5 Things My Toddler Can't Leave Home Without

09:08 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

LM is a little diva, with strong opinions about everything. A simple school run can turn into quite a excursion as she runs around the house making sure she has everything ready. I thought I'd share the five essential items for any outing with my mini fashionista...

1. An Awesome Bag, or Two

LM loves bags, and shoes. She's amassed quite a collection since she could walk with donations from mine and Grandma's collections, and some she has been bought for herself. If we're shopping you can guarantee that she'll find a new little bag to tote around while we look, which can sometimes lead to... disagreements about our planned purchases at the checkout! If one bag won't contain all of her treasures then she has no alternative but to add another. She always has a willing slave in me or her big brother to carry them if she gets tired and she's very adept about stashing her accessories in the pushchair shopping basket.

I've never known a little girl with such a strong sense of style and I'm having to adapt my purchasing decisions as she will simply refuse to entertain wearing or using something that doesn't meet her high standards. She loves everything Princess, pink and Hello Kitty and I know she'd love the Damsels and Unicorns rucksack from one of my favourite brands - Pink Lining.

2. Her Favourite Toy

This fluctuates between her Frozen dolls and Hello Kitty at the moment. You know your daughter has too many Hello Kitty toys when it's the sixth attempt to place the right one in bed with her that is correct! If more than one toy is essential she adopts alternative methods to carry them. Yesterday she emptied all of her Gruffalo's Child skittles out of their bag and used the bag to stash her Elsa and Anna dolls. Neither dolly looked terribly comfortable in this!

3. Something Pretty

LM loves beads and bangles and pretty things for her hair so this can take any form. Sometimes it's a simple bow in her hair. Sometimes she rocks a tiara, wand and four or five pieces of jewellery. It depends on her mood and that day's need to sparkle. If she's been able to cover herself in glitter while crafting then so much the better! Again, if a change of mind takes place then the essential bag is needed to stash any items which are no longer required to complete her look.

4. Snacks

Open up LM's bag of the day on an outing and you'll always find a little snack. I'm not sure if she doubts my ability to keep her well fed or if she just likes to be prepared for all emergencies but, from a fruit pouch to a wrapped biscuit or pack of raisins, it's always there. If the bag is big enough to stash her bottle of water then I'll usually find that too  She does like to be prepared for all eventualities!

5. A Big Smile

For all of her diva tendencies LM really is the happiest little girl and she charms everyone she meets with her cheeky grin and happy 'hello' to everyone she meets. Her collection of treasure and the necessary luggage to include it are a small price to pay to be accompanied by such a happy little girl.

What can't your toddler leave home without?

This is our entry into the Pink Lining Ambassador Search

Royal Baby and Sibling Celebrations with Ella's Kitchen

20:12 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We're big fans of Ella's Kitchen in our house. Their range of weaning pouches and snacks have been staples over the past five years as both Bud and LM have grown up and we've featured them on the blog several times too. The lovely team at Ella's Kitchen offered Bud and LM a little gift on the arrival of their new baby brother and they were so pleased with what we received.

Ella's Kitchen Sibling Gift

Bud and LM received a t-shirt each proclaiming their new status as a Big Sister (for LM) and a Big Brother to two (for Bud). LM really loves her Big Sister tee and can often be found pointing to the words and saying 'Sister' to everyone she meets. They also received a fab extendable colouring book and crayons to keep them busy while I'm occupied with their new baby brother.

Big Sister t-shirt with Ella's Kitchen Smoothies Fruit Pouch

In addition to these exciting items they also received a selection of the yummy Ella's Kitchen products. LM especially loves the fruit smoothies pouches and she was really pleased to try 'The White One' as we haven't bought this flavour before. This is a yummy mix of 100% coconut milk, pineapples, bananas and apples, with a dash of lemon juice They are such a tasty, convenient snack and I can usually be found with a few of them in the bottom of my changing bag in case she gets peckish when we're out and about. 

Ella's Kitchen Toddler Snack Range

Both Bud and LM enjoy the snack range from Ella's Kitchen too. The Bananas and Raisins Nibbly Fingers are another convenient on the go snack and one of LM's favourites. The ee i ee i oh Spelt Cookies were new to us but both children enjoyed them, they didn't last long at all!

Ella's Kitchen sent us the parcel as they were so excited about the birth of Princess Charlotte, and wanted to celebrate with lots of little ones who have recently welcomed a new brother or sister, just like Prince George. They've even created their own news bulletin to report the safe arrival of the little princess!

Ella's Kitchen is a trusted brand in our house and one that I'm sure we will continue to use for a good few years yet, whether with LM still enjoying the toddler snacks or as Little E starts on his weaning journey in a few months. We've so enjoyed celebrating both Princess Charlotte and Little E's arrival with them!

Preparing to Potty Train with Huggies Pull Ups

17:23 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

LM is reaching the age where potty training is surely necessary and we're about to embark upon that journey with her. We've been trying for some time to get her interested and involved but she is taking a little persuading. I've now been offered help from a source who are experts in the field and I'm delighted to announce that LM and I are going to be Huggies Pull Ups ambassadors for the forthcoming year.

LM is a Huggies Pull Ups Ambassador

Huggies Pull-Ups know exactly what they are doing on the potty training front and their Pull-Ups are the only disposable potty training pants currently available that are specifically designed to make potty training easier. They are a pant which allows your child to pull them up and down and sit on the potty, but will keep them dry in the event of an accident too. They are tailored especially for girls and boys and for day and night time. Their Disney® graphics with their bright colours and characters are designed to attract little ones, make learning fun and encourage independence.

Huggies Pull Ups have new features designed to make potty training easier. The daytime Pull Ups now include a Learning Liner which allows the child to feel the wetness for a few moments to help them learn the difference between dry and wet and to help them work towards staying dry themselves. Pull-Ups Night-Time provide extra absorbency and increased protection during the night without having to revert back to nappies and means your child can use the stretchy sides to pull them up and down on their own.

Huggies Pull Ups Potty Training Pants

LM has now been wearing Pull Ups for a couple of weeks and refuses to wear her old nappies now. She loves to see Minnie and Cinderella on the front of her Pull Ups and I can easily check if she has wee'd using the panel which acts as a wetness indicator for her. She's not quite ready to use the potty at the moment and it's main purpose is being used as a seat or a source of amusement at the moment. I am keen to try and get her trained over the Summer but LM is incredibly strong willed and can't be persuaded to do anything she doesn't want to!

Huggies Pull Ups Potty Training Pants

I'm confident that Huggies Pull Ups are the perfect partner for us over the coming months and I'm looking forward to sharing our potty training journey with you all.

If you're starting Potty Training, or doing it at the moment check out pottytraining.co.uk for lots of expert help and advice. You can even request a free sample pack to try Huggies Pull Up Pants with your toddler. 

Reflections on Britmums Live

13:27 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

There are hundreds of Britmums Live posts around at the moment and I always enjoy the opportunity to read the attendees' reflections upon their experiences at the event. This was my second year there and was a rather different experience than last year, for a variety of reasons.

I wanted to share my thoughts about our time in London and, as none of you really care what I ate for my dinner on Friday night, I think I'll do this by telling you what I learned this weekend.

A brand new baby is a great ice breaker...

When I realised that I'd have a teeny, tiny baby by the time Britmums Live rolled around this year I announced that I was going to have to sell my Super Early Bird ticket. All of my friends said 'why? Just bring baby along.' So I didn't sell my ticket but I did worry about how I would find it and, when Little E was overdue, I was keeping a close eye on the calendar to work out exactly how old our new arrival would be by the time we travelled to London. In the end Little E was 24 days old at Britmums Live, the youngest baby there, and a definite ice breaker as some people ran towards me to meet him! I had the opportunity to meet up with bloggers who I didn't know much beyond a passing chat on Twitter and to chat with those I knew better - like some of the fantastic #BlogBumpClub (many of whom had their gorgeous babies with them too) - and I really don't think I would have chatted to so many people without him there.

A photo posted by The Brick Castle (@thebrickcastle) on

Britmums Live is easy with a baby...

Perhaps easy isn't the correct word here but I genuinely wouldn't be put off attending Britmums Live with a small baby. Not that I will ever be in that position again! Beyond his aforementioned ice breaking abilities, Little E spent most of the weekend just as he would at home. He was pushed in his pram, and carried around by me or others. I found it easy to find places to find a quiet spot to feed him in and I was so pleased that I was never on my own when I did so. One of my favourite places to sit and feed was the outside area as the sofa cushions were the perfect support for breastfeeding and there was usually someone I recognised out there to sit and chat with while E fed. This was rather nice as I got the chance to have a proper chat with a few people who I wouldn't have spoken to properly otherwise. Little E and I even tried babywearing for the first time... we'll ignore the fact that he was sick all over me five minutes after this photo was taken!

Babywearing with Little E at Britmums Live

If you're going to have a small baby next year I'd definitely take them along with you, at Little E's age they only care about milk, cuddles, a clean nappy and sleep and he hardly cried at all.I think it is harder with more mobile babies as they do require a little more entertaining than tiny infants but there are many, many worse places to take a baby to than a conference filled with 700 other mums and dads.

Sleep deprivation means that you constantly check the badges of people you meet, even if you've chatted to them every day for the past few years...

I'm usually great with names and faces, I'm quite proud to be 'the one that recognises people' but this year I had to rely on squinting at badges rather more than I was comfortable with. I was so tired on the Friday that I managed not to recognise a couple of people who I've met a few times before! Complete fail. I think I was better on the Saturday, after a decent night's sleep.

It doesn't really matter what you do when you are there...

I attended the same number of breakout sessions this year as I did last year. Three in total. It's not very many if you look at the packed schedule but it was right for me this year, and last year. The difference is that I was completely comfortable in my choices this year and I didn't feel like I was being a bit naughty in skipping sessions. I always go to all of the keynotes, they are an important aspect of the conference for me and I usually find them inspiring and emotional. That was no different this year, except for the penultimate speaker on the Saturday. I really struggled to understand the message Caprice was attempting to deliver and I think it was my most disappointing experience of a keynote at any conference I've attended.

I'm stronger than I think I am...

On Thursday night on Facebook I was in tears and talking to some of my best blogger friends on Facebook and the idea of attending Britmums Live felt completely impossible. I wasn't packed. I had work to do and I'd barely slept for two nights. I was exhausted and planning a trip to London with a brand new baby. To their credit none of them complained and said I had to go but I knew I did have to go. For me, and for Jenny. A few weeks ago Jenny was asked to read her post, Dear Elspeth, as one of the Bloggers Keynotes on Saturday evening. I nominated Jenny to read the post and it remains one of the most powerful and moving pieces of writing I've ever read. Jenny asked me to stand alongside her as she read in support, and to take over if she couldn't continue. I was so honoured to be asked and there wasn't really anything that would have prevented me from being there for her. I felt like I would burst with pride as Jenny read her words to our community and I watched as they wept for her and Elspeth and all rose to applaud her and salute her courage.

A photo posted by Jen Dixon (@mymummyspennies) on

Prior to Jenny's reading I couldn't allow myself to be moved by any of the blogger keynotes, and had to listen impassively but afterwards I could relax and allow myself to be taken along on the emotions of each post, whether happy or sad. I must mention the beautiful writing in 23 Week Socks' Twinkle Twinkle which absolutely broke me and I sobbed along with everyone else. It was very hard to listen to with my infant son sleeping in his pram beside me and was an amazing tribute to NICU families and the teams who work so hard for them.

Bloggers are the best friends I could wish for...

If you're taking a tiny baby to London for the weekend, you really need to be accompanied by people you trust to help if you need it and I couldn't have chosen a better group to travel with. Colette and Jen were the most amazing travelling companions for Jenny (who was two weeks post-op from major abdominal surgery), Little E and I. We didn't have to worry about bags as they dragged ours as well as their own, and I appreciated being sent to bed by Mary on Friday night when she realised that the hotel reception wall was actually holding me up.

Whenever I needed a minute I always had someone around who I could trust to look after Little E and I loved the opportunity for so many friends to meet him properly.

That I'll definitely be back next year...

Early last week I was thinking that this would be my final Britmums Live. I was expecting to find it hard with the baby and to have a similar experience to last year. It was so much better though and I'll definitely be returning next year. The opportunity to spend two nights away from home every year, with some of my very best friends is too good to miss out on and I enjoyed it more than I thought possible this year. It was relaxing from beginning to end as we set our own pace, thanks to Little E and Jenny's recovery, and I can genuinely say it was the most stress-free trip to London I've ever had. When you live in the North like us, Britmums Live is the only opportunity we get to meet up with many good friends, without it I simply wouldn't see many bloggers I know well and like very much. Events which we both get invited to are seriously thin on the ground! Britmums Live is one of the rare opportunities I get to be me now, and although I was still firmly in mum mode this weekend with Little E, I still had the chance to enjoy everyone's company.

L-R: Fiona, Mary, Jen, Jenny, Helen, Eileen, Anna, Kel, Colette and me

This gorgeous group of women is the reason I'll probably keep returning to Britmums Live, while they do anyway! I really couldn't have done it without them.

Little E and I were sponsored to attend Britmums Live by tommee tippee who I'm so excited to be working with as one of their Mumbassadors this year. I'lll be sharing lots more from them over the coming months, including a very exciting product launch next month.

The Perfect Bacon Sandwich for Father's Day

13:47 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Is there any better breakfast for a Dad than a chunky bacon sandwich with their choice of sauce and accompaniment? Roberts Bakery don't think so and, as a result they have created their own guide to the Perfect Bacon Sandwich on their Facebook page to celebrate all things Dad this Father's Day.

Robert's Bakery sent out a bacon sandwich kit for me to make Ian his perfect bacon sandwich this week. He has fairly simple tastes so the sandwich saw me take Robert's Bakery Thick White Soft and Fluffy bread, a few slices of best smoked bacon (seriously, what is the point of unsmoked bacon?), salted butter and some brown sauce to create the ideal bacon butty for Ian.

The Perfect Bacon Sandwich for Father's Day Roberts Bakery bread

Using the Roberts Bakery tray that we were sent we assembled a lovely Breakfast in Bed tray for him, including a mug of coffee featuring Bud and LM's cheeky grins (a perfect Father's Day gift), a glass of orange juice, the bacon sarnie and some strawberries. The final finishing touch was a handmade card from LM. I think this would be the perfect Father's Day breakfast for Ian and Bud and LM will be serving it to him on Father's Day this year.

The quality of the bread and the bacon are key to a top notch bacon sandwich and Roberts Thick White Soft and Fluffy was simply perfect. Chunky soft bread which didn't fall apart as the butter melted and the sauce absorbed, and very tasty too.

The Perfect Bacon Sandwich for Father's Day Roberts Bakery bread

If you're passionate about a bacon sandwich check out the Roberts Bakery Facebook Page and their guide to the perfect one. Why not like their page while you are there,to keep up with their news.

What will you be serving for breakfast this Father's Day?

Disclosure: We were sent a Father's Day breakfast kit to make the bacon sandwich.

A Day in the Life of Renee and Henry

10:55 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Today's guest post introduces another of my lovely North West Bloggers - Renee blogs at Peonies and Me where she writes about her life as a first time Mummy to Henry, who was born earlier this year. I got to know Renee a little during her late pregnancy and was so pleased to see Henry's birth announcement. She shares a day in their life with us here.

When Pippa asked me to guest post on her blog Red Rose Mummy, I came over all excited with possible stories I could share.

Before I put finger to pad (see what I did there!) I had a good old nose on her blog at recent content. After an hour of reading stories about Little Bud, Little Miss and new super cute addition Red Rose Baby, I realised I was out of my depth. What could a little mummy novice like me write about, that this Mummy of 3 hadn't covered? My list of possible posts suddenly disappeared and writers block settled in.

So here I am 2am, (night feed one) still trying to come up with the goods. That's when I had my night light moment, I should just share a diary of our day with a little bit about us thrown in to fill in the gaps...

So for those of you who don't know me, my name is Renee and I'm Mummy to Henry (aka Little Monkey). Lovingly named for his acrobatic abilities in the womb, which I'm happy to see followed him straight out. At just 10 weeks old he can do a full roley poley, fantastic until I realised he can't be left anywhere without being strapped in.

Now today wasn't our usual baby themed day, today I was taking the little guy to my place of work. This should have been an exciting prospect, however it conjured up a whole new set of new Mummy anxieties. For one, Henry isn't a morning person and agreed time for 'show & tell' was 11am. Two, Henry is a grumpy baby (see my Twitter feed for mood model shots) we are lucky to get smiles pre-2pm. And finally three, I still looked pregnant. Not such a major issue if I didn't work in the fashion industry where style is king. 

Thankfully item three could be helped with support pants and lots of layers, shame it was 25 degrees outside. Thankfully I'd picked up a pram walking tan and my hair was still feeling the hormonal benefits of pregnancy. So that helped the old confidence levels. I also realised that I could use Henry as a barrier for hiding my belly and hoped his grumpiness would put people off wanting to hold him. After much trying on, I settled on a pair of skinny (erm Maternity) jeans and a simple white t-shirt (to show off the old tan, well technically I'm on my jollies). Oh, and not forgetting the support pants.

Next onto Henry and our early start to the day. In order to get the best out of the little guy, he needs to get two naps in. The first doesn't really count. It usually lasts ten minutes. Long enough for me to eat breakfast, but not long enough to get him out of his grumpy mood. So cue, mission second nap. Bottle, no. Pacing, no. Rocking with pacing, no. Rocking with pacing and singing, no. It was if he knew we were on a time crunch. This little guy was fighting sleep like the best of them. In the end it took white noise, warm milk and a couple of renditions of John Legends "All of me" to knock the little guy out. Mission accomplished.

Thankfully he slept long enough for me to get dressed, I added an extra layer of deodorant to help counteract the Spanx sweats I was experiencing. Henry just looked super cute in his sheep printed romper. Well he was the star of the show.

Fast forward and we arrive at work at a respectable 11.45, I'd happily call that a successful time. We were greeted by the usual, "isn't he gorgeous", "ahh he's the image of you", "give us a smile".

Then the slightly more unusual, "Is he naughty". How can a baby be naughty?, yes he gives cheek and doesn't tidy his room.

And then the slightly insulting "He's massive", "She's gorgeous" (actually thats not too bad, he does make a pretty girl).

Now this is when Henry earned the pocket money he will bankrupt us with in years to come, he smiled. Not 'wind' smiling, but head tilting, gum showing, giggle enticing smiles. Who had replaced my little grump with the Britains Got Talent show baby? Obviously I just acted like this was the norm and reaped his praises.

My comments however were very vague "you look well". Now is that 'well' as in, "wow you look fabulous, you've lost all your baby weight". or "bless, you're still retaining all that excess water?". I just sucked in the stomach, pushed the old boobs up and said a graceful, thank you.

Unfortunately I couldn't escape the "How was the birth?" questions. But I found that simply answering "horrific" did the job. When people bring the baby into work, we want smiles, cuddles and skiving time. Not stories of C Sections, scarring and panic attacks. Just plugging my birth story here.

Overall our little adventure into work was a success. I even managed to eat a hot lunch in the canteen thanks to the many cuddlers to hand. But best of all, the excitement of all the heads saying hello knocked the little guy out for two whole hours in the afternoon. I guess work isn't so bad after all...x

Thanks so much to Renee for sharing her day with gorgeous Henry, and her trip into work. Do head over to check out her blog Peonies and Me to read more about their life together. 

We're Going to Britmums Live

17:38 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Tomorrow I'll be setting off for London with three of my best blogging friends, ready to join the biggest event of the British Parent Blogging year - Britmums Live. Jenny, Jen, Colette and I will be heading off on the train to enjoy a weekend of blogging chat, the chance to meet up with old friends and to make some new ones too. This year is a little different for me as I'll have Little E with me. I'm sure he's going to be of much more interest than I will be, I think there may be a queue for newborn snuggles!

I'm delighted to announce a brand new ambassador role for Red Rose Mummy this year. I'm going to be working with tommee tippee as one of their Mumbassadors over the next twelve months and I'm delighted to say that they are sponsoring me to attend Britmums Live. It's exciting times for tommee tippee as they have just redesigned the packaging across their whole product range, and relaunched their website too. There's also a very exciting product launch coming in July which should be game changing for any breastfeeding mums. I've had a little preview and I'm looking forward to getting involved with the launch as Little E and I continue on our breastfeeding journey.

If you're interested in tommee tippee or have any questions about the range please come and find me at Britmums Live. I might not be able to answer your questions on the day but I'll definitely be able to put you in contact with people who can! I'll be wearing this badge...

Tommee Tippee Mumbassador at Britmums Live

...and will probably have a small boy wrapped up on my chest for most of the weekend. Failing that I'll be pushing him around in our ancient red Graco Evo.

I've no idea who or what I'll be wearing at the moment but one day will see me wearing a lovely dress from Beebies Baby Store. The other day I'll be in skinny jeans and whichever top I can feed Little E easily in I think! Little E's wardrobe is all sorted and he'll be rocking these gorgeous rompers from Boots Miniclub and Sainsbury's.

What Little E is wearing for Britmums Live Boots Miniclub and Sainsbury's Tu Clothing

Please do come and say hello, if you see us. Little E is very snuggly and I'm sure he'll love lots of cuddles. This is me...

I'd love to think I might look a bit less tired by tomorrow afternoon but night feeds mean I probably won't be! I hope to see you there.

A Poem for Little E

09:20 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Today's guest post is from another lovely blogger who I met through the North West Bloggers community that I co-run. Lorraine blogs over at The UnCheshire Wife where she writes about life with her teenage son, often making use of poetry to communicate her point. She has sent over a lovely poem to celebrate Little E's arrival and it really made me smile when I read it for the first time. She's really captured his personality and our feelings around his arrival.

Lying in the basket, that tiny little form

Glancing down on his sweet face, fills my heart with warmth

A new member to our family, staring with a nosey frown

Our new baby’s arrival, has turned life upside down

He’s a serious little bundle, and for us another boy

This welcomed little playmate, filled two siblings full of joy

We’re all so pleased E’s with us, he’s captured our love so deep

But this little cute inquisitive soul, needs to learn to have a sleep!

Little E fast asleep Newborn baby

Thanks to Lorraine for her lovely poem. Do head over to The UnCheshire Wife to read more of her writing.

Brand New DryFit Nappies from Chicco

11:15 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Chicco are one of the biggest nursery product companies around, selling everything from pushchairs through to baby toys but today will see them launch a brand new, and somewhat surprising product - to me anyway - nappies! When they got in touch to offer Little E the chance to try out their new range we were pleased to accept and see just what Chicco were offering.

Brand New DryFit Nappies from Chicco

Newborn nappies have a lot to stand up to. They need to be comfortable on tiny bottoms but absorbent of those lovely newborn poos too! It's so easy for a little one's skin to be irritated and, whilst Little E hasn't suffered yet, prevention is always better than a cure and good nappies are all part of caring for your baby's skin. It's also important that they don't irritate the sensitive cord area as it heals.

Brand New DryFit Nappies from Chicco

Chicco are partnering with Boots to sell their nappies exclusively and the new DryFit range will be available in over 1200 stores nationwide from today, 15th June. Nappies will be available in sizes one to five. Size one, which we have been trying out with Little E, are especially designed for newborns, while sizes two to five are designed in line with baby's growth stages.

We received two packs of size one nappies to try out with Little E and I was genuinely impressed by their quality. We got off to a shaky start as the very first nappy we tried leaked but this was down to the rather explosive nature of the contents, rather than the nappy. I think any nappy would have struggled to contain it! Two packs later we haven't experienced any further leakages and Little E has been comfortable wearing the nappies. Little E seems to be like his big Brother and Sister and some of his nappies have been very wet, it's reassuring that his skin feels dry even with a heavily wet nappy and there's no smell of urine like I've found in other nappy brands.

Brand New DryFit Nappies from ChiccoThe nappies are slim fitting, easy to fasten and we've had no skin irritation whatsoever. Little E's cord had healed when we started to use the nappies and, whilst they don't have a cut out to accommodate this area like some newborn nappies, I am confident that the soft lining, and the ability to tuck the top of the nappy down and away from a healing cord would protect this area. It's difficult to ask for any more from newborn nappies, I'm very pleased and so is Little E.

Chicco nappies are available exclusively from Boots stores and Boots.com, priced at £4:49 for Size 1 nappies (27 nappies) and £7:99 for Sizes 2 to 5 (50 to 34 nappies). From 24th June they will be available at two for the price of one, so a great opportunity to stock up!

Brand New DryFit Nappies from Chicco

Erin's Birth Choices: VBAC or Planned Section?

09:30 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Today I'm welcoming Erin from Yorkshire Tots who is going to share her birth choices around her second child's birth. Yorkshire Tots is a fab blog which features days out, events and activities in West Yorkshire. It's a one stop shop for the area and always an entertaining read.

After months of sorting through websites, conflicting advice and mummy guilt surrounding any choice I made, I decided to try for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) with my second birth. In doing so I changed hospitals, read books, dove into hypnobirthing, got serious about prenatal yoga and carried my baby almost a full extra month. After all of this I had a planned second c-section ten days after my baby was due. Still, I don't regret preparing for a VBAC at all. In fact, planning and preparing for the VBAC that didn't happen made both my pregnancy and my birth a more positive experience.

From the beginning,I found planning for my second birth much more stressful than planning for my first. With my first baby, my birth plan consisted of going to the hospital when it 'was time' and letting things progress as they would with (hopefully) minimal intervention. Two weeks after my due date my waters broke and after 24 hours and numerous attempts at induction, the progression never happened. I didn't dilate, not one little bit, but my baby was in distress. The minimal intervention plan turned into an emergency c-section. Although the emergency c-section was pretty straight forward as far as they go, it wasn't an experience I was looking to repeat when I found myself facing a birth plan again sixteen months later with my second baby.

I suddenly had a decision to make. To VBAC or not to VBAC. I did my research and I diagnosed myself as a good candidate. I assumed I would get nothing but support from the medical community as I had heard from friends and acquaintances that they had been pushed towards VBACs when they hadn't even really wanted them. To my surprise, both my doctor and midwife suggested a scheduled c-section at 38 weeks. They both seemed to think that because I didn't dilate the first time, I was unlikely to go in labor the second time. In fact my midwife told me that I would be putting my baby under undue stress by trying for a VBAC as a scheduled c-section is preferable to an emergency c-section. Guilt kicked in and I started to doubt myself. On my next visit to my midwife I told her I would schedule in a c-section.

Later that very day I went to a baby group where I told a friend how disappointed I was. She listened and then told me about another friend who had gone to a neighbouring hospital where they were very supportive of VBACs. I went home, did some more research, got in touch with the hospital, and a few weeks later I found myself with a very supportive midwife talking about my VBAC options.

If I was going to try for a VBAC I wanted to make sure that I gave it my best shot. A friend lent me her hypnobirthing CDs and I ordered a special 'Hypnobirthing for VBAC' CD from Amazon. The first part of the CD has a 'letting go' section with visualisation techniques for releasing fear or stress about the last birth. Before I listened to it I would have said that I felt fine about my first birthing experience, so I was surprised to find myself crying and even more surprised at how much better I felt after a good cry. The second part of the CD, preparing for a birth, became a daily listen and soon I found it would put me to sleep almost instantly. During my first pregnancy I had trouble with insomnia but the second time around I would listen to my hypnobirthing track in the middle of the night if I woke up.

I also became more focused on doing regular pregnancy yoga in order to be better prepared for the birth. I think this is the reason I didn't have sciatic pain in my second pregnancy and also why, even though I was chasing after a one-year-old, I was more relaxed.

While I (mostly) can't complain about the care I was given during my first birth, I far preferred the approach of my new hospital. However, a week after my due date, I was having lots and lots of Braxton Hicks contractions and no longer sleeping well, with no sign at all of dilation. It was starting to look like my first labour (or lack of labour) all over again. I decided with my midwife to schedule in a c-section at ten days after my due date if there was no sign of baby. There wasn't.

On the morning of the c-section my husband and I dropped my daughter off with her aunt, walked calmly into the hospital and soon I was using my hypnobirthing relaxation techniques while they fitted the epidural (I can't say I love needles). Soon after little Leo was in my arms and it was such a calm, gentle experience compared to the first time around (minus a bit of throwing up from the anesthesia but at least I knew what to expect).

I found I recovered much more quickly from my second c-section even though it was only eighteen months after my first. I think this was partly due to having a less stressful birth but also partly due to preparing more for the birth this time around.

Erin and Leo

Am I disappointed that I wasn't able to have a VBAC? Of course I am, but only to a point. I feel lucky that the birth went so well and I am also really glad that I did what I felt was right for me. In taking control of my birth experience and preparing for a VBAC, I made choices that helped both my baby and myself have a healthier, happier birth even if it wasn't the birth had I planned.

I'd like to thank Erin for sharing Leo's birth on my blog. Do head over to Yorkshire Tots to read more of her writing. 

Red Rose Baby: Little E is Two Weeks Old

17:17 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

It's almost impossible to think that two weeks, well, sixteen days, since Little E arrived.  The time has passed in something of a blur but now Ian is back at work and Bud is back at school so LM, Little E and I are settling down in to the new normal during the day.

Red Rose Baby: Little E is Two Weeks Old

Little E is a very different baby to his brother and sister, he's an inquisitive little soul, even in these very early days and loves to spend time being held so he can look around. Last Saturday he only slept for ninety minute between 10am and 10pm, he clearly hasn't received the 'newborns sleep for around twenty hours a day' memo! He has a long line in funny expressions and I can spend hours just watching his serious little face.  It's so strange to have a little baby in the house but we're all so pleased with him.

Red Rose Baby: Little E is Two Weeks Old

I'm breastfeeding Little E and he's a hungry little chap. I was expecting breastfeeding to be easy this time, I've done it twice before, right? Wrong. Little E has quite a lazy latch which has taken rather a lot of training. This combined with a fierce suck led to a few days of horrible soreness with bleeding on top. No fun. Thankfully he's started to open his mouth wider and I'm just about healed so we're feeding without too much pain  now. There's probably a full post to come on breastfeeding but I think that if I'd had these problems when I was feeding Bud I probably wouldn't have stuck at it, then who knows if I'd have gone on to feed LM and Little E? We're still currently under the Midwife as he hadn't regained his birth weight when she visited us this week. He was only 80g away though so I think he'll comfortably reach it by next week's weigh in.

Although Little E hasn't learned to sleep during the day yet he's doing OK at night.I generally get one four or five hour block and have been able to function if I do. We've only had a couple of nights which have been disastrous as far as sleep is concerned and it seems like he's already getting the hang of the difference between night and day. I'm loving using the Little Green Sheep Snuzpod at night time and it's lovely to have him sleeping safely within arm's reach. Daytime sleeping happens in our gorgeous Moba Moses Basket which is tucked in the corner of our lounge. He does sleep well in there and the combination of the two seems to be working well for Little E.

Red Rose Baby: Little E is Two Weeks Old Moba Moses Basket

I was rather anxious about how LM would deal with the arrival of her new sibling but, so far, she's been completely delighted with him. She calls him Baby and brings all visitors to see him when they arrive. She's just as clingy as she always was, unsurprisingly and, since Ian went back to work, I've had to become accustomed to feeding Little E with his big Sister sitting on my lap too. Bud has taken Little E's arrival in his stride, apart from a couple of days just after we arrived home from hospital. He's loved showing his new Brother off to his friends at school and is very excited to tell people that he knew he was getting a Brother!

Red Rose Baby: Little E is Two Weeks Old

Just two weeks in it feels like Little E has always been here. He's a chilled out, calm little boy who is pretty easy really. I think the shock has been the change from two to three children to look after, for me, and the lack of time I have for other things has been surprising. I think the memory of LM and Bud's newborn days faded very quickly. I'm trying to enjoy him as much as I can and give him as many cuddles as possible. He will be our final baby, our family is definitely complete, so I'm treasuring every moment of these precious baby days. The first two weeks has flown by and it feels like he's always been here now.

In just over a week Little E and I will be off to Britmums Live, I'm so looking forward to the conference but rather daunted to be attending with such a little baby. Hopefully all will be well and I'll tell you how we got on in our next Little E update.