HOW TO STAY EMPOWERED DURING PREGNANCY

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// HOW TO STAY EMPOWERED DURING PREGNANCY //

Call me naive, but when me and my partner first talked about starting a family I didn't really consider the 'being pregnant' part because I was so distracted by the new edition we'd have to our family in nine months time.

I also didn't really stop and consider my rights/choices regarding being pregnant, because I more or less took for granted that they would come as standard, along with lots of guidance, monitoring and advice. 

Now, it sounds harsh to say "boy, was I wrong!" but in many ways I really was. However, this hasn't necessarily been a bad thing, if anything I feel like it's just been more of a learning curve and one that I think a lot of women take into their next pregnancy if they decide to extend their families. 

So from one pregnant gal's learning curve to another, here is what the last few months of growing a human has taught me.

one.



Firstly (and this came as a bit of a shock!) but... it really is down to you to find out what your choices are during pregnancy and you do have the right to CHOOSE what is best for you.

This isn't because the midwives and doctors don't do an amazing job of supporting you during pregnancy, but simply because they don't have the time to spoon feed all us first-time mama's everything we feel like we ought to know.

As soon as I realised that no-one was really going to ask me about what we wanted from our birth experience, I decided to arm myself with the knowledge and reassurance I needed to keep moving forward. That's when I discovered The Positive Birth Movement, all thanks to a mum-friend who lent me her copy of The Positive Birth Book by the movement's founder Milli Hill. 

I'm not sure where I would be if this book hadn't fallen into my lap. It made me realise that there are plenty of decisions during pregnancy and birth that it helps to be informed about and it also helped me and my partner realise that every pregnancy and birth can be positive, even if it doesn't go the way you originally hoped or planned. 

Just that tiny bit of reassurance alone did wonders for any pre-birth anxiety I had and trust me, I had plenty!


two.



Secondly, CONNECTING with other mums really does help you stay afloat and feel empowered during your pregnancy and beyond.

Perhaps one of the loveliest parts of being pregnant has been the overwhelming support, love and generosity I've been shown by friends, family and even strangers. It's true that people seem to gravitate towards you when you're pregnant and despite the cranky preggo hormones that have you secretly cursing the next person who says "oooh, you're glowing" when you feel like a hippopotamus, it is actually really nice to feel that special! Like so many other mamas recently, I have been totally reliant on the support of our amazing online community, family and friends and couldn't have got through pregnancy and having a newborn without them ❤

So yeah, embrace the compliments (mood-permitting). Take people up on their offers of help *food on ya doorstep etc... Ask plenty of questions. Send that late night/early hours message for a bit of reassurance & solidarity. Communicate with one another and grow through what you go through. 

No two experiences are the same, but being able to lean on the support of other mums is vital if you don't want to feel alone and the more honest we are with each other about pregnancy and motherhood the better. 

You are not alone!


three.


Third and finally, don't forget to BREATHE. 

Never has this been truer than right now.

As someone who has struggled with OCD and Obsessive Negative Thoughts since being a child, I feel it was probably a bit blindsided of me to expect I'd get through this pregnancy without some level of anxiety or old habits making a reappearance. Statistically Mums who have struggled with anxiety before is very likely to have it reappear during pregnancy or post-natally. In my 3rd trimester I was told by my consultant that I couldn't use the Birth Centre at my local hospital like I'd originally planned because of a back problem and I very nearly lost my head completely... All this talk about choices and rights during pregnancy and there I was feeling like I'd lost all of mine.  

I had to take a step back and ask myself, how can feel empowered during pregnancy and birth if I've already subconsciously entered fight or flight mode? 

Thanks to Hollie De Cruz who runs the @theyesmumbirthproject I was able to apply the basics of hypnobirthing to my everyday life and reduce some of this anxiety.
Now *disclaimer alert* I had baby Ru two weeks early and had to be induced. My labour was 38 hours long and very traumatic in places, nothing like the soothing water birth I had planned in my head! However, without the hypnobirthing techniques I'd been learning in the weeks leading up to this, I couldn't have got through it. 

The calming/grounding techniques that hypnobirthing taught me meant I managed to stay at home for a large part of my labour. Those 10 minutes in the bath each day where I'd focus on my breathing whilst pregnant or turning to a certain smell or playlist when the noise in my head got too loud helped me enormously during labour.

I am forever grateful for Hollie's book Your Baby, Your Birth which helps explain what your body and your brain are collectively going through pre and post-baby. 
It is helping me on the road to becoming a more mindful mama.










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5 WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT YOUR COMMUNITY FROM HOME

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// 5 WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT YOUR 

COMMUNITY FROM HOME //

So I think it's safe to say we have all had to adapt and change our day to day routines over the past couple of weeks and for some people this can be a challenge. So I thought I'd pop a little blog post together that suggests 5 ways you can make changes that not only help you out, but also help the people in our community that really need it right now.


one. 

Find out which local grocery businesses are offering contactless delivery. 

Thanks to a friend, I discovered that my fave local fruit and veg shop are taking payment over the phone and providing contactless delivery right to your doorstep. What a fantastic idea. It encourages people to stay home and it helps a small, independent business stay afloat whilst protecting themselves. Love it!

two.

Treat Yo Self or someone you LOVE to something delicious. 

There are a few amazing local bakeries/caterers offering contactless delivery of their yummy baked goods - Check out Revival Coffee and Donuts and rebel girl gang member Hello Baker Girl to see what goodies await! I got an amazing delivery of vegan donuts on Mother's Day and it really made my day. What is self-isolation without sugary snacks?!

three.

Check in on your neighbour (at a safe distance of course or via popping a note through their door!) I can't tell you how much a friendly face at the window or garden gate has meant to me over the last couple of weeks...

Maybe they're having to self-isolate and need some essentials or perhaps their dog needs walking? Maybe they just need a chat and let's face it, we are all only a phone call away from one another. 

four. 

Continue to shop small. 

Yes, I know a lot of businesses have to had close their doors and even halt delivery if it's not essential right now. But if you know someone who has a birthday coming up then perhaps you could invest in a voucher? Or if there's something you want that is still available to be delivered, then check out your local network first rather than rushing straight onto Amazon Prime. 

We have a wealth of independent makers/sellers right on our doorstep and they deserve any extra help they can get!

five.

Donate. 

Money, time, toiletries, food, skills, support. 

My mum is currently putting together craft packs for children in her local town and the wonderful Hull Blogger Violet Glenton is putting together care packages for our local NHS workers.

I love these kind of ideas because they show that despite having to stay home to safeguard others (if you're not a key worker) you can still contribute to your community and feel useful. 

Visit Violet's Instagram to find out more (link above). What a gal!


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MEET YOUR LOCAL GIRL GANG MEMBER // ROXY RILEY

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// Interview with Baker - Roxy Riley //


‘MEET YOUR LOCAL GIRL GANG’ is at it again…


This week, it is with great pleasure that I get to interview Roxy, Co-founder of Flour and Feast who once made me the most delicious pinata cookies for my birthday and a stunning naked wedding cake for my best friend’s big day.


Roxy is not only an amazing Baker, but also a strong and inspiring women, whose hard-work and warm personality makes her such a great role model for all us creative women!

She is kind, friendly and mega talented, creating sweet and delicate cakes and treats that not only taste divine, but also make your eyes water they’re that pretty!




ROXY is now Co-Owner of 'Flour and Feast’ Micro-Bakery, which she runs with her partner Joe... But before I give away anymore spoilers, let’s hear all about it from the bad-ass business women herself.



So Roxy, tell us your story. Have you always wanted to bake, or is it a passion that’s developed over time?

Hello!
Arrgh! Where to start?
I’ve had a sweet tooth for as long as I can remember, especially for actual sweets and chocolate. Anything sweet, covered in sugar or bursting with sherbert went into my mouth, (hello fillings and sugar highs!) but I wasn’t interested in baking at all, just eating.

I actually wanted to be a Fashion Illustrator so I studied Fashion at Park Street college in Hull and then went on to get my degree in Fashion and Costume Interpretation. Please do not ask me what that is because I’m still not entirely sure. It might seem like an odd jump but baking is very much a creative profession and the skills I learned and developed doing my degree still pop up from time to time.
There wasn’t as much of a food scene in Hull back then, if any, so in order to get my hands (and mouth) on all of the lovely things I wanted to eat I had to make them myself. Gradually I became obsessed with baking and everything that surrounded it. I went back to college and studied patisserie for 2 years and got a job in a local bakery and it all developed from there.

Baking for me comes from a love of eating, a love of feeding and a love of creating.

I know you’ve got a new venture up your sleeve… What can we expect from Flour and Feast over the next few months? (So very excited for you!)


Aah, thank you. I’m excited too! I still can’t believe I’ll have my own little bakery business! It’s been my dream for a little while now.

As Flour and Feast is a Micro-Bakery (opening soon in Trinity Market, Hull) you can pretty much expect a scaled down version of a full sized bakery but with a few extra surprises! Although we’ll have a set selection of some of the most popular bakes there will also be an ever changing element due to seasons, products and a desire to create new things. There’ll be a few morning options too like cinnamon buns (imagine that smell!) and homemade granola pots as well as weekly and lunch specials.

There are so many great people and things happening in Hull and we’d like to be involved in the city’s up and coming food scene and eventually expand into outside catering. Celebrations, corporate catering, etc.

Throughout the whole process of setting up this bakery we’ve thought about what we’d like to see in the city and what others might like. We’d really love to provide people with a place where they can eat a snack or lunch within Trinity Market’s communal eating area and pick up some bread or a dessert on their way home from work too.


Has it taken a lot of confidence to become self-employed and basically promote yourself and your business in Hull? Do you have any advice for women who might experience self-doubt? cos let’s face it, we all feel it!


Great question!
The biggest confidence boost has been doing this with my boyfriend, Joe Roper. He’s very practical, keeps me grounded and is an amazing baker!

There was a very real worry that people wouldn’t get what we’re trying to do or be bothered about it. You know, will anyone be willing to spend money on a loaf of bread when you could pick one up cheaper in a supermarket? But we have a lot of faith that the majority of people want real food made with real ingredients that also tastes amazing. The real self doubt came from my own personal concerns, my fear of not being good enough almost stopped me from doing this at all. I was trapped between desperately wanting to realise my dream and a crippling fear of failure.

One of the things that helped me massively was developing a healthier relationship with social media. Social media can be a wonderful place for expression, creativity, exposure and building a support network of like minded people, it can also be incredibly destructive. I’ve had to learn to use it wisely because comparison is a massive confidence killer!

My rules for myself are:
-Use it for a reason, don’t scroll aimlessly (easier said than done, I know)
-Don’t follow anyone who makes you feel even slightly bad about yourself. Even if that is someone you love or admire, unfollow if it causes any negativity.
-Remember that not everything you see in those small squares is real life. They’re a tiny snapshot that someone has taken the time to perfectly create. The stress, tiredness, ugliness and anxieties of real life are rarely shown.

I read recently that “there is room for everyone at the top and nobody starts there”. I love that! It’s all a learning curve and that should be embraced.

The food scene in Hull seems to be growing. What are your hopes for Flour and Feast in the future? World-domination or…


World domination? Pah ha!
The food scene in Hull is looking very exciting at the minute and as you can probably imagine I am loving the variety that is now on offer. However, I don’t think I’m a world domination kind of person (insert crying with laughter emoji here). I’m all about a work/life balance and I’m not sure the two go hand in hand.

Saying that, eventually I would love to expand Flour & Feast. A bigger space, my very own tables for people to sit and eat brunch at with friends and big cosy chairs to curl up in with coffee and a good book…. But for now I’m focusing on getting this little bakery up and running. Definitely keep your eyes peeled for merchandise though. The lovely Jemma Klein and her partner in crime Jonny are helping us out with it and once it’s done that stuff will be everywhere! Maybe there’ll be world domination after all.

And finally, I know you’ve been working around the clock setting up your business and generally being a massive GIRLBOSS, but what do you do to unwind and switch off when needed?


Weirdly, I cook to unwind. Being on my own in the kitchen, cooking food with a glass (read bottle) of wine in my hand is my idea of heaven. And I recently discovered podcasts and now I’m obsessed. I have hundreds all waiting to be listened to.

Other than that I love reading in the bath and box sets. I just binge watched 4 seasons of The Walking Dead in a week and now I’m traumatised. Glenn!

And last but definitely not least, Yoga. I used to attend classes but trying to set up a business means you have no money. Ever. I now practice at home and I love it, maybe even more than classes as I’m really pushing myself with it and even if I only have 5 minutes to spare I can do a speedy yoga sequence and it still feels like self care. It makes me feel grounded, strong and like a kick ass warrier on the outside even if I’m an anxiety-ridden worrier who hates making decisions on the inside :)



Thank you so much Roxy for such an honest insight into life as a new business owner in Hull. 

Check out @flourandfeast to see more of Roxy's amazing bakes. Also, make sure you get down to Hull's Trinity Market to check out Roxy's new Micro-Bakery in the flesh and sample some delicious delights... Opening soon.

 #supportlocal

XOXO


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MEET YOUR LOCAL GIRL GANG MEMBER // EMMA PICKS //

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// Meet Your Local Girl Gang Member - Emma Picks //




This week The Rebel Girls Club welcomes Emma to the GIRL GANG.

Emma Picks is a Lifestyle Blogger and she also Co-Founded Hey. Bloggers, a community of bloggers and creatives in Hull. Emma recently rebranded and was originally known as The Pin Picker so I really wanted to check in and see how everything is going because after all, #womensupportingwomen is what it's all about!


One of the best things about setting up The Rebel Girls Club has been the realisation that there are multiple talented, driven and down-right awesome females in our city! I was originally inspired by a few of the badass women in my own personal life and then things just kinda escalated...

I realised then that I am literally surrounded by amazing women who are there to be appreciated and heard. This kind of positivity and embracement of life (good or bad) is one of the reasons I enjoy visiting Emma's blog and insta so much... This, and the fact that she's a fellow pinterest junkie like me.

No topic is off bounds with Emma and she also loves getting involved in the Hull community and check out what's going on in our city! This girl deserves our support and I am delighted to publish an interview with her below. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I did. 





Hi Emma, 

So I have followed your blog for a while now and originally knew you as the Pin Picker. I love all your rebranding though and thought it would be the ideal time to grab a quick interview with you… Tell us more about yourself, you’re blog and your day job?


Thank you!


I’m a Hull born girl who works/studies in education, mainly towards student experience. When I’m not working or writing for my blog, I’m usually found in café’s drinking coffee or tea and taking photos! My background is in technical theatre, so sometimes I help out on productions (when I’m able to!) or judge on Rock Challenge competitions – but if there’s an opportunity to organise an event then I’m totally down for it!


Emma Picks is a variety of anything that pops into my head – be it from being personal to writing reviews. It’s an opportunity for me to be expressive and creative on my terms. I’m really excited with the rebranding and gives me an opportunity to be more flexible with what I blog about!



What I love most about your blog, is the variety of topics you cover, from Travel to eco-friendly products to dealing with anxiety... What inspired you to start writing about your own experiences?


My blog started off as a hobby based on my love for Pinterest, but over the years I’ve started to explore beyond Pinterest and it’s led on to exciting projects.


In recent years, I started branching out to being a bit more personal, as I went through a difficult patch and I found that writing down my thoughts and experiences was helping me come to terms with a lot of things. Plus it’s a great opportunity to reflect on my experiences, but it’s also having the opportunity to share it with anyone who reads the posts and can relate to them in their own way.




So you’re the Co-Founder of Hey Bloggers, a community for bloggers and creatives in Hull. Can you tell us some more about this?


HEY. Bloggers is an inclusive community for anyone who’s interested in blogging, being creative – whether that be just starting out to doing it for many years. The main thing is that the community supports everyone who gets involved and have the opportunity to network. The idea started off with a group of us meeting up for coffee and photos, where we would have such a laugh and support each other.
When I first started blogging, I felt so isolated and wasn’t sure who else was out there locally. I only went to one blog event in Hull and as much as it was a great event, I felt that there was a gap between myself and experienced bloggers. Upon talking to others when we started meeting up for coffee, I realised that I wasn’t the only one feeling like this, and thought HEY. Bloggers was a great opportunity to encourage anyone to get involved.


Since HEY. Bloggers started, we’ve had some great opportunities which we’ve been lucky to share with others around Hull and East Yorkshire. Such experiences have been having an exclusive tour around Bonus Arena prior to its opening, a photography workshop with Olivia J Photography, our HEY. Bloggers Launch at Hull Minster and getting involved with Vittles and Company’s Food and Beer trail (which you can find in Trinity Market!)


Our next event is the Christmas Party at DoubleTree by the Hilton, Hull (December 15th) but we’re already discussing ideas and exciting projects for the new year, so watch this space!




I know you recently rebranded your blog (which I love!)  Do you have any advice for people, like myself, who are fairly new to the blogging world and looking to turn their ideas into a successful brand/blog?


My first piece of advice is don’t compare yourself to other blogs. Be true to what you want to blog about and give it a go. I know that over the years, I made a lot of mistakes but you learn from them and it helps you to grow.


My second piece of advice is get involved in as many blogging networks, both online and in the local community. It can be daunting joining in, especially with those who may have been doing it a long time, but you have to remember that they also started off in the same position as you! Plus there’s a lot of opportunities for you to get involved with – be it writing about a game or collaborating with another blogger!



And finally, I know that blogging as helped me to feel empowered and supported by other women in our community.  What do you get out of writing your blog and running/organising events for Hey Bloggers in Hull?


Not only have I felt empowered to write blogs and help on events for HEY. Bloggers on a personal level, but knowing that I’m helping others on a various level is something that I love doing, and it gives me a real buzz! Plus I love meeting new people – I’ve made some amazing friends while blogging, and I love seeing other bloggers being supportive to each other.



// Cheers Emma for answering my questions and welcome to the gang //


XOXO


Social Media links for Emma Picks and HEY. Bloggers here:


Facebook: facebook.com/emmapicks HEY Bloggers (Facebook group)

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MEET YOUR LOCAL GIRL GANG MEMBER // KATY *WALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL

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‘YOUR LOCAL GIRL GANG’ just keeps growing.


This week we are in for a treat. 

The lovely Katy has her own business as a Mural Artist and as soon as I read her interview, I felt liked I'd been transported back to the magic of my childhood.

I was strongly reminded of my first bedroom, which had fluffy cloud wallpaper with a hot air ballon clock on the wall. That bedroom had been long since forgotten until I saw the photos of Katy as a little girl with her very own bedroom mural. A bedroom that inspired her business as a "grown up" - Wall Things Bright and Beautiful.



That very first mural (featured in this adorable picture above) would go on to inspire Katy who now spends her days painting murals for children and adults alike.

Stumbling across one of Katy's vibrant outdoor murals is a lovely little reminder to inner-city dwellers like myself of the natural world and the joy it can bring to any space - both outside or in.

Read my interview with Katy below. 





Hi Katy, I first came across your work on Chanterlands Avenue, Hull. I love your mural down there! Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your background, I’d love to know what inspired you to start painting murals?


Thank you! I started painting murals as a business just over 2 years ago, when my youngest child started school. Although I painted a great many in my home before that! I've always loved art and have drawn and painted since I can remember, and went on to do a Fine Art degree. My parents are artistic too and when I was little they painted my bedroom with a tree, rabbits, toadstools, mice etc. I loved my bedroom and I remember the mural became the basis for a lot of my play. When friends came over we'd pretend to be rabbits in the woods or Hansel and Gretel or something. Sometimes my best teddy (Mr Brown - no imagination spared on that name!) would become Baloo from 'Jungle Book' and we'd scratch his back up and down the tree.  


I had such fond memories of my childhood bedroom, that when I was expecting my first child (who is now 9) I decided I wanted to paint a mural in her bedroom. This was my first ever mural! Before this I usually painted canvas', so having such a big area to paint was so much fun! I chose to paint her room as a garden, with a tree, flowers, spade in the ground, with a robin perched on it and a watering can with a wren. There was a pond too, with bulrushes, a dragonfly and kingfisher on a branch above.
She loved her room, and although we moved from that house when she was just a toddler, she would pretend to pick up the watering can, smell the flowers, tweet at the birds. It definitely helped with her language skills and knowledge of wildlife, as she impressed the lady at toddler group by telling her about kingfishers and dragonflies at just 2!  


I think a mural for a child can be so much more than a picture on a wall, it can transport them to magical places, encourage their imagination, creativity, language and - as I discovered - provide years of happy memories.

I don't paint licensed images, such as Disney or Marvel, (mainly as the cost of purchasing the rights to reproduce the images would drive the price of my murals too high) but in addition to this, as a Mum I know children grow out of certain films or TV characters very quickly, and you don't want to be redecorating every year. I think woodland, galaxy, garden, underwater or other scenes are much less age specific and provide a much more open invitation to play.


When I started my business I was mostly painting interior murals, but this summer I've done a lot of exterior work (such as the Chants Ave mural you've seen). This started after I painted a piece on Bankside Gallery and has snowballed from there. I already have bookings for exterior paintings for next spring, but now the weather has cooled you can expect to see more bedrooms, dining rooms and lounge murals again on my Facebook and Instagram feed.  
 

I know you have a fine art background and a lot of your work is commissioned-based. Do you have an tips for graduates/artists who are trying to establish themselves as freelance?

Social media is a great platform for getting your artwork in the public domain. It's where I get most of commissions from. So get yourself an Instagram or Facebook page for your artwork which is public - separate it from your personal one ideally - and show the world what you can do. The Bankside Gallery in Hull is also a great place to try out your art on a big scale, if that's what appeals. Anyone can go along and paint on the legal walls, its fun, great practice and can get your work seen. It's also worth looking at artist associations or societies you can join e.g The Association of Illustrators, The Artists Information Company etc (there are loads more if you Google them). These usually have a small annual fee, but can offer great advice and support including practical things like public liability insurance.   



Here at The Rebel Girls Club, we are all about self-love and celebrating our achievements (no matter how big or small!) What are you most proud off?

As a Mum it has to be my two beautiful children - my finest creations!
But I am very proud of myself for having the guts to start up my own business from scratch and make a success out of it in a relatively short space of time. To be painting every day (which I have been in recent months!) and earning money doing it is like a dream come true.



We know you're a mum of two, as well as being a business woman. Do you have any advice for women who are juggling motherhood and being self-employed?

This is always the hard part - getting your work life balance right is so difficult. As I can now choose when I work, I try not to work much in school holidays so I can focus on my children. We also don't have any family nearby to help with childcare, as we moved here 7 years ago from Buckinghamshire without knowing anyone, so anything I earn would be eaten up in childcare costs if I did work. So we do a lot of creative activities at home instead. I struggle to step away from my phone/laptop in the evenings, something I definitely need to work on. Sorry not much advice there, if anyone has any advice for me on this one I think I need it!    



Finally, do you have any fave places in our area where you like to go and unwind or just take time out from being a badass mum and mural painter!?

I love an independent coffee shop. My kids love visiting the Vintage Cafe on Chants Ave - just down the road from my mural - as we've been in a few times and they've enjoyed some epic milk shakes. The ladies who run it are lovely too. I also attend a Bizmums networking meeting once a month at a brilliant little coffee shop in Anlaby called Ignition, which does some gorgeous cakes. I've made some amazing friends in the 7 years we've lived in this area, and we love meeting up to set the world to rights over a cuppa (this was named going for 'coffeetea' by my friends little boy) so anywhere that does decent tea and cake gets the thumbs up from me.


Be sure to check out Wall Things Bright and Beautiful here.

X O X O


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