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!

Isla’s First Trip to the Beach

I couldn’t resist sharing a few of these with you! We took the opportunity to head down to Omaha Beach while visiting some friends in France. It was Isla’s first time on the beach and it was such a beautiful thing to witness.

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Both Nanny & I forgot the towels so we were just going to let Isla have a little paddle and go. Isla had other ideas. She instantly fell in love & wanted to go for a swim!

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We played in the shallow waves for as long as I could convince her to stay, but she kept trying to make a break for deeper waters!

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Isla would have stayed all day if we had let her, but without a sunshade or towels we had to cut the visit short!

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Eventually we gave in and stripped off her jeans to go for a deeper paddle before giving in completely and putting her in her totsbots swim nappy & swimsuit!

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The difference a filter makes… Haha! It actually looked like the final picture but I couldn’t resist a moodier edit on the shots from my camera!

I can’t wait till next time & I’ve promised Isla that we will come prepared for a whole day of splashing & sandcastles!

 

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.

Mrs. Henderson Presents – Opening Night

The opening night of Mrs. Henderson presents was on Tuesday & seeing as it was Barney’s first time as Musical Director of a West End show (SO FREAKIN’ COOL!) we thought we’d celebrate properly!

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We decided to book a hotel & asked my lovely mum look after Isla so Barney could enjoy his big night without having to leave the party early to catch a train. Booking a hotel in London is always an interesting experience – you can pay hundreds for a tiny box or find a hidden gem (still hundreds!) and get a whole penthouse!

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I’ve walked past LIB-RARY so many times & thought, ‘That looks so cool,  I wonder whats in there!?’… seeing as it’s a private members club, I’d never managed to satisfy my curiosity. But we just couldn’t resist booking it when it sits perfectly between the theatre & the after party! And as you can see… we were not disappointed! Room4Room

Complete with it’s own balcony over looking St. Martins Lane – it had the ‘wow’ factor at every turn!

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#blessed

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With all my pregnancy hip problems I’ve had to ease myself very gently back into exercise and also be a lot more realistic with my goals – so when I had to find an outfit for an industry party I knew the thing I needed the most would be shapewear!! The wonderful people at BellyBandit kindly sent me their Mother Tucker Corset to try & I fell in love instantly!!

This wardrobe essential is comfortable enough to wear all day (no, seriously!) and thin enough to hide under your clothes. Created with 2 layers of SecureStretch™ material for double compression, this smart corset slims your waist and tummy while concealing bothersome back bulge. The soft boning ensures the corset will stay in place without rolling or digging, and the lightweight and breathable fabric provides maximum comfort. The 6-hook design allows for greater adjustability and compression.

Once I’d found a dress all I needed were some killer heels & I was ready to go!
These beauties are by Sophia Webster – they have been sitting in the box waiting to be worn since I bought them two days before I found out I was pregnant!

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The view from the balcony was beautiful & perfect for truly appreciating the glory of the Coliseum!

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I haven’t been out in such a long time, I actually forgot what I needed & didn’t bring anything to do my hair – so a pony tail would have to do!! Into my dressMother Tucker® Corset, & Marc Jacobs jacket (similar here) & ready to go!

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It was amazing to spend some time just being a double act again – even if I did cry on FaceTime to Isla… twice!!

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The show was as incredible as I’d remembered from it’s time playing the Theatre Royal in Bath & finished the night with a much deserved four tier standing ovation. I was bursting with pride for my wonderful best friend/partner in crime/fiance!

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Barney’s jacket is Ted Baker & my hand bag is a Boy Bag from Chanel.

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After a few glasses of champagne with some wonderful friends, we were well & truly partied out & stumbled the mere few steps from the National Gallery back to our penthouse to finish the night eating a cupcake with boobs on at 2am…

See the show & you’ll get it…

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Of course, I barely slept – thinking about Isla – seeing as it was my first time away from her that was to be expected! Even though I knew she would be having the best time being spoilt by her nanny with kisses and silly games!

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We had a quick breakfast on our balcony before I headed back to be reunited with our sweet girl!

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It was great to just be me for a few hours and not ‘mummy’ – but my goodness I missed her every second I was away!

 

 

 

Bath Time Essentials

Bath time is fast becoming Isla’s favourite part of the day. We are finally into a great routine & it’s made bedtime easy & enjoyable for everyone. I thought I’d recommend a few of our favourite products for you to try too…

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First up, is Sudocrem’s new Care & Protect. I was kindly sent this to try on Isla after it won Best Nappy Cream of 2015 & we instantly fell in love with it. It’s kept her skin happy & it’s the perfect size for the baby bag!

Sudocrem Care & Protect is a nappy rash ointment – designed specifically for babies – that offers triple protection against nappy rash at every nappy change:

1. Creating a protective barrier that seals in the skin’s natural moisture and protects even the most delicate skin against external irritants.

2. Conditioning the skin – Vitamin E and Pro Vitamin B5 helps to protect the skin and keep it soft, healthy and moisturised.

3. Guarding against infection – As well as sealing in the good stuff, Sudocrem Care & Protect acts as a barrier to protect delicate skin from the bad stuff, like the chemicals in urine and poo, and from chafing and rubbing.

 Because Sudocrem Care & Protect is just for your baby, it is hypoallergenic and has been dermatologically tested. It is also free from artificial colours and preservatives. 

£6.99 for 100g.

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We use Earth Friendly Baby‘s Calming lavender Shampoo & Body wash every night in the bath – all their products are ethical, natural and organic as well as kind to sensitive skin. It smells great and leaves Isla relaxed & ready for bed.

£4.00 for 250ml.

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I love all of Cowshed’s products & this relaxing room spray is no different. A few sprays in her room before story time & we are ready to relax into an easy bedtime. They have so many beautiful products – especially for new mums and mums to be that make great gifts so make sure to check out their full range.

£18 for 100ml.

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Burt’s Bees Original Lotion contains Buttermilk, Shea Butter and Sunflower Seed Oil to deeply moisturise baby’s skin, making it smooth and super soft. Original lotion now provides scientifically-proven moisture for up to 24 hours to keep your baby’s skin soft. This buttermilk lotion is also free of synthetic fragrances, just like the entire Baby Bee line, for your peace of mind. It’s quick absorbing too which makes getting into PJ’s right after easy… well as easy as it can be when being ‘nakey’ is the best thing ever to happen to a baby!

£10.99 for 170g.

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Some nights if Isla won’t settle we try a calming baby massage. We went to a class to learn how to safely & gently massage & always use Neal’s Yard Baby Massage Oil. It’s suitable form 3 months (they have another unscented one suitable from birth) 100% organic, with calming essential oils of rose otto and Roman chamomile, perfect for a wonderfully soothing, bonding massage.

£7.50 for 50ml.

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If you’ve been following the blog or our Instagram, you’ll know how much I love everything Aden + Anais make… Muslins, Clothes & now wash cloths and hooded towels. You can get a hooded towel & wash cloth set which only gets softer the more you wash it & extra 100% Cotton Muslin wash cloths sold separately. We have draws full of them!

Hooded Towel & Wash Cloth set – £29.95.

Wash Cloth Sets – £16.95 for 3.

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And that’s it, for now! If we find anything else that we love we’ll be sure to share it with you! (Oh and the Elephant pictured is Eric P. Fuddlewuddle… from JellyCat’s Fuddlewuddle range!)

Do you have any bath time favourites that you swear by? Leave a comment here on my facebook or tweet me @Poppy_Carter

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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