run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Tuesday 30 June 2015

The Liebster Awards

I was going to say you don't get awards for parenting, but a wobbly first smile or first cuddle are pretty amazing awards, just without the trophy. Still, I was happy to learn that my little blog, Run Out of Womb, has been nominated for a Liebster Award, by Lisa, the brilliant mum at Travel Loving Family.

The Liebster awards are given out by other bloggers as a way to celebrate and discover new blogs. Part of the award rules involve posting... 11 interesting facts about yourself, answers to questions asked by the blogger who nominated you, and links to your nominated blogs, so here goes..
So 11 facts about me ...
1. There is a very cool one-size-fits-all clothes shop where every single item fits me, even though I'm only a bit bigger than 5 ft. Unfortunately, that shop is in South Korea.
2.  I hate goats cheese. 
3.  I've written six books but dream of writing a novel.
4. I'm a world-class hula hooper (according to my seven-year-old niece).
5. My two favourite TV programmes are University Challenge, and Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
6. I once thought eyebrow-threading was more painful than childbirth. Then I gave birth...
7. I wanted to be a journalist since I was little, and had my first published article (in the Daily Telegraph) aged 16.
8. When I passed my driving test, and phoned my dad to tell him, and he didn't believe me.. :)
9. I'm unheathily obsessed with my iPhone.
10. I've tried zillions of posh chocolates (mostly thanks to work), but am still happiest with a slab of Cadbury's Dairy Milk.
11. I thought I finished doing these '17 factoids you didn't know about me' when I was 12.
liebster2My answers to Travel Loving Family's questions
* How did you decide on the title of your blog? It was the best pun I could come up with after three hours' sleep.
* What do you hope to achieve from blogging?
Lots of readers
* What do you enjoy the most about blogging?
Writing time and freebies.
* City break, beach holiday or cruise?
* Action movie or chick flick?
Chick flick
* What is your favourite season?
* What would you do if you won the lottery?
Buy a new house
* What is your favourite social media platform?
* What is your favourite blog post? (hyperlink) 
* If you ruled the world what would you do?!
 Redistribute the population more fairly.
My nominated blogs... followed by their questions
My questions for you...
* What's your most popular blog post?
* Cold press juice or fry-up?
* What are your parenting regrets and successes?
* Stilettos or Uggs?
* Bert or Ernie?


Tuesday 23 June 2015

Seven tips for Tube travel in London

This is a photo I snapped on a recent Tube strike, which I thought was the biggest and most annoying obstacle to travelling in London. Now I know, it's not: that's travelling with wheels.

Having a buggy means swathes of the Tube network are out of reach - unless there are two of you, or a helpful bod with spare muscle willing to give you a literal hand. It's far worse for wheelchair users, as I wrote in a recent column: "let’s hope no one in a wheelchair wants to go on the Central line — only one in 10 stations has step-free access. Bakerloo? One in 12. Surely the 1999-built Jubilee is OK? Not so much — only just over half of its stations are accessible, according to charity Leonard Cheshire Disability." On the Tube as a whole, barely one in three stations can be approached by wheels.

So what to do about it? This is what I've learnt from my gallivants into town.

1) Plan your timings.. Going into town after 10, and leaving central London by 4.30 means missing out on commuter and stinky-armpit fest, aka rush-hour. Buggies take up a lot of room - so travelling when there's more available makes sense.

2) Take a sling.. Sure, it would be a lot easier to go into town without a buggy at all - but for most of us, schlepping a heavy baby all day just isn't feasible. And buggy baskets are great for shopping... But I'd still advise you take a sling too if you've got one - it means that if you find yourself having to haul a pushchair up stairs or balance it on the escalator with no one around to help, you can ensure your baby is safe on you even if the chair takes a tumble.

3) Leave extra time.. you might need to skip some over-crowded carriages and wait for a quieter train to arrive

4) ... And plan your journey, hard. If at all possible, use stations with disabled access (blue wheelchair circles on the Tube map). And don't forget how walkable central London is: eg, instead of crush-a-thon Oxford Circus with its escalators and stairs, walk 10 minutes to Green Park with its wide corridors and lifts. The best route I've found from town to NW London is walk to Green Park, take the Victoria Line to Euston, walk across to the Northern Line platform, and take a Tube northbound.
TfL's Journey Planner is a good place to start - you can set it to find buggy-friendly routes avoiding steps and escalators.

5) Smile. Or take thank-you sweets. You're going to need to face the sudden spectre of five steps between you and the platform and will need to rely on people's good nature to help you. Luckily, almost everyone is willing to help (apart from actual TfL staff, who've told me they're forbidden from helping on escalators because it's too dangerous...

6) Is there another option? The bus, Docklands Light Railway and overground train have buggy spaces and much better access. The only risk with buses is that if there's already a buggy or wheelchair on board you might not be allowed on - or could have to collapse your buggy uuuuugh! Going east or west? A Thames ferry is pricier but easy with a buggy and lovely on a summery day.

7) The techy route: one mum who faced Tube battles with her buggy roped in her ante-natal class friends to help research 315 routes and create the £1.49 app Gobaby for buggy-friendly route-finding. It found Harrow on the Hill on the Metropolitan line was one of the worst stations, with 57 steps. It also lists local baby-changing facilities to your location. 

Sunday 21 June 2015

The Ultimate Baby Holiday Packing Check-list

We’re just back from our first holiday with our tiny man; a week in a sunny family flat on the south coast. Our destination was on the third floor, with no lift, and on previous trips we’d schlep what I thought was loads of belongings up and down the stairs – dozens of outfits, shoes, huge amounts of food, a heap of books, board games, laptops... 

Well, this time us two grown ups had two tiny rucksacks each. Two outfits, one pair of shoes, toothbrush - that was about it. Why? Because baby-phernalia took up every other pocket of space.

We crowd-sourced what to take first, and ended up with a check-list of baby holiday must-haves that we’ll be referring back to on any future breaks. So here it is – because if I leave it on my scrap of paper I’ll lose it, and here it will only go AWOL if Google decides to vaporise it, which is slightly less likely. And it might be useful for you.


Buggy. Ours takes up our entire boot. Whoops..
NB a lightweight buggy like a Maclaren is useful if your baby is big enough. Otherwise, if you’re flying you might want to buy (often available second-hand) a buggy bag to protect your pricey travel system from being hurled around at the airport.
A sling - super-useful for airports, travel, sleeping, etc.
A mosquito net and sunshade or rain cover for the buggy- depending on where you're going
Car seat if needed / not provided in hire car (if one is, check with the firm to ensure it’s the right one for your baby’s age.)


Three baby sleeping bags – so if two are heavily vommed on, there’s a spare. Go for 0.5 tog in hot countries but beware of air conditioning – you might need a thicker one
Baby monitor if you think you’ll need it
Travel cot - if one isn't available – or buy/borrow a portable one like this if not 
Travel blackout blind, and one for the buggy too so the baby sleeps better whilst you’re out in the evening
Plug in night-light if useful
Cot sheet if wanted


A blanket for legs-kicking-air time
Couple of toys/ books/cuddly toys
Swim float for babies if wanted
Bouncer - this is a big luxury and only if you're on a UK / driving break - but it can be really useful, especially at meal-times
Baby CD for hire car


14 outfits or babygrows (2 changes per day)
10 short-sleeved body-suit vests (useful for bedtime if warm) and 2 long-sleeved ones just-in-case
Sun hat(s)
Two cardigans/coat/all-in-one for cool evenings if you’re going somewhere hot; more if somewhere cold
10 muslins
Swim nappies if needed - two reusable or 10 disposable
Baby sunscreen
Sun hat
Baby sunglasses
Baby towel
UV protective all-in-one swimsuit(s)


One pack of nappies and buy the rest when you get there - or, if impossible, 60 nappies (allows for 8 changes a day plus a decent number of spares) 
3 packs of wipes
1 packs of nappy sack
Portable changing mat (or 5 disposables)

First aid kit

Baby Calpol
Baby Nurofen
Teething gel
Bug repellent for the room (not recommended to use direct on babies)
Antiseptic cream
Nappy barrier cream


If you’re breastfeeding: two nursing bras and enough breast pads, plus expressing equipment if using. (And if so, sterilising stuff as below). A scarf / nursing shawl.

For formula-fed babies: check if your hotel/Airbnb/rental/etc has a kettle (take a travel one if not) to boil up water - if you’re going abroad, health visitors recommend only using bottled mineral water to avoid bad tummies. Buy the one with the lowest mineral content and salt (Na on the label) content.
For sterilising - you can use a big Tupperware box with a lid (or buy steriliser liners) and cold water sterilising tablets rather than packing a steriliser. Or opt for pricier pre-sterilised bottles. Easier still but also expensive (and hefty) is buying enough ready-made cartons of formula. For all of these options, quantities will depend on how much your baby takes – but as a guide, two containers of powder will usually be plenty for a week’s break. Or find out if your favoured brand is available near where you’re staying.
Bottle brush
At least five bottles and teats
Bottle warmer if used

For weaning babies, also take enough follow-on formula or formula, pre-packed food like Ella’s Kitchen pouches if not available at your destination, and baby porridge.
Travel steamer and blender, if making your own food
A portable highchair – this one that clips to chairs is great - 
A couple of spoons, beaker and bowl

In your hand luggage

(As well as that book for you that you probably won't have time to open..)
Enough pre-made or cartons of formula and sterile bottles for the journey plus any delays (You can take liquid containers larger than 100ml through security at airports if they contain baby food or baby milk)
Baby food and snacks if weaning
Changing mat (same one as above) with enough nappies, wipes, bags and cream for your journey
A change of baby clothes
Calpol (especially in case of ear pain – dummies can also be useful)
Teething gel
Toy(s) – depending on age and length of journey
Baby blanket
Two muslins

and off you go....


Thursday 18 June 2015

Eating apples makes your child prettier..

"Congrats! When will you have another?" is just one of the questions new parents have to grin, bear and get used to. After posting The Worst Pregnancy Advice... That You Won't Be Able to Avoid and having it written about in the Daily Mail, I've been giggling and agog as more mums revealed the advice they were given whilst pregnant. 

Here's what they were told:

 “Eating apples makes your child prettier!”

“My consultant told me to go out for a nice and super-romantic meal the night before my elective c-section. My stomach had the capacity of a walnut, I was dog tired and every part of me ached. What a stupid idea!”

 “Whilst overdue: go and have a bikini wax as it can induce labour..”

“That it is bad luck for the baby for me to go to a funeral whilst I was pregnant”

 “Don't let your baby fall asleep in pram while you are out otherwise they'll never learn to sleep at home in cot....!?! Was I meant to keep poking my baby to keep them awake if I ever wanted to go out??”

"You shouldn't breastfeed in front of other children, it's not nice for them.”

 “When I was around 20 weeks pregnant, a lady at work told me that I wasn't showing in the front but def in the back ..... Cheers love!!!”

“As I was squatting down to get orange juice from the fridge-'don't do that or the baby will fall out!' by a woman with five kids…”

“Someone told me, 'don't raise your hands above your head or the umbilical cord can wrap around the baby's neck.'..”

“A cafe shop owner wouldn't sell me a ham sandwich as it was 'bad for me' and forced me to have tuna instead!”

“When I told my boss I was pregnant he later that day said 'don't get too excited. Anything can go wrong at any time. My friends just lost theirs as nearly 40 weeks. Just stay realistic'....Wow. Thanks boss, that advice will help me sleep at night.”

"Ginger will help you feel better"....when I had hyperemesis and was on salt/sugar solution and anti-emetics.

 “After birth, when your newborn is crying some old lady will always feel the need to come over and say ‘maybe she's hungry dear’. Of course - how could I not think of that one!! You see I was planning in starving my child!!”
 “People asked me at 8 or 9 months "are you SURE it's not twins?" Yeah, pretty positive but thanks for your insight!”

“Whilst pregnant with first child, when do you think you will have a second!?! Really... Let's at least get the first one popped out before that chat!”

 “I'm due in four weeks, and a lot of people have started asking me about my birth plan (a little personal I'd say!) and then offering a lot of advice - most of it telling me I'm wrong, won't manage/be able to give birth in the way I'd like and should just do as they suggest! Needless to say not what you need when the moment is imminent.”

 “ My mum told me it's good to have an odd glass of wine now and then when pregnant as that will make the baby speak sooner once born!”

 “A young girl in EAT asked me how old I was (40) and then proceeded to tell me how bad it was going to be for me since I was so old: I was going to have a really bad time giving birth and there could be complications for the baby. Unbelievable!!”

“The midwife in the hospital said that I was holding my three hour old baby too much and I should put her in the crib and leave her there... I did point out that even if I agreed with her, there was no crib in the room!”

Hey, it's OK! New parents' dirty secrets revealed

One of my colleagues bought me a great present when I went on maternity leave - she said she wanted to get something for me, not the babba-to-be, and piped for a magazine subscription.

Inside that mag there's a feature called "Hey, it's OK if.." which inspired me to put together a newborn mum-focused one. For all the things you learn and all the guilty secrets that go on behind the closed front door on those sleepless, cuddle-packed first few weeks - here is the collective wisdom of mums revealing all:

Hey, it's OK if...

“Your ‘pillow talk’ with your other half – which was never that dirty but sometimes got sexy – is now only about poo. Seriously – is it black? Green? Mustard yellow? Seedy? Watery? Mucousy? The contents of your baby’s nappy basically becomes your only topic of conversation.”

“You spend whole days contorting your face into the ugliest it goes, or singing Baa Baa Black Sheep 42 times in a row, just to get a smile out of your baby... Then feel a bit put out when she grins like a loon at the door handle.”

“You feel seriously jealous of your commitment-free friends' partying/boozing/fun times – especially when you look at all their pics plastered over Facebook during a 3am feed. But then when someone invites you out, and your parents even offer to babysit, you say no... because you’ve realised you'd prefer to have an early night under the duvet. No, defintely not doing that. Just precious, precious sleep.”

“You end up in a situation like I've just gone through - whilst stuck in traffic, desperate for the loo but with an edgy newborn who made me too scared to stop and get the babe out of the car in case it Sets Him Off, I had to pull over and pee on a nappy.. Yes, they are very absorbent, luckily..”

“You feel kinda scared by your baby boy's bits – I had to Google Image to see if mine's looked right. But then, when changing his nappy, I ended up being forced to change all of his clothes (and wash the wall), about six times a day. Because no one told me tiny boys always wee on the changing table, unless you do the penis-pointing-down trick or drape their bits in kitchen roll to avoid A Pee-nami.”

“You once (OK, more than once) forget you've got a baby. Nothing major – I was once at a restaurant, our babe was snoozing in her pram for the whole meal, and I was a few steps from the door before remembering AHH I’ve a newborn and I’m a parent and Proper Grown Up now. I sprinted back to the table and felt serious parental guilt – but then I thought, hey, if David Cameron can do it with a gazillion security guards...”

“You leave your other half in charge for a few evenings. I’ve just done that with my husband and our three-year-old and 10-week-old twins – I went out with friends and had a giggle and remembered what it's like to be sociable (and not talk about your babies!)... And when I got home and was told by my husband (who is normally out all day) about how busy he’s been with feeding, sterilising bottles, changing and getting them all to sleep... I said, 'yes but I do it every day - and I did enjoy my eve off by the way!'”

“You only change out of your pyjamas in the evening, to put new ones on. You justify this by saying that wearing clothes would only mean removing them every hour when they were coated in sick/wee/poop/milk. And so it's OK to invest in really nice pyjamas.”

“When you do wear clothes, you opt for the same patterned t-shirt/jumper.. for weeks on end ... because it hides all kind of muck. And you're super grateful that baby sick doesn't show when it's dried. When said top is in the wash, you don't leave the house.”

“You become a hermit, fervently screening phonecalls and/or creeping to the window to look through a peephole and see who's at the door, because you have NO desire to sit with snoring friends ‘dropping in’ or pokey-nosed relatives. Unless they bring food or cleaning equipment. Then they can come in.”

“You totally change your mind about the length of your maternity leave. I always thought I would go back to work full time after 6-9 months. Instead I reluctantly returned after 15 months’ off - and only for 22 hours a week. I love work, and still work exceptionally hard, but my outlook on work changed drastically and I wasn't anticipating it at all.”

“When your baby wees on your bed, instead of being disgusted you actually reckon it's a good thing ... because you were a bit worried about their hydration and now you feel fully reassured..”

“On the weekend, when you hear your other half-open the bedroom door (from the lounge where he has been kindly entertaining a grizzly baby since 5am) you freeze, do deep breathing, and pretend to still be asleep 'til he leaves.. Then you play Words With Friends on your phone, enjoying the quiet and justifying it by counting how many times you got up in the night.

"You love to wear earplugs..."

“You've worked out that babies are the best social excuse. Frenemy's wedding invite lands? 'So sorry, it's just too tricky with the baby right now.. I wouldn't want her crying during your vows...' Crap party? 'I need to go home to relieve the babysitter/grandma. So sorry...'”

“You secretly love the fact that breastfeeding a) gets you out of a zillion household tasks. Washing up? Oh I have to feed the baby. Laundry? But she/he's hungry... and b) gives you a chance to catch up on your favourite Netflix show.”

“You get some help when you're exhausted. Night nurses are a blessing. Fact."

“You're terrified of stopping breastfeeding because it means no longer justifying that afternoon Dairy Milk with the thought 'I need the extra 500 cals..'"

“You're still wondering if you can pass off your extra stomach rolls as 'baby weight'... when your "baby" is starting secondary school.”

  • Any other parental DLSs to share? 

Friday 12 June 2015

When *all* the babes are in BabyGap...

Babies definitely love their clothes. As in, they love vomming and weeing and pooing all over them. (Note for mums-to-be: make sure your washing machine is ship-shape and buy Napisan stain remover in bulk; you'll soon see why...). Rare a day goes by without our bathroom sink becoming a tiny washing pond, with little vests and babygrows soaking out their bright yellow stains.. Hope you're not reading this over lunch :)

Anyway, the upshot is that babies need a lot of clothes. Get as many hand-me-downs as possible: three nieces and a nephew luckily guaranteed that for my tiny man, and we are so grateful. As I've said in the ultimate newborn shopping list, check out Facebook's Buy & Sell Your Baby Stuff group, NCT nearly-new sales, eBay and Gumtree and ask family and friends if they have stuff they can't wait to declutter heirlooms to pass on too.

But sometimes, for that family wedding or photoshoot or lunch or just because you want your tot to look even more like the cutest baby in the land than they usually do, you'll want to splash out. Where to go? Well, you can visit sites like Alex & Alexa and kit your babba out in Baby Dior (ugh.. and it even has a £750 Fendi changing bag. The site does, though, have really good sales and non-footballers' wives' kids gear too). 

Baby Gap always has uber cute items too - I love its current bird range:

But for something different my favourite splurges are from the quirky British brands out there. Like baby clothing co Shmuncki* - the founder of London told me she loved old-fashioned baby clothes, and her designs marry them with ease (poppers, speedy access to nappies, really soft comfy fabrics). I love this cute harbour-print romper. 

Going for white is always asking for trouble - but it does have a matching bib to save the outfit (and there's a very soft hat too) - it's a lovely summer holiday outfit. There are really cute Liberty print rompers for girls.

Any other favourite special occasion baby clothes?

* 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.

Monday 1 June 2015

The worst pregnancy advice ... that you won't be able to avoid


As soon as you start developing even the tiniest hint of a bump, one thing is more guaranteed than morning sickness: random people will start giving you weird, usually unwanted advice. 

My postman once told me off for running down the stairs too fast. People on the Tube judge what you eat. They prod you and announce that you're too big/small - and are you sure you're just having the one baby...?

Everyone has an opinion on pregnancy and bringing up kids. And they’ll tell you that opinion even – in fact, especially – when you don’t want it.

I asked members of the brilliant Facebook group Babies Babies Babies (the place to go to ask questions of other parents when you DO want a question answered) the most annoying, ridiculous, mean or just plain unsolicited advice they’ve been given...

          “My office cleaner told me - before I knew the sex -  "you're definitely having a girl because she's taken all your beauty". UH, THANKS!

         “'You shouldn’t be lifting anything,' says everyone.. without offering to help. So who else is going to do it for me then?!!”

          “I had a religious nut tell me that because I was pregnant out of wedlock my child was illegitimate. So I should terminate the pregnancy. This world is so warped.”

         "Everyone said to me.. ‘Make the most of 'it' now (with various definitions for 'it')'ll all change when the baby's here..... With a smug/knowing nod..’ Helpful?!

          “In the middle of a scan, we were asked if either my husband or I have twins in our families. When we both looked at each other with a panicked look of horror, the guy said ‘oh I was just curious, no twins here.’ Why would you do that to someone..?!”

           “As a radiographer, I had patients constantly asking me if it was safe to be x-raying them and maybe I should be working somewhere else.. I felt like saying ‘yes, I need someone that knows nothing about radiation and my job to tell me where I am safe.....'"

         “The moment you tell someone you're pregnant they think it's completely necessary to tell you every detail of their birth story... I didn't ask so don't tell me!!”

          “I uploaded a pic of my bump to announce my pregnancy on Facebook. Someone responded, “Don't post information or photos of your bump or talk about your pregnancy on Facebook as it's bad luck and you will jinx your baby. “ I deleted that idiot pronto...

          “Random strangers ask you personal questions or offer their opinions about your pregnancy -  I had a security guard in Tesco tell me that I should be in the fruit and veg section when I popped in to buy a chocolate bar!”

                 "Scared about labour? It's easy - it's all about breathing..."

          “Second babies are always bigger..” -  my first was a big baby and second was exactly the same weight..

          “It's definitely a boy, I can tell by the way you're carrying it.” (it was a girl)

          “You should sleep loads now before baby comes!” - will that make you less tired when baby comes?! No!!

          "'First time mums have really slow labours' - well, I went from 2cm to birth in two hours!"

If you've also been inundated with unwanted pregnancy or parenting advice, please share the comments below...

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