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Thursday, 28 June 2012

Magazines vs Young Mums

I'm sure I have mentioned my annoyance about a lack of magazines aimed at young mums before, but just recently it has come to light just how bad the situation is. Before I had Cameron I used to read all the monthly glossy magazines aimed at women in their early to mid twenties such as Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Company. I also bought More! magazine weekly and continued to do so even once pregnant the first time round.

Despite not really catering for its pregnant readers, the More! team were great at interacting with their readers through their very popular Facebook fan page, which soon became my haven as my pregnancy progressed and I became more and more bored at home over the summer. Through the page I met quite a number of other young women from all across the UK, including some mums and fellow mums to be. It was great.

I managed to take part in a few features through the magazine including having my fashion dilemma answered by Gok Wan. I was impressed that More! were willing to have a pregnant fashion question featured in their magazine as most magazines aimed at young women avoid talking about pregnancy in any way shape or form (the main reason I stopped buying the monthly magazines much after finding out I was having a baby).

After having Cameron, I was given the amazing opportunity to blog for More! on their website for three months. It was great to be given that platform to talk about how I felt about everything, and I was seriously impressed that More! actually wanted me to talk about how it felt being a young mother in her last year of her degree. After finishing writing for More! I continued to write my own personal blog (clearly, or you wouldn't be reading it now!) and wasn't afraid to speak my mind when things got on my nerves. My relationship with More! continued to go well and I even won the chance to be a 'superfan' of More! and help out on their fan issue of their magazine, going up to London to meet the team and spend the day working at their offices. I had already got to know one of the editors Laura whislt blogging for the website and it was nice to be able to put a face to a name.

At my superfan photoshoot for More!

After that I continued to keep in touch with More! on their Twitter page, and even arranged to do Work experience in London after a career plan change towards the end of last year. It was at this point that I was approached by one of the writer's from More! about an article they wanted to write about my pregnancy with Cameron and finding out that his dad was not my ex but someone I had a rebound fling with after we had split up. Trusting More! due to my previous links with them, I agreed to the story and was confident it would come across in a good light as I had it read back to me over the phone before it was printed and was assured nothing would be changed from what I heard at that point.

The issue with my story in...

When the article ran, I was annoyed and upset to find that not only had the content been changed from what I had been read, with quotes taken out of context and added text that made me sound like a bad mother, but the magazine had also stated that Cameron was a product of a one night stand (not true) and generally made me seem like someone who slept around. I was so angry at the magazine and its staff that I immediately stopped buying the magazine and I also didn't attend the work experience I had previously arranged with them.

For months I didn't read an issue until recently I was intrigued by their makeover, which had been getting huge amounts of negative reviews online. I actually think the content has been improved by the makeover, it was pretty childish beforehand and now seems more mature, and I have bought a couple of issues recently. However, More! and the monthly magazines I mentioned at the start of this post, still refuse to even acknowledge that some of their readers will be pregnant or have children. It is not uncommon for women in their early and mid twenties to already have a family, so why is the magazine industry totally cutting us out of their demographic?
You might be thinking, why not read pregnancy magazines instead? Well I do, and I generally enjoy them, even if I do have to skip past most of the fashion pages as the clothes featured would be better suited on someone my mum's age (she's nearing fifty....). In fact I was quite happy with reading these magazines up until a couple of weeks ago when I was told something that hugely upset me.

I was answering questions to appear in a feature in an upcoming issue of one of the top pregnancy and birth magazines when the features writer emailed across asking me my age, location etc to add to the piece. I told her and immediately got a reply back asking if it would be possible for her to change my age to either 24 or 25 because 'the editor doesn't like featuring women below 25 as the magazine's demographic is between 25 and 35'. I agreed to the age change but cannot believe that this is necessary. I am twenty three years old, not exactly even fitting into the young mum age bracket, and yet I am being told that pregnancy magazines don't want me as a reader? What exactly are mothers my age meant to be reading when the magazines that are targeted at our age range won't even talk about pregnancy, birth and all that comes afterwards and those magazines that are willing to talk about these topics don't want us involved?

Lately I have been noticing the divide more and more. I often email writers to get involved in features in magazines after seeing about them through Twitter. In the last couple of weeks I have been ignored by three magazines when emailing in about taking part in features they actively ask readers to be involved in (Cosmopolitan's couples feature and More! magazine's beauty feature being two such articles). I was then approached by a writer at Cosmopolitan herself, asking me to take part in a feature she was putting together on real couples and their sex lives. I replied quickly saying I was interested but asking whether it was ok that I was pregnant. I got a reply saying that whilst it was fine that I was pregnant, I needed to be living with my boyfriend to take part (something she had not only previously failed to mention but one of her questions had even asked whereabouts and with whom we lived with, suggesting she wasn't only looking for couples who were cohabiting, but simply using this as an excuse).

I am lucky enough to be taking part in a BBC3 show based on young parents and I hope that through this I can show some of the problems faced by young women who have children relatively young. If I had enough money and power then I would definitely start up a magazine aimed towards younger mums. I have been pointed in the direction of such titles as Gurgle and Junior, but having read these once I failed to find them as interesting and worth the money as their rivals, and to be honest I still don't feel they are aimed at mums like myself.

For now I shall continue to bitterly moan on about being left out in the cold by magazines, occassionally giving in and purchasing a glossy only to then bitch about it when it fails to include any relevance to my life. Maybe one day in the future Cosmopolitan might pause in their many campaigns and consider starting one on including those of us who have had a baby.... Just a thought...

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

In the Pink

Finding out I'm having a baby girl was bad news for my bank balance....

Luckily (or unluckily, however you look at it) I am currently beyond poor so have had to physically restrain myself from buying the entire stock of each shop I have gone into over the last couple of days. Instead, I managed to exchange some items I had already bought in neutral or blue colours (I was that sure it was going to be a boy!), which meant I was able to shop without spending.

I also had a little trip into George at Asda where I stocked up on a few 'essentials' with the little money I did have. Today I managed not to spend a penny by using a £20 gift card I already had.

These are the things I have bought for my little princess so far (WARNING: there is a lot of pink!)

Boots- Pink pinafore dress and I love Mummy slogan bodysuit

Next-3 Pack Pink sleepsuits

George at Asda- 3 Pack Muslin Squares, 2 Pack Scratch Mitts, Cuddly Comforter and bear, I really, really love mummy slogan T-shirt, Pink bunny blanket

Mothercare- Pink dress set with knickers and white cardigan

H&M- Pink socks, Black Leggings and Pink Jeggings

Exciting News!!!

On Monday afternoon I had my twenty week scan. I had known since finding out I was pregnant again that I would be finding out the sex at this scan if the baby let me and focused on that aspect of the scan rather than worrying about what could be wrong. That was up until the morning of the scan when I was suddenly terrified of all the things the scan can pick up.

It was torture waiting around most of the day to go for the scan but finally the time came round and I went to the hospital with Cameron and my boyfriend who had managed to take the day off work. We were also lucky to be given permission to film the scan for the BBC3 show that I am involved in, which is really nice as it means we will always be able to look back on the scan.

The sonographer did loads of checks and measurements of the baby and told us that she couldn't find any problems with the baby and it was healthy which was great and felt like a huge weight had been lifted. She then had a look for the sex of the baby and I was totally shocked when she announced that we are having a baby girl! I had been so sure that I was carrying another boy that I asked her to double check!

Although it was a shock, I am over the moon. It is amazing to be having a baby girl as it means I will have one of each. I would have been very happy with another boy but it has been so lovely to be able to go shopping for pink things (a post on all the pretty things I've bought in the last couple of days to follow!).

We had discussed names prior to the scan and had one that we both liked, although I wasn't overly sure about it so we didn't announce a name right away. That night I was sat with Cameron on the settee and told him that he was having a baby sister. He came over and stroked my bump, something he does often, and said baby. I asked him what we should call the baby and he said something which made me think of the name we have now chosen (I don't want to announce it to everyone until the birth). I think it is so lovely that Cameron helped to name his baby sister. It will be something to tell them both when they are older!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Pregnancy Apps

Anyone who knows me will know that my iPhone pretty much never leaves my side so it was inevitable that before long I would go searching for pregnancy related apps.

I have had most of these apps from before I even announced my pregnancy, and they were a great comfort for me when I had nobody to talk to. Here are my favourite pregnancy apps.....

Pregnancy App by The Smile Factory £1.99 (there is a free version)

This app was the first one that I downloaded. I don't seem to use it very much since getting later apps that do the same thing but more, however, I like the simple to navigate layout of this app and it is really nice how the welcome message changes each time you go on the app and calls you by name. The app allows you to see how far along you are in your pregnancy and gives weekly updates on how you and your baby are developing. There are other functions which I have yet to use such as a contraction timer and kick counter, which I might use when relevant. There are some functions that I won't be using as I don't really need them such as the lists on signs of labour and when to call the doctor, but these would be useful for first time mums. The size visualizer tool is a great idea as it shows you the fruit that your baby is the size of, giving you a better idea of how big it is each week. There is a photo gallery where you can upload your bump photos each month as well as the option to send in your photos to be featured in the users bump gallery, which is quite cool. One of the best features of this app, especially in early pregnancy is the personal diary where you can write about your thoughts, feelings and symptoms whenever you want, even giving you the option to upload directly to Facebook , Twitter or an email address if you wish. I would never have thought to keep a pregnancy diary but started writing on the app and ended up copying it out into a notebook and then keeping up writing in this every so often throughout my pregnancy. It will be such a nice memento and something to look back on after I've had the baby.

What to Expect Pregnancy Tracker FREE

I was a bit wary of this app as I am not keen on the What to Expect range of books, finding them too heavy going with a distinct lack of pretty pictures (yes I know how that makes me sound!). This app, however, is great and has fast become my go to app for my pregnancy. Similar to the pregnancy app, this one shows you a weekly update on how your pregnancy is progressing but even better, this one also shows you a daily update as well. This is great when you are like me and literally counting down the days! It also has a welcome page stating how many weeks and days into your pregnancy you are each time you go onto it, as well as telling you which trimester you are in, what fruit your baby is as big as, a countdown to your due date and a reminder of when that due date is. The app also has a place to upload your bump photos weekly, something I haven't been taking advantage of as I have been instead uploading them to an album on Facebook. There are a whole host of forums on the app but I have avoided these as they mostly seem to be targeted and used by American users, making them less relevant for me.

My Pregnancy Today by Babycentre  FREE

This app is great. Like the previous two, its primary use is as a daily and weekly update of the pregnancy. As it is made by such a well know pregnancy site, it has the added bonus of linking you directly to the site enabling you to read expert advice on a variety of topics, as well as a link to the popular babycentre community. Unlike What to Expect, this app is focused on British pregnant women which makes it more relevant to my own pregnancy. This app has a handy checklist of things to do in the lead up to your due date including regular prompts to take a belly photo, visit the dentist, drink lots of water and do your pelvic floor exercises as well as bigger milestones such as writing your birth plan and packing your hospital bag. The daily updates on the pregnancy and great and this app is unique as it shows you video clips and pictures of the baby in the womb as well as information.

50,000 Baby Names FREE

This app is great for those finding it difficult to think of a name for the baby. It has a huge variety of names and even lists them in handy themes such as Bible names, Celebrity baby names, Flower names and by origins. You can either search for both sexes or just boy or girl names if you already know the gender. You can also look up a specific name and its meaning using the app. When you find a name you like, there is a favourites section which you can add your names to and review them whenever you want.

Countdown app FREE

This isn't strictly a pregnancy app but it can be used to countdown to any event. I have put in a countdown to my 20 week scan (now only an hour away, eek!), Disney holiday and of course the baby's due date. It's great to be able to see quickly just how long I've got left to wait. You can also add photos to the background of your countdowns and have more than one countdown on the go at any one time.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

The South West Baby Show

A month or so ago I bought tickets to the Brighton baby show on Groupon but had to pass them on when I realised I was meant to be going to see my dad and sister in Essex the same weekend. I was a bit upset until I found out that there was a baby show right in my home town this weekend and, even better, it was free! In the meantime, I have become involved with a BBC3 TV programme on parenthood which involves me filming myself and those around me as my pregnancy progresses. I film my everyday life and so filmed some of the baby show this weekend as well.

My mum and I went to the baby show on Friday morning and I found it really interesting going around each stand and talking to the exhibitors about their businesses and products. One product that impressed both myself and my mum the most was the Snugglebundl which is a unique baby carrier that allows you to pick up and put down a baby without straining your back and it can also be used in car seats and supermarket trolleys- amazing!

The Snugglebundl

After going round once with my mum, she had to leave but Tim came to meet me and we walked around again, filming some of the exhibitors whose products I liked the most. Tim bought the Snugglebundl product as he was equally impressed by it. He can't wait for the baby to come so he can try it out! I bought some car stickers that are personalised to show my little family, including a pregnant me, body building Tim (he loves the gym!) and a little Cameron with his favourite toy car!

The car stickers

I managed to restrain myself from buying anything else but I was really tempted and have caught the baby show bug, I will be going to any more local shows I can find (although I am a little wary about attending the Southampton baby show as it is only a couple of weeks prior to my due date-eek!).

I decided to go back to the baby show again today as Cameron had been with his dad on the Friday and so had missed out on meeting Iggle Piggle. When we got to the show I was a bit disappointed by how empty the venue was, until I realised that it didn't officially open until 11am. There were a few people waiting in the foyer and it came to light that one of the cbeebies presenters, Katy Ashworth, was meant to be starting a show at 11. Intrigued, we sat down to wait...and wait.... and wait!

Cameron meeting Iggle Piggle (and Peppa Pig)

Sitting there with fellow annoyed parents, I couldn't believe how badly organised the event was. The event managers were totally ignoring the people waiting, and it became obvious that Katy was not anywhere near the venue yet. By quarter to twelve I had pretty much given up when we were finally allowed into the next room for the show. However, Katy still didn't appear for another fifteen minutes, by which point we only had half an hour left on the car.

Cbeebies Presenter Katy Ashworth on stage

Totally disappointing second day at the show, especially when all Katy's show seemed to consist of was her screaming, squealing and pretending to fall over (hey, maybe I'm just being cynical, maybe kids love that kind of stuff but it sickens me how much she is paid to do THAT).... We left early and I was pretty annoyed by my wasted morning. Still, the first day I attended provided me with a huge amount of leaflets for products and services I can use not just when the baby is here, but for Cameron as well, including a swimming and ballet class that we will be attending in the coming weeks.

Overall, the South West Baby show had poor organisation, but was generally a great event for gaining contacts, speaking to inspirational business people in the local area and for allowing Cameron to meet Iggle Piggle in real life! At the end of the day, it was a free event. so who am I to complain?

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Pregnancy appears to make me Rant.... A Lot!

It would seem that a lot of posts I have written lately have been opinionated rants. It would seem that pregnancy hormones bring out the bitch in me...

I am not alone in my annoyance about the latest thing to get me worked up, however. After speaking to a few people about my experience with antenatal classes during my last pregnancy, including Facebook friends and health professionals, I have been met with resounding shock and indignation that what happened to me should not have happened.

When I was pregnant with Cameron I was single and going it alone. My midwife at the time was quick to mention this at a routine appointment at around sixteen weeks. We had been discussing antenatal classes when she mentioned to me that she thought it might be best for me if I gave them a miss, instead offering me individual classes at my home at around thirty weeks of pregnancy. Her reason for this? She said that she thought I might be lonely and feel alienated attending the classes as a young, single mum. At the time I didn't question it. I didn't really know what the classes entailed and didn't think I would be missing out on much. In the end I didn't receive the promised individual classes either, I'm not sure if they are even possible to be honest.

I still don't really know what the antental classes cover and so don't necessarily feel that I was less prepared for Cameron's birth than other mums were, although people tell me that things would have been a lot less stressful during labour if I had of been more prepared for what would happen.

Looking back on the whole experience now, I do feel somewhat robbed of an experience I can never really get back. I do fully intend to attend antenatal classes this time round, if not for me then for my boyfriend who is doing this for the first time. However, I believe I will go into these classes with a sense of not needing to be there as surely I already know what to expect now, having done it all once before? I am really angry that the midwife I had with Cameron was allowed to use her own poor judgement to prevent a nervous first time mum from getting the education she was entitled to just the same as anyone else, whether in a couple or not.

I would urge any pregnant first time mothers to consider attending an antenatal class in your area, even if you are doing it alone like I was. The classes can really help put you at ease and feel prepared for labour and I hear they are also a great way to meet fellow expectant mums in your local area (something I definitely could have done with as I have yet to make one local mummy friend twenty one months after having Cameron). Midwives do know what they are talking about 95% of the time, but on some matters make sure you use your own judgment as well. I wish I did.

Monday, 18 June 2012

My Breastfeeding Experience

I've seen quite a few mummy blogs taking part in something to raise awareness about breastfeeding in the last couple of weeks. Although I am not involved in this, it has inspired me to talk about my own breastfeeding 'journey' as they say.

It seems the topic of whether breast really is best and even if it is, should this message be pushed upon all expectant mothers? Should those who choose not to breastfeed, for whatever reason, be set upon and branded selfish and ignorant? Although I am definitely 'pro' breastfeeding and will without hesitation be attempting to breastfeed again with this baby, I am definitely not one to force my opinions on others. I do understand that some mothers are unable to breastfeed and some just simply don't feel it is right for them and their child. I think, like so many parenting decisions, it is such a personal choice whether you breastfeed your baby and for how long and it is not my place to lecture anyone. Instead, with this post I simply aim to recall my personal experience of breastfeeding Cameron and provide any new mothers who might be reading with tips and products that helped me and therefore may also help you, should you decide to breastfeed.

I knew that I wanted to breastfeed Cameron very early on in my pregnancy. I would say straight away, but honestly, who pees on a stick and immediately thinks, 'I know, I'm going to breastfeed this child when it comes'? Nobody truthfully. It was probably a few months in that I decided to definitely breastfeed and started looking into breastfeeding products and adding breastpads and pumps to my ever growing list of things to buy/beg/steal for the baby. It didn't really cross my mind that I might not be able to breastfeed, and I didn't buy any bottles or formula 'just in case' for this reason.

When it came round to it, Cameron didn't latch on easily at all to begin with. He was born with jaundice and tongue tie, both of which were quite distressing for us both and the tongue tie meant that he found it harder to get his mouth around my (pretty inverted) nipples. Cameron was born at half one in the morning and by that afternoon I was desperate to get out of the hospital and be at home with my baby. Everything was fine with both me and Cameron, but the midwife kept insisting that I would not be allowed to leave unless Cameron had a full feed, witnessed by one of the midwifery team. With time ticking by and the threat that if it got to dinner time and I was still there I would be staying another night, I became extremely stressed out and for this reason I obviously found it even harder to manage to feed Cameron myself. In the end a (much kinder) midwife gave me an infant pre-made bottle of formula to take with me 'just in case' and I was discharged and allowed home.

On the way home we decided it was best to stop off and get something for dinner at the supermarket (yes, I was insane to go shopping the day I had given birth!) and once there, I picked up a couple more instant cartons of baby formula just to be on the safe side in case Cameron still wasn't able to feed from me. I got back to my nan's, where we were staying the night, and once relaxed, I was able to give breastfeeding another go. Cameron managed a small feed, but I didn't feel he was getting enough. I ended up speaking to someone on the breastfeeding support line, and it was arranged for a midwife to come and visit me the next day. I gave Cameron the infant formula at bedtime to make sure he was getting enough milk.

The next morning we noticed a rash on Cameron's body. At his appointment at the maternity hospital later that morning the doctor examining him decided the rash was a little worrying so transfered us to the children's ward at the big hospital. It was though Cameron might have to stay in overnight but luckily a consultant deemed the rash nothing to worry about and we were sent home. The stress of the day had taken its toll and I was unable to breastfeed at all that evening. Cameron again had baby formula instead. My meeting with the breastfeeding consultant was postponed due to the hospital visit.

When I did get around to seeing the midwife, I was given some amazing advice. She explained that a combination of Cameron's tongue tie, my stress and slightly inverted nipples was preventing Cameron from being able to latch on properly and so he wasn't getting enough milk. She gave me a packet of nipple shields and observed me using them. Immediately I recognised a difference and was able to give Cameron a proper feed. Being able to feed Cameron so well with the nipple shields meant that I was less stressed and this made my milk flow more freely which also helped with the feeds. I bought another pack of nipple shields and continued to use them (I have since found out that it is not advised to use them past the initial stage as they can prevent the baby from being able to latch on without them, but this was never an issure for me and Cameron personally).

I was able to breastfeed during the day without problems from then on, but feeding Cameron during the night was starting to take its toll on me especially once I went back to University just a week after having him. I was exhausted from having to wake every hour to feed Cameron and, after about two weeks of this, I decided to start formula feeding him at night. My health visitor warned me that doing this would most probably stop my milk supply and I would be unable to feed Cameron at all but luckily this wasn't the case for me and I was still able to breastfeed during the day.

It was still stressful, however, especially as Cameron's hourly feeds meant I was unable to stay in University for longer than an hour at a time, and during two hour lectures I had to excuse myself for a few minutes in between in order to feed Cameron who would be brought to me by either my nan or mum, who were looking after him. The pressure started getting to me over Christmas, when Cameron was three months old, and I made the tough decision to stop breastfeeding altogether in the new year when Cameron was four months old. I don't regret this decision, as it instantly made me happier and more relaxed. What I do feel, however, is that I want to beat my four month 'record' as it were, with this baby as I will be under less pressure. I won't be working or at University for the first few months of the baby's life, and I would love to be able to breastfeed at least up until six months this time round.

The products that helped me when breastfeeding:

Medela Nipple Shields
Available from Boots £7.99
(include useful storage case)

These were literally my best friend when I breastfed Cameron. I will be putting a pair in my hospital bag ready in case I face the same latching problems I did with him. AMAZING!

Johnson's Baby disposable breast pads
Available from Boots for £3.05 for a pack of 30
Even if you don't end up breastfeeding, your body will most probably produce milk for awhile after having the baby (and sometimes even before the baby comes). These were a lifesaver, especially when at University, to prevent embarassing wet patches *cringe*.

Nursing Bra
Available from Mothercare for £16
I only had one nursing bra as I was pretty poor at the time when I had Cameron, and due to only breastfeeding him for four months, but I would advise having at least two as sometimes I had to resort to normal bras when it was in the wash and this was not ideal! This design is comfortable and practical but I would definitely feel better in a more stylish version this time round.

Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Manual Breast Pump
Available from Mothercare for £19.99

I was bought this as a babyshower gift and it served its purpose but I will admit that it was difficult to use and often so tiring that I only used it when I absolutely had to. I would love an electric pump this time round but they are just so expensive!

The products on my wishlist this time around:

Multi-Mam Compresses
Available from Boots for £9.99
These sound like heaven for sore, swollen breasts and I will be putting them on my shopping list for sure.

Derma Mum Nipple Balm
Available from Boots for £7.99
Nipple cream wasn't really something I used last time round but it's always a good idea to have some in case of cracked or sore nipples. This one promises superior protection.

Clarins Bust Firming Lotion
Available from Boots for £37 for 50ml
I didn't use stretch mark oil enough on my stomach or boobs after having Cameron but use it religiously in this pregnancy and will continue to after baby is born. This bust firming lotion would of been perfect to help firm up my poor little breasts after feeding took its toll. Will be saving up and getting this!

Lansinoh Latch Assist
Available from Boots for £8.12
This would have solved my slightly inverted nipples problem, and although this is no longer an issue (thanks to breastfeeding Cameron), it also helps with engorged or swollen breasts so I might look out for this product if I have any problems again.

Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Electric Breast Pump
Available from Mothercare currently on special offer for £49.99!
Having said electric pumps were too much money last time, I found the same model as I had with Cameron but electric currently with £50 off! Bargain!

Coloured Burp Cloths
Available from Mothercare for £4.99
These cloths look great for when the baby inevitably spits up or is sick, or just to wipe up any spills or leaking breast milk at the end of a feed.

Are you planning to breastfeed? Did you breastfeed your baby? I would love to hear your stories in the comments below!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

What to Pack in your Hospital Bag

I often see women writing into forums and pregnancy groups asking what they need to pack in their birth bag. When it came to packing a bag for Cameron's labour I simply had a look online and came up with an extensive list from several that I found online. I probably only used about half of the things in the bag, but at least I was prepared for anything (and as you all know by now, I like to be prepared!). If you are currently pregnant and unsure of what you might need in your hospital bag I hope my list of what I will be packing this time might help you!

For You:

Beauty Bag:
Mini deodrant, shampoo and conditioner, shower gel, toothpaste, dry shampoo
Face wipes
Lip balm
Hand sanitiser

Birth plan
Maternity notes
Mini handheld fan
Spray bottle of water/cooling spray
Bottled water
Snacks such as dried fruit, cereal bars and crackers
Mini fruit juice cartons
Bikini top and towel (if wanting a water birth)
Big comfy underwear (or disposable underwear if you would prefer)
Maternity pads
Nighties/PJs (one set for labour, one for after)
Baggy outfit to wear home
Phone charger
Camera and charger/batteries
Change for machines/phone
Nipple shields, nursring bra and breast pads (if you plan to breastfeed)

For Baby 

Scratch Mitts
Cardigan or Snowsuit
Newborn size nappies
Cotton wool/gentle wipes
Going home outfit

For birth partners

Bottled water
Change for car park and machines/phone
Copy of birth plan


I hope this helps any other mums out there. I know that I definitely hadn't considered having a bag packed for the birth partners with Cameron's birth and as a result they had to take it in turns to go and buy food from a nearby petrol station (not ideal and very expensive) as we were all in hospital for a very long day after I was induced. My best piece of advice when packing the all important hospital bag? Pack for every eventuality and then you will have one less thing to worry about when you are in labour! Oh, and you will also need a newborn car seat in order to leave the hospital unless you are walking home. Make sure you know how you are getting home from the hospital and if someone is picking you up, make sure beforehand that your car seat will fit into their car. Will prevent a lot of stress on the day!

How to Write a Birth Plan

Somebody on one of the many pregnancy related Facebook groups I belong to at the moment was worrying as she was late on in her pregnancy and hadn't even thought about writing a birth plan or packing her hospital bag.

Now, without trying to sound smug, I am ridiculously organised in everything and have literally been having to stop myself from writing my own birth plan until I reach 20 weeks! Of course, a birth plan isn't essential. You can go into labour without one and often even the best made plans can go out the window when the time comes as baby is firmly in charge (Cameron's labour was totally different from my original plan).

However, I think it is always a good idea to have at least some idea of what you would like to happen in labour in regards to pain relief, birth partners, cutting the cord etc. When you are finding it near impossible to even breathe through the pain of contractions, you won't be in a fit state to start reeling off your requests and might not even be able to answer basic questions. Having a written plan will ensure that as far as possible, the medical staff will be able to do things the way you want.

Writing a birth plan can be daunting, especially if it is your first baby. I would advise going online and doing a quick google search. This is all I did and I came up straight away with two templates which I have printed out ready for when I let myself start thinking about the birth!

I like how in depth the NHS template goes as it allows you to think about aspects of the birth which you might not have even considered such as delivering the placenta and vitamin K injections. It also includes a section on special requirements such as religious customes, special needs or the need for a language interpreter during labour.

Another good template is the HiPP Organic one which, although shorter, still has a lot of detail and is great as it looks a bit less scary and more down to earth. I aim to fill in both templates as a starting point and then from there write up my own personalised plan which I will make sure I have a copy of with my notes.

Also, don't be afraid to speak to your midwife about your birth plan prior to the birth. They will be able to answer any questions you might have about things such as the vitamin K injection (which can be administered to the baby via drops rather than the injection if you wish) and what pain relief would be best suited to you. It might also be comforting to talk to a friend or family member who has been through labour before (just make sure you let them know you don't want a horror story but advice on what you might want to write in your birth plan!).

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

What a Difference a Ring Makes....

When I was visiting my dad a couple of weekends ago my brother's fiancee gave me a ring back which she had borrowed a while ago. It only fit on my ring fingers so I ended up putting it onto my engagement finger for the time being and forgot about it.

As with my first pregnancy, I often notice people giving me a few strange looks when I am out and about as I look quite young, some say younger than I actually am. Now that I have both a toddler and a bump the looks have, if anything, become harder to deal with. I try not to let anything get to me, after all these people don't know anything about me apart from the obvious. I do take things to heart though, much to the annoyance of my family and boyfriend, and I often deal with how these looks affect me with an aggressive attitude, speaking under my breath about how ignorant these people are and ranting on about it back at home to said family and boyfriend.

Yesterday I was out with Cameron at our local shopping centre, I needed to get a new cleanser and I bought Cameron an Upsy Daisy doll as he has become obsessed with In the Night Garden. Walking along, Cameron holding tightly onto the doll, squeezing her tummy to make he sing, I noticed a large amount of women smiling at us. A few of them even commented on how cute Cameron was with the doll and made small talk with me. This NEVER happens when we are out and about. These women were all in their late forties to sixties and the usual suspect for the dirty looks.

When I got home I was wondering about how strange it had been when I noticed that I was still wearing the ring on my engagement finger. Now I don't know if that is necessarily behind the change in nature from those around me or not. It could have just been a coincidence or maybe these women just all secretly loved Upsy Daisy and Iggle Piggle as much as your average toddler.

However, I can't help but thinking that maybe, just maybe, the older generation still think that if you are unmarried and have children you are somehow below them. Of course, as I say, this is simply speculation and possible paranoia (after all, I am the person who was positive everyone was looking down on her when pregnant with Cameron apart from the one time I was out with a male friend and I was sure they were suddenly smiling at me). Maybe it is all in my head. But isn't that just as bad, that our society has made pregnant unmarried women feel they don't deserve to be as happy or excited about having a child as their married counterparts?

Monday, 11 June 2012

To Update or Not Update, that is the Question...

There seems to be two types of people when it comes to pregnancy and social media. Those who won't mention a word about their pregnancy (or indeed their baby once it is born) and those who wish to shout the news from their timeline the minute they've had that all important twelve week scan.

I am not ashamed to say that I fall into the latter category. If any of my readers follow me on Twitter or are my friend on Facebook you will already know that I am somewhat of a social media addict (more so on Facebook, I still sometimes find Twitter hard to get my head around).

Being a full time mum to a toddler who likes to play independently from time to time and has a long nap once a day, I often find myself at a loss and reaching for my iPhone or laptop during the day. I am a frequent status updater. I understand this might annoy some people but that is why Facebook created the 'hide posts from this person' feature. I won't write something for the sake of writing it, but as someone with a strong opinion on a lot of topics, I do often have something to say. It will probably not surprise you, therefore, that I could not wait to announce to my Facebook and Twitter world my huge news when I found out I was pregnant. I found it extremely hard to keep it quiet for the eight weeks I knew before the twelve week mark and some people did guess from my cryptic updates during that time (I mean come on, how many times can you type the word craving before someone susses you out?).

When we came out of the scan room with our little grainy photos I knew I couldn't hold it in any longer and since then I have been keeping Facebook updated every step of the way. I have weekly updates of which week of pregnancy I am now in, an album filled with scan photos and photos of my bump as it grows in size, and regular status updates of my current cravings and pregnancy milestones.

As always, I don't have anything against those who have a different opinion to me on the matter and I totally understand that some women wish to keep their baby updates between themselves and only close family and friends. What I do have a problem with is when people try and say that what I am doing is wrong or, apparently, even bad for my unborn baby?! As far as I'm concerned, all I am doing is sharing with the people I socialise with (whether in real life or only online) one of the most important times in my life. I have mentioned above that those people who are on my Facebook but don't wish to hear about every kick are able to hide my updates whilst still being my friend so what's the problem?

Whilst even I would say this is taking it a bit too far, I will admit that I wrote a status telling people when my waters had broken....

Linking in with this is what happens after the baby is born? Some people are wary of posting up photos of their baby online in fear that someone might use them in a negative way. This is true and, as a blogger, I am aware of the risks of having my personal life out there for people to read about and comment upon. However, I would rather have this record that I have been creating of my journey into motherhood for years to come than wrapping my little family in cotton wool and never having any online memories to look back on. Yes, photos are stolen with ease online. No, it won't stop me from posting photos of my newborn for friends, family and followers alike to coo over when the time comes.

First ever photo taken of me with Cameron

And yes, as you may have already guessed by now, I am one of those 'annoying' people who started up a seperate Facebook account for Cameron. I did this as it allows myself and my family and friends to tag photos of him and store them all in one place for me to look back on. It is also a bit of fun so that I can tell people where we have been from day to day. Again, I know a lot of mums won't do this themselves and that's fine. Just don't judge me for doing it!

Writing this blog has been an amazing release for me over the last year or so. I would never have been able to write so openly and freely about so many things if I had not have allowed you into my personal life as much as I have done. That is just the way I am.

Anyway, must dash, I have an 18 week bump photo to upload....

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Guess the Sex!

Ok, linking on to my most recent post and just for a bit of fun, I would love people to have a guess from the 12 week scan what the sex of my baby will be....

I will let you all know in a future post if I manage to find out the sex at the scan in two weeks!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Ruining the Surprise or Wanting to be Prepared?

Ever since I started properly showing, the question has been asked not only by friends and family, but also by complete strangers. As soon as I've confirmed that yes, I am indeed pregnant and haven't just been overdoing it on the pies, they all say "are you going to find out what you're having?"

My answer comes quickly and naturally. Yes I am going to. For me it was an easy decision.

As someone who loves to be organised, writes to do lists for everything and hates not knowing what is happening it just makes no sense for me to not find out the sex of my unborn baby when the option is right there. That isn't to say I don't understand why some people do want to wait to find out or that I judge them, although I do find it incredibly frustrating when the people doing this are my nearest and dearest (my best friend had a baby this Spring and opted not to find out the sex, the anticipation almost killed me). 

I admit that I am impatient, in fact this is one of the first reasons I give as to why I am going to (hopefully, it isn't always a definite after all) find out the sex in a couple of weeks. Because this is the thing. Upon answering the 'will you find out the sex' question, apparently a straightforward yes or no asnwer isn't enough. You have to justify your decision to those asking. There is a strong divide between those parents who want to know before the baby is born and those who don't.

My reasons are simple. I am impatient and like to be organised so to me it makes sense that I can find out as soon as possible allowing me to get everything I need for the baby before it arrives and decide on a name. What annoys me is when people who would/are/have waited to find out the sex of their own baby feel it is their place to say things like 'why would you ruin the surprise?' or 'it's so much better to wait until the baby arrives to find out'. I accept that people may have these views but I don't, and I shouldn't have to have them thrust upon me or have people attempt to make me feel guilty for my choice to find out.

The surprise aspect always makes me laugh anyway. Having gone through childbirth before, I can honestly say that going through such intense pain and then suddenly having a screaming miniature human thrust upon you is a big enough surprise!

I found out that I was having a boy with Cameron for the same reasons I have already mentioned, but also because with that pregnancy I was alone and, as he wasn't planned, I also didn't feel like I was bonding with my unborn child as much as I would have liked to. By finding out that the baby was a boy and being able to start calling him Cameron, I felt so much closer to him already and didn't feel as alone going through the pregnancy.

For me, whether I will find out the sex isn't really a question. It is something I want, and hope I will be able to do and isn't open for discussion.

What are your opinions on finding out the sex before giving birth?

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

This Week I'm Addicted to....

..... Pregnancy magazines!

Before I found out I was pregnant with Cameron I was addicted to glossy magazines. I would read Glamour, Cosmo, Company and More! without fail as soon as they came out. During my pregnany this didn't change that much although I did get frustrated that none of the fashion in these magazines would cater for the pregnant woman and that some of the articles no longer applied to my changing lifestyle.

However, once having Cameron I religiously continued my More! magazine purchasing right up until they featured a story on how I became pregnant with Cameron (from a rebound fling after splitting with my long distance ex). The way they portrayed the story made me angry as they twisted words and the headline made the whole thing sound sordid and dirty (for a start, they labelled it a one night stand which it was not). I stopped buying the magazine and instead turned back to my monthly mags which had been left by the wayside.

When I found out I was pregnant with my second baby a few months ago, I suddenly found myself drawn to the pretty pastels of the baby and pregnancy magazines. These magazines are actually much better suited to my lifestyle now that I am a mother and pregnant. Although I still don't like the fashion in them (mostly frumpy or totally out of my price range), I find loads of useful articles that actually help me with my day to day problems. The magazines contain great content and interesting articles as well as a mix of fashion, beauty and freebies that I can make use of.

Of course I still require some girly escapism with the glossy mags. I have a six month subscription with Glamour which I purchased with Nectar points and I have just started reading More! magazine again since they had a revamp. I would definitely suggest purchasing a pregnancy/motherhood magazine to any mum or mum to be if you haven't given them a go yet. They are my not so guilty pleasure at the end of the day when Cameron is asleep and the bump and me are snuggled up in bed.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Perfectly Pink Nails

My brother and his girlfriend gave me a belated birthday present at the weekend. A Nails Inc nail glitter in Pink Diamond. It is such a girly shade and I couldn't wait to try it out when I got home. I have used it over the top of a No7 shade in Me, Me, Me which is a bright pink colour and I love the result.

My nails have never looked so girly and they have definitely cheered me up on such a dull, gloomy bank holiday!

A Royal Weekend

I wouldn't say I am particuarly patriotic. I didn't make any plans to attend any street parties for example this weekend. However, I did love the fact that the Jubilee brought people together.

My family was no different and bright and early Saturday morning, myself, Cameron and my boyfriend travelled up to Essex to stay with my dad and younger sister Megan. We had a great time catching up and eating lots of yummy food (my dad is THE BEST host!).

Enjoying Fajitas for lunch at a bar in Chelmsford, Essex

Less amused... watching football at the local pub

In the evening my brother and his fiancee (they got engaged last weekend in Paris) arrived and the celebrations began. It was actually quite amusing being the only person in the room who wasn't drunk (apart from Cameron of course, who was asleep).

In the morning my mum travelled up with my nan and we all went out for Sunday lunch at a nearby pub. I think it's really great that my parents can get on so well after all they've been through. After the meal we went back to my dad's and watched the Jubilee celebrations on tv whilst everyone relaxed.

That evening we went to Kent to stay with my aunt for the night and on the Monday we went out for another meal, this time to the Toby Carvery before going to a Jubilee Picnic in the Park and then heading back to Bournemouth where we watched some of the Jubilee concert.

Cameron loves spending time with his second cousin Spencer

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