I was really keen on having a birth that was as natural as possible, but I was also quite scared of the pain and was unsure if I’d be able to manage without pain relief. Everyone loves to tell a pregnant woman a birth horror story and I was starting to panic about labour. I’d done quite a lot of research on birth—most of which actually worried me more—and one thing that kept coming up was hypnobirthing. Now, I’m one of the least ‘woo’ people ever and I was pretty sceptical, but I was so determined about avoiding an epidural (I have a massive fear of needles) that I was willing to try anything.

My thoughts on hypnobirthing

The overall idea of hypnobirthing is to release the fears we’ve been brought up to have around childbirth, and replace them with confidence that our body can do this. This made a lot of sense to me. After all, women have been giving birth for thousands of years. It doesn’t make sense that suddenly we need all the intervention I was reading about (obviously, in some cases intervention is life saving and necessary—and I’m not judging anyone who wants or needs an epidural, it’s just not for me. Mainly because I’m so pathetic and squeamish).

I downloaded The Hypnobirthing Book by Katharine Graves and Effective Birth Preparation by Maggie Howell onto my Kindle. I also downloaded their respective tracks from the iTunes Store to listen to.

I’d say that even if you aren’t convinced by the idea of hypnobirthing, if you want more information on the process of birth and are keen on having a less medicalised birth, these books are useful.

The Hypnobirthing Book 

This book had a lot of explanation about what hypnobirthing is. A part that really resonated with me was the section on how other mammals give birth. Most find a dark, private place where they feel safe—we are mammals too so it makes sense that we need this—and if they are frightened by anything, they stop giving birth and run away to somewhere they feel safe again. Fear is a massive barrier to birth so I needed to manage my feelings. It explains how the uterus works, and how fear can affect it.

The book gives lots of exercises to practice, focusing on breathing. The visualisations are really useful. It’s helpful to have a partner read out some parts to you so you can focus on the breathing. The birth affirmations part was something I wasn’t initially convinced by, but after listening to the Colour and Calmness download I understood it a lot more.

Probably the most useful part of the book for me was the chapter on achieving the birth you want. It gives advice on avoiding intervention if that is what you want.

Effective Birth Preparation

I’d say this book is slightly more practical. There are sections to fill in so you can reflect on how you feel about pregnancy and birth. It covers a lot of the same ground as the Hypnobirthing Book, but I found it was slightly more informal, so if you prefer that style I’d recommend this one.

I really loved the positive birth stories throughout this book. It made a nice change from all the horror I’d been hearing.

Again, there are lots of exercises to practice in this book.


I found it really useful to read both of these books. Even if you aren’t keen on the idea of hypnobirthing, I think they are worth reading for a more positive look at birth. The CDs or downloads you can get from both authors are what I’d recommend if you want to practice hypnobirthing–I would have struggled to practice without them. I found them very relaxing. I would listen to them in the bath pretty much daily towards the end of pregnancy. I can’t say that I particularly feel like I did hypnobirthing properly during labour (I didn’t really visualise–to be honest most of it went from my head as soon as I went to hospital), but I did really focus on my breathing, which I think was a result of the relaxation practice I’d been doing.

If you liked this post, you might want to read my full birth story.

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The Braun Thermoscan 7 thermometer has been one of the pieces of baby equipment I wish I’d had from birth. When I was pregnant, I decided I didn’t really need one. I was definitely wrong.

Braun Thermoscan 7 — A review Pinterest image

We’ve had a sickly couple of weeks in our house. First, Jacob had his 16-week immunisations and, after being pretty much ok with the previous two lots of jabs—except for a bit of grumpiness—we experienced the dreaded post-immunisation fever. My poor little boy was burning up despite having the maximum dose of Calpol. It was pretty terrifying actually. I stripped him off and seriously contemplated phoning 111, but I realised that there’s nothing they could do so just decided to keep an eye on him. It was at this point I realised we really needed a better thermometer. I had an old fashioned ‘stick the tip in the mouth’ type, which doesn’t really work that well with babies.

After my panic the previous night,  I popped to Boots and, on a bit of a whim, decided to invest in a Braun Thermoscan 7 ear thermometer, which cost a whopping £44.99*. However, I’m so glad I did. It’s given me peace of mind.

The Braun Thermoscan 7 in it's holder

The Braun Thermoscan 7 in its holder

Features of the Braun Thermoscan 7

It has an Age Precision function, which gives fever guidance depending on age. There’s a setting for 0-3 months, 3-36 months and 36 months plus. So it’s suitable for all the family (We’ve subsequently used it on grandpa who had flu). It’s easy to see if the temperature is normal, raised or high because the display lights up green, yellow or red. I didn’t actually realise this, but the threshold for a high temperature is lower in babies than adults.

There’s a memory function too, so you can compare the current reading with the last 9 you’ve taken. That should be useful to see if baby’s temperature is coming down over time.

The thermometer came with 20 disposable filters which should be changed after each use to ensure hygiene and, apparently, accuracy. So that’s an additional cost. I didn’t see any in Boots, but I’ve found them on Amazon, so I’ll just order them there.

Jacob has since had a cold, which me and the husband have caught off him (when will he learn not to cough in our faces?!), so we’ve tested the thermometer out a bit. It takes the reading really quickly which is useful with a wriggly little one. It’s actually easy to get a bit obsessed, so I probably need to ration my use.

*The thermometer is actually a little cheaper on Amazon (£41.02 at the time of writing) here.

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Jacob is now 4 months old and I’ve continued to breastfeed him up to now, with the very occasional bottle of formula when I’ve gone out and haven’t had time to express. Now breastfeeding is well and truly established, it is by far the easiest feeding option. Sterilising and making up bottles is far too much faff for a lazy mother like me.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing since my last update though. We’ve battled oral and nipple thrush (who knew that was a thing?!), which was extremely painful for me. It’s treated with Canesten cream for the nipples and some prescribed drops for the baby, but if you forget to use the cream for a few days after its gone from baby’s mouth it can come back. Don’t forget. It feels like someone’s attacking your nipples with razor blades.

Jacob is gaining weight at an alarming rate, which is bad news for my poor back but excellent news for my milk and shows that he’s getting everything he needs. At first I was really worried about whether he was getting enough. Needless to say, after his last weigh in at over 8 kg, I no longer worry about that.

I occasionally feel like giving up feeding, particularly when I’m being woken for the 4th feed of the night, and recently bought some formula. Several people have said he’ll sleep better on formula. The idea being that breast milk is digested quickly, so formula keeps them feeling full for longer. The idea of switching to formula for my convenience is something I’m a bit uncomfortable with at the moment–especially as he’s been ill lately and relied on breastfeeding to get to sleep/feel better. The formula hasn’t been opened  yet, but I’ve got it for when I need it. I’m going to try to get to 6 months, but I’ve accepted its not the end of the world if he has formula now. Pumping has helped a bit with lack of sleep, as I can give a bottle to someone else and go and have a nap.

I highly recommend investing in a decent pump if you want to express milk. Even if you aren’t fussed about giving baby the odd bit of formula, it’s necessary if you go out and leave the baby for a while. I’ve taken my pump on a couple of evenings out! I’ll write a review soon, but I’m using the Medela Swing (Update: see Medela Swing breast pump—A review for more details on my breast pump. I really do recommend it)

Another best buy has been Lansinoh cream for nipples. I hardly need it now, but it’s excellent for sore nipples at the start of the feeding journey. I’m using it as a lip balm now. It’s seriously amazing at that too!

I’ll keep you updated with how we get on.

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A cold start!

Before I had the baby I used to enjoy keeping fit. I’d go to the gym a few times a week and do some classes. A few years ago I got into running and did a half marathon, but since then I’ve hardly ran at all.

I used the opportunity of a new parkrun starting up in our local park to take up running again. It’s free (a major plus now I can’t afford the gym), relatively quick, the grandparents live nearby so I can get a babysitter easily, and not too intimidating. People of all ages and levels of fitness take part in parkrun. Just what I needed for my first proper exercise post-birth.

I’d been doing a lot of walking, as well as some YouTube fitness videos, but I really felt like getting back to more strenuous exercise.

Parkrun events are held all over the country (maybe even world, actually) at 9am on a Saturday. As I mentioned, they are free and all you have to do is sign up online and print your personal barcode.

The runs (you can walk too if running is too much!) are 5km, which is a manageable distance, and timed. Everyone starts running at once and when you cross the finish line, your barcode is scanned. Later that day you get an email telling you your time, where you placed in the field, and how you did for your age group.

I first did a few parkruns back in 2013 so there was a record of how fit I used to be online in my profile—I knew I’d be a lot slower now, but it’s good to have something to aim for eventually.

On the day (at 14 weeks post-baby) it was freezing and I felt quite nervous, but I soon warmed up and got going. The atmosphere at parkrun is so friendly, you can’t be intimidated.

I started off slowly, and managed to run the whole way. I even sprinted for the finish line (I was nearly sick as punishment!). I finished 8 minutes slower than my best parkrun time, which isn’t great—but it’s a start! I didn’t want to push too hard as I wasn’t sure how my body would respond. I was sore the next day, but it was definitely worth it.

I’ve since done two more and improved both times. It feels great to get some exercise out in the fresh air and I look forward to seeing progress as time goes on.

The Diary of an 'Ordinary' Mum

Baby Jacob’s first Christmas is fast approaching, and the question I’m constantly asked is ‘what are you getting him for Christmas?’

We’ve bought him a Jumperoo, but decided to give it to him now rather than wait for Christmas Day. As he won’t remember and isn’t aware of what day it is, it seems silly to wrap it up and get him to open it on the day. Especially when he can use it now. 

My theory is that grandparents, aunts and uncles will buy him gifts for the day, so there’s no need to waste money on presents from us.

Are we just being sensible? Or should I be making more of an effort? 

*I have ordered a baby’s first Christmas bauble for the tree, so I’m not completely ignoring the milestone!