Tuesday, 27 June 2017

my breastfeeding story #celebratebreastfeeding

As it’s National Breastfeeding Celebration Week I figured that for once I might jump on the bandwagon and talk about my breastfeeding journey. It also seems fairly timely too that this weekend I will have been breastfeeding my baby boy for a whole year.

Before I continue I want to acknowledge that all too often conversations about breastfeeding descend into guilt, blame and judgement. Regardless of how you feed your baby, you’re doing the very best you can for your child. The problem for me is, that those mothers who want to breastfeed are not necessarily being enabled to do so (according to official figures, eight out of 10 women stop breastfeeding before they want to). And as a result, the UK now has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world.

I knew I wanted to breastfeed before I even had children. While I was pregnant, I remember being asked by my midwife on numerous occasions who I intended to feed my baby and I always said that I wanted to try to breastfeed. I had many friends who wanted to breastfeed and for whatever reason – lack of support, tongue tie, etc – were unable to continue. I never felt confident that I would breastfeed but I knew I wanted to try. My reasons for wanting to try weren’t all that altruistic, yes, sure I knew it was good for the baby but also, it was free and quick – what can I say, I’m lazy and imagining being woken umpteen times a night sounded bloody awful, without having to also make up a bottle.

But I’ll be honest, I didn’t really give breastfeeding much more thought than that. And then suddenly after an exhausting induced labour, followed by an emergency caesarean, I had my baby boy in my arms and no clue what to do with him!

I was lucky and he latched fairly quickly – we just had a few tries and then we were away. It felt weird. So weird. And then within days, it hurt. So much. Coupled with a healing c-section wound, I felt utterly dejected. I remember feeling so uncomfortable in the final hot weeks of my pregnancy and eagerly looking forward to giving birth and suddenly getting my body back again. But that just didn’t happen. And I hated it.

It was hot and sticky and breastfeeding made me sweat more and I had a tiny little person attached to me for much of the day. My husband could only look on (and thank goodness that he had some time to himself while the baby fed – All. The. Bloody. Time!!).

For me, in the early days, breastfeeding felt lonely, painful and draining.

After chatting (read: breaking down) with the midwife 10 days in, I decided to set myself small, manageable targets. First, I would get to two weeks, then a month, then two. My mum kept telling me that one day soon I would look down and realise that I actually enjoyed it. I was incredulous. Enjoy it?! But she was right. About five or six weeks in and I looked down at this tiny little boy, feeding away happily and realised that not only did I enjoy it, I was beginning to love it. Even then, I felt that six months would be long enough.

Very nearly 12 months later and we’re still feeding. It’s down to one feed a day but neither of us is completely ready to give that feed up yet and I’m fine to wait a while.

The initial weaning at about seven months was my decision but it was based more on circumstance than emotion. I returned to work when the baby boy was eight months old and so knew that about a month before that I would need to start reducing his daytime feeding. I also got to a point where I could no longer face night time feeds. Since then we’ve been nursing first thing in the morning and at bedtime, but over the past couple of weeks we’ve dropped our morning feed.

I now feel as if I’m reaching a point where I wouldn’t mind if it came to an end. I’ll be sad not to have our quiet time together but I know we’ll still have cuddles.

There were many times that I nearly gave up in those early weeks, when my nipples were sore, when both the baby and I got thrust, when I was so tired and it felt like he’d never stop feeding. But now, a year on, I’m so glad I persevered.

Monday, 26 June 2017

style: breastfeeding friendly outfits

At the start of National Breastfeeding Celebration Week, I thought I would run a series of breastfeeding posts - beginning with a post on breastfeeding friendly outfits.

When I started breastfeeding (a year ago this weekend!) I had no idea what to wear without being completely naked! Over the past year, I've found my feet with dressing for breastfeeding and I've pulled together four of the best outfits for keeping stylish and nursing you're baby.

button downs

Right away, shirts seemed like the best option for breastfeeding - as well as shirt dresses.

bardot style tops

I'll confess that I've not actually worn a bardot style top or dress - they just don't suit me - but they do look ideal for feeding.

zips

Like buttons, zips are also perfect for easy access.

wrap front

Finally, how about a wrap front (or v-neck)? Just make sure if it's a jersey fabric that it's not too thin and won't lose its shape when you keep moving it aside for feeding.

Of course, if you fancy checking out specific nursing wear, many high street stores now stock ranges, including H&M, New Look, Asos and others.

If you're after more breastfeeding friendly outfits, check out the Facebook group, "Can I breastfeed in it? UK" which has lots and lots of great ideas.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

can I take baby food on a flight as hand luggage? and other questions when flying with a baby


Ahead of our first flight with our baby boy, I had so many questions and reservations. This was our first trip abroad since the baby boy arrived nearly 10 and a half months ago. I was so nervous about our trip, I had no idea how the baby boy would cope with the flight, how I would fit everything in the suitcase, would I forget something vitally important, would we be able to do the things we usually enjoyed?

We had a wonderful holiday and didn't feel like we had to give up doing all of the things we used to enjoy. If anything, we did more and actually relaxed a little more too - due to the baby boy's bedtime. However, I did start writing this in our Airbnb in Copenhagen but like most things these days, I never had a chance to finish it.

  1. First things first, if you are taking baby food in your hand luggage make sure that you separate out any pouches/jars. You'll need those that are over 100g and those under 100g, grouped separately. You can still take bigger amounts but you'll save time if they're not in a bag with smaller jars/pouches. (Learn from my mistake!!) When I checked online, it said that I could take enough for the journey. I actually took three meals worth and got through fine but they were Aldi pouches so I wouldn't have been heartbroken if I'd had to leave one behind.
  2. Ask airline staff for extras. Our flight out was an evening flight so I fed the baby boy on take-off and he snoozed and fed in my arms for the entire flight. It wasn't until the flight home that the staff offered me pillows and blankets. Lesson learned, next time I will ask for these straight away. Worst case scenario, they don't have them but if they do, bonus!
  3. A baby carrier is a must. On our way out we were able to keep our buggy until the gate but even then, it was invaluable being able to put the baby into the carrier to get on the aeroplane. And on our return journey, we had to check in the buggy with our suitcases, making the carrier even more of an essential.
  4. If your little one if old enough, bring snacks and toys and anything else you can think of to entertain them. I think a flight is the one time you need to throw caution to the wind and use whatever tactics possible to make it as stress free for everyone involved. A shout out to SAS airlines who we flew with - they provided a lovely little picture book and soft toy for the baby boy to play with (and take home after) - such a nice touch.
  5. Finally, don't stress out if your little one does cry or get upset or doesn't sleep. Our plan on the way out was for the baby boy to feed as we took off, sleep for the flight and then transfer to his buggy and he'd sleep again on the journey to our apartment. In reality, he slept for about half an hour and was awake for the rest of the time! But it was fine. We went with it and tried not to sweat it too much!
Anyone else got any tips for flying with little ones? We're flying with our little boy later in the year and this time I don't think he'll be quite so immobile which I think might be a little more of a challenge - any tips for that gratefully received!!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

baby life: pre-baby vs post-baby Bank Holiday weekend



Bank Holidays are a little lot different since becoming parents. Where we would previously have taken advantage of the extra day or two off work and gone away, spent an extra day/night out, safe in the knowledge of an extra lie in, we now have no security of a lie in and so the long weekend looked rather different. This post by Hurrah for Gin sums it up, I think...





Pre-baby boy Bank Holiday weekend, I would have woken up late on Friday morning. I would have languished in bed with my iPad - perusing social media. The hubby and I might have gone for a long leisurely brunch.


Post-baby boy Bank Holiday weekend, we were woken at 6.30 to the sound of baby babble. The baby boy is a chatterbox! Followed by a breastfeed and then on with the day. Which included sitting in the car with my iPhone - perusing social media. While the baby boy slept. Followed by a walk and a quick coffee and cake before the baby boy got too restless. 




Pre-baby boy Bank Holiday weekend, might have involved a boozy lunch, followed by an afternoon in a beer garden, or a walk with the hubby and a stop at a pub on the way home.


Post-baby boy Bank Holiday weekend, and we celebrate getting through the day and bedtime with a G&T at home. Just the one. To be honest, I'm more likely to have another on a "school night" as a day in the office is less hard work these days!




Pre-baby boy Bank Holiday weekend, we I would have enjoyed another lie in on Saturday morning. I'll be honest, the hubby isn't the best at lying in but he is good at bringing coffee and breakfast in bed! We might then have taken a day trip to explore a nearby town and have lunch out.


Post-baby boy Bank Holiday weekend, wasn't too different! We didn't enjoy a lie in but I did have coffee brought to me in bed while giving the baby boy a breastfeed. We then took a walk in the park and spotted steam trains! Followed by lunch out.





Some things don't change... Dessert of dreams...!!




The baby boy had lots of fun playing on the vintage tractor at the lunch venue.




Pre-baby boy Bank Holiday weekend, even getting dressed looked a lot different! I'd have been donning my glad rags in anticipation of catching up with my girlfriends over cocktails, or date night with the hubby. Maybe a jumpsuit with a pair of heels and statement earrings (oh how I dream of a big pair of statement earrings these days but I dare not wear them as the baby boy wants to grab everything!).


Post-baby boy Bank Holiday weekend, my attire is a little more practical - think wipe clean coated jeans (genius for mummies!!), a pair of trainers for running around after babies and the obligatory mummy-uniform striped top.


Pre-baby boy Bank Holiday weekend, Easter Sunday would have been spent eating my body weight in chocolate eggs and then snoozing it off in the afternoon, followed by a trip to the pub or out for dinner.


Post-baby boy Bank Holiday weekend, Easter Sunday was spent eating a lot of chocolate (maybe not quite as much as previously) and then getting the baby boy to snooze in the afternoon, followed by some playtime and then dinner for the baby boy before bed. Then the hubby and I snoozed on the sofa before an early night!



Pre- or post-baby boy Bank Holiday weekend, the Monday night blues are still very real! We had such a lovely weekend with our little Easter bunny and makes going back to work so much harder. But it's only four days until the weekend again!

*Disclaimer: This post is an entry in a competition for the Next Blogger Network.


Thursday, 2 March 2017

#3things: to look forward to about being back at work


Today I survived my first day back at work after my maternity leave. After spending 8 months at home with my baby boy, I am now officially a working mum. Let the mum guilt begin!

In an effort to remind myself why it's not so bad to be back in the office, I've compiled my top three reasons why being at work isn't so terrible after all:


  1. The commute. Yep, it starts before I'm even at work. I get to listen to the radio and music without any crying or shouting. 
  2. Hot coffee. Whenever I want. This is a revelation. At home with the baby boy, I usually end up making a coffee about three hours after I actually first wanted one and then manage to drink it around 30-45 minutes later, cold. At work, I can make a coffee practically any time I want and drink it hot.
  3. Lunch break. Again, lunch is usually something thrown down me about 3pm, if I remember! Today I ate when I was hungry and even had a walk into town and a mooch around the shops, on my own without a tired and cranky baby.


All that said, I couldn't wait to get home to my baby and give him his dinner and bedtime bath and have a cuddle and play together.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

#3things: you need to host a mummy meet up


Having hosted the very last playdate with my mummy tribe and their babies before I head back to work, I thought I'd share the top tips I've learnt for hosting a successful mummy meet up.
  1. Tea and coffee. It is a fact universally acknowledged that maternity leave everywhere is fuelled by tea/coffee and cake. Why? Because new mums are always knackered and in need of a caffeine pick-me-up and a sugar fix.
  2. Snacks. See above. Mummies need cake. And biscuits. If you're invited to a mummy meet-up - make sure you take cake too. It is always appreciated.
  3. A large play mat. Yep, I've not forgotten the babies here. You'll need a mat that's big enough for all of the babies to be laid down on - so that the mummies can have their hands free for those hot drinks and sweet treats!! We have two large play mats, perfect for this:


The Tiny Love Super Mat (left) is massive ( we got ours from eBay for less than a tenner!) and the Nuby play mat (right) has lots of interesting flaps and bits to keep the babies entertained (I picked it up in Aldi).

Anything I've forgotten?

Monday, 20 February 2017

style: diy dip dye top knot


If you fancy the dip dye/ombré hairstyle, then L'Oréal have the answer.

This is the second time I've dip dyed my hair and the second time that I've used a L'Oréal kit to get the look. If you're a time short, money short mama - or anyone short on time and money - this is the easiest way for you to get the look.

Bleaching your hair can be a bit scary. I was terrified the first time I tried it. Would it actually lighten my hair at all? Would it go green? Would it look terrible?

I'll be honest, on my dark (dyed) hair, it takes at least two, if not three, sessions to get it as light as I like it. It's still a little orange after the first go (see photo above).

How does it work? Here are my top tips that have worked for me:

  • Brush your hair before you start. The kits come with a brush to apply the bleach but it'll just become a tangled mess very quickly if you don't brush it out first.
  • Put an old towel round your shoulders to protect your clothes and skin.
  • Split your hair into two and pull forward over your shoulders. Use clips to pin up sections. I usually do it in three layers.
  • Don't use too much on the bottom layer. It might seem obvious but remember to leave enough of the bleach for all of the layers of your hair.
  • When you've covered all of the hair you want bleached, use the leftover dye in your hands and just press into the ends as you'll want these to take the most bleach.
  • Don't worry if your dip dye isn't as light as you wanted, you can repeat the process again in 4-5 weeks time to lighten further.


I used the L'Oréal Préférence Wild Ombrés kit to get the look. But I'm really intrigued to try the new L'Oréal Colorista range that includes bleach and also a whole range of wash in and temporary colours.

Friday, 3 February 2017

#3things: i've learnt on maternity leave


If you're about to embark on your maternity leave (or, even part way through), these are the three things (plus, one bonus extra) I wish I could go back six months and tell myself.

  1. Don't worry if you don't enjoy every moment. You will be told a lot to "enjoy every moment because it goes so quickly". There will be days when you cherish every moment with your newborn. But there will be many more when you wish the time would go quickly. When in your sleep deprived and poo-stained state, you will wish with every fibre of your aching and exhausted body that time would go really, really quickly. This is normal. It does not make you a bad mother. 
  2. Find your mum tribe. My mum friends have saved me and absolutely made my maternity leave. I have written about my mum friends and why I need them over on Selfish Mother. It took me a while to find my mum tribe but without them I would have found my maternity leave very lonely.
  3. The chores can wait. I'm going to completely contradict myself and say, although you won't enjoy every moment, there will be many moments to cherish. Cherish them and forget the housework. The washing and the cleaning and the ironing can all wait - your growing and developing baby won't wait. Play with your baby, sit and stare at your baby as it sleeps, take walks with your baby and have play dates with your baby. Basically, do everything but the housework. 

Finally, an added bonus bit of advice for your maternity leave - get a good coat and boots. If you're anything like me you'll find that staying home with the baby will see you going mad. Having a baby and being at home all day brings a whole new meaning to stir crazy. I head out for a walk with the baby in the buggy (was the pram to begin with) twice a day, come rain or shine. Therefore a good coat and good boots have been a necessity. I treated myself to this waterproof and warm Joules coat as soon as autumn hit and have been stomping around in my favourite ankle boots for the past few months.

Monday, 30 January 2017

style: the ankle boot edit


With all of the walking I have done since having the baby boy last summer, I've found myself lusting after sensible shoes - after years of filling my shoe rack with beautiful high heels. Now with winter truly here and the cold weather really biting, I've been living in my ankle boots.


These Clarks black ankle boots (above) were my sole pair. If in doubt, I will always choose black in clothes or shoes - they go with everything! These are a great height as they sit just where my skinny jeans finish.

Realising that I was wearing these boots all the time, I decided I needed a second pair. Obviously I wanted something slightly different but still sturdy enough to cope with all of the walking that I plan on doing. I decided that a pair of tan Chelsea style boots would fit the bill perfectly. On maternity leave pay, the Clarks version was not going to be an option. Instead, I found these excellent tan leather Chelsea boots from George at Asda for just £30!


If you are after a pair of ankle boots, I've found pairs to suit any budget:

splurge vs save ankle boots

Shop the post: Splurge tan Chelsea boots vs save tan Chelsea boots
Splurge black ankle boots vs save black ankle boots

Thursday, 19 January 2017

#3things: ways to survive the night feeds


If you're the mother of a newborn baby, you'll be enjoying enduring the night feed. Whether you're breast or bottle feeding your new baby, they'll be sure to be demanding you're doing it at least once (and more likely a few times) during the night. After nearly six months of night feeds and no sign of them stopping anytime soon, I feel like a bit of an expert! So I thought I'd share what I've learned about surviving them:

  1. Make yourself comfortable. Whether you're feeding your baby in bed or in their room, make sure you're comfortable and supported. I used to feed the baby in bed and used extra pillows to create a comfortable back rest. Now I feed in the nursery and use an Ikea chair (an older leather version of this) - so comfortable. In the early days I found a breastfeeding pillow really helped too.
  2. Hydrate. You need to be drinking a lot of water when you're breastfeeding anyway. Remember to have a glass or two of water to hand during the night.
  3. Grab your phone. Or Kindle. Or whatever it is that will keep you awake. Particularly in the very early days of night feeds I'd feel guilty for being on my phone but also terrified of falling asleep. Now I've got over both and I use the time to catch up on social media, emails and prep for the day ahead. I use the time to write lists of everything I need to do the next day. It helps me to stop going over that same list when I go back to sleep. Win, win. I'd love to be able to read on my Kindle during night feeds as I really miss reading a book but I just get so sleepy.
How do you survive the night feeds? What's your top tip?