Why every mum needs a Mummy MOT

I was lucky to have an uncomplicated pregnancy. I didn’t gain much weight despite binging on Fruit-tella and doughnuts. I had no morning sickness. My ankles didn’t swell and I didn’t feel uncomfortable until the last few weeks. My darling, lazy son Sonny didn’t come on his due date, preferring to extend his cozy stay for another week, while I waddled around our home looking like a hot mess, cleaning windows (so unlike me) and anxious to see his little pink face. I was booked in for an induction so I prayed for my waters to break, trying the usual things that are recommended, curry, herbal tea, and a little red wine. I waited for signs, had a false alarm, furiously scrolled on my phone, sighing loudly at unhelpful comments “you’ll know”. Heck, was that true. My contractions started in my lower back on Sunday evening. I was on all fours crying like a total wuss while my husband (unhelpfully) massaged my back like he was shown in antenatal classes. As my contractions got closer together I called the hospital, sobbing from the acute pain. That was nothing – mother nature had a lot more up her sleeve – was this some sort of karma for having an easy pregnancy? As a first-time mum, nothing can prepare you for what labour is going to be like, no matter how many hypnobirthing books you read. The pain was excruciating but, somehow, I sort of coped with gas and air. Sonny arrived in the birthing pool at 10.10am on Monday weighing 8lbs and 7 oz. I remember the sun streaming through the windows – Sonny was a fitting name. I had only minor tears thankfully and it wasn’t long before I everything returned to normal. I was lucky. Many, many women suffer complications and experience birth trauma. Many women suffer prolapse with symptoms of bladder and bowel dysfunction, urinary stress incontinence, pelvic floor dysfunction and in some cases, fecal incontinence. It’s horrifying. While I didn’t suffer any issues, it doesn’t make any less passionate about highlighting them.

Mind the (tummy) gap

Still, when you have a baby, you feel invincible, like you can face just about anything. I mean, you’ve carried a human being for nine months – and pushed it out. As I climbed the stairs to the clinic where I was to have my Mummy MOT, I thought (and panted) to myself, “well, it can’t be that bad”. Well, you’ll be very glad to know it wasn’t. A Mummy MOT is a specialist postnatal examination for women following both vaginal and caesarean deliveries. Giving birth is an endurance test that requires a massive amount of effort. While it’s a natural process, it’s obvious that giving birth is going to take a massive toll on our bodies. A Mummy MOT assesses how your posture, pelvic floor muscles, and stomach muscles are recovering after birth. Up to half of all women experience weakness in both the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles after pregnancy and up to a third still have a gap in their tummy at eight weeks post birth which can cause instability or poor core strength leading to women developing pelvic pain or bladder, bowel, and sexual dysfunction. Sobering stuff. Following your Mummy MOT, you are given a personal exercise and activity plan.

Mummy MOT time!

I sat down with my lovely physiotherapist Sally Laverty. We went over my medical history and I gave her the details of my birth and if I was having any postnatal issues. My body is fairly unscathed but lately, I have been experiencing what can only be described as a ‘creak’ in my lower back when I twist and some pelvic discomfort when I sit down. I had to perform simple exercises like bending over, squatting and lunging. So far so good. Next was the examination part. I lay on a bed and Sally felt all around my torso, establishing weak, tight spots. Sally also felt around my neck and shoulders, commenting on the extremely tight knots. Yes, I have a bad habit of hunching over when I am nervous or anxious. I knew what was coming. The Mummy MOT includes an internal pelvic exam and so you are required to remove the bottom half of your clothing. It’s really not as bad as it sounds. Believe me, I am the most squeamish, scaredy-cat you will ever meet. For some context, it takes longer than a smear test but it isn’t as uncomfortable. To be honest, the worst parts of the Mummy MOT were my tight muscles being pressed and massaged. An hour elapsed fairly quickly and Sally gave me exercises to do at home to strengthen my body – and even develop a six pack! A few hours later, an email pinged in my inbox and Sally listed her findings. In the interests of openness (and doing Sally justice), I’ve listed them below.

  • Tight hip muscles, notably hamstrings, piriformis and adductors.
  • Some increased muscle tone on the left of the pelvic floor.
  • 3.4/5 muscle strength on a pelvic floor contraction.
  • Poor endurance of the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Good recovery of the abdominal wall (only a 1cm separation of the rectus abdominus muscles with good tensile strength of the linea alba underneath.
  • Flaring of the left rib cage.

I’ll admit, I haven’t heard of some of the terms used and I giggled at how much ‘rectus abdominus’ sounds a lot like a dinosaur. ‘Poor endurance of the pelvic floor muscles’ made a lot of sense seeing that during labour, I wasn’t pushing. Well, I was pushing, but I certainly wasn’t using my pelvic floor. On a serious note, I was blown away by how comprehensive the assessment was. Here I was, being smug about how my body had ‘snapped back’ while all these underlying issues were going on. It’s a very serious matter and if I take my health seriously, it’s up to me to be responsible – especially if baby number two was to come along. Sally also recommended that I drink more water (which I’m terrible at) take probiotics, do yoga each evening and use a meditation app like Calm – “body scans are fantastic,” she said. Sally says some women can feel quite emotional after a pelvic exam as it’s a release of tension. I didn’t experience a surge of emotions but I definitely felt a lot lighter.

All mums should have an MOT

Maria Elliot, mummy, physiotherapist, and founder of The Mummy MOT says: “All mums should have an MOT. Pregnancy takes a lot. The body is lengthened and stretched and then you deliver your baby with a person you’ve never met. Pushing weakens the pelvic floor so it’s important to do postnatal rehab exercises.” She says the most common postnatal issues women experience are prolapse symptoms, which is akin to heaviness and dragging and fear of organs falling out, pelvic floor weakness and urinary incontinence. Some women even have pelvic girdle pain up to 12 weeks after giving birth.

Sally does a demo.

Maria’s mission is that women’s postnatal issues are resolved or fixed before going back to work. She recommends that women book their Mummy MOT between six and eight weeks for a vaginal delivery and before 12 weeks for a caesarean. Her message is clear – postnatal rehab works. As a new mum, I couldn’t recommend a Mummy MOT enough, in fact, I’m going to make sure I tell every mum I know about it. Your baby is everything, but so are you. Self-care will make you the best mum you can be, and don’t we and our babies deserve the best?

Practicing my new moves!

Book yours today  https://themummymot.com/the-mummy-mot-practitioners/

Women can also avail of Mummy MOT advice points at Mothercare and John Lewis.

Me and Sonny.

A wONEderful year of Sonny

It’s hard to believe how much my life has changed in just one year. There’s no question that becoming a mother changes you, your priorities, your life. It’s a heady mix of sleepless nights, frustration, anxiety and unequivocal joy. For the first time in a long time, the stars are perfectly aligned. The trajectory of my life has changed. I know good things are coming.

He’s a star boy.

There’s a saying that children keep you young. I’ve always wondered how that can be, surely having children ages you?! That may be the case but when you have a baby, but certainly, you see the world through different eyes (albeit with bags under them).

Everything is new to a baby, everything interests them. They have no fears, which is why they often do themselves a mischief – on a side note, Sonny is a little headbanger – he should really wear a helmet. Yes, there’s much you can learn from little people. They see the world with wide-eyed innocence – free from any constraints, social or otherwise. I think you have to see the world through a child’s eyes – to truly appreciate life. Yes, we all have our war wounds from heartache and disappointments but it’s so exhilarating to look at the world with fresh eyes, excited for the future.

My little love.

Over the past twelve months, I’ve seen my son (it still feels so strange and so lovely to say that still) transform from a tiny baby to a gregarious, fun loving little boy. Every day is a big adventure for him. There is something so joyous about seeing your beautiful baby smile, eyes clear, wide and bright. You look forward to the future, seeing your child grow up and become a strong, confident woman or man. It’s been 373 days since I became a mum and I have a million reasons to be happy, to be the best mum I can be and to achieve everything I want in life. By far, Sonny is the best thing to happen to me and I want to make sure he gets everything he wants in life too.

My love, my life.

I really hope you are enjoying my journey into motherhood and parenthood. It’s been lovely having you to share my thoughts with. I hope you will stick with me while I navigate the early years, the terrible twos (and threes and fours). I’m learning each day, just as my baby is. And I know the best is yet to come, for both of us. It really is a wonderful life.

Looking to the future…

I’d love to hear your feedback, or anything you’d like me to write about. Just let me know. Davina xx

Photo credits: Trazanne Norwood @experienceboudoir

Do I love you Sonny boy? Oh baby, mountain deep and river high…

Or is that the other way around? I blame the broken sleep and general drained feeling. January is in full throttle, and so is my son. He’s galloping through milestones and becoming louder and louder by the day. It’s amazing… and bloody exhausting. He’s past the six month mark now and he’s sitting up like a pro and showing the very early stages of crawling. Each new stage brings fresh challenges. The early days were just about surviving while now, it’s about keeping up with his endless demands. He has boundless energy, and now that he’s eating, it’s more work… and washing. It’s still amazing to me that he can go through such an extreme range of emotions in about 10 seconds – from squealing in delight to inconsolable crying. I used to be the emotional one around here…

While he’s overall a really good and fun baby, he’s still a tiny person who can only express himself through crying. That sound, is still like a dagger through my heart. Especially the kind where he wails like you’ve taken away his favourite teddy, or rabbit in Sonny’s case. He’s also waking up in the wee hours to do body pops and throw his dummy out of his cot. He’s still in our bedroom. I’m nervous of putting such a little person into a big room, all by himself. I know modern technology caters for such situations but I like him to be close to me. To hear his shallow breathing, his little grunts, even his snores. To my right, I have my sound asleep husband, who could snooze through an earthquake and to my right, our baby, not sleeping like one. Oh, sidenote – that saying is rubbish.

While I’m getting more sleep, it’s still very broken, I usually see every hour, getting up to use the loo and peek in at Sonny. I’ve been having crazy dreams too, from the bizarre to the disturbed. I dreamt I was Meghan Markle’s bridesmaid and that the dress (a pink satin number – eugh) didn’t fit, it was quite a fun dream – though maybe I need stop to stop snacking on the Quality Street and the sweet remains of Christmas. Then, just last night, I was in some kind of horror movie, although that could have something to do with me watching Bird Box and Les Miserables. Watching anything scary or sad really stays with me and can shift my mood for days sometimes. But we all do stuff we shouldn’t, right?

Having a baby is like a landslide, you don’t recognise the new landscape it creates and you forget about what it looked like before. Every step is one into the unknown, you’ve only got your wits to rely on and no amount of equipment is going to do the job for you. And once you get your footing, another natural event occurs, thrusting you back into uneven terrain. But, as with every ascent, there is a reward at the end, in a rock climber’s case, a stunning panoramic view and in a parent’s case, a different human being. I love that I have the privilege of helping shape the life of a person. I know it’s the most important job I’ll ever do, it doesn’t pay but it’s the most rewarding.

Oh, almost forgot to mention, a tiny tooth is starting to cut through on the bottom. Where’s my helmet?

Morning hair pulls are just the best, and yes, I have no makeup on! He doesn’t judge me, yet.



Weaning, squealing and forget about the cleaning!

The time has come, what I’ve been sort of dreading for months… feeding my baby actual food. After months of figuring out teats and bottles and formula, you have another minefield to deal with. I looked upon this stage with some apprehension. But, now I’ve relaxed a little into motherhood, I’m seeing it as the next adventure. There are many, many books about weaning (I’ve bought or been given plenty), but they’re doing nothing other than gathering dust on the book shelf. I’m a very last minute kind of girl by nature, so I’ve not yet even opened them, opting to ‘wing it’. I’ve also purchased a Tommee Tippee Baby Food Blender which is still in its box. I really am an advertiser’s dream. Thank god for Ella’s Kitchen. My larder is now full of brightly coloured foil pouches. I consider this is a bit lazy, not to mention expensive but, you could say, I’m easing myself into this new phase.

Sonny adores his new high chair, and enjoys thumping the tray energetically as if to say, “I want fed noooow mum!”. The first day of him trying puree went pretty well. I situated him in the kitchen, where I thought it would be easier to clean. Sadly, it’s not fancy enough to have a breakfast bar or big enough for a dining table and chairs so it meant me standing while I tried to eat and feed him too. Eventually, I brought him into the living room. We have wood floors so I thought “What the heck, it can be wiped”. He tucked into his apple and banana puree with gusto. He only had a few spoonfuls but he definitely enjoyed this new experience, as did I! I gave him his preloaded spoon, which he whacked against his face and squealed, before flinging it across the room. Fair enough Sonny. You’re new to this. Hell, so am I.

Hmm, not so sure about this, mum.

I’m by no means a tidy person, I just like things the way I like them. I love picture frames, candles, cushions and throws. Anything that makes a place look homely. I nearly lost my shit when my dear husband washed my prized Biba faux fur throw at 50 degrees, blaming it for making him itchy. This is why I do the laundry, because he never reads the effing washing instructions. After sulking for a few hours, I had to just let it go, there are too many other things of importance to think about. All material things are replaceable. Now we have a baby, our small but lovely home is going to be messy. I need to accept that. When we win the lotto, we’ll hire a full-time cleaner.

In other news, I was taking Rex to the vet earlier this week. The cat was literally out of the bag mid-transit (I had him in his carrier underneath the pram). What ensued was stressful but hilarious for onlookers. I was even thinking, “wouldn’t it be funny if the cat escaped?”, it really wasn’t.

It’s been a more dramatic week than I was hoping but such is life. And there’s no greater adventure than the highs and lows of motherhood.

All this eating is exhausting…




Seriously mum, you could really use a brush!

You have many things to worry about as a new mum. How you look on a day to day basis is not one of those things. Now, I’m a girl who loves make-up and before Sonny, I wouldn’t have entertained the thought of leaving the house without foundation, mascara, concealer, lipstick and blusher. Now, unless I’m socialising, I go barefaced. I’m certainly not confident or lucky enough to go make-up free and my pale complexion could definitely do with a bit of slap. It’s these times when I run into people too. I’ve found myself trying avoid people I know in the street or a supermarket when I’m sans make-up. But I needn’t bother. Most people won’t recognise me without my trademark rosy cheeks, lashings of black mascara and red lips. I feel invisible without make-up, no-one notices me… and that suits me just fine.

Then there’s the personal grooming. I gasped when I caught the sight of my underarms in the shower the other day. Then I realised I hadn’t shaved my legs in months. Thankfully, I’m very fair so unwanted hair isn’t too much of a problem. As for the hair on my head, getting it coloured is a twice a year is good for me. I’m lucky if I brush it before going out the door as I tend to just scrape it back into a bun. That’s not to say I don’t love getting dressed up and wearing make-up to rival a drag queen when I go out for the night (another rarity these days).

I recently bit the bullet and bought a pair of GHD’s, my old straighteners had given up the ghost a long time ago. I’ve only used them once but I almost feel better knowing they’re there if/when I can be bothered to straighten my unruly mane. 

Yes, your priorities change when you have a baby. I’ll spend my last penny buying him a cute outfit or toy. Keeping Sonny clean, comfortable and cosy comes first. I know he won’t judge me for looking pasty with dark circles and having greasy hair. Although sometimes the way he looks at me, it’s as if he’s thinking, “You could really use a brush mum!” Not that he can talk, (even if he did), he regularly needs to be cut out of his vests after explosive poos. I’ll be sure to remind him of those when he’s older.

What does this do again?

Chatty mums, bum slapping and hogging a green and yellow tractor – my experience of my first ever mums and tots group

Today I brought Sonny to a mums and tots group at a local church. It’s a rite of passage for a new mum. For me, it was a bit like the first day of school. I joined the procession of buggies into the church hall and, not knowing anyone, sat alone like the new girl. I busied myself with my baby, lifting up toys, (he was taken with a green and yellow tractor), and was soon approached by a friendly woman, who welcomed me to the group. Conversation flowed as I bounced my baby on my lap. When her toddler commanded her attention, another smiling woman introduced herself and we were soon exchanging stories on our respective career paths. Ninety minutes flew by.

Admittedly, the group did more for me than my 14-week-old son who bobbed his head, taking in the bright colours of the toys and the squeals, laughter and chatter of the young children. While every moment is precious, I’m looking forward to when he can interact with other babies and play on the toys. I did, however, plop his bottom on a tractor and placed his tiny fingers around the steering wheel. We were approached by a gorgeous toddler who reached out to signal that he wanted a go. Now, it’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with playground politics so I quickly lifted Sonny off as the child commandeered it. I didn’t think much of it until the same youngster approached a second time to take the above mentioned green and yellow tractor. This time, I didn’t give up the toy. My son’s fingers were tightly clasped to the plastic toy and I too added my grip. The child gave me a steely stare but I held on, softly saying “no”. The little one gave up, running into the arms of his carer. I looked up, wondering if anyone had witnessed the stand off. Nobody had. I felt a little bad for a second, only to be overwhelmed with feelings of protectiveness towards my baby. What will he do if a kid does this to him when he goes to nursery? Will he allow the toy to be taken from him or will he hold his own? I hope the latter.

Before leaving, I brought Sonny to the baby changing room next to a row of toilets. As I bent over to get things from the bottom of the buggy, I felt small hands on my bottom. I stood up in surprise and saw it was a little boy. I giggled and quickly text my husband about the comedic incident. The last time that happened was many, many years ago in a crowded bar – and it wasn’t by a kid. It was entirely innocent of course but it certainly made me muse about my own little one and the kind of thing’s he’ll get up to when he’s on his feet.

I’m glad I went. It was good to meet other mums and it’s good to immerse yourself in the world of little people. Oh, you also get tea and cake, which is always good in my book.

What three months of motherhood have taught me.

I still need to pinch myself when I gaze at the tiny human dribbling, gurgling and robustly kicking his chubby legs close to me. I didn’t decide to start a family until my late thirties, so I’d worried that I’d left it too late. Although I’m certainly an older mother or ‘geriatric’ – an outdated term in the medical world – I don’t regret waiting until I felt ready.

I don’t regret waiting to start a family until I felt ready.

If you’re a new mum, an experienced one or a mummy-to-be. Here are some personal observations that I hope may help and/or amuse you.

Fed is best

Although I’d thought about how I’d feed my baby, I didn’t make a concrete decision. I’d consulted family, friends and colleagues to help me but as my tiny son was placed on my bare chest after a 12-hour labour, I still hadn’t decided. When the headmistress-style midwife who was (rightly) tough with me during the latter stages of labour (why aren’t you pushing Davina?!), asked me my decision, I’d expected to feel pressured to breastfeed but I didn’t. Still, I held my little boy close, hoping that nature would take its course. It didn’t. I don’t feel any guilt like many women do for not breastfeeding. I do feel judged though. At every medical appointment, I’m asked, ‘Do you feed him yourself?’. There’s a pause and I smile, saying ‘he’s bottle fed’. Then comes the nanosecond of judgement flickering across their face. My rebuke should be ‘well, he’s hardly feeding himself at 13 weeks!’ That said, I really admire women who do breastfeed and I imagine it to be a wonderful bonding experience. While some may think bottle feeding is an easy option, there’s no joy in constantly sterilising bottles and constantly changing formula and testing different bottles because your baby is suffering from painful wind.

So long Sandman!

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that new mums are sleep-deprived. My dear mum told me to get as much rest as possible before the little one arrived. Sadly, you can’t bank sleep and very soon you are coping on a few hours a night, if that. In the very early days, I was feeding my baby every hour and a half. In that first week, my zombie-like husband and I sleepwalked through feeds, nappy changing and bathing, communicating like Neanderthals. When my other half went back to work, I was petrified, wondering how I’d keep a small human being alive, especially when my track record with houseplants is so bad!

The good news is that you do cope. Maternal instincts kick in and somehow you just know what to do. Sleep deprivation is all consuming and debilitating. You are told that “it won’t last forever,” and of course, it doesn’t but it’s good to keep that in mind when you’re glassy-eyed in the wee, small hours. Then there’s the crying, the kind that is akin to a pneumatic drill, cracking your china-like, exhausted body. It’s horrible, but it’s because it’s the only way your baby can communicate and most often it’s because he or she needs food, changing, or they’re too hot, too cold or bored. Don’t take it personally! I have, and have on occasion joined in, but it’s better to troubleshoot while taking big, deep breaths. If you still can’t get to the crux of the issue yourself, get help. Don’t worry about being a paranoid first mum.

Another reality is that you’ll most likely start to resent your husband or partner, who’s cosy and comatose in bed while you do the early morning feeds, and the cat, who takes the opportunity to use me as a human water bottle as I sink into the sofa with my screaming bundle. When I eventually put down baby after he ravenously downs 6oz of milk in 15 minutes, I find it really difficult to get back to sleep. I freak if I can’t hear his breathing so I’m hovering over his Moses basket, with my hand on his chest, feeling it gently rising and falling. I wonder how my man manages to shut off to the world, while I fret and obsess, occasionally stirring him to tell him I can’t get our son settled, only for him to mumble and roll over. To be fair, he is a really great husband and a loving father. It makes my heart swell to see him holding our son close to his chest, or when I watch him chatting to him, not knowing that I’m watching. I do count my blessings, honest…

As for housework – don’t be silly! You might struggle with this if you’re ‘cleaning mad’ like the amazing Mrs Hinch or like me, clean when you can’t bear the mess anymore. You’ll wonder how you’ll ever manage being a mum, running a house and just generally dealing with day-to-day life. For the first six weeks, do the absolute minimum, like laundry, an inevitable task to keep up with a rapidly growing baby who likes to vomit over his new outfit, just as you’re about to leave the house. There are some days when just getting a shower and getting dressed is an achievement. Forget about makeup and getting your nails done. It’s rather liberating to go without makeup, I’ve found. There was a day when leaving the house without foundation would fill me with dread. Go easy on yourself, ask for help, and get out and meet a friend for a coffee. Don’t spend weeks indoors, fresh air will do you both the world of good.

Motherhood is completely life-changing and you’re constantly learning and evolving. It can be hard, but it’s really rewarding and there’s no feeling in the world as good when your beautiful baby smiles at you. It’s pure joy. I love being a mum.

Baby, one more time…

  • Don’t expect to know everything, motherhood is a massive learning curve.
  • Be kind to yourself, you’re doing an amazing job.
  • Always, always trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, speak your health visitor and/or GP.