Third trimester –preparing for baby number 2!

I can’t believe how quickly this pregnancy is going and now I’m well into the third trimester I thought I’d share some preparations we’ve been doing for baby number 2 – both practical and emotional 🙂

preparing for baby number 2

Preparing Archie for his new sister

Given his age (currently 20 months), we haven’t really explained to Arch that he’s going to have a baby sister because we feel he’s too young to understand and any mention of it seems to go ignored at the moment! But he has started going to nursery for 2 mornings a week to get him well settled in before she arrives. This is the first time me and him have really spent apart and selfishly it wasn’t something I was too keen on but I think it’s definitely best for the long-term. My attention will obviously be split when the new baby arrives and I want to make sure he gets enough stimulation and social interaction. Plus I’m already finding that I can be more focussed during the time we do spend together so hopefully it will benefit him in both ways.

Practical preparations

The new baby’s nursery is coming together well and although it’s not necessary for it to be fully ready as soon as baby is born (because she will sleep with us for the first few months) it’s something that I want to do so I can feel fully organised. All the furniture is in and it just needs a bit of organising and a few pictures up for it to feel finalised. I’ve also been sorting through all of Archie’s old clothes and seeing what we can reuse or anything new we might need. I’m yet to start the mammoth task that is washing it all though – eek!

Although I plan to try and breastfeed, I’m also getting everything sorted for bottle feeding (new teats and bottles, setting up the Perfect Prep machine and sterilisers) so that we have a Plan B should we need it.

We’ve now bought the adapters for our pram (iCandy Orange) so we just need to work out what combination will work best for it to be converted into a double.

I’ve also read that it’s a good idea to get all toys/ equipment out for the baby 2-3 weeks before our due date so Archie has a chance to familiarise and will no doubt lose interest in them by the time baby arrives.

Childcare during labour

Although we don’t have family who live near us, my parents are about an hour and a half drive away and have kindly offered to stay at ours and look after Archie when the new baby arrives. This is a huge weight off my mind because it’s a potentially unsettling time for Arch but I know with my mum and dad around he will be spoilt with attention and probably won’t even notice we’re gone. My husband commutes daily into London which is about an hour and a half away too so I’m just hoping if I go into labour, I will spot the signs early enough for everyone to get to me in time! Having been induced last time, and because I laboured quickly, this is something that’s playing on my mind a little but I do have some lovely mummy friends locally who could hopefully hold down the fort in the meantime, if it really came to it!

Introducing the siblings

I’ve been giving this quite a lot of thought and although in my head I always pictured a sweet moment of Archie meeting his little sister in hospital, I’m now thinking it’s probably best for Arch not to come into hospital at all. I think it would be really unsettling for him, especially if we have to then say goodbye and I can’t leave with him. So hopefully I won’t have a long stay in hospital and we can bring his sister home to meet him instead. I’ve read up some tips on how best to introduce your second born to your first so I thought I’d share these in case they’re useful:

  • Don’t hold your baby when first introducing– make sure your arms are free to give your first born as many cuddles as they need for reassurance
  • Introduce baby as “your baby sister”
  • Try to make the environment as non-medical as possible so it’s not frightening
  • Ask firstborn if he’d like to stroke or cuddle his new sister but don’t force it
  • Allow and accept any reaction – it’s a big confusing moment for them
  • If you want to document the moment then get someone else to take photos/ videos – you want to be there to support your firstborn as much as possible

Preparing to feel all the mum guilt

Ah this is one which I’m already feeling to be honest with you but I know that it’s just the beginning! I think it’s important to know it’s totally normal to feel like this though and that it just reflects how much you care and love your children. The below are a few areas of guilt that I’m expecting to feel but no doubt the reality will be slightly different:

  • Turning Archie’s world upside down and any negative reaction from him
  • Not being able to devote as much time to the new baby as I did the first time with Archie
  • Breastfeeding guilt – something I experienced quite badly first time round so I’m hoping to be much kinder to myself this time if breastfeeding doesn’t work out
  • Feeling like I’m not doing anything well and we’re just about surviving!

Interestingly that last point is something I felt constantly during Archie’s first year and I found striving purely for survival quite a depressing prospect to be honest. But having lived through it, I know that things do get easier, the good days do get more frequent and parts of your old life (before children) do come back again so I’m hoping that I don’t forget this easily and it can help get me through when everything feels a bit overwhelming.

Expecting chaos!

It’s strange looking back to the first few months of having Archie because I remember feeling like things were chaotic then and a bit all over the place (I’m a typical Virgo in that I love routine so this was tough!).

But this time round, I know there will be plenty more chaos in the house! And I’ll probably rarely feel on top of everything which is a bit daunting but I’m hoping that maintaining Archie’s structure (of sleeping, eating, nursery, classes) will help to give me a bit more of the routine I craved last time.

One thing I’ve heard from speaking to other mums is that it’s easy, particularly in the early days, to let someone else look after your firstborn whilst you get to grips with the new baby. But that actually this can be unsettling for your firstborn so it’s important to give them as much love and attention as you can as a way of reassurance.

I’m also aware that the firstborn can display a few behaviour changes as they deal with the emotions that can come from having a new baby in the house. This could be being more clingy than normal, not wanting affection from their parents, eating regressions, problems sleeping, increased tantrums etc. So I’m preparing myself for this and will try to be as understanding and as empathetic as I can, knowing it’s not personal, but just a time of adjustment for us all.

Self-care

It sounds a bit cliché and self-care seems to be the new buzzword, but one of the main things I’ve learnt since becoming a parent is that to be the best mum I can be, I need to take care of myself and ensure that I’m not always bottom of the priority list! For me, doing some form of physical exercise has always helped with my mental health so I’m hoping I can get back to doing maybe just one quick HIIT workout a week or a short run every now and again. But more importantly just finding a little “me time”, even if it’s just 5 mins of time to myself to clear my head and gain a little perspective – it’s very easy to get caught up in the bubble and lose sight of the bigger picture.

Are there any second-time parents out there who can offer more advice/ reassurance? I would love to hear it 🙂

Second pregnancy – a whole new experience!

Being pregnant again has made me reminisce about my pregnancy with Archie and although physically my pregnancies have been very similar so far, it’s a completely different experience to the first time! I thought I’d share on the blog why this time it’s been a whole new ball game.

second pregnancy

  • Tired, tired and tired again
    • Running around after an active toddler whilst being pregnant is making me more physically tired than I think I’ve ever been in my life. I honestly feel like I have the body of a 100 year-old – I’m constantly creaking and groaning!! I do remember feeling tired the first time round but I also spent most of my weekends catching up on sleep and resting which is definitely a thing of the past now…!
  • Goodbye maternity leave
    • Last time I managed to plan a nice chunk of time off as part of my maternity leave before Archie came along (in hindsight I didn’t make the most of it so for any first time mamas out there please enjoy every second – indulge in those long baths, stay in bed all day, go to the cinema, enjoy those last date nights with your partner etc.). But this time round, it’s clearly very different and I won’t be having any time off (from being a full-time mum) before the new baby arrives which is a slightly daunting prospect.
  • Time flies
    • If you’d have asked me last time how many weeks I was and what size baby was I could have told you in quite a bit of detail and on size in so many different variations of fruit, veg, household objects etc.! This time, the weeks just seem to be flying by and I can barely remember what day of the week it is, never mind what my due date is!
  • Less time to think about the new baby
    • Until recently (when the physical side has taken over and is a constant reminder!) it’s been so easy to forget I’m having another baby as my whole world is completely focused on Archie and when I have thought about it my focus is mostly on the impact on Arch rather than the baby itself. This is such a contrast to my first pregnancy when I became a bit obsessed – all I thought about was meeting my baby and what he/she would be like.
  • Less focused on labour
    • First time round I thought about the birth a lot and even our antenatal classes focused on labour and having a birth plan. It sounds crazy but shortly after having Archie I remember thinking “Phew, the hard part is over”! Little did I know that the hardest was definitely yet to come. So this time round, I think it’s only natural to think about it less and I’m trying to maintain an attitude of “I did it once, so I can do it again” even though I’m fully aware the experiences could be very different.
  • More focused on life after birth
    • Linked to the point above, having struggled to cope with the huge changes to my life first time round, my attention has mostly been on how I’ll cope with 2 children and trying to envisage the changes to come. In theory, it shouldn’t be such a shock this time as I’m very used to being a stay-at-home mum now and some of our structure will stay in place as we work around Archie’s routine. But the prospect of bedtime and getting out of the house with a toddler and newborn does terrify me so they will be the first few things I’ll be trying to crack (any tips welcome!).
  • Mum guilt
    • The moment you become pregnant with your second, it’s natural to feel mum guilt and I’m sure it’s not something that will be going any time soon. For every hospital appointment I have to go to, for the moments I feel too tired to play, every time I think about my attention being split, it’s so hard not to feel guilty about the impact on Archie. But I do keep reminding myself that to grow up with a sibling will be so good for him and it will be well worth it in the long run.

 

Baby number 2: We’re having a…

…girl! Yes we had our 20 week scan recently and they told us that Archie’s having a little sister 🙂 I still can’t believe it to be honest because, although you never really know, I did have an inkling that we were having another boy. This just goes to show I should always go with the opposite of my gut (as I got it wrong last time too)!

gender reveal

The scan

Whilst all went well with the scan, we did learn a very important lesson in that next time we won’t be taking Arch with us! He freaked out the moment I got on the bed and couldn’t understand why mummy couldn’t hold him (he’s going through a particularly clingy phase at the moment). So Daddy took him out of the room for a while but nothing really consoled him until right at the end when I could eventually pick him up. Luckily we had a very understanding sonographer!

Time to pick a name

Before we knew we were having a boy last time, we’d picked a girl name which I’d had in mind for a very long time – way before we’d even thought about having children! So this time, although it would seem like the obvious choice, we’re not 100% sure. With Archie, once we’d decided on his name it just seemed right straight away but this time we’re not quite settled on it. So if anyone has any name suggestions to throw into the mix, please feel free to send them my way!

And time to go shopping!

Despite not having a preference on gender, we’re thrilled to be having a daughter and feel that much closer to knowing more about her. The only slight downside (in Daddy’s eyes!) is the extra expense it incurs! I’m not going to lie, I am pretty excited to go shopping and pick out some cute girlie outfits. Although I’m still going to get as much wear out of Archie’s clothes as much as I can and have no problem in putting her in a blue sleepsuit for bed.

I’ve also started to make a list of things we need to buy ahead of her arrival. So far on the list:

  • Cotbed and mattress (Archie is still in the cot version of his and I don’t want to move him out prematurely)
  • New bottle teats (and bottles where our others have worn out)
  • Pram converters – we have the iCandy Orange which goes into a double but we need to buy the right adapters
  • Second monitor/ camera
  • White noise toy – Archie loves his MyHummy teddy so we might purchase another one of these or try something else

Mums of multiple children, is there anything else I’m really missing here? I’d love to hear your second-time essentials.

Pregnancy update

Other than that, I don’t think there’s too much else to report. My bump hasn’t grown much since the last post and I’m already getting lots of comments about how small I am but I’m sure I’ll pop at some point….! Baby girl is growing nicely at the moment so I’m trying to not let it concern me and I’m appreciative of the extra monitoring. The irony is that although Arch was a fairly small baby (7 pounds 3 so not exactly tiny!), we now get constant comments about how big he is for his age so I think it’s best not to take these things to heart too much, as long as everyone’s healthy.

If there’s anything else you’d like to know, please feel free to ask in the comments!

18 week pregnancy update

I can’t believe that in a couple of weeks’ time I will be officially half way through my pregnancy! Where does the time go? I thought I’d do a quick update to share with you; my bump progress, baby movements, whether we’re finding out the gender, my low PAPP-A level and what it means, and any pre-baby preparations so far.

First signs of a bump

As mentioned in last week’s maternity style post, I am definitely still more on the tubby side of things and it’s not obvious that I’m pregnant yet. But at the right angles there is the first sign of a bump so I’m just holding on to that and hoping that soon I will properly pop!

18 week pregnant

Baby movements

With Archie it took until about 24 weeks for me to feel him moving around but I’ve definitely started to feel some very faint movements already this time, which I think is more common in second pregnancies. At my recent midwife appointment they struggled to get a heartbeat reading because he/ she was such a wriggler which is exactly how Arch was (and has been ever since he was born!!).

20 week scan

We will soon have our 20 week scan and the option to find out whether Archie’s having a brother or sister. We will most definitely be finding out if we can because we’re so impatient! And, for me personally, I found it really helped me to bond with Archie during pregnancy last time and I think practically it will be very useful this time. I’ve kept all of Archie’s old clothes so if we’re having a girl there will be a lot of sorting and passing on to friends/ charity!

I’m really undecided as to what I think I’m having. Last time I was convinced I was having a girl but I have no idea this time and as I’ve mentioned before, I really have no preference. I’m just wishing and hoping for another healthy baby.

Low PAPP-A level

This is a little bit niche but I thought I’d mention because when I was pregnant with Archie I received a letter which said I had a low PAPP-A level and I would need extra monitoring but very little other information, which to be honest just terrified me. I have a low PAPP-A level again with this pregnancy and having been through it before, I feel much calmer and understand more about the implications.

Essentially, pregnancy associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A) is a hormone that is made by the placenta during pregnancy. And if you have a low level you’re at a higher risk of:

  • A lower birth weight baby as your placenta may not work as well
  • An increased chance of having an early birth
  • Miscarriage in the second half of pregnancy
  • An increased chance of developing pre-eclampsia

However, having said that, for most women they go on to have a normal pregnancy so it really is just a case of extra monitoring (additional growth scans between 28 and 40 weeks and being under consultant care) and taking extra pre-cautions. I’ve also been prescribed a low dose of aspirin which I need to take daily until the baby arrives.

With Archie, I was lucky enough that it didn’t really affect my pregnancy/ birth/ after-birth so I’m hoping that it will be the same this time. Arch was technically a small baby according to the weight percentiles but at 7 pounds 3 he was very healthy and after 24 hours of monitoring in hospital we were allowed to go home as normal.

Baby number 2 preparations

From a practical perspective, we haven’t done too many preparations but we still have plenty of time and it will just be a case of re-setting up the nursery and going through Archie’s old things. But I have been doing some reading up about how to prepare yourself and your firstborn for the new arrival.  “The Second Baby Book” by Sarah Ockwell-Smith has been particularly useful – it talks you through practical preparations, how to tell your firstborn, childcare during labour, the various feelings of maternal guilt and dealing with difficult behaviour once baby is here. As mentioned, I have so much anxiety about the negative impact on Archie and so I will be trying everything I can to reduce that where I can. If anyone has any other recommendations, I am all ears 🙂

 

Maternity style

Although I’m still in the ‘tubby’ phase of pregnancy (if you know, you know!) I am slowly starting to see the first signs of a bump. So at the weekend, I dug out my maternity clothes from last time and it reminded me of how frustrating maternity shopping can be. There are very limited options in-store so you have to order mostly online and often your style changes quite a bit to accommodate for your change in shape so it can become a bit of a minefield!  I thought I’d share my favourite maternity finds for anyone who may be having a similar struggle 🙂

I’ve grouped by my 4 favourite maternity retailers (UK) and listed the clothing types I’ve found to be the best from each one, with a few specific examples linked. Please note all views are my own and none of the links are affiliated.

Topshop

topshop jeansSkinny black jeans

I always shop in Topshop for my jeans because I personally prefer a skinny fit and I like the fact that they offer different leg lengths. Usually I wear the Jamie Jeans but in maternity these seem to constantly fall down and lose their shape very easily. So I much prefer the maternity Joni Jeans – both under the bump style (for early pregnancy) and over the bump (for later in pregnancy).

H&M

h&m skinny jeans


Super skinny blue jeans

I usually prefer black jeans to blue but when I found these maternity ones I literally lived in them because they are so incredibly flattering – I could not recommend them highly enough.

 

h&m vests


Vests

I’m not sure you can go too wrong with a vest but I liked the length of these and the fact that they are nursing appropriate for post-birth.

 

 

h&m jersey dress 2

h&m jersey dress 3


Jersey dresses

Pregnancy for me is all about comfy jersey dresses – especially the bigger the bump! Last time I found some lovely long sleeved ones from H&M but their Summery ones are just as nice – number 1 and number 2.

 

Tights

Clearly very seasonal but I was pretty shocked to find that my trusty ‘tights source’ M&S don’t stock maternity tights. Luckily the H&M ones are fab and fit really well – I tried quite a few other brands which constantly fell down and it drove me mad!

ASOS

asos topasos top 2
Tops

I always like ASOS for tops because they tend to be really affordable and a nice twist on a basic – number 1 and number 2.

 

asos top 1asos jumper
Sweaters

Who doesn’t love a comfy sweater and in the UK they’re needed in pretty much all seasons. I personally prefer these ASOS ones to many I’ve tried – number 1 and number 2.

 

maternity bra


Bras

Underwired bras were really uncomfortable for me from around 20 weeks so I found these Emma Jane non-wired ones which also double up as nursing bras for post-birth. They are so comfortable and are seam free so work well under any top – I could not recommend them highly enough.

Seraphine

seraphine
Formal dresses

Seraphine is definitely more high-end but they have great sales so it’s worth keeping an eye out because the quality of their dresses is so lovely and flattering. I picked up this dress on one of their offers, specifically because I had quite a few Xmas parties, and I had so many compliments – most were disappointed it was maternity only!

leggings
Leggings

I didn’t wear leggings as much as I thought I would but these were very flattering and comfortable so I would definitely recommend.

 

 

 

 

I’m pregnant!

I mentioned last week that moving house was one of the reasons I’ve been a little quiet on here but the other (rather big) reason is because we’re having another baby! We’re so thrilled and can’t wait to meet Archie’s brother/ sister later this year. As is common with most pregnancies I’ve been dealing with a whole host of different emotions so I thought I’d share on here. I’d love to hear from any fellow mummies who have experienced similar – please do let me know in the comments 🙂

pregnancy

First trimester

So far my pregnancy has been very similar to last time. I felt very nauseous during the first trimester and although I was never sick I found it very difficult to prepare and be around certain foods – these unhelpfully seemed to change on a daily basis. I’d also forgotten how tired the first trimester makes you and it felt so much harder this time – probably because I was running around after a toddler! Both of these things made me feel quite down overall and I just didn’t really feel like myself. I think the fact I felt like I couldn’t be honest with people (because we didn’t share our news until our scan) was also a contributing factor. I find it very hard to hide my feelings and I think it was obvious to my nearest and dearest that something was bothering me.

Sharing the news

We waited until our 12 week scan to tell our family and friends, mostly because it didn’t feel real until that point and I was convinced that something was going to go wrong (for no specific reason – I think it’s quite common to feel like this). When we did tell our family we had quite a few shocked reactions, almost implying it was too small an age gap.

It’s something we had thought about for a long time and I truly don’t believe there is the perfect gap. But for us, we decided we wanted to have them fairly close together (it will be about 22 months). And if I’m really honest one of the reasons is because I found the first 6 months really hard last time and I’m fully anticipating it could be the same again so I just want to get that period out of the way. Plus I’ve been so concerned about the impact a new baby with have on Archie and I’ve read the younger your first is when you have the second the easier the transition will be for them. I have no idea if this is the case but I’m happy to keep you posted!

Archie – the big brother!

I’m so excited for Archie to have a brother/ sister and I know that in the long term it will be so beneficial for him. My husband and I both grew up with siblings and I honestly can’t imagine a childhood without having someone to share it with. However, since having Archie I can completely understand why some people choose to have just one. I know it sounds cheesy but he is everything I ever hoped for in a child and so much more. My heart is so full.

I do worry about the short-term effect on him in terms of having to share the limelight and not having our full attention. I know that the impact is often hardest on the relationship with their mummies and I’m so worried that we won’t be as close as we are now. If you read my previous post about our bond (see here if not) you will know that it took a while for us to get to this point and so I’m really hoping there’s no long-term impact on it. But he’s such a sociable little boy that hopefully he’ll soon see the positives of having a permanent playmate around!

Baby number 2

So many people have asked me if I’d like a girl this time round and I honestly do not have a preference. It’s funny how we always assume women want girls but I can fully envisage myself as a mum of 2 boys and being the only Princess in the house….and I’m totally fine with that! Equally, if we did have a girl I’d be just as delighted because I have such a close relationship with my own mum and I’d hope to have the same with my daughter.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about how I’m going to cope with 2 children, particularly with my husband working long hours and my family being far away. When Archie is giving me a particularly challenging day, I do wonder how an earth I’ll cope with a baby to take care of too. But I’m really trying to not let the anxiety take over like it did last time. I’ll find ways of managing and I know that in the end things do get easier so it’s just about riding the storm. I’m hoping that I’ll feel a tad more confident with some experience under my belt but I’m also aware that all babies are so different and we may face completely different challenges this time! All in all though, I’m just so excited and feel privileged to be able to expand our family.

I’ll keep you posted as to how the rest of the pregnancy continues and if you do have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments!

Gifts for new parents/ new baby

When we had Archie I was blown away at how incredibly generous our friends and family were with gifts. So many people asked us if there was anything we wanted and we’d bought so many practical things for the baby that we couldn’t really think of anything at the time. So, with hindsight in our favour, I thought I’d put together a little list of ideas for anyone who needs some inspiration. 

new baby-parent gifts

Keepsake gifts

Newspaper of the day baby was born – I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t ask someone to buy this for us because I’m seriously sentimental and I think it would be a lovely keepsake to show Archie when he’s older. You can buy back copies but they’re not cheap so it’s worth asking someone to do this for you if you’re the one expecting!

Photo frame – I know this is a little old school but I love having photos printed and put up around the house so a photo frame is right up my street.

Baby record book – Some organised mums-to-be might have bought one already so it’s worth checking first but it makes such a lovely sentimental gift and a year later I still love filling Archie’s in and looking back at the entries so far.

Imprint kit – I’m sad that we never got round to doing one of these and the off-the-shelf ones are inexpensive so it definitely makes a lovely present for anyone wishing to cherish those tiny fingers and toes!

Teddy bear – We received quite a few of these which is lucky because Arch is a big fan! But it might be worth checking with who you’re buying for so they don’t have too many. The personalised My 1st Years ones make a lovely keepsake.

Gifts for the whole family

Homemade meal – when you’re a new parent the likelihood is you’ll be grabbing more convenience food than you’re used to so some homemade food – whether that’s a whole meal or just some snacks – will be seriously appreciated!

Food box subscription – when Archie was small we invested in a weekly Hellofresh box for a few months and it was brilliant at getting us back to cooking at home. The recipes were very simple to follow with the ingredients pre-measured (very important for sleep-deprived parents!) and we were surprised just how healthy and tasty they were. I think it would make a great gift for any new parent – whether they’re competent at cooking or not.

Newborn photo shoot – this will not be high on a new parent’s priority list but it makes for some lovely memories that you can cherish forever so again I think this would make a lovely sentimental gift.

Gifts for mum

Pamper kit – you can buy ready-made ones specifically for new mums – the Elemis gift sets are great – but they tend to be pretty pricey. It’s very easy to compile your own – personally I’d include a face mask, lip balm, hand cream, body oil – anything that feels a little luxurious and is really moisturising.

Loungewear – new mums will likely spend a lot of time in clothes that resemble PJs but are slightly more appropriate for leaving the house in! Next do some lovely ones as do ASOS.

Something with Mum/ Mummy on it – whether it’s a mug (the Emma Bridgewater ones are my personal favourite), a piece of jewellery (this Next necklace is lovely) or a slogan top (I love the Selfish Mother ones) most new mums will be so proud to flaunt their new role!

Gifts for baby

Outfit/ Babygro’s – It’s worth bearing in mind that for the first few months a baby will mostly live in Babygro’s so if you’re choosing a cute outfit then you might want to size up for when they’re a bit older. Remember to consider what season it will be when the baby’s at the age too so you don’t buy something impractical for the weather.

Muslin cloths/ bibs – From someone with a sicky baby, there were never enough muslin cloths or bibs clean in the house despite owning enough to put a normal retailer to shame! For bibs, any soft round bibs with a popper fastening are great for the newborn days (save the more stylish dribble bibs for when they’re older). And for muslin cloths TK Maxx do some great ones and I really don’t think you can beat the Aden & Anais ones for quality.

Blanket – Particularly for a winter baby, a blanket makes a lovely gift. My most used one was this Chenille one from Asda as it was super soft and washes well. But for something a bit more special I love this personalised My 1st Years blanket.

NCT Antenatal course – Is it worth it?

A couple of weeks ago one of my pregnant friends asked me about my experience of my NCT antenatal course and whether it was worth the time/ money. So I thought I’d share my experience on here too for anyone thinking about signing up.

pregnant antenatal

Please note all views are my own and are not endorsed by NCT or anyone else. 

NCT Antenatal courses

For anyone not familiar, NCT stands for National Childbirth Trust and they are a UK charity set up to support parents in their first 1000 days through a number of resources – one of which are their antenatal courses. NHS antenatal courses vary considerably by region so lots of parents-to-be choose a private course like the NCT ones.

There are a number of different courses to pick from but we opted for the NCT Signature course consisting of 2.5 workshop days over 2 weekends. The cost will vary depending on where you are but for us it cost £200 which is quite expensive so I did debate whether it would be worth it. However, I didn’t know anyone locally in our area and I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet 7 other mums with babies due at a similar time. We attended the course about 2 months before my due date and partners were encouraged to join.

The 2 full days focussed on labour/ the first few weeks of parenthood and the 0.5 day focussed on breastfeeding. Following the course, the instructor helped facilitate a reunion at which we all met up at a future date post our babies being born.

So, would I recommend it?

In terms of the content, I’d say it was too focussed on labour/ birth. It covered a lot of detail about the various scenarios you may be faced with which was useful for background but I remember feeling pretty overwhelmed and scared afterwards! And when the time came the reality was very different to the ‘textbook’. Plus there wasn’t really enough information about what to do after you brought your baby home – I definitely could have done with a few more pointers!!

The fact that they can only cover breastfeeding (and not bottle feeding) was something I didn’t even question at the time but is now something I find really disappointing. A bit of background on how to sterilise, the different bottles/ teats, how much to feed, how often etc. would have been really useful.

However, in terms of meeting my initial goal, of meeting other mums locally with similarly aged babies, it really was a godsend for me in those early days. For the first couple of months we regularly messaged on our WhatsApp group and it was so reassuring to hear others asking the same questions/ sharing the same struggles. Even during the night feeds there was usually someone there at the end of the phone which was such a comfort.

The reunion was a really nice touch and it was so lovely to get together as a group again. Sadly we haven’t all met again since and there are only a couple of mummies who I regularly see/ keep in touch with but they have become really good friends so I don’t think that’s bad going to be honest. So all in all I am so glad I did it and I would recommend it if you’re looking to meet other mummies in your area.

If it’s too late for you to join an antenatal course and you’re looking for ways to find new mummy friends then please don’t panic! I’ve made some of my closest friends outside NCT through various different baby classes. I’ll cover off baby classes in a separate post for anyone interested but in the very early days (first 8 weeks) you’re unlikely to feel up to committing to a class. So here are a few ideas for meeting new mums in your area:

  • Health centres – your local health centre will run coffee mornings/ weigh-in sessions so ask your health visitor for more details
  • NCT Bumps and Babies (check your region) – weekly informal get-togethers for new mummies
  • Local village halls/ churches – often there is a weekly coffee morning held in these so if you have one near you it might be worth a look
  • Garden centres – there are lots of baby/ child friendly activities held at garden centres such as story/ music sessions so worth checking out your local one
  • Library – similar to the garden centre, usually there is a weekly story/ music time so worth checking out on your local council website

I really hope this is useful for anyone considering an NCT antenatal course and I’d love to know how you get on.

 

Baby shopping list

One of the most exciting things about preparing for a baby is shopping for all the essentials you will need. But I also found it pretty overwhelming. Establishing what you need (vs. what’s in vogue) can be difficult. So here I’ve put together a list of what we bought and where relevant a very short review of whether it worked for us. It’s pretty comprehensive (because we got sucked into buying everything!) so I’ve split into sections. I really hope that it’s useful for any parents-to-be!

baby shopping list

Please note that all views are my own, products paid for by myself and there are no affiliate links.

Sleeping

  • Bedside crib
    • Snuzpod – worked well for us but we didn’t use the co-sleeping functionality which is its main selling point so any crib (as long as it fit the Sleepyhead – see below) would have worked fine in reality.
    • Sleepyhead – it’s hard to say whether this helped Archie sleep any better because we used it right up until he was about 4.5 months (at which point he was in his main cot so he didn’t need it). However, he was a snuggly baby so I think he would have been too exposed in the Snuzpod without it. Plus when we travelled we took the travel cot and put the Sleepyhead inside it which maintained some consistency for him so I think that worked well. It’s also useful for daytime naps as it’s easily transportable. It is an expensive purchase and definitely not essential but we found it worked for us.
    • Sheets – the Sleepyhead ones are ridiculously expensive so if you’re using I would recommend maybe having the one and using a muslin cloth over the top which you can then wash instead. For the actual crib we bought the official Snuzpod ones and they were useless as they barely fit the mattress. So I would probably try a standard bedside crib sheet from Mothercare next time.
  • Main cot/ cotbed
    • Mamas and Papas – we bought a fairly standard cotbed and it’s been brilliant. I’m not sure you can go too far wrong although I’d look at the size of the space/ drawer underneath as it’s useful for storage. The mattress needs to be bought separately and costs almost as much as the cotbed itself! We went for a Pocket Sprung Dual Cotbed Mattress one from Mamas and Papas.
    • Fitted sheets – the ones from M&S were the softest and washed well in our experience but I think they’ve since stopped selling them..! We tried a few from Mothercare and they were pretty good too.
    • Mattress protector – recommend getting 2.
  • Swaddle/ sleeping bag
    • Swaddle – some babies like to be swaddled and some pretty much hate it! But we found Archie couldn’t sleep without one for the first few months as he had such a strong startle reflex. Would highly recommend a wrapover one to start with and then moving on to one with an arm up position.
    • Sleeping bag – some babies will prefer this from birth so probably worth having one on hand and seeing what works. Archie has used sleeping bags from about 5 months and we love them because he’s such a wriggle bum that a blanket is totally pointless! We personally prefer the ones which zip up on the side and you can get them from so many different places but we like the Sainsbury’s and The White Company ones. They come in different togs so I would recommend buying a couple for the summer months (1.0 tog) and a couple for winter (2.5 tog) – make sure to buy the right sizes for the seasons!
  • Monitor
    • Angelcare – this is completely personal preference but I really wanted a monitor which had a movement sensor for peace-of-mind in the first few months and Angelcare are renowned for theirs. So we bought one which had a camera and wireless monitor with it which has been particularly useful since Archie moved into his own room (at about 4.5 months). Most have a thermometer built-in which is also handy.
  • White noise
    • MyHummy – for the first 6 weeks we used a 10.5 hour YouTube video of background car noise which worked well but drove us crazy! We already had a Ewan the Sheep too but the noise only worked for a short amount of time and you had to keep pressing it back on again which also drove us crazy! So we caved and bought a MyHummy which has a sleep sensor that activates the white noise if baby starts to stir or if there is an increase in background noise. It was an expensive purchase but has been a godsend for us. I’ve since seen that’s there a Ewan the sheep deluxe which does a similar thing and is cheaper so that might be worth checking out.

Feeding

  • Bottles and bottle brush
    • We tried the Tomme Tippee bottles but then quickly moved to Dr Browns as we found they helped to prevent wind. I probably wouldn’t buy any of the small bottles because they will become redundant as soon as your baby drinks more than 5oz. 6 bottles is probably fine to begin with and then you can see how you go. Make sure to buy the right teats – level 1 for newborn usually – but then as your baby grows you can start to increase the flow by moving up to the other levels. I’d recommend the Boots bottle brush over the Dr Browns/ Tommee Tippee ones.
  • Steriliser
  • Formula
  • Breastfeeding essentials
    • We bought the Medela electric pump as it was the best reviewed online when I purchased but I didn’t use it enough to be able to review it properly (it’s probably something you can wait to buy).  
    • I found the Lansinoh breast pads were far better (and more absorbent) than the unbranded ones so if you can find them on a deal it’s definitely worth investing. Some mums find they don’t need to use them at all so buy just a small pack to begin with and see how you go.
    • Nursing bras – I was shocked at the selection when I came to buy these – Mothercare and M&S have a small range and you can get fitted in store. But personally I found the Emma Jane bras the most comfortable and I wore them when I was pregnant too.
    • Nipple cream – In the early weeks this will be essential and I recommend the Lansinoh one.
  • Nursing chair
    • The official nursing chairs are expensive and quite clunky in my experience so we bought an armchair from Ikea which has worked fine.
  • Muslins and bibs
    • If you have a sicky baby you will go through a lot of these so definitely worth buying a few to start with. We found the muslin cloths from TK Maxx were great (any brand) and for bibs we went through so many that I stocked up from Tesco/ Sainsburys (the popper fastenings are better than the Velcro in my experience).
  • Dummies
    • Completely personal preference and some babies won’t take to them (like Archie!) but can be very soothing so might be worth having a couple of newborn dummies to hand.

Travel

  • Car seat and isofix base
    • There is a huge choice so it can be overwhelming – we went for the Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus as it was the only one which was i-Size compatible at the time. It’s useful to choose one which fits onto your pram (although most do with the right adapters – usually sold separately). The car seats which swivel can be useful for getting baby in and out of cars but not all fit onto prams. I’ve since learnt that there are in-car safety centres where you can book a consultation and get more in-depth advice on what would work best for you and advice on installation so that might be worth a look.
  • Car mirror
  • Pram
    • Again an overwhelming number to choose from! I’d recommend trying a few out in the shops and getting a feel for what you like. Most people go for a “travel system” which incorporates a bassinet for the first 5-6 months followed by a seat which can last as long as needed. It’s handy to have one which a car seat can fix onto too (to avoid any transfers when baby is asleep!). Go for one that’s not too heavy, has good suspension, is easy to fold, has a good sized basket and fits easily in your car boot! We went for the iCandy Orange and we love it for all of these reasons.
  • Blankets
    • Have a few for the different seasons – cellular for summer and warmer ones for winter. Would highly recommend the chenille blankets from Asda.
  • Baby carrier
    • Some babies will like and some won’t (Archie fit into the latter!). Useful if you can borrow from someone to try out initially or there are quite a few sling hire services where you can try before you buy. For indoor use a fabric one usually works better and for outdoor use you will need something harder-wearing (e.g. Baby Bjorn).
  • Travel cot, mattress and sheets

Changing/ Bath time

  • Change mat
  • Change table
    • We didn’t have one and I’m glad because you only use them for a very short time (before baby is too big/ wriggly). Changing on the floor has worked fine for us!
  • Change bag
    • Not essential to have an official changing bag although they usually have lots of pockets/ compartments which are handy. I got one in the sale from Cath Kidston and would recommend. Usually come with a portable changing mat.
    • Items to include – nappies, wipes, nappy sacks, nappy cream, spare change of clothes, bottle and ready-made formula (if formula feeding), Milton steriliser wipes, dummies (where using), hand sanitiser.
  • Nappies
    • Completely personal preference in terms of brand. Pampers are great – a couple of packs of size 1 should be fine to start off with. As Archie’s got older I’ve moved to Aldi’s which I would also recommend.
  • Nappy sacks
    • You can’t really go wrong with these as they’re all pretty much the same but I like the close system on the Aldi ones.
  • Nappy bins
  • Wipes
    • Again completely personal preference so worth trying a few brands. I found Water Wipes too wet so we use Pampers now.
  • Nappy cream
    • We use Sudocrem at every nappy change which is great and prevents rashes. For stubborn nappy rashes we occasionally use Bepanthem which is very effective.
  • Baby bath
    • Would highly recommend the Schnuggle Bath which has a raised support so baby can sit comfortably and makes bathing so much easier when they’re small. Archie outgrew this at about 4 months.
  • Bath support
    • For use in the main bath, we bought the Angelcare bath support which has been great and made hair washing so much easier!
  • Baby wash and sponge
  • Bath thermometer
  • Hooded towels
    • Any would work fine – I bought a couple from TK Maxx.
  • Medicine kit
    • Colic relievers – Infacol/ gripe water – neither worked well in our experience but if your baby is colicky then it would be definitely worth trying.
    • Paracetamol – Calpol (2 months+) – useful to have on hand when baby is old enough for teething, colds, and vaccinations.
    • Cold remedies – Snufflebabe vapour rub, nasal aspirator, vapour plug-in – all useful for when your baby is really suffering with a cough/ cold
    • Teething – The only medicine (aside from paracetamol) that has worked for us has been Anbesol Liquid (over-the-counter).
    • Thermometer – very useful to have – we bought a digital one which inserts into the ear and has an age adjustment feature.
    • Cradle cap – not all newborns get cradle cap but lots do. I would recommend the Dentinox cradle cap shampoo.
  • Manicure kit
    • Nail scissors – wouldn’t recommend any of the child ones – I just use the blunt side of ours. Nail clippers are a definite no-no for me.
    • Hair brush – We use a standard one from Boots.

 Clothing

  • Sleepsuits
    • It’s so much easier to dress newborns in these than actual outfits so I would buy a few packs of these (with in-built scratch mitts) – in newborn, 1 month and 0-3 month sizes. Sainsburys/ Tesco/ Next/ M&S do a good range.
  • Vests
    • Either long- or short-sleeved these should be worn under sleepsuits (unless very warm) so buy a few packs of these too.
  • Pram suit (winter)
  • Socks
    • If you do buy any outfits you will need socks so maybe have a pack of newborn socks to hand.
  • Hat
    • It’s so hard to judge the size of this until your baby is here so maybe buy one newborn and one 1 month to start off with.
  • Cardigans
    • I was lucky enough to have a Nana who knitted us several cardigans for Archie and they were great for adding another layer. We also had a soft jacket from Tesco which was brilliant.

Play time

  • Bouncer
    • Our bouncer was an absolute godsend in the first 3 months because Archie generally didn’t like to be put down but liked the vibrating sensation of sitting in this. We bought the Joie Dreamer Baby Bouncer (when it was on offer – which these tend to be a lot of the time) and I would highly recommend.
  • Play mat
    • This is also useful from around 3-6 months so not worth spending a lot of money on but useful for providing stimulation and for tummy time. We bought a very bright coloured one from Mothercare (also on offer) which was great.
  • Toys
    • Pram toys – useful to have a few of these (ones which play a lullaby are useful for newborns) and I’d recommend the Bright Starts range.
    • Teethers – You probably won’t need any until around 4 months when babies start chewing on everything! I’d recommend the Matchstick Monkey which you can sterilise easily too (Sophie la Girafe is popular but is bigger so better for when they’re older and also it’s harder to wash because it can’t be submerged in water).

10 things I would tell my pregnant self

With pregnancy comes a whole host of emotions. As much as it’s one of the most exciting times of your life, it’s easy to spend a lot of time worrying about things that are largely out of your control. Here are 10 things I would tell my pregnant self….

pregnant self

  1. Forget about your due date – this is so much easier said than done but if you can find a way to relieve the pressure of your due date then your last few weeks of being pregnant will be a much more enjoyable experience (Read my earlier post – The Waiting Game – to learn from my mistake on this!).
  2. Set up all “baby” equipment and practice, practice, practice– trust me, there is nothing worse than venturing out for the first time with your baby and realising that you can’t put the pram up/ down. Or needing to sterilise bottles/ breast pump and getting into a state because your sleep-deprived mind can’t read the instructions. You might feel silly doing it without a baby in tow but it will be a lot easier than trying to work it when said baby is there with you, and mostly crying at you in frustration (babies are not overly patient in my experience!).
  3. Try not to stress too much about labour – whatever happens you will find a way of getting through labour – whether that’s with pain relief or without, vaginal or C-section, home or hospital birth and so on. None of it really matters in the end as long as you and your baby are OK. And as much as having a rough plan of how you’d like it to go is useful, it’s most likely going to deviate away from that at some point so try to just go with what happens in the moment and be confident in your own ability.
  4. Enjoy the time before your baby gets here – sometimes it’s easy to think solely about the future when you’re expecting but it’s also important to live in the here and now. Your world is about to be turned upside and there are a huge amount of positives that go along with that. But there’s likely to be a few parts of your “old” life that you’ll miss – time to yourself, date nights with your partner, lie-ins etc. – so try to just enjoy those last few moments as much as you can.
  5. Don’t underestimate your instincts – this goes for both during labour and when your baby is here. You know your body and your baby better than anyone so trust your gut no matter what anyone tells you.
  6. There’s no need to over-plan – I remember visiting a number of nurseries when I was heavily pregnant and spending so much time worrying about how I’d cope when I went back to work. And I hadn’t even met my baby yet! Just take each stage as it comes because you may feel differently when it actually happens and no one can predict the future.
  7. The hardest trimester is yet to come – this isn’t meant to scare you but just a reminder that you’ll go through a lot in the fourth trimester – your body will still be recovering, you will deal with a ridiculous number of hormones and you will be trying to work out how to keep your baby happy (/alive). Be kind to yourself. Accept it’s not going to be an easy road but that it’s just a phase and it will get easier.
  8. Remember you’re not alone – sometimes it feels like you need to do everything yourself to be a good mum but it’s just not true. You will need the support of your family and friends. Whether that’s physical support through helping with day-to-day tasks or mental support by being someone you can talk to. Finding mummy friends with similar aged babies is also really helpful. I’ve made a couple of life-long friends in my NCT group who have saved my sanity on many an occasion and just having that reassurance that you’re not alone in your thoughts/ feelings will be such a godsend.
  9. Have a breastfeeding back-up plan – health professionals (and probably many others) will tell you that if you really want to breastfeed you can. But what they often forget is that there are 2 parties to satisfy here and you can’t always predict what your baby is going to do or how you’re going to feel when the time comes. Have a back-up supply of things you will need to bottle feed (bottles, steriliser, and formula) just in case.
  10. Believe in yourself – go into motherhood with confidence, knowing that you can do this. Yes you’ll get things wrong along the way but so does everyone. There will be plenty of differing advice/ opinions from those around you but have the confidence to do what you feel is best and don’t be afraid to go against the crowd.