World Breastfeeding Week

14 lovely months 🀱🏻

My journey was an interesting one and it was far from plain sailing. It took a while for my milk to come in which meant my baby ended up being hospitalised because of dehydration. He was on bottle feeds for a couple of weeks whilst I expressed and did everything imaginable to increase my supply (oats for breakfast, special herbal tea and goodness knows what else)! I had lots of support and guidance from various women throughout so that really boosted me.

Even after my milk supply was established, there were still tough times – like in the middle of the night, I was so shattered and just wanted to sleep but needed to be upright and feed! Oh and the baby had reflux so he had to be kept upright for 30 mins after the feed πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ!

It did eventually become easier or maybe I just got used to it all. Either way, it was a very special journey and created a beautiful bond between my beautiful boy and I. One that only he and I share and that makes it all the worthwhile.

However anyone chooses to feed their baby, I firmly believe that fed is best. Be that breast, expressed or formula.

Advertisements

Top 8 Must Haves

The little things that come in handy but you don’t think you’ll need. They’ve made my life so much easier:

1.  Nappy Disposal System

It might seem like a senseless luxuary but for me, this little white bin was (and still is) a Godsend. It meant that I didn’t need to gaff around with nappy bags, poo falling out of the bag or finding somewhere to put the bag whilst my toddler decides to crawl away!  We got the Tommee Tippee Sangenic Tec Nappy Disposal System. I keep it next to my nappy changing mat at all times and have even given it a name: Eva (from Wall-E).

2. A Sleepyhead 

In the first few days of his life, my baby would only sleep whilst being held. Any attempt to put him in his swanky new crib resulted in cries! So a desperate sleep deprived mama, whilst using the Amazon app (a very dangerous app as anything is only a click away!), I ordered the Sleepyhead. It worked a charm for us and squished my baby just enough to make him feel like he was being held. I’m sure there are other similar products available but I’m a huge Sleepyhead fan. 

3. Back Seat Baby Mirror 

No, this isn’t to encourage vanity in your delicious new born… it’s for your own sanity when driving with a shrieking, crying newborn! He would always cry when in his car seat for the first couple of months. This was an invaluable purchase as it meant I could keep an eye on my baby when driving on my own and ensure that he was ok (i.e. his hat hadn’t slid down, he hadn’t brought up milk, he wasn’t chocking or that any other weird catastrophe hadn’t happened).  We went for the Royal Rascals Baby Car Mirror.  It’s got a yellow rim so easy to spot whilst driving, the mirror is clear and huge and it’s super steady on bumpy roads. 

4. The Perfect Prep Machine

Another indulgent purchase which isn’t necessary at all but having one makes my life so much easier! I know there’s been a a few articles around social media recently about some machines developing mould but thankfully, this hasn’t been an issue for me. I religiously stick to the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions and change the cartridge every 2 months. I also used bottled/boiled water (some will disagree with this but it’s a a decision my husband and I made and we’re happy with this – we’ve gone with a low sodium and sulphates brand).  It makes preparing bottle feeds a breeze! We got ours from Amazon

5. A Wrap Sling

I was a bit sceptical about these at first as they seem so flimsy! I bought 2 other structured carriers in the hope that baby wearing would smooth my clingy baby. However they were just too large for my frame. I then took the plunge and bought the Hana Baby Wrap made from bamboo, organic cotton and elastane.  What makes this wrap awesome is that it comes in 2 sizes – regular and short. So for a petite person like me, the short option was perfect as it meant I didn’t have excess fabric to flap around with! My Bubsy loved it too. I’d take it on shopping trips and anytime he became grizzly in the pushchair, I’d whip out the wrap and put him in. Success!

6. A Lullaby Machine

So I was against these gadgets initially and didn’t get one. I wanted my baby to be able to nod off into dreamland off his own accord! Ha! Turns out my baby didn’t like sleep. So when his aunt gave him a lullaby machine for his first birthday, I thought what the heck, anythings with a shot! Lo and behold, 8 months on and it’s a little miracle machine. We put the lullaby machine on and my baby immediately recognises it’s sleepy time! Wish I’d got it ages ago. There are so many about and we’ve got the Disney Baby Mickey Mouse Projector

7. Ear Defenders

These mini headphone lookalikes were priceless in guarding my baby’s delicate ears. We had a few parties and weddings to attend shortly after my baby was born. Placing these over his ears meant that he wasn’t upset by loud music and could also nap peacefully. I also found them really useful on flights. Sticking them on whilst he napped up in the clouds meant that any loud announcements were dulled down and he didn’t wake up. We bought the Banz Mini Earmuffs.

8. Stroller Fan

This was so useful in the summer to cool my baby down. The soft blades meant that he could play with it (which he loved to do) and his fingers were safe. A summer staple for sure. We got the Dreambaby Clip-on Stroller Fan

Recipe – Fishermen’s Pie 🐟 

Just sharing a recipe for my take on Fishermen’s Pie. It’s an easy one pot method and it went down a storm with my Bubsy. He gobbled it all up. I used cod but I suppose you could use any bit of fish. 

I also had half a pouch of Ella’s Kitchen Big Smiles Cheesy Pie left over as my teething baby refused to eat it (hot or cold!). So I had a spot of inspiration and decided to use it instead of chucking it away. This can easily be omitted, though.  

I spooned out 6 toddler portions and stuck them in the freezer. I then had plenty left over and am planning on using that make a mummy and daddy version tomorrow. 

Ingredients

  •  250g of skinless and boneless cod (roughly dived into cubes)
  • 10 baby potatoes (shredded) 
  • 1 small tin of baby carrots (finally sliced)
  • 1/2 a pouch of Ella’s Kitchen Big Smiles Cheesy Pie
  • Knob of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of dried chives
  • 2 teaspoons of dried mixed herbs
  • Freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)
  • Milk (enough to submerge all the other ingredients)
  • Grated cheddar cheese (a couple of handfuls)

Method

  • Boil the shredded potatoes in water for a few minutes to remove the starch.
  • Drain the water out and rinse the potatoes 
  • Put the potatoes back in the pan along with everything else (bar Ella’s Kitchen pouch and the cheddar cheese)
  • Cook on a medium/low heat until the potatoes are mush (basically you won’t be able to see the shredded strands anymore)
  • Then add in Ella’s Kitchen pouch (this step can be omitted as the cheese will do the same job)
  • Add in the cheddar cheese
  • Once the cheese has melted, that’s it, you’re done. 

Simple. Hope your baby enjoys it as much as mine did. 

Sugar Low

To my utter and complete disbelief, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes whilst 28 weeks pregnant. I didn’t have any of the obvious risk factors. I wasn’t overweight (BMI of above 30), my siblings don’t have diabetes and as this was my first pregnancy, any factor associated with a previous birth didn’t apply. The only reason my midwife referred me for a glucose tolerance test was because of my ethnicity. 

I went along just to ‘tick off’ another pregnancy related test. I joked with my husband after the test and said we should go to Starbucks for a frappacino as it might be the last one I have for a while! We didn’t go but fate came back and kicked me in the backside later that afternoon when the nurse called and told me the news. “Those pesky pregnancy hormones can sometimes go all over the place and it’s not your fault but you have gestational diabetes. You need to come in later this week,” she said. I was dumbfounded. So many emotions ran around my head. More than anything, I couldn’t believe it. I was convinced the test was wrong. I was also annoyed at myself as my  2-hour plasma glucose level was EXACTLY 7.8 mmol/litre. If I had maybe, just maybe, sat up and down a couple of times instead of sitting still like the nurse told me to, I wouldn’t have been on the threshold!! Aaaarrgghh was the voice in my head!

The nurse asked me to keep a written record of my diet for the next few days as it would help the dietician advise me when I met her later that week. I did this and used the Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker by MyFitnesPal (the free version). It was super easy as most food stuffs are preloaded on the app so calculating the sugar content etc was a piece of cake! 

The nurse gave me a yellow sharps container, a glucose testing kit and an orange book to record my blood glucose levels. That just made me 🀒. I HATE needles… I faint every time I have an injection so the thought of pricking myself 5 times a day made me so queezy. Just thinking about it is sending chills down my spine. Urgh!

I also saw a dietician who gave me a pamphlet of all the low glucose foods to try. And thus began the hardest diet I’ve ever had to be on! It was a mission, but it meant I avoided any drugs throughout the remainder of my pregnancy. πŸ€—

Dubai

Aah, Dubai. Such a perfect place for a first holiday with your baby. We went when bubsy was just 4.5months old and I was still breastfeeding him. Perfect combination in my experience. Here’s my lowdown: 

When to go

Dubai can get really hot during the summer months so I personally would avoid it then. Most baby sunscreens I came across are suitable from 6 months plus. The advice for younger babies is to keep them out of the sun. Not helpful when you’re planning a trip to a sunny clime like Dubai! 

To be honest, you could easily go to Dubai and not venture outside as there’s a lot to do indoors (where they have air conditioning)! I wanted my baby to experience the sand and beach so we went early in March. The maximum temperature was 27 degrees Celsius, perfect for going to the beach late afternoon. The sea was really chilly so I wasn’t happy with my baby going into the water completely. Instead we had fun splashing our feet 

  

Where to stay

We debated long and hard about whether to stay near Jumeriah Beach Walk/Marina or by a mall.  The Marina and Jumeriah Beach Walk are the hip and happening part of Dubai. Staying close to a mall would mean that if Bubsy is having an off day, we could chill there. 

In the end the mall won and I’m really glad it did! We stayed in the Sheraton Mall of the Emirates Hotel. We didn’t bother getting breakfast with our room as we knew we’d never be up in time. There is a Carrefour in the Mall of The Emirates so we just got croissants, fruit, milk, etc from there and kept it in our room. The hotel provides refrigerators which have the usual drinks that you can pay for. It’s not an electronic fridge that charges you the moment something is removed so you can move things about and store your own stuff. 

The best aspect of this hotel is that it’s linked to Mall of the Emirates, which is in turn linked to a metro station. That meant we could get to several major tourist spots without relying on taxis. I was really keen to avoid using taxis, there’s no requirement by law to use a child seat and some drivers are so erratic! You could always take your own car seat but I found that not all taxis had functioning seat belts in the rear.

  

What to do?

We were spoilt for choice. Here’s what we got up to:

  • Day 1 – Roamed around Mall of the Emirates, walked along the Creek and meandered through the old souks. We ended the day at Deidra City Centre Mall for dinner and to make use of the baby change facilities.
  • Day 2 – Spent the day at Dubai Mall. We watched the fountains dance and made our way through the acquarium. 
  • Day 3 – Lunched at The Meat Co. within Madinat Jumeriah and then headed to the Global Village. After sunset we strolled through Jumeriah Beach Walk and took in the night life. 
  • Day 4 – Beach day. We went to Jumeriah Beach (right next to Jumeriah Hotel). There’s a paid beach too but we went to the free one. It was perfectly clean and pleasant. We took a wind breaker and set up camp inside of that. Perfect for my little Bubsy. 
  • Day 5 – Headed back to The Walk at Jumeriah Beach Resudence to soak up the afternoon atmosphere. Had gelato and strolled through the sand. They’ve provided a play area for older kids (well, at least those that can walk). We then headed back to our hotel for a late afternoon dip in their roof top pool.  Finally finished the day with a scrumptious meal at the Cheesecake Factory. Yummmmm. 

How long for

We spent 6 days there and I wish we stayed longer. We just didn’t take into account how much slower everything is with a baby. There was a lot more we wanted to do but just didn’t have the time. In particular, I really wanted some kind of massage/spa day but we just simply ran out of time.  I think I need to plan another trip there but perhaps when my Bubsy is a bit older and can have his own seat! I don’t fancy a 7 hour flight with a 2 year old on my lap! πŸ˜…

Budget Airlines

I used to love budget airlines. My Hubsy and I have travelled many places using the likes of Ryanair, Bmibaby, easyJety, etc. We never used to check anything in and made the most of that 10kg free cabin allowance. 

Recently we went to Alicante via Monarch and all I can say is urgh! Don’t think I’ll be doing budget flying anytime soon. 

Don’t get me wrong, there were some excellent parts to flying cheap. The tickets were fantastically low priced. I even paid an extra Β£50 to get one piece of 20kg luggage checked in. And because Monarch know how much stuff goes with a mini person, they threw in an extra 10kg for free (thank you Monarch). They even let us take our pushchair all the way to the aircraft and then have that checked in (again free). We also got priority boarding as we had an infant, which was fantastic as we didn’t even have to pay for that!  Go here for Monarch’s policy for baby luggage and go here for tips on flying with a baby published on Monarch’s blog

So you might ask why I’m moaning? Well the seats in most budget airlines are so cramped and Monarch wasn’t an exception. I think I’d forgotten how cramped they can be otherwise I would have paid to get extra leg room.  It wasn’t fair on my 16 month old to keep him so cramped for almost 3 hours. 

Our journey to Alicante was peaceful as my Bubsy fell asleep. However, it was on the way back that he just couldn’t settle – probably because the flight didn’t work with his nap time. We’d downloaded so many videos on to our iPads/iPhones but no amount of Dave & Ava or Igglepiggle would settle my little tyrant. 

On top of that, the lady in the front seat was extra sensitive and told my husband to mind the baby 😦 every time we’d put anything away in the seat pocket, she’d think it was my baby kicking the seat. It’s a good thing she didn’t complain to me otherwise I would have had words! I think that experience has really put my off flying budget for the time being. 

On a positive note, the holiday itself was fab! πŸ‘πŸ»

Travelling on a plane

  
Holidays are awesome! My husband and I went on so many before our little bubsy was born. Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Portugal to name but a few places! We even managed to visit Ireland and Hungary when I was pregnant. 

Despite being such seasoned travellers, when it came to our first family holiday, I was a tad bit stressed. We decided on Dubai as the first international destination for our bubsy to experience (more on this awesome place in a later post). 

The thing that made me most anxious was the 7 hour flight with a 4.5 month old. Friends (the baby-less kind) kept pointing out how the noticed babies screaming during take off and landing. To say I was nervous about the flight would be a complete underestimation of my feelings! 

So I did what nervous mothers do best. I scoured the Internet for ideas and tips about what to take on board and ways to soothe baby. Thankfully most of the sites/blogs were really positive about the experience. I’ve linked a few of my favourite posts at the end. 

And when the dreaded flight arrived, it was all a bit fine Anticlimactic, I know. Sorry. But it really was fine. Here’s a few things I did/found that helped make the experience a bit less stressful:

Call the airline! As soon as you’ve booked your flight, call the airline to request a bassinet seat! Unless you don’t want one, that is. They get booked up pretty quickly.  We were fine for the flight to Dubai. On the way back, all the bassinet seats were booked up; mainly by those who wanted extra leg room-what is up with that? I was allocated a bassinet seat and my husband was given a seat adjacent to me but separated by the isle.  We just arrived at Dubai airport early and requested to be sat together (which Emirates sorted out 😘).

Leave baby sleeping. Ours were morning flights so I changed my bubsy into his travelling attire the night before. I woke him up around 30 minutes before we were due to leave. Just enough time for a quick feed and nappy change. This meant I could ensure all the last minute things were sorted without having to worry about him. 

Buy a cheap stroller. The last thing you want after investing hundreds in your pushchair is for it to be damaged in transit! Hence I bought a budget stroller – the Joie Nitro (awesome stroller and a review coming up in a later post). At Β£39.99 from Home Bargains, it was a steal. We also bought a JL Childress Cover as added protection. 

Invest in a good baby carrier. We bought the Ergobaby 360 for a wallet denting Β£139.90 (we bought it with the newborn attachment so it can be used with bubsy number 2)! But it was completely worth it and I wish we had purchased this when our bubsy was born. He prefers to look out and about so the flexibility this offers was perfect! Handy for putting him in once we arrived at Dubai airport. 

Take toys. My handbag was full of his toys. We had a few rattles (not too noisy as didn’t want to irritate fellow passengers) and a few teethers. We also took a few stuffed/cuddly toys. Some were brand new which meant bubsy was entertained for longer with them. 

Ear defenders. Although you don’t have loud music on airplanes, you do have other kids who are bound to get upset just when yours falls asleep. Sticking a pair of ear defenders on really helps drown out excessive noise and keeps your baby asleep πŸ˜„. We bought Banz Mini Earmuffs as they’re suitable from 3 months onwards. 

Feed on take off and landing. The sucking action will help to prevent your baby’s eats getting blocked. My baby’s still breastfed so it was quite easy. I used scarfs and a cape to help me be discreet. As it happened, my baby got hungry a little too early when we were landing. I gave him a dummy to encourage him suck. I completely recommend the MAM Air range as my bubsy refused to take any other brand!

Stand by the toilets. Ok, I’m not being weird or gross. Flights can be really long and no matter how many toys you take, baby will get bored! My husband took our bubsy for a walk around the cabin and then stood by the toilets (the aim was to get bubs to look out the window and amuse him). But he found that quite a few people came up and chatted to him/played with our baby. That really helped to pass and hour or so (both for him and put baby)!

Bassinets and turbulence. Sod’s law that as soon as I put bubsy in the bassinet, the captain turned on the seat belt sign! Grrrr. It was really annoying because he would have just fallen asleep and I would have just finished arranging all his blankets. We had to take him out straight away and that meant he would wake up πŸ˜”.

Formula. The 100ml rule didn’t apply to formula at Birmingham or Dubai airports. Although my baby is breastfed (and detests formula) I took a couple of bottles incase flying did something to my milk supply. I had read that airports make you taste the milk in front of security so I was prepared for this. However, at Birmingham they have a fancy machine that checks the bottles without opening or tasting them. The 100ml rule does apply to all other things like nappy creams so make sure you pack travel sizes. 

Hope you find this useful and happy holidaying to you! It’s a magical experience travelling with your baby.  

Here are some blogs/websites I found really useful when planning our trip: