A Beautiful Mama-To-Be
We love sharing in the excitement of pregnancy and it was an absolute pleasure to meet Jenny Johnson, Deputy Editor of CondeNast Traveller and curator of the most A-MA-ZING Instagram feed (check out @jetset_jen for some serious wanderlust) whose first little bundle of joy (a boy!) is due on Saturday, 6 May! From weird and wonderful cravings to how she sees travel with a baby in tow, we caught up with Jenny at the beautiful Al Wadi Desert, Ras Al Khaimah, a Ritz-Carlton Partner Hotel. A huge thank you to Lidiya Kalichuk for the incredible bump pics – if you’re looking for a bump or family shoot then Lidiya is your gal!
Where were you when you found out that you were pregnant and what was your reaction?
We were in Tokyo on the first day of a two-week trip around Japan. I thought I had been getting time-of-the-month symptoms so didn’t check before we left Dubai. My husband Andy went out to find a pharmacy to be on the safe side and tried to explain that we wanted an “early-detection pregnancy test” though got some confused looks as no one really spoke English. When he finally got back to the hotel I took the test and we were shocked but over the moon when it was positive. Luckily I’m not the biggest fan of raw seafood or sushi.
Any great books and resources that you turn to for baby preparation?
The only one I really read is What To Expect When You’re Expecting and I also downloaded the app which gives you tips and a weekly video showing how your baby is progressing (and which fruit or vegetable it is the size of that week – a honeydew melon this week, FYI).
What was the easiest trimester and which one proved most difficult?
The first was by far the worst. You’re so scared until you hit that 12-week mark, your body is flooded with hormones and you can’t really talk to anyone about it. The so-called glow was also far from reality – my skin broke out, my hair was a mess and I was so bloated and tired. The second trimester was amazing – I barely felt pregnant, had so much energy and my digestion issues went away. I managed to travel quite a lot in this period – to the Maldives, Sri Lanka and the UK – and get back to a normal routine and eating pattern. The third trimester started well but the closer I get to my due date the more tired and heavy I’m feeling. At 33 weeks my hips, lower back and pelvis are very sore and it’s becoming hard to sleep but the finish line is in sight so it makes it easier than the first trimester.
Do you follow a fitness programme?
I definitely feel like I could have done more but I do 30 minutes of walking per day to and from the office, swimming on the weekends or when travelling and have a done a few Prenatal Pilates sessions at Real Pilates in JLT as well as a pregnancy workout DVD. Thankfully most of the weight seems to have stayed around the bump.
Read more: 10 Best Fitness Apps
How do you manage to look so awesome and do you have any fashion tips and tricks for maternity dressing?
I have to say I’ve really enjoyed maternity dressing particularly now the bump is big and round. The first trimester was the hardest as everything started getting tight, especially with the bloating, and I was also trying to hide it. From the second, I found I could still wear a lot of my clothes as my style is more floaty and A-line but I definitely recommend buying some maternity pieces as they are just so much more flattering and cut for the bump. I got pretty much all of my maternity wardrobe from ASOS, which is such great value considering you won’t wear it for long and if you love something you can always get it taken in at one of Dubai’s many tailors post-labour. They also have lots of pretty nursing dresses.
What have you struggled with most since being pregnant?
One thing I didn’t realise is how few medicines you’re allowed to take when pregnant so when I got really sick at Christmas I could pretty much only take Panadol meaning recovery took a lot longer. I also miss things like medium steak and runny eggs but you get used to it. Another struggle in Dubai is finding bars and restaurants that are non-smoking – my social life has definitely reduced because of this. And travelling is a lot harder as I’ve had to avoid anywhere with Zika, malaria or that’s more third world. Turning down press trips in the early part of the first trimester was tough but so worth it to have a healthy baby.
Read more: Sassy Mama’s Top 10 Morning Sickness Fixes
What kind of delivery are you hoping for?
Before I got pregnant I always thought I would want an elected C-section as it’s all scheduled and labour sounded terrifying, but I’ve now gone the opposite way and am hoping for a completely natural birth. As I have looked into it more, I’ve realised I want the baby to come when he is ready and to go for whatever will offer the least recovery time – though I know things don’t always go to plan so am prepared for all outcomes. I’m planning to try lots of forms of pain relief like using a birthing pool, breathing and visualisation techniques, massage and a TENS machine before opting for drugs though let’s see how I feel when I’m actually in labour.
Name a mama you find inspiring and why?
Definitely my mum as I had the happiest childhood and she is the loveliest, kindest, most gentle person. It’s hard being so far away from family. I also have lots of love and respect for my mother-in-law for raising such an amazing son. My sister and sister-in-law who are both mums to beautiful boys have also been such an inspiration to us.
Read more: What I Really Want This Mother’s Day
What are your thoughts about finding out the sex in advance?
We couldn’t wait! It was so nice to start calling the bump “he” rather than “it” and it makes planning and preparing for his arrival so much easier and more exciting.
Any local businesses that make your pregnancy journey easier?
I would definitely recommend prenatal classes with Cecile de Scalley at Malaak in JLT. There is so much we just don’t know as first-time parents but these classes really educate you on what to expect in the birth, breastfeeding techniques, pain relief and getting prepared for baby’s arrival. We feel a lot more confident now and they also have nurses who will come to see you after the birth.
Do you have any weird and wonderful cravings?
Strangely enough the only thing I have really craved is dairy products – I think maybe he’s needing calcium for his bones. From the first trimester I couldn’t get enough of milk and cheese and now I’ve also added yoghurt and ice cream (any excuse!). Sometimes I also want something salty like a packet of crisps but thankfully nothing too weird yet.
Where will you be having your baby and who is your OBGYN?
We’re with Dr Anni Engberg Faelling at Drs Nicolas & Asp in the Marina and love her. We got so many recommendations and she made us feel reassured and relaxed from the start. She is so warm and allows her patients to call or WhatsApp her at any time of the day and night (though we’d only do this for emergencies). We’re delivering at Saudi German, which recently underwent a renovation and where Dr Anni has just introduced birthing pools.
Read more: 10 Of The Best Family Clinics In Dubai
You travel a lot with work, do you foresee big adventures with a baby in tow and which destinations are on your list?
If it was just up to me I’d use my maternity leave to travel the world with the baby strapped to my back though don’t think this would be very fair on my husband (or the baby, I’m sure). That said, travel is a huge part of our lives (we actually met in South Africa when I was on a round-the-world trip and Andy was there for a month for the World Cup) so I’m sure we will bring up a little explorer. At the moment we have flights booked back to the UK and are planning a family holiday in Europe, potentially Italy, and are hoping to make it to a friend’s wedding in Bali later in the year. If he’s a good traveller (fingers crossed) I’m sure there will be lots more adventures.