Gorgeous Singapore maternity photos in Sassy Mama’s ‘The Bump’!
This month’s ‘The Bump‘ is Singaporean mama of two Olivia Kwok, who gave birth to son Elijah in 2014 and welcomed baby Ezekiel this past April. Olivia clearly takes a gorgeous photo, but it’s not without a lot of hard work: this mama loves her exercise, and credits prenatal yoga and Pilates for short, complication-free labours (less than an hour from water breaking to birth — WOW!). Read on for Olivia’s down to earth fitness tips, along with wisdom gleaned from her own loving mama (just try not to tear up when you read that part!), and of course some absolutely stunning maternity photos…
What was your reaction when you first found out you were pregnant?
I cried. I felt so overwhelmed with mixed emotions – there was happiness of course, but I think there was also worry and anxiety over how to cope with a second baby. My husband was very supportive and just held me tight while I sobbed big hysterical tears.
Your funniest memory over the 9 months?
This happened when I was in week 39; my tummy was quite large at this point. I was taking the lift when a family with two young kids entered. The younger girl took one look at me and exclaimed loudly “FATTY BOM BOM”. I was so taken aback I didn’t know how to respond, but you should have seen the look on her mother’s face. She was quite embarrassed.
Any great books and resources that prepared you for when your baby arrived?
For my first pregnancy, I read Successful Breastfeeding, A Practical Guide by Kang Phaik Gaik, Senior Lactation Consultant at Mount Alvernia Hospital. I found the book helpful in preparing me for my breastfeeding journey.
And just for fun, I also read Muddlehood, What Not To Expect When You Are Expecting, which is a compilation of candid confessions by first-time parents.
What do you think every woman should know before getting pregnant?
Most people only talk about the joys of motherhood, but I think it’s important to prepare every mother-to-be for the downside as well. Motherhood is an awesome journey and I love it, but it’s also challenging. There will be times when you feel like you are going crazy; other times when you miss your life before you became a mother, but these feelings will pass. When you feel overwhelmed, get help from your husband or other family members to look after baby, and take a few hours to yourself. It will do wonders for your sanity.
What was the easiest trimester and which one proved most difficult?
I am extremely blessed because both my pregnancies were very easy and smooth. I didn’t have any of the usual pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness or backaches etc. Other than my slowly increasing belly, I felt completely normal. I think that may be because I lead a very active lifestyle and remained active throughout my entire pregnancy. Even in my last trimester, I was still very mobile.
Did you follow a fitness programme while you were pregnant?
I am a yoga fanatic. Before I had my first kid, I would go for yoga almost daily. For my first pregnancy, I did prenatal yoga twice a week and swam three times a week. For my second pregnancy, as I had to take care of my older boy, I was only able to do prenatal Pilates once a week and swim two times a week. For both pregnancies I was active all the way up till delivery (week 39-40). In fact on the night I had my second boy, I had gone for Pilates that very afternoon.
Any fashion tips and tricks for maternity dressing?
I avoided loose shapeless dresses and tops as they only made me look fat and lumpy. Instead I opted for fitting clothes that accentuated my new curves and showed off my growing belly. I preferred to wear fitted dresses compared to two-piece outfits because pants often made my belly feel itchy.
Did you have any weird and wonderful cravings?
I didn’t get any cravings for both pregnancies, but I got hungry more often, and often had to snack between meals.
What did you struggle with most being pregnant?
For my second pregnancy, I had a lot of emotional struggle as I had to slowly let my husband take over as primary caretaker for my older boy. I used to be the one who bathed him and carried him, but I had to relinquish these roles to my husband as my belly grew bigger. While I was happy to see my husband and boy bonding, I still felt sad when my husband became my boy’s “preferred” parent.
Name a mama you find inspiring and why?
My own mother, of course! I only started to realize the depth of her love and sacrifice after I became a mother myself. Even now when I am a mother of two, she still fusses over me. She puts in special effort to cook nutritious food for me when I am over, and she often loads me with bags of groceries because she worries that I will get hungry. Looking at her, I realize that I will always be her baby no matter how old I am, or how many kids of my own I have. Her love for me inspires me to be a better mother to my own kids.
What are your thoughts about finding out the sex in advance?
I’m a practical person and I wanted to know the gender of the baby early, so that I could prepare for his/her arrival. For my first pregnancy, I was so excited and couldn’t wait to buy baby stuff, so I wanted to know whether to buy for a boy or girl. I’m glad number 2 is a boy so he can take over kor kor’s (older brother) things which are still very new.
Did it take you some time getting pregnant or were you one of those mamas who got lucky on the first try?
I think I’m one of those mamas who is lucky. For both pregnancies, we weren’t really trying, it just sort of happened. My second pregnancy was even more unexpected because I was still breastfeeding at that time, and my period had just returned. The following month (after my period restarted) I found out I was pregnant with number 2.
What kind of birth did you have? (hospital, home, epidural, c-section, with a doula, etc.).
Both my deliveries were in the hospital, natural without epidural.
Who was your OBGYN, and where did you give birth? How was your birth experience?
I had the same OBGYN for both pregnancies. I gave birth at Mount Alvernia for my first, and at KK Hospital for my second. I am very blessed because I had a very short labour for both pregnancies. Both times, the pain only started when my water bag burst; and both times, baby was out in less than an hour from the point the water bag burst.
What helped you get your groove back after being pregnant?
Family support is extremely important. My husband has been very encouraging and supportive. On weekends he even takes care of the kids so I can sleep in! My parents and in-laws have been very supportive too, enthusiastically taking over both kids whenever I am at either of their place. I love to go over to their homes as I get a lot of me time there. Haha.
Do you have any mama-friendly favourite places (restaurants, parks, etc.) to hang out with your baby? Why?
My baby is very curious about the world and loves going out. I don’t think it matters where I go, as long as he is out of the house. He also seems to enjoy bus rides. I take the bus to my in-laws’ place and he always peers curiously out the window.
Any local businesses (or websites) that made your pregnancy journey easier?
Private prenatal yoga with Monika from One Wellness, and private pre-natal pilates with Betsy from Breathe Pilates. I had two easy pregnancies with short deliveries, and I believe that being fit and maintaining my fitness throughout pregnancy played a large part. The regular exercise also helped to prevent backaches and water retention.
What are your hopes and dreams for your baby?
To me, health and happiness are the two most important things in life. I believe in this so strongly that I named both my boys after these two attributes. My older boy’s Chinese name is Kang Le (康乐), which stands for “health and happiness”; while my younger boy is Kang Xi（康喜), which stands for “health and joy”.
Thank you so much, Olivia! And many thanks to the talented team at Bambini Photography for the gorgeous photos! Don’t forget to enter our September giveaway for your chance to win a fab family photoshoot with Bambini for yourself, mama!