Welcome to Mumsnet!

We’re delighted you’ve found us. Join in the conversation on the UK's busiest site for parents

Get started »

Babies, bibs and the dreaded parent pouch

After she had her first baby, Zoe Williams was determined not to look 'Stepford'. She entered the world of the first time mother - a world that involved bibs, breastfeeding, and strange floral clothing - and documented her experiences in the book,
What Not to Expect When You're Expecting. Now journalist Zoe looks back on those first few months of motherhood... 

zoe williamsOh my good God. Will you please just take a look at this new invention, the “packapouch”. According to the Daily Mail, it is an ingenious solution to the many conundra of the mum with only two hands. To me it looks like the onset of lunacy. Why stop with a floral kangaroo sack, affixed to your chest? Why not wear some deely boppers that speak the alphabet, and a fake honking nose, and some earrings that dispense wet wipes? I know you will look ridiculous, but imagine how exciting it would be for baby.

When I had a small baby, I was one of those mothers who didn’t care how wrecked I looked, but drew the line at looking Stepford. In 2007, “Stepford” meant one of those breastfeeding bibs. You wear it like a bib. You pop your baby under it to feed it. Nobody can see your breasts, but on the downside, you are a grown woman, in public, wearing a bib. That was floral as well. Not that I’m trying to make a point about flowers. 

In 2012, Stepford means looking like a kangaroo, and in 2015, I don’t even want to think about what it will look like. Interestingly, my sister never got on board with my “wrecked” agenda. She always wore a print rather than a flat colour, in case she had food on herself, and if anyone vomited on her, she wouldn’t even leave the house until she’d changed. I thought she was a) weak-minded and b) obviously didn’t love her baby as much as I loved mine. Because if you really loved it, you’d put all considerations of your own appearance aside, for total, wraparound, liberty-vomit-hall baby satisfaction. 

Read other guest blogs on pregnancyfeminismand women in comedy in our special features section

But then, neither of us came anywhere close to being those women who fight like the devil to get back into shape post-partum. It wasn’t because we disapproved, just because we couldn’t be arsed. 

There are some rules about early motherhood, which are never spoken, and that makes them much more confusing. Everybody pretends to be impressed by people who “snap back into shape”, and everybody pretends to think it’s cute when new mothers look like train crashes. However, a lot of mothers take a huge amount of pride in just how rubbish they look, as though the very abnegation of vanity were proof of their devotion to their baby. And then mothers who have brushed their hair, because they can basically tell what the scruffy ones are thinking, start to feel resentful. “Come on, people. Just because I don’t smell of cheese doesn’t mean I don’t love my baby.” The mothers for whom surrender is total – the ones in the bibs – look at the wrecks and the hairbrushers with equally benign pity.  

The funny thing is, you’re constantly told when your baby is tiny, oh, it’s just a phase. Crying all the time? Just a phase. Won’t sleep? Just a phase. Doesn’t like beetroot? Just a phase. Nobody ever says of you, “haven’t cleaned your teeth? Look like Stephen Fry dressed as a woman? Smell a little bit? Just a phase.” But I think this would be a useful thing to know. The most radically different women: those who bounced back into skinny jeans vs. those who are wearing a primary coloured full-body papousse - will look like sisters once the baby moment has passed. 

Mary Campbell, creator of the Packapouch, argues Zoe is wrong about which products make mothers' lives easier. She explains why her invention is useful to parents:

packapouchPackaPouch ™ helps ladies and gents, young and old, to securely carry items from A to B without the fear of falling. It keeps items within easy reach whilst reducing the amount of bending, twisting and stooping that we regularly do with our backs and it brings the joy back into every day activities to many people.

PackaPouch ™ has many satisfied customers who use the product daily to help them lift and carry hands free. From young mum's who like the convenience, to people with mobility or disability issues, to people who are not as young, fit and able as they once were.

A quick search of Mumsnet shows many mums with issues and concerns about joint pain, arthritis, wheelchairs, pelvic pain, Fibromyalgia and lower back pain, and, although no reason is needed, each of these problem areas would benefit from the use of PackaPouch ™.

PackaPouch ™ comes in two design types and in several colours, the materials have been specifically chosen to be strong, waterproof and comfortable to wear against the body. It is made and sourced in the UK, supporting British jobs.

Last updated: 15-Apr-2013 at 4:55 PM