Pregnancy // Hello Maternity Leave, The Final Few Weeks and an update of baby buys...

June 04, 2019

It's official! I'm on maternity leave and into the final month of pregnancy. I've been so excited for this time to come, and although it's tricky knowing when to stop when you're self employed {I just get statutory maternity pay so we've had to budget accordingly, and I'll probably start working again around September time which feels incredibly soon but equally I don't work in a regular industry! And of course, am so lucky to be able to work from home on projects most of the time so it's not like I'll have to leave the baby to go to an office. But equally, it's not like regular maternity leave where you'd get a few months of full/half pay and not be expected to even check your emails. But that's the price you pay for being freelance I guess and most of the time it has so many benefits!}, but I wanted to give myself these last couple of weeks before the baby arrives to finish getting organised, not feel stressed or chained to my laptop, and to just nest and also enjoy this time and rest up too. And now it's here already! I joked on Instagram the other day 'please don't come early, baby' now that I've planned these next couple of weeks out, but lots of you said that your babies did actually arrive early! I thought I'd share a few things that are on our list for these last couple of weeks to get organised {sorry if these tenses don't make much sense, I'm writing this in stages as we've already done some things, but still have others left to do! But wanted to note them all down in case it helps you with similar.}
*this post contains some affiliate links.

- Creating changing basket stations. I've filled a couple of baskets with nappies/wipes/muslins/nappy bags and left one next to the changing table in the nursery, and then a more portable one with a changing mat in to have downstairs with us. 

- Started batch cooking. Will do a whole separate post on this {it's scheduled for later this week} and things we're preparing for the freezer for the first few weeks/months. Including meals, quick healthy snacks that encourage lactation and breakfasts.

- Set up the new baby essentials. We've now got the assembled Snuz Pod bedside crib ready to connect to our bed eek. I washed the crib sheet and put that in there. *

- the Stokke tripp trapp high chair with the newborn attachment is at the table so she's ready to be with us when cooking/eating {when she doesn't want to be held that is}. *

- The car seat is ready to go! We need to practice actually clipping it in and out a few times, and work out the isofix attachments etc for the base but I think seeing this is one of the most 'real' things so far, that we'll be bringing our baby home in it! It's been so long since we decided on which one to go for that I forgot just how lovely this one is now that it's arrived. I've written about how we chose it in this post. *

- The buggy is still at my parents for now but ready as soon as we'll need it for the first walk! We covered it with a dust sheet to keep it fresh. * 

- The Nuna Leaf is in our kitchen waiting for a little babe to be rocked in it. Ben's hoping he can watch the Ashes this summer with her in this looking at him being rocked haha. *

*these items were previously gifted and I've written more about them all in this post here.

- Practicing using the Ergobaby and the sling to get our confidence up before we have a wriggly baby to get in one. We've asked our friends, who use both, to come and help show us the best way to tie them etc. 

- Taking a baby first aid course with our parents. This is something I really wanted to do before the baby arrives to feel a little more confident in an event that we might need to use it, and likewise for the grandparents who will be looking after her at some point. We booked this through Mini First Aid and had a two hour session at our house with my parents and Ben's Mum. It covered so much more than I was expecting {I was mainly concerned with choking} and although super scary thinking about having to use it, we all felt so much better by the end so I'd definitely recommend it, if like us, you didn't have any first aid knowledge. Infant first aid is also v different to regular adult first aid.

- Finish our NCT course. We've had the final session now, where we learned about changing nappies and how to bath a newborn, and we're so happy to have met such a lovely group who are all due around the same time as us. We're trying to find some dates to meet up before the babies all start to arrive eeek! 

- Go through my hospital bag one more time, and buy more snacks for it, to repack it with Ben so he knows where everything is. And keep it in the car from now on, just in case!

- Print out our birth preferences sheet, ideally 3 copies, to have with my hospital bag. I've talked a little more about that here.

- Finish off a final shopping mission to pick up the last few bits like a TENS machine, big knickers, hairbands, snacks etc that I still had on my to buy list. and also try to hide those said snacks out of sight to stop me eating them and then having to rebuy them, ha, easier said than done... 

- Have a browse online at all the adorable baby things, and try not to order anything more... although who am I kidding?!

- Wash some more baby clothes and muslins ready for her arrival. Seeing teeny baby clothes hanging on the line, and them feeling all soft, is one of the best things ever. 

- Send off my Group B strep test. Testing for Group B strep isn't offered in the UK on the NHS, yet is in so many other countries around the world - although interestingly the government have just agreed to a clinical trial to decide whether or not to start offering screening. I first heard about it from an Instagram friend, Over at Kate's, who has been incredible campaigning for the awareness of how important it is to get tested during your final few weeks of pregnancy after her son contracted meningitis after birth as a result of GBS. The test looks at whether you're a carrier of Group B strep, and if you are, you'll be advised to have intravenous antibiotics during labour to stop your baby contracting it and potentially getting very poorly as a result of this. I've ordered my test online here.
- The reason that midwives/doctors are anti screening in the first place is because Group B strep is transient, and it could show you have it one day but then it be gone the next, or vice versa, but the Group B strep organisations say that the screening remains accurate for 5 weeks so by doing this around 35-37 weeks pregnant, you should have a good indicator for the time you go into labour. Of course, like anything medical related, I'd recommend looking into it yourself or discussing with your midwife as even if you are a carrier your baby might not be affected by it, and likewise if you're negative it's still worth knowing the symptoms in a newborn to look out for.

- Practice perenium massage. I didn't know whether to talk about this super intimate massage on the blog, but I figured that if I hadn't read about it, would have wanted to know. The idea is that you massage your perenial area for a few minutes everyday from 34 weeks to stretch and prepare it for labour, the goal being to prevent a tear. I've been using this oil which is recommended for it. This video is fab at explaining, or there's a section in Mother of Daughter's pregnancy book and the Yes Mum's book all about this too.

- Harvest colostrum from 37 weeks. Into little syringes {ask your midwife if you're not sure about this, ours gave us a leaflet and some sterile syringes}, and putting them into the freezer as a back up for the first feed if needed, or as a bonus if feeding goes well. You won't run out of colostrum by doing this, your body keeps making more until your proper milk comes in a few days after your baby is born {this is triggered by the placenta coming away}, so it's great to try and harvest some in advance. As my midwife said, it will never get wasted, if not needed at birth, you can just give it as a bonus feed sometime before 6 months. It's like liquid gold with the amount of nutrients it contains. You're recommended to start doing this from 37 weeks as nipple stimulation/expressing before this time can encourage labour too soon!

- Pick up placenta cool box. I've decided to have my placenta encapsulated after reading about the many benefits of it {quite a personal decision so please don't message me if you don't agree with it}, so I need to go and pick up the cool boxes ready to store it after labour and then the lady will come and pick it up ASAP from us.

- Finish up my bump photo series, and put them all together in a grid to look at how it's grown over the past 9 months.

- Relax! Spend time with friends! Enjoy a couple of summer days out with Ben. Make the most of sleeping in/lazy garden afternoons. Read books. Because this time will never be quite the same again! Will share a new blog post with photos from these summer days out etc soon.

- Enjoy the garden and allotment. It's such a gorgeous time of year to be waiting around and have a baby with these long sunny summer days. 

- So far we seem to have done a lot of eating out with different sets of friends! But I guess we won't look back on this time and think 'oh I wish we'd done less of those nice things'. And maternity leave feels like the best time to fill with lots of cake/pizza/ice cream dates with your favourite people.

- Binge watch TV shows. Like Dead to Me on Netflix, Killing Eve and Big Little Lies come out soon, we're finishing off Chernobyl and the documentary film called Free Solo.

- Delete a million photos from my phone, and do all the back up admin for my phone/macbook etc, ready for allll the baby photos and videos!

- Have a massage. I've got a massage voucher that I had for my Birthday this year and not had a chance yet to use, so have booked a pregnancy massage in for one afternoon to really relax and enjoy.

- I might look at reflexology and acupuncture too. 

and a few things that I've bought baby wise since I last wrote a post about what we've bought so far;

Baby Monitor // After asking lots of friends, and Instagram, for recommendations, my parents bought us the BT 6000 baby monitor. We're confident it will reach the end of our garden, and we didn't want a monitor that would go via wifi and need our phones to open. We just wanted a screen/audio we could carry around with us. 

Baby breathing monitor // We went backwards and forwards over whether to get some kind of breathing monitor for peace of mind, and looked closely at the Angelcare mat along with the Owlet and the Snuza Hero. I know a lot of people say that these can end up giving you more anxiety, but it felt important to us for the first six months at least, to know that there was a system in place to alert us {obviously the most important thing in reducing SIDS is to have a baby as close to you at all times as possible in the first six months, just you breathing co2 into the air will remind her to breathe, isn't that incredible! And follow the Lullaby Trust for safe sleeping guidelines}. So anyway, the angelcare mat looked great but quite small, and at some point, she'll be rolling off of it I'm sure. We also wanted something easy to move/have with us if we're away for a night or something, so went with the Snuza Hero in the end which clips onto her nappy and will gently stir her if her stomach hasn't moved after I think, 15 seconds, and then alert us if still nothing after that. It has a flashing light and you'd need to have a baby monitor plugged in to be able to hear it if you weren't in the room. The owlet ankle bracelet also sounded really good, but was more than double the price and in the end, we liked the reviews for the hero best. - it might just be a bit of a faff to place on after every nappy change in the night, but equally I've heard of parents sure that the alarm system saved their life after it went off. 

A thermometer // Useful for checking babies temperatures to check if they have a fever or not, I read the most good things about this one which we've bought. It has a handy guide as to the age of the baby and what the different readings mean for their health. 

A bath thermometer // To check the temperature of the water, and it floats. We've bought this one.

Baby Nail Clippers // A random one that a friend suggested the other day as we talked about what we still needed to buy. These have a magnifier on to help see! Babies nails are apparently really sharp and grow fast? 

Changing Bag // I realised that in the last post about baby buy's we hadn't quite decided which one to go for. In the end, price wise, we went for this which we both like the look of and are happy to carry but equally it has a really cool wipes section and had good reviews. I personally feel like it's a bit too small but Ben thinks it's a good thing not carrying around too much for the sake of it, and to be honest by this point we'd gone round and round so I just wanted to get one! I think it just feels small as we've packed it as one of the hospital bags but hoping for day to day use it will be right. 

What did you do during your maternity leave? I feel like right now I'm keeping busy enough and the days are pretty full, but soon as our diary empties as we get even closer I'm sure I'll be desperate to meet her already. It's a funny old time, this in between. But I'm determined to enjoy it as much as possible, although of course wishing she was here already. 

R <3 xx 

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  1. So exciting! I remember spending weeks feeling agitated worrying about all the things I needed to do (I finished work at 34 weeks because I was an Early Years Teacher and tired of being on my feet all day) and then in the last week, once I was around my due date and beyond relaxed and started to enjoy it - pottering, reading, baking and watching lots of tv. Those days of just being on your own with nobody else to think about once baby arrives so it's worth enjoying every minute while it lasts. And if you're anything like me, you'll be SO excited, I couldn't wait to meet my baby! x

  2. I harvested colostrum too, as it is recommended if you have gestational diabetes (which I had) and found it really hard at first. Some tips which I picked up were to look at scan photos while expressing, sit in the nursery or next to your crib, hold a toy or item of clothing. I was also advised to do it four times a day to encourage more to be produced. My expressing technique was awful at first, even after watching YouTube videos I struggled and then my midwife gave me a more hands on tutorial ��
    Actually getting it into the syringe was quite painstaking so I found sterilising a teaspoon to catch it and then sucking up into the syringe from there was much easier!

    I hope that’s not TMI and actually useful! It’s also fab practice for hand expressing beforehand as you may need to do this to help with feeding once she’s here - it’s best that you’ve figured out the technique beforehand. ��


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