Finding out your pregnant is so exciting (for most), but once the news has settled in, and your reading up on everything you need to get for your new arrival, it can be a daunting task.
As a self-confessed shopaholic, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in to buying new baby clothes, but once i started doing some research i realised, i needed to furnish a whole new room, there were gadgets for everything, from breast pumps to nappy bins, to a nasal aspirator. Where did I start?
Once I had got some advice, from other mums, my own mum and the midwife I made a list of the priority items we needed. However to create this list you still have to answer some questions.
How are you going to get the baby around, will you use a pram or sling? do you need a carseat? or two?
Where will the baby going to sleep?
Are you going to breastfeed?
I decided we needed some help, so where better to go than The Baby Show – the biggest national baby event, it would have everything under one roof, and we could just take the challenge head on. This also suited my other half, as he could just do it all in one day.
The Baby Show has most of the top baby brands, but it also has smaller stalls for independent brands, which I found better for once you’ve had the baby as then tend to be clothing brands or gadgets you don’t really need till the baby is 6-months+.
The bigger brands will have plenty of offers on the larger items such as your travel system, your nursery furniture. For example we got our Mamas + Papas travel system (pram base, with buggy top, car seat and isofix base) at 30% less than the RRP.
I did my research prior to going, otherwise it can be totally overwhelming due to the volume of exhibitors, and the range of products offered – plus many are the same, so you get bombarded with sales jargon.
Below are some suggestions if you’re thinking of going:
My best buys:
Medela: This is an american brand of breast pump and bottles – focused on going from breastfeeding to bottle feeding. It is now stocked in the UK so much easier to buy, but their discounts are amazing. I got most of my kit at 50% off, and since it has been used by me, two friends, and i am getting ready to use it again (with new bottles and teets obviously)
Snufflebabe Nasal Aspirator: I had never heard of this one, but it was a godsend – this is used to clear a baby’s nose if they have a cold, or are bunged up
Nappy Bin: You can usually get them 50% off at the show – this is an essential!
Travel system: If you know which system you want, you can go in and negotiate off the RRP. I had it narrowed down to two options, and we went and tried each one. Looking at how it collapsed down, could I manage it alone and would it go in the car easily, and most importantly how much room was there for my shopping! Always make sure you get a cup-holder – I didn’t with my first one, and as coffee is staple to a new-mums diet, trying to push a buggy one-handed is no easy task.
Nursery Furniture: I got a Mothercare nursery set, at roughly 35% off. You order and pay a deposit, and then it is delivered 6 weeks before your baby arrives. This is something you could order once the baby is here, as you don’t actually use the cot till they’re 6 weeks +, but the deal was too good.
Feel free to add your best buys, or tips for going to the baby show.
It’s currently 4am, and I am 39 weeks + 4 days pregnant with my second child. This isn’t ideal, as I need to be sleeping as much as I can before my world gets turned upside down by sleep deprivation!
Instead, I am anxiously wondering if the 5th February will be the day we meet our little princess, and do I have everything ready? – almost. I have a couple of things to add to my hospital bag, and tons of ironing to do, oh yeah and a new house to get in order (we’ve been in less than two weeks!).
I then started thinking about how overwhelming it can be when you’re pregnant for the first time. My best friend is currently 24 weeks pregnant (so exciting!) with her first, and she has so many questions, and it has reminded me of all the emotions you go through with your first (btw you second pregnancy is far less exciting and a lot more exhausting when also running around after a toddler, working – and stupidly moving house at the same time).
Given I am wide awake, I thought I would use this time to jot down some of my thoughts / tips for first time mums-to-be
Finally, ENJOY! The first pregnancy is special, every day is new, every movement is exciting. Remember how incredible your body is for producing another human being, and make sure you rest, and relax. The feeling you have when the baby arrives is nothing I can explain, and its something I can’t wait to experience again.
I am sure lots of mums have other tips or suggestions, so please feel free to add them in the comments section! I would love to know if anyone has any for second time mums!!
Good luck to anyone who is expecting!
11 years ago my life changed forever. I not only moved to Manchester, started uni, and began a new chapter of my life, but more importantly I met my best friend. Miss Katy G stood next to me in the queue to collect our accommodation keys. If I remember correctly, we were both with our Mums and we began gabbing away. We parted ways to go find our new rooms only to meet again ten minutes later as we both pulled up outside the same building and our rooms were practically opposite each other.
I had moved in to a house with nine other girls, but it was Katy that I clicked with instantly. Once we started chatting, we discovered we lived just 20 minutes from each other. Katy had gone to the same college as my sister and even sat next to her boyfriend in one of her classes. Small world! We became inseparable at Uni, living together for the entire duration, never missing a night out together and even working together. But when the time came to graduate, our lives lead us down different paths. Katy stayed up north in Manchester and bought a house with her then boyfriend, whilst I moved down South to start my career in the Big Smoke.
Eight years later and our lives are still on completely different paths, yet we still remain the best of friends. After partying my way through my twenties, I am now settled in London, living with my Fiance and our Baby Boy in our family home, attempting to juggle motherhood with my career in advertising. Katy settled down for a few years, but in 2012 she made a life-changing decision to go jet-setting around the world. She has since travelled around Asia, moved to France for 18 months, learnt the language, bagged a new French boyfriend, and both can currently be found somewhere in South America. Who knows where she will end up next (hopefully within visiting distance).
We may be miles apart, but the one thing I do know is that no matter where in the world we are, when we get together to catch up (even if that means having a cuppa together via skype) it’s like no time has passed and we spoke just yesterday. A chat with Katy is like therapy for me, she is always honest, she always knows what to say, and never fails to make me laugh! Together we’ve been through heartbreaks and holidays, house moving and house buying we’ve been there for each other through the career bumps and the career triumphs (me with a recent promotion and Katy writing her first book!) and now, even a Baby.
I was lucky enough to get a fresh dose of ‘Friend Therapy’ recently when Katy and Greggers (the French beau) stopped over with us for a few days before they jetted off to Rio. With all the change in my life recently – going back to work, introducing Harry to nursery, turning a year older – it was the perfect timing for some much needed ‘Friend Therapy’. I needed a good old chinwag, and having Katy around for the whole weekend really did the trick. We didn’t do any overly exciting (well except for meeting Katy’s book mentor!!), just stayed in, drank lots of tea and lots of wine and played with Harry, just normal things best friends do.
Roll on the next 11 years of Katy and Jen’s adventures!!
(To follow Katy on her South American adventures, follow her blog NotWedordead)
So I have been awful at keeping my blog updated, my little sister would not be happy that I have not blogged for 6 weeks!!! In my defence I started back a work full-time in September, and have been trying to get Harry in a new routine of going to his Nanna’s and starting Nursery. Plus we had 8 family birthdays in September, including mine, so big party month!
Trying to find time to write over the past few weeks has been really hard, I have started a new role at work, and really struggled with being away from Harry four days a week, and we have had birthday celebrations most weekends. Once I lost the momentum a little, I got a bit scared of what I could write about. Guess i stuck my head in the sand.
After a month of chaos, I am ready to start the next chapter of life as a working full-time mum. I am settled in to work (in a new job), Harry is getting settled, and my sister has kindly taken Harry for a walk, so I can get cracking on some new posts, here goes…..
A new baby can be so consuming, and it is easy to forget the relationship you had before they came along. We try our best to get time together, either a day out, or going for a meal, but it can be quite hard when you don’t have a long list of babysitters to call on.
Rich was given tickets for the Red Bull Air Race at Ascot Racecourse. We were invited as ‘Friends of Red Bull’ (FORBS), which included complimentary food and drink all day, the best view of the race course, and all day entertainment. We packed Harry off to his Grandad’s for the weekend, and managed to squeeze in a visit to the cinema on the friday, two lie-ins, and our day out to the air race.
Red Bull, as usual put on a good show. The whole set-up was vintage / retro themed, with all the staff dressed up, the interior of the FORBS section was fantastic, the cocktails flowed (all Red Bull based of course), the food was never ending and we had a front row seat to the air race.
The whole day was great from start to finish, to relax with a morning cuppa in bed, take my time to wash and style my hair, do my make-up and have breakfast together. The day at Ascot was such a treat, and we managed to talk about a lot more than just Harry. We finished the day off with a visit to the local Chinese, just like old times. However I do think I had a little too much Red Bull, as the insomnia kicked in soon as I leapt in my bed.
After a whole weekend without my baby, on Sunday I was like a kid waiting for father christmas, I sat looking out the window, waiting for him to come back! I was so excited to have him back in my arms. I thought him going away would get easier, but I think it is getting worse!
“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” —Sophia Loren
Lots of people who have had children are so excited when you’re pregnant (Which I now understand, as I have pregnant friends, I am bursting with excitement for them), however no one ever tells you how hard the first weeks of having a baby really is. In prep for this post, I decided to speak with a few friends who have all recently given birth, and find out what they thought were the hardest things.
I had a natural birth, and felt fortunate to only needed gas and air, and came through it with one or two stitches, some cuts and bruises. It was only the next day that the adrenaline started to disappear, the painkillers wore off, and the tiredness kicked in. My whole body started to ache, it hit me like a brick wall. I had pushed a baby out after being awake for over 36 hours, barely eating for 24 of that, and not had any solid sleep since Harry arrived. I just hadn’t expected to be in so much pain, you think you do the hard bit by giving birth, but oh no, there is more. I just kept taking the painkillers, and telling myself that in a week or so I would be healed, and i would be fine…but then came breast-feeding!
One of my biggest challenges, and I am sure many will agree was breast-feeding. I tried, it was hard, very painful, I got mastitus (breastfeeding infection), but I worked through it, and fed Harry for 16 weeks, but I did have cracked nippled for at least 8 weeks, and no one can explain how painful they are. However I do know many people who have wanted to stop, and were told by their health visitors not too, that it wasn’t healthy for their baby to be fed formula “breast was best” apparently.The pressure for women to breastfeed is completely unnecessary, I believe it should be up to the mother if they decide to breast-feed and their decision when to stop.
I recall a moment when Harry was about 2 weeks old, it was 2am, and I was up feeding him. I had gotten about half hours sleep. I was so tired I could barely hold my head up, and I remember thinking “I am never going to sleep properly again”, I felt overwhelmed by my emotions, so happy to be feeding my baby, but so desperate to sleep longer than an hour. It only dawns on you once your baby has arrived, that you may not get uninterrupted sleep again and you will never have a day off from being a mum….’weekend’ for mums don’t exist.
I was warned a little about this by a one or two friends, they told me “five days in and you will cry, ALOT, for no reason”. Yes this happened, I would just burst in to tears, for no reason. I think everything kicks in, the sleep deprivation, the breast-feeding struggles (buckets of tears over this), the enormity of the challenge you have taken on, the post-birth pain, no wonder your body doesn’t have a clue what to do. The crying did ease for me after about two weeks, and most of the time i cried, i would have no idea why, but knew it had to be my hormones as i certainly wasn’t sad.
A few of my friends mentioned in their responses how they struggled once their partners had gone back to work, and were alone with their baby most of the working week. One of my friends (who must be wonderwoman), had twins, and her husband worked away during the week, and that not only did she miss the support, but it was difficult for her partner to bond with their children. Luckily she had her family close by for solid support, and her partner has managed to changed jobs, so he is back living with his family.
What I really struggled with, was the fact our relationship was no longer just us, and we couldn’t watch TV together in the evenings, go see a film etc, we had a third person, who seemed to be hogging all the couple time. I started to miss my boyfriend, even though we lived together, slept in the same bed, I missed having a conversation and staying up to watch tv with him in the evenings, but I was so tired, I would have to get some sleep before Harry woke again.
There are so many more that I want to write about in this post, but it is already getting far too long.
Even after all of the above and more, nothing can compare to the incredible love and affection you feel for your baby, and at least you can feel much more prepared for baby no.2.
Huge thank-you too Julia, Jane, Keri and Kate for your help!
p.s. I love this quote!
“It’s not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it.” —Dorothy on The Golden Girls
A lot of people, admittedly me being one of those prior to having my own baby, thought mums who stayed at home had loads of time on their hands. How wrong was I!
I am sure all mums would agree, taking care of a baby 24/7 is a lot harder than it seems, and one thing you never catch, is a break. What I mean by a break is your little one being the responsibility of someone else, be that your partner, a family member, so that you can relax, and know they aren’t going to wake-up just as you sit-down.
Yes the baby will go down for naps, sometimes a few times a day, so why don’t you get a break whilst they’re napping? Perhaps because you always find a million and one things to do round the house. There are always bottles to wash and sterilise, if you’re weaning, there is pureeing and cooking to do, cleaning the house, which seems to get messier now your on maternity leave as you are there all day! If like me, my hair started dropping out 4 months after giving birth, i was hoovering and sweeping everyday. You now have twice the amount of washing and ironing…. the list is endless.
Yes there are the nice things you get to do, like coffee with other mums, shopping, walks in the park, but you’re not relaxing, as you still thinking about the next item on the schedule, well when will the little one need a feed, and do I need to change his nappy, do I want him to fall asleep in the pram or in the car…it is mentally draining.
I have come to realise (only taken me 7 months), that mums need time off too, the same as other people do from their jobs. Sometimes just an hour away from the house, away from other responsibilities, a couple of drinks with a friend, go for a swim, pop round your mums for a cuppa. These are such simple things, that can be overlooked, and I confess I took having ‘me-time’ for granted before having Harry.
I’ve found my blog has been a great escapism. For example today – Saturday, I have been with Harry all week, and unfortunately my partner had a super busy schedule, and so he has been away most of the week. I think this really took its toll on me, being responsible for Harry all week, alone, especially after a 10 day holiday and having support on a daily basis. So today I have been in a funny mood, I had a lie-in which was great and I woke up feeling positive and ready for the day, but as the day progressed, and Harry decided not to have his nap, I’ve become anxious, and snappy, unfortunately taking it out on my partner. Both my baby and his daddy have now gone for a nap, and I have been able to just chill-out (opting to do no cleaning, no cooking, no washing), just me, my blog, and I am about to treat myself to a fresh juice! I feel so much better for just having this past hour, to collect and download my thoughts.
Don’t misinterpret this for me being ungrateful, I love my baby more than anything in the world, but I need to be Jen as well as mummy.
I am going to try and make sure each weekend, I take myself out for a coffee, get my nails done or see some friends, letting the boys have some ‘father and son’ time, and allowing me to have a bit of time to be Jen and not mummy or wife (to be).
It would be great to hear anyones thoughts on how they relax, or have created their own time away from being a mum?
Harry was 17 weeks when I considered weaning. I had read so much about the government guidelines being 6 month (24 weeks),plus the health visitor drills it in to you, but Harry was always hungry, and I had already moved to combination feeding but he still wanted more. He had slept through the night from 11/12 weeks old, and all of a sudden he was waking at 1am for another feed. We brought back the dream-feed, that did the trick, but i felt we were going backwards instead of forwards.
Both my own mum and my mother-in-law told me I should start weaning. I was a little scared, and I didn’t want to damage his digestive system, but I could also see the signs. He was sitting up by himself, he was watching us eat and drink (i constantly felt guilty, and even hid when I was eating), so I gave it a go with a tiny bit if baby rice, well he nearly took my hand off!!!
We gave him 1 teaspoon of rice mixed with his milk, and he ate it so fast we had to make more, he wasn’t bothered by the spoon, right then I knew we’d made the right decision to start him weaning.
I had no idea what to do next, how do you make the transition from milk to food. What foods can you give him? Is there anything dangerous? what happens if he chokes, When do you cut down their milk? I needed guidance, so who else to turn to but Gina Ford (and my mum – of course!).
Gina Fords book ‘The contented little baby book of weaning‘ actually addresses how to wean a baby before the recommended 6 month mark, this helped a lot. She takes you through introducing food in groups, so fruit, veg then protein etc.
I was really looking forward to the weaning, and it was exciting to be starting a new stage of Harry’s life. A couple of my friends had warned me about weaning, about how tedious it could be, and you get sick of pureeing food, boiling fruit, filling ice-cube trays and cleaning it all up. To begin with it was novelly, but now I am 10 weeks in, I can not wait for Harry to be able to eat what we eat!
I followed GF’s book to the tee for about the first 8 weeks, but I found Harry was getting a bit bored of the same food, and he was starting to reject his own food, and be grabbing for ours instead. I had heard of ‘Baby-led weaning’ when I was pregnant, but as I started weaning Harry early, and he couldn’t hold his own food, I didn’t think it would work. Now Harry was gone 6 months and could easily hold his food, I tried it out a couple of times, just giving him chunks of broccoli, cheese, fruit etc to eat himself. They say it encourages the baby to develop quicker, better hand-eye coordination, and plus it means they can join in family meal times.
Once I let Harry pick his own food, I realised he could chew more than I thought (and not choke!), and so I stopped pureeing his food (hurrah!!!), and I started to make the things we were eating but mashing them up, so tuna pasta, pasta in tomato sauce with cheese and ham, roast dinners and salmon with veg. I would mash it so it was ‘textured’ (not lumpy), and he loves it. I do also give him finger foods, so pieces of pear, strawberries and in the mornings, and he either has porridge which I feed him, or I make him wholemeal toast very lightly buttered, and just cut one piece in to strips.
Harry’s nearly 7 months and seems really happy and content. Over the past two weeks, I have experimented with what I can make for him, and stopped worrying so much about following a plan, and gone with what i think is best for him. I dont include salt in any of my cooking, and use low salt, sugar free, and wholemeal ingredients where possible. I tend to give him a mixture of finger foods and mashed foods now, but i am working towards giving him more solid foods when i can.
Cutting down his milk was a bit worry of mine, and I really went with my gut instinct on this one. I cut down his lunch time milk first and about 2 weeks ago removed it completely, and spent time trying to get him to drink from a sipy cup instead, either water or juice. This took about 4 weeks, but now we have a cup of water/juice every day, and drinks it between his feeds and milk. I haven’t figured out when i will take down his afternoon milk, probably when he doesn’t drink it all, or even seem to want it anymore.
What I am really learning with each of these new stages and experiences, is you need someone to give you an initial guidance on how to manage the next stage, such as weaning, breastfeeding, but once you start working with your baby, you seen realise you will always know whats best for your own child, and you have to go with your gut (maternal) instincts. I still find the best advice comes from my mum. She brought up 4 of us, and works with children, but she will always remind me ‘mum knows best!’
If anyone has any advice or tips, i would love to hear, as i am still in the thick of the ‘weaning’ stage, and so welcome the help.
To follow on from my maternity ‘what’s hot and what’s not’ I have jotted down my tips for maternity shopping.
I’d really like to hear any tips you have or advice you can offer for others currently looking to revamp their maternity wardrobe.
As mentioned in my previous post Part 2: when it all becomes real we took a holiday when I was 16 weeks and I was certainly more rounded (when you basically look like you’ve eaten too many pies), but it wasn’t till about 20-22 weeks you could really tell I was pregnant. At this point I was struggling to get into my skinny jeans, I held off buying maternity for as long as possible, so took myself off to Primark, and bought the next size up skinny jeans. At £10 a pair, these were a bargain. They also came in useful once I had given birth, and my maternity clothes were too big.
I searched high and low for fairly inexpensive maternity clothes, I didn’t want to spend too much, as they would only fit for a couple of months, but I did still want to look and feel good.
Here is my ‘what’s hot and what’s not’ maternity wardrobe list!
SERAPHINE was recommended by a friend, and Kate Middleton had been seen in lots of their dresses, but I found them very overpriced, and the styles were quite dull.
ASOS has a big maternity range, so i ordered a variation of tops, dresses and jeans, but the quality was really poor. Most of the tops were see-through, or didn’t have much room for growth. I ended up keeping 1 top, mainly as I had a weekend away and just needed something that would fit, but even then I had to wear a cami underneath it.
They do stock other brandS though so it’s quite a good place just to have a browse.
NEW LOOK have a small collection, their jeans are good value at £20-£25 a pair. I found their t-shirts a bit kitsch with things like ‘I love my bump’ ‘hands off the bump’. Some people love these, and if so this is your shop, but they weren’t for me.
MATALAN, I was recommended to for maternity by a pregnant friend, but my local store only ever stocked maternity leggings. I did purchase some over the bump leggings once it started getting colder. These were okay but I would probably go for H&M leggings if I was to buy again.
MOTHERCARE have small ranges in most stores, better online, but I felt its target market was a slightly older mum, they did great pj’s and underwear though. I got my nursing bras from here.
NEWLOOK (non-maternity ranges) do great plain colour stretchy dresses in normal sizes, I just bought a couple in my size, and they stretched around my bump, and at £10 a dress I wasn’t bothered that I had stretched them too much to wear post-baby. They were perfect for summer or with leggings once it got a bit colder.
TOPSHOP have a good range, and not to overpriced, their jeans were the most expensive at £38/£40 a pair but by far the comfiest I had tried, I bought two pairs, but I could of bought SO many more.
They do lovely maternity underwear, which I was tempted to get, but once bubba arrived and I was nursing the last thing I was bothered about was matching underwear.
H&M has by far the widest range, great value for money, and stylish but practical (AND MY FAVOURITE). My BEST buy was a pair of leggings, with leather panels down the front, and they were great for both day and evening wear. I also got a cardigan that covered my bump, and I can still wear it now I am back to my pre-baby size. Their range is really affordable, and by the time I got to 8-9 months, I was so tired of wearing the same outfits, i didnt mind spending £10-£20 on a new top to vary things up a little.
They also have shirts and smart tops for work but also t-shirts and vests for as little as £3.99 that were great for wearing with jeans.
If anyone has any other suggestions for great places to go, to avoid, or just any tips for stocking up a maternity wardrobe, let us know.