The BreastFeeding box

When I had my pseudo-babyshower (I just had a fun day with the girls for a manicure and dinner out, whilst swapping baby tips and advice,) one of my friends gave me a breastfeeding box. She had been given one by her best friend and found it really useful, so she decided to pass it on. It has been one of the most useful things I received pre-baby so I wanted to share the idea with you – either for those mamas out there who may find it handy, or if you want to buy a really useful gift for a mum-to-be. The bits are all stored in a click lock box and the idea is that you always have everything you need for a feed. I wasn’t sure how useful it would be at first but once I sit down to feed Bea I find I’m constantly asking Pete to bring this or that and the other, (invariably a muslin,) and particularly in the early days when I was less mobile and sore, I knew if I had the box, I had everything I needed.

  1. Lansinoh nipple cream – I used this from the first feed and used to apply after every feed, now I just use it twice daily, after a shower then before bed.
  2. Lansinoh Breast pads (disposable) – I was told not to bother with any others, just stick with these as they are the best and I did, until I forgot some when we went away for the night recently and I had to pick up some in Tesco’s, which were dreadful. These have something in the middle that absorbs moisture and sucks it in forming a gel. They can be really heavy with fluid when I replace them so obviously work well as they never soak through. The own brand ones didn’t compare in absorbency and didn’t stay put as well. I tend to change them a couple of times a day or night so keep 6-8 in the box.
  3. Hand cream – For frequent hand washing and because sitting feeding may be the only chance you get to put some cream on yourself.
  4. Lip balm – Because BF makes you thirsty and dehydrated.
  5. Hair bobble and kirby grips – In case you want to get your hair out of your face.
  6. Infacol (or similar if required) – We went through a phase of trying infacol and if you are using it or something similar then it makes sense to keep it in the box then you have it for every feed.
  7. Phone with breast feeding app! – My friend recommended this app – I think there are loads of them and this one is probably similar to others, but it has a lot of features and I find it easy to use. I use it to remind me which side to feed from, and to monitor when she is due a feed or how often she has fed. Hopefully one day it will show me a pattern!

Other things that were in the box I was given:

  • Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 breast therapy – I didn’t use these as I didn’t have too much soreness but they can be used hot or cold and I imagine would be really soothing – I threw mine in the freezer straight away for when I needed them.
  • Washable breast pads – I haven’t progressed onto these yet so I’ve taken them out of the box for now.
  • A pen and notepad could be really useful too.

It wouldn’t fit in my box but two other essentials are a muslin for wiping Bea’s face and for pushing under my breast between my skin and bra to catch any dribbles or drips so my clothes don’t get wet, and a pint glass of water or sports drink bottle to stay hydrated.

I’d love to know if you guys did anything similar or if there is anything you would have put in the box that I haven’t listed here?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Becoming a Mother…


Day 2

This post has been a difficult one to write, in fact I started drafting it as ‘2 weeks with Bea’ and got not much further until now. I haven’t yet written about our new arrival, other than to introduce her because it has taken me time to find the words. How to start? To put my words into context, I would never have described myself as maternal – I don’t get ‘broody’ and I would even extend that statement into my pregnancy. I had very real fears that I wouldn’t like being a mum, or that I might resent my baby for the inevitable changes that were about to take place in my life. That probably sounds like I wasn’t ready to have a baby at all, but I had come to realise (much earlier, before we tried to get pregnant) that I would probably never ‘want’ to give up complete freedom to do what I wanted, lazy beach holidays cocktail in hand swinging in a hammock, regular dinners out or last minute plans. But I knew I didn’t want to go through my life without being a parent and building a family with Pete.


First Bath time // Day 5

So it has taken me by surprise just how different I do feel, now that I have a daughter. I should have seen it coming I guess, as everyone always says they fell in love the minute they set eyes on their child, but equally, some of my more honest friends admitted that becoming a mother was a shock, not least due to the physical ordeal and that it took them days or weeks to fully bond with their baby – I suspected I may be the same. In fact the change in me when I first saw Bea was seismic. I finally found the words yesterday when I realised it was like The Big Bang, everything changed in an instant. A whole new universe began and Bea is my Sun.

Now I look back at times I have offered well meaning baby sitting duties to friends with new babies, just to give them time to sleep or shower and they have refused. Now I understand that maybe they didn’t want to be without their baby, even for a minute. I remember trying to reassure chronically fatigued friends that expressing or topping up with formula so their partner could give a bottle while they sleep wasn’t a bad option if it helped them function better. Now I know how they didn’t want anyone else to comfort their baby if they could, even at the expense of their sleep. It shocked me how primal the urge is to hold her sometimes, how much it upsets me when she cries. If I sound crazy, I feel like it at times! I fell hopelessly in love with this little person before I even saw her, the second I heard her cry.

Even now, having written what is here, words fail me. No statement is powerful enough to express how I feel about her or how content I feel with Bea in our lives. I wanted to share these thoughts not just to hear from all the other mothers what they felt in those first heady weeks of becoming a mother, but to reassure those of you who (like I did,) wonder if they will ever be ready or willing to take that unimaginable leap into motherhood.

Tell me, do my words resonate with you or remind you of how you felt? Or do they make you feel more positive about a family in your future one day?

Love
Rebecca
xo

Note: This post is not meant to patronise those of you reading who have never wanted or do not want a family in future, merely to describe how I feel and speak to those who might feel as I did weeks, months and years ago about children in my future.

Triple Temptation: Nursing Bra’s

Possibly the least sexy thing about being pregnant has been the bra’s. Conflicting advice about under wiring do’s and don’t's is confusing enough, without the then hideous selection available. Personally, I needed larger bra’s pretty much from the off and struggled on in my usual ones until about 17 weeks, when I headed off to the shops and spent a necessarily brief (for my sanity) trip scoping out the available options in M&S and John Lewis. I found a selection of twee or cutsy polka dot, floral and generally hideous bra’s and a rude sales woman who flat out refused to sell me an underwired bra ‘because I was pregnant’. Cue me leaving without getting measured and buying a 2 pack of navy and white lace non-underwired, lace bra’s from M&S (36D at the time and they were nursing bra’s – all of the maternity ones were.) The only other bra I have bought in pregnancy has been a strapless nude (heavily underwired) number to see me through events and various stroppy/halterneck tops. (FYI, I went from a 32 C/D pre-pregnancy, to a 34/36 E currently, and that’s pre-feeding.) The other 2 have been on rotation depending on what is not in the wash.


Nursing Bra’s all from Figleaves.com £29-40

So with a new baby and the intention of breast feeding, I figured I’d need more bra’s – to help with the washing and also to try and make me feel better. I’m not obsessive about underwear and it’s certainly been a long time since I was wearing a matching set, but I know I’m going to feel a bit upset about my postpartum body and reckon if there’s anything I can do to make myself feel better, it’s worth shot. Plus, hopefully it’ll be a long stint of breast feeding, so on a cost per wear basis, these bra’s are going to earn their keep. I headed to Figleaves.com (first time customer) to check out their range after seeing a patient wearing a very pretty nursing bra and asking where it was from. It was Panache and I also found Elle McPherson’s range and HOTmilk. I was initially looking for a nude one but I bought all three of the above and sent the HOTmilk back, as it was too big (the others fit but have a little growing room, whereas the HOTmilk was slightly baggy.)

The service was great (free delivery and returns,) as was the range, so I wanted to share my finds. Have you bought any pretty nursing bra’s or can you comment on online sizing? I’d love to hear of any other brands that would be worth checking out…

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Capturing the bump…

I never planned to do a ‘bump shoot’, thinking I would have lots of selfie style bump shots to suffice and Pete would have taken plenty too. Whilst the former is true, the latter hasn’t been – we have been far to busy in the house to be anywhere worthy of dressing up and taking photos of late. Maybe it’s also the looming end to my pregnancy that has made me cherish it more, I will certainly miss this bump and shifting baby inside, but I hope the reality in my arms will be infinitely better. :)

I had planned to have a newborn shoot, when baby is fresh and still scrunched up and small, to capture that newborn bubble the three of us will hopefully be in (read: chaotic, sleep derived blur,) and so at the last minute last week I decided to ask our good friends Laura and Peter Lawson to do a bump shoot too. They made us feel so at ease in front of the camera and I knew they would ‘get’ how blessed out together we both are just now, as they had their little boy Albert only 7 months ago.

I’m so glad we did it now and Pete loves the results too. This was too special a time in our lives not to make some memories to treasure and now I just have to pick some for the wall!





Have a great weekend readers, see you next week!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

34 – 38 weeks…

I can’t quite believe that I am writing the conclusion post to my pregnancy diary. Back in November when we found out I was pregnant, the end of July seemed very far off indeed but it has completely flown past. I’m sure this is in part due to the non-stop pace we set ourselves on doing the house renovations. Since moving out of our bedroom in December, we have completed the bedroom, dressing room, kitchen, outside deck, ‘face lifted’ the dining room, one of our attic bedrooms and most recently, the nursery. It has been exhausting, but it has certainly kept my mind off being pregnant, which at the time didn’t bother me, but now I look back and feel I should have savoured it more – I certainly should have taken more time out to relax and spoil myself – I haven’t even had time to do pregnancy yoga but I’m making up for it now with full on baby-focus now I’m on maternity leave.

This part of my pregnancy has definitely been the hardest, physically, although it’s pretty much all self inflicted. I’m still well and not that uncomfortable although I have been feeling very ‘full’ particularly when I’m sitting down so finishing work at 37 weeks was a good decision. The bump certainly hasn’t ‘dropped’ (but more on that in a minute…) I had been debating up until a week or so before whether to keep going as I’m not really tired, but because I postponed everything until my mat leave, I was definitely in need of the baby time. My back has been my main pregnancy gripe and anything involving lifting or using my back much is giving me pretty bad pain and stiffness. All this lead to Pete reading me the riot act after moving some furniture myself last week and then having to stop about 6 times on a short walk of less than 10 minutes. I’ve been on strict R&R since and have felt so much better for it. I think I needed permission to slow down!

The last week hasn’t been without it’s stresses though. At my 36 week antenatal appointment they booked me for a presentation scan as there was some concern baby Norris was not playing ball and might be the wrong way up. Sure enough on scan day last Tuesday, the hard round lump I had been feeling in my ribs for weeks and weeks is in fact a head and baby is breech. Cue some soul searching and the choice whether to have an ECV (where they try to turn the baby,) or book an elective caesarean section. I won’t go into my reasons here as it’s a very personal choice and one I’m still not happy about, but I have chosen not to have an ECV and so now I’m booked for a Caesarean. (On an evidence based medical level though I will say, the chance of success would have been very poor, maybe 30%)

So, after all my thoughts on how to prepare for labour, (not that I had actually made much progress on doing the required reading,) and deciding I wanted a natural, hopefully drug-free delivery (although I’m not silly enough to say that without an open mind for when the time came, having never been in that position before,) I’m now getting the works; spinal anaesthetic, all the drugs and the bit I am most upset about, the recovery period afterwards. I was so looking forward to being active again and able to do things around the house. There are no guarantees in life so I’m just trying to remind myself that I could have had an ECV, then a horrible labour, wanted all the drugs and then ended up with a section after all, who knows, but I still feel upset about the way things are turning out. I know it’s silly but I feel like I have meddled with fate by choosing babies birthday, I feel a bit disappointed that I (and Pete) won’t have that birth experience and honestly I’m terrified of being a patient rather than the one performing the caesarean as I have in the past. It feels clinical and I can hardly believe that I will wake up one morning, go to hospital and have baby taken out of me, instead of doing it myself. And the poor baby is going to get the shock of it’s life going from where it is perfectly happy to being yanked out into the bright cold world without any warning. However, I know this is infinitely safer than a vaginal breech delivery (at least for a first baby,) so I am also reminding myself to be grateful that there is a safe way to delivery this baby for both of us, which is ultimately all that matters. And for whatever reason, this baby is very happy being one of the 3 in 100 babies that are breech at term as it has been in this position for a long time and has shown no signs of budging. I just wish I had known sooner.

So now I’ve also lost a week of my maternity leave and the last week has been spent flapping about like a headless chicken trying to get things done and bought. As a result it has been very productive but a bit panic inducing too. I feel like I would have felt more mentally prepared if I had had to go through the process of labour, instead of what feels like going to pick up the baby via click and collect. The reality of having a baby now has a date on it. Life changes then. All the old questions of ‘Am I ready’ and ‘How will we still make time for each other and our life,’ have resurfaced, but now I also find myself stroking this little head as it bobs with hiccups or shifts position and feeling increasingly maternal and protective towards this little thing we created.

I can’t wait to hold this baby, take it home and introduce it to our families. I can’t wait to see who he or she resembles, if baby has my dark hair or is blonde as Pete was as a child. But the finality of having a definite date is also terrifying.

So readers, have any of you had a caesarean? How did you find it? And did any of you get pre-baby jitters like me? Now more than ever, I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Five on Friday…

As the end of my first week of maternity leave draws to a close I’m feeling a little more prepared for baby. I’ve checked off lots of must have items on my newborn list, plus a few of your suggestions, and the nursery is falling into place. It’s been a busy and stressful week however – more on that next week, so I’m ridiculously excited about he first bit of pregnancy related pampering I’m doing tomorrow, on a Spa Day with Jess. I’m going to be making the most of it and hopefully some decent weather. IN the meantime, here’s what I have enjoyed reading and spotting this week…

I’ve been reading more about what to expect post-delivery as I prepare for baby’s arrival and this post on new parents expectations really struck a chord. A must read for soon-to-be or new parents.

Still obsessed with the idea of making (and eating) donuts. Still haven’t made them. These look immense.

If you’re having your second child, this was an interesting read on how Jo tried to manage sibling rivalry

I’ve never learnt to ride a horse but I love Kevin Russ’s pictures of wild horses in the US to remind me of travels there and his incredible landscapes across a beautiful continent. (Image above.)

I finally found the perfect summer wide strap sandal, even better, in the sale!

Have a fab weekend readers,

Rebecca
xo

Bump Watch

It’s fair to say that I have always been fascinated with pregnancy, even when I wasn’t keen on having children myself yet. It is an amazing feat that the human body creates a whole tiny human from a single cell, supporting and growing it then expelling a baby into the world. Like so many other things these days, pregnancy has now become the object of cosmetic scrutiny too, from bump watch features of celebrities and their ‘baby bumps’ before even a decent 12 weeks has elapsed, to comments on their weight gain, it seems the pressure is on to not only grow a human, but look good whilst doing it.

On a personal level, I didn’t expect to gain tons of weight in pregnancy as that’s not my natural predisposition anyway but I also didn’t want to. This wasn’t from a vanity perspective, but a health one. Women who gain a lot of weight in pregnancy (in case you’re wondering, the normal range is about 1.5-2.5 stone) are at risk of gestational diabetes and at higher risk of complications in labour and postpartum. That’s not to mention the difficulty of losing it afterwards. Aside from these thoughts, it is a huge shift in your body image and whilst I have loved seeing my baby belly emerge and swell, I still catch sight of myself sideways in shop windows and am surprised at how different I look.


(A selection of bump shots from readers around 20 weeks)

Added to all of those things are the constant comments people feel inclined to make about your changing shape, that you may or may not feel so confident sporting. Anyone who is pregnant or has been will know that they range from the complimentary, ‘You are so neat!’ or ‘It’s all baby, you haven’t gained any weight!’ to the unintentionally panic inducing ‘Look at the size of you!’ and everything in between. I have tried to take them all in my stride – I want to grow a healthy baby, who is gaining weight normally and keep myself healthy enough to breast feed easily afterwards. Comparison is also the thief of joy – my best friend is 6 weeks less pregnant than me and although quite a way off when you compare a 20 and 26 week bump for example, she has also been carrying a completely different way to me, not popping out a bump until much later. At one point I felt like a house by comparison, but I know I was desperate for my bump to pop out and now at term, it all feels like par for the course as I realise I haven’t actually morphed into a baby elephant as it sometimes felt like I would!


(A selection of bump shots from readers around 28-31 weeks)

Lastly, there’s the power of the pregnant blogger (I don’t count myself among). I know before I was pregnant and during, I have looked at my favourite bloggers sporting a neat and fashionably dressed bump with no weight gain and then snapping back to shape almost instantaneously it seems on social media. Whilst I know the reality is not always presented, it’s hard to remember that when fashionable maternity clothes are few and far between and you just can’t stretch that non-maternity dress over your bump anymore!


(A selection of bump shots from readers around term – 37w+)

All this made me think, women carry so differently and look so different in pregnancy, why not make a montage of women, all at the same stage of pregnancy and here are the results. I want to thank each and every one of you that sent in your pictures – I’m so grateful and I loved looking at so many happy, proud, glowing faces. Funny snaps in the booze aisle at the supermarket, holiday pictures, excited dads getting in on the act, post waters breaking grins, and a generally fab time in your lives. This is the real shape of pregnancy, and every single picture is beautiful. Thank you so much!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Call for posts – Be a part of Florence Finds!

If you’re a daily visitor round here and have been for some time, you’ll know that things have changed somewhat in the last year or so. When Florence Finds started I was working part time and blogged twice daily. As life changed in January 2013 I dropped to a single post a day and managed so much better. More recently, it’s been around 4 times a week. The change has been for a number of reasons… my work has become busier and busier, demanding later nights and making me jealously guard my none work time with Pete and friends or family. The thing is, when I started, I was used to working all day at work and then working all night blogging and I had more free time to write about what I was doing, out and about. Now I have an actual life too, the more I have, the more I want. Bottom line, Florence Finds is a sideline, a hobby and whilst I would never be without the fabulous community I have built here (I really don’t know what I would have done without your help and advice in recent weeks and months,) my real life has to come first. And I am so much happier for it.


Caroline’s Pigeon bedroom makeover

In the back of my mind has also been that life is going to change in a major way again very soon when this baby arrives and I have no idea how that will fit in with blogging. I am very aware that this blog has become very pregnancy and baby related and I can only apologise to those whom that doesn’t interest and are consequently sad – I know because I have been there with some of my previously favourite blogs. Although I was always interested for future reference. ;) All I can say is that the consistent feedback I get is that people want to know what I am doing, decorating, seeing, travelling and thinking so the blog has become more and more a reflection of my life. Hopefully that resonates with you at similar, or different stages of yours.


Amy’s trip of a lifetime to Hawaii

So, what is going to happen when baby arrives? Honestly, in the short term I don’t know. I want to take a few weeks off to just enjoy being with Pete and baby in our new little family and I know I will need time to adjust, get settled into feeding and some semblance of new normality and sleep! However I also know that I will want to update you guys, probably ask a whole heap of questions and of course to introduce you to baby. So I may pop in here and there. I may also pre-prepare some posts while in my mat leave and post them sporadically to keep you all going a couple of times a week until I can come back. It might be a long time before I can commit to a regular schedule but I hope you’ll all bear with me.


Pear and Caramel cake by Asma

If any of you want to help or get involved, I would love to have you. Florence Finds has always been about community and that’s why I maintain a roster of contributors who offer something different to my own experiences and interests. If you think you can write a short post that is similar to the kinds of things I post here, I would love to feature it, so I’m asking for your submissions. Here are a few guidelines and ideas: (I’ve linked to previous posts to give you some guidance of how I would tackle a similar post)


Victoria’s Chocolate walking tour of London

A note on images.
Everybody worries about images when submitting things to the blog. High quality images are one of the main factors in what makes a blog enjoyable to read but not everyone has a fancy camera. The main thing to do is make sure you have good natural lighting (easy in summer!) and take a mixture of zoomed in vignettes (close up detail shots) and wide angle full body/whole room type shots. For hotels, days out etc, you might want to include web links and I can often get images from websites or online. If you’re still worried, Instagram solves everything and I’m always happy to feature Instagram filtered shots to make things look a little more consistent! Above all have fun with it. I really enjoy taking photos for the blog (well, not the outfit ones perhaps!) and styling them to exercise some creative muscle!

So, if you think you can contribute, just email me your post and images or weblinks to hello@florencefinds.com and mark it submission – I will be eternally grateful!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS The pictures in the post are all from guest posts written for Florence Finds, but non-regular contributors, (with the exception of Victoria.)

Nursery: And the Animals came in Two by Two…

The first nursery scheme I posted was a complete contrast to this one, Bright and Bold with neutral accents. Then I spotted and fell in love with this Animals wallpaper from Beware the Moon and had to use it as a base for a nursery mooodboard to see if I could live with the neutrals. I think with enough bright accents, I can make it work… it’s just about finding the right pieces.

I still plan to incorporate lots of brights as accents so the room doesn’t look stark, but the wallpaper was so beautiful I couldn’t let it go unused and I worried the Triangle print would be too busy and full on. This is a great way of adding pattern and texture, without making my eyes turn into triangles too!

We’re finishing the decorating this weekend so hopefully I’ll have something to show you very soon!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Getting ready for baby

This week is my last at work and although I’m feeling ok from a tiredness point of view I am looking forward to having some time to devote purely to getting ready for baby. At present (36 weeks) I have the sum total of a pram, 1 blanket, 1 cardigan, 2 sleep suits, 1 baby bath and a rocking crib with 2 sheets. No nappies. No car seat. In fact there are plenty of essentials still missing.

I had no idea where to start with baby stuff and even had to ask my sister in law what you even put a baby to bed in (clothes-wose) after getting very confused about swaddling and blankets or no blankets advice. I found the John Lewis Nursery checklist very helpful and not at all excessive in terms of things to buy and so I edited it and created my own version here.

Do bear in mind that the different sections of the list may not apply to everyone. The feeding section for example is geared towards breast feeding as I intend to give it a good go, and I’m not sure a play mat or bouncer are essential for the first few weeks of a baby’s life. Although I’m lucky enough to live close to supermarkets and John Lewis, and there’s always Amazon, I don’t want to be unprepared so these are my basics to stock up on so I can concentrate on baby for the first few weeks.

You can download the list by clicking on the image above if you want to, or just click here.

I’d love to hear if you think any of it is unnecessary or if I have missed any essentials off that you found you couldn’t live without in the first few weeks?

Love,
Rebecca
xo