my maternity leave fitness bucket list

If there’s one thing on which many parents can agree, it’s that finding time to get your fit on can be a struggle when you’re juggling kids, work and running a house. I know my own fitness efforts have always been pretty sporadic, going from a few months of 5.30am alarms for pre-work gym sessions, to only managing one evening Clubbercise class a week, to all-out couch potatoing…and all sorts of variations in between.

As I sit here, over a week past my due date with baby number three, I’m about as far away from getting on a treadmill as you can be (though maybe a wee jog might get labour started…?). I haven’t even touched my pregnancy workouts for a few weeks now, as the mere thought of pulling on my leggings makes me want to go for a nap. But there is a small part of my brain that is actually quite looking forward to getting back into fitness once this little guy is here.

I am not a natural sportswoman, and my relationship with exercise can often be more guilt-fuelled than from a place of genuine passion. But I’ve found that if I keep shaking things up, set myself challenges and look for things that are fun then I can get quite into it. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of things I’m hoping to take a stab at.  Obviously I’m not going to rush into it, and I have a postnatal DVD I’ll use at first just to get used to owning a non-pregnant body again, but I don’t want to pass up the golden opportunity maternity leave offers to whip my body into a shape other than blob-of-Playdoh.  I’ve tried to put them in some sort of order, but I’ll see what takes my fancy when the time comes.  And it goes without saying that I will also be hitting up my incredible Clubbercise class each week too!


Lots of walking

This is a double whammy of good, because it’s just as important for my sanity as it is for my body.  I walked a lot, miles a day, last time I had a baby.  It helped me drop the huge amount of weight I’d put on in pregnancy but it also got me out of the house and out of my own head for a part of each day – invaluable when dealing with post natal depression and a colicy, refluxy baby.  I’m hoping to walk our four year old to and from school on days when it’s dry, but even on days when it’s raining I’m not adverse to getting on my waterproofs and getting some air when it’s just me and bubs.  Plus, it will give me some time to listen to podcasts too.


30 Days of Yoga – Yoga with Adriene

I stumbled across Adriene and her free yoga videos last year, and she is perfect.  Her attitude is amazing, she makes yoga so accessible and for all levels, and has so much content on YouTube.  I dabbled a bit with this challenge when I first came across her but wasn’t able to commit, and so I think this could be my time.  I’ve loved my yoga practice in pregnancy and tapped into the breathing and mindfulness through hypnobirthing too, and would be keen to keep those things as part of my lifestyle.

30 Day Shred – Jillian Michaels

This is a classic, which means you can grab a DVD of it really cheap.  I did this workout a few years ago, and found it was a great way to get my head into strength-mode (I followed it up with Insanity and getting into weights).  I have continued with strength and weights-based exercises during pregnancy so I’m hoping this wont be a shock to the system, and more like a gentle re-introduction to some muscles I’ve maybe forgotten I had!



Or “couch to 5k” to give it its full name.  This is a game changer – it was for me and I’ve seen so many other people sing its praises.  Basically, you follow a programme (and there seem to be about a million to choose from) which starts you off from walking and progresses you until you can run a full 5k route.  Different programmes work through the progression at different rates, so there’s bound to be one out there that works for you.  I’ve done it twice before, the first was a Race For Life training plan for Pretty Muddy, and the second was a programme on my Microsoft Band.  I was amazed with my first attempt – I literally couldn’t run the length of myself and yet in a matter of weeks I completed the Pretty Muddy 5k in 35mins.  Told you – game changer.  My issue is I often fall out of a routine once I’ve got up to the 5k distance and then have to start all over again, so I’m hoping to make it a regular thing and then progress to 10k (eventually!).


The Modern Woman’s Guide to Strength Training – Girls Gone Strong

Whilst I’m working on my cardio, I also want to get back into my weight training.  Girls Gone Strong are an amazing collective of inspiring women who aren’t afraid to lift, and were my first introduction into what is probably my favourite form of exercise.  GGS is about so much more than lifting weights though – body positivity, acceptance, health and supporting your fellow woman are so core to this movement.   I bought their programme, and this is where I’ll be building up from again because it is such a great approach and the tutorials for every move make sure that you’re as safe and effective as you can be.  I want my sexy shoulders and butt back!


Blogilates calendar – Cassey Ho

I came across the whirlwind that is Cassey Ho in my last maternity leave and I love her!  It’s amazing what she’s achieved since I first started doing her workouts – she’s now a fitness megastar and has built quite the empire.  She has about a bzmillion free workout videos on YouTube and compiles a new workout calendar each month.  I’ve never completed a full month of her workouts, but I’d love to give it a proper try.  Her energy is infectious, but don’t be fooled by the bubbly personality and pop music – she is hardcore!


Insanity – Shaun T

Speaking of hardcore…  I’ve left this one until last because to be honest, the thought of it right now makes me want to puke!  Hubs and I have attempted it twice, and although we got close we have never quite finished the 60 days.  But this works.  I’ve never pushed myself so hard or impressed myself so much as when I was doing Insanity.  I think if I get my cardio and strength up, and tick off a few of these other challenges then maybe (just maybe!) I might stand a chance at finally getting to the end of this.


I’m aware this is a big ol’ list, but nine months is a long time.  My approach to fitness has always been to do what I enjoy, so if any of these things don’t turn out to be as fun as I’d hoped/remembered I’ll just ditch them.  But the world gym is my oyster, so lets just see what I can achieve!

What are your current fitness goals?



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5 things i hate about having a baby


I’m aware I’ve become quite the baby bore on this blog, but you’ll have to indulge me.  I’m over my due date with my final baby, so my mind is totally one-track just now.  I seem to be fueled by biscuits at the moment too, so I’m not exactly living the healthy dream…I’d be a major hypocrite if I wrote about health just now.

The main stops on my single track are the birth, wondering just how squishy baby boys cheeks will be and the fear of broken sleep.  But there are some minor stops that I pause at now and again, and recently one of these was flashbacks to some of the things that really twisted my over-inflated melons when my older boys were babies.

So as I’m struggling to put together coherent sentences right now, how about a list – what sucks about having a baby?


  • Strangers touching my baby

    Now, I know – babies are irresistible to most of us.  It’s part of their survival schtick – you may be running from that saber toothed tiger, but of course you’re not going to leave this adorable little bundle behind.  They cry out (literally) to be held, stroked and fawned over.  But there are no saber toothed tigers kicking about the high street and a baby in a pram is in no immediate danger…so why do so many randoms feel the need to shove their dirty paws near my kid?  I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be prodded by a grubby finger when I was dozing…
    I remember being at a craft sale once, and one of the vendors was selling little signs for prams. A lot of them were cutesy, pukey “princess on board” type things, but one caught my eye – “please don’t touch the baby.”  I’m not sure how I feel about that, it seemed a bit presumptive and aggressive for wee timid me.  But this time around I’m tempted to just keep the insect net over the pram, or hang a alcohol gel bottle in a prominent place as the world’s most ugly pram ornament, just to make my position clear.  Maybe some barbed wire too.

  • Parent and child parking spaces

    Or more specifically, the selfish bastards who use them when they don’t have kids. Or those who use them when their kid is old enough to get in and out the car unaided – if your son has started to shave, you don’t need that space.
    Now, I need to tread carefully here as my rage could bring on labour (and I can’t go into labour today because I’ve promised the four year old we’ll make scones. Don’t judge, at least it’s a change from biscuits).  But my god, just how lazy do you have to be to use a parent and child space when other spaces are literally 20 yards away?  And before some child-free troll jumps on that and thinks they’re smart by flipping it and asking me why don’t I just park in the spaces 20 yards away myself – *newsflash* the point of parent and child spaces is not just that they’re closer to the shop door.  For your fat arse, this may be the perk.  But for parents the perk is  s a f e t y .   I would happily use a parent and child space that was actually further away from the shop, if it meant that sloths who park without a thought for anyone else stayed well away.
    See how they’re wider than a usual space?  That is the crucial part – when you’re putting a car seat in a car or wrestling a toddler into their seat belt you need to fling those doors wide open.  I remember a few times when my youngest was little having to leave the pram unattended at the side of the road because I had to move my car out of a regular space before I could open the door wide enough to put the car seat in.  That’s dangerous, but when you’re on your own and some white van is sitting in the last parent and child space you literally have no choice.

  • Public baby change facilities

    Oh god…you can really tell an establishment by the state of its baby change facilities. And I don’t mean just whether they have them or not, or even the placement of them (right by the hand dryer? Really?).  I mean how often they’re cleaned.  And most places, I’d guess never. I carry antibacterial wipes with me everywhere when I have a baby, and more times than I can count I’ve dry heaved at the colour of the wipe after I’ve given the change unit a clean before setting down my mat.
    And who knew other parents were such skanky shit-smearers?  We all know about those nappies, the ones that make you just want to throw everything in the bin, baby included, because the prospect of cleaning your way through that mess is just too awful.  But guess what?  That doesn’t mean you make the best of it and then leave the carnage behind for the next poor parent to lay their kid in.  Just as I clean the unit before I use it, I also clean it afterwards…just in case of rogue poo crumbs.

  • Public high chairs

    Speaking of the minging hygiene levels of establishments and fellow parents, why don’t we roll out the communal high chair?  With it’s crusty deposits and suspiciously gunky straps, or if you’re really lucky the entire remains of whatever crap the last inhabitant was eating playing with, my antibac wipes earn their keep on these babies.  I know a bit of dirt is good for the immune system, but I don’t think e coli is in the acceptable germs list…

  • Life getting in the way

    All the above rants have something in common.  They involve leaving the house.  And that is what I hate most about having a baby, particularly a newborn – life getting in the way when all you want to do is sit on the sofa and gaze at your little miracle.  Who wants to deal with other people, their selfish parking or grotty habits when in your arms is the whole world?


And on that last thought, the steam has stopped shooting from my ears and I’m brought back to what this is all about.  Because as much as there is a whole heap of crap to wade through when trying to raise a kid, it all pales into insignificance against a backdrop of snuggles, first smiles and that baby smell.

But seriously people…at least clean the change facilities after yourselves.

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my pregnancy at 40 weeks

So Tuesday was my due date, and as I’ve said all along it came and went without much sign of impending labour.  I’ll be honest, this is a scheduled post which I actually wrote on Wednesday so there is a chance I could have gone into labour by now…but I’m guessing probably not.  This little man really isn’t allowed to make an appearance until today anyway, as our four year old had his sports day on Friday and his nursery graduation yesterday so I wanted to hold on until after those!

The past few weeks have seen me doing some half-hearted nesting (though there was one day where I actually crawled under our bed to do a thorough hoover, dragging out all the storage boxes that live in there and sorting through their contents), and swinging from alternatively being ready for baby boys arrival to feeling as if I could still use a few days before he gets here!

So how have things progressed since I last updated at 37 weeks?

Body at 40 weeks

  • I am uncomfortable a lot of the time now!  I actually think I’ve been struck by some late-onset SPD, which is just fucking wonderful.  At least it didn’t rear its ugly head until now, unlike my last pregnancy where it plagued me from about 30 weeks.  Getting up from sitting, or rolling over in bed are when it’s worst, but it’s even making me avoid sitting on my birth ball as the discomfort afterwards makes my eyes water.
  • Weight wise, I’ve remained fairly stable and am still sitting about a stone heavier than I was when I being mindful about my weight at 18 weeks and probably 1.5 stone (21lbs) overall.  I’m still hopeful that at least 10lb of that is baby, fluid and placenta!
  • The trapped wind is back most days too, though not as painful as it was before.  Now I just have to put up with some crazy noises, which sound like little jets of gas going off in an empty tunnel…if I wasn’t reminded by a very wriggly baby that the opposite is true, I’d think my bump was hollow.

Mind at 40 weeks

  • I’ve still not really found that calm headspace I was hoping would come with maternity leave.  I’m constantly worried about the house not being clean enough to give birth in…and I know a lot of that is nesting, but it is driving me a little bit bonkers.
  • I do feel more ready to meet our boy now.  I know previously I wasn’t in a place where I was ready to let this last pregnancy go, but now my feelings of excitement and curiosity about meeting this wee bundle are taking over and I can’t wait to see what he looks like.  I still can’t quite imagine him being here, but I can’t wait until he is.
  • I am feeling a little isolated though.  I don’t have the energy to make plans to see anyone, and I think (hope) my friends are giving me space in my final days, so as a result I do feel a bit of a recluse.
  • On the flip side, my mum wont leave me alone and this is really stressing me out.  I’m tempted to not answer her calls, but I know she’d be up at the door if I left it too long.  And I know she’s just worried and wants to support me, but I’ve said all along that I don’t want her around when I’m in labour.  She is very full-on and smothers me, to the point where I think that’s why I made some choices in my last labour which I hadn’t planned to make.  I’ve asked her outright to give me some space, but she is choosing to ignore that…so maybe it isn’t just nesting that is stopping me from fully relaxing.

Baby at 40 weeks

  • After a few weeks of panicking that he was stubbornly lying back to back, he finally turned at 39 weeks and seems happy…maybe too happy, if the passing of his due date without event is anything to go by!
  • He is still ninja kicking like crazy.  I’m surprised he has any room in there for the antics he gets up to, but considering a woman I didn’t even know commented on how much she could see my belly moving from across a room the other day it would appear he can make room.
  • We had a clear out of the four year old’s room at the weekend, and got rid of some of the baby toys we had originally kept.  We’re aware that this wee one is going to be the hand-me-down kid, so figured we should create some space for him to at least get the odd new thing once in a while!

Fuel, Fitness & Rest

  • I have zero energy, even though I’m still sleeping most of the night.  A wander round the supermarket makes me need a lie down before I can function again, so it goes without saying that exercise has been non-existent.  I’m ok with that though, I did well to keep working out until week 38 and it would be stupid to push myself right now.
  • I’m fighting diet demons though.  I’m hungry all the time, but although my meals are generally still very nutritious I’m eating a lot of crap in between.  I don’t expect to be “dieting” right now and I think it’s fine to cut myself some slack, but I feel a bit out of control. I’m angry with myself at making such horrendous processed and sugary snack choices…I thought I knew better than that.
  • I’ve struggled to make time to work on relaxation, and I know that I could really benefit from it.  I’m planning on using hypnobirthing techniques in labour so I really should have been prioritising that.


So the end is in sight, and hopefully my next update will be to announce this little man’s arrival.  I can’t believe how quickly or how well this pregnancy has gone, I couldn’t have asked for a better one to end my childbearing days with.  I’m gutted I wont be doing this again!  All that remains is to trust that I will get the birth I have planned for, and to wait it out until I can hold my new baby in my arms.

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little loves [ haim, 13 reasons why + the handmaid’s tale ]

It’s been way too long since I last did a Little Loves post, Fridays come around so soon and I seem to keep missing the boat.  Time is flying by now I’m on maternity leave, I hope it slows down once baby boy arrives as I want the chance to enjoy every second of his babyhood.  And I’m hoping that by next Friday, if I miss linking up my excuse will be because I’m too busy cuddling my newborn!

I’m all-consumed by waiting for his birth, so this is actually a nice chance to reflect on things away from that and talk about something other than pregnancy.



Not much to report book-wise, as I spent weeks struggling through Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being.  It just left me cold…hardly a little love!

I spent some time yesterday reading this week’s Stylist though.  I don’t really read any magazines, but I love this free one – it was the highlight of my commuting week and I’m so glad that Hubs remembers to grab me a copy now I’m on maternity leave.  I’m also loving their website, especially this article about an argument that happened on Love Island (which I am proud to say I’ve never seen!) about feminism and paying on dates.



We finally caught up with the world and watched 13 Reasons Why.  We ploughed through it, couldn’t stop watching it – I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was.  The cast, the soundtrack and of course the difficult but very real and relevant issues it tackled were all incredibly well selected and woven into a compelling story with a genius hook.  And as for glamourising suicide, which is a critisism I’ve seen levelled at the show, I don’t agree at all.  If anything I think it did the opposite, because as a viewer you can see all the good that Hannah misses out on by cutting her life short and of the support networks she could have accessed.  Like anyone who saw it, *the* scene in the final episode tore me apart.  A lot of that came down to the fact that I am a mother and saw it from that perspective (to the point of hyperventilation and uncontrollable crying), but I doubt it left any viewer with the opinion that suicide is an easy option, or one without repercussions for those who love you most.  And in general, when you see how self absorbed those who hurt Hannah still were even after hearing how they made her feel, I don’t agree that the series tries to paint suicide as a good way of getting revenge on people either.  It was a great series which tackled an issue which needs more awareness…you can’t get much better than that.

We’re now watching The Handmaid’s Tale, which I was so glad Channel 4 picked up.  After reading about it for so long during it’s production I am made up that it’s living up to my expectations.  The book is one of my favourites, and I think it’s an important story to be raising the profile of right now as a lot of the issues in it (reproductive rights, right-wing politics, religious power struggles, feminism and human rights) are so relevant.  If you’ve missed the first few episodes, you should definitely watch it on catch-up and get up to speed for some great Sunday night drama.



I’m quite excited that Haim are due to release a new album this summer, and so when my friend shared this video with me a few weeks back I nearly peed my pants…

I’ve also managed to wrestle the kitchen radio off the teen and discovered Radio X, which replaced my old indie/rock love XFM.  Don’t be put off by the fact Chris Moyles and Johnny Vaughn are on the pay roll – just listen to the choons!  Though I have just Googled and am sad to see they don’t have a single female DJ, which has turned me off a bit…



I’m down to one pair of maternity jeans right now, so I have nothing exciting to put here.  But I did recently get the chance to wear again the maternity evening dress I bought for a wedding.  Our friends’ daughter was christened recently, so I got to dress up for that.  It made me feel a bit more human again, to do my hair and look nice for a while.  No heels, mind you!



I actually have something to put here!  I made scones at the weekend, and despite being on the small side (though I’m certain that was the recipe as they rose really well) they were actually pretty good.  And before that I made flapjacks, which were lush.  I’d convinced myself years ago that I couldn’t bake, but I think the problem was that in my healthy quest I was trying to do diet or “clean” baking…which is just crap.  Turns out I can bake pretty well as long as I use real flour, real butter and real (sorry) sugar.  I’m definitely going to embrace real cake from now on.  The healthy part will just be having it in moderation.  I can see baking being a regular thing during my maternity leave!


…& finally

My four year old “graduates” from nursery tomorrow.  He’ll still be attending over the summer, but tomorrow is a celebration of them moving on to primary school and this part of their little lives coming to an end.  Provided I don’t go into labour overnight and miss the whole thing, I predict I will be a big blubbering mess!



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i formula feed…so what?

I’m aware that with my multiple posts on how I plan to give birth at home, in a birth pool using hypnobirthing techniques I may have given the impression that I’m something of an earth mother. A natural mother. A “proper” mother. So allow me to drop the bomb that will shatter that illusion…

I formula fed both my boys, and am planning on feeding this new baby that way too.

Oh shit, have I gone down in your estimation now?  Cos I can already see some pursed lips and was that a tut I just heard?  I know, right – I’m shortchanging my kids, I’m being selfish, I’m doing it wrong.

Ok, that’s very defensive of me and I’m only (half) joking.  I know that most people are not so judgmental, and the majority of folk couldn’t give a crap how I choose to feed my baby.  But just as I’ve seen a surge in women opting to breastfeed and in the support for normalising it, I have also seen a rise in bottle-bashing.  When it comes to an issue as sensitive and fundamental as how you decide to feed your child, it’s no wonder that emotions can run a little high.

I want to share why I came to the decision to use formula.

I’m going to slap on a huge old caveat to this – no one ever needs to justify their decision to anyone else.  Whether one woman’s decision to formula feed comes from a deep rooted tradition in her family or because she doesn’t like the thought of breastfeeding is as irrelevant as whether the woman down the street chose to breastfeed purely for budget reasons or from a passion for the immunity support breast milk provides.  A choice is a personal issue and no one owes anyone an explanation.

But I’m going to give mine…mainly because it gives me something to write about as I wait for this baby to arrive.

When breastfeeding just didn’t work for us

Even though I was only 17 when I got pregnant for the first time, it never even occurred to me to do anything but breastfeed.  Bottle feeding had never featured on my cultural radar.  So it was a shock when my baby and my breasts didn’t get the same memo.

A badly timed jab of diamorphine in labour left me with a sleepy and disinterested baby who was reluctant to feed.  When he did show an interest, I found myself looking at my breasts as if for the first time.  I kept trying to do everything the leaflet said, but started to despair – how was he supposed to latch on when my nipples didn’t look like the illustration?  Instead of nice little buttons for my baby to work with, there was nothing there…just flat, pink circles as if they’d been drawn on to my boobs.

I managed to coax a slight shape to my nipples, but struggled to get my baby to latch on.  I buzzed for help throughout that first night, but the midwives would only stay long enough to see him take a few sucks and then left me alone to watch him slide off again.  The more I tried, the more upset and frustrated we both became, and I felt like a nuisance both to the midwives and the other women sharing my ward who were trying to sleep.

I wasn’t allowed to take my baby home until he had fed successfully, so after another day and night of struggling and with a blood test showing that my baby’s blood sugars were low I gave in to the suggestion of giving him a bottle.  I remember looking at the “breast is best” poster on the wall as I gave him that first feed, and feeling like a total failure.  I rang my mum in tears, asking her to rush out and buy bottles, formula and a steriliser before coming to take me and my useless boobs (and of course, my beautiful and now contented baby) home.

Formula feeding worked for us

As it turned out, formula feeding wasn’t the evil I thought it would be.  I went back to college when my baby was 3 months old and so it suited us well.  I was also a single mother, and so it was nice that my parents could help with feeding to give me some sleep or a break when I needed it.

He’s 15 now and shows a mixed bag of the apparent impact of formula milk.  For example, he had horrendous eczema when he was younger which could have been down to how he was fed, but equally could have been because it runs in our family.  On the other hand, he’s excelling academically and has never had a weight problem, which goes against common beliefs about formula fed babies.

This is not me using anecdotes to argue scientific research.  If the research is there then we’ve just been lucky enough to avoid certain negative outcomes, though in a lot of cases the research isn’t conclusive.  This suggests to me that formula is a safe and good feeding option, it just isn’t as good as breast milk.  But I do believe that feeding method is but a part in a larger jigsaw of health components.  Breast milk may give a baby a head start, but there are a lot of other aspects of diet, upbringing and wellness that parents can influence which all contribute to a child’s health, attainment and quality of life.

Me and my useless boobs

Despite the positives, the guilt I felt about my feeding method stayed with me and I do think it played a contributing part to the postnatal depression I suffered.  This depression stayed with me for years and materialised in many different ways, one of which was a deep dislike of my body.  To tackle this I went on a diet and lost a lot of weight (which I’ve briefly blogged about before), which left me with a smaller clothes size but also with boobs I couldn’t stand to look at.  I’d always had big breasts, having to buy my f-cup bras in specialist shops and dealing with chronic back pain and unwanted comments.  But now all I had were saggy, empty sacks which left me looking 80 rather than 20.  I hated them – not only had they failed me when it came to feeding my baby but now they failed me every time I looked in the mirror.  So when I was 24 I made the decision to have them reduced.  I was warned that my ability to breastfeed in the future may be compromised, but at the time I didn’t care – my future fertility was in question (another story for another time), and my boobs had proven themselves to be worthless for feeding anyway.

Growing in confidence with my formula feeding decision

Ten years after my first baby, and against some pretty big odds, my second baby was on his way.  I did my research and found evidence to suggest that my breast reduction may not necessarily mean I couldn’t breastfeed.  And as a bonus, my surgery had given me some proper nipples.  I approached feeding with an open mind – optimistic that time had healed my breasts but realistically purchasing bottles and a steriliser.

When he arrived, my second baby showed all the markings of a breastfeeding champ – he latched on right away and things were looking good.  Except my boobs.  It became quickly apparent that there was nothing happening on my side of the equation.  But unlike this heartbreaking story of a woman who struggled post-reduction to breastfeed her baby, I was confident enough to know when to call it quits.

This time around with baby number 3, we have once again stocked up on formula and feeding equipment.  I’ll give my boobs another chance to redeem themselves, but I’m doubtful anything will have changed in the 4.5 years since we last tried to breastfeed.  I’ve made my peace with that entirely, and am happy with the prospect of once again exclusively formula feeding

Feed and let feed

I trained as a midwife and am passionate about breastfeeding in most circumstances.  But I’m not holding my story up as one of those exceptions to the rule that everyone should breastfeed.  I think the most important thing is that a baby is fed by a parent who is happy with their feeding choice and who isn’t made to feel less than or wrong or weird for whatever their method of choice is.  Just as I don’t think women should be shamed into breastfeeding in some grotty toilet, I also don’t think any parent should be expected to defend their choice to use formula.  Live and let live, feed and let feed.  I use formula…so what?


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our rainy day on the farm


We are lucky in that we live in a very beautiful part of Scotland.  We’re close enough to cities like Glasgow and Stirling to enjoy all that they offer but far enough into the country that we’re surrounded by natural beauty and opportunities to get out and about.

So that’s just what me and the boys did recently, to kick off my maternity leave.  Despite the rain, we headed to a local farm, who were having a fairy woodland weekend.  There were games (racing rubber ducks using water pumps was a clear winner, and even the teenager joined in for that), crafts and a hunt through the woods to find fairy doors.

We also went on a tractor ride around the farm to meet the animals.  I don’t think I need to say what a stupid idea it was for a heavily pregnant woman to ride through fields on a trailer…this would be obvious to anyone.  Except me, it would appear.  It was only as we set off and the first few jolts knocked me that I started to worry about my waters breaking.  But we made it through intact and the four year old was made up to have gone on it, so at least I scored some mum points.

Living in the west of Scotland – possibly one of the wettest places on earth – we’ve come to embrace that saying about there being no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.  And actually, I’m usually glad when conditions are a little less than perfect on a day out because there are less crowds to bother with.  Clouds over crowds…I should get a t-shirt made up with that on it.

The other great thing about a bit of rain is that I think there’s something beautiful about nature when it’s wet – the colours and smells just seem to be a bit more alive.  Plus, there’s nothing quite like being slapped in the face by a wet branch as you race after an intrepid explorer on the hunt for fairies.

From my point of view it was quite an emotional day too.  As we tucked into some lush home baking in the farm shop, I said to the boys do you know, this is the last time we’ll have a day out just the three of us.  Struck by the fact that next time there’ll be another little person in our gang soon, that this was the end of an era for us, I thought that was kind of a big deal.  The mum, please looks I got back from the teen and the four year old told me I was alone in the moment though, and they got stuck straight back into their obscenely large strawberry tarts.  Maybe it was for the best, it would have been a bit cringe if I’d burst into hormonal tears and hugged them to me in the middle of the café.

We had a lovely day out, and I’m hoping that once the baby arrives and the school holidays start our summer will be full of more adventures to share on here.

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the workouts which have kept me fit in pregnancy


I’ve been really feeling the effects of being heavily pregnant and about to pop these past couple of weeks. I feel heavy and uncomfortable all the time, and even finding a comfortable way to sit has become a struggle. My pelvis feels tender, my lower back is sore and I’m constantly feeling crampy or dealing with the hell that is trapped wind. I’ve sailed through this pregnancy, but it feels that as soon as I hit 37 weeks it all caught up with me.

Yesterday though I did something I’ve not done in over a week – I worked out. And I felt like a new woman afterwards! Admittedly by the time evening rolled around eight hours later I’d started to feel like an injured whale again, but I do think how good I felt after doing a bit of exercise is proof of how important it is to stay active even when you’re due to give birth any day.

Before I got pregnant, my exercise levels were a bit inconsistent. I the months before we got our positive test, I’d gone from three 5.30am weight training sessions a week to cancelling my gym membership and just going along to one Clubbercise class. I’m not sure now what the reason for the drop in my commitment was, but I wasn’t the fittest I’d ever been.

It wasn’t until I got to about halfway through this pregnancy that I made a real effort to make fitness my focus.  I kept up the Clubbercise until 30 weeks, when I started to worry about impact levels and balance, and at around 18 weeks I dusted off the antenatal DVDs I bought in my last pregnancy.  Last time around I only used them halfheartedly, but this time they have been the basis for my exercise levels. I’ve used a couple of online workouts too, so I thought I’d share what’s been working for me in case anyone else is wanting to exercise during pregnancy but doesn’t know where to start.


Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?

Keep in mind that I’m not a fitness professional, and this is just my experience.  The Royal College of Midwives advises that:

“The exercise pregnant women take should reflect their previous exercise regime. So for example it would not be appropriate for a woman who has done no exercise for many years to suddenly start running long distances in pregnancy. If women exercised regularly before pregnancy, they should be able to continue with no adverse effects.

“If women have not exercised routinely they should begin with no more than 15 minutes of continuous exercise, three times per week, increasing gradually to daily 30-minute sessions and if they any questions we advise them to talk to their midwife or GP”

So that doesn’t mean if you were inactive before that you shouldn’t exercise now, but that you should build up gradually.  Particularly if you’re a mum who isn’t used to exercise, pregnancy-specific programmes are the best option as the moves in them should safely take into account the changes going on in your body.  But if someone is used to a certain type of exercise (like I was with weights and dancing, and other women are with running) then pregnancy is no reason to stop outright.  It’s all about personal preference, health and ability, and keeping an open mind to the fact that what you can handle is likely to be different by the time you hit the 3rd trimester than what it was at 12 weeks.

Take the time to read up on your exercise of choice and about your body in pregnancy to make sure you’re always keeping yourself safe and doing the best for your body and baby.


Pregnancy Yoga

Probably the best place for anyone to start is yoga.  It’s a great way to activate your muscles, but also to quiet your mind and work on breathing and relaxation.  If you’re lucky enough to have a class in your area I’d definitely recommend heading along.

Unfortunately budget, work and location meant I couldn’t get to classes, so the yoga I do is one of my DVDs.  It’s by Desi Bartlett, but I don’t think it’s sold as a DVD any more.  Amazon have it on their streaming service though, and she has released another one since.  I like this one because it’s quite relaxing but it has a good lower-body focus.  It also doesn’t get too hippie/spiritual, which works for me (a reason why I’m a fan of another yogi called Adriene), but includes enough explanation of the names behind the moves to make you feel connected.  This is the workout I did yesterday, and I plan on trying to do it most days until this baby is ready to come join us.



I wont labour (*boomboom*) this point, because I already wrote a whole post on why I think swimming in pregnancy is awesome.  But again, this is a great for everyone from beginners right up to the superfit.  You can do it alone, but again if you’re lucky enough to live in an area where aquanatal is available then definitely head along.  You’ll meet other mums and also have the support and guidance of an instructor which is always very handy to have.


Strength training in pregnancy

If you’re a little more advanced, or you’ve built up your fitness during the pregnancy so far, strength exercises are a great addition to your routine. Building muscle gives you the strength needed to carry around your ever-growing body and to support you to be active during labour.  This is also the type of exercise which you’ll find no end of options for, either as DVDs or online videos.

And a confession?  I’m a weights girl, so this is my thing.

The first workouts I started with this time around were some I found on Popsugar Fitness (which is a great site with lots of free videos, whether you’re pregnant or not).  They’re short, so they were a good place to start as I’d been out of the habit for a while.  I could then combine them for a longer workout.  The two I used were a total body one and an arm one, but there are others available on the site.

I then moved on to some other DVDs in my stash.  The first is Lean & Toned by Suzanne Bowen, which is a low-impact body weight programme.  It focuses on high reps of mainly leg and arm movements, with some core work in the mat section.  My only bugbears with it is that you need to figure out your own water breaks and keep your core and pelvic floor engaged (as you should be doing anyway!) without being reminded as she doesn’t really mention it.  But it’s a good total-body workout with a chilled pace.

My other DVD is Erin O’Brien’s Prenatal Fitness Fix, which I love.  I’ll start with the bad point – the music is godawful.  Thankfully during the workout it isn’t as noticeable as the title/menu music, and if I can ignore it (and I have to leave shops if they’re using those cheap cover version CDs) anyone can.  But Erin herself is motivational, explains a lot about how to exercise safely and is just really fun to workout with.  The moves in this can be quite tough, but they are mixed with easier ones to create a workout which is challenging but achievable.  It also comes with a postnatal workout, which I obviously haven’t used this time yet but I think I used it last time and enjoyed it just as much.

Once I felt my strength had built up again, I threw some of my true love into the mix – weights.  I used this great free programme on BodyBuilding.Com called Lifting for Two by Nicole Moneer.  Obviously, this is one for those who are used to working with weights and equipment.  But the video, article and the moves themselves are brilliant and I think this is a great resource.  We have a home gym with free weights and a pulley machine, so I was able to do all but the thigh moves, and the feeling of strength and confidence this workout gave me was worth it’s weight in gold.

And although not a workout, I can’t mention weight training without linking to one of my all-time favourite resources for women.  Girls Gone Strong have a bunch of great articles on exercise in pregnancy, as well as articles on general pregnancy health and postnatal stuff too.  I can’t sing the praises of this site enough, this is where my weight training interest was sparked back in 2015 and I love that the site doesn’t ignore pregnancy.


So what you waiting for?

A fit pregnancy is the best gift you can give yourself.  Along with managing my weight gain, being active has made this my easiest pregnancy so far.  I’ve avoided the SPD and back issues I had in my last pregnancy and the high blood pressure I experienced in my first, and there is a ton of research out there to support that exercise reduces those and other pregnancy complications as well as helping you to have a shorter and complication-free labour and birth.  What isn’t there to love about that?


What exercise worked best for you in pregnancy?  Let me know if you’ve tried any of the types of exercise I mention, or used any of the resources I’ve linked to.

The Amazon product links in this post are affiliated, but the opinions are my own.  I genuinely bought these products and have used them myself.

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my birth plans [ part 3 ] – hypnobirth

I’m sitting on my birth ball, in the closing days of my 38th week of pregnancy.  Birth is on my mind a lot…in fact, about the only other thing in my head beyond that is housework (thanks nesting) and I know which of those two I’d rather write about.  I’ve written already about two elements of my plan for birth – that I want to have this baby at home and that I’ll be using a birth pool to labour and hopefully deliver this little man.  This final part is all about how I really want this birth to be as calm an experience as it can be.

As I mentioned previously, my last baby was born in the hospital car park in what was quite a fraught and distressing experience.  Whilst it makes a good story and I can tell it almost as a joke now, it was an experience that left a scar and from which it took me a long time to heal.  More than anything I want this, our final birth experience, to be on our terms and above all to feel calm and in control during it.  That’s why I don’t want to leave the house, and why I think water will be a great coping mechanism for me.

When my friend, who is a midwife, heard of my plans she suggested hypnobirth as a good tool to help me achieve the birth I hope for.  She is a trained practitioner, and offered to take Hubs and I through the course as a favour.  I also trained as a midwife ten years ago, and back then my only experience of a woman using hypnobirthing was not a particularly positive one.  This was more down to the woman being quite a difficult person to deal with rather than her preference for hypnobirthing, but something had stuck with me which left a bad taste in my mouth. However, my friend really sold the concept to me.  It turns out it wasn’t all hippie nonsense, or a fad just for stuck-up middle class madams.


What is hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing focuses on taking the body and mind to a deep relaxed state, so that the birthing muscles are free to do their job.   We have been conditioned to see birth as a scary and painful experience, and as a result most of us involuntary tense up and fight against contractions (or surges, if I use the hypno lingo).  But hypnobirthing theory says that if we remove the resistance caused by tension and fear we can work with our bodies rather than against them.  By using my contractions and natural pushing instincts rather than fighting them, I can retain that sense of calm and control that I want.

That’s the hope, anyway!

In fact, it had a lot of links with things I’ve dabbled with myself – yoga breathing, mindfulness and relaxation techniques.  More than that, it is based on what I know and believe about labour and birth – that it is not a medical event which needs intervention or lots of drugs as long as the mother and baby are healthy and things are progressing as they should.  It tackles the issues of fear and tension as being the two obstacles most likely to turn birth from a natural process to something more complicated.  It supports my belief that my body is perfectly designed to bring my baby into the world, and builds on the confidence my two previous fairly quick and straightforward deliveries have given me.


Making hypnobirthing work for me

I have to be honest about my own limitations and abilities though.  I’m quite a highly strung person with a ridiculously short fuse, so I’m worried that in the moment I’ll struggle to put myself into relaxation or to zone out enough.  But that’s exactly why I’m trying to apply hypnobirth principles in the first place, because the techniques give me some tools to use.

So far I’m finding the different types of breathing and the progressive relaxation to be the aspects which speak to me the most.  I struggle with a lot of the visualisation exercises, and find physical anchors work better to encourage me to relax – a touch from Hubs, or having him massage me, or even just triggering the relaxation through my body by loosening my jaw and the muscles around my eyes.

I’m going a bit rogue when it comes to my birth soundtrack.  I listen to my relaxation recording to practice putting myself into the relaxed state, and I will have it on standby during labour if I find myself struggling to get there.  But for the most part I will be listening to my own playlist.  Music is a huge part of my life, and I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to what I will listen to.  I think if I used “real” relaxation tracks I would actually end up less chilled out as they’d just annoy me!  Instead I’ve put together a playlist of some fairly calming songs which either have lyrics which speak to me or which have a wall-of-sound quality for me to focus on.

But above all, I’m just going into it all (labour, birth and hypnobirthing) with an open mind.  Whatever works is right at the time, and I’m not going to get too hung up on any one thing or doing something the “right” way.


Hypnobirth blogs

As I’ve done with home and water births, I’ve been reading birth stories where bloggers have been kind enough to share their experiences.  These ones were my favourites…

Fred, Ted & Company – a calm birth

Love Your Birth – my third hypnobirth

Bumps n Babies – Hannah’s birth story


Have you used hypnobirthing techniques?  I’d love to hear about your experiences!



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the good, bad + ugly of parenting a teenager


This week, my first baby turned 15.  This sparks in me a domino run of cliche-but-true observations – those 15 years have flown by, parenting doesn’t necessarily get easier it just changes, and teenage boys really do sleep/smell/grunt a lot.  But how do I mark this occasion here on my blog?  I could write a post to him, but he’d never read it.  I could write a post about him, but I think he’d find that pretty cringe-worthy.  So I figured I’d reflect on what being a mum to a teenager has been like so far – the good, the bad and the ugly.


Raising a teen – the good

  • Seeing all our efforts pay off.  Of course we’re all proud of our kids and they make us proud in different ways at different times – the first time they write their name, or the first time they swim without arm bands.  But the teen years is where you see your efforts in encouraging, supporting and building your kids up really start to come to something.  All kids break away from the pack in one area or another, to achieve something that not everyone else can, to show a real talent for something.  For us, it’s his academic achievements and his competitive swimming success, both of which he makes look easy but which are far beyond anything I could have managed at his age.
  • Sharing music and book recommendations, and (if you’re lucky and your kid has taste) actually finding common ground to bond over.
  • Watching our child grow out of being, well…a child.  Of course it is heart wrenching to say goodbye to those days, but leaving behind childhood also means learning more about the person he will grow up to be.  And that is beyond exciting.  Seeing “when I grow up” fantasies turn into real interests and subject choices, sharing (slightly) adult humour and watching him get the joke, hearing his opinions on topics bigger than Minecraft…it’s pretty mindblowing.
  • The hugs.  They may be rare, but they mean that little bit more because I know there’s real emotion behind them.

Raising a teen – the bad

  • Seeing your child suffer and not being able to save them like you could when they were little.  I’m talking about bullying.  This has been a reality for my son for a large portion of high school so far, and I have felt pretty powerless to help him.  He doesn’t want me to get involved, and so I’ve done only what I could do from behind the scenes.  Ideally I’d like to set fire to the little shits who are doing this to him, but having been bullied myself I know that adult intervention is like a red rag to a bull. It hurts me every time the issue flares up, to see how it has impacted on his confidence and willingness to be sociable.  But I have to just guide him, reassure him, and make the school aware of things they can do to help him.
  • Worrying about how he’s going to cope with big issues – sex, smoking, alcohol, drugs.  We’re lucky just now as our teenager isn’t in with a crowd that hangs about, parties and tries to act older than they are.  But I know it’s only a matter of time before he is exposed, and although he’s fairly sensible I also know that on the surface that’s probably how I appeared at that age…and my decisions were anything but!
  • Think it hurts when your toddler tells you mid-tantrum that they don’t love you?  Try hearing something like that when your kid is old enough to understand the gravity of their words.  I’ve been lucky so far – I don’t think I’ve hit the milestone of being told I’m a bitch, but teenagers don’t always have a filter in the heat of the moment.

Raising a teen – the ugly

  • Still having to listen as he relays the fascinating intricate details of his latest Xbox game obsession.
  • Hearing the sound of my own voice, saying the same things on repeat.  You think it’s bad with a toddler?  Try chanting the following at least three times a day for the past five years – have you brushed your teeth, can you please sort your hair out, put your dirty laundry in the basket, for god sake can you please shut the door without slamming it, have you done your chores, have you done your homework, untie your shoes before you put them on.  I remain in constant hope that one day he will leave the house with all his responsibilities dealt with, looking presentable, without wrecking yet another pair of shoes and without slamming the door…all without me saying a word.
  • The bathroom after the three hour shower or midnight toilet trip…
  • Being demoted from fountain of knowledge to she-who-knows-nothing.  I realise that sometimes, when I talk a glaze comes over not just his eyes but his whole face. Our son has perfected the brick-wall look, where I know every word we say is just bouncing off without even being heard.  Apparently he  knows it all already.
  • Sometimes, the only sign he’s returned home is the dog sitting at the bottom of the stairs with an expectant wag of her tail.  Because apparently we don’t say “hi” anymore.


It’s not easy, parenting a teenager.  It’s a mindfuck, a stress and yet another one of those oh-so-wonderful learning curves of parenting. But it’s rewarding and hilarious and fascinating all at the same time.  No one gets it right, we all just stumble through, but the good points usually outweigh the bad and you can usually (eventually) laugh at the ugly points.  I’m excited what this second half of his teen years holds in store for my son, and for the rest of us!

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my pregnancy at 37 weeks

Week 37 is done and dusted!  I finished up for maternity leave in a cloud of cake and very generous gifts last week and the midwives go on call for my homebirth from tomorrow…the end is in sight!  But actually, I hope I’ve still got a little while to go yet, as I don’t feel ready for birth or for meeting our new little man just yet.

I’m sure this boy will be like his brothers and show up late, but a lot of people are convinced I’m going to go before my due date, so I’ve always said that as long as I get at least a week of maternity leave to put my feet up first, he can come whenever he wants.  But that’s me been on leave for nearly a week now, and I’ve not done any relaxing at all!  I went shopping with my mum all day for my birthday, spent a whole day waddling around the Ideal Homes exhibition on Saturday, we were out celebrating the christening of my friends’ beautiful little girl all day Sunday and yesterday I took the boys to a local farm where I went on a tractor ride (honestly thought my waters would burst) and walked through the woods looking for fairy doors.  In amongst that I’ve been doing housework and trying to nest, and today I need to get things ready for my oldest son’s birthday tomorrow.  I don’t see me chilling out until Friday, so this boy better stay put for the foreseeable!

Plus…I’m not sure I’m ready to let go of being pregnant.  This is our last baby (though my friend and I did get Hubs to agree to baby number 4 at the christening party…though I think that may have had more to do with the cheap bar than any serious commitment), and this pregnancy has been such a wonderful experience.  So as much as I want to meet our little wriggler, I’m not ready for this pregnancy to be over.

So how have things progressed since I last updated at 35 weeks?

Body at 37 weeks

  • I don’t feel I look very different to how I did a few weeks ago.  And people tell me mixed things too (“oh, you’ve dropped” or “you’re still carrying quite high” or “you’re still so neat” to “you can really see a difference this week”) so clearly I’m not the only one unsure.  But I feel different, especially if I’ve been on my feet for too long.
  • Weight wise, I’ve put on another 1.5lbs since 35 weeks.  That makes it a stone since I started being mindful about my weight at 18 weeks and probably 1.5 stone (21lbs) overall.  Hopefully at least 10lb of that is baby, fluid and placenta!
  • I’m still getting off fairly easy on the symptom side of things too – no real heartburn, no leg cramps, only very slight restless legs last thing at night sometimes.  Even the trapped wind which was really bothering me a few weeks ago has eased off.
  • I do hit a wall in the afternoon most days were I could definitely do with a nap…but that might have more to do with how busy I’ve been more than anything.

Mind at 37 weeks

  • It’s not a quiet, chilled out mind, that’s for sure!  Like I’ve mentioned, I don’t feel ready for this baby yet, and I think that’s a big part of it.  The house is a mess and I can’t seem to find the time or energy to fix that.  So instead I lie in bed worried that I’ll go into labour in a pig sty.  I know if I pull my finger out and get it done today I’ll be much happier tomorrow, but time just seems to run away.
  • My main feeling is one of sadness.  I’m sad that this pregnancy is nearly over and I’m little sad to think that for the four year old things are going to change quite a lot.  He will no longer be the baby, and I blogged about how that upsets me.
  • On a more positive note, I’m excited for the birth and confident in my ability to cope with it.  We’re all set for our home waterbirth, and a lot of that confidence comes from the Hypnobirthing course I’m doing, which I’m hoping to blog about this week.

Baby at 37 weeks

  • We have a name!  And it was chosen by our four year old.  What’s impressive is that it is neither dinosaur nor construction site related!
  • His moses basket is all ready for him, the cloth nappies are washed and waiting, and he has more clothes than he will ever have time to wear.
  • We’re still on track for a big chunky boy…but that was never in doubt.

Fuel, Fitness & Rest

  • I’m quite sad that at the final hurdle I’m really failing on the fitness and nutrition fronts.  I’ve made bad food choices for a few weeks now, and can’t seem to get myself back on track.  I’m feeling guilty about the amount of sugar I’ve been consuming and I’m worried that I’m letting myself down by not fuelling my body better.  I need to think of my upcoming labour and birth as a marathon – no runner would prepare for that by eating cake after cake in the last weeks before the race!
  • My motivation to workout seems to have disappeared.  I think that’s a symptom of feeling like I have so much to do, so I talk myself out of a workout and instead promise I’ll do some housework…and then neither gets done!  I’m cutting myself some slack in this respect, as I’ve been out and about so I’m not exactly inactive, but I had hoped to exercise right up to the birth so it’s annoying me on a personal level.
  • Sleep is still pretty great, mainly thanks to my pregnancy pillow.  So I can’t blame not sleeping on my lack of motivation.


Overall, things are still going great.  I think I’m just psyching myself out.  I’m hoping that the next couple of days will be all I need to get me back on track and get my house sorted out, and that I still get that week of chill-out time before baby boy decides to join us!

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