Saturday, 19 April 2014

Baby Eviction Techniques!

At the moment I find myself in a very familiar position. I'm 39 weeks pregnant with absolutely no sign of an imminent birth on the horizon. My last pregnancy ended in induction, and even that wasn't straight forward, taking the best part of four days. I have read every urban myth and medical recommendation about how to bring on labour and tried out almost all of them to no avail. I thought I'd share the list of (unsuccessful) suggestions that I've had, in the hope that some of my readers might share some tips too! So here are the things that I've tried, along with a couple that I won't! 

1. Exercise

Walking is widely accepted to be great for bringing on labour, as is swimming. When I was pregnant with Libby, I was walking miles and miles, much of it uphill as late as the day before being induced at 11 days overdue. I also swam regularly, played tennis, squash and badminton even after my due date. I can safely say, this is a myth, it doesn't work. 

2. Sex

My husband has been looking forward to this part of pregnancy because last time the midwife told us that it was one of the best things to bring on labour. It wasn't, we checked. 

3. Raspberry Leaf Tea

This is a myth. It strengthens your contractions but won't make you go into labour. I do drink this, I think it's worth doing if it will make my contractions more effective, because it should result in a shorter labour. I'm a firm believer that keeping fit will also help with a shorter labour because the muscles will be more effective when it comes to pushing. 

4. Clary Sage

This has been recommended to me by my midwife if the contractions slow down during labour. However, she assures me that it won't bring on labour so it's not worth investing in myself, I'd be better to ask for an aromatherapy midwife if needed during birth. 

5. Pineapple

The core of a pineapple is supposed to contain something that stimulates oxytocin production. I ate so much pineapple when I was overdue with Libby that my mouth was stinging. It did nothing. 

6. Tonic Water

The quinine in tonic water is supposed to bring on labour, from what I recall, diet tonic water is supposed to be the most effective. It didn't work for me. 

7. Dates

As in the eating variety. There was a study that showed that eating dates regularly in the final weeks of pregnancy could prevent the necessity for induction. I have only read this recently and believe me, I have tried to eat them but only dry dates are available at the moment and I just hate them. I tried eating them whole, putting them in a smoothy or putting them in porridge but I just can't do it. I have resorted to having a couple of spoonfuls of date extract each day. It hasn't worked so far but it tastes good! 

8. Nipple stimulation

This is something that isn't recommended until after your due date because, apparently, it can be really effective. Expressing colostrum is supposed to bring on labour. It didn't work for me last time. 

9. Blue and black cohosh 

I haven't tried this, but it is supposed to bring on regular contractions. However, I have also heard that it isn't safe and can cause some nasty side effects so I won't be trying it. 

10. Castor oil

This basically give you diarrhoea, and the contractions from your bowel are supposed to trigger labour contractions. However, I WON'T be doing this because it is dangerous for the baby. What you eat, the baby effectively eats so the baby can also end up with diarrhoea, causing them to excrete meconium before or during birth. They can then inhale this, ending up with breathing difficulties after birth. Much as I want to evict baby, I wouldn't put her at risk in order to do so. 

If you have tried anything that worked (or didn't), please do share, I'd love to hear about it, I'm willing to give most things a try. Fingers crossed for an imminent labour, Libby is ready to meet you baby sister! 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Growing Up With Animals

Without wishing to make Libby's life sound like something out of the Jungle Book, we have always tried to expose her to various kinds of animals, as well as having our own pet dogs and cats. 

As a result, Libby has always been a huge animal lover and some of our most successful days out revolve around animals. Today has been no exception. 

This morning, we walked the dogs for an hour (Libby walks all the way, we don't use a push chair and I don't pick her up). Two people stopped us on our road today to say how nice it was to see her being brought up with the dogs and getting plenty of fresh air. They both see us walking past every day whatever the weather. 

After we'd walked the dogs, we popped to see the midwife "to make sure baby sister's ok" as Libby puts it, then headed off to a local countryside show for children. While we were there, Libby was lucky enough to be allowed to stroke various animals from sheep, cows and goats to horses, lamas, donkeys and rabbits. 

For me, the highlight of the day was when we went to have a look at some small animals, including a skunk (I'd never seen one before) and a snake. The snake was a lovely little corn snake and after we had touched it, the handler asked if anybody would like to hold it. Most of the children and all of the adults were too scared to hold it, but Libby excelled herself, immediately asking to hold the snake around her neck. I was happy for her to do so, as was the handler, so the snake was placed around her neck. Libby loved this, ignoring the shocked gasps from the adults who were around and she gently stroked the snake as it moved around on her. 

I was really pleased with Libby today, both for holding the snake and for being gentle with all the animals and polite when bigger people pushed her out of the way. A few times, she was stroking the animals when both older children and adults barged past her to get to them. Rather than being upset or annoyed, she waited patiently for them to get fed up and go, before resuming her position next to the animal she was stroking gently. 

The only disadvantage with taking Libby out for the day on my own was that there was nobody available to take photos, I had my hands full with her and the bag so unfortunately we didn't manage to get a photo of her with the snake around her neck. In the absence of that, here is a photo of our latest addition to the family helping me with my work. 

Despite being a pedigree, Jemima was a rescue cat from the Cat's Protection League. I don't agree with anyone breeding or buying pets at the moment, there are so many put to sleep every day because there is no home or rescue space for them. When our last cat died, I waited nearly a year but there was just something missing from our house without a cat. I made sure that I found one that got on with dogs and children and Jemima has been the perfect addition to our household. I would urge anyone to consider rescuing a pet rather than buying one. 

Monday, 14 April 2014

My Celebrity Home Style Quiz

The fabulous bathroom style and inspiration specialist Victoria Plumb currently have a quiz on their website to let you find out your celebrity home style. I've just filled in the quiz and my results couldn't be more wrong! Apparently, my style is most like that of Joey Essex or Sam Faiers from TOWIE. It says that everything about me screams glamour... what do you think? 

Na, I thought not! Nice idea though, I wish I was as glamorous as the quiz would have me believe! 

For me, the ideal house is all about practical luxury. I'd love a nice big, open plan farmhouse kitchen diner with stone floors, a breakfast bar and an aga. This would be complemented by a big garden with plenty of space for children, dogs, cats and chickens to all have space to play without getting in each other's way. As far as the bathroom goes, I'd like a wet room shower as well as a luxurious, whirlpool bath with lights that you can dim so that baths with candlelight and champagne become practical. 

Sofas need to be huge, corner sofas with plenty of time for all the family to lie down on and relax. Bedrooms need to be minimalist with en suites, walk-in wardrobes and plenty of space to hide away all our belongings. Ideally, I'd live in the countryside in a detached house near to a fabulous local school. 

Now that I've thought about it, this does all sound quite glamorous. Perhaps I have delusions of grandeur!

This post is an entry for the #GreatBritishHome Challenge sponsored by Victoria Plumb, a source of quality bathrooms for every type of home. Take its "What's Your Celebrity Home Style?" quiz to discover what your home says about you. 


Getting back to fitness!

My baby is finally due a week on Saturday. Much as I'm fairly certain she will be late like her sister, I'm definitely in the final month of my last ever pregnancy and I can't wait for it to be over! For the last few months, I've been planning what to do about my fitness after having the baby. Whilst I managed to continue running, and even managed a 10k night run in early pregnancy, I haven't run for over a month now, so training has been reduced to long walks and swimming. 

This has given me a bit more thinking time to decide the best way to get fit after having the baby. When I had Libby, I did a triathlon just three months after giving birth. I then did another triathlon, a half marathon and an aquathlon before getting pregnant again. This time though, I'm going to be starting up a new business, looking after a toddler and a newborn and there is no way I have time to train for long distance running or cycling. So here's my plan. 

For the next 18 months, I'm going to focus on aquathlons. These generally consist of a 1500m open water swim, followed by a 5km run. Training will consist of one water polo session a week (for speed and fun), one sprint running session, one distance run and two 5k runs. Once a week, I will also do some strength work in the gym, followed by a swim. 

As I will be breastfeeding, looking after both children full time and running a business, this is going to be hard work. I'm also out of practice when it comes to the gym, so here are my plans for what will be in my gym bag: 

1. Water! Hydration is the most important thing when training, and the importance only increases when breastfeeding. 

2. Nutrition. This is the other thing that is incredibly important when training, particularly when breastfeeding as you use an extra 500 calories during the day just by feeding. I don't get on particularly well with sports drinks personally, although I know that they are a godsend for a lot of people. For me though, it's all about energy bars. They're great for replacing calories between the gym and the pool or at the end of the workout. In fact, I swear by them so much that I've got a couple in my hospital bag to keep my energy up during labour. 

3. Towel. Lets face it, this isn't going to be pretty. I hate seeing women in the gym who look beautiful and don't break into a sweat, they give us all a bad name. So if that's you, please stop it. Work up a sweat or go home, if you're just there to socialise, go for a cup of tea instead. Thank you. 

4. Headphones. Our gym has great equipment that you can watch the TV on if you are clever enough to remember your headphones. I have never remembered them, ever. This time, they're going in my gym bag from day one. 

5. Mobile phone. In case of emergencies. Whether that's a home emergency (incompetent husband alert) or a gym emergency (overweight mother of two attempting to workout - I might collapse). I always feel happier when the phone is nearby, so as long as it doesn't ring I can relax and concentrate on my workout. 

So there it is, I'm ready! Now to get this baby out! 

Here is Libby modelling the free bandanna from last year's aquathlon! 
This post was sponsored but the views, opinions, lack of fitness, gym bag essentials and desire to evict baby number two are all mine! 

Sunday, 13 April 2014

A New Drink Experience

A few days ago we were watching TV when an advert came on for Robinson's Squash'd. My husband and I discussed what a great idea we thought it was and how we'd liked to try it. In a strange twist of fate, I was then offered the opportunity to review the product. 

Robinson's Squash'd is a very concentrated squash in a tiny bottle. Because it is so concentrated, you only need to squeeze the bottle gently into a glass of water to make an excellent tasting drink of squash. 

Personally, I don't drink a lot of squash because I'm happy enough drinking water. However, there are times when water won't do and buying bottled drinks can work out really pricey. What I like about squash'd is that it is made with real fruit juice and no added sugar. I also love the size of the bottle. 

As I usually drink water, it's really convenient to put one of these into a bag or pocket to add to water as and when I need it. I can certainly see why people would want to take it to the gym to add to the water available from drinking fountains. I have tried both the apple and blackcurrant and the orange and peach. Whilst I enjoyed both flavours, the apple and blackcurrant was my favourite.

Unfortunately, however much I like these little bottles and their flavour, I don't think I'm going to be getting much of a look in when it comes to actually drinking them. My husband is very taken with them and intends to take them to work to add to water from the water dispenser. Whilst I'm not particularly happy about missing out, I like the idea that he'll be saving a fortune by using Squash'd rather than buying bottled drinks.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Early Starters - it's Competition Time!

This week, Libby and I have been lucky enough to be reviewing the latest books by Rod Campbell, creator of the much loved Dear Zoo. The new series is called Early starters and consists of these four fabulous books. 

Each one of them is based around a particular theme. "How many?" is a great introduction to counting, "My Day" follows the baby's day and encourages children to name objects. "What's That?" has lovely colourful page tabs and helps a child to learn about animals and things they might encounter in every day life. Libby's particular favourite is "Can You?". This follows the story of a baby that can open a present, look in a mirror and do various other tasks. It is a touchy feely book that allows the child to demonstrate that they can do all the things that baby can do. 

I initially wondered whether these books might be a little bit young for Libby now, but she completely disagreed. They are very educational and encourage basic learning in addition to the usual imagination that is generated through reading. Libby has insisted on reading all of the books many times over, finally settling on "Can You?" as her favourite, which we are now reading on repeat. This photo shows part of her decision making process! She loves "My Day" because it is great for her to read to herself if I'm busy. 

The fabulous people at Macmillan Children's Books have given me a full set of these books to give away. If you know a toddler who might like them, please enter through the below Rafflecopter. They are gorgeous books and would suit babies from as young as you decide to read to them (day one in our case) through to around age three, at which point they are great for children to read (i.e. name the pictures) to themselves. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Developing Imagination

One of the most fascinating things about having a toddler is watching them change and develop every day. A baby who eats, sleeps and excretes gradually becomes a real little individual with their own personality and character. One of the most exciting things about this is the development of the imagination. 

Alongside the language skills that she is developing, Libby is gradually starting to develop the imagination to play games by herself. When left undisturbed for a while, she will chatter away to herself, playing both parts of a conversation and discussing what she is going to do. She also sings songs, occasionally making up a new verse but sadly not yet understanding what it means to sing in tune. 

When given some toys or props, she will use them to make up a very simple game or role play. A great example of this came yesterday when she got on her wooden ride-on lamb toy and put her dad's cycle helmet on her head. She then rode off up the hall telling me "Libby's off to work on her motorbike". She knows that her dad goes to work on his motorbike every day, so odd though it seems, it's quite a logical game for her to play. 

Whilst I'm no expert, it seems to me that the two most important things that are helping to develop Libby's imagination are reading books and playing without adult intervention. I seem to remember reading that allowing children to dictate their own play rather than interfering is one of the best ways to teach them to 'think outside the box'. Whilst I'm not keen on that term, I love the concept. I like the idea that Libby will grow up to be independent, free thinking and not constrained by societal boundaries. 

As for books, I can already see the advantages that Libby is gaining from them. We haven't attempted to teach her to read yet, but when shown text she already looks at it from left to right, clearly copying what she has seen us do when reading to her. Today when she saw me writing, she commented "L, L for Libby". Whilst she couldn't see what I was writing, I now know that she takes it in when I try to show her the letters in her name. We have been lucky enough to have received some lovely books to review today, so Libby is looking forward to reading them this evening and sharing her thoughts on them on my blog tomorrow.