Getting away from it all- top tips for babies first night away

For someone whose spent the majority of my life planning holidays, moaning about having itchy feet and repeatedly opening SkyScanner, it’s felt particularly tranquil having no impending travel plans.

I know it’s all very obvious now, but I wholeheartedly did not realise how much luggage such a little man would demand.

Yes, only one bag is mine!!

We’ve gone from organising a February weekend in Amsterdam, an Easter trip to Lake Bled and a summer holiday in the Mediterranean sunshine to planning a midweek stay in a pine lodge in the lakes. If it’s got a microwave, a travel cot and room for a pram you’ve got me.

With family living up in Glasgow, there was always going to be an early trip away. Considering I’ve done this trips hundreds of times, I couldn’t believe how anxious I felt about it.

What if he screamed the hotel down? And people complained? How do you pack all the parafanailia you need for a bottle fed baby?

But, with the need to visit a poorly family member the anxiety was quashed and the hatchback filled to the brim ready for the weekend.

So now we are safely home in one piece I thought I’d round up my top tips to hopefully make that first trip away as stress free as possible!

1. How to survive the journey

Think you can fit all your belongings and your family of 4 into your small car- think again. Every available space was filled with stuff, and now I understand why my Dad had a roof rack (you can tell that was the 90’s) Pack wisely!

Remember the golden rule with car seats and stop every two hours for at least 30 mins. We timed these with feeds (him and us) and chose service stations we presumed would be the most family friendly. Tebay on the M6 for example is ideal and make an 8 hour trip bare-able.

If you think the baby will distract you, ask someone to sit in the back with then. Yes I may have been a little lonely riding up front but I didn’t need to worry if the dummy went awol.

Factor in traffic into your journey, nobody wants to be stuck in the city centre rush hour with a ravenous baby screaming away.

2. Choosing somewhere to stay

Think practically about your accommodation. An Air BnB would probably be my top choice for a baby friendly ‘holiday’ but booking with mere hours before we arrived we opted for a Premier Inn, and I’m so glad we did.

Premier Inn family room

Premier Inn family room

The Family Room was huge, featuring a sumptuous double bed, single sofa bed and a pristine travel cot. The bathroom was a decent size and there was plenty of space for the pram and the abundance of toys I’d packed to keep him occupied. But the main draw was the incredible staff. Pauline welcomed us with open arms, nothing was too much trouble (including fetching scissors to open the pack of formula!) and she kindly reminded me ‘he’s a baby and babies cry- so what!’.

Another bonus was the Beefeater restaurant attached to the hotel. We didn’t need to even walk outside to find a hot meal or cold glass of wine. Again, not the sort of thing I’d be raving about on A Weekend Escape this time last year, but with an over tired baby it was a haven.

Large tables with lots of space in a secluded corner = less stressed mummy. Plus they do an all you can eat breakfast, meaning less need to somehow find time and a free hand to eat lunch. A welcome bonus!

The baby changing room was also pretty swanky. (I did not even begin to imagine I’d be excited by the changing facilities in a restaurant chain … oh how life changes!)

3. What to pack

Probably pretty obvious, but a hell of a lot of clothes, nappies, muslins and favourite toys / comforters. Let’s me honest most things you’ll pack will be for them- Ace had a full suitcase and 12 outfits… I had a small weekend bag and 2.

We also packed the sleepyhead, because going from a cocooned crib to a big boy travel cot might have lost us some much needed shut eye. But if you do plan on just using the cot, I would personally pack my own sheets.

The main issue for us was feeding. By god it would of been easier I’m sure if I was able to be breast feeding. (Or is this a case of grass is always greener? Intrigued to hear of your travel thoughts breast feeding Mummas!)

Luckily my mum is the most super organised person on the planet and had already purchased a travel kettle just for Aces feeds. I know, who even thinks of these things!

So we had our own kettle, the sterilising unit and some cold sterilising tablets. Plus you’ll need your bottle brushes, enough bottles for the days feeds, washing up liquid and tea towels / kitchen towel. We also packed our box of powdered formula plus a load of the pre-made ones in case of late night/early morning emergencies. Where is that Perfect Prep when you need it!!

See I told you they need a hell of a lot of stuff!

Anyway, I suppose this post is more of a ‘being away from home with a baby isn’t that bad’, rather than a ‘hey go to Glasgow and stay at a Premier Inn’ sort of post. It’s here to say to any travel anxious mummies out there-

“If I can do it, you can too”.

Where was your babies first holiday? What are your top tips for travelling with little ones?

A unique gift guide for baby showers and new arrivals

Just like that, Christmas is over again for another year! I hope you and yours had the most magical time. We had a lovely, quiet week (well, as quiet as you can be with a 10 week old!) with our nearest and dearest.

Ace, as you can imagine, was spoilt rotten. We only bought him a few toys, books and clothes as one thing is for sure, he won’t remember this Christmas at all! But, our generous friends and family really went to town in spoiling him no end. And many of those were really unique gifts.

So, I thought I’d share with you some of the beautiful personalised items we were gifted. These aren’t festive themed items, so would be perfect for a baby shower, babies arrival, birthday or Christmas.

Wooden blocks

These super cute wooden blocks from This Paper Book were such a special gift from Ace’s auntie and cousin when he made his arrival. I adore them, and they make such a lovely addition to the nursery. Each block features the letter in both upper and lower case form, plus two illustrations of items beginning with that letter. For example, we have an acorn, apple, cat, car, elephant and egg! You can chose from raw wood or a huge array of colours, and to have the blocks with or without the illustrations.

Of course you don’t need to purchase the child’s name, you could go down the traditional route with ABC which would be just as gorgeous. A timeless gift which would suit any style of nursery.

This Paper Book wooden letter blocks start at £4.00 each

Watercolour scan print

This Christmas I was surprised by the most stunning watercolour- featuring our 20 week scan, when we excitedly found out we were having a boy! (Proving my girly predictions wrong!) Catherine of Huggles & Kisses Art Studio is a good friend of one of my closest friends and makes these unique gifts plus lots of other bits and bobs alongside being a mum of three.

I’ve hung our print in the nursery, above our changing table, and it’s crazy to look up and see how much Ace grew from then to birth!

If you have a copy of a close friends scan, I think it’d make the most beautiful baby shower or arrival gift. I know I’ll treasure ours forever.

Huggles & Kisses Art Studio Watercolour Scans start at £6.00

Monogrammed loafers and Personalised baby grow

My 1st Years have got personalisation down to a fine art. Their website features a gorgeous range of homeware, clothes and toys which can all be personalised free of charge. To top it off, they are all presented in the most beautiful Tiffany blue gift boxes, adding a real touch of luxury on an affordable budget.

Another special friend purchased Ace a gorgeous velour sleepsuit with angel wings, embroidered with our surname, as our baby shower gift- he wore it and wore it in the early days!! It was definitely his signature style! Unfortunately it no longer fits our chunky boy, but it’s one outfit we’ll never ever part with, and filled with such happy memories.

The same friend treated him to an adorable pair of navy loafers, monogrammed with his initials. So dapper! And they looked great with his bow tie outfits on Christmas Day and NYE! If you can’t look good for your first Christmas, when can you?!

My 1st Years currently have a January sale on many items. The sleepsuit is £18.00 and loafers £11.20.

Liberty print initialled clothes

I’ve had my eye on Magnificent Stanleys Instagram page ever since those 2 blue lines appeared. I’m a little obsessed with Liberty print (if he’d been a girl she would of been dressed head to top on a daily basis…) So it was only a matter of time before I ordered one of their personalised items with Liberty fabric lettering. In fact, I couldn’t resist getting one for Ace’s favourite girl, my best friends daughter too. (With her initials of FAB they were always going to be the best of friends!!)

Magnificent Stanley create rompers, sweatshirts and a number of accessories alongside their famed Tee’s. I opted for classic white long sleeved t-shirts, which are made of soft white cotton with the Liberty fabric letters hand cut and sewn on. There is a wide range of fabrics to choose from, and being a nautical lover I had to have ‘Message in a Bottle’

The t-shirts arrived beautifully gift wrapped with their names stamped on the tags. They looked so pretty I didn’t even bother opening to check my order, I popped them straight into stockings ready for Christmas morning. It was like having another gift for me on Christmas Day as I had no idea what it would look like- and I wasn’t disappointed! The T-shirts are of a high quality cotton and beautifully decorated. I don’t think it’ll be my last order!

Magnificent Stanley T-shirts start at £16.00

Festive toy sack

But if you are thinking ahead to next year, the one festive investment we made was this gorgeous Personalised toy sack from Etsy store Little Miss V Design.

I grew up as a huge Peter Rabbit lover, and Ace loves his Peter comforter so this just seemed ideal! It’s made of good quality canvas and arrived super quick. The 50 x 70cm size was just right, big enough for all his presents but not ridiculous looking next to the tree! The design features Peter in his festive wears and the text ‘The Christmas Tale of (Child’s Name)”

Little Miss V Design Peter Rabbit personalised Present sack is £12.95

I hope these ideas have proved useful! Just to add, this is certainly not an advertisement and the sellers above aren’t aware of this piece before publication. They are just purely gifts and purchases I adore and would make lovely personalised and unique gifts for new parents or those to be!

Sian x

The ultimate hospital bag

If you follow me over on A Weekend Escape you’ll know I love nothing better than filling my cabin case ready for a night or two away.

But, this summer the endless days of packing and unpacking my little case were in fact in my bedroom rather than a far flung hotel room.

I never expected I’d need so much in my hospital bag, and after working my way through 3 bulging weekend bags out came the suitcase. But how to decide what to pack?!

Thankfully there was some brilliant blogs and posts around recommending some birthing and new mum gems, and what to pack was the hot topic of conversation in my NCT WhatsApp group for a number of weeks! Who knew I’d get so excited over what sanitary pads to pack (Oh how life has changed….)

Anyway, following suit of my feeding journey post, it’s my turn to give something back and hopefully offer some gems to another yummy mummy to be!

Birth day treats

I’ve mentioned them previously in my birth story, but I wouldn’t of got through my labour without my positive affirmation cards, hypnobirthing playlists (and earphones/Bluetooth speaker) and Mama Mio Liquid Yoga. Reading and listening to positive vibes helped keep me focused and regular sprays of Liquid Yoga removed that distinctive hospital smell and transported me back to one of my many MANY baths back in the security of my own home.

Mama mio liquid yoga

Although I didn’t get a chance to munch through the snacks like I’d predicted, you never know when your blood sugar might take a dip. I went down the unhealthy route with Boost bars, mince pies and cinnamon buns, but the wiser choices would obviously be those with a slow release like oatmeal, fruity flapjacks. I did however make my way through a few packets of Dextorose tablets and many bottles of flavoured fizzy water (opt for the sports tops for throwing down your neck with ease!!)

Everyone will tell you about the post delivery tea and toast, but depending on what time your little cherub arrives you may not get much else before bedtime- so pack some extra snacks for then! It felt like mum and I had a right old midnight feast in our room to celebrate that night!

Oh and pack some mints- if there is a chance you might need to go to theatre they can stop you from eating- and a good friend swore by mints to see her through those starving hours. Plus, with a crying newborn in your arms you might not see your toothbrush before the visitors kick in. Fresh breath = your first mum win.

Dressing for the occasion

A fluffy dressing gown, comfy slippers and your own pillow. I presumed I was packing all three for my first night in bed as a mummy, but in fact I donned all three for my rides in the ambulance and wheelchair…. with the said pillow (a V one) over my shoulders in a very fetching fashion. The glamour of labour was certainly left when I closed my apartment door.

What you probably won’t need however is that new swimsuit or silk nightshirt you bought especially for the occasion. I couldn’t imagine being happy to take my knickers off for an examination, let alone labour in anything less than a two piece. Turns out I was pretty happy wandering round the delivery suite in my birthday suit. My dignity left long ago, so why not treat my midwifery team to a full frontal hey.

A cotton button down nightdress or snuggly shirt pj’s are a must for your overnight stay, and make sure they have a loose, soft waistband. Preferably one with a tie- you don’t know how your body will change immediately after delivery and you don’t want anything so tight it’s uncomfortable or too loose they fall down.

And finally something nice but super comfy to wear when you take your newest arrival home. It may have been October but I chose a lightweight loose jumpsuit I wore through the summer, with a bold shirt over the top and trainers. It’s important to be comfy, but I also wanted to feel like ‘me’ again. Especially as my little man made his first entrance into the big wide world.

The nitty gritty

Let’s be honest, the things us girls really need to think about are the less than glamorous parts to this experience. It’s time to talk breast pads, sanitary towels and nipple shields.

You might want to put down that lunch you’ve been enjoying….

First up, lets talk about down below. Now, I knew giving birth would be a bloody business but I was seriously underprepared by the sheer volume. Lets just say it’s not for the faint hearted.

You can get many types of maternity pads, which are basically super sanitary towels, but someone (a friend, a blogger, an Instagrammer… who knows!) recommended the Tena Lady Pants. And they were a game changer! You can even pop in a maternity pad in there too in the early days when things are a bit, well, messy.

It’s not the prettiest thing I’ve ever recommended on this blog but possibly the most helpful!

You are going to be sore however you give birth, but help is at hand thanks to the aptly named Spritz for Bitz from My Expert Midwife. With anti-bacterial, anti-fungi and pain relieving properties, this power potion can be sprayed directly onto C-section wounds, episiotomy or perineal tear stitches and any bruising or swelling.

I swear to you it works. Yes it may be at the top end of your price bracket when it comes to treating down below, but I can hand in heart say it helped me enormously. I began by spraying into the pad itself for 24 hours to avoid any aggravation, before moving directly onto the skin. I used Spritz for Bitz for around 3 weeks and still have half a bottle left, so it certainly is value for money.

And lastly whilst we talk bathroom accessories, get yourself some Fybogel. Everyone secretly fears that first post delivery poo and two cups of this stuff a day makes it a doddle. You’ve got enough to think about without worrying about a painful bum to boot.

Heading back up top to the boobie department you’ll need some breast pads, nipple cream (lansinoh is pure gold) and some emergency nipple shields.

Of course your milk probably/hopefully won’t come in during your stay in hospital, but a breast pad can be a welcome addition to your maternity bra when your nipples resemble a crimson summer sun. I do think you get what you pay for here- the pricier ones seem to stay in place whilst the supermarket budget ones? Let’s just say whilst popping my bra down to feed, one accidentally attached itself to my husbands foot. For it only to be noticed by a visitor a few hours later 🙈

Lansinoh will become your best friend. I’m no longer feeding and yet it’s still on my bedside. Not only does it relieve cracked, dry nipples it’s an awesome lip balm, cuticle cream and brow gel. It’s safe to use immediately before feeding too which is a welcome bonus.

Lastly, those pesky nipple shields. Not an obvious choice but for me, a godsend. You just never know what’s lying ahead of you in this feeding malarkey.

And for the most important traveller

Do not underestimate how much these tiny people need. 8 weeks down the line I still under-prepare how many nappies one will need!! (FYI on a Sunday day trip to the in-laws it was 9!)

Pack two sizes of nappies, and roughly half of packet of each. We never envisaged our boy would be as big as he is, so having bigger nappies saved our bacon! You can always keep more nappies in the car just in case shit really does go down…

You’ll also need tones of clothes. It’s a known fact in our circle that I seriously believed I would only carry a change of clothes in case I simply ‘got bored’ of his outfit mid way through a day. Little did I know.

Turns out Ace ‘got bored’ pretty quickly in hospital and was kindly gifted some pretty pink sleepsuits from the lost property section to see us through the night. Not his finest hour, but at least he’s down with his feminine side.

Messy clothes on the floor

How can one boy wear so many clothes in one night?!

And a last note on clothes…look at the poppers carefully. So what, I thought, if the poppers where at the back? Dressing a newborn for the first time is stressful enough without awkward clothing getting in the way. Pack a load of soft, gorgeous sleepsuits with traditional central poppers. Honestly, you’ll thank me I promise.

And last but certainly not least. Milk.

You might want to breastfeed but I was nearly up the Swanee when it wasn’t working. Yes, I had a bottle of emergency pre-made formula but surely I didn’t need bottles as well? Damn right you do! Get yourself a pack of the premade bottles with teats. They aren’t cheap, but you’ll pay anything to avoid the look of horror on a nurses face when they ask you for a bottle.

Those little extras

You certainly won’t remember in the heat of the moment but make sure you’ve packed change for the car park, a spare phone charger and a clean pair of pants for your other half.

But seriously, aside from that, you’ve got this mama.

You have packed for the most amazing trip you’ll ever take. The trip you embark on as a free spirited mum-to-be and land back in a bubble of joy, as the most loved person in a little ones world. And no other holiday can ever give you that.

Sian x

The lowdown on Placenta Encapsulation

Like most of us, I presumed eating your placenta was a delicacy reserved for celebrity yummy mummies or earth mothers. I knew little of the benefits, and imagined a pound of flesh whizzing around in my blender to make a smoothie minutes after delivery.

Then a friend posted a Facebook review of placenta encapsulation and her feedback peaked my interest.

I’d spied Placenta Plus on Instagram many a time, and was aware it was a company based close to my own work, but I didn’t realise how lucky we were having them on our door step.

Flesh with benefits

Once I started looking into the benefits of placenta encapsulation, I was surprised to see how few companies offered it and how many areas didn’t have a service to call upon at all.

Luck was well and truly on our side.

Within weeks of falling pregnant and deciding I wanted the ultimate hypnobirthing experience (at the time I envisaged a home birth in a pool admiring our sea view…..) I was sure I wanted to reap the benefits of eating my placenta too.

Raising these ideas however didn’t go down to well at all.

Think coffee splutters, eye rolling and stunned silences. In fact, Tom actually thought I was winding him up when I announced my plans. But after much research he came round… and we decided to keep my plan on the down-low until after baby arrived to save the rigmarole of explaining our decision.

(Although I’d loved to have seen our neighbours face when she took in my parcel labelled ‘contains human tissue’ 😂😂)

Finding a gem

Danielle at Placenta Plus was amazing from day one. Booking was simple, an online form and bank transfer later and we were booked!

We opted for the raw method which promotes an increase in energy as the main benefit. However, as I’d opted to have a strep B screening I could revert to the other option of traditional Chinese method at a later date should this be found.

How it all works

A few weeks before due date I received my cool bag, freezer blocks and heaps of information through the post, all of which we were to take with us on labour day.

I’d added some information regards my placenta plans onto my birth preferences, and I found some of care team were clued up on placenta encapsulation and others not so much- so it was a good job I did!

It’s important to request delayed cord clamping where possible when encapsulating your placenta, plus this gives lots of extra health benefits for baby too! We didn’t know if this would be possible during labour for me, and I was delighted when we were able to let the cord stop pulsating completely before cutting.

Once delivered, my placenta was examined by the midwife wearing fresh gloves and placed into a sterile bag, and finally, into the cool bag I’d provided. The freezer blocks are placed above and below the placenta.

We’d already texted Placenta Plus when I was in established labour and once I’d delivered, and a short while later a courier arrived to collect it!

Baby placenta pills

The following morning I received a text to tell me my pills were ready! I couldn’t believe how speedy they were! My package was due to be delivered the following day, and I woke up to the postman on my first morning back at home.

Each placenta produces a different number of pills and I received 146- I have no idea if that’s lots or few, but I was delighted either way! I took 3 pills a day for the first 4 weeks, before moving to 2 pills a day and then 1, so those 146 pills lasted around 7 weeks.

How did I feel?

In a word-AMAZING. I escaped the day three baby blues, miraculously survived on 3/4 hours sleep (I’m an 8/9 girl and no less will do!) and felt on top of the world most days. In fact, the few times I forgot to the take them, it was blatantly obvious. So I have no doubt they most certainly work!

Would I do it again? Damn right. It’s a joke in our house that I’d buy someone’s placenta just to have it encapsulated and reap the rewards… and hand in heart, if that was legal I would!

Yes it’s a little pricey, but for me it’s been worth every single penny.

Sian x

I had my placenta encapsulated with Placenta Plus who are based in Liverpool. The service cost £200 plus a £30 courier charge to my local Hospital on the Wirral.

Our Feeding Journey

When you meet a mum who has recently welcomed her little angel into the world, what questions do you ask her? No really, I want you to take a moment and really think about it.

Ok Ok, so maybe not the questions you’d ask your closest friends (we all know they get the nitty gritty whether they like it or not), but those acquaintances you see from time to time, perhaps at your weekly exercise class or a mutual friends birthday drinks.

Not sure? Well in the past six weeks I’ve been greeted with the following gems….

Following the birth weight question… “Gosh, I take it you needed a lot of stitches then?” (Who on earth asks about another women’s foof?!!)

Accompanied by a good inspection of the, or so I thought, well concealed dark circles “Isn’t he sleeping through yet?” (No, he’s 5 days old, he’s not supposed to sleep through!)

And the can of worms I’m about to open, the ever popular ….”Are you feeding him yourself?” (Yes Sandra- breast or bottle I’m certainly feeding him myself!)

The latter seems to be the most interesting topic. Why, is beyond me. I didn’t realise so many people would have an interest or opinion on the function of my boobs. Or how much that question would affect me.

There’s a big reason I’m so erked by the question however, and that’s what I’m going to spill today. It’s a pretty personal post and one I wasn’t sure of to write, but, it was reading blogs such as Amy’s Hearty Home that helped comfort me, so it’s only right that I give something back.

Mother and baby

Image- MSW Photography

Where it all began

Immediate skin to skin after baby is delivered was discussed deeply at both hypnobirthing and antenatal classes and it was something I presumed would be a given. If you’ve read my birth story you’ll know a few things didn’t go to our dream plan, and the fact he passed meconium meant he was passed to me wrapped in a towel and taken for clean up soon afterwards. My pesky Placenta also meant he was taken from me at times and I missed a good hour of skin to skin thanks to examinations and stitches (I know, you didn’t even have to ask!) so by the time we initiated feeding he was 2 hours old. And tired, we were both absolutely shattered.

The vision of him simply moving across my chest and latching on within minutes of making his entrance was a long gone dream. It was more of his head being man handled and a quick root in my hospital bag for the emergency nipple shields.

Things didn’t improve that night, even with a visit from breast feeding support, and it was announced he had a minor tongue tie. NHS wait time for a tongue tie release? 6 weeks.

Day two and things seem to pick up! He latched, feed and fell sound asleep for a good few hours, leading to us being discharged and heading home to daddy at last!

Mother and baby breastfeeding

Things continued at the same pace at home. Yes it was bloody painful- I even described it worse than labour at one point- and he could take a good two hours to feed but thats just normal right?!

Come day four and we had a screaming, inconsolable boy on our hands who had spent most of the day on the boob but never satisfied. After panicked phone calls, tears (his and mine) and fear there was something seriously wrong, we cracked open the bottle of formula we still had lying in our hospital bag.

Within minutes we had a happy, calm boy and we realised it was the first time we actually heard him swallow. My heart broke and I think that night will almost haunt me forever.

Day five arrived and the question of ‘has your milk come in’ became more and more frequent. I was truly expecting to wake up like Pammy Anderson circa 1991. Spoiler alert- 6 weeks in and I’m still closer in cup size to the Hoff than Pammy. It was also time for Aces first weigh in- he was slimmer of the week with a loss of 9.7%.

And the frantic calls to private tongue tie clinics began. Thankfully we bagged an appointment the following evening and the news arrived that he was in fact severely tongue tied.Medela breast pump

Off we headed home with instructions to hire a hospital grade double pump and a schedule which meant the next few weeks you might as well call me Daisy. My fridge would look like a dairy I was sure of it!!

Wrong.

Pump it up

So my milk finally arrived on day 13, but it didn’t exactly make a grand entrance. It was clear pretty early on that we’d never be exclusively breast feeding but combi feeding at best. He is a big boy with a big appetite.

Breast milk

We all have to start somewhere!

The weirdest part of all this, was that I wasn’t even desperate to breast feed. My attitude was always ‘I’ll give it a go‘ but with most things in life, if I’m told I can’t do it, I’m determined to succeed. Combined feeding was always my long term aim, so I couldn’t complain that it’d happened so easy, but I was still so mixed up about it all.

Anyway, pumping aside, we still had a very frustrated boy when it came to latching. He’d scream, scratch and pinch me and thrash around. And after a long feed, scream that he’s still starving. I never thought I’d be comfortable enough to feed in public before he arrived but I needn’t have worried, there wasn’t a chance we could feed like that outside of home!! But once he settled down and latched I could see what all the fuss was about, why so many women truly love breast feeding.

And the weeks go on…

We carried on with my life as daisy the cow for a few weeks, power pumping, bottle feeding and attempting various feeding positions and our little man finally beat his birth weight on week 4. It’s a shame they don’t have a loyalty card for midwife appointments, I would of certainly earned a prize from how many we had.

Breast milk

A pretty proud moment!!

My health visitor persuaded me to see a lactation consultant, and my appointment arrived when we reached week 5.

I was terrified.

Why? Well, someone who I presumed would be in the breast in best camp (I am firmly in the FED is best camp) would give me a right telling off for putting seeing guests ahead of a gruelling hour long power pumping session or not fighting through feeding in public, instead of grabbing for a bottle to save my dignity.

I couldn’t of been more wrong. She understood our troubles and even suggested we just use the breast as a way to comfort rather than think of it as a feed, as so many of the benefits of breast feeding aren’t from the milk itself (obviously there are many MANY benefits from the milk too!) Thank god.

Here we go again

But our story doesn’t end there. We discussed his feeding style- clicking noises, messy eating style, lots of wind and bouts of colic which had left him screaming in pain for up to 12 hours a night. I presumed a lip tie. In fact I’d call myself a wannabe tie expert with the hours I’d spent reading up on the topic. I will talk lip and tongue ties with anyone who’ll listen.

What she discovered threw me. He was still tongue tied. Severely. He didn’t have a lip tie, all his symptoms were solely because his tongue tie had returned due to scar tissue.

There was no wonder he struggled to feed or had such bad colic, it all slotted into place.

Mother and baby bottle feeding

Image- MSW Photography

We are now a week into his second tongue tie release, and there is a chance it’ll return again. But we are armed with our newly gained knowledge should that occur and thankfully our little one is a healthy and now a thriving and growing boy.

Moving forward one step at a time

And one things for sure, If we decide to add to our brood, we’ll certainly be prepared for what’s to come.

I really hope this has helped anyone going through a similar situation, I promise you, it gets better, but do accept any offers of help you get. I feel like we’ve tried every bottle, nipple shield, formula and colic product going- but it seems we’ve got there in the end.

Sian x

Hypnobirthing : Is it all its cracked up to be?

In the media last week we heard how Meghan Markle plans to use hypnobirthing techniques when she welcomes the latest Royal into the world next Spring. For many, this will be the first time they’ve heard of such a thing, for others they’ll roll their eyes and for a growing number they’ll rejoice that Meghan has been let into their secret of achieving a positive birth.

I’m a real hypnobirthing convert and I believe it’s the sole reason I achieved a positive birthing experience, even though it wasn’t how I imagined. However, I know it’s not for everyone. I know some who have used the techniques and unfortunately not had the positive experience they dreamed of, but if your expecting and intrigued, it’s certainly worth a go.

Where to start?

I began my journey into hypnobirthing by searching online for a local course. Unfortunately at the time there was very few in the Merseyside area, but luckily for me some basic skills were covered at the pop up Birth centre I was aiming to deliver in with the homebirth midwife team.

But what really upped my birthing game was discovering The Positive Birth Company. The online digital pack is budget friendly at £35 and is filled with easy to watch videos and a PDF course booklet. I watched the videos three times over, once in each trimester, to really cement my positive mind frame.

Luckily Hollie De Cruz launched her book ‘Your Baby, Your Birth’ as my maternity leave drew ever closer and it quickly became my bible. I listened to Hollie’s MP3 positive affirmations and relaxation scripts daily and pretty much the whole way through labour. Possibly the best amazon purchase I’ve ever made!

Mind your language

One of the biggest changes you’ll make in transitioning into hypnobirthing is the words you associate with labour. Forgot painful contractions and think powerful surges, your waters won’t break they’ll release and you won’t be focusing on how much ‘pain’ you are in. It’ll take a while to get your head around it, but I truly think it made a world of difference.

Building your tool box

In the hypnobirthing world there is a lot of talk about your imaginary ‘tool box’, stocked with all the tools you’ll need to keep your mind in the game come D-Day.

There is many, MANY tools you can choose from- relaxation scripts, positive affirmations, breathing techniques, light touch massage to name a few. Not all ‘tools’ are required and you’ll find you’ll like some more than others.

I HATED the though of light touch massage for example – I knew full well I’d rather be left alone in that sense during labour. In fact I was pretty sure I’d spend the whole time with my eyes closed to shut out the world. I was also aware that I’d get the giggles if my husband was to read the relaxation scripts as so many hypnobirthing practitioners suggest, but I found listening to Hollie’s soft voice really encouraging and gave me the inner strength to push on. Excuse the pun.

What’s in a breath?

Up and down breathing are the heart of hypnobirthing and the online videos coaching you through the techniques from The Positive Birth Company will teach you all you need to know. I found having a mantra to follow my breathing really helped- in with oxytocin and out with adrenaline! There is A LOT more to say about oxytocin and adrenaline, but the videos and book I’ve suggested cover it all.

Use your BRAIN

There isn’t a day that using your BRAIN is more important. Standing for Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Intuition and Nothing (what happens if you do…) the acronym aids you in the process of the many MANY questions you’ll be asked throughout labour and even pregnancy. For me, this was the most important tool in my box.

Spreading the word

Possibly the most important aspect for me was reading positive birth stories and ignoring the negative tales people sometimes take great pleasure in telling. I read at least one story a day for months on end and it had a huge impact on me. I was truly excited to experience labour, and I’m already looking forward to next time (if there’s a next time!)

So, with that said, the following post is my birth story, so if it’s not for you, maybe skip a few pages!

Sian x

My Positive Birth Story

Let’s start with a bit of the back story! I’m a first time mummy who luckily had a spontaneous labour at 41 weeks.

From our initial midwife appointment at 6 weeks, I had hoped to give birth at the pilot scheme freestanding birth centre in our home town but, unfortunately we ended up with a blue lighted ambulance transfer to hospital.

But our boy, Ace Thomas Gardner, arrived on 18th October 2018 at 1.49pm, weighing a whopping 9lb 10oz.

And most importantly- he arrived in a safe and positive way.

Getting things moving

Firstly, as you’ll read in the accompanying Hypnobirthing post, The Positive Birth Company online course and Hollie De Cruz’s book ‘Your Baby, Your Birth’ have all been instrumental in my positive birth, even though it didn’t follow the dream ‘plan’.

As a FTM I was offered a sweep at 40 weeks and 40+4. But, I used my BRAIN and refused both, but accepted the midwife making a booking of an induction at 41+10. Induction was my only fear and I spent a long time reading plenty of positive induction stories to fully prepare myself and arranged a date weekend with hubby to have something to look forward to before hand!

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In the meantime I spent my days taking slow walks, long baths listening to relaxation scripts and rewatching the whole online course. I’d been drinking raspberry leaf tea and eating 6 dates a day since 36 weeks (because you just never know when a myth might work!) and booked for alternative induction methods- a clary sage foot massage and acupuncture at 41+5.

I personally believe the acupuncture got things moving! I could feel baby moving downwards during the entire session and within 16 hours things were starting to happen. Thinking we still had days to go yet, hubby and I headed out for dinner just in case we didn’t make it to going out at the weekend! We settled in to watch The Apprentice and by 10pm gentle surges kicked in. They started at 30 seconds long and every 2-5 minutes, but I could easily talk and breathe through them- in fact hubby didn’t even have a clue it has started whilst I secretly timed them!

Let’s get this party started!

Knowing it could take hours, I headed to bed with a plan of watching all our favourite films on my birthing ball the following day, eating my favourite snacks whilst things got going. Little did I know we wouldn’t get that far! Surges continued at 30 seconds to 1 minute long every 2-3 minutes. Knowing our midwives at the birth centre ask for you to call at ‘two in ten lasting one minute’ we called at 1am just to give them a heads up. There is also only space for one mum at a time at the birth centre and I wanted to prepare myself in case we couldn’t deliver there. As I could still talk through them she said I could be days away and to stop timing them- easier said than done!!

By 4.30am I’d had a bath, bounced on my ball, cranked up the tens machine and listened to my affirmations more times than I can imagine!! We pushed through until 6am and phoned again- letting hubby do the talking this time so they knew we meant business! She agreed to come out to see me, but said it still sounded like I was hours away. On arrival she still felt the same way, and said I didn’t necessarily need an examination but I could have one if I wished. For the first of many times today I used my BRAIN and asked for one- and I could job I did- I was 7cm!!!

We quickly made our way to the birth centre a 10 minute drive away and had to wait an hour whilst the pool was filled and heated. Candles out, favourite tunes on and my positive affirmation cards to hand, I continued to breathe through the surges.

Within half an hour in the pool, my waters released and we discovered baby had passed meconium and after another examination I was found to still be 7cm. I have no doubt that the transfer from home to the centre slowed my progress down, I already missed my ‘nest’ and craved a home Birth. Once again we used our ‘BRAIN’ and agreed to be transferred to the local hospital around 5 miles away. As much as I’d hoped for a water birth with one of the small team of Midwives I’d had since day one, this was the most sensible option.

So off we went, blue lighted via ambulance to hospital- not because of an ‘emergency’ but as I could feel my body baring down and they wanted to make sure we made it in time!!

Tick tock…

We certainly did have time- the journey again slowed me down even with Hollie De Cruz’s voice in my earphones the entire time! Luckily for me, one of the birth centre midwives, who also teaches hypnobirthing, was covering a shift at the hospital and was assigned to me!! This was the massive shift we needed and I am sure being with her is the sole reason my birth continued in a positive way.

The room was small, with just a bed and the morning sun scorching through the thin curtains- very different to what I’d hoped- but regular spritz of Mio Liquid Yoga and my own playlist made the world of difference.

The next examination found I was not only still 7cm but baby had turned his head and my cervix was now thicker on one side- and the senior nurse promptly told me I had 2 hours to birth or I’d be straight on the syntocinon drip. With my midwives help, I got UFO (after having to be monitored on the bed on arrival) opted for gas and air and we made it our mission to avoid that. Within half an hour we’d done it- and finally reached fully dilated!

About a good hour or so of body lead pushing, gas and air and down breathing later, our big boy arrived! We did need a paediatrician on hand and was told I may not be allowed delayed cord clamping, but he certainly used his lungs on arrival and luckily was found to be absolutely fine! Leaving us to have some cuddles whilst waiting until the cord stopped pulsating completely.

BRAIN came into play again when it came to my Placenta. I’d of preferred a natural third stage but accepted the injection. What didn’t seem like long later, the senior nurse decided it wasn’t budging and informed me I’d be having a spinal and be off to theatre shortly. I remembered reading about how the body will begin to contract when it’s ready for it to release and I tried to stop my panic rising from the thought of ending in theatre.

Shortly after I mentioned feeling nauseous and the need to push again, and with my midwives help, the Placenta came away. We’d done it!! Lucky as I’d decided to have mine encapsulated with Placenta Plus, which I would highly recommend!

So, not the calm water birth in a darkened room at the birth centre I’d hoped for, but thanks to using up and down breathing, focusing on ‘breathing in oxytocin and out adrenaline’ and using my BRAIN it was still the most positive of births and I’d do it again in a heart beat.

I really hope reading my story helps others just how reading so so SO many others truly helped me.

Sian x