When I was pregnant the thought of weaning didn’t cross my mind, I was thinking about breastfeeding, attending breastfeeding classes, considering different brands of formula, asking friends what formula brand they use etc.. Something I didn’t realise was that we would be at the weaning stage before I knew it (they really do grow up so fast!!)
I feel like weaning was the one topic I really didn’t research much, before Zac came along I had all the time in the world to look at feeding options but once he was born my google searches were obsessed around word: SLEEP!
The one thing I did read as I found it short and to the point was the leaflet from my health visitor which gave an idea of what your baby should be eating at each stage. There are so many options on weaning but I really feel like I made up my own approach..winging it!!
I started Zac on baby rice just before the recommended 6 month mark, someone suggested that it may help him sleep so that was a good enough reason for me to start a bit earlier! (It made absolutely no difference to sleep for anyone who is interested!)
About a week later we progressed to baby porridge which he preferred as its creamier and certainly looks much more appetising! I worried about how often I should be feeding it to him and was he getting enough? Is he getting too much? To be honest this is still my thought on feeding him five months down the line. It really is hard to know as every baby is different and what one baby likes another baby might not, some have a better appetite than others…a bit like us all! Some days he is in the notion for Ella’s Kitchen Spag Bol, other days he screws up his face and spits it out…does he even like it or is he just not hungry???? It is a constant guessing game, I tend to just take each day as it comes!
I found the food pouches such as Ella’s Kitchen so handy, as the hard work was done for you and I knew he was getting some goodness into him, but I feel like recently he isn’t as fussed on them and at £1.20-£1.80 a pouch I’m not willing to take the risk of twisting the cap off for him to spit it out at me! He now wants to eat things he can hold in his hand..toast being his ultimate favourite! But try telling a 10 month old that carb overload isn’t a staple diet!
Recently I tried to up my game, getting the Annabel Karmel book out to whip up some baby recipes and get some new ideas but I fell at the first hurdle when I spent longer on Zacs meal than I do on our own and after one mouthful he decided he didn’t want anymore…that was the end of that!!
I’ve now come to the conclusion that there is no point in stressing about what he eats and now he will eat what we eat (within reason). This has been working well and his appetite has improved. One of his favourite meals is my mums roast chicken dinner, she makes up little individual meals with left overs and freezes them for me. I defrost and heat them up and just mash it all together and he wolfs it down.
Another of Zac’s favourites is sweet potato and butternut squash, as you all are well aware this stuff is expensive and takes time to prepare but I’ve a great mum hack for you…go to the freezer isle!!!! I actually buy most of our veg frozen and better still it’s pre chopped! No waste and a massive time saver!! If it’s been a long day and I’ve nothing organised I’ll often boil up a few cubes of sweet potato and butternut squash (doesn’t take long because it’s pre chopped) and then mash it up, add a little milk and dinner is served!…for Zac! Hubby & I get beans on toast on these occasions!
I recently tried these frozen watermelon balls and he absolutely loves them for a wee snack, they are nice and cool on his gums too! I’m also planning on swapping some ice cubes for them in a gin…will keep u posted how that turns out! #mumhack
The frozen veg is also great for preparing for going out and about, it can be done last minute and put into a thermal container like this one from Jane, it’s so handy and keeps it warm, also so much cheaper than the pouches!
I’ve found the weaning process one of the trickiest phases, not because Zac has been hard to wean but more because I always questioned was I doing it right. I now think that you just have to do what works for you, what fits into your lifestyle and make it easy on yourself, there is no point stressing over the stove for one tiny spoonful to be consumed! Obviously all within reason and I always make sure fruit and veg are part of his daily diet even if it is accompanied by some toast!
Kerry and I were gifted the 4-in-1 mother cushion by Jané. Obviously Kerry and I both have had the boys but we were surprised by how much the cushion was still relevant to us as it really grows with you and your baby from pregnancy onwards.
Kerry and I both had bought pregnancy pillows (I think we bought them without much thought at 2am on ebay when we were up for the 100th time peeing and we were getting to that uncomfortable stage where no matter what way you try lying you just cannot get comfortable).
Mine cost me about £30.
I then went on to buy a feeding/breastfeeding support cushion prior to having Sam. Kerry had also bought one and had found it very useful and was still using hers so I picked one up in a black Friday sale down from £25 to £20.
I had now spent £55 on cushions and had not had Sam yet. Both were fine and did the job but being asked to road test this Jané cushion I think my money would have better spent on this one. It offered much more back support for me when feeding (at this stage I am bottle feeding but I think it would have be great for breastfeeding too).
It is not actually a cushion but more of a bean bag type filler and I found moulded better to my shape and the fabric is so soft on me and the baby.
It can then be used for Sam to sit up safely. Sam is only 17 weeks and so it is a softer type of support as he tries to sit up or he can lie reclined inside the C shape or with the cover on it, as a daybed with the safety belt. Again this moulds to the shape of the baby and looks so comfy for them.
I have actually transferred the whole cushion into his Babyside crib (read my review HERE) as Sam fell asleep in it so I moved the whole thing into our room so I could hoover and get a longer nap out of him! I think the cocoon shape is a real comfort to them.
This multi functioning cushion is available from the Jané website for £75 with FREE UK shipping on orders over £50. I would have thought £75 to be dear but as I spent £55 on two cushions previously I think for the extra £20 this one does so much more! Much more value for money than I initially thought.
Plus it comes in 2 designs! Of course I am a huge fan of the grey and white stars! 4 in 1 Multi-Functional Design:
1 – Pregnancy support cushion. Can be used to provide pre-natal back, knee or tummy support whilst sleeping – the perfect pregnancy support.
2 – Feeding pillow. Comfortable and supportive feeding pillow once baby has arrived.
3 – Baby nest. Very versatile, just add the separate cover with harness to use as a baby nest, helping baby to rest.
4 – Baby support cushion. As your little one gets older, baby can also use the Mother Cushion as a pillow, helping your baby learn to sit unaided whilst cushioning them if they do begin to topple over and it is perfect for tummy time play.
Planning ahead for moving Sam into his own room (and a cot) we are decorating what is currently our spare room upstairs. Our master bedroom is on the ground floor while his nursery is upstairs so we feel is only right that we move up into the spare room to be closer to him when the time comes.
Better for Sam (and much handier for me saving me from traipsing upstairs on the dummy run).
We started our Self build in Feb 2010 but still have a lot of ‘blank canvas’ rooms and concrete floors shall we say!
We are in no huge rush to finish them as it is nice to do one room at a time, plus the purse strings would not allow it! (Maternity pay is no joke and childcare in the near future is not going to make that any easier!)
So next on the list is finishing off the spare room, getting round to finishing Sam’s nursery and getting our main bathroom done.
We were kindly gifted the most gorgeous bedding set by one of my favourite designers and stores; Foxford Woollen Mills.
I am yet to visit their woollen mills in Mayo but have visited their N.Ireland store at the Linen Green in Dungannon several times. (And I’ve never left empty handed! 🙈)
I was able to choose a set and I decided to go a little out of my comfort zone and go for colour! I also thought it would help lift my bare spare room.
I also had previously up-cycled a dressing table come chest of drawers we had been given and had gone bold (well for me) with Annie Sloan colour Old Violet so thought this would tie in well.
The bedding is 100% Cotton and 100% the best sleep you will have* (if your child free that is!)
I have previously bought a grey and white stripe Foxford bedding set for the single bed in Sam’s room (which you may have seen in my insta stories) and it has washed really well.
In fact the quality is so good you get that feeling of clean bedsheets every time you get in! So while I was having a browse on their website (HERE) I also fell in love with their new collection and just had to get the Toile Print in silver for our current bedroom.
We have moved Sam’s Jane Babyside crib away from the bed now and put the side up just to (hopefully!) ease the transition slowly as he moves further away from us and eventually into his own room. Also we are heading away next weekend to a wedding in England so it’s good for him to get used to four sides as he will be in a travel cot at his Nana’s.
I can’t wait for bed tonight; usually I get the fear because I don’t know what kind of a night I am going to have with Sam but I don’t think it will take me long to get back over to sleep getting into these crisp sheets!
Their slogan ‘feels like nothing else in the world’ is so on point!
Have a peek over on their website especially while they have 60% off selected bedding. Perfect for a wedding gift if you have lots of weddings coming up over the summer! Better yet treat yourself! (They currently have Free Shipping on orders of over €125.00). Their throws are such an investment, quality and style like that will never date!
Everyone has their own stance on breastfeeding and personally I really wanted to do it. Not just for the benefits for my newborn baby, immunities and all the goodness it provides but also for that bond between mother and baby and because for me I felt it was the most natural thing to do.
I was aware though that for some people it just doesn’t work and so when asked prior to having Sam if I was going to breastfeed my answer was always ‘yes I hope to breastfeed if I can’.
I remember a family friend asking me how I was keeping and how pregnancy was treating me, followed by are you planning on breastfeeding? To which I answered ‘I hope to if I can’, she replied ‘you CAN and you WILL!’. I don’t know if it was meant the way I took it but I thought it a bit harsh. It was just another person bestowing their opinion on me I suppose, but with the hormones that come with pregnancy it is amazing the little things that can niggle at you and wear you down.
Don’t get me wrong everyone is entitled to their opinion but sometimes these can come across as patronising and judgemental to a first time mum just trying to do what is right for her and her baby.
I always said ‘if I can’ so as not to put pressure on myself if it didn’t work but truth be told I did feel a bit of pressure from then on to do it even though it was something I wanted.
As soon as
Sam was born I held him skin to skin. This cuddle is one I will never forget. Once we were both checked over I got a nightdress on with buttons down the front so Sam was put inside the nightie with the buttons open so he was cosy and could still see me. It was amazing that his newborn natural instinct sniffed out the breast and he began ‘rooting’ to find the nipple.
It is so amazing that all mammals have this instinct, it is just so natural. I happily let Sam nuzzle away as he worked to bring in the colostrum (the liquid gold they talk about) and ultimately my milk.
One of the midwives later came round to check on me and record how Sam was feeding and to see how I was getting on. I had been to a breastfeeding workshop through the Downe Maternity unit, read various books and leaflets and Kerry had been breastfeeding Zac for the past 6 months so I felt like I was well prepared.
I got advice on positioning and on getting Sam latched on. I was also warned that I was in for a few nights of cluster feeding. Once happy with Sam’s feeding and all of our checks we were allowed home.
Sam fed pretty constantly the first few days, I felt like we were doing well initially although it was draining. For me it was getting him started which was the worst part. Kerry had made it look so easy but for me it was a toe curling pain. A friend who also breastfed had told me previously always count to ten and you will relax after that. This did help and kept me going as after ten Sam found his rhythm and my shoulders began to relax ( I remember Chris saying to relax my shoulders. I told him I was relaxed. Then I caught a look at myself, my shoulder was that high it was as if I was holding a mobile phone under my ear with it! I just was so tense).
On day 3 the midwife who called asked how I was doing and checked both Sam and I over. One thing was for sure the feeding was helping my tummy. I could literally feel it contract as Sam was feeding, I took paracetamol for this as there was a slight discomfort but I ditched a lot of the baby weight and fluid in the early days!
She asked me how my mood was, I was still very much on cloud nine after an incredible birth (read my birth story HERE) and was so in love with Sam the only thing troubling me was if my milk had come in as Sam was feeding so much and I had not seen a drop of milk myself. She said of course it is in he has been working so hard to bring it on and she hand expressed a drop or two then and there! I was over the moon! I knew the toe curling ten seconds at the start of each feed was worth it.
She did warn me about the baby blues, saying the hormones can hit you like a train and I had heard a lot about post natal depression a lot in my anti natal appointments at the Downe Hospital. Nothing could prepare me for DAY FOUR!
(For me I have been very lucky to have only a handful of days feeling low but it is easy to see how quickly post natal depression could snowball and spiral into something much bigger than one or two bad days. I know I really appreciate close family and friends and of course my husband. My hat really goes off to single parents and those who do not have a strong network of support around them).
DAY FOUR: I had been on cloud nine and was still replaying my birth in my head. It really all is such a miracle no matter what way you give birth! I was running on very little sleep feeding ever hour or two and even when Sam did sleep at night I barely slept for fear he wasn’t breathing or I just was on adrenaline from everything that just happened . (There comes a point where you are too tired though and trust me you have no problem drifting off!).
I was persevering with the feeding despite the discomfort for me. It wasn’t just the initial Latching that was the trouble now but Sam had a strong suck and was pulling away while still latched on. So my nipples were in bits.
A breast feeding support worker visited me on the afternoon of day 4, she did help giving me a few tips on positioning and also had Chris help me. Sam kept getting his hands in the way and scratching my nipple as I was trying hold him in the correct position and do the whole ‘nipple to nose and mouth to nipple’ thing! Chris had to literally pin Sam’s arms back while I tried to master the positioning of how to get him latched. I think Sam had been latching OK previously but had been loosing his latch and sliding down the nipple and that was why they had become so sore.
The support worker stayed for what seemed like hours trying out various holds etc but really I just needed to get one position right and stick with it. The more we kept taking Sam on and off the boob and trying again the more I found it patronising as I didn’t seem to be getting it. Sam was getting frustrated too. As soon as she left I handed him to Chris. Kerry (my sister) was there too and she knew I had been getting frustrated. I just burst into tears. I had been getting myself so worked up and Sam could sense I was tense. I spent what felt like the rest of that day crying.
Crying because I was tired, I felt I couldn’t do it and really it was that train of emotions the midwife had been talking about and everything just got on top of me. Anything could have set me off that day but it was the added pressure of the support worker that started me off when really she was just there to help and I tried to be strong infront of her and hold back the tears which probably made it worse!
I started to get the fear every time I went to feed Sam but continued because I was determined to feed him and I felt a pressure to in a way. My nipples only got worse and on about day 7/8 the midwife suggested I stopped feeding him for 24/48 hours to let my nipples heal. (It’s sounds graphic but they felt like open wounds!).
The midwife telling me this was like being told you could have the day off school when you were younger! My mood lifted instantly and although it meant expressing the fear of feeding was not as great as the machine was bearable and not as unpredictable as Sam.
I began with a handheld pump which was laborious so borrowed an electric pump from a friend. This was a god send although it took me what felt like an age to fill. Sam was only taking about 2-3oz at this stage and I felt like I was constantly playing catch up. My supply just could not keep up with him.
After the two days off school (not feeding) I was really scared and reluctant to feed again. I was much happier pumping and content that Sam was still getting all of the goodness from my milk.
I did feel the need to explain myself to visitors though that I couldn’t feed him myself because my nipples were cut and bleeding. I was willing to show anyone who would look just to justify why I wasn’t doing it. (I don’t think my husband has ever seen so much of me as those first few weeks feeding 😂).
When Sam was about a week and a half old I started to introduce formula and combination feed expressed breast milk and Aptimel formula. I was totally drained and felt like I was plugged into the machine constantly to meet his demands. I actually couldnt bring myself to give him his first formula feed and had my friend do it for me. It sounds silly but I felt guilty and like I had let him down just by introducing the formula.
He wolfed it down!! I continued for the next week and a half combination feeding. It was great as we started to get a routine feeding every three hours and it meant Chris could help with the evening feeds (usually while I pumped in anticipation of the next).
This was great but was really just a compromise for myself as I was not ready to ‘give up’ on breastfeeding. It did become too much for me though. I could not keep up with Sam and my supply just was not enough. I was struggling to get ahead on feeds and it felt like I watching watching each drip on that machine as it’s SLOWLY filled up. Yet Sam had it downed in no time.
I became obsessed with every last drop. My sister in law was helping me tidy up and went to wash out a bottle. I shouted across the room ‘don’t throw that out!!’. It was so precious to me. It killed me if Sam boked on an express milk bottle that I had worked so hard for.
I did knock over one bottle with about 2oz one day and I cried. That was when I thought to myself ‘I am crying over spilled milk here’.
I knew then I needed to wise up. I was now using a double express machine and feeding Sam a formula feed in the middle of the night and sitting up for another hour expressing when I could have been getting some precious sleep. I was feeding him a bottle then plugging into ‘the parlour’ as my husband called it and I was losing out on time with Sam during the day too trying to keep my milk supply up.
I knew I needed to stop but hormones mixed with mum guilt and paranoia that I was being judged made decisions like this really difficult. It was something no one could tell me to do. I had to come to terms with the decision myself. It sounds silly even writing this but it really weighed me down for the three weeks I fed and expressed.
One thing that helped me was someone asking me could I go into a primary school class and point out which child had been breast fed or not?! I thought wow that is so true, as long as Sam is happy and healthy it is no odds. My peace of mind was that he had all the goodness in those first few days.
The midwife knew I was struggling with what to do. My nipples were much better so I decided to try feeding again giving it one last shot. It has been a week and a half since I had fed Sam. Part of me wanted it to work like a dream and the other part wanted him to hate it to help my decision.
I tried. It hurt. He fussed about the nipple and didn’t really latch and truth be told I was relieved but I was glad I gave it another go so I wouldn’t regret it later down the line.
From the day and hour I quit I have felt so much happier and the saying goes a happy mum equals a happy baby. For me feeding just did not work as much as I wanted it to but my sanity was more important for me and ultimately for Sam.
I am happy knowing I tried and that Sam got my milk for 3 weeks. I also finished feeding/expressing before it went too far in that I would never try breastfeeding again.
If we are fortunate enough to have more children I would not deny them that colostrum in the early days and would try to breastfeed again. As it is clear every baby is different.
A bit like our births, Kerry and I had different experiences breastfeeding but the most important thing is we did what was right for us because each mum is different too.
– Our Breastfeeding Stories –
Similar to our birth stories we both had completely different experiences when it came to Breastfeeding.
We were both keen to give breastfeeding a go from the outset, we were aware of the benefits to both mother and baby and it seemed like the most natural thing to do.
Kerry Breastfed Zac for 6 months:
My breastfeeding journey began in the recovery ward after my c-section. Zac was placed skin to skin and curled up on my chest, it all came very naturally and he made his way to the boob himself (it still amazes me how strong their natural instinct is!) I was still in shock that he was actually there in my arms I just let him nuzzle away and didn’t think twice about it. I remember when I was moved down to the ward a few hours later and he had begun cluster feeding on the colostrum (this is the ‘liquid gold’ that is full of goodness!) I don’t remember feeling much pain at this stage or any great discomfort, maybe because I was still full of adrenaline and pain relief from having the section!
I had attended the breast feeding class in Downpatrick Hospital and this really stood by me. I remembered the positioning technique the midwife had shown us, to line the baby’s body along yours facing you and holding the head, put the nose to the nipple and then when the mouth opens wide you are in control to get the best latch. I used this technique throughout my breastfeeding journey and I really do believe the positioning was the key to our success.
I received excellent support in the Ulster hospital on the ward, my midwife helped and showed me how to hand express some colostrum and looked at Zac’s latch to make sure he was getting the good stuff ok! The next day a breastfeeding support worker also stopped by my bed to see if we were getting on ok, she just watched him feed and chatted giving me tips and telling me what to expect with cluster feeding over the next few nights to bring my milk in (mind you nothing can prepare you for that!!) The midwives all commented on how naturally both Zac and I took to it, I loved the instant bond it gave us.
Once I got home the pain started to kick in, that first night Zac fed constantly alternating from one boob to the other, I was exhausted and my nipples were raw!
A good friend of mine had recommended Breast Angels, she used them with her son and swore by them. You can find them here. They are made from pure silver (a natural healing property) and you wear them all the time when not feeding. I found they really helped heal my nipples in-between feeds. You will resemble one of those girls from Austin Powers and get called ‘terminator tits’ by your nearest & dearest but all totally worth it!! A top tip is to put a breast pad over them when heading out in public to avoid awkward stares!!
Another fantastic breast feeding aid was the scarf/cover I used found here. I fed in public a lot, cafes, bars, restaurants, Parks, Asda, IKEA…it really didn’t bother me what people thought but I was discreet about it. This was great when Zac was a baby but as he got older it did become a nuisance as he would pull at it wanting to see what was going on around him. This was when I used the layering trick, I wore a vest under everything…so your outer top goes up and the vest goes down meaning you are totally covered. When Zac was feeding at this stage we were both much more confident, he knew what to do as did I, so often people wouldn’t even notice he was feeding.
I stopped feeding Zac at 6 months, looking back I probably wasn’t totally ready to but I think it would have been hard no matter when I decided to stop. My husband & I were going to New York for 4 nights and I thought it wasn’t fair to leave Zac for that long whilst he was still feeding. Not so much for the actual milk as I could have expressed but for the comfort side of it, to leave him to go cold turkey would have been cruel. I gradually weaned him off introducing more bottles and getting him down to one feed, then I spread this feed out longer and longer each day until eventually it was replaced by formula. He didn’t look for the breast again after that. I was in mild discomfort for a few days but it wasn’t as bad as I had expected.
I really enjoyed my breast feeding journey and I hope I get to experience it again. I know it doesn’t always work for everyone so I feel extremely lucky but I would strongly urge everyone to give it a go. If you have any questions on anything please don’t hesitate to get in touch, I really think support is such a big help when it comes to breastfeeding 🙂
We are just back from a wonderful Easter holiday in Donegal, Ireland with the family. Peat fires, red wine, limited wifi and a new addiction to jig-saws, it really was good for the soul!
Our cars were jam packed with all the ‘essentials’ for the boys, nappies, steriliser, Tommy tippee machine, travel cots, mattresses and prams…you name it, we had it! The one item that we failed to use the whole trip was our pram!
We went for long walks along Donegals beautiful beaches, not ideal for four wheels we were thankful we had packed the baby carriers!
Neither of us had used a baby carrier that often, the pram was always the go to option but we are definitely both converts. If you have an active, outdoor lifestyle and often go for long walks on terrain where a pram or buggy is not ideal you need to invest!!
We used the Jane Travel Papoose carrier found here. It is lightweight, has thick padded foam straps and a waist band strap that really spreads out the weight. It suitable from 3 months – 2 years old so you will definitely get your money’s worth! It has 3 different positions, Sam took a lovely little nap cosied into Tara while Zac wanted to be nosey and see what was going on! The other position is strapped onto your back, we are yet to try that one!
It does take a bit of getting used to and some practice getting the baby strapped in but once you are good to go it’s great to have free hands and no bulky buggy to cart about!
A huge outlay when a baby is on the way is the travel system (pram, buggy, car seat). Of course there are various second hand methods of buying but we decided to buy new and invest in one that was reliable and durable so it would last should we be fortunate enough to have more children.
We shopped around (Chris got the shock of his life when he saw the price of some of the brands out there!). The idea of a travel system package with all of the components we needed seemed like the perfect option as first time parents. I think the most important thing to do before you go browsing is to think about your lifestyle and consider what your personal requirements are in order to decipher which pram best meets your needs.
We wanted something that would be suitable out and about for country walks as well as in the city.
The Jané Epic Micro Koo’s was perfect and our local stockist Samuel Johnston had a great package deal with Free UK delivery and a 2 year warranty!
The package included the isofix base, as when we shopped around we saw what looked like a good deal on some brands but then realised the isofix base was an additional cost on top of the package.
The hospital will not let you leave without a car seat nowadays and an isofix base to click the seat into is not only more secure than strapping the seat in but it is much handier to place the seat in and out of the car (Especially when it is raining and your little one is having a melt down because the car has stopped moving!!).
The car seat in the package is called Koos. It is one of the lightest car seats on the market at only 2.9kg. An important factor when you are going to be lugging your little one in and out of the house or out and about. It should last us until Sam is 18 months approximately.
This integrates with the Epic chassis to make it become a travel system. WARNING: other travel systems include attachments or separate adapters in order for them to integrate with the chassis. The Koos does not! It is fully compatible and much handier than fussing around looking for components! Trust me the time taken to build and put away your buggy is crucial when your little one is crying. The more efficient the better!
Another big requirement for us was the size of the base/chassis once folded down as we wanted something that would take up as little space as possible in the boot of our car. Janéhave a range of chassis available to choose from, the Epic appealed to us as it had added suspension and shock absorbers. We live out in the sticks and so a lot of rough terrain and country walks were inevitable. It sounds silly but it feels really easy to push yet it is robust. There is also a great hand break on it which has a really firm hold.
The Epic pushchair attachment which should do Sam up until he is 2/3 years old has three reclining positions and a full breathable canopy. The fact it can be folded down in one go was a huge selling point for us as some other buggies out there involves detaching the chair before folding. Not ideal!
Zac testing out Sam’s wheels!
Zac Loves Sam’s Wheels
The Micro carrycot which turns the chassis into more of your classic pram is also fully integrated with no added adaptors. These are renowned for being very bulky but this one collapses down taking up less space in your boot or when storing. It collapses in seconds and is so easy to do. Watch our video HERE!
The carrycot can also be used as a moses basket and is suitable for overnight sleeping. If visiting relatives etc we have been able to bring the carrycot into the house so there is somewhere safe and suitable for Sam to nap. It has handles which makes this easy to do too. This can be used up until about 5/6 months depending on your baby as once they are sitting upright the pushchair attachment with recliner is more suitable.
The carrycot is not a necessity for everyone so this is why you should assess what you want for your lifestyle. Jané offer a great compromise in that their Matrix car seat folds back into a carrycot style and can even be laid flat in the car. Perfect if your lifestyle involves long car journeys as you are not advised to have your baby in the car seat for longer than two hours.
Our package also included a clear rain cover and a changing bag with changing mat.
The only drawback to the whole package for me has been the changing bag. Personally I don’t think it is big enough, as there is so much you need for a newborn especially if you are bottle feeding. Plus I am a bit of an over packer anyway.(Handheld luggage on flights is always tricky for me!).
I also would advise buying a clip for your shopping like this one. It’s so handy to pop on for your shopping bags!
Another extra I bought was this diono insert which stopped Sam’s head moving from side to side as much in the car. I can then take this out when Sam is a little older and as the strength in his neck develops. It can also be used in the carrycot to keep him in position when laid flat.
Obviously when buying another huge aspect to look at is the ease of setting up the pram and folding it away. This is what really sold it for us with the Jané Epic Micro Koo’s system.
Overall we are really pleased with our choice and think it has been a great investment.
As promised in my recent blog post on hypnobirthing I used a piece of equipment called an Epi no ( Episiotomy NO!) in the third trimester of my pregnancy (from 37 weeks to be exact) to prepare me for a natural childbirth.
This is not a very well known product, in fact my midwives had not heard of it before. I had been recommended it by a family friend who swore by it. She had been induced and had a very fast birth with a big baby and had no tears and had not needed an episiotomy.
Kerry also used this product but was not able to say if it helped her ‘downstairs’ as she ended up having a section (see her birth story here). Kerry did feel using this and training with it helped her mentally though.
So I researched their website and read a few blogs on women who had used it and watched some YouTube videos on the epi no. I was sold!
I was never very good at doing the kegal exercises the midwives told me I should be doing throughout my pregnancy and I couldn’t see myself doing pereneal massage. So having a tool do it for you seemed like a good option for me personally. Plus spending £99.99 on it would surely force me to use it!
I looked at labour as a marathon (you would train for a marathon so I looked at labour in the same way). I trained myself to relax, be positive and breath with my hypnobirthing and this was a tool to help me physically. It turned out, it helped me mentally too as the training made me believe in myself (See my birth story here).
Basically from week 37 I used this daily. I also listened to my hypnobirthing track (HERE) while using this.
You insert the deflated balloon, like you would a tampon. I bought a water based lubricant for this ( I ordered it online as was too embarrassed to buy it in a shop, such a prude!). Once inserted you then take the hand pump and pump the balloon until it feels slightly uncomfortable (you cannot tell what size the balloon is while you are doing this, you go off what is your edge of comfort and discomfort personally). You then keep this inserted for 10 minutes or so. By listening to my track while having the balloon inserted I soon forgot it was even there (again like a tampon/ you know it’s there but you don’t feel it).
Then comes the part where you expelled the balloon. Again I used my breathing and visualisations I had learnt in my hypnobirthing books and classes. This is uncomfortable and the first few times I felt tense. I found that if my jaw was relaxed and I focused on my breathing it helped relax everything downstairs.
When pushing out the balloon I was able to feel the sensation of the balloon going out and back in slightly and out again (this meant when I was birthing Sam and his head went in and out I was not put off or disheartened that I was not progressing as I knew what this felt like).
Once the balloon is expelled you then measure the size of the balloon against the chart you receive in the kit. This shows how many centimetres dilated you were and trains your body to stretch each time you use the epi no.
I remember feeling disheartened on some occasions as I had the balloon blown up and was struggling to expel it and I let out some air on the valve before pushing it out. I would then kick myself for not persevering, especially if it was measuring under my personal best. (I became a bit obsessed by how many cm I got to each day!). My personal best was 7.5cm, the balloon had been bigger inside but I had only ever expelled the balloon at 7.5cm before having Sam.
Obviously the birth experience is slightly different but I did feel more confident in myself and my body. I knew that I could get to 7.5cm so hoped with the help of the contractions my body could get to 10cm and I could mange the expelling of my babies head. I knew it was all natural and my body was built to birth but by doing this training I felt much more confident.
The good thing about this was that I could try different positions too in the comfort of my own home. I did tend to do this in the morning when my husband had left for work and I knew I wasn’t expecting any visitors. You need to have about half an hour and be feeling relaxed to do this. It was a bit of a chore to do this each day but it was so worth it for me personally anyway as I feel it played an integral part of my smooth birth and the fact I did not have any tears or an episiotomy with my 8lb 11 oz baby boy.
Post birth the epi no can also be used to do kegal exercises to help tighten everything down there too. For this you again insert the balloon but this time tighten and tense your muscles and use the gauge on the pump to see where the needle sits. You the. Hold your muscles to keep the needle in that position for the count of ten. You do this ten times and can do this for days/weeks/months as you desire.
Trust me though with a newborn in tow getting the time for this isn’t easy and it is no longer a priority but it does work if you make the time, plus it helps justify the price tag!
Bath time is Zac’s favourite time of the day, it is part of his bedtime routine, it relaxes him and initiates the start of the wind down to those oh so precious z’s!!
I first came across Shnuggle on Facebook, I followed their page and I read some fantastic reviews on their bath tub but because I already had a bath for Zac I thought it was just another thing I didn’t need to buy, I was mistaken.
We don’t have a bath at home so rely on the kitchen sink for Zac’s daily soak, the tub I had didn’t really fit in the sink properly so I really had to stand over Zac whilst keeping an eye on the wedged in bathtub..not ideal!
When I tried out the Shnuggle bath I was kicking myself I didn’t purchase it sooner. It fits perfectly into the sink, it feels safe and secure. Zac looks so comfortable in it, he can kick back and relax against the super soft foam headrest or sit up and splash and play with his rubber duck. The little bum rest stops him from slipping under while the high sides support him. I feel much more confident bathing him in it because the tub supports him fully giving me two free hands to wash him and even play with his bath toys with him!
The Shnuggle bath is recommended from birth so I got Tara to test it out with Sam to see what she thought.
She loved the way it fully supported Sam and gave her a lot more confidence bathing him as she had a free hand to wash him.
She also commented on how much more compact it was to her current baby bath making it easier to store when not in use.
I think Sam enjoyed his Shnuggle bath too! 🙂
I have always been an avid supporter of local business’s and I was delighted to find out that Shnuggle are based here in N.Ireland. They recently featured on BBC’s The Dragons Den and even secured an investment from Touker Suleyman!
Check out Shnuggle to see other innovative products such as their Dreami Moses basket alternative and the Pebble bath thermometer!