Monday 15 June 2009

Pregnancy Yoga in Bromley

I didn't used to be a yoga fan, having tried a few regular yoga sessions in the past, I found yoga to be a little on the dull side as I used to be a semi professional dancer and just enjoy the energy in dance so much I didn't really appreciate the serenity of yoga.

However, just before I became pregnant I had been giving yoga and pilates another chance and enjoyed following a dvd at home.

I'm keen on natural birth techniques, where I can, I eat organically and avoid Parabens in cosmetics and artificial sweetners in food/drink. I've been following a few hypnobirth techniques and would like a water birth.

I was keen to have a go at Pregnancy Yoga and was pleased to come across a class in Bromley, As far as I could tell from my research there is only the one teacher in Bromley with classes taking place on Tuesdays, one at 5pm and one later in the evening. If Tuesday isn't a good day for you then Bromley doesn't have any other choices!

The sessions take place at St Mark's Church Hall on Westmoreland Road near Bromley South train station with teacher Zoe Knott.

I went along for a 5pm session and was surprised to find that the session was full and really busy - I had chosen the earlier session expecting it to be quieter than the evening session.

Zoe was a fantastic tutor and I really enjoyed the session, I got the feeling that it would be a great way to meet other mums and everyone seemed really friendly. There were people there from around about the 16 week mark with small hardly there bumps to ladies who were over due and ready to pop so no need to worry about your bump size! (and Yes! there is a toilet & changing area)

You need to wear layers and socks (Matching socks are optional!) unless you have well manicured toes! If you don't have your own yoga mat, not to worry Zoe had spares that you can either borrow or buy - and take a bottle of water along with you.

In the kitchen there was a whole hive of local information and pregnancy resources which was great to see and at the end of the session, there was a "show and tell" from one of the ladies who had been going to pregnancy yoga who had come in to tell her positive birth story (and pass round a very lovely cute baby for people to see)

The session lasted for about an hour and a half and I would have loved to continue going. - Unfortunately, as I was made redundant, it wasn't something I could afford to do whilst in that situation. I left the session feeling full of energy and very positive with practical techniques to do at home, and I have been practicing pregnancy yoga via a dvd at home - it's not the same and if you can, I would fully recommend going along to the class as you get the benefit of a trained tutor to help you get into the correct position and the opportunity to meet new friends.

If you are interested in going along to one of Zoe's pregnancy yoga sessions, you can contact her by email
Whilst I found the session fantastic, I have to say that besides the session Zoe offers, Bromley has no other pregnancy Yoga, pregnancy Pilates or aquanatal sessions available - which, considering both the size of Bromley and also how popular the sessions with Zoe are is a bit of a shocker! I spent a very long time trying to find pregnancy pilates and aquanatal classes but was unsuccessful.
Please do let me know if you know of any other pregnancy sessions in Bromley. 

Near by Sidcup, Keston and Beckenham have pregnancy yoga teachers too.

Beckenham Pregnancy Yoga

Keston yoga - YogaBarn

Emma in Bromley

Tuesday 9 June 2009

The truth about morning sickness

I'm going to take you back in time a bit here to when I was suffering morning sickness, and OMG! was I suffering!

It's name is a big fat lie - it should be called "spontaneous sickness" - it can attack at anytime with no warning!

I started with it at about week 6 and it didn't ease off until week 14. And let me tell you, it was hell! From the moment I woke up, I would have my head down the toilet dry heaving my empty tummy until I thought I'd cracked my ribs and produced a tiny glob of goo.

Everyone was giving me tips - try dry crackers, try ginger, try this and try that... it was enough advice to drive you crazy and none of the tips worked for me - I now can't even stomach the smell of ginger anymore!

For me I eventually found that nibbling a dry rich tea biscuit and sipping lemonade (the "homemade" sort) helped a little bit. It's a case of trial and error as there is no magic cure I'm affraid.

Getting ready for work was tough (before I got made redundant - grrr) I'd be dizzy and feeling sick in the shower and cleaning my teeth made me puke up the little bit of lemonade I'd managed to have.

Being lucky enough to have had a trip to New York early in pregnancy meant I had a stash of airline sick bags (Thank you Virgin Atlantic!) in my handbag and I can't tell you enough how handy these were! I'm sorry to my fellow packed commuter train passengers as there were several times when I needed to use a bag on the train! I had a constant supply of polo mints and I found that sea sickness travel bands helped a little sometimes.

Once my train arrived at charring cross, it was a race against time to make it to the ladies room with my 30p for the turnstile at the ready in the 50/50 chance of making it before I recreated the "wafer thin mint" scene from Monty Python.

By the time I arrived at work, I was exhausted and drained and already had a puke toll of 4, but by this time I actually felt like eating and made myself toast.

At various random stages through out the day I would have to leg it to the ladies room and as I hadn't made it public knowledge at this point that I was pregnant, it was pretty hard to do it quietly!

I did find that Pret's honey popcorn was great to nibble on when I couldn't face the thought of eating but desperately needed to eat! I seemed to constantly have a bag on the go for months!

One moment I was fine, the next I felt awful and had my sick bag at the ready! However, there were a few moments where I was caught short and left a sobbing, giggling mess where I didn't know if I was laughing or crying.

Que, The Old Navy store in New York, were shopping in the basement and I suddenly need to be sick, I look around in pure horror as I look for a bin, a toilet an anything... Then I spot the answer to my prayers- there is a restroom sign, I leg it over with lightning speed as I'm already holding a mouthful of goo with a worried hubby in tow but then I panic - it's a mensroom! I wildly point at the door and hubby understands to check if anyone is in it but too late! disaster strikes and the "wafer thin mint" scene is a reality all over the floor (this time it's a puzzling bright pink colour!) the mensroom was empty so I make a run for it and spend a further ten mins puking my guts out and emerge with mascara streaked down my cheeks and an embarrassing mess to try and tidy up (no idea why I was so worried about my mess, after all I was in a smelly dirty mensroom!). Needless to say, we didn't buy anything and quickly left the store!

There is also the incident with the shoes - Sitting at home watching TV with my hubby in the evening, having a lovely relaxing time but had a sudden sickness attack and legged it up the stairs but I didn't quite make it to the bathroom and what followed was a bright orange stinky mess all over the landing carpet, the walls and to my horror, my husband's work shoes! I had to scrub those shoes so many times with dettol to try and get all the chunks and smell out - only I failed and Hubby had to buy a new pair of work shoes....

After about week 14, the sickness did mostly go, however I still get the odd attack - even now it can happen randomly and at any time.

Emma in Bromley

Monday 8 June 2009

Credit Crunch - Surviving Redundancy whilst Pregnant

I'm degree educated and experienced to a senior level in what I do - after all, I've been doing it professionally for over 8 years!

So I took on a challenge for a smaller company, I turned around their online marketing strategy and improved their best ever month from £2,000 to £15,000 with the smallest budget I had ever had to play with and the smallest team I've ever had - Just me and a part time work experience student.

Here I am, proving how successful the brand could be, I'd just had the next 6 month marketing budget approved and have several on and off line campaigns in full swing, including printed ads in Vogue and online campaigns with sheerluxe and quintessentially to name a few, and the success of a printed brochure.

Things are looking good, some parts of the company are not doing so well thanks to the credit crunch, but the brand I'm working on is doing well and my campaigns are showing great results.

I'm at my happiest - I've just found out I'm pregnant with my first baby and off to New York for a week to celebrate my first wedding anniversary.

On the Monday that I returned to work from New York, I walk into a terrified office - what on earth could have happened in a week! Turns out - an awful lot! The company shares were no longer trading and emergency administrators were in the building, by lunch time, half the company had been sent home on "gardening leave" whilst the rest of us tried to carry on as normal. We hadn't been told anything officially but via the receptionist, I hear rumours of the company being in administration, I work closely with one of the company's directors - who informs me that if we are, no one has told her.

The next morning I walk into the office, start up my computer and read my emails - I find out through the Drapers website that we are in fact in administration - what does this mean? no one knows, no one has been told by anyone in the company - is it true? it doesn't seem right that we should find out from Drapers and not by anyone in the company.

Without warning, my company website is taken down - The Director I report to still hasn't been told anything officially so we decide as a precaution to cancel and refund any outstanding orders and prepare for the worst.

At 5pm, everyone in the company is called into the meeting room and by everyone, I mean everyone from Directors to Cleaners there are about 70 of us from 6 brands. Three people we have never seen before introduce themselves as administrators, inform us all that we are in fact in administration, the company no longer exists and we are all redundant with immediate effect. We're given a form to fill in for redundancy from the insolvency agency - we're told that we will not get paid at the end of the month by the company but will receive money from the insolvency agency, however this is capped at a low rate so no one will actually get paid for what they have already earned and are owed. We are then told to hand in our security passes and that we can no longer access the building.
I'm 12 weeks pregnant and in a real state - a week ago I was at my happiest and under the impression that all was well with my job.

What do I do now?! I was told to sign on as unemployed - which I did - this takes almost 3 weeks to sort out and by "signing on" you go through a soul shattering experience, how hard it is to fight off depression and not allow yourself to hit rock bottom. The Job Centre isn't familiar with online marketing and want to pigeon hole me as "IT support" I'm also advised to go for a junior office administration role...

I'm starting to show, I have a neat little bump and I'm really determined - I've never been unemployed before - in fact with my experience I'm often poached by head hunters!

However - How different the world is when you are pregnant - the expression on the face of the interviewers when they clock your bump is one of pure disappointment. Having worked closely with recruitment agencies before - both to find work and also to find staff, I'm shocked at how many tell me in confidence that it will be near impossible to find something now I look pregnant.

I ended up being on contribution based job seekers allowance - which is very tough as you are not entitled to other benefits such as a reduction in council tax, cheaper education or sure start pregnancy grants, which you get if your are on income based jobseekers allowance.

I've gone from a very good salary to just under £60 a week, It wasn't something I had foreseen so I have no savings, every penny I was earning was paying off debts, I put myself through university and was paying off a whopping £20k debt, also in debt from our recent wedding and we bought a house - a neglected house as that was what we could afford - everything I had was going into re-plastering, replacing mouldy carpets, sorting out damp etc... As much as my salary was, I wasn't living a life of luxury as every penny was claimed for, I don't even own a designer handbag.

Now my income wasn't even enough to cover my basic bills, the pressure on my husband was unbearable and shattering as it means him working ridiculously long shifts and hours, often having at most one day off a week and working 14 hour days. I felt such bad guilt over something I couldn't control, felt nervous of how we were going to survive - what if we couldn't pay our mortgage, How are we going to buy things for the baby - there go my dreams of doing pregnancy yoga and the things I was looking forward to in pregnancy.

This went on for so long, I was forced to swap to maternity allowance - which on one hand is great because at least it's more than job seekers allowance but on the other hand is hard as you are forced to take it at 26 weeks - that's just over half way through your pregnancy and a lot earlier than I would have been starting it had I been employed - It makes you feel like you are officially useless and unfit to work in the eyes of the government. Maternity allowance (MA), by the way, takes about 6 weeks to sort out! You get paid a backlog in one go of what's owed to you and I also applied for the health in pregnancy grant (Hip), which takes about 5 weeks to sort out - it's worth £190 and it's available to almost all pregnant ladies in the UK. (And that is how we went from a moldy carpet in the baby's room to a brand new one!)

On one hand I've had to do everything I can to fight off depression, deal with being broke beyond broke building up even more debt, felt the guilt of adding extra pressure to my husband, given up the dreams of doing things for a happy pregnancy such as the yoga classes and pregnancy massage and buying the things I wanted to provide for my baby - I had to save up £6 to buy the hungry caterpiller book to read to my unborn baby. Some days are so soul shattering that I would curl up in a ball and cry my eyes out.

But on the other hand, I've had a fairly easy pregnancy and been able to rest as much as I've needed too and get things done in the house and prepare for the baby to arrive. My husband has been a fantastic support and I'm so grateful to have him as a partner. I'm not sure my pregnancy would have been as straight forward had I still been in a high pressured job, with it's hour long commute on a packed train and office hours which often run over way beyond the half five clocking out time. Constantly being monitored on my performance and reporting to the board.

It's tough to survive redundancy at the best of times, let alone when you are pregnant - but it can be done, if you find yourself in the same situation - Chin up, keep positive and try to see the good side to the situation.

Emma in Bromley