9 reasons why all mums need a kindle or e-reader

9 reasons why all mums need a Kindle (or other E-reader)

First: a disclaimer. I adore paper books, I do not think they are redundant and they are my go-to gift for adults and children alike. Thank God for my local independent book shop – they rock. However, since I was given an e-reader for Christmas last year I am a total convert from my luddite, paper-book addict self and feel they are an essential piece of kit for all parents. I now need my Kindle and here are my reasons:

1 – backlighting

Oh my Goddess I cannot tell you how much I value this feature on the e-reader I use. It’s a Kindle Paperwhite, in case you were wondering and the backlighting is an essential feature for the mum of small children. I am blessed that The Girl is a fairly decent sleeper (The Boy was awake for hours in the middle of the night) but I still have to settle her at bedtime and don’t want a light on while she feeds to sleep. I also have a husband who doesn’t always want to stay awake reading at the same times as me, plus hideous pregnancy insomnia while I was expecting both kids. Being able to read without a light on is AMAZING. Whilst I still adore paper books, this is the feature I miss the most when trying to read them.

2 – free books

I’m a fast reader. Like really fast. Especially when I spend hours feeding a baby and am not limited by being in a dark room (see above). I can get through a book in a day if the wind is behind me. I also don’t really remember much of what I read afterwards and commonly find myself re-reading books and not realising until more than halfway through that I’ve read it before. The ability to ‘buy’ free books suits my style of readership perfectly.

3 – one-handed

reading and feedingMost of the reading I do is one-handed because I do it whilst doing other things – feeding babies, eating dinner, walking along pushing a buggy etc. The problem with ‘real’ books is holding the pages apart with one hand – not something that’s an issue with an e-reader. The ‘book’ stays open and you can flip the page with your thumb… or your nose if necessary.

Apparently there are other reasons one might find one-handed reading useful, especially when reading bodice-rippers for cheap thrills, but I’m a mum to two under-4s, so reading is the most exciting thing I ever do in bed, other than sleep 😉

4 – lightweight

This goes (eh-hem bad pun alert) hand-in-hand with the one-handed reading. No worries about choosing a particularly hefty book, they all weigh the same (about 200g). I am currently carrying around (in addition to a library-full of chick-lit and tat) the full works of Shakespeare, Dickens, L.M. Alcott and the complete set of Anne of Green Gables.

5 – silent

See item no.1 for the times I actually get to sit and read. I’ve tried reading paper books whilst feeding my baby – nuh-uh. Every time I flip a page she turns her head to look and, well, I’m quite fond of my nipples, you could even say I’m attached to them. And she doesn’t. let. go. when she turns her head. Buh-bye paper books.

6 – discreet

God I read some right crap. Mostly I download free books and they’re mostly of the chick-lit/bodice-ripper variety (if you care to have a peek at the text visible in my feature image shot you might get an idea of how trashy some of the things I read are. His Captive Bride, in case you were wondering.)

Now, I do a fair bit of reading on the school run whilst The Girl naps in the sling and I could do without advertising my un-literary proclivities to the other school-run mums. I also don’t need my son querying me on “why is that lady no wearing no cloves Mummy?” as he did when I took a punt on a library paper-book copy of this type of novel.

Finally, The Man is well known for taking the piss remorselessly. Bad enough he knows I read this kind of literature without giving him further ammunition with some of the titles and cover art.

7 – immediate

For when you run out of reading in the middle of the night and/or need a parenting book on how to deal with your three year old’s aggression ishoos the immediacy of downloading a book is fabulous. No waiting. No postage. Super! Start taming the beast right away!

8 – don’t lose your place…usually

Have you any idea how often my children like to get involved with anything I do? Books are fair game as far as they’re concerned, and the number of times I’ve lost my page or had a page ripped out is absurd considering how rarely I read paper books these days. Now I can always be sure that my book will open on the page I left it… though I do get the occasional flailing hand flipping the page back or forwards whilst feeding.

9 – easy for others to locate

The Boy is often used for fetching/carrying. He doesn’t have many uses, but this is one of them (except when he gets distracted halfway through and disappears for 25 minutes only to reappear wearing a cowboy hat and tutu but missing one sock… but most of the time he succeeds in his task).

However his reading skills are still limited to CVC type words and his own name so sending him for “Mummy’s Kindle” is significantly more successful and less confusing than sending him for “Mummy’s book, the one with the lady with no clothes and the man with a sword, you know, with the word H I S at the beginning…? Not not that one, the man is obviously holding a pitchfork, not a sword. Never mind. I’ll go.”

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6 reasons to celebrate breastfeeding

I was offered the opportunity to take part in this blog hop about Christmas and breastfeeding, but I’m not sure what I can say about breastfeeding that is Christmas-relevant. I could state that it’s a gift and a blessing, in this season of blessings and gift-giving, but that would make a mighty short post so I thought I’d take a slightly sideways approach and write about celebrating breastfeeding. So here are all the reasons I can think of to celebrate the wonderful act of breastfeeding – please let me know if I’ve forgotten anything!

1 – free
Babies cost: everybody knows that. That’s why being able to feed them for free is so great, for as long as it lasts. Before you know it they’ll be throwing a shit fit on the floor of Tesco (or the supermarket of your choice) because they want every pot of jam in the confiture aisle and you’ll be fondly remembering the days when their nutrition cost you nothing.

2 – cake
All that money you’ve saved on artificial baby milk? Now you get to spend it on cake and other goodies for you because – ta dah! Making milk burns calories. Alternatively you could do what a very disciplined fellow preschool mum told me she did and go on a diet plan whilst feeding and burn twice the weight, but if you’re like me you’re famished and exhausted and only sugar and caffeine keeps you running, so eat the damn cake and be guilt free.

3 – easy
It’s sterile. It’s the right temperature. It provides the exact amount required (except in those leaky first weeks when you’re boobs are still figuring it out). You make it with no effort (unless you count eating extra cake: see point 2). You can make it when you’re asleep and never have to get out of bed. To lazy mamas like me this has to be the biggest point to celebrate – hurray for extra time in bed!

4 – love
Yes, breastfeeding promotes bonding, you’re holding your baby in your arms, but you know bottle-feeding mamas do that too and I’m sure they’re just as bonded to their babies. What breastmilk provides that is completely unique is the hormonal oomph of oxytocin – a super-rush of liquid love that gives you and your baby a feelgood kick like no other so you can relive the moment you met every time you nurse.

5 – multipurpose
Squirt it in gummy eyes, wipe it on sore bottoms , dab on cuts – milk is seemingly magic and so gentle you can inhale it without damaging the lining of your lungs. Wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing this mind.

6 – perfect
Finally let’s celebrate how this milk is perfectly designed just for your baby – no-one else’s. You make the stem cell loaded, microbiome-rich, probiotic, immuno-boosting milk that your baby needs depending on their exact needs at that exact time. Easily digestible, full of fat, magic milk.


 

The code word for the Celebrating Breastfeeding Christmas Extravaganza is candle. 
With special thanks to our sponsors for providing the amazing prizes: ARDO, LoveyUsh, Milk & Mummy, Lorna Drew, Mummy Makes Milk,Thrupenny Bits, breastvest, Mothers’ Love Cookies and More4Mums.
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10 things you really need to do once you’re on maternity leave, but before giving birth

Congratulations mum-to-be! You look great, really. Are you enjoying maternity leave? Not long until the baby arrives now, right? Well, maybe. He might come early, you might be hanging around for three weeks more than you thought. Whichever it is would you allow me to offer a little advice? These are things I want to say to every first-time mum when she announces she’s off on mat leave or approaching her due date, but often can’t because, you know, people don’t like being given advice out of the blue. But you’re looking for suggestions, aren’t you? Looking for what to do while you wait? That’s why you’re here. That makes you a captive audience so allow me to get this off my chest! Hurrah!maternityleave2

1 – line up breastfeeding support
Ok, maybe you’re not planning on breastfeeding, or there are medical contraindications in which case skip this one and go right to number 2. The majority of mums, however, are probably planning to breastfeed so do yourself a favour – get the information lined up now. Read up on it  for a start – ‘The Food of Love‘ is a fab book – lighthearted, funny, very very informative.

Research some support groups you can go to – the last thing you want to do is try to find out about these at three in the morning when you’ve been struggling all night and want to go talk to somebody. Try the La Leche League, Baby Cafe, your local maternity unit. Whatever is available. You can even go before you have the baby, that way it’s already a familiar environment that you’ve experienced before you’re sleep deprived, hormone-riddled and lugging a new baby and all their crap around with you.

And make a note of this: The national breastfeeding support helpline. Open between 9.30am and 9.30pm it is a fabulous resource.

2 – read up on the fourth trimester 
This is the period of time right after a baby is born when, in all other mammals, they should still really be in your womb, but have had to be evicted before their head got so big they wouldn;t fit through your pelvis. If you know all about it then you’ll be more inclined to accept some of the newbrn behaviour and just roll with the punches, rather than trying to get a totally dependent newborn to fit to a ‘routine’ just because your mother has been guilting you about what they did ‘when you were a baby’.

Here’s one as a start, and another, but just google ‘fourth trimester’ and you’ll be able to read up to your heart’s content.
3 – read up on ‘going overdue’
There’s a lot of pressure put on women to seek medical assistance when they go ‘overdue’ – but do you know when that is (42 weeks, by the way. NOT simply after your due date), what the risks and benefits are of doing something versus doing nothing, or how you’d feel about undergoing some of those procedures? I highly recommend making sure you’re fully informed of all the ins and outs so that whatever decision you make is an educated one and not a reaction to undue pressure being put on you by someone in a position of authority.
this article is quite helpful

4 – line up a load of DVD boxsets (I’ve made some recommendations in the past)
You spend a lot of time curled up on the sofa when you have your first baby (not so much with subsequent kids but oh well). Do yourself a favour and buy in some boxsets, subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Fire or NowTV. You’ll thank me later.
5 – join an online ante-natal group
Go to Mumsnet, Netmums, wherever. Find other mums due the same month. Talk anonymously, migrate to Facebook. Whatever you do you will be so grateful to have all these other women to go through it with you – the late pregnancy insomnia, the birth, the feeding issues, the late night/midnight/early morning feeds, the weaning, the walking, the potty training…
I’m still in my group from The Boy, it’s been more than four years now and we’ve seen each other through so much. Second and third babies, divorces, mental health issues, cancer, fertility issues, terrible twos, threenagers – I can’t tell you.  This is solid gold, diamond encrusted advice. Take it.
6 – book lots of exciting activities to do
Nothing worse than waiting around for that baby to arrive. Book things to do every day so you’re not just twiddling your thumbs and waiting. Far better to have to cancel stuff.
7 – get a massage or some chiropractor/osteo treatments.
This is not just in the name of self-indulgence, although this might be your last chance for a while. No. A good osteo-type treatment will help open up your sacroiliac joints helping prepare your body for labour and improving the likelihood of a straightforward birth.
8 – take some photos of yourself
I was inspired to take some photos of my mega bump one morning, not knowing I’d go into labour that night. I love being able to put the photos of my bump and my baby together knowing there was only 24 hours between them.
9 – find/go to baby groups
As with the online groups – friends in similar situations are what will get you through those early days and, as with the breastfeeding support groups, it’s much easier to go into those situations as a sleep-deprived, vulnerable new mum if you’ve been before and sussed out the parking, the location, the cost, the tea/coffee etiquette etc
10 – learn how to use all the stuff!
Do you know how to fold and unfold the buggy? Fix the car seat into the car? Run the steriliser? Swaddle a baby? Change a nappy? Do NOT let your first try at these complicated skills be when you have a newborn SCREAMING at you. I speak from bitter experience.
Also – find places for all the stuff to live, otherwise you’ll suddenly have to frind home for baby bouncers, moses baskets and god knows what else all in one hit.

Bonus tip! – read all the stuff! Here are some of my suggestions/recommendations for really useful reading while you still have the time and brainspace to do so – enjoy! I may do a whole post on this if my list gets any longer, but for now…

http://www.positivebirthmovement.org/

The thinking womans’ guide to a better birth,

Gentle birth, gentle mothering,

Bump: How to make, grow and birth a baby

Extended breastfeeding – or just breastfeeding?

Thanks for hopping over from Renegade Feminist and welcome to my post for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt Day 5 Extended Breastfeeding we have over £700 worth of breastfeeding and baby goodies up for grabs including prizes from More4Mums providing a set of ‘Hot Milk’ Lingerie, a signed hardback limited edition copy of Milky Moments and a £30 voucher from Milk Chic  Full details of the Grand Prize can be found here and all entries to be completed via the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.


I dislike the term extended breastfeeding.  I, and many of my lentil-weaving hippyish friends, prefer to call it natural term breastfeeding, but only other lentil-weaving, hippyish people know what that means so I’m forced to use extended breastfeeding, because, in our modern-day 6-months-of-boob culture, anything past six months is seen as extended.  Just in case you’re still in the dark, though, allow me to enlighten you: extended breastfeeding is feeding your baby from the milk in your breast until an age where your family (either blood-related or in-laws) start openly asking you when you’re going to stop.  Naturally this is different for every family.extended breastfeeding

Yes, that’s right. In this age of tits on every billboard, buy a daily newspeper to admire some cleavage, décolletage being the selling point of every brand imaginable – whether relevant or not – it’s the sight of a mother feeding a child who (to quote a relative who should know better) “is old enough to ask for it” that really gets everybody clutching their pearls in abject horror.

I never set out to shock and dismay. I knew for sure that I wanted to breastfeed and, like many other mothers, had six months in my head as the goal I was aiming for. At the time I think I just believed this was how long you were ‘supposed’ to do it for. After three years of in-depth peer supporter training, I now know better.

Six months is just how old a child should roughly be before introducing anything other than breastmilk. Formula companies are banned from advertising in this country for babies under that age, so all their advertising (behind which there is much money) is aimed at ‘follow-on’ milks and so on for babies older than six months. I, like most others, mentally converted this into a maximum age limit for breastfeeding and honestly thought anything beyond that was unnecessary and, perhaps, a little odd.

And then I had my baby. My precious Boy. I held him in my arms, watched him stroke his cheek, my breast, his cheek, saw his wonder that he and I were the same person and two different people all at once. I fought to feed him despite birth trauma, bad advice, pain and post-natal depression and then, at about eight weeks it began to get easier, by 12 weeks it was easy (except for the sleep deprivation – oh God, was I deprived!) and by six months, when he started to mess around with bits of mango and fingers of toast I was laughing.

“Why would I give up now?!” I laughed to myself as I sailed out of the house with no paraphernalia other than nappies when he was five months old.
“Well I’m not giving up now!” I declared to myself, and others, when his molars started coming through aged one and feeding in the night was the best, easiest, quickest and most natural way to resettle him.
“Thank God I hadn’t given up!” I exclaimed through several stomach bugs at all ages where the only nutrition and fluids he took was endless, comforting suckles at my breasts.
“I don’t want him to give up now…” I murmured as I held my big two year old on my lap and stroked his hair and cuddled him in the only time he stayed still for more than a minute in his busy day.

By about two and half he was only having milk every couple of days and when I got pregnant and suffered horrendous pregnancy sickness for the first four months it was game over and the last of my milk went. He stopped wanting to suckle, even for the comfort.

If you’re wondering about feeding until your child weans themselves then I can honestly tell you it’s wonderful. It’s special. You can have time away from them (my son stayed away from me for five nights on two separate occasions and both times we managed to pick back up where we left off), but you don’t need to set yourself a goal now.  One of the very best things about breastfeeding is that (once you’re over the initial hump) it’s intuitive. You do it as and when. You know when it’s necessary and when it’s not and you can change your mind as you go.

For the family who wonder why you still do it, well, it’s none of their business really, but I always found “There’s a reason they keep their milk teeth until they’re five or six you know!” was a very effective deterrant. If nothing else the look of horror on their faces as they picture you still feeding a six year old is totally worth it!


For more extended breastfeeding experiences please hop on over to My Moo and Woo where you can gain further entries into the grand prize draw. Full terms and conditions can be found on the Keeping Britain Breastfeeding website. UK residents only.

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The journey of a lifetime – feeding my babies

Thanks for visiting from Adventures of a Novice Mum and welcome to my post for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt  “Day 1 The Start of My Journey”.

Sponsors today include Boobie Milk with a £50 voucher, Cherub Chews who are offering a breastfeeding necklace and Loveyush who are offering a breastfeeding scarf for our Grand Prize winner. Over £700 worth of goodies are up for grabs entries via the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.


The start of my breastfeeding journey was, as so many are, a rocky one.  After a difficult and traumatic birth, with the masses of medical intervention that I had never wanted, my poor body was tired and battered already. Add into the mix a constantly hungry, velcro baby and some very very poor support and you have the recipe for a broken mama.

I had so desperately wanted to exclusively breastfeed my baby and, after I had (as I saw it) ‘failed’ to give birth, it was even more important to me to succeed with feeding: to try and make up for the drugs he’d received, the being ripped untimely from his mother’s womb, the fact I was a sobbing, miserable mess who struggled to attach to him.  The hospital pushed me to use formula and, exhausted and fighting to the last, I eventually gave in, although I pumped and fed, fed and pumped as well – anything to escape the hospital and get back to my community midwives.

I was, however, one of the lucky ones. I had the most amazing support from my husband and mother, I found a good midwife at my local unit who helped me when I turned up in tears at 3am two weeks after giving birth, I also found a support group not too far away where gentle peer supporters listened to me endlessly rehash my birth and a trained midwife gave some decent advice on holding my baby so everything was more comfortable.

I was on my knees with exhaustion, traumatised, in pain, struggling to bond, but I gritted my teeth and kept right on going and gradually, after about six weeks, things began to improve.  I couldn’t believe that something that was supposed to come naturally could cause so many difficulties and 10 months later, when the chance was offered for me to train to become a peer supporter myself, I jumped at the chance.

Feeding my daughter

Feeding my daughter

It’s been a long journey, from that first attempt to latch my baby on post c-section, dazed, exhausted, ignorant – to here. Now I support and advise other women and argued with ignorant HCPs when I began feeding my second baby and they tried to offer unwelcome and poor advice as I fed her in the Neonatal High Dependency Unit after, yet another, difficult birth.

Things are gradually changing. Between my two babies the hospital started to seek ‘Baby Friendly’ status and when I had my daughter they offered her donated breastmilk to supplement my milk.  There is still bad information out there, though, bad advisors, ignorant HCPs who, despite being medical personnel, have received less training on the mechanics and biology of breastfeeding than I, as a volunteer, have.

My breastfeeding journey has been a bumpy one, but it’s promising to be a lifetime one that carries on long after my own children have ceased to feed from me as I support generation after generation of other mothers to feed their children as they truly wish to do, and what a blessing that is.


Following on from my journey, please do visit Just Motherhood to see how her journey began and be in with more chances to enter the grand prize draw. Remember you need to earn 50 points to be eligible, full details can be found on the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Site.

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Keep Britain breastfeeding scavenger hunt 2015

Five stupid questions to ask a breastfeeding mum

In total I’ve been a breastfeeding mum for nearly three years now, but had forgotten what it’s like when you’re solely responsible for a newborn’s nutrition, as opposed to just providing comfort and a wee supplemental boost to a hulking great toddler. It reminded me how many irksome, ignorant or downright daft comments you can get when you’re breastfeeding a tiny baby, especially when you’re a lentil-weaving hippy like myself and do it shamelessly, anywhere and intend to do so for a prolonged amount of time.  Do any of these ring a bell with you? Let me know if I’ve forgotten something.5stupidquestions

1 – Doesn’t your husband/partner mind?
Um – what now? Does he mind that I’m keeping our baby alive in the biologically normal way mothers are supposed to using my breasts which were purpose designed for this particular job? Funnily enough, no. He doesn’t. If he was the kind of twit who did I probably wouldn’t have wanted to make babies with him in the first place.

2 – But how do you know how much milk they’re getting?
Well, put very simply, I don’t. Does it matter? If they’re getting fatter, doing shits regularly, peeing often and generally showing signs of thriving then I don’t need a list of numbers memorised to reassure myself. Quite frankly I am in awe of formula feeding mums who do this – it looks like a cross between advanced mathematics and black magic trying to keep track of how many ml/oz and when, and when to increase and what if they don’t eat it all. I just stick my baby back on the boob when she gets grumpy, or wakes up, or I don’t know what else to do with her and go on reading my badly written chick lit novel.  Breastfeeding is really the lazy mother’s approach.

And just to head the follow-up question off at the pass – I know when she’s finished because she either falls asleep or comes off and belches at me in a satisfied manner.  It’s really not rocket science.

3 – What? She needs to feed again?
Yup. And stop sounding so annoyed about it, it’s not your boobs who are getting gummed to death.  Human milk has only about 4% fat content as opposed to as much as 40% in some other mammals’ milk, it’s no wonder they need to eat often.  Plus in hot weather it’s also their source of hydration too, and I know you drink more in the heat.  Boob also provides pain relief, emotional comfort, skin to skin (which helps with temperature regulation), immune boosting and all kinds of other goodies too, so mind your own business and let my baby feed when they need.

4 – When are you going to stop breastfeeding?
OK, so this isn’t quite such a stupid question as some of the others, except that it’s not really anybody’s business but the mum and baby in question.  Before I had babies I thought maybe six months, because that’s when you’re ‘supposed’ to feed until, then I realised that was just when you could introduce solids, not when you had to move a baby onto formula, so hey – why give up just as it was getting really easy? So then I thought maybe one year, but by the time we got to one year I figured I may as well just keep going until my baby decided they didn’t need it any more, same way I had let him decide when to eat solids and start crawling and walking.

5 – Aren’t you worried about breastfeeding ruining your breasts?
Well, hrm, maybe I would be if I was that vain, except that it’s actually pregnancy that knackers your boobs, not feeding from them.  My breasts totally disintegrated during my second pregnancy and I’ve decided to just give up and merrily wait until I’ve finished feeding this baby when I can abandon bras altogether and either tie them into a neat bow or just tuck them into my waistband to stop them jiggling about.*

*Disclaimer – I think my husband might actually object to this. He’s only recently mastered the art of undoing a bra one-handed and likes to show off.

So there you have it – five of some of the sillier questions I’ve been asked on this topic, but I’m sure there are any others I’ve forgotten about in my post-baby haze.  Remember, it’s better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.

The List

Life of a country lady

Despite having been born and brought up in the London suburbs I now live in a sunny little market town in leafy Oxfordshire and consider myself to be very much a country girl.  As all good country girls know, to be truly a part of the community one has to be involved in some kind of voluntary activity, whether that’s an animal charity, the local preschool, the naice CofE church or, as in my case, a support group for new mothers in need of cake, company and the odd piece of advice.

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I started training when The Boy was 9 months old, wanting to pay forward all the help I had received immediately after his birth.  The training was emotional and thought-provoking and I was lucky enough to be doing it with a group of women whom I liked, admired and grew to love.  The kindness and compassion with which they treat/treated each other and the women who come to our group always leaves me feeling uplifted and creates an atmosphere of immense calm and strength which has been commented upon numerous times.
FB_IMG_1433602563390Yesterday I was helping out with a fundraising activity for our group – an animal treasure trail for children which ran around the beautiful village of Brightwell-cum-Sotwell (hyphens compulsory, so an inhabitant tells me, if you don’t want your internet spam filters to shut you out repeatedly whenever you enter your address).  The weather was hot and sunny with a cool breeze – a perfect Saturday in June – the kind of Saturday, in fact, that we rarely actually get in June. Families were happy and relaxed, the cakes were varied and plentiful, the Pimms and tea were flowing.  English country bliss with the leaves rustling in the trees and the sound of children playing.
To quote the poets of their generation, Blur, (don’t tell The Man, he’s on the Oasis team and can never forgive me for preferring Damon to Liam) I was filled with a sense of enormous well-being. And then I came home and made some scones.


Wallingford Baby Bar (previously Wallingford Baby Cafe) runs every Thursday 12-2pm at the Ridgeway Church, Wallingford. It is free to attend and provides support to mums about breastfeeding and related issues such as tongue tie, weaning, sleep and going back to work.  So far we have helped over 500 mums since we opened in November 2012