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New mum experiences…

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“Well that was crazy wasn’t it?”…..not the first words I pictured saying when I envisaged seeing my baby boys face for the first time. I was convinced I would be crying from being so filled with love and adornment. However, I was in shock, such shock, and so was he, both of us didn’t know what had just happened even though we both just lived it with every part of our beings. Frick me giving birth is a shock.  I was, and am though, so so in love, such overwhelming love, and that’s what has made all the difficulties of the last 22months seem less hard and so so worth it. So as my little love approaches his 2nd Birthday, I want to share our experiences together, the beautiful, the bad and the blooming painful,  just incase a mum is googling at 2am (as I frequently was) hoping someone else has a solution , or has at least gone through to what they are going through. So I wish all the other mums out there lots of luck for an easy ride, and I hope my posts give you some sort of hope, or just a feeling of not being alone! 

Potty Training a 22months old boy: What worked for us and our tips and tricks.

We had two attempts, the first, a big fat fail due to me reading and watching 3 day potty training techniques. Little man wasn’t up for any of the use a timer, try and catch him before he needs to go, stay in solidly for 3 days (not fun for either of us). He hated the process so much he would just run away when he needed to go. Use sticker charts to praise him, he couldn’t care less about getting a sticker.

Gong big boy pant shopping

So what did work for us?

I chilled out and went ahead in a much more relaxed, child led way , and put trying to achieve it in a short period to the bottom of our priority list.

1. Let him go when he needs to go, don’t bug him, and then put him on the potty at the end of when he needs to go. Make a massive deal if any goes in the potty and do a potty sing and dance.

2. We started by putting on the potty when he woke from a sleep and put him on before his bath.

3. We did a week of naked mornings , where he could run around nappy / pant free playing, then after his lunch time nap we would go out and he would wear a nappy. I took the potty and would ask him if he wanted to use it when I went to the loo, but if he didn’t then no big deal. We were both much more relaxed about the whole thing, and he began to love learning this new process, especially when we did a song and dance at the end! We didn’t go stark crazy staying in the house solidly, we didn’t use sticker charts , we let him tell us when he was ready.

4. Once he was using the potty consistently on a morning without prompting, we spent a day in the house with him naked and using the potty. By this point I was confident I knew his ‘pre wee’ dance.

5. We then attempted outings nappy free and wearing pants. Took lots of spare trousers and pants so that we could have a million accidents and. It wouldn’t matter. I bought chocolate covered rice cakes and made toddler friendly biscuits to coax the little fella into using the potty out as often he was too busy playing to care to go. It worked. I said I was against bribery, but a bit of gentle persuasion worked a treat in this scenario.

6. This whole time he wore nappies to bed, but he never went in them. I count ourselves lucky, I’m not sure this is everyone’s experience, he would always wake to wee. Once he was confident using the potty in the day, we left him with trousers off in the night and kept his potty in his room so night time goings would be quick and easy. They were.

He was potty trained! It’s now 4months later and he is learning to pull his trousers and pants down himself, but still needs help, he very rarely has accidents, only when he’s tired and busy playing out.

Do…

Keep it chilled for you both, don’t rush the child, I learnt this the hard way.

Use a chocolate reward if you need to earlier on

Get an easy clean potty , we used this Pourty potty. Easy to take out, easy to clean.

Remember it’s not about you achieving anything, it’s about you both learning about the process together

Get a bunch of activities ready to do in the house that are fun and that you can do together.

Make a big deal of Mum and Dad needing to go and using the toilet

Make a big deal about buying big boy pants

Put them in easy access trousers like joggers.

Don’t…

I think this goes without saying nowadays, but don’t tell off the child for not using the potty.

Stress. If it becoming a stressful process, stop, leave it a week or so, review what was stressing you out and start again. This can to be a fun, bonding experience for you both.

I’m not a professional, just a new Mum, so please obviously take my experience as just that! Every child is obviously different, I think if you listen to their needs and interests you’ll figure this process out pain free!

Toddler Halloween on a Tight Budget (with crafts toddlers can do!)

As an ex-Head of Dance at a London Secondary School, I miss putting on big shows; dance, musical , physical theatre, creating costume and set on a tight budget so I have loved getting back in touch with my creative side and making something out of nothing, especially when the little 22month old can get involved.

All of these took me next to no time and filled our afternoons in the house with lots of short, hands on tasks to do together. We planned on having a little Halloween party with a few of his little friends to put his creations to use…

Toilet Roll Monsters


These are straight forward:

1.  get your little one to paint the toilet rolls 

2. Glue on the goggle eyes with PVA if you’re little one is helping, or hot glue. Of course most PVA glue companies don’t advice you use glue with children under the age of 3 for obvious reasons. I closely supervised my little man and then washed his hands thoroughly straight after.

3.  Make holes in the side for the pipe cleaner arms, do the holes yourself of course, but it’s a great fine motor skills task to let the little ones feed the pipe cleaners through. 

4. Tape rope, wool, string or ribbon to the inside of the toilet roll and hang in a door way or wherever takes your fancy!

2. Rubbish Bag Spider Web 

I got this one off of Pinterest also and it worked so so well, little man couldn’t help so much with making this but loved helping out it up and stick on the cartoon spiders we had had drawn and cut out together. 

How to make Spider webs.

3. Water Bottle Skittles Game


We used 1.5 litre water bottles but of course any size would work. We poured paint in some, stuck squares of tissue paper on others with PVA glue , and he enjoyed this. I finished them with the googley eyes as he wasn’t so fussed about this. We used PVA for the eyes as I wasn’t fussed about them being permentant, but of course hot glue would make them stay on for longer. 

We did lots more crafts but I missed taking photos as our party got cancelled as our baby in the bump needed a monitoring visit as he had an eptopic heart beat!  But here’s what else we did:

3. Pumpkin Picking Tangerine Board.

We got a wooden chopping, tangerines, toothpick and card , I used a black sharpie and little one used a washable marker and we drew pumpkin faces on tangerines, put them on the board, made a little ‘PUMPKIN PICKING’ sign and stuck it in one of the tangerines. Of course little fella’s pumpkins were more of a squiggle than a face but were still worthy of the board! 

4. Banana Ghosts

We peeled Banana’s, chopped them in half and stuck in raisins for the two eyes, little man ate half of them, still he enjoyed it and isn’t that the point?!. I also gave him his own chopping board and blunt , child friendly knife so he could chop too! He loved it! 

5. Not So Spooky or Haunted Cardboard House.

We kept big cardboard boxes made them into one big cardboard box , poked through Poundland battery lights in the top and my goodness did the little man love crawling in and out of this. We drew spiders, spider webs, cute ghosts and squiggles on the inside. Little man loved making and playing in this.

Check out my Not So Spooky Pinterest page though for the other crafts we tried and enjoyed! 

Newborn Baby Essentials from a New Mum with a baby who broke all the ‘baby’ rules; Breastfeeding, babywearing and general essentials useful for the sleep deprived , hormonal postnatal mum and baby.

Our baby boy broke every rule in what my husband and I thought was in the unwritten ‘This is What Babies Do’ rulebook; never would fall asleep in the car, never be put down until he could crawl, wouldn’t take a bottle, and had many a Breastfeeding issues. I was so naive, I honestly thought that because breastfeeding was the most natural thing I had ever known, that it would just come naturally to us both, or in the least Baby Boy would know what to do and I’d figure out my part in the process…how wrong was I. I talk about the issues we had in my Breastfeeding Journey Blog…..( insert link) . Two years in, and pregnant with our second baby boy , I thought I’d remind myself of what has been useful, or more accurately invaluable. So if you’re a new mum or second time mum this might help you too… 

1. Kari-me wrap – this has been my absolute saviour , it fits so snuggly and comfortably, isn’t hard to get on, after the first few goes you’ve got it! It’s versatile, lasts baby until they’re a year old in our case as he was a little one (check weight and safety guidelines of course on the site), doesn’t give you back ache, the elasticated fabric makes it so easy to get baby on and out, also helps with getting a good bounce going if you have a baby suffering from reflux as we did. 

2. Breastfriend Pillow. I bought several pillows before I settled with this one, we had various latch issues and baby boy couldn’t maintain a latch with the often advised biological nursing position  / laid back nursing. This straps around your torso and felt like it gave me a little extra support for my back for the long nursing sessions , ours were always around an hour, even after the tongue tie fix. The cover comes off and is washable and if I was desperate to go to the loo during a nursing session, I’d be able to carry him on it to the loo…please don’t tell me I’m the only one who had to do this in the early weeks?!?! I’m sure the company would say this is highly unadvisable and I wouldn’t advise it either, though I did it! 

3.  Emma Jane Nursing Bra . I bought many many a nursing bra online in hope to find one that fitted and was comfortable, most of which were barely used as they really weren’t comfortable. However I finally cane across this one which worked well with bigger boobs as it had a thick elastic in place of an underwire and felt like it supported me well without feeling restrictive. I also found these worked just great for night time nursing sessions.

4. Gro egg thermometer. With post pregnancy and Breastfeeding hormones raging resulting in night sweats, I had no idea what temp it was where the baby and I were sleeping, so with SIDS fear, this put my mind at ease greatly. Our boy has always had what we call his ‘sleep sweat’ just before he falls asleep which also made temperature gauging hard. 

5. 100% organic cotton Cellular Blanket. Of course I knew this one would help, but when little one developed eczema I knew this would be ok on him.

6. Co-sleeper – I truly believe exhausted parents need this or something similar. We had the Chicco and even though Baby Boy never slept in it due to what now to appears had been silent reflux and let’s be honest, how many newborns actually sleep well away from their mums? It was a fantastic shelf for all my night time goodies including 6litres of water for breastfeeding thirst. More to the point , my husband and I were dead against co-sleeping prior to little one being born, but after the first two nights at home of no sleep, literally , I fell asleep with the tiny one on my chest and felt very very grateful that every time I fell asleep unwillingly , there was a barrier stopping him from falling off the bed. 

This of course is a good time to mention that once we had resided to the fact that exhaustion had decided we were a cosleeping family I was determined to do it safely so here are the websites I found useful and the guidelines we followed…
Also I have to mention , as this deeply scares me, after the fatal incident with the NCT Co-sleeper, we raised the level of the mattress to be flush with the edging of the sleeper and our bed. 

7. White Noise Machine. Baby has always been a light sleeper so this was a life saver, enough said.  

Apart from that everything else took from our bank balance without giving anything back. Here are the following products we barely or never used. This isn’t to say they are rubbish, just weren’t necessary in our situation :

Bouncers – he hated them 

Medelo Swing Breast Pump – this was definately the most efficient breast pump I tried including the hospital grade pumps. My boobs didn’t respond well to pumping no matter what I tried, 30mins of pumping would get me just enough to cover the bottom of the bottle.

Bottles – we went straight to the Doidy Cup, little one wasn’t up for drinking out of a bottle.

Cot – the biggest expense that we never ever ever had success with, since baby boy was 14months old he’s slept on a double mattress with a guard in his room, and I sleep in with him on rough nights. He was never up for being put in a cot and instantly got extremely distressed, and I’m not up for leaving my little love to cry, so the mattress on the floor has been the perfect solution! 

Top 10 Tips to Support a Successful Start to Breastfeeding – from a Mum who had a tough time first time round.

Let me just start by saying I’m not a breastfeeding specialist, I’m speaking from one mum to another mum and dad. Please get specialist help if you encounter any breastfeeding issues, links are in the blog. That being said, I hope this blog helps, may yours be less eventful but as beautifully memorable as ours! 


1. My ultimate tip, and this is what saved us: find out where your local breastfeeding councillor / lactation consultant is and when the sessions are on before you have any problems. The NHS run services alongside NCT in some areas, we are in Kent and there is a fantastic service here. Maybe ask your midwife if google doesn’t come with services. 


2. Don’t wait to get help! I kept thinking, like a cold, the issues we were experiencing would go away, however they didn’t without help from a breastfeeding specialist or a volunteer breastfeeding experienced mum. Thank god for those volunteers! If you’re struggling in the day, as with anything else , the nights will often seem harder… get help straight away. 

3. Read up on common issues that are associated with breastfeeding, that way,  when they happen you will be less in the dark and will be able to get help quickly. Im about to have my second baby, and I’m doing this now! Check out my ‘Common Breastfeeding Difficulties‘ to see the  issues we dealt with with our first little fella. 

4. Communicate with your husband about what your wishes are for breastfeeding. My husband was my rock, and still is, when I wanted to give up on night two, he searched for support to get solutions instead of saying ‘just quit’. This was because I’d told him about how much I really wanted to breastfeed before hand and how I thought it might help reduce our sons chance of developing asthma like I had. I’m so grateful for this and it kept us nursing through all the hard times. Our NCT course helped us out nicely by prompting us to talk about the key factors regarding having a new baby, I also found this Parenting Article was a good and talking thinking prompt regarding Breastfeeding and other topics.

5. Buy lanolin cream and try applying after every feed. Obviously read the instructions on the box. I did this from the first feed and through all the painful times, and I’m wondering whether that helped me never get cracked nipples.

6. Do some research on pumping strategies if you’re hoping to pump. I say this from a position of bafflement as I had to return to work when Baby was 8months and couldn’t pump , hardly any would come out despite the multiple pumps and strategies I tried, and despite all the professional advice I was given. I wonder whether it’s a ‘ you have to start from day one’ situation , not 2months in as I did, or whether my boobs just didn’t recognise what was happening as the pumping really didn’t seem to resemble my baby’s sucking habits at all.

7. Text friends and family who have breastfed all the time , and I mean all the time, even at 2am if you need to. I’m so grateful for the friends I had to do this with. Text them with the good and the bad in terms of what you’re experiencing, you might just be accepting a situation is tough when it doesn’t need to be , and sometimes hearing someone else’s experiences can help you get out of your bubble. 

8.  Show your emotions , talk about what you’re feeling! This might seem really obvious, or like a non-point, but honestly, with hormones raging whilst you and baby are trying to master the new skill of breastfeeding , it can feel so overwhelming and isolating. Again my husband was amazing, and let me vent , and cry on him extremely regularly without getting frustrated, he didn’t always have a solution and I didn’t need him to have one, I just needed him to cry on, and he was there. 

9. Use the helplines below when you can’t get to specialist, take some advice with a pinch of salt, but most of the advice I got helped massively:

National Breastfeeding helpline and website: http://www.nationalbreastfeedinghelpline.org.uk 

NCT Breastfeeding Website and Helpline: https://www.nct.org.uk/parenting/breastfeeding-concerns
La Leche League Breastfeeding Helpline: https://www.laleche.org.uk/telephone-helpline/

10. Don’t always trust the doctors. I had three different doctors on three different occassions give me bad advice regarding thrush and tongue tie, they aren’t breastfeeding specialists and in my experience , the lactation consultant or breastfeeding councillor can give you more useful advice whilst coaching you through the conversation with you might need to have with your doctor.

Well all the best and please comment below if you have any furthers questions regarding our experience , I’m happy to share!

Common Breastfeeding Difficulties and Solutions; tongue tie, thrush, silent reflux, aversions.

He didn’t latch on straight away after the birth, ‘just lay him on your chest’ but nope it didn’t work, “it’s ok try again later”,approx  1 hour later: “leave him to sleep and you get some rest, you both need it”. Advice from the midwives at the hospital after Baby Boy was born which resulted in him being hungry, too tired to feed and jaundice. That’s how our breastfeeding journey began, how could something so natural be so hard?! I really believed Baby Boy would just know what to do and we would be breastfeeding with trees blossoming and birds singing around us. This was the beginning of many struggles, but all have been worth it and at 22months with another little one on the way, we are still nursing and I’m so very grateful for many reasons, the benefits have far out weighed the struggles.

That was the beginning of our journey, and I could write an essay on the difficulties we have had and how we, very painfully and slowly, got through each challenge.  However I want this to be quick and to the point for all those mums googling at 2am looking for some support, love, hope and answers to specific problems. So here is a list of the issues we went on on to encounter and how we tackled each one…

(Let me just remind readers, I’m not a qualified breastfeeding specialist , I am writing this from our experience as parents to other parents out there, and highly recommend you find your local La Leche League meeting, breastfeeding support group , lactation consultant and/or call the helpline numbers I’ll leave at the bottom of the blog.)

1. BABY CAN’T LATCH AFTER BIRTH AND BECAME TOO SLEEPY – I wish I hadn’t believed the ‘breastfeeding is natural, it will just work’ theory I had, that’s what let me believe the midwives advice. 

What did we learn? Get professional help to get baby to latch ASAP after birth. Get help to squeeze out some colostrum and rub it on baby’s lips and under their nose, get them wanting mumma’s colostrum. When they begin to open their mouth, get their nose to your nipple and guide them on holding them securely with your forearm on their back, and hand on their neck and head. Watch the babies sucking and swallowing, learn what a strong suck and swallow looks like, when it slows down as they are falling into a deep sleep, stroke the baby’s cheek to keep them sucking, if that doesn’t work, delatch and hand them to someone else, babies know their Mother’s scent and touch , they will wake when moved away from mum. 

2. THE LATCH IS VERY PAINFUL AND THE PAIN DOESNT GO AWAY FOR THE ENTIRE FEED – We had 6 plus midwives and two tongue tie specialists check our baby boy’s mouth as I was in so much pain, but as he was putting on they were all convinced the pain was ‘normal’ for new breastfeeders, however thank goodness for Katherine the breastfeeding Consultant at the NCT Baby Cafe’s, she said that I shouldn’t be in pain for the entire feed and the fact that he was feeding for 1.5 hours at least at a time suggested something else was going on. She suspected a tongue tie , and was correct, he got referred, he was treated, and immediately he could open his mouth so wide, and I was baffled how no one noticed that the fact he couldn’t do that suggested he was having difficulties feeding. So our baby’s signs he was tongue tie were: long feeds, painful feeds for mum, never seemed satisfied at the end of a feed, couldn’t maintain latch , kept popping off. 

3. BABY WASN’T PUTTING ON ENOUGH WEIGHT – this problem presented itself after the tongue tie was fixed funnily enough! We were told 3 hours between feeds, so we thought it was from when the baby finishes their feed that you set the timer, turns out its from when they started! We started timing it from the beginning and voila, that problem was solved for us!

4. BABY FEEDS FOR AN HOUR OR LONGER & DONT SEEM TO HAVE MANY LET DOWNS – as discussed in number 2, this was due to a tongue tie, solution was to get him tongue snipped and teach him how to relatch. Also I have to mention that a Lactation Consultant , our saviour, also taught us the nipple flick; get the babies nose to nipple, then using the thumb , flick the nipple in for a deeper latch. Only when we startled doing this did little one start getting let downs, and for the first time ever, after our first nipple flick, little one had a let down and fell off the boob milk drunk. We had never seen this before!!! She also taught us breast compressions, these really really helped to promote the let downs as my milk supple appeared to be low or slow! 

5. BABY SCREAMS AND PULLS OFF FREQUENTLY DURING FEEDS, NEVER SEEMS SATISFIED – this was the first sign of thrush for us, he arched his back and screamed in pain, I didn’t have any symptoms of thrush for a long time afterwards, maybe even a month. Our NCT breastfeeding councillor suggested it could be thrush after watching baby boy feed, so we went straight to the doctors, he said stop worrying it’s nothing. So the nursing sessions continues to get worse and worse. Poor little one was quite clearly in pain, and now so was I , nipples were bright red and feeds began to hurt again. We went back to the doctors, and this doctor immediately saw that it was thrush, particularly because by this point little one had cuts down below that had just appeared. So both of us were treated, medicine for his mouth, cream for my nipples. It’s important to say here that if you suspect you have thrush, definitely get advice from your breastfeeding consultant on how to make sure you are getting treated properly. Katherine from NCT told me to ensure we were not getting treated and to wipe the medicine around baby’s mouth not just give it to him. 

6. BABY WAKES EVERY HOUR THROUGH THE NIGHT. This was also a big sign of thrush for us, I know it can be an indicator of other things, but this seemed strongly linked to the thrush for us. 

7. BABY WONT SLEEP ON BACK, WONT BE PUT DOWN….EVER. Little one lived in his Kari- Me Wrap for the first 6months of his life, I gave up attempting to put him down for naps, or ever pushing him in a pram, or putting him in a bouncer or swing. He was quite clearly uncomfortable and got distressed instantly. The wrap saved us, he fed in there,  napped in there, and it gave me back my freedom, or at least ability to move. The Kari Me Wrap was the only ‘sling’ I found didn’t give me back ache, and for me was a newborn essential ( https://www.kari-me.com/ ) . Baby boy ended up using it up to a year old, as it was so easy to get in and out of London in the sling, and when he started feeding himself to sleep (from about 6months) I could easily feed him to sleep in there, then he could finish his nap in there,  then come out and play when he was ready and it wrapped up to a pretty small size in my bag…I love this wrap, and will use it again with my next baby boy.

 I just thought that not laying  down was his quirk, eventually when we would sleep next to me and not on me he would only sleep on his side, which we all know from SIDS guidelines, is not advised.  However as time went on , he seemed to develop what looked like a nervous twitch in his neck, we recorded him, took him to the doctors who referred us to the hospital. The specialist at the hospital reviewed his history and suggested he thought he had silent reflux but we all decided not to medicate and just keep an eye to see if any particular foods made it worse, and we eliminated any foods that did. He said he would grow out of it when baby boy started walking and low and behold he did. He started sleeping on his back and could eat more foods from about 12months onwards.

8. BREASTFEEDING AVERSIONS – every time I ovulated or had my period, I experience such bad aversions, I hated feeding little one, I felt like my skin was crawling with ants, and I felt like my stomach was building with rage. It would last for a week and then I would go back to enjoying feeding him. I wish I could give you a miracle solution that I had found, but honestly the only thing I found helped, was cutting down on feeds during the day to help me cope at night and going on my iPad to try and distract my mind. It wasn’t fun, or easy, it was extremely hard and no one seems to have a solution, we very nearly weaned as a result and then I fell pregnant…and that’s a whole other blogpost.

All that is left to say is the biggest advice I can give is to get help straight away, don’t wait to see if the problem sorts itself out, get advice, seek support, we saw someone every week and it kept me sane , we had various issues going on , some layered themselves up at one time and if it wasn’t for the Breastfeeding Councillors and the Lactation Consultant at NCT baby cafe’s and Kent’s Breastfeeding Support groups we wouldn’t have continued to breastfeed , and I’m so glad we did, it has helped us in so many ways, particularly when Baby Boy would get tonsillitis and sickness bugs every 2months! 

See my BREASTFEEDING ESSENTIALS blog to see the short list of what I have found invaluable in the last two years of breastfeeding my little one.

We also called these numbers numerous times when we couldn’t make it to a session:

National Breastfeeding helpline and website: http://www.nationalbreastfeedinghelpline.org.uk 

NCT Breastfeeding Website and Helpline: https://www.nct.org.uk/parenting/breastfeeding-concerns

La Leche League Breastfeeding Helpline: https://www.laleche.org.uk/telephone-helpline/