Monday, 26 January 2015

Newborn Essentials - My Top 10 Products!

Whilst I was pregnant I spent a lot of time trawling through pages and pages of blogs in the search of some guidance on what to buy for our tiny little baby. I mean, how do you know where to start? 
There are several hundred brands of bottles, prams, nappies, wipes, you name it, they sell it! So how do you know what the right product is for you? 

 Here are our favorite products that made parenting just that little bit easier!

Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine 

This product is probably Chris and I’s favorite baby purchase (and there have been a lot!) After one night of tedious bottle making with fresh, boiling water and a tiny, hungry, screaming newborn baby we bought the Perfect Prep Machine and haven’t looked back since. We certainly couldn’t be without it now, and even take it with us when we visit Chris’s parents for the weekend!  

The prep machine allows you to quickly prepare a fresh bottle of milk in under two minutes, and within the current formula feeding guidelines so you know that you’ll always be giving your baby a safe bottle. The prep machine releases a “hot shot” of water that kills any bacteria that may be in the formula power, and then tops the bottle up with warm temperature water – perfect for our little one’s sensitive mouths. It allows you to make bottles between 4oz and 11oz so we will definitely get our moneys use out of it. 

We bought the machine in the limited edition black colour, available from Amazon. It is very stylish, almost a coffee machine for babies! It seamlessly fits in kitchen appliances due to its colour but we currently have it set up in Florence’s nursery for ease during night feeds. 

The Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine is an ingenious creation that takes away the troubles of feeding on demand, and one that every bottle feeding parent should own. 

Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine - Amazon - £74.99

Tommee Tippee Milk Feeding Bibs 

If I had known about these bibs before Florence was born then I wouldn’t have bought any other! The padded roll neck design means that any milk or sick is quickly absorbed into the bib before it reaches the baby’s skin or clothes, and the Velcro fastening ensures a snug fit around the baby’s neck. The material is super-soft and durable, and they wash and iron excellently. I have already bought another two packs of these bibs and will certainly buy more when the time comes. 

Tranquil Turtle

Chris really wanted to buy Florence a product that projected stars (or something similar) onto the ceiling, and when we saw the Tranquil Turtle in Mamas and Papas it was a must buy. The turtle has two musical settings;  an underwater sound and a wave/white noise sound, both of which are incredibly relaxing for babies and adults alike! The turtle also projects gentle waves onto the ceiling, turning any nursery into a peaceful underwater scene. Florence absolutely loves this product and it really helps her to peacefully fall asleep at night. It has taught Florence how to differentiate between day time and night time – we use the Turtle during her last feed before bed time and then for each night feed, but never during the day. This way she understands that when the turtle is being used it is time for bed, and when it isn’t being used it is time for play. The Tranquil Turtle is also a great sensory toy because of the light projection. Florence really opens her eyes to look at the wave pattern and tends to stare at it for the entire 23 minute timer cycle. We have used this product from birth to create a relaxing night time environment for Florence.


These are an absolute baby must have. As many as you can get your hands on – buy buy buy!!! We use these for absolutely everything; burping, mopping up sick, laying in the moses basket if Florence is sicky, laying on public changing units, and to shade Florence from the sun. You can usually buy large multipacks of muslins from places such as Mother Care, Tescos, Primark. It really doesn’t matter on the colour and design, just stock up because they really are a parenting life saver and you can never have too many! 


A little like Muslins – you can never have too many, especially when your baby has a habit of wee’ing every time you take their nappy off!!! I wouldn’t even be able to tell you how many vests Florence has, and I certainly didn’t stick to the whole “7 sleepsuits and 7 vests” rule, I mean, who even wrote that anyway?! Apart from vests that came as part of an outfit most of Florence’s vests are plain white. This makes it easier to wash them altogether without putting loads of different washes on. One thing I have learnt since Florence was born is to keep everything simple to make life easier! Florence’s vests are from the Tesco clothing brand, F&F. They are super cheap at £2.75 for a 3 pack but please don’t be put off by price – they are well made, very soft, and they wash and iron beautifully each time (yes, I do iron all of her clothes...!!!) When the time comes to put Florence in 0-3 clothes I will certainly be stocking up on F&F vests. 

Cellular Blankets  

 I wish I had listened when somebody told me that no amount of blankets is enough! We bought two of these small cellular blankets from Mothercare before Florence was born, and 2 days after she was born I went out to buy even more! They have so many uses such as; layering at nap time, keeping warm in the car seat and pram, swaddling and laying on cold public changing units. She also has heavier blankets but these smaller ones are so handy to have, I always keep an extra in my changing bag!

Pampers New Baby 

Choosing what brand of nappy to buy was probably the thing that I found the most confusing.

There are so many types to decide from...popular brands such as Pampers and Huggies, and supermarket brands. There’s also the sizing issue to figure out. Do I chose size 1 or size 2? 

After comparing different brands of nappies Chris and I decided to choose Pampers New Baby. They have features such as an ‘absorb-away’ layer which draws the moisture away from your baby’s skin to keep them dry, a navel shaped fit designed to sit comfortably around your baby’s belly button, and a wetness indicator which was the winning factor for us. When your baby has a wet nappy, the wetness indicator changes colour from yellow to blue, making it easy to identify when to change your baby, especially useful during those night feeds when your baby is screaming for their milk! 

The cheapest place we have found to purchase Pamper New Baby Nappies is Amazon. We actually have an Amazon Family Prime account which makes a months worth of nappies £23 – an absolute bargain!!!

Regarding size, we originally bought Size 1 to start us off with. Florence was only 6lb 10oz when she was born and we found that Size 1 absolutely swamped her so Chris went and bought her some micro baby nappies (bless!) Florence moved into Size 1 nappies at around 1 week old. We started putting Florence into size 2 nappies this week, she is now 8 weeks olds and weighs a little over 10lbs, 

We have found these nappies very reliable. They have only leaked once and that was due to a very explosive nappy. Touch wood, Florence hasn’t suffered from any Nappy Rash. 

Maxi-Cosi FamilyFix Car Seat Base

This product may seem expensive but it is worth its weight in gold. It makes car journeys so much easier. Goodbye to the days of trying to install the car seat using the seat belt, struggling to make the seat belt stretch over the car seat whilst dealing with the freezing cold weather and a tiny baby. This base is compatible with our car seat, the Maxi-Cosi Pebble. 

The reason Chris and I chose this base over the others that are available is due to its light and sound safety feature that rules out any incorrect fitting. The base has three lights that should be lit green to symbolise the correct installation: the first is to show that the arms are connected to the IsoFix points correctly, the second is to show that the leg of the base is touching the floor of the car, and the third is to show that the car seat is clipped in correctly. If part of the installation isn’t correct the base with display a red light and beep to notify you. The second reason we chose the Maxi-Cosi Family Fix base is because it is compatible with the next group of Maxi-Cosi car seats, meaning we shouldn’t have to purchase another base as Florence grows. 

This is a 2 in 1 monitor as it can detect your baby’s movement and sound. I can’t comment on this product as a whole because we haven’t set up the under mattress sensory pad because Florence is in our bedroom. The full colour screen displays the room temperature, a sound bar and the battery level. The most useful feature that we have found with this monitor is the nightlight on the Nursery Unit. It provides a soft light to allow us to check on Florence and change her nappy during the night without disturbing her too much. 

The monitor is easy to set up and provides us with peace of mind when we aren’t in the bedroom whilst Florence sleeps. 

Tommee Tippee Sangenic Nappy Disposal System

There’s nothing worse dirty nappies laying around the house waiting for the next weekly bin collection day. Nappy bags are useful when you’re out of the house, but in my opinion they don’t lock in the smell very well. The Tommee Tippee Sangenic Nappy Disposal System allows you to conveniently and hygienically dispose of nappies whilst remaining odour, germs, and mess free. The unit is small, compact, and easy to you. You simply pop the used nappy into the disposal system and twist the handle to seal the film, ready for the next use. The downfall to the unit being small is that it only holds around 28 nappies which isn’t many in the life of a newborn!
 ***Please note that I have not been paid by any of the above companies to write a review of their products. All thoughts are my own***

Monday, 19 January 2015

Writing your Birth Plan

Essentially, a birth plan is just a list of our preferences. As women, we have so many choices when it comes to the type of birth that we would like. Whether it be a drug free, natural water birth at home or a drug induced caesarean section. Each birth is completely different, and it is important to understand that more often than not, your birth plan will not be strictly followed word for word (and, in my case, not at all...)

There are many benefits to writing a birth plan, such as:
  • It allows you to explore different facilities that are available to you, such as a birthing centre, suitability for a home birth, and types of pain relief.
  • It mentally prepares you for labour and birth and allows you to think through “what if” situations.
  • It familiarises you with the different stages of labour, pain relief, and different forms of intervention.
The best types of birth plans are ones that are kept short and to the point, ones that midwives can quickly look to and see your preferences. When writing a birth plan you should aim to include the following key points:

Personal Information – Your NHS number, name, and birthing partner’s name. 
Environment – Dim lighting, relaxing music, birthing pool. 
First Stage Preferences – Pain relief, monitoring, labour positions, eating and drinking.
Second Stage Preferences – Pain relief, labour positions, tearing, the birth, skin to skin, cutting the cord.
Third Stage Preferences – Whether you would like to deliver your placenta naturally or be given an injection to speed things along. 
Care of Baby – Breast/bottle feeding, handling the baby. 
Other Considerations – Be flexible with your preferences, understand that your plan may not always go to plan.

I done a lot of research when writing my birth plan, and at the time I must have thought that I was some sort of super mum that would have the most idyllic birth. Although my birth plan was rather lengthy I do feel that it is quick to the point and covers all angles, leaving room for flexibility.  

Birthing Partners
Chris - My Partner
Helen - My Mother

First Stage of Labour
  • I would like to remain at home for as long as I feel comfortable. 
  • I would like to call my Midwife for advice on when is best to go into Hospital. 
  • Use baths, breathing techniques, massage, dim lighting, and calm music to cope with pain. 
  • Remain as active as possible during labour with the use of birthing balls and walks - I would like to be able and encouraged to move around freely. 
  • I would like to be free to eat and drink when I want to.
  • I would like to avoid continuous (CTG) or internal monitoring unless there is a cause for concern.
Pain Relief
  • I would like to try and cope without the use of pain relief. 
  • Use breathing techniques, massage, dim lighting, and calm music to cope with any pain. 
  • If I ask for pain relief during a contraction please refuse and ask me again once the contraction has ended. 
  • If I am desperate please offer me gas and air.
  • I would like to avoid an Epidural and Pethidine injections during labour. 
  • I would like use of a Birthing Pool.
Second Stage of Labour 
  • I would like to find my own comfortable positions for pushing. 
  • Use gravity to labour naturally eg: all fours/upright position. 
  • Avoid laying on my back. 
  • If possible, I would like a Water Birth. 
  • I would like to know when my baby's head is crowning. 
  • I would prefer to tear naturally rather than receive an episiotomy, unless it is an emergency. 
  • I would like to avoid Caesarean Section/Forcep/Ventouse delivery. 
  • However, I would prefer to have a Caesarean Section over Forcep/Ventouse delivery. 
  • If an emergency Caesarean Section is required, I would like to remain awake. 
  • If an emergency Caesarean Section is required, I would like my partner Chris to be with me.
  • I would like the Midwife to advise me on what is best for a safe delivery at the time. 
  • I would like my baby to delivered straight onto my chest for skin-to-skin contact. 
  • My partner, Chris, would like to cut our baby's cord. 
  • If there is an emergency where our baby needs to be taken away my partner, Chris, will remain with her at all times.
Third Stage of Labor
  • I would like to have an actively managed third stage.
Vitamin K
  • We would like our baby to be given Vitamin K by an injection.
After Birth
  • I would like to try and breastfeed. 
  • Skin-to-skin immediately after birth. 
  • I would like us to have some alone time with our Newborn before any visitors come in. 
  • Immediate family to have a short visit once baby is born (Mum , Dad, Sisters, MIL, FIL).
  • We would rather longer visits to occur when we are at home and settled.

    There you have it, my complete birth plan. As previously mentioned, my birth plan was hardly looked at but certain wishes were able to happen. Talking from experience, I'm not so sure that I will bother writing a plan for our next baby. When it came down to it I didn't care what happened, as long as Florence came into the World safe and sound that was all that mattered. However, I do think that it is important to become familiar with the birthing process so you enter the experience with some knowledge. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Hospital Bag for Mother, Father, and Baby

Whether you’ve planned a home birth or a hospital birth, it is a good idea to start thinking about packing your hospital bag a couple of weeks before your due date. However, in my case, my bag was already packed and ready waiting by the door by 30 weeks!!! This way you’re ready to go in case your baby decides to make an early appearance.

Hospitals tend to vary about what you need to bring with you to have your baby. Many have a list that informs you on what to bring, so ask your Midwife so you don’t over pack on unnecessary items.
My Hospital contained (too many) items that I classed as “essentials,” and others that were packed to provide me with some home comfort.

I packed my Hospital bag in a Cath Kidston Foldaway OvernightBag. The bag is very large and I managed to pack all of my things plus some of Florence’s belongings that didn’t fit in her bag. It also comes packed away in a smaller zipped bag that I used as my toiletries bag.


Hospital Notes – Your notes are the most important item to remember to pack. This is the first thing that the hospital will ask you for when you are admitted. It contains detailed information regarding your health and pregnancy. 

Birth Plan – If you have written a birth plan then it is a good idea to take a couple of copies to the hospital. This way, every Midwife that deals with your care will understand your birthing preferences and what outcome you desire from certain scenarios. 

Pillow – Hospital pillows are paper thin and not very comfortable at the best of times. I packed one of my pillows for added comfort and to remind me of home while I stayed in overnight. 

Pyjamas – Hospital Gowns aren’t very comfortable or flattering. My pyjamas made me feel fresh and clean after I had had Florence. I packed a cheap black nightie from Primark that didn’t matter if it got stained, lost, or thrown away. 

Bikini - If you are planning to have a water birth you may wish to pack a bikini to remain a little covered. Saying that, anything goes during labour!!!

Nursing Bras – Even if you aren’t planning on breast feeding, a nursing bra is really comfortable to support your post birth boobs. I think I lived in a nursing bra for three weeks once Florence was born! You can buy pretty, lacy ones from the likes of Mothercare or Debenhams but again, I bought mine from Primark and it done the job!

Warm Socks/Slippers – I took both. It is common to get really cold feet during labour. I had to have a Spinal Block and I was freezing! Some woman prefer to take Flip-Flops in the hospital but personally I just took some cosy socks and slippers. Another home comfort and it meant warm and comfortable feet.

Black Full Briefs - Buy the biggest knickers you can find! There is no such thing as "too big" when it comes to post-natal underwear, especially if you end up having a caesarean. I first bought the bikini briefs but soon realised that the knicker line would sit on the wound and rub. I bought mine from Primark; they were £2.50 for a pack of 4 meaning that it didn't matter if I threw them away. 

Maternity Towels  - I got through so many of these from straight after the birth up until Florence was four weeks old. I bulk bought mine from Sainsbury’s and they are £1 for a pack of 10. They are similar to the ones that the hospital provides - super thick and absorbent. 

Breast Pads - My milk didn't come through until a couple of days after Florence was born so I didn't use any in hospital. Some women's milk comes in straight away so it might be a good idea to pack a few just in case. I first bought the Lansinoh Disposable Breast Pads from Mothercare, costing £5.49. When it came to purchasing more I then bought Superdrug own brand pads for 99p. There was no different between the two brands and, if anything, I found the Superdrug ones to be better because there was less packaging to unwrap.
Toilet Wipes – Some woman swear on these to use post-birth as normal toilet roll may be too harsh down below! Even though I had a caesarean I still found these a God send because I was too scared of hurting myself. 

Mini Toiletries – Hand sanitiser, tooth brush, tooth paste, mouth wash, shower wash, shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo, deodorant, face wash, face wipes, and anything else you may take to stay overnight. Trust me, you feel so much better once you’ve freshened up a little!

Hair Accessories – Hair brush, big clip, and hair pins. There is nothing more annoying when you’re in labour that wispy hair hanging in your face so pack a few hair accessories so you can tie your hair back.  

Lip Balm – Your body goes through many questionable things during labour, don’t add chapped lips to the problems.

Hot Water Bottle - During the days leading up to labour I suffered from terrible back ache. A hot water bottle was the only thing to ease the pain because I didn't want to take paracetamol. I packed a hot water bottle just in case I needed the support at hospital, rather than a TENS Machine. 

Black Towel – Towels are a multi-tool for birth. They can be used to sit on in the car if your waters break, in the shower to dry off, or used to cover any bleeding. I bled straight away after birth and used my towel to cover the bedding because I was conscious of staining the sheets (silly – I know...)

Arnica Tablets – I started taking the stated dose of Arnica as soon as I felt ready to drink again. I’m not sure whether they did help aid the recovery process but I did seem to spring back quickly (even though the first couple of days were unbearable!!!) I bought my Arnica Tablets from Boots. They're tiny and taste of little sweeteners.

Glucose Tablets – I packed some Lucozade Glucose Tablets from Amazon. Labour and birth can be a long, tiring process and you may feel like you need an extra little boost to keep you going. 

Water Mist – Hospitals and Labour Wards are boiling! I took some Water Mist just in case I needed cooling down. You can spend an extortionate amount on the original “Magicool,” but I managed to find a cheaper brand in Savers for £1. There is no difference at all!

Straws – Someone advised me to take straws to the Hospital so I didn’t have to bother sipping whilst in labour. Lazy, but genius!

Snacks – If you are in labour there is a chance that you may be refused food in the event that you need emergency surgery. However, if you are one of the lucky ones then pack some of your favorite snacks to nibble on. They beat hospital food, that’s for sure!


Nappies I took a pack of 37 Pampers New Baby nappies with me. They say that newborns, on average, go through roughly 10 nappies a day so I packed just in case we had to stay in for longer.

Water WipesCotton wool and cool, boiled water is the best thing for a newborns sensitive skin in the first days. However, at 3am with sticky meconium, cotton wool simply doesn’t make the cut. Water Wipes are 99.9% pure water and 0.1% fruit extract, making them the next best thing to cotton wool and making your life so much easier!
Nappy Sacks It’s a good idea to pack some nappy sacks so you don’t have to pop a dirty nappy into the bin with no protection. We use Naty Nature Babycare Eco Disposable Nappy Bags, available from Boots.

Sleep Suits – I packed four newborn sleep suits. I was worried that the sleep suits I had packed would be either too small or too big. Newborn clothing generally goes up to sizes between 8lb-12lb depending on where you buy them from. Florence was born at 6lb 10oz, they were a little large to start off with but she soon filled them out and is still wearing Newborn clothing at 6 weeks old.
Vests – I packed six vests: four short sleeved and two long sleeved, just in case the Hospital was cold at night. Again, I packed Newborn.
Hats – Pack a few different hats as it is the first thing your baby will wear when they are born, meaning that it’ll end up stained.
Bibs – It doesn’t hurt to pack a couple of bibs, although, we didn’t use them whilst in Hospital.
Hooded Towel – They used to bathe babies while you were in Hospital (I’m going back a few years here!) However, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore so we didn’t use the towel.
Muslin Cloths – An absolute life saver! These can be used to mop up any sick or dribble, to change nappies on, or to lay in the Hospital crib.
Blanket – Cellular blankets are excellent for layering. You never know how chilly it’ll be in Hospital so pack a couple, just in case.
Teddy – Not a necessity because a tiny newborn won’t take any notice of it. But it’s good to familiarise them with your scent and they also look sweet in those first photos!
Going Home Outfit – Keep it simple. Pack an extra sleep suit and vest, along with a cardigan, hat, and jacket (depending on when your baby is born) to bring your new baby home in.
Cartons of Milk – If you aren’t planning on breast feeding then cartons of milk are a life (and time) saver while you adjust to your new life as parents. Some formula brands such as Aptamil and Cow & Gate sell starter milk packs that contain 6 pre sterilised bottles and teats. They are a little pricy compared to boxes of powdered milk but make the first couple of days a little easier.

Loose Change -  For the car park, coffee machine, snacks, magazines, and any other cravings you may get. 

Swimming Shorts –  If you are planning a water birth your partner may want to get in the pool with you. They also may want to get into the shower with you while you ease off any pain. I was once told that a naked pregnant lady at Hospital is fine, a naked Father-to-be on the other hand... not so fine! 

Mini Toiletries – Remember, labour and birth is still a long (but not so much painful) event for your partner too. Pack a few of their toiletries for them should they wish to freshen up too. 

Camera – To capture those precious first moments of your Baby’s life. Oh, and don’t forget the camera charger!!!

Mobile Phone – To capture first moments and call Family and Friends once your baby is Earth Side! Again, don’t forget the charger!

Lastly, it’s always nice to leave a little Thank You gift to the staff that cared for you during your stay. We bought a box a Quality Street and a little card to leave when we were discharged.

Is there anything that you packed in your Hospital Bag that was your God send?

Monday, 5 January 2015

Ten Pregnancy Facts

1.       I found out that Chris and I were expecting at 4 weeks.  I woke up in the morning with a strong feeling that I was pregnant. After hours of telling myself that I was being silly I popped to the local shop and purchased a pregnancy test. Lo and behold, the test came back positive but I still didn’t believe it. Nine tests (and a lot of money spent!) later they were all positive.

2.       We had 10 scans all together. 4 private scans and 6 NHS scans. 8, 11, 13, 17, 19, 21, 30 weeks and three presentation scans on the labour ward to determine whether Florence was still breech.

3.       We first heard Florence’s heart beat at 8 weeks. It was so strong and the sonographer found her heartbeat before she found our tiny baby. Every Midwife and Dr commented on how strong her heartbeat was for the duration of our pregnancy.  Listening to her heartbeat never got old, I even have a recording on my phone that I still listen to.

4.       I was convinced that I was carrying a boy, as did everyone else. I chose boy names that I liked, shopped online for “boy” clothes and even started looking for decor for the nursery. It just proves that a mother’s intuition isn’t always right because at 17 weeks we found out that we were expecting a little girl.

5.       I first felt Florence kick when I was 19 weeks. We were on holiday in Cyprus, and I think she enjoyed the sunshine and Halloumi.

6.       I had morning sickness on and off during my pregnancy but it stopped completely at 22 weeks. I only ever craved really cold fruit such as apples and grapes.

7.       I used to wake up at 5.30am every single morning during my pregnancy. My Mother joked and told me that I would go into labour at 5.30am. I arrived at the Hospital on the morning my waters broke dead on 5.30am.

8.       The days leading up to labour I suffered from severe back ache to the point where I struggled to walk. I joked to Chris and said that I was “probably in labour.” My waters broke that night!

9.       My whole pregnancy was low risk, the only problem I faced was that Florence was breech for the entire time (minus a week here and there). Due to this reason, I was scheduled for an elective caesarean on the 9th December. Florence decided to throw all of our plans into the wind and arrived on the 1st December at 37+5 weeks.

10.   The radio was playing in the theatre where my caesarean was performed. Florence was welcomed into the word to Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You. Pretty fitting really!

Do you have any interesting pregnancy facts that you would like to share?
 My baby bump at 34 Weeks.