Elisa, less than 4 week ago you gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Jack. What was it like to first meet him?
I was, and still am, in complete awe in front of this miracle. He was finally there, in my arms, so small, so soft, so real. It was pure love at first sight. We still have to discover everything about each other but I feel as if I had always known him.
What was the journey of pregnancy like for you? What were the best parts, and what were the most difficult?
The most difficult for me were the first 3 months, as I felt really exhausted and very hormonal. I guess it is difficult for women who are used to a very dynamic lifestyle to adjust to this new “state”. Your body is at the service of someone else, and this makes you understand immediately that nothing will ever be the same.
Once I accepted that I had to take it easy, it all went great. Pregnancy actually turned out to be one of the most inspiring and creative times ever. I felt the urge to do so many things, and really move towards the direction I wanted my life to take. It is a time where you really are put in front of what your priorities are, what you keep, and what you let go.
Can you describe your day-to-day pregnancy look?
The bigger the bump got, the more I wanted to embrace it. I wanted to wear tight, comfortable clothes. The quality, the softness of fabrics turned out to be very important as there were certain ones that I couldn’t stand. Cotton was the ideal. Rag & Bone and Wolford were the choices for black short tight dresses, and I also found great things at Ralph Lauren and Antik Batik.
A great discovery was Slacks & Co., a brand that specializes in pregnancy. Their leather treggings are a must! Comfortable and cool. Black leggings also became my great friends. Brora makes some great light cashmere ones. I have to admit though that it was while I was pregnant that I entered Agent Provocateur again– I hadn’t been in there in a very long time!
You currently live in London. What were your go-to places as a mum? I used to go to Space NK where they had these special massage tables with a hole for the bump!
That’s amazing! I have to say one of the most special people I have met during my pregnancy and the recommendation I have is Doctor Gowri Motha. She is a trained obstetrician and gynecologist, today prefers to be called a “gentle birth practitioner”. She created the “Gentle Birth Method”, which prepares mothers for the most natural active birth possible by helping them get more in touch with themselves and their bodies. On a foundation of Ayurveda she combines aspects from different disciplines, including a very specific type of nutrition and therapies such as reflexology (really, how good does feet massage feel during pregnancy?), Bowen, Reiki, and Cranio-Sacral therapy.
I really feel that in a modern world where there is so much information, so many different opinions and theories, Gowri and her team of like-minded women (Debbie Linger, Sarah, …) have helped me become the mother I was always meant to be. They empowered me to trust myself. One of the sweetest moments that I will always remember, was when I saw her give Jack his first cranial massage. He was 3 days old and he LOVED it.
On a more practical aspect, I really loved going to buy the furniture: the bed, the changing table, linens, the pram, and accessories to welcome the baby. Today there are so many different products and features that, despite my initial slight cynicism, it ended up being a very funny experience. For this I chose BabyList, a shop in London that specializes in it. I didn’t want to get lost in a department store!
What was your beauty routine during and after your pregnancies?
I would apply Trilogy’s Organic Rosehip Oil, sometimes mixed with Argan Oil, twice a day on the body. Towards the end I also used the Mama Mio Stretch Mark cream. Another great ritual was Magnesium Flakes hot baths (towards the end of the pregnancy though, as hot tubs are not recommended in the first months), 2/3 times a week. Magnesium helps the muscles relax. For the face, after birth I have been using MV Organic Skincare Jojoba Oil, which can be used also to moisturize the body skin of newborn babies.
How did you stay in good shape?
I trained at my gym, Bodyism, till the 8th month. The exercises and the trainers’ fierceness decreased as the months went by, but it was very important for me to get the body moving. First of all, for the kick of endorphins it gives you, then to help and accompany the body through the changes, for the blood circulation and against water retention. I’m sure little Jack loved it too.
I did yoga to keep the body soft– the “regular” first (obviously slightly adapted to the pregnancy), and then in the last weeks, I prepared for birth with my yoga teacher Petra Mitidieri, whom I have to thank, as she was another person who allowed me to be ready when the contractions came. She is one of the few people who was really able to explain to me what happens exactly at every stage of labour.
The many night time walks in the empty streets of London with our dog will also stay in my mind.
Diet is very important and Gowri made me aware of it. She believes in a gluten and dairy free diet, and moderate sugar (although I need to admit, I couldn’t resist chocolate, cakes, candies, anything sweet, you name it!), preferably cooked vegetables, and no fruit juices. The idea is this gives more energy, makes you gain less pregnancy weight, and most of all, detoxifies your body and helps create the perfect situation for your tissues to be soft and clean at birth.
Recently you established a charity foundation for children in rural areas. Can you tell us about this project?
It has been a dream I’ve had for many years, as I felt there is a lot to do in Egypt in a new, fresh, young way. This, and the documentary I’ve been working on, are two ways I found to be able to spend more time in my favorite country. Last February, when I was in Luxor shooting the documentary (5 months pregnant), I suddenly felt very strongly that the time had come to begin to pro-actively work on it.
My dream is to see children, especially from more rural areas, finding the space and opportunity to dream, to play, and learn– simply for the joy of it. Social, cultural and economical conditions imply that most children in rural Egypt are, from a very young age, concerned with things such as work, money and profit.
It is important for us at Elisa Sednaoui Foundation to encourage them to develop the creative abilities that could, one day, help them envision and design a better future for their families, their communities and their country. And we want to do this by creating a place that would be a true platform endorsing extra-curricular cultural activities and exchange. We want artists, craftsmen and craftswomen, teachers, students– anyone who is willing to share his talents, to come and spend time in Luxor and do workshops with children.
London has so many beautiful baby clothing stores! Have you found any children’s wear brands that you love?
My favorite one is definitely Caramel Baby and Child. They have lovely, cool clothes, great accessories such as blankets, pillows, linen, and great toys too. Another favorite is Yoya in New York City. I bought many things there on my last trip. Of course I do love a classic like Bonpoint or Petit Bateau.
Last but not least, how has motherhood changed you?
I guess it is still a bit too early to say. What I have felt since the birth, though, is a great, deep sense of calmness, a softness, inner peace.
Photo by Astrid Muñoz
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