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!
“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
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.
We were given the information for The Fetal Medicine Centre in Harley Street. They provide the Harmony Test, a new technology for testing the baby’s DNA through the mothers blood, checking for extra chromosomes, trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome) or trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome). We spoke to my mum who works for the NHS with women and children, she discovered this is a patented technology, hence why the NHS don’t provide it yet, but it would be coming soon. She advised a colleague in her work had indicated that the results were 99.9% correct. This test could be done at any point from 11 weeks, so we could have it immediately rather than having to wait another 3/4 weeks for the NHS Amniocentesis test.
We contacted the clinic the same day and they could see us the following morning. I felt so relieved that we were going to be able to get a definitive result, without putting myself or the baby at risk.
Typically I spent most of my evening Googling ‘markers’ of Downs syndrome, I couldn’t relax, and wanted to be completely clued up for our trip to the clinic.
We arrived at the clinic, both anxious as to what we would find out. Before taking my bloods, we had an in-depth scan of the baby. This was the equivalent of our 20 weeks scan with the NHS, only the Fetal Medical Clinic had the technology to get the same results earlier (I was 13+ weeks by this point). The scan checks for additional markers (those I had researched) of Downs syndrome, such as anomalies to the heart, development of certain bones and fluid pockets in the brain.
The scan took an hour, and it was amazing to watch our baby for that long, move and jump around, but heartbreaking at the same time when we remembered why we were there. The consultant confirmed she was more than happy with our baby’s condition, and couldn’t see any additional markers, and had no concerns about the nuchal translucency. I can’t explain the relief, I wanted to cry and jump for joy. We didn’t want to get too excited, as we still needed to have the results from the blood test. We left the clinic with lots of scan photos of our baby, and the details of the scan, confirming the baby was currently in good health. We came away feeling much more confident, but didn’t want to get our hopes up.
We were due to go away a week later, and knew we would receive our results, very latest, at the end of our trip. We decided to just carry on as normal, and put it to the back of our minds, but I kept looking at the scan results, and just hoping for good news.
Three days in to our holiday, and we received the news, our ratio had been revised to 1:10,000, and my blood didn’t show any traces of the trisomy 21. I cried with happiness. It was the best £500 we had ever spent, and we got to relax during the final days of our holiday.
I thought it was important to share our experiences about such a sensitive subject. When I initially found out about The Harmony Test*, it was difficult to find information and experiences about its success and the process. Also this technology isn’t widely publicised, and you certainly aren’t told by the NHS unless you are classed as a ‘high-risk’ pregnancy. Regardless what ratio you are given, even if it is 1:5000 (as someone has to be that one). I would still recommend this as an extra test if you can afford it. Some people may argue, that it should remain unknown, but taking the test doesn’t necessarily imply you are going to terminate the pregnancy. If the results are positive, it can allow you to prepare yourself and others for the extra care your baby will need.
I am happy to help, talk or answer any questions of anyone who wants to know more or is going through a similar experience.
*The Harmony Test is available at other clinics, but the Fetal Medicine Centre was recommended too us, and is part of The Fetal Medicine Foundation who funded the research for this new procedure
As mentioned in my previous post ‘Part 2: when it all became real’ at our 12 week scan we were told the fluid at the back of our baby’s neck (Nuchal translucency), was slightly larger than it should be, and that this was a key indicator for Downs syndrome. Going in to the scan, I was just so excited to see the baby, and of course I wanted to know it was healthy, but being in my twenties, I naively presumed everything would be okay. So I really wasn’t expecting to hear any differently.
The nurse at the scan told us not to be concerned, but advised us get the blood test for Downs syndrome. As far as I understand this blood test checks the hormones that your placenta is producing are at the correct levels. The output of combining the scan and blood results gives you a ratio that your baby will be affected by Downs syndrome. If your ratio is less than 1:150 you are classed as a ‘high-risk’ pregnancy and the NHS provide extra services and options for your pregnancy.
I received a call from the hospital a week after our tests, as soon as the midwife introduced herself, I knew something was up. When she told me the news, I couldn’t hide how upset I was, I was devastated. She explained my tests had resulted in a 1:60 chance of our baby developing Downs syndrome. She explained my hormone levels had been unbalanced, combined with the nuchal translucency being slightly larger than normal, had given us a ‘high-risk’ ratio.
The midwife was extremely helpful and once I got off the phone, I spoke to Rich. I called him and explained exactly what the midwife had said (best I could, as I was still a blubbering mess), I then did the same to my mum.
Once Rich got home, we sat down and went over everything the midwife had told me. I was just so upset, and just kept going over things in my head, questioning ‘why us?’, especially after having a miscarriage, I kept thinking ‘this isn’t meant to be’, ‘I am never going to be able to have a baby’. Rich and I raised the questions of ‘would we keep the baby?’ we had completely different responses, but both with very good reasons, and agreed that there was no point in discussing this unless we really had too. We needed to stay strong for each other.
At this point we decided to keep the news to just our parents. I felt like talking about it, was making it more and more real, and i just wanted to make it go away.
The next day, we spoke to the specialist midwife, she explained the options provided by the NHS;
1. Continue with the pregnancy, and await the arrival of the baby, though the 20 weeks scan may show more markers, but by that point it would be more difficult to terminate the pregnancy. Plus emotionally you are half way through your pregnancy, and I imagined feeling very attached to the baby.
2. Continue with the pregnancy, and at 33 weeks a test could be carried out to check for downs-syndrome, and if the baby becomes distressed, they can deliver, and there is much less risk to the baby and mother – however if you reach this point, you might as well just continue to 40 weeks, and put neither the mother or baby at risk.
3. An Amniocentesis test. This is the only test offered by the NHS. It involves injecting the placenta at 17/18 weeks and taking a sample of the amniotic fluid, which is then tested for a number of conditions, including Downs syndrome. This test has a 1 in 100 risk of miscarriage, but you get your results in 3 days. We were informed if you did miscarry you wouldn’t know until up to 14 days after the test, and you still have to the deliver the baby. The results of this test gave you a definitive yes / no to whether the baby would be affected.
At this point, I couldn’t bear the idea of putting the baby at risk, I felt like I was living a nightmare, and we were would be forced to go with option 3 as there wasn’t any alternatives. After giving us some time alone to discuss, the midwife returned and told us about a fourth option. She mentioned the word ‘private’, followed by ‘very expensive’. I didn’t care about cost, if there was a better option I wanted to know. She explained the NHS dont normally refer to private clinics, but this new technology meant a non-invasive procedure, 99.9% accurate, but with a longer lead time for your results, and at the cost of £500. We both immediately said yes without discussing it. I was a little annoyed she never mentioned this sooner, but I was just grateful we had a glimmer of hope…The Harmony Test.
I hit 28 weeks around the end of August, it was a really hot summer, and my feet had swollen so much I had developed ‘cankels’ luckily, this was just due the heat, and not the weight of my bump, so they went down after a week or so. I do know a lot of people do suffer from swollen feet, and the only advice I can give is to keep your feet elevated.
I think I was very lucky with my pregnancy, I had no morning sickness, a little bit of tiredness, but nothing overwhelming. My skin and hair were great, I looked so healthy. I did suffer a little with heartburn and indigestion but nothing some rennin couldn’t sort out.
My biggest problem was sleeping. I loved to sleep on my front, and now my bump was bigger I was struggling. From 30 weeks plus, my bump was starting to weigh alot, and I would have to wake up to turn my whole body over to the other side. The dreamgeni pillow was a godsend. It seemed expensive at £40 but looking back I couldn’t of managed without it, and it comes in handy when the baby arrives.
Towards the end of my pregnancy I was struggling to sleep much at all, mainly due to being so big. We attended the NHS antenatal classes, so all the other women were at similar stages, and I was by far the largest. I didn’t feel that I was carrying more weight, just that my bump was physically bigger than everyone else’s. I had expected I would get big as myself and my sisters and brother were all large babies (I was 10.8lbs!!!!). I was worrying a little about whether my body was going to ‘snap back’ as everyone kept telling me it would.
During the final weeks I was diagnosed with SPD . This was extremely painful, and after a trip to the Drs I was signed off work for two weeks (I only had 3 weeks left anyway). I couldn’t walk up the stairs, getting in and out of bed was a struggle, even getting dressed, and I was told ‘No driving’ and plenty of rest! I wasn’t good at ‘resting’ so I did some research for those who had suffered from it, and was recommended to buy a Nexcare support band. I felt incredibly silly wearing this, but the relief you get when you wear it was incredible, it really eased the weight of my bump, and the symptoms of my SPD eased within a couple of days of wearing it.
I finished work at 38 weeks, check-out my post (coming soon) ‘working ‘Pregnant’ girl’ for details on what not to do when working in a stressful environment and pregnant!
The final two weeks dragged, I stuffed my face and lay on the sofa! Had everything prepped for my baby’s arrival and nothing to do, but clean and clean some more. A friend advised me to read books, as many as I could as I wouldn’t have much time once our bundle of joy arrived. So I signed up to my library (which is at the end of my road) and started reading. I have never been a big book reader, but I started to work my way through 2/3 books a week! (6 months on, I wish I had read a hell of a lot more, as the only books I read now are Gina Ford baby books)
At long last and 9 days late, our little boy Harry arrived, born on the 2nd December at 8.50am weighing in at a huge 9.4lbs.
Its not over yet, I still have plenty more to write about. Coming soon will be posts about my maternity wardrobe, our trip to the Harmony Foetal Clinic, Harry’s arrival, my baby shopping list, and much more.
After our 12 week scan, we had a blood test to check for Downs syndrome, this is an optional test which most expecting parents have, we were advised to have this, as the nurse doing our scan had spotted a little too much fluid (Nuchal translucency) at the back of our baby’s neck, which can be a strong sign of Downs syndrome. This worried us, but we tried to keep each other calm, there was nothing we could do about it till after the blood results.
Our blood results showed we had a 1:60 ratio of having a baby effected by Downs syndrome, we were now classed as a high-risk pregnancy (this ratio is calculated by measuring the fluid at the top of the neck, and looking at the hormone levels your placenta is producing). It never crossed my mind we would be at risk of Downs syndrome. We weren’t expecting this at all. I actually received the news whilst stuck in gridlock traffic on the M25, and was bawling my eyes out. We were devastated, the usual thoughts ran through our heads ‘why us?’, ‘what will we do?’, we had very different opinions so decided not to discuss it until we had more information. We ended up going to Harley Street for more tests at a private clinic. I’ll be writing a new post soon about our scare with Downs syndrome, how we coped and our glimmer of hope ‘The Harmony Test’
At 16 weeks, and after additional tests, we were given a new ratio of 1:10,000 this was the best you could get. We were on holiday when we got the results, luckily at the start, so we could really enjoy our last break as a couple! I don’t think i had ever felt so relieved in my life. I celebrated with a glass of wine.
Once we had the 20 weeks scan, it dawned on me that I wouldn’t see our baby until he/she was born (unless we wanted to pay for an extra scan). This worried me a little, and so I looked online to see if I could buy a heart monitor, similar to those your midwife uses at your antenatal appointments. I think Rich thought I was crazy, but after all the anxiety we had after our 12 week scan, I couldnt wait till my due date to know he/she was okay. I bought the Angel Heart Monitor Now I could check the baby’s heartbeat and movement whenever I wanted at home. This was great, not expensive, and gave me a little reassurance each week. Once we passed around the 28/30 week point, and I was feeling the baby move around daily, I stopped using this, as the movement was reassurance enough.
Most people opt for the extra scans and get 4D scans done, but these are quite expensive and you always find out the sex. We really wanted the sex to be a surprise, so stuck to our heart monitor. However if you did want to get these done, they are on Groupon most weeks.
Now we were in to summer my bump was rapidly growing, and this wasn’t the only part of my appearance that was changing…
Whilst pregnant I read so many blogs, and forums, spent half my time between mumsnet.com and netmums.com, Googling every movement, craving, and change in my body. Reading other peoples experiences really put me at ease. I have decided to document my own experiences which may then be useful for anyone else expecting in the future (over a couple of posts), especially as we had some difficult decisions along the way.
Having children has always been on my agenda, but getting a career was always my priority. I wanted to give myself a good start, before taking a break for children. Everyone always says ‘there is never a right time to have children’ this is totally true! There is always a promotion, or holiday, or big event like buying a house, or moving house, that wouldn’t be practical if you’re pregnant. We had been in our house two years so felt 2012/3 would be a good time.
My partner and I had discussed having children and being the organised one, of course I had a checklist of things to achieve before babies came along
– be in the right job, earning enough to provide for a stable life
– own my own home
– be debt free (as much as possible, a mortgage doesn’t count)
– be married
I could tick the first three, whereas our body clocks were ticking, a wedding could wait, as could the expense, instead we decided to spend our money on having a family.
We found out I was pregnant in March 2013, we were over-the-moon, and couldn’t wait to tell people, but having been through a miscarriage 6 months earlier, we decided to stay stum until we were a few more weeks. We agreed to share our news with one person each, our best friends. Then we told our immediate families at around 7 weeks, and the rest of our family and friends once we had our initial scan at 12 weeks.
I decided to tell my bosses at about 8 weeks, mainly as my role is very stressful, we had a lot going on, and I was feeling incredibly tired but thank-god no morning sickness. I know this was fairly premature, but I have a close relationship with my managing team, ‘we’re like a family so it felt like the right thing to do. It was fantastic once everyone could share our news, and within our family and friends we had such a great support system, however nothing could have prepared us for the shock we were about to receive at our 12 week scan…