Preparing for post-bump me

As b-day draws closer, I’ve driven myself mad with nesting and making sure I have everything organised for baby Murray when he makes an appearance. But what about me?

Don’t be so selfish, I hear you cry. Mum-life sees your child come first, and you’ll need to just fit your own needs in if there’s time after baby is sorted. And yes, while I’m inclined to agree, there’s also a degree of self-preservation after having a baby. I’m still me. I still need fed and clothed and to be in a good mental place in order to take care of baby properly and to the best of my ability. So I started with some shopping and some goals.

How impractical are regular clothes?

As someone who wants to at least give breastfeeding a go, I couldn’t help but notice that my wardrobe (both pre-bump and maternity) definitely didn’t want to comply. I’ve read around that post-partum bodies are usually the same size as 6 month pregnant bodies for the first little while, so although I’ll undoubtedly have clothes that fit – I’m not sure how many of them are practical for breastfeeding. Stretchy-tummy t-shirts and comfy, empire line dresses are fab, but when I plan to feed in the autumnal/winter months, I worry about the chill factor of having to pull a t-shirt all the way up, never mind the consequences of putting nearby innocent victims off their dinner by exposing my squashy mum-bod.

I’m not one for diving headfirst into expensive “problem solvers” like the breastfeeding tops that cost a fortune just because there’s an extra layer of material for privacy/warmth/convenience (here’s an example of one from Seraphine for about £40 a pop). Queue a trip to Primark and a panic-buy of blouses and vests.

In any event, I don’t see myself making loads of trips out and about in the very early days, but even in my own home I don’t want to be confined to pyjamas or that one vest that fits. Especially when baby Murray will no doubt have loads of visitors and well-wishers coming to see him.

Body goals

pre-pregnancy wardrobe goals

We often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to look a certain way, and this is especially true for new mums. I don’t fully expect to be able to jump back into my pre-pregnancy wardrobe right away (despite OH’s mum reportedly walking out the hospital in her size 8 jeans after having him!), but as someone who has always been quite active and health conscious, I’d like to be able to slowly build up to where I was pre-pregnancy. In fact, probably even during early pregnancy when I didn’t know bump existed yet!

I know attending 4 fitness classes a week is unrealistic, as is having the time to properly prep meals and snacks, at least in the early days. However if I can manage to try and slowly incorporate some fitness into my daily routine (whatever that ends up being!) I will be happier. I’ve already started to look on Pinterest for some great post-partum at-home exercises I can hopefully squeeze in between feeds, naps, changes etc!

The easiest way to feel, look and ultimately get back to my healthier self is to set some goals and stick to them. A couple of milestones have been set in terms of pre-pregnancy clothing, and while I couldn’t care about the number on the scales, there are a number of milestones set for things like distance, reps, length/time which I want to improve on. It won’t be a mad, manic 30-day challenge, but I’ll get there. And I’m sure bump will thank me for it when I’m happy, energised and full of the right endorphins and nutrients to take care of him properly!

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5 Real Pregnancy Lifesavers

So there are always loads of lists of things you should be doing, or things you simply MUST buy to help you through your pregnancy. A lot of the time, these are spurred on by old wives tales, or just feed off the anxiousness and uncertainty of new mums. Don’t get me wrong, some gadgets and inventions are great and probably work for others, but unless you have a real tough time of it, there are a lot of things that aren’t really necessary but are packaged as so.

As I approach due date, I can honestly count on my hand the few things I’ve been unable to live without. So here are my top 5 pregnancy lifesavers:

Gaviscon

Oh my god the heartburn. If, like me, you sailed through trimesters 1 and 2 without really any gripes, then hopefully the heartburn and reflux will be the hardest part. With that in mind, stockpile your Gaviscon in advance of the third trimester. Tablets, liquid, anything will do when you get into the 30-odd week mark and baby has squashed your whole digestive tract, taunting it with kicks after every meal too. I’d recommend the massive bottle to swig from before bed (and often through the night), but as it’s too heavy/clunky to carry around, always have the chewable tablets in your handbag, pocket, other half’s pocket, desk drawer, everywhere!

Paracetomol

Never one for taking medicine when I don’t have to, I quickly learned that pregnancy is no time for heroes. When paracetomol is all you’re allowed for pain relief, cold and flu relief, and basically any relief, make sure you have a stash at home at all times. For me, it helped when headaches and migraines struck – both of which were uncommon for me, but occasional in pregnancy. Where paracetomol really helped though was through the night when sciatica was playing up and there was just no way to get comfortable.

Sandals or flip flops

This may partly be due to the timing of my pregnancy, but I could not have gotten by without a pair of emergency sandals or flip flops. Most days were absolutely fine, but sometimes – whether or not due to summer heat or just standing for long periods – my feet would just swell beyond recognition. After having to remove shoes at a party and walk about barefoot for most of the night, I realised that having sore feet whilst sober is no fun, and that emergency sandals should always be available!

Bio Oil

Loads of people have different views on stretch marks – some swear by certain creams whilst others put a lack of lines down to good genes. Having accumulated my fair share of tiger stripes on my inner thighs through puberty, I wasn’t keen to repeat the process on my tum with a growing bump, so some form of tummy TLC was needed. Bio Oil famously promotes itself as the cream for stretch marks, but in reality I also chose it because it both smells nice and is oil based, so you can feel like you’re giving bump his or her own wee daily massage too.

Reading material

activity-book-pregnantBooks, apps, guides, rants on Mumsnet – most reading material has been a lifesaver for this first time mum. Ante-natal classes and well-intentioned advice from friends and family is also great, but with baby brain likely to make you forget all of the important stuff by the time you need to put it into practice, written material is a godsend. Of course, there are loads of apps and websites out there which can make things a bit overwhelming, but if you stick to the big guns like your Ready, Steady Baby book,  any NHS leaflets or guides given to you, and things like the Emma’s Diary and Bounty apps, you’ll have more than enough information and reassurance for just about anything. I’ve also enjoyed some fun reading material in the form of the Big Fat Activity Book for Pregnant People, and the Unmumsy Mum, both of which were gifted to me by friends. The first is great for taking your mind off things whilst the latter is an honest account of parenthood which will make you realise that, no, it won’t be perfect, but yes, you can do it.

Ooharr Star Glow Face Mask Review

One of the may things I didn’t know about baby showers is how many gifts mum to be gets. I naively thought it was all about playing silly baby games and receiving gifts for your unborn child. However, this unlikely mum was also spoiled with a plethora of pampering goodies ranging from wonderful Lush bath sets to Yankee candles, chocolates and face masks. At a time of serious discomfort and lack of sleep, I’m so grateful for every one of these gifts.

As baby M could make an appearance any day now, I decided to try and get as much use – or sampling – of these wonderful gifts before the only pampering my body gets is the occasional baby wipe to mop up sick/pee/hopefully not poo.

With some time to kill in between cleaning down cupboard doors and washing newborn clothes within an inch of their life, I decided to start with the Ooharr Star Glow skin polishing face mask gifted to me by a former work colleague.

Ooharr-star-glowThis mask promises to make you feel radiant and refreshed – something I’ll confess I’ve not felt since somewhere around the 7 month mark. Its ingredients include vanilla and honey – great smoothers which work well to give the mask a nice, and not overpowering smell. Almonds and Argan oil promise to condition the skin, whilst the Aloe Vera is there to cool and calm things.

The mask itself has a clay-like texture, but with some exfoliating bittiness to it. The mixture glides on fairly easily, with enough in a single sachet to cover your face and neck (in fact, lathering your neck in the stuff is recommended on the instructions). There’s no hot sensation or heaviness like with some masks – I suspect the Aloe Vera has a lot to do with that.

Overall 15-20 minutes is longer than I’d usually have a mask on for, whether that’s down to instructions or general drying/absorption rate on my face. However I found that I needed just over the recommended 20 minutes to allow the clay mixture to set in.

Face-mask-end-resultUpon cleaning the mask off, I found my skin feeling instantly different. Softer and smoother, my face was a bit pinkish but I think that had more to do with the shock of cold water to close my pores rather than the mask itself. Once the skin calmed down, I noticed that not only did it feel better, it also looked brighter and more radiant.

I would definitely recommend the Star Glow Ooharr mask to anyone, as it was so gentle and unabraisive I think this particular one would be suitable for most skin types. Now to find out which retailers stock it!

 

How to Panic an Unlikely Mum

So I’d planned to write a blog about what a great baby shower I had on Sunday, despite being a bit sceptic about the whole concept of such things. But then something happened later on the Sunday which sent me into a bit of a panic.

Normally chilled and laid-back (most of us probably say that about ourselves), not a lot tends to phase me. I’ve been taking this unexpected pregnancy in my stride and feel I’ve been coping ok (others may agree differently!) with all the changes to my body, hormones and general life as a result. But panic hadn’t featured until Sunday.

Bad blood

In my last blog musing, I wrote about how we had made it full term and that it was basically all systems go for delivering in the local community maternity unit. So far, so smooth. The only thing that could have prevented this from being an option would be the results of the blood I had taken at my ante-natal check up that day.

I chose to use a witty blog sub-heading which made me hum a Taylor Swift song all day (I’ve used it again. You’re welcome), thinking I didn’t really have anything to worry about. Sure, when donating blood mine tends to take longer than most to drip out (I hate to part with anything apparently), but any time I’ve donated in the past, the blood gets out eventually and is good stuff to use. At least nobody has ever told me otherwise.

So I was quite confident my blood would pass whatever tests they were running. Aside from this, I’d been feeling fit and healthy, and none of my previous ante-natal bloods showed any problems, so in my head there was no issue.

You have one new message

Post-baby shower, I was ferrying around friends and family members as pregnancy equals sobriety which also equals guaranteed designated driver (Not that I mind driving, I mostly offer/insist). For that reason, my phone was out of my hands and general realm of consciousness for quite some time. The other half had stopped in to pick up a takeaway on the way home, so I had a quick check of my phone as I waited for him to return to the car.

There was a missed call from an 0800 number I vaguely recognised, with one voicemail waiting too. Wrongly assuming it was a sales call, I quickly opened my voicemail to get rid of the notification, but on hearing the voice at the other end, I received quite a shock.

It was one of the midwives, or doctors, I can’t recall her explaining, looking to discuss my blood results. As she couldn’t get hold of me then, she would call back in the morning. I don’t know about you but from all previous experience, if tests are fine, the medical professionals don’t need to discuss anything with you. Usually you just get printed results added to your notes, possibly sent out to yourself in the post too.

So this already panicked me. On calling the number back, I went to an NHS switchboard. With little to go on apart from the caller’s first name, I knew I wasn’t going to get any further forward. Plus, there was now Chinese food taking over my sense of smell and distracting me.

Sunday night blues

Post takeaway with the in-laws, I started to think more about the missed call and voicemail. My inner Sherlock/paranoid hormonal mum-brain started doing overtime. Who would call at 7pm on a Sunday if the results could wait till Monday? Surely it would have to be serious to call when no doctors surgery or pharmacy would be open, and with the community maternity unit only open for another hour that day? Why didn’t she leave more information so I could try to reach her that evening? What was I supposed to do all night thinking about this?

Of course, option 1 is always to Google the symptoms. But I was partly too afraid to do that, and partly thought there could be literally anything wrong with my blood so wouldn’t know where to start. Instead, my mind just went into overdrive wondering how badly ill I was without knowing (I still felt wholly fine, heartburn and sciatica aside), if it could affect baby, what I should prepare for in the morning and much more.

As an avid Hollyoaks fan (problem?), I was aware of a current storyline involving a pregnant character who found out she has ovarian cancer whilst halfway through her pregnancy. So naturally the other half had to convince me I didn’t have blood cancer and that was a bit extreme to be casually noted in a voicemail of a Sunday night.

So whilst most of the nation tossed and turned, anxious at the thought of going into another working week with only Monday blues lying ahead, I lay awake thinking about all the things that either could be wrong or that I’d have to change now in light of this voicemail. My hospital bag had been repacked in my head, with visions of me being carted to the city hospital the next day, ready to meet baby a couple of weeks earlier than planned.

Relief

It was lunchtime on Monday before the midwife managed to call me back. I’d put my phone on loud for the first time since I was about 16 and had a cutting-edge polyphonic ringtone, just so I wouldn’t miss the call. She was calm and blase, which was nice but annoying at the same time. She casually asked if I was taking iron tablets, to which I replied I hadn’t ever taken them. I panicked, thinking I possibly might have poisoned my unborn bump with too much iron.

Her response was that she would phone the GP to get a prescription sorted out for me as my iron is borderline low. That was it. Low iron. A ridiculously common issue in pregnancy and general life depending on your diet/where you live. Nothing that couldn’t have waited till the Monday morning, and nothing, it transpired, that would mean any changes to my pregnancy and delivery. I was overwhelmed, relieved, angry and ecstatic all at the same time.

Most of me knows that it was 100% my fault for overreacting and sending my brain into overdrive, but I can’t help but feel the vagueness and casualness of said midwife had a part to play in panicking this unlikely mum.

Criteria check – good to go!

So bump and I have reached week 37 which means he’s now considered full term and can arrive at any moment (help!). In order for me to be eligible to give birth at the local community maternity unit over a consultant-led unit, I had to have what’s known as a criteria check, to ensure bump and I are well enough to deliver there.

A lot of this involved going through a checklist of what’s available at the hospital and whether or not that meets my wishes, expectations and of course is suitable for my health and well-being. Most this was discussed in the tour of the hospital the other half and I had a couple of weeks ago, which prompted me to think about the choice of where to give birth. As most things remained unchanged in terms of what I wanted, how I felt and how baby was progressing, the checklist was signed off by the midwife with no problems – so far so good.

Behaving baby

Part of the check is a routine ante-natal midwife appointment, where bump is measured, felt, and heart monitored. So far so normal. Everything appeared ok, and according to the midwife his head is two-fifths into my pelvis. Apparently this is a good and normal thing. Five-fifths means he’s engaged and could literally go any minute, so it’s good to know he’s taking his time for now!

Bad blood

All routine ante-natal checks proved normal (I will never get used to peeing in a bottle no matter how many times I’m asked), including my blood pressure which has been miraculously fine the whole way throughout pregnancy. This means that the only thing that could prevent me from having a “normal” birth in a community maternity unit is my blood results. My blood type is A+ (the only A plus I’ve ever had in life!), which doesn’t mean much on its own, but as long as the blood count remains over 105 I’ll be able to (hopefully) deliver nice and naturally with minimal intervention in a hospital which I’m told I could arrive before the midwives if I go into labour in the night!

So for now, anticipation is at bay, but all is good to go. My next check is not for another 2 weeks (where I’ll be just 1 week away from due date – eek!), although the midwife did tell me to feel free to go into labour sooner. If it’s all the same I think I’ll wait till I see her next – bump permitting!

The Joy of (Not) Sleeping

Going to bed has suddenly become something of a routine dreaded chore. Worse than cleaning the drain cover in the shower.

Sleep is necessary. I know this. In fact I hate my past self for taking sleep for granted so much. Burning the candle at both ends, enjoying life on minimal sleep, or in contrast, squeezing in a Sunday afternoon nap just because. All that freedom and control over my own sleep pattern seems like a distant memory, something I probably dreamed in a past life when I was able to do so.

Instead, there’s a wriggly little monster in my belly intent on dictating when I can and can’t get comfortable enough to sleep. Up top, eyes and brain are flagging to the point of talking nonsense and taking extra long blinks that I pray turn into naps. But below the neck, there’s heartburn and acid reflux, working down to kicks in the ribs, elbows to the bladder and someone else’s limbs pressing against my spine.

And when my body does eventually give in to sleep (or exhaustion), that’s not so pleasant either. More like a series of intermittent naps broken by trips to the loo, changes in position and working out if enough time has passed to take more painkillers washed down with a generous helping of Gaviscon.

Whilst still having to work full time and adhere to a 9 to 5 workweek routine, I’m barely coping by running on what feels like empty. Already I’m joking with colleagues and pals that I can’t wait for bump to arrive so I can get a decent sleep.

They all scoff; don’t I know that babies keep you up through the night, waking to be fed or changed? I will never get a proper sleep again, they proclaim, saying I should make the most of the time I can sleep and nap now.

Honestly Sandra, do you think I’d come in here with eyebags bigger than Kanye West’s ego, no make-up and dry-shampooed hair if I’d been able to get my beauty sleep and naps on demand? Do you think I’d be fixated on your fancy coffee like a lion stalking a gazelle if I was awake, alert and fully rested? Might I know what day of the week it is and who was just on the phone 5 minutes ago if I was on the ball from all that rest?

I could go on forever but you get the picture. I’m there in body but scraping by in ability. So although I appreciate the sentiment that I should be stockpiling sleep and rest, it’s actually not proving so easy to do. In fact, I feel as though when bump arrives, any sleep will be an improvement on the current situation.


Need a feed every 3 hours wee boy? No problem – that’s double the length of consistent unconsciousness I’m afforded right now with my pea-sized bladder. Crying in the night for a feed or a change? No problem – there are 2 people around who are able to deal with that in fair and equal turns. Been particularly pesky through the night from teething/colic/just to annoy mummy? No problem – pass the Red Bull and other highly caffeinated beverages.


I so hope I’m not wrong.

Choosing Where to Give Birth

Being a first time mum, I was naturally a bit clueless as to how the old giving birth process works. I had (wrongly) assumed that if you went into labour, you just casually sauntered up to the closest hospital to you at the time, and by the miracle of the NHS there would be midwives on hand to deliver your baby, pronto.

Instead, where you give birth largely depends on where you’ve been booked for your ante natal appointments and checks, which is mostly based on your home location and GP practice. In this respect, some women then don’t have a choice as to where they give birth – there’s simply one labour ward in one hospital anywhere near (or sometimes not so near) where they live.

I’m fortunate enough that where I live allows a choice for where I choose to have my baby, providing my pregnancy remains normal and healthy. All being well, I have the choice between a community maternity unit literally 2 minutes from my home, or a consultant led unit in a city hospital 45 minutes away.

CMU v consultant led unit

Of course, it seems so perfectly practical that I would choose to have my baby at the hospital so close to my home. After all, it’s where both myself and my other half were born too. However, back in that day (nearly 30 years ago – ouch!) the hospital was a state of the art (for its time) fully-operational hospital, with community maternity unit, labour ward, A&E and more clinics than you could think possible. Nowadays, it’s been reduced to a shell of its former self, with a community maternity unit consisting of just 3 birth rooms.

This doesn’t bother me, and in fact, all of the suites are absolutely lovely. Truth be told, I’m not-so-secretly dying to try out one of their mega en-suite baths. What does bother me is that with such a small unit comes a couple of disadvantages in comparison with a consultant led unit, or even a community unit within a larger hospital. Firstly, if anything were to go wrong during birth, I’d be punted into an ambulance and sent to the city hospital 45 minutes away. There are no paediatricians and no emergency doctors on call in my local hospital, so if I was suddenly in need of an emergency caesarean or little baby boy needed special assistance after birth, we would have to be transported before we could be properly treated. And with health, time can make all the difference.

Secondly, and not so life-threateningly, the fact there are only 3 rooms worries me a bit. I know the number of women giving birth in that maternity unit is pretty low, but there is the possibility that I will be in and out in a flash to make way for the next woman to use the suite. It’s a bit of a selfish reason, for both my recovering body and my terrified mind, but their aim for a 6 hour (or less) turnaround is nothing short of petrifying for this first time mum-to-be.

Positives of giving birth in a CMU

Quite apart from the lovely baths mentioned, there are various positives for electing to give birth in the local CMU. Convenience plays a big factor – not only do I live within walking distance, my parents and OH’s parents are minutes away too.

As I’ve been visiting that hospital for parent education classes, and have been attending ante-natal appointments at the GP surgery which is on the hospital premises, the chances are, I’ve already met the midwife who will deliver my baby – at least once. The reassurance and comfort of a friendly face can only be a good thing in a time of infinite pain!

On top of this is the added benefit that it’s a quiet unit, which means more freedom to move around and invite visitors. More to the point, the other half won’t be turned away at 8pm because that’s when visiting hours end. At the city hospital, he would be expected to leave at 8, and be called to come back when baby is about to make his grand entrance. Which other half would likely miss, as he’d be driving 45 minutes to get to the hospital – or worse still, looking for parking in the minefield of a car park. Then he would have to leave immediately after the birth, not allowed to return until after 8am.

Which leads on to another point – at the city hospital you can only park your car for 4 hours max, before having to move it. So if little bump decided that labour would take longer than that, or if other half wanted to spend time with baby during his first minutes, he may not be able to due to the inconvenience of having to leave to find alternative parking. A very first world problem, but annoying all the same.

So where should I give birth?

To be honest, I’m still weighing up the pros and cons, but the conveniently local option is sounding the best at the moment. My next ante-natal appointment is there next week, and is a routine criteria check. So maybe they will have the final say in whether I can give birth there or not, and take the choice away from me if they feel there would be too much risk. I’m still open to feedback and advice from anyone who has either had that choice to make or who has experienced either or both CMU and consultant led births as I know this is not a decision to be taken lightly, so answers on a postcard please!

Breastfeeding: the problematic attitude in the NHS

I recently attended my local ante-natal class on breastfeeding, held at the community maternity unit of my local hospital. I’ve never felt particularly strongly either way about breastfeeding, so my goal in attending was to find out as much information as possible to make the best informed decision for my circumstances.

Breast is Best

We are all told breast is best for a million different reasons, and you can’t really argue with nature’s way. I mean, a couple of hundred years ago, breast would have been the only way, never mind the best way. So I get it, I really do. But unfortunately, most of us don’t live the same lives as folks did 200 years ago.

Even more unfotunately, the NHS don’t seem to care about that. From the class, I noticed that the midwives were so intent on pushing breastfeeding for as long as possible, that it begged the question of just what world they think we live in?

Need a rest? Dad will do everything else…

This was seen as a viable solution to having a baby wanting the comfort of your breast on an almost permanent basis. The scenario we were painted was one of a mum being led by her baby (nothing wrong with that), but that baby wanted to nurse for 45 mins and sleep for about the same amount of time. Our expectancy was to sit there and deliver when baby demanded, leaving dad to do the winding, changing, soothing to sleep, oh and of course all the housework, ensuring mum has food to eat and everything else in between, all whilst mum got to enjoy something resembling a nap during this time.

I can’t even begin to factor that into my reality, and my SO is pretty good with cooking and housework. At what point do I wash? Have a comfort break? Exercise and fuel my body for this constant endurance test? And that’s just the basics. Heaven forbid I want to bond with my baby in another way, leave the house, or even just give my breast a few hours respite tucked into a bra caked with nipple cream.

The most shocking part of this scenario however, was that this same charade could last for 12 weeks or longer. Now, I don’t know about you, but since statutory paternity leave is only 2 weeks, I doubt I’ll be able to rely on daddy to “do everything else” whilst he’s working 12 hour shifts in a workplace over half an hours drive away. Another girl at the class was also concerned as her husband is in the Navy, so often called to sea for months at a time. And then there’s single mothers, mothers with other young children in the house and about a million other different family and lifestyle makeups that simply don’t coincide with this notion of mother as dairy cow whilst everyone else swans in to take care of things.

Perseverance

Another major point I took issue with was the insistance on perseverance. Persevere past the above scenario, persevere when baby can’t latch on, persevere whilst your nipples are cracked and bleeding, persevere if your milk won’t come. Whilst that’s ok to a point, at what point do we start to take a mother’s mental and physical health and wellbeing into consideration here?

When it comes to other health and wellbeing issues such as domestic abuse or either pre- or post-natal depression, midwives could not be more forthcoming and helpful with information, questions and options. It’s ok to not be happy every day of pregnancy, the baby blues an their descendence into something potentially worse are explained in detail, with a range of opions, solutions and reassurances for potentially struggling mothers. So why should struggling women be expected to persevere through this charade without any support (apart from the regular post natal visits) or information about alternative feeding options, other than what they can find out from relatives, friends or a quick Google search themselves?

I recently read in a Guardian article that one woman felt like “any woman who doesn’t want to stay at home and nurse for at least six months is thrown under the bus of shame.” And I have to say I empathised with her a lot. I really want to try breastfeeding and hope it works for me but the system is not set up for those that breastfeeding doesn’t work for, despite trying, which is equaly off-putting and intimidating.

A friend recently told me of the struggle of feeding her little one for the first few months – no guidance on formula feeding despite her child suffering from colic and other feeding issues. She was left to her own devices to figure it out, with nobody to tell her such simple things like the fact it would be necessary to buy bigger bottle teats when using a milk thickener. I can only imagine the frustration, helplessness and panic I would feel if I were in that situation with no family or friends able to offer their experience or tips, and no support from trained professionals.

It’s not the end of the world as said friend has a very happy, healthy child. However a lot of panic and misery could have been avoided if the NHS just took more of an open approach when it comes to feeding in both ante-natal classes and routine appointments and checks. I’m not saying it’s radically wrong or that the NHS midwives don’t do a great job (they bloody well do), but it would just be nice of them to be more open and honest about other feeding options if you feel you’re not managing with breastfeeding.

I do want to give it a try and I know everyone is different, that it could end up being a breeze for me. That being said, I don’t want to be putting baby in danger if I’m a sleep deprived, sore angry mess! I guess I’m just such a worrier and like to know all the options – only 6 more weeks to wait and find out how I manage!

Nescafe Gold – a pregnancy treat with no need to cheat

Caffeine (or lack of) is one of the first things mentioned by a midwife, well-meaning mother, and even complete stranger when it comes to pregnancy. Whilst it’s preferable to scale back the shots and dial up the decaf, us preggos are still allowed a little bit of caffeine in a day.

nescafe-gold-caramel-latte

And what better treat to enjoy on occasion than Nescafe‘s new Gold range?  I was given a variety of these for free to review and report back on – the unsweetened cappuccino, the caramel latte and the double mocha. Admittedly, it’s no Costa or independent roasted coffee, but a girl will take what she can get within the 200mg limit. Plus, we all need treats to brighten up the work day and what better than one which can be made quickly and easily in the afternoon tea round?

 

DIY flavoured latte

The instructions on each are pretty simple – boil the kettle, let it cool to about 85 degrees (or, like me, wing it after about 5-10 mins in absence of a thermometer) and pour the boiling water over the pre-portioned sachet of Nescafe Gold. The perfect caramel latte it seems is simple; stir vigorously for a minute or so, wait 20 seconds then go back and stir some more. Leave to let the milk settle and there you have it, a quick, easy, homemade latte fix, right?

The good news is that it definitely didn’t taste as awful as some of the other powdered or packet coffees available. In fact, after a couple of tries, it’s actually pretty good! Once you get the stirring action, consistency and standing time right, you feel like you’ve made your own shop-bought latte!

nescafe-gold-mug-latteThe caramel latte was without a doubt my favourite from the bunch that I was given to try. Don’t get me wrong, the unsweetened cappuccino was a great quick-fix and something I could see myself drinking regularly throughout the day (when allowed higher daily doses of caffeine!) but for a real treat, the caramel latte was a winner. The double mocha was certainly an indulgence, but not something I’d probably go back to until the wintry weather kicks in and I’m in need of both a heat and a chocolate fix.

The new Nescafe Gold range is definitely something I’ll be going back to buy again, especially now my trips to Costa and other coffee shops will be few and far between with a newborn to look after soon!

Having to Admit I’m Not Superwoman

As the weeks march on (32 and counting!), and as bump causes my stomach to expand at what feels like an exponential rate, I’ve found myself having to do something it pains me to do: slow down.

Having had a fairly easy pregnancy so far, I’ve not had to change much about my usually busy lifestyle so far. Weeks are made up of work, exercise classes, gigs and of course all that mundane stuff like cooking, cleaning and generally making sure the other half and I don’t starve in a hovel. So far so normal. Until about week 29.

For the uninitiated, this is around the early part of the third trimester, and basically where the baby inside me is now a fully-formed, mischief making wee human. And boy does he make mischief!

Inside job

Aside from ensuring I wake at least twice in the night to use the bathroom, he’s now grown so big that my lungs and digestive tract have had to take a backseat for his current home. With that brings the joy of even more pertinent heartburn, not to mention an increased appetite I struggle to feed properly as indigestion and hiccups are inevitable if I try to eat at any normal rate. On top of that, my lungs don’t seem to be able to take the same amount of air as before, meaning I get breathless from simple tasks like walking upstairs. As you can imagine, this is problematic living in a flat, let alone one where the bedroom and bathroom are on different levels.

Slowing down

All of this has meant having to slow things right down; a concept I’m not really familiar with. As someone who has been blessed with being able-bodied for pretty much my whole life, there’s nothing that’s ever been particularly “too much” for me to do. In fact, I relish life on the go, buzzing from one project to the next, filling my days with a balance between work and play.

So you can imagine my frustration when my body simply refuses to squat properly, or when I have to master the precision of a military sniper to aim to pick things off the floor in one go. Even basic daily things like washing the dishes have become a battle as I stand further back from the sink, stretching my arms and soaking my belly, meaning multiple outfit changes may be required after normal household chores.

With broken sleep and full working days, I’ve found myself too exhausted to comprehend exercise after the 9-5. Even organising laundry or standing ironing has become a daunting task if I’m expecting myself to do this past 7pm.

Getting used to the changes

I used to run on caffeine and sarcasm on a weekday, now I have a single weak coffee and forget half the words of the things I’m supposed to be making fun of. It’s difficult, frustrating and has caused more than a few tears and tantrums over the last couple of weeks.

At work, I’m having to force myself to take loo breaks and fresh air breaks where I would normally power through – simply to stop back pain and relieve heartburn. Similarly at home, couch potato nights are now filled with tossing and turning and trips to different rooms just to stretch my legs and relieve discomfort. Which is an annoying catch 22 when you feel too tired to do anything more productive with your evening.

The worst part though is trying to come to terms with the fact that not everything is neat and tidy and clean at home, exactly how and when I want it to be clean. Curling up on a couch trying to find a comfy position is bad enough without spying dust on the coffee table or washing on the radiators you know you should fold and put away. But that requires digging out the duster, folding or ironing laundry and making another trip up and down the stairs. It’s an internal battle and I haven’t had anyone visit my house in weeks out of embarrassment but I’m slowly getting used to the idea that everything won’t always be perfect and I can’t do everything myself – despite being a fiercely independent individual!