The best baby sleepwear!

A short and sweet little blog post today – a review of the wonderful sleeping bags designed by the Gro-Company.

One of the things I worried about when pregnant was what to put my baby in for a safe and comfortable night’s sleep. Everyone seems to have different ideas – blanket? swaddle? warm bodysuit? sleeping bag? There are so many options and the scary thing is getting it wrong can actually increase your baby’s chance of cot death. In the end, after watching my nieces growing up and seeing them go to bed in sleeping bags from a young age, we decided that would be a good way to go. They also always seemed to sleep well as babies (though my brother and sister-in-law might say otherwise!)

Gro-snugs – perfect for your newborn

Isaac all snug in his gro-snug! Excuse the little bit of sick (we did move him!)

During a talk from some midwives at an expectant parent event at Mothercare (RIP amazing store!) we were told explicitly that swaddling a baby is simply not safe. So many parents still do it and I am sure they have their reasons but we took this advice on board and decided not to buy a swaddle for Isaac when he was born. Only trouble is young babies can startle themselves when trying to sleep; it is called the moro-reflex and the arms flail up in the air and they can wake themselves up. A standard sleeping bag cannot prevent this from happening. From research and a good peruse at safety from the Lullaby Trust, we decided we would start Isaac out in a Gro-Snug (suitable for babies from birth to 3 months). He was too little for the first couple of months for a 0-6 month gro-bag as you need to weigh at least 8.8lb for this.

The beauty of the Gro-Snug is that it can be used as a safe and less-restricting ‘swaddle’ if you wish, as the poppers at the sides allow arms to be in or out of the bag. We kept Isaac’s arms out the whole time as his startling didn’t seem to bother him. Isaac slept brilliantly in his Gro-Snugs and we only bought two (both ‘cosy’ for early spring) and alternated them once or twice a week.

Gro-bags – perfect from 3 months to toddler

Sleeping through the night from just 11 weeks in his gro-bag!

When Isaac reached about 2 months and around 9lb it was time to ‘promote’ him to the 0-6 month gro-bag as his snug was getting a little too snug! He looks super cute in the gro-bag especially as it is still very long on him. What I love is that the zip can be undone at the bottom so nappy changes can happen without you having to take the whole gro-bag off. The gro-bags (and snugs) are designed so that they cannot ride up over a baby’s head and the gro-bag has extra poppers under the arm pits for when baby is still small. So far we only have one gro-bag (the Bennie the Bear 1 tog version) as it is summer and some nights Isaac sleeps just in a bodysuit (on those days I wash the gro-bag which dries in less than a day on a clothes horse). They are not cheap but they are worth it! The gro-bags and snugs also come with a handy room thermometer and a guide to tell you how to dress a baby for different temperatures.

During the day when Isaac is napping with the monitor on and I am around and awake to check on him we use blankets. I find this differentiates from daytime ‘naps’ to the longer nighttime ‘sleep’ (whether it actually resonates with Isaac I don’t know!)

I hope this review helps you to make an informed choice about sleepwear for your baby!

Shout out to the midwives!

In these incredibly difficult and dangerous Covid-19 times every front line worker deserves our applause and huge respect. This includes the unbelievable everyday heroes that are midwives!

I had an easy pregnancy, a lovely pregnancy, and didn’t need much support from community midwives (though every one I saw at antenatal check-ups was lovely). My true understanding of how amazing midwives are came during my 29 hour labour where I came across at least 5 different wonderful women!

I thought I’d make this post a little ‘shout out’ to them. Here are some of the attributes all my midwives at The Rosie, Addenbrookes had:

  • Despite long shifts they never seemed tired and gave the same level of care throughout night and day
  • They included my husband brilliantly and kept him involved as a birth partner
  • They had a fantastic sense of humour and were the absolute queens of small talk to help distract me from labour pain
  • They literally give no reaction at all to the blood and guts that were falling out!
  • They’d tell me I was ‘very quiet and dignified’ in labour even when I thought I was screaming the place down!
  • They made the personal effort to visit me and baby when not even on shift

I built such a bond with each midwife (2 in particular, Alice and Imogen) that I really felt I had a new best friend during the entire labour process!

So thank you midwives for everything you do, we are truly blessed to have you!

What was your labour experience like? Were you as fortunate as me? Comment below!

Perils of prodromal labour

Before becoming pregnant (in fact before I was 40 weeks pregnant!) I had never heard of prodromal or ‘false’ labour before. I just assumed you had your contractions, your water’s broke (in either order) and bam you’re in labour and will welcome your bundle of joy in the next few hours!

How wrong I was…

By the time I was ‘due’ on 7th February 2020 like many other women I was getting fed up with pregnancy and looked for every possible sign that labour was starting. I also experienced ‘prodromal labour’ and it certainly didn’t feel false!

I learned from healthline that prodromal labour can occur any time in the month before childbirth and has the primary symptom of Braxton Hicks contractions which can become regular and feel like the real thing. There’s no doubt about it, this can be very frustrating. I had many sleepless nights in the lead-up to labour due to these contractions and the excitement it gave me (especially once we were at 41 weeks and trying everything to induce labour!)

When will I know it is the real thing?

In the last few days of pregnancy I obsessively googled – Braxton Hicks vs. real labour? I was often disappointed by the results – I never felt I could really see the difference and in my desperation to be in labour I basically convinced myself I was every time anyway!

One way I knew for sure that it was finally the real thing was when the contractions actually woke me up and I couldn’t go back to sleep. They were not unbearable but they hurt like very bad period pains. I was able to bounce on my amazing pregnancy ball and watch ‘Friends’ at 3am to give my husband some more sleep but by 4am I had him up and getting us ready for hospital as by this point the pain was getting intense.

I know it is easier said than done but try to ignore the evil witch that is prodromal labour so long as it is mild – you really will know when the real labour kicks in! (Disclaimer – I take no responsibility for this advice resulting in babies born on bathroom floors!!!)

Did anyone else experience these early labour symptoms in the weeks before childbirth? Did they amount to anything or fade away? I’d love to hear your stories!

The big gender question…

To find out or not to find out?

When expecting a baby one of the most exciting parts can be finding out whether you’re having a little boy or a little girl. According to research from 2001 reviewed in 2015, 58% of both men and women choose to find out the gender of their unborn baby, with younger parents (<22 years) most likely to choose to find out. This data is certainly accurate in the case of my NCT group, where 5 couples out of 8 knew the sex of their baby before birth.

The choice is incredibly personal and, as with so much in parenting, neither way is the ‘right’ way.

We decided to wait and have a “surprise” on the day of Isaac’s birth and I’m delighted we did this. The excitement of not knowing helped get us through a very long labour and having Dan (Isaac’s daddy) reveal the gender to me made it feel extra special and gave him an important role.

However, this decision did not come lightly. We were back and forth throughout early pregnancy (and up to the 20 week scan!) about whether or not to find out.

Here were our ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ to finding out the gender:

To find out…

  • Being able to be prepared early with some gendered clothes/nursery
  • To help family and friends know what to buy should they wish to get gifts for the baby
  • To only need to think of boys’ or girls’ names
  • To form a bond with a particular baby with a particular name early on

To not find out…

  • Not needing or wanting ‘gendered’ clothing and preferring neutral things early on
  • In case the sonographer gets it wrong (it happens!)
  • To have a surprise at the end of the labour

Part of our reason for not finding out was because this was our first baby. We had no preference at all for a boy or girl.

It is possible we will choose to find out for any future children. This would enable Isaac to get used to having a brother or sister and would also enable us to know whether we need to buy any different things. (Interestingly, the reviewed research also showed that more women wanted to find out the sex the second time round compared to the first.) Having said this, a second surprise may be just as nice! At least we are a way off worrying about this for now!

What are your thoughts? Would you find out the sex of your baby before birth?

From Pregnant to Parent

… what I know now that I didn’t know then

During pregnancy I read all the ‘childbirth’ and ‘pregnancy’ books going and I knew far more about the labour and pushing a baby into the world than how to actually care for it for the next 18 years! When baby did arrive many of my Google searches proved fruitless – there were many things we were experiencing that just weren’t spoken about.

Here are some of the things I have learned about newborn babies that no antenatal class prepared me for.

1. POSTPARTUM BLEEDING

WOW! Sorry but this one deserves capital letters. Perhaps in my naivety or complete focus on delivering a healthy baby, I never contemplated what would be going on for me downstairs following childbirth! I also assumed I’d have the easiest experience ever (not the case after 29 hours in labour and 3 hours of pushing). I went to hospital very unprepared – yes I had the massive maternity pads but the skimpiest knickers to put them on! My stepmum was so horrified when looking through my knicker drawer to bring supplies that she went shopping for some proper briefs for me!

All joking aside, if you’re pregnant now and planning a vaginal delivery please do prepare!

2. Breastfeeding difficulties

I was wholly unprepared for how difficult breastfeeding could be and the pressure I would be under to ‘nail it’ before baby and I were deemed ready to go home. Even though I knew some babies were formula fed from birth I always assumed this was out of choice (no wonder this “choice” is so often wrongly negatively judged). Even our antenatal class had us believing the baby would naturally ‘crawl up’ my tummy immediately after birth and latch on perfectly. This was not the case for us and, having spoken to many other mums, not the case for them either.

Please be prepared that breastfeeding is hard, and just because something is natural does not mean it is easy (just like getting pregnant!).

Fortunately for me I have very good milk supply so I am able to express milk for my baby to take in a bottle. Again, this is not always the case so do not beat yourself up if formula feeding is your only option – all new mums understand – it is not always a choice. A well-fed baby is a happy baby regardless of how!

*A note on expressing* – Another thing I felt unprepared for was how weird and often uncomfortable expressing breast milk could be. In the early days while still in hospital the pumping caused contractions in my uterus which were incredibly uncomfortable (similar to early labour) and increased bleeding down below. I also found, due to the hormones that are stimulated, that I would be sat there pumping and find myself in floods of tears (anyone who knows me knows I am not typically an emotional person at all!)

If you intend to express and are able to get a good supply do persevere through this difficult bit as it will soon become routine and the feeling will be less strange.

3. Worry and anxiety

I was very anxious for most of my pregnancy. The early weeks were tough but I also felt superstitious so I wouldn’t buy anything for the baby or set up the nursery until we had long passed the 24 week ‘viability’ point.
All very normal? Yes. What was different for me is that I was convinced the worrying would stop once baby was born.

Oh how wrong I was! The moment I clapped eyes on my beautiful baby and felt that rush of love I knew I would continue to worry about him for the rest of my life and in a more intense way than I did when he was a fetus.

Worry and mild anxiety such as this is normal but remember to seek help if this is keeping you up at night or preventing you from enjoying your baby – this could be a sign of postnatal anxiety disorder.

4. Baby noises and farts!

Another thing I was totally unprepared for was the amount of noises that babies make! Of course they cry, I knew that much, but the other noises when both awake and asleep came as a surprise to us!

I am fortunate to have a very calm and relatively undemanding baby. He self-soothes brilliantly. He rarely cries but he makes so many other noises that I’m awake with him in the night anyway! In the early days we were googling every gurgle and every choking sound fearing for our baby’s life but over time we have learned that these noises are another normal part of newborn development. Now he is 11 weeks old he also chatters to himself which is super cute.

Look out (or smell out!) for the farts as well. Wow! The sound such a small baby can make is phenomenal. Isaac’s wind sets off his sleeping pal, Percy the Penguin, which is rather funny (if irritating when you’re just drifting off!)

I hope this has helped to quell some myths and gives an honest insight into new motherhood.

Do you have any more experiences to add? Please include your own advice for new mums in the comments section!

About Mumstar

On the 18th February 2020, just weeks before the Covid19 ‘lockdown’, my life changed forever… I became a mum! Since then I have been learning from all the true mum-stars out there who unashamedly and honestly share their stories, tricks and life-hacks to help first-timers like me.

Over the last few weeks, I have delved into blogs and websites written by other mums and found them helpful, comforting and often hilarious! I thought I might try my hand at writing my own, with the intention of sharing things I have learned along the way with other new mums. We are after all in this whirlwind together!

I hope you find my blogs helpful, honest and above-all fun. I generally discuss my experiences of pregnancy/birth, general day-to-day parenting, maternity-friendly recipes and personally recommended baby gear to help kit you out for your parenting adventure!

Please feel free to comment on and share my posts!