Update on two cute little fluffy bottoms!

I said in my recent essential kit list post that I would write an update on how we’re finding covering two little bottoms with the cloth nappies that I added to our stash just before Joel was born. I thought I’d go through each type of nappy we have in turn, and describe the advantages and disadvantages that I’ve found of each one. I also say which of my boys wears each type – Joel is a long and slim baby, currently about 11.5 lbs at 3 months, with skinny thighs and a small waist; Andrew is a slightly taller and heavier than the average just-turned-2 year old with quite muscly thighs and bottom. I use different types of nappy depending on where we are – at home I have more time and space for nappy changes, which always involve nappy free time and potty time, whereas when we’re out I need to do them more quickly and efficiently before Andrew climbs off the changing table (and it’s only a matter of time before Joel rolls) or they fountain all over the mat and their clothes; so I’ve included where I use each type of nappy – one-part ones when we’re out and two-part ones when we’re at home (two-part ones are fine to take off quickly when out, just not so quick to put on).

Day nappies

  • Motherease one-size fitted nappies and airflow wraps:
    Andrew in Motherease - recently
    Andrew in Motherease - about 6 months

    A two-part nappy; the fitted absorbent layer has poppers to fasten it, as does the waterproof outer wrap.

    • Worn by: mainly Andrew, sometimes Joel if everything else is dirty 
    • Where put on: at home
    • Advantages: 
      • can fit plenty of boostage so lasts for several hours on a heavy wetter
      • quick drying
      • contains newborn (pre-solids) poo very well as it’s so bulky
      • wraps can last several nappy changes so economical
      • good fit on Andrew
    • Disadvantages: 
      • very bulky fit on Joel
      • wraps aren’t as cute as some other nappy outers
  • Fuzzibunz Elite one-size pocket nappy:
    Joel in a Fuzzibunz Elite one-size

    Outer waterproof layer with pocket inside where you stuff absorbent inserts (which come with the nappy when bought new) – I stuff when I take them off the airer so they’re ready to put on in one piece; fastens with poppers.

    • Worn by: Joel, though Andrew wore them before Joel arrived – genius way to make smaller and bigger, hard to tell it’s a one-size
    • Where put on: out and about
    • Advantages:
      • quick drying
      • slim fit
      • contains newborn (pre-solids) poo well as it fits slim thighs very well (adjustable leg elastics mean it’s good for chubbier thighs too)
      • bright colours
      • easy to put on (other-carer-friendly)
    • Disadvantages: 
      • one use per wash cycle (no option to replace absorbent bit without outer), so quite expensive initial outlay if you only used these…
      • …but one-size means they last from birth to toddler – maybe not to potty, as they were getting tight on Andrew who’s only partly potty trained and the average age is 2.5 years old
  • pre-fold nappies with Bambino Mio / Rumparooz / Blueberry wraps:
    Joel in a prefold plus Rumparooz 'Ladder 6' (fire engines!) one-size wrap with popper fastening
    Joel in a prefold plus Blueberry one-size coverall wrap with 'Dino' print. It looks quite bulky here, but I think it does when it first goes on but soon squishes as it gets wet and less stiff. It's hard to get a photo of him staying still, hence the blur, unless he's asleep, which is how I took the other photos of him on this page!

    A two-part nappy; the absorbent layer is a rectangle of cloth folded into three, which sits within a fitted waterproof wrap – we have different sorts of wrap, some sized (i.e. newborn, small, medium, large) with velcro fastening (Bambino Mio), some one-size from birth to potty, adjusted and fastened with poppers (Rumparooz, Blueberry).

    • Worn by: Joel
    • Where put on: at home
    • Advantages: 
      • slim fit
      • pre-folds are cheap and wraps can last several nappy changes if no poo so also economical
      • one-size wraps last from birth to potty
      • such cute prints on Rumparooz and Blueberry wraps
      • Rumparooz and Blueberry wraps contain newborn poo well as they fit slim thighs well with adjustable leg and waist
    • Disadvantages: 
      • takes some practice to get nappy to stay in right place but easy when you’ve cracked it
      • fiddlier to do in rush than fitteds
      • Mio wraps not good on slim thighs – not good for newborn poo containment
      • velcro on Mio wraps sticks to other nappies in wash (I prefer poppers)
  • itti bitti d’lish snap-in-one nappies:
    My itti bitti boys - Andrew in 'Rockmelon' and Joel in 'Galaxy'
    Joel in itti bitti 'Ponder'
    Andrew in itti bitti 'Etom'

    A sized ‘all-in-two’ nappy; the waterproof outer is covered in soft minky fabric and has a popper fastening, and absorbent inserts snap in with poppers to the outer – I snap them in when I take them off the airer so they’re ready to put on in one piece.

    • Worn by: Joel and Andrew (different sizes!)
    • Where put on: often when out, but also at home
    • Advantages: 
      • looks soooo cute
      • super trim fit, looks more like pants than nappy
      • feels lovely and soft
      • bright colours and funky prints
      • relatively quick drying – quicker than an all-in-one nappy, but you can leave them as an all-in-one for washing and drying if you want, though they’d take longer to dry
      • easy to put on (other-carer-friendly)
      • inserts can be changed instead of whole nappy as long as no big poo, so economical
    • Disadvantages: 
      • large newborn poos not so well contained (though small ones are fine) – a good fit around slim thighs but the super trim style means not so much space for poo to fill up and squeeze out!

Night nappies

All these nappies last about 12 hours for both boys, who are both heavy wetters; we get occasional leaks, but these are always due to wicking – when the wet bit of the nappy comes into contact with clothing because we haven’t put it on quite right (it’s a bit of an art to perfect!) or the pyjamas have moved a lot – all-in-one sleep-suits are much better than two-piece pyjamas we find.

  • itti bitti boo nappy: A two-part nappy;  the fitted absorbent layer has poppers to fasten it, and has extra absorbent layers that snap in with poppers too, plus we put a Motherease waterproof outer wrap on.
    • Worn by: Andrew, as we only have one large one – they are not available in the UK at the moment so there’s no way of us getting any more
    • Advantages:
      • super trim fit, amazing for a night nappy
      • looks very cute
      • bright colours (though it gets hidden under a wrap which is a shame)
    • Disadvantages:
      • has gone a little stiff when dry over time, unlike the itti bitti d’lish nappies, but soon softens once it’s on
  • Minki yo-yo nappies (standard and slinki):
    My weeble wobbles but he doesn't fall down (often!) - 'funky frogs' print from Minki

     

    Andrew in a well stuffed slinki minki yo-yo

    A pocket nappy; large pocket with waterproof coating where you stuff very absorbent inserts (they don’t come with the nappy), and stretchy lycra tabs with poppers to do the nappy up. There are two sorts: the standard yo-yo is wider and covered in fleece fabric with various colourful prints; the slinki yo-yo is trimmer and covered in lycra-style fabric in a bright plain colour.

    • Worn by: Andrew – they only come in sizes large and extra large
    • Advantages:
      • cute prints on standard yo-yos
      • fleece of standard yo-yos feels lovely and soft
      • slinki yo-yos can be used with little or no boostage as training pants when potty training
      • big pockets for easy stuffing
      • trim fit on slinki yo-yos
      • main nappy (minus inserts) dries fast
    • Disadvantages:
      • bulky fit on standard yo-yos – ‘weebles wobble but they don’t fall down’ springs to mind….!
      • slinki yo-yos are prone to wicking when stuffed full and not positioned properly
      • lycra fabric on fastening tabs tends to stick to velcro of other wraps in wash
  • Motherease one-size fitted nappies and Nature Babies classic (medium) wrap: This is the same nappy that we use in the day for Andrew, but with extra boostage at night for Joel, and I prefer our Nature Babies wrap rather than the Motherease airflow ones because it fits around Joel’s thighs better and the leg gussets prevent wicking better.
    • Worn by: Joel
    • Advantages:
      • plenty of room for boostage
      • fast drying
    • Disadvantages:
      • very bulky – but I don’t mind that at night because most night nappies are bulky to get the absorbency
Boosters and inserts

All these boosters can be used in most nappies interchangeably (except only the itti bitti boosters fit their nappies because of their super trim fit), but I’ve noted below in which nappies we tend to use each one to get the right absorbency for what we need in the day or at night. Generally, the more absorbent the insert, the longer it takes to dry (which makes sense).

From left to right: fleece liner, Petit Dessous booster, Easy Peasy hemp booster, itti bitti micro booster snapped onto d'lish hourglass insert
From left to right: Little Lamb bamboo booster, Motherease insert, Twinkle twooster, Twinkle terry booster
  • Motherease insert:
    • Absorbency relative to bulk: average absorbency and slim
    • Used in: Motherease nappies for Andrew in day and for Joel at night
    • Other features: snap into ME nappies so stay put
  • Little Lamb bamboo booster:
    • Absorbency relative to bulk: excellent absorbency and slim
    • Used in: Minki nappies for Andrew at night and ME nappies for Joel at night
    • Other features: stay very soft in wash
  • Easy Peasy hemp booster:
    • Absorbency relative to bulk: excellent absorbency and slim
    • Used in: Minki nappies for Andrew at night and ME nappies for Joel at night
    • Other features: smooth finish – more like a pre-fold than a towelling-type fabric
  • Twinkle cotton booster:
    • Absorbency relative to bulk: good absorbency but bulky
    • Used in: ME nappies for Andrew in day
    • Other features: none
  • Twinkle twooster:
    • Absorbency relative to bulk: average absorbency and slim
    • Used in: ME nappies for Andrew in day
    • Other features: this booster is so called because it has terry underneath and fleece on top, so it saves you using a separate fleece liner
  • Petit Dessous booster:
    • Absorbency relative to bulk: super duper excellent absorbency but bulky
    • Used in: Minki nappies for Andrew at night
    • Other features: very long – designed to be folded in half or thirds or with extra layers at front for boys or tummy sleepers
  • itti bitti micro booster:
    • Absorbency relative to bulk: good absorbency and slim
    • Used in: itti bitti nappies
    • Other features: has poppers to snap it onto the inserts in the itti bitti snap in ones and boo.
  • Fleece liner:
    • Absorbency relative to bulk: fast-acting but not big volume of absorbency, and slim
    • Used in: pre-fold nappies for Joel
    • Other features: helps to keep wetness away from his skin and is soft against his skin

The essential baby kit list

A friend of mine who is expecting her first baby in April recently suggested that I could write a blog post about what I think you really need (as opposed to what the shops and media tell you that you need) when you have a baby. I agree that this sounds like a great idea for a post, and I’m happy to help her and others out in their quest to sift through the vast array of possibilities, which is quite honestly a mind boggling task as I recall.

So here is my take on which bits of kit really are essential, and whether I think each one is best bought new or whether secondhand is fine. I should stress though that this is my personal take on things, based on my own experience of having 2 babies. The suggestion for this post came after I commented on Facebook about an article in a newspaper (one I like to disagree with!) which talked about the top 10 most unused or useless pieces of baby equipment according to a recent survey of new parents. I disagreed with almost all 10, and actually would find life a lot harder without half of them; but some of my mummy friends agreed with most of the list, so it goes to show that not everyone has the same experience – we have different locations, lifestyles, personalities and, most importantly, babies! It depends to some extent on when your baby is born in the year – I’ve had two winter babies, so I’ve not had experience of clothing a newborn when it’s a heatwave (well, a heatwave for this country at least!) Also, as part of my Editor role for my local NCT branch magazine, I recently edited a baby kit list article by another mum of two children, and although I agreed with most of it, there were some things that weren’t the same in my experience.

Clothing

  • Totally fine to get secondhand, and you’ll probably be given lots when baby is born.
  • A note on sizing: There are three ‘newborn’ sizes – tiny baby, newborn and 0-3 months. Both my boys were pretty much the national average for birth weight and were long and thin. We only had one actual ‘newborn’ size babygro that was given to Andrew as a present, and both of them grew out of it within a month (we made sure they wore it lots in that time!) So if you have an average-large baby, there’s no need to get the newborn size, just go straight to 0-3m. If you have a smaller than average baby, then the newborn size would be handy so they’re not swamped, and if you have a very small, maybe premature baby, then you may even need the tiny baby size. But too big is better than too small – they can always grow into it.
  • Babygros (also known as sleep-suits and, from across the pond, onesies) – about 12. We bought a pack of 3 in size 0-3 months, but were then given many more. If you have a very sicky baby you’ll get through more than you think! They sleep in these, and wear them in the day too until you can be bothered to dress them in anything more fiddly to get on.
  • Vests – about 12. These can be sleeveless or with short sleeves (like t-shirts), but useful if they have poppers at the bottom to secure under the bum so that it doesn’t ride up baby’s tummy, which is particularly important in winter, and for a summer baby you might find they live in vests rather than babygros.
  • Outfits e.g. dungarees for a boy or dresses for a girl: These are not essential, as most of the time you’ll probably prefer the ease of babygros in the early days, but it’s the kind of thing you’ll be given and can look very cute 🙂
  • Wooly cardigans – about 5-6. We were very kindly knitted a lot of these. Cardigans are so much more practical than jumpers. Obviously if it’s the height of summer you’ll need fewer, but even in spring and autumn you’ll need them, and definitely in winter.

    A selection of our hand-knitted cardigans - in loving memory of the member of Tom's family who knitted most of them.
  • Hat: It’s the kind of thing you’ll be given probably. We have quite a few, but they are easily lost. Both cotton jersey ones and wooly knitted ones are handy.
  • Coat: Unless it’s really warm (July or August), I’d get a snow-suit style all-in-one coat, either in a ‘puffa’ style or a fleecy one. Look for a good hood and one with feet (and gloves if in winter).
  • Socks/bootees: These are not so important if you use mainly babygros that have feet, but necessary for outfits without built-in feet. I find socks stay on better than bootees, which aren’t really much use until they’re a bit older. We’ve not had too many problems with socks coming off, but I’ve heard other mums who have – you can buy things called ‘sock-ons’ which help keep them on, apparently.

Changing

  • Changing mat: We bought (with vouchers we were given) one that sits across the top of the cot, but soon found it easier to do nappy changes on the floor when Andrew started to roll, and it’s stayed on the floor ever since! The same thing would have happened with one of those changing stations where baby lies on top. You could buy secondhand if you gave it a thorough anti-bacterial clean, but they’re pretty cheap new for just the plastic mat, and you don’t need anything fancy.

    Cot-top changing mat now on the living room floor
  • Changing bag: I’ve recently blogged a bit about this here. There are some quite cheap, and even free (if you join Boots parenting club and buy some nappies) bags out there, but I think it’s a case of you get what you pay for, and if you want something that’s going to last, you’ll inevitably pay more for it. Think about whether you’d prefer a satchel style or a rucksack, something plain or something fancy? I can recommend one with lots of pockets to keep stuff organised so things are easily accessible when you desperately need them! I guess there are secondhand ones out there, but I haven’t looked into it, as I knew we’d use it loads and so I wanted one with lots of life left in it.
  • Nappies: Anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while will know that I’m a big cloth nappy fan. I blogged about it here and here, and I must do an update on how we’re doing with two bums to cover at the moment. I’d definitely recommend thinking about it, even if you decide it’s not for you – the main attraction for us was the money we’re saving. Recently I’ve heard of cloth nappy libraries that allow you to try before you commit to buying – why not Google for one near you? (I wish there was on in Cambridge; I’m very tempted to look at setting one up – anyone interested?!) Whether you decide on cloth or disposables, I’d get stocked up on a few weeks worth (reckon on about 7 a day) of newborn disposable nappies – size 1 should be fine unless you have a teeny baby or a very chunky one. We didn’t use cloth with Andrew until he was about 6 weeks old because it took us a while to get used to the big shock that having a new baby brings to your previous lifestyle!

    Some of my favourite cloth nappies - they look so gorgeous 🙂
  • Nappy sacks: The value ones are OK, or you can get eco-friendly biodegradable ones. We don’t use many as we mainly use cloth, but they are handy for getting rid of disposables.
  • Wipes: At home I mainly use cotton wool and water in a little plastic bowl, especially for big poo explosions! Wipes for sensitive skin (suitable from birth) are essential when we go out. I’ve heard quite a lot recently about reusable wipes, or even making your own from face cloths, but I’ve not gone down that route yet as we stocked up on enough wipes to last us months when I had a voucher that gave us a cheap deal on bulk buying.
  • Muslins – lots, maybe 12 for one child (I don’t think you can really have too many).They can be used for pretty much any mess wiping from babyhood to toddlerhood and beyond! Ours have seen sick, wee, poo, snot, dribble, drinks, food, paint etc. (not all at the same time obviously!!), and they wash easily to be used again and again. I think there’s not much difference between the different brands that we have (Boots, Asda and Mothercare) in terms of their performance – wash them first as they aren’t very absorbent before you do, like new towels. The price can vary quite a bit though – recently I bought some more and Mothercare were almost twice the price of Boots and Asda.

Sleeping

  • Moses basket: This is a good idea for the early weeks, but they only last for around 3 months (probably a bit longer if your baby is shorter than my long boys), so definitely borrow one or buy a secondhand one. We were kindly given one to borrow from a friend of my parents. Neither of the boys have slept in it for a long time each night – Joel seems to settle off there at the start of the night but then we co-sleeep (baby next to me in our bed, and Tom on sofa bed) after the first waking for feeding, and Andrew did the same.

    Moses basket next to my bed, plus sleeping bag for when he decides to sleep in there rather than in my bed!
  • Cot or cot-bed: We got a bargain secondhand cot and cot-bed, both from eBay, thanks to my mum’s bargain hunter’s eye! It’s fine to get the frame secondhand, but you need a new mattress for each child that sleeps on it. A cot lasts up to about age 2, and a cot-bed until about age 5 as it’s bigger and you take the sides off to turn it into a toddler bed. We got a cot-bed for Andrew and have just taken the sides off, which went very well – he’s low to the ground so no damage done if he falls out, and we think it’s helped that he’s familiar with the mattress and sheets, so the transition to a big boy’s bed has been quite uneventful for him. Joel is still in with me, but when he’s ready to go in the bedroom with Andrew, we have a cot, because there isn’t room for two cot-beds. The plan is that by the time he’s ready for a bed, Andrew will be old enough to go in an adult-sized single bed and Joel can have the toddler bed (and we’ll have moved to a bigger house!)

    Cot-bed with sides taken off - fitted sheet and sleeping bag the same as he had before sides came off (plus red pyjamas, teddy and green slippers!)
  • Mattress: There are so many choices to make on this! I must admit that my mum did most of the research on this, as she bought the cot/cot-bed frames for us so bought us the mattresses too. I’d say that a sprung one will last longer than foam, which soon gets indented to your baby’s shape. If you’re concerned about allergies then some are made of more natural materials than others.
  • Baby sleeping bags – 2-3. These are absolutely amazing, I don’t know what we’d do without them. Andrew was and still is such a wriggly sleeper, so if he’d had the traditional blankets, he’d have kicked them off and got cold, or worse still there’s a suffocation risk if they come up over his head. Sleeping bags allow him to move around as he likes and he stays covered in the right places! Fine to get secondhand, just wash them once at a high temperature to kill any bugs – I saw loads of bargain ones at a nearly new sale in the autumn.
  • Fitted sheets – 2-3 for each type of bed (Moses basket, cot etc.). These are easier to put on, and stay in place better in, a cot/moses basket than flat sheets do. Fine to get secondhand, just wash them once at a high temperature to kill any bugs.
  • Swaddling sheets: You can buy cotton sheets that are shaped specifically for swaddling your baby for the first few months, instead of using a sleeping bag or blankets. We bought a couple, but I haven’t been too impressed by them, as both my boys seem to kick them loose or almost off over the night, and when in with me (though not under the duvet of course) I find it’s warm enough for them just being next to me.
  • Blankets: If you prefer these to sleeping bags, make sure you get the ones designed for sleeping in, which will be obvious where they are sold (e.g. John Lewis, Mothercare)We were kindly knitted quite a few by various family members. We’ve not used them for sleeping, but I find them useful for around the house when we’re doing skin-to-skin feeding during the day (which involves taking most of his clothes off), and other places like the car (as bulky snow suits are hard to fit in a car seat) and in the pram (at least for Andrew we had a pram – Joel just goes in the sling). Fine to get secondhand, just wash them once at a high temperature to kill any bugs.
  • NO other bedding needed! Especially no pillows or cot bumpers – not recommended these days for babies, and even at nearly age 2, Andrew has only ever had a sheet and sleeping bag.
  • Night light: We didn’t have one of these for a while, but there was a light on the mobile which Andrew had in his cot for a while until he was old enough to pull up and therefore potentially pull it down on himself (see next bullet point). But then Tom’s mum gave us the night light that Tom had had as a child, and recently this has been essential – if Andrew rolls out of bed, which only happens occasionally, he can get back in on his own and he’s happy to do that, rather than when there was no light and he got very disorientated in the room and cried for help.
  • Mobile: Not exactly essential, but we found that it helped at one stage when Andrew was going through a phase when nothing seemed to settle him to sleep, not even feeding. The mobile didn’t solve it, but it did help at least keep him calm and give him something to focus on other than me or Tom. I wouldn’t buy one new myself, but it’s a nice present idea.
  • Monitor: As we live in a small flat, we don’t need a monitor – we can hear everything from everywhere and our room is right next to the boys’ room. But my parents bought one for their house and we found it very handy when we stayed. They got a secondhand bargain, though it is a simple one, and I’ve seen others that have fancy functions like talk back or video. I imagine these would be handy in some situations.

Travelling

  • Pram/buggy/travel system: Well, where do I start?! I’ve already blogged about our experience with our old iCandy Cherry travel system here. It was an awful product and I wouldn’t recommend it if you want to walk anywhere further than 5 minutes away. But in general we liked the idea of a travel system – a chassis onto which you can fit a carrycot (in other words it makes a pram), a seat unit (to make a parent-facing and outwards-facing buggy) and a car seat (handy if baby falls asleep when you’re in the car and you want to transfer to something you can push without waking). Our secondhand Bugaboo Cameleon does all of the above, and we’re very pleased with its performance, although we haven’t used the pram with Joel as I’m carrying him in the sling all the time and pushing Andrew in the Bugaboo with seat unit attached. The things you need to think about when deciding on a pram/buggy are: How far and how often will I walk with it? Will it be mainly on pavements or across grass/mud too? Do I need it to fit in the car boot? Do I need to lift it often into the car, so does it need to be lightweight? Do I like four wheels or three? Do I want a pram as well as buggy option? Where will I store it in the house, so does it need to be compact or easily foldable? You need to look out for whether they are suitable from birth, or from 6 months, as a newborn needs to lie completely flat. Also a note on double buggies – I know some people who bought a buggy with their first  child which could convert to a double when their second would come along later (the Phil and Teds is a popular choice for this). We decided against this when buying for Andrew, because I didn’t like the style of either an inline double where one child is close to the ground or a side-by-side double which is so wide and wouldn’t fit in our flat. Instead we have gone for keeping our single travel system and I carry Joel in a sling. Which leads nicely onto….
  • Sling/wrap: There are several different styles of sling or ‘wrap’ (the ones which you wrap around you and tie in place instead of one with buckles). But if you just look on the high street, you’ll probably only come across one or two brands, like the Baby Bjorn. We didn’t get on very well with the two we were given when Andrew was a baby, but since then I’ve  come across much more info on ‘babywearing’, and learned that babies and parents are much more comfortable in slings and wraps that are designed more ergonomically than the most popular brands – you have to look online to find them though. I could write loads about babywearing, so I should probably write a whole post on it some time. But for now I can say that a comfortable sling/wrap is making my life much easier with Joel, because I can do quite a few things with him attached to me like that, and he loves being walked in it and falls asleep almost instantly most of the time. I’d definitely recommend one, even for your first baby, and if you have any more, it’ll come in even more handy! I currently have a Moby stretchy wrap, and hope to move onto a structured sling like the Ergo when he’s too heavy for the stretchy wrap. Some slings are fine to buy secondhand, though it is often advised not to buy a stretchy one secondhand as it could well have lost some of its stretchiness depending on how much use it has already had.

    Our lace-patterned Moby stretchy wrap
  • Car seat: Only buy this new or from people who you know and trust, because it could be dangerous if it has been in an accident before. Even if you don’t have a car, I’ve heard from friends who don’t (plenty in Cambridge and London) that it’s still worth getting a car seat, so you can accept lifts from people or get a taxi if you need to. If you go for a travel system, you’ll need to get the car seat that attaches to the chassis that you choose. We found it handy to put the car seat on the chassis quite a bit with Andrew if he fell asleep in car and we wanted to get out and walk without waking him up, but so far we’ve not needed to do that with Joel, probably because we’ve hardly done any car journeys with him yet.

Playing

  • It’s fine to get most of this secondhand, though always check that things are safe and in good working order before giving them to your child, especially anything electrical or mechanical.
  • Toys: You’ll probably be given loads so I wouldn’t buy any to begin with, especially as baby won’t play with them properly for a while. Rattles and soft toys suitable from birth are good to start with. For older babies and toddlers, you can even have a go at making your own! Some of Andrew’s favourite toys have been things made from household items, like a shaker made from a plastic drinks bottle with dried lentils in.
  • Books: It’s never too early to start reading with a baby – they love it, listening to your voice and looking at pictures. Simple books with black and white designs are good to start with, and any ‘board books’ that baby can start to turn the pages of when they’re a bit older – chunky pages for little hands.
  • Play gym, mat: We’ve found this to be very useful, even though it takes up quite a lot of floor space in our small flat. Although I use the sling a lot, it’s also good that I can lie Joel down on the mat for 10 minutes and he can gaze at and kick the pretty things hanging above him – there are some things it’s not easy to do with a baby strapped to you. It’s also useful for doing ‘tummy time’ with him, though any soft mat or towel would be fine for this too.
  • Play pen: This is useful when baby starts to become mobile, so you can put them in there for a short period and know they can’t escape, for example if you need to nip to another room to fetch something. Our flat is very open plan, so the other option of using a stair gate to block a door to a child-proofed playroom wasn’t an option for us. With Andrew, it also became the place where we would scoop up all the toys into at the end of the day when he went to bed. With a second child, it’s very handy to be able to pop Joel in there under his play gym arches and know that he is safe from Andrew getting to him whilst I nip to another room – not that Andrew has shown signs of intentional harm, but his well-meant affectionate ‘hugs’ are rather crushing for a little baby!

    Play gym in play pen, which keeps toddler and baby separate - essential for a second baby.
  • Bouncy chair: Generally useful, again if you want to put baby down for a short while, and many babies love a bouncy chair, so I’ve heard, but Andrew didn’t – the concept of sitting still has never really appealed to him! We haven’t felt the need to use it for Joel yet, so we gave ours to my niece who loves it. Lots of them come with a bar of toys hanging over where baby sits, to keep them fascinated.
  • Door bouncer: When baby is strong enough to stand up supported, this is a great way to keep them entertained if you need to get on with a few jobs in the same room. We don’t have room for one of the free-standing baby walker style bouncers that go on the floor, so the doorway one was a better option and Andrew loved it, especially when he was at the cruising around furniture stage and basically wanted to be upright all the time. I wouldn’t get his secondhand unless from someone I knew and trusted, because you never know what condition it’s in and there’s a potentially serious accident in it being faulty.

Bathing

  • Baby bath: This is a good way to save water rather than filling the normal bath with the same depth of water. You can get different styles, for example some with inserts to help you hold a young baby more confidently, some that even fold up for easy storage (though we just stood ours at the end of the bath). Ours is just a plain tub, nothing fancy, which Andrew was still in until Joel was born, when he outgrew it, and now we put them both in the big bath, obviously with one of us holding Joel whilst Andrew splashes around him! This is totally fine to get secondhand – we got ours off Freecycle and just gave it a good scrub down before we first used it.

    Baby bath in the big bath
  • Top and tail bowl: I wouldn’t pay money for one of these as we haven’t used it much and tupperware bowls that you already have in your kitchen would be fine. We got ours off Freecycle with the bath.
  • Towels –2-3 just for baby. We like the little ones with a hooded corner so you can wrap them up nice and warm from head to toe when drying them after a bath. Secondhand is fine, as long as they’re still nice and soft, and give them a hot wash to kill any bugs.
  • Nail clippers: We’ve found these much easier than nail scissors for cutting little nails on wriggly hands. With a small baby I just peel the nail tips off as they are still so soft.
  • Toiletries: To start with you really don’t need much at all. We just use water to bath Joel in, and haven’t needed baby oil or lotion or anything like that – his skin is still silky smooth. We used to massage Andrew’s tummy quite a bit when he was a baby as he was prone to constipation now and then, so baby oil was good for that. As he got older and his hair was already a mop very early on, we used baby shampoo and still do. We’ve only used nappy rash cream a handful of times, usually when teething as he’s had a sore bottom then too, but you might find you need it more. I would wait until baby is born before you get any of this, and just see what you need as you go along – it’s not like you can’t pick it up easily from the supermarket with your groceries.
  • Hairbrush:  It depends how much hair your baby has and what its texture is as to which type, if any, you’ll need. Andrew had so much thick hair that we hardly needed to use the soft bristled brush that we were given and went straight to a small adult brush when it started to get long enough to be messy if not brushed. Some babies hardly have any hair for ages, so you may not need to brush it at all for a while.
  • Thermometer: You can get thermometers for the bath, but we’ve never felt the need and just trusted our judgement on how hot the water should be – neither boy has complained so far! If you’re not confident at doing this, a thermometer may help, but I think it’s the kind of thing you soon learn once baby is here and you do it all the time. The other type of thermometer worth getting is one for taking baby’s temperature if they are ill. We haven’t had many temperatures between them yet, but it’s always better to be cautious and take it just in case if they feel warm and are grumpy. We have an accurate digital one that goes in the armpit – this is easy to do on a baby, but I have to admit it gets harder as they get older and want to move away whilst you wait for it to take the final reading, which can be up to a few minutes. A quicker one would be the type you put in the ear and it takes a pretty much instant temperature – these look good for mobile babies but I’ve always been put off  by the much more expensive price and the fact that we’ve hardly needed one. You can also get the strip across the forehead thermometers – these are cheap but not that accurate, I guess good if you just want a rough measurement.

And finally…… Feeding

  • I’ve decided to write a separate post on this at some point. In theory there is no special kit that you need to start breastfeeding, though there are some things that you might want to get as time goes on depending on your experience of how it goes. Of course there is the option to bottle feed formula right from the start, and although personally it never crossed my mind to not even try breastfeeding, every mum has the right to make her own decision on this, hopefully based on the correct information, in which case you’d need to get the kit for that.

Phew, that took longer than I thought! And I still get the impression there’s more I could go on about if I was asked specific questions. Two areas I haven’t covered are baby-proofing devices for when they get mobile, and eating equipment for when they’re on solid food; of course these things aren’t essential straight after birth.

I think my take home message from all of this is that of course it’s good to be prepared and get the basics sorted before baby arrives, but there are several things that are pretty easy to pick up once you’re actually doing the parenting and figuring out what your baby needs and what you think are useful things to help you with this. We were amazed at how generous family and friends were, so we’ve still hardly needed to buy much ourselves at all, and what we have bought has often been secondhand or something I know we can sell secondhand later (like nappies). It was worth waiting until after the births before buying some things, because it allowed us to spend vouchers and not have multiple items!

I hope this has been useful to any pregnant mums and their partners out there! Let me know if there’s anything else I haven’t covered and I’ll share my experience with you 🙂

To us a child is born

It was the start of December last year that I started this blog – so it’s Happy 1st Birthday to Mixed Bag of All Sorts! I remember distinctly that one of my first posts was about Advent, and what this time of year means to me and to us as a young family as we start new traditions. Well, what a difference a year has made to us as a family – there are now four of us instead of three, and this is the first Christmas that Andrew really has much idea of what’s going on. He was 11 months old last Christmas, so although older than Joel is for his first Christmas, he didn’t really get the concepts of presents, parties and why we were spending time with family and friends.

Guarding the Advent calendar from early morning predators - you never know who might want to get at your mini socks!

Last year I wrote about the Peanuts (Snoopy and co.) Advent calendar that tells the story of the first Christmas line by line each day as you open a door, all in rhyming verse. It has survived many Christmas-times from my childhood to the present. My parents gave it to us last year so that we could carry on the family tradition of opening it with Andrew, not that he had much clue what it was then, but this year he’s definitely more interested in listening to stories. Next year Joel will also be more in to this kind of thing.

It's a bit fiddly to get at the contents of these socks, but I'm determined to do it without help, and that's part of the fun of it!

In addition to this calendar, my parents have bought the boys another Advent calendar this year. It’s one that you can fill with your own treats again and again each year. It came with little chocolates for this year, but in future we could put various things in like little toys or pieces of paper telling a story a bit like the Peanuts calendar. The design is quite simple but lovely and effective – a string of 24 mini stockings that you hang up between two hooks on the wall. Ours is hung at Andrew height across our living room window so that he can help us discover what’s in each day’s stocking. When he first saw it he was very interested in it and kept saying ‘socks, socks’! This morning he took out the first chocolates – two mini chocolate Father Christmas figures, and he proceeded to say ‘Father Christmas’ after me with not bad accuracy. We think he understands that it’s only one sock per day, now that we’ve explained to him after Tom caught him fiddling with another stocking after we’d emptied number 1!

Wow! There's shiny stuff in these socks - cool!

In the build up to Christmas, which we are marking as a family with our calendars, I am personally thinking about the first ever Christmas, when Jesus was born into this world. During Advent each year I’m often reminded of a couple of verses from the Bible, from the book of Isaiah, chapter 9, verses 6-7. Isaiah was a Prophet who told of Jesus’ birth many years before it actually happened – Jesus is the child referred to by Isaiah in these verses:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.

Although I have read and heard this passage many times, it wasn’t until I had children of my own that it really took on a new meaning for me. This Advent, a child has recently been born to us, a son has been given to us; last Advent, the memory of our first child having been born to us was still fresh in my mind, 11 months after the event; and the Advent before that we were anticipating the birth of our first chid in about a month’s time. The experience of our own children being born to us brought it home to me that Jesus was a real person who was born to a real mum and a real dad, just like us. As I sit here feeding Joel, I think of Mary feeding Jesus, and changing his nappies (no Pampers or Huggies around in those days!) – or maybe Joseph helped out with that? I think of Joseph finding a place for them to stay just before the birth and supporting Mary through it, and how that’s similar to Tom’s role of getting me to hospital and being with me for the birth of both our children.

The difference between this family in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago and our family is that Jesus, as well as being fully human, was also fully God, just as it says in the Isaiah verses above. And not only is He Mighty God, but also Wonderful Counsellor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace – the person I turn to for help in the most difficult of life’s situations, who is always there for me and always will be, giving me His peace which goes beyond all human understanding.

Baby Jesus didn’t stay a baby, he grew up; as a man He went on to do what He was born into this world to do – to die on a cross in order to make up for all the wrong things that we do which separate us from God, and if we believe that He did this for us, we can have everlasting life beyond our lives in this world. The ‘us’ referred to in Isaiah’s verse doesn’t just mean Mary and Joseph in a literal sense; it means anyone, at any time and in any place on Earth – Jesus was given as a present to everyone, it’s just up to each and every one of us whether we accept the present.

In all the busyness of Advent – the shopping, the parties, the chocolate eating – why not take some time to think about why this time of year involves all these things. Advent is the anticipation of celebrating Jesus coming into our world many years ago. Have you accepted the present that He came to be? If you’d like to find out more, there’s a great course called Alpha that runs across the country – you can find one near you here.

Now there are only 24 days left to celebrating Jesus’ birthday this year. Can’t wait!

Ha ha, I have chocolate.... not sure I should share it with Mummy, Daddy and Joel....!

Pregnancy diary: week 38 – midwife appointment and antenatal class 3

And I’m still sitting here with a bump! I usually at least start writing this weekly post quite early in the week, as I can’t always guarantee how long I’ll get to write during Andrew’s nap later in the week, especially when I was at work and only had 3 afternoon naptimes a week. But this week I was less motivated to do that, just in case baby did decide to arrive early and it would have been a waste of time. But as there are no signs yet, I’ll give you a round-up of this week.

The worst part has been having a nasty cough, which Tom kindly passed to me after he caught it most probably at work (where the students all traipse into his office bringing in their start of term germs). It’s very frustrating not being able to take any medicine for it, particularly at night when I’d love to take something that would knock me out and make me sleep through the constant coughing. Overall in this pregnancy I’ve only had 2 cold-/cough-type ailments, which actually isn’t that bad – I remember getting about 5 when I was pregnant with Andrew, probably because my job involved being out in schools every day back then, wheres this year it’s been mainly office-based. I’ve been hoping that baby wouldn’t arrive until I’m over the cough, and I’ve been wondering whether there is some kind of internal mechanism in a pregnant body that prevents labour from starting if there’s any kind of illness present?! It would be nice to think so, but I have no idea whether this is the case.

The best part has been spending time (hours of it, mainly during nap times and some in evenings) finally making decisions on which cloth nappies to buy and where to buy them from. I’ve written about this in a separate post, to spare you all the info if you’re not into cloth nappies (unlike me – I’m hooked!), which I’ll publish when the ordered nappies arrive and I can take pictures of my lovely new acquisitions.

Apparently this bump still looks quite small for 38 weeks according to lots of people I meet who can't believe there's only just over a week until due date!

The more practical parts of this week have been my midwife appointment and third (final) antenatal class. The midwife appointment went well and overall things are fine with baby and me. My blood pressure was fine, my wee had no signs of protein, and I have no swelling of hands and feed (unlike when I was pregnant with Andrew and my wedding ring was getting tighter by now). Bump is still measuring bang on the average line of growth, and baby’s heartbeat is clear and a good fast speed. The only thing that wasn’t so good to hear was the dreaded phrase ‘back-to-back’! At my last appointment 2 weeks ago, the midwife said that baby was half-way between being front-to-back and back-to-back. She suggested some positions and movements that I could do to try and get baby in a front-to-back position, and I have been trying to do these when I can.

What’s the problem with back-to-back anyway? The so-called ‘occipital posterior’ position (or OP that’s now been recorded in my maternity notes) means baby’s back is facing my back, and this can lead to longer and more painful labour than if baby’s back is facing forwards to mum’s tummy. Having said that, it’s a generalisation, and I don’t think Andrew was in a completely ‘front-to-back’ position (the ideal) when the midwife came round for my 40 week appointment and said I was already about 3cm dilated, and he still managed to turn and be born after only 3 hours of real labour. It’s interesting when I look back and think that my instinctual desire during labour was to be on all fours – I’d heard about this position at yoga classes, but when it came to labour my body just automatically stayed in that position the whole time, I didn’t even need to think about it, it just happened! I wonder now whether that was my body’s natural way of encouraging baby to turn into a favourable position for birth. I’ll never know, but I find it fascinating how ‘animal’ labour was for me.

For now, my task is to try and get this baby to turn before I actually go into labour, to hopefully reduce the time it takes for baby to get into position during labour. This means crawling around on all fours, which can easily be incorporated into play time with Andrew who finds it hilarious, sitting backwards on hard dining chairs (leaning onto the back) instead of slumping on the sofa, kneeling on the bean bag, rolling my hips around whilst on all fours, and swimming on my front. Given how much this baby moves, it’s perfectly possible that he/she will move into front-to-back, side-to-back and back-to-back positions quite regularly on a daily basis over however long he/she has left in there. Various people who I have heard from since my appointment have told of different experiences with a back-to-back baby, some slow, some fast, some complicated, some uncomplicated, and some have even said that there baby turned into the back-to-back position during labour, despite being well positioned prior to labour, so there really is no telling what could happen. If I did have a slower labour, it might mean we actually make it to hospital rather than it happening extremely quickly at home. I do also feel as though my general level of fitness from all the walking and swimming I do will stand me in good stead for a straightforward labour, as the midwives commented on how fit I seemed, in looks and behaviour, when I gave birth to Andrew. So my overall feeling at the moment is that I would like to try my best to encourage baby to be in a good position for the start of labour, but at the end of the day, labour can be unpredictable and there’s nothing I can do about that.

Talking of labour, I’m glad that I managed to get along to the third and final antenatal class before going into labour. This class was also for the dads, so it was nice for Tom to come too and refresh his mind on supporting me during labour, birth and the early days with a baby, as well as meet some other dads who will be going through a similar experience. First we split into a mums group and a dads group; we talked about how we would like to be supported in labour, and the dads discussed how they thought they could best support us in labour – we then compared lists of points we came up with and the two groups’ lists matched pretty well.

Next, the dads had a run through what happens in labour with the teacher, to revise this like we did last week, and they also got a demonstration of various ways to wear the baby in a sling (as the teacher is a babywearing consultant). I thought it was a good idea to try and get dads interested in this, and Tom has said that I must show him how to use our new sling. Meanwhile, us mums were discussing strategies for looking after a toddler and a newborn once paternity leave is over and we ‘go solo’ with two little ones (eek!) This was a really useful exercise to share ideas, learning from others in the group as well as inputting our own ideas. Various things were suggested, but one of the main things we all thought of was that we are going to go out to groups and activities a lot earlier than we did with our first, so that the toddler is entertained whilst we can sit and feed the baby and rest a little. We also agreed that we would meet up as a group as much as possible, alternating which house we go to, so that our toddlers can play together and we can share with each other how hard things are. I feel very blessed compared to most others in the group that we’ll have quite a bit of help from family who aren’t too far away.

Then we split into small groups and discussed ways of helping to introduce smoothly a new baby to our toddlers, as well as thinking about potential issues of sibling rivalry and ways to deal with that. I found this very useful, and I feel more prepared for if and when problems arise that I need to deal with coherently. We’re still hoping that with a small age gap and that fact that Andrew is generally a very easy-going child, we won’t have too many issues, but it’s always hard to predict something like this and he may well surprise us.

Finally we came back together as a big group and went through some breathing exercises. These were one of the things that I specifically asked to cover in the class, because I’m sure my breathing in labour with Andrew was one of the reasons, along with being in the pool, that I didn’t need any pain relief drugs at all, not even gas and air. I found the handout from the birth preparation workshop we went to just before Andrew was born, and I’ve been practising the breathing techniques described on there, but it’s always good to go through these with an expert in person (the teacher is also a yoga teacher). I particularly liked the visualisation whilst breathing technique – when a contraction comes, imagine you’re on a walk up a hill, which starts off quite easy, then gets harder and harder as it gets steeper and rockier and you have to scramble up on all fours, but you finally get to the top and the view is worth the effort. I may well use this if I find it helps in labour.

As we were getting ready to leave, we talked about meeting up and one of the mums volunteered to send an email suggesting a date soon, as I’m due any day and there’s another mum who has a planned c-section date not long after my due date. It would be great to meet up and get to know each other even more than the time in the classes allowed. I’m so glad that this aspect of the classes has worked out, as that was my main reason for doing them. Who knows, maybe the dads will also have a get together or two – I’m sure they’ll be looking for ways to entertain the toddlers at weekends when they are in charge to give mummy some time with just the baby.

Having typed this kneeling upright on the beanbag, I’d better get back to some crawling and hip circling. Maybe I’ll be back next week with news of week 39 of pregnancy…. or maybe I won’t. Watch this space 🙂

Pregnancy diary: week 33 – hospital bag and home birth kit

As I mentioned at the end of last week’s post, I thought it was about time that I at least started thinking about packing my hospital bag. Although I hope I don’t go into labour for at least another month, it can’t harm to have things organised well in advance of when the time comes. Tom has been asking me for a couple of weeks when I’m going to pack my hospital bag, I think because last time I did get it packed around this many weeks of pregnancy, because we were going to my parents’ house for Christmas and I wanted to have it with me, just in case. (Of course it came all the way with us and all the way back completely untouched, but better to be prepared than not.) And I guess Tom knows that he’d only have to do it if I went into labour and it wasn’t already done, and I suppose that thought terrifies him slightly!

Stripy bump!

I know I’ve already given birth once, but when I sat down and thought about what I needed to prepare for this second birth, my mind went almost blank. I say ‘almost’, because I had a few patches of inspiration, like nappies for baby and drinks for me and Tom – funny what stuck in my mind from last time and what didn’t. What I do remember quite vividly from last time is having quite an enormous bag for what turned out to be a short stay, and most of the contents went unused; I remember Tom dragging it through the hospital corridors on the way in and out, whilst I carried just myself and a baby, either inside my bump (in) or in a car seat (out). Not that I regret taking most of that stuff – we might well have needed it if things had gone less smoothly and we were in hospital for much longer than we were. But I can’t honestly remember what most of that ‘stuff’ was! So I thought I’d better look up some hospital bag checklists for inspiration, and maybe that would bring back some of my memory of packing the bag last time.

One of the first websites that came up on a google search was a Mumsnet guide to packing your hospital bag. As I read through it, I thought it looked promising and was also quite comical in places with comments from various mums, rather than just a dry list of things. Here are the things that they suggest, with my comments as to whether or not I’ve packed them.

  • An old nightdress to give birth in – I’ve found a couple that I packed for giving birth to Andrew, but as I was in the pool for most of it until the very end, I didn’t have any clothes on at all! At the time I had a few seconds worth of a strange feeling that I was naked in front of two people I had only just met (the midwife and midwifery assistant), but then came another contraction and I jumped into the pool, after which I didn’t give another thought to the fact that I had no clothes on. I’ve packed one nightdress again, just in case I don’t end up in a pool for some reason (I hope not, but you never know).
  • Nightdress to wear in hospital – One of my best maternity wear bargains has been a simple nightdress with poppers down the front at the top – it cost me about £5 in the sale and I’ve worn it since Andrew was born, as it allows easy access for feeding at night (I also have other pyjamas, so I don’t just wear that nightie all the time and can wash it!!) I’m taking that again, though I was so hot last time in the hospital overnight that I just lay with no nightie on under a thin bed sheet.
  • Clothes to go home in (me and the baby) – My mum is bringing over all our newborn baby clothes next week, as they’ve been stored in their loft since Andrew grew out of them. So I’ll add some babygros, vests and cardies to the bag when they arrive. My joggers, a t-shirt and a jumper are in; I’m sure these were what I wore for a few weeks after Andrew was born as they were the most comfortable thing, especially the joggers as I had a 2nd degree tear which was quite painful and I needed something loose and comfortable on by lower body.
  • Bodysuits and babygros (five of each – just in case) – Hmmm, not sure five of each is really necessary? I’ve gone for 3, because if we did need to stay in for longer, I know that Tom or my parents could always bring us in more clean stuff and take dirty ones away. It’s not like we live miles away from the hospital and would have no visitors!
  • Baby blanket – This is an interesting one. Last time we were given plenty of blankets to swaddle Andrew in at the Birth Centre. Also, from what I now know about breastfeeding, I’m going to make sure we have much more skin to skin contact in the early hours and days, rather than what happened to Andrew – he fed well straight after birth, but once he’d finished and I was getting cleaned up (after about 2 hours of skin to skin), the midwives layered him up with clothes and swaddled him, and he stayed like that all night until the next morning because he sept so soundly. This time I’m going to keep baby close to my skin until we go home, to maximise the help it will give to my milk coming in. Of course I can put a blanket over baby whilst we’re skin to skin, but I don’t think we need lots of layers like last time.
  • Maternity towels – Check. I still have some left from last time, and will get some more for coming home to.
  • Loads of pairs of ‘old’ knickers – I did this last time (rather than buying paper knickers) and it worked out well. This time I have quite a few old pairs that really could do with being thrown out once they’ve been used for maternity purposes!
  • Toiletries – Toothbrush and toothpaste were essential last time, as I was very sick after the synotocin injection and really needed to brush my teeth after that. I also washed my hair and had a good shower a while after the birth, so I have the shampoo, conditioner and shower gel to do that again. A hairbrush was also useful, and I keep one in my handbag all the time anyway.
  • Nappies, wipes, nappy sacks – I can’t believe how tiny the newborn nappies are! I bought some last week, and went straight for size 2, because the weight range said 3-6kg, and given that Andrew was 3.5kg at birth, it’s unlikely that we’ll have a baby much below that this time, unless he/she comes very early, in which case we’d need the premature baby nappies anyway. Of course the wipes and sacks are what we have in anyway for Andrew, so they’re all in.
  • Camera – Yes this sounds obvious. We took it for Andrew, but I wasn’t really up for having lots of shots literally straight after birth, it’s not really our style. We just wanted it to be a moment for the three of us to enjoy, and besides, I really didn’t want photos of me having just given birth. The first pictures we have of Andrew were a few hours after birth once he was swaddled and asleep. Then we have loads from the first few days when we were back home and our family were visiting – they took loads of him and us.
  • Your birth plan and hospital notes – Good point, I need to write a birth plan! Well, last time I wrote something resembling a ‘plan’, but given that birth can so often not go according to how you imagined it would, I wrote at the top that is was less of a ‘plan’ but rather a general list of things I was hoping for and not hoping for. Even though last time things did turn out smoothly and how I was hoping, I do intend to write something similar this time, and this will need to include an option for home birth if things go even faster than last time.
  • A list of phone numbers – All in the mobile, both mine and Tom’s. Last time Tom phoned both sets of parents straight away, and they started passing the news around family. He was allowed to phone from inside the Birth Centre on a mobile, which we were’t necessarily expecting. We then put an announcement on Facebook the day after – that seems to be by far the easiest way of reaching lots of friends in one go, and they all like to see pictures with the announcement anyway.
  • Change for the car park – Last time we got a reduced flat rate for the two occasions that Tom parked the car at the maternity hospital: once for the birth itself and once the day after to come and collect us to go home. So it was handy to have change available for this (I think it was a couple of pounds each time).
  • Towel – For me to use after a shower after the birth. I’ve got an old one that we don’t mind getting a bit red. I’m trying to think whether last time I was provided a hospital towel for after the birth, but I can’t be sure, so I’m taking one just in case, or in case they’ve changed the policy of giving out towels.
  • Plastic bag to take dirty stuff home in – This is a good tip from a mum on the Mumsnet webpage.
  • Food and drink – Last time I remember taking quite a few snacks and drinks in, like bottles of water, cartons of juice, flapjacks and cereal bars. I didn’t actually eat/drink any of them in labour, because it all happened so fast and not long after I’d eaten dinner (I like to think that the hot curry I’d eaten made my waters break and push me into proper labour!), and the midwife gave me a bottle of ice cold energy drink, which is all I consumed before the birth. Then in the first hour after the birth, we were brought drinks and snacks (juice, tea, toast) by the midwives – not that I had much of that either, because I was sick so many times from the synotocin injection, and Tom had most of it! By the time the sickness and nausea caused by the injection wore off, it was about 4am, and I finally tucked into some of my snacks and drinks. This time I’ve packed similar things to eat and drink; I’m just wondering how much of it I’ll consume this time…. Better to have it than not though.
  • A water spray – Last time I took some water in an old hair product bottle with one of those spray tops on, as I’d heard it would be refreshing when I got all hot and sweaty. But again, because it happened quickly, and I was in the birth pool for the hardest part of labour, I didn’t actually use it. I plan to take one again, in case I labour for longer or for some reason don’t get a pool. I’ve just got to find another bottle as I must have thrown away the one from before.
That’s the main things on the list from the Mumsnet webpage. There are also a few other suggestions that might be relevant to some mums, but I’ve decided that most of them are not for me. One thing, though, that I hand’t thought of is a present that the baby can give to Andrew when he first meets his new brother or sister. I’ll have a think about this; the first thing that springs to mind is a t-shirt that says ‘I’m a big brother’ or something like that.

Hospital bag almost ready - just got babygros and vests for baby to go in. Oh and I've actually packed it all in the bag, it's not just spread all over our bed still 😉
Having prepared all this for going to hospital, there is still the possibility that I could end up having a home birth. My latest thought on this is the same as when I last wrote about it on the blog. I’d like to plan for giving birth in the Rosie Birth Centre, but if baby comes faster than Andrew did, I may decide that staying at home is the better option, because although we don’t live far from the hospital, I’d rather stay at home and give birth rather than risk giving birth in the car. I will have to see how things progress on the day/night itself, and make a decision based on my previous experience and what I feel is happening this time. This means that we need to have some things prepared at home as well. My midwife gave me a leaflet on home birth at my last appointment, so I’ve copied out here the list given in the leaflet.
  • Good torch with new batteries or extension lead.
  • New box of tissues.
  • Plastic sheeting approximately 2 square metres, preferably bubble wrap (padded and non-slip).
  • Old sheet or large old towel to cover plastic sheeting.
  • Two bowls and a bucket.
  • Soap and hand towel for the midwife.
  • Large old towels including one in which to wrap the newborn baby.
  • Work surface in the room chosen for the birth.
  • A set of baby clothes, including hat, and nappy in a warm place.
  • Birth paperwork provided by the midwife.
  • Bag packed for you and baby in case of transfer to the hospital.
Well, the one thing I can say I definitely have on this list is the last one! Of course we have things like a hand towel and soap out in the bathroom anyway, and the baby clothes can easily be got out of the hospital bag if needed. The other things need some more action before the day/night itself. Some are easy enough, like getting our torch out and making sure we have new batteries, and buying a new box of tissues. The harder things are the plastic sheeting, which we don’t have at all (and I have no idea where to get such a thing), and finding enough old towels and sheets. The only work surface we have is the kitchen – it would have to be the table because the other bits of work surface aren’t big enough to fit a baby on. You see, this is one of the reasons why I wouldn’t plan a home birth – our flat it just not very big to have all this stuff around our ordinary furniture without getting blood and gore all over everything!
So at the end of week 33 I’m feeling more organised in terms of preparation for the birth. I’m also happy that our wrap for me to wear baby in for the first months has just arrived, literally in the past hour! It had been out of stock for a while, but I’m so glad that we now have it. I feel like things are gradually coming together more and more. Next week I have another midwife appointment, so that will be the main thing to write about; I hope to discuss my latest blood test results with her. As I haven’t heard much from the doctor (other than they’d like to test me again in a month’s time for the platelets), I’m assuming that things can’t be that bad, but it will be good to chat with the midwife about this. And I’m sure I’ll be sitting down to write week 34’s post before I know it – time is really flying now!
Thought we'd better have a shot from the front - after all, I do love my bump! This top was a nice birthday present 🙂

Pregnancy diary: week 21 – bits and pieces

As I’ve come to sit down and write this post, quite early on in the week (although I’m posting later), there aren’t really one or two particular things that are happening or are on my mind that are specifically to do with pregnancy. So this week’s post is mix of a few bits and pieces…..

The reason I’m getting the bulk of writing done early in the week is because I’m going to the BritMumsLive 2012 bloggers conference on Friday and Saturday. This in itself is very exciting, and I’m definitely looking forward to going and meeting up with people I know mostly just from virtual conversations. But it’s not specifically to do with pregnancy. I have just found out, though, that a lovely blogger, Louise, whose blog I came across only recently, is organising an informal get-together for pregnant mums at the conference. She is only a few weeks behind me in pregnancy, so it’s great to read her posts too and know that someone else is going through similar thoughts/feelings/physical changes. From what I’ve seen on twitter, it looks like there’ll be quite a few other pregnant mums joining us. Pregnancy is generally something that inspires people to blog. I thought it would be a nice record of a journey for me, baby, Andrew and Tom. Although I didn’t think about doing this with the last pregnancy (probably because I hadn’t come across the world of blogging and what I could get out of it and what others could get out of me), I’m really enjoying writing down my thoughts each week so far. And it turns out I’m not alone – there are plenty of other pregnant mum bloggers to link up with. I’m sure I’ll post more about the conference at some point, and I’ll include a bit about the bump meet-up.

One thing that’s been on my mind from time to time this past week is breastfeeding, both weaning Andrew and preparing for baby, but I haven’t come to any real conclusions! It’s still something that I keep tossing around my head when I get time to think. I said that we’d get to 20 weeks, then reassess where Andrew was at in terms of showing signs of self-weaning, and think about what to do from there. Well, we’re now at 21 weeks and he’s not feeding less than he was before pregnancy. I explained in my previous post on thoughts about nursling (self-)weaning that he was generally feeding twice a day – once first thing in the morning and once last thing before bed, for about 20 minutes each time (I guess – I don’t clock-watch, but roughly). Ironically he then started feeding more in the early weeks of pregnancy! I’m not sure if it was because he was teething molars, or because he actually liked the ‘weaning’ milk that starts to be produced in early pregnancy (which tastes less sweet and more salty than before pregnancy), or because I was so sick and tired that all I would do in the afternoons is lie on the sofa and watch him play (in between running to the toilet) so he was more aware of milk just being there to drink with no distractions like going to the park like we usually do. Or quite possibly a combination of all these things. Whatever it was, this seems to have worn off again, and he’s back to the two main feeds a day (plus the odd short one if he’s upset and needs calming down).

On the one hand, I see the fact that he’s still feeding as a good thing. It means we’re maximising the chances of me developing more breast tissue and therefore producing more milk for baby than I did for him, and minimising the gap between him stopping feeding and baby starting feeding. On the other hand, I’m concerned that if he feeds into the third trimester, he’ll start drinking some of the milk (colostrum) that I’m producing in preparation for baby. If I didn’t have hypoplasia, this wouldn’t be a bad thing because my breasts would produce plenty; but given that my milk supply is not necessarily going to be enough for this baby either, even with all the knowledge and support I have this time round, I really want the newborn to have everything that I can produce. The one (kind of) conclusion that I’ve come to is that I need to talk to some experts about this, because we’re a special case and I can’t decide what’s best to do based on books and online reading.

Bump getting bigger....

Another thing that’s been on my mind (and therefore Tom’s given how much I’ve brought it up in conversation) is what we might need to buy for baby. Of course as Andrew is only 16 months, we have most things already. But the two things that I’ve been researching are nappies and a sling.

I posted a while ago about cloth nappies, and told of their greatness! As we only have enough for one, we’ll need to expand our stash. Recently Andrew has been becoming a heavier wetter than he was, because he’s suddenly discovered the taste of squash (thanks primarily to his childminder!) and drinks it like there’s no tomorrow. I’m generally happy that he does this, because I think he can’t really drink ‘too much’, but it is possible to drink too little, and this has always been at the back of my mind since he was a 6-day old baby in hospital with dehydration. The nappies have started to leak sometimes, because we haven’t put (m)any extra booster layers inside, since the style we have get quite bulky with extra layers. So we’re thinking that it could be a good plan to buy some more absorbent but slim-fitting ones for Andrew, and use the ones we already have for baby. I’ll write more about the specifics of what I’ve researched on nappies when we’ve bought them, as it’ll need a post in itself.

When Andrew was a baby, we were given two slings second hand from friends. One was the Baba Sling, and one was the Baby Bjorn. I used both of them a bit, but neither of them were very comfortable to use for more than quite short distances or short periods around the house. By the time I stumbled across the wonderful world of ‘babywearing’, Andrew was a toddler and it wasn’t long before I was pregnant again. I discovered that there are many types of sling different from the two we had, which looked far more comfortable and came with excellent reviews and recommendations from what I could see in all the online babywearing information. I’ve done some research on what would suit our needs, and we’ve decided that instead of buying a double buggy, we’ll buy a good quality, comfortable sling that I can carry baby in and Andrew can continue using the single buggy. We can then reassess when baby is older; by that time I think it’s likely that Andrew will be fine on a buggy-board and baby can go in the buggy. Given that people ‘wear’ their babies right through into toddlerhood, this initial arrangement could last us quite a while. One of the prizes in last week’s Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt posts was a Moby sling (or ‘wrap’). As this is one of the choices of sling that I have narrowed down to, I’m waiting until after the competition winner is announced before I go any further with going about buying a sling. Again, I’ll write another post specifically on this at some point.

I think that’s enough rambling for this week. Hopefully I’ll have some more decisions made on weaning, nappies and a sling over the next few weeks, so I can update you with what we’re doing.