Tag Archives: baby

ImageMany women work up until their maternity leave starts, and for some it is the first extended leave from the workplace that they have ever experienced.  The idea of maternity leave – a paid holiday – sounds fantastic.  The idea of having at least three to six months off with your new baby sounds even better.  The reality, however, can be incredibly stressful.

Stressful?  Not working?  Don’t be silly, you might be thinking.

I would like you to imagine a normal working day.  How many people do you interact with?  How often do you need to shut the door to concentrate on something important?  Are you a pro-active person who gets satisfaction from completing your ‘To Do’ list?

Now imagine waking up thinking the same way, but by the end of the day you have not managed to meet up with anyone, the computer and phone have remained untouched and you have not done one thing on your ‘To Do’ list.  When baby first arrives this is fine, because everyone knows new mums are meant to lie back and do nothing.  After four or five weeks, however, you might feel a little differently.

Take this scenario: Baby is a couple of months old, your partner comes home from work as usual, looks at you and his precious baby lovingly and asks, ‘”So, what have you guys been up to today?”  “Nothing…” you think to yourself flatly.  We’ve slept.  I’ve changed some nappies, managed one load of washing and fed the baby so much my boobs feel like they’re about to fall off, but he doesn’t want to hear about that!  You shrug your shoulders, “Same old, same old!” you manage with a wry smile.  “Oh, so you didn’t manage to ring the gardener or buy the groceries?  Never mind darling, I’ll get a takeaway and maybe you’ll find time to call tomorrow,” he offers, supportively.  Meanwhile, you are feeling frustrated, exhausted and useless.  You start to look at yourself and make comparisons.  You think about the stimulating conversations you used to have, discussing exciting deals you were both working on, and how now you feel like you have nothing interesting to contribute.  How you used to meet him for drinks and dinner with friends after work and the fun you had together, knowing you could lie in bed all weekend if you wanted.  Now nights out seem more unrealistic than flying to the moon.  (At least you could probably take the baby to the moon with you!)  You remember how you used to organise everything at home and at work effortlessly, while keeping up with friends.  Now just one of those seems a struggle.


It is an incredibly difficult time because you are drawn to this little bundle with the strongest instinct to protect and provide and yet often, muddled in are feelings of guilt and frustration which murky the whole picture.

Don’t worry, I’m here to tell you that all of these feelings are normal and that mental preparation can make a massive difference, allowing you to really enjoy this period of your life, instead of it being frustrating and stressful.

Mentally prepare yourself for what is about to hit you as much as you can.  How, you might ask?  Well, it simply involves thinking about how different your days will be and being ok with that, rather than battling against it.  With enough preparation, you should be able to really look forward to baby and the lull your life will take, rather than resent it.  No matter what stage of life you are in, try to fully immerse yourself in motherhood when it happens to you.  Having a baby in your arms, but wishing you were out on a Friday night or working on the latest big deal, is like living in a the perfect house in the worst location or having your dream job but hating everyone you work with.  The idea is fantastic, but before long you are miserable.

One of the first things to come to terms with is that most of us are control freaks.  Even if you are not when it comes to controlling other people, most people are when it comes to controlling themselves and their own time.  Having to let go of this can be very challenging, especially if you have not thought about it before it happens.  Secondly, the exhaustion can take its toll.  Not because it’s more difficult than what you’re used to, but because it’s different.  Instead of being exhausted from mentally or physically challenging work, often being stimulated by others in the workplace, you are exhausted from the lack of sleep, and your inability to have any time for yourself.  On top of all that, when you most need to rest, baby will probably need you – it’s just sod’s law!  It’s the inability to rest exactly when you want to, which can be the most challenging part.  Consequently most mums will agree that it is much more exhausting being a full-time mother, rather than going to an office every day.  If these facts are surprises for you when baby arrives, they can be very stressful.  Prepare for them and it is a lot easier.

The combination of just these two factors, without anything else, is enough to make many mothers want to go back to work.


The argument about whether women should go back to work or not, now that Feminism has created so many opportunities and ‘equal rights’ for us, is something which I imagine will be with us forever.  If you are in the lucky position where you do not need to go back to work, and are undecided, I would advise you not to make any decisions before you have your baby.  When I was pregnant with my first, I expected to be back at work within six months, with a full-time nanny in tow.  By the time six months had passed, the idea of leaving my baby made me feel sick.  I was very lucky to be able to make that choice and I chose to stay at home.

If you know you are definitely going back to work, enjoy hanging out with baby 24/7 while it lasts!  You may take 3, 6 or 12 months off work.  Whatever it is, it’ll go by in a flash.  I understand that your partner will want ‘you’ back and probably feel a bit rejected particularly if you are breastfeeding, and of course it’s important to try and create a balance in your life.  However, it’s impossible to be everything to everyone.  Be where your heart draws you, communicate well with your partner, make him understand what your needs are, and try to listen to his.

Many women who want to stay at home get caught up in their frustration.  If you are one of these, please try to search within yourself for a possible solution, so that you can have the best of both worlds.  If being with your children is possible financially and is something you enjoy, you and your children will benefit so much the more you can be with them.

If you want to be at home but don’t know what to do outside of your existing career, try to think of this time as an opportunity.  Pregnancy has allowed you to break from your work.  It is the only time when you can have a break and no one asks any questions, so make the most of it!  Use it as a chance to have a go at something different or pick up a hobby you loved when you were younger or you haven’t had time for since you’ve been working.

No matter how much you love your newborn, everyone needs time for themselves.  Everyone!  Some women feel guilty if they have the urge to spend some time away from their children.  DON’T!  No matter how much we love them, we all need time for ourselves.  I knew I wanted to be at home with my baby, but having had my own business, the feelings of frustration, which I mentioned at the beginning of this blog where very prevalent for me and I knew I also needed something else.  My job to date had been as an independent, self-employed film producer, which I couldn’t see myself doing successfully, part-time.  So instead I started writing and researching the development of the human brain, from the womb, throughout childhood and into adulthood.  I not only found it fascinating, it made me understand how my child’s brain was developing and why they find so many things frustrating as they grow, as their bodies are capable of more than their minds.  It was what led me to start writing these blogs, two years later.


If your existing career is not something you can do part-time or from home, or if you want to change your career path, it can be very hard to think of what else might stimulate you. Keep your eyes and ears open to anything that appeals to you, or is suggested to you.  Be open to new ideas and think about what you love to do.  The latter stages of pregnancy, particularly when it’s uncomfortable to move, can be a very good time to think about what you really enjoy doing and what you think might work as a part-time job or new career which you can fit around your children. Thinking about what you like to do when you are relaxing is a good start.  It might be something as basic as reading or writing, talking to people, laughing or eating.  It doesn’t matter what it is, but if you can identify the number one thing you enjoy, try to think of doing something which includes that in some way.  The happier you are, the happier everyone is around you.

What I find amazing is when parents find a new lease of life, working or creating in a totally different way from anything they have done before.  For example, I am about to launch a Children’s Charity called Boo Bods, bridging the gap between creativity as a hobby and a career.  Now, if I was still embroiled in the film industry I doubt very much if I would be doing this and already we are helping people.  It feels fantastic.

With part-time work, however, comes the need to be very organised with your time, so that there is over-all harmony and balance in your life.

Balance is incredibly difficult and something I am constantly reassessing in my life to try and get right.  Children like clear boundaries and when you work part-time they are constantly asking whether you are working today or not.  However, children are very adaptable and I think it probably affects us (with the guilt that we are not giving enough time to them!), more than it affects the children.

What I have found key is to make sure that when I am working, I am working, and when I am with the kids, I am with the kids.  This is relevant whether you work full-time or part-time.  Again, it’s about clear boundaries.  It’s easy for the children to learn (even if they don’t want to!) that when mummy is working, you don’t disturb her.  However, asking them to be quiet for 10 minutes while mummy quickly finishes an email or a phone call is a lot more difficult.  If I try and squeeze in a bit of work when it’s my days with the kids, the result is usually that I don’t do the jobs as well as I could and everyone is frustrated.  Of course, having full days to yourself may not be a financial option for you, and in that case, you’ll become a master of grabbing the minutes when they are distracted or asleep, but it’s tricky to feel truly fulfilled when that’s all the time you can muster.

If you can, try asking for help, so that you get the time you need.  If you start to feel suffocated by the lack of ‘you’ time, do something about it before it really starts to have a negative impact on you.  See my previous blog, STEP SEVEN in Mentally Preparing to Have your First Baby: Prepare yourself to be able to ask for help & to take time for yourself.  You’ll be surprised how many people want to help you out if you ask them.  Keep a note of anyone who offers to babysit, so you and your partner can go to the movies one night, or anyone who is around in the day and can give you a couple of hours.  If I don’t make a note, I can never think of who to ask when I really need someone!

You are about to HAVE A BABY!  The joy you will bring each other, the laughter, the cuddles…  There are too many wonderful moments to even start.  They can bring you contentment and fulfilment in one.  They can make you have real perspective and look at life in a totally different way – if you let them.  Like with everything in life: the more you put in, the more you will get out.

For some people, a life full of children keeps them busier and happier than any full-time job.  Others find being at home does not suit them, or their financial situation makes their decision for them, and they go back to full-time work.  As I always say: you must do what works for you, be happy with your decisions and make the most of every day, no matter where you are or who you are with.


The focus in all my blogs is mental preparation, because people don’t talk about it. Even though physical preparation is as equally important, I wish there was more of a balance.  I believe there is too much emphasis on the physical side, especially with the first baby.  In fact, if women prepared as much mentally as many do physically, they would be a lot better off!

Saying that, to prepare for the physical ordeal, which will probably be the biggest of your body’s life, cannot be underestimated.  For example, I swear by Pregnancy Yoga.  Even though the practice hardly got a look-in second time round, yogic breathing helped me successfully get through both my labours, drug-free.

Women do all sorts of things to prepare physically, but how much to they think about how pregnancy and birth is going to physically affect them?  Once people know you are pregnant, for example, they always encourage you to eat more, “Go on, have some more cake, you are eating for two!”  Eating and how it will affect you (people only seem to talk about how it is going to affect your baby), is one thing that I wish was discussed more.

First of all, you do not need to ‘eat for two’.  It is a fallacy that you need to double your food intake when you are pregnant.  Change your diet so it more healthy and toxin free, yes; increase certain foods high in particular vitamins and mineral relative to the development of your baby, yes[1]; increase your healthy carbohydrate intake, yes; eat little and often, yes[2]; but increase the volume, no!  Think about how nutritionally valuable every bite is.  If it’s not good for you, it won’t be good for the baby either.  However, its negative calorific affect will be particularly bad for you.

The stress women encounter when they put on a lot of weight during pregnancy and then can’t get rid of it, is real and heavy.  People try to make you feel better and say, “Don’t worry it’ll fall off when you breast feed”.  I don’t know who this happens for, but it certainly didn’t happen for me.  I put on weight when I breast fed, both times.

At the same time, pregnancy does create cravings and awful nausea, which can often only be stopped by eating.  And as we know, when you need to eat, you really need to eat!  Often the snacks available when these pangs hit are not the healthiest, and I also know how nothing deals with hunger better than a good old bit of stodge!

So what is a girl to do?  First of all, decide if this is a problem for you or not.  It may not be.  Then look at your diet and how healthy it is.  Whether you care about the extra pounds or not, your baby’s development relies on what you put in your mouth.  If you decide that your diet is not as healthy as it could be and that you are someone who cares about those extra wobbly bits, here are a few suggestions:

  • Try cutting out as much refined sugar as you can.  It has only one benefit: a short energy spurt.  You are then left with an energy dip and the calories on your hips!  Sometimes, a piece of chocolate is the only fix, and little and often is fine, but after every meal, or as your regular snack throughout the day, is not.  If it is chocolate that you need, then try the 70% cocoa ones instead of a Cadbury’s bar.  Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, even though it has caffeine in it, has anti-oxidants in it too and is a relatively healthy alternative.
  • Try and cut out the really fatty foods.  All processed and ready-prepared foods are a no-no.  Convenience foods are the worst – apart from a piece of fruit!  Buy healthy snacks and always have them in your bag.  You know what works for you: healthy crackers, vegetable sticks, fruit or health food bars.
  • If you are one of these people who is good at controlling what you eat, one thing which is worth trying is a wheat free diet.  What, no bread or pasta?!  No cakes or buns?!  If you think of most of the naughty things you eat, nearly all of them contain wheat.  These days, as long as you are not egg intolerant, there are many, much more healthy alternatives for nearly everything naughty and sweet.  They use natural ingredients as sweeteners, and rice or quinoa, or some other substitute, instead of wheat.  They are a bit more expensive but taste much nicer and are much better for you, full of nuts and natural ingredients which taste nice and are really good for your growing baby.  Some people believe that if you are on a wheat free diet while you are pregnant, your baby is likely to be smaller.  I have no idea how they can prove this accurately, and whether this is a good thing, but it may have been a contributing factor as to why I had small babies (6lb 2oz and 6lb 7oz).  I am a bit sceptical.  I have had a wheat intolerance for years and so my wheat free diet had nothing to do with being pregnant.  In fact, I probably waivered a bit more while being pregnant, because every now and again, I just ‘fancied’ something!  All I know is that a small baby means a small head, which is definitely beneficial during childbirth!

You may be one of those people who just loves to eat and does not care about the odd extra pound.  The point is, as long as you are giving your baby all the nutrients he needs, if you put on weight as well, that’s your choice.

The message I’m trying to get across is that it may not be as easy as everyone would have you believe to loose the weight.  It usually takes a year before you feel anything close to your previous self.  If you ever get completely back.  What do you mean ‘if’ you ever get back.  Well, pregnancy brings all kinds of delights which people don’t like to talk about, in the form of stretch marks and excess skin around your stomach, not to mention the drooping boobs after feeding stops.  I encourage any mothers reading this who have stories, to please share them.  It’s so important women know what to expect.  With all the hormonal rubbish going on, we don’t need any other nasty surprises!

There is no doubt that the more weight you put on during pregnancy, especially if you are a slightly older first time mum, the more of an impact it will have on you physically.  Nature intended for us to start pro-creating when we reached puberty.  Nowadays we are leaving it so late that many new mothers are closer to menopause.  We all feel the affects of age once we hit our 30s and so to ask our bodies to perform it’s most arduous and staining of tasks at this age or older, is a big deal, not to be underestimated.  Also remember that our skin is not as elastic, and with age come other health complications.  So if you are an older mum-to-be, take all of this into consideration, look after yourself more than ever and give yourself a break when you need it.  There is nothing the body can’t do, as long as you look after it and don’t take it for granted.  I love being an older mum.  I’m nearly 40 and so I am not searching for my own journey like I was 10 years ago.  Instead, I can give myself much more to my children and I feel I have a lot more I can teach and show them.  There are definite pluses for having kids later on, as long as we look after ourselves physically, and keeping our weight down will really help with that.

[1] I took Zita West pregnancy supplements throughout my pregnancy, because they change each trimester, relative to the development of your baby.  Also, make sure you have plenty of Omega 3 Supplements, rich in DHA which is vital for brain development.  Zita West do a very good one, specific for pregnancy.

[2] Think about the fact that your baby is growing continuously, and so to eat little and often is the best way forward if you can.  When I was pregnant I was told to aim for 6 small, nutritious daily snacks and light meals.

I am not alone in believing that Nature never intended for women to raise their babies on their own.  There are modern day accounts of African women who were brought up in a tribe-like environment and breastfed by one of several lactating women within their extended family.  I believe that we were meant to share all parts of child rearing.

Modern day mothers can often feel exhausted by the daily exertions of bringing up one or more children.  They can experience trouble with breastfeeding and find it hard to juggle all areas of their lives.  Why is child-rearing so much more stressful for us than our mammalian relatives?  The Gorilla, the closest to us, lives in closely-knit communities who work together in a family unit.  It is the same with most animals, and yet the human being, who is meant to be at the top of the food chain, often thinks that if they can’t manage on their own, they are a failure.  In fact this is a new phenomena mainly concentrated in the big cities.  If we look at our history, the importance of the family unit has been very strong. The advent of easily accessible, affordable methods of transport, and careers for women outside of the home, however, have changed this for a lot of people.  With women’s need to feel self-fulfilled and financially independent, many of us have moved away from home and cut ourselves off from our most important resource of support and security: family.  I envy those of my friends whose parents are at hand to babysit on demand, and love having their grandchildren to stay.  To have the odd night of uninterrupted sleep, and the freedom to explore your own interests without having to fork out money every time you leave the house, would be so liberating.

However, I think modern day perception has become distorted.  It seems fine to have grandma over every day to look after the kids, all the way up to teenage years, but a nanny?  Well, that can be seen as an unnecessary extravagance.  Unless parents go to work, surely they are more than capable?  And yet working parents have time to themselves every day, on their commute to and from work, at lunch, or just time at their desk, without being demanded upon by their kids.  So when are stay-at-home parents, whose families aren’t at hand, meant to have some time to themselves?  Luckily it is very acceptable to send your child to nursery school.  This is perhaps because children enjoy the companionship of other kids their age, learn simple skills and are introduced to learning, away from their parents in a safe and happy environment.  Yet this ‘acceptability’ does not sit comfortably with me.

There is nothing wrong with a parent wanting to look after their children on their own.  In fact I embrace it 100%, and do it myself.  But I need a bit of time for me, as well, and I don’t have family around the corner who I can call upon – I know I am not alone.  Being a full-time mum is wonderful but it is also exhausting, and we have no holidays.  What people without kids consider a holiday, parents see as great fun but relentless, because without school or nursery we get no time off.  What doesn’t help is that we can also be martyrs, insisting on doing everything ourselves; and of course there are the financial restrictions, which means paid help is not an option for everyone.  The result can be that we can forget about what’s important to us.

Once women have children, especially if family members or willing close friends are not around to offer help, their own interests can go by the wayside.  They forget about what they used to love doing, and do not prioritise their intimate relationships because it all costs too much money in childcare.  It can be hard to justify expensive help to sit on the sofa and read a book, have a snooze, go swimming or watch your favourite film.  Many people would feel guilty and most of their friends would probably frown upon it (weirdly, especially those who are also mothers).  It is so wrong.

If you were asked, “Who do you think is the happier and healthier person: someone who looks after themselves, works hard but also makes sure they relax and does something for themselves at least twice a week; or someone who works hard, is always tired, never has a moment to themselves and feels guilty because they have a short temper?” which one would you choose?  So many mothers I know would put themselves in the latter category, and yet, you write it on paper and pose the question in this way, and you’d think you were working for some tyrannical boss!

Ladies, (or gentlemen!) if you are the main carer of your child, TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF AT LEAST TWICE A WEEK.  If you are reading this as pregnant mother-to-be, mentally decide NOW to do this.  We are NOT MEANT TO DO THIS ALL ON OUR OWN!  Weeks or even months can go by before you suddenly realise how frazzled you are, from tiredness and a sudden lack of personal identity.  People would probably advise that if you even start to feel this way, make time for yourself immediately.  I say, make time for yourself, BEFORE you feel this way!  Don’t forget the impact hormone imbalance will have on you when you give birth.  If you feel happy in yourself, emotionally you’ll be more balanced, and balance is one thing which everyone strives daily to achieve.  Parents find it particularly difficult because they are always putting their children first.  As a pregnant woman, you can mentally prepare for this and promise yourself, that for the good of you, your child and your partner, you will endeavour to keep up with the things you really enjoy.  If you don’t have family at hand, and financial restrictions mean you can’t pay for help, try asking friends, you might be surprised how many of them would love to look after your baby.  If that is not an option for you, talk to your local health advisor or social worker.  The Community is there to help you, you don’t have to be alone.

You can also do a surprising amount with your baby.  Newborns are very mobile and sleep a lot.  As they get a bit older, it can be a bit more tricky to take them out and about, depending on how good they are at sleeping ‘on the run’.  So make the most of it while you can, if this is something which is important to you.  My husband and I are quite sociable people and love to travel.  So, when our first was tiny, we travelled a lot and accepted invitations whenever we could take him with us (breastfeeding does tie you to baby!).  By getting him ear-protectors[1] we could even take him to gigs or music events which allowed children.  A lot of people like to slow down and not socialise as much when they have kids, which is fantastic if that suits you, but if you don’t want to, you don’t have to.

Live your life and be happy.  Your kids will be happy just to be with you.

And remember: if you do feel lonely, isolated or frustrated, reach out for help.  We are not meant to do this alone and isolation with a newborn baby can bring on depression.  It is important to acknowledge how you are really feeling rather than putting on a brave face, because if you don’t, eventually the whole deck of cards will come tumbling down.  Look after yourself, do things for yourself, and remember, every now and again, to put yourself first.

Tiffany Newton

Follow me on Twitter @TiffNewt

[1] Peltor Kids Ear-Protectors.

My mantra, which those of you who have been following my blogs will know, is, ‘Listen’ (to yourself, your partner and your baby) and ‘Let baby Lead’.  The ‘Baby Industry’ has grown into a monster worth billions of pounds, selling you everything from technique to toiletries.


You may already have been overwhelmed with the amount of books out there, telling you how to do everything under the sun, which is fine until they start contradicting each other!  No knowledge is wasted, however, as long as you assess and then make judgement calls, because you can’t follow it all.

In my previous blog (Step Five), I talked about getting to know yourself, so that you can work out what will suit you the best.  An author might suggest a way of doing things that is highly recommended by twenty mothers and half a dozen celebrities, but unless it suits you as a person.  If it means rearranging the way you do everything in your life, I think that’s just too hard!  There are amazing books out there with invaluable information, wisdom and experience, it just a matter of finding the ones that suit you.  These are the top few from my library:

– ‘What to Expect when You’re Expecting’[1] and ‘What to Expect the 1st Year’[2].  I found them very helpful encyclopaedic, factual guides with no fuss or frills.

– ‘The Continuum Concept’[3].  This book gave me a fascinating insight into how they raise children in the Amazon and converted me to carrying my babies rather than putting them in a pram.

– ‘What Every Parent Should Know’[4].  Invaluable knowledge about the physical and psychological development of the human brain.  It helps you understand what your baby is capable of, when and the importance of intimate interaction early on.  It also informs you about the dangers of controlled crying.

– ‘The Happiest Baby on the Block’ and ‘The Happiest Toddler on the Block’[5].  These books helped me understand the importance of replicating the environment of the womb, while giving information about behavioural development and how to deal with it.

These are a good start for anyone, but everyone has their own taste and you must find yours.  It’s important to always bring your own opinions, likes and dislikes to whatever you read.  Don’t believe everything and trust your own instincts.  Try to look within yourself for the answers.  It is always reassuring to have an experienced voice nearby, but when if comes to the big decisions about sleeping and feeding routines, for example, these should be made by you.

Be confident in your preparation and you’ll be confident when baby arrives.  Know yourself, listen to your baby and the rest will fall into place.

The industry, however, only starts with the books.  Then you’ve got all the ‘things’ you can buy.  Cots, clothes and lots and lots of clutter!


When you move into a new house, you rarely buy all the new furniture until you move in.  How are you going to know what fits otherwise?  It’s the same with babies.  Until baby arrives it’s hard to know what you’ll be really want.  Everything changes from the moment he’s born, so try to keep your purchases to a minimum before he arrives.

With my second child I got rid of anything that I didn’t need and took up loads of space (mainly because we live in a flat in London and don’t have much space!).

This is my list of what I used and needed, from birth all the way through, with tips and comments:

Hospital Bag:

–       A couple of newborn baby grows

–       Baby blanket or warm outside baby garment

–       New born nappies

–       Cotton pads for cleaning baby’s bottom

–       Baby’s towel (if you are giving birth on a hospital ward)

–       Sanitary pads

–       A few pairs of big, comfy (granny) pants for after you have given birth (you won’t be very comfortable down there, remember, so make sure they are big and lose)

–       Change of clothing for you, including very comfy trousers (I wore leggings or tracksuit bottoms)

–       PJs for you

–       Dressing Gown or towel (if you are giving birth on a hospital ward)

–       Your music or creature comforts to make you more comfortable

–       Your wash bag with lovely soap or shower gel and shampoo

Baby’s Sleeping:

–       BABY BLANKET.  Make sure it has holes in the material so if it goes over baby’s head he can still breath.  When baby is a bit bigger, usually once he starts moving and rolling over, you may want to use a baby SLEEPING BAG.  They are particularly useful when it’s cold, because blankets come off them, baby gets cold and then wakes up.  Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t like having any blankets on him.  If the bedroom is warm and he’s wearing a full baby grow, that may be enough.  Think about how warm you are.  If you’re warm, he probably will be as well and remember nappies are really good insulators!  Neither of mine like covers on them.  In fact they are naked and uncovered whenever it’s warm enough!

–       If baby is in bed with you:

  • A BED GUARD, to stop them rolling out of bed.  Both of mine slept in bed with me for months, in between me and the bed guard (as Dad may not be as sensitive to baby’s position in the bed and could roll on baby).
  • CO-SLEEPER.  A really good way to start to move baby out of your bed.  They are the same height as your mattress, so it’s like a little bed, right next to your bed.  Baby can still smell you and hear you, so they are comforted, but you have you both have your own space in bed.  As they get bigger, even if they might want to be right next to you, your movement does disturb them and vica versa.

–       If baby is out of bed:

  • MOSES BASKETS.  Moses baskets are very expensive and only last a few weeks, because baby grows so fast.  If you think a cot is a bit big and not very cosy for baby, but you want to avoid the cost of a Moses basket, you can put something like a Snuggle Nest[6] in your cot.  They are particularly useful if your baby doesn’t like swaddling.  Snuggle Nests are very light-weight, and have little raised cushions either side of baby which you can remove as he gets bigger.  As it’s so light, you can easily carry it around with you, for baby to sleep in for a few hours during the day or if you go out for dinner.  I still use the mattress of mine as a changing mat.
  • COTS.  As far cots are concerned, where do you start?  Or do you?  My second son has never had one.  He was in my bed, he’s now in the co-sleeper, and from there he will go into a big bed.  My first son had a massive cot (over a metre long), which was his bed (when he wasn’t in my bed!) until he went into a normal single bed.  If you get a cot, budget and aesthetics will dictate your choice.
  • NIGHT LIGHT.  When baby is first born they like the dark (they have just come from your womb).  However, they learn to be afraid of the dark and as they get older often ask for a light.  I bought a night light which you plug straight into the socket.  It has a light sensor, so it automatically comes on when it is dark and turns itself off when it is light.  It means my son can see his room and orientate himself if he wakes in the night or needs the loo.

–       Changing Baby’s Nappy.

  • CHANGING MAT.  For baby number two, I used a waterproof changing mat, a towel or my Snuggle Nest instead of a changing table.  If you have lots of room, it’s quite nice to have an easily accessible table at the right height with everything on it.  However, they take up so much room and many of them do not work as a piece of furniture afterwards.  However, you can get beautiful ones in all materials, textures and colours.  Personally, I would rather have nappies etc. on a shelf and a mat I can whip out and use any time I need it.  I also don’t want to have to go to the bedroom to change his nappy.  I have one mat downstairs and one mat upstairs.  When you are first home, it is very important that you have access to a changing mat or table in the same room, or at least on the same floor, as where you are spending most of your time.  The more you walk (especially up and down stairs) when you have first given birth, the longer it will take you to heal.
  • NAPPIES.  I have always used organic, gel-free nappies.  They are more expensive than Pampers and Huggies, but the skin is the largest organ in the body, and I do not want a large portion of that being exposed to chemicals for the first two years (or more) of my babies’ lives.  I used organic cotton washable nappies from Green Baby, for my first baby for a year.  They were brilliant and saved me loads of money.  They are a bit more bulky and you do have to carry around soiled nappies, which loses its novelty, but I only stopped using them when he was 1 year old and the poo was proper adult poo.  If that got past the nappy liner onto the nappy, I didn’t want to be carrying it around all day!  Since then I have used many chemical free brands.  My favourite at the moment is Moltex, which are also biodegradable.  The most affordable and easily accessible are Nature Babycare which you can buy from supermarkets and which are eco disposable, breathable nappies.  The only time I use Huggies is at night once baby is about 8 months old.  As there is no gel in the natural nappies, they do not last 12 hours if your baby is drinking during the night; and you do not want to be changing nappies which might wake baby.
  • COTTON PADS or WIPES.  I don’t like wipes because they are full of chemicals.  There are now Water Wipes which are chemical free, but I rather resent spending a lot of money on that, when I can just as easily have a bowl of water next to my cotton pads!  I admit that wipes are great for travelling and when you’re out and about.  I use Sainsbury’s Little Ones ‘eco’ wipes which are paraben free.  At home, however, my cotton pads, water bowl and nappies are on the radiator cover downstairs and in his room upstairs.  They take up no space and are not expensive.
  • NAPPY BAGS. I don’t buy nappy bags.  I use old Sainsbury’s bags, and wrap up the nappy a few times.  If a nappy is full of poo, it stinks whichever way you look at it, and the perfume on the nappy bag doesn’t hide the smell for long!  Nappy bags fit neatly into your changing bag so people like them.  It’s a personal preference and one extra thing to spend money on.
  • OIL & NAPPY RASH CREAM.  I use olive oil (the same that I put on my salads – don’t use vegetable oil) on baby’s bottom, every time I change his nappy.  I bought a little pot (an inch in diameter) and dispensed some oil into it.  You can get little squirty bottles from Sainsbury’s and other shops, which you might find easier.  For nappy rash I use Weleda baby ‘Calendula Nappy Change Cream’, which I really like as a natural choice, although I also have a little pot of Sudocrem in my bag, in case he has really bad nappy rash.  If it’s just a bit spotty or blotchy, I just use oil, if it’s red I used the Weleda cream, but if it isn’t shifting, and it’s raw, looks uncomfortable and isn’t shifting, I use the Sudocrem cream.  As with all things that are painful with babies, (as I mentioned when discussing breastfeeding) if you let nappy rash go untreated it just gets worse.
  • CHANGING BAGS.  People have massive changing bags, with every pocket and zip for every requirement, and they range in price from about £20 (some changing bags are hundreds of pounds!).  I have a sturdy cotton bag which I got at a book launch, in which I have a bottle of water, nappies, cotton pads, oil and nappy rash cream, a small towel and change of clothes.  It fits inside my day bag when we go out, instead of being an additional bag, which I have to carry.

–       Feeding:

  • If you are breastfeeding, initially, you don’t need anything!  (Apart from plenty of water and munchies for you!)
  • BOTTLES.  Once you start expressing, introduce formula or drinking water, you’ll need bottles.  I used Aveda for my first baby, and Tommee Tippee for my second.  I did try a glass one with an organic rubber teet, which I used and liked until it smashed on the floor!  The other problem with them, is the way the teet is made.  All teets have holes in to allow the circulation of air.  The organic ones, however, don’t seem to have any kind of valve, so if you have a baby who likes to squeeze the teet while drinking (like mine!), the milk goes everywhere.  People like them because of the concern with the plastic in the normal bottles slightly dissolving into hot drinks.  You will have to make your own judgement here.  In the end, the glass bottle didn’t work for me because at 5 months baby was holding his own bottle and therefore dropping it, and once it had smashed I wasn’t going to replace it.
  • SIPPY CUPS as early as you can.  I think mine started on them at about 6 months old.  By 8 months he was drinking out of a cup or glass at every opportunity.  I encourage this, although it is messy so it depends what he is wearing and if I have a bib or change of top to hand!
  • BIBS.  I encourage my second child to feed himself which is very messy.  So if he’s eating squashy food I put him in what looks more like something he’d wear for art, called ‘In The Pocket Baby’.  It’s brilliant because he can squash banana all over himself and his clothes are not trashed!  Otherwise any bib will do, although I do recommend the ones with a pocket, so food falls into it, rather than onto their lap or on the floor.
  • NON-BREAKABLE CROCKERY.  Non-breakable bowl and cup and eventually kiddie cutlery once they are bigger, to get them used to using cutlery.
  • Feeding CHAIR or high chair.  I bought a Stokke chair called a Tripp Trapp for my first, which is fantastic and you adapt it as they grow, by taking away bits.  When they grows out of it as a high chair, you can lower the seat so it is a normal adult chair.  They do not have a tray, so baby gets used to eating at the table from day one, and it is a lovely wooden piece of furniture in your kitchen.  My second baby is used a portable canvas seat from Phil&Teds, to begin with.  It screws onto the kitchen table and takes up no room.  It is easy to store, and light enough to put in your suitcase.  Now that he is one year old, and was climbing out of the Phil&Teds one, he is in my first’s Tripp Trapp.  For very young babies who can not sit up properly on their own, the fabric bouncy chairs are great.  Try to always feed them from the floor.  If you put him in his chair on a table, so you can sit in front of him, be very careful.  Babies can bounce a lot and before you know it, he’ll be bouncing himself off the kitchen table!

–       Transportation:

  • CARRYING DEVICES.  When it comes to carrying your baby, there are slings, wraps and other contraptions, like Baby Bjorns.  I love slings.  See my  previous blogs (‘Step Two’ & ‘Me Wearing Slings…’).
  • PRAMS.  I would highly recommend not buying your pram until you have your baby, and if possible, borrow a pram initially until you know exactly what you want.  I didn’t use a pram for either of my babies until they were about 6 months old, instead I carried them everywhere.  By the time we bought one I knew exactly what I wanted: a Maclaren.  It’s one of the lightest, while also being sturdy, and it folds up small.  If you travel a lot or have limited space in your car or at home, they are amazing.  My only complaint is that they are hard to push one handed.  However, the fact that it has two separate handles rather than a bar, means you can attach many more things to it, which is useful.  There was some controversy about it being unsafe in 2009, when children in America put their finger in between moving parts which resulted in severe injury[7].  I have only had a good relationship with mine, but have always kept my fingers and my children’s fingers away from any moving parts!  Even if you want to carry your baby for the first year, I would recommend introducing a pram by six months.  Just like feeding with a bottle, if you don’t introduce the pram at all until they are much older, they might not go in it when you want them to, which is a nightmare.  Prams are incredibly useful as a portable place for your baby to sleep, and when you are out shopping to carry all your bags!  They definitely have their place, but I know that I would have bought something different from what we ended up with if we had bought one before baby arrived.
  • PRAM COVERS.  If you use your pram a lot when it is freezing cold, you will need a cover for your pram to keep baby warm.  I used a sheepskin seat cover, which he sat on and then covered him with a sheepskin rug.  You can get brilliant all in one seat covers which attach to your pram and they slip in to.  If I were to do it again, I would buy one of those.
  • CAR SEAT.  There are a million for sale out there.  I would recommend signing onto ‘Which?’ when you are ready to buy and see what is the best at the time.  Safety standards are always changing, designs are improving (especially with regard to fixing them in the car and removing their covers when you need to wash them).  Remember, the hospital won’t (or shouldn’t) let you leave unless you have a baby-seat fitted in the car you are taking baby home in.  I would recommend fitting the seat in the car before you go into labour, otherwise you’ll be standing in the street, holding your newborn baby, while your partner is f-ing and blinding trying to work out how it works!  It’s worth knowing that most car seats are not fitted properly because people do not read the instructions correctly.  It’s so important you do, because they can be very infective if they are fitted incorrectly.

–       Medicine Cabinet:

  • PRO-BIOTICS.  I swear by them, especially if you do not breastfeed your baby for the first year, it gives them a real boost to their immunity, until their own immune system is formed.  I am using Udo’s Choice Infant Blend, at the moment but there are several very good ones.  Ask your local Health Shop which one would be best for your baby, considering his age etc.  I also take them daily.
  • MEDICINE.  I never leave home without Calpol (Paracetmol for kids).  If your baby has high temperature, it works miracles.  You shouldn’t give any medication to a baby younger than 3 months old and never give more than the recommended dose.  Many people don’t believe in painkillers.  I weigh up the pros and cons: is one dose of paracetamol better than hours of discomfort for your child?  I think so, but you must decide what is best for your little one.  There is also Nurophen for kids, which is great a painkiller.  You shouldn’t give it on an empty stomach and you can give it together with Calpol if your baby is in pain and has a fever.  Always seek professional medical advice if you are unsure about anything.
  • VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS.  It is not advised to give your baby supplements on an on-going basis, but just when they need a boost.  So as soon as mine have a runny nose, I give them a dose morning and night.  Most have quite a lot of added sugar, which is best to keep away from if possible.  The best sugar-free one I have found is Nature’s Plus’ ‘Baby Plex’.  It is a bright yellow liquid that really stains, so beware when giving it, as it’s rare not to get it on something!
  • KARVOL.  When they get a cold, put some on their chest and on the pillow and it really helps them to breath.
  • SALINE NASAL SPRAY.  If your baby is really bunged up, they get so frustrated when they can’t sleep because they can’t breathe.  The saline nasal spray really works, if you can get them to hold still long enough to use it.
  • HUMIDIFIER.  If you have a young baby when it’s winter, you might be plagued with one cold after another, which is often accompanied by a cough.  The result: a lot of sleepless nights.  A humidifier can prevent that.  They are amazing.  I have the Vicks Humidifier and if my babies ever have a cough I put it on next to their bed and usually they don’t cough at all.
  • COUGH MIXTURE.  There are no medicated cough mixtures for children.  You can buy Nelsons’ ‘Children’s Cough Syrup’, but it doesn’t really do anything.  The most effective one I’ve found is Korres’ ‘Honey Base Syrup’.  It has a strong aniseed taste, however, so some children don’t like it.
  • TEETHING POWDERS.  TEETHA by Nelsons and INFANTS’ POWDERS by Ashton & Parsons are natural teething powders.  If you use them alternately they are more affective.  People use Bonjela Infant, I never have, but I think it’s very soothing for the gums.
  • ARNICA.  I always have Nelsons’ Arnica cream for the inevitable bruise when someone knocks their head, it works a treat.
  • THERMOMETRE.  I have a Geratherm which has always been very good, there are lots of different brands on the market.
  • HOMEOPATHY.  I have the basic 18 Remedies box, although I have to admit I rarely use it.  I find homeopathy often doesn’t work very quickly and can be quite hit and miss.  It is one of those things that you need to invest the time into if you want to be affect with your analysis and remedies.
  • TOOTHPASTE.  Once baby starts eating sugar, even if he only has one tooth, it’s good to try and introduce brushing their teeth.  To begin with, until they are 18 months or so, that means giving them their baby toothbrush with a tiny amount of toothpaste on it (if you put too much it’ll end up all over your bathroom!).  The Health Visitor gave me Sanderson 0PH1000 as my second baby’s first toothpaste.  For my first son, I have always used Aquafresh milk teeth, because he seems to like the taste better than the others.

–       Bathing.

  • BATHS & MATS.  Hopefully you already have one of these in your house.  If you only have a shower, you’ll need a baby bath.  Many people choose to use baby baths anyway, so they don’t use so much water.  For my first son, I used large bathing sponges: I filled the bath an inch or so, so that the sponges were soaked with water and then lay baby on top.  I then moved onto a baby bath and once he was sitting up I put a non-slip mat on the bottom of the bath.  Once I discovered how wonderful it was having a bath with him, however, I just bathed him with me.  So lovely, I really recommend it, especially when you’re still breastfeeding.  A feed in the bath, lying there peacefully together is a magical moment.  My second son always bathed with me, until he could sit up, then he started to have a bath with his brother sitting on the non-slip mat.
  • SOAP.  Don’t use any soap on your baby for as long as you can.  No matter how good it is, it dries out their skin and when they are tiny they don’t need it.  I only ever use natural soap without chemicals.  You can buy it at most Health Food shops.  One brand of liquid soap which I adore is Apivita[8], made in Greece.  They have a chamomile and honey shampoo which is particularly good for scabby scalp or dry skin.

I’m bound to have missed out something, but hopefully this will be a useful check-list for you, with some helpful hints.  If anyone has any comments or anything they would like to add, please do let us know.

[1] By Heidi Murkoff, Sharon Mazeland – Workman Publishing.

[2] By Heidi Murkoff, Sharon Mazel, Arlene Eisenberg, Sandee Hathaway – Workman Publishing.

[3] By Jean Liedloff – Da Capo Publishing.

[4] By Margot Sunderland – Dorling Kindersley Publishing.

[5] By Dr. Harvey Karp – Bantam Dell, Random House Publishing.

[6] Made by a company called ‘Summer’.

  • Get ready to be selfless.

Life without children is incredibly selfish.  We are generally used to being the ones making the decisions which affect us moment to moment, day by day.  Losing this can be the biggest shock for mums, once the novelty of having baby has worn off.  It is unbelievably hard to become a happy, utterly selfless person over night. However, if you give yourself time to prepare for this before you have your baby, this mental preparation will set you in great stead for when he arrives.

Ironically, when you allow things to ‘just happen’ and then ‘go with the flow’, it can actually empower you by making you feel in control, because you are happy to ‘just be’ letting external forces flow.  It’s one thing putting somebody else first for a week, but this is long term.

When baby first arrives, it’s important not to feel like you need to make anything happen.  Don’t have any other responsibilities which you need to take care of, until you are ready to.  Think about what needs to be looked after when baby arrives and make provision for it, so you don’t have to do anything for at least a month.  Spend time just ‘being’ with yourself.  Don’t feel guilty if you don’t ‘achieve’ every day.  Remove all expectations of anything else going on in your life.  People might read this and think I’m talking about clearing your desk before going on maternity leave or cancelling other regular activities they usually do, but it’s all the little things as well.  Then the irony is, you don’t want anything going on, because it’s too stressful when baby arrives to have to think about anything else, and yet within a few weeks many women need some additional stimulus.  When you’re cooped up in the house, day after day, just you and baby, if you don’t prepare for this isolation and lack of external stimulation, you might find it hard.  It’s weird, because you have no time for anything else because of baby, and yet after several weeks you can feel lonely and frustrated.  Good preparation before hand, however, can really help because it isn’t easy and a lot of women find it hard to get the right balance, especially those who stay at home as baby gets to 6 months and older.

The way I dealt with this was by writing and researching (much of which is within these blogs!).  It instantly worked for me because it gave me something else to think about and be interested in.  I could do it whenever I wanted to and there was no pressure, or stress attached.  It can be difficult to think of something to occupy and excite you while being at home with baby, on an on-going basis, which is why so many women look forward to going back to work, at least part-time.  This way they get a bit of their old lives back, and they seem to be restoring the balance.  For those of us who choose to stay at home full-time, it can be more of a challenge to find that fulfilling ‘occupation’ to delve into for a few hours here and there while baby is sleeping or at nursery.  This is your challenge.  If you can afford not to go back to work and you really want to stay at home with your baby, but are feeling a little unfulfilled and frustrated, I urge you to spend a lot of time trying to find something you can do from home.  It may be a real departure for you, but that can be the most exciting part!  Look at me, I was a film producer, and now I’m a writer.

  • Listen to your baby.

While you and baby are getting used to each other, you need to put a lot of time into just hanging out and enjoying the fact that at last, after about nine months, you’re meeting your child, and it’s time to get to know him.  If you were to meet your child for the first time as a teenager, you wouldn’t expect to click with him over night.  It’s the same with your baby.  Remember: BABIES ARE REALLY GOOD COMMUNICATORS.  As adults we associate crying with pain.  For babies, however, it is how they communicate with us – and it works!  If you listen to your baby, I mean really LISTEN to him, he will tell you all you need to know.  It’s like learning a new language: on day one you don’t understand a word, but little by little you become fluent.  Like learning any language, the more time and effort you put in, the more you’ll get out.  The key is to think about crying as a language, rather than an alarm call, so that it does not stress you out.  Each time baby cries it will be a process of elimination as to what he wants, until you can identify his different cries.  When a baby is in pain, he sounds very different from when a baby is tired or hungry.  Most of the time he’ll just want you, some of the time he’ll be tired and a lot of the time he’ll be hungry.  Some babies cry when they have a dirty nappy, a lot don’t, so you may have to keep an eye on that!  If none of these seem to be the answer, seek medical or professional advice, and certainly do not leave hospital or wherever you give birth, until baby is calm and you feel relaxed.

Babies are rather particular!  For example, they like to eat and sleep when they like to eat and sleep!  You have to decide whether you are going to tell them when you want them to do this or allow them to tell you.  Me and my babies have always got on better when I let them lead the way!  Whether you are a routine person or not, babies like a rhythm to their day.  I never set a routine for my babies, but before I knew it, together we worked out when they liked to feed, and how often, or when they liked to sleep and how often.  It might change weekly or monthly, as it usually does, but if you keep listening to baby, together you’ll just work it out so that both of you are happy.

Remember, that as baby gets older and his intellectual capabilities increase, his awareness and ability to like or dislike certain things will change his behaviour.  Nothing stays the same for very long with children because they grow up so fast!  Knowledge and preparation, to anticipate how they will grow and at what age they will mentally be capable of what, is unbelievably valuable.  If you only read one book, I highly recommend ‘What Every Parent Needs to Know’ by Margot Sunderland[1].

  • Prepare by reading about the development of the human brain and body.

If you understand when different parts of your baby’s brain develop, so you know what they are mentally capable of, at what stage, it helps you to communicate in a way that they can understand.  It reduces a lot of frustration on both sides!  For example, you allow your 6 month old baby to play with a noisy toy, but then decide it is too loud and take it away.  Until your child is about 3 years old, he won’t be able to understand this.  When they are tiny, their thought processes are black and white.  Set strong, unwavering rules and boundaries, and your baby will understand what he can and can not do.  Try and tell him he can do something one minute, but not the next, and he will cry in frustration.  Obviously this behaviour is for an older baby, but there is a lot of fascinating material in Margot Sunderland’s book which will allow you to understand your child’s behaviour much more easily from day one.

  • Know yourself to know what will work for you.

I have many friends who have successfully raised children, controlling when their babies sleep and eat.  If you have read a few of my blogs, you will have gathered by now that I always let my babies lead me, so I cannot advise on what I do not know.  I am very aware, however, that my methods may not suit you.  The important thing is to think about what kind of a person you are, how you and your partner live your lives and how much you want to change that.  One of the reasons why I liked feeding on demand and carrying baby in a sling, was it meant for the first few months, baby came around with us almost as if he were still in the womb!  He just slept and ate, discretely, wherever we were.  There were no prams to worry about, only a nappy changing bag.  Often people didn’t even realise I was carrying a baby!  Does this sound like it may suit you?  If so give it a shot.  If not, what do you think would suit you better?

It’s amazing how often we take ourselves for granted before we have children.  Ask yourself some questions like 1) What are you biggest likes? 2) What are your biggest dislikes? 3) Do you like being in control? 4) How do you react when you are out of control and stressed?  5) How can you calm yourself down?  If you’ve never thought about it, it may be a while before you can answer truthfully.  Before baby arrives, first of all think about how you imagine being with your baby.  1) Do you think you’ll carry him in a sling or use a pram?  2) Do you think you’ll feed on demand or control the times of his feeding? 3) Do you think he’ll sleep in your bed or in a cot?  Then ask yourself certain questions about your personality.  1) Do you like to feel close intimacy with others for long periods of time? 2) Do you mind feeling slightly exposed in public? 3) Do you think you’ll want anyone else to help you with your baby? 4) Do you like having anyone close to you when you sleep?  Of course, the answer to these questions may change once baby arrives, because having a child changes so much about you.  You won’t really know how you are going to feel and what is going to make you feel most comfortable until baby arrives.  However, just the process of asking these questions and being aware of them, will put you in the right frame of mind.  You will make certain judgement calls and decide to make a few plans, but if they don’t feel right once baby is born, just change them.  Nothing is permanent and it’s all a work in progress.  As long as you feel calm and content, the rest will fall into place.

My husband and I were determined that as much as possible, the kids were going to just fit in with our lives, rather than the other way round.  As the babies have got older, naturally things have become a bit less spontaneous and slowly but surely they dominate more of your lives!  However, for us at least, it was a natural change which happened a) to make our lives easier and b) because we really like hanging out with our kids.  Everyone evolves differently with the introduction of children.  It’s the way you do it, which can either feel very natural or a real shock!

  • Does his timing suit you?

As baby grows, if he is used to hanging out with you, and eating with you, they’re more likely to go to bed a little later, but his means they’ll also get up later as well.  You can’t have it both ways and late starts in the morning suits us better!  If he is naturally an early riser (like our second) by the time he’s a toddler, moving his sleeping and eating patterns so that they work better for your lifestyle, becomes much easier.  As I said in my previous blog, treat it like jetlag.  For several months baby no.2 was in bed about 7pm.  Admittedly it was nice having quiet time in the evening with my husband, but I couldn’t handle the 6/6.30am wake up call, because I wanted to still have a life in the evenings!  (Some may call me over optimistic, but hey!)  Over the past week I have shifted his schedule so he’s more in tune with the rest of us, by having a mid-afternoon nap and then going to bed around 8.30pm.  Now we’re waking around 7.30am, which is much more like it – long may it last!!  I’m one of these people who really needs my sleep, so that extra hour means I can go to bed at 11pm and still function the next day.  Without it, a part of my life doesn’t feel in balance, because we’ve always enjoyed socialising or watching movies in the evening.  It is very hard to maintain a balance so that you feel like each part of your life is being satisfied, but the more you work at it, like anything in life, the more is achievable.

[1] Published by Dorling Kindersley Ltd., 2006.

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Prepare for the possibility that breastfeeding may not happen easily,  immediately or at all.  The key is to try and be as relaxed as possible with baby and take your time. When baby is born, one of the first things you are encouraged to do is get baby onto your breast.  Most mothers expect it …

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Michael posted a comment, asking to see me in a wrap.  So here are a few of me with baby:

 Here I am in the park, with our wonderful dog, a little sun hat tied around my neck, to keep baby in the shade.  New Borns are too small to keep it on affectively, so this was a really great tip I learned from where I got the hat.  Baby is lying across me in the ring-sling, fast asleep.

Here I am wearing the wrap, baby is a bit bigger, so he’s able to wear the hat himself now.  We’re walking in Cornwall.  I show this photo to illustrate that you can wear them no matter what the weather.  Because the organic material ones (the only ones I would recommend) are breathable, you don’t get too hot, even in weather like this. Sure it’s a bit hot between you and baby, but no where else.  The breathable material also means baby can breathe if his nose or mouth is against the material, although I always try to keep his nose and mouth clear.

Here I am illustrating to a friend how to put on the wrap.  I am kissing baby’s head to illustrate how high up the baby should be on your body.  It is much better for your back, and the weight distribution works much better that way, so baby feels much lighter.

Me biking in Richmond Park with baby, while my husband had our 3 year old on the other bike.  It’s a wonderful feeling to still be able to partake in healthy family activities. .

And the wonderful thing about these slings, is you can use them as an accessory!  This ring sling is my favourite because of the gorgeous colours. This is us at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last Summer.


Me on Portobello Road.  Couldn’t resist these shots, because they show how the wrap is tied around me so well, and because of the great colour co-ordination!!

 Here we are walking in the Marsh Lands towards Brancaster beach, in Norfolk.  Baby, now holding his head well on his own, and very curious, wants to know what is going on and so his head is out.  I realise the angel looks a bit awkward from the photo, but I assure you all he was incredibly comfortable.  Usually you wear slings high, so you can kiss the top of the baby’s head (as illustrated above).  Here, however, as you can see, I have my 3 year old is on my shoulders, and so to prevent him kicking baby I loosened off the sling, so that I could carry both.  Smiles all round!

I hope these photos prove my point that you can still be very active with babies in slings.

A final point, if a baby is not happy, he will CRY!  So if baby is in the sling, (as long as you can see his mouth and nose, so you know he can breathe clearly) if baby looks like he’s lying in an awkward position, don’t worry!  He’s fine.  If he’s uncomfortable, he’ll tell you!!

Thank you for the request Michael, I have really enjoyed sharing these pictures.

Tiffany Newton

Congratulations, baby has arrived!  Have a breather and a few minutes to yourself if you need them and then, when you and baby are ready, try to get him on the breast.  It’s a wonderfully bonding thing if you can manage it.  Don’t worry if he finds it difficult, though, he’s got a lot going on!  Also, it’s worth considering that it may not happen for you.  No matter how many times we read ‘breast is best’, the fact is breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone.  If you are one of these women do not feel guilty about it.  Preparing mentally for the possibility of this helps enormously.  Look at the thousands of children running around who were brought up on formula milk and are thriving!  Enough of that for now, however, feeding is the topic of my next blog.

So, baby has just been born and until now, he has had everything done for him: oxygen and nutrition on tap via the umbilical cord, and 24/7 comfort and warmth in your belly.  Suddenly, he has to breath by himself, feed himself and when you are not next to him, he misses your smell and your warmth.  Remember he is an external foetus for the first three months of his life[1].  There is no thought process.  He’s just surviving and you are all that is familiar to him.  He does not even realise that he is his own person separate from you until he is about 6 months old.

When I realised all of this, it made me a lot more relaxed, and gave me a lot more patience with the first few days and weeks of my first son’s life.  And most importantly, I knew that we were learning together.  I hope it’ll be the same for you, because the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed he will be.

  • Prepare for the feeling of not knowing what you are doing or where to start!  Don’t expect too much from yourself on day one and let you and your baby learn together.

Neither of you know what to expect on day one, and that’s ok.  Twenty years ago or more, if you didn’t have an experienced friend, maternity nurse or family member nearby, you had very little access to knowledge, so you had to rely on your instincts.  What you must believe is that the best mother and carer for your baby is you.

Don’t worry that you don’t have the experience.  Sure it gives you the confidence that you know what you are doing, but if you mentally prepare to embark on this journey, listening to your baby and learning what he is communicating to you and when, you will learn so fast, that very soon you’ll be full of confidence.  Experience gives you the knowledge of little things which you pick up along the way and do help, but remember every baby is different, so even the most experienced mother has to get to know a newborn from scratch.  What I’m trying to say is, have the confidence to go with your instincts and know what is right for you and your baby.

If you have had a natural birth and both you and baby are healthy and well, all you have to worry about is making sure your baby feeds (breast or formula), sleeps and is clean.  If your baby finds it difficult to feed or sleep, then help is at hand, and I’ll talk more about that in future blogs, but remember everyone was inexperienced once and they just learned on the job, like you will.

  • Do what works for you and your baby, and if it doesn’t suit you, change it.

We are all different, so what worked for me, may not work for you.  I have never enjoyed rigid structure, and so a strict routine did not work for me.  However, it does work for a lot of people.  What’s important is you really think about the kind of person you are before you have the baby, rather than just listening to your friends.  It’s not about them.  It’s about you and your baby.  Also, if you think one way will suit you and it doesn’t, change it.  Just like your birth plan, it doesn’t always work out as you expect!

Everyone suggested a strict routine to me when I was pregnant with my first.  I tried it and after two weeks I knew it wasn’t for me.  I listened to people’s advice and thought this was the way it had to be in order to be the best mum I could be.  When baby obviously wasn’t happy, I found it incredibly stressful.  I doubted myself.  I thought other experienced mothers should know more than me, as I was so new to all of this!  However, baby and I were not happy, so I ditched the routine.  The moment I changed to feeding on demand and carrying my baby everywhere, with no strict sleep times, both of us couldn’t have been happier.  The amount of women I know who battle with routine or a particular way of doing things, which doesn’t suit them or their baby, resulting in a baby who cries a lot, breaks my heart.

Just as every adult is different, with a different personality, so it stands to reason that every baby will be different.  Just like adults, though, every baby likes to sleep and eat and be clean, we just all do it in slightly different ways.  Your job as mum is to find out which way suits you and your baby best.

My experience:

Sure there are little tips to help you sooth him, which people pick up along the way, but in my experience (and I can only talk about what I did), if you replicate the environment of the womb you’re more than half way there.

  • Replicating the environment of the womb soothes and calms your baby.

So what is the womb like?  It’s cosy, which is why swaddling works for many babies (my first loved it, but my second hated being restricted from day one and screamed if I swaddled him).  It’s dark, so don’t worry about your baby being afraid of the dark (this is something they learn with the help of TV and older kids!).  It’s very, very noisy, which is why people encourage the use of white noise to help babies sleep, or a loud ‘shhhing’ sound.  If you want to know more, check out Dr. Harvey Karp’s book, ‘The Happiest Baby on the Block’.  He is able to sooth any baby by using what he calls the 5 “S’s”.  These include swaddling (replicating the tight space of the womb), swinging (replicating the movement baby felt while in the womb), and shhhing (replicating the noise in the womb).  Harvey Karp says that the inside of the womb sounds like 3 vacuum cleaners going off at the same time.  He has gathered a lot of his insight from the ¡Kung Sun (or African bushmen) whose babies are incredibly content.  As Harvey Karp puts it, “it’s not that they never cry – it’s that they never CRY!”  How do they achieve this: they hold their babies 24 hours a day (in arms and in slings), feed their babies on demand, and usually respond to their babies’ cries within seconds[2] .  Having also read ‘The Continuum Concept’ by Jean Liedloff[3] this all made perfect sense to me[4].  Her book’s sub-heading is ‘In Search of Happiness Lost’, as she believes that modern society has introduced ways of child-rearing which have broken some of the essential bonds between mother and baby which the 24 hour ‘in-arms’ way of child-rearing seals.

Both books are very interesting reads, but I understand these methods are not for everyone.  What both have in common, however, is they write about how women in the developing world have very contented babies who do not suffer from colic, and I think there is a lot to be said for that.  Modern day society is not the same as living in a rain forest, and so obviously certain things that work there, do not work here.  However, there are ways in which we can make baby feel ‘at home’ while being more aware of his needs, responding quickly to them, and you don’t have to be tied to the house, either!

  • Slings help enable you to be active while carrying your baby and enhance the bond between you and baby.

I love slings!  Many women want to be active but also want to have their babies on them.  If this is you, consider using one.  Millions of women round the world carry their babies in this way and have done since anyone can remember.  There is nothing new about sling wearing.  In many cultures it’s been tried and tested for generations, carrying their babies while they work or complete every day tasks; and the verdict is unanimous: it works!

I bought all of my slings from Maverick Baby[5].  They try out a lot of the slings on the market, distribute the best ones, and offer personal consultations to help you get to grips with wearing them.  This is incredibly important as there is a real knack with sling wearing, which until you fathom it, makes them seem unbelievably complicated.  They are not, but you do have to invest the time to get to grips with them.  What the sling has over other carrying contraptions, is the way they distribute baby’s weight over your shoulders and across your back, so that you don’t get sore, can carry your baby for much longer periods of time and until they are much heavier.  If you have two babies quite close together, carrying your newborn means you don’t have to worry about double prams.  I only learned about them in time for my second baby and they transformed my experience in every way[6].

Good luck in finding the way which works for you and your baby.  I wish I had thought a little bit more about it before my first baby was born.  You can!

Tiffany Newton

[2] ‘The Happiest Baby on the Block’, Dr. Harvey Karp, M.D. (Bantam Trade Paperback, 2002), p.84.

[3] Da Capo Press, 1977.

[4] Jean had spent time in Venezuela in the upper Caura River basin, near the Brazilian boarder, in what was known as the “impenetrable” rain forest, with the Yequana and Sanema tribes.

[6] I started off with a ring sling, which meant baby could lie in a foetal position while I did household chores, played with my other son, walked the dog, you name it.  When baby was a bit bigger we moved onto the wrap, which I still use today (he is 10 months old!).  I have to admit it took me a while to be able to feed on the run, because baby needed help latching on and staying on my breast for weeks and weeks.  Once we cracked that, however, it meant no matter where I was, or what I was doing, if baby was hungry, a slight readjustment of the wrap and he was feeding and happy again.


STEP ONE in Preparing Mentally for Having Your First Baby:

Prepare Yourself for

the Ordeal of Labour and

Your Immediate Feelings for Baby


From the moment you announce your pregnancy, people congratulate, enthuse and excite about the impending new arrival.  Meanwhile, you worry about your expanding waistline or the extra large pants you are forced to buy!

“Pregnancy might not be very comfortable, but it doesn’t matter, soon it will all be behind you, and have been so worthwhile.”  You smile grimly, thanking them for the comfort, while you change yet another blouse soaked through with sweat.

“All you have to get through now”, they continue, “is labour”, as if it’s the same as buying the groceries.  You listen, reassured, counting the moments before you will, at last, meet your bundle of love and joy.  The reality, however, can be rather more complicated.

It is true that for some, once baby arrives, nothing else matters.  Their perspective in life is clear, life takes on a deeper meaning and they find a new inner happiness.  For others, it is the beginning of a life-changing journey, which may have some very difficult moments.  The more mental preparation you are able to do for yourself, the easier you can make your journey.

  • Prepare for the ordeal of labour.

I’m here to share the reality of labour, rather then looking at it through rose-tinted spectacles.  The point is, YOU CAN NOT PREDICT YOUR LABOUR, even with your second child.  I thought I’d know what to expect.  Nope!  My experiences were completely different.

My first labour was on and off for 2 days, with full-on labour (minute and a half contractions, every minute) for 19 hours, and my waters only broke 45 minutes before he arrived.  First time, labour is often longer.  It is as if your body is learning what to do, the pain escalating gradually.  After hours of labour, once baby arrived, my body was flooded with adrenaline, which lasted for months.  I felt amazing.  Luckily my yoga teacher, Lolly Stirk, told me what was happening and to slow down before it all wore off.  Thankfully I listened to her because otherwise, after about 4 months, I might have fallen flat on my face with sudden, unexplained exhaustion.

My second labour was over in just over 6 hours, start to finish, with full-on labour only 1 hour 45 minutes, once my waters broke.  The incremental increase in pain with each contraction was massive, because I no longer had the cushion of my waters, but also because it was all happening so quickly.  My body obviously knew what it was doing this time and didn’t hang around, although quick labours are much more intense!  It was over so quickly that I didn’t have that amazing flood of adrenaline like last time – gutting!  I also experienced post-baby pains when feeding – yikes!  Wasn’t expecting that one!  You don’t normally experience any pain when baby breastfeeds after birth with your first, but with your second (and apparently it just gets worse with each baby), the uterus contracting with each feed (to get it back into shape) is such agony you may need pain killers.

Most women will agree that no labour is the same.  They’ll also tell you, that when it comes to number two, and thereafter, you hardly even have a birth plan!  Of course you must decide where you’d like to give birth (at home, a birth centre, or which hospital), and whether you want the baby to be born in water for example; but all of your choices are made in the knowledge that you cannot control your labour.  With this in mind, take it into consideration when planning for the arrival of number one.  Make all the preparations you need to make you feel comfortable but what is key is that you focus on the safe and healthy arrival of baby, rather than the smaller details.

  • Don’t be afraid of labour.

People do not talk openly about the horrors of labour because they do not want to scare expectant mothers.  I understand that, but without openness and honesty, how can you prepare for the possibility of being in labour for hours and hours and hours on end?  It may not happen to you, but it also might, and you should be ready for that.

  • Don’t be scared of labour pain, prepare for it.

No matter which way you look at it, labour is painful and is likely to be worse than any pain you have experienced before.  I tell you this not to scare you, but so that you can prepare calmly for what is about to happen.  It can be far more stressful, having planned for a natural birth, to realise after a few hours, that you just don’t know how you are going to deal with this.  Mental preparation can give you the ability to deal with anything.  How do you, as an individual, deal with pain best?  Ask yourself this important question and answer it truthfully.  Does music and candlelight relax you?  If so prepare this environment for when labour starts at home, at the very least.  Everyone is different and no matter how radical it might seem, go with what you think will work.

Labour is pain CREATED by your own body, so it can deal with it.  You can deal with it.  But if you are not equipped with ways to control that pain, especially over prolonged periods of time, it might be more difficult.

The following really helped me:

  • Practices such as yoga[1] (yogic breathing was key to both of my births) and HypnoBirthing (just reading about this was helpful, even though I didn’t end up using it, although I know plenty of people who have done very successfully – some swear that they don’t feel any pain)
  • Perineum massage.  I’m sure it gave me an extra inch in diameter, and in labour every millimetre counts!
  • Devices like TENS machines.  It was a God send first time round, to help deal with this new pain which was more intense than I had expected.  Second time I didn’t bother, confident it would all happen much faster – I was right!
  • Herbal ointments to bath in at home once labour starts to calm you and relieve pain (visit Neal’s Yard Remedies).
  • Water is a natural anaesthetic.  Having a bath at home to help with the early contractions and giving birth in water can really help.  With my first pregnancy being in water really helped with labour, but after many hours, I was advised to get out as everything was taking too long.  I ended up having my son standing up a few hours thereafter.  With my second, labour happened too quickly to be in water, accept for right at the end where we gave birth!
  • Exercise.  With my first baby, I walked the dog for hours when my contractions started.  It helped distract me and they say it helps move the baby down faster.  (After 19 hours of full-on labour, though, I was slightly doubting this, but hey, I guess it could have gone on another 4 hours!)

No matter which way you dress it ladies, labour is painful, so get ready.  Mentally.

There is nothing to be scared of.  I gave birth without any drugs (not even gas and air) both times and even though it was painful, I would do it all again drug free.  Why, you might ask?

  • I wanted to be in control of my body at all times, and be able to feel the baby come out.
  • If you can not feel when to push, relying on the midwife to tell you, you can tear more.
  • Bruising and backache can result from where the anaesthetist puts the needle in your back, which can take weeks to disappear.
  • An epidural can slow down your contractions, extending labour.
  • Your recovery can be longer.
  • Within a couple of days you forget the pain – which is why we go through all of this more than once!
  • Research says it is the least traumatic way, for your baby, to bring him into the world.
  • Expect to be exhausted and in discomfort afterwards.

Rest as much as you can.

Sleep when baby sleeps.  Everyone always tells pregnant women this and they never listen!  By the time you have your second, if you go again, you’ll wish you could sleep more but may not be able to because of number one running around.  Make the most of being able to while you can.  Sleep heals all wounds.

Walk as little as you can until you are totally healed.  Check out

I used the Healing Herbal Bath sachets after both my births to help heal minor grazing and I was back to normal within 10 days.

  • Don’t worry if it doesn’t go to plan – it probably won’t!

Women set their hearts on giving birth in a particular place, in a particular way.  It can be incredibly disappointing if you are set on having a totally natural birth, for example, but you are forced to have an epidural or a c-section.

Don’t dwell on it.  It’s over.  Prepare yourself mentally for the fact that nothing is in your control and that it may all be very different from how you expect.  The important thing once baby is safely in your arms, is to focus on him, and be joyful that he arrived safely.  Congratulate yourself – you survived labour!  You are amazing!  Well done!  Nothing else matters.  At last, after all those months of incubating your little one, you are together.  Enjoy!

  • Prepare for the possibility of not feeling overwhelming emotion towards your new baby.

It is worth considering that there may not be an immediate, overflowing feeling of love when you first see or hold your baby.  If this is the case for you, don’t worry and don’t feel guilty.  It is like this for many women and remember baby is still just an external foetus[2].  Some fathers can find it particularly difficult to bond with their new off spring in the first few months, before there is any interaction.  With time, as baby grows, bonds develop and become stronger and stronger.  Also, consider what you have just been through: labour.  It’s the most amount of pain and stress the body will ever put itself through – and you survived!  You deserve a medal!  It is natural that after such an ordeal you might be surprised by your emotions and feeling, and of course, your hormones will still be all over the place!  Good old hormones, where would we be without them?!

  • Be as relaxed as possible once he is born, allowing yourself the time to recover and to let the feelings grow naturally.

Finally, remember that babies are incredibly robust little things and they too, have just survived labour.  So if you need a break, he’ll be just fine without you for a few minutes.  Once you have given birth and have laid baby on your chest, to make that initial contact outside the womb, give baby to your partner, if need be.  I did!  Have a shower and lie back for a few minutes.  After all that, you deserve a break and a moment to yourself to catch your breath!  When you are ready you can take up your little angel and put him against your breast, but there is plenty of time.

  • Get help if you need it.

We are not meant to be doing all of this alone and if you need help after the birth, ask for it, without any feeling of guilty.  What is important is that you can rest and concentrate on baby.  NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.

Additional Tip:

  • Make sure you take all your supplements during pregnancy.  Your baby will take all it needs from you in the womb and if you don’t have sufficient to sustain yourself as well, deficiency can contribute to more severe baby blues or post-natal depression.
Tiffany Newton


When a male friend of mine asked me what to expect, days before their first child was due, I said, “That you will never be your wife’s priority again.”  Remember this ladies, it is all a massive ordeal for you, but initially it can be an incredibly isolating experience for them.


[1] Lolly Stirk is amazing.  Anyone who has been trained by her recommends her:

[2] External foetus?  It might sound a bit strange, but for the first three months of their lives, that is what your baby is.  The reason why we do not give birth after a year when they are more physically formed, is we couldn’t give birth to a child that large without killing ourselves.  Thus the baby has to finish his development in our arms, rather than our bellies.  Remember this when considering their behaviour in the first few months: there is no thought process, only instinct and survival.