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**My experience of expressing breast milk**
I have been using the Medela Swing since my daughter was born in December and generally express every couple of days to build up a supply for trips away and the occasional stay with her Grandparents. I've also experienced one full week of exclusive pumping due to the joys of mastitis making feeding directly from the breast too painful. I use the regular size breast shield and all of the original attachments and parts supplied by Medela (breast shield, pump, power adaptor, tubing, valve and Calma teat). I also have a manual breast pump and have hand expressed when necessary.
**Why I chose the Medela Swing**
I work with lots of midwives and the Medela has always been the brand they recommend, so I was easily persuaded to buy this pump when I saw it on offer for just under £100. I liked the idea of being able to power the pump from the mains or by battery, and also that there were different size breast shields available in case the regular one was uncomfortable. I saw that the reviews were generally positive, and I knew I wanted to express as well as breastfeed as I'd like my daughter to have all the goodness of being exclusively breastfed, but know I need to return to work before I'd like this to end. I also lacked confidence about breast feeding whilst out and about, and found that expressing a little milk to take in an insulated bag was a good way to avoid this when on short trips.
**Advantages of the Medela Swing**
The Medela Swing has two-phase expression technology, which basically means it imitates the fast, powerful sucking of a baby stimulating let-down as well as the longer sucks of the main feed. I've found that this is really effective for getting a good let-down and efficiently expressing a good volume of milk. The pumping itself is able to be personalised through using the stronger / gentler and let-down buttons to create a comfortable expressing experience - after all, what's comfortable for one Mum may be agonising for another; and the level that suits one Mum may be completely ineffective for another.
The Medela Swing can be run on batteries or via the mains adaptor, meaning that it can be used whilst away from home. The pump itself does make a noise, but I found it less than I had personally expected and certainly quieter than many other electric breast pumps. The pump also comes with the Calma teat, which Medela claim mimics breastfeeding and could cause less 'nipple confusion' than traditional teats for breast fed babies.
**Disadvantages of the Medela Swing**
After only a few weeks of usage, I found that my Swing was allowing breast milk to get into the tubing and therefore into the main pump unit. From looking on the Medela support forums, apparently this is not an uncommon issue. Fortunately mine appears to have been resolved through cleaning and drying all the components, but other users have reported on-going issues and if the tubing or other parts need to be replaced, they can be very pricey.
Other users have also reported that fungus or mould appears to be growing inside the tubing or parts of the collection set that can't be dismantled to be cleaned. This is obviously worrying so it's worthwhile being very vigilant with all parts and immediately replacing those that appear to be trapping milk or are not being effectively sterilised. I haven't encountered this problem myself, but given my experience with milk getting into the tubing, I can easily see how it could happen.
The Swing is also a single pump, so those who are considering exclusively pumping or regularly expressing may prefer to consider the Swing Maxi or another double pump. As with the replacement parts, any Medela accessories such as bottles, teats and bags tend to be on the expensive side which is annoying when you've already spent so much on the pump itself.
The Medela Swing is an efficient single pump which has allowed me to express good volumes of breast milk comfortably and continue to exclusively breastfeed when I would otherwise have struggled. Despite this, I have already encountered some issues with its reliability and wish I had bought a double pump instead. I think the Medela Swing is definitely worth a buy if you're only planning to express occasionally, but I'd reconsider some of the sturdier options for more regular use.
I have bought one of these changing tables in anticipation of my daughter's birth in December. Lots of people said it wasn't really necessary to buy a changing table for the baby, but I wanted this to keep all her nappies and toiletries together, and also because I'm probably going to be having a planned C-section so appreciate that this will be a better height to not pull at stitches when changing or bathing the baby. Me being me, I've had to try it out already, despite the baby not even being due for another 4 months!
** The Bath **
My baby neice loved the bath and I found she was at the right height so I wasn't stooping or getting into awkward positions. The wheeled design made it really easy to take into the bathroom and fill with the shower, then wheel to wherever it needed to be used. This was also good for changing nappies as the table could be quickly taken to the bathroom rather than making the rest of the house smell! I found this really easy to use, but I live in a ground floor maisonette and it's obviously less practical for someone with stairs. The drainage pipe was really easy to use and didn't create the soggy mess I'd been anticipating!
** Changing Table **
The changing mat was really comfortable for baby (in fact my neice went to sleep on it as I was changing her!) and again the height was very comfortable for myself. The colours were bright and playful, but suitably gender neutral and not too overbearing for most nurseries. It was really handy to have all the changing supplies nearby and the table makes them really easy to organise so nothing is forgotten about.
** Overall design **
This is a well designed, sturdy product which can be used as general storage when it's no longer suitable for baby. I like that it's completely waterproof and is easy to move, fill up, drain and convert between a bath and changing table. Despite this, I concede that it's not a complete necessity to have one of these in baby's nursery, and that at full price it is a little expensive. Current best price is listed as £114.99, however I got mine in a Boots Baby Event and with all the promotions it worked out at just over £70. I think if you can pick one up in a sale or second hand then this is well worth it, but I would think more carefully about purchasing it at full price.
My first encounter with Batiste dry shampoo was when I was planning a festival trip with my friend as a teenager. We'd both been agonising over who-should-take-what and anticipating a weekend of looking as though we'd been sleeping rough for years when she suggested taking a can of Batiste dry shampoo. Suitably armed, we got through enough of this little miracle worker to induce asthma attacks in the unfortunate residents of several nearby tents. I'm not going to pretend that we looked like those supermodels you occasionally see at festivals who seem to emerge long-legged and tousle haired in artfully ripped cut-offs and Hunter wellies (how do they do that?!?), but we at least managed to look as though we'd spent the previous year roadying for Metallica.
** Uses **
Ever since that fateful festival I have been a loyal Batiste fan. Whether it was making myself look presentable for an early lecture at university, traveling around hostels in Asia, freshening up after visiting a smoky client's house or wanting to look human after a particularly bad night with my little nephew, Batiste has been my constant friend and companion. It's a helpful product for anyone with a busy lifestyle who doesn't always have the time or inclination to wash and dry hair before they need to be somewhere else. It's also good for people with long hair who simply don't have time (or want to damage their hair) by washing and drying it every day. It's great for days when you've accidentally used too many products and want to press the 'reset' button on your style.
** The Range **
There's now quite a formidable range of Batiste products in their dry shampoo line, with options including new fragrances and tailored products for different hair colours and textures. I'm particularly fond of the 'blush' fragrance, and have yet to encounter a version of this classic product that I didn't like. I also like to have a handbag sized version available to take out with me, and find this can be a good way to get rid of any unpleasant smells picked up in the environment when commuting or visiting other people's houses.
** Price **
Batiste isn't the cheapest dry shampoo on the market, but I consider it to be a reasonable price to say for this very reliable product. Many supermarkets as well as retailers such as Superdrug and Boots have regular offers on Batiste dry shampoo, so it's worth shopping around to get a good deal. Current prices at the time of reviewing for a 200ml can are:
Boots £2.99 (3 for 2)
** Application **
I find the application of Batiste dry shampoo to be very straightforward and quick: simply spray evenly onto hair, massage into roots, allow to do its work then thoroughly brush out. Personally, I've found that brushing out with a hairbrush made from natural fibres is most effective; however you can still get a very good result with a regular brush or even a comb. It's important to make sure that the product is thoroughly brushed out as it can give a 'powdery' appearance which can seem to look grey / white and is particularly noticeable in bright sunlight. Despite this, I've found that Batiste brushes out much easier than some other dry shampoos and doesn't leave either a greasy texture or unpleasant residue.
** Conclusion **
Of course, dry shampoo is never going to replace washing, conditioning and styling hair - however many people's modern lifestyles mean that this is simply not an option every day. Batiste dry shampoo can help on those days when there's simply no time or motivation to wash and dry hair, and is a good alternative to other products available. There are lots of versions and fragrances to choose from, and the product is very easy to use. Whilst it's not the cheapest dry shampoo available, in my opinion it's better quality than many, and there are often special offers which reduce the cost.
I have literally just finished tucking into one of these little pots of chocolatiness as an afternoon pick-me-up so felt compelled to share my guilty pleasure! They're not exactly cheap (around £1.39 for a pack of 4), but many supermarkets run regular half price or BOGOF offers. I tend to only buy these when on offer as I personally don't feel that they're great value at full price. They can be found in the chilled section of most supermarkets and need to be kept in the fridge at below 5 degrees and eaten before the 'use by' date.
WHAT TO LOVE ABOUT THIS MOUSSE
These are super-rich but beautifully light, and don't feel 'heavy' in your stomach. The texture is as bubbly as you'd expect from Aero and these do taste of genuine chocolate rather than the powdery cocoa taste some cheaper products have. They're great for when you're fancying a chocolatey treat but want to avoid the bloated feeling that can follow some snacks. The 59g servings in each pot seem to be about the right size to satisfy the cravings without feeling that you've overdone it. Each pot contains 94 calories (around 5% of an adult's GDA) which seems relatively reasonable for a snack.
WHAT NOT TO LOVE
These are not a health food. At all. In fact, each pot contains 11.4g of sugars (around 13% of an adult's GDA, and more for a child). I think some people could be misled by the '94 calories' claim and may feel that these mousses are being marketed as a healthier alternative to other products. In view of the saturated fat and sugar content these should probably not be a regular treat and parents may want to reconsider the portion size for younger children. Surprisingly they are also not suitable for vegetarians as they contain beef gelatine, some of the other ingredients also sound very 'artificial' despite the large 'contains no artificial colours' claim on the packaging.
All in all, I think I would continue to indulge in these as an occasional treat, but I personally wouldn't consider them to be suitable for every day or for younger children due to the saturated fat and sugar content. I appreciate that this is a personal choice however and purely based on taste factors, these are great. I was surprised that these mousses aren't suitable for vegetarians and wonder how many people would check the full ingredient list before buying.
Okay, I have to confess... I am a Benefit addict! I absolutely love lots of their products, and have found (despite the odd disappointing product) that their range is generally first rate for natural looking flawlessness. Despite all this, I have to say that Boi-ing is my favourite beauty product of all time, instantly creating confidence and hiding what needs to be concealed. I even use it on an unfortunate scar I have on my leg (a result of clumsiness, rather than something with an interesting story!) and find it covers this as well as any facial imperfections or blemishes.
I will generally use shade 01 as I have a very fair complexion, however this is very pale so it's worth checking before purchase. There isn't a huge range of Boi-ing shades available, so lots of people may need to blend rather than sticking to the one shade. Fortunately this is very simple either using a concealer brush or the back of your hand, and between the 3 shades available, most complexions should be covered. Blending shades can also be useful if you have a tan, or are using on the pale undereye area as well as other facial areas.
As other reviewers have noted, the picture used is an old one and this product no longer comes with a mirror, but instead has a screw-on lid with a plastic window. The product does at first appear to be very small for the price, however as with many Benefit cosmetics, a little goes a long way and this will tend to last very well in comparison to many other concealers. It has a lovely creamy texture which doesn't get trapped in fine lines or wrinkles and can either be worn as a stand-alone product or alongside foundation.
The catch phrase 'industrial strength concealer' may put some consumers off, who could feel that they are going to look 'caked'. However, despite the coverage being very good, the product doesn't overwhelm skin and it's possible to achieve a very natural look with proper blending. I would recommend trying the different shades before committing to one, or buying the two closest shades to your natural skin tone in order to blend the product.
My Aunt recently bought this TV for the children's play room in order to recreate the cinema experience without actually dragging them out and suffering the expense of sweets and popcorn. I have to say, I wasn't expecting great things given the price, but I was pleasantly surprised by the clear picture and reasonable sound quality. It's obviously not a high-end TV and does have some issues, however these are relatively minor and to be expected at the price point. The set itself looks attractive and well built, and has not yet been destroyed by tiny inquisitive fingers!
This is a good set for those working within a budget who don't want to compromise on size or features. It would be great for students, people who want a second set and those with young children. The USB port is very useful for people with iPhones or laptops, and the SCART and HDMI ports allow for connection with a range of other entertainment products. It comes with all of the extras you'd expect from a modern TV, including a useful remote control and additional settings to optimise the colour balance, etc.
In summary, a good buy for the price - but not the best quality TV you will ever experience.
I upgraded from my Apple iPhone 3 to the 4S around a year ago and haven't looked back since. I absolutely adore the additional features, including Siri and the extra storage space. The camera also seems sharper and easier to use than the earlier model, and there are some wonderful apps available to improve the image capturing experience. Connectivity is through Wi-Fi, 3G or bluetooth and has been very reliable, even whilst travelling. As most people will have an iPhone on contract, it's worth pointing out that data packages can be expensive (especially when roaming) and it can really pay to shop around before upgrading for the best deal.
Visually the phone is everything you'd expect from an Apple product, sleek, lightweight and well designed to fit into the average palm. The touchscreen display is just the right size for easy typing, and is suitable for viewing images and watching videos. The phone is surprisingly thin and lightweight given its power, and with the 32gb storage also means that you're saving space and money on needing to carry an additional mp3 player or camera.
There are a few issues with the 4S, including that the battery life can be very short - especially when 3G is on or when there are multiple apps running. Despite this, the phone charges relatively quickly and the battery life can be significantly extended with careful use. It's also worth noting that many of the phone cases available for the 4S can impact on the image quality of the camera or interfere with the flash. If you're wanting to take a lot of pictures it's important to check the case before hand, especially as this model scratches very easily without one.
I had this product bought for me as a gift last Christmas and at first I was very sceptical of how it would cope with my curly, unruly hair which is simultaneously wild and also thin. I used to spend hours straightening my hair, and struggled to blow dry my hair straight with heavy dryers and complicated brushing techniques. The Babyliss Big Hair has completely revolutionised my beauty regime through cutting out the extra complications - just drying my hair in one step leaves it straightened, sleek and volumised with a good level of shine and manageability. It's also particularly good for my sister's fringe, which otherwise would not lie flat!
The product itself is very well designed, and has an attractive and minimal look with some pretty purple detailing, whilst still being very lightweight and easy to use - even for those with musculoskeletal issues like myself. The brush itself is chunky and is therefore good for adding volume to limp hair, or for adding old-style Hollywood waves to longer styles. There are different heat settings, and the brush itself turns in both directions (or can be used whilst still) so hair can be effectively styled in a huge range of different ways and tangles are kept to a minimum.
There are very few downsides to this product, however any hair that gets caught in the brush needs to be removed as soon as possible in order to keep it working effectively. The top heat setting is also very warm, and should therefore only be used when necessary in order to avoid damaging hair. I have also found that the hair guard at the bottom of the brush can easily be removed, meaning that hair can become trapped inside if the user doesn't notice. Despite these issues, this is a great product which makes drying and styling hair much quicker and easier.
There are few products which have enjoyed a popularity as enduring as Vaseline, and these handy pocket sized tins have a multitude of uses.
Vaseline protects and moisturises lips, as well as giving them a light and attractive sheen. A thin coat of Vaseline will not only keep your pout looking plump, but enhances the natural look of lips and gives a flattering shimmery shine.
Particularly in the coming winter months, a tin of Vaseline is a handbag essential to prevent and treat dry skin patches wherever they are found.
Many models swear by Vaseline as a quick eyebrow tamer, which is perfect for busy lifestyles and quick touch ups. It can also be used to add the look of length and curl to eyelashes, even without mascara.
A dab of Vaseline on the apple of the cheeks is a quick way to highlight and slim the face, giving the impression of a healthy complexion.
In short, I absolutely love my Vaseline, and wouldn't be without it. At less than £2 per tin it's an absolute beauty bargain and can be used by the whole family for a variety of health and beauty uses.