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Change We Can Believe In.
On a hot day in August way back in 1963, a man stood in front of a gathering of people at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. and shared his hope for the future. A dream of a time when there would be no segregation, no discrimination, no distain of colour or creed. A time when his children, their children, could live in a land where they would not be judged by the colour of their skin "but by the content of their character".
On the 28th August 1963, Martin Luther King Jnr stood before the world and said the words which have been engraved in the essence of all the years that have passed since:
'I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."'
He had a dream. And today, this afternoon, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. in front of the world that is so riddled by badness and so desperate for greatness, goodness and peace, a man stood and told us that there is hope. Hope for peace, for our blighted planet, for our stricken economies, for our families and our friends. A man who has not been judged by the colour of his skin, but by his character. A man who believes the words that flow in such measured tones from his soul. A man who has today, this historical day, become the first man of colour to hold the Office of President of the United States of America.
I am not an American. But I am a citizen of a world that has changed today. Change HAS come and I feel from the tips of my typing fingers to the depths of my singing soul that this man will bring more change. More hope. More defining moments. More than any other that has been and maybe more than any other to come after.
Today I am proud of the American people for standing up and being counted. For raising their voices as one to cry out that the day has come for change. The day has come for hope and for all men to be equal under the sky. Welcome to the world President Obama, welcome.
Thank you for reading, Kate x
Ashton & Parsons - "For Teething with a Smile"
My Baby Girl Smiles Again...!
When Eva, at 4 months, began displaying signs that her teeth were beginning to come through we got out the bonjela, the homeopathic powder, and thought "by gum, this teething milarky ain't so bad!" How wrong can you be?!!! As of 2 weeks ago, the cheeks got rudy red, the gums blazed, the crying in ernest began and Eva has been waking frequently at night, troubled by her poor sore gums and the nasty, pokey teeth that have pushed through her bottom gum (she has two now, clever girl!)
I thought all was lost and I was going to have to spend the next three years pacing the floor with my poor wee girl every time a tooth decided it was time to push on through, but no. Not a bit of it. I found this stuff and it found us and it is truly a match made in heaven! To be fair, it was Himself who brought it home, so he should surely have the credit for it. In it's simple white box, looking terribly old fashioned and with what appears to be it's original packaging from the age of the dinosaur, I have walked past it in Boots many a time and thought it looked too discerning and not nearly flashy enough to do any good. How wring can a girl be!
The box contains 20 papers, folded flat, containing a small amount of white powder. the powder goes on the babie's tongue, by whatever means possible - either tip it in as they howl, or use your finger to daub it in babie's mouth. Wait a couple of minutes and watch the miracle as your baby calms down completely. The powders can be used moring and night and any time inbetween that they are needed. We have found that just before a feed is a good time, as Eva has been having trouble feeding when her gums are hurting.
You can buy the powders at any pharmacy and they will cost you £2.99. All I can say is that it will feel for a very long time like the best £2.99 you ever spent!
Ashton & Parsons is completely herbal, and the remedy hasn't been changed in a long time. Obviously because it works, and if it ain't broke, you shouldn't fix it, right?!
A wonderful product that I will recommend till the cows come home!
Thank you for reading, Kate x
I've always said you get what you pay for. Usually I'm right on this and have often found that paying a little more gets you a better quality product. Not always - it has to be said that as far as crunchy nut cornflakes are concerned, the non-branded, cheaper boxes are often as good, if not better, than their flash kellogs counterparts. However, this is not, as you may have noticed, a review about cornflakes.
Some regular readers will know that I recently had a lovely baby girl, and as such, have had to spend a lot of time and money searching out products to aid my motherhood experience. Everything from steam sterilisers to nappies and snot suckers (don't ask!) to shampoo. Some of the bigger items, like Eva's cot, her buggy, and the lovely padded rocking feeding chair (that is currently a dumping ground next to my side of the bed), required more cash and as a result more care, as we have been financially crippled by the loss of Himself's job the week before Christmas.
I was reading some reviews on Dooyoo when I came across one for a site called Kiddicare. Having not know of this before I proceeded to have a quick look and was incredibly suprised at how much cheaper a lot of thee things we had already bought for Eva was on this site compared to other online retailers. We needed to buy Eva's cot and I was desperate for a chair to feed Eva in as my back was fit for breaking trying to feed her sitting on the bed in the mornings and at night.
We bought a chair, the cheapest cot we could find (£59.97), a Baby Weavers Glider Chair and Stool (£89.97), a Samsonite Travel Cot (£44.97) and a cute pink teether mouse affair (£5.99 - couldn't resist it!) and were amazed that the bill only came to £200.75. Not only that, but we got the delivery free and were sent a free travel blind system for the car. we don't have a car, but at a retail price of £19.99, it was a nice little freebie!
Ordering was easy, communication was excellent - we got emails through every set of the order process. When the order was accepted, when the order was despatched, adn even after the order was delivered, an email inviting us to review the products we had bought. All very good. The delivery came when they said it would , was packaged brilliantly, and everything was present and correct. I have to say that even though the cot broke after a week, our email to kiddicare was answered promptly, and withing 7 days we had replacement parts to fix the plastic parts that had broken.
The other items we bought have all been super and we've had no problems with the quality of the items we got. I am looking at buying Eva's High chair from this site as they are so much cheaper than other popular websites like Mothercare etc. Sometimes the discount is only small - for example we recently bought a Bumbo chair from John Lewis, priced at £29.99, and then found it on kiddicare at £27.97, so not much difference there, but the Samsonite travel cot was a good £5.00 cheaper than other places I had seen it and when you start to add up the pennies, you find that you're actually saving a great deal.
Would I use Kiddicare again? Certainly! And I can heartily recommend it to any of you new parents out there who are looking to save a few pennies for the college fund by buying good quality, branded goods at lower prices than you would find on the high street.
Top marks for Kiddicare.com!
Thank you for reading, Kate x
A Whole Lot of Goodness (well...for a crisp!)
I love crisps. Crisps, as my hips and thighs will tell you, do not like me. Whe I was pregnant I had a bit of a thing for prawn cocktail Walkers, which I've never quite gotten over, so finding a good value, healthier way of eating crispy crisps has been, of course, on the top of my to-do list since having Eva.
Himself discovered these. Sunbites. And sunny they certaily make me feel! they are crispier than crisps, more wholesome (full of wholegrain goodness!) and have less fat in them. All good. A full 28g bag only has 0.6 gramms of saturated fat, which is pretty good going. At 130 calories a bag, they are great for those of us who are watching our post-baby weight (mine has spiralled out of control recently!) and trying to cut down on snacks and suchlike.
The crisps are quite unusual in their shape, resembling corrogated cardboard, but they taste a lot better. Not that I've tasted corrugated cardboard, but I'm sure you get the idea! They are very thin and this is why they crunch with a resolute crispiness that is quite sensational. So far this flavour is my favourite - sour cream and black pepper - not too harsh with the pepper and quite a sublte creamy, almost cheesy flavour. They are made with corn, wheat, rice and oats and the whole of the grain is used, so you have a nutty, fullsome texture to the crisp, which makes for a much more interesting snack! The crisps are suitable for vegetarians and contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.
You can find out more at www.sunbites.co.uk
A pack of these lovely crisps will cost around 40p depending on where you buy them.
These are now, I have to say, my crisp of choice and I can heartily (and wholesomely) recommend them!
Thank you for reading, Kate.
Batchelors Cup a Soup
Chicken and Vegetable with Croutons
There is nothing better on a cold, wintry day, than a hot cup of soup to warm the cockles of your heart but making fresh soup requires time and energy. Peeling carrots, chopping chicken and slicing onions when you've had three hours sleep and can barely see straight anyway can be a bit too much like hard work, which is when this stuff comes into it's own.
Batchelors Cup a Soups have been around for years and years - the general idea being powdered soup to which you add boiling water and hey presto, you have a hot cup of...well...soup! In the time it takes to boil a kettle, pour and stir the job is done and you can sit down with half a loaf, a box of butter, and a big glass of milk (or is that just me...?) to enjoy a filling, warming snack.
Cup a Soups come in a variety of flavours, but this one is my favourite. Creamy, flavoursome and full of crunchy croutons, it tastes great as it is, or with a drop of milk stirred in to make it last longer! The vegetables in it are of the dried variety, and you need to let them sit for a while if you like your veg soft and squidgy, or it you're like me you can leave them to the end and pop them in the compost bin! I love the croutons and always eat these first, before they go soft and squidgy, before dipping bread soldiers into the hot, creamy soup. Aaaah, all this talk of soup makes me want to go make one right now!!!
I think there really is nothing better than a homemade batch of chicken and veg soup, but in the event of an absence of veg in your home, or a sheer lack of energy to get creative in the kitchen, these come in very handy. Because they are dried, you can store them for months and months, and they are so quick to make that you acn have lunch over with in ten minutes and be back out into the garden for more digging before the birds have noticed you've gone and start digging up your onion sets!
Batchelors don't seem to have changed their packaging in ages so their logo is as familiar as Heinz - royal blue background and red Batchelors sign make it easy to spot in the supermarkets, and although I am not one for brands, I have to admit I have never found a supermarkets own brand of this soup to rival it.
You can buy Batchelors soups at all leading supermarkets, as well as convenience stores and corner shops. They will generally cost you 95p or thereabouts for a pack of four sachets. Word on the street is that you can now buy cup-a-soup in a jar, so I'll be checking that out next time I do a big shop!
The soup contains no artificial colours or preservatives, which is good news, but is packed full of mono-sodium glutomate, so that is probably why it tastes so yummy!
For more info go to www.agreatbighuginamug.com
So go on, get the kettle boiling and grab yourself a hug in a mug!
Thank you for reading, Kate x
I have been using Ecover products for years now, and find their cleaning capabilities quite satisfactory and their ethos exemplary, so when I noticed this during a weekly shop, I thought I'd have a go. Now I have always been one of these people convinced that our general overzealousness in the area of home cleanliness is probably a contributing factor to the rise in allergies these days, but with a new baby in the house I wanted to have that balance between keeping things hygienic and being obsessively clean in the area of kitchen surfaces. So, Dettol and Bleach OUT, Ecover IN!!!
Who are Ecover?
Well, they are the revolutionaries who first stood up and said "wait, there is another way!" and when it comes to cleaning your home, for me, they are really my only choice. I feel even more strongly about their way of producing and marketing their products now that I have my 4 month old daughter to consider - parenthood really does make you think more deeply about things.
In Belgium, in 1980, Ecover was founded as a pioneering company, selling phosphate free products. Phosphate free is good, by the way. As a company, Ecover is very concerned about environmental issues and in 1992 they opened the world's first ecological factory - it has a green "live" roof! If you read the back of your fabric softener bottle, it will tell you that this product is made at this very factory!
Every part of their business is covered by ecological policy, not just the products and production of them, but everything else, like marketing and sales (for example, they will refill your old bottles of washing up liquid, collecting them and delivering them back, free of charge. You just pay for the actual refill - pretty good!)
Ecover now have sites in the UK and USA, and sell their products in over 20 countries worldwide. All of their products are designed and made keeping environmental benefits to humans and animals as well as the planet herself, at the forefront, and for this, I applaud them! They also make me feel noble and goddess-like, and for this, I thank them.
I love squirty bottles. They have a playful-ness about them that makes me feel quite youthful, and they're much more fun and take less time to use than a bottle you have to take the top off (and not loose the top off...), pour onto cloth, wipe....it's all too much! Squeeze trigger, wipe, done. No fuss and palaver, job's a goodun! The great thing about these bottles is that you can buy refills (the bottle bit) and re-use your squirty bit, thereby helping that little bit more to protect the environment and your pocket (the refill is cheaper coz you're not paying for the squirty bit. Good, eh?!)
The Stuff That's in The Cleaning and Would You Want To Eat It?
The thing that has always troubled me about surface cleaners is the idea that once you've cleaned, you might have a germ free (and who said germ-free was a good thing anyway? If there are no germs then how does are immune system know how to work properly?) - surface but anything you put on the surface is going to pick up the cleaning chemicals. You make a sandwich, and the bread soaks up all that lovely bleachieness and guess what? You eat it. Call me old-fashioned, but bleach sandwiches are not, how shall I say...my cup of tea. I've always figured a bowl of hot water does the same - heat killing bugs and all. Never had food poisoning, and always manage to stay healthy (though not wealthy and probably not wise either!) Add a baby to the equation though, and me as a first time new mum, and we have a different story. However, I know that the stuff in Ecover is powerful against germs but in a natural way - even the fragrances in it are plant based. I doubt I'd enjoy a whole bottle, but it certainly doesn't give me the heebie-jeebies to think of it in the vicinity of my cheese and tomato (with red pepper relish) sandwich.
The Eco Squirt Experience (ooh aaah!)
Well this is one of those products that does what it says on the box. Point, squirt, wipe, move on. The handy thing I have found is that you can use this one handed. That is to say that if you happen to be tidying the kitchen with the baby on one arm, there are no tops to unscrew, lids to loose, caps to put back on. You just pull the trigger and away you go! Easy as pie. The smell is lovely - makes me thing of flower borders on a summer morning - really early when the sun is just coming up. Marigolds and such. The ingredients say it has plant based floral perfumes added to it, and I am willing to bet a whole 20p that somewhere in there are some marigolds! Anyway, whatever it is that makes it smell - it really does smell lovely. Clean. Fresh. Florally!
The Monetary Value of Squirt Eco!!
I get my Ecover stuff from Tesco, as I haven't yet been able to source it locally. It costs £1.98 for a 500ml squirt-topped bottle. A single bottle of this will last a good month in our house - we don't go overboard on how much we use and we don't have very big benches on account of our tiny kitchen, but you might use it a bit faster if you have (trying not to be jealous here...) really long surfaces....!
I have long ago stopped trying to brute-force people into being green. The way I see it, people can choose to help save the planet or not - I'm happy doing my own little bit and trying the best I can. I do feel more strongly about things now that my baby girl is here - and I feel incredibly proud of myself that one day in a history lesson or some such, she, or maybe even her own daughters will think about the efforts we have made to make things better for the future. I know there are so many things out of our reach - so many things we feel we can have no real impact on as long as other people have their way - landfill sites, gas guzzlers, bloomin aeroplanes, nuclear power stations, that kind of thing - but this is one place I can truly say I know, through consumer power, I am making a difference. And that pleases me greatly. It's a good product. It does what it says it will do. And in buying it, I raise my voice to the chemical based crap, stick two fingers up to the non-recycled bottles, shout hallelujah for cleaning products that will save the world. I can choose to eat my cheese and tomato (with red pepper relish) sandwich without a coating of chemical mess. Can you?
Thank you for reading, Kate x
Bonjela Teething Gel
There is nothing worse than trying to calm and comfort a child who is in pain. Teething pain can be terrible for tiny babies to endure and as a parent you want to be able to stop the pain for them so that they can have a comfortable night's sleep. My little girl has just, as nearly 4 months, started to become bothered by her teeth coming in and although nothing is showing yet, we know by her dribbling, her flushed cheeks and her sharp, pained cries that they are definately on their way.
I bought this in Scotland, on our recent trip to see the Grandparents, and was delighted to see it can be used from 2 months. I have always used Bonjela myself for mouth ulcers and gum pain when my wisdom teeth have been coming in, so I knew this children's version would very likely be as effective for teething problems. I was right, too! As soon as we apply it, Eva settles right down and seems much calmer and deosn't cry so heartily. The packet says it is fast acting, and in our experience this is absolutely the case.
The gel itself smells of bananas, but tastes more of strawberries, though the ingredients state it has banana flavour in it. It is clear and slightly gloopy, and a tiny mini-pea sized amount on the end of a clean fingertip, rubbed slowly and filmly into the gums seems to do the trick every time. Lidocaine is the active ingredient, which numbs and soothes the painful area.
Bonjela is thankfully sugar-free, and available at chemists and supermarkets and even the odd corner shop at a price of £2.99 for a 15g tube.
Although I am sure we have many more nights of upset ahead as our little girl's teeth come through, I know that we can rely on this antiseptic and aenesthetic gel to relive the soreness of her gums as she teethes. I can heartily recommend it to anyone, though if you're a grown up with gum soreness, I would recommend the adults version!!!
Happy Tooth Days!
Thank you for reading, Kate x
Advent Washable Breast Pads
I am very proud to have been able to breastfeed my gorgeous baby girl and have used lots of things to help me keep up the good work, these being one of them. When you are breastfeeding, you often find that your breasts become very full just prior to feeding time, and a certain amount of leakage can occur. I find that mornings and late evenings are particularly bad for this and so I use breast pads to stop the milk showing through my clothes. In the beginning, when Eva was tiny, I used disposable ones, but was pretty shocked at how quickly I went through them, and how fast I could fill and plastic bag full for the bin. The idea of filling our landfill sites with soggy breast pads did not fill me with glee, but rather horror, and so I looked out an alternative, and this is it!
The box of pads contains 6 round, soft pads which are designed for placing between your bra and your nipple in the usual way. They are made of brushed cotton, so are incredibly soft, which is good news for sore nips! Being made of cotton also makes them super absorbent, and they also have a leakproof liner which means that when the excess milk has been drwan into the cotton wadding, the liner stops it getting back and making your skin wet and sore.
The design of the pads in my opinion is great - although I can see their outline through my clothes if I am wearing a tight top I don't mind because it was the same with the disposable ones too, so there is no difference there. The outside is covered in lace, which as well as being quite girly and feminine, stops the pad from slipping, which means you don't have to keep fiddling around readjusting yourself. They really can hold a lot of milk and have helped me a lot to feel confident that I'm not going to be stood at a checkout somewhere with milk dripping form my clothes! The pads are washable at 40 degrees, and they come with a little bag so that they don't get lost in the wash. I use this bag to keep them in until they dry too.
I have bought 2 boxes of these, and will probably get another, so that I have a set for every day and a few spare too, thought they do dry very quickly, so you may be able to manage with less.
A pack of 6 washable pads from Advent will cost you £4.99 from places like Boots and Mothercare. When you think that a pack of 40 disposable pads will cost you £3.99 and you go through maybe 6 in a day as they don't hold so much moisture and feel uncomfortable afte a few hours, the Advent ones are actually good value too as you can use them over and over again.
I feel very comfortable using these breast pads and I know that not only am I saving money, but the planet too! I can thoroughly recommend them to you, and hope if you are in need of a breast pad that this will be the one you choose!
Thank you for reading, Kate x
Tesco Value After Dinner Mints
Think After Eights but Nicer...!!!!
I love chocolate. But even more than that, I love minty chocolate. When I was pregnant I went completely off chocolate, but after I had my little girl, the rush for chocolate came back with a vengeance. I was lucky enough to receive a couple of boxes of After Eights as presents and soon wolfed my way through them. Now After Eights are pretty damn expensive if you ask me, so this is where the value aspect comes in.
During a recent online shopping spree at Tesco.com I found, in the virtual sweet isle, this delightful box of choccies, and could not believe the price. 75p. Yes, that's 75p for a whole box (200 sweet little grams) of minty chocolate. As they were Value, I didn't expect much, but popped them into my virtual basket and moved on to the boring task of locating and buying the washing up liquid.
When the Tesco man arrived with the shopping a couple of days later I had almost forgotten about the chocolate delights awaiting me, but found them, popped them in the fridge while I unpacked the bags, and then returned to find them all cold and crispy (just how I like them!)
The packaging is fairly standard for Tesco's value range - white and navy blue with the red Value label on the front. Inside there is a bit of corrogated card and then you get to the chocolates themselves. These are much chunkier than After Eights, with a great deal more chocolate to them and a runnier, less fondant, more syrup type of mint filling. Delicious! They still have the crispyness but are far more substantial than After Eights. The only other way they differ is that these are not individually wrapped, where After Eights are, and that's a shame, but they are still pretty good for the pennies you spend on them. I would be quite happy to serve these up as an after dinner treat to guests and I am sure the guests would thank me for it too, considering that these are bigger and in my opinion, better than their Nestle counterparts. For anyone who is boycotting Nestle, these are an ideal way of enjoying something that is very similar, and saving money at the same time!
I can heartily recommend these and will be adding another box to the next shopping trip - as I'm sure you can imagine, the last box didn't make it through the night....!!!
Thank you for reading, Kate x
Soothing Baby Oil
There is much to be said for the art of baby massage - we are lucky enough to have a girl who not only loves her bath (at three months she has one every night and we reckon she's going to be a gold medl swimmer by the time she's 4!!!) but who loves to have a massage of an evening too. This massage oil is wonderful to help sooth and calm your baby ready for bedtime. We have been massaging Eva since she was very little and it is amazing how quickly she relaxes her little body into your hands.
The Massage Oil
Clear and scented with neroli, rose and organic manderin, there is a warm, earthyness to the smell which we all find deeply relaxing. We really like the fact that some of the ingredients are organic, and that there are no synthetic perfumes, preservatives or the like in the oil. The carrier oil is sunflower seed oil, whichis mild and not overpowering like oilive oil can be, and this lets the scents of the rose and mandarin really come through.
The Calm Baby
Helping your baby to relax on an evening has such a big part to play when it comes to helping them sleep through the night. Eva can sleep for 9 hours (though at the moment, her block of nine hours are slightly displaced due to christmas!) and I'm sure it's because we have a lovely little bedtime routine. Baby's seem to like knowing what's coming next, and so when we pop her in the bath and dry her off, she knows a massage is next on the cards. We always start by warming the oil in our hands and letting Eva smell them, then we gently rub her feet and legs, her tummy and sometimes her arms, hands and shoulders. She especially likes having her feet rubbed (just like her Mummy!) It always leaves her calm and chilled out, ready for her feed and a good long sleep!
Where to buy
I get this at Boots, where there is a wide range of other products, including bath milk, shampoo and moisturising creams. There are other "flavours" to choose from, including ones with lavender in, which I particularly like! A bottle of this will cost around £3.00, but considering you get 200ml in thje bottle and you only need a tiny bit each time, it's fairly good going. I bought 2 bottles before Eva was born and we have used them every night for about 3 months (on Mummy's feet and shoulders too) and we still have almost a full bottle left.
I really love the smell of this and so does Eva. I think the smell association has as much to do with her relaxing as the actual massage and that's wonderful. I read somewhere that massage can boost your immune system and make you a more confident individual, and I'm sure that is true. Eva is always well, and will smile at anyone given the opportunity! If you have a baby (or a lovely partner you want to pamper) this is great stuff as it is gentle on your skin, moisturising, and full of good stuff. I will definately keep buying it as well as other products in the range.
If you would like more information about Baby Organics, you can go to their website, which is www.littlemebabyorganics.co.uk - a very interesting site. Alternatively, you can buy from Boots and other high street pharmacys.
Thank you for reading, Kate x
Baxters Tomato Chutney
Bliss in a Jar
If you were to be asked, in the interests of science, to provide a small fact about me to someone, you'd be onto a winner if you said I was slightly fond of cheese. I think it must be genetic, as my mum and uncle both adore the stuff and so does my 4 year old neice, to the point that I refer to her as a wee mousie, on account of her ability to consume vast quantities of cheese, given the opportunity. Being a cheese lover, I feel, goes hand in hand with a gentle adoration of chutneys and preserves, and this has to be my absolute favourite.
I have had the immense pleasure of visiting the Baxters factory and visitor centre in Fochabers, Speyside, and it only served to give me yet more enthusiasm for this household brand.
The Chutney Experience
Sweet, yet tangy, this chutney is full of flavour and enhances even the most everyday cheese bringing out subtleties you could not have imagined possible! With red pepper, tomato, carrots and soft onions, this is a full bodied chutney that is the making of any cheese sandwich but that also goes equally well with ham and beef. Made to an original Baxter family recipe, it really does taste delicious. I have tried other brands, including one by the Co-op, but nothing compares to this!
Where to Buy
You can buy this chutney at most supermarkets, including Tesco and Morrisons, as well as online at www.Baxters.com, where you can order the whole range of products. If you're out and about in Speyside, visit the Highland Village in Fochabers where you can also partake of a wee spot of highland pancake (they're MASIIVE!!!) and Jam....MMmmmmm!
A jar of this most delectable preserve will cost you around £1.20 and it's well worth it if you ask me!!!
My Final Thoughts.
Cheese. Crackers. Nutty toast. Finely sliced tomatoes. Finely sliced beef. Whatever takes your fancy! I really enjoy this preserve and though I've tried to make my own, I always fail and end up buying another jar of Baxters! Try it - you won't regret it!!
Thank you for reading, Kate x
Upon Having Your Baby at Home Vs Having Your Baby at Hospital
As some of you may know I had a beautiful baby girl early in October this year. I gave birth in a lovely birthing pool in my local hospital, with a wonderful midwife present, as well as my darling partner and my lovely sister. It was not how I had planned my baby's birth to go, though in location only - I had booked in quite early to deliver at home, but going more than 2 weeks over my due date had my community midwives jittering at the prospect of me having the baby at home, hence my brief stay in hospital. One thing I have learned about having a baby is that you can have plans for how you want it all to go, but you have to be completely adaptable because the one person who is actually really in charge (the baby) has plans of his or her own and if they don't fit in with yours then it's really a case of tough bananas! However, it is also a very good and important thing to be informed, and to know what the implications of one way or another may be for you, which is why I will try to be as honest as I can for you in this review. The main thing to remember in all of your reading and preparing is that there is no right or wrong way and that if you want things to go one way and they go in the opposite direction, the best thing in the world to do is just to go with the flow, do what feels right FOR YOU, accept it all as part of the bigger plan and move on to the business of adoring your new baby!
How Having a Baby Became Medical
Somehow, somewhere, having a baby became something you could only do within the clinical confines of a hospital labour ward. Someone high up in the medical profession decided one day that women needed help to birth. A load of old codswallop is what I say about that because although, in many cases, intervention (being induced, assisted delivery - like forceps - and C-Sections are all examples of intervention) not only helps, but saves lives, the majority of women are fully capable of giving birth by themselves. The fact is that if you go to hospital, you'll be very likely interfered with in an intervention type manner because not only are you surrounded by people who can, but your labour is likely to be longer simply because you ARE in hospital. When you're working to someone else's timeframes and not to your baby's, you will find that intervention rules the days - they have the skills and the equipment ready and at hand, so why not use it...?!
So nowadays, when you tell people you're having/have had a baby, they immediately ask you "which hospital did you have him/her at?" as though there isn't any other place or way to give birth other than within the four walls of a hospital ward. People, particularly men, I've noticed, think that a woman who wants to birth away from this clinical environment is not only stupid, risking her life and that of her child's', but also deeply selfish for wanting a different way in the first place. Why go back in time when you can go forward is their way of thinking. These people make me quite cross. I was a speaker on The Jeremy Vine Show on Radio 2 six days after giving birth to my daughter, and it amazed me that so many people still believe that hospital is the only place and indeed, the safest place to have your baby. They are quite wrong! Sometimes the old, tried and tested ways are the best.
How Being at Home Affects Labour
So what's all the fuss about staying at home to have your baby? Why would anyone want to have their baby at home? Well it's a fairly simple equation. When you are at home, you are in your own space. A space of your own creating, where you feel safe, comfortable, literally "at home". These are very important feelings to have when you are involved in the process of giving birth. Think about cats who go about the place for hours and hours looking for somewhere safe and warm to have their babies, and not resting, or birthing their kittens, until they have found such a place. We human ladies are not so different. Our brains, with all their chemicals, send out signals to the rest of our body in a way to advise all the separate parts of us that the coast is clear. It's a fairly primal thing, the instinct to keep our babies inside until such a time as our vulnerability in birthing cannot compromise our lives. You wouldn't want to get eaten by a bear in the middle of that final push, now would you?!!
It's a well documented fact that women who birth at home have shorter labours, less need for pain relief, and generally, a much better time of things. It's fairly simple to me. If you are at home, there is no chance of you being stuck in the back with an epidural, being hooked up to a monitor and not being able to move freely, or being whizzed off to surgery to for a caesarean. At home, you can walk around as you please, which gets the baby's presenting parts (normally the head) pushing down on your cervix to soften and widen it in preparation for the birth. At home you can eat and drink as you please, preventing you from getting so tired later on that you give up and say okay to help, in whatever form it comes. At home you can pass the time with books, play music, take baths, films, pottering in the garden, the company of friends or family, anything that takes your mind away for a few minutes from the contraction, and stops you from feeling, 12 hours in, that you've been doing it all for at least twice that long. Most of all, and I can't stress enough how important this point is - being at home can often make for a much calmer mum. And calm is good. Very good. Particularly during labour.
How a Calm Mother Equals a Calm Labour
Having a baby is a very organic, orgasmic type of affair. In the same way that you couldn't possibly have an orgasm without being in a certain state of inner peacefulness, the same applies to the giving birth of babies. Think about our natural instincts of fight or flight. If we are tense, if we are worried, if we are fearful at all, our bodies produce adrenalin in preparation for us needing to scarper at great speed away from danger, or put-'em-up to fight it off. That adrenalin stops the birthing process in it's tracks, leading to a much longer labour, and a baby who wants out, but can't get out. So, the way to a more gentle and calm labour, is for Mum to be gentle and calm (as much as you can be anyway). Adrenalin IS required, but only at the very end, when you are at the business of actually pushing the baby out. For the rest of the time, calmness and tranquillity are the order of the day (or night!).
How Being In Hospital Affects Labour
Imagine you are in a place that you really don't want to be in - are you calm? Hospitals and Doctors have a funny way of increasing people's blood pressure - it's known as White Coat Hypertension - and it's probably because we have deep associations to death and pain and illness with places like hospitals and doctor surgeries. Pretty natural reaction, given that you don't visit a hospital unless you or someone you know is ill. Right?
Being surrounded by lots of medical folk is a good thing if you are in dire straits (the place, not the band...!) but medical folk tend to want to speed things along if certain timescales (often ones that are not always medical, but rather money or target related...) aren't being met and this leads to INTERVENTION. And it's a common known fact that you are more likely to need intervention if you go to hospital to have your baby and more likely to have none at all if you stay at home. Hmmm. Sensing a pattern here...
Intervention, Intervention, Intervention.
So what's all the who-ha about intervention then? A lot of intervention happens because mum is so busily involved in the business of labour that she just says yes whatever to everything that's offered - it's hard to say no when you're in the middle of having a baby. A lot of things are offered simply because they are now accepted as the norm. Of course if your baby is in distress, if your baby is stuck in the birth canal, or if a back to back baby is giving you pain, then intervention is obviously the best route to go for both mother and baby, but it tends to be that one thing will follow another. If, for example, you decide to have an epidural, you are more likely to need an assisted delivery because all those pushing ques, all the chemical reactions from your brain to tell you and your baby what to do next get muddled up and you don't feel half of them because of the numbness! So labour is longer, and baby gets a bit pissed off at all the hassle it's having to endure and starts kicking off! I was offered intervention when I went into hospital to have Eva in the form of inducing drugs to get my labour going stronger and then I was asked if I would like my waters to be broken to speed things along. I said no to both, but it seemed easier to say no because I had been prepared for them to ask me and I knew what I did and didn't want. There are times when intervention can save lives, and there are times when it is simply preformed to keep the conveyer belt of maternity wards running smoothly.
How You Really Do Have the Right To Choose
Gosh how come they let you go so long? When are you being induced? Why are you still pregnant?!!!! These are questions I endured for the last two weeks of my pregnancy, with people presuming that as I was overdue, the only course of action was a trip to the local Infirmary and a swift induction to produce my baby in line with all the written texts that say a pregnancy is 38 - 40 weeks gestation. Boll*ks to that! Babies come when they are ready, and as long as you remember that, you have my full permission to clout anyone who utters any of the questions at the top of this section! The idea of our health care service is that we are offered help and medical assistance but no-one is there with a big stick saying you MUST have this treatment. If you are sensible, you will look at whether your baby is happy and healthy and base your judgement on how to proceed on that. No-one can tell you where you can and can't have your baby - if you want to be at home then your community midwives must assist you. If you do not have their support then speak to your GP. If you still have problems getting support for the birth you want you can speak to the head honcho of midwives - your community midwife can give you an address to write to.
However, if the thought of being at home to have your baby scares you silly, then go to hospital! Having the right to choose where you have your baby is simple about every mother to be thinking about where she feels most comfortable, and choosing that place to give birth.
How to Become a Birthing Diva!
First things first - work out what you want before you need to. So as soon as you feel like thinking about the birth (once you are over the initial euphoria or otherwise of discovering you're pregnant), try to imagine how you want things to be, whether your gut instinct is towards the idea of a hospital birth or a home birth. There is no right or wrong, and as soon as you learn to follow your maternal instincts, you will be on the path to a beautiful birth, because no matter how you birth, in the end, as long as your baby is happy and healthy, you will be happy too.
I wanted desperately to have my baby at home but when the time came (with me 18 days overdue) and I looked into the eyes of my community midwives and saw the human equivalent of rabbits in headlights lurking there, I knew hospital would be the best place for me and my baby girl, and I was right. I knew what I wanted - a calm, soft, gentle birth for my baby - and I got it because I took the calm centred me into hospital with me, and made sure that my birth supporters (Himself and my little sister, mother of two) knew what I wanted too. This meant they could make sure I got my wishes even if I was in the middle of a contraction and not able to speak. I knew that if I had pushed for it, the community midwives would have had to attend me at home, but I felt more comfortable and confident and calm in hospital. It's all about running with whatever you feel at the time and seeing how it pans out. I never imagined having my baby at hospital, but that's how it worked out in the end.
Pros and cons of a hospital birth
You will have access to a wider range of pain relief if this is what you want or end up needing. You will also have all the medical mod cons you could possibly need and a few more besides. You may feel safer, knowing that all this is available to you, which could help your birth experience.
However, the clinical environment is more likely to slow your labour down, even if you were going great guns before you arrived at the hospital. This slowing down of labour is more likely to lead to intervention and the need for stronger pain relief. You probably won't know your midwife and you may end up with a different midwife half way through your labour.
Finally, consider the recent news stories about bugs and viruses prevalent in hospitals - they are, after all, full of sick people.
Pros and cons of a home birth
If you have problems you will probably have to transfer to a local hospital and depending on how far away that is, the journey could be hard. I travelled to the hospital contracting mildly, and that was bad enough! You may be one of these people who feels secure and more confident in hospital.
However, your labour is more likely to be easier and shorter if you are in a relaxed state in a relaxing place (like your own home!). You will be less likely to need pain relief or intervention of any kind. You can create the exact conditions you want - candles, lovely baths, calm music. And afterwards, you can climb (or crawl...?) into your own bed with your new baby and just be.
You can probably tell where my heart lies. If I could, I would encourage every mother of every unborn baby (as long as there were no serious health complications) to have their babies at home. But I am not you. So... My advice to you is to go with your gut. Do what feels right FOR YOU and don't think you have to justify yourself to anyone. You are the mother of this tiny life inside you and whether you believe it yet or not, you DO know what is right for you and whatever you do WILL be the right thing for you both. Have faith in your motherly instinct, learn to listen to it, and enjoy every minute of your life together.
Kamillosan is an ointment which is designed to help sore nipples due to breastfeeding. Made with chamomile, it is supposed to soothe and calm sore nipples as well as help with nappy rash and other minor skin conditions. I used this for about a week when Eva, my little girl, was 1 week old and found it to be absolutely no help at all. The cream stung when I applied it to the sore bits, and I was more than a little concerned at the array of non-baby-friendly ingredients my baby would be ingesting every time she fed. Things like hydroxybenzoic acid. I don't know what it is or what it does but I was damn sure my gorgeous baby wasn't going to be partaking! The leaflet inside says to apply AFTER a feed but to be fair when you have a new baby who is feeding every 2 hours, you know that whatever you've put on your boob, baby is going to be taking in. So really, it wasn't for me.
How Breastfeeding Does Sometimes Hurt...
The main problem with breastfeeding I think is that everyone who's done it harps on about how it shouldn't hurt if you're doing it right, but once you are doing it right, you completely forget that it hurt to begin with. It's like the whole forgetting childbirth hurt thing, because once the baby is there you have so much more to think about than the pain you no longer feel. Bbreastfeeding hurts to begin with, and if you are under the illusion that it won't then all that will happen is that you'll think you're doing it wrong and stop. I'm sure that's what happens with a lot of women and it does make me sad. My advice is if you are starting breastfeeding and your nips are sore (which them will be until they get used to their new function), don't use this stuff. It is cheaper than other nipple creams, but it really didn't work for me. Each to their own however - my sister used it and found it to be very helpful. Not for me though. I used a pure lanolin based cream which worked a treat. (Lansinoh)
If you do want to have a go with this, it will cost you just under £4.00 at most chemists, Boots, Superdrug, etc. It smells of chamomile, which is actually very pleasant and soothing and if that was all that was in it, it would probably be great! Kamillosan is produced by Goldshield and comes in a 50g tube housed in a pale yellow box with a white chamomile flower on the side.
I really didn't get along with this cream at all, much preferring the Lansinoh which the midwives recommended. I found it make my sore , red nips much worse and I worried too much about what my daughter was taking into her little stsyem. All in all, it wasn't a great purchase, but I recognise that it may be perfect for some people. Not me though!
Tahank you for reading, Kate x
Fresh as a Daisy. Or an Orange...
Palmolive Aroma Therapy Shower Gel
Pure Essential Oils of Grapefruit, Orange and Cedarwood.
I love a shower. Getting one these days is nothing short of a military operation given that I have a 12 week old baby. Showers to me are about waking yourself up, feeling fresh and zingy, as opposed to baths which I truly believe are not for the purposes of being cleaner, but simply designed for relaxing and sleep enhancing purposes!
So how do I turn a plain old shower into a zingy affair? Well this stuff works a treat! When I was pregant with Eva I found I became allergic to a number of my regular brands, and when mum brought this in for me to help with my constant morning sickness (oranges and the smell of them really helped me for some reason), I thought I would have a go. I found it gentle enough to not irritate my skin, but full of zesty, zingy scent to fill my senses and help my nausea. The scent stayed on my skin all day, which was a plus point for me, as well as keeping my soft and fresh.
Aother thing to metion is how lovely the bottle is. It's just plain old plastic and it doesn't have a hook to hang it in the shower, but the bright orange colour and the flower pattern inside the bottle make it refreshing on the eyes as well. I'm sure it must be a design feature to hit all your senses and it surely works. Just looking at the bottle makes me feel awake!
Palmolive products can be bought at Boots, and most leading pharmasists, as well as supermarkets the country over, and you'll pay around £2.00 for a 250ml bottle.
I can truly recommend this for a really refreshing and sense exploding shower experience, and hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!
Thank you for reading, Kate x
Jane Asher Home Baking Collection
Coffee and Walnut Cake Mix
I love cake. I'm particularly fond of stodgy, substantial, icing-sugar coated home make cake, but these days getting 10 minutes to myself to have a shower and brush my teeth is hard enough, never mind a whole hour for baking pleasures! With a new baby in the house, time is certainly of the essence, and these all in one cake mix packs have been an absolute treat! My favourite is this one, the Coffee and Walnut Extravaganza! Read on for tempting tales of lovely cakey-ness!
The Cake in a Box Concept.
I doubt there will be many of you out there who do not know about these types of baking sessions in a box. The general idea is that all the dried ingredients are sold to you already weighed to perfection and mixed together in little sachets so that all you have to do is mix them together with a couple of eggs, some butter (or in this case oil) and a splash of the old H20 to make a lovely cake batter really to dollop into paper cases or lined cake tins and shove in the over for the allotted time. Great for if you suddenly realise you forgot your child's school fayre/mum's retirement/Uncle Charlie's 97th birthday and need a cake in a hurry. They also have the value of being fairly foolproof, which means that even if you're not great at cake-making (I'm much better at biscuits and jams!) you really can't go wrong!
The Cake in a Box Taste Test.
For me, there needs to be a certain taste quality to my favourite cakes of choice. This passes them all with flying colours. No overwhelming coffee flavour, just a delicate hint, none of this Too Sweet/Not Sweet Enough milarky, and certainly the ratio of walnuts to cake must be precision weighed because The Lovely Jane (Asher) has it just right! The texture is fluffy and light for the most part, but after 2 slices, becomes heavier, richer, weightier (or is that just me...?) and simply sublime.
Making The Cake in a Box
This is the bit that makes me smile because it couldn't be easier. You take your box of cakey goodness, and you open it. Inside there are four sachets. The one with the cakeyness is the one you use first. Pop the contents in a big bowl, add your water, your oil, your 2 medium sized eggs and whip to your hearts content. Add your walnuts, pop into a couple of cake tins and slide into a warm oven till they're cooked. Then you have fun with your icing sugar sachets (there are two of these), making the filling, which is creamy and buttery and gorgeous (you'll want to lick the spoon!) and the topping, which is coffee flavoured gooeyness that tastes divine! Cool cake, sandwich with creamyness, top with coffeeness and dive in!
Buying your very own Cake in a Box!
I bought mine from Tesco at a respectable £2.29. I think it actually offers good value for money as if you want to make a cake you usually have to buy flour, sugar, flavourings, icing sugar and so on, and you always end up with more than you need, so this is a good way of getting a great cake without having to spend a fortune!
My Final Thoughts
In case you hadn't realised already, I really like this cake, and everyone I've served it to has uttered the same sentence ..."Mmmmmm" before reaching out for another slice! They do say that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and in this case, Jane Asher has brought us a true masterpiece!
Thank you for reading, Kate.