Biotin is an essential nutrient (part of the vitamin B family but known as Vitamin H ??) that helps your body convert nutrients to energy. Its other job is to keep your hair, skin, and nails healthy. This nutrient is found in a variety of foods but being preggers may mean your levels need a bit of a boost. Just check in with your GP before taking a supplement though as some of your prenatal vitamins may already contain the recommended daily intake.

  • Eat lash friendly foods

Surprise – eating healthy foods does wonders for your follicles as well as your general health. Foods which contain biotin naturally, along with B12, protein, essential fatty acids, beta-carotene can help you retain those lashes. These include salmon, sweet potatoes, eggs, and dark leafy greens.

  • Fake it till they’re back

Invest in a good set of fake lashes. The Quick Flick have an adhesive liner pen which promises for easier sticking of the fake lashes. Or, if you cannot be arsed with the gluing of the things, check out the new fancy pants magnetic lashes from Vani-T. These babies can be worn multiple times and come with a swanky tweezer set to help you apply said lashes to your lids. Voila! Problem solved.

** Be careful of serums for your lash growth. These can contain prostaglandins that can be harmful to your bubba.
 

Miracle stretch mark cream is a gigantic waste of money.

I dunno if you have found this, but soon after I announced that I was gestating a human, suddenly Facebook and Instagram were marketing me these incredible creams that promised the reduction/prevention of stretch marks occurring altogether. And all for the fantastic price of … A LOT of money for a very, very small tube. *Insert anger bubbles here*. These companies should not prey upon the hormonal-ness of a pregnant woman. Let me be clear – stretch marks will NOT be prevented by applying creams/serums/oils/belly masks (seriously, wtf) daily/weekly/hourly. All they WILL do is make your belly smell delightful, create an exceptionally soft, moisturised tummy skin that will be smoother than your impending child’s behind. This may be enough reason for you to buy the $expensive cream – but please do not do it thinking that it will stop stretchies from occurring.

Stretch marks/tiger stripes/badges-of-honour-for-creating-a-human-from-scratch occur when there is an abrupt change (like the growing of a HUMAN) to the skin which causes the elastin and collagen to rupture. As the skin heals, these marks begin to appear. At first you may feel a slight raised area to your skin, with an increased itch to the site. The scars tend to be reddish/purple/pink depending on your skin tone and will eventually fade to a silvery/white colour over time. Like any other scar, stretch marks are permanent.

If you do want to buy something, the only ingredient that has been shown to have some sort of possible prevention is Hyaluronic Acid. Hyaluronic Acid is a natural substance in our skin responsible for maintaining our moisture levels. There are a good few serums which include these that you can buy for reasonably cheap, however, one option is to purchase the Garnier Hyaluronic Shot’ face mask. This face mask comes with enough serum in the packet to BE a face mask and the leftovers to moisturise your tummy for the next five days morning and night. Chemist Warehouse often sell them half price for around $3.50. Another option is to buy The Ordinary’s HA 2% + B5 serum. B5 enhances the surface hydration which is what you want to help moisturise your tummy!

There are treatments that can be performed post-partum that can reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Skin needling and laser treatments (performed by a dermatologist, not beautician) can reduce the appearance of stretch marks, however this will not happen overnight. For more information on how Skin Needling can help with reduction of scars, head across to my prior blog here.

Suck-me-in fat pants and high waisted undies will become your new best friend.

For many reasons, not just because they will allow you to wear more than just a flowing moo-moo for the first couple of months post-partum. The SMIFP help to support and align your abdo until your organs and muscles can do their normal job again. They help with hiding and smoothing your skin, stabilising your pelvic floor (that does not mean they will replace your Kegels, ladies) and provide light compression to help shrink your uterus back to its normal size. Plus, if you have had a c-section, they can also take the pressure off your incision and help to reduce pain while it heals. They also can assist in healing diastasis recti which is a super common post-pregnancy condition where your abdominal muscles remain separated. So really, 10/10 would recommend.

There are many types of these pants. One leading brand in Australia is SRC Health. These guys have a variety of different garments to suit your needs – Shorts, longer tights, high waisted etc. – but they are expensive starting at $200 for a pair of tights. To save money here, check out Facebook Marketplace – you usually can pick them up for just under $100. Just make sure you suss out which size you will be before you start your search!

High waisted undies while incredibly unsexy are vital postpartum. If you are like me and refuse to wear the disposable panties, head to Target and get some ‘shapewear’ undies. These babies are high-waisted and structured enough that they will give your deflating tummy some support as well as stretch enough for the huge maternity pads (and +/- an icepack) to be packed in there. They are also much nicer on the wallet than some other recommended brands. Just make sure you get a size bigger than what you currently are for comfort.

** Just in case you will want to purchase a variety of moo-moos (casual and semi-formal moo-moo) that can be used for all occasions. Because moo-moos are incredibly comfortable. Check out Boohoo  for attractive and affordable attire.

MUST HAVE: Perineal cooling pads. Cause your lady parts will thank you later. Get them here. While we’re on the topic of lady bits, grab some of these squidgey bottles from Kmart to help wash your nethers/rinse after peeing as it may be a little tender down there after you birth the bebe. 

At some stage, you will want to throw them in the bin.

And, as I found out, it is totally normal. There is no dispute, babies are tiny dictators who steal allllll of your time, patience and sleep. Furthermore, they are terrible conversationalists. Lucky for them (and you), they are built with an excellent defense mechanism of cuteness that will prevent you from doing just this. Clever, really.

However, if you do find yourself wanting to recycle your offspring with the milk cartons, it is definitely time to take a breather. If you can, palm them off to your significant other/family/friend to oodle at for a moment while you catch your breath/nap/eat/shower/cry in the privacy of your shower. Another handy tip is to count to ten (you may need to increase this to twenty or thirty at times), remind yourself that YOU GOT THIS!! Then attend to your tiny person’s needs. It is totally fine to let them cry it out while you dash to the bathroom or feed yourself. It is also perfectly acceptable to stay in your PJ’s and wash your hair once in week. Dry Shampoo is a thing and it will make you look somewhat presentable for a quick grocery dash.

If it does start to become all too much, because hey, it is EXHUASTING and HARD keeping a human alive – there are incredible websites and services available for you to access at any time of the day. An excellent site to start with is PANDA – (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia) which not only has an array of information online, but a dedicated and confidential hotline for parents. If you can, I totally recommend getting out for a quick walk outside with or without your Squishy Delishy to remember that there IS an outside. It can get rather tiresome looking at the same 4 walls all day. Also fresh air is good for you. 

Being really organised helps alot with easing the stress of trying to do all of the things. One absolute GOD send which I would thoroughly recommend everyone is bake/freeze alot single sized portions (that you can eat one handed) prior to when Bugalugs comes. Not having to worry about making food for yourself saves you both time and stress. If you don’t have alot of freezer space, you could opt to get fresh meals made or delivered such as Youfoodz.  

Another tip, set up  nappy stations in the bedroom, lounge etc wherever you’re planning on spending the most time with your Mini-me. In the basket I had a change of clothes, several nappies, bum cream, nipple cream, burp clothes etc. HOWEVER, I also created a pre-rolled nappy change kit. It included a Bluey (ask for a couple whilst in hospital, OR a travel baby change mat will also do the trick), one terry towel cloth nappy for spillages/comfort (get them here – they’re also great for burp clothes), two nappies, hand sanitiser, nappy wipes and a small plastic bag for the used nappy. Doing this collated everything together so I only was having to grab one thing. SUPER handy when you’re tired for those middle of the night changes. 

At the end of the day, if you have managed to shower yourself, wash your hair, shave your legs AND change into actual real clothing – take that as a win and celebrate. Just remember – it is 100% okay to cry and feel like crap some days. But also know, you are not alone and things will get better!

** If your bambino loves baths – take one with them. This will ensure you will also get a bath that day! Also, if it is cold, forget a warm towel – just use a hair dryer to dry them off. 

Exhausted. Spent. Featuring splotchy skin and teary eyes. BUT – Alive. 

People love to tell you stories and give you all of the advice.

And at times, these stories are definitely not helpful. For some reason, when you speak about birth – especially the evacuation from the womb type stories – all you hear are the horrible, bloody, complication riddled tales which inspires fear and uncertainty for the expectant mother-to-be. And it just is not required. I personally believe in having a positive mindset going into the unknown will help illicit a positive experience. So, if you are embarking on this journey and someone is telling you about the tale of their cousins-friends-sister who had the most difficu- you can tell them to just … shut up.

** It is extremely nerve wracking entering the unknown. However just remember that this whole birthing a child thing is hardwired into us. Just like when you grew it from scratch to begin with (Do you remember growing that eyeball??). Your body KNOWS what to do, which is pretty damn cool.

It is also worth noting that any guideline for ‘sleep school’ or anything to do with getting a routine set with your bub is just that – a guideline. For example – one such online guideline stated that from birth to 4 weeks, the baby should only be awake for 1 hour and 15 minutes (pretty exact huh) which included a feed, nappy change, and quiet play. Insert SNORT here. It took me nearly an hour and 20 minutes to feed my squish delish until he hit about the 5-week-old mark. They are expert time wasters and love to hug/smoosh/stare longingly at the boob for a good deal of time between eating. This time did not even include the quiet play or wrestling a nappy change. Advice from ‘experts’ about what your baby should and shouldn’t be doing routine wise from a downloadable online book should not be taken as gospel. It will only end up causing anxiety and worry that something may be wrong with your Koala as they are not adhering to the beforementioned rigid routine. The sooner I gave up my expectations on what everyone else said we should be doing and started focusing and celebrating the good, the happier I was. At the end of the day, if we were both fed, watered and alive at the end of the day, I figured I had done a good job.

** The Raising Children website is a very non-judgey site worth a stickybeak for ideas and tips to try.

It really is the best thing ever.

Even with all the side effects, body changes, weird smells, crying and sleepless nights. Your life will be richer for spawning a human from scratch. And what an amazing thing it is. Soak it all up. Take a zillion photos. Because it really does go so fast.

– C x