We weren't meant to start 'trying' until August this year. We figured that even if we got pregnant straight away that would give us a nice 2019 spring baby, perfect for all those outdoor children's birthday parties on the beach that I've always swooned over and excitedly wanted to get involved in (I may be guilty of having a Pinterest board already full of ideas for children's beach birthday parties - yes, I'm that weird!). I eagerly came off the pill when we got married in September after years of hating taking those artificial hormone pills each day. As someone who has never so much as taken an aspirin before, the thought of controlling such a vital function of my body with chemicals sat in opposition to my values of wanting to deal with everything as naturally as possible.
However, years of travelling the world doing aid work in refugee camps, and other unsanitary environments, meant that it was the most effective option available to me at the time. I was grateful for having that option at all, especially as I work with women who have no such options, but I also resented myself for indulging in it. With my travel commitments reduced and my work in the charity sector coming to an end, I no longer needed to control when I had my periods but I did still want some control over whether I got pregnant or not. I signed up for Naturalcycles and received my thermometer in the post a few days later. I'll save a blog on that subject for another time, probably when I'm back into the swing of using it again post babies arrival. Essentially after a few weeks of taking your temperature each morning it tells you which days of the month you're fertile and which you're not. The longer you use it for the more accurate it becomes and within a few cycles it pulls out a 4 or 5-day fertile window in your calendar, where you can either have sex like rabbits or avoid sex entirely, depending on what your aims for using the app are. We were doing well following the avoid days until one night when we got a little frisky and decided to risk it anyway. Sure enough two weeks later I realised I was pregnant. So here I am, in August, the month we were meant to start trying, and I'm already 17weeks pregnant and due to having a beautiful baby girl somewhere around 17th January 2019. Even though it's a few months earlier than planned we are over the moon and I am already so excited to meet her and watch her little personality grow.
There is never a more important time to look after your body than when it's being used as a vessel to grow another life form so as soon as I got pregnant I began researching everything I needed to know about growing a baby as naturally as possible. I quickly became overwhelmed and confused by the sheer amount of contradictory information and product pushing there is in the pregnancy market. It seems that pregnancy is big business for a lot of large and cleverly branded corporations. However, I did what you're meant to do and I invested in all the popular anti stretch mark creams and body care treatments. When they arrived a quick glance of the packaging threw me into confusion even more. I couldn't pronounce any of the ingredients on the list and had never even heard of 90% of them. Not a great sign, surely all these chemicals seeping into my skin isn't good for me or baby. I dug through my drawers and found some sample products of Made For Life Organics, a brand I'd visited the offices off a few months earlier and seen how the products were made. I remember at the time being shocked at how a company of there scale had managed to retain such a hands-on, human approach to their product creation. Walking into their production room was like walking into a herbalists kitchen. Shelves upon shelves of organics herbs and flowers and in the window was a huge big table full of glass jars slowly heating in the sunlight whilst whole plants macerated in oil. The smells that filled the room were all familiar to me. I could smell lemongrass and rose and possibly even a hint of peppermint and lavender. With these thoughts in mind, I began liberally applying their oils and balms to my body and quickly fell in love. Once the samples I had received run out I contacted them and asked if they'd like to work with me and conduct an experiment. The experiment was to ply me with products and see if I like them. It was quite cheeky of me but they had recently won a gold 'Made For Mums' award so were keen to do some social media work with a pregnant lady and as a novice herbalist who lives in Cornwall (where all their products are made), I seemed to fit the bill.
After working my way through the whole product range pretty much I've become a bit obsessed with a few staples that have supported me through my first trimester. There are other products in their range which I know are going to be great once I start getting bigger, heavier and my poor feet and legs start aching but for now it's all about exfoliating and adding moisture to my ever-expanding body. I'm a big fan of exfoliating at the best of times and usually dry body brush and exfoliate at least once a week but at the moment I can't get enough of it. I've upped my routine to 2-3 times a week and it's left my skin feeling super smooth and toned. I usually body brush in the morning because it really gets the blood flowing and wakes you up and I leave exfoliation for my evening time baths. The exfoliator I've been using is Embrace The Day Body Scrub by Made For Life Organics. It uses two grades of sugar to slough away any dead skin cells which is much more nourishing for pregnancy skin than any salt scrubs which have a tendency to be a little too harsh for expanding skin and dry it out leading to stretch marks and itching. The sugar combined with 5 organic oils increases moisture levels in the skin and the smell is insane. You can check it out here (Use the code 'STOVES20' for an exclusive 20% discount)
DAILY MOISTURISER FOR BODY
The next product I can't recommend enough is one I've been using daily. It's the Made For Life Organics Softening Body Oil. One thing I've noticed with all the Made For Life Organics products is that a little goes a long way and that remains true for this little bottle of nectar like oil. I have religiously been applying a little in the morning and a little in the evening around all those parts that have already grown and are continuing to do so. Bump, boobs and bum all get a thin film of this oil applied and despite my boobs growing two cup sizes already, I still don't have any stretch marks or itching (a common side effect of quickly stretched skin). My skin feels like its doing a really good job of supporting my bodies duties right now. It's comfortable, elastic, smooth and generally really happy and I put it down to this wonder oil and my religious practice with it. They also have a toning oil which I'm looking forward to using post-baby, I'll fill you in on that once I get to that stage. Check out the Made For Life Organics Softening Body Oil here (Use the code 'STOVES20' for an exclusive 20% discount)
INTENSIVE MOISTURISER FOR BODY
The next product on my list is the WINNER of Best Body Balm in The Beauty Shortlist Awards and WINNER of Best Pregnancy Skincare Product in the Made for Mum Awards so its fair to say that I'm not its only admirer. The Made For Life Organics Restorative Body Balm is a game changer. This balm contains base oils including carrot and rosehip oil, both rich in Vitamin C, with Gotu Kola to feed the skin and help restore elasticity, whilst repairing damaged skin tissue. Perfect for everyone and fantastic for pregnancy and stretch mark protection. I use this maybe 3-4 times a week and apply it in places that really feel the stretch, around my boobs, on my love handles and down at the base of my belly. It comes with a handy little spatula and a tiny scoop of it does both boobs (and they are both bigger than my head right now!) and I use another little spatula full for my love handles and the base of belly. I reckon I'll probably only get through two tubs of this stuff during my whole pregnancy cycle taking me all the way into my 4th trimester (3months after Baby has arrived) even with using it as often as what I do. It's such great stuff. I've also been dabbing a bit on my elbow and knees too. Check out the Made For Life Organics Restorative Body Balm here (Use the code 'STOVES20' for an exclusive 20% discount)
Other products in their range that I've been loving are the Head and Hair Treatment Oil (Here), having such long hair means that the ends of my hair are probably around 7+ years old. I don't have any clothing that old and yet I walk around with this on my head each day. If not looked after it can become dry and tatty so requires some upkeep especially now I'm not taking my usual vitamins. I've been using the hair oil once a week which is frequent enough for my hair. Although there is lots of it it's still quite thin so can't handle a lot of oil. Thicker hair could probably handle a twice-weekly treatment but you'll need to work that out for yourself. It doesn't leave any residue (although I do always shampoo my hair twice) and I am still able to use conditioner after it (A bugbear I have about other oils that I've used in the past). It has kept my hair shiny and silky to touch even with all the hormonal changes it's going through at the moment.
Another great product is their Soft Touch Intensive Hand Cream (Here) which I just leave laying around the house and apply when it catches my attention. Sometimes that can be multiple times in one day and other times I can skip a day completely. The smell is divine.
Another product I love which I've been using for a while but if you're pregnant you may be interested in is SISTER & CO Raw Coconut & Activated Charcoal Tooth Whitening Polish. Many of you may only be interested in non-chemical alternatives since finding out that you're pregnant but this product is so good it's likely you'll continue to use it post pregnancy and scrap those chemical laden, bleach-filled strips for good. Its messy and will turn your sink black but by golly its great at keeping your pearly whites, well, white. Just dab a bit on your toothbrush and brush for 2mins. Spit it out into the skin and then swill your mouth with water. It's so so so so good. I don't have a link or discount code for this but thought id share it with you anyway.
TEA AND ESSENTIAL OILS
One thing I have missed greatly about being pregnant is my herbal teas and diffusing essential oils. I have decided to stop diffusing essential oils entirely for the whole duration of my first trimester and this has been my biggest struggle so far about being pregnant. So much of my self-care routine is wrapped up in the use of essential oils and herbs and the only first aid kit is my house is my box of organic essential oils and my apothecary pantry full of herbs. There have been some days during my first trimester when I've felt super low on energy, nauseous, headachy and a bit stressed and it's in these moments that I would usually blend some oils and diffuse into the room their scent whilst brewing myself a medicinal tea from my apothecary. Not being able to easily reach for my go-to remedies when I've been feeling my sickest has felt incredibly frustrating at times. I've happily given up booze but please don't take my oils.
Now that I've just entered into my second trimester (blog on second-trimester care coming soon) I have started to diffuse some safe and well-researched oils again but a limited selected of herbal teas are what got me through my first three months. Ginger tea was great when I was feeling nauseous and quickly became the first drink of my day for about 4 weeks during my first trimester when I was feeling sick every morning from about 4am. Luckily the sickness didn't last too long but this tea and dry crackers got me through it. I simply grated a load of ginger into a teapot and let it brew for a few minutes and then drank with 1/2 teaspoon of raw organic honey. Another pregnancy safe tea is nettle. Nettle leaf tea is something I drink a lot of anyway but its nutrition rich content is especially valuable during pregnancy when baby is syphoning off all the goodness you put into your body. It's full of iron, magnesium and calcium and when I was feeling a little low on energy this was my go to. I didnt allow this to brew too long and limited my consuption of it but sometimes that little burst of nutrients was all I needed.
Big thanks to Sea Vista Bed and Breakfast for lending me a room to prance about in my pants whilst we got these shots. The panoramic views across Mawgan Porth are sensational and their decor is seductive and refined. I've recommended a few friends to stay with them in the past and it's now their go-to place whenever they come down. It's such a fab set up, I can't recommend it enough if you want something smaller and more intimate than a hotel. Check them out Here
All photography was by Sarah Clarke at Checkered Photography who not only accommodated my request to shoot together at super late notice during one of the busiest weeks in Newquay's calendar but she also made me feel super comfortable and natural taking pics in my nicks. I highly recommend her for your own pregnancy photo shoot. Especially if you're not used to being in front of the camera not wearing much. Her chilled approach put me at ease and shes got some great photos that I can keep forever. Check her out here. http://checkeredphotography.co.uk
**I was paid to write this review of the Made For Life Products but I have been obsessing over this brand for a while and all my thoughts are my own. The room at Sea Vista Bed & Breakfast was Gifted.**