Learnings From A Year As A First Time Mum

A Bedtime Routine Will Almost Break You (But Then It Will Set You Free)

It’ll feel like Groundhog Day for at least twelve months, but once that babe is in a bedtime routine you’ll thank yourself for sticking it out. A year of routine for a lifetime of nights to yourself? Worth it.

If They Don’t Sleep In The Day, They’ll Be Ok

You’ll think everyone else has cracked it, but if your mum mates are driving around in their 4X4’s all day, it’s probably because the baby won’t nap without it. Seriously, don’t spend an entire day trying to get them to sleep. Get them up, play with them, do what you need to do and eventually they’ll conk out. A day here and there won’t ruin your routine, and it’s really not worth the stress.

Baby TV & Toast Will Save You In Almost Every Situation

Don’t fight it.

It Will Take At Least A Year (maybe more) To Feel ‘Normal’

No, we don’t mean fitting into your size 10s again, you’ll do that quite quickly with all that walking. We mean, it’ll take at least a year until you really feel like you’ve got your shit together. And that’s ok.

Childless Friends Are The Biggest Judgers

You were there once too, talking about how having a baby will never change your life. Just let them have it; they’ll work it out one day.

Rely On Dad When You Can

Give him some basic instructions (when to feed, what to feed and where to find everything) then let him get on with it. He’ll have his own style (which will probably send you wild) but they’ll both be fine and they’ll enjoy the bonding time too. Eventually you’ll be able to switch off completely when you leave him in charge – and that’s real ‘me time’.

Think Smart With Deliveroo

We learnt this the hard way. When you fill in your order, ask your Deliveroo driver not to ring the doorbell but to call you on arrival instead. Sleeping baby and a fed mum.

Never Underestimate The Power Of A Shower

Whether it’s a restless newborn or a non-napping toddler, pop them in their cot with something to stare at for five minutes and jump into the shower. Drench yourself in hot soapy water, shake off whatever happened the night before and push the restart button. Do this every morning. You’ll feel great for it.

No Housework Needs To Happen Right Now

Really.

Get Fresh Air Every Day, Even When It’s Raining

Wrap up warm (but not too warm for you; walking with a baby works up quite a sweat) and get out, even if it’s just to the local Co-Op to pick up supplies for an afternoon in. Small goals, big wins.

Never Be Without Calpol, Nespresso Capsules, Wine Or Chocolate

Bulk buying these is your new survival skill.

Baby Wipes Will Wipe Away Most Things

You’ll miss them one day.

They Don’t Need More Toys

Buy yourself something nice and let them play with the packaging instead; it works every time.

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Again, really.

Invest In cook

For the days when you’re not feeling terribly Nigella, load the freezer with these smart ready meals; they even do them for babies. You’ll end the day with everyone fed and watered and can can even pass them off as your own if you feel the need.

You Will Forget The Birth

Even if it nearly killed you, you will forget.

Pay For The Help You Need

It takes a village, and sometimes you have to pay for it; especially if there’s no family nearby. Cleaner, babysitter, ironer, hairdresser, cook… if you can afford it, get the help.

You Will Never Know Love Like It

Never have we loved (or been loved in return) quite like this – except by our own mums. Your heart will burst daily with unexplainable, unconditional love. Every tear, every hour of missed sleep (yours and theirs), every teething tantrum, every pregnancy ache and pain. You’ll look into their eyes and it will all melt away.

The Internet Will Save You

Netflix at 3am, WhatsApp at 4am and Instagram at 5am. This is the year the internet will help you more than you could ever imagine.

You Will Gain A Whole New Perspective

The trivial things you once worried about will vanish: your awful commute/bad tempered manager/broken coffee machine/chubby thighs (well they don’t vanish but…). You’ll start looking at the world in a much bigger picture – the things that really worry you will be the ones that impact your kids and their future, not which size pants you can squeeze yourself into. And somewhere in all of this is remembering to prioritise yourself from time to time, which is another great learning – and perhaps the most important one of all to hold onto.

You’ll Love The First Year A Lot More Looking Back At It

Disclaimer: All views are our own, but we think you might relate to some of it!

How To Make Airports And Flying With Children Much Easier!

Travelling with babies can be daunting, especially for a first-time mum. But holidays are a chance to get away from the daily grind together and the (good) memories you make will last a lifetime. Flying is the means to that end – it will get you and your family to your destination in the quickest possible time. And while that’s happening, a drip-feed of sugar and screen time is totally acceptable. So rule number one of flight club is to forget about rules and routines. Here’s what TMC never travels without.

A Travel Pushchair

Even if your child hasn’t been pushed around for a long time: bring one. While baby-free holidays began with a slow amble around Duty Free and a leisurely glass of prosecco at the bar, you’ll find that airports suddenly feel so much larger (and you’re so much slower) when there’s a baby or toddler involved. Don’t check in your pram at the front desk, let them know you’ll be taking it with you to the gate – you don’t want to be carrying your child any further than you have to.

A Packed Lunch

Airports are full of queues: for check in, for security, for the gate. Lining up for food is another queue you can do without, especially when small people are suddenly super hungry. Pack a lunch box, pack snacks and pack some yummy little surprises too. And pack so much more than you think you’ll need; children are happier when they’re well fed, which means you can speed through the airport and put your feet up in a restaurant (for you!) while waiting to board.

Lollipops For The Air

Babies and small children can struggle with the pressure change created by taking off and landing. Feeding your baby during an ascent or descent can save their little ears from any pain (bottle or boob, either will work). For the older ones, take a lollipop. It really will help no end.

A Change Of Clothes And ALL The Nappies

Even if you have older children who never spill a thing, pack spare clothes in your carry-on. Take one full set per child, including socks, shoes and even an extra jumper, and if you have a baby, take at least five all-in-ones. If your little one is still in nappies, take plenty of spares – we’ve heard horror stories about being stuck on tarmac for hours and running out. Oh, and consider taking a spare top and pair of leggings for yourself too. If your child ends up covered in sick/poo/orange juice, chances are that you will too.

Arts And Crafts

No, we’re not suggesting that you travel with half of Hobbycraft, but a shiny new pencil case, some fancy crayons, sparkly stickers, colouring books and a little notebook provides easy entertainment for little ones and gives you a few minutes of precious peace.

Home Comforts

Children often have a favourite toy, blanket, or special item they need at bedtime. Bring it! It will give them some comfort and security, and might even tempt them to have a little sleep on the plane. A couple of large, light muslins are a great idea for baby too.

Paracetamol/ Ibuprofen

Put it in your hand luggage, not your suitcase – and don’t forget the syringe. You’ll never know when you might need it, and you’ll be so grateful to have it ready to go.

iPad And Headphones

Now is not the time to say no to screens. They can play games, watch the 1000th episode of Peppa Pig, or binge on as many Disney films they want. A jazzy pair of headphones will make them love the iPad even more, and don’t forget to download before you fly. Then, let them at it!

Sanitiser, Wipes And Muslins

Fact is, children get dirty. It can’t be helped, but you’ll be glad you’ve got something to wipe them down with.

A Small Bag Of Toys

A few small (and lightweight) toys will keep them entertained if they become restless. Bring a small selection that can be used at the airport, on the plane, by the pool, in a restaurant or in your room: think little toy cars, figurines, or a small amount of Duplo.

Books/ Magazines

Bring some books from home – even babies will like to look at the pictures, and all children love the familiarity of a well-thumbed book. If you have time, go shopping for a magazine at the airport with your little one. The process will provide much excitement and they’ll love the purchase all the more.

So, happy packing, bon voyage and enjoy your holiday! You’ll have adventures you’ll cherish forever, so trust us on this – a holiday is totally worth the flight it takes to get there!

Things We Wish We’d Known About Hospital

Ready to pack your hospital bag? Maybe you’re a keen bean and did it weeks ago. Either way, when the big day approaches, you’ll have a gazillion grows at the ready.

But one subject many people skip over is how you might feel after labour and what you might want.

Yes, a medal would be nice. But we wish we’d known the following things before we gave birth.

Hospital food is BAD

In the weeks running up to birth your snack bag (aka your personal tuck shop) will have to be restocked at least three times before you make it to hospital *it’s the best thing about labour. However, it’s likely that you won’t eat much of it during the actual deed. Granted, sweets and energy bars were our saviour, but after birth, you’ll crave something more substantial. Hospital food is beyond rank and the memory of our sad shrivelled sausages and dried out mash still makes us wince. Plus, you have to wait for the allotted serving times to get your ghastly fill. Pack yourself a cool bag containing a celebratory ‘post-birth sandwich’, some savoury crispbreads and general treats that are off-limits for labour (we’re talking to you birth-partners!). Because trust us when the hunger comes, it comes quickly, and sometimes there’s no option to order in.

Take some laxatives
Take some laxatives

Whether you have a C-section or a natural birth, going for a poo post-labour is never easy. Your hospital should give you some, but you might need some extra help, so take some laxatives with you or prune juice, just in case.

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You need to ask for help

It can be daunting to know what to do with the little slugs once they arrive. Even if you’ve read all the books, you’re still a bit ahhh! And to top it off, you’re also bloody exhausted. But guess what? You’re not expected to know everything. Why would you? Midwives look after babies every day, it’s their job, and they have tons of knowledge to pass on. Hell, they’ll even take your baby for a few hours if you’re desperate for a kip. The only catch is you have to speak up. Don’t ever feel like a failure, because you’re an absolute blimmin hero. If you need help, then ask for it!

Take your own pull up pants
Take your own pull up pants

The ones the hospital give you are similar to a hairnet. They’re fiddly to pull up and you also have to negotiate putting a massive pad in them. No thank you. Take the ones that look like nappies instead. Ok, they’re not chic in any of the ways they claim, but they’re so much better. We also found them weirdly comforting, but that might just be us.

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It’s bloody hot
It’s bloody hot

Wondering what to wear after birth? Hospitals run hot, so take lots of layers to control your temperature and pack a portable fan, if you have space. Depending on your birth, you might have to wear long compression stockings after labour. Unsurprisingly they will make you feel warmer, and the idea of pairing them with fluffy slippers almost makes us shudder. Cooler flip flops could be another shoe option on your list, mainly for walks to the shower, but negotiating a sock and shoe thong combo is pretty impossible. Save yourself some time and effort and pack some sliders instead.

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Your shower will save you
Your shower will save you

It will feel like heaven and hell all at the same time, but once it’s over, you’ll feel a million times better. Our top tip! Use a baby wash as it will be more caring for your sore bits.

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See the positives of staying in

It varies how long are you in hospital after birth. Everyone wants to get home as soon as they can and being kept in is pretty rubbish tbf. But it’s not all bad, as the longer you stay in, the more help you can get on those daunting first days. Ever heard new parents say they got home and were like ‘what now?’. Well, if you stay in there are experts on-hand who can answer those questions in an instant. From breastfeeding specialists to midwives with a wealth of knowledge, you’ll return home feeling grateful but also completely clued-up.

Ask Q’s about your situation

We’re not advising you to be a pain in the arse, but medical staff can sometimes be very vague about what’s going. Even if you’re told and forget. Remember that you are allowed to ask (at any time!) what tests are being done and what they’re waiting to receive before you can be released.

They won’t give you arnica

Arnica can aid healing and is widely known to help with bruising. It is also recommended to take after surgery to speed up the recovery process. However, it is a homoeopathic remedy, meaning that the hospital won’t have any. So, if it’s something you want to use, make sure you pack your own.

Ask for the strongest painkillers you can

Adrenaline will make sure you can look after the baby, but the drugs will look after you.

They take your maternity notes

Your midwife will repeatedly tell you to pack your notes, and they’re probably rammed in a big folder with the rest of your pregnancy paperwork. Beloved baby photos in there too? Take them out now, because after birth your notes become hospital property, and you’ll be super sad if the scan photos disappear with them.

Pack what you like

Trust us. The hospitals have seen it all. You will no way be the biggest diva they’ve seen, so if you want to take something that will make you feel more comfortable, then take it. You won’t ever be annoyed about what you took and didn’t use, but you might be miffed about that the thing you left.

Everything You’ll Need For Your First Baby

And tips we’ve picked up along the way.

So you’re about to have a baby and haven’t got a clue what to buy? As with pretty much everything to do with becoming a mum there’s a lot of conflicting advice out there, so we’ve put together a comprehensive list of everything we genuinely used and loved at TMC – and with five babies between us, that’s a lot of trial, error and real life advice. We’ve also included a downloadable PDF list which you can print and tick off as you shop.

Travel

  1. Car seat & ISOfix
    You can’t leave hospital without it so this is a big one. Our greatest cash saving advice is to scour the baby shows for pram/car seat bundles and do your ‘ISOFIX’ research, so the system you buy now (the second image) will also work with the next car seat up (yes, you’ll go through a few in the coming years). Good stores will fit the car seat for you and show you how to do it properly.
  2. Pushchair
    As you’ve probably seen by now we’re big fans of the BabyZen Yoyo at TMC, and wish we hadn’t spent a grand on a heavy duty first pram only to change it for this lightweight stroller six months; it has a newborn attachment we could have used from the get-go. If and when a second one comes along you can attach a toddler-friendly buggy board at the back for your toddlers, and add an extra-large bag for your shopping. Our vote for city living and any kind of travel.
  3. Baby Sling
    It’s worth pointing out that you don’t need to spend £350 on a baby sling, but they are so pretty! The resale value holds its own on these beauties, and we’d recommend a sling over a carrier to start with, so you can keep that baby close.
  4. Travel Cot
    Not everyone needs one of these but as we both love to travel, and regularly take the kids to our parents’ we used ours a lot – it really did help us get more sleep whenever we were away. If you do get one, consider an extra-long one, which don’t get outgrown quite as quickly. Also, invest in a mattress topper, Travel cots just aren’t comfortable without one.
  5. Backpack-style Changing Bag
    If we had our time again neither of us would buy a holdall – it’s just something else to…well, hold! Seriously, go straight for a backpack and choose one that looks good, as you’ll be carrying it for the next three to five years. Fortunately, the world has caught up with that fact and there are plenty of bags worth investing a little bit more in.

Sleeping

  1. Crib
    We found that the Chico Next2Me is by far the easiest crib to use. It attaches to the side of your bed, so you don’t have to go far when it’s time for a night feed. When you do want to move them a little further away, just unattached it and zip up the fourth side. Genius. It comes in a few colours too, so don’t panic Mrs Hinch – it will totally go with your decor.
  2. Comforters & Dummies
    You’ll receive so many of these at the beginning: use them all and rotate them regularly, so your baby doesn’t get attached to one single toy that you have to boil wash every time they drop it down the nearest drain. Hard when this Jellycat elephant is the softest thing ever (yes, you’ll get attached to them to) but we promise it’s worth it. As for dummies, we both used them up to the two-year mark or thereabouts. They helped our babies settle, and stopped them from using their bottles (or us!) as makeshift pacifiers. The glow in the dark kind come highly recommended by both of us – no more scrabbling around in the middle of the night!
  3. Swaddle Bag/Grow Bag
    Our tip here is to not to even try swaddling with muslins; we found it so hard to wrap our babies into tight (but not too tight) burritos especially after a midnight feed, and they always broke free in the end. So get a swaddle bag, and when they grow out of that get a grow bag with sleeves, as babies get cold at night and like to be snuggled up as much as we do.
  4. Camera Monitor & Room temperature
    On that note, a thermometer will help you wrap them up for the right conditions. A good baby monitor should have a thermometer on it but if it doesn’t this Gro egg is very handy.

Bathing

  1. Baby Bath or Seat
    We used both. The tub is much easier when they’re very little and you don’t want to do gymnastics round the bath to keep them in one place. But they both work just as well.
  2. Towel/Oilatum/Baby Grooming Kit/Thermometer

Changing

  1. Nappies & Wipes
    Hear us out: reusable nappies have come a long way. We both used them and found they saved us money in the long run and made us feel better about the impact our families were having on the environment. If disposables are more your bag, hit up Aldi right from the start; their nappies are a third of the price of most other brands and they sell in bulk. Both of these are God’s gift to nappy rash.. and if your kids are anything like ours it turns into a warzone down there the minute they start teething. Metanium is wonderstuff and Sudocrem doubles up as a great blemish-busting face mask for grown-ups!
  2. Nappy Bin
    Not essential, but when your newborn leaks liquid poo for the billionth time that day you’ll be glad you can stash those nappies (or disposable liners, if you’re on the natural nappy train) away quickly. We bought two each – one for upstairs, one for downstairs – and never regretted it.
  1. Steriliser & Bottle Kit / Perfect Prep Machine
    So easy

Clothes

  1. Short Sleeved Vests
    Next do the best ones!
  2. Long sleeved baby grows
    Again Next are great quality but if you want to spend a little extra there is nothing softer than Mori!
  3. Scratch Mits
    Especially when they are tiny
  4. All in one pram suit
    This really depends on the time of year your baby is due, but however old they are when their first winter comes around, one if these is worth a purchase. Don’t spend too much money though, they don’t wear them for very long.
  5. Muslins
    You’ll need a lot of these. A lot. And big ones too. They’re great for breast feeding (covering up and mopping up) and as blankets or sunshades. Get a few lovely ones and lots of cheap white ones which can all go in the wash at the same time.
  6. Cellular Blankets

Breastfeeding

  1. Nipple Cream
    Doubles up as lip balm. Woohoo!
  2. Nursing Pads
  3. Breast Pump
    Did you know you can rent breast pumps! Rather than shelling out the cost.
  4. Nursing pillow
    We got the BBHUGME to help us sleep during pregnancy and continued to use them as supportive feeding pillows.
  5. Nursing / Comfortable bras
    H&M do the best maternity bras. And who wants to paying a lot of money on something you’ll never want to see again after a year of wearing them!

After Birth

  1. Maternity Pants
    Tena is your best friend.
  2. Large Cotton Kickers
    M&S high waisted
  3. Painkillers
  4. Lots of comfortable PJS
    The night sweats are real.
  5. Netflix Subscription
  6. The Mum Club Membership
    For those 3am reads.

10 things you might ask about your newborn baby

You’ve got home from the hospital, you’re overjoyed with emotion, and then it suddenly hits you. What the hell do I do with this baby? And there it starts, the continual daily Google search, asking questions like; Do newborn babies need baths? And can you hold them too much? So, to save you some time in your searches, we’ve collated the top ten things parents ask after they bring their baby home. You’re welcome.

Do they know who their Mum is?

Looking after a newborn baby is hard, and some days you’re like, ‘I’m doing all this work for you, and I’m not sure you even know who I am?’ It might not seem like it, but they 100% recognise that you’re their Mum. Newborns know your smell and voice from the minute they’re born and studies show that they can also register your face after just a few days. Another concern some women wonder is if their baby can forget them. This is a completely normal question that lots of people ask. But please don’t fret, even if you have to spend some time apart, they will always remember your voice and smell, and you will be able to bond whenever the time comes.

Can you hold your newborn too much?

One of the best things about having a baby is all the lovely cuddles you get. And the good news is, you can’t do it enough. It’s actually essential to a baby’s development and helps them grow mentally and physically.

What happens if you yell at a newborn, and can they sense frustration?

Sleep deprivation paired with a baby that won’t stop crying will put anyone at the end of their tether. It’s ok to feel frustrated but getting worked up isn’t going to help anyone. Babies won’t remember you being upset, but they can pick up on your emotional state, and if they’re in your arms, they’ll feel the negativity in their bodies. So, take a breather. Ask someone else to help you and If you’re on your own, put your baby in a safe place, like their crib, and walk away so you can compose yourself. Take a few minutes, cry if you need to, and then once you’ve regrouped go back in. We have all felt like this, you are not alone, and the moment will pass. If it keeps happening and you feel overwhelmed, try and get some rest or go for a walk to get some fresh air and chat to a family member or friend about how you’re feeling, you’re not failing, you just need some help, and that’s normal.

Top tip: Got some earplugs? When trying to soothe their baby, some people put in headphones or earplugs to soften the noise, making it easier to cope.

Can I kiss my newborn?

“Of course, you can kiss your newborn!” Says antennal experts Blossom Antenatal. It is one of the biggest signs of love and affection that you can show your newborn. It also helps babies grow mentally, physically and psychologically, as it stimulates responses in the brain. Blossom Antenatal add, “Kissing should only ever be avoided if you have an active infectious disease. An example of this would be Herpes simplex, which can be dangerous for babies, so no kissing from you or any relative when you have a cold sore.”

Can you take a 1-week-old baby outside?

When you’re ready for a walk, getting some fresh air is a great idea for both you and your baby. Go steady though, the phrase ‘baby steps’ will apply to both you and your newborn for quite a lot of things over the next few months, so don’t rush it, remember you’re still healing, so head out for short walks at first and then build it up.

Should you pick up your baby every time it cries?

There’s nothing wrong with constantly picking up your baby when it’s teeny tiny, they are such precious little slugs and crying is how they tell you something’s up. And yep, it happens a LOT in the beginning, but it doesn’t last forever. As they grow and routines start to form, it gets a lot easier, and you tend to know what is up before the tears start to roll, well, most of the time.

Can I hold my newborn when it’s sleeping?

Yes, please do! It’s so lovely when they fall asleep on you, and you must enjoy those magical moments. Still, it is also important to put them down to snooze, not only so that you can have a break, but also, so they recognise that sleepy time happens in their bed and not just in Mummy or Daddy’s arms.

Can I give a newborn water?

It’s not advised to give newborns water, as it can make them feel full and decline the milk and nutrients that they need. Babies stay hydrated from milk, so if it’s hot and you’re breastfeeding they’ll either ask for more, or you can offer it. If they’re formula-fed and it’s very warm, then you can offer water as well as milk but make sure you do it after milk feeds and boil and cool the water before giving it to them.

When do I bath my newborn?

You do not need to bathe your baby in the first few days, and most parents prefer to top and tail by carefully washing their face, neck, hands and bottom. Usually, the best time to bath is when the umbilical cord comes off. Choose a time when your baby is awake and happy and make sure the room is nice and warm and lay out all the bits beforehand, so you stay nice and calm. You’ll need a bowl of warm water (or a baby bath) a nice fluffy towel, cotton wool, a nappy and some clean clothes.

When can a baby see?

Newborns can detect black, white and grey colours and focus on objects that are approximately 8-10 inches away from their face. As they get to two months old, they can see up to 18 inches away, and by three months they start to see colours and reach out for things that they see.

Real Life Stories: What It’s Really Like To Adopt

A TMC reader reveals the process she went through and what it feels like to finally have her happy ending. My husband and I have always had a relaxed attitude to life. After all, it took us 11 years to get married. And as many people do, we assumed that we’d try and have a baby, and it would just happen. However, after eighteen months of trying, we grew to realise that IVF might be our only option. But two cycles and a frozen embryo later, we reached a point where my body, emotions, and bank balance, couldn’t take it anymore, and we decided to stop the process and grieve for what could have been.

But what if it wasn’t over? What if we adopted?

After great consideration, we found ourselves at an open evening for potential adoptive parents. The talk seemed to be designed to scare a few people off, but it did the reverse for us. And even my slightly hesitant husband was now incredibly keen. So, on we went.

Our first big step was to have a one-to-one meeting with a social worker to assess if they felt it was suitable for us and to give us a chance to ask questions. At the end of the meeting, we were told that we were the type of couple they were looking for.

At last! Our first positive outcome on the road to parenthood!

That evening we reflected on everything and agreed that if there were ever a point one of us changed our minds, we would have to walk away from the process. We were either both 100% in, or not in it at all.   

After completing application forms, a full medical, submitting references and DBS checks, we were ready to begin stage 1 of the approval process. Stage 1 involved completing quite a bit of homework and attending training sessions over several evenings with other potential adoptive parents. The stuff we learnt, was emotional to say the least.

Fortunately, we passed through this and moved on to stage two. This consisted of eight meetings over three months, where everything and anything you can think of was discussed. And, before we knew it, we were sat in front of a panel of ten people who would decide if we could be parents.

After a few simple questions and a short interlude, we were given a unanimous YES!

I immediately burst into tears. At last! We were finally getting closer to what we’d always wanted. That evening, bubbles were popped, and glasses were clinked. But little did we know that the hard part was just about to start.  

Initially, there was a flurry of children presented to us, but we had to be realistic about the type of child we could support and sadly, none fit our criteria. We even tried using a site called Link Maker, which helps parents find a better match, but the competition was huge, and as time passed by, it began to feel like this would never happen for us.

That was until we met our fairy godmother, aka our new social worker. We told her that we’d recently shown interest in a little boy, but we hadn’t heard anything back. So, she got straight on the phone and convinced his social worker to read our profile. After that, it just snowballed. Both sides agreed it was a great match, and before we knew it, we were attending the adoption panel meeting.

I couldn’t hold back the tears. All the emotion of the past six years came flooding out. The answer we’d been waiting so long for. We were a match! And we were about to become a family. It was the best gift I’ve ever received.

Now all we needed to get through was the longest wait to meet our beautiful boy.

Finally, the day came, and as soon as I walked into the lounge at his foster parents’ house and saw him in person for the first time, I knew he was our boy. I didn’t have time to cry because he was in my arms. It was as if he’d been waiting for us too. Over the next ten days, we spent more and more time together. Until the final day. Moving in day!! The start of life as a family of three. The date was Friday the 13th but it the luckiest day of our lives.

I hope this helps anyone who is considering adoption, going through the approval process or waiting for their little one. To this day, we still think about the children we said no to and hope they have now found a forever family. I have only scraped the surface of our experience, as it is a challenging journey and not one to be taken lightly.

It will test you but don’t give up and it will happen for you. There were times when I didn’t believe it would for us, BUT it did! 

Real Life Story: The Day My Heart Stopped And So Had His

Shel Parker @shelparks describes what it feels like to lose a baby and why it’s important for others to talk about loss.    

*Please note this story may be triggering.

I decided to work for a few years after college, which meant I had to go back to study for another year before being accepted into university. 

After a long old slog to get there, it was a bit of a shock to find out that I was pregnant in the middle of year one.

Not only had I just started my course, but I also still lived with my mum, and I was in a newish relationship (one year in).

My situation was challenging, to say the least!

My partner and I decided that we weren’t in any position to give a baby the life it would deserve, financially or emotionally. So, after discussing this ENORMOUS decision over and over, we decided now wasn’t our time.

We didn’t speak the whole way to the appointment, and we sat in the waiting room in dead silence. Eventually, after what felt like forever, they called my name. As I was walking through the corridor, I saw a couple, a 30 something-year-old woman and a big, tattooed, muscly man. The man on his knees sobbing into his hands and the woman in pieces on a chair. I was listening to the nurse console them; they had lost their baby. I continued into the room and listened to the information the lady was telling me, at least I was meant to be listening, but my mind was just racing. “Take a seat back in the waiting room, and you’ll be called through to go down to the theatre”, she said. I went back in, sat down, and tears began to creep into my eyes, and my stomach was in knots. I gazed over at my partner, and he was welling up too. I told him I couldn’t do it, and he looked at me with relief and said he couldn’t either. We left the clinic and set off home, discussing on the way how we were going to do this. How would we tell everyone that we were going to have a baby? And how were we going to manage? “We just will.” We said to each other. It was then that we realised how lucky we were to be blessed with a baby.

Next thing I knew, we were on our way to our 12-week scan. Because we’d been on holiday, our scan was late, and I was 15 weeks pregnant. At this point, I had a cute little bump emerging, and my face was rounding off nicely. The excitement was unreal, and it was all I could think about at work that day. Shortly before I was due to leave for the appointment, a thought suddenly entered my head, “What if there is no heartbeat?” I mentioned my concern to a colleague, and she assured me that I would be fine, as I was young, fit and healthy. Of course, I would be.

I met my partner at the hospital, and we couldn’t wait. We got the tokens ready for the scan pictures, and I was going to get loads, one for mum, dad, me, my partner, my sister, his brother and everyone else. My name was called, and we went in. As I lay down, the excitement overwhelmed me. The nurse put on the gel and began to wriggle her thingy around on my belly. In front of me was the big screen with my baby on it. I was starting at it. I was so happy, there was my baby! I experienced emotions I’d never felt before. It was amazing.

And that’s when she asked, “Have you had any problems? Any bleeding?” I quickly answered. “No, why, why are you asking that?”. She replied, “I won’t be a moment”, and she left the room. My partner and I just looked at each other and then continued to look at our boy on the screen. She returned with a man, and he used the same stick to check my belly. “Yes”, he said to the woman and left.

“I’m afraid there is no heartbeat”, she said. “I’m sorry. The doctor has just confirmed it”.

My partner fell to his knees and cried like I’d never seen him cry before, gasping for his breath. He was in pieces. I was just still. I stared at the screen at my baby, and all I could see was him. A DEAFENING all-consuming silence surrounded me. My heart had stopped and so had his.  

The nurse talked, throwing statistics at me, explaining things (so my partner told me), but I couldn’t hear a thing. I couldn’t feel a thing. All I could do was breathe and stare at my baby on the screen. An image that still haunts me and a feeling that occasionally takes over me and reminds me of the worst day of my life.

1 in 5 pregnancy’s result in loss. Did you know that? I didn’t.

The nurse walked us through to the next room to tell us what would happen next. I was still emotionless. She explained, “You’ll have to come for an operation, the foetus is quite big now, so you can let it pass or have it removed, and you will be put to sleep”. I opted for that as I couldn’t bear to see such a thing. She then went on to explain how I would have to wait until Monday for the procedure. So, I was sent home with my dead baby still in my belly, and I had to deal with that for four days, the longest, most painful four days.

My whole body was in shock, the nurse left the room, and I broke. I cried. I couldn’t breathe, and I had pains in my head. We got home and pulled up on the driveway. The anxiety I felt walking down to the house was palpable. I just didn’t know how I would tell my mum what happened. We walked in, and my partner broke the news to her. She held me, and we cried. I called my friends, and we all cried together. I needed to tell everyone there and then, so that I didn’t have to endure that conversation for weeks. The days following, I stayed in my bedroom and cried. I cried until there was nothing left in me. I was empty in every sense.

After the operation, my partner took all calls, all texts. He held me in the night when I cried for our boy, made me eat, helped me sleep and was the absolute saviour of me. When I look back, I think I forgot his pain because I was consumed by my own. We decided that our baby was a boy and found comfort in naming him Zabe, so we had a name to refer to. We also named a star after him, so to keep his memory close by.

I hate that people never talk about loss in pregnancy. Some people think if the baby wasn’t born, then it’s not so bad. And that’s just not true. A friend of mine was my absolute saviour when it came to talking about my loss. She had experienced the loss of a child at full term, and I always felt like mine didn’t compare to hers, but told me that, “A loss of a child is a loss of a child. I lost my baby, and you lost yours”. I will remember this forever, as well as the support she gave me when I felt like I was drowning. Talking about my loss gave me the strength to continue.

Three short months later, our lives changed again, and we were blessed with a beautiful baby.

Ryhan is the absolute light in my life, and at one point, we’ll let him know that he had a little brother, who is now up in heaven watching over him.

Have you experienced loss in pregnancy? Speaking to someone about it can really help.

Both the Miscarriage Association and Tommy’s can offer extra support and advice.

How Long Do You Have To Wait To Have Sex After Birth?

Whether you were a bit frisky during pregnancy or you sat in the camp of ‘Get the F away from me!’ we can guarantee that post-birth, you’ll confidently reside in the latter.

Honestly, the thought of having S.E.X. couldn’t be further from our minds.

But what if you’ve started to worry if you will ever want it again? And when can you actually do it? Read on to find out…

Why don’t I want to have sex after birth?

Whatever labour you had, you’ll probably be viewing your body a bit differently right now. It’s completely normal to feel disconnected from any sexual thoughts. Readjusting your mind to see your bits and boobs as sexual entities feels almost impossible—especially when you’re breastfeeding, and your tits are your baby’s feeding station. But try not to worry. This opinion will change with time.

Is it ok I don’t feel like having sex?

Anyone else just feel a bit numb down there? “This is very normal for women after birth”, says Clare Castell, founder of Blossom Antenatal. She adds, “Hormone changes can impact your libido, cause dryness and affect how you feel. Never mind the fact you have a newborn baby to take care of!”. You might also feel a bit body conscious, which can play a huge part in sexual confidence. But don’t worry, like everything, it will slowly return, in whatever time frame is right for you.

When can I have sex after birth?

Usually, doctors say that it is ok six weeks after delivery. After this, it is entirely up to you and your partner. But mainly YOU. Please don’t ever feel like you have to rush. Do it in your own sweet time!

Will I want to have sex ever again?

It might not feel like it now, but @midwife_pip assures us that “You will! Please don’t put pressure on yourself. If you’re struggling and your partner has commented that you keep pushing him away, then talk to him and share your feelings.” In the meantime, enjoy intimacy in other ways like hugging, kissing or having a nice meal together. You have been through a lot, and you need to allow your body and mind time to recover and adapt to your new role as a mother”. If it starts to become a problem, you can speak to organisations like Relate. But usually, patience, time and a supportive partner will help.

Will it hurt to have sex after birth?

Whatever birth you had, there will be an element of soreness down below. Pregnancy puts a considerable amount of pressure on our bodies and our pelvic floor. You may experience some vaginal dryness, and If you feel tense, it will affect your ability to feel pleasure. So, try and relax, and get yourself some lube. It’s also worth being prepared that you may have to stop things in their tracks on the first few go’s until you’re ready. If it’s too painful, then don’t just carry on. It’s frustrating, we know, but your partner will understand.

Check-in with a physio to see if there’s any damage

Book in for a post-natal MOT to find out if you have any internal damage. The specialist will be able to advise you if you’re ready to have sex or if your body still needs some time to repair. Often women find that they are in a much better state than they think. Nervousness can play a part in getting back into things, so seeing a specialist might give you the boost you need.

Will I leak urine during sex?

If you’re experiencing leaks, then it’s probably due to stress incontinence, which is the same thing that causes you to leak if you cough or sneeze. This can be improved by doing your pelvic floor exercises, and if you feel like you need extra help, it is worth speaking to your GP or a pelvic health physiotherapist or specialist. If you leak during an orgasm, it could be because of urinary urgency, where the bladder muscles spasm when they’re not supposed to. Either way, if you’re worried, then speak to someone.

Will my vagina feel bigger after birth?

Our bodies are incredibly resilient. You only have to look at your post-pregnancy stomach to see how far it stretches out and back in. It will take a bit of time, but pelvic floor exercises will help tighten the muscles and make your vagina feel firmer.

4 ways to get your libido back after birth
  1. Increase your self-care
    Even just a long warm shower, bath or an extra bit of sleep can boost your mood. Ask your partner to take the baby out for a walk without you. Having an hour or so to yourself will help reignite your mood.
  2. Amp up the romance.
    Did sex use to follow a drunken night out? Or take place hungover when you were lounging in bed the next day? Well, if that’s no longer happening, you may need to switch things up and pour in some cheesy romance tactics like a rose petal bath or a candlelit dinner.
  3. Get some space.
    Ask a family member to take the baby for a few hours. Crack open some wine, play some music and order in some tasty food. You will feel so elated to have the house to yourselves (and to feel like two people who aren’t just parents) that the endorphins should spur on some nooky.
  4. Introduce a maintenance shag
    If it’s been a long old time since delivery, you may have to just go for it. We’re habitual creatures, and if we get used to not doing something, it can be daunting to get back into it, but once you do it, you’ll probably increase the likelihood of it happening more often.

Real Life: Postpartum Psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is an illness I’d never heard of until just over a year ago. Now, I’m writing this to share my experience of that illness with other women, in the hope they won’t feel as lost as I did should those two words come crashing into their lives.

I was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis after the arrival of our beautiful daughter Arietta. I’d felt fine throughout pregnancy – as fine as anyone does when they’re dealing with huge changes to their body and in their life – and was excited about the coming arrival of our baby girl.

The birth, though not easy, was a wonderful experience, but by then I was desperate to escape the hospital environment and get some rest. The sleepless nights I’d struggled with towards the end of my pregnancy got worse in the days leading to her arrival. In the end I must have managed about 10 hours in the final three days.

From the start, life as a mother wasn’t as I expected it to be. I’d heard so much about SIDS while I was pregnant that I would lie in bed wide awake, watching her breath and repeatedly touching her to make sure she was alive. I would look at my husband lying beside me, wondering how he could sleep so peacefully while I was worrying about Arietta. It got worse. I panicked about little things, which felt huge at the time. I didn’t want my husband to go back to work and leave me alone with my daughter, feeling I wasn’t responsible enough to take care of her. I told myself the feelings would soon go but they only got worse. I would lie there thinking that if I died, all of this would be over. But how could I leave my husband, daughter and dog behind? Perhaps I should kill all of us, I panicked. I wanted us to be together but not in this life, not with this mind.

My manic thoughts could take me from cloud nine to a place that was so dark and lonely I would stare at the wall in a haze. I went to the doctor to talk about my concerns and was told it could be the ‘baby blues’ or postnatal depression. Then one night during the first week of Arietta’s life I had a panic attack that was so terrifying I thought I was dying and begged my husband to call an ambulance. The endless nights of staying awake to watch my baby breathe had taken their toll. It was just too much.

Soon after that, a midwife brought me the results from a urine test I’d had while I was in hospital. I was told I was a carrier of Group B Strep. It’s a normal bacterium carried by up to a third of adults, most commonly in the gut and (for up to 25% of women) in the vagina, usually with no symptoms or side-effects. It’s not sexually transmitted but in rare cases it can be passed on to your child, causing serious complications.

Learning this did not help my state of mind. That night I carried out my usual routine of watching Arietta sleep in her Moses basket for hours. When she didn’t stir for her bottle I woke her myself. She seemed hot and floppy, so in a state of panic I woke my husband too and told him that she must have an infection. We rushed to A&E where we waited for hours before being sent to the children’s ward for tests. By that point I was convinced that ‘someone’ had been watching us via secret cameras in our home. It was a test and this was a conspiracy, I thought, starting with the midwife telling me about the Group B strep to see if I’d submit my daughter to these unnecessary tests, having needles in her spine and bloods taken left right and centre, wasting important NHS time.

Only one parent could stay with the child at night so my husband left us in hospital. I began feeling lonely and confused, and as I lay there watching Arietta in the middle of the night I felt an urge to press the red emergency button on the wall. ‘She’s dead,’ I screamed as the nurses ran in. My cubicle was crowded with people; I told them they had killed her, they had done this to her, they got what they wanted. Of course, she was peacefully sleeping. She was fine; I wasn’t.  

The next day I was moved back to the postnatal ward while Arietta remained in the children’s ward, waiting for her tests to come back. Walking back through those same corridors but this time with my mum holding my hand instead of my husband, I felt like a child all over again. It was scary, really scary, and I feared what might happen next. Later that day, two psychiatrists, a nurse and a social worker came to see me. As I sat there with my husband, my mum and dad, and Arietta in a cot beside me, I believed we were all there to confirm the details of my funeral before I would be sedated then reincarnated as a better person.

It was then I learned I had postpartum psychosis, a rare chemical imbalance of the brain that can affect one in 1000 women. On a voluntary basis I would be taken to the closest mother and baby unit, 33 miles away in Stafford. My husband, who had been holding it together until now, looked terrified. I couldn’t believe this had happened to us – and in just one week. I wanted my baby to be safe, but I didn’t think she was safe with me. I hadn’t eaten, my lips were dry, my hair hadn’t been washed or brushed and I couldn’t remember when I’d last brushed my teeth. I just wanted to die and thought about the ways in which I could make it happen. I didn’t even recognise my own reflection in the mirror.

Arriving at the mother and baby unit I felt frightened and alone. I would go from thinking the world of my baby to resenting the fact she was there. I said horrible things, things I wouldn’t have dreamt of thinking had I been in my right mind. My medication (mood stabilisers, anti-psychotics and anti-depressants) took a few weeks to kick in and during that time I was convinced everyone on the ward was lying to me: actors and actresses undercover for the police. I sat on my bed wrapped in a ball, refusing to talk about anything other than the ‘set up’.  I would demand to see the nurse’s name badges, believing they wore head pieces which fed them information about me and questions to ask. I was watched around the clock during the first week, my door open day and night with a member of staff staring at me, telling me when to eat, sleep, drink, and open or close the curtains. By now I just wanted my body to shut down, thinking that the longer I didn’t eat or drink the sooner I’d die. I wasn’t allowed to close the door of the loo or shower in case I tried to hurt myself. My husband was the only person I wanted with me; I didn’t even want to hold my own baby.

When the medication eventually kicked in I got my appetite back, gained weight, and things slowly improved. I had on-and-off home leave, where we could see how I coped with my daughter. The paranoid thoughts had gone and I was finally discharged, but I was left with a lack of confidence, not wanting to leave the house or converse with anyone. I was very low and felt sure that everyone who looked at me thought I was a bad mother. It took six months until I felt completely back to normal, and could come off the anti-psychotic medication sooner than expected.

I wanted to share my story, as even with a huge support network it was a dark and lonely time. My husband stood by my side through the whole thing, visiting me for hours every day. My family visited me regularly and the staff at the unit were outstanding, promising me again and again I’d get better, even though I didn’t believe them. I’ve been given phenomenal support since then, too. My psychiatric nurse is from a local team which supports people with early intervention in psychosis. I honestly can’t thank people enough for the care and support.

Don’t ever suffer in silence, and don’t be afraid of the stigma of mental illness. I was told so many times that there’s nothing to be ashamed off; it’s no different to any other illness or disease. Speak up and be honest. It takes time and patience but there is so much help out there for you.

How To Help Your Child During A Tantrum

Tantrums happen. It’s normal. And it’s okay. I promise you. Whether it’s in the comfort of your own home because you won’t let them have one more episode of Peppa Pig. Or if it’s in the middle of Waitrose in aisle 3, full blown kicking and screaming because you won’t buy them (yet another) plastic fantastic kids magazine with ‘stuff’ they won’t even play with. Here are my top tips on how to handle and manage those moments before you reach for the Mummy Juice at 9am…and remember, you are not alone.

Why…

Firstly, let’s try and understand why they do it. Chances are, they’re testing their boundaries and exploring their emotions, so how you manage them is really important. This is where you lay down the rules and show them that you’re the Boss from the get go. I always think a ‘firm but fair’ approach works well for children of any age. They could be hangry (it happens, even to us!), over whelmed, nervous, over excited, going through a big change. Try and understand why this tantrum has happened, and therefore we can manage it a bit better.

Communication…how to handle it…

Don’t totally freak out if they say ‘no’. It’s not always a ‘bad’ thing, and this may mean that they are strong willed, and this isn’t necessarily a negative. One day, you’ll want them to be able to stand up for themselves in the playground. But let’s teach them as and when this is okay to say. And remember…they’ll have picked this up from somewhere…!! I find the best way it to get down to their level to talk to them, this way they know you mean business. Try and rephrase what you are going to say, avoiding ‘no’ and reason with them. No matter how big or small they are, always talk it out with them. Emotions are running high when a child has a tantrum. They are still figuring out how to control their emotions (who isn’t…?!), so we need to support and comfort them. I find it best to do this once they’ve calmed down, you’ve spoken the situation through, and then you can cuddle and support them emotionally.

Consistency is key…

It’s key. Whether it’s you handling the situation (or shit-uation), the grandparents, your nanny, nursery, anyone….it is so important you are all on the same page. Not only will this make it easier for your little one to understand and process, but in the long run it’ll make it easier for you. And trust me, you’re in it for the long haul.

Time Out…why it works & how to do it…

Time Out spots are a great time and place for your child to think and reflect what has just happened. This gives them time to process that what they have done, wasn’t necessarily okay. If at this point they are having a mega meltdown, it also gives them time to calm down and just have some space. Equally, this also gives you the chance to take a couple of minutes to process the situation and how you are going to handle it. Keeping calm is vital, they will vibe this off of you. You don’t want it to become a shouting battle. Be consistent with your Time Out spot. Avoid their bedrooms, as this is their space and you don’t want them to dread going here as it’ll eventually effective their sleep. Find a designated spot and stick to it. I find a minute for every year of age is plenty. Set a timer, so that 2 minutes is actually 2 minutes and not 12! Talk to your child, ask them why they feel they’ve been sent to Time Out. Hopefully they can give you a half decent answer. If they are too little to verbally explain, still chat to them. Explain that you understand they may be feeling frustrated etc, but the way in which they acted isn’t okay. Avoid saying the word “no” as they’ll copy this. Try and rephrase the saying such as “let’s see if we can find a better way to…” or “next time, let’s try using our kind hands.”

Reward charts…why it works & which ones…

Reward charts are great for all ages as they can visually see they are being rewarded. This makes the end goal much more reachable, as sometimes children struggle to picture the end goal. Children’s perception of things when they can’t physically see it, can be very confusing! I believe that you should never reward for good behaviour, this is something that should always (hopefully) be happening. But let’s be realistic…children may need a little bit of encouragement in certain areas. And that’s okay! Keep the reward charts specific for their purpose and don’t generalise them. This will make it much easier for your little one to understand and strive to reach that end goal. Never take away something that they have earnt. Once they’ve earnt that reward (for whatever reason it may be!), it’s theirs forever. If you’re feeling creative, grab out those pens and paper and get making a star chart. They don’t need to be particularly fancy, but if you’re using stickers, definitely go with their flavour of the week. If not, you can get some fun personalised ones… Not fancy the typical chart? An empty jar and some marbles or dried pasta will also do the job!

Talk…

Talk to them and try and understand why they were feeling the way there were. Let them know you understand their emotions, but perhaps next time they need to go about it in a different way. If they’re older and don’t feel like talking, let them write it out in a diary. A problem shared, is most definitely a problem halved.

Comforting them…

Comforting is key, and who doesn’t love a hug?! Once your little one has calmed down, apologised if necessary, make up. Especially if this has happened just before bedtime. I know you may still be baffled by their actions at this point, but to them, to feel loved, safe and secure again is super important. This will have an impact on going forward to their actions in the future.

SOS: Save Our Sleep

Sleep. No-one can prepare new parents for the lack of, and with so much conflicting advice out there it can be hard to feel compelled to adopt a certain routine or schedule.

Rosey Davidson is the founder of Just Chill Baby Sleep, an infant sleep consultancy focused on providing straight forward, no-nonsense sleep advice to parents. As the ultimate sleep guru (ask anyone who has ever worked with Rosey), we asked her for some advice on her most commonly asked questions. 

Setting up a great sleep environment is important, but how do you go about this and why is it so crucial?

Our sleep environment is the set-up of where we sleep. We can all benefit from optimising this – babies and adults alike. First of all, it’s important to think about temperature. We all sleep a little better when things are on the cooler side. The Lullaby Trust, the baby sleep charity, say that the safest temperature for our little ones is 16-20 degrees Celsius. If you can’t control the temperature of the room, you should adapt the layers that baby is wearing. In really hot temperatures its fine for baby to just wear a vest or a nappy to bed. If you are unsure how warm your baby is its best to feel the back of their neck or their chest. It’s very normal for their hands and feet to feel a little cooler than the rest of them. We do have a guide for what to dress baby in for bed on the blog on our website.
Make sure your sleep environment is as tech free as possible (no TVs etc!). The blue and white light from devices, and bright lights, can interfere with our sleep hormone melatonin. When doing nappy changes or night feeds I suggest an amber reading light, or a low lamp to avoid waking up you and your baby fully at this time. Amber, red or pink are the best colours to help us sleep.
The next really helpful pointer for sleep environment is to black out those bedrooms! Darkness helps us sleep and helps facilitate the production of melatonin, our sleep hormone. Often, we are putting our babies to bed when it’s still light outside, and it gets lighter in the morning way earlier than we would like them to get up! Keeping things dark can really help them to switch off, and to stay asleep a little longer.

Do you need a routine? And when and how do you go about starting one?

There really isn’t a right or wrong answer to this. It’s a really personal thing as to when you might want to start having a bit of a rhythm to your day. I do believe that all humans do like to have a routine of sorts. Most babies seem to naturally fall into their own routine by around 6 months, but if they haven’t done this then you can absolute start implementing one. Many will benefit from a gentle rhythm to their day even earlier. A really great way to start is to simply aim to start the day at roughly the same time each day. This can help anchor your day, so that baby’s naps will hopefully start to follow a bit of a pattern. I think it’s really important to be able to go out and socialise a little, especially with things starting to open up a little more, but also to give baby the opportunity to sleep if they are tired. A routine shouldn’t be so rigid that you can’t get out once in a while.

How do you help your baby settle themselves, if that’s the route you want to take? Is it important for them to settle themselves?

It’s important to note that there is nothing wrong with helping your little one to sleep. This is perfectly normal, and in many cases not an issue at all. Some babies are fed or rocked to sleep and get a settled night, or you might find your situation quite manageable as it is. However, if you are in a situation that feels unsustainable and you would like to work on sleep, it is worth assessing how your little one falls asleep. For some babies how they fall asleep at night is how is what they come to expect between each sleep cycle when they stir (i.e., rocking, feeding, patting etc). If you want to work on them connecting sleep cycles independently then practising putting baby down awake is a good place to begin. You can do this really slowly by layering in new ‘habits’ before removing the old, or you can start a bit quicker if you feel it would be beneficial for your family. It is important to note the temperament of your baby. Some need more gradual change, and some are fairly relaxed and may adapt really well. Find a method and plan that suits you, your baby and your belief system.

How can we go about managing sleep regressions?

As babies and toddlers move through developmental milestones it isn’t unusual for sleep to be temporarily disrupted. They may wake more frequently at night, take shorter naps or fight falling sleep. These periods of disruption are often referred to as ‘sleep regressions’ even though they are triggered by phases of developmental progression. Whilst most babies tend to reach key milestones at roughly the same age as each other, all babies are different and will experience these phases of development when they are ready. The only real ‘regression’ that we recognise is the ‘4-month sleep regression.’ It isn’t really a regression at all, it’s actually a progression in your baby’s development. It is a good sign that your baby’s sleep cycle is maturing.
This phase of change represents the biggest change in sleep that your baby will go through, making the structure of their sleep cycles much more like those of an adult. Once this change in sleep has occurred, we all, babies and adults alike, naturally wake between each of these cycles. It can be a good time to work on sleep if you want to.
You can help your baby to get their sleep back on track and support them to practice how they can fall asleep themselves. Learning to sleep independently can be tricky for some babies, but it is absolutely achievable over time. Some babies will naturally adjust to their newly matured sleep patterns and sleep well again within a few weeks, others need some help to practice new skills in order to sleep well.

For sleep, I’m sure a lot of us know there isn’t a one size fits all, what’s the best advice you’d give for getting support?

Do some reading and research. We have some great free resources available. Remember that there is no right or wrong when it comes to sleep. We are all individuals, and you are your baby’s expert. My YouTube channel and our blog are a great place to start. I also have lots of guest lives and podcasts in my highlights on Instagram. You might find that with a few tweaks you are able to make some really great progress. If you do want some more tailored help, we offer 1:1 telephone calls and online courses. When looking for a sleep consultant it’s important that you take into account your parenting style and beliefs and choose someone who fits with that.
Ultimately, you will sleep again, and you don’t have to suffer sleep deprivation long term. We all deserve a good night’s sleep!
You can find out more about Just Chill Baby Sleep here: www.justchillbabysleep.co.uk

The Best Hotels In The UK For Your First Holiday With A New-Born

Congratulations! You’ve grown a whole new human for a long nine months – you most certainly deserve a holiday. Most parents will tell you that the new-born phase is the best time to travel. They will sleep! They are easy to transport! No toddler tantrums to worry about! Equally, planning a holiday with a new-born can feel daunting. What to pack? Where will they sleep? What if you run out of nappies?

Now more than ever, people are thinking about staycationing in the UK. There’s no airport to navigate with a tiny baby, no changing nappies high in the sky, and no need to panic about finding the essentials you might have left at home. There are some amazing family-friendly hotels in the UK too, which can take the stress and strain away from planning a holiday. Just  get yourself there and they’ll take care of the rest.

The Fish Hotel

Near Broadway, Cotswolds, England

The Fish Hotel can be found on a hillside, in the middle of a 400-acre private estate in the middle of the Cotswolds. It has a fun, quirky and refreshingly modern set up: rather than all being found in one main building, accommodation consists of shepherd’s huts, tree houses and rooms in a series of beautiful Cotswolds stone buildings. The Fish is an ideal place to take a new-born for a relaxed holiday in beautiful surroundings. The staff are incredibly friendly and will happily accommodate your requests for all things baby. Make sure you take an hour or two for a leisurely lunch in The Lounge, and order the tacos from their specialised taco menu – delicious!

Rooms from £150

www.thefishhotel.co.uk

Bedruthan Hotel & Spa

Newquay, Cornwall, England

Set into the clifftop overlooking Mawgan Porth Beach, The Bedruthan Hotel & Spa is a must-stay for families. Management and staff could not be more considerate of families with small children, with a variety of restaurant options, an indoor and outdoor pool, a spa and even an indoor soft play for rainy days. The hotel has been run by the same family for over 60 years, so it maintains a family feel but with the air of a luxury beach side hotel. They can provide all the baby and toddler equipment you need.

Rooms from £129

www.bedruthan.com

Another Place

Ullswater, Lake District, England

Another Place has a dreamy position on the shores of Ullswater in the Lake District. It prides itself on being a relaxed hotel that prizes quality family time, while still offering an incredibly high standard of food, service and accommodation (if you’ve ever been to its sister location, the stunning Watergate Bay Hotel in Cornwall, you’ll recognise a similar vibe). The hotel has a variety of rooms that can easily accommodate a cot, much of the baby equipment you might need, and pantries with microwaves, washing-up facilities and a fridge – so useful! The swimming pool has incredible views of Ullswater, and there’s a glorious which is perfect for a post-partum massage.

Rooms from £270

www.another.place/

Woolley Grange

Bradford-on Avon, Wiltshire, England

A countryside retreat in a 17th Century Jacobean Manor, with an impressive personal touch that keeps families returning year after year. This hotel has thought of everything needed to keep parents relaxed and their children entertained. All necessary equipment is provided, and the staff clearly adore children. To ensure that new parents in particular have a successful first holiday, a ‘Baby’s First Stay Away’ package includes treats such as a baby singing class, baby’s first swimming lesson and a baby massage class. The garden is a highlight, with chickens, rabbits and pigs, scarecrows, a tree swing and even a fairy garden. Truly a hotel worth introducing to your special new addition.

Rooms from £119

www.wooleygrangehotel.co.uk

The Gleneagles Hotel

Auchterarder, Perth and Kinross, Scotland

Luxurious, decadent, opulent… if you want to push the boat out for baby’s first trip then this is the place. There’s so much to explore and enjoy in this iconic hotel, and Gleneagles has thought of everything to make your family stay as comfortable as possible. Baby equipment is easily provided, bespoke baby food can be prepared by the hotel’s top chefs, and experienced babysitters are on hand if needed. When your baby is older, the hotel has thoughtfully-designed children’s spaces for them to enjoy – they can even try their hand at outdoor pursuits such as archery, off-roading in a mini Land Rover replica, or they even ‘own a pony’ for the day. Just hope they don’t get too much of a taste for it…

Rooms from £295

www.gleneagles.com

The Monthly Hot List – April 2021

Every month we will be bringing you a monthly round up of the best TV, film, books, podcasts, and events to attend that month…

TV & Film

Line of Duty – BBC 1
Line of Duty – BBC 1

Line of Duty is one of the most talked about British crime dramas of all time – the BBC series has been watched by millions and the series 5 finale was one of the most watched programmes of 2019. Line of Duty follows a group of detectives and investigating officers who are responsible for uncovering corruption within the police force and exploring the police’s links to an organised crime group. It is a gripping series with an excellent cast – our favourite is the fabulous and absolute force that is Vicky McClure as DI Kate Fleming.

Nomadland – Disney +
Nomadland – Disney +

Everyone is talking about Nomadland – it has just received 6 Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapated Screenplay and Best Actress for the legendary Frances McDormand. It’s based on a non-fiction book by the journalist Jessica Bruder. Nomadland tells the story of recently widowed Fern (McDormand) who is forced to leave her home in rural Nevada during the recession. The impressively resilient Fern becomes a nomad, living in her van, and finds seasonal work when and where she can. The film has already been picking up awards and receiving huge amounts of critical acclaim globally. It’s at the top of our must watch list! Nomadland will be available for streaming on Disney + at the end of the month.

BOOKS

The Hungover Games – Sophie Heawood
The Hungover Games – Sophie Heawood

The journalist Sophie Heawood gives a candid account of accidental pregnancy, parenthood as a single mother and examines the expectations of modern womanhood. In her mid-thirities, Heawood was working as a journalist in Hollywood interviewing celebrities and living the high life in LA. After a night of unprotected sex with a semi-boyfriend she finds herself pregnant. Heawood states that “this is a story of how I staggered from partying in Hollywood to bringing up a baby in Piss Alley, Dalston; how I never did find a copy of What To Expect When You Weren’t Even Fucking Expecting to Be Expecting, and why paternity testing is not a good topic for first-date conversation.” Heawood is refreshingly honest and hilarious – you will laugh out loud.

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Adults – Emma Jane Unsworth
Adults – Emma Jane Unsworth

Adults is a comical, witty, and thought-provoking story all about Jenny McLaine – she can’t afford her mortgage since her ex moved out, her best friend has had enough of her, her mother wants to move in, and she is fixated with Instagram where she can stalk women with seemingly perfect lives. We all want to be adults but adulting can be tough. Adults has been highly praised by one of our favourites, Dolly Alderton – she said that Adults is “confronting, heart-breaking and hilarious – it is both a timely parable for modern anxiety as well as a timeless examination of men, women, sex, desire, friendship, family and the female psyche … I completely and utterly adored it’

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PODCASTS

The Travel Diaries - Holly Rubenstein
The Travel Diaries – Holly Rubenstein

Entertainment and Travel Journalist Holly Rubenstein chats weekly to a special guest about their travel experiences and adventures around the world. In a time where our opportunity to travel is restricted then it’s a delight to listen to Holly and her guests discussing the wonder and joy of travel. Holly takes the listeners on a journey of her guests travel history – we discover earliest childhood travel memories, first places they fell in love with, hidden gem recommendations and bucket list wish lists. Guests have included Poppy Delevingne, Ben Fogle, Jamie Laing and Jo Malone. The perfect podcast for our times – charming escapism to help satisfy our wanderlust!

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But Why? - Clemmie Telford
But Why? – Clemmie Telford

This is a new podcast series by Clemmie Telford – she aims to answer tricky questions with honest answers. The mum, influencer and media guru has a variety of candid and direct conversations with an array of guests including Matt Haig, Caitlin Moran and Bryony Gordon. The topics are brilliant, and the episodes are structured superbly. The latest episode sees Clemmie talking with the author and journalist Caitlin Moran about womanhood. They discuss how we change as women – especially after children and how this evolution of ours is challenging as well as a gift. They also discuss how problematic it is to go for a wee in a jumpsuit!

LISTEN NOW

EVENTS

Sunday 4th April - In Conversation with Sir David Attenborough
Sunday 4th April – In Conversation with Sir David Attenborough

This event has been organised by Earth Optimism Cambridge and it’s a wonderful opportunity to join in with a conversation with the legendary Sir David Attenborough. He will be discussing his hopes for the planet and answering questions about conservation.

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Thursday 15th April- Mum Club Lates: Will I ever sleep again? – Rosey Davidson
Thursday 15th April- Mum Club Lates: Will I ever sleep again? – Rosey Davidson

Rosey Davidson (AKA Just Chill Mama) is here to answer your questions on all things sleep! Nothing prepares new mums for the lack of sleep, and with so much conflicting advice out there it can be hard to feel compelled to adopt a certain routine or schedule. That is why we’ve recruited the help of Rosey Davidson to ask her all the questions you’ve ever wanted answered.

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Tuesday 20th April 2021 -Rachel Parris and Marcus Brigstocke’s Tuesday Night Club
Tuesday 20th April 2021 -Rachel Parris and Marcus Brigstocke’s Tuesday Night Club

Husband and wife comedians, Rachel Parris and Marcus Brigstocke, became internet sensations during the first lockdown when they posted videos of themselves lip-synching to songs. They have now started a weekly virtual comedy show to pass the time – the Tuesday Night Club. It’s very silly, funny and joyful. They don’t take themselves seriously and make for a hilarious double act. Rachel and Marcus discuss their home lives, play games with the audience, and offer behind-the-scenes gossip from TV quiz shows and conclude with the fabulous lip-synch challenge!

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Why Is My Baby Crying? When To Know If Something Is Wrong

Spoiler alert! Newborn babies cry, and it happens quite a lot.

But the good news is, it doesn’t last that long.

In the fourth trimester, it is completely normal for the wailing to take up a lot of your day *and night. It’s also natural to worry that there’s something really wrong.

Because let’s be honest, looking after a tiny human can be pretty overwhelming, and you may find you’re constantly questioning if everything is ok.  

So, to ease your mind and to dispel any fake news, we spoke to Paediatrician Dr Kiran Rahim, aka @themunchingmedic, to reveal what’s normal, when to worry and how to act if you think something’s up.  

Why is my newborn crying so much?

First things first, crying is normal. It is not your fault, and it will pass! Dr Kiran explains, “In the first 12weeks of a newborns life, they are adjusting to a world outside of the womb and undergoing some important neurodevelopment changes”, who wouldn’t want to have a little weep? It’s a lot of change for you and your baby. Dr Kiran says, “About a third of cases I see in A&E are because of a crying baby. Poor exasperated parents walk in blurry-eyed at 2 am. But usually, there isn’t something wrong, and they have a perfectly healthy baby”.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help

“It’s not your job to figure out what’s going on alone. Please seek professional help. I would rather parents came in than I not see them at all. Remember, as doctors, we are part of your village. We are happy to help you. We know that mums cry, we know that dads cry, and we bloody well know that babies cry. But nobody needs to cry alone”.

Trust your intuition

Your mother-in-law, your mum or whoever wants to chip in their two cents, is NOT the expert – YOU are! Dr Kiran says, “Even I was given advice, and I’m a paediatrician. You have to listen to your maternal instinct”.
Ok, they’re crying A LOT. Have you checked?

1, Go over the basics. Is the baby tired, has it been fed, does it need a nappy change, are they going through a growth spurt?
2. Listen to your instincts. Is this normal for your baby? If not, then it’s time to get help. Dr Kiran says, “Contact your health visitor if your baby is generally ok. GP if you’re worried, and A&E if you’re extremely concerned”.

The 5 S’s – Dr Kiran’s tips for reducing crying

Sling –studies show that carrying your baby close and often can reduce crying. 

Sucking – an effective soothing mechanism, which can be given through breastfeeding or a pacifier. *Note! Pacifiers should be avoided in breastfed babies until your milk is established around 4-6 weeks.

Shushing (or singing) – similar to white noise, this emulates the environment in the womb.

Swaddling – provides comfort as it mimics the womb. But should be stopped when babies can roll and always place babies on their backs when swaddling.

Swinging – copies the movement your baby experienced when it lived inside your belly.

Look for the red flags

“If you notice any of these symptoms or your child has a sudden onset, then take them to see a doctor immediately”, says Dr Kiran.

1. Fever (a temperature above 38C)
2. Projectile vomit, or vomit that has blood or is green.
3. Weight loss.

Read more about the alarm system here: https://www.what0-18.nhs.uk/application/files/6115/6735/1943/CS50028_NHS_Crying_baby_Advice_Sheet_Aug_19_Final_AW.pdf

What is normal crying?

“The fourth trimester can be exhausting, so stressful, and incredibly frustrating. It is important to know what normal crying is and when you should seek help”, says Dr Kiran.

• “Several studies document that the average baby cries for 2-3hrs a day”.
• “The crying phase usually peaks around 6-8 weeks and eases after the 12th”.
• “It’s often worse in the evenings and early mornings”.
• “I like to follow the rule of 3 – if your baby cries for more than 3hrs a day, for more than 3 days a week for 3 weeks, then you need to get some help”.

What is Colic?

“Colic follows the same pattern as normal crying, but there’s more of it, and with inconsolable bouts – it’s not fun!”.

• “If your baby is crying for at least 3 hours a day for 3 days a week, it may have colic. If you are concerned, then speak to your health visitor or GP”.
• “There are lots of things on the market that you can try for colic, and some of them work but don’t put your hope in them, as they’re not a guarantee”.
• “What works for one baby might not work for another. The baby market is so lucrative, and you could spend a fortune on trying out a million different remedies”.
Read more about them here https://www.instagram.com/p/CBYvH4MltXR/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

What is CMPA?

CMPA is when a baby has an allergic reaction to cow’s milk protein. Dr Kiran advises, “If you’re worried, then talk to a GP. A mother’s maternal instinct isn’t given enough credit. People always say to me, but you’re the doctor, and I’m like, yeah, but you’re the Mum”. Sometimes all you need is that one to one appointment where the GP extracts the information from you. “You need that objectivity, and even if you feel like you’ve given them the answer, that’s ok, because a lot of the time that is the case”.

• CMPA commonly presents itself in the first month of life.
• Symptoms can be rashes/eczema, vomiting, loose/bloody/mucus poo, excessive sneezing, wheeze, cough, swelling and excessive crying.
• Your baby can have some of the symptoms, one of them or none of them.

Does my baby have reflux?

“It’s normal for babies to have reflux because of the way their stomach is formed”, says Dr Kiran. But that can be shown in babies in different ways. “Sometimes, they’ll cry, hiccup, bring up food or vomit. It’s a burning sensation, so more often than not, they cry and arch their backs”.

Reduce the chances of reflux:
• Keep your baby upright 30 minutes after a feed.
• Avoid tobacco exposure.
• Position your baby on your tummy when they are awake and observed.

When to worry
• If your baby is having several episodes of crying after feeds.
• If they’re vomiting a lot.
• If they’re losing weight.
• If they refuse feeds. *Babies can quickly figure out that feeding can cause pain, which makes them reluctant to feed.

Speak to your GP, and they may suggest a range of medications.

*If medications or methods don’t work just remember, 90% of babies will grow out of reflux by the age of one.