Eco Mom! Warrior not Worrier & Review: Lil Cubs.

Eco Mom! Warrior not Worrier &  Review: Lil Cubs.

I think, like the majority of the general population, I was shocked and appalled at our careless, throw-away culture whilst watching Blue Planet II.

Quite rightly it sparked an outcry and awakened the Eco Warriors within, that were latent and waiting to burst forth in battle cries of “No More!”towards producers of this toxic waste.

Following these images of plastic waste, drifting through our oceans and the coverage of albatross chicks being unwittingly fed plastic (this made my stomach turn as a Mummy To Be!) there have been various campaigns to ban the use of plastic straws, bottles and levy a tax on plastic packaging (which could be introduced by law by 2021.)

Because of this increased awareness about use and dump products and their detrimental effects to the world around us “single-use” has become the buzz word of the year in the Collins Dictionary for 2018. This refers to products- often made of plastic – that are made to be used once then thrown away.

“Single-use” has seen a four-fold increase since 2013 which I think highlights our socio political concerns about the environment and I for one welcome this conversation!

Sometimes it is difficult to live in full eco-conscious mode when you have offspring to attend to on the daily and sometimes (unfortunately) convenience is king which means the environment will take a hit. As much as possible I try to live green in the most basic ways (recycling, reusing, upcycling and buying organic as much as possible. I did also consider the use of cloth nappies but I just wasn’t brave enough to take that lifestyle plunge.)

Of course any parent may worry about the state of the world that we hand over to our little people but we can contribute to a happier world by pledging to do one thing that is green. Alone we can not change the world but if we are concerned enough joining together as a green collective will be the way forward.

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Source: Lil Cub’s Website.

One easy and fun way to live more eco-consciously is to add organic products to your little ones wardrobe.

Lil’ Cubs is one such company that formed in 2015 to offer goodies (from muslins, sleepsuits to baby gift boxes) that are full of personality and crafted with the wider world in mind. Organic cotton and jersey materials are used and the fun, graphic prints are created from eco friendly dyes.

Since choosing to shop Organic there is no way I would go back now. I was introduced to the wonderful, wacky world of Lil’ Cubs through one of their stockists Rhubarb The Bird (whom Bea brand reps for.) The first product Bea and I put through its paces was the glorious Clouds & Bolts sleepsuit. The suit features a rather cute rainbow coloured design and as the name suggests clouds and lightning bolts and a nifty little zipper!

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It made me feel better about my environmental & socio economic impact. Last year 220,478 organic farmers produced organic cotton over 18 countries and there was a 10% year-on-year increase from 2016! Lil’ Cubs is a brand that has a sustainability strategy to do their part in reducing global warming, over fertilisation of the soil, water consumption compared to conventional farming.

One of my favourite unique selling points of the brand is that the designs are unisex so can be shared between little boys and girls. I have found that organic products last much longer. Because organic cotton is harvested by hand rather than machine it does not require the chemicals to clean and bleach it so it is more durable upon being turned into textile. I have also personally found that the bodysuit has coped better with washing & drying! So I will be passing these items on to Baby Goddard To Be…

Apparently organic clothes last five times longer than their conventional counterparts and the cotton will not break down until the hundredth wash… I will test this claim out but so far the vibrancy of the suit has not changed!

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Source: Lil Cub’s Website!

We were sent the beautiful “Oranges & Lemons” muslin swaddle. The print is really individual and I love that it is a design that is relevant every season. It is bright! It is “zingy!” As I opened our package it certainly packed a visual punch.

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It is super soft. The cotton is 100% breathable and perfect for Bea’s delicate skin. I couldn’t wait to wrap her up in a beautiful, cotton-soft bundle.

It is 120x120cm so it is large and multi functional. Throughout its test period I have utilised the muslin in a variety of ways. It is great for mopping up spills, napping under a light “blanket” and most recently it has been used as a fun backdrop for an Autumnal themed photo shoot. It looked super cute behind a wicker basket and pumpkins.

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Its a staple tool in my Mum Arsenal. I have always only ever heard positive feedback about the Lil Cubs’ muslins from other Mummy friends and now I join in these voices of praise.

61D8C5F8-063B-4452-8C23-85AF58D7B3E7The pricing is very affordable at just £17.

I have been known to use the muslin as a scarf. I can confirm that the softness is out of this world! I happily share the muslin with Bea who now associates it with “sleepy time”.

Lil Cub’s is a fresh baby product company that has come a long way from just muslins and bibs back in 2015 and I see them growing and becoming a widely recognised organic baby clothing brand.

If you too want to be more Eco Warrior than Worrier I highly recommend Lil Cubs’ as a provider of organic products. Obviously it takes time to change your buying habits and create a fully organic wardrobe, so my tip would be to add capsule pieces (they WILL last) so over time your core wardrobe will shift from regular clothing to organic and it will be #FeelGood both physically and metaphorically.

Check out the colourful Instagram page to see the products in action!

How are you doing your bit for the environment? Do you have plans to adopt greener lifestyle choices?

#StaySweet

– Bea’s Mummy x

 

I was gifted the Oranges & Lemons swaddle muslin as part of my agreement with Tabitha of Lil Cubs. All views are my own.

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So how much sleep does your baby actually need?… You may be surprised…!!!

So how much sleep does your baby actually need?… You may be surprised…!!!

We have just made it through that 4 month Sleep Regression stage; battered and bruised… but we fought through it together (I think I may have cried more than Bea for those 5 weeks! Man it was hard! And Sleep Regression IS real!) We have come out the other side and I believe that Bea now has a much keener appreciation again for day naps (she had been keeping herself awake by all kind of means included but not limited to what sounded like singing to herself and scratching her own face!) so we also had the added challenge of dealing with an over tired baby.

I think there is certainly a lack of medical/scientific information readily available at your local GP about baby sleep and in a panic that I wasn’t parenting right I read many a horror story of sleep regression on Parenting forums. Then on the other side, I was airing my own sleep deprived woes with two Mummy friends who both seemed a lot more bright-eyed and bushy tailed than me (despite having their daughters around the same time as me) and one of the little ladies had been sleeping in their own room from the start and the other was not waking up in the night and sleeping through. This lucky Momma had consistently been achieving 8/9 hours of unbroken sleep!

Is my baby broken?! What was I doing wrong to have to deal with hourly wake ups?! There was a week period where I saw at least one minute of every hour in different iterations each day- 12pm…1am…2am….3am…..4am…..5am so as you can imagine this did start putting a strain on my relationship with my Husband (who is about as useful as a chocolate teapot in the early hours) as I felt like he should be doing more to relieve me and I was ashamed to recognise it, but it felt like I was starting to dislike my baby at these crazy hours. It’s insane to think the depths you plunge to (the lack of sanity) when you have not managed to get enough “shut eye”. Then I would feel so guilty to even be thinking like that! But shit happens when you don’t get sleep! I realised I can be a very crabby kind of person. Historically, I have never struggled with waking up early and being fully functional and quote “annoyingly chirpy”… but this was certainly one thing I was not. I was less an early songbird and now some kind of permanently exhausted pigeon!AF988229-D5C8-4AE7-B70C-8432D4F1B159.jpeg

But there is light at the end of the tunnel and I think we have a very squiffy expectation of baby sleep! To distill the answer to the age old question “How much sleep does my baby need?” … simply put: however much THEY need as an individual so your baby will lead you. It does not mean there is something wrong with your baby if they wake themselves up after a 20 minute Cat Nap or do not sleep through the night. It becomes problematic when we put an adult expectation on their sleep patterns. Perhaps these “baby sleep problems” are more our own issues?!!

There is no normality in the field of babysleep. Recommended guidelines for Sleep are so broad. For example The National Sleep Foundation state that the limits of acceptable sleep are between ten to eighteen hours over a 24 hour period in babies between 3 and 11 months old so most patterns of sleep should fall within realms of normality.

The NHS advice on sleep suggests that by 4 months old a baby should be sleeping double the length spent in the day. This seemed to work as a rule of thumb for me as Bea got out of any sort of habit/routine for daytime napping! This is where advice “sleep when you baby sleeps” was utterly useless to Bea and I!!

What made me feel better about our Sleep Journey was finding “Why Your Babies Sleep Matters” by Sarah Ockwell-Smith (follow her fabulous blog here!) because she is a gentle parenting proponent and has a relatable way to translate science to actual parenthood.

 

 

The advice is refreshing because essentially it is pointless to track our child’s sleep pattern; parent reporting night-wakings are inaccurate. There is an expectation in our society that our babies should be sleeping through the night by 6 months old, but this is an unfounded because in reality research in Sarah’s book shows that 84% of children aged 6 months are still waking up at least once a night. Our expectations of our children’s sleep is unrealistic and it would allow us all a sleep-deprived sigh of relief if we realised that these “expectations” (turned limitations) are just constructs and “sleep problems” are just our little ones actually sleeping completely normally!

Did you have an expectation of when your child would be sleeping through the night? Have you put any successful routines in place that has encouraged sleep through the night? How much do you find yourself waking with your child?

– Bea’s Mummy

 

I am part of the Amazon Affiliate UK Scheme so if you choose to purchase this Top Read through the link above I may earn commission on the sale with no extra cost to you!

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Bea’s Joyful Gathering! (Jenny South Photography, Plymouth.)

Bea’s Joyful Gathering! (Jenny South Photography, Plymouth.)

This time of year is always somewhat of a whirlwind and never is this truer than with a sassy six month old. I feel that I have neglected my duty to this blog, but Bea and I have just been having too much fun for me to be tied down at a keyboard!

Last Monday it was a girly day with my Mini, Mother and Little Sister; all very civilised. A morning beverage down at the beautiful and historic Royal William Yard in Plymouth which is certainly one of our #HotSpots (great food, culture, events and businesses by the sea) then a photography shoot with Jenny South Photography to experience her #JoyfulGatherings sessions she is offering throughout October and November… perfect to get those Glad Tidings underway. Yes… I am “one of those people” that start celebrating *Christmas* (ah there I said it in October!!!!) as early as possible, and unapologetically in fashion, so what better way to involve our little Bea?!

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The studio is tucked away in a beautiful courtyard on the Royal William Yard site in the old Cooperage Building. You ascend an old stone staircase and a quaint studio awaits, set up for the session ahead. There was so much gold I imagine for us it was like when Howard Carter discovered the Tutankhamun Tomb! We love glitter and we love gold so Bea was ready to dazzle in her mini sequined romper (quite the miniature Kylie Minogue we thought!)

Jenny is so creative (you can literally see the ideas flying around her head!) and she works with her client to create memorable photographs. She is a storyteller and clearly loves everything she does. She certainly had a special way with Bea who was more than happy to pose happily in front of the lens. The relationship that Jenny takes the time to set up with you as her client is priceless and the pre photography work that she conducts ensures maximum client satisfaction. You have a pre-session consultation to discuss your requirements, and that time certainly assists you to narrow down your theme as Jenny can facilitate whimsical through to elegant and more. It really is a case of your imagination is your only limit as Jenny will work meticulously to deliver results that you can be proud of and share for years to come.

I think one of the words I use frequently to describe Bea is a little Diva so the shoot outfit was spot on to shine alongside her cheeky character. Jenny allowed Bea to get comfortable on the set and made sure she was at ease. It was honestly a laugh a minute and I was really relaxed as a parent on the sidelines watching my little girl pose and have a great time. I think it helps that Jenny has such great credentials and is part of BANPAS (which is the association for newborn and baby photographers) so peace of mind for the parents!

The communication is so easy with Jenny who makes herself available to answer any questions and does a wonderful job of keeping you in the loop. I was impressed that despite it coming up to the busiest period the editing of the images was done and full set of photos available within a week! I am a sucker for punctuality so this was a big plus of the entire experience.

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Click to book your very own #JoyfulGathering and quote BGBR01 for your discount!

The photos are just delightful! There is certainly an air of celebration and jubilation. I would say the images are classic, clean and just adorable! I feel that Bea connected with Jenny’s direction, care and photography style. I also appreciate the fact that Jenny is working with other local businesses in partnership to offer additional Seasonal goodies including personalised tree decorations and cards of the photos from her sessions with Faithful Designs. I love that you can keep your Christmas offerings so local and I will certainly be ordering in our cards this year!

I am thrilled to have experienced the full Joyful Package but there are so many options and Jenny works on such a bespoke basis you are sure to have your expectations met and exceeded.

Please feel free to use Bea’s Joyful Code: BGBR01 for your own experience.

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Here are the pictures. They just melted my heart and gosh darn if I wasn’t all a flutter for Crimbo and good tidings already I well and truly am now! Thanks for your time and kindness Jenny. May your sessions be full of joy! Get yours booked as they will be booked up very soon and I can assure you, you do not want to miss out on the fun.

To see the photo’s in their full glory please visit: Bea & Me: The Bea-Utiful Life Blog page.

Beas Mummy.

Jenny offered Bea and I a shoot free of charge in exchange for our honest review and Bea being a Brand Representative for Jenny South Photography, All view are my own. All rights to photography belong to Jenny South Photography.

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How to be an organised Mummy (and why I am still not quite there yet!) + Pacapod Changing Bag Review.

How to be an organised Mummy (and why I am still not quite there yet!) + Pacapod Changing Bag Review.

(Please read this in light of my tongue in cheeky satire. I would never profess to being a font of knowledge. I think we are all just trying to do the best job that we can to help our little ones thrive… there are many, many, in-exhaustive paths to Mummy Nivarna! But if there is advice along the way I try to exert as less energy and stress as possible by utilising tried and tested methods. This is not to say every way will work for your little person as they are an individual but if trial and error is involved it may be worth considering tips and tricks that you may not have thought of yet!)

This blog post includes affiliate links so if you chose to purchase one of the ace products I am talking about (and independently fully endorse) at no extra cost to yourself I can earn commission to keep bringing you the best content!

 

I think one of the biggest shocks (not including things directly linked to all things Baby: including my premature labour, the first poo’splotion and that time Bea had an anal prolapse!) of Motherhood was the significant drop in income from regular working wage, to 90% of wage (which was but a dip of the toe into the money management struggles to follow), down to Statutory Maternity Pay which is, as we can all agree; peanuts!

When under £800 is coming into your account (not including Child Benefit payment), you realise that you are going to have to cut your cloth accordingly. Part of my organisation has been pushed by the very real and noticeable money plummet! It wasn’t as if I was the most extravagant spender pre baby, but the Hubster and I would indulged in a weekly  meal out (of some description) and if there was money to spare I was a “Treat Yo’Self” kinda gal…

But… Baby Times have forced me to very quickly learn to budget. It was actually terrifying the first time I sat down to draft our budget with my meagre Mummy Money in the mix. However, the key to better living is full, transparent honesty. It certainly made me re evaluate my priorities (I have not had my eyebrows waxed at a beauty place since Bea’s arrival and have had but one salon haircut!)

On paper, after all bills were paid it looked as though we would have £380 left to play with but that didn’t seem to work out with a new baby in tow and the fact that Daddy G is a car salesman so his pay fluctuates month by month. I think it has certainly helped paying our bills by direct debit. We have recently just had our Smart Metre fitted so I hope this will make a positive different to the outgoings as it has certainly made me acutely aware of not wasting as much energy in the day by switching off plugs at the wall. It’s a mixture of both amazement and dread that this little box is recording our energy useage and you literally see the money leaving your pocket! #GameChanger!

Its all about cutting costs where you can and changing your materialistic mindset. Yes it’s nice to have Netflix/Amazon/Now TV but do you NEED all these paid services? (I would love to follow my own advice here as we have only been able to let go of Now TV as we keep rationalising keeping Netflix and Amazon! Here is the first reason that I am not organised or thrifty for that matter. Though dropping one out of three for me is a good starting point!) I think that having less to binge watch would force me into finding alternatives to occupy spare time which could include more time planning, tackling the ever present laundry piles or getting crafty to save money!

With revised budget came a new Food Shopping spend and a revision to weekly as oppose to monthly shop which has saved approximately £30 overall! In all honesty, most shops I have been “winging it” to pick up as close to my budget as possible and sometimes it is hard not to be swayed off course by attractive looking ‘deals’, so my next goal is to write & STICK to a weekly meal plan!

I have learnt that batch cooking is a Momma’s best friend! Forget diamonds… after a full day of childcare it is nice to know that you have still managed to “Wife” and have food to fill the Hubsters belly. It’s great to do it the lazy way! I pick out our favourite dinners and cook up quantities to feed 6 that I then divvy our into freezable bags. In the microwave they go and that is one less chore to consider. It’s difficult to motivate yourself to do the batch cook initially and it does require a certain level of organisation but the output is certainly greater than just one day a week having to plan the babba’s  naps around your cooking as best as possible.

I found that in the early days if I didn’t get myself up and at em the whole day ahead was a no go. To get organised I would highly recommend that you start the day by getting yourself ready first. If you set an alarm half an hour before your little one is due to get up then you can at least have a shower and try to present yourself.

I am pretty sure in the blur of attempting to Mum there was an almost five day period that I enveloped my hair in another layer of dry shampoo each day and maybe only brushed my teeth twice where Bea decided to get herself comfy in a routine of 6am breastfeed/bottle, then we would dress her for the day ahead, play with her then she would go back to sleep ON me so I was held hostage from 8am anywhere up to 11am! This was not conducive to getting anything done!

I have since revised this routine to ensure that we make it downstairs to start the day. Bea is what I would describe as a somewhat “needy baby”- I am sure she would prefer to be held at all times if that was an option. So many people said that I was “going to make a rod for my back” with the way I would allow her to sleep on me. I guess they were right. It is hard to be organised when you have a tiny human being clinging to you. We found that the only way to get things done was to babywear so about eight weeks into the parenting journey we finally started utilising the Hana wrap that allowed for  some kind of semblance of order to the day. I could strap Bea in and wash the dishes and put the washing on the line.

Talking of washing, don’t put it off! The best washing policy is to do it as a daily task. I never realised quite how much washing such a tiny person could go through! Also a top tip is to get a washing basket for each member of the family as it makes it so much easier for drying then sorting. In all honesty I started out dividing the piles and attempting to do washes for each of us, but because I am still not an organised Mummy I ended up reverting to the bung & load method again where I would just grab whatever was closest to hand, like an arcade claw, indiscriminate and only successful perhaps one in one hundred attempts! This “method” does not make for happy sorting so do as I say….not as I do (hopefully this will not be a parenting mantra I settle on…) and for your own sanity keep on top of the washing and have enough self respect that you maybe take fifteen minutes longer before the task to save the heartache and utter annoyance the other side!

I feel as though the key is balance and routine, you can have everything if you put the steps in that achieve the goal of organisation. Real talk: I am probably too lazy to be an organised mum and I maybe don’t herald organisation as “up there” in

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Grab your Hartland today!

my own personal Mom Priorities. I should probably revise this… but the Un Routined Routine seems to be working just fine for Bea and I.

I don’t believe you can ever fully control the world around you, and certainly not a mini person. Ultimately they dictate the course of the day. I guess there are pockets you can influence through your own action for that illusion of control! But I quite like to be surprised on the daily- “let’s see what today brings!” There is certainly value in organisation (for other Moms!) I have started changing habits that cultivate success and promote order. But they are baby steps, which is why organised is not an adjective that would appear in a Top 20 list to describe my parenting style! From the outside other Mummy friends have said it looks like we have our shit together (but does any Mummy though?!!) I think a big part of that is making the effort to look as good as you make your baby look. You may not feel like it, but a lick of mascara and tinted lip balm can go a long way to making you look more “put together”. That is why I have found having a Pacapod changing bag is a nice (stylish and functional) stepping stone into organisation.

I was lucky enough to win the Pacapod Hartland Pewter Acorn on a competition hosted by Mummy and Little Me. To say I was thrilled was an understatement as I have followed the #MyPacapod hashtag on Instagram since my first pregnancy. I was, however, always sat on the fence as to whether it was just marketing magic that had me on board and was the cost of the bag outweighed by the utility or vice versa? The miser in me felt like I would need some solid reviews from people I knew in order to invest the quite costly price tag, in my humble opinion.

So upon my win, I could be that person I knew to put the bag through rigorous testing! Would it’s design improve my organisation? Is it worth the hype? Most recently the brand has been winning awards again (gold in the Made For Mums Awards 2018) and there are more designs than you can shake a stick at for all kinds of Mummy Bears. What’s a real plus about the brand is that every design works but doesn’t compromise the “looking good” aspect. Because the Pacapod has been designed by a mum for other mums the bags offer a slick transition between work and home if you are a working mother, because let’s face it… who wants to spend any extra time packing seperate bags for you and the LO?!!

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I love the comfort of a backpack style changing bag – perfect for days out.

When I received my bag the first thing I did notice was the superior quality of the bag compared to other brands that I have personally used. Amazingly each bag is handcrafted out of 257 individual pieces! This quantity blew my mind. This is why 1) the cost may seem higher than other brands but 2) the longevity of the bag far exceeds other makes and accompanies you and your child on your journey for a longer time!

The creator behind the Pacapod Jacqueline Waggett used to design for a well known outdoor lifestyle company, and her love of travel is evident in the designs of the bags and more specifically in my Hartland: the limited edition world map print of the Feeder Pod! I love the whimsical print, it reminds me of my pre Momma zest for jet setting! Now that I mention travel, the Hartland bag would be just perfect as a cabin bag! It is compact (42cmx31cmx18cm with a 36 litre capacity at just 1.03kgs!) and allows you to go handsfree with the backpack design. It is also super easy to transform it into a messenger bag. I love its multi 56016BF4-FBE1-4B14-8066-E9F2B334BF8Afunctionality and with the ingenious 3-in-1 organisation system, it has increased the time (I would actually guess three fold) of accessing the baby bits and bobs you need to hand.

I am a big fan of the collapsible pods for easy wipe-down cleaning and storage and each “pod” can be used independently, as they can be clipped onto your pram handle. The attention to detail is everything. The new map print is also utilised on the mini dummy pouch. I just love the continuity aspect and that no design feature is half baked. Everything has its purpose and it’s place.

You can use both pods, one pod or no pods at all! The main bag can be used for just “Mum Things” and can easily transport a laptop. It really paves the way for you finding your own best practice for organisation. The Hartland comes from the new Travel Light range and on the Pacapod website it is described as:

“the travel seekers ultimate baby bag”

and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.

We live in sunny Devon so I couldn’t wait to get the Hartland out and about. So I prepped two bottles for the feeding pod (cool bag) which perfectly insulated the milk and kept it at a Bea-Approved warm temperature. We went for a walk on Dartmoor, managed to feed Bea then comfortably change her back at the car on the padded changing mat for maximum comfort and utility because for a luxurious looking mat it also follows closely the lightweight credentials of the Hartland and its pods! (Excuse the windswept and “interesting” look of the photos… we seemed to pick the windiest day in Devon for our outdoor adventures!)

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I liked the fun acorn print. The more serious MumReviewer seems to opt for the tan version…. but the quirky design piqued my interest and I felt it was the perfect representation of what “Bea & Me” is about as a team and direction of our blog style!

I have used the bag daily and it has improved my organisation to a degree, though I am not going to lie… I am still guilty of throwing a nappy or two in the main compartment! One step at a time…

Hey Pacapod!… if you ever fancy gifting me a new design to review please do not hesitate to get in contact and I will happily spend time with Bea and your bag!

How have you ensured that you are an organised Mummy? Have you also used a Pacapod changing bag and did you find that it improved your organisation too?

#StaySweet

– Bea’s Mummy

 

I am part of the Amazon Affiliate UK scheme, as such I may get commission on the links to products that I list in my reviews. My reviews are honest and my own and I will only link products that I have used/have found useful.

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Combi Feeding For Sanity & Beyond!

Combi Feeding For Sanity & Beyond!

This post contains an affiliate link so at no extra cost to you, if you purchase the Tommee Tippee 6 pack of Closer to Nature bottles through this link I may earn comission. I am part of the Amazon Affiliate UK scheme. I only add links of products that I have personally used and would recommend.

It has been just over two months since Bea and I took to combination feeding with great trepidation and lots of misinformation and a huge dollop of “Mum Guilt” on my part!

Have a read of my first post about combination feeding here!

Luckily I haven’t had physiological issues that have prevented me from breastfeeding; though I know my supply is drying up as more time passes and my time feeding is split breast to bottle (most days it is more bottle now!) but I am attempting to ignore any pressure to “do more” to remedy my dwindling supply.

Naively, throughout pregnancy I had believed that it was some kind of inherent eventuality that I would be a Milky Goddess and sustain my child with my own elixir of life alone. Pumping took its toll on me. It is no life, or at least not the life for me. (I have so much respect for those Momma’s that are able to express breast milk feed their babies on the daily! It is such a beautiful thing and you should be so proud of yourself and your body for being able to do this!) I however started to lose my identity and feel more and more like a dairy cow, day by day… pump by pump…

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A beautiful black and white snap.

My decision to incorporate formula into our feeding routine was mostly a shove by  a rather stoney-faced and judgmental woman (who I actually found out recently was not a health visitor but a nurse) at my local Weigh In clinic. “So you’re still only breastfeeding?” “She hasn’t put on that much weight”… it all of a sudden made me distrust my ability to feed my child “naturally” and I realised that for their records and because Bea was moving forward at a slower pace than other babies (baring in mind she arrived seven weeks early so was going to be much smaller than an average baby), they were keen to push a formula agenda.

(Edit: when I mention that the lady is a nurse this is not to belittle her profession or rank health care professionals in any sort of order. It is to express my surprise that I have not had not had access to Health Visitors at weigh ins who may have different advice to offer and other experience that informs said advice. It felt like this woman was not going by my baby as an individual… more a set of new guidelines.)

I promised myself that I would maybe introduce a few bottles to “beef her up a bit” because I knew it would artificially lay down some weight at speed; then the “health professionals” would leave me alone if I got Bea performing in the growth department and charting those darn centiles! I knew that for my sins I wanted to continue breastfeeding. This week I made it to 6 months breastfeeding in some form! So I am part of the Sapphire Boobs Club #boobieawards!B35DCAD6-FA6D-40EB-9761-10EE028B67C4

I feel that combination feeding has actually ensured that I have continued breastfeeding for longer! We have recently been combating 4 Month Sleep Regression which has turned the house upside-down. In my desperate search for the answer to sleep, the exhaustion of which I had not experienced since newborn stage in the hospital I thought “is formula the magic bullet for my sleep solace and sanity?” So I started making up more formula bottles around her fussy times and the early evening.

I don’t know why I felt so guilty… I just wanted to make sure my baby was the healthiest she could be, but I couldn’t help but think of myself from the perspective of the crazy, militant Boobing Momma I had created as part of my Mum-Identity and I felt like a phoney for all those times on social media I had really pushed breastfeeding as the right decision for me and better for babies! For better or worse there is such an emphasis on doing more, trying harder, buying this, that and the other to enhance the breastfeeding experience. I trawled the online forums and found a chorus of “have you tried this?“have you tried that?” “Buy these supplements/lactation teas/ all singing all dancing electric pumps”. In all honesty sometimes the breastfeeding culture really does ask a little too much of us Mumma’s.

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(Edit: Looking back at the pictures of Bea breastfeeding I wish I had taken more photos along the way, but I felt very discouraged to do so after some negativity on Social Media.)

At my most exhausted and my breaking point I didn’t feel like I could physically DO MORE. And I finally gave in to making things less taxing on my body that is still trying to heal itself after a traumatic loss, followed closely by a daunting premature birth. I felt like I had literally given everything I had to my babies. And I would never begrudge that. They do after all deserve the very best, but I started to feel like I could not be at the top of my game if all I ever did was put so much pressure on my mind and body.

Breastfeeding will always put an extra burden on you as a Momma, no matter how supportive your Husband/partner may be. In the exclusive breastfeeding period as I prepped Bea and I for a feed in the early hours of the morning (I have been a member of the 2am Club since the start of this parenting journey!) I would look over at my peacefully snoozing Husband and curse him for his useless nipples! I was so jealous of his extra slumber. The saying is incorrect about sleeping like a baby… it should be revised to “Sleeping like a Daddy”… there have been countless occasions where my Hubby innocently looks over in the morning and mentions how well Bea slept through the night. He had no idea that I had been up every hour Boobing. My nights were super active and exhausting… especially the Cluster Feeds.

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Grab your “Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Clear Bottles, 260 ml, 6 Count ” for a bargain price of £12.99 today!

For over a month I was in constant fear of  my supply drying up. There is nothing more demoralising than completing a 40 minute pumping sesh then only have 3oz to show for this labour of love. I can’t even count the amount of time I had Mom Tantrums & threw my metaphorical toys out the pram or more accurately the pump down the stairs in a fit of rage. There were days I was literally crying over spilt milk. “That’s it I am giving up!” I would threaten… often three or four times a day at the most challenging points and my poor Husband would dutifully remind me how fantastically I had done to get this far. And I would carry on and detest the hard times but truly love the good times with all my heart. There is nothing quite like a Sleepy Boob Feed.

But I would become overcome with the utter fear of losing my supply and pushed through almost 2 whole challenging months with no support because you are made to feel like the breastfeeding experience is all or nothing and that sucks in my opinion. No middle ground is offered and I found that combi feeding has done wonders for my sanity and relationship with my daughter. It is nice to not just feel like a snack bar 24/7. We can spend beautiful moments just snuggling under the covers and me not just having to be her source of sustenance. She loves me for the comfort I can provide in spite of my own milk (or not!)

Initially it was so hard to take on “doing less” and I was terrified of judgement. There seemed to be a huge amount of kudos to be found when other Mums at the baby groups would say how well Bea was looking then instantly follow up with “are you breastfeeding?” For those exclusive breastfeeding months I would say yes and the response would always be so positive “you go Mamma!” … but what now of combi feeding? Would the response still be the same?! I think that’s what I was afraid of at first as I started experiencing a new kind of freedom… but could this be seen as lazy? Would it be detrimental to my child to give her formula?

Whatever you seem to do as a Momma you will feel judged, but I think it is about going confidently in your own direction and trusting your body, decisions and baby. I am slowly learning to do this. Bea is thriving day by day and it makes me trust my own inner voice much more. I think we should be doing more to empower each other as Mothers, Care Givers & Goddesses on Earth.

Combi Feeding has given me a new feeling of freedom. I am not locked away behind closed doors prepping lactation smoothies and power pumping every 20 minutes to up my supply between feeds. I am not judging this way of feeding and routine, but I am far too unorganised to maintain anything that resembles this kind of structure. If you can I truly commend you. Combi Feeding has meant that I can hand a bottle over to my Husband to take off some of the pressure on me after a twelve hour day of caring for our little whirlwind (she is intense!!!) or I have the utter freedom that so many of my Fully Boobing friends don’t have where their little one will not take a bottle so can not spend extended periods of time with other family members. I am always thankful that I can pack up her bits and bobs and quite happily send Bea off to her Nannies’ for the day; safe in the knowledge she will be well fed.

I guess my message is, if you choose to not exclusively breastfeed it is of no detriment to your baby. Combi Feeding has meant there has been (a bit) less pressure on my body so there is more enjoyment when we breastfeed. It means that out session is much more casual and I am not highly strung about whether I have been able to produce enough milk. I just “go with the flow”… or more precisely my milk flow. Having the option to bottle feed has meant that I am not worrying about creating a crazy “milk stash”! Sometimes with freezing your milk the high lipase levels turn the taste utterly disgusting for your baby! After hospital I never had the patience again to pump and freeze ounces and ounces of milk. I usually only found myself ahead two or three bottles of expressed milk at the most. I quickly regulated to this output and found that if I pumped in between it would suck me dry and make for a distressed Bea when it came to feeds as she gets easily upset when she has to work harder to get her milk. (In terms of Combi Feeding I have personally not found there to be any nipple/teat confusion; more a case of different preferences on different days! Obviously the bottle flow is faster. Bea never took kindly to the slow flow teats we put on her bottles!)

I have found that Combi Feeding offered me some much needed rest. Breastfeeding isn’t all or nothing so is not another reason to question your ability as a Mum! I continue to breastfeed Bea in harmony with bottle feeding.

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This little Sass Pot likes to feed herself now!

I don’t know how much longer I will be breastfeeding. Initially it seemed like an improbable future for Bea and I so every day longer that we breastfeed is an utter bonus! I feel like I gave Bea the best start in life. I sacrificed a lot to get is both to this point now. As it currently stands, Feeding is the least of my worries at the moment! There are other issues that we are working on but at least I know when all is said she done, Bea WILL have a full belly every day. It doesn’t matter how it is done provided I get to see her beautiful smiles each day!

Have you chosen to Combi Feed? Are you finding it beneficial to your relationship with your child and self? Have you felt pressure from The Breastfeeding Community?

#StaySweet

– Bea’s Mummy x

 

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The Baby Box Debate.

The Baby Box Debate.

In my humble opinion, any initiative that raises awareness of SIDS is not to be ignored. In the UK, sadly 300 babies a year pass away due to unexplained death and these numbers could potentially be avoided by putting simple (but effective) guidelines in place to protect your baby.

The Baby Boxes (popularised in Finland that have been given to the new member of a family since the 1930’s) had been rolled out in Scotland for all babies born after August this year, but now (as with many topics surrounding babies and parenting) there seems to be a new voice of doubt from researchers; particularly Professor Peter Blair from Bristol University, who have penned a letter to the British Medical Journal to suggest baby boxes should only be used as a temporary measure and are not necessarily any safer than cots (as there is no evidence as yet to suggest that they minimise the numbers of babies that die from SIDS.)

I believe any sensible parent will realise that these boxes are not suitable long term and are certainly not a “substitute”- more an additional item in the Baby arsenal! Babies grow so fast even for regular sleep environments (bassinets/Moses baskets.) Prof Blair says the boxes are too small for babies over 3 months old but I highly suspect parents will not be attempting to jam their quarter of a year olds into what is essentially a cardboard box!!! Clearly they are not fit for purpose at this point, just like other traditional products so this seems like a rather pointless argument!

I believe the Royal College of Midwives understand the real value to these baby boxes. These pieces of kit could be invaluable to parents (particularly in more economically deprived areas) who may not be able to provide their child a cot straight away. There is no surprise there is a causal link between SIDS and poverty. Baby boxes give the opportunity for “an equal start in life” – as they have done in Finland for decades. This duty of care to new patents is a refreshing notion and I think it is important for new mothers to feel supported and that they have been provided tools to be responsible and loving caregivers.

My post today is in response to this mornings piece covered by BBC News here.

(Other BBC articles about Finnish Baby Boxes- 2nd August 2018 and August 15th 2018.)

I fully understand that any healthcare scheme requires rigorous testing and on one hand support that it is useful to get a better understanding of how families are using these boxes and any safety implications, but I more strongly believe (that as a Mother) you can’t really gain insight or perspective from science alone.

If just one at-risk Baby is saved by this initiative then I would describe Baby Boxes as an overall success. As a parent of loss, I can categorically confirm that nothing has ever (or I suspect shall ever) be as painful as losing a child. Our Nordic/Scandi European cousins are certainly socially more advanced and this impacts on excellent overall wellbeing. Finland has very low numbers of SIDS death, although this can’t be solely attributed to the boxes I think the levels of compassion and care available for families is undoubtedly contributing to a healthier and happier society and thriving children.

The bizarre arguments against baby boxes include: low airflow because of the high sides, parents having to look directly over the box to view child, flammable lids, risk from pets and siblings when boxes are left on the floor and questionable durability in wet and cold.

Now correct me if I am wrong but a) the box containing sleeping child will not be exposed to the elements/left outside to get wet and cold. b) if there is a risk of fire a cot will be just as susceptible to flame damage as a cardboard box. c) a responsible parent will not leave a child sleeping unattended for long periods of time and would be checking on their child regardless of what they were sleeping in and how the visible the material surrounding their child may be.

I was blown away by the Baby Box offerings whilst looking into essential baby products: in particular the My First Baby Box as it seemed the best value for money compared to other brands (although I did fall in love the Moomin design Finnish Baby Box as it is so whimsical and reminded me of my own childhood love of the Moomins!!) There is a link to it in case you have been inspired to go #ProBabyBox and enhance your babies first few, formative weeks as part of their new family unit.

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My First Baby Box – Essential Collection

 

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It is quite obvious that there has not yet been enough time utilising this initiative to have any quantitative data available, but until such time as there is a fatality that is a direct consequence of a box, I see no harm in enjoying the potential benefits of a Baby Box and I hope that this post will also get parents talking about the very real and tragic consequences of SIDS. It is good practice to have any scheme in place (whether it is successful in itself or not) that gets people talking about how best they can protect their baby.

Here are some potentially lifesaving tips to minimise the risk of SIDS-

1) Sleep baby on their back (not side or tummy.) If they roll over and you are able to do so return them to the back sleeping position.

2) Ensure the head and face are uncovered. (Be mindful of a Safe Sleep environment- no loose fitting sheets blankets, avoid using cot bumpers and make sure sleep space is not cluttered with teddies or cushions.)

3) If possible keep your home a smoke free area.

4) Put baby to bed in their own, safe environment and ideally in the same room as caregiver for the first 6-12 months.

5) If possible it is great to breastfeed baby in early weeks. (Obviously this may be a contentious point. I am not suggesting that formula fed babies are at more risk of SIDS but there is research that suggests breastfeeding may prevent SIDS for the immune benefits that can not be replaced by formula.)

The Lullaby Trust
Description: This poster provides an ABC approach to safer sleeping for babies, as a way of preventing SIDS. Resource details Publisher: The Lullaby Trust Date: 2017 Subject: Accident Prevention Language: English Format: Text/Images A4 poster

I think a debate about the benefits of a Baby Box is not required at this point in time. They have been championed by health professionals and at this moment in time are considered safe and have benefits that outweigh any negatives so far. I will be keeping an eye out for any information that suggests there has been no benefit to them but any awareness that improves the care of our children can only be seen as a good thing and I think Prof Blair forgets the human element; that these boxes are creating confident caregivers and providing the best possible sleep environment if homes are not equipped for a newborn.

Would you use a Baby Box as a sleep environment for your little one? Have you personally used a Baby Box? (I would love to see pictures of them in use and any testimonials are greatly appreciated).

#StaySweet

– Bea’s Mummy x

 

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Dear Bea…

Dear Bea…

Dear Bea,

Our bundle of energy, joy, distraction from all the shit in this world…

Today is your half birthday.

What an adventure it has been so far! I never could have imagined that you would fill up all my little cracks and help me feel alive again.684E7048-8183-479C-9754-71819C4BE675

You came along when I needed you.

Like a gift. To me. To your Father. To our family. And dare I say it; to the world.

You are destined for great things. Until then I will hold you, and love you and teach you how to make the most of this world. I wanted to teach you about the world but so far you have really taught the world about you!

You tumbled into our lives- chaotically. In true Bea fashion… you did it “Your Way!” I wasn’t ready, as you made me double over with what I thought was “just back pain!” at first… but you were announcing that you were ready to BE! I was always so connected to you from the start. Your cord was not just a biological structure, it has joined us together and bound us for the rest of my life.

I always wondered why you punished my body throughout my pregnancy. My body had never been tested to the limits as much as the seven months I carried you. Some days it was almost impossible to get out of bed. I think only other Mothers will understand this. It is exhausting incubating and cultivating a tiny life force inside you on the daily!

I was scared every…day…. 99DD2D41-AAAE-4E6C-9E93-AF82F2BBDE1BScared that I wouldn’t get to meet you. Scared that my body would fail you. I was terrified every scan appointment that I wouldn’t see that flicker of a heartbeat on screen or hear your response to my call. “Are you there little one” “Yes I am!” you would triumphantly announce. And I could breathe again… and tick off another calendar day. Counting down to “V Day” (or your viability day at 24 weeks!)

I was sick more than I care to remember. Morning….elevens’s…afternoon…evening sick! The sickness was indiscriminate and it came whenever it felt like it!

The first trimester was the hardest. The fatigue gripped my whole body. Your vessel. At your whim. Everything was controlled by you. But I lived for those times you would pummel me. I felt you roll and respond to hot drinks, changing my body position to (try and) get comfy or when I slowed down enough to make sure you were still okay if I had encountered a stressful day at work. You were there.

I loved getting in the bath and watching you wriggle. I loved calling myself a Human Submarine. It made me chuckle every time. I am sure it wore thin with Mr G. It was almost like an alien creature was inside… ready to burst out! You whirled and flipped. You were a night owl. I felt you most between The Witching  Hours… you woke me up every morning between 2&4am!

I hated the times I had to rush into the triage unit because you were having a “lazy moment”. We practically lived in the hospital for the last few weeks that you were in my tummy!! I knew that you would come early. You were ready to meet me. You were ready to explore the world. I don’t think I was ready for you though.

I have never known such a strong yet tiny person. You refused to stay put for your second set of steroid injections! But your body was more developed than we could have imagined. You were a medical marvel and the junior doctors would visit you on their rounds every morning. You were quite the star on the ward! They even wrote a medical case study on you!

The moment you were placed on my chest  I fell in the deepest love I have ever known. You were tiny but fierce. You were a perfectly formed human in a more condensed space. 4lbs 8.5oz! You let out your battle cry to prove that you were a little warrior and you would take on this world. I was lucky that we were able to do delayed cord clamping (which would have been on the birth plan I never got the chance to write for you) so we were connected just that little bit longer…

It was hard to let you go… metaphorically and physically.IMG_2879

You were whisked away to the NICU after twenty minutes. I was greedy and wanted MORE time with you. I was so worried that you wouldn’t love me if you couldn’t be with me straight away. It was the hardest thing to be wheeled off to the Transitional Care Ward without you.

I was a Mother with no baby in my arms. Instead you were being held by the nurses  in NICU. And you were connected to machines with wires to help your underdeveloped lA833B9D8-50B4-49AA-B686-B9C45EAFC846ungs.

Bleep. Bleep. Bleep.

I hated seeing you in your tiny incubator. Your see through box. Like a tiny doll kept in a toy box. You were under phototherapy lights to treat your jaundice so you wore a tiny blindfold to protect your eyes. You were connected to an IV drip. They wedged a cannula in your fragile arm. It looked so painful. I winced for you. Our poorly little Bubba. And all we could do was watch you from the outside.

You surprised us all by how fast you sped out of NICU and Special Care. There was nothing wrong with the inside of your body. Luckily the X-ray didn’t come back with anything unnerving after there was a grey spot found on a scan. It was a tense time. All I thought about were all the horrible eventualities of a preterm body that was just too little to survive. But you did. You thrived!

18 days trapped in the hospital was tough… but you were tougher and you pulled me through my biggest trials and tribulations. It made me realise that I was cut out to be a Mummy and a bloody good one at that!

These 6 months have been the hardest but the best times (so far!) and I have learnt so much about myself. I had just no idea how overwhelming it would all be especially as I had never factored in such a premature birth. As well as learning to “Mum” I also had to learn how to be a NICU Mum. I had to learn how to feed you through your tube which was very daunting. So many things could have gone wrong (especially in my sleep deprived state)… but they didn’t. And we worked together to get each other home!

Your early days were not easy. No version of Motherhood is easy. It is not for the faint of heart that’s for sure! But our sense of “nornal” was particularly peculiar. We muddled through. On one hand I couldn’t enjoy the guilty pleasures of newborn time where Mummies may ordinarily have time to catch up on terrible day time TV because I was on crazy pump/feed/care schedule for YOU. Everything I did was for you. I learnt true altruism during our hospital stay. I no longer mattered.9C32A726-162C-4146-BD5E-F880C37B3E1C.jpeg

The start our my journey as a Mother didn’t go quite to plan. It was hard. I cried, and cried and cried. For nearly 3 weeks there were times I didn’t know what day it was. Was it 1,3 or 5am? It didn’t really matter because for three torturous days I was without you. I couldn’t hold you and rock you. Go cheek to cheek with you. Blow raspberries on your soft belly skin. All I could do was watch you and pump milk for you. I hoped that you knew I was sat there, up all night just looking at you and loving you into full health.

I didn’t want to put clothes on you for those early days because I was scared that I would break you. Your limbs could have easily snapped- or at least it looked that way!

You grew and you continued to develop your hilarious personality. It has not been easy but it has been worth it. You have been difficult. Those developmental leaps have knocked me flying on several occasions. On those cluster feeds I literally thought my body could give you no more. But we started to get comfortable in a routine of no-routine. I wanted to spend as much time with you in the way you chose to do so because there are years to enforce an adult regime. I am not disciplined enough to stick to a routine nor would I expect you to be a little robot. You are my sassy, switched-on, funny and loving little girl. I respect you as your own person, and what a person you are becoming.

6 months in and I am exhausted yet overjoyed. Overwhelmed but not just in a negative way…. overwhelmed with feelings of bliss and love. Some days are good, some days are great, some days are bad and some are normal, but ordinary days are little blessings and times to take stock of all I now have as a Mummy.

You make me proud every day. You keep me on my toes. You drive me crazy. I want to spend every minute of the day with you but sometimes I want to run away, but then I feel so guilty because you flash me your gummy smile and it turns me to mush. Your laughs fill up my soul and I realise that I was meant for this life and we will navigate this journey together. You are mine and I am yours!

You are certainly my daughter. You are stubborn, you are wild and you love life. It wasn’t the easiest start kid but I wouldn’t have changed anything (well maybe I would kept you in a bit longer to cook if my body would allow it!) it would have meant you wouldn’t have had to experience the discomfort of a NICU start. I hope you don’t remember the beginning and the trauma hasn’t lasted. It doesn’t seem like this is the case.

I feel so lucky because your default setting is “smiles”!

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Other Mums have said their little ones do not smile like you. You were a smiler from the start. (I knew it wasn’t just gas!!!)

I can’t wait to see what the next six months bring. More love. More laughter. More milestones. I will support you and make each day a happy one as best I can. You are the centre of my universe. I revolve around you. I hope you know. I hope one day you will look back and appreciate what I have done for you or at least just know I loved you with my whole being.

You made me a Mummy again, and you made me a better person. Thank you for the memories so far.

Happy half birthday Darling. My pocket rocket! My reason to get up and attack every day with gusto and love in my heart.

I love you to the moon and back.

Your Momma Bear x