This week on the blog we chat with international bestselling author, journalist, and speaker Caroline Foran. Caroline is expecting her first child later this year and talks to us about dealing with pregnancy during an unprecedented global pandemic. We discuss skincare, pregnancy coping mechanisms and minding your mental health whilst growing a human.
How are you coping with being pregnant not only with your first baby, but also during a pandemic?
It's hard to gauge how I'm coping as being pregnant for the first time already means I'm beyond my everyday terms of reference. It's all unfamiliar. It has definitely been a bonus having my husband work from home at this time as whenever I feel unwell (which is often as my morning sickness has continued right through), he is there to look after me or reassure me that I'm okay.
Another benefit is that I have no choice but to rest and take it easy so have taken advantage of that where possible (and tried not to feel guilty about it!) I already felt like I was on lockdown as I'd been sick since Christmas Day and hardly leaving my house so by the time lockdown set in I was ready to start seeing people again which obviously hasn't happened. I've found it tough being away from my parents, my mama in particular. I'm not sure if it's just me but before you become a mother yourself, you feel the need for some mothering from your own, some reassurance that you'll figure it out, some TLC and some quality time with you as the child in the relationship. I've missed cuddles and I've missed the chance to share the pregnancy journey with my mam, and my friends. That said I'm so grateful that by the time I'm due, we should be in a position to see family again.
Have you noticed any changes to your skin during pregnancy? And if so, how are you dealing with them?
Yes, I noticed a lot of changes very quickly. My skin has become more troublesome in my thirties - it was never an issue as a teen or even in my early 20s. I had been on a very good regimen to keep it looking and feeling good though and part of that involved supplements with Vitamin A in them that you can't take when you're pregnant so as soon as I found out I was pregnant I stopped.
Then in the first trimester I had breakouts erupting across my chin my chest and back. I've found it hard to manage the breakouts, but they seemed to have naturally settled as I approach my third trimester. I'm trying to stay on top of stretch marks and any dry skin on my body by using lots of gorgeous body oils and body butters (particularly the Mama range from Voya) and not only is this gorgeous for my skin but creates a self-care ritual that makes me really enjoy the pregnancy.
Have you any advice for other expectant mums on taking care of their mental health during this strange time?
I think it's incredibly important to realise that if you're feeling anxiety during this time, it makes a lot of sense. And when you add pregnancy into the mix, you're in a whole world of unfamiliarity. Understanding and allowing for the anxiety is half the battle. Our minds and bodies feel threatened physically and emotionally by the pandemic, we feel out of control as we're not sure how things will pan out, we don't feel that we have the resources as individuals to manage the stresses coming at us and all of these things give rise to anxiety in any scenario; with the pandemic it's tenfold.
So, don't berate yourself for feeling anxious or worried or scared; your feelings are valid. Do what you can to bring down the stress response in your body - even if it's just twenty minutes of relaxation here and there. You don't need to stop feeling anxious to be okay. I prioritise warm baths, breathing exercises (which quite literally bring down cortisol), gentle strolls, self-compassion in terms of how I talk to myself, comfort food and lots of rest.
What do you feel that women don’t tell each other about pregnancy?
I feel that women are so conscious that getting pregnant is not an easy journey for a lot of us that they are afraid to complain about the challenges of being pregnant when you do become pregnant. It's so important to vocalise what we're experiencing but it can be hard if you have friends who are trying to get pregnant and would give anything to be as sick as you are right now (from morning sickness).
I think we have to make room for both; yes, we are grateful to be pregnant if it's what we wanted, and yes it will all be worth it in the end, and yes we are lucky if we didn't have to struggle to get pregnant, but we can also, at the same time, vocalise the fact that it can be a gruelling experience. I've found it so tough and the way I've coped is by normalising it and talking about it with my friends - even the friends who are trying to get pregnant. Just because you have a hard time or a bad day when you're pregnant doesn't mean you can't appreciate how hard it is for someone else who wants to be pregnant but hasn't gotten there yet.
If you had one Top Tip for ‘Surviving’ Pregnancy to share what would it be?
My top tip for surviving pregnancy is to keep talking through any worries or concerns that pop up; if you think they're silly or not worth vocalising, they might grow arms and legs. Whatever you're feeling is valid and by sharing with those closest to you, you can prevent things from snowballing in your head. And this is a tip I know I need to act on myself, I'll regret it if I don't: take the time to rest and nap and curl up with Netflix or have a bath in the middle of the day - you deserve it and you won't have the same luxury when the baby comes along. You're growing a human; you're living through a pandemic - that's enough.
Caroline Foran is the number 1 international bestselling author of Owning It and The Confidence Kit. Her third book – NAKED: Ten Truths to Change Your Life – will be published in May 2020. Caroline is also an award-winning journalist, public speaker and number 1 podcaster, you can listen to Owning It: The Anxiety Podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts.