Fitness and wellness expert Lisa Raleigh’s pregnancy caught her by surprise – but she and husband Stafford Masie have adjusted with grace. Here, she talks candidly about her experience of motherhood.
What was the worst and best part of being pregnant?
Up until the end of the second trimester, pregnancy was a breeze. I only experienced three bouts of morning sickness, and that was only after I discovered I was pregnant so it could have been psychosomatic! I had great energy levels, healthy skin and could exercise easily.
From 28 weeks, walking was painful and difficult. I remember battling to complete something as simple as a walk from the car to the pharmacy and back. I phoned my husband and burst into tears because something that should take five minutes took a painful 45 minutes.
On the other hand, I found that being pregnant generated so much kindness from others. As soon as you start showing, people smile at you, enquire about your baby, jump to assist you in any way and generally send so much warmth and love your way. My husband was especially loving and doting during this time, and the overall help, patience and love that others show you really makes it special.
How much weight did you gain?
Too much! I piled 18kg onto a size-eight frame – much to my gynae’s horror. He kept trying to offer advice on how to keep my weight reasonable, but truth be told, I wrote the book on that, and my cravings simply took over.
At 12 weeks, I had only gained 1kg and still had a six-pack. Most of the weight gain came in the second trimester, although more still followed in my final weeks – particularly from water retension, which left me feeling uncomfortably puffy. Now, at four months after birth, I still have a few kilos to lose.
Tell us a bit about your birth experience. What got you through those first few days?
I was booked in for an emergency C-section due to preeclampsia, with the decision being made the night before Bella was born. In the hospital, I had a dream team support system, which really transformed the experience for me. I had my homeopath assisting in my operation, a physio in the hospital, who included breast massage and a laser on my nipples to make them harder for breastfeeding. I had special cups inserted into my bra to gather leaking milk and relieve the painful build-up of pressure – a necessity, as I accumulated almost a full bottle of milk a day this way. I was lucky enough to have my doula and lactation specialist on hand as well, who offered me wonderful support and advice throughout the first few days and beyond. My husband really pulled his weight and went through every part of the experience with me, sharing night shifts, helping to serve healthy meals and generally offering all-round support.
Has your relationship with Stafford changed since Bella’s arrival?
It’s certainly fluctuated, as we’ve gone through the teething stages of poor sleep, tricky schedules and little time to spend together. That said, after a few bumps in the road we’ve made an effort to connect whenever we can – even in two-minute intervals that we snatch. I feel strongly about nurturing our relationship above being a mom in an effort to be a better parent. We want to be a united front and an example of love and commitment to Bella – which takes work. At the moment, we’re both just conscious about communicating and spending quality time together when we can.
What is the one thing as a mom you can’t do without?
Mercy – my nanny. She was recommended to me by my lactation consultant and I couldn’t have been more blessed. She is so hardworking, has a lovely attitude and clearly adores children. She is the reason I could go back to work slowly, then fiercely, after just six weeks. As I’m still based in Durban, she travels with me when I drive or fly up to Johannesburg and has even been on set with me. Since my husband and I still spend time apart due to work, Mercy really offers so much support and is a wonderful person to have around me during this time.
In her 16 years as journalist, Lisa Witepski’s work has appeared in most of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Entrepreneur and Financial Mail. She has written for a number of women’s magazines, including Living & Loving, Essentials and many others, across topics from lifestyle to travel, wellness, business and finance. She is a former acting Johannesburg Bureau Chief for Cosmopolitan, and former Features Editor at Travel News Weekly, but, above all, a besotted mom to Leya and Jessica. Lisa blogs at whydoialwayscravecake.blogspot.com and lisa.witepski.blogspot.com, and tweets at @LisaWitepski.