The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is an independent humanitarian organisation that is directly responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and helping some of the world’s most vulnerable people, such as those living in countries affected by conflict. This includes sanitation work to prevent the spread of the disease and supporting vital health infrastructure such as hospitals. It also involves working to ensure access to clean water for countless communities and resilience-building activities to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.
HOW TO SHOP WITH KLARNA
Klarna gives you different ways to pay for your ASOS orders – so you can shop easier, and budget better.
To pay for your order with Klarna, tap ‘Change’ under payment type when you’re in checkout. Then tap ‘Add New Payment Method’ and add your chosen Klarna payment method. Place your order, and you’re done – £1 of your purchase will automatically go to the ICRC!*
Plus, don’t forget to share this one-day initiative with your friends and family, because every little bit counts.
*Only applies to eligible customers 18+ years of age in the UK, Germany, USA, Norway, Finland and Sweden. Klarna will donate to the International Committee of the Red Cross £1 from every successful ‘Pay 30 days later’ or ‘Instalments’ purchase made through ASOS on 29 April 2020.
TIME TO ADD SOME COLOUR: Cool (printable and free!) colouring sheets.
We’re currently in lockdown, here in the UK, and while the weather has been pretty good (now thats unprecedented!) the kids always need something to keep them occupied during that rare and scarce downtime. As so many of us are working from home or have other children that require more 1:1 care, colouring sheets are vast becoming something of a life-saver and a bit of routine too!
We’ve found colouring sheets really fun – they’re also a great way to encourage a little bit of mindfulness. A bit of time to zone out. I’ve personally done my fair share of colouring sheets too – when accidentally on purpose printing out one too many for Eli. A lot of our favourite small brands and businesses have created their own colouring sheets, printable, and for free, using their signature styles and branding. Some of these sheets are perfect for colouring and popping up in your windows to brighten the day of your neighbours and those passing by. Some of these sheets might also be nice to colour and send to those that you’re missing or as a little “hello” note for neighbours or perhaps (like us) you have a local nursing home that are accepting artwork to spark a little bit of joy for residents.
Also, just to add, these colouring sheets are predominantly aimed at the kids, but let’s not lie to ourselves when we say that “we’re printing them for the kids”. Because they’re really good when you’re a fully fledged adult too. Whatever that is…
Without further ado, I have compiled a list of all my favourite colouring sheets so far. I’ll continue adding more as they crop up.
Enjoy colouring – and let me know which you’ve done!
Since Edie was born in August, we’ve used ETTA LOVES products with such great success! So, I just had to write a Brand In Focus post on all the amazing items that we’ve been able to test in real life.
Who is ETTA LOVES?
I love to champion a family-run business and ETTA LOVES is precisely that; founded from the sofa by Jen Fuller whilst feeding her first-born daughter, Etta. Jen quickly realised that a 4 week Etta’s gaze was locked onto a black and white jumper she was wearing – it was the first thing her daughter had concentrated her focus on, that wasn’t a face.
Something clicked and the ETTA LOVES creativity began. All of the ETTA LOVES range is carefully designed with actual science.
“Babies are born with fully formed eyes however they are not born with the ability to see clearly. This develops with time through practice and the forming of critical eye-to-brain connections.
Because of this, at birth babies are attracted to high contrast, large scale patterns but as the weeks and months go past their vision improves steadily and the world starts to appear in more vivid detail and colour.
At Etta Loves we use the knowledge of what babies can and can’t see at various stages of their visual development to design patterns that support their incredible discovery of the world around them. It’s why our patterns are often described as magical, as babies are calmed and mesmerised as they try to make sense of the fascinating shapes and contrast before them”.
Your baby is, quite literally, spellbound by science with the ETTA LOVES designs. The range started with Muslins as Jen knew how you ALWAYS need one (or two, or three!) on hand at all times.
We have this 3-pack of Animal print muslin’s – and they’re the ultimate multitasker! Not only are they mega soft (that Bamboo-Cotton is magical in its own right!) but they’re mega functional too. Use them as usual for spills and snotty noses and for when you need those moments of calm. I can’t recommend these muslin’s enough! Even after washing what feels like a million times, the quality is still the same. Edie was completely taken by the prints straight after they were out of the box – they’re the first things she’s learnt to focus her gaze with. The Etta Loves magic knows no bounds here! We tie the muslins to the side of the play gym/pram/cot/back of the car seat to keep Edie mesmerised (which also gives us a few minutes peace to sit down and drink that hot cup of tea – which is so important!). The science behind the designs is really quite something – they catch the eye of everyone we come into contact with, so the print also works on adults too! Stylish AND scientific, you can’t get better than that!
What ETTA LOVES say:
Triple pack of super-soft sensory muslin squares in high contrast black and white patterns. Designed to the millimetre to support babies’ cognitive and visual development between birth and around four months.
The ultimate multi-tasker also delivers sensory calm through our scientific patterns.
Pack includes 1 x zebra, 1 x starfish and 1 x Dalmatian design presented in our stylish box packaging.
Each muslin is 60cm x 60cm.
Made from: 100% viscose from bamboo.
“Muslins are so omnipresent for the first year of life, and beyond, so when you add in how multi-functional they are and the close proximity they come to a baby’s face it made sense to start there and make them do something far more valuable than just mop up baby yuck!”
JEN FULLER, FOUNDER OF ETTA LOVES
Eli is 7 and still uses a muslin for spills or when he’s got a cold – proof that this is product that you’ll be using for a long time after those new-born day’s are over!In times where we need to think and buy in more eco-friendly ways, its a good job that the muslin’s are designed to last – and even better when a muslin is as stylish as the ETTA LOVES designs.
We absolutely LOVE this knitted blanket in zebra print and wish it was made in adult sizes for us too! I’ve never felt a softer knit, which Edie loves to snuggle into. It has a gorgeous hand-feel, which hasn’t decreased since washing several times – just superb quality. We love how the science behind the design keeps Edie calm as she begins to drift off to sleep. It looks looks mega cool in the pram. It would make a great newborn gift too!
What ETTA LOVES say:
Our first knitted blanket delivers super-soft sensory stimulation, for calm snuggles at home or on the move.
Our zebra print is designed to support babies vision from birth to 4 months old.
Soft, snuggly and sensory knitted blanket in high contrast black and white zebra print. Designed to the millimetre to support babies’ cognitive and visual development between birth to four months.
Perfect for in the home or on the go, keeping snuggly and calm at the same time.
100cm x 80cm with black edge (white edge on reverse) in our stylish box packaging.
Much like the muslin’s, during a meltdown, we can guarantee this Comforter calms Edie. The print, plus the soft bamboo cotton against her cheek, immediately mesmerises her to sleep. We’ve washed ours plenty of times now and again, it still looks and more importantly, FEELS, brilliant.
What ETTA LOVES say:
Super soft, super cute comforter in clever zebra print that your baby will want to keep in their hands and near their eyes. Babies not only love the clever zebra pattern but will also fiddle with the cute floppy zebra ears, providing an additional sensory experience.
Our zebra print is designed to support babies visual and cognitive development from birth to around 4 months old.
40cm x 40cm double lay knotted muslin.
Made from: 100% viscose from bamboo.
CLICK TO SHOP >> ANIMAL PRINT PLAY-MAT
reversible: 0 to 4 months and 5+ months
I was first of all struck by the stylish look of this play mat as it fits in perfectly with our decor – but its actually the science and design consideration of this product that mesmerises me (never-mind Edie!). The fact that the design is illustrated so carefully for brand new baby eyes is a real winner for us – its made Edie cope so much better with tummy time- she loves this dalmation print, her eyes widen and she is immediately transfixed! Really wish we’d had this for Eli 7 years ago as he absolutely deplored tummy time! The mat allows us time to get on with bits around the house or EVEN sit down for a few extra minutes while Edie is captivated by the monochrome print. We also love that from 5 months the mat can be turned over to further the eye development with the colour side – how clever is that?!
The mat itself is really soft, a great size and has lovely padding for the comfort of your babe. It rolls up easily for storage and carting around when travelling. Oh and you can whack it in the washing machine too – which is very important – as all new parents will understand!
What ETTA LOVES say:
Our playmat provides perfect stimulation for tummy time and playtime. Reversible dalmatian (0-4 month print) and leopard print (5+ months) in soft organic cotton with a comfy padded fill.
Designed specifically to support babies’ visual and cognitive development throughout their first year.
The pattern also encourages your baby to use their back, neck and shoulder muscles (helping them prepare for rolling and crawling) as you’ll notice them trying to push up to make more sense of the print before them.
Comes in our gorgeous box packaging with a band to hold the mat together when rolled up – making it perfect for home and away.
Size: Circular – 1m diameter
Made from: Outer – Organic cotton. Inner: Polyester padding
Machine washable to make your life easier too.
“OUR MAGIC IS BY DESIGN, NOT CHANCE”
“From the colours we use, the scales within each pattern and the placement and space between each shape, everything is designed on our consultant Orthoptist Laura’s recommendation to support your baby’s visual and cognitive development.
As a result, our patterns will look different to your baby from week to week as their vision develops. This is the magic of Etta Loves and what makes us unique in the world”.
JEN FULLER, FOUNDER OF ETTA LOVES
So as you can now tell, we’re big fans of ETTA LOVES in our household. We can’t recommend all of these products enough. They would all make great gifts for loved ones. And remember when you buy from a small business, you’re supporting a family. And that always feel’s nice. Even better when the products are this clever and functional!
What Jen has created is really quite extraordinary – especially for such a young and small brand! What ETTA LOVES has accomplished in the 3 short years that its been going is amazing and I honestly can’t wait for the new products to launch next year. Jen, you and your team of specialists are so very clever and you have helped a lot of families and babies learn and grow. That is really quite epic!
THE ETTA LOVES TEAM
JEN FULLER – FOUNDER
Founder of Etta Loves and mum to Etta and her little sister Uma. I started this business to give parents the gift of calm and babies pure wonder through our sensory patterns. I want to make everyday moments easier, calmer and super sensory.
LAURA – ORTHOPTIST
Mum to Sophie and Thomas, Laura has 20 years’ experience as an early years orthoptist (or specialist in children’s vision development to you and me). She has provided in-depth knowledge of the first 12 months of a child’s visual development, to ensure that every pattern, colour and scale we produce is led by science to delivery the sensory magic.
SHRUTI – DESIGNER
Jen met Shruti through NCT. Shruti is a phenomenal designer. She’s the super stylish one in the group, whose baby Kiran looked effortlessly cool since day dot. Once Jen and Shruti agree on the theme and style of a new pattern, she uses Laura’s expert input to create the stunning designs.
Samia has a wealth of experience in the children’s wear market, so brings her unique knowledge to the team to help grow and drive the brand forward. She is also critical in helping Jen make product decisions and giving the confidence to reach for the stars
THE ETTA LOVES STORY
Sat on my sofa with a heap of mucky muslins by my side, I realised that 4-week old little Etta was staring at my top. It was the first thing I’d noticed her actively trying to focus on and unsurprisingly it was a simple black and white pattern.
After a month of trying to rotate black and white clothing (which got both difficult and boring) this got me thinking; why aren’t the most seen items by babies designed to stimulate them and capture their attention? And why wouldn’t you use medical knowledge of babies’ visual development to make them the best that they could be at doing this? And while you’re at it they should be stylish.
Etta Loves was created to turn everyday essentials into sensory sensations, by using the science of what babies can and can’t see to create clever and stunning patterns. The result is that babies are mesmerised and supported in their visual and cognitive development, whilst parents benefit from a priceless moment of calm.
For clarity, I was kindly #giftedall products that are highlighted in this post above, by ETTA LOVES.
This is not a sponsored, paid post or an ad and I was not obliged to write this blog post or link back to the ETTA LOVES website. I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m in love ETTA LOVES as much as Edie is!
We bought this “Born in 2019” body suit ahead of Edie arriving. In fact, it was the very first item of baby clothing I did buy. I’m not keen on kids clothing, adorned with cartoons and the like. We prefer to keep slogans understated and to a minimum – so this baby grow celebrating Edie’s year of birth was spot on!
Part of the H&M CONSCIOUS collection, this body suit was just £3.99 and will make for a lovely memento. The actual body suit on its own has now sold out, but you can buy a similar body suit as part of a cute 3-piece set:
CONSCIOUS. Long-sleeved bodysuit, a pair of trousers and accessory in soft organic cotton jersey. Bodysuit with press-studs at the crotch. Trousers with wide fold-over ribbing at the waist.
If you’re looking for a gift for a newborn, this would be perfect.
Edie has worn this body suit a few times – it works well with those comfy little leggings and with a pair of dungarees too. We have this one, also from the H&M CONSCIOUS collection, in a few colours. Above, Edie is wearing the Dark Grey version.
Today marks National Rainbow Baby Day🌈 and it’s hard to believe that almost 2 years ago (to the day) I began miscarrying a very much tried for and loved baby.
A rainbow baby is a baby born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss. These babies are the rainbow after the storm – bringing hope, promise, healing, and remembrance.
1 in 4 pregnancies end in Miscarriage – its THAT common. Whilst this is a day to celebrate, I also wanted to just highlight our own Miscarriage journey for those who have experienced, or are currently experiencing, the trauma of Miscarriage . All my posts are linked here >>> MISCARRIAGE & ME.
This special celebration is a way for mothers (AND fathers / partners / families) across the country to share their experiences, grieve, reflect, and most importantly, celebrate the joy and love for their miraculous Rainbow Babies. A Rainbow Baby brings hope to so many – beautiful examples of how a woman’s body and mind can heal after pregnancy or infant loss. These newborn babes do not heal the hurt, pain or strain of a loss, but they remind us to celebrate life and find joy. They are a rare treasure.
I sit and type away, right now, with my darling baby girl laid next to me – our beautiful Rainbow Baby that we thought would never come. As I look at Edie, I can’t help but think about the sibling she and her brother will never meet. It’s difficult not to look at her and wonder who was in in my uterus before her, and after Eli. It’s difficult not to wonder – not to wonder who they might have been. But then I think again, if we hadn’t lost, would we be where we are right now? Would we have Edie at all? While I would have obviously never wished for a miscarriage, maybe it was a painful bridge we had to cross to get to the love and joy of our new baby girl. This teeny, tiny human, that I’m having trouble with sleeping beside, because I just can’t stop staring at her. This teeny, tiny human that has made our little family complete – that has made Eli a Big Brother – nay, an AMAZING big brother that we’re just in awe of.
Edie will always be a little bit special 🌈 and that doesn’t mean we’re forgetting about the one we lost. But it definitely does make us feel like the luckiest parents on the planet to have our two glorious children.
Sending love and luck to those who have yet celebrate the arrival of their own Rainbow Baby. Edie is proof of joy after loss, don’t let go of your own hope 🌈
I feel so bloody chuffed to be finally writing a POSITIVE birth story. Despite beginning our Hypnobirthing journey at 25 weeks pregnant, I think its fair to say that I doubted how this labour would pan out. I had a traumatic birth with Eli that lasted 30+ hours due to induction at 42 weeks. I won’t go into the story of Eli’s birth, because I have made ‘peace’ with it now and its not healthy to continue to dwell on it (hiya Mum-Guilt, great to see you again).
So I’ll push the previous history to one side and start from the beginning with Edie’s birth now.
I had initially set out to avoid ALL intervention with this pregnancy, including any sweeps. I’d had 4 failed sweeps with Eli and felt it was a pretty pointless procedure, in my opinion. I voiced this in my birth preferences and talked through interventions with my community midwife team. Instead, from around 35 weeks I started drinking in my all of the Raspberry Leaf Tea, I started eating 6 dates a day and then when we hit 37 weeks, I started taking a bath on an evening infused with Clary Sage essential oil, I started eating fresh pineapple (including the core, ‘cos Bromelain), I added Clary Sage to the oil diffuser with lavender, we added Clary Sage to Cowshed body oil and massaged it into my bump and ankles (!!), I used my Medela Swing for 5-10 minutes on each breast in an attempt to stimulate oxytocin and continued to go to bed and meditate using my Positive Birth Company MP3′s.
But at my 40 week appointment, I was HOT and beginning to feel a bit fed up. When asked if I still wanted to decline any intervention….I said “sod it” and agreed to a one-time sweep. Just to see…
I was advised if anything was to ‘happen’ it would do so within 48 hours. Obviously, all of the above are old wives tales – Hypnobirthing science aside, of course! Nothing is going to push your body into giving birth. Your baby will come, when your baby is ready.
At 1pm, 48 hours (practically!) to the minute, I started to have what I thought were Braxton Hicks. Eli and I hauled ourselves into my bedroom and I whacked Friends on whilst he played on Minecraft. We had lunch and I kept an eye on the frequency of the surges (contractions). They seemed regular. I opened up the Freya App on my phone and began timing the surges – they were lasting 30 seconds or so and were 6 minutes apart. I convinced myself this wasn’t labour and decided it would be a good idea to tidy the entire house, hoover, clean my bedroom window and then sew up a pair of James’ trousers that I’d been putting off.
Now it was about 4pm and the surges had continued to stay regular throughout all my weird nesting chores. I texted James and asked him to keep an eye on the trains (we’d had dreadful local flooding the day before) but assured him that I was fine and it ‘probably’ wasn’t even real surges. By 5:30, the surges were more frequent and lasting 40-60 seconds. I texted James and asked him to leave work because the surges were lasting longer and had become more powerful (painful). I was really feeling the effects of ‘Up Breathing’ at this point – I couldn’t get through a surge without it.
James got home just after 6:30pm and made me beans on french toast, incase I was in labour. Then he fannied about making tea for himself and Eli. Meanwhile, the Freya App told me I was in established labour…
By 7pm, the surges were less than 3 minutes apart and I was reallllllly feeling it. I had two paracetamol (LOL) and made James get a rush on with eating his tea and sorting Eli out. Of course James was ridiculously laid back about all of this! By 7:30pm I got in the bath and I asked James to ring Maternity Triage to ask for advice. We both spoke to the Midwives on Triage – they were so lovely and advised I should go in to be assessed.
I said my goodbye’s to Eli – and he kissed the bump for the last time. He told me he was proud of me and that I MUST remember to keep breathing! (I did). He grabbed his suitcase, iPad and monkey and off he went on his own adventure next door!
At 8pm, we were in the car making the 10 minute journey to Stepping Hill Hospital. I had the soothing tone of Siobhan Miller in my headphones and whacked on a eye-mask so I could concentrate – I’d also added Clary Sage and Lavender to one of Eli’s old muslin’s to breathe in. I’d convinced myself I must have been about 5-6cm, especially as the surges were so close together now.
We made it to Triage just after 8:15pm and were immediately seen. I really struggled with the examination due to the frequency and power of my surges. It took my Midwife, Deb, a little while to get me on the bed to be assessed. Eventually she managed and announced that I was JUST 1cm dilated. I couldn’t believe it. If this was barely the beginning, I had absolutely NO IDEA how I could cope with the rest of labour. I had to knock that doubt straight out of my head and by 9pm, we were on our way back home.
James put candles around the bedroom, closed the curtains then on the oil diffuser went. I kept the Positive Affirmations MP3 going via my headphones, rocked back and forth on my birth ball and we continued to time the surges. By 10pm James noticed that my breathing had changed and kept putting me back on track. Sadly, I couldn’t deal with him massaging my back or doing the light touch we’d planned on – I was completely in the zone, kept my eyes closed, and was doing exactly what my body told me to do.
By 11pm, I couldn’t cope with the sheer power of the surges and there was little to no break between them now. I had to switch off the MP3 at this point because some of the affirmations weren’t totally relevant. Instead, I used my visualisations (of St. Ives beach! and also of the placement of my favourite positive affirmation cards around the house) and I kept repeating my favourite affirmations to myself: ‘my surges cannot be more powerful than me, because they are me‘ and ‘every surge brings me closer to my baby‘. I got James to ring Triage again, they advised that being in our home environment for as long as possible would be better than going back to the hospital again – especially as it had only been 2 hours since we left (and my waters were still in tact).
Reluctantly, I continued to labour at home – we knew I was in real labour so I turned off my phone and the Freya App which had proven to be so invaluable during and up till this point. By 11:30 I found I had too much discomfort in my coccyx and it felt like my bladder was overly full – but I couldn’t pass urine (I couldn’t get off the ball to get to the toilet to be truthful!). I’m not gonna lie here, I was in total agony. My breathing had changed once again and I was actively ‘Down Breathing’, James kept trying to bring it back to Up Breathing, but there was no chance. I was screaming out as I reached the peak of each surge now too. It was an animalistic release – which brought me a real relief too.
I was thinking I needed an immediate Epidural – or even better -to be knocked out for a C-Section. I felt like I couldn’t go any longer*. There was no way any other drug would help me now. I needed my baby to come out and we HAD to get to the hospital. Then POW my waters broke. It was a massive gush of warmth down my legs, which I ignored and continued to breathe and bounce. Thankfully, my waters were clear. PHEW.
*I now understand that what I was feeling here was TRANSITION.
Transition is the final phase of the first stage of labour, following early and active labour. At this point, a woman progresses from seven to 10 centimetres, often in less than an hour. The word transition means that her body is making the shift from opening the cervix to the beginning of the baby’s descent.
As I’d been induced with Eli and the midwives failed to break my waters on no less than 3 occasions, I had no experience of what it felt like to have your waters break naturally. It was absolutely crackers – it was a big pop towards my public bone and I knew then, that she was coming. James rang Triage and told them we were en route again and my waters had now gone.
It took me about 6 minutes to get from our bedroom to the car on the drive. How I managed to get down the stairs I will never know.
Outside was so eery. It was midnight and there was a low cloud – you could barely see in front of you – it was completely silent. James drove SO carefully to the hospital – I screamed at him “this is one time you’re allowed to rag the car about!”. It was quite honestly like a film.
But he kept his cool. He has since admitted he didn’t think I was much further along than the 1cm, so he was relatively laid back.I do have a reputation for over-dramatising situations – so this isn’t his fault.
We got to the hospital and he parked up. I couldn’t get out of the car. I was screaming through my surges and my body started pushing down. I had no control over the pushing. It’s what my body wanted to do. Once through the hospital entrance, James grabbed a wheelchair. I jumped onto it, on my knees and he dragged me to the lift. There was another woman behind us, who was apparently also pushing. She waited for the next lift.
James tried to get me through the double doors once at Triage, but he was struggling, so I jumped off the wheelchair and ran into a room, stripped all of my clothes off and got on the bed, on all fours. I announced I was Hypnobirthing and pushing.
Deb, my midwife, who I’d seen only 3 hours earlier, was attempting to calm me down so she could assess if I was indeed dilated enough to be pushing. She said she could see the baby’s head and that she was going to coach me through the pushing. Sarah, the second midwife on Triage came in and let us know that the lady behind us was also pushing and she had alerted the Delivery Suite about the two of us. But it was too late for me – I was going to give birth in Triage!
I pushed Edie’s head out in 3 pushes – 2 pushes later she was completely out – shocked, but blinking. She’d been born in the wrong department, 10 minutes after arriving. I scooped her up between my legs and rubbed at her little body. She wasn’t breathing – Deb cut the cord and grabbed a towel to try and rouse Edie. After a minute or so, Edie was taken away to Resuscitation.
As we’d not been able to have delayed cord clamping because Edie had rushed into the world, I used my B.R.A.I.N and agreed to having Active Management of the placenta. Deb administered the injection of Syntocinon and began massaging my tummy. A few minutes of surges and pushing later my placenta was delivered. While the placenta was in tact, Deb noticed that out came a gush of meconium with it. This indicated that Edie had passed her first bowel movement with the stress of coming out so quickly.
We were all shell-shocked.
It felt like a lifetime before Edie was brought back to us.
When she was finally placed in my arms, I relaxed down. I felt the biggest rush of love, EVER. I’d done it. I’d given birth to our daughter, using Hypnobirthing tools and without any pain relief whatsoever. I’d gone from 1cm dilated to giving birth in the space of 3 hours.
I couldn’t believe it.
I still can’t believe it – almost a fortnight on. It still feels like a totally surreal, but serene, experience. Kind of out of body. I can remember every single detail. Which is something I am missing from Eli’s birth, due to the amount of drugs that were administered.
Deb finished cleaning me up and then we were taken to the Delivery Suite (ironically). Once there, Edie was taken to the warming cot by my new Midwife Eileen, who took bloods and called a Paediatrician down. There had been issues with the PH gasses of the placenta, meaning Edie needed some extra monitoring. Eileen was an Irish midwife who was just the biggest and brightest soul. She was old school and simply magical.
There was a struggle with getting the right amount of blood from Edie so more specialists were called. Remembering my Hypnobirthing kept me as calm as I could possibly be. James didn’t leave her side – he held onto her tiny hand while Eileen repeatedly checked my stat’s and then called for a Doctor to repair the 2nd degree tear I’d received. After a fairly shocking Episiotomy (that landed me with blood poisoning and a week back in hospital following Eli’s birth), a specialist was required for the repair job. I finally got my hands on Gas & Air. I did as I was asked and took 10 deep and quick breaths on the gas, I shouted that it didn’t work in that oh so familiar low-tone and then felt that floating feeling. My Doctor, Sarah, started stitching, I could feel it, so I got my breathing in order using Up Breathing and sailed high and free. Bliss.
I didn’t want to hand the gas back, but Eileen made me. She then brought that Tea and Toast… so all was forgiven!
This experience was so far-removed from my previous labour and recovery. For one, James was addressed at every single opportunity. Which made such a difference.
Eileen ever so sweetly grabbed my toiletry bag from my case and started unpacking the shampoo and conditioner so I could have a shower with everything I needed. It’s such an intense relationship that you form with a Midwife, in such a short time. I felt so overwhelmed with love and support from Eileen – I could actually cry right now, remembering how she cared for me.
We weren’t rushed at all; given all the time we needed, but by 5am, it was time to head to the postnatal ward, MAT2. I went into a wheelchair, pulled by Eileen, holding tightly onto Edie who was now bundled in blankets and her very first baby grow. A red knitted hat was given – this was intentional – we later found out that different coloured hats meant different things. For us, the red hat was a signifier for staff that Edie had needed special care (as well as keeping her little head warm!). We said our goodbye’s to Eileen and settled into the cubicle on the ward. James was even allowed to stay – again, this meant the world to us as he’d been sent straight home following the birth of Eli.
6am and James was snoring in the corner, I watched the sunrise through the gap in the curtains and felt the most intense love for this little human in my arms.
At 6:30am I was introduced to Emma, the Midwife on duty – she took mine and Edie’s stat’s and I was given Paracetamol for the after-pains you experience post-birth. We were also shown to the family kitchen, which was stocked to the brim with breakfast foods and an array of tea’s and coffee – of which James was allowed to access too. I was soon given a menu to choose my main meals for the rest of the day. We were then left to chill for 3 hours until our stat’s were repeated again. I tried to sleep, but it was warm and loud as new patients were added to the ward – along with people having their own stat’s read. I couldn’t stop staring at my new sweet baby girl anyway, so nothing was going to interrupt or impact on that!
By 9am, James wanted to grab Eli from our amazing neighbours next door and freshen up. At 11am he returned and our glorious children met for the very first time.
To say I was emotional at our little family all meeting for the first time, would be a total understatement. I cried the happiest tears I imagine I’ll ever cry. I am so proud and so happy and so full of love, I’m not sure how I haven’t burst yet!
As Edie had needed special care, she was closely monitored by specialists – they found that her temperature was going up and down (only very slightly), but enough to warrant an extra night in hospital.
This was completely fine by me. It was a welcome stay. I wasn’t rushed out – in fact, the nurses told me we could stay as long as we wanted to! This really helped with my anxiety and stress. I felt like we had real personal care here – by professionals who were passionate about our wellbeing. We weren’t just another ‘number’ – which is how we felt at the hospital where we had Eli. (I am trying not to dwell on that past experience!)
Unfortunately, our first night, just us two, was not so successful. Edie screamed the ward down from 11pm until around 6am. I think she was over-tired and nothing I could do would overcome that. Two midwives came to the rescue and she eventually calmed down. I tried my best not to get stressed over it, but when you’re on a ward, its difficult to not worry about everyone else! I ended up walking up and down the hospital corridors for a few hours. As soon as I fell asleep, James and Eli arrived for the day.
We had a full day of monitoring to get through before we were allowed to go home. Edie’s temperature eventually stabilised and all my stat’s were good. We then had a the Newborn hearing test and as Edie had received special care, a Paediatrician had to sign her Newborn Check off before we were discharged.
Everything was signed off and we were given the A-OK to head home in the evening!
We got home and all our neighbours came out to greet us. We had fish and chips and we all slept mega soundly. It was just the perfect start to our new family life.
In complete honesty, I would not have had the same pregnancy OR indeed birth experience without The Positive Birth Company. I may not have had any of the TEN birth scenario’s that I wrote preferences for, or planned for (didn’t get to use the LED tea lights, playlist, oils or massage, birth pool or delayed cord clamping) but this was still such an incredibly positive birth. An amazing labour and birth and so far, postpartum period.
From the Digital Course to reading the daily positive birth stories, I would not have been able to do it without the PBC and the Freya App. I felt so prepared and at ease this time around. I was genuinely excited for Edie’s birth and I’ve probably never felt more ‘zen’ in my entire life – which is quite the statement, coming from me. I feel a peace with both my birth experiences and the Hypnobirthing tools I learned will live with me forever! I’ve even used several affirmations and the breathing techniques since having Edie.
I have never, felt so empowered and strong and brave in my entire life – and I doubt I ever will feel like this ever again.
So thank you Siobhan and the PBC for allowing me to have confidence in myself and my own decisions. I cannot recommend The Positive Birth Company enough. From our little family of four to you Siobhan, THANK YOU!
For clarity, I was kindly #gifted The Digital Course by The Positive Birth Company. This is not a sponsored, paid post or an ad.
I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m in love The PBC!
I’ll try and be brief with the introduction here, because I’m doing my upmost to avoid all and any negativity right now!
(I’m currently 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant).
My pregnancy with Eli wasn’t straight forward. We had a lot of complications and constant monitoring. We were high risk. Then came labour. I won’t go into the details, but I had a pretty awful and traumatic labour with Eli. I was induced at almost 42 weeks, I had no say in the labour, it was an agonising 30+ hours with every intervention possible. It all ended in a whirlwind of a dodgy episiotomy and ventouse that saw the room fill with 15+ people and before the threat of emergency C-Section.
It was VERY medical. I was never given options – I accepted what was told to me, because heck, Doctors know best, right?
We knew no different. We actually thought it was a ‘normal’ labour!
Following the stress of Eli’s pregnancy and in hindsight, the trauma of his birth, plusmy miscarriage in-between; falling with this my third pregnancy, I KNEW something had to change.
My anxiety was through the roof when we began trying again; despite my medication and an abundance of self-help. The anxiety was surely inevitable following a miscarriage, yes. But the anxiety surrounding labour didn’t need to be there. This is where Hypnobirthing comes in…
I started researching into Hypnobirthing properly as soon as I got the second line on that pregnancy test back in November 2018.
My initial belief was that Hypnobirthing was all about being hypnotised during labour… L O L. No, it’s definitely nothing to do with being hypnotised. But after reading the birth stories on forums and blogs, I still sat on the sceptical fence… I mean, what even is this HIPPY, DIPPY, BALONEY?!
The more I read, the more I became obsessively intrigued by it. To the point where, yep, you guessed right, my anxiety surrounding labour took a real back-seat.
Having used The Yes Mum cards for daily affirmations I ordered the book: Your Baby, Your Birth. I would pick the book up and fall asleep and it became clear I needed something more engaging. I also wanted to do something that James could get involved with at the same time. Local classes were really expensive and not at convenient times for us. It’s certainly worth mentioning here too that James found my labour with Eli horrendous. He felt totally helpless and all he could do was sit beside me with his hands turning white under my constant clench. Him being there was all I needed at that time, but he will be first to admit that its scarred him somewhat – he definitely experienced birth trauma too. This time he wanted to be helpful, to have a real role in my pregnancy and subsequently, the labour.
Then pops up The Positive Birth Company on Instagram. Boom. I began following and was hooked. Incidentally, Siobhan had been following me too and very kindly offered for us to give her Digital Course a try.
I obviously jumped at the chance! I’d read that starting a Hypnobirthing course would be best from 28 weeks onwards. But as we had it at 25 weeks, it seemed daft not to begin straight away.
Once my profile was all set up on the Digital Pack, I familiarised myself with the platform. From a user point of view, it’s a really neat and simple platform first of all. It’s organised perfectly and so easy to use. The branding is spot on too – which really helps when you’re trying to learn but also ‘zone out’, the colours and fonts used are quite obviously well-thought through. I was so impressed with how thorough the course looked – six sections with everything you could ever possibly need to know (and more!) surrounding pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond.
It came to bedtime so we grabbed the laptop, put candles on and cosied up in bed with the first of the 6 sections in the Digital Pack. Each section is from 40-60+ minutes long. So you want to dedicate some real quality time to this. We decided we would look at one section a night – where possible; spreading it over days where needed, so it wasn’t too much information at once.
We were immediately into it. Siobhan has such a gentle and clear tone – plus the information was exceptionally thorough and we really, really enjoyed learning. We were pausing videos along the way to recap what we’d learned so far- and again when we had decisions to plan between us. Learning to use more positive ‘birth language’ still has me on my toes at times – for instance, we refer to contractions as a Surge – it just rids the questioning of any negativity and apprehension that could slow labour down. Likewise, talking about the ‘power’ of a surge, as opposed to the amount of pain I’m in, will help me to understand how my body is working to birth my baby – allowing my body to be in total and instinctive control of the labour.
I think we’d both agree that one of the most interesting sections for both of us was the SCIENCE section. We both learned SO MUCH about the female body and what it goes through during pregnancy, labour and birth. I honestly can’t believe I’ve reached the age of 33 , having had one child, not knowing some of the actual childbirth process. I feel like Siobhan really needs to take elements of this course into schools – its been a true education for us!
One of the best bits of this course has been getting to grips with the roles each of us will ‘play’ once labour begins. My only job here is to remember my Up & Down breathing and to keep calm, relaxed and at ease. Whereas James has an actual list of things he will be seeking to fulfil – something he’s genuinely excited about and so grateful to have responsibility for; especially following the helplessness he felt during my labour with Eli.
It’s also worth highlighting here that Hypnobirthing isn’t just for ‘normal’ vaginal delivery – this is an education that will take you through all aspects of labour, whether that be via water, land or theatre – whether thats planned theatre or unplanned. The relaxation tools and techniques will enable you to have confidence in your OWN decisions during labour and birth (and postpartum too!). The tools will give you back the control of your labour. This feeling of being in full control is something that I’m finding very empowering after such a dreadful labour with Eli.
After completing all 6 sections of the Digital Pack, you can quickly review specific sections in the Course Notes Booklet (which you can download and print – we’re taking a copy with my Maternity notes) – which is great for back-referencing. There are also a series of MP3’s included too, which have been so invaluable during my pregnancy – especially these later weeks when I can often get into bed feeling deflated. I listen to the Positive Affirmations for Pregnancy MP3 on repeat when I’m in the bath or for an hour or so, as soon as I get in bed. This normally soothes me into a lovely slumber (before I’m awoken shortly after for my first loo-trip of the night!). I can imagine this MP3 being perfect during labour – I’d been looking at Spa Music to play – but actually, I think I’d prefer to have the MP3 running in the background as a reminder that I’m getting closer to meeting my baby.
On top of all of this, you also get a (now editable!) downloadable PDF template for highlighting your birth preferences; should you wish to prepare any. Obviously, you can do this yourself, but the sections on the template are perfectly set out and clear to read in a rush. My midwife was very impressed when I presented them at my 36 week appointment (!). My birth preferences have completely changed since starting this Hypnobirthing course – and again since reading the positive birth stories on the closed Facebook community page (which you also get access too once you sign up for the course!). Reading these stories every day has been so helpful in cementing the notion that I CAN do this and I WILL do this – whenever my baby decides is the right time.
To surmise, I can quite honestly say that this Digital Course has changed our lives. Obviously; we have the birth bit to come. But I have to say that the course, by @thepositivebirthmama (and her amazingly soothing voice), has provided such wisdom, scientific facts, relaxation tools and the foresight to retain control this time; for both @jameshill.tv and I. Weirdly, I am actually excited for labour to begin – however and whenever it does happen✨ And I most certainly would not be feeling this way had we not studied this course. I’m not even sure I would have gotten through the last 20 weeks so easily without it either. How many people can say that?
Thank you so much @thepositivebirthcompany for making me feel so different this time around – and the tools you’ve taught us both will continue to be helpful for life in general postpartum, I’m certain 🖤 We’re both shocked at how informed and relaxed and prepared we feel.
I will be doing a full write-up post-labour, however it pans out! But for now, I cannot recommend @thepositivebirthcompany enough. Currently pregnant? You MUST go forth and seek for yourself!
MORE FROM THE POSITIVE BIRTH COMPANY
Upon completing the course, I purchased the Little pack of positivity directly from The Positive Birth Company website. Each pack contains 28 cards, each with a positive affirmation for pregnancy. I immediately placed the cards around our house where I would see them as a little reminders; reducing anxiety and boosting confidence around birth. The more confident you are, the more relaxed you will feel. The more relaxed you are the better your birth will be.
Now that I’m mentally prepared for labour – I also wanted to share the accompanying App by the Positive Birth Company. The FREYA app is currently available on the App store. I’ve used it frequently when tracking Braxton Hicks – again, its simple to use, effective and we know this is going to be an essential when labour begins for real. During the timing of surges, the Up Breathing soundtrack is so useful – especially if you don’t want your birth partner to attempt to do it for you (we tried and I found James’ voice too distracting – and we also creased up when he attempted to read out the positive affirmations too).
“Freya is the world’s first hypnobirthing-friendly surge (contraction) timer and virtual birth partner. She will coach you through each surge with a simple breathing technique and help you to relax in between with positive affirmations, calming visualisations and guided relaxation. The more relaxed you are, the more efficient and comfortable your labour will be. Freya will help you to remain calm and in control throughout. She will also keep track of how frequently your surges are coming and how long they are lasting. She will even let you know when it might be a good idea to contact your midwife! Freya will be with you every step – or surge – of the way!”
Expert hypnobirthing teacher and founder of The Positive Birth Company Siobhan Miller has made it her mission to change the way women around the world approach and experience birth. Through her teaching she seeks to educate and empower women – and their birth partners – so that they can enjoy amazing and positive birth experiences, however they choose to bring their babies into the world.
Siobhan debunks common myths about hypnobirthing and explains why she believes it can make every type of birth a better experience – from a water birth at home to an unplanned caesarean in theatre.
So, what is hypnobirthing? Essentially, it’s a form of antenatal education, an approach to birth that is both evidence-based and logical. Hypnobirthing certainly doesn’t involve being hypnotised; instead, it teaches you how your body works on a muscular and hormonal level when in labour and how you can use various relaxation techniques to ensure you are working with your body (rather than against it), making birth more efficient and comfortable.
Siobhan’s advice and guidance will change your mindset and enable you to navigate your birth with practical tools that ensure you feel calm and in control throughout.
By the time you finish this course you’ll feel relaxed, capable and genuinely excited about giving birth.
As I sit bounce on my birth ball and write this post, I am currently 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant.
The “Any news?” and the “How are you feeling today…. ?” and the “Any twinges?” and the “Any sign of movement?” and the “Do you think it’ll be today?” and even the “ARE YOU IN LABOUR?!” messages are coming in thick and fast. In fact, they’ve been coming in thick and fast since around 35 weeks. Granted, the influx of messages this past week isn’t helped by my stint on BBC Radio 1 with Scott Mills & Chris Stark; that was my bad. But also, imagine this, 5 weeks of daily messages that aren’t really helping with my precious Oxytocin* levels.
*Oxytocin is the ‘love hormone’. The hormone we release when we feel good. This exact same hormone is responsible for every single surge we experience during labour. The hormone that drives your labour is Oxytocin – so we want to ensure our body is filled with Oxytocin!
I know the messages are well meaning and I know they’re from a good place, mostly of excitement for us all, which is lovely! Even when its from the random ‘friend’ with whom you’re “friends” with on Facebook, but haven’t spoken to since you left school or the SECURITY GUARD in sodding Waitrose! I’ve been polite and responded with my favourite affirmation, “My baby will come when my baby is ready”. – Which I know has caused some annoyance, but it is a true statement and it’s my go-to affirmation! Let’s be honest though, we really aren’t going to forget to message or indeed announce the arrival of our little babe. Honestly, we won’t…. Unless the messages and calls and comments keep coming, in which case, maybe we won’t tell you anything 😉 (To say that, The First Fourty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing a New Mother is looking very favourable right now, would not be an understatement 😉 haha)
So, with this all in mind, my phone is either on silent or on Do Not Disturb…or perhaps I’m resting/nesting/napping/busy hanging with Eli. And if I do happen to open a message regarding the imminent arrival of our little one, even if its sent under the clever guise of “How are you doing today? Not as hot, which must be great for you!“, then I’m truthfully sorry, but I just cannot reply to these messages or comments any longer. James will update you instead. I’ve already taken myself away from social media (if you hadn’t noticed). The pressure of going into the later stages of my ‘due window’ and receiving daily communications like the above is driving me to distraction. I was tempted to switch my phone off completely… but I would assume that reaching the answer phone would only stir up additional excitement. So Do Not Disturb and having James monitor my messages it is. This might sound drastic or even dramatic, but in the most polite of terms, I have to put myself first now. I struggle with anxiety, and I’m dealing with all-sorts in me head as it is, so from my own personal perspective, this is just something that I need to do.
Being ‘overdue’ is exactly why we should be given a DUE WINDOW – or a ‘due month’. Every NHS provider here in the UK will allow a woman to reach 42 weeks before any medical assistance. And even then, we can decline intervention of any kind, unless there is a medical necessity of course. Therefore your ‘due window’ ranges from 37 weeks to 42 weeks. As my sister pointed out the other day, women have been giving birth for millions of years without assistance – they’ve also been giving birth without a specific time slot for the baby’s arrival too.
The obsession on due dates is mind-blowing. The pressure on women to give birth by an exact date is ridiculous. Dates can be wrong, really wrong. My cycle following my miscarriage went from being a standard 28 days to anything up to 35 days. I don’t know the exact moment I ovulated and I don’t know the exact moment I conceived this little babe. My body is not a robot, and neither is my baby. So how on earth is the baby meant to know when to arrive?! She doesn’t get an alarm clock in there that goes off at 40 weeks. In actual fact, here in the UK, only 3-5% of babies are born on their ‘due date’. Thats potentially 97% of women going into the later stages of their own due window. This is quite commonplace. And even though I’ve been doing alllllllll of the old wives tales (Curry, Pineapple – of which has now severely blistered my tongue, x3 cups of Raspberry Leaf Tea a day, 6 dates a day etc), NOTHING will kickstart labour unless the mother is relaxed, calm and at ease. Any slight stress or apprehension, (darling family and friends, I am really sorry, but the messages are included here) WILL stop labour from starting. This most certainly happened with Eli so I have been doing EVERYTHING I can to avoid the trauma of Eli’s labour and birth happening a second time around – with Hypnobirthing playing the integral part here <<<< That will be my next post.
So, until I’m stress-free and relaxed, my baby will not release the hormone, Fibronectin. Yes, this is getting very Science, but as I said, this is not down to me, this is all precise science. Fibronectin is the protein produced by the baby which is released into the amniotic sac. This protein is then picked up by the cervix and given the go ahead to start labour. My baby quite literally knows when and how to be born.
Here is a list of things keeping me busy in the meantime:
“My baby will come when my baby is ready” – by literal means, as mentioned above. I trust that my baby and my body will work together when the time is right. My baby is cosy and healthy and safe in there right now. She’s still kicking the crap out of my ribs and undercarriage. So thats the main thing!
Cleaning and tidying, again.
Probably re-packing my hospital bags for the 100th time.
Waking every hour during the night to empty what appears to be a full bladder that comes from god only knows where.
Ordering a take away because its too hot and I’m too tired to cook.
Enjoying the final days/weeks of my pregnancy – I feel so lucky to have had these last 9 months with my bump (despite the sickness, the additional appointments, the SPD and despite the hot, hot heat!). If this is the last time I’m pregnant, I really want to treasure it in the final stages.
Most importantly of all, I’m cherishing being able to hang out with our nearly 7 year old boy who’s life is also about to be turned upside down when his little sister finally decides to arrive. The Summer holidays have fallen at just the right time for us – so I’m treating these final days, just us two, as a real luxury.
I know and understand its difficult to be patient when you’re excited for us – we’re desperately trying to be patient too! And also please know, that this post isn’t meant to cause offence, its more just a way to update you all with were we’re at. I apologise profusely if this does offend; this is sincerely not my intention and I really hope you can all understand. We honestly appreciate all of the kind words and messages; I will look back over everything when the babe is here 🙂 James will also be in touch when anything of significance happens. And we promise we won’t forget to let you know when she does to decide to arrive Earthside.
Which you never know, could always be sooner than we think 🙂
When it comes to a new baby, regardless of whether its your first or 5th child, you will ALWAYS need to buy new things/newborn safety products/textiles/GENERAL STUFF. Plus, there’s always something new thats come out to make life as a new parent easier too.
When we had Eli, we were pretty organised. We love a spreadsheet and we love a bit of market research as it happens too. Getting organised was a real pleasure and never, ever a chore. We spent a lot of time researching exactly what we needed and using the spreadsheets helped keep us in check with budgets too. Once you’re into the swing of this new parenting lark, you will realise that there are more items that you simply cannot live without. You won’t know this until the baby is earth-side and understand how your baby works and what their additional needs may be. You’re learning on the job basically.
When it came to this pregnancy we were obviously excited to get organised again. We pulled out the pram and got it cleaned up. Went through all the old furniture, toys and essentials. As there is a 7 year age gap between our two children, some things we had sold, donated to charities or as we sadly found, a lot of the remaining items had actually perished (yes, you read right, we’ve actually had plastic items, electronics and textiles perish) after 5 house moves and their years in storage. Out came the old spreadsheet and we continued to add to it as we remembered all the items we really could have done with in those early weeks/months with Eli. SO many new items have launched since we had Eli in 2012; that will definitely help us and keep our little family unit afloat amongst the newborn chaos that will very soon ensue.
So? Whats this a bout a wishlist then?
WELL, stranger on the internet, I just had to share the secondary helper in all this organisation. Let me introduce you to >>>The Amazon Baby Wishlist.
Firstly, this has been great for us to keep track of what we still need to buy and what we’ve managed to get. Amazon is usuallythe cheapest place to find items; with the exception of individual retailer sales and promotions. We always cross-check before we buy online. But in general, Amazon.co.uk is our go-to! Its been great for budgeting too.
So? What’s so good about it then?
Well, let me talk you through how it works!
// CREATE YOUR WISHLIST
This is mega simple to set up with your details, including potential baby arrival date. You can have a few users who can participate in adding to the wishlist – this is helpful for when James and I are both looking at different items and can easily see what eachother has found. You can also see what has been purchased too (this is great when you’re sharing the wishlist, but I’ll get to that bit shortly).
// ADD ITEMS FROM ANY WEBSITE OR BROWSE THE AMAZON CURATED LISTS FOR RECOMMENDATIONS
The curated lists are really helpful, especially for first-time parents!
// PLANNING ON A BABY SHOWER? OR SIMPLY WANT TO SHARE YOUR LIST?
This is a great, great tool! You can easily share the link of your wishlist with friends and family so they know *exactly* what you would like, or in our case, exactly what we NEED. This also means you’re not getting duplicate items from well-meaning gift-givers or items that you really don’t need or have the space for! Thus saving your friends and family time and money too.
// FINALLY, ADD ITEMS AS YOU GO AND KEEP TRACK OF EVERYTHING IN ONE PLACE
As mentioned earlier, this is great for when several users are adding to the list. Again, also useful to see what’s already been purchased – especially when you’ve shared your list with friends and family, so no duplicate items! James has a tendency to delete items from the list once purchased. But there’s no reason why you can’t leave items on the list as the status changes to “Purchased”.
And thats not all!
FREE WELCOME GIFT
An exciting new gift is released each month, choose one and make it yours.
Claim yours here >
Prepare for baby’s arrival by saving up to 30% on a wide range of baby items.
// Spend £200 to receive 10% off. Use code WISHLIST10
// Spend £500 to receive 15% off. Use code WISHLIST15
// Spend £800 to receive 20% off. Use code WISHLIST20
// Spend £1000 to receive 30% off. Use code WISHLIST30. (Prime members onlY)
We managed to take advantage of the 20% code above – it worked out so well – especially as we had been given gift cards too. We managed to get £800+ worth of items for £360 in the end! There are several terms and conditions to being able to take full advantage of the codes above however – so make sure you read all the details here. Our main issue when trying to checkout was the delivery, oddly. For this promotion to apply, you need to make sure you select the same delivery option for all items being shipped, for example, all items must be dispatched to you using FREE delivery or all PRIME etc.