10 reasons why staying fit during pregnancy is a great idea 

1. In my view, health and fitness sits across emotional, physical and mental wellbeing. All three are crucial to bringing new life into the world safely and as positively as possible.

2. Consistency and routine really help at a time of complete change, hormonal mayhem and the rollercoaster that can be pregnancy, birth and recovery.

3. As my mum has always said, birth is an athletic event. You wouldn’t show up to the most important race of your life, with a prize beyond any Olympic medal, ill-prepared now would you?

4. Smashing hard (ish) into some boxing pads helps with the last few frustrating days waiting for your baby to come. Trust me.

5. Fitness can be fun. Fun is good, endorphins help combat moods, negativity and anxiety. I was about 5 months pregnant in the picture below. My sister in law got the bum deal by having to pull me back the other way. Larger load for her. 

6. It’s confidence giving to hear ‘keep going’, ‘well done’, ‘you look great’ at a time when you need to up the determination and defeat any demons.

7. A weekly check in with your PT helps you come clean with yourself about diet, nutrition and whether you’re making good choices. 

8. Training during pregnancy should make the recovery period easier and you should be able to return to training after a sensible amount of rest, depending on medical checks.

9. What’s the alternative? Stopping exercise and therefore putting on weight beyond the recommended amount? Eating your way through anxieties? Your husband renaming you Barney the Dinosaur (true story, apparently I was purple and huge during the latter stages of my first pregnancy)? I know which pregnancy, birth and overall experience I would choose!! The one I’ve just had! 

10. Strength, cardio and conditioning is a kind way to treat your body. It makes you more in tune with the kit you’re going to need to rely on to bring your baby into the world. 

A huge caveat to all the above points is to work with a proven and dedicated PT, who has the relevant qualifications and insurances to undertake the journey with you. I trained with Sam Rathmell at www.twpt.co.uk


The birth of Maya (no gross bits honestly) ❤️

Louise has published this on her site, so I thought I may as well send you straight there to further explore the treasure trove of information, should you be interested in her ways! So pleased to have found her all those months ago….

Batch cooking commences – baby proofing our menu plan

Mr H and I are admired (I think – unless our friends are kidding) and ridiculed (I know for a fact) for our meticulous, incessant menu planning.

Like this sort of planning….while ‘To-Do lists’ suit our similar personality types, practically we maintain that having a plan reduces the need for daily decisions and more frequent supermarket trips. It is also an economically sound way to plan our online shop and food consumption. We can plan proportionate meat/fish/veg to stay balanced (a nutritionist would be welcome to critique our choices) and we cook from scratch with fresh produce pretty much completely. 

With the imminent arrival of baby Hawkins 2.0, filling the freezer with homemade meals is high on our priority list so that as soon-to-be tired, vacant minded parents can grab a Tupperware from the freezer safe in the knowledge that we are feeding ourselves adequately while in a daze of adjusting to life with two little people.

So, with that in mind, today’s creation is a very freezable, nutritious Morrocan Lamb Tagine. Which can be served with cous cous or flatbreads, both easy to prepare. 

To make:

  1. Chop x4 red onions and heat in a glug of olive oil in a big pot for 4-5 mins
  2. Crush 6 garlic cloves and add with a tbsp ground cinnamon, cumin, paprika, ginger and turmeric for another 2 mins

3. Add 3kg of diced lamb, not cheap but from our friendly local butcher at Rooks. Season well and stir for 5 mins.

4. Add x4 400ml tins of chopped tomatoes. You can buy cheapos of these but I like these. Always have. Taste and packaging I think….I’m a sucker for packaging but maintain it expresses the passion a company has for the product, correct me if I’m wrong. I may have been duped. These taste full of iron and richness to me.

5. Add 200g roughly chopped stoned prunes, 1 litre chicken stock, 2 tbsp sugar, 200ml water and reduce to simmer for 3 hrs. 

6. With 30 mins cooking time remaining add x2 400ml chickpeas. Plus juice of a lemon. Loyal to Napolina again…

7. Serve with cous cous and some chopped herbs. 

This afternoon’s gentle toil made a tasty dinner for us both plus a very useful 12 portions for the freezer. 

Really tasty too. We will be grateful for it in a few weeks time I hope!

A birthday cheesecake

It’s Wimbledon time and even though the Brits are crashing out there’s still room for a strawberry or two. It’s my brother in law’s birthday celebs this weekend so what about a strawberry cheesecake!?

Melt 75g butter and crush into 175g digestives. Push into a lined pop bottom cake tin and chill.

Cook 200g halved strawberries with 25g caster sugar and 2 tbsp water.

Whizz in the nutribullet then sieve back into saucepan. Smells incred. Warm and add 2 gelatine leaves.

Set aside. 

Beat 50g caster sugar into 300g cream cheese. Add the strawberry mixture.

Beat in 150g double whipped cream and 150g Greek yoghurt.

Tip into biscuit mixture and put cheesecake into fridge for 6 hours.

Will top and serve later 🍓🍓🍓🍓🍓 

Hypnobirthing course

Second child syndrome has already kicked in as am 30 weeks pregnant but no mention of her has been made in the blogosphere. I’m busier than I was when I was pregnant with Monty. For example, it is 7.07 in the morning and since being woken up abruptly by loud hollering from his Majesty’s bedroom, he’s had a kicking-legs-type strop when having his nappy changed, had a further nonsensical strop at choosing some trousers, willingly accepted juice and melon but firmly rejected Wall-E once we’d got through the trailers and settled on Peppa Pig instead to ease into the day.

Calm of sorts has descended now though and I can write through the background noise of snorting pigs and chuckles from Monts.

On Saturday, Toby and I attended a Hypnobirthing course with Louise Daniels, locally at her beautiful home which made a change from an antenatal course in a grubby hotel. There were two other couples attending and we happily drank coffee having parked Monty with my parents for the day. We started the day with an introduction into what hypnobirthing was all about and settling some of the preconceptions we might have around the idea. Louise also runs Positive Birth Movement meet ups so I was familiar with her style, Toby too as he’d recently been on a blokes only one. Louise is down to earth and refreshingly direct, while also being gentle and diplomatic. You kind of have to meet her to understand and I count myself very lucky to have done before we have this second baby. I’ve blogged previously about Monty’s birth and while it was fairly straightforward for a first time birth, Toby and I were both quite traumatised afterwards. We recovered quickly, with no lasting drama and started to enjoy Monty the minute he was born so we were very lucky in that respect.

One of the most helpful bits of Saturday was reflecting on Monty’s birth, guided by an experienced person (Louise) – I’m not sure that was in the course timetable but it ended up happening for us naturally as we related what we were discussing to what had occurred and realised junctures where we could have been stronger in our questioning of medical decisions (using the helpful acronym BRAIN – benefits, risks, advantages, instincts and doing nothing). I also have a renewed feeling of positivity around Monty’s birth, in the sense that at least half of it was a ‘success’ from the point of view of getting to the really tough bit without any pain relief beyond gas & air.

When we tried the hypnobirthing thing, Louise got us all to relax on her furniture – sofas, armchairs or the floor on roll up beds – which felt a bit strange at first in a room with other people. Although relaxed, I certainly didn’t let go completely in the first session, floating in and out of relaxation with an awareness that this felt a bit odd. As the day went on these sessions became easier, by the final session at least two of the partners were snoring and I think we all felt the benefits of zoning out of our ‘thinking brains’ and letting our subconscious hear Louise’s positive affirmations and calm thoughts on birthing our babies.

Apparently the key is really to practise. There is no ‘magic fairy dust’ that can be sprinkled on us by attending a course and expecting to behave differently when ‘the shit hits the fan’, only by practising will our subconscious be likely to push behaviour down the new desired track than sticking to previous anxieties or deep seated beliefs around fear, pain and birth.

The role for Toby is more defined now, we learnt about how to optimise the chances of a successful chain of events – with a calm, loving environment helping the production of oxytocin which will help me cope with the contractions as they intensify, feel like a winner, produce more contractions and work through them. Apparently massage is a plus as are different smells during labour. It will give us something ‘actual’ to focus on to practise massage that might help and find oils that might be a sensory anchor during the process.

I finish work in a few weeks so will have plenty more time to listen to the tracks during the day, at the moment it will be evenings once the Threenager is in bed, which may just mean I fall asleep.

It really was a great day and I haven’t even mentioned the quadruple chocolate cake, delicious lentil and chickpea soup or the LOLS we had as a group. It was actually fun, not heavy or boring, but stimulating, interesting and funny! I did go home feeling pretty ‘birthed out’ but by Sunday morning I was reading my handouts and working on my mind map for birth, our only bit of homework above and beyond practising.

I’m geniuinely looking forward to Maya’s birth, I am so determined to have a positive time – although birth isn’t predictable and we will have to roll with the punches, I feel as equipped as possible, ready for it and so so excited about expanding our little family.

A project

My friend Amy gave me her sewing machine when she moved back to the US. Much to the ridicule of Mr H who bet I wouldn’t even take it out of it’s cover. Tonight I triumphantly did just that. 

Having watched some YouTube and read some of the User Manual, I’ve discovered sewing (or rather learning to use the machine) is going to be a challenge. But that’s ok.

I love the fabric that I chose at lunchtime from World of Sewing. And the pattern (if I can follow it) will make a really cute romper suit and shorts. 

So far I’ve managed to wind the bobbin, which was quite an achievement! 

Further fun sewing updates to come 😂😂

#she’s awake

Is it advisable to blog at 2am? Not sure. At the very least perhaps I’ll draft this and reread in daylight before sending. 

It’s my own fault I’m awake at 2am as I retreated to bed at 7pm along with Monty. When Mr H came to bed a couple of hours ago I woke up and have been ‘thinking’ ever since. So I’ve had man flu this week, firstly hayfever which I only get mildly but easily confused with a cold. But the symptoms of female man flu include (and obviously observed by some including my work colleagues):

  • Complete inactivity when required to perform basic tasks, one colleague said to me on Tuesday (very gently and kindly) – you are literally doing nothing 
  • Wondering if anyone has ever felt this bad, ever before, ever, as it simply can’t be possible
  • Thinking (seriously) that child birth was less painful than the head flu occurring 
  • Copious complaining 
  • Tears
  • A concerned husband who sprang into action (a much better nurse than me)

Anyway I’m through the worst you’ll all be relieved to hear and despite probably running before I could walk by attacking a  busier than normal Thursday at One Media, I had a slight relapse, got ear ache and once again retreated to bed at the same time as my one year old. 

I’m not quite ready to ‘man up’ yet, tomorrow may be mainly spent in pjamas and watching the Smurf movie (Monty will be delighted) but there is a gradual return to the human life form occurring. 

Now that the immediate has been dealt with, the emotional backdrop (possibly linked) is of course Br….what a mess we have here….exit. I’m not going to fill more social media space with negativity but merely say that while I generally enjoy drama and welcome change – hey this is the most I’ve ever been interested in politics and the most I’ve ever witnessed it being discussed, debated and understood/misunderstood, it’s difficult not to feel uncertain and concerned.

I do have faith in our leaders generally. I certainly do not have faith in much of the population in the UK, which is why they don’t LEAD. You see, the anger does rise… Who will sort out the DK (Divided Kingdom)? Will it ever be the same again or is this permanent? Waiting to be rescued by Iron Man. Or Postman Pat. He normally sorts problems out by the end of the day. 

Wow I feel better, writing does that for me, it’s like lifting heavy weights (feelings) off my body (mainly chest) and transferring them via brain and language muscles onto a page (or sometimes screen as in this case) to be absorbed by the universe and perhaps some eyeballs/humans if they can be arsed/are interested. Free therapy really to a faceless voiceless non-being.

I’m in the middle of writing my first book, (not about politics (yay!) but about the (invented) adventures of my beloved dog – Finn) although progress is slow and I don’t know if it’s ever going to be finished. Also not much has happened in it yet so ‘adventures’ might need a rethink. I’m collating more and more material in my head all the time and just waiting for my hand to start converting it into words. It may be terrible, not even sure who would want to read it, what age etc. I have no idea. I’ve started reading it to Monty before bed, he can be my first critic I suppose. 

Our new (old and shabby) house is wonderful. We have a lot to do but the time to do it gradually and our rocks in the garden are so fantastic. Badger rock is imposing, permanent, beautiful, majestic and we will work with it to create our desired space. Our resident badgers are quieter than they were in our first week but I’m hopeful that they are being cautious and they will get braver. The foxes have been quite visible, it’s like Animals of Farthing Wood sometimes. We are making a right old mess as we start to clear bits of the jungle near to the house but there is plenty that will just remain, untouched and wild as its so beautiful and was the magic we fell in love with. 

Well it’s not quite daylight but I’ve re-read and no glaring typos so the only other possibility is that the night ramblings of a slightly post-viral, Lemsipped, Nurofened tired mummy are irrelevant. If so, never mind it will get lost in blogger sphere. Otherwise, hope you’re all sleeping soundly and wake up to a better Friday than the last one.