Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Giving Hypnobirthing a Try

EDIT: So, I was finishing this post when I stopped to make dinner. After we'd finished I sat back and felt some odd twinges. Those twinges were the start of labour. I've now finished this off and kept it as it was. I wanted this to be about my thoughts before trying hypnobirthing so I haven't let the experience change it. I'll be following up with how the labour went very soon.


With my due date getting closer and closer I’m very aware that I’ve got to get myself ready for labour. My last pregnancy was to put it bluntly, a breeze, and to be honest my labour wasn't awful in the grand scheme of things. Obviously it wasn’t the most pleasant experience but I had quite a positive outlook on the whole thing and I was pretty laid back about it. It was all new to me and I left everything to the midwife as I was confident she knew what she was doing.  I had no real birth plan, just a ‘we’ll see how we get on’ approach. I only really breastfed because I tried it and I found it came naturally. I think being calm about everything was a huge factor in why the labour hasn’t left me traumatised. 

This time I’d like something similar but I want a little more control over the situation and see the midwife as someone there with the knowledge to help if needs be. This is where Hypnobirthing appealed to me. I’m all about being in a positive head space to get you through things.

hypnobirthing-positive-birthI've been met with a few puzzled expressions when I mentioned I was going to look into hypnobirthing. This was mainly from the older generation, but I think it’s down to lack of knowledge- but then if you aren’t planning on doing it why would you really bother learning about it? I had no idea what Hypnobirthing was before I was pregnant. All I knew was that Harry Kane praised his wife for it and a lot of people decided to get offended. *sigh*. 

The word 'Hypnobirthing' automatically makes us think of hypnosis and a watch swinging in front of your face which gives us the impression that it could all be a load of rubbish. It's not like that at all. There is a lot of logic involved. 

I’ve ben through a lot of pain over the years with various health complications and the main reason for trying this out was that I hoped I could learn some techniques to help channel any pain into something I could deal with. If i learnt some lessons I could use after labour then that was an added bonus. Once I started looking into Hypnobirthing I was fascinated, anything to do with the mind is right up my street. I got very into it.

Why do we have  negative thoughts about birth?
We get into our heads that pregnancy is a lot of screaming and shouting and telling your partner to never come near you again. I’ve often heard conversations between men and women trying to decide whether childbirth is more painful than being kicked in the balls. Why are we focusing on the pain side of things rather than what the end goal is? We don't see other mammals giving birth screaming - that would make for a rather traumatic trip to the farm! With films and TV we’ve been lead to believe that labour is dramatic, loud and scary, this makes for far more interesting viewing but in real life it's the opposite of what we need or what it has to be like. 

Hypnobirthing is a way to manage pain throughout labour by getting you into a relaxed state through breathing techniques and trusting your body which in turn makes the experience far more bearable. Many women talk about their hypnobirthing experience as something wonderful to look back on. 

Language and understanding your body
The language used is a big part of it. It changes your perception.  
In hypnobirthing a contraction is referred to as a 'surge' which makes perfect sense to me. The word 'contraction' makes me focus on the tightness that I feel while the term surge is like a feeling that is coming and going, it’s temporary.  I’ve always said that stomach pains I’ve felt with my past health problems are bad because they are constant, they don’t come and go like surges do. So in my last labour I saw it as something positive, that it was going to have an ending a few more deep breaths and they are gone -even if only for a bit. I plan on focusing on this the next time around too. 

You’re also encouraged to use the word ‘pressure’ instead of ‘pain’ which takes away the negativity a little bit. Pain isn’t a word you need to be focusing on but understanding that there is pressure is fine. It’s not about switching off from what you feel, it’s about understanding it and taking control while focusing on being calm and relaxed to help your body do it’s thing.

When we are afraid (which is a common feeling during childbirth) our body diverts blood and oxygen away from the uterus to essential defence organs which means it can't perform its functions efficiently without pain. If we remain calm and relaxed, the uterine muscles are are free to work comfortably as they are not starved of blood and oxygen. Even the science makes sense. If you don’t expect it to be painful you’ll feel more in control.

Fear makes you tense up and that results in pain. Knowing what exactly happens when there is a surge makes me understand what my body is doing. Think of it this way, if your leg suddenly hurts for no reason you’ll panic more than if you know you just knocked it. It’s the unknown that makes us uneasy- children aren’t scared of the dark, they are scared of what might be in it. I’ve become more aware that I need to trust my body, it  does a lot of the work for you if you let it. During my time being a mum I’ve often surprised myself when I’ve just gone with my gut and used my instincts only to google what to do afterwards and find I was right.

I remember being in labour with M and I thought to myself ‘If I could stop this pain right now, would I?' And I answered 'no' because I knew this was what my body needed to go through for me to meet my baby. It was such a clear moment for me and I was in that mindset from that moment. This was just what my body naturally needed to do next. 


You need to tell yourself that you can do this. Women have always done this. One way to keep the fear at bay and picture the birth as a positive experience is with birth affirmations. Reminding yourself that your body is working with you and replacing the worries with good thoughts will really help with the pain. 

Hannah kindly sent me these from her Etsy store and they’ve been great to look through and keep me uplifted. Any time I start to feel a slight worry about labour I concentrate on one of these at a time. The affirmations allow your mind to relax and prepare yourself for a positive, confident birth. 

They’re great to have next you your bed, on your desk or pinned around your mirror to look at while you get ready in the morning. They can help to remind you that this isn't a scary experience and it's one you are naturally ready for. 

Each card has positive phrases such as
- Each surge brings me closer to my baby.
- My body was designed to birth my baby.
- All I need to birth my baby is me.
- I trust that my body knows what to do will give you great things to focus on. 

and they are great points to remember, even if you just focus on a couple that appeal to you. 

There are lots of ways to keep you in the right mindset. Hospitals can be a daunting place so you want to make everything feel right for you. Some people opt to have home births for this reason. I feel relaxed at a hospital as I've been in them so many times so it's not a huge problem for me but it's something to consider if you find hospitals a bit to clinical or frightening at all. 

Visualising places that make you happy or having music playing that keeps you calm can help. I’m not saying this has to be whale music, for me it’s a playlist of songs that always make me smile. The song of the first dance at our wedding, the song that Mason dances to, the song that is about my family, the song that takes me back to my childhood.  ‘Under Pressure’ by Queen is on there but we won’t focus on the irony there! If hospitals make you uneasy then you can make the environment feel more comfortable for you using lighting, your own pillow or even smells to keep you calm. Nobody is going to judge you for doing this your own way. You do whatever makes you feel calm. 

Remember that endorphins (the ‘happy hormones’) are more powerful than fear -which results in pain so it’s important to try your best to stay as positive and calm as you can. 


Involving the birthing partner 
A massive plus for me is how involved the birthing partner is. Sam and I are very into state change. Your mind is a powerful thing and just focusing on the right things can make a big big difference to so many things. I knew this would be a great thing to us to learn together. It’s been really fascinating to talk through  together in the evenings. 

Partners can feel a bit helpless at the birth and I love that this way he can be really involved and know what he can do to help. It’s as much Sam’s birthing story as it is mine. If he knows whether I’d like to be touched or not, or if he should talk to me during surges for example, it’s less likely to end in tension. He's helping me along and I won't feel so alone. 

A lot of pregnancies  are very ‘mummy’ focused. Even through to school age you see ‘mum groups’ and school activities  focusing on just the females. The dad is very much a part of the process too and as much as it's my body changing it's both of our lives that are going to change and the more they understand what you’re going through the easier it will be on the relationship.

Both of you are encouraged to address any fears and not bury them. Discussing things with your partner brings you together and once you’ve got a fear out in the open you can work through them which helps the brain to relearn that birth is safe and not something to fear. 

There is no way to fail
The biggest misconception being hypnobirthing is that it all has to be 100% natural or that you’ve failed if you need assistance in any way. It’s in no way a competition, if someone wants all the drugs available then go for it -they are there and we are very very fortunate to have that kind of thing offered to us on the NHS. 

We need to get away from this defensive nature. ‘Natural’ isn’t code for better, it’s natural to walk but if you have a broken leg, pain killers and crutches are a massive help and you wouldn't think any less of someone who used them. Harry Kane wasn’t trying to insult anyone by being proud of his wife for giving birth and I’m sure he’d have said exactly the same thing is she’d had medication, either way she’s just brought a life into the world. That in itself is an amazing thing. The birth is yours, not anyone else's so you do what is right for you. 

I only had gas and air last time but that was only because my labour moved so fast there wasn’t time to even consider any more meds before it was time to push - who knows if I had taken it or not if the labour had been drawn out for hours..? 

 I’m very much prepared that my labour  might not be such an easy ride this time. The rumours are that the second pregnancy is quicker,  but complications can happen for any pregnancy and every birth is different. 

In the moment a lot of plans can go right out the window so who knows if I'll even use what I've learnt - time will tell! But it’s good to have the knowledge there if I'm able to use it. 

I appreciate it's not for everyone. But if this sounds like something that you want to look into there are courses you can book locally as well as ones online which are easier to fit around your own schedule. I listened to the Audio book of 'Your Baby, Your Birth' by Hollie De Cruz which was great and really down to earth. I also watched a few youtube videos of people telling their own hypnobirthing stories which was really eye opening. 

Even if I take away a few bits of what I’ve learnt I think it will help me massively.  I just want to have this little mental boost to give me a nudge in the right direction. I’m definitely less anxious about this birth and I'm genuinely excited to get started. After all, after labour I get to meet my baby girl and that is the light at the end of the tunnel.

I hope this has helped anyone thinking about trying hypnobirthing and I'll be sharing my thoughts on how it all went after the labour! 

*the affirmation cards were kindly gifted to me but I wasn't obligated to feature them 


Monday, 11 February 2019

Saving some money!

With the new baby on the way I've been looking at the money situation. If I want to buy her all these cute little outfits I'm going to need some spare cash. Over Christmas I realised I really didn't watch a lot of TV anymore and half of the channels went unused completely. I decided I needed to get in touch with Sky and change my plan. I was paying so much money for something I just didn't need and that is money for pizza or shoes which I'm sure you'll agree is far more important.


My tv service is part of a package along with my landline (which is only used by my Mum) and the broadband. I'd originally thought that getting a big bundle deal was the best option but it's just been a bit of a waste. I'm really careful with buying groceries and only buying what I need so I why not be the same when it comes to entertainment? 

I started looking around at comparison sites and found some amazing deals on TV packages that include cheap broadband too.

I needed to consider what it was I actually needed. With Sam and I both online for work all day we need a pretty good speed. If there was more of us using it at once we'd have to look for an even faster speed, so with Mason getting older and much more into technology we know that will be beneficial to us in the long run. Plus I dread how often I'm going to be streaming kids TV shows for the little one over the coming years! I just pray the Baby Shark thing s over by the time the baby is here! Fingers crossed!

I kept an eye out for hidden set-up fees too- that's somewhere where you can really get caught out. A deal can look really appealing and then an extra charge is thrown in afterwards. 

The cheapest packages are for standard broadband, with potential download speeds of 17 Mbps which is suitable for low-medium use by about 3 people.

If speed is what you're looking for then you need fibre. This gives you speeds from 50 Mbps to 362 Mbps. Fibre-optic broadband is now available for 80% of the UK and has come down massively in price over the past few years.

Another thing I had to keep in mind is how long we'll need it for. We're going to be moving this year so it wasn't necessary to tie ourselves into a long contract unless they are ok with us transferring over to another address. Most companies were offering 12 or 18 month contracts but some let you opt for 9 months but the deals won't be as good. Generally longer contracts will save you more money.

We're definitely getting a package with the TV and phone line included but it will only be something basic so I'm not wasting money on channels I don't need but also wasting time scrolling through shows I have no interest in watching. It's time saving too - I'm hoping I'll be much more productive!

After a bit of research I ended up saving almost £20 a month just switching and finding something I would actually use. The next job is to do the same thing with my gas and electric! 


Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Lush Valentine's Day 2019

January really seems to be dragging, doesn't it? It's that month where we're all kind of stuck in limbo, we're all skint, there's old boxes of celebrations with only the snickers left (I eat the Bounty's first, don't hate), and the shops are full of messy shelves with the left overs of the Xmas sales. I actually look forward to February and everything going back to normal. 

Lush is a place that really makes me aware of the seasons, the scents alone just transform you from the pine of a xmas tree to the floral freshness of Springtime.
 Now Christmas is over Lush can make way for the Valentine's range. This is the stuff I really look forward to, I prefer the scents and I know a couple of my favourites come back at this time of year too.

I thought I'd share a couple of bits that caught my eye. Lush have featured some emojis in the past but they've gone a little cheeky for Valentine's. 


The Peachy Bath Bomb (£3.95) is clearly very popular as it was sold out the last two times I've been in store. Luckily I did manage to get myself one in the end. I love peach scents and with the peach juice and grapefruit oil it gives a really fruity scent and a gorgeous colour too. There's a touch of glitter dusted on the top that is just the right amount for my liking - I really dislike anything overly glittery which leaves me having to deep clean the bath ruining the whole point of a relaxing bath in the first place.

lush-aubergine-bath-bomb-2019-valentinesAnother Emoji is the Aubergine or Eggplant if you are from the USA... why do we have different names for things? Zucchini confused me for ages and Cilantro... just why?     Anyway the Aubergine Bath Bomb  (£3.95) has uplifting bergemot oil, fruity ho wood along with tonka absolute. When in the water it shoots green and blue into the bath with a touch of glitter.

One of my ultimate favourites from Lush is the Unicorn Horn Bubble Bar (£4.95) and I'm so pleased it's back for another year. It's a really pretty one too and I'm all about the aesthetic. 

Relaxing lavender oil and ylang ylang oil meets mood-brightening neroli which is known to increase serotonin levels in the brain. It's such a good mix and I feel great after using this in a bath. I tend to cut mine in half so I can get a couple of baths out of it.

The people in Lush are always so friendly and I was telling the girl who served me how much I loved it and she said a great thing to do is stock up on them and crumble them into a jar with a secure lid. That way you can get a load of uses out of it throughout the year without them going stale. Absolutely genius! 


The Love Boat bath bomb is another that I've mentioned before as it was part of the collection last year but is slightly more expensive at £4.50 - damn inflation! (though comparing it to my pic last year it could be slightly bigger...). It's a cute little blue and pink boat that leaves your bath water a pretty shade of lavender with red heart confetti too. The rose oil, Sicilian lemon oil, and sweet orange oil leaves a really gorgeous scent on your skin 


I don't know if it's the weather or the pregnancy, maybe it's a combination of the two but my lips are seriously dry at the moment. I had to pick up one of the Eve's Cherry lip scrubs (£6.50). I've used their Bubblegum lip scrub in the past and these are so good for smoothing dry lips. This has such a gorgeous cherry scent that makes me want a cherry slushie! The caster sugar exfoliates the lips while a mix containing cherry kernel oil and shea butter soften and protect the skin. Sam has described this as 'tasty sand' - so make of that what you will! 


One new product that really stood out to me was the Love Token Bubble Bar (£4.95). It seems like a great gift not only for Valentine's Day but when ever you just want to give someone a little something to say thank you. I wish I'd seen this when I wanted to thank my bestie for the amazing surprise baby shower she threw for me but the flowers I sent were appreciated! 

It looks like a shiny golden coin with a Thank You message on the top. You hold this bubble bar under running water for a generous stream of pine and clove bubbles, I love a bubble bar as you get multiple uses out of them. then popped to one side to use again. Ginger oil, pine needle absolute, and clove bud oil gives a scent of homemade biscuits so it's perfect for a lovely warm relaxing evening.  


I really like the range this year, and I'm planning on making the most of some gorgeous relaxing baths before the baby arrives. 


Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Pregnancy Update - The Second Trimester

So as I'm nearly 35 weeks into my pregnancy now I figured it was time for another baby update. An update is WELL overdue in fact! Better late than never, huh? Since the announcement in August we've come a long way. 

Finding out the Sex of the Baby
We found out we were having a little girl and had a gender reveal with our family to share the news. We weren't going to get too into it but M really wanted to do the 'balloon pop' that he'd seen others do and it seemed like a fun way to announce it. 

We had everyone there make a prediction and the response was quite mixed. I'd always had a feeling it was a girl, not for any real reason other than I've been a lot more tired with this baby than I was with M (but then I didn't have another child to look after back then) and that I craved tomatoes unlike last time when I wanted anything lemony. 

We shared the news with family and there were tears all round. We were thrilled to find out we’re having a little girl! I cannot wait to meet her! She’ll no doubt cost us a fortune as there are so many gorgeous little outfits out there. I’m also very much excited about playing with Sylvanian Families again!

I mentioned before that my Nan knew I was pregnant with M before I did! She called my Mum one evening and randomly asked if I was pregnant. She hadn't seen me in a couple of months and isn't on social media or anything, she had nothing to go by but she just had a feeling. My Mum and I both said no and then about 3 weeks later I found out I actually was. She then said I'd have a boy and was right. Earlier this year she told me I'd have another child 'at some point' but the next born child in the family would be girl. My Nan's prediction was right again. I'm going to get her to guess the lottery numbers next. 

I just can’t believe how quick it’s gone, in less than 5 weeks I’ll be full term and I'm convinced this girl is going to be early. In many ways I’m totally overwhelmed and feeling like I’m not at all ready but in other ways I know I’ve got this. 

M is still very excited, he is very into shopping for her and loves pointing out new clothes. He's heard the heartbeat a few times and is always talking to her and feeling her wriggle around. 

A month of so ago my midwife thought that I was measuring a bit small so I was sent for an extra scan but all was fine. It was nice to see her again and also be 100% sure (or at least more sure, I know you can't be 100% til they're actually here) that she's a girl. We'd been holding off on throwing out M's old clothes just in case they'd got the first gender scan wrong. But the sonographer confirmed we're having a girl. 

How I'm Feeling I'm aching a lot, this baby is getting in all sorts of positions that cut off nerves and I'm needing a lot more baths to relax my muscles. I feel a lot more like I'm carrying around a heavy bag (or honeydew melon- as that's what she is the size of currently.)  I'm probably doing a little too much and need to remember to rest a little more. 

I'm feeling so different this time. Not just physically but mentally I'm in such a good place. I don't want to focus too much on the past, but I know this time I'm not as worried. I'm not thinking 'don't act too pregnant or show you are struggling'. Last time I really felt the pressure to not be different to 'usual Jenn'. I don't have anything to prove now and I know I can do this. I just look at M and I can see that.

The most important thing is that in my mind I’m much stronger. This has been pointed out a few times by several different people now and that’s really reassuring. Sam and I had only been together a year and a half when M was born and although he was my absolute rock through everything he’s a million times better now. He's an incredible Dad and is excellent at keeping me calm. I tried to do too much on my own last time and really suffered as a result. I know I can ask for help and not be seen to be failing. Those ever-so-helpful words from someone telling me ‘I won’t be able to handle it’ are much easier to brush away this time- I bloody can. I’m proud of how far I’ve come emotionally and I think my surroundings have massively helped with that. I know to ignore Mum forums and to take no notice of the people who think their way is the only way. I know to trust my instincts. 

The second trimester is supposed to be the easiest one and it’s been a bit of a mixed bag. My iron levels have been really low so I'm keeping an eye on that and going for some infusions. My heartburn has been horrendous and I'm not getting a lot of sleep - but I guess that means it won't be such a shock when the baby does arrive.

 I originally kept bump pics off social media as there wasn’t a lot to show at first and it's only now really obvious that it's not just a big bowl of pasta in my belly (it is that too!). She’s definitely there but I don’t want to start comparing myself to other mums to be, I know everyone’s different. 

I'm feeling her move around so much more now- much more than I ever did with M, she barely stops. We call her a little mouse as she seems to scurry around in there. She's head down but keeps turning around in circles, she's been back to back so we will just have to hope she is facing the right way when the labour starts.

The Next Stages
I know I need to think about getting the hospital bag together and start reading the Hypnobirthing books or at least get some kind of birthing plan in place! I should go through M’s old baby clothes and see what I still need to buy. I still haven’t had my flu jab, I don't know the difference between a body suit and a sleep suit and I’ve recently decided a nursing pillow might be a good shout this time but I’m not stressing about it all. It will get sorted. I just need her to stay in for a few more weeks now! 


Monday, 7 January 2019

Comparing Barry M Nail Shades

I love Barry M nail polishes. Not only are they super cheap they have such a good shade selection to pick from. This is great for me as I change my nail colour more often than I change my jeans.  

Back in December they had an offer on their website that meant most of their range had 20% off so ever the bargain hunter I picked up a few bits for presents, a couple of their lovely lip liners and of course some nail shades for myself too!


Their 'Classic' Nail Paint range is only £2.99 so I never feel to guilty picking up a new one when the mood takes me. I've shown them in the picture next to each other so you can compare. I got 'Bespoke', a mauve-toned nude, and 'Ballerina' which is a lovely dusky pink. The bottles look really similar when next to each other but on the nails there's a big difference, Ballerina is a lot pinker. 


My bestie has her nails done in the salon and they always look gorgeous but I know she paints her toenails herself so when I picked up Gelly Hi Shine polish in 'Acai Smoothie' I got her one too. It's a dusky magenta which reminds me of a berry yogurt (or smoothie I guess!)  that I think works all year round. I really love the Gelly Hi Shine polishes, they stay really well and I find they're more pigmented than the Classic polishes. I only need 2 coats maximum with these. Another Gelly Hi Shine polish I tried is 'Almond' which is a light taupe and really versatile. I feel like my nails look 'done' without being too much. 


 From Top to Bottom- Bespoke, Ballerina, Acai Smoothie and Almond

As always I used a top coat on these, just so they last longer without chipping and have a bit of shine. This top coat is Barry M's 'Plumpy Top Coat' (£2.99) which I really love.

All of these are great shades to wear as we move into Spring. It won't be long til the bright shades and pastels are back. I'm looking forward to seeing what the new 'it' shade for Spring/Summer will be.