Photo courtesy of Elisa Sednaoui

The model and founder of the nonprofit Elisa Sednaoui Foundation, which promotes creative learning projects for children, opens up about what it’s like to be a mother — from the practical stuff to fitness and style tips to the more inspiring moments of motherhood.

My Mother’s Day traditions now…
Having celebrated it only twice there no traditions yet besides a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my son and husband and what I most covet, a drawing by my son.

And when I was growing up…
Weirdly, I have no specific memory attached to Mother’s Day. But my mother and I always had a very tight, emotional and “Italian” relationship.

Best Mother’s Day gift I’ve given…
Perhaps the one I’m about to give?

And received…
My son’s drawings.

Best lesson learned from my mom…
It’s fundamental to create a relationship in which a child feels comfortable sharing anything and is not afraid of being judged or too upset. And also to try and look for the positive side of everything that happens on the journey.

And one lesson I’ve learned from being a mom…
Many. He is teaching me selflessness. Putting someone’s else needs in front of yours and enjoying it. Being less hard on yourself, more tolerant, hopefully more patient. Rediscovering the world through my son’s eyes is fascinating. It helps re-proportion priorities and really focus on what is most meaningful to you. You need to make sure everything you take on really fits in the bigger plan of the family. You need to work harder in a shorter amount of time and be extremely organized. Before it seemed impossible to plan, but now I really enjoy the feeling! Being a parent makes you more confident and overall stronger. There is nothing like my son’s laughter or the joy of observing him learning something new. It still seems incredible at times that he was created in my belly!

My style pre- and post-motherhood…
I think my style has remained the same — versatile, playful. Playing with masculinity and femininity. Never locking yourself in one style so that you move around. I like to wear a suit, or jeans with a t-shirt and cashmere jumper, and the next day a flowy, floral-patterned long dress. Maybe I’ve become more daring with time. Like in this picture, I started to like combining things which apparently are not meant to be worn together, like a faux fur and trainers. Since I had my child, however, I generally do enjoy seeing myself more feminine, with heels and showing more of my figure. Something to note, for sure, is that the time I manage to keep my clothing clean is definitely reduced; since Jack was born, I try to remember not to put the shirt I want to wear to go out before I give him his food.

One post-pregnancy secret to get back into shape…
Allowing your body to guide you. It was very hard for me to start exercising again after the baby because it seemed that I just couldn’t find the time. I also initially felt guilty taking that time for myself. Then luckily I came to my senses. Yoga and Pilates helped me get back on track because they awaken the core muscles (which frankly I had a little lost hope in after the birth) and the flexibility. The whole point is listening to your body and, in this case, tuning into it again. I will never forget the first yoga lesson after six weeks from the labor. I felt like my body was a disconnected member and that I was completely and mystically rediscovering it; I was reconnecting with it. I must say having a baby has been the best thing for the arms — I have muscles now that I never had before!

And another…
What truly helped me stimulate the body to get rid of the excess water retention was lymph-draining massage done in the very special technique Italian Roberto Bhoga created. He currently works mainly in Milan, Rome and St. Moritz, but is planning to open up in London soon. He is a magician — everyone must try it!

And a post-pregnancy wellness tip…
One remedy I discovered recently thanks to my mom is turmeric for inflammation. I found that since I am a mom I am more prone to nerve and tendon inflammations. Last week, as I was working in Egypt on a musical and graffiti workshop for kids organized by the foundation I direct, I was on my feet all day. Bending and picking up my son became suddenly very painful. My sciatic nerve was killing me. The only time I had felt it before was briefly during the end of pregnancy. So my mom recommended I take one teaspoon of turmeric powder with four glasses of warm water. I couldn’t believe it was so effective that even after the first time I couldn’t feel the pain anymore. Nature always surprises me!

One thing I wish someone told me about being pregnant…
This is especially for the first pregnancy: Even though from the moment you become pregnant your body is at the service of someone else and you’re already all mind and body turned toward the arrival of your little one, try and use these months to really enjoy the lack of timetables, schedules and “responsibility”. Spoil yourself and be as lazy as you like! Don’t rush! Don’t put alarm clocks! Be spontaneous!

And about motherhood…
A very practical thing: That the milk doesn’t necessarily come as soon as your child is in your arms. It took me two or three days to get milk, which happened after managing to get some rest after the labor and drinking lots of water and eating lots of fish soup and food that is meant to help with lactation. Reflexology also helped. It was such a relief when it arrived, as I was afraid I was not going to be able make it! Also, beware of all the people around you giving plenty of discrepant advice. Other than that, frankly I am happy to be discovering as we go, without necessarily having been fully prepared. You never are. And in any case there is a fundamental difference between discussing things theoretically and when they are actually happening to you.

Follow Elisa Sednaoui Dellal on Instagram.

Read more features from our Mother’s Day Issues, past and present.

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