Friday, 23 March 2012

If you do one thing today... save your life

Sorry to be crude but if anyone is going to see me spread my legs it's going to be my husband and in the comfort of our own home. Even during pregnancy no one had to look 'up there' until I was in labour. So it shouldn't be a surprise that I'm one of thousands of women who put off having a smear test.

Mine was long over due before I got pregnant and when I got a reminder letter 3 months after Baby M's arrival I put booking a smear test right to the end of my very long to do list, ok not right at the end, but behind going to the dentist, ironing and watching paint dry.

This morning I logged on to Facebook and saw a post from an acquaintance letting everyone know she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer. She's young, a mum and a wife. A bit like me really.

Having lost a few good friends to cancer it scares the hell out of me. Fortunately I also have friends who have been diagnosed and successfully won the battle. Every day fantastic research mean the odds of having successful cancer treatment goes up. More and more people are surviving.

To get the best chance of beating cancer you need an early diagnosis, which is why it's so important to have smear tests, check your breasts for lumps and go to the doctors about any nagging concerns.

5 minutes after reading the Facebook post I booked my smear test. If yours is overdue please call your doctor now and book yours. It's a matter of life and death. Literally.

And when you get off the phone try and find one more person to book theirs.

Fortunately for my acquaintance it was caught early and her prognosis is good. Her girls are upset and struggling to understand, but there is a good chance their mum is going to be around for years to come.

Why not help with the research into curing and preventing cancer while you are at it?

In the UK you can donate £3 to Cancer Research UK by texting the word BEAT to 70099*

thank you

*You will be charged £3.00 plus one message at your standard network rate. From most users Cancer Research UK will receive £2.99 from each text donation with a minimum £2.81 being received dependant on your network operator.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Review: Funky Giraffe Bibs

Baby M wears bibs a lot. Not to eat, but because of the frequency and quantity of her spit up. In the last few months she has been sick less (probably due to less frequent feeds and her insides maturing) which has meant that I have noticed the huge amount she dribbles.

I have seen lots of babies in bandana bibs and thought they looked interesting, but I wasn't convinced they would help much as I hadn't seen any plastic backed ones.  With the dribble increase I finally decided I should give them a try.

A review of one of the more expensive bandana bibs on Amazon said that they were ok, but that funky giraffe bibs were cheaper and more absorbent . So I googled them...
Baby M modelling the pink bib

Funky Giraffe bibs have a wide variety of patterns and at only £10.60 for 5 including free uk delivery I thought I would give them a try.

I ordered them on Tuesday morning and they were delivered by my friendly postman Wednesday morning. I'm impressed with both the company and Royal Mail for that.

Baby M wore one all day yesterday (except at nap times) and I think I'm sold on them. Her neck was mostly dry and regardless of how soggy the top got the fleecy underside always felt dry.

I'll see how they hold up on a really bad day and after washing, but for now they definitely get a thumbs up.

The other 4 bibs I ordered

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Baby Sensory

In the never ending pursuit to find activities that get me out of the house and keep the little one happy we recently started Baby Sensory classes.  Baby Sensory has classes throughout the UK.  At £60 for 10 classes they aren't cheap, but they are cheaper than a lot of activities out there.

We have been to 2 sessions so far, including the free taster session, and Baby M is really enjoying them (even if tired or hungry at the time).  The class leader is Madeleine Grand and she is brilliant.  She is like one of those completely over the top children's TV presenter types. Looking around the 20 or so babies faces during the sessions they all stare at her utterly transfixed.  

Each session starts and ends with the same song to provide some routine and the rest of the session contains a variety of activities with songs, music and lots of things to touch and look at.  So far we have played with feather dusters, bubbles, lights, pom poms, had a tea party and a lot more.  

At nearly 6 months Baby M can be fascinated for ages by a crisp packet (obviously as a good mother I wouldn't let her have one, ahem), but there is something great about handing over the responsibility for your babies entertainment and development for 40 minutes, but still sharing the experience with her.

Next week is an Easter special.  I'm expecting bunny ears, chicks and rabbits...

Friday, 16 March 2012

First foods the Baby Led Weaning Way

From about 4 months Baby M has been trying to steal food off my plate.  I guess this isn't surprising since she wants to put everything in her mouth though.  For the last 2 months I resisted the encouragement of my peers to spoon baby rice into her and spend hours preparing a range of "tasty" purées because I wanted to wean my baby the baby led way.

In case you haven't heard of it (and a surprising number of people haven't) it's incredibly simple: you wait until your baby is able to feed themselves. It means that your baby can go straight on to normal food (with a few exceptions).  It allows babies to play with their food, experiment and eat at their own pace with milk (boob or bottle) still being their main food until they are ready to reduce it.  The definitive book is Baby Led Weaning by Gill Rapley which explains the process and the science.  A brief overview and recipes are available in the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook.  I strongly recommend reading one or both if you are interested in the approach.

Just a quick aside: I am a strong advocate of Baby Led Weaning, but I think weaning is a deeply personal choice.  Parents have to choose what time and approach is right for them and for their baby.

Last week we were out for lunch and Baby M reached out to my pizza. She pulled off some tomato and started "eating" it, she then picked up a piece of mushroom, followed by some pepper and onion.  She chewed on them for a bit and then dropped them on the floor (BLW is messy).  After this I decided that she was probably ready.

Last weekend I started giving her food.  I think the first meal was some steamed tender stem broccoli.  One of the strange things about BLW is you don't know how much they have eaten (as opposed to dropped on the floor or mashed into their clothing or highchair) until you look at the nappies.  I was amazed that right from the first meal her nappies showed she was swallowing more than I expected.  

So far we are loving it.  She has tried everything I have put in front of her.  I've not had to spend hours preparing food (she's had variations of what I've had). And best of all, unlike my friends going the purée route, I don't have any stories of pursed lips, trying to encourage the food into the baby and I can eat my own food at the same time.

Top two tips so far:
1. Watch the salt content of food.  Babies between 6 months and a year shouldn't have more that 1g of salt a day.  Salt is hidden in a lot of food eg a slice of bread can have half a gram in.  Check the labels of any food you don't make yourself
2. A great highchair is Antilop from Ikea because it's cheap and easy to clean (£10.99 for the chair plus £4 for the tray).  We have a more expensive chair which I plan to use later, but I've switched to the ikea one for now.  Once you recognise it, it's surprising the number of restaurants etc that use them.

Edit 11th April 2012: I have started a new blog about Baby Led Weaning, you can find it here: Adventures in BLW

Some pictures of Baby M enjoying her food
A different flavour in each hand: pasta and strawberry

Yummy roast sweet potato

A relaxed approach to egg and toast

Back in the saddle...

Originally my maternity leave was due to finish in 2 weeks time.  I'm so glad that I postponed my return to work until September: I'm really not ready to leave my baby yet.  Baby M is currently working hard on crawling (so far she can do slow commando style) and we started on Baby Led Weaning a few days ago.  She is changing so quickly I would hate to miss out.  And then there is the breastfeeding which I'm not even slightly ready to give up.  I know the remainder of my leave will fly by so I need to make the most of it, both to enjoy my baby and get ready for my new role as working mum.

Since Baby M was born I have been continually behind on everything.  Before I go back to work I need to be one of those supermums.  The type that keep the house tidy, do all the washing, the cooking and manage to look after themselves and the baby.  I'm not even sure I can become this person, but I guess I will find out.

Stage 1:
This week I started running again.  I have encouraged some of the girls in my NCT group to do it for support as well.  I'm following a very gentle couch to 5k plan (from Running Made Easy).  I followed the same plan 2 years ago.  It's perfect for getting the post pregnancy bodies back on track.

Keep the house vaguely respectable and cook dinner at least twice a week.

Make slightly more regular updates to this blog.  Even once a month would be an improvement.