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 universal love of Sophie la girafe!

Sophie la girafe was first created in 1961 and continues to be an incredibly popular teething toy throughout Europe.

Not understanding what all the fuss was about I joined the millions and bought Isaac a ‘Sophie’ before he was born. Lo and behold he loves her!

There’s something about the size and shape, unusual rubber texture and not-too-annoying ‘squeak’ that certainly appeals to both babies and parents. She takes a cute photo too!

My baby is not yet teething but I predict Sophie will be even more of a Godsend when that world of fun begins!

You can get your own for less than £15 on Amazon. Let me know how you get on!

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?

Addictive Netflix shows!

Nursing? Bottle-feeding? Baby napping in your arms? Tired of baby sensory videos on repeat? 30 minutes to yourself? (yeah right I hear!)…

Here are my cringe-worthy yet binge-worthy recommendations on Netflix for you to watch while ‘mumming’:

Love is blind

Ironically featuring some of the most shallow-minded people in the world, this show is a social experiment pairing up singletons through a series of dates with a wall between them. In the end a few couples get engaged having never even met! They then holiday together and try living together before deciding whether or not to go ahead and get married in a few weeks time. With flirty exchanges and alter-jiltings this is a programme which will get you hooked – even if you do respect the sanctity of marriage!

Yummy mummies

Ultra-rich, ultra glam (the opposite of me on both counts) new Aussie mums show off their flamboyant lifestyle, get jealous of who has the better ‘push present’ (erm what’s that and where’s mine?!) and generally make viewers scream at the TV but keep watching!

Back with the ex

Another Aussie show which pays for ex-couples to go on an amazing holiday and see if they can “reconnect” – usually after one had done the dirty on the other!

For some reason I again found myself hooked on this! (If you only have time for one of these shows though I choose ‘love is blind’ every time, just don’t expect to take it too seriously!)

Tiger King

One to watch with the hubby and I am sure you know this one already?! Just. Watch. It.

I hope this short list has given you some ideas!

I’ve been told I need to watch ‘too hot to handle’ (not surprising given the above favourites!). What are your thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments…

My lockdown ‘whatever you have’ pasta

In a bid to avoid going to the shops as much as possible, my husband and I have been getting inventive in the kitchen.

Something I have had particular success with is my pasta dishes. I love pasta and could eat it with anything but I’ve found it particularly delicious lately when mixed with roasted veg with just olive oil, the juices from the veg and a ladle of pasta water as the sauce (a great solution when pasta sauces and chopped tomatoes have flown off the shelves in supermarkets).

As a self-confessed ‘flexitarian’, I mostly cook vegetarian meals and my ‘lockdown pasta’ has so far always been vegetarian (and would be vegan with the removal of the halloumi).

Here is a basic recipe for you. Vary the quantities for yourself depending on your family size:

  1. Preheat your oven to around 180 degrees c or gas mark 6/7
  2. Chop whatever veg you have into large chunks and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil in a roasting dish – I have had success with red onion, shallots, aubergine, chestnut mushrooms, mixed peppers and cherry tomatoes though any combination of these or other veggies would work just as well. I also add halloumi. I never used to roast it but wow I love it even more now that I do. It gives the cheese the texture of chicken without the chewiness!
  3. Roast the veg for around 30 minutes, stirring half way through
  4. Boil a pan of pasta in salted water
  5. When ready to serve, add salt, pepper and oregano to the roasting dish then drain the pasta reserving a ladle of pasta water to pour into the roasting dish
  6. Stir the pasta in with the veggies and serve!

I hope you find this recipe as easy (so newborn-mum friendly!) and delicious as I do!
Feel free to comment below if you have tried it out and any changes you made!

Best banana bread

I have joined the lockdown banana bread bandwagon and got baking during one of Isaac’s naps.

I have used this recipe countless times and always have success with it so if you want an easy, affordable and quick recipe check it out here – https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/bananabread_85720

Today I had no plain flour so took the risk of using self-raising (which was slightly past its best!) without adding baking powder.

Pleased to say it worked a treat and I am sure Isaac will enjoy it through my milk!

I hope you have some success baking this too.

He slept through the night!

I’m a chuffed and unashamedly smug mummy today as our baby has slept through the night at 11 weeks old!

How did this happen though? More importantly, how can I keep it happening?!

My thoughts are that the following contributed:

  1. A relaxing bath before bedtime (about 7pm)
  2. A proper feed rather than late night snack. Isaac had 140ml just before bedtime and a good burping to follow!
  3. Dim lighting and the ‘white noise’ from Percy the Penguin – a highly recommended sleep saviour!
  4. The comfort of a 1 Tog 0-6 month gro-bag, in our case ‘Bennie the Bear

While I can’t be sure this is what did it, our calm bedtime routine usually helps him settle nicely. I would also usually read a story but last night Isaac was too zonked even for that!

Isaac has really improved with his self-soothing. He often wakes and has a little grumble at about 2am but now I can usually just touch his face and calmly tell him “its not quite time for milk, try and have a little more sleep” and it works! Of course, I wouldn’t ignore him if he were actually screaming!

Is this lovely night’s sleep a one-off? Quite possibly! I’ll have to watch this space…

In the meantime I would love to hear from other parents regarding your own experiences or bedtime strategies for a good night’s sleep. Please comment below!

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!

Percy Penguin – my hero!

Our baby has slept well since birth (sorry!) but we feel this is certainly in part due to his sleeping pal, Percy. Created by the Gro-Company, Percy and a range of other animals have been designed to aid sleep by peacefully playing lullabies, white noise, rain sounds and even heartbeats to remind baby of life in the womb. I am a big fan of the little nightlight that comes on from pressing his foot as this ensures my fumbling about in the night does not end in an accident, while being dim enough to keep baby sleepy and calm.

We were fortunate enough to have Percy given to us but would buy one ourselves without hesitation! At under £25 on Amazon, it is a no-brainer that will not only save your brain but also your relationship with your baby and partner!