What’s in my changing bag?

I can’t believe my blog is almost a month old and I haven’t done a WIMCB post yet. Bad parent blogger! Let me amend this immediately…

Like most mums-to-be, one of my favourite items on the shopping list of things to buy before baby arrives was a changing bag. The market is absolutely swamped with different styles, shapes and sizes. There were so many I could’ve chosen but in the end I settled on the Babymel Big Slouchy in red (£49.00). I love the simplicity of it and it looks like it will last a long time (a lot of the reviews raved about it’s longevity!) I can’t stand things looking dirty and stained to the easy-to-wipe laminated material was a plus for me. Two months in and it looks just as clean as the day it arrived.

I take A LOT of stuff with me when I go out and about with Jasmine, probably far more than necessary but I’ve always been of the opinion that it’s better to be over prepared than under prepared. Freak blizzard in August? No problem, I’ll just get Jasmine’s snow suit out of my changing bag! OK, I’m quite not that bad. ;)

The bag comes with a fold-up matching changing mat and an isothermal (cool word) bottle holder. It has four internal pockets which I use for keeping Jasmine’s nappies, wipes etc. all organised and this makes them far easier to access in a hurry. It has one long adjustable messenger strap, so it’s great for just slinging over my shoulder. There’s also two separate velcro stroller straps for attaching the bag to my pushchair which is really useful.

I don’t tend to take a lot of my own stuff with me when we go out, just the essentials; phone, keys, and purse. I usually just slip these into the large front pocket of the bag which has tonnes of room in it. There’s also two external bottle-sized pockets on the sides of the bag.

I have been so pleased with this product and would recommend it to anyone still looking for a changing bag.

Let’s move on to the contents…

As I mentioned before, I tend to over-pack my changing bag but here’s a list of the essential items that I take out with me on a day-to-day basis:

Spare clothes – I’m quite lucky in that Jasmine isn’t too much of a mucky baby. She doesn’t sick up her milk quite as much as she did in the first few weeks and we’ve not had too many poo explosions but she does have her moments and sometimes they require quick outfit change. With this in mind, I always make sure to pack at least one spare vest and baby-gro. I think her little cupcake baby-gro in the picture here was part of a multi-pack from Mothercare.

Babymel Changing mat – this is the mat that came with the bag. As you can see it folds up small and it then fits nicely into one of the bag’s inside pockets.

Muslin square – If you’re reading this and you’re a new mum-to-be, be sure to buy muslins. Lots and lots of muslins. They are probably one of the handiest items you can have with a newborn and it’s amazing how quick you can get through them.

A sterilised Tommee Tippee bottle – pretty self explanatory!

Pampers nappies – Jasmine is still (just about) in stage 1 pampers nappies but they are getting a little snug so the next lot we buy will be the stage 2 size. I tend to buy them in large boxes of 74 from Amazon – lots cheaper than buying smaller packs from supermarket.

Johnson’s Sensitive Baby Wipes – We’ve used these wipes from day one and have never had any problems. They are fragrance-free and kind to Jasmine’s skin, perfect for keeping her little tush clean. Again, I buy these in bulk – boxes of 12 packs from Amazon.

Johnson’s Cotton Pads – I’ve tried all sorts of cotton wool pads since Jasmine was born – different shapes, sizes and brands. These are the best, *breaks into song* simply the best!! They are strong and don’t leave my little bubs with a fluffy bottom. I buy them from the Poundshop whenever I go in there and pretty much wipe them out of their entire stock each time!

Cusson’s Mum & Me Baby Massage Oil – I was bought lots of the Mum & Me range as presents when I was pregnant and fell in love with it all (especially the hydrating bump shower cream) so I’ve continued to buy products from this range now that ‘Bump’ is here. We used this massage oil in our baby massage/yoga classes and it’s great. A little goes a long way so this should last us a while. I’ll be using it a lot more now that I’m going to start giving Jasmine a pre-bedtime masssage. Isn’t she the lucky one?!

Cusson’s Mum & Me Antibacterial Hand Gel – Perfect size for slipping into your changing bag. Saves faffing around looking for somewhere to wash your hands when you’re in a hurry to feed your baby.

Clam P clips – I bought a pack of 2 of these clips from JoJo Maman Bebe for £4. They are brilliant for converting muslins into pram shades and have also been useful for stopping Jasmine’s pram blanket from ending up on the floor!

Cow & Gate  Stage 1 Ready-made milk 200ml – I talked about how useful these are in my Top 5 Newborn Travel Essentials post. They’re pretty expensive (around £70p) but you are paying for the convenience factor. On average I’ll probably get through 3 or 4 of these a week.

Socks – I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve bothered putting socks on Jasmine. She’s usually wearing a baby-gro so they’re largely irrelevant. Still, I have a pair floating around in bottom of my bag.

Banana Boat Factor 50 Baby Sun Cream – Wonder why the weather has turned bad? It’s because I went out and bought sun cream. Sorry about that. We try our utmost to keep Jasmine in the shade on hot sunny days but I’m still paranoid about her burning so we bought this sun cream as an extra precaution. We’ve only used it twice since but it’s fine on Jasmine’s sensitive skin and it makes me want to sniff her even more – makes her smell like summer! :)

So there we have it, my WIMCB post!

Is there an essential item that you always pack with you in your changing bag? Am I missing something that could jolly well change my life? Well quit holding out on me and let me know about it in the comments box!
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My trials and tribulations of breastfeeding

I’ve been putting off writing this blog post for a little while now. Breastfeeding is still a touchy subject for me and my bad experience of it still feels very raw.

A couple of nights ago I was up in the small hours of the morning, unable to get back to sleep after feeding Jasmine. I was browsing the usual social network sites on my phone and up popped a Facebook message from an ex-work colleague. She’d given birth to a sweet baby girl just two days before. The message simply said “please tell me that breastfeeding gets easier”.

For a minute or so I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t want to lie to her but nor did I want to discourage her. I’ve been that person wanting reassurance and I know all she really wanted me to say was “yes, it gets easier.” But for me, it didn’t get easier.

Breastfeeding didn’t get off to the best of starts for Jasmine and I. Right after she was born and I had been stitched up, the midwife disappeared and we were left alone in that birthing suite for several hours. I hadn’t yet tried to breastfeed Jasmine. I knew from the research I did during pregnancy that the secret to successful breastfeeding was all in the technique. I knew it was important for my baby to latch on properly so with this in mind I wanted to be supervised by a midwife the first time I got Jasmine to latch onto my breast.

So I waited….and waited… and waited for a midwife to come in and help me. I was getting frustrated that there was seemingly not one person around to assist and Jasmine seemed to be getting agitated too. In hindsight, I wished I’d just picked my baby up and tried to latch her on myself but I had it in my head that if I didn’t get it right the first time then I’d never get it right. Eventually a midwife did turn up and casually asked “have you fed your baby yet?” I replied no and she then asked me to just try it without any instructions from her (so I had gained nothing by waiting).

I felt all fingers and thumbs but eventually Jasmine did latch on and it hurt like hell. I let out a yelp and the midwife said “yep, it’ll hurt.” She walked over to me and said “relax” as she pressed down on my shoulders. It was only then that I realised how tense I was, my body was completely rigid. Jasmine didn’t suck for very long, she fell asleep and came away from the nipple. The midwife left the room again and we didn’t see another soul until the morning. Nothing about this felt natural to me and I was left feeling confused and frustrated. Was I even doing it right? It didn’t feel right.

The next morning after Jasmine had been checked over by the pediatrician another midwife came in to check on us. She watched me try to get Jasmine latched on again but baby girl was just too sleepy. I was advised to strip her down to just her nappy and try again so that’s exactly what I did. She still wouldn’t latch on. I was feeling fed up and just wanted to go home. I had gone from wanting assistance to being desperate to learn how to feed Jasmine in the privacy of my own home without being manhandled and constantly told to relax.

Every day for the next week or so I was visited by a different midwife, each one requested to see me feed Jasmine. I’d just had a baby, I felt tired, emotional and vulnerable so stripping off and trying to feed my baby in front of a perfect stranger made me want to scream. They’d all tell me that Jasmine’s latch was perfect (although it was still really hurting me at this point). It wasn’t Jasmine’s latch that was the problem, it was the fact that she didn’t want to work for mummy’s milk. She never seemed to stay attached to the nipple for any longer than a minute. I didn’t think there was any way she could be getting enough to drink.

A week later, in the presence of yet another midwife, my suspicions were confirmed when Jasmine had lost 11% of her birth weight. I now know that the average weight loss for a healthy breastfed newborn is between 7-10% of their birth weight. However, at the time, the midwife told me that they didn’t like it to be anymore than around 8% and made a huge deal about it. After that, as far as I was concerned I must’ve been doing it all wrong and I was practically starving my baby to death.

Later that night, with all this playing on my mind, I was attempting to feed Jasmine. She latched on and I instantly burst into tears because it was so painful. I immediately pulled her away from my breast as I just couldn’t take it any more. I didn’t understand how I had managed to give birth naturally and yet here I was struggling so much with the pain of feeding my baby. Jasmine was screaming out, hungry. I wept and said to Stephen, in between sobs, “I just can’t do this”. At the sight of the two of us so upset he began to cry too. We sat on the bed just holding each other and sobbing.

Jasmine’s cries grew more and more intense and I just felt so hopeless. Stephen looked up at me, wiping away his tears and whispered “shall I go and get some formula?” Cue another round of crying from me before I eventually answered “Okay.” With that, Stephen put some clothes on and headed out to the nearest 24 hour supermarket as it was past midnight. Jasmine wailed the whole time he was gone as I held her against my skin and repeated the words “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”

When Stephen got back with the formula we made a bottle up and Jasmine glugged the milk down way more enthusiastically than she ever did on the breast. I was so relieved that she was finally getting some food in her. Gutted, but relieved.

I knew breastfeeding wasn’t going to be easy as I had read up on the subject and gone to workshops during pregnancy but there was still part of me that naively thought that maybe I’d be one of the lucky ones who just took to it like a duck to water. Before Jasmine was born I’d refused to buy any formula or bottle-feeding paraphernalia so I couldn’t give up on breastfeeding so easily. Having that stuff in the house, I probably would’ve given in even sooner.

The truth of the matter is that I should’ve been enjoying my baby and relishing those first newborn days but instead I was hating being a mother. A week in and I already felt like a complete and utter failure.

My breasts soon became engorged, making me even more miserable. I tried to hand express my milk but even the act of gently kneading my breasts with my hands was agony. We rushed out to buy a breast pump and I expressed my milk that way. I continued to express my milk for Jasmine for the next few weeks, topping up with formula as needed. I was glad that she was getting to have my milk, even if it wasn’t under the circumstances I would’ve liked.

I found it hard to keep on top of the expressing, particularly when Stephen returned to work, as Jasmine required so much attention. I seemed to spend my whole day paying more attention to a plastic pump than I did to my baby.

Pump. Feed. Sterilise. Repeat.

A midwife had suggested that I should express milk every 2 hours, I have no idea how she thought this was possible. After 6 weeks, inevitably my milk dried up and now Jasmine is solely fed formula milk.

I know I shouldn’t, but I do feel ashamed every time that I bottle feed Jasmine in public, especially if I’m in the company of breastfeeding mothers. I wonder if they look down on me or even pity me. The reality is that they probably don’t give a crap how I feed my baby, I’m sure they’re far too concerned with feeding their own! Still, these thoughts enter my head. Every time. It doesn’t help that I’ve been berated by my own friends (who have yet to have children of their own) for not continuing breastfeeding. They make comments that suggest they feel I just gave it all up without a second thought. Like it was an easy decision for me. They couldn’t be more wrong.

I don’t know why I continue to beat myself up about the whole situation, it won’t change anything. I honestly couldn’t tell you if my own mother breastfed me or not. I have no idea and I wouldn’t love her any less either way. I guess, I just feel that I’m denying Jasmine all the benefits that breastfeeding brings with it. What I must remember is that I’m not denying her my love or total adoration. I will always try to do what’s best for her. That’s what us mums do, right? We try our best.

I’m happier, she’s happier and surely that’s what matters most?

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A co-sleeping dilemma

Jasmine, every night at one point or another you end up sleeping in our bed. It doesn’t matter how asleep you seem to be when we put you in your crib, the moment your back touches that mattress you are wide awake and nothing but mummy and daddy’s bed will do. I try to stay strong while you kick your legs and flail your arms around whilst making whimpering noises. Ultimately, I always give in. I scoop you up and place you next to me with your head resting on my arm, just how you like it. Immediately you settle and the only noise I can hear now is your sweet breathing sounds.

The truth is, you end up in our bed 1) I am so utterly exhausted and I know it’s the only way I’ll get some sleep and 2) because I feel the need to be as close to you as much as you do me. I grew you in my belly for 9 months and now that you’re here I spend the best part of the day with you in my arms so at night time that extra 50cm between us whilst you’re in your cot seems like half the world away.

I’m so, SO aware of how fast the time is going – I already feel the days slipping away through my fingers and I desperately want to hold on to every precious newborn moment. When you sleep next to me it’s like I’m pressing the pause button – as far as I’m concerned, everything else stops momentarily and I get to soak you up for a little longer. I nestle my nose into your hair and just breathe you in. Your sweet smell, there really is nothing else like it. I watch your chest rise and fall whilst listening to the gentle sound of  your breath…in…out…in…out. Suddenly nothing else matters but what’s happening right here and now.

I do worry that I’m being dangerous and putting you at risk by having you in bed with us and it was never my intention to co-sleep. So many people can’t wait to tell me how irresponsible and selfish I’m being. Maybe I am being selfish and irresponsible but it feels like the most natural thing to do – to have my baby close to me.

That moment when you instantly settle the second your skin touches mine, it feels like a magic trick. Even more magical than pulling a rabbit out of a hat or making a scantily clad woman disappear into thin air.

I am always relieved when you do fall asleep in your own bed as I know it’s the safest place for you to be but when you do end up next to me, and you nearly always do, I intend to relish it. I’m sorry if that makes me a terrible mother.

Jenna xx


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