Saturday, 13 July 2013

Surviving the Birth...Birth announcement

So I can make the major announcement...I gave birth to our second daughter at the end of June 2013. To say the pregnancy was rocky post 20 weeks was an understatement however I managed to get through it...but not as we planned it. Before I go any further I would like to say becoming a parent is a blessing regardless of how you give birth; and what doesn’t kill you does make you stronger.

Now I’m no tree hugging, sling wearing drug free birth advocator however I truly wanted a VBAC which for novice parents is a virginal delivery after a previous section. My thoughts on it were the recovery time was much quicker than another section. It’s actually in my novice opinion less painful on a long term scale and it’s less traumatic if the VBAC does smoothly. So ideally a BVAC was a good option-having a toddler at home changes your priorities too.

When you’ve got medical complications (Diabetes in my case) the NHS don’t sit back and let things go with the flow...oh no. You see I was blessed to be under a trusted team of medics who were planning my every move...from my insulin doses to my pending birth. I knew I wouldn’t be able to go post 38 weeks-Diabetics rarely do so. I’d be induced-the word that causes many women to have bad sweats, sleepless nights and some even go off their food and into a depression.

So inducing what the hell is it? To cut my own story short it’s when your medical team artificially ‘ripen’ your cervix or manage to ‘break your waters’ to bring on contractions. Sounds pretty damn easy and uncomplicated right? However there are many things that the medical team are considering and you should too. Firstly if you are being induced with a Pessary (a tiny tablet placed in the cervix region to ripen it) it can take up to 24 hours to see progress. You will have internal examinations during this time. They don’t hurt but they are UNCOMFORTABLE and to some extent you wish it was over before it’s even started. A Midwife usually places the pessary in. And if your cervix is ‘favorable there is a chance the Midwife could ‘break your waters’ with a small hook (think crochet hook). This is usually enough to bring on contractions. However if you are not contracting regularly or are not establishing labour at a rate that will help you you will be put onto a Hormone drip which basically causes contractions in MOST cases (yes not all). The hormones are started at 1.5 and move up the scale in dominations of one every half an hour up to 9. Most women are told they will need to be cranked up to 9 before they see contractions. Not a problem as you want the baby out. What some don’t tell you in these CONTRACTIONS ARE INTENSE. They are literally back to back...quick successions with not much time in between to catch your breath. The pain is there...and most of the time you are expected to just breathe through it.

So after having my waters broken at 2PM I was monitored and at 7PM I was attached to the Drip. By 10PM I was feeling the contractions but the monitor wasn’t recording anything major happening. I was told that because my Blood Pressure was rising if I hadn’t made progress by 2AM I would be having a section. By 1AM my BP was rising sharply and the decision was made to check me over and prep me for the section. These words were the ones I really didn’t want to here...and who would realistically?

So after being told my cervix was doing nothing I was prepared for the inevitable. Its never easy to accept things that go against what you prepared your mind for; and if the truth be known I had a gut feeling about the Induction in essence failing and having to go for a section AGAIN. However I was practicing PMA-Positive Mental Attitude. I believed in the positive and happy and prepared mentally for a long tiring birth but with the light at the end of the tunnel being the idea that 12 hours after having baby I would be able to go home to my family. But it didn’t work out like that.

So a few minutes past 3AM and we became the parents of a baby girl...weighing in at 3.4KG. We have yet to decide on names however we plan to register her next week. In the UK you have 42 days to register a birth giving any family ample time to decide on names. I seriously think this is the most important first step for any parents-after all you are giving your child a name they will be known by for life. It’s not like picking a lunch box which once broken you will replace-it’s there identification.

During this birth I had Gas & Air and a Local Anesthetic (I had an Epidural with our first baby). The Gas helped me through the examinations and the quick and strong contractions. The other pain killer was a must if you wanted to remain ‘awake’ to see baby being born..well to an extent. To be honest the team around me and the assistance they provided was brilliant. I’m not sure if there are many countries in the world were citizens can boast about their Government Hospitals doing such a good job however the reality is Tax Payers fund them so they are not FREE as some in other countries make out. Am I a Tax Payer? As a SAHM at present I no longer pay Tax luckily my partner does. Do I feel bad about using the NHS whilst not being a Tax Payer from Migrant grandparents? No; as I see if my status as a Non-Tax payer is a temp one. I started working at the age of 16 (alongside College) and never claimed benefits such as JSA (Job Seekers Allowance) and became a SAHM when I turned 28. That to me is a long stretch of employment and should demonstrate that I believe in working but as it is at present being at home full time makes more sense than working. Have you seen Childcare costs? Daylight robbery. Charities are rallying together to solve world Poverty. Truth is that’s an important cause however if we don’t fix the problems within the UK e.g. making it viable for Mothers to return to work to improve their families quality of life we will see more of the UK dip into Poverty. No I’m not over thinking things; I’m being realistic. But that’s another Blog entry for another day.

After five nights in Hospital (which I just about managed) we were released home. I felt like I was behind bars in Hospital but we were kept in because the Hospital were convinced little one had an infection. Now little one does have a complication of two-if I said she has Reflux my regular readers will be mumbling ‘AGAIN?’. Yes it’s true Munchys little sister has the problem as her. No biggie; a quick diagnosis and we are on Wysoy milk,Infant Gaviscon and Ranitidine (Zantac). It’s working for us at the it’s good. We’ve added Colief drops as little one had quite bad Colic but as a lot of parents will know Colief if reduced for little ones from 3-4 months. A Reflux baby means we will be weaning fact from around 16 weeks. That means we have about 13 1/2 weeks to go! Really time does go by quickly.

So that’s about it for now...I’m not the Mother of two girls. As if stands I feel my family is complete. Will I change this train of thought in a year or twos time? I doubt it. What about 5 years time? Maybe; but at 35 won’t I be ‘past it’ for having babies? Time shall be the greatest test for me. I have a lot planned for myself over the next two years...I know that sounds selfish however my plans are to better myself and carve out my writers career. I’m not getting any younger however my experience of life are definitely building up and I could share a tale or two.

If there are any Mamas reading this wondering where the advice element is of this entry here goes;
  • please please please rest when your baby rests if this is at all possible!
  • If you have had a section is it NOT the end of the world; you will survive but please listen to your Doctor/Nurse if they are telling you to take it easy/easier.
  • Consider taking post pregnancy vitamins-vitamin B complex is always a good one to look into for energy purposes.
  • Avoid too much caffiene if you can.
  • Take ALL help offered to you. There really is no shame in taking help.
  • If your little one was born during nice weather PLEASE make the most of the outdoors if you can. Fresh air really does help with the Baby Blues (NOT PND-that's different).
  • Keep life as simple as possible for at least the first 6 weeks possibly up to 12 weeks where most parents start to feel human again.
  • Understand you will feel guilty about leaving your baby, or not spending time with your partner or other children.
  • Hug your partner-it really will make you feel good.
  • Try and remember that any phase is only that-a Phase.
  • Babies change ALOT in the first year espeically in the first 16 weeks. As they grow their sleep stretches to longer spells so there is hope for all Mamas who need more sleep!
  • Take as many photos as you can-I look back on the photos of Munchy and wonder when she started to grow THAT quickly when the truth is she was always growing I was too busy being her parent to assess as I went along.
  • Don't even bother comparing your child to other people's bundles-you will go mad at the white lies some people tell to make their child seem like a Angel 24/7.
  • Try and join a parent and baby group-for your own sanity.

I’m not sure when I will next be Blogging friends so I would like to wish my Muslim Readers a Blessed Ramadan and Eid. I plan to be blogging by Christmas so I won’t be wishing my Christian readers that just yet.

Got a question about my birth story? Or a blog entry suggestion? Let me know below.

God Bless;

Munchy and her little sisters Mama..xx

Thursday, 18 April 2013

It's finally Spring!

It’s finally Spring-YAY!

Although this entry is full of the joys of Spring I wish to take a moment and and reflect on the following events of this week.

Firstly the start of this week was the annual Boston Marathon. It’s attended by hundreds of thousands of folk as well as thousands who participate. We all wish to do good in this life; and those folk who take part in Marathons is of course sponsored for a good cause. To target them in my humble opinion was a direct attack on the good-it’s as simple as that. The attack that killed three people and injured numerous more was not only an attack on America is was attack on those who like us wish to do good. I pray that the person (s) responsible for such a horrific attack is found hung and quartered. Well of course capital punishment is no longer in operation but I hope they are found and justice is given to the victims.

The earthquake on the Iran-Pakistan border. After the 2005 earthquake of Kashmir any news of an earthquake in the region makes my stomach turn. Although it was a big earthquake the destruction it caused has been far less. It’s a small blessing yes; but a blessing still.

The Funeral of Margaret Thatcher. If you are in the UK it will be hard for you to escape the death and funeral of the late Prime Minister. I won’t talk to much about what she did, what I agree with or what I think she did wrong but what I do want to say is those who are still sitting around criticizing what she did when she was in power for 3 terms need to stop blaming others for the fact they still haven’t moved on or tried to make a difference she she left office. We will all leave a legacy upon our death; so instead of just throwing stones as each other and shouting we don’t agree with such and such we need to turn the negative into a positive and get on with life and make a positive contribution-especially parents who wish for their child to do the same.

Okay so I heard that Spring is going to finally rock England. You guys will not believe how happy those words make me. No really. When you are pregnant, tired and and have developed a dislike of cold bitter short days the idea of Spring is like Heaven. So when I heard about Spring I was excited; kind of like a child in a sweetshop. The idea of Spring cleaning, fixing the garden and looking forward to Summer. Oh yes Summer. Although you expect a three month stretch of hot weather I’ve become accustomed to accepting three weeks of great weather as a good Summer.

Now I know my regular readers are wondering why I am not talking about the fact there is a months gap on my blog. Well truth be told you already know the reason. I am having a bumpy ride with pregnancy number 2. There I’ve said it. With pregnancies the idea of ‘practice makes perfect’ really doesn’t apply. I know that may have scare some of you but look at it like this-no two children are the same so why would the pregnancy be so?

Now with pregnancy number 1 I was tired yes and of course I was on insulin for my Diabetes but I felt fine. This time round I have had bad sickness, Lambrintitus, two bad infections and the scare of my Kidneys leaking protein (which can be a sign of Preclampsia). I’ve been on two courses of antibiotics, prescription painkillers for the pain and have even done a 24 hour urine collection. Oh yes it’s all fun.

But it’s a part of the package of pregnancy. After all the blood tests and so on turns out I’m actually fine. Yes I have hearing problems in one earth due to the Lambrintitus and I get dizzy and need to lie down more than I would like to think about. I get tired but then I do have a toddler too. I cannot eat fried food or spicy chili sauce as they cause heartburn. I can’t sleep through the night as I get uncomfortable. I did myself worrying about how my toddler will take to her new sibling. I also worry about the birth and the idea of being induced again (if I want a VBAC-that’s a vaginal birth after a c-section).

But you know what I’m good. I’m like the millions of mums out there who have concerns and think about them and and then something else comes along and all of a sudden your path or worry changes to something else.

What else have I been up to? Well we've just marked our seventh Wedding Anniversary and yes guys I feel old. Although saying that I got married when I was nearly 23; which to be honest now seems like a ridicilously young age to make such a bit commitment about your life. Then again some people get married at 18 and live happy and joyful marital lives for decades.

Spring for me a true time of reflection and to make plans. I know we all set our new years resolutions but truthfully how many people keep them? I use Spring to go back to my bucket list and think about what I plan to do and by when. Spring is like a new beginning and I think it should be embraced as so.

So here is my short but sweet list of things you should try during this Season. The fresh air alone during Spring is excellent for blowing out the cob-webs!

My top lists of things to do:

  • Take you little one to feed the ducks

  • Fly a kite

  • If you have a bike go for a bike ride

  • For those of us who love nail art-why not try a pastel shade of nail enamel to make the beginning of Spring?

  • Go on a nature hunt-but instead of looking for things to take home take photos of Spring flowers, take bark rubbings etc

  • If you have time take up a new hobby-look up books in your local Library for inspiration.

  • Plant some seeds-sunflowers are great for children. If you want to consider vegetables consider tomatoes-kids love them!

  • If you don’t have a garden how about growing cress indoors?

  • Clean your front door and give the exterior a lick of paint-it will truly make you happy inside

  • Make a list of the D.I.Y projects you have around the home and create a realistic timeframe to complete them in.

  • Try a new activity with your child-how about baking, gardening, water activities, pavement chalk (the list is endless and you can try my favourite Pinterest for inspiration)

  • If you are not able to go away this year start looking at days out that you can afford and start planning to make the most of the area. I recently did a search of my area and found two farms within a 30 minute drive. Not bad. Plus they are both affordable and worth taking a look at.

  • Now is the time to DECLUTTER, declutter declutter. Tackle that cabinet, wardrobe or even the children’s room if that’s what you need to do! If decluttering is a scary thought consider a mini Spring clean and go from there.

  • Have a cuppa in the sunshine. Yes it’s cold; but wrap up warm and enjoy the anticipation of the Summer that will soon be here and will be become a distant memory.

I’m sure that list will keep you all busy. If you want to create your own to do list for Spring just search for Spring Bucket Lists.

Don’t worry I haven’t forgotten my core value and reasons for writing this blog-parenting! I will be back soon with a review of a Pink Lining Changing bag. I’m all giddy just thinking about the name.

Be safe and enjoy Spring!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Let's prepare for Ramadan!

The Ramadan planning Guide

So as we all know Ramadan is the Holiest month of the Muslim calendar. Muslims are basically expected to be on their best behavior, fast from dusk til dawn, give to charity and spend time in religious thought and reciting the Quran. These duties of course come with the Muslim territory.

As I write this article there is a predicted 112 days left until Ramadan 2013; InshAllah.

In today’s modern world we also have the following to contend with: work, charity commitments, sister circles, children’s school work, their after school schedule etc. Life is busy, it’s getting busier as our families get older. But to be honest, all of the above is a blessing. Go ask anyone who is unable to have a child and they will tell you they will give everything to have a piece of your hectic and sometimes scary life.

Okay so let’s get cracking.

HOLD A FAMILY meeting. Explain to members that during the Holy Month you need to all pull together and take on tasks that are usually done by just Mama. This can include older siblings reading stories to younger siblings at bedtime or checking up on Grandma on the way home from School. It’s about family communication-make sure your family are aware of what is expected of them.

Look at your family calendar and ensure your children do not have sleepovers booked during Ramadan-save the tears by rearranging them now.

Get all your family to check their diaries and see what everyone has scheduled during the month and organise transport/childcare as needed.

I’m a firm believer in organizing. The key to a stress free life is somewhat in the organisation of what you have to do and the time you have to do said tasks in.

Make a list of Duas you wish to make-NOWIt’s easy to forget a Dua and kick yourself afterwards. If it’s not too much work look up supplements and Duas, print them and laminate them ready for the Holy Month.

Let’s get straight to it. You need to make a list of what you wish to achieve during Ramadan.

An example of this could be:
  • Recite the Quran completely twice during the Holy Month
  • Spend an afternoon every week at a soup kitchen helping the needy
  • Volunteering 2 hours a week at an elderly peoples home
  • Donating as much money as you can to your chosen charity

  • Organise a charity Iftari
  • Learn three new Duas by heart
  • Read the biography of the Prophet
  • Spend time with family you don’t get to see regularly

Now you need to calculate how much time you need to complete your tasks and see if this is possible.

For example to read the Quran twice during the month you may need to spend two hours reading a day-can you fit that in? What tasks can you cut down on to fit in more reading? Look at your schedule now and get organising. Taking a look at your daily tasks and errands may mean you have to rewrite your tasks; but fret not! This is good that you know in advance your tasks may not be furfiled during the time you have so you can look at achievable goals which will leave you happy and content with what you have managed to achieve.

Take a look at your daily to do list/schedule/errands.
Do you really need to wash your car every week and clean the inside too? If your car gets really dirty maybe you can have it washed at the carwash to save two hours that could be spent doing something more productive during Ramadan.

What about things like food shopping. Apart from the perishables such as bread, milk, fruit etc all other items such as tinned goods can be bought in bulk. For this to work you will need to look at your meal planning and list what you need and the quantities. Do this shopping in advance. The same goes for Butchers orders. I place an order once in a while and freeze in managable portions.

Limit the activities and errands you can get away with not doing during Ramadan. Seriously you will be thankful for the planning come Ramadan.

Get your health in order-NOW

  • Are you overdue a Medicine review? Are you a diabetic? Do you need to consult a Doctor about Fasting? Do this now.

  • Advice for those who have no medical complaints:

  • Vitamin C is a great supplement for protecting against cost viruses (google will provide you with more information)

  • B vitamins are crucial for keeping up energy levels so start taking them now if you suffer from fatigue.

  • If you live in Britain Holland and Barrett’s staff are generally friendly and open to giving suggestions if you give them a list of your problems.

  • If you suffer from sleep issues speak to a Medical professional now.

  • If you smoke or drink too much caffeine now is the time to CUT DOWN or STOP!

  • If you have got into the habit of sleeping late and rising late now is the time to fix the habit.

If you ‘owe’ fasts from last year now is the time to consider repaying them now. Fasting on a Monday and Thursday is a great way of preparing your body for the upcoming 30 fasts.

Declutter and Spring clean-NOW!
It goes without saying that a clean and decluttered home provides a good foundation for the Holy month as you only have to ‘spot cleans’ during the Ramadan.

Now is the time to:

Declutter the living room, wash the window dressings, clean the carpet/rugs, wash the skirting boards, clean the suites and clear away magazines and other clutter.

Declutter the kitchen cabinets-remove all the items that are coming up to their best before using dates and use them up asap. Make a list of items you are running short of and buy them. Clean all the surfaces, and clean all the appliances. Clean your fridge and freezer. Create space in your freezer if you plan to bulk cook and utilize this space.

Clean and keep up the repairs to the front of your homeVarnish the front door or repair the trellises now rather than allowing the ugly sight to greet Ramadan!

Clear out your Bathroom cabinet and medicine Cabinet/draw. Bathrooms are renowned hotspots for clutter building. Check all your medicines use by dates and throw out the ones that are out of date. Technically you should be in the habit of doing this on a regular basis.

Children’s rooms are in my opinion a minefield especially if your child is around the stage that they don’t wish to part with anything. Children outgrow clothes quicker than adults and toys and books can accumulate quicker than you can shout Iftars ready.

My advice for tackling this room in particular is:

  • Keep a basket/bin/box in your child’s room into which you can place outgrown clothes as you discover them. Then once you have enough go through them and decide which will be given to charity/stored for other siblings/thrown out

  • If you are purchasing wardrobes/closets or fitting them consider sliding doors-these need less space in regards to opening them whereas standard doors need to be given plenty of space to open them.

  • Ikea offer a range of furniture that can be adapted to suit a child’s room. Their light collection is fantastic as is there photo frame collection. We use a ‘safe’ as a art supply cabinet.

  • Have designated boxes/baskets/bins for your child’s hobbies/activities/toys. This can be a problem is small rooms. If your child has a small room utilize the height of the room and fit shelving that can host clear boxes with toys and clothes too.

  • Get your older children into the habit of going through their own toys and donating the ones they no longer play with or cherish to charity. This is a great way of encouraging charity in a child from a young age. Ask at your local Masjid to find out if they are hosting a table top sale where you can donate such items to.

  • If you have wall space the following are great in a child’s room: chalk board, cork notice board (to display artwork) and book shelves to home books and other items on.

  • A soft toy hammock can home a fairly large toy collection without taking up bed space.

  • Utilize under bed space efficiently-do not allow it to become an obilivion where you don’t even know what is living anymore.

  • The back of a door can host many items-from notice boards to back of door organisers to home art supplies.

  • If you have attic/loft space store out of season or larger sized clothes there rather than in your child’s room.

  • Check pinterest for inspiration.

  • Treat your child’s room as a space that is constantly changing and access the needs of your child on a regular basis to maximise the usage of it.

If your home is anything like ours you will have plenty of incomplete D.I.Y projects. List them all NOW and complete them before the Holy month. Don’t start projects that you won’t be able to complete during the Holy month and the reminants will simply clutter up your home.

ORGANISE family wardrobes

Is getting ready in the morning a chore for you and all the family? If that’s the case I suggest you organise the wardrobes of your loved ones in such a fashion you don’t spend half an hour in the morning looking for matching items.

  • An idea that works for young children is to put a complete outfit on a hanger. A weeks worth of outfits is a time saver for rushed parents.

  • For men if maybe worth putting shirts with ties/sweaters/tops and hanging them together. Then all they need to do is grab a pair of trousers.

  • If you have a busy wardrobe you could consider cutting back on the clothes and donating suits to the needy especially during Ramadan or just before.

  • Store out of season clothes away to make space in the wardrobe so you can see what you have in your wardrobe.

  • If you have a large family consider using an ironing service during Ramadan to cut down on the chore.

An extra note:
Ask the men and woman of the family to got through their wardrobes and donate the clothes they no longer wish to wear. One persons cast offs are a poor persons treasure.

Sort out Zikaat-NOW

How much do you owe? Which Charity will you donate to? Calculate it now, make notes and donate when you need to.


Does the local Masjid need a makeover? Does the front entrance need a good wash and polish? Perhaps the interior needs a lick of paint? All these tasks should be done beforehand and if you feel repairs of paintwork are overdue discuss it with other Masjid attendees and get a group together and split the costs and get the work done. Ramadan can often bring new faces to Allah’s house; make it presentable and a true representative of your beloved community.

Do you attend Ramadan talks/speeches/Iftars? Find out about them now and work out which ones you can attend. Discuss childcare arrangements with grandparents/your partner if necessary.


  • If you plan to bulk cook and freeze now is the time to plan things. Items I’ve successfully frozen include:
  • Chicken tikkas
  • Aloo tikkis
  • Tandoori chicken
  • Egg rolls
  • Samosas
  • If you are limited on freezer space I suggest you freeze those items are are time consuming to make e.g. samosas.

  • Ready made items are great substitutes too.

  • If you have elderly relatives don’t forget about them. Bulk cook for them and fill up their freezers.

  • Consider using disposable plates etc during Ramadan if you will be stuck with doing the washing. This is very important especially if you are considering holding Iftars and wish to cut your workload.

Plan your Iftar ‘party’ diary in advanceIf you plan to have guests over. Enquire a month before Ramadan commences (or two weeks beforehand) and ‘book’ the Iftar with your guests in advance. Avoid Iftar’s in the last 10 days. Ideally the first 10 days would be the perfect time to host an Iftar.

PLAN your menus in advance. Go to trusted recipes and keep menus as simple as possible. An example of a menu is:

Starters (before Salaat)

Fruit salad with vanilla cream or chaat masala-can be prepared on advance

Baked tandoori chicken -can be prepared in advance

Potato skins with sour cream dressing-can be baked in advance or if you are pushed for time you can replace with pre-made potato wedges.


Mutton meat curry (meat curry can be cooked in advance and reheats extremely well. It also keeps well in the fridge. Cooking it the day before allows the spices to develop further)

Plain pilau rice-you can make the onion masala in advance and keep sachets in the freezer. Or you can make the masala 48 hours beforehand as it’s an oil based recipe so will keep well in the fridge too. OR replace with store bought Naans-but this will mean you need to allocate the task to someone to purchase these at the last minute.

Raita-I go for a ‘pink’ jewelled one. The recipe is: red cabbage, red onion, pomegranate, squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper. Ideal for children too.


Pineapple upside down cake-made with premixed cake mix and canned pineapple rings. Served with ice-cream

Or serve ice-cream with jelly or fruits.



Ice-coffee (for adults)

Hot Tea/Coffee if requested

As you can see the above menu allows for advance prep and there’s no frying in the cooking which is a bonus. Utilising baked recipes is a great way of cutting down cooking time. Just don’t forget that you’ve placed something in the oven to cook (set alarms/reminders). You can even buy appliances for your phone these days so really there shouldn’t be a burnt meal in sight.

Plan as many menus you need plus a few extra ‘just in case’. Ramadan in my humblest opinion is not the time to show your Delia Smith skills. For this reason I say check out pre-made items in your local store and consider menus that are less time consuming. Here’s another one as an example of a Med-medley:



Hummous with pitta bread chips or tortilla chips

Marinated olives

Feta cheese and watermelon salad (this is awesome-trust me!)

Garlic bread-at your own discretion


Lasagne rolls baked in tomato sauce sprinkled with cheese (you make the meat sauce as usual, pre-cook the lasagne sheets. Place the sauce in the sheets, roll up and place in a greased oven proof dish. Cover the lasagne with a jar of pasta sauce

or remaining meat sauce. Sprinkle on cheese and bake for half and hour-done!

Bread rolls

French bread pizzas (use pre-made if you are pushed for time)

Green leafy salad


Store brought Baklava

Fruit juice based granita

Lemon flavoured ice-cream with store bought meringues (a love texture).

As you can see this is another menu you can prepare in advance is more suited to those who do not wish to submit their taste buds to spicy food due to complications such as heartburn which isn’t pleasant at anytime of the year.

Plan as much as you can-NOW.

The sad departure of Ramadan is followed by Eid-ul-Fitr which usually means (for many not all) new clothes, decorating the house with lights, a large Eid meal and presents. All of the above take time to put up/put together/buy. So let’s break down the list now:

Plan your families outfits-NOWLeaving it to the last 10 days is a disaster as those days should be used towards more productive activities. Plan outfits, order what you need to, look around the stores and get the best value for money too by not leaving it last minute. It’s a myth that the best clothes come into store during Ramadan.

Decorating the houseThis year we shall be thinking big but keeping it simple. We usually use fairy lights dotted around the house which add a touch of magic to the Holy month for our little girl. We shall do the same this year but we shall Inshallah be adding things such as confetti filled balloon garlands as well as tissue paper garlands, and balloons with Eid money in them for little one to ‘pop’ (which will release the confetti and glitter). I’ll also be purchasing wooden letters to spell Ramadan to put on the mantel place.

Eid MealPlan it beforehand. Order the meat beforehand. Prep as much as possible before Ramadan. This could include making the curry and rice base and freezing it. Or planning a meal that includes using a slow cooker to cook the meat in halving the time you need to spend at the stove (It do this). Or you may wish to try a completely different menu to previous years. Now is the time to plan and practice!

Perhaps you want to eat out on Eid-look into restaurants that offer Eid meals now and see if you need to pre-book. Places like Nawaab in Manchester are extremely busy on Eid so find out beforehand if you need to have a back up restaurant in mind.


This really is a minefield with little ones but it can be done with careful planning months in advance. Ask older children to make a list of items that would like to receive and explain the situation that they won’t get everything on the list (you may find you can purchase the whole list but in case it goes over your budget make children aware that you may not be buying everything on the list). Then once you have set your budget and know which presents need to be purchased buy them and wrap them up in advance. Label them and store them in a place you won’t forget. Or write down in a diary where you have stored the presents-I’ve placed presents in a ‘safe place’ before and forgot all about them.

Another idea that is worth looking into is homemade presents. I love the look of hot chocolate jars, homemade cookies and even things like home made quilts (if there is anyone who has the skills to do sewing work). You can find plenty of inspiration on Pinterest.

Kids/Playdates/the usual stuff with pre-Schoolers
Little ones don’t really understand the idea of Ramadan or how it means Mama has less energy. For this reason you need to carefully consider how you plan to keep toddlers and pre-schoolers busy during Ramadan. If you host Playdates in the morning maybe you can adjust the time so it’s later so you don’t have to rush and get things ready.

Children like to be outdoors and InshAllah Ramadan falls during the warmer time of year which means you can make use of the great outdoors. Repair outdoor toys now and prepare the garden as required. You may wish to invest in an outdoor toy e.g. a sandpit to keep little ones entertained whilst you recite the Quran outdoors.

You can organise activity bags’ in advance. The concept is you place all the items needed for a certain activity together in a bag and bring them out as and when needed.

Look into outdoor ‘recipes’ for older children. Pinterest is great for these (I shall try and remember to link my Pinterest profile links to this entry so you can find these with greater ease). These include giant bubbles, pavement (sidewalk) chalk and other items that make too much mess inside. These activities will keep children amused for hours (or at least they should).

How about making:
Eid cards

Ramadan decorations

Edible gifts

As crafts during Ramadan? It maybe worth making cards during the first week if you need to post them to foreign countries.

IF your children will be hosting an Eid party plan the venue, menu and guest list now. Considering when Eid will InshAllah be why now plan a ladies/children outdoor picnic to mark Eid?

Buy or loan ‘Ramadan Moon’-it’s a beautifully written Ramadan story.

Look through your Islamic literature books and CD’s and update as required. Lots of books are out of stock come Ramadan.

That’s about it for my Ramadan list for you all. The most important thing is to utilize your time and get the most of the precious month.

If there is something I have missed please let me know.

Until next time Mamas (and non-Mamas)

Take care.

PS: If you need further advice and suggestions look at my 2012 Ramadan preparation guide which is in the older blog enteries.






Sunday, 3 March 2013

One birth and three painkillers-what you can sometimes expect when you have a sweep

Pains of Motherhood-the short but realistic lowdown on painkillers during Labour

Now unless you have nerves of steel and are planning to a hypo-birth or ‘alternative’ pain killers you will be considering your options of painkillers during the arrival of your cherub.

I know you are all fully capable of using a search engine and looking up your options however my article is written mainly from my own experience after all during my Labour I actually experienced THREE of the painkillers available to you on the NHS. No ladies that wasn’t a ‘typo’ I did indeed have three different painkillers during my prolonged Labour that started on Monday and ended on Wednesday morning via an emergency cesarean section (c-section/section as you will find it be referred to online).

So my birth was to say the least; rocky. I will try my best to talk you through the various things that happened so you have a heads up.

I was told early on in my first pregnancy that I would be induced this was basically on medical grounds. It’s not very often you will find a Diabetic mother going to full term of 40 weeks. The medical complications outweigh the benefits. Besides a baby born at 37 weeks is classed as being full term; in other words there really isn’t much the medical staff would be looking at in terms of problems with little one.

My induction started with a ‘sweep’. My Midwife visited me at home to perform this. So what is a sweep and does it hurt? A sweep (full name Membrane Sweep) is when your Midwife will insert her finger into your vagina in an attempt to stimulate your body into Labour. Your cervix will be stimulated with sweeping movements which should in theory separate your amniotic sac from the cervix. If the sweep is successful you should go into Labour; not straight away mind but if it works it can take up to 48 hours to work. My Midwife was aware that I was booked in for a induction at the Hospital which would involve a pessary being inserted inside the cervix to ‘ripen it’.

By the time you get to the stage where you may require inducing you will have built a relationship with your Midwife. I saw my Midwife a total of three times during my pregnancy as I was seen by the Diabetic medical team on a regular basis (who also offer full telephone support). I would be lying if I said a sweep is the most comfortable experience; it’s not. However it can be made slightly more bearable preparing in advance by taking a warm bath or shower to relax, possibly having a nice cup of tea beforehand and having the sweep performed in a comfortable environment that doesn’t bring you out in hives. Your Midwife will ask you to remove your garments from the waist down. Treat the sweep as you would treat a Smear Test (you are up to date with them; right?). You lay on your back and the Midwife does her magic.

Unfortunately the sweep didn’t bring me much joy and I had to go into Hospital as scheduled for inducing via the pessary. Sweeps are a natural way of bringing on Labour although yes they don’t work for everyone.

The pessary is inserted and if it works your waters will break and within hours you should in theory be on your way to giving birth.

Well without giving away the ending the pessary didn’t do much for me to begin with. And to top off the frustration Midwives had to perform an internal examination on a regular basis which after 24 hours become super irritating and uncomfortable. Those who are shy should be reassured by the fact that Midwives don’t get a ‘kick’ out of these examinations and once you’ve seen one set of genitalia you’ve basically to some extent seen them all. Plus you are having these examinations to access your Labour. It’s not for the joy; so ladies please don’t worry about what the Midwife thinks of your bits.

So what happened next? Well I was examined repeatedly for progress. I’m not sure how but my waters actually breaking was MISSED by the staff. Now ladies please pick yourself off the floor and sit back down. I survived and I’ll explain what happened.

The induction happened on the Monday and no progress was monitored by Tuesday afternoon although I was feeling contractions (and these could be seen on the graph-yes I was rigged up to every machine you can imagine reducing any possibility of walking around). I was told constantly I wasn’t making progress, and I accepted that. I felt the contractions yet was told no progress was being made. On the Monday night I was given an injection called Pethidine to ease the pain (one Midwife actually believed me when I said I could feel contractions). The injection was given in my thigh, and within hours I was sound asleep. I did wake up at 4AM not sure to where I was; yes I was delusional not knowing where I was or why there was a bathroom next to my bedroom or why I was sleeping on a weird posh medical bed. I didn’t feel any sickness as some women report from it. The advantage of Pethidine is a Midwife can give it without having to wait for a Doctor to come along and supervise the insertion of the injection. Pethidine will only be given if your Midwife feels you are NOT close to Labour so it’s often given in the early stages of the birth. Pethidine can also be given to a Mother who wishes to have a water birth (of course with supervision as it can cause drowsiness). And Pethidine doesn’t slow down Labour.

By Tuesday night the head of the Medical team gave me by options. They were to either try inducing again or go for a c-section the next day. Either way I would need a detailed internal examination to note any progress or lack of it. I decided to opt for a

Section the following day as I was now exhausted and wanted to go home. In came some female members of the team to perform the examination. As I was so sore I was given gas and air to help with the examination. Now this made me slightly wheezy and I can just about remember hearing the medical examiner telling me I was dilated to 10 centimetres. She quickly requested a monitor to check baby heart and as everything was fine I was prepared for Labour. As I was feeling quite ill at this point I opted for an Epidural (anaesthetic). This is the painkiller that is fitted with a needle near the nerves that carry the pain signals from your uterus. The painkiller can be topped up at any point should you require it. It works by numbing the nerves. The insertion of it was pretty painless; the area is cleaned and a thin tube inserted. The Anaesthetist kept me up to date with what was happening. Once the Epidural was in place the staff checked to make sure if was working; this was done by tapping my legs and I couldn’t feel a thing. Epidurals are renowned for making your legs feel heavy and this doesn’t actually ware off for at least 10 hours in my personal experience. The main advantage of this type of pain killer is you are awake when your little one is born. However you may find the next few hours or days become slightly blurry as you drift in and out of a drowsy sleep.

Now at this stage I was preparing for a natural birth; my little ones heart rate dropped which sent the medical team into a frenzy and the emergency alarm was set off to inform other staff of what was happening. However before the alarm was set off a member of staff came up to me and informed me of the procedure and that I shouldn’t be scared. She explained what was happening.

The staff then took a blood sample from my little one which was checked over to make sure little one wasn’t in distress. Luckily little ones heart rate stabilised and at this point the Surgeon asked me if it was important for me to have a natural birth. Of course any Mother would give the same answer as me; it wasn’t above the health of my child. I was given a document to sign in case I needed a section. The document explains the risks of the section and what could happen, and if something did happen who would be liable (which is basically you). Then my little ones heart rate dropped again and I was rushed into theatre for an emergency section. My husband went in with me. The surgery began at 5AM and the staff explained I wouldn’t feel any pain; it would simply feel like someone was washing the pots and pains in my stomach and if for any reason I was unable to take the pain I was to say and the painkiller would be topped up. During the Surgery I was sick-this was due to me having a chocolate bar to bring my sugar levels up to a reasonable level so that the section could actually happen. At 5:25AM little one was born-with her cord around her neck; twice. But she was healthy.

The staff that carried out the Surgery were fantastic and cannot be faulted in anyway. The staff that missed by progress well I do wonder how on earth they are practising medicine in the United Kingdom but I’m sure that’s a different issue completely.

After the section you are expected to rest however you will be encouraged to start walking around within 12/18 hours of Surgery. Yes it’s major surgery but walking around as soon as humanly possible will aide your recovery. You’ll be encouraged to take a shower too. Both these steps in my humble opinion are vital for any Mother who has had a Section.

I actually lost a lot of blood during the operation and was told that I would be needing a blood transfusion. I ended up having two but it didn’t bring my iron count up to a safe level this combined with my little ones antibiotic course resulted in an extended stay in Hospital post birth.

When I was preparing my Birth Plan (which you will do around your third trimester) I didn’t out rule any painkillers as I wasn’t sure what to expect. With birth two I have a grasp of painkillers and the procedures and feel more comfortable with how and what they do and why. There’s not a painkiller I would avoid; and if I am offered a sweep again I would take it as I would like to actually have a natural birth.

My advice for any first time Mother would be:

  • Do your own research into pain killer/numbing options available. If you are healthy with no pre-existing medical conditions the world if your oyster. Look up hydrotherapy and birth as well as other natural options as well as the other options available to you on the NHS or privately if that’s what you are paying for.

  • Remember that works for one Mother won’t always work for another-everyone’s bodies are unique

  • No two births are the same-even in the same family

  • Ask your Midwife about what facilities are available at the Hospital/Centre you will be giving birth in

  • If you are opting for a birthing partner discuss your Birth Plan with them in detail-and give them a photocopy too.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Medical teams are aware of first time Mother/parent niggles and won’t laugh at your questions

  • Try to be flexible and allow ‘room’ for suggestions which the Medical team may make to assist with your Labour

  • Remain positive-if people tell you about a negative story concentrate on the positive-they’ve had a healthy baby at the end of the ordeal and if they’ve gone on to have more than one baby it cannot have been too traumatic.

I really hope that I’ve helped you understand a more complex birth which started with a sweep. My pre-existing Diabetes were the fuel behind my sweep and inducing. As I’ve said before if you are healthy you really can leave things to Mother Nature to start your Labour off when your body and baby are ready.

If you have any questions leave me a comment below and I shall get back to you.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Do Branded baby and toddler items equal quality and value for money?

Does brand mean quality?

If you’re a first time parent and have signed up to various email lists and company promotions or buy Baby Magazines you will notice that you are bombarded with images of cute babies who use branded goods such as Johnson’s baby wipes. Soon you are sucked into the illusion that to have a happy and clean baby branded goods are the way to go. It’s like when you buy a branded pizza versus store own brand; you feel the branded one will offer more cheese and toppings for your buck.

Supermarkets though have twigged; it may have taken them a while to sort it out but now Supermarkets are giving brands a run for their money.

When I was pregnant with baby one (Munchy) I stockpiled on wipes. I never predicted I would need hundreds of wipes due to sickness but there you go; it was a wise decision and we’re still reaping the reward (I have around 18 packs of wipes left as I type this entry). I was a novice parent; I looked at Magazines, and around me and noticed Baby events often meant offers on big brands so I thought that must mean they are quality; after all boxes were literally flying off the shelves at higher prices than the Supermarket versions. I assumed that a Brand name automatically meant the best on the market.

Now I want to be clear and frank with you; I regret buying certain brands because quite frankly they sucked big time. The brand I am about to name and shame is Johnson’s Baby Wipes-drier than a Sahara desert. What you want in a wipe is a moist soft disposable and of course not full of chemicals. What you don’t want is Johnson’s wipes. So there. Rant over.

Most Supermarkets offer two tiers of wipes and nappies. The lower tier is cheap and cheerful; however I wouldn’t recommend them. The wipes are often dry, and the nappies need changing more than the regular branded ones and don’t hold as much as you would expect a nappy to.

You then have what I would call the ‘premium’ Supermarket branded items. Those are the ones that are packaged nicely (often look similar to the branded items) and are worthy competitors of branded items.

I will review the items I have tried; feel free to try the other Supermarket own brands and let me know the outcomes.

What we previously used:

Pampers nappies (up to the age of six months) then we started using Huggies (up until 6 months ago). We initially swapped to Huggies as we were looking at an affordable alternative. Plus I’d read horror stories about Pampers and the ingredients used in it. So I’ve changed to a store own brand and below is a summary of my findings based on six months use.

What we have swapped to:

Nappies: we are using Tesco’s own brand (Tesco loves baby ultra dry economy pack £5.97 for 48). They work out cheaper than Huggies (which are soon to go off the market in England).

This is what the Branded Nappies in a similar size cost:

Pampers active fit size 4+ jumbo pack of 66 nappies £12.99-work out at 20 pence per nappy

What we like about them in comparison to previous used nappies:

  • Hold just as much as expensive branded items

  • We’ve had no complaints of soreness or nappy rash

  • No leaks (yes!)

  • The tags are strong and can be repositioned without coming off

  • There affordable-working out at 12 pence per nappy

  • We earn Tesco Clubcard points

  • They have cute owl motives on which little one likes

  • Tesco run offers on their own brand nappies-perfect for stocking up

  • And when our little one is potty trained (And that will hopefully be soon) Tesco also do their own version of the infamous 'pull up pants'

Wipes-a Mothers best friend

We used Johnson’s wipes-which we regret. Wouldn’t recommend them to anyone. Not even as wipes for a pet.

We also tried Pampers wipes which we found better. The wipes we eventually settled on (out of the branded ones) were Huggies. They were moist, durable and affordable when on special offer or at the end of the Asda Baby Event by when the multi packs of wipes are reduced down to around the £2.50 mark (in comparison to other branded goods).

The brand we have swapped to: Mamio at Aldi 79 pence for a pack of 80. Available in both scented and sensitive.

Mamio wipes are a buzz word in mummy circles; after all they won the Mother and Parenting gold award in 2012. And what’s more there super affordable-they work out at less than one pence a wipe compared to Huggies pack of 63 wipes at £2.39 which work out at above 3 pence a wipe.

What we like about these wipes:

  • They are soft and durable-they tackle poo, baby sick and ice cream equally well.

  • The packaging is easy to use-there’s no sticky label to constantly replace as the package comes with a durable plastic cap/dispenser similar to the ones on Simple wipe packs

  • The packaging is easy on the eye-you cannot tell they are a store own brand which is a blessing for the brand lovers amongst us (you know who you are)

  • There super affordable-less than 1 pence a wipe

  • There available in a scented version (the scent is mild and pleasant) and sensitive for the ones who prefer to be safe than sorry


I have tried Tesco and Aldi own brands, but to be clear there are many other alternatives on the market. Asda's 'Little Angels' range has also won awards. Sainsburys also have their own label items as have Morrisions.

So my conclusion is Branded goods no longer mean better quality than store own brands and Supermarkets are all after your money so will ‘up’ their quality to fit in with modern parent expectations.

I think it’s a case of personal trial and error; and at the prices Supermarkets offer you stand to gain more than you lose. Look out for own brand items on offer to make an experimental trying even lighter on your wallet.

I want to try own brand items where do I start?

If you want more help on choosing own brand items here are a few starting pointers:
  • Ask parents in online Forums for their recommendations

  • Look out for products that have received awards-magazines don’t give out awards for items that are inferior in quality.

  • Ask parent friends for their recommendations. If you already have children you could ask parents at your local playgroup and find out what works for them.

  • Remember what works for someone else’s child may not work for yours

Whatever you choose to do; choose and use the brands and items that work for your child. There really isn’t any shame in using Supermarket own brand items and with incentives such as Tesco Clubcard points and Boots Advantage points there’s a lot to be gained from shopping around. Plus if you over purchase own brand items you can usually exchange them for a size up (as long as the items are sealed and the packaging is clean you shouldn’t have an issue in exchanging them.

Happy shopping guys. Let me know if you find any great Supermarket own brands that are worth shouting about.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

What you need to buy for a newborn-from a real parent

What you really need in the first months of a newborns life-from a parent who has been there (and isn’t trying to sell you something!)

Some of the items I have suggested were essentials for us; you might find that some of these items are not as high priority for you. Anything you don’t prioritize can be picked up in the sales; just create a list of the non-essentials and hold tight for a bargain or three.

The journey to parenthood is exciting and EXPENSIVE. There I’ve said the dreaded word. Truth is every store that sells baby stuff is fighting for your attention and your wallet. Everyone wants a slice of the baby pound. They put up glossy pictures of happy families and show you a world of magical fairytales where babies gurgle all day and hardly need to be burped, fed or changed. It’s sadly all marketing gimmick and it’s all so you part from your hard earned cash.

A while ago I wrote an article of buying pre-loved items. I understand that in today’s recession climate a lot of parents are making cut backs and it’s fully acceptable to go down the route of purchasing pre-loved if you know how to find bargains and possibly be a dab hand with a paintbrush. But for those of you who have budgeted over the years and wish to spend your hard earned cash on new items then this blog entry is for you. Enjoy and please let others know about so we can assist other parents too.

What do you really need for a newborn?
I've left out the everyday items you will be buying every month such as nappies, wipes etc. I'll create a list of the everyday essentials in another blog post.

Shops will have you believe you need anything and everything with bells and whistles; fortunately that’s not the case. A newborn needs to feel loved and secure more than anything else. Here is a rundown of what you will genuinely need for your bundle of joy:

A car seat-my local Hospital won’t allow a baby to be discharged without their being a car seat present and in working order. If you do not have a car then you will need to borrow a car seat. Ask friends and family. Safety is paramount.

Somewhere safe for them to sleep:
Usually this is a Moses basket. My current favourite is a dark wicker one seen on eBay (new) for around £60.00 including stand. A designer or High Street ‘labeled version will easily set you back DOUBLE that price. Is it worth it? I’ll leave that decision down to you as it’s your money.

Other alternatives are a crib (which can be bought on the High street for under £100.00).

Both Moses Baskets and Cribs are only suitable until your baby is able to sit up. At this stage it becomes dangerous to use them in case of falls. At this stage in a child’s life they move onto a cot. But that’s at least 6 months down the line.

You will also need a mattress and bedding;
Never buy a second hand mattress. Look online for mattresses-we bought ours online and saved £40.00 on the price that was on the high street. It’s always worth looking around. Always buy from a reputable seller. If you do use a website like eBay use Paypal to pay and check their feedback before buying anything. Be safe.

Sleeping bag:These are great for little ones. Always check the recommended weight on the packaging-generally speaking most Sleeping bags/Sacs are not recommended for newborns. You usually have to wait a few weeks until baby meets the weight requirement to use these. These are great. There’s no problems with blankets becoming loose during the night. Available in different ‘togs’ for summer and winter months.

Changing Bag:Taking a baby out involves military like precession planning. There’s bottles, formula, nappies, wipes...the list is quite long. What you will need is a bag to carry all your must haves in. Bags vary from a standard one for around £30.00. A ‘posh’ bag can cost anywhere from around £80.00 upwards.

Swaddle cloths:If you are lucky like me and come across very helpful Midwives they will share many pearls of wisdom with you; including this babies love to be swaddled. Basically it’s like wrapping a burrito. Babies have been cocooned for the past 9 months and startle easily (via their own limbs!). If they are ‘wrapped up’ they feel happier. You can buy purpose made swaddle cloths or you can make one. Or you can learn to swaddle with a standard blanket via tutorials on YouTube. The possibilities are endless.

If you plan to bottle feed (or express milk to allow your partner to share the feeding load) you will need the following:

  • Bottles

  • Teats

  • Sterilizer (old fashioned ones with water, microwave systems or steam ones-you decide which works for you)

  • Sterilizer fluid or tablets

  • Muslin squares/alternatives. These are great for protecting your clothes from sick and milk spills. Don’t say I didn’t warn you; it comes with a part of the newborn package.

  • Bottle brush (to clean the bottles)

  • Breast pump (if you are planning to express milk)

  • Cleaning fluid-your usual dish cleaning fluid is acceptable

I purchased all of the above items from a Superstore (Asda) during their Baby Event as they worked out much cheaper than Mothercare. Gosh will I be hated forever for saying that in a public place?! But it’s about value for money and that’s what I got. Shop around, look at reviews and decide which system works for you. Just because a certain brand worked for your niece it doesn’t mean it will work for you so be wise and get to grips with bottles and so forth whilst you have the time.

A means of transport-a Pushchair. Now this is a minefield for any first time parent. You go into a store and you are greeted with a simple system for under £300.00 and then you see the Rolls Royce of Pushchair’s for £800.00. Ridiculous money in my opinion but if that’s what floats your boat go for it. I suggest you consider the following

  • Does it fit into your budget?

  • Is it easy to operate/open/close?

  • How much space will this pushchair take up in your car boot (trunk)?

  • How long will this pushchair last you practically before you need to move onto a stroller?

  • If you plan to have more babies soon can this system be transformed (via accessories and additional seat) to accommodate others?

  • If you plan to reuse the Pushchair is it in a neutral color?

Some online stores offer ‘slightly seconds’ which means the Pushchair is safe to use but may have loose stitches or another issues that effect appearance slightly. If you are happy to take a slightly seconds model you can save a fortune-I’ve been there. We bought a second pushchair for our little one and paid under £70.00 for it as it was classed as a ‘seconds’ item. The new version was £120.00. To this day I’ve not been able to find the fault and we’ve been using it for 2 years.

Projector/Mobiles to go above crib
Projectors are meant to give a display of color and music that should lull a child into sleep. Sadly these didn’t work for us. They may work for you. Have a look around for one that suits your needs.

As for a mobile, the theory is they entertain a little one with the colorfulness and again help a child to sleep (they make be dizzy but then I’m not a newborn). It’s basically the similar theory to a Projector. We had one and yes you’ve guessed it; another failure for us.

In all seriousness your newborn doesn’t need lavish outfits. I know it’s easier said then done but resisting the urge to buy fussy outfits will save you money in the long run. Save that money and invest in outfits for an older age. If you do purchase clothes in an older size my suggestion is to not buy too many as clothes don’t just go off age of child, they also go off weight too which isn’t easy to predict.
Outer ware- such a pram suit. We’ve all seen them-the suits that look like a teddy bear/polar bear or similar cuddly object. You need to get one that will keep your little one safe from the elements. Consider the season too. One outfit should be enough for you; unless your baby is sick a lot in this case you may wish to invest in another suit as backup.

Toys and Books
Truthfully your baby won’t be up for playing with toys for the first few months of their life. Yes they will ‘follow’ colorful items around the room. If you wish to invest in a few toys soft toys such as rattles, high contrast toys (try Lamaze) and a couple of soft books should be enough.

As for story books; reading to a child at any age is enjoyable. My little one has only recently started to choose her own book and ask for it to be read but I’ve been reading to her for a while now.

Toy Gym/Floor Mat/Baby Nests
These are worth the investment. Babies love to lie down and stare up at objects above them. Babies spend a lot of time lying down, so you need to look at things to keeping baby occupied and comfortable for their first few months of their lives.

Have a look around and find something that appeals to you and is multi purpose that will last at least a few months.

Baby Bath tub (with stand if possible). Babies need to be cleaned. ‘Topping and tailing’ is acceptable as a form of cleaning but the reality is newborns need a bath too. For topping and tailing you'll need a bowl. Most stores do a nice bowl which contains a bowl for water and area for cotton buds etc. 
You can find various designed bath tubs. From those which have a built in additional support to ‘prop’ baby up (which you support baby too) to a basic bucket design. There’s also a ‘bath support’ appliance available which supports your little one whilst they are in a bigger tub. If you plan to use your family tub for your newborn I suggest you invest in a Bath Dam (I’ve reviewed it previously). A stand comes in useful for those parents who find bending down hard; especially after a C-section.

Don’t forget to purchase a baby bath towel.


Baby Monitor
It may seem a bit weird that you are planning on leaving your baby alone in a room but sometimes it’s unavoidable. You have lots of different ones to pick from-you can have a basic one with just sound, one that connects to a mat which alerts you of if movement suddenly stops and the top of the range ones with a camera that watches your baby so you can not only hear your little one but see them too.

If you plan to have a Nursery ready for when your newborn comes you may wish to consider the following:

  • Blackout blinds (to create a dark room for little one to sleep in)

  • A dresser-to change baby on OR

  • The cot top dresser. It’s like a wooden mat that you put on top of the cot and use it to change baby’s nappy

  • Storage unit-for storing nappies, wipes and similar items

  • Set of drawers/children’s wardrobe to store clothes

  • A nursing chair-the type that ‘glides’ or another comfortable chair for sitting in when you are trying to get little one to sleep

  • A lamp with dimmer-for when you need to find things around the Nursery

  • Cot/Basket/Crib-for baby to sleep in-don’t forget mattresses and bedding!

If you have the space and budget allows you may wish to place a folding single bed in the Nursery to take a nap with baby.

A lot of the items on my essential list cross over into the Nursery too such as the Baby Monitor. A lot of things you will purchase will be used throughout your little ones first years, so it’s always advisable to do a bit of research before shelling out on bit purchases.

A note on cot/cot beds and bumpers
A great investment if you don’t plan to reuse your child’s cot whilst they are a toddler is a cot bed-the cot that transforms into a bed. This saves you purchasing a toddler bed. However if you plan to have another child quite soon after the birth of a first child this idea isn’t really worth a try financially or else you’ll end up with multiple cot beds to sell on later.

Cot Bumpers (the ones that go on the inside of the top bit of the cot) are not an essential item and some argue that they are not safe for a little one. If you wish to use one do a bit of research on the matter before parting with your money.

Further ways to save money:

Many stores have a ‘surplus’ or ‘seconds’ store where you can purchase their goods that are not perfect at a discounted price. Mamas and Papas have a seconds store in Stoke-on-Trent, however the last time I visited the store I was told you cannot return an item purchased so unless you are 101% happy with the items you wish to purchase.

Closing down sales/end of season (or rangeSales are a great place to purchase essentials at a discounted price. Look about for sales online too.

Sign up for Parenting Clubs at the store you wish to make purchases from in advance of your due date. If you don’t want to be bombarded with offers ensure you tick all relevant boxes. Ask about discount vouchers. Some stores offer 10-15% off a threshold spend.

Look in Catalogues-if you like something in particular and have yet to create a an account ask if there is a discount for a first order.

If you know what you wish to purchase and you know where you wish to buy it from you could ask friends and family for vouchers for that store. Every penny helps.

The same applies to colleagues, or friends and groups that wish to hold you a Baby Shower.

Check out eBay for new bargains. Paypal is a safe way of paying. Never send cash. Always check out a sellers feedback before a purchase. If you are making a large purchase and the seller states they have a store do a google search in advance and find out what others say about it.

 Amazon Also a great place to pick up a bargain including boxes of wipes.

Ask other Mothers where they bought there stuff from; you maybe surprised at places they mention for bargains which you had never heard of or even considered.
Enjoy the shopping spree!