Our first week on Tour: Manchester

Well this week certainly has been challenging… It’s been a lot of fun but I wasn’t anywhere near prepared for what being on tour with a baby would really be like. Trying to stick to some sort of nap schedule while still fitting in activities around Barney’s work schedule has been tricky but we managed quite a few mornings or days out!

We rented a great flat in the centre of town, which meant walking everywhere was no problem but I struggled to find many ‘baby-friendly’ activities for Isla. Certainly very few places where I could just let her run around. We visited Waterstones’ a few times as they had an amazing children’s section, fully equipped with a Wendy house that Isla was just thrilled with!

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She waited very patiently for some friends but the big kids didn’t want to play with her!! Haha!

Our new SmarTrike (full review coming soon!) was a saviour as Isla loved it so much she was perfectly happy to be pushed around Town & not get out… She didn’t want to get out when we got back to the flat either… Haha!

One of the best things we did was get the Combi Ticket for SeaLife & The Lego Discovery Centre, that we visited on two different days – it was £17.50 each (Isla went free!) if you book online in advance. They are both at the Intu Trafford CentreIntu Trafford Centre which is the biggest (and weirdest!) shopping centre I’ve ever been to. It’s almost modelled on the Venetian in Vegas but bigger & tackier… That said, it was easy to navigate, they have every shop, restaurant, and attraction you could want. The parking was easy & free and they even had a play beach, rides and carousel outside the SeaLife/Lego. We took Isla on the carousel which was so lovely!

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I can’t get enough of this gorgeous outfit!! All from Zara Baby, Top can be bought here & trousers here.

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The Lego Discovery Centre was brilliant even if Isla was a little too young to fully enjoy it. They recommend from 3years up but they do have a Duplo farm for the little ones too!

We loved the ride that she could go on, Barney definitely had to most fun out of all of us! There was plenty to see & do – you can even join in on a workshop with a master builder! The cafe is pricey, but what you’d expect & the baby duplo area was pretty dirty! Other than that a great afternoon with lots to discover and a special shout out to the incredible staff who couldn’t do enough to make sure our day was perfect!

Isla tried her first BBQ at Red’s True BBQ – as you can see… It’s a hit! Big thumbs up from us too – great food at an amazing price, absolutely brilliant service & so child friendly! Isla even got a balloon to take away! Plenty of high chairs & open floor space to bring a pram. (There are a few small steps on the way in!) The baby change is uni-sex but a little dingy! Overall a great place to grab lunch with the family! 

We visited SeaLife & it got off to a promising start with impressive projections & a great set up to introduce you to the Aquarium. Everything is very new & shiny, but a little underwhelming. We’ve been to London & Birmingham SeaLife so were expecting more for our money. It’s very small – but has a softplay in the middle that might make your visit last a little longer than ours did. It didn’t take us more than 30 minutes to walk through the whole thing as there are no sharks, penguins or otters in this one. Isla enjoyed herself & showed off her fishy ‘noise’ the whole way round as she pointed & laughed at them all – that made it more than worth the ticket price!

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We couldn’t resist the cheesy photo block as Isla actually ‘waved to the fishies’ when she was asked too! Haha! IMG_4538

Isla fell asleep just as we were leaving so we headed over to the adventure golf for a little almost adult fun!

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I also took Isla swimming to the Aquatics Centre which was great! They have a huge baby pool with different slides & water sprays! It was warm, pretty clean & had amazingly helpful staff. Make sure you call before you go to be sure that the baby pool is open as we tried a few times & it was broken. They run sessions so be sure to get there early to make the most of your hour in the pool and prepare for a busy changing room after as everyone gets kicked out at the same time!

Isla’s favourite part of Manchester was this rainbow art installation called ‘ Through No 3’ by Liz West! She ran through it at least 100 times & even stopped to take a selfie inside!

Not a bad start to the tour, home next week and then off to Birmingham – so please send any recommendations over to us or leave them in a comment below!

All of Isla’s outfits are from Zara Baby.

Weaning the Mediterranean way with My Little Piccolo!

I am so excited to share this post with you – and I may have gone a little picture heavy but Isla was just too hilarious in these shots not to include them all so grab a cup of tea & get ready to dive in!

If you follow us on Instagram (go on, you know you want to!) you will know that we got a very special delivery this week, from Piccolo – a new organic baby food brand, inspired by the Mediterranean approach to health and wellbeing.

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Isla has always been very independent, especially when it comes to her food. We have mostly been trying Baby Led Weaning but with teething, it being so hot and travelling, I’ve been incorporating pouches to make sure Isla is getting what she needs!

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Piccolo’s founder, Cat Gazzoli, has spent her career campaigning for good, honest and natural food. As the CEO of the Slow Food Movement (in the UK) for 6 years, she certainly is an expert when it comes to food! Cat’s aim with Piccolo is to encourage healthy eating from 6 months and to introduce Mediterranean goodness in a delicious range of baby food. The range has been influenced by Cat’s Italian roots, her background in food education and passion for good, honest and natural food. The Mediterranean approach to nutrition and lifestyle is one that champions fresh ingredients and great flavours, lovingly prepared, shared with friends and family.

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They make six stage one blends (completely smooth, no lumps!), made with 100 percent natural, organic ingredients. With a range of adventurous and delicious flavours, each suitable for children from six months, little ones can discover new taste experiences such as Apple & Apricot with a pinch of cinnamon, Cherry & Yoghurt with wholegrain oats, and Spring Greens with a hint of mint.

The Cherry & Yoghurt is Isla’s favourite for breakfast & we usually have the spring greens to go along with her BLW lunch of cucumber, ham, tomatoes, & any cooked veg we can get our hands on!

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(Any excuse to get the light box out!)

This photo kills me… I think I might get it framed!

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She is just so thrilled that I finally let her play with the pouches! (If I let her play with them during meal times we both end up absolutely covered!!)

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‘Wanna share?’…

But the second you go to take it, she snatches it away and laughs in your face… I don’t know where she gets it from! Haha!

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Our combination of Piccolo pouches & chopped up… well… whatever I can find in the fridge… is working really well so Isla can explore textures, tastes and I know she’s eating well! I often mix it all together in a bowl and just let her grab what she wants which works perfectly but it does get seriously messy!

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Trying her very best to put it on the spoon herself… No help from Mummy please…

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Ok… maybe Mummy can help a little…

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The pouch was nearly empty so I thought she could handle holding it… 5 seconds later she squirted most of it up the wall… Rookie…

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All the flavours have been a huge success in our house, and will remain firmly on our shopping list! They are available from Waitrose, Ocado, Whole Foods & a range of other places that you can find here

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Oh and if you are feeling like Super Mum & have a spare second (apparently that happens once every few years…) you should check out their blog for some awesome recipes! I’m going to try the Courgette & feta fritters when I get a chance…

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A big thumbs up from us, good food with no added nasties & Isla absolutely loves them!

Have you tried Piccolo yet? Whats your LO’s favourite flavour? Send me your pictures of them enjoying on Instagram or Facebook and make sure you tag @MyLittlePiccolo too!

 

**This was a sponsored post but all the opinions are my own!

11 Months

This month has been a whirlwind of amazing changes & experiences for Isla!

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She’s now a confident little walker, and is starting to give running a go! She’s the busiest baby I’ve ever seen & is constantly exploring. It’s been so lovely to see her style of play advance as she’s getting really into her duplo.

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We went to Hitchin Lavender Fields for these photos & it was an amazing experience. Such a beautiful place to visit & pick up a few bags of lavender while you’re at it! I thought I should actually get in a few photos for once! IMG_0284IMG_0302

Isla took her first trip on a ferry, went abroad to France and visited the beach which was just incredible! She couldn’t have loved it more – and refused to hold my hand after she realised I was holding her back from going for a swim! Our determined little lady kept making a break for it to try & go deeper into the water!

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Still the cheekiest madam, and even starting to say a few more words! She now says Hi, Hiya, Egg, Dog, Mum, Dad/Baba, Nanan (for Nanny!), Grrr (for Grumps!), Up, and puts ‘my’ in front of everything!

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Plans are well underway for her first birthday party & birthday photoshoot too! 🙂 I can’t wait to share it with you all!

Little People, Big Dreams: Coco Chanel – Book Review!

If you follow us on Instagram you’ll know that Isla is obsessed with reading… We read 10+ books a day and she regularly becomes obsessed with certain books and makes me read them again and again… all… day…

I thought I’d start a monthly book review of our favourite new (or old!) titles for you to check out with your little one!

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Today’s new book came from the National Theatre Bookshop on the Southbank in London. It is ‘Coco Chanel’ from the ‘Little People, BIG DREAMS.’ series written by Isabel Sanchez Vegara with beautiful illustrations by Ana Albero.

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Isla & her friends are ready to dive in…

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In this new series, you can discover the lives of outstanding people from designers and artists to scientists. All of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream. The first book follows Coco Chanel, from her early life in an orphanage – where she was a genius with needle and thread – to her time as a cabaret singer, hat maker and, eventually, international fashion designer. This inspiring and informative little biography comes with extra facts about Coco’s life at the back.

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The story encourages young girls (and boys!) to dare to be different, to be extraordinary and aim for the skies when it comes to their dreams. They introduce some incredible role models that I hope will inspire Isla for years to come.

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I don’t agree with limiting your child to the age limits that they put on toys & books – so I’d say you could enjoy this book with your little ones from birth to 10 years. The text is a great size for new readers to challenge themselves but not too much to feel daunting!

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Daddy helped Isla & her friends read the story a few times before letting her just explore the book, practise turning the pages (carefully!) and enjoy the illustrations!

These beautiful books would make a perfect gift and we will be adding the rest of the series to Isla’s first birthday wish list I’m sure! 🙂

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It definitely has Isla’s approval – a kiss for Coco!

You can find these books for £9.99 at The National Theatre BookshopWaterstones or at many independent book shops across the country!

Leave me a comment & let me know what you’ve been reading this week & what we should be reading next! We love anything independent, quirky or with great role models! 🙂

Or join in with our reading club over on Instagram using #BabyBookClub

 

 

10 Months

Isla turned 10 months last week & I have been too busy chasing after her to post a blog! She can now walk!! Only 10 or so steps at a time but she’s very pleased with herself & is getting better every day! I know it won’t be long before I’m running after her!

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She’s getting more & more chatty every day & has recently discovered screaming to get what she wants, which is… testing! She’s interested in everything, especially if it could possibly cause her harm, the oven being a particular favourite!! I really do have my work cut out for me!

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She loves singing ‘Let’s go fly a kite’ & dances along to every thing she can – no matter how short the song! Daddy has become ‘Ba Ba’ & she points at pictures of him when he’s at work until I get them down to let her kiss them! We still only have two teeth but I think we aren’t far off many more breaking through!

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Is it too soon to start planning her first birthday party? I can’t believe how fast this year is going. Easily the best year of my life, watching our tiny best friend grow into the cheekiest little madam!

Win “The Lost Smile” with Wrigley’s Smile Back Project!

I have an exciting giveaway for you today! Wrigley’s Extra have very kindly sent me 15 copies of their new children’s book “The Lost Smile” as part of “The Extra Smile Back Project”! The project aims to protect children’s smiles by donating money from every pack of sugar free gum sold during the promotional period to charity partner Action for Children. The monies will be used to create and run oral health workshops, endorsed by the Oral Health Foundation. Wrigley’s aims to protect the smiles of over 10,000 children and 5,000 parents across the UK.

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Research conducted by Wrigley’s has revealed what parents already know – that it’s still the simple pleasures in life that make our children smile. Forget technology – pulling silly faces (44%), reading stories (28%) and playing hide and seek (27%) remain the best and simplest ways of putting a smile on a child’s face.

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The book is about a little boy on a hunt to find his families ‘lost smiles’! It’s such a sweet story; Isla has read it over & over already!

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Although it seems she’s lost her smile too today… 😉

To enter the competition to WIN 1 of 15 copies of the book, just ‘Like’ my Facebook page & leave a comment telling me what makes your little one smile! Don’t forget to tag a friend that you think would like to win too!

Singing and ‘pop goes the weasel’ with Grandma is what makes Isla smile! 🙂

The competition ends on July 3rd.

Cybex Aton Q Car Seat Review

Choosing the right car seat is one of the most important things you can do to keep your little one safe – but it really is a minefield for new parents! After staring cluelessly at a wall of plastic & material with a startling price range (You can get a car seat from £20 in certain supermarkets… surely that can’t be safe!?) I’d never heard of ‘ISOFIX’ let alone what the current government safety standards were… So my research began…  I was kindly helped by an incredibly knowledgeable sales assistant at Mama’s & Papa’s & we were on our way!

So here are the top things you should know…

  1. You MUST have a car seat for your baby, even if you don’t own a car – if you are planning on bringing baby home from the hospital.
  2. Choosing the right car seat for your baby’s age & weight is crucial.
  3. Be careful about borrowing/buying a second hand car seat – you must make sure it’s never been in a crash before & that you have the manual so you can install it properly.
  4. Check the weight range on the car seat you are buying. Group 0 is from Birth to 22lbs. Or Group 0+ is from Birth to 29lbs. (It’s worth noting that a new standard called ‘i-Size’ is being introduced in the UK. Car seats using this standard will be classified by height rather than weight. Which will eventually replace the old weight-based classification, but not until at least 2018.)
  5. Your baby should stay rear-facing for as long as possible as it’s 80% safer.
  6. Check your car has ISOFIX points – if it was made compulsory for all cars made after 2006. (Metal bars that secure the chair directly to the car with no need for a seatbelt).
  7. You will need to purchase the ISOFIX base separately so remember to budget for that too!
  8. Never leave your new baby in the car seat for more than 2 hours at a time. Once they can sit up un-aided this does not apply.

Anyway… After all that… We found our car seat… PHEW…

The Cybex Aton Q Car Seat.

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Oooh… Aaah! I hear you cry!

I love how it looks – especially with the shell sun canopy cover up. Also it’s still looking pretty perfect, after 6 months of use!

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Isla’s taking all this VERY seriously.

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The Aton Q is group 0+, suitable from Birth to 13kgs/29lbs. It has:

– Safer sides – superior side impact protection.
– Telescopic shock absorbers – retractable side impact rods help the energy absorbing shell soak up the force of a side on collision.
– Easy up and down – seat height adjusts automatically.
– Adjustable headrest – 8 comfy positions plus an integrated harness guide.
– Energy-absorbing shell – cushions the impact in case of a crash.
– Super comfy straps – extra wide Y-harness straps with soft belt and crotch pad.
– Ready-made shade – integrated XXL foldaway sun canopy in matching colours.
– Sun safe – all fabrics are UPF 50+.
– Removable covers – easily slipped off and safe to wash at 30 degrees.

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When I put Isla in, I put the straps tucked up into the headrest so they don’t get in the way & I can easily grab them to secure her with no fuss!

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We got a baby mirror so we can always check on her & now she’s obsessed with laughing at that funny baby in the mirror… until we reach 30mph & she’s out like a light!

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It is also travel system compatible with our Urbo 2 Pushchair which is great if we are just popping into a shop quickly & don’t want to disturb nap time!

The only downside is, it is heavy. I really struggle to carry it very far with Isla in – but as it clips right onto the pram – this is rarely an issue.

Cybex do a full range of beautiful & incredibly safe car seats for every age group! You can see them here. We are already looking at the next stage up for Isla but we have quite a few months of life left in our Aton Q before we will need to make our next big decision!

 

Mothers Day Gift Guide

This year will be my first year as a Mummy on mother’s day & I’m looking forward to celebrating with a family lunch with all the Grandma’s and my beautiful Isla. I thought I’d give you a little inspiration incase you were planning on showing your love with gorgeous gifts as well as cuddles, kisses & homemade cards!

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1. The White Company – Deep Waistband Pull-Ons – Dark Charcoal Marl – £45

As a new Mum it’s unbelievably difficult to actually get dressed every day, so these are the perfect, super soft, comfy trousers that you can get away with wearing & people won’t judge you… Just grab the dry shampoo & go!

2. Prestat – Pink Marc de Champagne Truffle 175g – £12.50

These truffles are so perfect you won’t be able to resist! Prestat chocolates have been enjoyed by Queens, Princesses & Presidents – so why not add your Mum to that distinguished company!

3. Tiba + Marl – Elwood Changing Backpack – £120

Once you’ve had a baby your baby bag basically becomes your handbag for the next few years & for the most part that means style goes out the window… But not anymore! I am obsessed with these backpacks – it is top of my Birthday list! (Am I too old to still have a Birthday list…?) I do so much baby wearing & and having a backpack instead of over the shoulder would make a huge difference plus this one comes with a laptop sleeve, bottle insulator & enough space to carry the millions of things you need to survive a day out of the house with baby!

4. Laura Lee – Medium 9ct Rose Gold Initial Coin Necklace – £295.00

I’ve loved Laura Lee jewellery for years & have a few of their pieces already. I’ve been thinking for a while how much I’d love a necklace with Isla’s initial on it & I immediately thought of the delicate rose gold coin necklace. So chic and simple!

5. DIPTYQUE Candle – £40

Always a perfect gift. Luxurious & a great way to spoil someone special!

6. Bloom & Wild Flower Subscription – From £50 for 3 months

Why give her just one bunch of flowers when you can surprise her with 3? It’s such a great idea as she doesn’t even need to be in when they are delivered as they can be posted through the letter box. They even come with instructions for how best to arrange them!

7. Liberty – Theodora Roberts Revival Radio – £225.00

Barney got me a Roberts radio for Christmas a few years ago as the most beautiful surprise & we now have it on in the kitchen everyday. It makes such a nice change to fill your home with music instead of the noise of the TV! This beautiful Radio is covered in the iconic Liberty print which I really just can’t get enough of!

8.Olympus PEN Digital Camera – E-PL7 – Was £399, Now £299 in Jessops

Capturing memories is one of my greatest joys as a mum & having the perfect tool to do that is essential. This stunning little compact looks incredible but is also so easy to use to achieve amazing results. The E-PL7 features a flip & tilt 1.04M dot touchscreen LCD & even has built-in Wi-fi which lets you instantly share and post your images online via your smartphone. It has a continuous shooting option of up to 8 frames per second, so you’ll never miss a shot & features 14 Art Filters for adding creativity to stills & movies.

9. Kate Spade New York Stationary Collection – Pictured: Notebook – £22 & Thermal Mug – £16

I have accrued quite the Kate Spade handbag collection & now they have brought out a stationary line I know I won’t be able to resist. They make the perfect gifts as everything is cute & quirky, with slogans like ‘Eat Cake for Breakfast’ – I think every woman should have a little of that in her life! 

 

Those are my top picks for store bought gifts – but breakfast in bed, coupons for cuddles & special art work ready for framing are also right up there with the best things a Mum could receive! Having a baby of your own really makes you understand just how much your parents did for you. I’m going to be thanking my Mum, not just on Mothers Day but every day for putting up with all the tantrums & the sleepless nights! Along with the million other things she did for me & continues to do!

How will you be celebrating the wonderful Mumma’s in your life? Share your pictures with me on Instagram @AdventureswithIslaBlog or on Facebook!

Labour & Hospital Survival Guide

So it seems every where I go I end up being asked to share advice with other woman that are about to pop, and the recurring theme is, ‘I wish someone told me this…’. So I thought I should write it all down and just put it out there…

  1. Be patient.
    I know… It’s so hard and you just want to get this thing bundle of joy OUT of you. But the only thing you can do is rest, relax, take a bath, eat a shit ton of cookies… And repeat. Until your little one is ready, theres no point stressing yourself out, you are going to need all the energy you can muster soon so just try and wait it out.
  2. Don’t hold on too tightly to your birth plan.
    While it’s great to have a plan, anything can happen – the only thing that matters is that you & your little one are healthy, so if she/he arrives a little differently than planned, it really won’t matter when you get your first cuddle.
  3. Know your options.
    If this is your first baby you might be thinking that you know you want an all natural labour (So did I!), but things may change that are out of your control – so the best thing is just to read up on every pain relief option available to you, so that when you are asked you can make an informed decision!
  4. Clue in your birth partner!
    Make sure whoever is supporting you through the birth knows exactly what you want incase you can’t tell the doctor yourself for whatever reason.
  5. Bring a packed suitcase… just in case.
    Of course we all hope that we’ll have the baby & be safely out of the hospital & back home in just a few hours. But anything can happen so take with you three days worth of PJs, underwear & everything you might need (see below!).
  6. Leave a packed suitcase at home… just in case.
    And just incase your hospital stay gets a little longer, leave a packed suitcase with all your favourite things in it ready to go at home so your wonderful birth partner won’t have to run around the house frantically guessing what you might want.
  7. Put on your Tens machine and don’t take it off until it stops working…(And by that point hopefully you’ve got some stronger drugs!) Tens doesn’t work for everyone but it was amazing for me & I would highly recommend getting yourself one

How do I know what I will need, I hear you cry? Well, here’s my top birth & hospital must haves…

Hospital essentials -Adventures With Isla Baby and Lifestyle Blog

  1. Comfy PJs/Nightys… Lots of them – the softer, the better! Don’t even think about wearing ‘real’ clothes for a while. Some lovely soft bed socks, slippers or flip-flops are a great idea too. I had ultra squishy soft Nike pair that I wore for the last few weeks of pregnancy & in the hospital that were so comfy! Available here.
  2. Maternity Pads… So, you are going to bleed, a lot. For around 6 weeks. I know, you thought you’d just finished with all the gross stuff, but no! You are just entering a whole new chapter. Hooray!
  3. Face Wipes… And any of your toiletries that make you feel human again. Deodorant, Toothbrush, nice smelling creams and oils, just throw it all in the case, why not?!
  4. Breast Pads… So once your milk comes in you are going to start leaking milk at all times of the day. So breast pads are a must to avoid an embarrassing wet patch. I love Medela’s as they are ultra absorbent & have never leaked on me – I started with Tesco’s own brand but gave up on them pretty quickly! Don’t forget to put them in at night unless you want to wake up in a puddle…!
  5. Supportive pants… If you read my Week 1 Survival Guide, you will remember I noted how strange my body felt as it got used to life without a bump. The best way to stay comfortable is with really REALLY big soft pants to hold your stomach. I struggled to walk for a few days after but having support helped me so much.
  6. Tangle Teezer… One of my biggest regrets was that I didn’t put my bloody hair up. By the end of three days in labour it was knotted beyond belief and truly disgusting. (I couldn’t use my hands as I was shaking so much from the epidural going wrong.) So after what felt like the best shower of my life I covered my head in leave in conditioner and attacked it with my Tangle Teezer. Within minutes it was back to normal & with no pain at all!
  7. Evian spray mist… I had a serious temperature immediately after Isla was born (are you getting the joyous picture that was my birth experience! Ha!) and this was a god send! One spray and you feel so much better and refreshed, a must have for the birth bag!
  8. &9. One of the best pieces of advice we were given was to remember that it’s a hospital not a hotel – so take your own Towels & Pillows. If we hadn’t done that I would have had a small hand towel to dry myself after showering and only one rubbish pillow. I took 2 giant super soft towels (not white!) and 3 pillows – a bit of a pain in the arse to fit in when you are packing but so worth it!
    10. Pack a serious snack bag – even if you can’t enjoy it during labour you sure will need it for after! Fruit, flapjacks, crisps, croissants, chocolate… You just gave birth, you are officially super woman so eat whatever the hell you want! Barney brought me food into the hospital every day as the hospital food looked like a BushTucker Trial… I’d highly recommend you avoid it at all costs if you can! Don’t forget some nice flavoured drinks – I was obsessed with blue PowerAid for some reason!

And that’s it… Remember to breathe – deep, slow breaths and just focus on what you have to do. Your body is amazing & before you know if you’ll be out the other side & holding the most beautiful baby you’ve ever seen in your life!

Leave me a comment & let me know what were the best things in your hospital bags!

 

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