Just Polly Maternity Clothes

JustPollyLogo

 

Nothing excites me more than discovering a new brand of maternity clothes, especially as I’m pregnant myself and Just Polly is just hitting all the right spots for me. Set up by Polly Hayward, she was inspired by seeing her sister struggle to wear stylish breastfeeding friendly outfits at various weddings one summer. With a background in the fashion industry as a Stylist and Art Director, Just Polly was born and the results are brilliant.

Polly has created some staple wardrobe pieces for the fashion concious woman who doesn’t want to compromise just because she’s growing a human for 9 months. And what’s more, all their pieces in the collection has been put together with breastfeeding in mind – with button down shirts and hidden pockets, boob access has never been so conveniently designed.

WHY I LOVE IT: If you’re like me and love the minimal yet luxury style of COS, Whistles and Folk, Just Polly has bridged that gap for maternity fashion which other high street brands aren’t doing. The pieces are versatile so can be dressed up or down, perfect for your work wardrobe, party outfit or weekend lounge wear. None of the items look like ‘maternity wear’ so you won’t mind wearing them longafter you’ve had your baby when you’re trying to dress your postnatal figure.

MY FAVOURITE PIECES:

JP-SHOOT-15081535038

The Kimmy Skirt

JP-SHOOT-15081534935 (1)

The Ellie Shirt

JP-SHOOT-15081534859 (1)

The Charlie Trouser

JP-SHOOT-15081534839

The Fran Striped Tee

DRDA007_2 (1)

The Daisy Dress

DRBE001_1

The Betty Lace Dress

DRAL006_1

The Alexia 2 In 1 Dress

 

Count The Kicks

count the kicks 2

The importance of your unborn baby’s well-being whilst your pregnant is paramount for any mum-to-be. So keeping a close eye on daily movements is essential to ensure you’re baby is well. But what if one day your baby hadn’t moved as much as usual. What if you were 38 weeks pregnant and a friend reassured you that it was probably because the baby didn’t have much room, or that it was a sign you could be going into labour. What would you do? Count The Kicks is a UK based charity that aims to educate mums on the importance of a baby’s movements and to help them work with healthcare professionals to bring home a healthy baby. Chief Executive Elizabeth Hutton explains why the charity was first set up and what should mums and midwives know about fetal movements in pregnancy.

Tell me about Count The Kicks charity and why it was started. 

Count the Kicks is trying to empower mums to be with knowledge and confidence during pregnancy by raising awareness of babys movements and their importance in a baby’s wellbeing. We were founded in 2009 by Sophia Mason following the tragic stillbirth of her daughter Chloe. Chloe’s movements had begun to slow down leading up to her due date but Sophia was led to believe this was normal, but what she’d read on the internet and in magazines. When she called her midwife, it was too late. Chloe was stillborn 3 days before her due date. Determined to ensure other mums did not experience the same heartache, Sophia set up Count the Kicks to raise awareness of how important fetal movements really are.

What is the aim of the charity and how can Mums-to-be access support and information? 

We want mums to feel confident enough to call their midwife if they notice any change in their baby’s regular pattern of movement. We produce leaflets, stickers and posters that we send to midwives so many mums will be able to access the information straight from their midwife. Our leaflets are also in the mum to be Bounty Packs that mums can collect at 20 weeks. Alternatively all our information is available online at countthekicks.org.uk or on our Facebook page facebook.com/ukcountthekicks

There still seems to be a lot of conflicting advice about what’s normal for baby’s movements eg ’10 kicks a day’ ‘baby slowing down before labour’ ‘movements less when there’s not much room’. How can we as midwives make sure women are receiving the correct advice about fetal movements?

The current guidelines say that a woman should report any change in her baby’s regular pattern of movement. There is no set number a woman needs to get to so counting to 10 is unhelpful. Movements vary from 4 – 100 every hour and fetal movement is completely dependent on what a mum perceives to be her baby’s movements. One woman may feel every little roll and movement, while another may only feel the big kicks, how can we be telling both these women they need to feel the same number? They need to know what they see as their baby’s regular pattern and then they can report if they notice any change in that. It is important for mums to also be aware that babies do not slow down as they reach the end of pregnancy.

As a midwife I always reassure women that they never waste my time by calling if they haven’t felt their baby move. What advice do you give women if they have any concerns. 

Much the same! We always advise women to report any change in movement to their midwife. We want them to be reassured that midwives would much rather see them a hundred times and have to keep telling them the baby is fine, than to see them once and have to deliver devastating news. So if you are ever worried about your baby you should contact your midwife. They are there to help you. 

If you had a pot of gold – how and where would you use the money to help families affected by losing a baby?

Our aim is to prevent stillbirth, we would love for no one to need bereavement support. If I had a pot of god I would love to continue to provide our leaflets but also be able to provide our wristbands free to all mums to be. This would cost approximately £1 million pounds a year so we would need a big pot! But we hope to one day make that a reality. 

count_the_kicks_midwife

What You Need to Know About Your Skin During Pregnancy

This guest post by Cassie discusses great tips for your pregnant skin and dispels all those myths. Enjoy!

bump image

“Pregnancy is a beautiful, transformative experience. It can also be transformative for your skin–in a not-so-beautiful way. Sometimes, hormones wreak havoc on complexion, leaving you perplexed and overwhelmed.

Here are some of the things you need to know about the ways your skin can change during pregnancy, along with advice on how to combat any skin woes.

The “Mask of Pregnancy” — More Common Than You Think   

You’ve probably heard of the “mask of pregnancy.” Also referred to as melasma and chloasma, the condition is rather ubiquitous (50% of pregnant women!) and hormonal in nature. The “mask” or melasma produces dark spots all over the face, particularly around the forehead, cheeks, and mouth, creating the appearance of a shadow or mask (hence the name). What you’re really seeing is a result of increased pigment in the skin due to pregnancy hormones.

So how do you treat it? As with most skin conditions, the best solution is actually in prevention. Be sure to wear SPF of 15 or higher (preferably closer to SPF 30), wear protective clothing, and limit sun exposure throughout your pregnancy. During these 9 months, your skin is more sensitive than usual, and it requires extra care.

If you’ve already developed the mask, consult your dermatologist and/or doctor. In most cases, the changes in pigment fade after you give birth. However, lingering effects might be due to a treatable, hormonal imbalance.

Hormonal Acne 

Even if you usually have clear skin, pregnancy hormones can still throw your complexion’s equilibrium out of whack. And if you’re already prone to blemishes, the increased hormones can send your oil-secretion glands into overdrive, causing even more breakouts. Many people talk about “the pregnancy glow.” However, that “glow” looks different for different people. If you’re experiencing any of these hormonal changes, don’t worry! This is a completely normal reaction.

What to do: make sure you’re diligent with a twice-daily, face-cleansing routine. It’s a good idea to use a non-comedogenic cleanser, toner, and then light moisturizer. Cetaphil and other gentle, over-the-counter cleansers are a good option.

Stretch Marks 

Once again, preventative measures are the key to warding off stretch marks. Coconut oil, cocoa butter, and other lotions are some of the best ways to prevent these red and pink marks. However, know that a large majority of women experience stretch marks post pregnancy. It’s totally natural and happens when the skin stretches due to swelling bellies and breasts. Exercise during pregnancy can also help prevent stretch marks.

The good news: even if none of these over-the-counter remedies work, stretch marks almost always fade after delivery. They’re sort of like Mummy battle scars. So if you can, wear them with pride. You’re strong and beautiful just the way you are.

What do you think, Mums-to-be?

Have you experienced any of the aforementioned skin issues? What advice do you have for pregnant mums? Leave your comments in the space below. Congratulations, and happy nesting!”

Cassie Brewer is a professional make-up artist and blogs brilliantly all about it here cassiembrewer.weebly.com

What it really feels like to have a prolaspe

Guest post written by Jennie mum of one.

Four months after the birth of our daughter (water birth, gas and air, home in 3 hours after birth) I was feeling pretty much back to “me” – breast feeding was well established and I was loving the freedom of heading out to go to the hairdressers / lunch with friends / gym in the knowledge that baby was home with dad and there was expressed milk good to go. Even going to the corner shop had it’s delights….!

One weekend I was feeling particularly sprightly after about 4 hours unbroken sleep (yep, I know, amazing isn’t it after the first crazy few months) I headed to our local council gym… Spring in my step and a some new tunes on a playlist. Was great getting back into the running, weights and abs stuff… So much so I did the same the next day. And a boxing glass the next Wednesday. Then that evening I felt a strange feeling in my cervix / vagina when I was in the shower, and completely panicked.  It felt like the walls of my vagina had pushed together and I instantly knew this was a prolapse… But this doesn’t happen to fit healthy mums of one who are in their 30’s, right? Well…. It does happen, and it happens to more people than you think and no one talks about it. But it’s important and this is my attempt to dispel the myths about it all.

There are a few different types of prolapse – all stem from having weak / weakened pelvic floor muscles.  This is more susceptible following a vaginal birth but equally just carrying a baby during pregnancy put strains on these muscles.

The pelvic floor muscles are like hammock that hold your bladder, cervix / vagina and rectum all in their right positions.  When your muscles are weakened one or more of these organs can push onto another organ, commonly the vagina. In the more major cases they can push onto and out of the vagina.

After discovering something radically different had happened to me I panicked and cried and panicked more and cried more. I did some night time ‘googling’ and panicked some more (I know, this is never a good idea)! Thankfully my lovely midwife was on the end of the phone and after a quick referral via the doc to a specialist I was reassured that the “minor” prolapse would heal over time with pelvic floor exercises and in 6-12 weeks there should be a noticeable difference. Phew.

Pelvic floor exercises involve clenching / squeezing from the back passage all the way to the bladder / urethra area in one strong controlled motion.  Isolating these muscles from say, your buttocks or thighs is tricky and probably like most women I did some exercises during pregnancy but didn’t really spend much time on them.  Quite probably I wasn’t doing them properly.

After seeing a consultant I also visited a physio to make sure I had the right technique and a few weeks in I can feel the difference.  What caused it? Well I probably had weakened muscles from the reasonably quick birth, plus my excessive exercise regime didn’t help. Don’t get me wrong you can exercise and I had assumed that I would be back to post preg fitness four months in which reality you can be but I over did it with high impact too much too soon.  I also decided to phase off breast feeding as my daughter was approaching 5 months and I was close to going back to work… And when you are breast feeding there are lots of “softening” hormones that keep your ligaments and joints supple, so to hasten the speed at which it repairs I made the decision to move onto formula and felt really quite upset by it all… As I was keen to breast feed for six months.  However a few weeks in and baby is happy and I’m ok with it all now.

So now I’m focusing on various pelvic floor exercises through the day and have given up and high impact exercises for now in favour for Pilates and lots of walking.

I wanted to share my story because for about two weeks I was highly emotional and felt like a freak (harsh, but this is really how I was feeling) and really hadn’t appreciated this can happen to “fit and healthy” mums, even at a time where I felt completely recovered.

The positive thing to come out of this is I can take action now and prevent reoccurrence in
later life. Plus spread a little understanding about it. Prolapses are commonly misconstrued as a thing that happens to obese, post menopausal women where as this is far from the case.  Doing a short set of pelvic floor exercises often especially if you are pregnant, contemplating pregnancy or have had a baby is a good thing. The best thing is you don’t need to go to the gym to do it….

image (19)

10 ways to savour your last days of pregnancy

philippajamesphotography-1083

Hollie de Cruz, co-founder of The Calm Birth School shares her tips for relishing the run up to your baby’s birth.

So you’re nearing full term. You’ve finished work; you’ve bought the pram and assembled the nursery furniture. You’ve folded and re-folded 200 bright white muslins and now all you need is your baby. The last days of pregnancy can be a funny old time. Your friends and family are harassing you via every form of contact available to see if you’ve had the baby yet (oh, let me just check my vagina…NO!), strangers in the street tell you you’re massive, and of course you’re excited to meet this sweet little human who you’ve been growing and nurturing for so many months.

We all know that due dates should be taken with a pinch of salt. Full term is considered anything from 37 to 42 weeks, which makes it quite tricky to hone in on when exactly that magical day will arrive. When caregivers and well-meaning friends start talking about you being “overdue” at a day past your 40 week guess date, it’s no surprise that many women start feeling anxious and fed-up, or even bored of playing the waiting game. I want to let you in on a little secret though. When you stop worrying about times and dates, this period can be one of the most precious times of your entire life and – embraced openly – can even help prepare you for a better birth experience.

How’s that you say? Well when we feel relaxed and happy we naturally release endorphins. Endorphins are the feel-good hormone of love, and they go hand-in-hand with oxytocin – a key hormone that’s required for labour to begin. If we are anxious and stressed we produce adrenalin, which not only inhibits labour from starting, but makes things much less comfortable and efficient when they do. The good news is that you can’t produce endorphins and adrenalin at the same time, so if we focus on maintaining a state of calm and happiness, we are more likely to enjoy this period AND have a better birth. So over at The Calm Birth School we’ve put together our top tips for what to do whilst you’re waiting for your little one. And remember, the only one who’s privy to this due date is your baby. Trust them.

1.     Write up your favourite affirmations: That’s right, we recommend picking five to ten affirmations that really resonate with you, and not only affirming them to yourself now, but writing them down so that you can look at them when it’s time to birth your baby. Get your birth partner involved with this too. If they know what your favourite affirmations are, they can whisper them to you during labour and that feels AMAZING. If you’re looking for affirmation ideas, go and check out @calmbirthschool and @lovelybirths on Twitter, or @londonhypnobirthing on Instagram.

2.     Write a letter to your baby: Okay so it sounds a bit daft, but we believe in the power of prenatal bonding over at The Calm Birth School. Use this time to connect with your baby – tell them you can’t wait to meet them, and that their birth is going to be gentle and joyful. Writing this in a letter means they’ll have a lovely keepsake to look back on when they’re older, and will help you identify that innate bond you’ll call upon on your baby’s birthing day.

3.     Pamper yourself: You probably haven’t been too close to your toes in a while, so take the opportunity to go and get a relaxing pedicure or manicure. Sit back and relax with a good book or a magazine and enjoy this precious quiet time to yourself. Or why not get your hair done? It may be a while before you’re back to your blowdrys, so make the most of it now and feel as fabulous as you truly are.

4.     Make time for you and your partner: This is a really important one. Sometimes we’re so busy rushing around to get things ready for the imminent arrival, that it’s easy to forget that this is the last time it’s going to be just the two of you. Indulge in it. If you have the funds, splash out on a little babymoon, but even a day by the sea, a lovely walk in the forest or a romantic meal for two can be a lovely way to connect and appreciate each other before your life expands. And bonus points for getting physical! Intimacy promotes the production of those wonderful endorphins I mentioned earlier, and might even get things going if the time is right.

5.     Read about breastfeeding and go and buy your nursing bras: Many mums are so focused on the birth that they forget to think about what life will be like with a new baby. If you’re planning to breastfeed, read lots about it and equip yourselves with the knowledge and tools you need – just like you’re doing for your birth. I also suggest buying your nursing bras now – choose something super comfortable and pretty, so that you feel well supported and of course every bit the beautiful goddess that you are!

6.     Cook some food: That’s right. When your baby arrives you are going to be occupied with staring at their amazingness for about 90% of your time, but you don’t want to live on Wotsits, so start filling your freezer now. Make big batches of things that can be easily heated up and don’t require too much prep (or washing up).

7.     Ditch your alarm clock: You will probably never need an alarm clock again, so just bin it now and enjoy some last minute lie-ins. Have breakfast in bed, read a great book and just enjoy some extra well-deserved Zzzs.

8.     See your friends: If you’re on maternity leave, arrange a lunch date with some of your girlfriends or meet them after work for a nice dinner. The chances are you’ll want to stay close to home for a while after your baby is born, so use this opportunity to go into town, see an exhibition, and let your lovely friends nurture and support you. If you don’t feel like going out, organise a girl’s night in.

9.     Go to the cinema, on your own, in the day! This was one of my favourite things to do when I was on maternity leave. It felt like such a treat to go and see a film during the day, and you practically have the whole cinema to yourself. Combine it with a gentle walk home or lunch with friends and you have yourself an excellent day!

10. Relax: It sounds simple, but it can sometimes be the one thing that’s overlooked. If you feel tired, go to sleep. If you feel stressed, relax. This is a great time to just look after number one. So listen to a deep relaxation MP3, have a warm bath with some essential oils, and practice your breathing techniques so that they become second nature when labour begins.

photo 1 (5) photo 2 (4)

The Calm Birth School is the world’s first online hypnobirthing course. Videos and MP3s are delivered to your inbox once a week for four weeks, so that you can create a calm and positive birth experience from the comfort of your home. Enroll now atwww.thecalmbirthschool.com/course or email hollie@thecalmbirthschool.com for more information.

Pregnancy Diary – 39 Weeks

photo (42)

Monday – Is this nesting?!

photo 1 (4)photo 2 (3)

We decided to paint the baby’s room last week (better late than never) and it’s finally finished. Well, it’s a lampshade and dimmer switch away from being finished but we’re almost there.

Painting baby’s room without knowing the sex of baby somewhat limits your options so we have kept it neutral and used Farrow and Ball Pavilion Gray for the walls and Green Blue for the wardrobe. Ikea blackout blinds have been fitted, change table has been erected and our Gro-egg is in place, kindly alerting us to the fact that the room is too cold.

Baby’s clothes have been both washed and IRONED! I literally never iron. I think this might be the third time I have used the iron in my life. I don’t even know why I did. It’s not like I will be keeping this up when baby comes.  Now I’m thinking about it, perhaps it was a grave mistake on my part and I will have inadvertently given baby too high expectations and it will be permanently disappointed going forth with its wrinkly clothes…

Tuesday – TENS testing

We decided we should road test the TENS machine which we bought at an NCT nearly new sale a few weeks ago, just to check it worked. The testing of the TENS machine literally brought so much joy I nearly wet myself. And with baby’s head firmly engaged in my cervix, that’s not just a flippant throw-away remark but a genuine fear. I managed to coax my partner into being the guinea pig and he impressively managed to withstand the pulsating pads as I turned up the intensity. His whole body was jerking, and there may have been some screaming. I only wish we had filmed it.

We then tested it on my arm and it made my middle finger pulse rhythmically of its own accord. When boost was pressed my finger clamped down and I couldn’t even lift it. Hilarity ensued. Oh, it’s the simple things!

Wednesday – Date night!

photo (44)

Decided to squeeze in what could be the last date night in a while and go for a curry (OBVIOUSLY). Went to Dishoom in Covent Garden (which was AH-MA-ZING!). Also enjoyed a massive bump perk – instead of having to join the 1.5hr queue outside we were seated at the bar until a table became available. Food was incredible and 100% worth visiting even if you’re not prego.

Thursday – Gifts galore and goodbyes

Tonight I was out again after work (no rest for this 39 weeker), this time for an xmas/goodbye meal with my colleagues. I was given a gorgeous box of Mother treats from Neal’s Yard amongst other things… have added the massage oil to my birth bag already. I know I have mentioned this before but I literally cannot wait for labour to begin so I can start using all the treats I’ve been saving up!!

Friday – And breathe…

Today is my last day of work. My maternity leave officially starts on Monday – that’s 4 days before my due date. I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I wanted to save my maternity leave for when baby was here and also I’m a VERY impatient person who doesn’t know how to rest. Being at home on maternity leave sans baby, for me, would be a very bad combination. I’d be trying to stretch and sweep myself within hours. However I am REALLY looking forward to just relaxing in bed whilst everyone is out of the house at school/work and watching season 2 of Orange is the New Black on Netflix uninterrupted… if I get the chance! I also have to get and decorate a Christmas tree, there’s my son’s school’s Christmas fair to go to… oh, and then there’s that other minor thing to square away… the Christmas shopping!!! Thank God for Amazon prime, hey?

Don’t Buy Her Flowers!

When my second baby was 2 weeks old and my husband had gone back to work, a very lovely friend left me a huge lasagne, a big loaf of sour dough bread, and some home made brownies on my door step with a note. It read ‘Dear Clemmie you’re probably feeling exhausted and the thought of cooking dinner tonight fills you with dread. Here’s some yummy grub to keep you going, no need to call and thank speak soon xx.’

It was such a kind and thoughtful present I burst into tears. This friend understood exactly what a new mum really needs, not another teddy for the baby, a hand wash only cashmere baby cardigan or even another bunch of flowers. New mums need things for them, survival packs, something that says well done for pushing a human out of your vagina now here are some treats for you!

Steph recently started Don’t Buy Her Flowers, selling thoughtful gift packages for new mums with the awesome addition of COOK food vouchers so new parents can stock up their freezer with proper meals they don’t have to prepare.

Me in first week

She says ‘I started it mostly because I think receiving an additional thing to care for when you’ve had a baby is, frankly, a bit bonkers and yet 96% of new mums receive flowers. I think women deserve to feel a bit cared for after having a baby because those first months are tough. New mothers, whether they realise it or not (and unfortunately I think we’re too busy punishing ourselves or feeling guilty about something to realise it) give a lot. We give over our bodies, our minds, our relationships and for a while for most of us, we lose a bit of ourselves. I don’t want to whinge about it – it’s not to say my children aren’t worth it, or I would do it differently if I had my time again and all those things women jump to say if they feel they’re caught having a moan about having babies. But I think it’s tough. Maybe because we don’t all have families around us, maybe because there is so much information available we can read something that tells us we are making a complete shitting mess of it. Maybe because unlike generations before us, we have expectations of ourselves to be out there and earning and creating and doing something brilliant. All while looking hot and in control and with a baby attached to us in some sort of sling.

I certainly didn’t feel hot or in control in the first months after having a baby. Actually that’s not entirely true – I constantly had a sweat on when breastfeeding, but you know what I mean. In those early stages, it’s all about someone else and I often got to 5pm before realising I hadn’t yet cleaned my teeth. For most of us, for the first time in our lives we’re completely at the beck and call of another person, doing something we’ve never done before, while handling the crackers hormones and for many the physical repercussions of birth.

When I had my first baby, I received eight bunches of flowers. I worked in advertising and the agencies sent these lovely bouquets that at any other time I would have felt hugely grateful for, but I didn’t have the energy to do anything with them and only had two small vases, so they left me feeling a bit weepy. Which in turn made me feel more weepy – what kind of woman was I if the kind act of sending me flowers left me feeling distressed?

After that, when a friend had a baby I sent them a little package of nice things for them and if they lived near, I cooked them something and left it on their doorstep. These friends sent the loveliest messages about how wonderful it was that someone had thought of them. I realised that it wasn’t only me that a) got a lot of flowers and b) found the new mum bit hard. At this point, I returned to work part-time after both babies and found the juggle tough. The commute felt like wasted time, the job felt ‘different’ (or I did) and then there’s the guilt when I got the inevitable calls that one of the kids was poorly. My career to this point had been managing multiple agency and internal teams to deliver national campaigns, and I’d loved it. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s multi-tasking. And, if I’m honest, being a bit bossy. Once the seed had been planted that maybe this new mum gift thing could be a business, I couldn’t get it out of my head and everything I’d learnt before now felt like it was going to help me actually do this.

My love of all things ‘Sisterhood’ started because one of the things that helped me when I had my babies was support from other women. The ones that reassured me it was ok to feel a bit bonkers, and that breastfeeding can be a bit hard, and that it was all going to get easier.  My mum – a midwife and having had four babies herself – helped me when Buster was a few weeks old when I rang her crying, overcome with tiredness and feeling unsure I was getting anything right. She told me to just STOP. I didn’t have to do something every day in those first months. I didn’t have to meet up with people and trek around worrying that I was going to be late for a feed but not wanting to cut everyone else’s walk short. The baby didn’t need ‘stimulating’ at a few weeks old when he had my face to look at. Heck, some days I didn’t have to get dressed. It is such a short period of time in the grand scheme of things. On the days when everything is going to plan, get out there just try not to overdo it. When it’s not, pull the drawbridge up and do whatever you can to rest because the world will feel like a brighter place when you do. When you have a baby you have the best excuse in the world not to turn up to everything, it’s just unfortunate that most of us don’t realise that until later. None of it matters. Very little is more important than you being as rested as is possible for someone getting by on probably not a lot of sleep.

care-package-removed esentials-package-open-1 the-date-night-in-2

The packages I’ve put together are essentially to try and encourage that idea – for a mum to stop and take a few minutes to herself or with her partner. We launched with three packages; The Care Package, The Essentials and The Date Night In. COOK food vouchers can be added to any package, which also make it a great gift if you want to spend a bit more or buy a group present. I don’t know any new parents that wouldn’t appreciate food they don’t have to prepare. Whether it’s for someone having their first baby or their sixth, life is different to before and everyone will need a bit of time to adjust.

I can’t tell you how this will work out as it’s only been a couple of weeks. It’s started brilliantly and the feedback, from the quality of the products and the packaging to recipients weeping when they open their gift (in a good way!) has been so lovely to receive. There are partners, friends and grandparents that feel a bit useless at times and our website enables them to buy a gift that offers mums some TLC. Flowers say ‘I’m thinking of you’. A gift package from Don’t Buy Her Flowers says ‘I’m thinking of you, if you’re finding it hard it’s OK and I hope this makes you feel a bit better’.

Check out Don’t Buy Her Flowers website, where you’ll also find the Sisterhood (and all that) blog. You can follow Steph on Twitter @StephieDoug and on Facebook.

If that hasn’t got you nodding along and remembering how you really felt after having a baby I don’t know what planet you’re on. We have one lucky reader the chance to win a Date Night In with Champagne for someone that needs it, which could be a friend or yourself if you’re in need! All you have to do is tell me what was the most ridiculous present you got after having your baby. It can be something totally impractical, totally hideous or just totally bizarre. Leave your answer in the comments box. The winner will be revealed next Friday. Good luck!

Pregnancy Diary – 37 weeks

10301514_10152524118797472_8889592348655767233_n

This series of pregnancy diary entries are written by Siobhan, mum of one and now almost ready to meet her second baby due in 3 weeks time! Siobhan’s first birth 7 years ago left her feeling like she would never be able to have a natural birth again, but with a bit of prep work she is now preparing for a home water birth. Here she explains how her views have changed about birth, and hopefully install some positivity into any of you who may be in a similar situation.

‘I remember attending a series of ante-natal classes before my son was born and one being called ‘complications in labour’. The midwife assured us that we were unlikely to experience any of these complications and if we were unlucky enough to, then it would just be the one. Nobody would experience all of the complications discussed. Well, my birth ran like a checklist of everything covered that day, bar the c-section, which I narrowly avoided (my son was delivered vaginally on the operating table in theatre, after I’d consented to an emergency secton).

Fast-forward 8 years and I’m feeling a little older, not so much wiser, but certainly less nervous and more confident in my (now surely looser?) cervix’s ability to dilate spontaneously. Also having educated myself through attending some amazing hypnobirthing classes (more on that later), I now believe a lot of what happened with my son’s birth was due to a domino effect of fear, tension, pain, fetal distress and intervention, a pattern which then just continued throughout my 2-day Syntocinon- induced labour.

So determined to make this birth experience memorable for all the right reasons, my partner and I signed up for hypnobirthing classes with Hollie of London Hypnobirthing, which we attended last month, and booked in with the homebirth team at West Middlesex hospital. Clemmie (founder of this blog) deserves a big shout out here as she encouraged me to sign up for a homebirth and I’ve not looked back since. The quality of care is superior times a million (!!) and most importantly it just feels right for me.

I used to journey to the hospital, wait 40+ minutes in the waiting room, often with my impatient child, finally see an unknown-to-me midwife for a quick 5-minute check-up and then leave fraught, having forgotten to ask most of the things I’d wanted to know (sound familiar?). I now have a lovely midwife called Natalie who comes round to my house, we have a cuppa, she spends at least an hour with me, responds to text messages with a kiss and generally feels like someone who is my friend and who genuinely cares about me and my birth. I cannot rate the service highly enough.

I will admit when I initially signed up for a homebirth I was thinking I’ve got nothing to lose as I can always change my mind closer to the time. However I am now so committed to my beautiful, romantic, waterbirth at home that I can no longer remember a single reason why I thought hospital might have been a better idea. How things have changed!

But however calm and tranquil I’m imagining the birth will be, the reality right now is quite different! Almost 37 weeks pregnant, still working full time, juggling hypnobirthing homework with birth pool research and with outstanding ‘to do’ lists everywhere, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. But as we prepare to meet our water baby, Clemmie has invited me to share with you what’s going through my head and my heart and what we’re doing to make our birth a positive one.’

photo 1 (3)

Next week Siobhan reveals how she preparing her body and mind with hypnobirthing techniques for birth and why it’s always worth doing a ‘dry run’ for the birthing pool!

Calm Birthing

Let me tell you a little story. When I was a student midwife 10 years ago I was looking after a woman with my mentor who has having a ‘hypnobirth’. This term was a bit alien to me and it certainly didn’t sit well with some midwives and doctors. ‘Surges how ridiculous’ laughed some members of staff in the staff room at hand over. ‘Labour is painful there’s no way she can think it isn’t going to be’ remarked the anaesthetist. I was young and inexperienced but trusted my mentor as we continued to support this woman and partner through their birth.

Skip forward 9 years and Hypnobirthing is something I’ve seen become more and more popular in birth. It is single-handedly changing birth in more ways than anything I’ve seen in a long time. I witnessed women birth their babies so peacefully that I didn’t even think they were in labour. I’ve seen women had to change their plan from a home birth to a hospital birth because of complications but remain calm, and in control through the transition. I’ve also supported women who have been so traumatised by their first birth who have used hypnobirthing techniques to over come their fears and gone on to have wonderful second time births. At no point did I hear any whale music or see Paul McKenna appear with a pocket watch. No vagina whispering or an incense stick in sight.  And on a personal note I had an induction with my second daughter, yes it was a water birth but it was horribly painful, sometimes violent and I felt at times totally out on control. If only I learnt some hypnobirthing techniques to help me ‘let go’ of that fear.

So here is Hollie from London Hypnobirthing and co founder of The Calm Birth School to put all those myths aside about hypnobirthing and explain about her new exciting adventure!

TCBS_white square philippajamesphotography-1083

What is The Calm Birth School?
The Calm Birth School is the world’s first hypnobirthing video program. It’s a four-week antenatal home study program – combining the core principles of hypnobirthing and active birth – training women and their birth partners to create calm, joyful births from anywhere in the world.

How did the idea of a video course come about?
A lot of women will find hypnobirthing classes near them, and we both love teaching women face-to-face and have been doing so for a number of years. However, in this time we’ve had lots of enquiries from all around the world from women who can’t find a practitioner near them, or women who don’t have the time to travel to a weekly class. We have responded to this need with The Calm Birth School home study program, by bringing our tried and tested techniques to you, so that you can enjoy the benefits of hypnobirthing in a way that suits your lifestyle and location.

Hollie, can you tell us a bit more about you and Suzy?
For a start, we’re every day mums on a mission. We don’t knit our own houmous or henna lotus flowers on our bellies. We like a G&T and the odd round of disco dancing, and yes, we sometimes pick Wotsits out of our kids’ noses. In fact before having our own children, our lives were far removed from breathing techniques and relaxation, as we both had busy careers in the media and design industries. For both of us though, having our own positive, euphoric, comfortable births (which believe me, I didn’t think was possible!) made us want to spread the word of hypnobirthing and stop women dreading birth. From that, we have been independently running our own hypnobirthing classes in London since 2011, and have now joined forces to create The Calm Birth School – providing a holistic and flexible approach to women’s antenatal care. I live in West Dulwich with my husband and son, Oscar, and Suzy lives down the road in Ladywell with her husband and two children, Caesar and Coco.

H&Sphilippajamesphotography-1011

A lot of people are put off by the term hypnobirthing, what would you say to that?
In creating The Calm Birth School we wanted to dispel the myths of what people think hypnobirthing is. Yes it sounds weird, but drawing on our professional experience of working with hundreds of pregnant couples, we’ve been able to tailor make our own program and cut out the fluff. No vagina-whispering, kumbaya-singing, goddess-channeling nonsense. Just scientifically-proven calming and relaxation techniques, so that you know what is happening in your body and how to work with it.

You sound pretty fired up about this.
You can say that again! We know birth can be different to what the media is intent on showing us. We know it can be comfortable and calm and we know birth is changing. Suzy and I are totally committed to creating positive births all over the world. We’re on a mission to reduce the birthing horror stories, one informed woman at a time, and that’s why we’ve created this virtual course – so women and their partners can empower themselves and learn these incredible techniques without taking their slippers off.

Is it just designed for those planning home births?
No way. Whether you’re planning a hospital, home, or midwife-led birth, The Calm Birth School will guide you and your partner through our unique method for creating a smooth birth experience…all from the ease of your armchair. So that for the rest of your pregnancy, you’ll feel fearless, not freaked out! Whilst we love a home birth, we understand that they’re not for everyone, and we believe that the best place for you to birth is where you feel the most safe, comfortable and private. Your birth environment is paramount to a great birth, but we will educate you on your choices and teach you how to create your nest wherever you choose to birth.

Is the course only for first time mums?
Absolutely not. The Calm Birth School home study program is for everyone. Whether it’s your first baby or your fifth, our unique program will equip you with the tools for the empowering birth experience you deserve. In fact, our techniques have been proven to help mums who’ve had previous traumatic birth experiences overcome these to change their birth this time around.

So how exactly does this video course work?
Well unlike all of your other pregnancy-related appointments, we come to you! The Calm Birth School program is a video course that will be delivered to your inbox once a week for four weeks. That’s 12 short videos split into 4 classes, so that learning the secrets of positive birth can fit into the nooks and crannies of your day. And to make sure you don’t miss out on the benefits of a face-to-face class, you’ll feel completely taken care of in our private Facebook group where you can connect with other pregnant couples, and with our bi-weekly teleconferences.

Does The Calm Birth School guarantee a pain-free birth?
No, we can’t make claims quite that bold. Birth is a natural physiological event and as such there are many affecting factors that can be out of our control. What we can guarantee is that you will feel more prepared for a better birth, and a positive birth experience. In our eyes, hypnobirthing is about controlling what you can, and letting go of what you can’t.

We will teach you some amazing techniques that will stimulate the production of your body’s natural pain-relieving hormones, but as with anything, the more practice you put in, the more effective these techniques will be on your baby’s birth day. That said, in our experience, around 76% of the mums we’ve taught have given birth with NO pain relief whatsoever.

We are so excited about the launch of The Calm Birth School, that for the next 14 days we have a very special gift for you. We are giving away FREE hypnobirthing classes that you can enjoy in the comort of your own home. Click on this link to claim your classes today!http://bit.ly/freehypnobirthing

Baby Essentials – That every new Mum needs for under £50

As every new Mum knows, the high street and internet are full of hundreds of baby products for new parents to choose from. Even though my girls are now 4 and 7 the choice of bibs for example has multiplied to another level since they were being weaned. I am a self confessed shop-oholic, so when it came to buying bits for my babies I was of course scouring the baby boutiques for the ‘must haves’. ‘Of course we need a cream cashmere baby blanket’ I said to persuade my sceptical husband. And of course he was right, we didn’t need anything that was hand wash only.

What I wish someone had really told me, was what I actually need that didn’t break the bank. Essential baby bits that create better quality sleep, stimulate your baby enough to make them sleep, help through those tricky teething days and products that wash and travel well. So when I was asked by one of my women who is almost due, what essential items I would recommend, I did a bit of research and came up with these brilliant 10 items! Enjoy.

Images: c/o Babydino.com  

  1. These brilliant Buggy Clips weren’t around when I had my first daughter but I’ll admit I stalked a mum in Sainsburys who had one dangling off her buggy just to get a closer look. No more shoving all your shopping bags under your minuscule buggy basket, these sturdy clips are great and fit all buggy types.
  2. A sleeping bag is an absolute must for when your baby out grows being swaddled. No more baby getting cold from kicking off his blankets in the night! These Gro Company sleeping bags start from new born and go up to 36 months. And with so many gorgeous designs to choose from throughout the seasons you’ll find it a permanent item for your baby’s bedtime routine.
  3. Another genius idea from the Gro Company is this portable black out blind. Once you’ve got home life sorted, it’s time to re-engage your social life and stay at friends houses. All I can say it once you’ve slept in a guest room with a flimsy curtain when your baby is use to their blacked out bedroom, you soon realise why this blind was created. It fits any type of window and we still take ours abroad with us on Summer holiday each year. Thank you Gro Company.
  4. I’ve banged on before at how much I think swaddling is the key to settling an unsettled baby and I literally could not have survived without giant swaddles. Mopping up baby sick, catching the milk drips, and now my 4 year old takes her ‘muzzie’ to bed, these basic but essential pieces of fabric should be in every new mum’s baby bag.
  5. Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to provide the best nutritional start for your baby’s life. But it’s a skill both you and your baby need to learn, it takes time and patience and can be back breaking. My shoulders were permanently hunched over until my Mum bought me one of these. Great for giving you arms extra support and ensuring your baby is in the correct ‘tummy to mummy’ position. This Chicco Boppy pillow has a removable washable cover and can be used as a support pillow as your baby learns to sit up.
  6. I remember one friend telling me her newborn only settled when she did the hovering or ran the shower. Nonsense I thought until I had my own baby and tested this out. Luckily the Cloud B on the go Sleep Sheep (try saying that after too many glasses of wine) is far more practical than taking your Dyson out with you in the park. This  can easily clip onto your pram or car seat and plays an array of noises aimed to help soothe your baby to sleep.
  7. So you’ve made the transition to being out and about but you know come 2pm you little one is going to need her afternoon nap. Until I bought one of these, I would make the trip back home to ensure my daughter was asleep in her blackout bedroom. But this Snoozeshade does just that – without you having to leave the pub! It also works brilliant on very hot days as it helps block 99% of harmful UV rays.
  8. No child can go through it’s teething life without owning a Sophie The Giraffe, so popular that I’m sure they hand them out when parents leave the hospital in France. Rubber, soft and squeaky she is the perfect companion for all babies of any age.
  9. Driving your precious new baby in a car is a nerve racking experience for any new Mum, and when your baby is still in a rear facing car seat you’re constantly trying to turn around to check on them. This Diono Easy View Mirror is a perfect way for any parent to clearly and safely see their baby without taking your concentration off the road.
  10. From an early age babies love looking at black and white shapes. This lovely Chicco Baby Senses Rattle is light and easy to grasp, for the smallest of hands, perfect to stimulate hand eye coordination in young babies.