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Parenting Plans – Carry, Don’t Push…

This post was written before George’s arrival…we are now 6 weeks into our babywearing adventure so I will post a follow-up ASAP!


This is hard for me to admit…but…I hate pushchairs and I don’t want to be a pushchair user.

There. I said it.

I hate it when they fall over backwards because they’re laden with bags. I hate that their occupants usually have to stare at a forest of knees (or worse, at the back of their sibling’s chair). I hate that you have to have a special one if you want to use it on anything other than pavements. I hate that most of them cost more than a half-decent second-hand car.

I’m not judging people that use them because I know that most people are considerate and careful, but I also hate it when they’re used as battering rams, and when they get pushed into the road slightly when traffic is still going by. I also hate having to dodge past them because the people pushing them are too busy looking at their phones.

Luke and I are both pretty set on not wasting our money on a pram, pushchair or buggy unless we absolutely have to. Instead, we are embracing babywearing and plan to transport our boy around in wraps, slings and carriers on our own bodies. People tend to think of wraps as unsafe (the baby could fall out!…what would you do if you fell over with him on your chest!…surely he’s overheating in there!), but if you’re mindful of the equipment you use it’s incredibly safe, and although we see prams and pushchairs as being the ‘norm’, babywearing has been around far far longer.

I wanted to start off with a stretchy wrap as they’re cheap, easy to use, and great for newborns. You can put them on and then pop the baby inside, and then also take the baby out again without removing the wrap – a quality known as “popability”. This is great if you want to wear your baby round the house, transfer them to a car seat for a car journey (in which you can leave the wrap on), and then pop them back into it once you reach your destination.

You can get a new one for as little as £20, and second hand ones for even less if you join the right groups on facebook. The only problem with them is that theyre not so supportive once your baby gets past about 20lbs.

After looking online for a while and asking the advice of some babywearing mothers on facebook I was offered this “hybrid” stretchy for £50…

wrapsody Stella wrap

…not only is it BEAUTIFUL (and vaguely reminiscent of Doctor Who with its TARDIS blue) but, because it’s a hybrid, it is more supportive than a regular stretchy and can be used up to about 35lbs.

We also got a Close Caboo for Luke to wear our newborn in, because he’s more into the idea of a “carrier” style rather than a wrap. It’s made up of two pieces, one that

front view

back view

…and once again bought 2nd hand from a lovely lady on facebook who was selling it for £25. Like the stretchies though, the Caboo will only last until our little one is about 20lbs.

There are LOADS of different types of carrier, sling and woven wraps on the market (some of which are almost as expensive as the pushchairs) which can be a bit confusing for a babywearing newbie, but there is hope. Just like the cloth nappies there are such things as sling libraries where you can learn about different carriers and wraps, get advice on how to  get the best from them,  and even hire them out for a small charge so you can decide if you like a certain type/brand before you buy.

In fact, while we were waiting for our midwife appointment last week I noticed a poster urging dads to bond with their babies by wearing them AND advertising a hire service. Wonderful stuff!

From everything that I’ve read I’ve learnt that carrying your child (both inside the house as well as outside) is beneficial for:

  • helping to regulate their temperature, heat rate and breathing…
  • making them feel secure and attached to you (which is especially important during their first three months, aka the 4th trimester)…
  • reducing crying and therefore helping them to keep their stress and cortisol levels low…
  • developing language skills – babies that are worn are often interacted with more than babies that are in pushchairs or lying in baby gyms, and so usually develop language skills a little faster (this is obviously not a hard and fast rule though)…

There’s benefits for us too as we don’t have to wrestle with pushchairs, or worry about getting the wheels stuck if we want to go for a walk on rough terrain. We also don’t need to leave our little boy napping on his own as he’ll get used to falling asleep in his carrier as we’re walking around the house doing chores. The only thing I’m really worried about is that he’ll get upset when he’s put in his car seat and one of us has to take him somewhere alone. If he’s used to being near to us all the time it won'[t be nice for him to be rear-facing in the back of the car on his own. I can’t see it happening a lot though.

Of course, it might not be plain sailing. There are babies who hate being worn, or who grow out of liking it, and so although we will persevere with it as much as possible, we’re prepared to give in and buy a pushchair if we absolutely have to. Also, we will have a backup in his first year as my friend Adele is lending us her Quinny Buzz frame (which our Maxi-Cosi car seat fits into) so we do have the option to use it if needs be…

We’d both much rather have him nestled on our chests though.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2015 in Baby, Life, Parenting

 

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Hospital Bags – A Review…

Just over a week ago i posted some lists of the things that were going into our hospital bags.

At the time I thought they were pretty comprehensive, but when it came to packing them I realised that I’d left out a few things, and not been entirely specific about others…

Firstly, the things I forgot…

1) Going home clothes…which are sort of important if you want to go home in something other than your nightdress…

I was kind of reticent to pack any clothes until labour began because there’s not a lot I feel comfortable in anymore and I was worried I’d miss part of my rapidly shrinking wardrobe. In the end I chose to put in a pair of yoga pants that start sliding down my bump after just a few steps, leaving the bottom of it exposed. They’re wonderfully comfy but they drive me mad so I didn’t feel too bad sacrificing them to the bag. I have a black nursing top from Mothercare to wear with them that I got it in a super-big size. I’m hoping it’ll fit over my belly just a few days after birth…

I also added a pair of leggings, a big t-shirt and some loose, stretchy pyjama bottoms, just in case I don’t want to sit around in a nightie all day.

2) Extra sleep bras…because I’m paranoid that I’ll leak and that two won’t be enough. I don’t want to sleep in colostrum stained bras….

3) Umbilical Cord Tie (by Heartstrings)…

cordtie

These cute ties are made with embroidery thread and are used instead of the conventional plastic clamps to tie off the umbilical cord. They’re kinder to a newborn’s skin, less ‘clunky’ and often encourage the stump to dry out and fall off more quickly than a clamp.

I chose a bee because I love them (and one of my nicknames is LouBee) and was very amused to see the post stamp on the envelope when it arrived.

I’ll write more about the cord tie (how the midwives react to it and how well it works) after the birth.

4) A cheap plastic massager…

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I found some tips for things to put in your hospital bag online and one woman suggested one of these because her husband wasn’t the best at massage. Luke tries his best but I invariably yell at him that he’s not doing it right, so I thought that it’d be a good idea to add one of these into my bag. I will definitely want him to rub my back during labour, and I don’t want to be doing any yelling.

5) Natal Hypnotherapy “props”… 

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These include a data sheet for the midwives, a sign to put on the door of the delivery room (top photo) and a reminder card for me, Luke and the Midwives (bottom photo) that folds up and slots together. I’ve put these into the folder with my maternity notes and birth plan and stuck the “I’m preparing for birth with Natal Hypnotherapy” sticker onto my notes.

6) Headphones…for if I have to stay in hospital.

Next…the things I’ve adjusted…

1) My robe…I don’t have a suitable robe and couldn’t find one when I went shopping, so I got one of these nightshirts from Primark instead…

Hogwarts Nightshirt

…it’s fab, but has gold threads running through it that are quite scratchy, so it works much better as a robe than a nightshirt (no one needs gold threads scratching at their nipples…)

I’ve also banished it from my labour bag and relegated it to the ‘staying in hospital’ bag. My reason for this is that if I don’t stay in hospital then I’ll pass it (unworn) onto someone who will actually appreciate it. As it is it’s a size 18-20 so will swamp me when I lose my bump…plus I really can’t stand those scratchy gold threads…

2) My socks…I’m only taking one pair of bed socks and one pair of socks because I prefer my feet to be cold and I have a small knitted pair of slippers (Primark cheapies) that will work just as well to keep my feet warm.

3) My iPod…it works fine when it’s in a dock, but refuses to work when it’s not (battery issues). Hopefully it’ll be fine for labour (because it’ll be in a dock) but I can’t rely on it so I’m taking in a bunch of CDs that I’ve made too. I had also planned to put audio books on there so that I could listen to them if I had to stay in hospital, but that’s not going to work now. Instead I’ve had to clear a whole load of apps off my phone so that I can put the books on there instead. I did consider buying a new iPod (well, a new-to-me second-hand one), but I barely use the one I have so I just couldn’t justify spending £30-40 on getting another.

4) Sanitary pads…I’m not quite sure what I was thinking when I put 10 on my list. I’m actually taking TWENTY-FOUR.

5) Nipple cream…this has gone in my labour bag because that’s where my toiletry bag is and I didn’t want it loose (and possibly leaking) in my hospital bag.

6) Notepads…we don’t need one each and can totally share one between us, I was being a ridiculous notepad addict there…

Finally…the things I didn’t really specify…

1) My labour outfit…to start with, I’m not worrying too much about changing outfits and have stuck with one actual item of clothing – a longline XL men’s t-shirt from Primark…

picture from Primark website

…it’s quite soft and comfortable so I’ve put it in the bag as it is at the moment, but I may still shorten the arms and hack the neck off a bit. I guess I could have just used a nightie but I find that I feel quite dowdy in those. Silly. but true. This way I think I’ll fool myself into thinking that I’m wearing a dress and feel more like myself. I haven’t washed it before packing it as I was worried it’d shrink and I’d end up walking around flashing my pants/bum.

I’ve also added in a bikini top in case the sleep bra is a bit too restrictive when it’s wet (I don’t know why that didn’t occur to me in the first place to be honest…pool…bikini…you’d think it’d be a no-brainer…)

2) Baby clothes…I had no idea what to take or how much to take and ARGH…it was all getting too much having to think about if he’d be too tall for newborn sized stuff. And then I realised that even if I’m stuck in hospital, mom and Luke won’t be. Once it dawned on me that they could bring me things from home it got much easier. I’ve gone with:

  • 2 x vests in each size (newborn and 0-3 months)
  • 2 x onesies in each size (as above)
  • a cardigan
  • 1 x hat
  • 2 x scratch mitts
  • 2 x muslin cloth
  • 2 x dribble bibs

Also, I have put my “staying in hospital” clothes into one cotton shopping bag, and the baby’s clothes into another. This works well because it keeps them all together, keeps his clothes clean, and means that I don’t have to do too much rummaging to find things in there. I think the hospital cots have little cupboards underneath them so having everything separated out will make it so much easier to transfer it to the cupboard.

So there you have it….I’m all packed!

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…and for those of you who want to see the reviewed and revised list…

Labour bag

For me:

  • Birthplan
  • Maternity notes (I carry these in my handbag all the time anyway)
  • Natal Hypnotherapy data sheet, reminder and door notice (plus blu-tac)
  • Umbilical cord tie
  • Lipbalm
  • Massage oil
  • Massager
  • Hot water bottle
  • Water spray bottle
  • Tissues/wipes
  • Hair bobbles
  • Brush
  • A couple of sanitary pads
  • 2 sleep bras (because one might get wet if I use it in the pool)
  • 1 pair of pants
  • Longline baggy t-shirt to wear while giving birth
  • Bikini top for in the pool
  • Slippers
  • A towel (this isn’t actually in the bag as it’d fill the whole thing – I’ll carry it separately in a cotton shopping bag. To be honest, I’m considering asking the hospital if it’s necessary to bring one as I know our local hospital tell you not to bother)
  • Paper/notepad and pen
  • iPod
  • CDs
  • Phone
  • TENS machine
  • Toiletry bag (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, moisturiser, shampoo, conditioner…all travel sized…and mascara to make myself feel slightly human if I feel like I need it after the birth, and nipple cream)
  • My swiss ball (deflated!)
  • A pillow (to get comfy and because it’ll be a bit of home)

Baby things:

  • 2 nappies and sacks
  • Nappy cream
  • Some cotton wool balls
  • Newborn sized vest
  • Newborn sized onesie
  • 0-3 month sized vest
  • 0-3 month sized onesie
  • Going home outfit (just in case we get to leave after a few hours)
  • Scratch mitts
  • Muslin square
  • Nail scissors
  • Cuddly toy

Luke’s stuff:

  • Money (including change for vending machines)
  • Hypnobirthing “Gatekeeper” card (it has reminders for affirmations etc)
  • Phone
  • Phone numbers on paper
  • Change of clothes – we’ve whittled this down to one fresh t-shirt, 1 pair of boxers and his swimming shorts (so he can get in the pool with me) but he seems to think he won’t need any of them…
  • Deodorant

(believe it or not, all of this fits in the smaller of the two bags pictured above (apart from the towel)…I’m shocked and amazed. I guess having travel-sized toiletries really helps…)

Hospital Stay Bag

For me:

  • Cotton shopping bag (which my clothes are in)
  • 2 nursing nighties
  • Hogwarts nightshirt (“robe”)
  • A nursing bra
  • 2 x nursing sleep bras
  • 1 pair bed socks
  • 1 pair normal socks
  • 5 pairs of pants
  • Breast pads (about 10 pairs)
  • 22 sanitary pads
  • Phone charger
  • Headphones
  • Money
  • A plastic bag (for dirty laundry)
  • Books and magazines
  • Audio books on phone

For the baby:

  • Cotton shopping bag (which his clothes are in)
  • 15 nappies and sacks
  • Cotton wool balls
  • A hat
  • 4 x vests (2 x newborn, 2 x 0-3 months)
  • 4 x onesies (2 x newborn, 2 x 0-3 months)
  • 2 x scratch mitts
  • 2 x muslin cloth
  • 2 x dribble bibs
  • A cardigan
 
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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Baby, Life, Lists, Parenting, Pregnancy

 

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More Cloth Bottyness…

After posting about wanting to use cloth nappies a few days ago I actually bit the bullet and made a nappy purchase…

nappy1

Aldi have had these in for a while so I’ve wanted to get them every time we’ve gone in (three or four times a week) but I really wasn’t sure about them. Then I read on a Facebook group that they’d been reduced, so I made it my mission to grab a pack when we next went in.

They weren’t as cheap as I was expecting (some stores have them for £7.99 apparently) but considering that Bambino Mio sell the covers alone for £7.99 (and the four inserts for £14.99) I thought that it was an excellent saving. Plus…I LOVE the foxy/toadstooly design…

nappy3

In the pack you get two “water resistant” covers (the other is plain white) and four absorbent inners, along with 50 disposable liners.

These are prefold nappies (you fold up a large piece of absorbent cotton and pop it inside the cover before velcroing it up) and they seem quite easy to use…

nappy2

…the cotton inner has soft seams to help you fold it correctly and the cover has a pockety bit at the front to help keep the innr in pace. It does seem a bit bulky so I’m reserving judgement until I can actually use it on our boy.

I was very tempted to buy two packs, but there weren’t any other designs to choose from and I’m not sure I want to spend another £11 on something that might not even work for us. They did have quite a few left though so I’m going to keep an eye out and maybe grab another pack if they do go down to £7.99…

…I do REALLY like that foxy design…

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2015 in Baby, Life, Parenting, Plans

 

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Parenting Plans Pt.1 – Cloth Bottomed Babe…

When we found out I was pregnant I went a bit mad planning and reading about the different choices we had for taking care of our baby. One of the things we (…ok, I) decided was that we’d like to use cloth nappies on our little one, rather than the conventional disposables. My main motivation for using them was that we could pay for them in one go (and therefore not have to worry about budgeting for them in our weekly shop) – and also because you can get them in some REALLY cute designs.

People claim that, considering the extra 2-3 loads of washing a week, they don’t work out any cheaper or better for the environment (what with all the water, electricity and detergents you use) but, beside the fact that you can reuse the nappies every time you have more children, the more I researched the more I came to realise that it didn’t matter to me if I had to do more washing, use more electricity or detergent. What mattered to me was the landfill…

In one day we’ll probably change our boy’s nappy about 6-10 times, depending on his age. Over the course of a year that will be between two and three and a half THOUSAND nappies, all of which will still be in one piece on a landfill site long after me, my son and my future grandchildren have rotted away. Morbid but true. (To be honest, you don’t even need to be committed to real nappies to make a difference to landfill – using just one reusable nappy a day saves 365 going to landfill every year, If everyone did that it’d make a huge difference.)

A little more research taught me that conventional disposables can be filled with all sorts of chemicals and nasties, which might not be good for my baby’s skin. Both Luke and I suffer with incredibly sensitive skin, so it’s quite likely that our kids will too. I don’t really want to run the risk of using a brand of nappies that my little one could be allergic to.

So, decision to use “real nappies” made, but there are SO many types and brands on the market that I had no idea which ones I should be using. When I was a baby (33 years ago) my mom pinned me into folded squares of terry towelling with MASSIVE safety pins, then popped white plastic pants over the top. Things are a bit different now and you have the choice of:

  • prefolds/flats – these are similar to the “old fashioned” ones, in that you fold them and then pop a waterproof cover on the top…but the covers are far nicer these days.
  • two-parts – these are like the prefolds, but the absorbent inner is contoured to fit your baby’s body (so no folding).
  • all-in-ones – as the name suggests, these are absorbent AND waterproof…and all in one piece!
  • pocket – these are a waterproof nappy with a fleecy liner (that keeps moisture away from baby’s skin) that has a pocket you can stuff with absorbent material like microfibre or terry (to catch the pee).

…other things to remember are…

  • nappies come in different sizes for different sizes/ages of child
  • you can also get birth-to-potty styles that “grow” with the baby
  • different types of nappy can be better at different times of day (e.g. day vs. night)
  • the brands are all shaped differently and so some fit certain children better (or worse) than others…it’s not a good idea to spend hundreds of pounds on a certain brand until you know that they work for you and your baby’s bum
  • if you’re using pre-folds or two-piece nappies you don’t need as many waterproof covers as you do absorbent inners (the covers can be used a few times in a day if they’re not soiled)
  • you can use extra absorbent materials (called doublers or boosters) in all types of nappy
  • creams can degrade nappies but you can use liners to keep cream away from the nappy material (they need to be washed separately or thrown away though)
  • you can also get flushable liners that protect the nappy AND make disposing of poop a little easier
  • some types of nappy take longer to dry
  • some nappies can’t be tumbled
  • you also need to get a nappy pail (to keep the soiled ones in until washday – but you don’t need to soak them these days – but a few drops of essential oil can help with any smells) and a wet bag (to put the soiled ones in when you’re out and about)
  • you need to wash your nappies every 2-3 days…you don’t want them sitting in a pail any longer than that

…to be honest, even after knowing all of this, I am still non the wiser…

However, there is hope in the shape of nappy libraries where you can meet experienced cloth nappy users, find out more about the different styles and brands available, and (most importantly, in my opinion) try before you buy. I have no idea what size or shape or brand will fit my little boy best, so being able to borrow a few to try could save me wasting lots of money on nappies that don’t fit him.

But what to do til then? Well, there’s always biodegradable nappies, which:

  1. biodegrade (as the name might suggest) faster than conventional nappies (you’re looking at less than 50 years, rather than around 500)
  2. are made from natural components and don’t contain plastics or harsh chemicals
  3. don’t cost the earth (pun intended) – they are a similar price to the big brands

A work friend told me that although she wanted to use real nappies, her main priority with her first baby was breastfeeding, and so she tried to make her first few weeks as stress-free as possible by using biodegradable disposable nappies until she got her feeding routine established. She also said that it meant not having to shell out for a while load of newborn nappies, or birth-to-potty nappies that might not fit, and advised me to do the same. There’s a few brands to choose from, but I’ve gone for Naty to get us through the first few weeks…

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…which are £4 for 26 size 1 in Tesco (compared to £6 for 45 Pampers). 

They also make nappy sacks (which I got from Boots for £1.85 for 50), wipes, and products for new mums like breast pads and sanitary towels (I’ve seen ladies recommending them for post-partum use so I think I’ll get some of those too).

I’m excited to see how this nappy adventure goes. The pee and poop obsession has started already….

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2015 in Baby, Parenting, Plans

 

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