Pregnancy isn’t all ‘glowing skin’ and joy. You go through many stages of emotions throughout your pregnancy, in different orders for different people. They range from excitement, relief, happiness, anxiety, exhaustion, frustration, euphoria and acceptance, just to name a few. Plus your hormones are all over the place thanks to the new human you are growing inside you, and that is totally normal!
When I got pregnant, my initial thoughts were equal parts excitement and anxiety. I’ve always wanted to be a mum, however after witnessing my sister’s traumatic labour I had a great deal of fear in regards to labour itself. My immediate thoughts went to the delivery room, and it scared the shit out of me!
I’d say it’s pretty normal for a lot of women to have a similar thought process - but one thing that didn’t cross my mind was the journey to get to the birth of my child. Sure, I'd heard of morning sickness, back/rib pain, stretch marks, swollen feet and tiredness being common during pregnancy, but that was pretty much the extent of it.
My pregnancy started out rough, with severe ‘morning’ sickness 8-10 times a day from the very beginning until the seven-month mark where it eased up to a few times a day. As I was experiencing it, I thought to myself - why do they call it ‘morning’ sickness? It lasts all day and night! I had the idea in my head that ‘morning’ sickness was something that lasted the first trimester only, and only happened before lunchtime - how wrong I was!
Unfortunately, there was worse to come. Just as my non-stop vomiting started to ease up, my stretch marks started. Pretty normal so far right? What I didn’t know was that in a month’s time I would be wishing I could live in a bath filled with oatmeal full time (I wish I was kidding!).
My stretch marks grew quickly, and soon I had a belly full of tiger stripes. One day, I woke up and they were burning. When I say burning, I mean my stomach was on FIRE. I was the itchiest I had ever been in my life, and no amount of scratching could provide relief. I moisturised, had cold showers, avoided scratching - nothing worked. I went to see a doctor who told me that it was just my skin stretching and was completely normal and all I had to do was continue moisturising and it would improve within a few days.
The next day, I went to another doctor. I couldn’t handle the pain and discomfort, I hadn’t slept, and I needed relief. I had a huge rash all over my stomach, blisters and what looked like hives covering every stretch mark. I still had five weeks of pregnancy to go and hadn’t slept a wink the night before due to the itching. I COULD NOT put up with this for another five weeks!
Pre-PUPPS feeling great vs PUPPS agony. It’s all worth it in the
end and I wear my stripes with pride!
This doctor wasn’t as dismissive and actually listened to me. I was referred to a specialist dermatologist who diagnosed me with Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of pregnancy (commonly known as PUPPP or PUPPS). I was told that PUPPS affects 1 in every 150 or so women, to varying degrees. Whilst there is no definite cause, it is thought to be brought on by either the rapid stretching of the skin which creates an immune response due to tissue damage, or foetal cells that have gotten into the mother’s circulation. Either way, there was no way to prevent it and no cure - it usually goes away within a few weeks of birth.
I cried. I sat there sobbing in the doctor’s office asking them how the hell I was going to last another five weeks with the most excruciating itching I had ever experienced in my life? I was given a list of things that could help relieve the itching, and a prescription for steroids. I tried every single thing on that list, and not one worked for me. I’m talking steroids, antihistamines, calamine lotion, pine tar soap, freezing cold tea towels and aloe vera gels. I’m sure others may have had varying degrees of success using some of the above, but for me, I had no relief. I now had four weeks to go and hadn’t slept in days. I’d even taken to wearing gloves to bed as I’d started to make my stomach bleed where I was furiously scratching.
It was worse at night. As soon as I lay down I was on fire. I would toss and turn and cry, I just wanted it to go away - and then it spread to my arms and legs. I now had this horrible, hive looking rash covering my stomach, arms and legs, and still 3 weeks till my due date. I hate to admit it but I was using a metal ruler to scratch my legs as I couldn't reach them!
I scoured the internet trying to find things I could try to relieve the pain and itching, and a random page mentioned putting oatmeal in a bath, so I immediately went and got a bag of oatmeal. I poured the entire bag into the bath, lay in it and felt relief for the first time in weeks. The burning didn’t go away completely, but it was so much more bearable. I stayed in that bath for over two hours and slept, getting in my first solid sleep in weeks.
Once out of the bath, the itching always returned within an hour or so. I found myself living in oatmeal baths for hours on end for the last three weeks of my pregnancy, particularly at night - it was the only way I could get a wink of sleep.
It’s really easy for people to tell you ‘it will all be worth it in the end’, or ‘just a few more weeks and he/she will be here and you will forget all about it’ but this was a really miserable time during my pregnancy even though I knew it wouldn’t last forever and I would, of course, endure whatever was thrown at me to get my son here safely. But I remember feeling very alone with what I was going through, like no one really understood my pain and frustration.
When we decided to create The Maternity Market, it was for this reason. We don’t want mums to have to suffer their symptoms in silence. We don’t want mums to have to search the internet for hours on end to find a product that can provide them relief. We don’t want mums to feel like they are alone. With our mumma advice network, we want to have a one-stop-shop for everyone, where they can find relief for whatever is affecting them during pregnancy and beyond.
Sweet sweet relief for PUPPS
and also perfect for pregnancy photoshoots!
If I had known about Petit Papillon’s Milk + Flower oatmeal bath, or Peggy Sue’s Milk Bath Brew Pockets I would have jumped on them. I had found it so difficult finding products all in the one place, and at TMM we want to make it as easy as possible for all mums!
If you have a product that you found was essential during your pregnancy, we would LOVE to hear about it. We are growing our range and want to encompass all of the wonderful things our mumma advice network have found helpful throughout their journeys to Motherhood.
Can’t wait to hear from you,