Saturday, 23 December 2017

Second baby - natural birth story

Me and my daughter

I’m back and this time with another natural birth story which will come in two parts, the actual birth and then what happened very soon afterwards…

My last birth experience was so positive and despite what everyone says about not comparing pregnancies and labours as they can be different, you can’t help compare the two experiences.

My last pregnancy at 36 weeks, I was in preterm labour with strong contractions and had my son at 37 weeks (you can read more about this birth experience here) so this time at 35 weeks when the Braxton Hicks I had been experiencing started to become more painful I knew immediately that this was the start of preterm labour.

After an appointment with my midwife and explaining the pain I was in, she advised me if the pain were to become too unbearable to go to the hospital labour ward for monitoring.

And that’s exactly what I did – from 36 weeks, every week, I turned up at hospital to be monitored. However despite the pain I was in, my contractions were never consistent and unlike labour pains, the contractions didn’t grow longer, stronger or closer together. So I was sent home and was told to come back once the contractions become more frequent or painful.  It was incredibly frustrating, I was in so much pain but I had to be patient and let my body go into labour naturally. 

Anyone who has been pregnant knows this isn’t as easy as it sounds and week on week I was becoming more tired and fustrated about the position I was in. History was repeating itself as I was only 2cm dilated and my waters hadn’t broken so my membrane was still intact. 

At my next hospital visit I requested a membrane sweep as a way of trying to bring on the labour and avoiding an induction. A sweep was done at 37 and 38 weeks with no success. By 39 weeks, the pain was unbearable and at 39 weeks 6 days, I woke up at 2am in the morning with contractions lasting longer, stronger and closer together. I knew this was the start of labour and I was ready to have the baby!

My plan was to have a natural birth in the midwife led birth centre at my hospital with no pain relief. We arrived at the birth centre at around 5am and after being examined we discovered I was 3cm dilated and baby’s position was on its side. Now my contractions were more regular but they were not quite frequent enough so the midwife advised me to walk around. She suggested walking up and down the stairs and side stepping, to get baby in the right position. I spent the next few hours walking and drinking more and trying to rest as I knew it would soon be time to birth my baby.

By midday I was very tired and really wanted the labour to get to the next stage but the baby was not ready to arrive just yet. I discussed with the midwife my options and whether she could break my waters, known as rupturing the membranes, the bag of water that surround a baby. I was becoming more tired and anxious that I would be too exhausted by the time I got to the pushing stage. The midwife talked through the risks involved such as the risk of infection however I felt confident that this would be the right decision for me just as it was in my last labour to break my waters to progress my labour.

I agreed with the midwife to wait another few hours to see if I was further dilated before breaking my waters. When the midwife next examined me, my cervix was 7cm and open enough to have the membranes ruptured. Just like my last labour, it didn’t take long for the contractions to become stronger and more intense and within minutes my contractions went from zero to one hundred. I had gone all these hours without pain relief, just using breathing exercises as a way to manage the pain, as I knew I had to save using pain relief for when I really needed it – and this was certainly the time!

I asked for gas and air, known as Entonox, which although didn’t block out the pain, it certainly took the edge off and was a great distraction whilst having the contractions. When it came to the pushing stage, I stopped using the gas and air and transferred from the birth stool to the bed, as I was beginning to get tired, where I found lying on my side much more comfortable. 

The midwives guided me through and in a few pushes my baby daughter was born within 35 minutes – in the end a much faster labour than with my son. For the third stage of labour, I was given Syntocinon an injection in my thigh to birth the placenta. After the placenta was delivered was when the problems began…

Part Two

Once the placenta was delivered, I started to feel feverish, and intense contractions started again. I knew from my last labour that this was not normal. I was in so much pain I couldn’t hold my baby and both my birthing partners (my husband and mother) became concerned. Within minutes, I started heavily bleeding and it wouldn’t stop. The midwives called the doctors and within minutes the room filled with doctors, nurses, anesthetists and other clinicians. 

I was dipping in and out of consciousness as doctors explained to me I had retained placenta tissue which was causing the bleeding. This is when parts of the placenta and membranes are still in the womb. I was rushed to theatre and given a general anesthetic to have an operation to remove the pieces of placenta that were stuck in my womb. I stayed in hospital for a week as I lost over two litres of blood and was given four units of blood transfusion to recover.

I was in hospital for four days recovering from the intensive surgery and the treatment thereafter; a series of antibiotics, iron tablets, daily injections to prevent blood clots and a catheter which I had to wear for 8 days due to the trauma my body had been through.

Despite this traumatic experience, I have been able to reflect over everything that has happened and I am alive and well and so is my baby, so I am most thankful for this. I am so pleased I was able to have the natural birth I had wanted. With the support of the midwives, I was able to have a calm, peaceful and quick birth. I am also grateful and very thankful for the quick-thinking midwives who acted swiftly and professionally when problems started to occur and the doctors who treated me throughout the period I was in hospital.

After a traumatic experience, there are ways to begin the road to healing, here are a few of my favourites: 

Give yourself time to heal – there is no rush, give yourself time to work through your feelings. Talk to your partner, a relative or trusted friend. A problem shared is a problem halved.

Be kind to yourself – if you have been through a traumatic experience, let yourself experience all the rush of feelings you may get including sadness, anger, disappointment and frustration. Remind yourself this is normal and a way of coping with the trauma.

Reclaim your birth story – I find writing therapeutic and writing my birth story is a reflective way of revisiting my birth experience. It may help you discover something other than the trauma, perhaps positive or empowering aspect of the birth that you may have forgotten.

Get the support you need – If you feel that talking to friends and family isn't enough and that you may be experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) it is important you seek help. You can contact:

Your GP
Your Midwife
Your Health Visitor
A counsellor
Family and friends

If you are unsure exactly what the characteristics of PTSD are you can find out more information on NHS Choices here

If you have had a traumatic birth experience contact the Birth Trauma Association who support all women traumatised by childbirth.

If you want to find out more about blood transfusions or to donate blood to save a life visit NHS Blood and Transplant.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Mother's Day Giveaway with Prettly

Prettly mobile beauty services - image source

Mother's Day is a great way to spoil your mum and though saying a huge thank you with flowers would be appreciated a pamper treatment may be just what a mum needs!

This year Mother's day falls on Sunday 26 March and with the day fast approaching it's not too late to book a treatment for your mum with Prettly, a mobile beauty service that offers high quality and affordable beauty treatments from the comfort of your own home, office or any other location of your choice.

This Mother's Day is extra special for me as it's the first one I'll be celebrating as a mum. And now that I am a mother of an eight month old son, (where does the time fly?!) sadly getting pampered is right at the bottom of my list as there never seems to be enough hours in the day for "me" time! 

Which is why I love the concept of Prettly - Mums with busy schedules can be pampered within the comfort of their own home.
Simply choose from the many treatments available; makeup styles, hair updos, blow-dries, manicures or mani pedis. (And if it's special occasions for a party or bridal hair and makeup, they can offer this too.) Choose a date, place and time and select a beautician and confirm all online, with no cash or tips needed.

Created for women by women, Prettly uses some of London's top freelance beauty therapists, makeup artists and professional hair stylists and are all vetted and tested personally by Prettly. You can browse the team of beauty therapists and see their  ratings and reviews by other customers. 

To celebrate Mother's Day I'm giving away a Prettly gift card for a manicure AND pedicure. So why not treat your mum (or yourself!) this Mother's Day to a day of pampering from the comfort of home?

To enter, all you have to do is drop me an email letting me know why you deserve to win in no more than 50 words. On Instagram? You can enter here too! Just leave a comment on my latest post.

Competition closes on Tuesday 21st March 2017 at 9.00am. 

Look forward to reading all your entries!

*Terms and conditions* 
Open to UK residents only
Bookings cover zone 1-4 in London only so please ensure you are able to book a location that covers these areas
Competition will run for length of date and time indicated on specific competition blog post
The winner will be randomly selected using a selected winner generator 
Competition winner will be notified within 24 hours via email of their win
If winner does not respond within 24 hours, a new winner will be chosen again by random selection 
Winner will receive an electronic gift card to redeem online. 
Further information on Prettly and how to book can be found here
Entry in the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions 

Friday, 11 November 2016

Debenhams Christmas Gift Guide for 2016

Christmas is fast approaching, which means it is time to start thinking about shopping for gifts!

If you are like me then your Christmas gift list will include presents for all the family and friends. I’ve pulled together some great gift ideas with prices ranging from under £10 to £100, so you’ll be sure to find the perfect presents for all.

For Dad
This grow your own chilli kit is the perfect gift for Dads who love gardening. With all the essentials for growing chilli, including a red bucket, chilli red demon seed,  compost and helpful instructions, this is the ideal gardening kit for Dads with green fingers.

For Mum
Perfume is a classic Christmas gift so why not choose a sweet fragrance from Debenhams wide range of gift sets for Mum this year? Looking for a spicy scent? Choose Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps gift set a vibrant mix of spice and floral scents:

If you’re after floral and feminine fragrance then pick Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb gift set, or  choose Marc Jacobs Decadence for a sensual woody scent instead. Whether it’s floral, spicy, woody or something more unique, you are bound to find the scent you are after!

For Husband
Choose a present that your husband is guaranteed to love this Christmas, like an understated but stylish travel bag. Neat, compact and made from luxurious pebbled leather, this John Rocha holdall is the ideal size for a short city break or a weekend away. It comes with two grab handles and detachable cross body strap, multitude of pockets and a studded base. It's the sophisticated way for him to carry his belongings making it is the perfect accessory for your husband.

For Couples
Looking for a Christmas gift for the couple that has everything? Make them both happy with a present they are both sure to love and treat them to this Laurent Perrier Bottle of champagne. Presented in a branded gift box it, comes with two flutes and will make a great gift for any couple!

For Babies
One fundamental Christmas essential for babies is a warmer clothing for the colder months. Keep babies extra warm this winter with a snowsuit from the Baker by Ted Baker childrenswear range. The boy’s snowsuit comes in grey with a padded finish and cosy fleece trim and lining and the Ted Baker girl’s version is cosy and snug with metal bows and super-soft faux fur with matching mittens. 

For teething babies treat them to Sophie the Giraffe, the first teething ring made of 100% natural rubber, ideal for soothing painful gums, baby’s parents will love you forever!

Want to splash out on a bigger gift for baby? Then choose the Fisher-Price Rainforest Friends SpaceSaver. This jumping, bouncy jumperoo isn’t a best selling for no reason, it’s height adjustable, space saving and portable plus includes lights, sounds and music making it is the perfect play time fun for baby!

Looking for a smaller gift that will still make a big impact? Look no further than Lamaze Freddie the FireFly. Perfect for first baby toys, the friendly bug has lots of developmental features to help engage your baby and stimulate his or her senses like clinking rings, tethered ladybug teether and knotted antennae for chewing. It’s the ideal small gift for babies!
For more gift ideas and inspiration visit Debenhams website

Friday, 14 October 2016

Leeds Castle Festive Events

Christmas 2016 events at Leeds Castle

Christmas 2016 is soon approaching and what better way to get into the Christmas spirit then to enjoy some festive activities. An exciting schedule of festive events for all the family to enjoy will be taking place at the spectacular Leeds Castle in Kent this winter. Here is a list of some of my favourite activities:

The Christmas Market
Get into the festive spirit and visit Leeds Castle’s annual Christmas Market. Located on the Cedar Lawn, overlooking the castle and open 10am to 5pm, the Christmas market offers plenty of seasonal gifts, toys, festive decorations, food and drink. There is plenty of entertainment for all the family too: enjoy nostalgic fairground attractions, children’s rides and live music and meet the reindeer too.
3rd-4th, 10th-11th, 17th-18th, 22-23rd December
Click here to book tickets.

Father Christmas at Leeds Castle
Experience a magical day out for all the family and step into the enchanted grotto where Father Christmas will be waiting to greet guests! All children visiting Father Christmas will receive a traditional gift to take home.
3rd-4th, 10th-11th, 17th-18th, 22-23rd December
Click here to book tickets.

Christmas Party in the Fairfax Hall
Celebrate the festive season with a Christmas party in the beautiful surroundings of Leeds Castle.  Join your friends, family and colleagues for a festive feast with delicious seasonal dishes in the 17th century oak beamed Fairfax Hall. The hall will be decked with traditional Christmas decorations and witness the amazing views across the moat to the Castle.
2nd, 9th,15th, 16th, 17th and 22nd December
Dinner from £65 (per person excluding accommodation) Stable courtyard bedroom from £140 (must be booked with dinner)
Click here to book tickets.

The Tales of Beatrix Potter
Come and join the festive storytelling of Beatrix Potter’s classic tales, brought to life for all to enjoy through interactive play. Based in the Castle library, and dressed in character, the storyteller will begin reading from a giant book at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm don’t miss out!
£3 per child (2-15 years and accompanying adult free)
Click here to book tickets.

A Tale of Christmas at Leeds Castle
Relive the classic Beatrix Potter tales on the 150th anniversary of her birth. Miniature displays will appear throughout the castle, as well as interpretation of Beatrix Potter’s writing desk complete with sketchbooks and paintbrushes plus explore Peter Rabbit’s muddy footprints as part of an enchanting trail across the estate.
3rd December 2016 - 2nd January 2017
Click here to book tickets.

Christmas Photo Walk
Wrap up warm and enjoy a walk under the stars for Leeds Castle’s Christmas photo walk. The gardens will be lit up for Christmas and take in the stunning castle and gardens. Professional tutor Robert Canis will be on hand to help you achieve amazing images and best of all you will have access to photograph Leeds Castle’s interior which is impossible to do at any other time.
£60 per person 
20th - 21st December
Click here to book tickets.

For more information on the festive events over Christmas at Leeds Castle and to book tickets visit the website:’s+On/Christmas/

Sunday, 7 August 2016

How to decorate a small nursery

How I decorated my baby's small nursery

Decorating your baby's nursery is such an exciting experience, but can be a daunting one. Whether it is choosing the right colour scheme, furniture, wall art or deciding between curtains or blinds, there are so many decisions to make. 

Many nurseries are limited when it comes to space, so how do you create a practical yet stylish nursery, in a tiny area, without it looking cramped?  It's not about the space itself but how you use it. There are lots of useful tips on how to maximise your small space and here are some of the best ones i've used decorating my son's nursery:

Less is more when it comes to decorating a small nursery room. Finding inspiration on Pinterest is great for sourcing ideas, but it's easy to over decorate a room, especially small rooms. Love the idea of having a nautical theme with navy and yellow colours? It may look great on that Pinterest image you pinned but in a small room, dark colours and strong patterns can  make a room look smaller so I stuck with a neutral palette and decorated my nursery using white, grey and cream.

Accessories - Utilise wall space for storage and install shelves like this shelf unit near the changing station for easy access to items. Also, use the shelves to display toys, books, photos or your favourite decorative pieces like I've done below:

Getting everything you need in a small space might seem like a huge challenge so it is important to make sure that every item in the space serves a good purpose. In other words, if there is no use for it, you do  need it! Be strict with yourself by making a list of the essentials: the three key pieces of furniture you'll need in a small nursery is a cot, changing table/dresser and a chair for nursing. Once you have those three items everything else comes second.  

Minimal decor creates a clean, uncluttered look. No space for a wardrobe and changing table? Then choose a dresser with a changing top like I did, for the combination of storage and an area to change your baby. 

The original dresser came with wooden drawer knobs but I replaced them with these glass knobs instead

Light - our nursery room is small so I needed as many surfaces as possible to reflect light off. Adding a large mirror is the perfect way to make space appear bigger.

Keep floors clear - Clean lines allow the eye to travel freely about the room, making it feel more spacious so keep the floors free of items to ensure the space looks anything but cluttered and use hooks and shelves for storage instead.

Wall art - Wall art is also another a great way to decorate a room and great for small spaces too.  Inspired by our Safari honeymoon, I added these adorable animal canvas prints to the walls to create a warm, comfortable and inviting nursery for my baby.

Hope you found these tips on how to decorate a small nursery helpful! What are your top tips you used for decorating your baby's nursery?

Friday, 22 July 2016

What is in my changing bag?

What's in my changing bag?

Whilst I was pregnant I loved watching "what's in my changing bag" YouTube videos and reading blogger posts. It was so useful to know other people's baby essentials and tips on what to pack but despite picking up all this useful information, I really struggled to find a changing bag I liked.

So when I came across a photo of a Jem and Bea bag on Instagram, I knew I had found the perfect changing bag.

Designed by two Mums, Dominique and Rebecca, they found themselves frustrated with the lack of stylish changing bags available for parents so they set out to create the perfect collection. And they certainly have! The designers have redefined the baby changing bag market and their collection is far from the "mumsy" looking nappy bags we're so used to seeing.

You can personalise the leather tag on your bag with your initials

Unlike most changing bags the Beatrice tote is not only beautifully designed but a functional bag too. Available in two colours, orange and taupe, the stylish bag is made of butter soft leather and is both practical enough to fit all your essentials such as a changing mat, nappies, bottles but also stylish enough to wear as an everyday bag or even for a night out.  

The bag is very well designed with handy wipe clean lining and features five interior pockets with a zip compartment for valuables, thermo bottle pocket, separate mobile phone compartment, a dustbag and also includes a luxury padded changing mat too. There's even a detachable cross body strap included plus buggy clips available separately.

Inside the Beatrice Tote

So if you are looking for a stylish luxury changing bag, the Beatrice Taupe ticks all the boxes. It's definitely not the cheapest changing bag on the market but it manages to combine both style and practicality with great success, so in my opinion it is absolutely worth the cost and i'm so pleased with mine!

Here are the key essentials that I keep in my changing bag:

Pampers newbaby sensitive - These newborn nappies combine both dryness and softness and clinically tested to be mild on a newborn baby's skin. Best of all they have a very handy "Wetness indicator" that turns blue when your baby pees.

Water wipes -  These are chemical free baby wipes suitable for newborns and great for nappy rash and other sensitive conditions.

Aden and anais swaddle blanket - These muslin swaddling blankets are 100% cotton super light, soft and breathable, so they allow baby's body temperature to regulate naturally, helping to reduce the risk of overheating.

Spare vest and sleepsuit - babies are prone to having leaks and other accidents so I always ensure to have a change of clothes just in case. Because of the warm weather, I've included a sun hat to keep baby's face shaded.

Elephant rattle - This soft rattle is the perfect toy for a newborn, where tiny hands can shake the elephant to make it rattle. Too cute!

Would love to know what is in your newborn's changing bag? 

Jem and Bea collection is available to buy here.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

My natural birth story

Me at 37 weeks, just a few days before I went into labour

During my pregnancy, I read so many birth stories online and listened to dozens of podcasts. I loved hearing about people’s birthing experiences, both positive and negative, not only did it give me good insight into labour but it also made me aware just how different every women’s birthing experience can be. 

Initially I wasn’t sure about writing my own birth story. I have always found writing therapeutic but whether I had a good or bad birthing experience, I wasn’t sure if it was an experience I would want to share. However, I thought about all of the birthing stories I had read on blogs and how much it had helped me prepare for my own labour and I knew sharing my birthing experience would be the right thing to do.

We have to go back slightly as my birthing story starts a few weeks before I actually went into labour…

Initially my plan was to have a water birth in the birthing centre with no pain relief and as natural as possible. However, I purposely did not write a birth plan as I was aware births do not always go to plan I wanted to see how things panned out as I was to find out!

At 36 weeks 3, I went to hospital to get monitored as I was experiencing painful and strong contractions and nothing like the Braxton Hicks I had been having a few days before. After being monitored and then examined by a doctor, they discovered I was 3cm dilated and I had to decide whether to be induced and have a pre-term baby or wait until 37 weeks and see if I go into labour naturally. My waters hadn’t broken and membranes were still in tact so after talking through the options, we decided to wait for the labour to progress naturally. If I could help it I did not want to have my baby before 37 weeks as this means it would have been premature and possibly needing more care. So I was put on a drip of antibiotics and stayed over night in hospital, reflecting on whether I had made the right decision. My care plan was to come into hospital every 3 days to get monitored and have my bloods checked for any infection as my cervix was open I was at risk of infection.

Once I was discharged, things didn’t improve and day by day, my contractions got stronger and more painful but nothing else changed. My waters hadn’t broken and I hadn’t lost my mucus plug either. I was stuck in limbo and it was so so hard. I was torn between getting induced and therefore having the labour started artificially or waiting, in severe pain, for my labour to start naturally. I battled with this decision for days but in the end, I couldn’t continue to wait being in so much pain so at 38 weeks 1, we went into hospital for my usual 3 day monitoring and blood checks. However unlike the last few times when my blood checks all came back fine, there was a peak in one of my results and potentially a risk of infection. My blood pressure was also much higher and I had very very swollen ankles, Kim Kardashian style! With this all in mind and after discussing with my consultant, my husband and I decided that evening I would be induced. I didn’t want to put my baby or health at risk anymore and it was then I knew I made the right decision.

So on Saturday night, as arranged, we turned up to the hospital labour ward with bags packed and waited to follow instruction by the midwife and doctor. I was examined again and was still 3cm dilated therefore the plan was to break my waters and wait a few hours to see if the labour would start naturally. If not, then I would then get induced and have a drip with the medication.

After breaking my waters, it didn’t take long for the contractions to start. I called my mum to get a cab over to the hospital to join my husband and I, as she was my second birthing partner. Luckily she arrived within half an hour as after only a few minutes of breaking my waters, the contractions were coming strong and fast and within less than an hour I knew I was ready to start pushing. I remember my midwife asking me if I was “sure?” and that within an hour seemed a little too quick for the pushing stage of labour to begin. I asked her to examine me again and I was right, by then I was now 7cm and ready to push this baby out! 

Although I wasn’t in the birthing centre and didn’t get the water birth I initially wanted, I was so pleased with my birthing experience. My husband and mum were my two birthing partners and were just amazingly encouraging throughout my labour. I was so thankful to have such incredible support and having them both by my side made me realise just how lucky I am. As well as a midwife I also had a student midwife who were both so supportive too listening to all my requests, even if they were not considered what is usual in labour.

According to the Royal Colleges of Midwives, lying down is the most popular position to use in labour to give birth but I had never wanted to use this position as I just didn't find it comfortable. The midwives listened to me and allowed me to change positions and gave me time to feel more at ease.

Initially I tried using the birthing stool but it was difficult to monitor baby’s heart rate so I moved on to the bed, but felt like lying down wasn’t comfortable for me due to back pain. I explained to the midwives if I could change my position to kneeling on the bed instead. The midwife agreed, although she seemed unconvinced that this birthing position would give me the comfort I needed. Again, I was so glad to have stuck to my decision as this birthing position was the best for me at the time. Once I had changed into the position, in less than an hour, my baby was born.  

I am so thankful to have had such supportive midwives who listened to me throughout and allowed me to have the birth I wanted. I was adamant I did not want any pain relief particularly an epidural as they had warned me that if I had this procedure, it could prolong my labour, reduce my mobility and I was at potential risk of having further intervention like a c-section. There were other options to consider like pethadine (although I did request this, it was too late for me to have it as I was too far in my labour) so I just had paracetamol and codeine and gas and air. However, the gas and air made me feel light headed and sick so I didn’t continue to use it.

Not every birth experience is the same and one of the wonderful things about labour is how different each birth can be. I was so pleased with my birthing experience, I had amazing support from my birthing partners and midwives and despite not having a water birth, I was able to still deliver naturally just as I had hoped to.

Early Sunday morning, my son was delivered fit and well weighing 7.9lbs.

I feel very blessed and thankful my labour was not only so positive but such an empowering experience and one that I will cherish forever. How was your labour? I would love to hear about your experiences too!

Monday, 30 May 2016

Outfit of the day - Babymoon

Dress - ASOS
Bag - H&M
Necklace - Topshop
Boots - New Look

This weekend my husband and I went away for our babymoon - you can read all about our stay at The Rosewood Hotel here.

As I approach the end of my pregnancy with bump growing bigger and wider every day, it is getting more and more difficult to dress my bump.

I thought I was never going to find the perfect outfit for our special occasion, until I came across this midi dress from ASOS. Not only is it super comfortable but it's lightweight too, with a soft touch slinky fabric. I thought the dress in Black worked well for evening wear as it is the most flattering. 

As well as the perfect length on me, sitting just below the knee, I loved the ruched sides on the dress that stretch for that extra comfort. Another great maternity buy from ASOS! 

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