run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Slinging it




When I was pregnant, I imagined spending maternity leave days jumping on and off the Tube (baby in sling), wandering around galleries and museums (hands free, baby in sling), and dashing around shops (arms swinging, baby in sling). And then along came tiny man, weighing six pounds 13, and I did indeed hoist him into soft Caboo sling and walk around the house, getting him to sleep, and slipping him into it as I hung up the washing in the garden.

But when I tried to go for a walk with it, my back started to ache. Uh oh, I thought - he's only a few weeks old and weighs the same as a few bags of sugar - and the sling dream started to fade. We used the Caboo out and about a bit, but I knew I wasn't confident enough to take the baby out for a day with just a sling to transport him.



So I tried a hand-me-down Baby Bjorn. Black, and stained with another baby's sick, it didn't look as earth-mama, but it did have a bit more support. Still, though, when I walked to some local shops, after an hour my back was aching as if I'd been hauling around an elephant all day. 

What next? Well, you can buy the classic Baby Bjorn for £60, much less if you find a second-hand deal, so investing a whopping two times that in a new bells-and-whistles BB One* carrier sounded painful.

After trying it out though, it turned out the reduced back pain is worth any wallet pain. The BB One has thick hip straps - like a hiking backpack - which means you're not taking all the weight on your shoulders. It's adaptable into lots of positions too, so you can carry a newborn, then a bigger baby facing outwards, and even a toddler (it's suitable for those up to aged three) on your back. If you're stronger than me...

Go for one from the "ice cream range", as mine is in the pic above, and you also steer clear from the boring standard black baby carrier. Although, being five foot two, I do think I look a bit like Arietty Borrower behind the sling.



How it works:
Newborns (0-4 months/min 3.5kg) face inwards, legs dangling down.
Older baby (4-15 months/max 12kg) face inwards, legs dangling.
Aged 4-36 months/max 15kg: face inwards, legs out wide thanks to a fabric flap.
Aged 5-15 months/max 12kg: face outwards, legs dangling.
Aged 12-36 months/max 15kg: on your back, legs out wide.

I walked around the Tate Modern for three hours yesterday with not-so-tiny man in this sling - without pain. It meant he got to appreciate Kandinskys stare hard at random tourists, without just gazing at his buggy walls, and he slept for longer than usual too.

Other pros? The padded waistband and strong clips feel sturdy and secure for you and the baby; there are lots of positions for growing kids. 

But there are some cons: you have to pull the sling on like a top, over your head, which requires both hands unless you're Houdini - making it tough if you're out alone. Breast-feeding mums can't feed whilst wearing it - which again could be a problem if you're out alone as you'd need someone to hold the baby whilst stripping out of and then into the sling. Other slings also have a pocket, which is good for carrying keys or money etc - but this one doesn't. 

They're niggles, though, if you're after a comfortable way to carry your baby without always schlepping a buggy around - and after testing three slings, this is the one I like best.




* Item sent to Run out of Womb for review. Rest assured, though, that I'm seriously gobby and would never rave about something that's rubbish.
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Sunday, 26 July 2015

Healthy morning granola





As a kid, the best place in the kitchen was The Drawer. Every week it was replenished with a pack of fun-size chocolates (when Crunchie entered, it was a Bad Week; Milky Way? Amazing). The biscuits lived there too. 

Permission wasn't freely granted - you had to ask - but it was easily given. I was always running around and a long way from fat, so treats were just that. I remember one of my school friends being agog at The Drawer. He was chubby as a kid, and his worried parents were super-strict about food; rice cakes were 'snacks' in his house (ugh) so he'd gorge when the opportunity arose whilst playing at our house.

Parents face treat dilemmas nowadays when sugar is the new food enemy. I still love Dairy Milk and all of its pals, and don't know what my own parenting style will be about treats - in my mind, the days when I was in reception weren't all that long ago so the thought of facing the snack dilemma with my child, still a newborn cooing in his first-size babygrows, feels a long way off. 

But in my own diet I am trying to avoid loads of sugar secretly entering in joyless ways - like cereals that don't taste great but you eat out of habit, without knowing they're pretty unhealthy. (Shreddies; Harvest Crunch - I'm looking at you.) For the last few months I've been alternating between porridge and Weetabix.

They're not bad - but are getting a bit boring. So I decided to make my own granola. This recipe is really easy and speedy (it makes about a week's supply for one person but you can double the ingredients to make far more). You can also add more or less honey depending on the extent of your sweet tooth / virtuousness, plus whatever nuts, fruits or seeds you like best. And unlike some recipes, all the ingredients are available in any supermarket.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon vegetable oil or water
150-200ml honey
500g porridge oats
Small handful each of sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, chia or other favoured seeds
Handful flaked almonds or chopped walnuts or other favoured nuts
Two handful raisins (and/or other favourite dried fruits)

Method

Turn on oven at 160C. Mix all the ingredients apart from the raisins or dried fruit in a big bowl. If too dry, add a little water. Spread out over two baking trays and lightly press down, like a flapjack. Bake for about 30 mins, or until lightly browned (more brown means more crunchy).
Remove from the oven and break into small clumps. Allow to cool, then stir in raisins or other dried fruit. Store in a Kilner jar or airtight Tupperware - can last for weeks, but never does in our house... gobble gobble.
Serve with milk, and add fresh fruit like banana or raspberry if desired.



Eat Your Heart Out
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Friday, 24 July 2015

Best presents to buy a newborn (and their parents)


Google 'best newborn present' and you'll be hit with a whole load of photos of 'baby gift sets' (vest, teddy, silver rattle if you've gone upmarket, plastic one otherwise). 

Or maybe you'll stroll into BabyGap and snap up a super-cute babygrow; and the new parents might love it - or might have three the same. Or maybe you'll think ahead and buy an age 18m snow suit .. but they live in a tiny flat with no storage space. Or  it won't actually be winter when their babe hits the age range... etc. 

It sounds ungrateful for any new parent to complain about presents - but if you want your gift to wow, here's advice from a host of new parents. 

Their top tips? Gift receipts are useful - parents might want to change the items for a bigger or smaller size, or receive duplicates. Going for luxury versions of everyday goods - which parents couldn't justify but are lovely to use - is a great idea. And personalised gifts are brilliant - they add a dose of nostalgia to everyday items and older kids love them on something like a toy box that lasts longer. I've found the best site around for these to be My1stYears.


For other present ideas, don't forget the gift of time: one brilliant friend organised a 'meal train' - a schedule for the first two weeks' of tiny man's life where family and friends signed up to bring us dinner each night. Amazing - and tech makes it easy to sort out.

If you're struggling for inspiration and want to buy a stand-out memorable present or something really useful for new parents, here are some other great ideas. The best thing about them? They're all provided by current parents-of-babies, who share their best gifts (or the ones they wish they'd received). So... happy shopping! 

Practical parental ideas

"A week by week guide book for new parents (such as "Your Baby Week by Week" or "The Wonder Weeks") is great - they can read it ahead of each week. It's been invaluable to us as it's contextualised our little one's behaviour."

"A little present I really appreciated was the Milestone cards - you can capture your baby, the milestone and the date in one image."

"I loved receiving luxury items I wouldn't necessarily have shelled out on - like Aden & Anais' comfort muslin."

"A Beaba for weaning, a sheepskin mat/rug... and a handheld vacuum cleaner..."

"I loved Sock Ons for a non-summer baby - keeps you from losing all their tiny socks."

"My most useful were a Morrck blanket, toys for when slightly older (stacking cups etc), and bowls, spoons, plates for weaning. Remind people to consider season changes when buying slightly bigger clothes- I received lots of summer outfits age 3-6 months when it will be oct-dec!"

"Gro bags and pyjamas for 9-12 and 12-18 month (i.e. anything you use over and over again)."

Personalised goodies

"A gorgeous fluffy, hooded bath towel from The White Company was my fave."

"The personalised blankets, shawl and teddy we received from My1stYears are so cute.... but be aware that they then can't be reused for future kids."

"A hand painted personalised wall plaque, and a hand-knitted baby blanket."

Thoughtful gifts

"My favourite was vouchers to get my newborn's hand & footprints made."

"The best thing that anyone did for me after both children was bring over home cooked, healthy meals for the freezer. I found it considerably more useful than another Jellycat rabbit... (Not to sound ungrateful, the rabbits are great!)"

"We were in hospital for a long time following our baby's birth, so it was really touching when people sent fruit and cakes etc to the ward (for us and the neonatal staff)."

"Cook" frozen ready meals - they were amazing!!

"The friends who turned up wearing ropey clothes, carrying Cif and just cleaned our house for us to the backdrop of our dropped jaws!"

"Parents' night in pack - DVD, takeaway vouchers, chocolate, wine..."

"My friends clubbed together to buy us a family and newborn photoshoot - such beautiful shots, they're framed all over our house."

"A baby tree to grow alongside the tiny baby."

The presents mums remember best...

"My sister-in-law got us a weekly chunk of cake delivered in the post for the first three months. It was amazing and just what we needed."

"We received a silver piggy bank, such a lovely prezzie!"

"A box of newborn and baby medicines."

"The best present ever was a Tuppence & Crumble star wrap. Used it pretty much everyday for 9 months."

"Books. The nice thing about having others getting us books was that their choices were very different from what we (would have) bought. And many of those given books turned out to be a favourite of our son! Also I find it such a nice touch to give a book in this day and age where everything is a screen and electronic."

"I was given some expensive essential bath oils. When I finally managed to have a long soak in the bath (rather than a 2 second shower in between feeds) this was totally relaxing and luxurious."

"Cuddle dry apron towel... still using it five years on, mainly to keep me dry when they're splashing!!"

"A fold away play mat for when you're out and about - super useful."

"The presents I loved/appreciated the most were given before I had the baby - Tena pants,breast pads,nipple balm,snuffle babe,Kirkland wipes,Milton wipes,Infacol,moisturising antibac hand wash,hand cream - all the essentials."

"My sister gave me babysitting vouchers."

"Clothes from anywhere with a very relaxed exchange/refund policy - changed about 15 presents from Next for different sizes so that I had a good range of clothes to last her whole first year with very few receipts and no trouble! Good old Next.."

"I most appreciated it when friends or family clubbed together to buy things that are essential and more expensive - like the car seat. Teddies were a big no no for me! Just haven't got a purpose for 20+ teddies!"

But one mother responded: "I used to think that about all the teddies my little one received, but now she is one she loves them all and likes to pick a different one each night to take to bed. It's really cute how she cuddles and kisses them. They will serve a purpose one day!"

"Something nice for the mum who may well be in need a pick-me-up - chocolate, toasty bed socks, new hoodie, bottle of gin..."

"The baby had everything we needed for her anyway - so I loved the engraved ring I got from my parents and the wine my friend bought for me (even if it took me a year to actually drink it!"

"A piece of rain forest."

"My best present is coming tomorrow: my night nurse."

"Someone bought a Starbucks gift card as she said I'd be spending lots of time there."

"The things that still stand out 11 months later are: a really nice framed pic from notonthehighstreet with baby's date of birth, place of birth, number 1 song, price of a stamp, PM etc that we love, also a Sophie the giraffe toy that I had never heard of and is the best thing we've used for teething (even if it does sound like a dog toy), and clothes/sleeping bags in bigger sizes so we ended up not having to buy much as he grew."

"A friend dropped in with a home cooked lasagne and a cake, stayed 20 mins to coo at the baby and declined a cup of tea. Excellent present. Better than any number of pink babygros!"

"I would have preferred it if everyone who kindly bought us gifts had just donated money to a children's charity."

"We had a nursery list at John Lewis which made it so much easier."

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Monday, 20 July 2015

Brent Cross for babies and toddlers


I thought I knew everything there was to know about Brent Cross. It was the first place I went without a grown-up; for years it was the place for our tweenage meet-ups (Claire's Accessories, then McFlurries), and for the past decade it's been the place I 'pop' to of a Saturday or after work to 'grab a few bits' (returning several hours later, loaded with bags of stuff which I generally return the following week).

I've always parked in the same place (Fenwicks/Ted Baker entrance: get outta my way), and sped-walked the same shop-route. So obviously it was the first place I took tiny man shopping (with my mum, casually hoping to bump into people to Show Him Off).. 

And then I realised there was a whole side of Brent Cross that I hadn't known about... the best loos to visit with a buggy, the speediest lifts, best feeding rooms, and changing places.. Here's the inside track, with more excellent shared wisdom from Facebook mamas.

Changing 

Don't make the easily-made mistake of heading to the main Brent Cross loos: in the ones near M&S you'll queue for ages for the single cubicle, and the whole place always seems to stink. 

The centre ones near the food hall are better - but the best option of all is to head to a shop. Mothercare, John Lewis and Fenwicks all have changing/feeding areas. Mothercare's is in the back, right corner as you enter. There are three changing stations, a sink, water machine, and three rocking chairs for feeding. 

Mothercare is best if your baby has older sibling as they have a couple of toys to play with... but it can get smelly by the end of the day.. 

John Lewis' facilities are on the top floor near A Place to Eat, and it has paper mats to lay on the changing table to put more of a barrier between your baby and icky surface. It also has a mini proper toilet which is good for potty training. The restaurant also has bottle warmers and a microwave, and a curtained-off bit for breastfeeding mums who want more privacy.

Fenwicks facilities are on the third floor, next to the ladies' loos. It's usually empty.

Eating

Leon is top-rated by mums: "they do the most baby-friendly food (low salt and sugar even baby friendly ketchup) and have a play-corner in the restaurant." "Pizza Express also does good kids' meals - and don't forget Carluccios in Fenwicks. All do activity packs too." 

Parking

There are 68 'parent and baby' spaces in Car Park 'G', located outside of John Lewis, but it's not covered so you might prefer the multi-storey car parks if it's raining.

Random

You can get your buggy cleaned at American Carwash in Brent Cross. Says one mum: "they did an amazing job, they also clean car seats for under £10 - really worth it!"

"I'm always aware that kids utilise all senses lots at different classes but not so much smell," adds another, "so I go to John Lewis or the White Company and we do some candle/infusers smelling. Baby looks confused but toddler loves it."

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Thursday, 9 July 2015

The best baby thing I never knew I needed

I live in a two-bedroom flat, in London, and my two-month-old baby already has more trousers, beds, coats, hats, and PJs than I do; it's only a matter of time before his book and shoe collection overtakes mine in space demands too. So I'm not a fan of superfluous baby cr*p: as I wrote here, I was in a state of shock'n'awe wandering around Babies R Us and discovering you can actually buy such rot as baby wipe warmers - it would surely be easier to cut out the middle-man and flush your money rather than the wipes directly down the drain.

So when I heard about the Babyni* - an oddly-named "multi-function play-pen" - I was sceptical. Looked to me like a baby could just as happily lie on a play mat, which I've already got and takes up a lot less room. But then I tried out this contraption - and it turns out the Babyni's annoying name is almost the only bad thing about it. It's brilliant. Here's why:

* I used it in the garden, where its hood provided 50 SPF shade protection from the sun, its mosquito net kept out any bugs, and its high sides deterred the nasty biting red ants that litter my lawn and are a big reason why I've been staying inside my flat with my newborn on warm summer days. But now we'll be outside all the time.

* I'm also definitely going to take it on holiday, because it's the perfect way to provide clean wriggle-space at the airport, or on the beach or by the pool. And...

* It has a soft mattress that means you can use it as a travel cot (though I'd put the whole thing on a duvet rather than directly on a hard floor) and...

* There's this video (below) where a woman swiftly and easily gets the Babyni back into its tiny portable carry-bag. I thought, yeah, right, this is going to be like those sleeping bags where it's impossible to return the mahoosive contents back into their sack. But that's not true - it's a pop-up tent and it really, really is easy.




There are some bad points: the instructions are primarily in French (the company was set up by a gaggle of French dads) or made up of confusing diagrams that'll remind you of Ikea building struggles. But the two-minute video (above) sort that out. And construction does take a minute or two - you have to pull up about a dozen little pegs - but it's very easy especially after the first time. Also, there's little info about ages - but the product itself says only use it until the baby crawls as he/she will be able to climb out otherwise.

I'm looking forward to taking this on holiday - not least because of one Amazon review I just read of the Babyni, where the buyer said he took the bag on the plane as his 10kg allowance for baby equipment. "There is plenty room in its wee bag to shove in nappies and a bit more, as the thing itself weighs nothing close to 10 kg which they give you," he wrote. "So I brought back three bottles of Rioja in mine, padded with left over nappies." Cunning stuff.

* Item sent to Run out of Womb for review. Rest assured, though, that I'm seriously gobby and would never rave about something that's rubbish.





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Monday, 6 July 2015

Guest post: Why changing bags are a waste of money


Mum-blogger Emma Ross talks bags and babies:
I ummed and ahh-ed about choosing a baby changing bag for ages. I think it was because it was my first opportunity to add some of “me” into motherhood.. But everything I saw in the shops was either covered in cupcakes or polka dots or plain and "trendy" to a degree that it looked like something my hipster friends would take to work. 
On top of these so extremely important stylistic issues, I suffer from back pain which isn't ideal for lugging copious amounts around with me (read: everything you need to keep a baby alive). Moreover, I don’t even own a traditional handbag so there was little chance that as I embarked on motherhood that I would suddenly embrace normal female bag habits. The situation was calling for one thing and one thing only: a rucksack.
Why men get to wear rucksacks when women blatantly have a tonne more to carry around has always baffled me. And with motherhood looming, I decided to full on embrace geek motherhood. In the end I went for an Eastpak Aztec rucksack, which I absolutely love - and my son Jack is now one and a bit. It sits firmly on my back, is big enough to hold everything I need for him, plus a few of my own essentials, and I think it's pretty funky too. 
If someone could just invent a rucksack with compartments, I'd be sorted as my lipsticks have ended up stuck in the creases of Jack's nappies a fair few times.. 
So if any pregnant ladies are reading this, embrace comfort and space, with a bit of chaos - eschew the stereotypical changing bag and get yourself a backpack.

Read and watch more from Emma at 
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Thursday, 2 July 2015

What I Wish I'd Known - Feeding the Baby


When 200 mums responded to my question 'What's the one thing you wish you'd known before becoming a parent?' on Facebook, by FAR the most common response was about feeding their baby. Breastfeeding, formula feeding, or struggles with either can be one of the most stressful parts of newborn life.. especially since many pregnant women are led to believe it's straightforward. 

Personally the thing I wish I'd known is that the maxim that if breastfeeding hurts, you're doing it wrong is... wrong. Newborns might be little but they come out all set to win an Olympic gold in suction - and nipples are sensitive things that probably haven't had much rough treatment in their pre-baby life. So even though I was breastfeeding effectively and my tiny man was thriving off the milk, in those early days the first latch was toe-curlingly ouch-y for a few seconds. I'd actually do labour-style breathing to get through it. And when I had a shower and the (soft) towel brushed those boobs... OW. 

But after a few weeks, it eased up. I was really impressed by the range of breastfeeding support out there - NCT helpline, health visitors, expert breastfeeding counselors at local children's centres - use them! One helped me improve a dodgy latch that made me feel much more comfortable and my baby happier.

Equally, breastfeeding doesn't always work out - don't over-stress if so. This is the collective wisdom and advice of new parents on feeding babies:

I WISH I'D KNOWN...

"That breastfeeding doesn't make you a good mother. Feeding your child in the best way for you does. A happy mummy is way more important for your baby than breast milk is."

"How agonizingly painful breastfeeding would be at first - and, how once I got over the pain (3 months down the line), how comforting and enjoyable it could be."

"I wish someone had told me about newborns cluster feeding - that it may happen, that there's no point in fighting it and you may as well just watch lots of TV. Don't feed in bed, in the dark, with a sleeping other half next to you, and don't try to put the baby back in their Moses basket every two minutes! No point."

"Not to feel guilty if you had a Caesarean or can't breastfeed. As long as your baby is healthy & being fed suitable milk, then that's fine. My now-11 year old is proof these two things don't matter."

"About the after pains (uterus contracting) that you get whilst breastfeeding in the early days. They can be horrendous and you will feel very emotional on about day 3." (I agree - felt like bad period pains, but I told myself it was helping to get my body back to normal.)

"That breastfeeding isn't easy and requires perseverance in the early days but it's rewarding once established."

"That I'd learnt how to milk myself (ie extract the colostrum from the nipple) - it's so useful in cases where baby doesn't latch on - you can bottle the goodness. Hospitals offer classes on how to do it."

"How much time I would spend feeding the baby in the first 3 months.."

"One thing I wish I'd learnt beforehand was how to make up a bottle! I never realised that sometimes breast feeding doesn't work out! Breastfeeding is a huge sacrifice and commitment of your time. Everyone does things differently, there is no right and wrong just do what makes you feel comfortable and happy. I remember being discharged from hospital and the midwife asking if I had any questions before I went home and I said "oh you haven't told me how to make up a bottle" (as they just have you the ready made ones) and she just laughed at me! I had to call a friend over as soon as I got home to show me!"

"My top breastfeeding, especially in summer, is to have large bottles of water and a glass in all the places you might feed!" I agree - and used bottles with sports caps that are easy to open one handed. Also, have a muslin to hand for inevitable post-meal sick..

"I wish I'd known that if your child has not passed urine give them a bottle to see if he/she is not dehydrated. NHS staff is so hell bent on breastfeeding they will not advise you of a formula top up even when it's evidently in the best interest of your child."

"Put a muslin between you and the baby when breastfeeding in the height of the summer or u will end up having to peel your baby off your skin!!"

"There is plenty to prepare you for labour if you want it and you expect pain but NOBODY tells you how hard breastfeeding is initially. I wasn't prepared for the searing toe curling pain when baby first latches and then the contractions during a feed. I wasn't prepared for the super pain that comes with engorgement and blocked ducts and the tears that followed when having to feed baby."

"Get a dual breast pump with a bra that attaches so that your hands are free." 

"If you plan to bottle feed at any point buy a Perfect prep machine- the best bit of kit we owned."

"if you want to bottle feed (expressed milk or formula) introduce the bottle earlier rather than later. Parents who introduce a bottle around 4 or 5 weeks seem to do well. Parents who wait until their baby is 3 months old often struggle to get their baby to accept it."

"Whilst in hospital, ask advice on different positions to breast feed (you may be sore after birth & not want sit upright/baby might not latch on in the "usual" position). If you wish to breastfeed and the baby is not latching on and one - or even two - midwives are spectacularly unhelpful (as happened to me) don't be afraid to keep asking for help but with different midwives. It took three different midwives before one actually helped and actually suggested skin to skin contact and not just simply force baby onto my breast!"

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What I WISH I'd known - newborn days

This is part two of the collective wisdom of mamas - covering those early days of your baby's life - and your possibly painful body..


Early postpartum days: mamas wish they'd known...

That being utterly overwhelmed and terrified is completely normal when you come home from hospital!

I wish I'd known that it's normal to bleed for months after birth (not just weeks) and the more you exert yourself every day, the more/longer you'll bleed

That it is extremely painful and basically impossible to go to the toilet (poo) few days after giving birth, when your digestive system starts to work normally again. Firstly because you scared that your sutures will rip and everything will fall out when you push. Glicerine suppositories are the answer.

Try to get dressed and even put a little make up on if you feel like it - this made me feel more "normal" and like myself in the early days. I know it's not exactly a priority but I felt much more ready for whatever was thrown at me because I felt a bit more confident once I had some proper clothes on, had a little make up on and my hair was straight...!

I wish I'd known that once you have given birth you will still look 6 months pregnant.. Kate Middleton excepted..

The best ever advice I got was: a bad day is precisely that, a bad day! No two days are the same. The day after a bad day will be so much better!

Accept help! If it's cooking or looking after baby whilst you shower!

Life will never be the same again.....mostly for the best though!  Also, there will be extremely tough days but the good days make all those bad days seem worth it. Being a parent is the hardest job you'll ever do but it is also the most rewarding job you'll ever do which no amount of money can buy!!x

You are not a failure if not everything you intended to do that day didn't get done! It's pressure you put on yourself. Keep expectations realistic so you feel good about yourself! Ask family for help not everyone knows what it is that you need but lots iwant to feel useful in those first few weeks.

It's ok as long as you know the baby is safe to go to the toilet and ignore the crying for 2 minutes. And to shower / brush your teeth/ hair. This does not make you a neglectful mother! But u won't have hrs to do this so get cracking.

Mothers' guilt is a thing you will juggle with the rest of your your child has only one set of parents and you will try your best and still feel guilty for not doing what x mum does. 

Parenting is not a competition if someone wants to b better than you simply explain that you are not in the race puts ppl the snooty buggers right off


You don't need to be anywhere near as prepared as you think! Half the stuff I bought never got used! Just go with the flow and get ready for a whirlwind of love!!! Good luck.

It's the best thing I ever done, those first few weeks are so amazing - enjoy every second. That's why I went onto have four kids and more if I could, but my body said no. Feel blessed - it's the the best gift in the world.

How much fun it is to have a baby! Stressful, tiring, difficult etc etc too of course but I heard so much negative stuff when I was pregnant from people with kids that I was really surprised that my life didn't suddenly end when my daughter arrived.

Health visitors are rubbish and blame everything on colic. Join groups like Facebook's Babies, Babies, Babies and Mumsnet who can give you real insight into issues like reflux, tongue tie and allergies which can cause a lot more problems then trapped wind!

It does get better and easier each day and before you know it they are 18 months old and you wonder why you ever thought a newborn was hard work!


Newborn days

Enjoy every cuddle, people always say 'get them in a routine, don't form bad habits' blah blah blah. I loved those newborns cuddles and snoozes on my shoulder. Also, everyday gets better and better ! (Especially once you start getting sleep again, I didn't realise how tough the lack of sleep would be but you deal with it at the time).

That it takes about six months for most babies to start sleeping well and for some sort of normally to resume. You will have time again for yourself, the haze of all hands on deck does sort itself out 

If in doubt a newborn is always hungry! And don't be embarrassed to ask people for help or advice.

If your child is not developing as fast as others, don't panic but stay alert. And if they do end up having additional needs you are not alone. There are excellent support groups available for every eventuality.

Me and my husband swear by this phrase for the first 6 months: 'what is said at 3 o clock in the morning stays at 3 o clock in the morning!'

Everything is a 'phase'!


Sleep

Pre-baby I think I said "I'd never co sleep"... Post baby I said "whatever gets me the most sleep I'm happy to co sleep" .. 21 months later I'm still co sleeping 

Be noisy, vacuum next to them whilst sleeping, don't whisper and don't tip-toe! Try not to create a sleep atmosphere that is unachievable, say... if the power is out, or you're on holiday. Keep it simple!

I wish I'd known that babies might cry because they are tired. I thought they just fall asleep on their own!



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What I WISH I'd known .. pregnancy and labour

On the first night of our baby boy's life, he lay in his little, see-through hospital crib and peacefully slept the whole night long. I didn't, of course, waking up every half hour or so to check on him and because I was feeling so high as well as the after-effects of the long experience that had bought him into that crib... But he did, slumbering quietly. Next morning, we hopefully wondered if we'd had a miracle babe who slept right through From The Very First Night.

Nope, turns out dazed-n-confused brand new babies usually do sleep through their first 24 hours out of the womb. 

The next night - our first at home - tiny man Would. Not. Sleep. At. All. 


We were feeling pretty desperate. Next morning I asked our NCT Whatsapp group for tips. They included rolling up a towel in the Moses basket to make it more cosy and womb-like, using a gro-bag rather than blanket, and using a night light instead of switching the light on for night feeds. 


I don't know WHICH one helped - because I did them all and nights since have been so much better that I've kept them all up as a result.


But what I realised was the amazing collective wisdom of other mums. That's what inspired this series of posts: parents (mostly mums) reveal The One Thing I Wish I'd Known. If you're pregnant or a struggling new parent, I hope this helps you as much as those fellow mums helped (and continue to help) me. 

The one thing I wish I'd known, by the way, is that after going through labour, everything hurts going back to place. It's not excruciating, but it does hurt: however you birth, your body has gone through a lot. So don't be surprised (as I was) that it can take a few weeks before you're walking totally normally (rather than a ski-like-shuffle), or if you need to send someone out for a soft ring cushion to sit on. Stock up on moist toilet roll for those first few days - and the sexiest drink in the world: prune juice. Don't ask, just guzzle... Over to the other mums:


Pregnancy and relationships


Try to go on holiday with your other half before the arrival - nothing tests a relationship like sleep deprivation and a new baby! 


Make as much food pre-baby as possible. ( I thought I went into early labour, and was crying. The midwife asked me if I was worried - I said 'no it's because I haven't filled me freezer' and she thought I was nuts!


NCT isn't so much about the learning, but the meeting of amazing people who are going through the exact same thing as you are at exactly the same time. I definitely wouldn't have coped without seven very very special people in my life.


Spend more time reading baby books than pregnancy books. There will not be any time once baby is here. This will help with preparing for extra tough times such as growth spurts.


Google is not your friend. Don't Google everything, you can just end up scaring yourself.


Don't rush the time away..... They are only newborns for such a short time that even when it's really hard try to cherish the moments .... They'll be walking and talking before you know it!


Always ask for help if you need it and take each day at a time! And enjoy the cuddles because maternity leave flies by..




Shopping

Have a changing mat upstairs and downstairs. 


Get a baby bath like a tippy toes to avoid back pain when bathing baby. 

Stock up on 'snuffle babe' for when bubs has a cold, Don't always go with the gro bag guidelines as my daughter was born last September and I followed the guidelines only to realise after several unsettled nights that she was cold! 

Stock up on all non perishables from tins and pasta to detergent and toiletries. I found it helpful not to have to worry about any shopping other than some fresh stuff!

Always have spare nappies, wipes and a change of clothes in the car just in case you forget to replenish your changing bag!

Buy soap that comes in a pump bottle, babies are slippery and it's much easier. Set up online grocery shopping if you don't already shop online.

Get a dual breast pump with a bra that attaches so that your hands are free. Get a sling and use it. 

Labour 

My hubby would have liked to have known that it's not unusual for women to be sick during labour.


That you can't rule out C-section- if you have one, remember you will need to recover from major surgery and look after s new born- in which case- plan to get help- have a plan ready in case unplanned of c- section.


An epidural is not something to be ashamed of. No medals being handed out for enduring childbirth without pain relief..


 Don't be bullied during labour, listen to your body and speak up if you are not happy with how things are going or how you are being treated.


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