How to Breastfeed…

I’ve thought about writing a post like this for a long time, but Breastfeeding is such an emotive topic I’ve shied away from discussing it. That and well, breastfeeding sometimes doesn’t leave you much time to write blog posts about breastfeeding. 😉 Theres so much I could include in this post that somehow my thoughts have never quite made it to the page, but I decided to bite the bullet and make a start.


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Let’s get it out of the way before I begin. I am an unashamedly passionate breastfeeding advocate. But to be completely clear, that is simply because I hope for everyone to have the lovely experience I have had feeding my two girls. I’ve had a relatively smooth ride feeding my babies, but I appreciate that not everyone does and in my experience, although it’s improving all the time, breastfeeding support is often not as good as it could be when people really need it. These are the key principles and resources that I felt helped me both prepare and persist with breastfeeding, as a new mum and feeding a second time around, along with the many months of even less glamorous feeding a not so little baby or toddler. I’d love to hear if you have any amazing tips that you found invaluable too.

Make your wishes clear from the outset.
If you do want to breastfeed, make your wishes clear to the delivery team around you from the outset and your family and friends. Write it down in your birth plan that you want to have immediate and uninterrupted skin to skin, and want to try and breastfeed within the hour if possible. This is totally possible even if you’re having a C-section – when I had Bea the team were so supportive bringing her straight to me on the table, where she stayed for the duration, and getting me feeding straight away in recovery. The sooner you can start the better, in terms of calming and nourishing your baby, and it’s good for expelling the placenta if you’ve had a vaginal birth. The sucking stimulates hormones which promote the uterus contracting down once the baby is out, also reducing the risk of haemorrhage.
You may wish to consider what your wishes are if you or the baby are unexpectedly taken ill and have to be separated – this is a good discussion to have with your partner and make your wishes clear to them if you can’t be present to express them.

Prepare the people around you.
When I planned to breastfeed for the first time with Bea I had no immediate family members who were breastfeeding or had breastfed for any significant length of time. The culture was very much around bottle feeding and that had a big impact on the kind of help I was offered. For example, if you bottle feed and you’re tired, someone else can give the bottle to the baby and cuddle them while you go get some sleep. People also always love feeding a baby and often put pressure on to be able to do that for you, encouraging you to express or add formula in for that reason.
If you are breastfeeding then the kind of help you need is completely different, you need to bond with and focus on the baby and feeding him or her, and the offers of help need to be around looking after you as you might not be able to! Ask friends or family to bring prepared food, do a quick shop, take the dog for a walk, put the recycling out, put a wash on, hang it out or clean the house. If it’s not your first child ask them to play or do an activity with your older children either in the house or take them to the park. Your priority needs to be the baby and their priority needs to be facilitating you doing that and helping to do all the things you can’t, (or maybe can do, but it would be lovely not to so you can spend those precious first few days and weeks enjoying your new bundle,) as a result.
I also felt I needed to prepare my mum particularly, who I knew would be worried if I was struggling with tiredness because of all night feeding marathons or frequent wake ups. I wanted to make really clear that I expected that and was prepared to deal with it, and that I didn’t see tiredness as a reason to stop feeding or to give a bottle, so it wasn’t put forward as a well intended offer of help. (I should add here, in the end my mum didn’t have to worry as Bea was a dream sleeper despite being breastfed, it was Cora who brought us the challenges second time around!)

Arm yourself with knowledge
The first few days after having a baby can be really tough. You’re physically exhausted and often sore and after having gone through a long period of exertion in labour, just when you need some sleep and rest to recover you enter a period of intense sleep deprivation. Aside from the physical drains, your emotional reserves are low as the hormone rollercoaster kicks in, and you may feel anxious and doubt your decisions or your ability to breastfeed. Getting a few key facts straight in your mind can help you feel more equipped to make decisions when other health care professionals start to get involved or even give you strength to keep going on that 4th night of sleep deprivation when your milk still hasn’t come in and you can’t think what to do for tiredness and worry.
A bit of reading in the weeks before you are due can be really helpful with this I think, and I particularly rate this book: The Food of Love. It’s funny, real and just quite brilliant.

Key things to remember are:

  • Your baby has a super tiny stomach when it’s born and that slowly slowly slowly expands over the course of weeks as the quantities of milk it receives increase. It doesn’t need a 100ml bottle of milk at birth to feed it.
  • The Colostrum your body produces before the milk comes in is in tiny, tiny amounts but the nutrients in it are so complex and fat rich that it’s enough to sustain your baby in those initial days before your milk does come in.
  • Milk is produced by the body according to demand so even though your baby may be on the breast and sucking a lot in those early days before the milk appears, it’s not a sign of hunger, but a normal reflex. Your baby is working with your body to tell it to produce the milk. Give the baby a bottle at this point and it stimulating that reflex and the body isn’t prompted to make milk. It’s not quite that simple as there are other factors involved in milk production, and one bottle wont halt the whole process, but it’s a really important connection to make that your supply is made according to demand, from your baby.
  • The milestone of your milk ‘coming in’ – the point where your breasts actually start to produce breast milk for the baby can take several days. It can be sooner with a second child or when your body is particularly quick off the mark, but after a C Section when your body was caught by surprise that the baby was coming out, or if you had a long labour or traumatic delivery and are exhausted, that can slow things down to. As a point of reference, I had my first daughter on a Monday via C-Section. I think my milk came in on the Friday. This is how human beings were designed and it works just fine, don’t feel pressured into giving a bottle if you don’t want to because your baby is ‘hungry’.
  • Babies don’t go to the breast just for food. Breastfeeding is about so much more than nutrition. It is safety, comfort, connection, soothing, pain relief and more so when your baby wants to latch on, it might not be because they’re hungry. Trying to get to grips with that when you’re touched out, tired and fed up is one thing, but also having to fend off comments from others about how baby ‘can’t possibly be hungry‘ or how ‘you’re making a rod for your own back,‘ can be really stressful in an already confusing time so having some knowledge about normal infant feeding habits can really give you some confidence to stick with it. Little Peach is a really great Insta account for breastfeeding mums with sound advice and inspirational daily snippits.

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Happy World Breastfeeding Week followers! I’ve been feeding this little one for almost 5 months now and was already pregnant with her when I stopped Feeding Bea at just over 2. When I first started thinking about breastfeeding my sole motivation was an 8hour flight we had planned when Bea was 4months and not wanting to faff around with formula on flights. On my two and a half year breastfeeding journey since, I’ve become a passionate breastfeeding advocate and I love seeing mums and nurslings succeed and have fulfilling Bf relationships. It’s not about what’s right or wrong or even best, but that I wish every woman could experience the joy I have from breastfeeding my girls. #WBW2017 #normalizebreastfeeding #breastfeedingweek #breastfeeding #joy #love

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Make a nest
Breastfeeding can appear to be the most natural thing in the world. Once you’ve got the whole thing down you can latch a baby on in your sleep (in fact they will do it themselves,) and feed one handed striding around the park whilst herding a toddler too, but that’s not how it works with a newborn. BOTH of you are learning then and you both need time to get a few things right. Guiding the baby to latch on, making sure its a great latch to prevent you getting too sore and help baby to stimulate the milk as much as possible, all takes some serious co-ordination and frankly a lot of getting your boob out. You need to be able to see it, Baby needs to be able to get at it without clothes rucked up around you… The majority of new mums don’t feel that confident wrestling with a screaming babe and a bare breast with great uncle Arthur visiting or in the local Costa Coffee, so this is a time for battening down the hatches a little, holding off the visitors and just resting. Make sure you have your partner on feeding duty – that’s feeding (and don’t forget hydrating!) YOU by the way. Get super comfortable, keep things warm so you can do lots of skin to skin to promote milk production, and soak it all in. Milk production is also strongly linked to your physical state. If you’re exhausted and physically drained from labour, your body needs the rest to get the milk going and the oxytocin rush you will get from uninterrupted bonding with your baby is super important too.

This isn’t advice just for the first week either. Sometimes things get more difficult when your milk has come in as baby gets a taste for the milk and has some catching up to do. If you have lots of visitors holding the baby, again aside from it being exhausting you can’t learn your baby’s ‘cue’s’ as well because you’re not as close, which is really important in the first few weeks. Getting to know your baby and when they want to sleep or feed makes your life so much easier! And when baby wants to latch on again for the 5th time in an hour you shouldn’t have to explain yourself or listen to comments from well meaning relatives which put you at risk of committing a violent crime in your sleep deprived state. 😉

Have support on standby
If you did NCT or a local birth preparation course hopefully you had a breastfeeding session and took away some information about feeding support when the baby arrives. Local midwives often have ‘infant feeding’ teams who come and visit to help you but anyone who has been trying to get to grips with breastfeeding a baby knows that when it isn’t going to plan you feel like you need hand holding several times a day, not a couple of times a week. There’s no substitute for good experienced advice when you actually have the baby in your arms either.
La Leche League, (UK site here – LLL UK) connects mothers to local support groups and practitioners and has great blog posts. Breastfeeding Consultants/Lactation Consultants Local breastfeeding nurse, breastfeeding café’s or 4th trimester meet ups all offer practical and emotional support throughout your breastfeeding journey, from newborn to weaning, so familiarise yourself with where to find them before you need them and USE THEM. The NHS BF page has lots of pointers to help too.

It takes a village
What frustrates me about breastfeeding is there is always someone ready to talk about how hard it is but there are few people willing or able to talk about their positive experience. There aren’t enough people talking about it, or doing it, to make it normal. We should be able to talk openly about our experiences, be that sore nipples, (I can recommend a cream for that!) choices around Co-sleeping, (I have World Health Organisation guidance on that which you can use to practise safe co-cleeping!) the challenges of feeding an older baby or toddler (Seriously, solidarity sister!) the sleep deprivation during a growth spurt, how to keep breastfeeding when you go back to work, how to get baby to take a bottle, how to go about weaning from the breast if you want to… the list goes on and on and on. There might not be a solution but what I’m trying to say is a problem shared is a problem halved. If you know people who have or are breastfeeding, lean on them. Use their knowledge and experience, – I’m willing to bet they will be desperate to help; be that the girl next door or your mother-in-law, if they’ve breastfed for any amount of time they will often really ‘get’ what your facing and they might even be able to help. Its take a village to raise a child and that phrase is never more true than when applied to Breastfeeding.

Writing this has made me think of some many more breastfeeding posts I’d like to share. I have never written about my breastfeeding ‘journey’ with Bea and Cora to date, or about how I kept going when I went back to work at 7 and 10 months respectively. Do let me know if you’d like to read those, and if you can add to my list above. And if you found this because you are breastfeeding and needed help or support, or you are planning to, You are Amazing, Keep Going!

Rebecca x

Recommended: Cheeky Wipes

One of the things I am focusing on for January Joy and 2018 is reducing our waste so today I thought I’d share one of my favourite changes we made last year – we switched to Cheeky Wipes. I’d heard of Cheeky Wipes when Bea was still in nappies but didn’t give them a lot of thought and as I became more interested she was nearing toilet training and it didn’t seem the right time to invest. We have never branched into reusable nappies, but although I was pretty economical with the wipes when changing a nappy, it horrified me to see Pete going through multiple wipes each time or the amount that got used cleaning up after a meal for example. So I decided to take the plunge once I was thinking of moving on from cottonwool and water for Cora’s bum.

I should add here that Cora suffered with quite a sore bum when she was little and we found the best way to manage it apart from making sure her nappy was changed promptly was using cotton wool and water to clean her as even water wipes did irritate her skin, which was another factor that attracted me to cheeky wipes. If you haven’t already heard of them, cheeky wipes are essentially reusable (i.e. you wash them,) wipes, not just for bums but you can use them for faces after meals too. The ‘wipes’ are little squares of cotton, bamboo or microfibre – like flannels and you can get them in kits which come with clean and mucky boxes. Essentially you soak them in water and a little essential oil, wring them out and leave in the ‘clean’ box to use as required. Then you have a ‘dirty box’ and a mesh bag hooked inside, pre-filled with water and some oil again for freshness, where you put the used wipes to soak. When you’re ready to wash them you simply lift the bag out and throw it into the machine. They wash as normal at 30 degrees with the rest of your washing and work their way out of the bag during the cycle, ready to be soaked and scented in the clean box again – no drying required.

So here’s the nitty gritty. Do they really work? The answer is yes and I absolutely love them. We bought natural bamboo velour which have a softer smoother side and a more textured flannel side but with the softness of bamboo. Because they are textured the grip for cleaning is fantastic and even sticky or thick poo’s (Sorry, TMI!) can be easily removed with just a couple of swipes. I rarely need more than one wipe to be honest and I feel like Cora almost gets a proper wash every time she has her nappy changed which is a real bonus as she doesn’t get bathed daily because of her dry skin. In terms of cost, a full kit (with the two boxes, 25 wipes, and the oils,) comes in at about £40 but they currently have £10 off the kits and you can save any time using this link: (which as a previous customer I got sent to share with friends) Get 15% off any order over £40. We weren’t particularly heavy wipe users but it still doesn’t take long to have a cost benefit over disposables and I feel good every time I use them that I’m not adding to landfill or putting damaging waste into the water system and ultimately our waterways and sea’s.

We also invested in the hands and faces kit as we were about to embark on weaning. I love having the rainbow microfibre cloths to hand (you keep them damp in a box in just the same way and instead of having a dirty box just throw them in the washing machine ready for the next wash) especially as we do baby led weaning which is more than a little messy! They are super soft and pick up all the bits of food in every little chubby finger crease, even weetabix which gets everywhere and dries like cement! They are even still in regular use at Bea’s age so I can see them being incredible value.

You might be wondering what happens when you go out. Of course you could still use disposable wipes for convenience but we decided that if we were making the change for environmental reasons we needed to commit to it. The kits come with 2 bags to take out and about with you. You simply pop a couple of damp wipes in the fresh bag and when they’re used put them in the dirty bag which is lined with a mesh bag like the dirty box, that zips out and throws in the machine too. So it’s really not difficult to eliminate disposable wipes completely. And if you want to extend your environmental efforts Cheeky wipes now also do Cloth Sanitary Pad kits, Reusable Make-up remover kits and even toilet paper alternatives.

I’d love to know if you use Cheeky Wipes or something similar, or if you feel inspired to make the switch! I’ll happily answer any questions you’ve got too!

Rebecca x

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A tentative hello…

Well hello readers! Are there even any readers out there? I’d forgive you if not… it’s been almost 8 long months since I wrote a blog post here, announcing that Cora had arrived, bumping our little family to four. I’m lying when I say it’s been 8 long months though, good grief they have flown. The days have whistled past, the nights though? They have been loooooong. Having two children has Kicked. My. Ass.

So many times I’ve wanted to write a blog post but haven’t had the time. When I have had opportunity, sleep has often been higher up the agenda. Cora has not been a great sleeper… In fact as I write this, it’s 05.42am and I’m sat in the feeding chair, having failed to put her back down once and with the genius idea to try and use my time productively, I’m typing on my phone.


Cora at Francesca’s hen weekend // Plannign the amazing flowers with Miss Pickering // The Tipi’s pre-wedding // My sister, The Bride!

Aside from having a baby (which frankly, would have been quite enough thank you,) it’s been a busy old 8 months. Aside from the daily, no, hourly trials and tribulations of having two, we’ve had a few milestone events going on. My sister got engaged just two weeks before Cora was born and married a week ago. With a short engagement it was all hands on deck and lots of appointments and planning to be done that I helped her with. In September Bea started preschool nursery at the local primary school, a decision we had agonised over and I’ll come back to in a separate blog post at some point. And behind all of that… the project that has been grumbling along since we bought this house, but in ernest for the last almost two years, we are finally about to start the extension we had in mind when we first looked around this house.


Choosing floor tiles // My original inspiration for the extension // Bathroom shopping // Architects meetings

Some of you might remember the ‘monster pipe’ story. If not, here is the blog post if you want to read about it. Essentially our house is built almost on top of a large overflow sewer which predates the house and is massive. 1m across, 4m underground. (Which isn’t as deep as it sounds when you consider that we have cellars!) When we bought the house we were told there was no way we would ever be able to build over it but after realising (2 years in) that the house just wasn’t working for us with a baby in tow, we decided to make some bigger moves to try and get the go ahead. We managed it and then were planning to start in January this year when Cora was due in March, so we postponed. Looking back that wasn’t realistic at all… there have been delays and decisions at every turn and I’m determined to get this particular project right. Leaving the top floor aside, it will finish the house for us, adding a much needed family living/dining space and utility room, and rejigging the downstairs loo, hallway, landing and extending the first floor bathroom. What started out as simply adding a ‘glass box’ to the back of the house has spiralled somewhat… whilst I absolutely can’t wait to have it done, I really don’t want to ‘do’ it at all – particularly as we will be living in it throughout.

We’ve also been to Greece, Cornwall (twice) and The Lake District, Just So Festival, renovated the dining room and acclimatised to being a family of four. Honestly that has been my longest and toughest project, one I’m still working on, but also one that I finally feel comfortable with. It’s only taken 8 months!

Anyway, I want to expand on all of these things, and so many others, so I’ll be back. Fingers crossed!

Rebecca.

Meet Cora Clementine…

Today was my due date so it seems fitting to share here (apologies if you’ve already seen the news on my Instagram or Facebook) that we welcomed our second little girl 12 days early, on the 7th of March.

Introducing Cora Clementine – Born Tuesday at 04.18, weighing 6lb 1oz. We are in love.

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This time around was completely different, from her birth, to being home with Bea, but she is a tiny bundle of perfection and we are all loving getting to know her. Hopefully I’ll be back soon to share her birth story and a bit more about being a family of 4!

Rebecca x

Mama Body

I’m often thinking about motherhood issues I’d like to share here and rarely get time to sit and tap something coherent out but I’d love to encourage some honest discussion, so here’s the first in a series… more to follow.

Let’s cut to the chase today, how do you *really* feel about your body now you have had a baby?

I’ve thought about writing this for months… putting it off mainly because I wanted to reach the fabled ‘other side’ that I’d read so many other super mums accounts of. The holy grail of your pre-pregnancy weight, feeling like you’ve ‘got your body back‘ and regaining your pre-motherhood confidence. Turns out at 19 months post partum, I don’t think for me at least, that perfect triad actually exists. My body has gone through many stages – post partum ‘bump’ (that lasted weeks longer than I expected,) then months where I was heavy but truly didn’t care as I was so wrapped up in my beautiful baby. The first realisations that I wanted to try and get my weight down only started to creep into my mind around 10-12 months after having Bea and co-incidentally, perhaps with a slightly conscious moderation of my cake heavy diet, I started to very slowly move towards my pre-pregnancy weight. For a while I was happy with the slimmer silhouette I saw in the mirror then I started to look at the finer detail. And it’s fair to say I don’t love what I see.


Image of Amanda, via the 4th Trimester Bodies Project on Instagram

I’ve gone to write this so many times and hesitated. In part I suppose I hoped I’d miraculously lose weight/clean up my eating habits/suddenly find the desire or time to start exercising regularly and the whole issue would go away. In part because it’s like there’s some kind of shame in admitting that under your clothes (because in reality most of what I dislike isn’t really visible,) isn’t as attractive as the media tells us it should be. And whilst I know there are truly genetically lucky women (some amongst my friends,) who have lost weight quickly, through feeding or otherwise, and still look great, the media and just your average blogger posting about how they got their weight down/body back by cutting out sugar/rediscovering their love of pilates/breast feeding, really doesn’t help.

So the truth about my body is that it still doesn’t feel like my own. I’m still feeding Bea morning and evening. This week she has been particularly clingy and my body rarely feels like my own unless she’s asleep in her cot and then, ironically I miss her. My boobs haven’t done too badly for feeding her and don’t look a whole lot different, although I’m currently missing the fullness pregnancy and feeding imparted. I’m sure everybody feels differently about the parts of their body that are different after a baby, but for me it’s my middle that bothers me the most. My waist seems to be just… absent. And my stomach muscles, whilst still present, (I know – I regularly try to tense them to check they are still there!) are hidden under a layer of blubber and seem intent on just sagging out of shape when I am relaxed… so all the time. But the thing I hate the most is the skin. I got stretch marks under my bump in about my 35th week of pregnancy. I expected it because I suffered with stretch marks in my teens but they are so faded now I hoped they would disappear to the barely visible silvery lines the earlier ones left. Whilst they are less visible now and pale, they’ve totally altered the texture of my skin. Stood upright you’d never notice but any bending forwards reveals the crepe-like texture and loose skin I loathe.

Loathe is a strong word and not how I feel about my ‘self’ I hasten to add. Fortunately I have never based my self worth on my external appearance but even though I consider myself to be unusually self confident, there have to be things and times when you don’t feel perfect. Even as I write this I feel almost defeated in admitting it. I’m mentally straining for a positive comment or course of action to round off this blog post with, to say what I’m going to do about it, or how I’m going to change myself. But I think what I really want to say is it’s ok to feel like this. That maybe acceptance is the way forwards and the way to ultimate happiness about your body after having babies. Perhaps the cliched end is that I’d go through it all again and worse for Bea. Being a mother is so much better than having a perfect (if it ever was) body and I’d much rather spend time with her than time pursuing it. In my case, most of the time motherhood is distracting enough to prevent me dwelling on the reality of my ‘new’ body. But it’s a part of motherhood nonetheless.

Now it’s time to hand over to you. How do you really feel about your body? Have your feelings changed? Perhaps you feel differently to me? I’d love to hear your thoughts readers 🙂

Rebecca x

Thanking you kindly…

As a child I was always brought up to write thank you letters, and I mean to everyone. People we saw regularly, people we had already thanked at the time of receiving the gifts and people far away. As an adult, I try to keep writing them but admit, time gets the better of me and sometimes it’s frankly embarrassing after so much time has passed to send a thank you letter so late!


Image Via The Glitter Guide: 7 Sweet thank you cards
Now that we have Bea, its made me think a lot more about thank you’s and the act of writing a thank you letter. Personally, when I give someone a gift, I do it without the expectation of thanks. I don’t give to receive thanks in return, but simply because I want to. I might want to celebrate someones birthday or new baby, or just cheer them up and whilst a thank you is lovely to receive, I don’t count them or look out for them. In fact there are occasions when I would rather NOT receive a thank you letter… I’d would much prefer that new mum spend an extra 5 or 10 minutes cuddling her new baby than thanking me for the gift I sent.

Now we have Bea, a whole new world of thanking people has popped up, and I feel I ought to write thank you’s for all of her gifts too. But when she’s not actually writing them herself, I’m not actually teaching her to appreciate the thought, effort or financial generosity behind a gift (which I would plan to do in future with an older child,) and it is one more burden for an ever growing mummy to-do list. So I’ve decided that we will write thank you’s for geographically distant relatives and people we won’t see to thank. Those that we do see will be thanked in person on receipt of the gift and family/friends can have electronic thank you by way of photo or email messages showing the presents in use.

I’m curious to know readers, what did you do growing up and what do you do now, (or plan to do) with your children?

Love,
Rebecca

The 5 best books for babies…

I love reading to Bea and whilst our evening routine doesn’t always involve a story at the moment we do read to her every day, if not several times. We have done this since she was tiny, when it was really more for us than for her, so this is a little list of the best books we found for the first 12 months and I’d love to hear if you have any to add for that specific period.

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

“But the next baby born was truly divine, a sweet little child who was mine, all mine.”

My mum bought this for Bea when she was born, it is such a cute story and I loved reading it to her, in much the same way people enjoy ‘Guess how much I love you’.

Peepo!

One of my favourite books from childhood, I loved reading this to Bea for nostalgic reasons but it’s also one she can interact with by turning the (board) pages and I imagine will grow with her. We even ended up walking around when she’s tired or sad sing songing away, ‘Here’s a little baby one, two, three, carried in her mummy’s arms, what does she see…’ – and now it’s one of the staple gifts I buy for new babies.

That’s Not My Puppy

This was given to us by a friend with 2 kids who clearly knew what she was doing when she bought it! It became the first book that Bea really enjoyed and interacted with due to the touchy feely  panels on every page and with it’s sturdy board pages was also the book she learned to turn pages with herself. We now have Thats’s not my … Monkey, Owl, Kitten and Robot – just for a bit of non-stereotypical reading material 😉

I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love

There are things about you quite unlike any other. Things always known by your father or mother. So if you decide to be different one day, no worries…I’d know you anyway.

Totally schmaltzy in a way only a parent will appreciate 😉 this was the first book that I personally ever bought for Bea. We bought it in the US on holiday and as such it is by an American Author, and refers to some unusual animals like the ‘blue footed booby.’ The illustrations are beautiful and it’s just a story I really love reading to her. It also has side notes encouraging children to make the actions for certain animals that we leave out now but will be great later on. I always think of this one as ‘our’ book and it’s another great one for a gift as it’s not that common over here.

The Snail and the Whale

This is the tale of a tiny snail and a great big grey blue hump backed whale…

Overtaking The Gruffalo in our affections comes this Julia Donaldson book about a snail who hitches a ride sightseeing around the world on a whales tail. It has wonderful alliteration and is quite a tongue twister to read but I love books that sing song and rhyme as you read them so I enjoy it and it never fails to settle eea down as a result too. This is a good one for the parent to enjoy reading as much as the child – no matter the age and its long enough to wind down with before bed.

This is just a selection of our personal favourites and is by no means exhaustive. Which books are your favourites for under ones? 

Love, Rebecca

xo

If the shoe fits…

We bought Bea her first pair of shoes at 11 months… I wouldn’t have bothered but it was summery weather (now a distant memory!) and she was walking a lot holding our hands around the garden, so I wanted her feet protected. It was a tough decision though, as you may know babies feet are still developing, so they should be out of shoes as much as possible. We figured it would just be brief spells so decided to go ahead. She then started walking around her first birthday and shortly after started nursery, where they have to wear shoes to go outside and often inside too. That first pretty pair, from Clarks naturally, are quickly getting worn out so I’m starting to think about autumn/winter footwear for walks in the park, puddle jumping (wellies I think!) and playing outside.

The problem is, its really hard to find nice children’s shoes. I like her to look half presentable so something that goes with everything is ideal, but I’m not compromising on fit for fashion. Bea’s feet are a tiny size 2F so shopping in the likes of the high street stores like M&S isn’t an option as they don’t seem to go below size 4. Added to all of that, a neighbour of ours who used to work for NIKE happened to tell us that NIKE spend more on research in a year into children’s foot development than Clarks turn over as a company in the same year. Which makes me think we’ll be adding some cute trainers to the collection.

I’d love to hear if you guys have discovered any ‘proper’ shoes that are safe and stylish around the internet or high street, suitable for first steps and tiny feet. Please do share!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS! Feeling a bit rubbish today? This will cheer you up 😉

The post baby body…

Now Bea is 12 months old I finally feel in a position to comment on my body. And honestly, it’s still changing, but I feel I can write this from a position of reasonable experience and with a realistic outlook. Before I start, please don’t anyone take any of this as a reflection or judgement on their body or decisions regarding it. This is purely my own personal experience and not meant to make anyone else scrutinise themselves, mother or not.

When I became pregnant, I was 10 and a half stone. To put that into context I’m about 5ft 7inches. It was the heaviest I have ever been and ironically I feel I got there because I was planning to get pregnant. My state of mind about starting a family was so messed up on reflection that I was constantly refusing to deny myself anything… if I had a pound for all the times I ordered something less than healthy or thought ‘to hell with it, I’ll have another drink…‘ because I thought I wouldn’t be able to eat/drink it during pregnancy, I’d be treating myself to something very fancy. I’d say my ‘happy weight’ i.e. the place where I feel good in my clothes but don’t have to really do much to maintain my weight is around 10 stone or just under, so I was at least half a stone heavier than I should be.

I weighed myself obsessively in pregnancy – not out of any concern for what I gained – I always assumed I’d get it off afterwards, but because I was fascinated by how much my body was changing. I won’t say I wasn’t keeping an eye on things, but I was eating everything in sight and so I made a mental note that if my weight ballooned I’d have to start being a bit more healthy. However, normal and healthy weight gain in pregnancy is 1 and a half to 2 and a half stone and watching my weight creep slowly up I never felt the need to cut back. In the end I gained exactly 2 stone, weighing in at 12 and a half stone the morning of my C-section. And I felt like a Goddess – I honestly can’t stress that enough. I LOVED my pregnant body.

You know how everyone tells stories about how they lost ‘a stone in the 24 hours after delivery,‘? Well, I had high hopes. I had a 6 and a half pound bundle, and had shed a placenta, a load of amniotic fluid and a bit of blood… I couldn’t wait to get on those scales with morbid fascination! Imagine my surprise when I had lost a measly 6 pounds! My flipping baby was heavier than that!


Of course, I didn’t care. My ‘baby bump’ took at least 3 weeks to subside and I accepted that it can take a bit longer post c-section. And in fact for many weeks or months afterwards my tummy was round and quite solid. It slowly started to settle but it was at a snails pace. I was (and still am,) breastfeeding but to say that breastfeeding makes you lose weight is the biggest myth in town… I’m sure it does, but if you’re eating for England, nothing can help you! – I took my milk production very seriously and after an astonishing conversation with a midwife early on who clearly thought I was trying to get my figure back at 10 days in when Bea was weighed and hadn’t gained anything, I was told to eat 3 square meals a day with pudding and snacks and to take food to bed too for the night feeds! And I did. Granted I didn’t gain any weight, but I think the breastfeeding mother typically loses weight because of being pinned under a constantly feeding baby and neglecting her own needs – I’m grateful to say that wasn’t me, I was well looked after by Pete – far too well! 😉

As the months went on my weight plateaued then would drop a fraction, then plateau again. Sometimes it bothered me, but on the whole I really didn’t care. I wasn’t desperately concerned with staring in the mirror before I had Bea, and afterward, well, I spent all my time just staring at her instead. When it did bother me I set myself targets, saying ‘I’ll start exercising at 6 months,‘ which became 9 months and ‘next month’. In truth, looking back, I just didn’t want to at all. My head wasn’t in a space that prioritised me or my needs and wants and rather than resenting or regretting that, I just didn’t even think about it. I’m not going to lie though, it was tough walking round in a bikini on holiday before she was even 4 months old.

Reading this back, I just realised I’ve talked almost exclusively about my weight, rather than my shape. That’s partly because its only recently as my weight has gone down a little bit more again that I’ve started to dislike what I see more. I’m still breastfeeding, so my boobs aren’t what they were, but they aren’t totally deflated yet either. 😉 Honestly, I don’t really care about them. It did take a whole new perspective when I finally went bra shopping as the shapes and styles I’d normally reach for weren’t working for me at all, but I can’t complain.

I think the part of me that has changed the most is my stomach. It’s the area I have always gained weight in but this is different, I really feel that no matter what I do now, the skin isn’t going to recover its elasticity and go smooth again. A lot of people complain about C-section scars causing a ‘pouch’ of skin, but I don’t think it’s anything to do with that, the skin just stretched so much it can’t recover. I hope I find I’m wrong but I guess it’s just reality that skin that was so stretched won’t be the same afterwards. That said, everybody is different! One positive is that I did get stretch marks when I was pregnant… quite a lot of them and early on – I remember being quite devastated when one appeared at 35 weeks and I still thought I had 7 weeks to go! They were all under my bump but I’m pleased to report that like the ones I got in my teens they are all invisible now unless you scrutinise my skin. So that’s a plus! What bugs me is when you can see that skin and roll of fat through my clothes. Not pretty and really motivating me now to work on getting my shape back.

As I write, with Bea approaching 13 months I’m 5lbs heavier than I was at conception, having done absolutely nothing to shift any weight. I’ve finally had a change of mindset and feel ready to make a concerted effort to get back into shape and work on my waistline, but I’ll save that for another post.

Right now I’d love to hear your thoughts on your body post baby – what has changed and how do you feel about it?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS
What I thought about post-baby bodies before I had a baby…

Travelling with a baby: Stuff that helps

Before we went to Greece last week we bought some travel gear that we found really useful and I thought I’d share… along with some fun stuff. I wish I’d known about some of these earlier for use out and about at home to be honest, particularly the travel high chair, so don’t discount them if you’re not traveling anywhere!

1. Totseat Kids Travel Highchair £23.99
There was no high chair in our apartment and to be honest we were only offered them at restaurants 50% of the time or less… and I won’t go into the standards of cleanliness of the ones we received. Nothing bugs me more than Bea eating on my knee, squirming and wiping her hands, face and food on my clothes so this was a godsend. It fits on multiple different seat backs (we didn’t find one it don’t fit,) is very secure, rolls up really small and is washable. Genius idea and we will be using it regularly back home too. The only thing is that it doesn’t add much height, but we tended to sit her on a rolled up towel or something which gave enough height and I suspect if your baby was a bit taller then Bea (not difficult!) it would be better. (Koo-Di do a much cheaper one but it’s not adjustable for all the different chair backs so I imagine wouldn’t always work.)

2. Koo-di Pop-Up Travel Bubble Cot Around £40
You guessed it, no cot either… Maybe some other mums can explain to me how you travel with one of the usual travel cots – they seem so big and heavy for suitcases? We bought this months back for going to friends houses but it’s also great for holidays as it’s light, fits into a case when packed down and functions as a mosquito net too.

3. Koo-di Pop-Up Travel Bubble Cot £9.99
For a bit of fun we bought this for Bea for the pool. It was great – after the initial terrified meltdown when we first put her in it! It was brilliant because of the sunshade, so even if it was midday, we could put her in there to cool off and she was covered from the heat of the sun 🙂

4. Summer Infant Tiny Diner – Green £9.99
Another brilliant find for baby lead weaners or any tot eating out, this was perfect for knowing that she was eating off a clean surface. Some of the places we ate were a bit grubby on the table tops or high chairs and while I’m not normally a clean freak, the last thing we needed in the heat was a dehydrating tummy bug! We sat this under her bottom on a seat (it’s quite big) or on the table and it worked really well – another one we will be using at home too.

5. Frostfire Popup Beach Shelter with UV protection (50+ UPF)
We were worried about keeping Bea shaded so bought this for the beach, knowing that the village we were visiting wasn’t the type where you pay for a lounger and parasol on the beach. 😉 In fact, it was too hot even for this as it got hotter in the tent and we ended up buying a cheap parasol, but if it wasn’t as warm this would have been great – it provided good shade, a wind break and decent space for playing away from the handfuls of sand and pebbles that Bea was intent on shoving in her mouth!

Have you got any amazing finds for travelling with a baby? we’ve only got one year left before we have to start paying for her seat so I intend to do a lot more travelling with her over the next 12 months! 😉

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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