Wednesday, 21 September 2016

shopping: alternative changing bags

Earlier this week, I posted about what I carry in my changing bag. I wrote that I wasn't keen on carrying a traditional changing bag, so I bought the Munchkin nappy change kit and used a bag I already had.

alternative changing bags

Clockwise from top left:

Monday, 19 September 2016

what's in my changing bag?

Call me nosy but I've always loved a "what's in my bag" post - and now that I'm a mum, I enjoy the parent-friendly version, "what's in my changing bag". So I thought I would share the contents of my changing bag. I wasn't sure that I really wanted a traditional looking changing bag, so I'm currently using an H&M handbag I already had which had a waterproof lining. Later this week, I'll be posting some of the changing bags I've found that don't look like changing bags. For now, back to the contents of my bag:

  • First up, nappies. Of course! I usually carry between three and six nappies - you never know! 
  • Muslins are great for all manner of things - moping up, covering up, sun shade. I have at least two in my changing bag at any time - as well as a couple in every room of the house! The star muslin pictured is from Primark and the elephant one from Morrisons - I really like monochrome muslins.
  • As I'm using a "normal" bag, I needed a change mat. I found this Munchkin nappy change kit in Aldi and it's great as it's got so a few pockets and a detachable change mat (see below for the contents).
  • The Cath Kidston bag keeps some of the smaller bits I carry with me in one place - the contents are shown below.
  • Baby wipes are essential for any parent. We're using these Water Wipes at the moment.
  • I also carry nappy bags so that I can easily dispose of nappies. They also come in handy for soiled outfits!
  • Inside me Cath Kidston bag, I carry sunscreen for both baby and me, a tinted lip balm (this is about as much make up as I manage to wear these days!), hand gel (in case there isn't anywhere to wash my hands after a change) and nail scissors.
  • A spare outfit is essential - and used on a regular basis for us! The sunhat is left over from sunnier days this summer!
  • I carry my purse - obviously!
  • I also carry a notebook and pencil case so that when the baby boy and I are out during the day and stop for a coffee break, I can write some blog posts (or reminders!) to follow up later.

I've recently bought this carabiner clip from eBay to my pram - it's great for keeping things close at hand, like a bag, or an umbrella.

What do you carry in your changing bag? Anything I've missed?

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

review: BabyBjörn Active vs Ergobaby Original

I loved the idea of baby wearing before our boy arrived. I'd seen mums carrying their babies close to them and thought it looked like a wonderful bonding experience. Not to mention too that baby wearing looked practical - allowing you to be hands free.

Then I had an emergency caesarean. And my plans for baby wearing were put on hold.

Eight weeks later I'm back in the gym (Pilates and yoga) and I'm feeling really well so I thought I'd finally give baby wearing a go - and I love it!!

We did some research (via blogs, obviously!) on the type of carrier to get. We bought the Ergobaby Original within days of the baby arriving. Complete with Infant Insert. Our baby hated it. Whether it was because he was too little and didn't really appreciate being held too close or swaddled in the beginning or it was too hot in those early weeks, I don't know. All I know is, he screamed from the minute he was put in and until the minute he was removed. So we sent it back.

We'd been given a BabyBjörn Original so we tried this. It worked! The baby didn't complain and it was so easy to put on by yourself. The only snag - no lumber support and a big baby meant that the hubby was very quickly experiencing back pain. We quickly found that BabyBjörn do the Active version which offers lumber support and is still so easy to use. Even better - you can get a BabyBjörn Active for just £5-10 on eBay! We snapped one up and have been using that for the past seven weeks.

Then came the time that I'd been signed off by the doctor and wanted to try baby wearing myself. I decided to read about the Ergobaby again and discovered that at 7 weeks, our baby was big enough to use it without the insert. This time I went straight to eBay and found I could pick up a lightly used Ergobaby Original for under £50 - less than half price! Fortunately it came with the infant insert as although the baby is big enough, he's not old enough to hold his head and needs the insert for this support. This time round though, he loves it!

We're away on holiday this week and will be using the Ergobaby for walks along the beach and trips into town.

I would totally recommend both carriers. The BabyBjörn Active is a great cheap option to try out baby wearing and is so so easy to use if you're on your own. While the Ergobaby is definitely more padded and better for wearing for longer periods. It's also not quite so easy to put on by yourself but with practice it can be done.

Friday, 2 September 2016

everything i wanted to know about expressing

This week has been all about expressing on the blog this week (with reviews of two breast pumps earlier - Tommee Tippee here and MAM here). From the start of breastfeeding, I knew I wanted to try to express. Breastfeeding - particularly in the early days - can feel like a very lonely and all consuming task. As mum, your baby is totally dependent on you, which is very cool but also a little daunting and overwhelming. The idea of expressing and being able to share the feeding load really appealed. But I had so many questions! And I'm sure that if I was asking these questions, then I'm not alone. Most of the answers are either straight from my experience or from Google!! If you have any difference experiences, let me know how you've got on.

How long should I wait to start expressing?
I was told by a few midwives to wait until breastfeeding was established before starting to express and trying the baby with a bottle. But my health visitor was more encouraging and said to do it as soon as I wanted, if it meant that I would carry on breastfeeding. She wasn't quite as concerned about nipple confusion. I've read lots of things about this. Some people seem to start expressing right away, others wait. I waited six weeks. I mainly waited because I didn't have a breast pump and also because I did want to get in my groove with the breastfeeding. But I wouldn't leave it much later as I know some people who have then had problems getting their baby to take a bottle. Our baby was not keen the first time - we were using the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature bottles and he was having none of it. The next time, we tried the MAM anti colic bottles and he took it straight away - no problem at all. Or since.

Does expressing hurt?
I was really apprehensive about expressing because I was so scared about it hurting. From my personal experience, it really didn't hurt and it wasn't even uncomfortable. I'd just say, go for it - you won't know unless you try.

How much milk will I get?
I'd read lots about expressing and many people said that they didn't get much milk at all so this was an additional worry. But I managed to get a couple of ounces the first time I expressed and I've been able to get 3-4oz each time since. You can add milk to milk expressed on the same day, if you're unable to get enough for a feed in one sitting.

How much milk do I need for a feed?
This really confused me! How much milk will I need? As when you're breastfeeding you have no idea how much milk your baby is getting. This article on Kelly Mom answers all your questions!

Will my baby take a bottle?
There is so much written about nipple confusion or when to start expressing and babies not taking a bottle that I didn't know whether or not we'd have problems when we started trying. As it turned out, our baby really didn't like the first bottle we tried (the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature bottle) but we tried another (the MAM anti colic bottle) and this worked. My advice, then, would be to persevere and to try different bottles/teats.

Will it effect my milk supply?
I'll confess, this actually didn't spring to mind before I started expressing but I thought I'd include it for a bit of info. I have found a couple of times that I have been quite engorged if my hubby has given a bottle to the baby and I've missed a feed. The past week or so, my hubby has been giving the last feed of the evening so that I can get to bed early - all ready for a nighttime feed or two. But by the time I am awoken for a nighttime feed I have often leaked. To combat this, I have started to express a little before bed earlier in the evening.

How often will I need to pump?
This totally depends. If you're planning to only express very infrequently, I don't think it matters so much. But as I said in the last response, if you're expressing more regularly, it is good to get into a routine as your breasts will get used to it.

How do I store the milk I've expressed?
Storing breast milk worried me, so I was pleased to find this article on the NHS Choices website which explains how long you can store breast milk.

Do you have any other questions? If you want to know anything, just ask and I'll see what I can do.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

review: MAM breast pump

It's Expressing Week on The trainee mum! Today I'm reviewing the MAM Manual Breast Pump  which I've been trying out for the past week. I've already reviewed the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature manual breast pump and later in the week I am planning a post that answers all of the questions I had before I started expressing.

Comfort: the breast shield on this pump is very solid (I think I prefer the Tommee Tippee's flexible one for comfort) but this set does include nipple shields for if you do find it uncomfortable. So far I've not actually needed to use them.

Suction: the main bonus feature on this pump is the dial that allows you to change the amount of suction. You can start off with the very strongest setting to let your milk flow down and then turn it down if you find it a bit too strong. I keep it quiet strong and it is so fast. I haven't had an issue with getting a fairly good milk yield when I pump but it can take a while to get a good 3-4oz. With the MAM pump, I can get 3-4oz in about 20 minutes.

Cleaning and assembly: this pump disassembles into four pieces for cleaning. The handle is not intended to be sterilised (it doesn't come into contact with the milk) but it is a little tricky to get the handle off the pump section. If you're struggling, make sure you use some force (I wasn't using any and it wouldn't come apart!).

Accessories: the MAM Maternity Breastpump Pack includes
1 x Manual breast pump
1 x Sealing disc
1 x Cotton drawstring travel bag
1 x lid, teat, collar to make complete 160ml anti colic bottle
1 x pair of nipple shields
1 x pair of breast pads

The baby immediately took to the MAM bottles. The shape of the teat is so different to any I've seen before and it seems that for a breastfed baby, these are the most similar to a nipple.

Price: the MAM Maternity Breastpump Pack that I was sent is £38 at MAM but you can get the MAM Breastfeeding Starter Set for less than half price at Argos right now.

Verdict: I love this pump. The MAM manual breast pump is the best I've tried for a good portable pump. It is really fast and comfortable. It is perfect if, like me, you want to pump maybe once every day or every other day for one feed.

If you're not sure how to use a breast pump, check out this video:

Disclaimer: I was sent the MAM manual breast pump to try in exchange for an honest review. I have since bought two more MAM anti colic bottles as they have worked so well for our baby.

Monday, 29 August 2016

review: tommee tippee closer to nature manual breast pump

I've been trying out the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Manual Breast Pump for the past few weeks. When I first started breastfeeding the idea of expressing and the fact that I might be able to pass some of the feeds to someone else kept me going when it felt like the feeding was never ending.

I had so many questions about expressing and although I don't profess to be any sort of expert, I am planning a post that answers the questions I had. Today, though, is all about the Tommee Tippee pump.

I'll be reviewing the MAM manual breast pump later this week. Heck, I might as well name this Expressing Week on The trainee mum! So that you can properly compare I'm going to comment on the same criteria for both pumps.

Comfort: the breast shield is large and made from a flexible plastic that moves with the breast as you pump. This makes it really comfortable. I was so worried about pumping being really sore - I needn't have worried.

Suction: this pump offers pretty good suction with a good milk flow. It's not the fastest (check back in the week for my review of the MAM manual breast pump which is much faster).

Cleaning and assembly: the pump disassembles into four bits for cleaning and sterilising. The main pump section is pretty enclosed however and I have noticed that mine looks a little cloudy and you can't properly get inside it.

Accessories: the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature manual pump pack includes
1 x Manual Breast Pump
1 x Easi-vent 150 ml bottle
1 x Milk storage pot
6 x Disposable breast pads
1 x Microwave steriliser box

We don't have a microwave but the steriliser box has come in handy as a storage container.

Bottles: our baby really didn't get on with the Tommee Tippee bottles - or rather, the teats. They did seem really big and slippy and he couldn't seem to get a good latch.

Price: the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Manual Breast Pump is half price at Boots and Argos right now for just £14.99. It's a great price for anyone wanting to give breast pumping a go.

Verdict: if you want a portable and cheap breast pump to use occasionally, the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Manual Breast Pump is a good option.

Come back on Wednesday to read my review of the MAM manual breast pump and on Friday for a post which answers all of the questions I had when I first started expressing.

Friday, 19 August 2016

#3things: gifts for a mum-to-be

Got a baby shower to go to? Friend who's about to give birth? Or maybe a friend who's already given birth? Often around this time, mums-to-be and new mums can get forgotten in a pile of baby grows. I've picked out three gifts to make those mamas feel extra special:

3 things to buy for a baby shower

  1. If you haven't heard of the amazing site Don't Buy Her Flowers - get on over and check it out. Don’t Buy Her Flowers was founded with a simple aim: to provide thoughtful gift packages for new mums because they deserve something lovely just for them. How nice is that? There are lots of gift options but I like this Care Package, complete with magazine and chocolate!
  2. This Maternity Essentials Hospital Set by Asos is ideal for any mum-to-be. I'd totally wear the nightdress for daywear too - in either outfit you'll feel ready for visitors in those early days after having your baby. The eye mask will help you to sleep in the hospital ward - they can be quite bright even at night. And the socks are something you'll forget to pack but you'll be surprised about how cold you can get.
  3. The Boots Mum to be Essential Kit has all of those toiletries you need postpartum. The maternity pads and breast pads have long since been used from my pack but I'm still using the nipple cream. And although I didn't have too many stretch marks, the oil is really nicely moisturising.
Last but not least, if you're in a real bind over what to buy your mum-to-be friend, buy her chocolate! I didn't realise what a great gift this was until a couple of weeks postpartum and was needing snacks while breastfeeding - chocolate is a must!

    Mama to be bunting via Etsy