Friday, 30 December 2016

Why I'm choosing hypnobirthing with Natal Hypnotherapy*

So far at 31 weeks pregnant I have put the idea of labour into a little box and pushed it to the back of my mind. But as my due date approaches, I know that it is something that I need to start thinking about.

My labour with Ava was pretty straight forward. I unfortunately couldn't have her at our local midwife led unit as I wasn't dilating and due to not being able to deliver the placenta last time I'm considered "high risk" this time around and need to deliver my baby in a hospital 40 minutes away, as the hospital where Ava was born no longer has a labour ward! You can read more about Ava's birth story here.

When asked about any fears that I have for this birth, it isn't the labour itself that worries me, although the pain relating to it is also something that I have tucked away in the back of my mind, it's the fear of not being able to deliver the placenta again. For me having had a relatively easy labour and then having to have an epidural and a manual removal was pretty awful. I am truly keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't happen again.

Over the past year or so I have heard the term hypnobirthing being used and have become increasingly intrigued. Hypnobirthing is for those looking for a positive birthing experience and those who want to learn to let go of any worries and fears surrounding childbirth. I have recently started an online hypnobirthing course with Natal Hypnotherapy, founded by Maggie Howell who has had wonderful births with the help of hypnobirthing and reading the testimonies from other women who have completed the course I am confident that hypnobirthing will also be able help me have the positive, happy birth experience that I'm after. So far I am very much enjoying the course, it is broken down into modules that you can come back to whenever you please. These modules contain multimedia, quizzes, downloads and worksheets (amongst other things) to teach you all about the wonders of hypnobirthing and it's benefits. I am currently learning about how hypnosis works and am looking forward to downloading the pregnancy relaxation track onto my phone to listen to as my due date approaches.

I am hoping that hypnobirthing takes away the current fears that I have surrounding childbirth, I am hoping to be able to grasp the true concept of hypnobirthing and to, if possible, have a drug-free birth. Although this is not at the top of my priorities, as we all know, there are no medals in childbirth unfortunately, I do think that a drug-free birth would be a fantastic personal achievement.

I have high hopes for my Natal Hypnotherapy course and am very excited to learn some more and more importantly to have a positive birthing experience when the time comes.

I shall be giving you some more information about the course itself and how I am prepared for hypnobirthing once I have completed the course.

*I am currently undertaking the Natal Hypnotherapy course free of charge in exchange for an honest review

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Finding my Pregnancy Glow with Mama Mio*

During pregnancy one of the things that people go on about the most is your "pregnancy glow" I've seen it in others, so I know that it exists. Your skin just becomes luminous and dewy and you just look radiant.

Unfortunately for me, this wasn't the case. Not long before discovering that I was pregnant with our second baby I started developing awful spots across my cheek bones, they were so sore and no matter how much I tried, no amount of make up was covering them up! I tried all sort of lotions and potions, to no avail. It seems silly and shallow to admit but it honestly affected my confidence so much. I could no longer wear fake tan on my face and being fair skinned this left me looking so pale, I looked ill! I didn't dare to venture out of the house wearing no make up and I would have days when my spots were just so sore I would cry!

Of course it soon became apparent that these were no ordinary spots, it was pregnancy acne, caused by the increased hormones in my body and something that I never experienced with Ava. I honestly googled everything I could to do with pregnancy acne, I even tried home remedies, nothing worked! I then discovered Mama Mio, a brand that I had previously heard of but never tried. Their Gorgeous Glow face wash peaked my interest, it had fabulous reviews online but after testing and trialling so many different products that didn't work I wanted to be sure. I ordered a sample of the face wash and kept my fingers tightly crossed that this was the product that I had been waiting for. As soon as I tried it, I was hooked. It left my skin feeling refreshed and clean whilst still feeling soft. Not to mention the gorgeous lavender smell which is just amazing. I then went on to buy the full sized version and to my amazement my skin started to improve. The angry, red sores started to reduce and scab over but more than that, I started to get my confidence back, which was huge for me. Since then I have been using the face wash twice a day. Don't get me wrong my skin is still not 100% back to it's old self but it's a lot better than it was. It's also go to the point where I am able to use fake tan on my face again which has boosted my confidence some more. I'm certain that I'll be using this product beyond my pregnancy, I'm in love!

I was thrilled to be contacted by Mama Mio and was asked to be a brand ambassador, after falling in love with one of their products I was so excited to discover what else they had to offer pregnant ladies.

I was sent the Pregnancy Boob Tube bust cream and the Lucky Legs, cooling, energising leg gel.
Pregnancy Boob Tube is designed to protect, soothe and cool new mummy boobs, I breast fed Ava for the first 3 weeks of her life but unfortunately had to stop due to mastitis. I'm planning to try to breastfeed this baby too and I know that this product will become a holy grail for me as it's completely safe to use whilst breastfeeding. If only I had know about this product the first time around, things may have been different.

Their Lucky Legs product is also a must have for mums-to-be. It smells of glorious peppermint and is so refreshing to use. After standing up for a while, doing some ironing one evening my feet were completely swollen and my toes were like little sausages. I quickly grabbed this gel and lathered some on and it really did feel amazing and made a huge difference.

If you're a mum-to-be you must check out Mama Mio's products, they have such an exciting range which cover all of your pregnancy skin concerns. I can assure you that you'll be as hooked as I am!

*I was sent the products free of charge as part of an honest review.


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

A bump update and the Christmas break so far

As I type this I am now 30 weeks, I have said it before but I can't seem to get my head around it! It has FLOWN by. I think it's a combination of working full time and already having Ava but I'm starting to panic thinking that nothing is ready for this little babe, not even the hint of a hospital bag! I managed to pick up the pram that I wanted in the black Friday sale, (Silvercross Chelsea Wayfarer, if you were curious). It had the car seat thrown in for the price of the pram which was a deal that couldn't be missed. I am thrilled with it and am so happy with my choice, although Ava will be a month off her 5th birthday when the baby is born I'm thinking of getting a buggy board for the pram. They say they are suitable for up to 5 year old but to be honest Ava is such a little dot, she still fits into age 2-3 clothes, that I'm sure she'll thank me for it. She's ruddy lazy too!

We were all set to go all guns blazing on the nursery, which is currently Ava's playroom. Unfortunately in order to get the nursery ready we need to move the toys into Ava's bedroom, which requires getting rid of her 3/4 bed which takes up most of her bedroom. We thought we'd found her a solution and bought a lovely single bed with storage. We waited 2 months and the bed never arrived, just a mattress. Turns out it was out of stock and the useless folk didn't let us know when we forked out for it, neither did they know when they'd next have any in. So we asked for a refund and ordered her another bed from Next, a trustworthy source. Unfortunately this one takes 11 weeks to be delivered so we're (hopefully) looking at mid-Jan time. Bedroom saga has been put on hold until then which makes things a little stressful!

As for me, I'm feeling quite well, tired but with a child who wakes pretty early in the morning that's was pretty much going to be a given. I'm feeling quite short of breath as everything becomes even more crushed, I'm looking forward to no longer having to take Gaviscon and for my pelvic floor to be back to normal-ish.

My bump is pretty neat and all in the front but I do feel bigger than I did with Ava, no new stretchmarks from my pregnancy with Ava and I've still avoided getting any on my stomach, I think that this is down to my Secret Saviours products. I'm still thinking that this is going to be a boy!

With 4 days to go until Christmas I think I'm pretty much ready, I still have gifts to wrap and Ava's Christmas Eve box to put together. It's been quite hard to keep Ava entertained, with her being at school I think she's used to being simulated all day and for a pregnant mama this is quite a hard feat. I want to rest but she wants to play so we have to compromise!

On Monday we went to one of our local National Trust properties to see Father Christmas, we went with my dad and his lovely dog. With Nath being a postie it's such a busy time for him and we've been like ships in the night this week, which has been hard.

The Father Christmas experience was magical though and I think it was so nice for my dad to be able to come with us to see the wonder on her face.

We had to go through a magical wardrobe which was very Narnia and into a waiting room complete with snow covered pines and fake snow.

Ava was SO excited and almost ran off without us when they said it was her turn! Father Christmas was in a big study and Ava came over all shy but did tell him what she would like for Christmas, a purple Furby, which is her main present! Winning! She was given a present, some gaudy plastic jewellery which she was made up with, and we went for tea and cake.

We had a little walk which was spoilt by the rain but we did have such a lovely afternoon, I love visiting National Trust properties and we're lucky enough to have some lovely ones near us. It's definitely worth checking on the events on the National Trust pages as they do put on some lovely things.

Today we're having a lazy day and tomorrow we're off to the panto with Nath and out for tea. I'm really looking forward to a family day.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Ava wears The Essential One*

Ava was recently sent some beautiful clothes from The Essential One, a brand that I have loved for a long time. They are a family owned business who produce some gorgeous clothes. They have you covered from bump to baby. For someone like me who is firmly team yellow, it can be hard to find lovely, unisex clothes but The Essential One have a fantastic range which leaves me spoilt for choice!

They also have clothes for boys and girls up to 6 years old, these are equally gorgeous and beautifully well made.

Ava was sent the Champagne Satin Corsage, Special Occasion dress. It reminds me of a little fairy dress with it's satin & chiffon fabrics. The colour is so Christmassy too! She told me that she felt like a princess in it and has asked to wear it on Christmas day, to which I happily obliged.

We also received this beautiful, pastel coloured blouse. I'm such a seasonal dresser myself and tend to wear darker colours in A/W and brighter, pastel shades in S/S and Ava's wardrobe is usually a reflection of that. Saying that this blouse was such a welcome addition to Ava's A/W wardrobe and I think it suits her complexion perfectly. We teamed it with some beige Next leggings and her brown Chelsea boots, it's an outfit guaranteed to brighten up the dullest of Winter days.

It's such a lovely versatile item that can be layered up with a chunky knit in the colder weather and worn as it is during the warmer months,

Baby wasn't left out either, the very generous people from The Essential One sent along a gift set of three white babygrows which come in their own little drawstring bag, these are currently stored away, ready to be popped into my hospital bag (I know, at 30 weeks pregnant my hospital bag is still unpacked). There is just something about a newborn baby in a pure white babygrow that just makes me so happy. They are made from 100% supersoft cotton too, perfect against your baby's skin.

We were also sent one of their beautiful, bestselling, unisex snowsuits. We were sent the navy one with grey fur trim and it really is the most adorable thing I have ever seen! I'm bracing myself for cold weather in February/March so it will be perfect when baby arrives to keep them nice and snug.

I've been so impressed with the quality and style of The Essential One's clothing range. It's all super affordable and they have a wonderful range of choice. You certainly won't be disappointed!

*We were sent the items free of charge in exchange for a review

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Beating stretch marks with Secret Saviours*

Time seems to have completely flown by, I'm conscious that I haven't posted a bump update in so long, but I can confidently say that I feel huge and will be 30 weeks on Saturday! I am now on a well deserved 4 week Christmas break and only have 3 weeks (!) left in work until I begin my maternity leave and 11weeks until my due date! Holy moly! I feel so unprepared this time around. We have a few outfits, a pram and a carseat...but if baby decides to make an early appearance it might just be sleeping in a cardboard box.

 One thing that I have discovered during this pregnancy is brands aimed at pregnant women. I didn't do my research the first time around and seriously missed out. One of the fantastic brands that I have been introduced to is Secret Saviours, whose products are clinically proven to prevent stretch marks. I have to admit that I only got a few stretch marks with Ava, mainly on my hips, but I was eager to prevent the apparition of any more with baby number 2. Now that I am in my third trimester I am noticing the changes to my body, the skin around my stomach feels tighter and much more uncomfortable as my bump grows and becomes heavier.

I have especially enjoyed wearing my bump band, which is lined with soft pads of various sizes, designed to stop the skin from straining and forming stretchmarks. I've also found it fantastic for supporting the weight of my bump and elevating some of the pressure from my lower back. If I don't wear my bump band, even for a day, I notice such a difference.

You use your bump band with the Anti Stretch Day Gel, which allows your skin to grip the pads on your bump band. It made my skin feel so soft and it smells amazing. At night, once I've removed my band I love to slather my bump in the Anti Stretch Mark Night Cream which is a beautiful rich cream and feels like such a treat to apply.

It's been wonderful to discover a brand that has such great benefits. I can hand on heart say that I have not noticed a single, new stretch mark since using my Secret Saviours package and I would recommend it to any mum-to-be.

Secret Saviours also sent us a fun parcel which included some glitter and face paints for a "Colour my bump" project. This is something that I have always wanted to do and Ava was extremely keen to get involved. We loved painting my bump together (not current sized bump as this was done a few weeks ago) and it was such a lovely, bonding experience for Ava and the bump. She's already taking on the role of protective big sister and I couldn't be prouder of her. She's going to be wonderful when this baby arrives.

*We were gifted the Secret Saviours Anti-strechmark package in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

toucanBox review*

This weekend ended up being a dramatic one, I collapsed in a restaurant on Friday night during a meal out with Nathan and our friends. A combination of a big meal, exhaustion and feeling too hot I think. Luckily, everything is fine but it meant that Saturday needed to be a slow, quiet day for me. Which was the perfect time for us to put our toucanBox to use.

toucanBox is a flexible subscription box for 3-8 year olds, delivering craft boxes to your doorstep. Ava loves crafting so I knew that this box would go down well. We were sent the fortnightly box which is the perfect letterbox size so it just pops onto your doormat, addressed to your child, which adds to the excitement. The "petite" box, as it's called, contains one activity for your child which has been specially created by an educational specialist. The box costs £3.95 + 98p postage. The "Grande" box is a monthly box which contains two activities and costs £9.95 + £2.95 postage. Or if you wanted to go all out, you could subscribe to the "Super" monthly box which costs £16.95 + £2.95 postage and contains 4 activities.

With us being so close to Christmas, Ava's box contained a festive theme and we were asked to make some beaded ornaments for our Christmas tree. This was right up Ava's street as she loves anything girly and fiddly. The box contained, 4 packs of beads (red, clear, blue & snowflake shapes), some pipe cleaners and some ribbon. We also received an activity book, a sticker and some leaflets for mummy to sift through.

The educational focus of this box was physical and fine motor skill development. Ava very much enjoyed these activities, although I was on hand to help knot the pipe cleaner, which was quite difficult, and sharp, for little fingers.

Ava barely needed my help to complete the tasks and it was a lovely, calm activity for her to do, which was exactly what was needed. She enjoyed completing the activity book afterwards which was brimming with colouring and puzzles.

I'm not sure that the box would satisfy Ava for 2 weeks until her following box arrives, as she is the type of child who wants to get it all done right away. You could however do the activity in the first week and the activity book the following week as this even contained a recipe which looks fun to make.

All in all I thought that the toucanBox was a fantastic idea and great value for money, not only are the activities fun, they are educational and help to develop your child's skills. As the days are getting colder, these are the perfect idea for those who like to hibernate a little during the Winter months.

For those of you who may want to try a toucanBox for free follow this link and use the code BLOGGERSTREAT to receive your free taster box. Order your box by the 15th December and you'll receive limited edition Christmas crafts.

I know one little girl who will be eagerly awaiting the arrival of her next toucanBox! For more information visit the toucanbox website.

*We were sent the toucanBox free of charge for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.


Friday, 11 November 2016

Top 10 non-chocolate advent calendars for children

Last year I bought Ava a Play-Doh advent calendar. We wanted to limit the morning chocolate intake and also wanted to get her something a bit different. It was a huge hit and I even found myself looking forward to seeing what would be behind each window every day.

Granted the non-chocolate advent calendars are more expensive than your run of the mill choccie ones but I think they're a great concept and there is such a huge variety on the market nowadays so there is something for everyone. I've done a round up of my top 10 so you have the best at your fingertips. I hope that it helps!

1-Naughty Advent Calendar Kit, £15.95-NOTHS: I love Not on the Highstreet for it's collection of quirky items and this is such a fun idea. You receive your kit complete with black & white balloons, number stickers and an activity sheet for you to cut out. Every day your child gets to pop a balloon to uncover a fun activity, something "naughty" from jumping on the bus to making crazy sandwiches. This is a definite contender for Ava's advent calendar this year.

2-Play-Doh Doh Vinci advent calendar, £12.99-John Lewis: We've not used Doh Vinci before but if it's messy I know Ava would enjoy it. Every day you get a new piece for your kit and on the last day you can make a festive picture with your new set.

3-Hama Bead advent calendar, £15.90- An advent calendar for the slightly older, creative, child in your life. Such a lovely idea and perfect for a bit of quiet time during the mad Christmas rush. The calendar comes with 5,000 assorted Hama beads, 5 peg boards of various shapes and 24 Christmas themed design sheets. Guaranteed to keep them busy!

4- Smiggle advent calendar, £28- Smiggle: As an avid stationary lover this advent calendar excites me greatly. I'm quite tempted to buy it for myself. Yes it is on the pricey side but you do get £38 worth of Smiggle products inside and a 1 in 25 chance to win a £250 Smiggle shopping spree. I've heard great things about this shop but am yet to venture inside. I'll definitely take Ava when we next go on a shopping trip.

5- Playmobil advent calendar, £19.95-Tesco: The Playmobil advent calendar seems to be one of the most popular non-chocolate advent calendars and the first one I ever saw. They now do various themed calendars, Christmas, pirates or dress up party. It's a lovely way to collect a set.

6- Vtech Toot Toot Drivers advent calendar, £16.45-Tesco: A great advent calendar for little ones, the box even folds down to create a road. The main gift, a truck, contains 3 Christmas songs and 6 festive melodies and sound effects.

7- Bath bomb and soap advent calendar, £30- NOTHS: A lovely idea for a teenager, saying that one of Ava's favourite shops is Lush so she's be thrilled with this calendar, as would I. It contains 12 mini soap slices and bath bombs, all handmade. You'll smell good enough to eat by Christmas morning!

8- Barbie advent calendar, £19.99- John Lewis: Ava is a big Barbie fan and I'm thinking of getting her this one. You receive 24 fashion items for Barbie, including a party dress, shoes, purses and jewellery.

9- Star Wars Lego advent calendar, £19.97-ASDA: A great one for fans of Star Wars. You can create a fantastic battle with the 24 collectible gifts which includes figures, vehicles and starships.

10- 24 Sleeps advent book, £15-NOTHS- A fun, creative book jam packed with festive activities. Another great one to keep them busy and quiet during the festive period. One that the family can get involved with too!

What do you think of my selection? Will you be buying any of these advent calendars for your children?


Monday, 7 November 2016

Our secret adventure garden challenge with Energizer & Secret Life of Pets*

We recently received a very exciting parcel from Energizer who have teamed up with Secret Life of Pets to celebrate the film's recent release to DVD.

The parcel was full to the brim with everything we needed to have a fun, night time adventure in our garden. Energizer is powering family time with a range of head lamps & batteries ready for adventures- and they certainly stocked us up! Even Gidget, one of the pets from the film, came with her own headtorch, ready for her adventure with us!

We were sent our very own, personalised map with 4 mini adventures to help Ava and I explore our garden at night.

Ava was so excited and wrapped up warm in her new "Secret Life of Pets" fluffy Pyjama set from Asda & fuzzy socks she was good to go!

Armed with hot chocolates we set about undertaking the first challenge which was to turn off our head torches and lantern and Ava was to draw what she could see in the sky. Unfortunately we didn't pick the clearest of nights but she could just about make out some stars.

Other challenges included hopping like a bunny across the lawn

Searching for night time creatures, we found lots of creepy crawlies hiding in our garden

And listening out for night time animals.

After many hot chocolate treats we retreated back into the warmth.

This was such a fun activity to do with Ava and something that I would never have thought to do before.

We really enjoyed getting out in our garden at night to explore, with the help of Energizer.

You can also be in with a chance of winning your own Secret Life of Pets soft toy by picking up a promo pack from participating retailers, you too would be able to have your own secret adventures at home.

Have you ever thought about having a night time adventure with your child? I would definitely recommend it!

*We were sent the items free of charge in exchange for an honest review

Monday, 31 October 2016

Original Theraline maternity & nursing pillow review

As my bump gets increasingly bigger and I start to feel more & more like a beached whale, bedtime is becoming slightly problematic. I have been using my old Dreamgenii pillow that I bought when I was pregnant with Ava but between you & I, it's no longer cutting the mustard.

I'm finding that it's too thin for my growing bump and I keep getting tangled in the back support when I turn over, not ideal! However, I was recently sent the award winning, Original Theraline Maternity & Nursing pillow to put through it's paces. I'll be honest, I was slightly apprehensive at first. It's a lot bigger than my previous maternity pillow and is quite wide. I was beginning to wonder how I'd get comfortable on it's boomerang shape.  The secret is the microbeads inside the fabric, they mould to your body creating a perfectly snug fit. The pillow can be positioned in various poses to suit the individuals comfort. I've been lying on my side, tucking part of the pillow between my legs and using the part nearest to my head as a pillow. I have to say that it's incredibly comfortable.

The pillow also doubles as a nursing aide once baby arrives should you decide to breastfeed. It safely moulds to baby and relieves pressure from mum's shoulders and neck, as it creates the perfect height for breastfeeding.

It also comes in an array of colours, designs and fabric so you can find one that suits you. Both the inner pillow and outer cover can be washed and all Theraline products are 100% safety certified.

Since having the pillow I've been known to sneak a nap when home alone, it's fantastic to be able to get comfortable when pregnant, as this is no mean feat. I highly recommend the Original Theraline Maternity & Nursing pillow to all pregnant mums, you won't regret it, and you definitely won't go back once you've tried it.

The Original Theraline Maternity and Nursing pillow can be bought on their website or from John Lewis, R.R.P £44.95

*I was gifted the Original Theraline Maternity and Nursing pillow in exchange for an honest review

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