Thursday, 29 December 2016

Being Prepared Part 4: The Baby Bag/Baobao's Sleepover Bag

We'll be 37 weeks tomorrow and I've been really focused on being prepared this week. As well as the hospital bag for myself, I also need to prepare bags for Baobao and Xiaobao. Baobao's bag will be filled with the items that she will need to stay at her grandparents, where as Xiaobao's bag will include those essentials to use while we are in hospital. 

Once again I used the lists I received in my Project B box and the NCT to fill the bag. I added a few bits and took some things away. There are also things my husband or I will have to grab when I am in labour.

The Baby Bag

  • A good stack of nappies
  • Biodegradable nappy sacks
  • Four sleepsuits - Can you be too prepared? Probably not 
  • Four vests
  • Several pairs of socks
  • A blanket
  • Three muslins
  • Water wipes
  • Baby towel
  • Going home outfit
  • Gifts for Baobao
Baobaos Sleepover Bag
  • Two sets of pyjamas
  • Four complete outfits
  • Towel
To organise when in labour
  • Put car seat in the car
  • Put baby on board sign in the car
  • Put blanket in the car
  • Put Baobao's bedtime toys into her bag
Is there anything else you included or will be including in your baby bag? What did you find was unnecessary?

Monday, 26 December 2016

Being Prepared Part 3: The Hospital Bag!

On Friday, we will reach 37 weeks. I'll finally be full term and more than ever before it's hitting home that Xiaobao could get here any time.

With Xiaobao nearly being here, I've been thinking about being prepared. One of the most important things to prepare, is your hospital bag. I received a list from the leader of the NCT ante-natal classes that my husband and I attended with Baobao. Various mum's had added to it. I have done the same, as well as removing some things that after going through this the first time with Baobao, I feel I won't need.

I've split the list into the items that are in the bag now (divided into items for labour and items for my hospital stay) and items that my husband will need to grab when labour starts. 

Hospital Bag
Items to use at home (before going to hospital) 
  • Hot water bottle
  • Old t-shirt/nightie that makes me feel comfortable and safe
  • Whatever underwear I own that still fits
  • Flannel, to help cool me down
  • Hairbands and hair clips, as my hair is very long and will annoy me when it starts to get in my face
  • Water sprayer with lavender and clary sage essential oils. Lavender is calming and helps to reduce tension and anxiety. Clary sage can make contractions stronger and more effective.
  • Lip balm
  • Sanitary towels
  • Snacks 
  • Fruit juice in cartons and bottled water
Hospital Stay
  • Loose change for vending machine, telephone, TV etc
  • Towel
  • Flip flops to use in the shower & as slippers
  • Pyjamas, as I don't like feeling "free" when it's that time of the month
  • Thin dressing gown
  • Warm, fluffy socks
  • More old underwear that I don't mind throwing away 
  • Maternity pads
  • Toiletries - shampoo, conditioner, hand sanitizer, tooth brush, tooth paste, mouth wash
  • Face wipes
  • Andrex washlets and a jug, to pour water down below when peeing
  • Make up - face powder
  • Nursing bras - I've gone for sleep bras, as I want to wait to measure once milk has come in
  • Snacks 
  • Hair brush
  • Reuseable nursing pads and wetbag
  • Pregnacare Breastfeeding +
  • Going home clothes - something loose and comfortable that goes over your stomach, just in case you have an emergency c-section
  • Wetbag to store any dirty underwear/washing that is salvageable
  • Entertainment - I'm taking a gentle parenting book, but if Xiaobao's labour is anything like Baobao's then I'll be absolutely exhausted by the end.
Items to grab once in labour
  • Medical notes
  • Birth plan, which I have laminated 
  • Music
  • Charged camera
  • Hot water bottle
  • Gaviscon, if acid reflux is still this bad :(
  • Mobile phone and charger

What did you include in your hospital bag? Is there anything that you found helpful that I have left out, or anything I have here that you thought was useless?

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Being Prepared Part 2: The Birth Plan

The Birth Plan... My other half has told me that very little of my birth plan seemed to actually be referred to during Baobao's birth. You would think this would mean that I wouldn't have one for Xiaobao, but I do think that the birth plan has a purpose, even if the medical professionals don't actually refer to it. It serves as a way for you, as the person going through labour, to think about the options you have and how you would prefer your labour to go.

It also allows your birth partner to be your advocate. By the time I had an epidural with Baobao, I had been in labour for 35 hours. I was hysterical and had to be held down by four members of staff and my other half. My partner was able to quickly make the decision to have the epidural go ahead, because we had clearly thought about and discussed our birth plan.

Just as with my hospital list and baby list, which I will post next week, my birth plan follows a template outline provided by my NCT ante-natal class leader. I also used the NHS's own birth plan generator, to clarify some of the wording in my birth plan. In spite of the intervention I had to have with Baobao, I would still like Xiaobao's birth to be as natural as possible and my birth plan reflects that.

During Xiaobao's birth

1st Stage
  • I would like to give birth in a maternity team unit in hospital. 
  • I would like low lighting. 
  • I would like to be alone with my birth partner when possible. 
  • During contractions I intend to close my eyes and focus on my breathing. It would be helpful to be in complete silence and for my birth partner to hold/massage me. 
  • I would like to find the best positions for myself and change this as I wish. 
  • I will be using a birth ball and yoga mat. 
  • I would like to try and rest between contractions where possible.
  • I would like monitoring of the baby to be kept to a minimum unless there is cause for concern.
  • I would like interventions such as stretch & sweep, vaginal examinations, breaking waters, to be kept to a minimum. 
  • I would like my birth partner to be informed of the reasons for any interventions. I would like information about any proposed medication to be given to my birth partner before I receive it, including the purpose, potential side effects on me/the baby and options on timing e.g. before or after the baby is born.
Pain Relief
  • I would like to try to manage with minimal pain relief. I would like to primarily use Entonox (gas and air). I will consider the use of diamorphine. I will only consider an epidural as a last resort.
  • I would like to use breathing and relaxation, massage, moving around, shower to manage pain and to be given lots of support to help with this. 
  • I welcome words of encouragement and support with breathing and visualisation. 
  •  I will find it useful to be told how labour is progressing 
  • I wish to be very centred on myself at this stage and to have no intrusion. 
  • Gentle support and firm guidance will be appreciated. 
  • Information on progress and caring support will be helpful. 
  • I would like to be reminded that it is nearly time to push and to meet my baby. 
  • I will try to adopt a useful position and focus on my breathing

2nd Stage 
  • I would like to find my own comfortable position for pushing 
  • I wish to know when the head is crowning 
  • I will appreciate firm advice and guidance at this time to guard against too quick a delivery to prevent a tear. 
  • If my birth partner wishes he can look when the baby’s head is visible. 
  • I do not wish to have an episiotomy unless vital. I would like my birth partner to be informed of the reasons for and against. 
  • If possible I would like my birth partner to catch the baby. If not, I wish the baby to be passed on to my birth partner and for him to place our baby on to me straight away without being cleaned. I would like to offer skin to skin immediately after birth 
  • I wish the cord to remain attached until it stops pulsating. 
  • I would like our baby to have the vitamin K injection 
3rd Stage 
  • I wish the baby to suckle to encourage the third stage. I would like to attempt biological nurturing. 
  • I wish to deliver the placenta physiologically 
  • If there are signs of haemorrhage then I will have syntometrine/ergometrine as necessary 
  • I hope to avoid this, but if one occurs I would prefer to be stitched If stitching is necessary I do want a local anaesthetic to be administered prior to stitching. 
  • I and/or my birth partner will discuss all eventualities as they arise. Please share any concerns with us as soon as they arise. 
  • It will help us to know the answers to these questions: 
    1. What is wrong? 
    2. What do you suggest and why? 
    3. What would be the possible outcomes with and without this intervention? 
    4. How much time do we have to make a decision? 
    5. Are there any other courses of action open to us? 
  • We will be guided by your balanced, informative advice. We want a healthy baby and mother and will take all necessary steps to achieve this.

Caesarean Birth 
  • In the event that a caesarean birth is necessary I would like to have a spinal anaesthetic. 
  • We would like to have a commentary of what is happening for the whole time spent in theatre 
  • We would like the theatre to be as quiet as possible at the moment of birth 
  • I would like our baby lifted out onto me, if possible my birth partner to place his/her hands on the baby as she is lifted out. We would like to hold our baby immediately 
  • I would like to put our baby to my breast whilst the operation is in progress. 
  • If a general anaesthetic is used, my birth partner would like to put the baby to my breast as soon as possible. 
  • I prefer to have dissolvable stitches to be used to close the wound 


  • We would like our baby to stay with one of us at all times 
  • We would like to be consulted if our baby needs to go to special care and I would like my birth partner to accompany the baby. If the baby needs to go to special care we would like to be taken to her as soon as possible after the operation
  • In the post-natal ward I would like to be offered regular pain relief which does not conflict with my desire to breastfeed. This includes not being given a drug that will make me too drowsy 
  • We do not want our baby to be given any artificial milk. I intend to breastfeed on demand and I would like our baby with me at all times 
  • We would like to do all the baby care ourselves. If this is not possible I would like one of us to be present when our baby has a nappy change or bath 
  • I would like to receive breastfeeding support before leaving hospital
  • I would like no visitors
Did you have a birth plan? Were there things you did differently on your birth plan?

Monday, 19 December 2016

KonMari Challenge Week 11: CHILDREN'S LEARNING

Educational resources for children was always going to be a tough category for me. As a former EYFS teacher, I had lots of resourcesand books that I thought I could use with my daughter, especially as I have been considering homeschooling once she is old enough.

In the end, I only discarded about half of the books and some of the resources she has outgrown. At this point it is still too difficult for me to discard objects with a learning value behind them. I did, however discard the elephant alphabet chart and the Fisher Price eggs after the initial discarding session.

Resources and books before
Books to discard

Books after
Flash Cards 
Math Manipulatives 
Science Kits/Microscopes 
Puzzles before

Puzzles after

Puzzles to grow into
Educational Signage 
Lesson plans 
Lap Books 
Fine motor skills before

Fine motor skills after

Resources after

Sensory play before

Sensory play after
Portfolios, Report Cards, Completed Projects/Workbooks
Are you taking part in the KonMari process? How did you find sorting through your children's learning resources? Did you find it as difficult as I did, or did it make you question your decision to homeschool?

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Tot it up

Recently, an advert popped up on my Facebook news feed for the Infant and Toddler Forum. They're running a new online tracker for toddlers (1-4 years) called Tot It Up.

If you're like me, you'll be constantly worrying if your toddler eats enough. Tot it up makes it incredibly easy to see if they are. Each day you enter the food they ate for each meal.

There's even a section for whether they have had their vitamin D supplement that day.

There are multiple food groups to choose from. Some foods are missing, and there isn't the option to scan it in like adult food trackers, but I found you can make adequate substitutions. 

Once you have chosen your food, you can then choose the amount that they ate. The quantities tend to be a little inaccurate, but are very visual in their description. I found checking the amounts on the portion size table really helped.

There is also a space for tracking how much activity your toddler does each day. It's split into different activities, such as dancing, toddler groups and walking. 

At the end of each day, there is a useful summary of the different food groups your child ate. I found it really useful, as it shows how much of each food group Baobao should be having every day, as well as showing me which food groups she was missing out on. 

The best part, for me, was the fact that Tot It Up offers a weekly summary. Just like any other toddler, Baobao has days when she eats more and other days when she eats less. This goes for different food groups as well. We had a day when she ate two portions of mash potato, followed by a portion of cottage pie, so her carbohydrate intake was huge. The Tot It Up summary allowed me to remember that it all averages out and if I struggle to get her to have enough milk or protein on one day, tomorrow is a new day.

The Tot It Up summary has definitely put my mind at rest on food groups. It shows that over a week at least, Baobao is having roughly the right amounts of all food groups. 

There are a couple of things we need to work on though. 

  1. Unfortunately, the majority of Baobao's fruit and vegetable intake comes from fruit. I need to work on offering her more vegetables throughout the day.
  2. Baobao definitely doesn't drink enough in a day. Water is always on offer and milk is offered with most meals and at bedtime, but she will only drink about 3 cups each day. I'm hoping with encouragement, I can slowly increase that amount.
  3. Baobao completely refuses her Vitamin D supplement. I need to remember to hide it in foods, such as porridge and homemade smoothies, so that I know she is getting enough.

Have you tried the ITF Tot It Up Food Tracker? Did you find it put your mind at rest or worry you more? 

Monday, 12 December 2016

KonMari Challenge Week 10: CHILDREN’S BELONGINGS

With Christmas just around the corner and Xiaobao due to arrive in January, week 10 couldn't come soon enough. Over the last year, I've thought more carefully about the type of toys we want Baobao and Xiaobao to have, as well as our parenting/educational philosophy.

For Baobao, we wanted to keep natural, open ended toys as much as possible, that both Baobao and Xiaobao could play with for years to come. For Xiaobao, we wanted to keep natural toys that would aid development in the first year. This made choosing toys to keep quite easy. I have kept a handful of toys that spark joy for Baobao, but do not fully fit in to our philosophy, such as the Fisher Price Eggs, as well as the Duplo, which while not natural, provides so many learning opportunities that we could not discard it.

Since discarding some of Baobao's toys, she has played more carefully and for longer periods with the toys that she does have, confirming our choices and philosophy.

All toys before
All toys before

Books before

Books after

Building Toys 
Building toys before
Building toys after

Dolls/Figures/Soft toys
Dolls/Figures before
Dolls/Figures before
Soft toys/Puppets before
Soft Toys/Puppets after

Reality Toys (Kitchen Sets/ Tool Benches) 
Kitchen before
Kitchen after
Kitchen after
Kitchen after

Dress up after

Balls before
Balls after

Cars before
Cars after

Musical Instruments 
Musical Instruments before
Musical instruments after
DVDs before

DVDs after

CDs before

CDs after


Cloth Nappies
Cloth nappies before

Cloth nappies after

Cloth nappies after

Bath Toys 

Bath toys before

Bath toys after

Baby swing/bouncer/play mat 
Baby toys before
Baby toys after

Your Childhood belongings 
Give your children who have moved out their belongings 
Electronic toys before (none kept)

Shape sorters before (wooden one kept)

Movement toys before

Movement toys after

Miscellaneous before

Miscellaneous after

Toys kept
Toys to sell/donate

Are you taking part in the KonMari process? How did you find sorting through your children's belongings? Did you support your children to discard their own belongings? Do they continue to spark joy for your children?