A recent study showed that it takes an average of 18 months for a new mum to feel “herself again”; so, enjoying a night out might be tricky. How do you face the social whirl when you’re exhausted and know you’ll be up four times in the night, either for a wee or for your wee one?
Pregnant in party season
Being a social butterfly with a baby on board isn’t easy. You can’t drink and your feet are swollen, so you can’t wear those killer heels. But, within reason, it can be good to get out and socialise, says Susan Teo, 40, a mother of six. “Seeing other people is good for your mental health,” she says. Pregnancy is an all-consuming time and it can be hard to remember there’s a world still going on out there.
“Meeting up with friends is a reminder that you are part of it,” Teo adds.
And although it might feel like an effort to drag yourself out, you might have a great time. Mum-of-two Rebecca Maberly, who runs advice website www.doctoranddaughter.co.uk, says, “If you are going to a house party, take a drink you CAN have with you — there’s nothing worse than drinking tap water all night. Buy or make a fruit-based alcohol-free cocktail that feels like a treat.
“Head to the party in your heels,” suggests Maberly, “then slip into comfy shoes when your feet start to ache. Comfortable shoes are a must — swollen ankles don’t look or feel good and standing for hours in heels will not help.”
And you can enjoy more party foods than you might think. Soft blue-veined cheeses, such as Roquefort, are not safe to eat in pregnancy, but hard ones, like Stilton, are less likely to contain listeria, so it’s fine to eat them.
“Prawns, smoked salmon and even sushi are fine, as long as the fish has been frozen first, to kill parasites, or it’s cured,” Maberly says. “But avoid pâté.” Whether made from meat, fish or veg, pâté can contain higher levels of listeria bacteria than other foods.
Fashion editor Erica Davies, mum to Lila, 2, and Charlie, 4, and founder of www.mrmoneymustache.com, says there is no reason to shy away from fashion — you can even try party looks you might usually avoid.
“Bodycon, for example, is lovely when pregnant,” Davies points out. “Choose a statement necklace or chandelier earrings, so all eyes are on that glowing skin!”
Jo Reid, makeup artist, director of Blush (www.blush.uk.com) and mum to Maggie, 3, is also all for making the most of your pregnancy glow. “Pregnant skin often feels smoother and more plumped up, so show it off by using cover only where it’s needed,” she says.
“Pregnant skin can also be prone to melasma (dark spots), so a good concealer is a must.” And try putting a tint under your base to boost colour on the apples of your cheeks.
With all this, you might look like the life and soul of the party, but Maberly says, “Don’t feel you have to stay until the end. People understand that pregnant women get tired. Of course, if you want to hit the dancefloor, go for it — it might be a while before you get the chance again.”
Party season as a new mum
You’ve hardly drunk for a year, you’re not sure your mum wardrobe is up to much and you haven’t slept for longer than three hours in a row since bubba arrived. Yep, facing the festive season with a newborn can be a challenge.
Last Christmas, stay-at-home mum Victoria Ng-Howard’s baby, Marcus, was just 2 months old. “I held a gathering as I thought it would be a lovely way to see everyone. I was nursing a pint of water with a baby attached to me, while my friends got merry on mulled cider. I was miserable that I couldn’t join in.
She added, “If I were doing it again I’d host a pot-luck lunch — everyone brings a different course and the drinks don’t flow quite so much because it’s earlier in the day and the focus is on the food.”
Dina Maktabi, founder of www.kensingtonmums.co.uk, says that little details count if you’re hosting a party at home. “Try dipping marshmallows in chocolate,” she says. “Toddlers will love that.”
She also suggests traditional games, like charades. “Little ones love seeing adults being silly, even tiny babies will love the excitement.”
Lim Hui Cheng, 34, mum to Ning, now 1, attended a friend’s Christmas party at a club when Ning was 3 months old.
“I took my breast pump to the party,” she says. “When I felt my boobs getting fuller, I went to the bathroom, but found a massive queue. When a cubicle was finally free, I sat there as the pump made a weird squelchy, cow-being-milked sound, with drunk women shouting for me to hurry up.” Not an episode to make you feel like a glam party girl! Yes, it is a better idea to test drive and ensure you are comfortable with your pump before the party.
So, how can you best enjoy a rare night out as a new mum? Davies says, “A great outfit starts with comfortable underwear. Pick a great nursing bra that ramps up the sex appeal — yes, they do exist — try Hotmilk, or Amoralia. Both ship worldwide.”
If you’re taking your baby, she says, “There are labels that offer fantastic dresses with side draping and subtle detailing, to ease nursing your baby. Check out the Keungzai maternity label, which offers an evening-wear section.”
Sarah Beeson, co-author of The New Arrival ($16.70), advises building up to the big night — leaving your baby for the first time can be difficult for you both.
“Start by leaving your little one with the person who will be caring for him for 30 minutes. Then try an hour. A few days before your event, leave your baby for a few hours. You can use the time for a festive indulgence — get your hair done, so you feel more confident.”