Lifesavers

Several blogging award ceremonies are now upon us. Every year, we nominate and then vote for our favourite bloggers – sometimes spending hours on one category because the category has three of your favourite blogs in it.

But where would we be without the little parenting lifesavers that have got us through the day so we could carry on blogging?

So without further ado, I present my Top 10 parenting lifesavers.

Breakfast biscuits – For when a proper breakfast is not going to happen. Without them, I would likely go hungry thanks to a mis-timed feed.

Bottle of water – ‘Nuff said.

Coffee creamer / whitener – For when a hot, milky coffee is not going to happen as soon as you’d like it. This stuff keeps hot drinks warmer for longer.

Nipple cream – In the early days, this stuff was liquid gold, especially the ones that didn’t need to be washed off before a feed.

Twitter – I’ve kept my sanity chatting to the lovely ladies and gents of Twitter. There’s either someone having the same day as you, or someone who just fancies a chat. I’ve spent many feeds stuck in the sofa with just the company of Twitter. It’s great.

Frozen meals – During the first few weeks we saved up left over portions of dinners so that if I was having a hectic day, I could just whack a meal in the oven. This has been a huge help with zero effort as all it took was cooking a larger lasagne, for example. This also saved our wallets (and waistlines) from buying takeaways!

Vanish – For those white to yellow vest days. I need to take out shares in this stuff.

Nursing Pillow – Apart from it’s obvious use, it’s also good for being a neck pillow for a last minute nap after a feed and T is on my chest. No more cricks in your neck.

Baby TV – Not my proudest life-saver, and when I caught myself letting him watch the TV I cried a little bit, but within the ten minutes I let him watch the telly during a challenging day I got to go the toilet and prepare some (decent) food. Although it is only ten minutes I still feel guilty about doing it, trust me.

My stretchy wrap – Probably my biggest life-saver. For when T doesn’t want to be put down, and I want to cook dinner. It also means I can nip to the shops without packing up the pram.

What are your parenting life savers?

K

Sleep

Sleep has been a big talking point in our house. Even before T arrived we were losing sleep. From the third trimester I was losing it thanks to just being pregnant and S was losing it because we had a beansprout on the way.

So when T arrived we were both pretty tired, but things didn’t start out as bad as we’d expected. T slept through the night on day two (which scared us more than anything as it was unexpected) and by the end of the week we were on blocks of feeds every 2-3 hours, sometimes 4. Perfect. I’ll take that. 


But then a tongue tie was found and cut, and from then on we had several sleepless nights, T often only sleeping for blocks of 40 minutes as soon as I put him down in his moses basket. We don’t think it was related to the tongue tie but it was a funny coincidence. He just didn’t want to lay flat anymore. We tried him in his travel cot (an hour max) and his carry cot (an hour) – nothing was getting us any sleep. On top of this, T then developed a cold.

T never had any issues sleeping on our chests, but we didn’t want to co-sleep at night, so it was 40 minute blocks for us.

One day, however, we read somewhere about putting a wedge underneath T’s Moses basket mattress to raise him into an angle slightly. I don’t know what prompted us to check but we always knew he was always happy propped up; whether it was against my pregnancy pillow or nursing pillow, or our normal pillows.


So we purchased a “wedge hog” to put under his mattress. Annoyingly, apart from firmness, it’s no different to the wedge I had during pregnancy for my knees!

Anyway, we tried it out and I can honestly say it’s the best thing since sweet red peppers stuffed with cream cheese. That night, T slept through from 8pm to 5am!!!! He then had a feed and went back to sleep until 7am. We couldn’t believe it, but as someone kindly reminded us…

“once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence, three times is a routine…” (@pollianicus)

So onto the next night… 8pm to 4am, feed, back to sleep until 7am. The next night…. 8pm to 4am, feed, wake at 7am. We’ve now had 2 weeks of this and can’t believe our luck. We fully expect it to come crashing down once something happens; like teething, but at the moment we’re very very happy.

Of course I still wake up every now and again to check on T, but that’s expected as I’m so used to waking every 2hrs, but I soon go back to sleep. Hopefully, that habit will drop and I’ll sleep right through one night!

K

We are in no way sleep experts, so if you’re having baby sleep issues please only take what we did/do as a suggestion, and not actual advice.

We purchased the wedge hog with our own money.  

The Breastfeeding Chronicles – Feeding On The Go

It’s hard enough learning how to breastfeed in the first few weeks without the thought of having to then do it outside.

At home you have the comfort of being able to whip your boob out without wandering eyes. You don’t have to worry about what clothes to wear, where to sit, or even about putting it away after feeding.

So when S suggested going out within the first week, my first thoughts were feeding T. Would the place be breastfeeding friendly? Would I have to go outside? What would people say? I certainly wasn’t resorting to sitting in the toilet but at the same time this was completely alien to me.

At first I was nervous. Would I be skilled enough to whip it out without people noticing? What should I wear? Would T feed outside comfortably? Turns out it was easier than I realised. We still took an emergency bottle of formula, but we didn’t need it.

The first time I did it I was in a mothercare feeding room so not too daunting, but it was still an experience doing it in front of other women as well as doing it without the comforts of my cushions and pregnancy pillow. It took me a while to get comfortable, but in no time T was latched and I was sat chatting to three other ladies who were also feeding their babies. It was actually really enjoyable.

The next time I did it I was in a country pub, sat outside. This one was a little more trickier. Although I had a nursing top on, I still had to manage unhooking my nursing bra and being discreet at the same time. Thankfully, the table we were sat at was in the perfect position and I was well hidden, so well hidden in fact that the waitress didn’t notice I was feeding when she came to clear our plates.

I’ve since fed T a few times now whilst out and about. I’ve fed T in parks and cafés, as well as on a dog walk. I still sometimes prefer to feed him in the backseat of my car before we start our day out if there is literally nowhere to go but it’s not the worst place in the world.


Saying that, I do still get frustrated with myself at times when I don’t find the courage or feel comfortable feeding outside, I guess I worry there’ll be confrontation. But as someone recently said; “…every feed completed outside is a step forward. Take baby steps” and they’re right. I need to stop beating myself up.

Here are a few of my tips to feeding outside:-

Wear a suitable top. I’ve done it already, I’ve gone out in my favourite t-shirt (I haven’t worn it in 9 months!) and realised I need to feed T. Out comes the gut and spare tyre. It’s not so bad in the car or a feeding room but it’s not something I want to put on show in a café or restaurant. Try and wear a button down shirt or nursing top. A zip up hoody had also come in handy as I can zip myself up with T inside once I remove my arm from the sleeve.

Pack an extra muslin. If you’re still not confident or quick enough to whip it out before anyone notices then an extra muslin is a good way to hide everything discreetly but also send a message as to what you’re doing. A separate one to one you probably already have will mean you don’t have to have a milky/messy one sat near your nostrils.

Expect people to stare. It shouldn’t be the case but it still is, unfortunately. As long as people don’t say anything you’ll soon get used to people giving you a quick double take as you start feeding. With this in mind, it’ll help if you perhaps don’t choose to feed in somewhere like The Ritz – we all know that’ll definitely attract attention.

Power in numbers. Leading on from the above, feeding in numbers means people are unlikely to say anything anyway. You’ll also feel more confident if you’re just starting out as you can see how other mums feed.

Don’t rush. You take your time with your meal, why shouldn’t your baby? If you know a feed is due, find somewhere you’ll both be happy to stay for a while. Likewise, if you find yourself in a café make sure you take your time drinking that coffee otherwise it’ll cost you a fortune!

Get comfy. Similar to the above, find somewhere with comfy seating or a view – you’re going to be there a while.  Likewise, if you’re not sure about the weather don’t plonk yourself outside!

Accessorise. No. I don’t mean putting a boob shaped hat on your baby, I’m talking about your accessories. Make the most out of the time in between feeds and whack that nipple cream on. Take extra nipple pads with you or even a spare top or bra in case spillage happens from you or baby.

Remember:- Breastfeeding is not indecent or illegal.

What are your breastfeeding-on-the-go tips?

K

The Breastfeeding Chronicles – Breast Pads

Thanks to Baby Shows and Bounty Packs, I’ve received my fair share of free nipple pads – not to mention boxes of them handed over from other mums (personally, I prefer chocolates).

The amount I’ve received has meant I haven’t had to buy any, which is a good thing as I have no idea what classes as a “good” nipple pad so I wouldn’t know where to start.

Since T arrived, I’ve tried pads from Avent, Nuk, Boots, ASDA and Lansinoh, and my conclusion is that they’re all rubbish. Not what you were expecting eh?

Sure, you get some that come with good features like a slit that can turn your pad into a cone to fit your breast perfectly, but out of all the pads I’ve tried they all have the same poor features, such as:-

– Poor adhesive. Whether it’s a long strip, or several small squares, nothing seems to keep a pad in place in your bra – and that’s without the action of unhooking your bra to feed which can often moves the pad around anyway. The amount of times I’ve put my bra back into place and accidentally stuck the sticky side to my boob because it’s folded over whilst in transit. Ouch.

– Absorbsion. I must say, apart from the Lansinoh and Nuk pads, every other pad I’ve tried has had poor absorbsion. They either don’t absorb at all meaning my boob is then soaked, or I actually go through the pad (and it’s not as if I’m leaving the pad for hours, these pads are often still dry around the edges).

– General design. They’re wrinkly and lumpy, shaped like saucers, and can be heard a mile away as they ruffle. I can’t wear certain items of clothing without seeing the obvious wrinkle of a breast pad behind my bra, so I have to sometimes layer up. They’re certainly not practical.

If I’m still breastfeeding by next month I’m going to be purchasing some alternatives to disposable breast pads such as washable/reusable breast pads or breast cups. With the washable breast pads I’ve heard they’re silkier and more comfortable – not to mention more eco friendly. With breast cups, you can apparently make the most out of the milk lost and freeze this as well, but I will have to research this.

Got any recommendations? Let us know.

K

How Much???

Have you found that when buying necessities for your little one that it seems that the companies and shops are just out to screw you for money? They do, because they can! I, however, have decided to take a stand and bleed these companies dry of any savings they’re offering.

I’m not an overly tight person when it comes to shopping, but there are certain things I don’t agree with, and over charging for things really winds me up. (I used to work for a licensing company for a HUGE sports company that owns a lot of brands and trust me, the prices you pay for items are massive compared to the cost of manufacture.) I’m also big on buying items that will last for years on end, so I really do get my monies worth.

When it came to shopping, K left pretty much everything up to me to research once we passed the 12 week safety zone, and research I did. I compiled a list of options and presented them to K, to find out what was a definite NO. Once we had narrowed everything down – thats when I started to shop around to find the best deal on said item. It was a lot of work but when you then compare the savings you’re getting at the end it’s totally worth it.

Some people will recommend that you get certain items second hand where you can, and in some situations I would agree, however as Beansprout could very well be our only child, getting things second hand was not an option, especially as we’d prepared for this moment by saving for months on end, so I really wanted everything from new.

With a combination of using cash-back sites, sales and baby shows, we managed to save a fairly hefty amount, which all comes in handy when preparing for a little one. Don’t get me wrong, some items did cost a little bit more that we would have liked but that’s because some of the benefits that came with the item actually outweighed the price and it would benefit us in the long run.

I’d like to give you some examples;

I use our baby swing as an example of over spending, although we haven’t reviewed this item yet I know it’s going to last us longer than other baby swings. It did cost us almost double the price of our second choice swing, but that swing would probably have a smaller shelf life.

When it came to the furniture, we wanted to purchase something that would last for at least 4/5 years.  After a lot of deliberation we opted for something from the Mamas & Papas range, mainly because they had an incredibly good sale on that we just couldn’t pass up on, as well as a great reputation.
We purchased a 3 piece nursery set, which included a Cot Bed, Wardrobe, and Chest of drawers with built in changer for £512.00 down from £800.00!

The cot bed didn’t come with a mattress as these are sold separately. Looking around, I wasn’t prepared to pay Mamas and Papas prices for a cot bed mattress and headed over to Mothercare, who at the time had a sale just on mattresses. This is not an item you want to cheap out on, but we found our chosen mattress had a whopping 40% discount on it – get in!

The last item worth mentioning as an example is of course the pram/travel system depending on your preference.  We wanted something that would be value for money and grow with Beansprout, so opted for a Travel System.
The one we bought comes complete with a Chassis that can have multiple combinations. Option 1 – Car Seat for rear facing on the system; Option 2 – Carry Cot, and Option 3 – Buggy Seat, that can be rear or forward facing.  The set also came complete with drinks holders, Boot cover, Mosquito net (don’t ask me why we need one in the UK), rain cover and changing bag.

This set normally retails for around £500.  By shopping around and waiting a little longer to purchase it, this gradually came down until I got it for £249.99!

So in total we managed to save 58% just on these 3 items by shopping around.

 

We have been just as assertive on everything else we have purchased for beansprout, but it’s the bigger items that really make a difference and can cut into your budget. In total, savings on everything we have purchased have tipped the scales at just over £1500 (inc. the above mentioned items, this saving does not include the cash-back we have earned.)

Just remember to take your time and plan exactly what you need / want for your little bundle of joy, and if you approach it with a reasonable maximum price you wish to pay for the item, more often than not you will get it for that price or cheaper, just be prepared to shop around.

Other quick tips include:-

  • For items you may not need straight away, put them in a shopping basket and leave them. Online stores often change their prices and will notify you if the item’s price has changed if it’s sat in your basket. Using this method will mean you don’t have to keep checking the item for a change in price, just wait.
  • Don’t buy too far in advance. There are tons of toys and nursery bits we’ve seen for beansprout but they won’t benefit from them yet so why bother spending that money now when it could be put towards something else?
  • Wait for Baby Shows! We’re not lying when we say you will make savings at Baby Shows so go prepared with a list of how much certain somethings cost so that you can compare. If you find that there’s no difference to an online store than at least you know and you haven’t wasted money (or valuable bag holding space).
  • Compare the difference in price once cash-back is earned. If it’s cheaper anyway AND you get cash-back then you’re onto a winner. If the difference in price with cash-back purely pays for P&P then don’t bother.
  • If you have no idea where to start your search, look at places that offer awards to products; such as Prima Magazine and Mother & Baby. These items have been tried and tested, and compared with dozens if not hundreds of other products. There is a reason they’ve received the award.
  • On a similar note to the above, just because they’ve got the award doesn’t mean they’ll work for you. A lot of the time, the simpler (and cheaper) item will work just as well.
  • Don’t rely on high street sales! Big name stores like Mothercare and Mamas and Papas big themselves on “massive savings”, especially in January, but in reality they really are no different to smaller online stores that are offering that price already. Plus, I’m all for giving smaller companies a go.

Have you got any money saving tips when it comes to preparing for a baby?

Sx

*We’ve mentioned certain stores in this post as they’re the ones we’ve used, not because they’ve asked us to. All items mentioned in this post have been purchased with our own money and any discounts offered by the companies were because we found them advertised and not because they were given to us for the purpose of a review/sponsored post. 

Maternity Where? Part 2

For those of you that have eyes, you will know that I am not a feminine person. I don’t wear floral, I don’t do dresses. I don’t do leggings and I certainly don’t do dresses (I just want to make that bit clear). I look like something in drag if I wear a dress.

So when I was shopping for future maternity wear the other day, and found that at least 60% of maternity wear are dresses, or tops with massive plunging neck lines, I was horrified at the thought that I may have to look like widow twanky for 9 months. I don’t do dresses. Not for any particular protest; it’s just that I don’t suit dresses. I don’t have the body or the face for a dress, and I certainly don’t sit on a chair to accompany a dress.

So what is a butch, masculine, lesbian to wear when pregnant? It’s already going to confuse a few people when you see me walking down the street accompanied by a bump. I already got a few “How did that happen?” looks from people at work. Someone even burst (and I mean burst) out laughing when I said I was pregnant when they asked why I wasn’t in uniform at work. When I then explained that I wasn’t joking, they said “Oh!” followed quickly by the 3 second thought process going through their mind of how it could have happened (it’s not like my ovaries close for business when I become a Lesbian, y’know).
Thankfully, I’m good friends with some of these people so I know they weren’t being offensive, just stupid instead. But still, it leads me back to the question… where is all the maternity wear for those that don’t do dresses?

I refuse to live in jeans and leggings/joggings – especially at work. I would still like to wear chino’s, but preferably without having to install a bump band on everything. I want tops that don’t have plunging, look at my boobs, necklines. I don’t want floral but at the same time not be restricted to stripes – I like stripes, but maternity wear seem to LOVE stripes! Why? I want clothes that have been made for (people like) me.

So after a moment of frustration and panic, I googled “Maternity wear for Lesbians”, and I came across a brilliant blog called Preggo Butch Fashion. Although it necessarily doesn’t tell me where to go, it reassured me that I’m not alone. It calmed me down and made me laugh. It made really good points about Lesbians being made to feel like Tom Beatie when pregnant; especially if you’re butch, as well as being expected to wear your oversized rugby shirts (because every lesbian has one of those apparently (personally, I like mine to fit)).
One of my favourite, hit-the-nail-on-the-head quotes was: “But in order to get the combo privileged/pedestalled place of pregnant, I had to tone down my gender presentation (or you may be confused as fat/beer-bellied)”. Brilliant and so so true!
As well as being a joy to read, it had insightful ideas when it came to lesbian-wear as well as being genuinely reassuring. I’d give it a read if you’re in the same boat as me.

Thankfully, I will be predominantly pregnant during the winter months, so it’s likely that I will be able to get away with buying plus size sweaters that go over shirts, as well as hoodies/jumpers, not to mention baggy jeans. But that’s not the point. There needs to be more variety out there. So come on, guys – get with the times!

K

This post was written when I was approximately 8-9 weeks pregnant.