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So I created a human

Having a baby is pretty neat when you think about it. You 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 survival. Having just evicted a very real, tiny human from the comforts of my uterus, I did learn a few things that the books/friends/Facebook left out. And I thought, why not document this for another unassuming person embarking on the same journey? Just remember that I am absolutely no expert at all on the subject. I will repeat it – NO expert. However, if my discoveries, babbling and hyperlinks to products I am in no way affiliated with help someone else, I am all for it. 

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

Mine was the latter. I was so excited to get my pregnancy’ Glow’ that everyone babbles on about that it was a complete letdown when my skin turned into a dry, flaky mess in the middle of summer. I was finding myself bathing in moisturizing lotion to absolutely no avail. Then, the breakouts happened all over my chin, which had me relive those awkward teenage years 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 predominantly around the first trimester (I’m looking at you, progesterone) and the excess fluids your body is now retaining. While incredibly important for growing your offspring, progesterone causes your glands to increase sebum production. 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 happen to ALL pores. Some people have a flare-up during the first and leading into the second trimester. Still, it is entirely normal to continue having breakouts throughout pregnancy and for a month or so postpartum.

So, what can you do about it?! I found that sticking to a good skincare routine helped my skin and the occasional skin needling. I double cleanse 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. Then, 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, moisturize!! Finally, I used Origins’ leave-on hydrating moisture mask as my skin was super dry. 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, or 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 breastfeeding. I’m not crying, I promise…

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

You will feel like Daisy the Dairy Cow.

Be prepared to spend a great deal of time with your Koala permanently attached. And unless you are choosing the formula route – which 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 lousy windburn to your areola. And the tiny humans, while incredibly clever in FINDING the source of food, still have their L Plates on. So, getting them to latch can be challenging (and hilariously frustrating to watch), but your nips may get a little bruised and battered if they do not do this correctly. The enormous help that I found was chatting with a Lactation Consultant before discharging from the hospital. My sassy LC’s advice made a difference when feeding my Bebe, and I became confident whipping a boob.

THE THING THEY DO NOT TELL YOU – is that when your milk comes in, other than the fabulous, emotional hormone showers – you may appear like you have had a physical shower from night sweats! I felt like I had a raging fever and woke up drenched in night sweats. Do not use silk sheets for the first month or so postpartum 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 ice packs 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 you’re 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 – non-toxic for them. It probably doesn’t taste good, but it won’t kill them!

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 new thicker locks, the eyelash thing surprised me. I initially thought my mascara had stopped working as my eyelashes seemed shorter. I hadn’t visited my brow lady in a few months to get them tinted (thanks, COVID), so I thought 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 fewer of them had survived pregnancy. I didn’t expect this to be a thing because eyelashes are hair. And my hair was growing at a rapid rate. However, this is a cruel joke your body can play on you again. I learnt that I was somewhat unique because it is not an overly common occurrence 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 oestrogen and human chronic gonadotropin (Hcg). This may send your thyroid into an overactive state – hyperthyroidism – which 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, you can do a couple of things to get your lashes back—first, check in with your GP to check your thyroid function JUST if your levels are 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 various foods, but being preggers may mean your levels need a bit of a boost. Check in with your GP before taking a supplement, as some of your prenatal vitamins may contain the recommended daily intake.

Eat lash friendly foods.

Surprise – eating healthy foods does wonders for your follicles and general health. Foods containing biotin naturally, B12, protein, essential fatty acids, and 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 has an adhesive liner pen that promises 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, and create an exceptionally soft, moisturized 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 on 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. Like any other scar, stretch marks are permanent.

If you want to buy something, the only ingredient shown to have some possible prevention is Hyaluronic Acid. Hyaluronic Acid is a natural substance in our skin responsible for maintaining our moisture levels. A good few serums 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 moisturize your tummy for the next five days, morning and night. Chemist Warehouse often sells them half price for around $3.50. Another option is to buy The Ordinary’s HA 2% + B5 serum. B5 enhances surface hydration which is what you want to help moisturize your tummy!

Some treatments can be performed postpartum to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. For example, skin needling and laser treatments (performed by a dermatologist, not a beautician) can reduce the appearance of stretch marks; however, this will not happen overnight. Head to my previous blog for more information on how Skin Needling can help reduce scars.

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

… And not just because they will allow you to wear more than just a flowing moo-moo for the first couple of months postpartum. The SMIFP helps support and align your Abdo until your organs and muscles can do their regular job again. They help with hiding and smoothing your skin, stabilizing 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 it.

There are many types of these pants. One leading brand in Australia is SRC Health. These guys have various garments to suit your needs – Shorts, longer tights, high waisted, etc. However, they are expensive, starting at $200 for a pair of socks. To save money here, check out Facebook Marketplace – you usually can pick them up for just under $100. Just make sure you check out which size you will be before starting 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 to give your deflating tummy some support and stretch enough for the colossal maternity pads (and +/- an icepack) to be packed in there. They are also much friendlier on the wallet than some other recommended brands. Just make sure you get a size bigger than you currently are for comfort.

** Just in case you 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 squidgy bottles from Kmart to help wash your nethers/rinse after peeing, as it may be a little tender down after that 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. But, lucky for them (and you), they are built with an excellent defence mechanism of cuteness that will prevent you from doing just this. Clever.

However, if you want to recycle your offspring with the milk cartons, it is 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 PJs and wash your hair once a week. Dry Shampoo is a thing that will make you look somewhat presentable for a quick grocery dash.

If it does start to become all too much because it is EXHAUSTING and HARD to keep a human alive, there are great 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 has an array of information online and a dedicated and confidential hotline for parents. If you can, I recommend getting outside for a quick walk (with or without your Squishy Delishy) to remember that there IS an outside. It can get rather tiresome looking at the same four walls all day. Also, fresh air is good for you. 

Being organized helps ease the stress of trying to do everything. One absolute GOD sends, which I would recommend to everyone, is to bake/freeze many single-sized portions (that you can eat one-handed) before Bugalugs comes. Not worrying about making food for yourself saves you both time and stress. If you don’t have a lot of freezer space, you could opt to get fresh meals made or delivered, such as Youfoodz.  

Another tip is to set up nappy stations in the bedroom, lounge etc., wherever you’re planning to spend the most time with your Mini-me. In the basket, I had a change of clothes, several nappies, bum cream, nipple cream, burp cloths 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 sanitizer, nappy wipes and a small plastic bag for the used nappy. Doing this collated everything together so I only had to grab one thing. SUPER handy when you’re tired for those middle of those 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. 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 – use a hairdryer to dry them off. 

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

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

And at times, these stories are not helpful. When you speak about birth – especially the evacuation from the womb type stories – all you hear are the horrible, bloody, complicated, riddled tales that inspire fear and uncertainty for the expectant mother-to-be. And it just is not required. I believe that having a positive mindset and going into the unknown will help elicit 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 difficult- you can ask them to just … shut up.

** It is highly nerve-wracking entering the unknown. However, 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 a guideline. For example, one such online approach stated that from birth to 4 weeks, the baby should only be awake for 1 hour and 15 minutes (pretty exact, huh), including 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 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 include the quiet play or wrestling a nappy change. So 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 aforementioned 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-judgy site worth a stickybeak for ideas and tips to try.

It is the best thing ever.

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

– C x

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