Thursday, 28 November 2013

Mother & Baby Awards

Last night was the Mother & Baby awards, these awards are the result of tests carried out by real mums and dads so great for getting tips and looking at products if you can't make up your mind

Each award is split into Gold, Silver and Bronze. 

In the best sleep product category The Gro Company won gold for their GroBag, having heard so many positive things from friends I think we will definitely buy some of these for bump.  Best Bouncy chair, rocker or seat category, gold was given to BabaBling for their RockOut chair, to be honest I hadn't heard of this so will be looking into this in more detail.  In the Innovation of the Year category Boots received gold for their non-contact thermometer, what a great idea!!  You don't have to wake baby if they are sleeping and if baby isn't feeling well they probably won't be very cooperative, again worth a further look into this I think.

We have purchased the Britax Affinity Travel System for bump, we did A LOT of research when we were looking into travel systems but you still worry could you have got a different one, was there something you missed.  Britax Affinity won gold for both their travel system and their pushchair so I feel very reassured we made the right choice.  Joie stages car seat won gold in best mutistage car seat, another brand I don't know that much about so will be looking into them further when we need to be thinking of our next car seat. 

I have a Pink Lining changing bag, I fell in love with them even before I found out I was pregnant!  They received Silver in the changing bag category, gold was given to Rosebud.  Rosebud also seem to be half the price of Pink Lining so great if you don't want to spend too much money on a bag!  Gold in the best baby carrier, sling or back carrier category was given to BabyBjorn, again I have heard nothing but praise for this brand.

We have bought the Fisher Price Kick and Play Piano gym for bump, it was a really good deal on Amazon.  It was awarded silver in the best baby toy under 12 months category.  Gold was given to Sophie La Girafe teether, I've seen a few people mention this on social media so think I will look into it further.  Gold for best product for a newborn was given to Ewan the dream sheep, I really need to get one of these for bump!

Gold in the best reusable nappy category went to TotsBots Easyfit whilst gold in the best disposable nappy category went to Aldi Mamia range.  Best Breastfeeding top/bra gold award went to Frugi for their Pointelle top, if I am successful at breastfeeding I may invest in one of these.  Gold in the best product for breastfeeding went to Lactaline for their double electronic breast pump whilst gold in the best product for bottle feeding went to MAM for their milk powder box.

The awards have definitely given me lots to think about and I will definitely be looking into some of these products in more detail.  I am also really happy  with products we have purchased already.

Check out all the winners yourself! These still plenty of categories I haven't covered. 

Homemade Fudge

As I have been looking for something new to feed my sweet cravings I decided to have a look and see what I could make at home.  Buying lots of chocolate is costly! I stumbled across a recipe for peanut butter fudge, sounds delicious!!!

For the recipe you need icing sugar, butter, peanut butter (I went for smooth but it doesn't specify so up to you if you want crunchy fudge) and vanilla.  I forgot the vanilla when I went to the shop, so made the fudge without it.

Measure out 225g butter - this is nearly a whole block, use what you have left to grease your tray.  Next measure 200g peanut butter.  Place the butter and peanut butter in a bowl and put in microwave on high for 2 minutes.  Whilst this is melting measure 450g icing sugar.  After the 2 minutes stir your butter/peanut butter mixture then put in microwave on high for another 2 minutes.

Add your peanut butter/butter mixture (and vanilla) to the icing sugar and stir well with a wooden spoon.  Once it's stirred in (I had to get Mr M to help with that part as I'm a wimp and couldn't stir it well enough) place the mixture in your tray which should be lined with waxed paper.  I used tin foil.  Remember to grease your lining with butter so it doesn't stick!

Place your tray in the fridge to cool, I left mine for 1 hour 30 minutes to be sure.  Turn your fudge out of the tray and cut into pieces, it was quite crumbly so they won't be perfect squares but who cares as long as it tastes good!  Place your fudge in airtight container(s) and you can store it for a week.  I have put mine in the fridge to store as well but it doesn't say you need to do that. 

Taste test - wow!!! The fudge melts in your mouth! It is very peanut buttery too, yum!!  It is very moreish, I woke up this morning feeling a tad sick so have decided to kindly donate some to Mr M's work as Mr M can't have any due to it pretty much being sugar.  I was thinking that this would be great to keep in the house for when we have visitors to see bump when he arrives, it doesn't take much effort to make and it saves on going out to buy biscuits!!  

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Review: Brabantia Flatback Fingerprint Proof Bin

I recently won this bin in a competition on Facebook.  Our bin was in much need of being replaced and Brabantia are a well known and reputable brand, I was excited to receive my winning bin

The bin I won was the Flatback+ 30 litre Matte Steel Fingerprint Proof Bin.  The bin is flat backed to make it space efficient, which is great for us as we have limited space in our kitchen where we can put a bin.  We put it up against the wall near a cupboard.  The bin came with 20 Brabantia bin liners.  When first putting these in the bin they were a little tight but I suppose this means they won't slip off or fall into the bin

The bin has a silent closing due to MotionControl technology and is easy to open with the large pedal. If you lift the lid open it will stay open until you press it to close, which is handy when peeling potatoes.  The lid also doesn't hit the wall when you open it! The bin is easy to move about as it has a belt grip at the back.  This is great for me at the moment as I can easily move the bin around when I need to hoover or mop the floor. 

Inside the bin there is a bucket with grips, this makes it easy to remove the bucket and change the bin, no more struggling to get the bin bag and bucket out like with previous bins.

I have to say I was intrigued by the claim that it was fingerprint proof, with bump on the way and knowing that my friends children put their hands on EVERYTHING I was curious as to whether this was true or just a gimmick.  I am not sure whether it is 100% fingerprint proof, when you lift the bin lid for example there is the tiniest of marks but the bin is definitely easy to wipe, once I used a wet wipe on the bin to clean it there were no marks of any kind.  The biggest test will come when bump gets mobile!

The bin can be found in the Brabantia new collection.  It retails at £125, which in my opinion is a lot of money for a bin.  It is a very good quality bin and does everything that it promises to do but I still feel the price is a little much.  The bin bags that go with the bin are £51 for 240 liners which works out at 21p per bin bag which again might seem a little pricey but you are guaranteed that the liner fits your bin perfectly and you won't have any accidents.  The bin bags are thick too and I haven't had one rip, yet.

I would definitely recommend this bin, the price is the only off putting part about it

Disclosure:  I won the bin through a competition, at no point was there an expectation I would review product.  My views are my own.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Pregnancy Apps

I love using apps on my phone and when I found out I was pregnant I hurried to find the best apps to help me through the pregnancy.  I have found some really useful and others I only used once or twice before deleting.  Everyone has their personal preference and what they are looking to get out of using an app but these are the ones I found the best

This app is run by Bounty, the same company who provide mum-to-be bags and are in hospitals to give you benefit forms and can offer to take baby photos.  The Bounty website has loads of helpful advice for mums-to-be as well as information on baby, toddler and family health.  You can register either through the app or on the website, it asks you for your due date or date of last period to calculate how many weeks pregnant you are.  Each week there is a main "find out more" area which tells you about the week in general.  The week is also split into 6 days, each day with a different topic - for example contractions, nursery know how and breech baby.  Each of these days gives you specific information about the topic.  There are also links which take you to the Bounty website for even more information.  The app also has a journal where you can record things such as baby movement and cravings, although to be honest I haven't used this part that much.  There is also a gallery for you to store photos.

Emma's Diary
Emma's Diary is another great app linked with a website.  Emma's Diary also provide mum-to-be packs.  The website has loads of information from trying to conceive to baby at 18 months, they also have an online shop, family zone and FAQs.   Again with this app you can register with the website and once you log onto the app it remembers the information you used to register.  You have a "My Status" bar which will take you to your specific week of pregnancy and gives you information on what to expect during that week.  There is also a "Medical Information" section which is broken into preconception, pregnancy, giving birth and baby ages in months from 0-6 to 7-18 months.  In these further sections you are given more specific information.  There is also a photo journal and an option to read Emma's Diary.  To be honest I just use this app for the weekly information.  I have utilised the Medical Information section but I read most of the parts that interested me in a oner rather than as things cropped up, although its good to know the information is there should I need a refresher and I don't have to trawl through the weeks like you would have to with the Bounty App.

The BabyBump app isn't linked with any website.  This is probably one of the apps I use the most, I check it every day.  Once you download the app you register your details.  Each day you are told how many weeks pregnant you are and how many days you have left.  You get a daily tip and also weekly information about the pregnancy.  At the bottom of the app you can store weekly bump photos, I like this part of the app as the photos slide from one to the other so you can see any developments in bumps growth.  At the top of the app is the option to join groups and a store button - the store button however only works in USA.  The main downside of this app is that it is American so sometimes the information doesn't happen here (for example Strep B testing).  I still enjoy using it though

This is another app I use on a daily basis.  The app is linked with BabyCentre website which you can register with.  Again the website has loads of information from getting pregnant to toddlers and also has a blog and shop section.  The app tells you how many weeks pregnant you are and gives you different information each day.  At the start of each week the information is about your baby and you, often there is a video and a picture to show the developing baby, which I like.  Each week has "Feel Good Activity" for you to carry out, this can be going to the cinema or getting your hair done.  There is a box for you to tick once you've done the activity.  There is also information each week about what is safe for you to do, eating well and health.  At the top of the app you can go to the checklist which is where the activities are recorded as well as the option to join your birth club.  I really enjoy this app as it gives you lots of information daily and is UK based.

Totally Pregnant
I only recently discovered this app when it came up on my Facebook timeline as a recommendation.  Mr M thinks the name is hilarious as how else would you be pregnant other than totally (men!).  There is a Totally Pregnant website that gives you more information on the app and blogs  but it isn't as detailed as the others above.  I have the free version, you can pay for more in depth information if you want and to watch the videos.  You do get a limited amount of time to try the app for free and you can watch the 4D videos, which I find interesting.  The app is based around a coloured wheel, you have the My Week option which tells you about your week.  There is a shop and an opportunity to ask experts a question, or see what people in your week have asked.  There is the video section which covers a different topic each week and My Album where you can store photos. 

As I have already said these are the apps I have found the most useful, other people might have found others that they liked.  The best thing to do is have a look and see what is available and what you want out of an app  I only downloaded free apps but there may be great apps out there you have to pay for. 

Neurotic Pregnancy Moments

As my pregnancy is coming towards the end I find myself being neurotic AGAIN!

At the start of the pregnancy my worries before my 12 week scan were centred around the fact that when we went for the scan, would the baby be healthy and growing as it should.  One of my good friends and also a work colleague had miscarriages so this was always at the back of my mind.

Following the 12 week scan and finding out everything was ok (phew!) I was then bombarded by people telling me what I should or shouldn't eat, what I should or shouldn't do, even what shampoo I should or shouldn't use.  It was an overwhelming minefield of information!!  I had a few issues at my work as well which didn't help matters as my boss (a man) didn't understand when I told him there were some roles and some clients I wouldn't be able to undertake or see.

I then felt like everything settled down and I began to enjoy my pregnancy, especially feeling bump kick and wriggle about, that is definitely my favorite part about being pregnant!! Especially when I poke him and he pushes back at me, I have in my head he's giving me imaginary high five's (although it's more likely he's telling me to leave him alone!)

A friend of mine is 3 weeks further into her pregnancy than me and its been great having her to talk through things with.  She is now at her due date and has been for a sweep (which sounds utterly delightful).  She has also been tested for Strep B due to having to go into hospital at one point in her pregnancy and was found to be positive, my midwife just brushes off my concerns when I ask her about this, which is a worry.  What if I am positive and no-one (including me) knows!!

Another thing the midwife tells you is that if there is a decrease in movement to contact the hospital.  Bump has active days, very active days and sleepy days.  On his sleepy days I get myself in a panic thinking should I contact the hospital or not.  Discussing this with my friend her baby doesn't appear to have any regular movement pattern either.  I usually give him a prod and a poke to get him to move and stop my panicking.  Also I have experienced Braxton Hicks but not that many (that I am aware of).  Is this normal?! Should I be experiencing more?  I'm also getting myself in a panic about getting to hospital, especially if he decides to show up at Christmas, we can't expect our friends to drop everything to help us out.  

We bought a fetal heart monitor near the beginning of the pregnancy, we used it quite a lot at the start and recorded bump's heartbeat to send to family and close friends who don't live close by.  We haven't used it for months though, but now I find myself thinking about getting it out just to check bump is ok. 

I'm hoping these are normal worries for a first time mum, I know I am being daft most of the time but I can't stop the thoughts from coming into my head.  Maybe its the fact that this is all unknown and I have no control over anything that happens that makes it worse.

I must remember to enjoy these last few weeks and BREATHE!!!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Date Day

Mr M & I have always tried to have date nights throughout our relationship but we've found these even more important since I have been pregnant.  It's also something we would like to carry on when bump arrives.  We both think it is important to spend time just the 2 of us and at the moment we are making the most of it as when bump arrives that will change.

We had our date day on Saturday.  Each time we have a date day or date night we do something different, it isn't something extravagant and other people might think "what's special about that" but it's what feels special to us.

On Saturday we went for a lovely walk, living by the sea we always have a lovely walk along the beach.  A walk gives us chance to talk, whether it be about bump, us or silly things like football and tv shows.  When we got back to the house we watched some of our shows on the planner and some football, luckily for Mr M I love football - it's always on in our house and I sometimes wish Sky just did a subscription to Sky Sports as not many other channels get used!!

We then both got dressed up for a lovely meal.  We always both make an effort and I did my nails and put on a dress I could fit into.  Mr M looked dapper in his shirt and jeans.  We cooked a lovely meal together and enjoyed the fruits of our labour.  We then retired to cosy on the sofa watching Dr Who with a glass of Schloer for me and a beer for Mr M. 

It was a lovely way to spend the day together.  As I get bigger I'm not as mobile so we chose to have a relaxing day but also do something that gets us out of the house for a bit.  We hope to fit in another date day/night before bump arrives but that depends on when he comes as we have a few things on for the next few weekends with friends and family. 

37 weeks

Today I am 37 weeks pregnant, only 3 weeks to go (we hope!!).  Bump is now classed as full term so he can arrive anytime and his lungs and internal organs should be fully developed and able to function.  We had told bump a number of times that we can't wait to see him and he can now feel free to arrive anytime. 

Apparently bump is 48.6cm long which is the same as a stalk of Swiss Chard.  I don't know about anyone else but I had no idea what that was, its a kind of spinach plant.  He weighs about 2.8kg.  He could also have a lovely head of hair, if the old wives tale is right about indigestion and hair then I think he might!

I haven't slept well the past 2 nights, I used to be able to get comfy lying on my left side but the past 2 nights whenever I do that I have felt cramps and feelings of pressure down below.  Last night even lying on my side for a matter of seconds the feeling of pressure was too much.  I have had to prop myself upright with a mountain of pillows (or my throne as Mr M calls it) and sleep in a sitting position.  I thought this morning when I woke up and looked in the mirror that my bump had lowered but after my shower I looked again and I wasn't so sure it had.  It is also quite uncomfortable for me to move around.  I have been trying to walk about as that is supposed to help bump engage but I've been having to sit down to ease the pressure feelings.

I have also been doing the cat/cow exercise to see if that helps him engage and tonight Mr M is going to blow up my exercise ball as its become a little flat and I'm going to do figure of 8 exercises on that.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Review: Tangle Teezer

I have wanted a Tangle Teezer for a while but have never got round to buying one.  I recently won a competition in which the prize was a voucher for  Here was my opportunity to buy a Tangle Teezer at last!!

Unfortunately the website had sold out of the pink Tangle Teezer but I also liked the blue one so purchased that.  I was very excited to try it when it arrived.

Following my morning shower I used my Tangle Teezer on my wet hair, there was no tugging! I brushed my hair a few times to allow the little teeth the run through my hair.  On the first few occasions I wasn't sure whether it was brushing my hair but then it glided smoothly through my hair.  There was no hair in the brush either which doesn't happen with my normal brush as there are usually clumps of hair.  I then dried my hair with the hairdryer.  Usually after I dry my hair it is knotty again following been blown about.  Again after a few runs through my hair the Tangle Teeer had brushed out the knots with no pain and without pulling out my hair.  My hair felt so smooth and soft!

There are different Tangle Teezer products on the market, I bought the Original Tangle Teezer.  You can also get Salon Elite which has a concave design, Aqua Splash which you can use in water and Compact Styler which is great for keeping in your bag.  The Compact Styler has a removable cover which means the teeth are protected from fluff and dirt.

I love my Original Tangle Teezer, my hair feels so soft and smooth, I would also consider buying the Compact Styler as when I am out and about my hair sometimes looks like I've gone through a hedge backwards.

Disclosure:  I won the voucher through a competition, at no point was there an expectation I would review products I bought with this voucher.  I purchased this products because I liked it and thought I would benefit from its use.  No review was expected from the seller.  My views are my own.

Baby Shower or Wish list

Baby Shower's seem to be gaining in popularity in the UK as we follow the trend from the USA.  I have had a discussion with my friends, some of which are pregnant and others who have young children to find out how they feel about this trend.

Everyone said they felt that having a baby shower was an excuse to get people to buy you presents.  Everyone felt that they didn't want friends and family to feel like they have to buy the baby a present and you are having a party for this purpose.  My married friends stated they felt that having invited people to their wedding and had presents bought for them for this occasion that it would be rude to have a baby shower and expect more gifts.  My unmarried friends were also not keen on baby showers due to the expectation of gifts despite not having a wedding or occasion where people had bought them and their partner gifts.

 All my friends stated that if people wanted to buy a gift for the baby once they were born that this was their decision.  Everyone said they were happy for friends and family to visit their new baby and if they brought a gift that was a nice thought.

We then discussed whether everyone thought a wish list was a good idea.  We talked about this from the view of new parents and friends and family.  Most stated that they want to get people gifts that they want or need rather than wasting their money on something they already have or don't want.  From the view of a new parent though everyone stated they felt a little anxious about sending wish lists as they weren't sure how they would be received by others and they didn't want to appear pushy.

Mr M & I have created a wish list on Amazon.  Our reason for doing this was that we have been really organised and bought bump items throughout the pregnancy, we have also bought things when we have seen them on sale to save us some money.  Friends and family have been asking us what we need and whilst we have told them they don't have to buy him a gift we thought a gift list would be a good way of showing people the things we like and give them a wide choice of gifts.  We also said in the email we distributed that people don't have to buy anything off the list.

It is a difficult decision to make and everyone is different and do what makes you feel comfortable.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

36 Week Midwife Appointment

We have just got home from our 36 week appointment with the midwife.  My urine is fine again and they took a blood sample (thankfully my last) to check my blood count and iron levels.  I expect this to be fine as my iron level at 28 weeks was pretty much the same as my booking appointment and I take supplements every day.

My blood pressure continues to be low and I have felt a little bit dizzy today when standing up but I just have to take my time and make sure I rest.  Bump is definitely lying in the right direction with his head down which is great news.  His heart beat was really strong, we always love listening to his heart beat as its the next best thing to seeing him.

The midwife felt around my pubic bone to check whether bump is engaged, my god it was painful!! I don't think I have the best pain threshold and labour worries me because of this but she was having a fair poke and wiggle! As I have been experiencing feelings of pressure down below I thought that bump might be on his way to being engaged however his head is apparently lying on the pelvic brim.  I was a little disappointed when she told us this.  Any other time of year I wouldn't care when he arrived as long as he was healthy but I do not want him to be born on Christmas day!! I don't care if I go over or if he comes early but that one day I don't want him to be born.  I want his birthday to be special and I know that we would make it like that no matter what day he arrived but I don't think anyone else will.  I don't want him missing out on a birthday and Christmas like everyone else.

Unfortunately we didn't plan when we got pregnant, I had been on the pill for so long it took us a while to get pregnant and we were just so happy that it happened.  At the end of the day I know that we will do our best to make sure he has a wonderful birthday whenever he is born but I just don't want him to miss out.  I know I need to focus on the fact that we will have a happy and healthy baby but this worry is always at the back of my mind

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Nursery Trader and Pushchair Trader awards

The results are out for Nursery Trader and Pushchair Trader Best Baby and Toddler Gear Awards 2013.  These are great for mums and dads as the products have been tested by other parents.  As a first time parent it can be difficult to decide which products to buy.  These awards can help you make up your mind as well as find products you might not have even thought of!

I had never heard of the Buggy Tug or Infoband but like the sound of both products and will be looking into them further.  We also want to have fun things in bumps nursery but want them to be educational, I love the sound of the Gro Company height chart stickers.  As you might have read on my previous blog post I am still undecided about which nappies to buy, I have been pointed in the direction of TotsBots easyfit reusable nappies before but the fact they have won the Gold award I think I will definitely give them a try.  I was also very intrigued by all the products in the Most innovative and New to Market categories

Check out the results for yourself, you never know what you might find and you might be surprised by some of the results too

Childcare - it's a minefield

Childcare has been one off our biggest worries, even before we got pregnant.  It is one of the reasons we waited before trying to get pregnant, however sometimes you just have to take the plunge and muddle through.  Neither Mr M or I have any family nearby, my grandparents live about an hour away but as they are in there mid 80's I wouldn't dream of asking them to look after bump.  My parents live 2 hours away and Mr M's live 5 hours away.  Mr M's dad retires from the RAF next November and his parents will have to find accommodation, we did ask them if they wanted to move closer to us but they didn't so that was that.

Not being from the area we weren't really sure what was on offer or where to start looking.  Did we want bump to go to nursery or childminder?  After talking to friends we found out the nursery places in the local area go quickly, there are nurseries further a field but we needed something close by as Mr M can't drive.  We also signed up to to look into local childminders.  Mr M works Monday to Friday 9-5 but my job includes weekend cover, nurseries aren't that keen on shift workers, would we be able to find a nursery who could accommodate us?  Following further investigations some childminders were as inflexible so we decided that we would not put bump into childcare on a Monday and we would alternate taking a Monday off each.  Both of our workplaces operate family friendly hours and flexible working so we could do this without losing hours and without using leave - great!! 

Some people thought we were a little mad looking into childcare just under a year before we would need it but I didn't want to leave it then be rushing trying to find somewhere near the end of my maternity leave and all the good places be gone.  Some childminders on were quite dismissive of us being proactive - they went into the "No" pile.  Others however were understanding and knew they would have places so we arranged to go and see them.

One of my friends was having issues with her nursery, the first had been closed down and the current one she was using she wasn't happy with, something just didn't feel right for her.  She discovered that the best nursery in the area was opening a sister nursery and having an open day.  Mr M & I went along with her to check it out.  We were really impressed, not only by the nursery but the staff.  They took us on a tour and had a really good conversation with us.  They told us not to decide after seeing their nursery but to go and see all the nurseries in the area.  They also said not to book an appointment but to turn up, they stated this is a good way of seeing the nursery during its day to day running.  If the nursery tell you they can't show you round then they obviously don't have enough staff, would you want your child there?  Also it means they can't tidy or hide things in preparation of your visit.  Really good advice for any parents out there!!

We picked a day and went to see all the nurseries in the area, which was 5.  There was one that we were really impressed with, the original nursery of the one we had gone to see for the open day.  It was the only nursery in the area that has received an outstanding Ofsted report and the manager was an Ofsted inspector.  The staff were lovely and the children seemed really happy.  Bump could also stay there until he goes to school.  We also spoke about the new nursery that was opening, they were planning on taking the same prinicpals to the new nursery and all staff would be trained at the original nursery so they knew the standards and philosophy, all sounded great.

We went to see the childminders we had made appointments with, they were all lovely people but neither Mr M or I got the same feeling we did when we went to the nursery.  Each childminder had fewer children than the nursery so bump would get more intimate working and they all went to Baby and Toddler groups and fed home cooked meals.  Childminders were cheaper than nursery by £5 a day, which adds up, but our gut instinct was telling us we preferred the nursery.  We decided to go back to the nursery and have another look around

After our second look around we decided to book bump a place.  We were able to get a place at the original nursery as that was our favorite but we would have been happy to take a place at the new nursery.  The nursery stated they will contact us nearer the time and arrange drop in sessions so bump can get used to nursery before I go back to work.  The staff were understanding that this will be an anxious time for us and bump but gave us lots of reassurance.  They also stated they would keep us up-to-date with newsletters and that bump could go and meet Santa when he visits, if bump had arrived by then.  This made us feel much more at ease and part of the nursery family. 

Both of our employers are part of a childcare voucher scheme, these vouchers were accepted by both the childminders we saw and the nurseries.  Basically these are a salary sacrifice scheme, the money for childcare goes from your wage to the childcare provider before tax, meaning you will get taxed less.  According to the HMRC website this would save us over £1000 each year, which is a lot of money!! There is lots of information on the website about tax credits as well as voucher schemes, definitely worth looking at, you might be surprised how much money you could save!

I would recommend parents to go and have a look around as many places as you can.  Whether you choose a childminder or a nursery you will get a gut feeling about somewhere or someone and just go with that instinct.  You know what you are looking for for your child and you have to be happy to leave them.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Delivery Suite Tour

Mr M & I were very keen to take the delivery suite tour offered by our trust.  You can either take the tour as part of your parentcraft classes or as part of the "Stork Walk" which is offered every Sunday.

We were both quite anxious and neither of us really knew what to expect.  I think we had built an image in our head of screaming women and people rushing around in panic.  This wasn't the case!

Our trust has both a delivery suite and a midwife led unit.  The midwife led unit has been open since August 2013 and is supposed to provide a more homely environment.

Our tour began at the delivery suite.  I think we both expected a ward layout with beds in bays but there were 14 individual rooms.  Some rooms had a bed and a normal bathroom, whilst there were 2 rooms which contained a bed and birthing pools.  These birthing pools were like longer and deeper versions of a bath.  In the delivery suite are the doctors so should you experience any complications they are available.  If you are signposted for consultant led care you will automatically go to the delivery suite.

Each room had a bed, chair and resus table where they carry out the checks on baby once they are born.  There were also CD players and tea/coffee facilities.  Whilst the rooms were quite clinical we both felt at ease.  There were doors to rooms shut meaning they were occupied and we didn't hear any screaming (thankfully!).

We were then taken into the midwife led unit, this only contained 4 rooms, which was a little concerning to me and obviously other mums-to-be as someone asked why there were so few rooms and what would happen if they were all full.  The midwife reassured us stating that since it's opening in August it had yet to be full and that the delivery suite had more pressure on beds.  If the unit was full we would be transferred to the delivery suite.

The midwife led unit contained 2 rooms with beds and 2 rooms with birthing pools.  These pools were much bigger than in the delivery suite and were a clover shape.  In the rooms with the pools there were also birthing chairs, balls and other bizarrely shaped things which you can use through labour.  The gas and air was located next to the pool.  I was a little surprised there wasn't a bed but there were plenty of big chairs.  The rooms with the beds were quite like the delivery suite however better decorated and less clinical.  There was one couple in the midwife led unit whilst we were there and again no screaming was heard!

I have been signposted for midwife led care which means all being well I will hopefully give birth in the midwife led unit.  Prior to the tour I had been sure I wanted to give birth on a bed however I have now put on my birth plan that I would like to try having a water birth.  The rooms on both the delivery suite and midwife led unit were quite big so there was plenty of room for you to walk about and keep mobile, this is also supposed to help with labour and help baby move downwards rather than staying lying down. 

Taking the tour also helped us see how long it might take to get to the hospital, where we can park and the different entrances to the unit, there is a main entrance and an out of hours.

We both felt reassured after the visit and it helped to alleviate some our worries.  As with most things the image you build up in your head is always worse than the actual event, although I'm still convinced the pain of labour will be as bad as I am imagining!!

Parentcraft Classes

Mr M & I decided that we would take up the offer of any classes or assistance offered to us throughout the pregnancy.  We thought the more information we have the better equipped we may be.  Our trust gives you a pack at your booking in appointment which has information on all classes that are available in the area from aquanatal and yoga to parentcraft.  Following our 20 week scan we booked our place on the parentcraft classes.

I didn't really know what to expect, you see in films people sitting around on the floor huffing and puffing.  I don't know what other people's experience of parentcraft classes are but ours wasn't like that in the slightest.  The classes were held in a nearby children's centre, we all sat around a big table like we were back at school.  I've read stories of people making friends during their classes, noone at ours really spoke - each couple pretty much kept themselves to themselves.

 Our first class was all about the early stages of labour and how you can manage at home for as long as possible.  We were given handouts showing different positions which can help with pain as well as massages that partners can give on the lower back.  The midwife discussed the effacing of the cervix, which caused all the men in the room to squirm!  The midwife also brought along items which are used in labour such as epidurals, mouthpieces and cord clamps so we knew what these items were.

Our second class covered active labour, this class was mainly about the different kinds of pain relief that can be used alongside the pros and cons of each.  The midwife also discussed where things might take a diversion from the norm and what will happen in those circumstances.

Our third class was held at the hospital and included the delivery suite tour.  Prior to the tour we sat around another big table and the midwife told us about the third stage of labour where the placenta is delivered.  We also discussed skin to skin contact with baby.  Our trust actively delivers the placenta, this involves mum getting an injection in her leg and the midwife "helping" the placenta be delivered.  Again all the men were squirming in the their seats!

Our final class covered breastfeeding.  Out of the 9 couples that started the classes only 1 didn't come to this class.  This class was given by a STAR buddy rather than a midwife.  She was really knowledgeable and we left the class feeling empowered and informed.

One of the downsides of our parentcraft classes was that the midwife who gave our first class unfortunately took sick leave so every week we had a different midwife giving the class.  We spent the first 20 minutes or so telling the new midwife what we had covered the week before.  We did find the classes useful though and I would encourage any first time parents to go

Monday, 18 November 2013

Maternity Leave - the financial worries

My maternity leave started today, I am now off work for 9 months.  I'm not due back to work until mid August 2014!  When you say it out loud it sounds like a long time but I don't expect it to be a holiday, bump will keep me very busy I'm sure.  The bad part of maternity leave is maternity pay

When we found out we were pregnant I had just been offered a new job, luckily in the same trust I was already working for so my maternity leave allowance wasn't effected.  I have to say I was dreading telling my new boss I was pregnant.  We then had to think about how much time I was going to take off work, after a long hard think we decided it would be best if I took 9 months, as much as I would have loved to have taken a year we just couldn't afford it.

I decided to spread my maternity pay evenly over the 9 months, that way we would know (roughly) how much we would be getting each month.  Unfortunately my first proper months maternity pay is the worst, what happens in Decemeber?!? Yep Christmas!  There was no way we could pay all our bills and buy people Christmas presents like we have done in the past so we had to tell people we wouldn't be buying presents this year.  We explained that we don't expect people to buy us any either and that this would only be for this year.  Everyone was understanding and we have already started receiving presents from people even when we told them they didn't need to buy us anything.  For our Christmas and New Year meals we are only going to buy basics, every year we go mad and buy enough food to feed the whole street.  There is no need and this year we are being good and only buying essentials, since it will only be the 2 of us (plus bump hopefully) there is no need to have an extravagant meal.

We have also been looking around on how we can save money on our household bills.  Sky have reduced our bill for 9 months after we said we were going to leave.  Our electricity and gas is the best deal we could find anyway so we haven't changed that.  We now do our weekly shop at Aldi, we have halved our weekly shopping bill!! Whilst I have often been a bit of a food snob you can't tell the difference from the other main brands and its such a good price!

My biggest expense in my car, although I am planning on walking as many places as I can with bump once he arrives so this will cut down on my petrol use.  We have also told friends and family who live in Scotland and those down south that we won't be visiting them for a while and have asked that they come to us instead.  Again everyone has been understanding.  Not only will this save us petrol money but the thought of a 5 hour journey with a newborn fills me with dread!

I receive Martin Lewis emails every week so check them for ways we can save money.  We put the heating on at the last possible moment (we layered up on jumpers for a while).  When we were thinking about getting pregnant we both started saving in an ISA each so we have some savings should we need to use them but we also have to think about childcare costs, etc.  We are also going to start putting money in a savings account for bump but this will have to wait until I am back to work earning a full time wage again.

People manage every day and we will manage however having a newborn baby can be a stressful time, we don't want to have to worry about paying our bills on top of that, we want to spend our time and energy on enjoying our time with bump.

36 weeks

Today I am 36 weeks pregnant, only 4 more weeks to go (hopefully!!)

Compared to last week my bump appears to have grown outward and there appears more bump at the bottom than there was.

Apparently bump is gaining 28g a day and is now 2.7kg in weight and 47 cm long.  Apparently this is the same length as a romaine lettuce.  The good news is that at the end of this week bump will be considered to be full term so if he comes after Sunday he won't be considered as premature.  Whilst part of me is hoping he comes early I don't think he will appear in the next week.

Last night I definitely experienced Braxton Hicks, wow it was weird!! I have had niggles and period like cramps a few times but not been sure if they were Braxton Hicks or not.  Last night I had a bath as my hip and back were really sore after lots of walking around the day before.  My mum had come to visit for the weekend and we had gone into town for a bit of retail therapy then taken the dog for a walk on the beach.  It was lovely but I paid for it yesterday.  When I got out of the bath my stomach felt odd, it felt like someone was shrinking my stomach or had wrapped it in clingfilm and was pulling it tight, a very odd sensation.  Then later as I was getting into bed it happened again.  Each time this sensation only lasted for a matter of seconds, maybe 10-20 seconds each time, and happened about 4 hours apart.  Thankfully they weren't painful either.

The feeling of Braxton Hicks made me excited that my body is practicing for labour but also a little anxious.  My mum and dad live about 2 hours away just over the border in Scotland, my mum has the week I am due bump off work (just by coincidence) but this sensation made me think about what will happen if I go into labour before or after she comes down.  Mr M is my primary birthing partner obviously but he doesn't drive and this constantly plays on my mind with regards to getting to and from hospital.

With only 4 weeks to go the end is in sight, I just hope our little man doesn't leave us waiting too long

Friday, 15 November 2013

Review: Eisberg Alcohol Free Wine

As it's the weekend many of my friend's Facebook status updates inform me their plans for consuming lots of alcohol.

Before I got pregnant I wasn't a heavy drinker but I could drink quite a bit depending on whose company I was in.  We had a busy social calendar either meeting friends in the pub or going to friends houses.  This has only decreased in the past 2 months or so due to the fact we need to save money.

A friend introduced me to an alcohol free wine at her daughters 1st birthday party, I have no idea what the brand was but it tasted horrid.  I also tried Alcohol Free Pear Kopparberg, again horrid, it was far too sweet for my taste.  I had resigned myself to the fact that I would drink lemonade when we were out and Schloer in the house or at other people's houses.  I was happy with this as I enjoy both.

I then discovered Eisberg Alcohol Free wine at the Baby and Toddler Show at MediaCity.  I have to say I was a little skeptical after my previous encounter with alcohol free wine, however Eisberg state that their wine is made in the same way as normal wine but the final process is the remove the alcohol.

My favourite wine is Rose, I love the fruity taste.  When I had a sip of the Eisberg wine I couldn't believe how much it tasted like normal Rose wine.  Finally something different I could drink!  I also thought that this would be good for Christmas and New Year as I am planning to breast feed bump this would give me something else that I could drink and not need to have alcohol.  Another bonus is that it only contains 34 calories per 125ml, as we all know alcoholic drinks are full of calories. 

I bought 2 bottles of Rose at the show and they lasted me about a month.  I found that my local Morrison's sell it (£3.49 a bottle) so I bought a bottle of Rose and a Chardonnay.  The Chardonnay again tasted like normal white wine, I was again impressed.  These bottles again last me about a month.

To be honest I haven't missed alcohol whilst I have been pregnant and with my plans being to breast feed I have no idea when the next time I will have an alcoholic drink will be, to be honest I'm not that bothered.  I enjoy Eisberg Wine and still have lemonade and Schloer to mix it up, I get bored having the same thing all the time.  It's good to know there are options available.

Disclosure: When I attended the Baby and Toddler Show was not writing my blog, I purchased this product because I liked them and wanted to try it.  No review was expected from the seller.  My views are my own.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Attachment Parenting

There has been some information on Attachment Parenting in the media over the past few days.  Attachment parenting is about building a bond with your baby and responding to their needs in a timely and sensitive way.

It loosely follows the seven Bs:
  • Birth bonding
  • Breastfeeding
  • Baby wearing
  • Bed sharing
  • Belief in the language of your baby’s cry
  • Beware of baby trainers
  • Balance
What I didn't realise until I researched this a little more was that you don't have to follow all of the B's and it isn't about being regimented.  It's about finding out what works for you and YOUR baby.  It is about knowing your child.  At the end of the day no-one will know your child better than you and your partner, yes people will try and help and make suggestions but you will know what your child's cry will mean and you need to trust your instincts.  Attachment parenting isn't about ignoring all that "helpful" advice from others either, its about seeking support for yourself when you need it.

We are planning on both having skin to skin contact with bump after the birth.  I am going to try and breast feed but we also want Mr M to have that skin to skin time, we will continue that at home too.  We have also been trying to bond with him prior to birth by speaking to him and rubbing my belly.

Mr M is very keen to babywear, its not that I'm not keen but I have issues with my back and am not sure whether I will be able to babywear.  I am going to give it a try though but I think Mr M will probably do this more than me.

Bed sharing scares me!! I won't lie.  The thought of the baby in bed and I roll onto him is all I can think about when I consider bed sharing.  Our midwife told us that there are ways to safely bed share but I honestly don't think I will be able to sleep if we did this for fear of hurting him.  I have seen bednests which open up at the side so baby is next to you but separate, these really appeal to me but are expensive.

We have already discussed how we are going to deal with bump crying.  Everyone has their own approach but we want to respond to his crying in a timely manner.  I know that people say you are spoiling them but a newborn baby has no idea what manipulation is, if he is crying there will be a reason and we want to respond to that.  As he gets older we will get to know him and his cries.

I am going to seek support whenever I need it, friends and my mum have already been a great help and I know that will continue once bump is born.  I will also be telling people when to back off as well, I am quite strong minded and I also fester on things, I need to be straight but pleasant with people otherwise I can see myself exploding at them if whatever it is continues.

Balance is very important I think.  We have discussed that we are going to try and do this as a team, obviously when Mr M goes back to work I will be on my own but he says he will help when he is back home.  I can't really ask for more than that.  I have also spoken with friends and plan to go to baby groups so I am meeting other people and not going mad within the 4 walls of the house.  I think that baby groups are great for bump too, anything to help stimulate him.

Attachment parenting isn't for everyone but I do like some of their ideas and principles

Hospital Bag

Not that I am expecting to go into labour early but I want to be prepared so I've packed most of my hospital bag already, I don't want to be rushing about (or asking Mr M to rush about) last minute, we would forget something!!

I feel that my bag might be a little small, which also makes me think I'm forgetting things.  I have compared my bag to lists available on the internet from the likes of Mamas & Papas and Bounty.

In my bag:-

For Me -
- nightie
- 2 pairs PJs
- 1 vest top (incase I have a water birth)
- 5 pairs Primark big pants
- 4 x 2 packs of breast pads
- toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, shower gel, deodorant, moisturiser)
- slippers
- hairbrush & 3 bobbles
- pack of 10 maternity pads
- 2 flannels

I still need to put in my coming home outfit and my nursing bras, I ordered the bras yesterday so hopefully they should be here in the next few days.  I also need to remember a camera and my notes.  My notes are in my handbag which I doubt I will take to hospital with me, we might need to put a sign at the front door saying "don't forget notes" as a prompt 

For Bump -
- 3 x vests
- 4 x sleepsuits
- 1 sleepsuit for coming home
- pram suit
- 2 x mittens
- 2 x hats
- 8 nappies
- muslin square

I am also going to make up a little bag of food, this weekend when we go shopping I am going to get some sweets, cereal bars and sugary drinks.  Not only will these be for me but Mr M is type 1 diabetic so he needs to keep an eye on his blood sugars, I don't want him having a hypo as I give birth!  I'm also going to encourage him to make up a bag for himself with some essentials incase we are in hospital for a while, but that's up to him.

If there's anything that I've forgotten please let me know!!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Lack of sleep

People keep telling me "make the most of the time you have to sleep before the baby arrives".  I have come to the realisation today that whilst sleep and I used to have a great relationship, we won't be seeing much of each other for a while (or the next 5 years)

My reasons for not sleeping vary as does the length of time I sleep.

With my ongoing problems with my hip and back pain this is usually the reason I can't sleep.  On nights where I am not in pain, I can't get comfortable - it might be because bump is kicking or lying in a funny position.  I have also experienced restless legs which can last for 30 minutes or hours at a time.  Last night bump was jumping on my bladder so I was up and down to the loo.

I have looked into aids to help me sleep, I use a body pillow to support bump and also put it between my legs for support.  I did use normal pillows but feel more supported with a body pillow.  I also get Mr M to wedge a pillow in my back when I am on my side so that I don't move or roll onto my back.  Over the past week I have also been taking the back cushion from the sofa up to bed with me.  I place this at a 45 degree angle behind my pillows so it props me up.  I must look a sight!!

I try not to drink too much before bed but I find I am more thirsty in the evening.  I also play solitaire on my phone, I know it sounds dull but it helps switch my brain off and because it is slightly dull it sends me to sleep quite quickly.

On a positive note I feel that the lack of sleep when bump arrives won't be as much as a shock to my system.  I do expect it to be difficult and Mr M & I will probably be zombies initially, it'll all be worth it.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Breastfeeding Incentive

This morning I woke to the news that the government are piloting an incentive whereby new mums who breast feed will be given vouchers for high street stores.  Mum's will get up to £200 for breastfeeding for 6 months, however will receive £120 if they breast feed for 6 weeks.  Is this the correct or best way to encourage new mums to breastfeed?? In my opinion - No.

As usual the government is throwing money at a situation.  Yes times are difficult and yes as a new mum money is tight however if they had thought about the situation properly they would realise that if a mum breast feeds her baby she is saving money anyway, you don't need bottles, sterilisers or formula if you breast feed!! Also if they would have asked mums (who experience this after all!) I'm sure many if not all would say that they would want money spent on increasing support available to new mums.

Out of my friends who I have spoken to about breastfeeding only 1 never tried.  The others had varying degrees of "success".  Some managed for a few days, some a week and others breast fed for months.  Each mum who had to turn to the bottle after trying to breast feed felt guilty and a bad mum for not being able to continue breastfeeding.  Does the government really think that offering vouchers is going to change whether someone is able to breast feed or not? Surely it's going to add more pressure to new mums who already feel they have to be "perfect".

I have attended antenatal classes that have been offered by my trust, some mums (and some of my friends) don't attend, where to they get there information from??  The internet is great - help and advice from other mums is invaluable but it shouldn't replace professional support.  I felt empowered and informed after the breastfeeding session of our antenatal classes and a little less anxious about trying.  I have also been lucky in that my trust have STAR buddies.  They are on the wards and in the community and I have already had contact from a STAR buddy.  I have received support even though bump isn't here yet and I am also going along to a breastfeeding workshop, on the invitation of the STAR buddy, to have a chat with other mums.  I don't know if this is available everywhere but I've found it really useful.

I really think that supporting new mums is the way forward, rather than bribing them.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Review: Love Boo Magic Balm and Splendidly Soothing Bath Soak

I had heard of Love Boo through my hours of searching for products on the internet.  They provide mummy and baby skincare products which are natural and do not contain any parabens, sulphates,  TEA, petrochemicals, synthetic colours or DEA.
I attended The Baby and Toddler Show at MediaCity in Manchester and purchased the Magic Balm and Splendidly Soothing Bath Soak.  On reflection I wish I had purchased more products as these products are great but at the time I was not sure which products I would need and didn't want to buy things I wouldn't use.

I bought the Magic Balm as I had a bad case of contact dermatitis and no product I had tried would relieve my skin which was dry, chapped and itchy.  Magic Balm is also great for dry skin anywhere, on you or baby, it is even great for lips.  Another selling point for me was you can use it between breast feeding if you have chapped nipples.  You don't need to wash it off before baby latches on either as it is natural and is soaked into your skin.  As I am planning to breast feed this was a big plus to me!  Meadowfoam and gold of pleasure oils, two rich sources of Omega-3, help keep skin supple and healthy.  When you first see the tube you might feel a little let down, on the website it costs £12.99 but at the show they were doing an offer for £10.  Honestly it is worth every penny, you only need a tiny amount, smaller than a pea size is more the sufficient.  The tube might seem small but it lasts for ages!  The tiny amount you need leaves your skin feeling amazing.

I love baths!!! I find them relaxing and have done for a long time.  My usual tipple in a bath is Lush Bubble bars, they smell heavenly and you get loads of lather.  After I was pregnant though I thought I would try something aimed at mums-to-be.  As my back and hip pains have continued to get worse as my pregnancy has developed I have turned more to baths to help relieve the pain.  I also have the option of water birth on my birth plan (not that I can use bath soak then but I can use it before my waters break).

The first thing you notice is the smell when you open the bottle.  Some friends have bought me mum-to-be products and quite frankly they have smelled like dirt, not pleasant and not something you want to lie soaking in.  I am not usually a fan of rose but mixed with the white lily and mallow which moisturise your skin and the chamomile and arnica which soothe your muscles the smell is actually heavenly.  After a bath using this bath soak I feel that my aches and pains have eased significantly and I feel much more relaxed.  I plan to continue to use this even after bump is born. 

Disclosure: When I attended the Baby and Toddler Show was not writing my blog, I purchased these products because I liked them and thought I would benefit from their use.  No review was expected from the seller.  My views are my own.

35 weeks

Today I am 35 weeks pregnant, I can now count the number of weeks I have left on one hand, exciting!!!

I think my bump is slightly lower than it was last week, there seems to be more at the bottom.

According to the pregnancy update emails I get bump now weighs the same as a honeydew melon (again with the fruit) and measures about 47cm.  Apparently all his major organs are pretty much developed and he will spend the remaining weeks putting on weight.  I haven't noticed any distinct hand or feet marks on my belly when he moves, its all still a big lump but he is moving lots!  I can feel his back on the left side of my belly and feel his feet in my ribs and at the top of my stomach.  I also notice a lot of movement by my belly button on the right side, I'm not sure if that's feet or hands though.

I'm honestly not sure if I am experiencing Braxton Hicks or not.  I have felt some period-like pains in my lower stomach and there are times when my belly goes solid but this isn't painful.  I have felt quite exhausted over the weekend even though I haven't done much and felt a little nauseous at times, all par for the course with pregnancy I think.

I have noticed that bump is reacting more to sounds, he kicks when I wake up in the morning and speak with Mr M and when Mr M has been watching the football and getting quite vocal there have been lots of kicks too.  Apparently his eyes now dilate to the light outside my belly, I have tried shining my phone on him when I am in bed but I've had mixed results.

Can't wait for him to arrive!!  

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Remembrance Sunday

I feel that Remembrance Sunday is about not only remembering those who died in the World Wars but also those who serve today and those who have died in recent battles, as well as those who have returned home wounded.

Mr M comes from a military family, specifically the RAF.  Since we have been together Remembrance Sunday seems even more important.  Mr M himself had signed up to join the RAF, he went to London but then had a change of heart, which I am glad about otherwise we would never have met.  My father-in-law is currently serving in the RAF, he is due to retire next year.  Thankfully for us he will no longer be posted abroad as he is now on wind down to leave.  My sister-in-law has been in the RAF for about 4 years, she loves her job and is excellent at what she does.  Currently she is based in the UK but there may come a day when she is posted abroad.

Mr M's grandad served during the 1950's for his national service, he always had a love for planes so joined RAF.  Even after he left he continued his love for planes, especially the old ones and this was passed onto my father-in-law who then passed this love on to Mr M.  We have been to a few airshows and even went to one with Mr M's grandad, he even took us to Duxford to the museum there.  Sadly Mr M's grandad passed away in September, the grandchildren had a plane made from flowers for the coffin, a very fitting tribute to a wonderful man - I'm sure he would have loved it

Mr M's grandad took amazing photos of planes - some of which we have hanging in the nursery to remember him by and to show bump.  We also have a plane cushion and 2 blankets - one for the cot and one for the pram with planes on.  Mr M wants to share his passion with his son, which I think is lovely.  Part of me hopes that's where it ends though and he doesn't follow into the family business.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Laurence Binyon


You always hear about pregnant women getting weird and bizarre cravings.  There are also plenty of myths that you hear - if you crave sweet things you're having a girl, if you fancy savory things they say it's a boy.

I have been lucky in the weird craving's department, I haven't fancied eating coal, dirt or wax like some people I've heard.  I have been taking my pregnancy vitamins daily so I'm not sure if that has helped as my body will have been getting a good mix of nutrients from them and my food.

I have had cravings for sweet things though - cakes, biscuits, sweets, chocolate - I don't care as long as it's sweet and tasty!!

Early on friends were telling me I was obviously having a girl, some were quite shocked after our 20 week scan when I told them bump is definitely a boy.

To make matters worse Mr M is a Type 1 diabetic so we don't usually eat sweet things.  There have been a few occasions where he has had a hypo and instead of having his usual jelly babies to help bring his blood sugars back up he's dipped into my sweet/chocolate stash.  I've tried to be healthy and eat a lot of fruit but it just doesn't cut it.  I do have fruit with my lunch to try and stave off the cravings until mid afternoon at least. 

I don't even realise how much I am eating, a share size bag of malteasers can vanish in no time and when I won a Jelly Bean hamper I had to end up giving bags of jelly beans to a friend as I had no willpower and would devour bags in no time.  How I'm not the size of a house I don't know!!

I'm lactose intolerant so really should stay away from chocolate.  They do make lactofree chocolate but again it just wasn't hitting the spot, there have been days where I have been bad and eaten chocolate - it's been delicious and lovely.

There are odd days where I just want to eat some crisps, toasts or sometimes olives but these days are few and far between

Hopefully bump won't have a sweet tooth (or be diabetic) when he's born!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Pregnancy Discomforts

Pregnancy is an amazing time and you feel so lucky that you are growing a little person inside you.  It's definitely a magical time in your life - but there are also a number of discomforts that come with this miracle.

Nausea and sickness can start early on in your pregnancy, some women are even unlucky enough to have it last through their whole pregnancy.  I have been reasonably lucky throughout my pregnancy, I had morning sickness for the first 16 weeks and then it disappeared, I was only sick a handful of times during this time too.  Now I am further on I have days where I feel nauseous but again have only been sick a few times.  Heartburn can also make you feel sick, especially as your bump grows and moves up towards your ribs.  I don't know what I would do without Gaviscon, if I could drink it with a straw I would.   

Breast Tenderness again starts early in pregnancy, some women find their breasts are too tender to touch and find themselves in quite a lot of pain.  Again this has varied throughout my pregnancy with days where they have been very sore and heavy to others where I haven't noticed any pain. 

Constipation and hemorrhoids can come hand in hand, due to you straining as you are constipated you can develop hemorrhoids.  I have a shocking stomach anyway, being lactose intolerant my stomach is extra sensitive but I have been unlucky enough to experience both of these throughout my pregnancy in varying degrees.  I've managed this by eating prunes and drinking plenty of water.

Swollen ankles can occur later in pregnancy.  If you experience swelling in your hands, face, feet or anywhere else on your body contact your midwife, this can be a sign of pre-eclampsia.  I have been lucky and not experienced any swelling.  Many women also experience varicose veins - again I've been lucky and avoided these.  Keep your feet elevated when resting and try and keep mobile.

Difficulty sleeping and fatigue can occur throughout your pregnancy, this is something I have particularly struggled with.  People who say your sleepless nights start once the baby arrives lie, by the time bump arrives I will be used to nights of little sleep.  I struggle to get comfortable and have pillows propping up every part of me to try and make sleeping as comfortable as possible.  Definitely have a pillow underneath bump for support and between your legs to take pressure off.  I also have pillows propping me up in a more upright position and at my back to stop me rolling onto my back.  I'm surprised there's any room for Mr M in the bed!!

Backache, round ligament pain, hip pain and leg cramps are discomforts I know very well.  From about 16 weeks I had bad left hip pain accompanied by leg cramps in my left leg.  This has never really subsided and as bump has grown my hip pain has become worse and spread into my back.  I use heat packs when the pain is particularly bad and use an exercise ball.  I also do the cat/cow exercise where you arch your back.  Another thing I have found quite useful after recommendation from a midwife at antenatal class was Rebozo.  This is a sifting technique where your partner (or friend) uses a large piece of fabric around your bump and stand behind you holding the fabric tight moving it a little side to side.  Mr M wasn't too keen to start with as he thought he'd look daft and it does look like he's holding reins but the relief I feel is worth him looking a bit silly.  Rebozo can also be used during labour and has also been shown to help reposition baby.

Shortness of breath and faintness have also been present throughout my pregnancy.  I have had a generally low BP throughout and have felt dizzy & faint on occasion, I just take my time and don't rush standing up.  When I was at work my friend would shout across the office at me to stop rushing around!  Shortness of breath has come later in the pregnancy, as bump grows and my uterus grows with him everything has become squished, good posture helps.

Listing all the discomforts makes it sound like pregnancy is horrendous. Yes it can be difficult at times but I tell myself every day that it will all be worth it when bump arrives.  Personally I don't care what discomforts I have to go through as long as bump is fit and healthy these few months out of years of happiness with him are a drop in the ocean!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Stretch Marks

Apparently 9 in 10 women experience stretch marks during their pregnancy, thankfully I am in the category of 1 in 10 women that don't (furiously taps on wood). 

There's no way to guarantee you won't get stretch marks, according to my midwife, but as soon as I found out I was pregnant I started applying moisturiser to my belly.   My midwife says that I have the most moisturised bump she's seen, I'm taking that as a compliment.

I think it also helps that my bump is quite neat, I haven't grown huge and until a few weeks ago I could fit into non-maternity jeans, etc.  Unfortunately now the way bump is growing forwards my non-maternity trousers no longer fit.  My belly button hasn't popped either, which I'm oddly disappointed by for some reason!

I decided against stretch mark creams from the beginning, and went for a more preventative approach.  My moisturising routine includes Mr M.  I wanted him to be involved in something to help him bond with bump, I think it can be difficult for the man as they don't have all the experiences that us mums to be go through (although I'd gladly give him some of the bad experiences to share such as heartburn and nausea). 

At night Mr M rubs Body Shop Vitamin E Body Lotion into bump before his nightly chat.  I chose Vitamin E cream because it helps your skin against ageing and the damaging effects of the environment.  It hydrates your skin, not that I'm sure if this contributes to stretch marks but I thought hydration means less wrinkles so it might mean less stretch marks.  It doesn't really have a scent and leaves your skin feeling smooth and soft.

In the morning either me or Mr M (usually Mr M on weekends now I'm no longer at work so can have a lie in) rub Body Shop Strawberry Body Butter into bump.  I loved this before I got pregnant but since I've been pregnant I can't get enough of the smell of this body butter, its so good you could eat it!!  All Body Shop body butters contain Shea Butter which is great for your skin.  The Body Butter leaves your skin hydrated and feeling super soft, and is reported to last for 24 hours.  This is one of the reasons I use the body butter in the morning, I wear a bump band for support and I don't want this to take any of the moisturiser off bump, at least I know that the body butter lasts a good length of time. 

I have no idea if this is the reason I have no stretch marks or whether I have just been extremely lucky but if I do become pregnant again in the future I will be following this regime.  I also plan to continue it a little after bump is born, at least with the Vitamin E lotion to support my skin going back to normal.

Disposable vs Reusable Nappies

As bump's arrival gets closer my thoughts are turning to items I will need when he arrives.  One area that baffles me is nappies.  It sounds easy, baby goes to the toilet, baby needs changing - but the choice of products out there is huge!!  Not only is there a variety of disposable nappy brands out there but there are also a number of reusable nappy brands. 

Disposable nappies seem to be the most popular option.  They are easy to use, readily available and you have a great choice to choose from.  They aren't so good for the environment though, apparently a baby will use 4000 nappies from birth until they are potty trained, some parts of a disposable nappy take 200 years to decompose.  There is also the cost, nappy prices vary hugely from Aldi's Mamia range to Pampers, you could spend a minimum of £200 a year on nappies alone

Disposable nappies can be thrown away after use, just place it in a bag and bin - great!  You can pick them up easily at any supermarket.  They are thin and light so don't take up much room in your ever bulging changing bag.  Disposable nappies are highly absorbent with polyacrylate, which when wet turns to a gel.  You also have enough washing to do with a baby without adding to it with nappies.

Reusable nappies have changed a great deal since I was a baby, I had my first experience of them at the Baby and Toddler show at MediaCity and have to say I was really impressed.  Before the show I hadn't even considered reusable nappies, neither did I realise there were so many brands!! There is a great variety of fabrics and colours available, parents are spoilt for choice. 

Reusable nappies might appear pricey to start out with as you have to buy a pack but once you've bought that your outgoings significantly decrease and they work out cheaper than disposable.  If you have another child you can use the nappies for them too, cutting costs further.  The waste from reusable nappies is also very low.  Another great feature is the poppers, which mean you can change the size of the nappy was baby grows, I think this is a brilliant idea!

The biggest inconvenience is that the nappies need washing, although the systems mean you don't always have to wash the entire nappy and most brands have laundry bags which you place the nappy in to put in the washing machine so you don't have to retouch the dirty nappy.  Reusable nappies can also be less absorbent meaning you will have to change them more often.

I'm still undecided what to use with bump.  I like the idea of both and both have pros and cons.  Much thinking still required

Thursday, 7 November 2013

34 week midwife appointment

Today we had our 34 week midwife appointment, from now on we will be seen every 2 weeks

The midwife checked my BP, urine and had a general chat about my health.  This was the 3rd midwife we have seen throughout the pregnancy so I had to tell her all about my back and hip pain again, she went through all the exercises and aids that can help - which I've been trying and using.

The midwife then measured bump - which is measuring at 33 weeks.  I've been measuring a week behind every time so I'm not concerned.  Bump's heart beat was strong and loud and I asked the midwife if she could tell how he was lying.  She had a good feel and press (which didn't impress bump) and she thinks he isn't engaged yet but he's not far off and is head down.  Thankfully!!!

I then asked her about screening for Group B Streptococcus.  My friend who is due before me was screened when she had to go into hospital and found she was positive, she had no idea!  The midwife told me that they don't routinely screen for Group B Streptococcus and that this will only be detected when/if they send off your urine sample.  As my urine dipsticks were coming back clear there was no need to be concerned, or so she said.  I explained that there has been a lot of information on Twitter lately and that I wondered why they did not screen for it when it can be so harmful to baby. 

Group B Streptococcus is a found in your intestines and vagina and you don't experience any symptoms.  Newborn babies can become infected and become ill - with it being estimated that 1 in 2000 babies develop an infection which equates to 346 babies a year in the UK.  1 in 10 of these babies will die and other long term life threatening complications include blood poisoning, pneumonia and meningitis.  If you want more information on Group B Streptococcus check out Group B Strep Support website - there is also a petition to sign to make the screening routine which can be found on their website