21.09

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Ahh, the infamous hospital bag. Subject of approximately seven thousand threads on Mumsnet, countless Youtube videos, and a source of (totally unnecessary, but very much real) anxiety for Mums-to-be from the third trimester onwards!

I actually loved packing my hospital bag ready for having Ottilie, and found it appealed just nicely to the side of me that’s super organised and totally into neat folding and careful planning and buying cute miniature beauty products, thank you very much. And I was so happy to find that when I’d had my baby girl, literally every single item in my bag was used and not a single thing was unnecessary or missing!

This time round I’ve worked from basically the same packing list as last time, but with a few tweaks…based mainly around the fact that I’m hoping not to have to go into hospital at all! I’m planning, preparing for, and hoping to have a calm, tranquil home birth with this baby, and have also been using hypnobirthing as a way of preparing for baby’s arrival.

The principles of hypnobirthing, and of home birthing too, encourage creating a safe, familiar, comfortable space in which to give birth as opposed to the traditional brightly lit, impersonal, medicalised environment of a hospital. Of course, there are countless different reasons why giving birth in hospital is brilliant and I wouldn’t change the experience I had with Ottilie, but am hoping that staying at home and nestling down in the comfort of my living room this time around will make the experience of birth all that much gentler for both me and baby.

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THE ‘DURING BIRTH’ KIT

This selection of bits is packed up into a small cosmetics bag, and is what I plan on using whilst I’m in labour to create a comfortable, cosy environment. The string lights were a Tiger find and look so pretty when lit up, I’ve got a couple of packs of electric tea lights for dotting around the room, and some essential oils (lavender and bergamot for relaxation, and clary sage to encourage or strengthen contractions if needed) to use in my diffuser. Crucially, all these items can be taken with us to use in hospital if needed too!

On the more practical end of the scale, I’ve got packed some earphones (I’m planning on listening to the positive pregnancy affirmations from my hypnobirth course, because I find them so relaxing), Magicool spray (a GODSEND when you’re burning hot in labour!), hair bands (for the obligatory top knot), and lip balm because gas and air makes your lips so dry!

The other things I’m packing for use during labour are:
Hospital notes
A bikini and old sports bra (dependent on what I fancy wearing, and where I deliver)
A water bottle and straw
Lucozade sports drinks
Snacks (Nakd bars, some sweets, and grapes…if we ever manage to make a punnet last longer than a day in this house, that is!)
A TENS machine (I didn’t use one first time round but have heard great things about them!)

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ALL THINGS POST-NATAL…

So, this is where stuff gets SERIOUS. Basically, the main things you’ll need post-natally are all absorbent (and super sexy…). Breast pads (I’ve bought some lovely washable Little Lambs ones this time round, but have a couple of disposable Lansinoh ones in my bag just in case I need them), maternity pads (last time I loved the Boots ones but am trying a brand called Naturacare this time- I’m sceptical of how thick and chunky they are BUT they are biodegradable!), and on the advice of my midwife for wearing immediately after giving birth, Tena pants! See, I told you, all about the sexiness right now.

Cosmetics-wise, I didn’t expect to care about how I looked after having Ottilie but was surprised to find I did! Well, it was more how I * felt * that mattered, and so I’ve packed a small cosmetics bag for this birth just like I did for last time. Some cotton pads and cleansing water (I remember it feeling so good to wash my face last time after having been hot and clammy for about 48 hours solid beforehand!!), moisturiser, some light foundation and mascara, and a bottle of the Roget + Gallet Rose shower gel that my lovely aunt bought me after having Ottilie that made those first few post-natal showers feel extra relaxing and luxurious!

On top of the above, I’ve also got packed:
Two sets of pyjamas, one short and vest top set and one heavier-weight set.
Nursing bra and vest top
Comfy joggers for wearing after giving birth/going home, if we happen to transfer in
A new cosy but lightweight dressing gown
Dark towels…dark for obvious reasons!!
Big pants
Lansinoh nipple cream (the BEST for dealing with any early days feeding soreness!)

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FOR THE NEW ARRIVAL!

And this is the best part! Baby things! I’m keeping my packing fairly minimal, just like last time- just a few basic bits to have on hand for when baby makes his or her arrival! Of course, if all goes well and we do birth at home most of it will just be unpacked straight away and won’t be needed immediately, but it’s good to have it all together and organised just in case we do end up in hospital for whatever reason.

So, in the bag for little one is…

A pack of size 1 Kit + Kin nappies (my favourite biodegradable nappy brand!)
1x pack of Water Wipes
A cellular blanket and large swaddling blanket
2 muslins
1 hat for right after birth
3 sleepsuits and 3 vests (rolled up into little outfit bundles, because they’re much easier to find and grab when needed that way!)
A knitted cardigan and hat.

~ ~ ~

And last but not least, let’s briefly chat about home birth specific stuff! I’m borrowing a birth pool, pump, and tap connectors via a home birth community group that runs in my area, and then have bought a liner and hose via Birth Pool in a Box.

I’ve also got put aside, on advice from my midwife…
-  Plenty of dark towels in varying sizes, for both me and baby after I’ve delivered
- Absorbent bed pads, for protecting soft furnishings from any blood or amniotic fluid (what an image!)
- Large plastic ground sheeting to cover and protect the (CREAM!!) carpet in our living room, where I hope to give birth

I’ve also stocked our freezer full of homemade cake and cookie dough balls, so that we’ve got plenty of sweet treats to enjoy during and afterwards AND to share with our wonderful midwives too!

~ ~ ~

And that, as they say, is that! I’ve had so many questions about home birth via my Instagram already, and though I of course can’t vouch for the experience itself yet, I hope that this post helps anyone trying to pack and prepare for one! And, bar the last few items, it’s exactly the same as I had packed for my planned hospital birth with Ottie too. I’d love to know if it helps you if you’re planning or packing your birth bag right now… or if I’ve forgotten anything vital!

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11.05

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So in case you didn’t happen to catch my little Instannouncement (is that a word? It is now.) last weekend, then yep! I’m expecting baby number two!

I’m exactly 19 weeks at the time of typing this post up, with a mini bump that’s growing away nicely and a baby roughly the size of a courgette, according to my pregnancy app. It’s been so magic to do this all over again, and the joy of feeling a real little baby wriggling around inside you just doesn’t get old! In a moment of postpartum hormonal madness after Ottie was born I cried to Jason that if we had another baby it wouldn’t be as magical and exciting as it did first time, but I can confirm that’s truly not the case!

I thought I’d write up a little Friday pregnancy update in place of my usual ’10 things that’ve made made me happy this week’ round up, to catch you up on my pregnancy experience so far. So here we go!

~ ~ ~

1. I’m totally convinced this baby’s a boy! Apropos of absolutely nothing other than instinct, especially considering my pregnancy’s been exactly the same as with Ottilie down to the very last symptom, but I always ‘knew’ she was a girl so maybe I’ll be right this time too!

2. We won’t be finding out this time either, just like with our first pregnancy. I’m not tempted at all in the sense that I’ll just be absolutely delighted either way, but am ever so slightly tempted just for practicality’s sake so I can get Ottie’s old clothes organised and washed ready for this baby, or packed away in the loft!

3. I’ve had another (luckily!!) very easy pregnancy so far! I was sick just once and had about four weeks of nausea, food aversions and major fatigue, but since about week 11 have been heaps better and almost back to normal. Last time though I had a very difficult and painful final month with sciatica and a breech baby who had to be turned manually back to head-down, so am fully preparing myself for what could be to come in the final few weeks!

4. And it’s true what they say about second bumps popping faster- I’ve been in maternity jeans since about week 8 this time! Though at first it was just major bloating, the bump is well and truly here now! I don’t think it’s massively bigger than I was with Ottie, though I’m definitely not as toned all over as last time. Probably due to the fact that when she goes down to bed at night I’m really struggling with the energy to head out to a workout class!

5. It’s definitely a whole new ballgame being pregnant with a toddler to look after too! I’ve been having to give in and nap when Ottie naps which isn’t something I’ve done since she was a tiny baby, and finding time to keep up with work, the garden, and all the household upkeep is a challenge! Also, Ottilie’s only sleeping for an hour a day now vs the two and a half hours she used to have until just lately, which makes me want to weep a little bit…

6. But speaking of Ottilie, oh my goodness this little girl of ours is obsessed with her sister or brother already! She loves all babies, and so knowing there’s one in Mama’s tummy is the best thing ever as far as she’d concerned. She talks about it all day long, and wants to kiss and cuddle my belly non stop. I’m not concerned at all about any jealousy on her part when the new baby is here, more how to manage her over-enthusiastic sister love!!

7. I’ll be doing hypnobirthing this time round, and also am signed off with my local home birth team! My experiences in labour and delivery with Ottie taught me that nothing is a dead cert when it comes to having babies, and so until I’m at the very end of my pregnancy and know this baby is head down, engaged, and behaving themselves I don’t think I’ll truly believe that I’ll really get the home birth I want so much, but so far so good! It’s so lovely having dedicated midwives and all my antenatal appointments at home too!

8. Two words: Maternity. Leggings. Why on earth didn’t I invest in a pair of these first time around?!

9. We were bad at keeping the secret this time around! With my pregnancy with Ottilie only my cousin knew for the first few weeks, we told our Mums after our 8 week scan, and then the rest of our friends and family after the 12 week scan. This time? I was on FaceTime to my Mum within about 10 minutes of taking the test, and my mother in law found out when I thrust Ottilie upon her so I could run off and be sick days before a test even came up positive!

10. I’m enjoying this pregnancy even more than last time, I think because this time I’m so aware that there’s really and truly a little person growing inside me. First time round that just felt like a concept, and pregnancy felt all about me and what I was experiencing and how my body was changing. This time round, I’m just counting down the days until we get to welcome this new unique, amazing little person into our family!

I’d love to know if you’d be interested in pregnancy blog content this time around- I’m thinking hospital bag packing tips, pregnancy style inspiration (not that I’m an expert, I forgot how crazy hard it is to dress a bump!!), that kind of thing? Let me know! :)

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09.04

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There’s something so special about the bedtime routine. Whether you’ve been out at work all day and the half hour before bed is chance to reconnect with your little one, or whether you’ve been side by side all day and the bedtime routine serves as chance to wind down together, it’s such a lovely part of the day.

I remember when Ottilie was really tiny, going through her bedtime routine with Gina Ford’s book open on the bed trying to stick exactly to the timings that were laid out on the ‘two month old baby routine’ page! I think it was shortly after these moments of new Mama madness that I lobbed Gina Ford to the back of the cupboard, realising that doing Ottie’s bath at 6.30pm instead of 6.15pm precisely was probably not the cause of her waking every two hours all night long ;)

I’m always intrigued to know how other Mums and Dads work their evening routine now- whether it’s a calm, quiet affair with dim lighting and relaxing music, or a half hour romp before everyone crashes out in bed!

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Bedtime essentials : An ultra-soft sleeping bag, cosy PJs, Bepanthen Nappy Care Ointment, and Jeffie the giraffe who’s as much part of the family as Teddy and Elsie are!!

I’d say we’re somewhere in the middle of the two. Ottilie is generally one of those ‘run and run and run and then crash’ kind of toddlers, with hardly any wind-down needed before she’ll fall fast asleep in her bed. But I do love the cosy moments that precede bottle-and-bed, and treasure those cuddles even more now that Ottie’s on the go all day long!

Our bedtime begins each night with a bath, partly to wash the baked bean sauce-smudges from Ottilie’s cheeks but also because this little girl of mine is a mermaid and just adores the water!

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I love watching Ottilie learn as she plays in the bath, whether it’s by asking for ‘pop pop bubbles!’ or naming the colours of her stacking cups. She’ll often play in the bath for a good half hour, and loves taking the bath plug out and feeling the water swirl away down the plughole. Simple joys!

One of our favourite games to play in the bath is to match coloured balls with her stacking cups, and she also loves a little penguin toy that was Jason’s when he was Ottilie’s age!

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With bath time (and a couple of times a week, the ordeal that is washing a toddler’s hair…) over and done with, Ottilie hops out and is ready for some skincare! I always like to take time to moisturise and protect her skin, especially during the winter months when she seems prone to dryness just like her Mama.

For preventing and treating any rashes, my go to cream of choice is always Bepanthen. For the first few months of Ottilie’s life she was lucky and never had even the tiniest amount of nappy rash, but ever since she started teething properly at around 11 months she gets such angry skin in her nappy area whenever she’s cutting new teeth.

A light coating of Bepanthen at bedtime always soothes her skin right away, and leaves it clear and calm again by the time morning comes. It’s fantastic too for preventing any rashes caused by new and unfamiliar foods, especially during the early days of weaning! We’ve never had any rashes really take hold which I give Bepanthen full credit for, especially since using it in combination with cloth nappies which seem so much gentler on Ottilie’s skin.

I also love the fact that it comes in a tube rather than pot, that I always find to be messy and potentially unhygienic during nappy changes.

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With skin cared for and a fresh nappy and PJs on, it’s time for Ottilie to romp around the upstairs of our house to her heart’s content!

Ottie generally likes to burn off a last burst of energy for the day with a game of chase and hide and seek, and it’s the best thing ever hearing her roar with laughter as I chase her up and down the landing between our bedrooms.

But in the photos above, she’s doing a bit of nature study! Ottie’s bedroom seems so be a breeding ground for ladybirds, and she was very taken with the little one making it’s way across her bedroom carpet!

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Time for a few rounds of ‘One Little Monkey Jumping on the Bed’, before bed!

It’s Ottilie’s favourite thing ever, second only to being thrown up in the air and rough and tumbled by Jason who, as with all Dads, is 100x more fearless with her than I ever am and which Ottilie adores!

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Lastly it’s time for my favourite, favourite thing ever- story time <3 The way Ottilie adores books gives me the greatest joy, not least because some of my most vivid and happy childhood memories are of reading bedtime stories with my own Mum!

She’s really got into storybooks lately over more simple ‘lift the flap’ board books, which are so much more fun to read! I might share a few of our favourites in a post soon, if anyone would like to know which books we love the most?

This particular night was the turn of The Gruffalo! Ottilie’s a big fan of any books with lions or dinosaurs or creatures that she can ‘roaaaarrr’ at, and the Gruffalo fits the bill!! 

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And with stories read, teeth brushed, milk drunk, and little rosy cheeks kissed, so to bed.

What does your bedtime routine look like? <3

~ This post was sponsored by Bepanthen, a brand I’ve used and loved for as long as I’ve been a Mama! Thank you for supporting the sponsored content that makes Cider with Rosie possible. ~

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20.01

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T H E   W O R L D   O F   C L O T H   N A P P Y I N G

{Let me get head off this post by saying that despite how brand-heavy the photos are, this post is in no way sponsored by BumGenius! It’s also a very wordy, in-depth post, so be warned! :) }

I’ve posted a fair bit online recently about my aim to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. In fact, it’s my one and only 2018 resolution! And as part of that resolution, I’ve decided to take the plunge with cloth nappying.

I recently read that each year, enough disposable nappies are thrown away to circle the Earth 80 times over. A disposable nappy is thought to take between 200 and 500 years to break down, and in the UK alone, 8 MILLION disposable nappies are thrown away each DAY! These facts, and the realisation that the disposable nappies I wore as a baby won’t even have degraded yet, shocked me so much that I figured enough was enough. Time to make a change!

It’s something I’ve been toying with the idea of doing for at least six months now, but it took me such a long time to get brave and go for it! I’m sure for lots of parents, and definitely for me anyway, switching to cloth nappies felt like a very daunting step. With possible downsides like factoring in another daily chore, the upfront expense, the potential for leaks, and having to get more ‘up close and personal’ with the contents of your child’s nappy (not to mention the time it takes to decipher all the lingo and jargon when working out what to buy!), it’s a whole new level of parenting I wasn’t quite sure I was brave enough for!

But after approximately a billion hours spent researching types and brands of cloth nappies, watching YouTube reviews, asking for advice on my social media channels (thank you to all the sweet Mamas who’ve given me help!), I’ve done it!

Ottie’s been in cloth full time for around a week now and so I thought I’d write up a ‘first impressions’ style post, as well as some consolidated tips of my own from everything I’ve learnt through all my research! So let’s go!

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First up, let me talk to you about the brand I chose, and why!

We’re using the BumGenius v5 Pocket Nappies, which come incredibly highly recommended both from friends who’ve used them, fellow Instagram Mamas, and via online reviews!

A pocket nappy is a nappy system in which absorbent pad/pads of material (in this case, microfibre) are inserted into the space between the waterproof outer layer (that’s the coloured or printed part), and a soft cotton layer that sits against baby’s skin. The pocket can be stuffed with a single or multiple fabric pads (to provide extra overnight absorbency for a long stretch of sleep), and then when the nappy has been worn the pads are removed, both parts are washed, and then can be hung out to dry.

So far, I’m absolutely thrilled with them! We’ve had no major leaks at all, only two incidents of a slight dampness right at the edge of Ottilie’s vest- once when she’d been sat in her carseat for a long time and had been in the same nappy for a little over 4 hours, and once overnight when she’d worn the same nappy for 13 hours and drunk a lot right before bed.

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Here’s what made me choose BumGenius:

- Ease of use: once the pocket of the nappy has been stuffed, it goes on just like a disposable would- all in one piece, with no faffing about using clips or pins or multiple nappy parts!

- Popper closure rather than velcro: time and again I read that nappies with velcro tend not to be as long lasting, since they degrade in the wash and get loaded up with lint and lose their ‘stick’. Even changing a wriggly toddler, poppers have been super easy so far.

- Good looking nappies: I had previously ordered a few of a cheaper brand of nappies, (‘Sandy’s nappies by Motherease) and when I tried them on Ottie they were laughably huge and bulky, even when bone dry! Cloth nappies are always going to be slightly bulkier than disposables, but BumGenius are a very slim fitting cloth nappy and though I have bought a couple of new, slightly roomier bottoms for her, they do fit under all Ottie’s regular clothes. Plus I love the nappies’ cute colours and prints!

- Quick to dry: being able to pull out the absorbent inserts and hang them on a line all separated out cuts down drying time such a lot, important given that it’s not recommended to use a tumble dryer on cloth nappies. Some types of cloth nappies can take 18+ hours to dry, whereas these are washed in the evening, hung out around 9-10pm, and are dry by the morning.

- One size fits most: the adjustable popper system make these nappies fit from around 8lbs, to 35lbs. The other brand of nappies I originally bought ran from 18lbs up, so I would have had to buy a whole new smaller set for any future babies.

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F A C T S   A N D   F I G U R E S :

One of the things I found most tricky when researching cloth nappies was knowing how many I’d need, so here’s our cost breakdown:

12x BumGenius pocket nappies: £217.
I ordered two sets of BabiPur’s ‘Five for £89′ offer, plus two extras. I’m planning on purchasing a couple more as backups for when I’ve been late to hang the nappies out after washing and they’re not quite dry come the morning when I need a fresh one, but we’re getting on fine with 12 for now.

We tend to change her every 3 hours or so in the day, and so use around five over a 24 hour period. Of course, with a younger baby you’d be looking at roughly double this amount of nappies needed!

4x HempBabies doubler: £19.80
This acts as an extra layer of absorbency for nighttime, and gets inserted into the pocket along with the BumGenius microfibre pad. To be honest, I only really needed to buy three of these as I wash the nappies every other day.

1x pack of fleece liners, + 1x triple pack of Bambinex disposable liners: £7.99, + £13.99
Liners are laid inside the nappy to catch any poo. The benefit of a disposable is that they can be either flushed (though we don’t) or put into biodegradable nappy sack and binned.

The downside though we found is that they tend to get all scrunched up and poo still ends up on the main part of the nappy (not a problem, but kind of defeats the object of the liner) but more importantly I found they got sodden quite quickly and then sat damp on Ottie’s skin. I can’t imagine it’d feel very nice, so we’ve switched mostly to washable fleece liners. These are a bit more ‘yuck’ to clean after a poo (we tend to sluice them off in the (clean!!) toilet, honestly not horrible to do but of course more of a faff then lobbing a rolled up Pampers in the bin!) but feel so nice and soft and add a ‘stay dry’ layer against baby’s skin inside the nappy.

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T H E    D O W N S I D E S ?

You can’t just throw them on and forget about them in the way you do with a really decent quality disposable, because I just don’t think they’re as absorbable as, say, Pampers Baby Dry. I just used to change Ottie when her nappy felt a bit heavy before, whereas now it feels like I’m changing far more frequently. Not a bad thing, but worth thinking about!

Does it save money? I’m sure it does, but disposables are SO cheap to buy (until Ottie was around 8 months we used Aldi, which were dirt cheap!!) that the cost is so spread out it might feel more affordable to use disposables. Long term I’m sure the saving is there with cloth, but it feels like a luxury to be able to blow £300 up front. There are cheaper cloth alternatives of course- I just chose what felt like the best option for us.
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M Y   H O N E S T   T H O U G H T S ?

It’s way, way easier than I expected! Not the disgusting, poo up to your elbows kind of situation I feared, but actually incredibly simple and a lot more ‘clean’ than I could’ve imagined. They don’t smell bad at all, when it comes to washing them I simply unzip the top of the waterproof laundry bag and empty them all out into the machine, and they’re away!

And it makes me feel so, SO good not taking out a huge mound of nappies to the bin at the end of each day, knowing that they’re destined to sit in landfill indefinitely! Seriously gives me a little ‘pat on the back’ happy feeling every time :)

And despite what I mentioned about the cost, I don’t feel as though it’s been too bad- coming in at slightly under £300 is pretty good! I hope that with careful washing, drying, and use, we’ll be able to use these on future children once Ottilie is finished with them, of course supplementing with extra nappies during the newborn stage.

~ ~ ~

All in all, I absolutely love it! Love the feel good factor of knowing I’ve cut down our waste an incredible amount, love the sweet prints and colours (we have a couple of bright red and purple nappies too, which are so cute), love how effective and simple the nappies are. To anyone deliberating about it, I’d say go for it if you can! Buying a couple of tester nappies in different brands and styles can be helpful, and TheNappyLady is a brilliant place to go for free bespoke advice.

If you got to the end of this mammoth post, you’re a hero! Thanks for reading, and I hope it helps!

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