Maternity Clothing – What To Wear When Pregnant Part 2

Posted in Fashion, Pregnancy and Baby.

I’m almost done with pregnancy – I’m just 13 days off that 40 week target, and although Baby A could technically stay in hibernation for another four weeks (please god no I beg), she’s done all her growing and is ready for the world. And I am extremely ready to be not-pregnant.

third trimester maternity clothing

So before the bump disappears and I make my move into parenthood – namely, dressing my daughter in the most beautiful outfits while performing the sniff test on a laundry basket t-shirt for myself – I’m following up my maternity clothing post with a part two. Let’s call this the Heavily Pregnant Version!

The latter part of my pregnancy has been way harder to dress for than the first, for two reasons – the first being a frankly massive bump that requires specialist items, the second being a change in season that deems sundresses and bare legs inappropriate. I’ve bought fewer maternity-specific pieces because it seems like a waste with just weeks rather than months left to wear them, and winter maternity wear is so much more expensive than summer stuff.

So, I decided to invest in a few key items and try make my regular winter wardrobe work alongside them. I’m avoiding my favourite knits for fear of stretching them out but I’ve found cropped jumpers work really well with high-wasted maternity pieces like this Topshop Maternity tube skirt, which was only £20 and is super comfy. Jumper dresses have been another win – this cashmere one from ASOS is a fave and I wear it with maternity tights (New Look’s are good!) as well as over leggings or jeans.

Layering up my lightweight dresses has been successful, too – this Topshop dress is from the regular range and is so roomy I didn’t even need to size up. Worn over a polo neck jumper with tights and ankle boots, it’s cosy enough for chilly days.

topshop asos maternity clothing

Cardigans have been a real staple of my late pregnancy wardrobe – worn open, they’ll accommodate any size bump and add a warm layer to tops and dresses. And there’s absolutely no need to buy maternity-specific cardigans – just choose a bigger size if you want to be able to button up and then you can wear it post-pregnancy, too.

Although I didn’t want to buy lots of winter maternity wear, I do love to shop and autumn/winter is my favourite season, so I’ve tried to buy pieces that will work for now and afterwards. Cos has been particularly good for this – their clothing is cut wide and loose, meaning it covers my bump now but will also look oversized and chic when the bump is gone. I love this wool cardigan and this printed shirt. I’ve also considered the ability to breastfeed with everything I’ve bought recently (a maxi-length, polo neck jumper dress was quickly returned when I realised it was literally the most impractical breastfeeding outfit ever), but I’ll write another post about that when/if I actually experience it.

I did decide on a few maternity things to see me through the colder months – proper jeans became so uncomfortable for me after about 30 weeks, so I gave in to jeggings and bought these from M&S and these from New Look (both super comfy and easy to wear, plus they don’t fall down) as well as this cute sweater also from M&S, which has been great for those ‘pull-on-and-go’ outfits.

what to wear 8 months pregnant

As well as cardigans, long-line tunic tops and baggy shirts from my pre-pregnancy wardrobe have really worked with a growing bump, and anything can be made cold weather-appropriate with a polo neck or a Uniqlo Heattech top underneath. I also caved to the pregnant lady cliché and bought some dungarees – this cord pair from ASOS Maternity are SO comfortable; I adore them.

There are two things I’ve managed to avoid so far and I’m hoping I crack on with this labour thing before they’re needed – outerwear and footwear. Until today (hello, snow!) it hasn’t been cold enough for a proper coat so I’ve been getting away with wearing my jackets open, and in the last few days my favourite Jaeger blanket coat (similar to this) with a thick scarf. My feet haven’t swollen at all during pregnancy – although I suppose there’s still time – but I know that happens to lots of women and might mean your regular winter boots no longer fit. Luckily my only problem in this area is I can no longer bend down to tie my laces, so I’ve been sticking to slip-on boots or roping in Rob to help.

So as I quickly approach the last few weeks of pregnancy, comfort is definitely winning over style and most days I just keep it casual in leggings and a jumper. Being on maternity leave means I’m not out and about as much but on those days I do face the world, it’s nice to have a few outfit options that make me feel like my old self and not quite so much like a baby vessel.

Hopefully these recommendations will help you build your own late pregnancy wardrobe – if you have any top tips, share them in the comments and link me to your maternity style posts. I’d love to see how you’re dressing your bump!

Preggo Updates – 37 Weeks

Posted in Pregnancy and Baby.

Here we are again – another week has flown by. Baby A is now considered ‘full term’ which means she’s fully cooked and could arrive safely at any time – waaahhh! So, let’s dive right in to this week’s updates.

maternity style 37 weeks third trimester

Top, ASOS | Jeans, New Look | Cardigan, Cos | Coat, ASOS | Scarf, & Other Stories | Bag, Kanken | Trainers, Vans

As the countdown draws ever closer to Baby Day, I’m finding pregnancy more and more of a struggle. I’ve been so fortunate to have such a straightforward time and for the majority of these 8.5 months, I’ve really loved being pregnant. But my god, this last bit SUCKS. I can’t sleep, everything aches, I can only waddle short distances… I can’t even put my own shoes on, for goodness sake.

I’m staying positive but every now and then, I allow myself a little pity party. I’m beyond excited to meet my baby girl and I’m so happy she’s thriving away in there, but I can’t wait to feel normal again. I can’t wait to wear regular jeans and my favourite winter knits. Can’t wait to walk up a moderate hill without stopping for breath. Can’t wait to eat some delicious goats cheese, tbh. It sounds selfish and so shallow, but pregnancy is a long old slog even when things are going well. I genuinely think I’m looking forward to labour!

velveteen babies cot mobile

Cot mobile, Velveteen Babies | Cushion, Nikki McWilliams | Knitted rabbit, Sootie Limetree

After feeling a bit weird last night and this morning, I popped up to Maternity Assessment at my hospital to be monitored for a while. Turns out all is well and I just have a UTI – fun! Baby A is absolutely loving life and was described as ‘perfect’ and ‘very happy’, which made me glow with pride (and she’s not even born yet). As always, the midwives were amazing – so reassuring and helpful. Nothing was too much trouble and I didn’t feel at all silly being hooked up to a monitor for a spot of cystitis.

I was prompted to go and get checked out after seeing this Insta post by @mother_of_daughters earlier in the week. It’s so, so important to trust your instincts when it comes to reduced movements – if something feels wrong, go get it checked. It’s probably nothing at all but it’s vital to know for sure, and midwives will monitor you until you feel reassured that all is well. I’ve found movement monitoring one of the more stressful parts of pregnancy, but Tommy’s was a great resource to me early on and their new #MovementsMatter campaign is brilliant at explaining exactly how you can understand your baby’s movement pattern. The website has loads of great tips too, and it’s really worth reading through to debunk the myths surrounding fetal movement.

After a week full of emotional ups and downs, hearing Baby A’s heartbeat just thumping away was such a boost and has me feeling much more positive. I know she’ll come when she’s ready, and I’ve just got to keep up my end of the bargain for a little bit longer. Just not too much longer, ok baby girl? <3

What To Do With Your Freelance Business When You’re Having A Baby

Posted in Pregnancy and Baby, Writing.

Hey, did you know I’m having a baby? And quite soon, too? It’s true. Baby A is now fully cooked and could come at any time over the next 5 weeks (please don’t let it be 5 weeks), which means it’s time for me to start winding down my freelance business. In fact, today is my first day of ‘maternity leave’.

I’m calling it ‘maternity leave’ because I’m not going completely work-free till the 14th November, a week before my due date. I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting around doing nothing for weeks on end, especially if Baby A is shy and stays in longer than 40 weeks, so I’m still working with one client to keep things ticking over. Luckily my client is being amazing and super flexible so if I do go into labour before our agreed end date, I can just text them to let them know I’m done.

maternity pay self employed limited company

I started my freelance business back in 2011, running it on a self-employed basis until 2014 when I became a limited company. I’ve been extremely lucky with the business and have never really struggled for work – when I first started, I had lots of contacts from my agency days and got regular work straightaway. And since then I’ve become an expert at keeping in touch with people at all sorts of businesses, putting my name at the front of their mind whenever they need a freelancer.

The business is now in its sixth year and has gone from strength to strength, but it’s only recently I’ve realised that ‘strength’ doesn’t actually equal more profit. Growth has been an upward curve since I started and 2015 was my most profitable year, but it was also my most stressful. In 2016 I stepped back, got pregnant, gave up my studio space and took a slower approach to work. It meant my profit margin dipped but it showed me that I can keep my name in the game, still manage the high-profile projects I enjoy and earn enough money to live my life (and pay my tax bill) without working all hours. Which is going to be a very important balance in the coming months.

self employed maternity leave

So! Back to the baby thing. When I first found out I was pregnant, figuring out the work situation was high on my list of ‘things to worry about’. I waited until we had the all-clear at the 20 week scan, then I went straight to my accountant. Full disclosure – I’d have no idea what I was doing here if it wasn’t for my accountant. Maternity pay for limited companies is hugely confusing and I know I’d miss out on a big chunk of cash if left to my own devices, so I can’t say I’ve organised any of this myself. If you’re self-employed or operating a limited company and wondering what your maternity leave options are, I strongly recommend speaking to someone who is qualified to know about this stuff.

After the congratulations and celebrations, my accountant set to work organising my Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). This is an amount paid to me by HMRC to cover the time I’m taking away from my business, and it’s based on my average salary. To get the maximum benefit from SMP, I had to do some ‘tweaking’ of my average salary – my accountant advised me on this so again, speak to one before you attempt anything!

It’s really important to get your average salary stuff sorted reasonably early in your pregnancy, because HMRC have a cut-off point for calculating their averages. If you leave it till, say, 32 weeks, you’ll be unable to adapt your salary to maximise the benefit of SMP, so it’s really worth getting the process started as early as you’re comfortable with.

taking maternity leave when self employed

I’m still waiting for my SMP to be finalised but over summer I managed to save a bit of a lump sum, so that will tide me over until the payments start coming in. And with the finances looking reasonably healthy, I can concentrate on what to actually do with my business while I’m caring for Baby A.

At the moment, I’m planning to dip my toe back in around April 2017. That gives me five months to concentrate on nappy changing and breastfeeding and baby yoga, and after that I’m hoping to pick up my one main client as well as a couple of short-term projects. I’m incredibly fortunate that I won’t need to go back to full-time work straightaway, so I can play it by ear and see how much I can juggle alongside a tiny baby. And my clients have been brilliant, agreeing to keep my contracts open for me until I’m ready to return. I’ve also enlisted the help of my amazing friend and fellow social media freelancer Lil, who’ll be taking over my two long-term projects while I’m off.

To be honest, I have no idea how things will play out once Baby A is actually here. Right now I feel like I could manage a few hours of work a day alongside the baby stuff, but who knows if that’s a reasonable assumption. I don’t know what kind of baby we’ll have, if she’ll nap during the day or be up all night or even need extra care and attention for whatever reason. Deciding on a definite plan for returning to my business has been so hard, because I’ve never done this before and I just don’t know what I’ll be facing in five months. The ability to keep things flexible is essential for me, and I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to say “I’m not sure, but I’ll let you know in April”.

Leaving my business behind for five months is a terrifying prospect – I’ve already had to turn down a couple of jobs and I’m missing out on a huge launch for one of my clients, which makes me feel super antsy. I have a serious case of career FOMO, but I’m hoping once Baby A arrives I won’t have time to worry about it. I’ve spent 10 years building up my career and the thought of dropping out entirely is certainly scary, but it’s more about putting things on pause to immerse myself in a different kind of life. Who knows how my return to work will pan out – I’m sure I’ll write about it when the time comes. For now, I just want to concentrate on this new direction and all the exciting things that come with it.

SMP freelance business

To finish this post, I wanted to share a few career highlights from the last six years. You can see all my latest projects on my website, but here are my absolute faves…

– Doing two seasons at New York Fashion Week and one at Milan Fashion Week with Diesel Black Gold. Interviewing Adrian Brody and walking in on Luke Evans changing are my particular highlights!

– Launching Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling via the Pottermore social media channels. Turns out a social reach of 20 million is pretty exciting!

– Taking a phone call from TOWIE’s Arg on my sofa in Leeds while managing the ITVBe social feeds. Pretty sure he thought I was in some fancy London office and not in my PJs…

– Dancing to Blurred Lines with David Platt at the #CorrieLive wrap party. As surreal as it sounds.

– Roping in friends as models for a photo shoot with Diet Coke, which involved LOTS of free carbonated beverages.

– Taste testing the entire MEATLiquor menu, because a community manager can never be over-prepared…

– Celebrating the release of the first Twilight film with overexcited teens on the Vue Cinemas Facebook page.

– Building up a fine collection of Hunter wellies while working as their community manager… hey, I needed them for the photos!

Preggo Updates – 36 Weeks

Posted in Pregnancy and Baby.

Four weeks to go! I’ll keep this one short and sweet…

asos maternity dungarees

Maternity dungarees, ASOS | Top, ASOS | Flats, old

I’ve had a great week but today I feel a bit all over the place, emotionally. It’s to be expected – I’m not sleeping well due to continued hip pain so I’m tired as well as hormonally-charged, which isn’t the best combination. Today I had a big cry and I feel better for it, but I think the next few weeks will be an emotional rollercoaster. As someone who usually operates on a pretty even keel it’s hard to deal with seesawing feelings, but I’m hoping I can just ride it out.

In other news, we had our last NCT session yesterday and went for a drink with some of the group afterwards. It’s been so lovely to meet people going through exactly the same things we are – as adults, I think it’s pretty difficult to meet new friends and it’s especially difficult when you work from home without colleagues to socialise with. Babies seem to be the perfect conversation starters, though, and I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone and their prospective offspring!

36 weeks pregnancy update

Dress, Zara | Jacket, ASOS | Flats, old | Bag, Whistles | Necklace, H&M

I had my 36 week midwife appointment on Monday and everything is super positive, so when I feel a little bit sad I just remember that Baby A is doing fantastically and it won’t be long till she’s here with us. My midwife told me she’s in a great position for labour and her head is engaged, so here’s hoping these last few weeks fly by!

How To Create a DIY Mountain Mural for a Nursery

Posted in Home, Pregnancy and Baby.

Since I posted about our finished nursery, I’ve had quite a few requests for a how-to for the mountain mural. So here it is! Read on for more…

mountain mural for girls nursery
Rob and I are not the most handy of people – the extent of our decorating experience before this was painting one wall of our kitchen, which resulted in some very unsightly blotches on the ceiling. So before starting the mountain mural, we weren’t filled with confidence about our DIY skills… but turns out, this is a super easy project to suit all levels of skill!

To start with, we prepped the room that was to become the nursery. After cleaning top to bottom and washing the carpet we used a primer paint on the walls to cover the existing colour (a dark grey), gave the ceiling a fresh coat of eggshell white and painted all the woodwork.

nursery mountain mural diy
I wanted to keep the nursery gender neutral in soft pastel shades, but I didn’t want the mountain theme to look too realistic. So rather than choosing blue for the main wall colour, I went for a gentle green – Farrow & Ball’s Cromarty. It’s a beautiful green with a hint of grey and works so well to create a calming atmosphere… perfect for a nursery.

With the walls and radiator painted and dry, it was time to start plotting out the mountain range!

nursery mountain mural DIY
instructions for painting nursery mountain muralThis is where I handed over to Rob. He sketched out his idea on paper first, then recreated the layout on the walls using masking tape. Rob came up with theee most adorable meaning for each peak – the big ones represent him, me and Baby A, and the smaller ones on the side walls are for our cats, Travis and Lily. I almost wept when he explained that bit to me!

We didn’t want the peaks to look too uniform, so we did a bit of shuffling about once the tape was up – stepping back and surveying the overall scene helped. Once we were happy with the layout Rob trimmed the excess tape, making sure the points of each mountain were sharp.

It’s really important to use a good quality decorators’ tape here – you need a really crisp line and cheaper tape will bleed. A top tip is to rub over the tape with a damp cloth to really seal the glue and make sure the paint stays where you want it to!

gender neutral mountain mural nurseryThis is how things looked after we’d painted the main peaks and the background peaks. We gave each section two coats to ensure an even finish, waiting about 20 mins between coats. Then we waited another 20 mins before crossing our fingers and peeling off the masking tape – success! No leakage!

We stuck with Farrow & Ball colours for the mountains. I wanted soft greys with a warm tone and settled on Pavilion Grey for the background peaks and Dove Grey for the foreground peaks. I love the combination of these two colours against the pastel green.

step by step nursery mountain mural
paint your own nursery mountain muralNext step – filling in the gaps. For this part, we waited until the paint was touch-dry then lined up the masking tape with the edge of the foreground mountains, making sure to add an extra piece of tape to complete the side of the background peaks. It’s quite complicated to explain but hopefully the pics make sense!

With the masking tape in place and dampened down, we painted within the lines to complete the background mountains.

how to paint a baby nursery
gender neutral baby nurseryThe final stage was to paint the snowy peaks – we mapped these out with more tape while waiting for the background peaks to dry a bit, then slapped on a few coats of Farrow & Ball’s Wimbourne White. We could’ve actually done this way back at step one when we painted the main foreground peaks, just by adding the additional tape then rather than painting the grey colour right to the top of each peak. But, no harm done – 3 coats and the grey was as pure as snow. 20 minutes later it was time to peel off the masking tape with fingers firmly crossed…

scandi style baby nurseryTada! It worked!

We finished the mountain mural about 2 months ago and I’m still so delighted with it. It’s not totally perfect – some of the lines are a little shaky and there’s a tiny bit of cracking in the white paint because we layered it on too thickly. But none of that matters (or is even visible unless you’re up close) – it looks fantastic and I’m so proud of us DIY newbies for doing it all ourselves.

It really was a very easy project, and the finished result looks way more professional than I expected. For a couple of first-timers, I think we really smashed it! Here are a few tips if you’d like to paint your own mountain mural…

– It’s time-consuming, but don’t rush it. Set aside a full weekend and give yourself enough drying time

– Use good quality paint and decent brushes. You want an even finish without the stray brush hairs!

– Buy the best masking/decorators’ tape you can find. We found the blue stuff was the best, and a rub-over with a damp cloth strengthens the glue even more.

– Sketch out your mountain scene first and use your sketch as a reference for the wall. Don’t make it too formal or uniform, and don’t worry if your peaks aren’t perfectly straight!

pastel mountain mural nursery