Lately I’ve been thinking about booking our little family of four a new holiday – a proper family holiday this time as the last time was more of a mini one than anything as Daddy P didn’t come with us to Fuerteventura. LO, bump and I went around late January and it was lovely. The temp was nice, not too hot, we got to do a few things and enjoyed what was pretty much a chilled out holiday.
As I was six months preggers and so sure I would be going into early labour I didn’t book any activities. I also don’t drive so couldn’t hire a car which is said to be the best way to explore any one of the Canary Islands. However I just wanted to share with you the 5 most important things I think any mum should think about when taking your toddler on their first holiday.
(If you’re not expecting and reading this, here are some great gifts for family members or friends who are)
Expecting a baby whether it’s your first or third is a wonderful experience but it can also be a stressful one. Planning ahead can make things a little easier but from my experience I found that by ‘winging it’ and improvising along the way yields near enough the same results so why add on the extra stress? It’s a bit harder to not stress when it’s your first baby – I remember when I was pregnant with LO I made plans and notes constantly. 1) because of baby brain, I could hardly remember anything and needed constant reminders and 2) I became a little OCD with planning because at the time it felt like it was making a difference and made me feel more in control of my pregnancy.
If you’re a mum to be, you can use this post as a starting point for your wishlist… gifts are what baby showers or baby sprinkles (mini showers for 2nd, 3rd babies) are for! Don’t be shy ladies, everyone who has children knows how hard and expensive raising a child/children can be and we all need a little help from time to time and showers are the time they should be accepted without arguments. Just don’t go crazy and extravagant with your wishlist or your guests may not turn up! 🙂
I love swimming even though I can’t really swim, it’s never stopped me from going in the water and trying to. I have always told myself that when I have children, they will learn to swim. This was an essential goal for me. For the fear of them drowning and just wanting to equip them with the best skills in life, I feel like swimming is one of those things everyone should know how to do.
I took LO to many months of swimming classes with Water Babies from when he was 6 months old until he was about over a year old. They taught him survival skills like holding his breath underwater which was great. Children under three actually don’t have the physical strength yet to physically swim but they can be taught how to get themselves out of trouble should they fall in water. It’s also said the sooner to start the better when it comes to water survival skills as it’s easier to teach when their gag reflex is still strong (from birth to approx. 6 months). However, I couldn’t afford to keep us going there and stopped our swimming altogether. Sad to say, I think he’s probably forgotten all of his swimming survival skills now but I know for sure he hasn’t lost his confidence in the water, regardless of whether he can swim or not.
It was announced in August that a London hospital decided to pilot a scheme that has been a part of the Finnish maternity scheme for over eighty years. I first came across the post on the Baby London website and thought it was such an interesting topic. Upon digging deeper into the article, I came to realise that the Finnish have been supplying new mums with a ‘baby box’ that is filled with mum and baby products. The baby box is used as a sleeping place for the newborn replacing the need for a cot, crib or moses basket.
Apparently, the baby box has been proven to be a really safe place for newborns to sleep as they cannot roll in the box. It’s something that the Finnish have been doing for over 80 years so it’s a big surprise that the UK has only decided to start implementing something like this now. The baby box is also filled with many things a new mum may need from nappies to baby bodysuits to money-off coupons and vouchers for all things baby.
If the pilot is announced as a success, we may see this new maternity scheme rolled out across the UK.
Being a new mum can be a challenge especially in the first twelve months of a baby’s life. Despite this being my second birth I still felt and faced the same things I did when I was a first-time mum; anxiety, newborn worries and challenges (reflux, colic, breastfeeding issues), postpartum problems and body hang-ups, baby blues and generally feeling overwhelmed with everything.
It’s totally common for new mums to find that they get the “baby blues” at some stage in their post-pregnancy life which is completely normal. The majority of the time it will just go away by itself. However, sometimes a little bit of extra support is needed for us mums. I had the baby blues in both pregnancies but this time round found it a little more difficult to cope. Baby Girl was constantly crying and Daddy P was away most of the time. I felt like I was being left alone to defend for myself then having an active toddler on top of that made it even more challenging. Continue reading “The Real World Parenting Awards: Recognising people who go the extra mile”→
Experts and medical professionals will tell you that the safest place for a baby to sleep in the first six months are in a moses basket or a cot. While this is good advice, sometimes you need something more convenient – this is where co-sleeping can become a new mum’s favourite way of sleeping.
As soon as my little princess was born the midwives encouraged skin-to-skin contact which I gave without hesitation. Babies love being close to their mothers so why should this have to change at night? I remember Baby Girl’s first home visit with the health visitor. She went through all these leaflets about how to care for baby, feed baby, sleep with baby and touched on co-sleeping. Here are some of the co-sleeping safety rules which can also be found on the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) website.
Make sure your baby can’t fall out of the bed or become trapped between the mattress and the wall
Keep your baby cool by using sheets and blankets rather than a duvet.
Ensure bedding does not cover your baby’s face or head
Always put your baby to sleep on their back rather than their front or side
Babies don’t need a pillow until they are at least a year old. They should also be kept away from parents’ pillows
Never risk falling asleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair
Never co-sleep with your baby if you (or your partner) smoke/drink/take drugs that affect awareness
I DON’T co-sleep with Baby Girl when I am overly tired because it’s really dangerous to do so (suffocation, rolling on baby, etc). Who knows what could happen when I am in deep sleep that’s been spurred on from being exhausted and sleep deprived.
If you’re not confident about sharing your bed with your baby there’s really good cots and bassinets you can now buy which you put next to the side of your bed like an extension. I have a standard cot and have one side of the rail really low and next to the bed for easy access.
When co-sleeping is carried out safely, it can be a fantastic way for mother and baby to bond and you get to catch up on your sleep and get decent rest. If you breastfeed then you can do so easily and conveniently. You can even find advice on sleep training for your baby. If you think that co-sleeping is right for you and your baby, definitely give it a go, if you haven’t done so already. 🙂
Now looking back, these past 4 weeks have just flown by! I’m now in what mums might call the “fourth trimester” – the period straight after birth where new mums can expect ‘niggles’ like postpartum after-pains and contractions, sore nipples, sleep deprivation and exhaustion… alongside what feels like a daily emotional roller-coaster ride.
The first two weeks were really the hardest – I’m not going to sugar-coat. To be honest, I don’t know how I got through it without catching a bit of the baby blues like I did first time round with LO. I am very lucky to have such a smooth (ish) labour and birth, I didn’t have to worry too much about my own physical recovery. Now feeling a little more energetic I want to share my experience so far as a new-mum with you all.
Remember that every woman and every pregnancy is completely different so take everything on here with a pinch of salt. Your experience may be like mine, it may not – it’s good to learn about other people’s experiences but not rely on them as an indication of how your experiences will be like.
My postpartum body
I gave birth to Baby Girl at 11:19pm and was discharged the next day around 5pm. You can read more about my birth story here. I think the hospitals tend to get you in and out as quickly as possible now if you don’t have any complications during/after birth.
My after-pains didn’t last for long – the pain down below disappeared by day 5-6 which was sooner than I expected. The post-pregnancy contractions were intense at certain times but passed by the end of the first week. My bleeding (lochia) subsided around day 4-5 and I was able to ditch those horrible maternity pads for normal sanitary pads and opted for the night ones when I thought the bleeding was a bit heavier.
I cannot thank my shape wear enough in terms of helping my belly return back to its pre-pregnancy shape and size. After I had LO, it took my belly around 3 weeks before I stopped looking pregnant after birth. This time round, it took me 5 days and Baby Girl was a slightly bigger baby than LO.
Don’t be fooled though – my ‘mum tum’ may look flat but as the muscles are still stretched and slack, I still get the rolls when I sit down or eat too much. Nothing will get rid of this apart from exercise which I plan to start very soon. I will take up proper exercise once I’ve got the all-clear at my 6 week postnatal check-up.
Feeding and supply
Baby Girl was exclusively breastfed since birth so she received her intake of colostrum and my milk supply came through around day 3-4 (sometimes it can take up to 5-7 days). During this time, my nipples were sore (Lansinoh nipple cream is a life-saviour!) and my boobs felt like rocks due to the engorgement. Up until a few days ago, I didn’t realise that they weren’t supposed to feel hard like that. The engorgement went away when I started to fully empty the breast before offering the other one. I remember some nights I wanted to cry because of the pain; Baby Girl was cluster-feeding (feeding every 1-2 hours throughout the day and night) and doesn’t have a great latch because my nipple’s too big and her mouth is too small.
By week 2 I wanted to stop breastfeeding entirely – I was ready to give up. Daddy P encouraged me to continue and suggested me to express to offer me some relief physically and emotionally which I did and boy did it make a difference. Week 3 my boobs felt much softer and my milk supply was starting to match up with her feeding demands. Now, I think I milk supply is established and I have started to express more so Daddy P can take over some of the feeds which has helped me stay sane. I also occasionally co-sleep with bubba at night which makes feeding a little easier and I can get some shut-eye.
I never liked giving LO the dummy when he was a baby and only started when he was around 3 months but have to confess that I’ve already started Baby Girl on the dummy. As she’s a really colicky baby (since day 3) her crying really started to drain me and I made the decision to give her a dummy about a week ago. I make sure that she only has the dummy after a feed and nappy change. She’s been good with it and the dummy hasn’t interfered with the breastfeeding at all. She’s also able to switch from bottle to breast fine but I think that’s because only Daddy P gives her the bottle so she associates the bottle with her dad.
Sleep (or lack of it)
On average, I think I get about 3 hours sleep a day -if I’m lucky and manage to get some rest or have a nap when she’s sleeping that bumps up to about 6 hours a day at the most. Sleep is what I struggle with most at the moment because it’s so hard to do all these new-mum things and have sleep when I have a super active 2.5 year old toddler to keep happy and included. LO is so loving and affectionate toward his sister it’s not hard to get him involved with doing things with her such as nappy changing, entertaining her and comforting her when she cries. It’s trying to find time, or make time shall I say, to give LO his own space and time with mummy. He was the centre of my attention before and now it’s shifted slightly as I now have his baby sister to care for too.
I think the sleep deprivation properly kicks in around 3-4 months so I have all that to look forward to. *a sarcastic yay* A mummy friend advised me to ‘train’ my body to nap which sounds ridiculous but it’s really hard because as a new mum it’s very difficult to shut-off on cue especially when you know that in an hour or two, you’ll need to feed baby again. For those who want to sleep-train their bubbas early on, this sleep guide by BeddingPal has some good techniques for sleep training 1-3 month olds, which you could try.
Being a second-time mum doesn’t exclude me from feeling all those emotions I did first time round. As much as I hate to admit it, I think I did suffer from mild baby blues with LO. With Baby Girl, I did start to feel overwhelmed – I don’t like using the word ‘depressed’ as I don’t think I got to that stage yet but everything did feel like it was getting on top of me. This pregnancy was unplanned and all the “what if…” questions started to cloud my mind. Luckily, by mid-second trimester I started to feel much better about myself and the pregnancy.
It’s been difficult to manage a newborn baby and a toddler especially when Baby Girl has colic so she cries constantly and LO’s testing my patience with his mischievous antics. Despite these small hiccups I am very glad to have friends and family around to offer me their help and support.
Having a baby is a wonderful thing and further along the line I know these post-pregnancy niggles will become a thing of the past and only the good memories will remain. Come on, if having children was that painful, stressful, etc I am sure we women wouldn’t be doing it to ourselves again and again. 🙂
I am sorry it’s been a little while but just didn’t have any time at all away from Baby Girl to write this until now. So here it is, my birth story…
Baby Girl arrived when I was 38 weeks pregnant at a healthy weight of 6lb 8oz – a little chunky bubba (LO weighed 6lb 2oz and was only 5 days early). I had a natural birth and due to the fast labour on the day, there was no time to have my water birth and gas & air like I originally planned.
I strongly believe that I was first in slow labour with Baby Girl as I felt really intense and painful contractions at the start of the week (on the Monday). However, because they weren’t regular and at similar intervals apart, I ignored the signs and dismissed it as really painful Braxton Hicks which is common towards the end of the pregnancy and so I didn’t self-refer myself to Triage or call the labour ward. The rest of that week passed by ‘okay-ish’ and I managed with the contractions that were coming regularly at irregular times throughout the day. I just kept saying to myself “if I can sleep through these contractions then it can’t be real labour”.
On Saturday morning I woke up and hardly felt little movement – I told myself it’s because I am focusing too much on it so once again, I dismissed the signs that it could be real labour. It was also because this day I had organised a day out for LO to the local funfair with a friend so I didn’t want him to miss out. Plus the location of the funfair was opposite the hospital so if anything happens, I can quickly get to the hospital with ease.
We got to the funfair around 1pm and LO went on a few of the rides before wanting to go home. I felt the contractions throughout the day and was sure that was the reasons why I couldn’t feel any movements so didn’t head to the hospital. Instead I headed down to the local Tesco’s to pick up a pack of newborn nappies and some more newborn clothes and maternity pads. I had this feeling at the back of my mind telling me I needed to get these things today otherwise it’ll be too late as my maternity bags were only 80% packed.
It was then 9pm and I had just sat down and realised that the day was almost over and still I hadn’t felt any movement. At that point, I called Triage and asked if it was okay to come in to see someone regarding the movements and the midwife said yes, just to be on the safe side – it was definitely a good thing I went! When I arrived to Triage at 10pm with LO and Daddy P in tow I was hooked up to the machine and left for 30mins as they monitored me. Baby’s heartbeat was found straight away which relieved my initial fears but then those super-painful contractions returned… this time they were coming at regular intervals and I knew at that point I was in labour – it was now real.
Super intense and super fast (I also felt I needed to do a no. 2 so went to the toilet). I passed the bloody, mucus show before finally passing the bowel movement. I waddled back to where I was hooked up and the midwife said she will do an internal examination to see if I am dilated – she was very surprised to find out I was 9cm dilated and ready to push! One of the other midwives commented on how quiet I kept everything. I’m not really a screamer and I think my body just deals with labour pains really well.
Baby Girl arrived at 11:19pm. It was the fastest labour and birth I’ve had so far (30mins it said on my maternity transfer notes) and under what most mums will consider a “perfect birth” with no tears and natural delivery. As it was such a quick birth, my plan of having a water birth went out of the window. I also didn’t have gas & air as the midwives couldn’t get it to me in time. She said if she goes to get it, I could deliver the baby before she gets back so we made the decision to skip it.
Note to self and other mums: a birth plan can be pointless.
Also known as the fourth trimester, this is the period I find really challenging. The breast feeding, post-birth contraction pains, sore nipples, and sleep deprivation. The overnight hospital stay post-birth is also a killer as I always seem to be that new mum with the noisy baby keeping up the ward. Luckily my post-delivery room only consisted of me and one other new mum. I felt sorry for her as Baby Girl was so noisy and her baby was quiet (I don’t she got any rest). *guilty face*
I was discharged from hospital late afternoon the next day which was great. Part of Vietnamese culture a new mum must stay indoors for at least 1 month and banned from leaving the house however in these modern days leaving for essential appointments is possible. Certain foods should also be avoided which I didn’t really stick to this time round as my mum was constantly at work so I didn’t have someone looking over my shoulder to tell me off. 🙂 I tried my hardest not to leave the house so instead of just going out I waited for the days I had to visit the midwives to go out and get some fresh air. I am sure the fresh air also did some good for Baby Girl as she was less irritable when we were out… I guess she doesn’t like being cooped up at home too.
I’ve been super sleep-deprived and exhausted this time round. Baby Girl has problems latching on and is a really colicy baby. She is feeding well which is great as she’s gaining weight well but the colic and fussiness really gets me down – when she cries and screams and there’s nothing I can do to help her stop pains me. She had mild jaundice in the first week which has almost gone now disappeared by herself. Apparently regular feeding and ensuring that she sleeps no longer than 3hrs without a feed helps to get rid of the jaundice. I guess those 4hr periods of no feeds through the night in the first few days came at a price. 😦
Now almost a month old, the colic hasn’t improved so it means a trip to the hospital. The jaundice has gone now but I am shattered from the cluster feeding and constant crying. Hopefully a few months more and she’ll be all better and I’ll be able to get my nights’ sleep back. In the meantime, I rely on her sleeping patterns to get a little catch-up on sleep and rest.
… I can now say the end of this pregnancy is almost near. 🙂
I’ve been logging back into my BabyCentre forum (May 2016 board) and discovered there are a few of us May mums that have met their bubbas already. According to the BabyCentre website babies born from 37 weeks are considered full-term which is a relief. I have been suffering with Braxton Hicks contractions since about 28 weeks pregnant so I am very glad I haven’t popped just yet. 🙂 They also say that you feel the pain, BH contractions etc much more in subsequent pregnancies as the muscles are already stretched out and slacked.
How I’m feeling…
Most days I feel good mentally but physically I am exhausted. Emotionally; it’s hit-and-miss but predominately good (… when I’m not screaming at LO for jumping off the sofa and onto the armchair across the room!).
I’ve been a busy bunny this week; LO returned back to nursery this Tuesday which gave me some time to clean the house, wash Baby Girl’s clothes and work on an illustration. I think I am reaching that “nesting” phase in pregnancy though I am not as obsessive about cleaning as much as I was when I was pregnant with LO.
What I’ve been up to…
I went along with a friend to a pregnancy yoga class in Camden last weekend and definitely recommend any expecting mum to give it a try no matter what semester you’re in. It’s very gentle but you do work up a bit of a sweat… Well, I did a little so maybe that’s just me. The class was held by TriYoga – they have branches all around London but we went on Saturday morning which was the Camden class.
After our lovely yoga sesh, my friend and I went to a nearby vegan/vegetarian restaurant for lunch. She had a lovely salad and I opted for a halloumi cheese and grilled aubergine burger which was incredibly tasty and low in carbs which was great for me.
Yesterday, I met up with my sisters for a lovely lunch at Big Easy in Canary Wharf. It was lovely to get out and have a nice day out with my siblings and I really enjoyed their company. LO was at nursery so it was like a little luxury for me to be out without the little one.
A busy few weeks ahead
As I like to keep busy, I have a few things scheduled for the next few weeks. Tomorrow (Saturday) I have my friend’s baby shower which I am hosting and somewhat a part of as I am celebrating it as my ‘baby sprinkle’ too 🙂 I’m not having a shower this time as I think one for the first child but as I’m having a girl this time, a “sprinkle” will do. 🙂 Then the week after, I have what may be my last pregnancy massage before birth – I’ve also booked it with a facial. Then at the start of May, I will be heading down to Cowshed at Shoreditch house with my mother-to-be friend for a lovely maternity leg/foot treatment and on bank holiday Monday, I will be meeting up with my friend for waffles at a lovely dessert bar although I will probably have just a diet coke float.
Only 6 weeks left until my due date! Eeeeek – not long to go now…
I’ve started my maternity leave as of last week. A little early I know but to be honest I am glad I have taken it now as I can really feel how much my body craves sleep and rest. I have to see a diabetic nurse for the gestational diabetes so the early leave has worked out well for me. This weekend I will be witnessing a school friend’s wedding which will be great fun and amazing but I am scared that my readings are going to get ruined as I am helping with some of the wedding arrangements and don’t think I will be able to eat properly. I also think the wedding reception menu will have a lot of carbs so I am going to have to really watch it.
It’s been good, I’ve been trying my best to control it with my new diet plan but I still find myself cheating every now and then but it’s okay because I make sure I count the calories and carbs so I don’t go over my limit. I found that following a low GI diet has helped me a lot. By knowing which carb foods can push up my blood sugars and which carbs are slow-releasing allows me to eat a good amount and get a good reading.
I have to make sure that I test my blood sugars daily – four times a day to be precise! The tips of my fingers are starting to get sore from the pricking. 😦 It also helps that I have regular appointments (every 2 weeks) with the diabetic nurse to make sure I stay on track and help me manage my GD better. The last time I visited she warned me that I may have to start taking medication if my body can’t manage on diet alone but I think it can. I just needed help understanding the whole low/high GI foods which I now understand much better.
My belly button is sticking out now. The skin is very taut and sometimes a little itchy. I find it really hard to sleep as well, my sides are starting to ache due to the pressure of my body weight on my side. As baby girl’s feet was always poking under my diaphragm and ribs, I kept feeling like I had acid reflux when I was sleeping. I realised that I just needed my head raised higher than the rest of my body so I used my nursing pillow to sleep on which has really helped. It’s actually really comfortable sleeping on the nursing pillow as well and I am so glad I bought a new one as I sold my previous one after LO no longer needed it.
I have been slacking with the exercise so I need to start doing it again. A pregnant friend of mine has invited me to pregnancy yoga in a couple of week’s time so I cannot wait for that. I need to also start picking up the pregnancy pilates class again. All the stretching from the class should help alleviate some of the tension in my body and help to strengthen my body for birth.
I’ve been pretty chilled so far but it’s starting to settle in how close I am to meeting baby girl now. It’s making me a little apprehensive – I think I worry a lot when I have an idea of what’s going to happen. When I was pregnant with LO I didn’t have a care in the world and just took every day as it came and only stressed out a little bit a couple of weeks before he was born. This time however, I think because I know what to expect, I am kind of looking out for the signs which is really annoying as I can’t just CHILL OUT sometimes. I think also because I am expecting baby girl to come early, I am just really anxious. I’ve got a few spa treatments lined up for end of April/beginning of May so hopefully I can take my mind of things after then. For now, I will keep myself pre-occupied with baking, making, and blogging. 🙂