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Does Breastfeeding Really Burn Calories and if so How Many?

Does breastfeeding really burn calories and if so how much?

Does breastfeeding really burn calories and if so, how many extra calories can I eat? This is a question often asked by pre and postnatal women when considering the pros and cons of breastfeeding. There are many anecdotal claims online and in the wider health and fitness community that state breastfeeding burns calories to the extent that it can help new mothers to return to their pre-pregnancy weight. These sources even cite specific daily calorific amounts, ranging from anywhere between 300-500 calories per day.  But where does this number come from and more importantly, is it accurate? This is what we’ll explore in this article.

Does breastfeeding really burn calories and if so, how many extra calories can I eat? This is a question often asked by pre and postnatal women when considering the pros and cons of breastfeeding. There are many anecdotal claims online and in the wider health and fitness community that state breastfeeding burns calories to the extent that it can help new mothers to return to their pre-pregnancy weight. These sources even cite specific daily calorific amounts, ranging from anywhere between 300-500 calories per day.  But where does this number come from and more importantly, is it accurate? This is what we’ll explore in this article.

Is it 500 Calories?

The additional 500 calories per day value is regularly cited in blogs, magazine articles and even the occasional scientific paper. On this basis, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it is factual and that the value was reached at the end of some strong, authoritative research. But you would be wrong! In actual fact, the 500 extra calories per day is the result of a small study that didn’t even measure calorific expenditure to determine whether a woman burns more calories or not while she is lactating. What it actually measured and subsequently reported was the number of additional calories women who were exclusively breastfeeding their babies consumed in comparison to partially breastfeeding women, and those feeding their babies on a formula. On average the breastfeeding women tended to consume an additional 500 calories more than their formula-feeding counterparts, and so the myth was born! To make matters worse, the data collection in this study was self-reported, which is a notoriously unreliable way of collecting scientific information. 

Part of the reason why this myth has been so effective is because on the surface the mechanisms supporting it seems so plausible. If the body is doing more work [lactating] then it must require more energy right? There are two ‘possible’ mechanisms by which lactation ‘could’ help to contribute to a calorie deficit; the first is through its effect on basal metabolic rate (this is the amount of energy burned at rest) and the second is related to dietary-induced thermogenesis (heat production from food intake).  However, the evidence is generally unclear as to whether lactation has any direct effect on either of these two mechanisms.

Research Says….

According to Dewey (1997), women who are exclusively breastfeeding require around 670 additional calories per day. This estimate has been reached by considering breast milk volume, milk energy density and the conversion efficiency from dietary energy to breast milk. It also ‘assumes’ that both thermogenesis and basal metabolic rate are increased during lactation. If therefore a postnatal woman wants to lose weight steadily, consuming only 500 additional calories per day will create a net deficit of around 170 calories each day (1190 per week). Simples, as those little meercats from the TV adverts say!

A modest weight loss of around 1lb per week (or 0.5kg) is generally thought to be safe in the postnatal period. However, is this achieved when most postnatal women report gaining weight in the weeks and months after the birth of their baby?  Research in this area suggests that modifications to both diet and exercise will have the greatest effect and that low-calorie diets are only likely to result in more cravings, increasing the chance of a relapse. Furthermore, a daily energy intake of 1600 calories or less could actually threaten milk production. However, in the case of twins and triplets, milk production is greater and so this base threshold will need to be increased somewhat. In the battle for postnatal weight loss, slow and steady will always win the race.

Look at what you’re eating

Focusing a little more on dietary factors, how is it possible to create an energy deficit when you are sleep deprived, exhausted, hungry and you constantly have a baby (or two) attached to you?  The key here is to think more about what you are eating as opposed to how much. Several studies have revealed that the diet of lactating women is often deficient in grains, vegetables and dairy, which are all food sources that result in satiety and food satisfaction. Ensuring that you eat these foods is likely going to reduce those cravings for high energy and sugary snacks. What’s more worrying however about these deficient food groups is that they are all essential sources of micronutrients, like vitamins D and B12, calcium and iron (Robert-McComb 2014).  Reduced milk production is usually attributed to low protein intake.  Unsurprisingly however, a balanced diet of wholegrains, fresh vegetables and lean protein is the optimum breastfeeding diet to ensure a high-quality and sustained production of milk. Not only will increasing your intake of protein and fresh vegetables benefit your baby, it will also support your weight loss ambitions by controlling your blood sugar, reducing food cravings, leaving you feeling fuller for longer.

About the Author

Naomi Schon is a Registered Midwife (RM) with over 10 years’ midwifery experience. She is also a fully qualified Personal Trainer, yoga teacher and a Pilates instructor. Naomi is currently the lead clinical consultant for all things related to pregnancy and postpartum exercise at Health and Fitness Education (HFE), focusing primarily on their pre and postnatal courses and personal training courses.

Does breastfeeding really burn calories and if so, how many extra calories can I eat? This is a question often asked by pre and postnatal women when considering the pros and cons of breastfeeding. There are many anecdotal claims online and in the wider health and fitness community that state breastfeeding burns calories to the extent that it can help new mothers to return to their pre-pregnancy weight. These sources even cite specific daily calorific amounts, ranging from anywhere between 300-500 calories per day.  But where does this number come from and more importantly, is it accurate? This is what we’ll explore in this article.

References and Further Reading

H. A. Durham, C. A. Lovelady, R.J.N. Brouwer, K.M. Krause, T. Østbye (2011) Comparison of Dietary Intake of Overweight Postpartum Mothers Practicing Breastfeeding or Formula Feeding.

Journal of the American Dietetic Association Volume 111 (1) 67–74.

S L Nascimento, J Pudwell, F G Surita, K B Adamo and G N (2014) The effect of physical exercise strategies on weight loss in postpartum women: a systematic review and meta-analysis Smith International Journal of Obesity 38, 626–635.

J. J. Robert-McComb, Á. García González, L. Carraway. (2013) The Active Female Nutritional Guidelines and Energy Needs During Pregnancy and Lactation 517-533.

K. G. Dewey. (1997) Energy and Protein Requirements During Lactation. Annual Review of Nutrition 17 19-36.

*This is a sponsored post in collaboration with HFE

Pethood Stories – A Woman’s Best Friend with Petplan

Pethood Stories – A Woman’s Best Friend with Petplan – I don’t think there’s ever been a time in my life where we haven’t had a pet of some kind. As a child we were surrounded by cat’s, rabbits and guinea pigs. There’s definitely something calming when you sit petting an animal. I was more than happy to share my Pethood story as part of a series from Petplan Pet Insurance.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

Our Pethood Story

Our son had wanted a dog from around the age of five and would regularly ask but we had a cat who was a bit grumpy and it wouldn’t have been fair to get a puppy. So that Ryan could have a pet of his own we got him a hamster, and then another four months later when the first went to hammy-heaven. Unfortunately this one didn’t last very long either and as Ryan was heartbroken we decided that we needed to choose a pet with a longer lifespan so we got a Lionhead Rabbit called Sammy and Ryan doted on him.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

Having a dog was still discussed on a regular basis, and as a family we quite liked the idea of having a dog but we were both working full-time and our cat was still the main issue so the conversation was shelved many times. I should point out that we did love having our cat, she was a lovely girl, she just didn’t like other animals.

Amazingly she made it to the ripe old age of eighteen, and as a pet family it wasn’t long before the yearning for a furry friend became apparent.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

2014 was the year of The Dog

Our situation had changed. We’d had a little girl who was now three and Ryan was fourteen. I worked part-time and Chris’ job was fairly flexible so it wasn’t long before the yearning for a dog came up again.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

We did a lot of research before making any decisions, taking into account the every day costs of having a dog as well as the time we had available for walking etc. Chris didn’t want a small dog, Ryan wanted an English Sheepdog, Isabelle wanted a puppy and I sat and did the research but we were looking at labradors and retrievers. Then I found the Labradoodle.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

Labradoodles come in a variety of sizes with some being more curly and hairy than others. Labradoodles are a crossbreed of a Labrador and Poodle and was first bred around 50 years ago as a low-allergen guide dog. A lot of people mistakenly think that Labradoodles don’t shed their fur which is totally wrong – you only need to see what we hover up every day!

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

So once I’d discovered the Labradoodle it wasn’t particularly hard to convince the others that this would be the perfect breed. As a breed they are good natured, if not a bit daft, great with children and have a good life span. It’s interesting to see what the most popular breeds through time are. I found a local breeder who had some puppies available soon.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

I wafted the information through to the others on a daily basis and it was three against one (Daddy) and to be fair he didn’t take much persuasion.  I showed the kids pictures of labradoodle puppies with their scruffy gorgeous little faces, and appealed to Chris’ sensible head about the advantages of having a dog, in particular why a Labradoodle would be a good fit.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

When we went to visit the puppies we were led into a kitchen and in ran the puppies. I forget how many there were but they were all golden apart from one little scruffy brown pup. They were all over us, but this little brown one was biting at Ryan’s trainers, pulling at his laces and generally wouldn’t leave us alone. We knew then a there that he was going to be ours, it was like he’d chosen us.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

Bringing him home in a veg box sat on Ryan’s lap, all of us grinning from ear to ear. As we’d done our research we knew that we’d have a settling in period where he might cry for his mum, brothers and sisters so we bought him a cosy bed and a toy monkey for him to cuddle up to.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

Suprisingly he was no bother at all. He was at his happiest being around us and it really didn’t take long for him to be knitted into our family life. Dogs are known to lift people’s spirits that’s why they use them in some hospitals and nursing homes and coming home to this cheeky chappie is always a pleasure.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

Charlie was covered by temporary pet insurance when we picked him up which lasted for a few days which gave us a chance to get his insurance in place. We opted for Labradoodle Pet Insurance Lifetime Cover which gives us peace of mind should anything happen. Petplan offer a range of cover which is tailored to your dogs breed so that you get the correct level of cover. Anybody even considering getting a dog should definitely factor in dog insurance.

It seems that most breeds have certain traits and illnesses they can suffer from. Labradoodles are prone to:

  • Ear conditions
  • Skin conditions such as dermatitis
  • Lumps and bumps
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Cruciate ligament rupture

Poor Charlie does suffer with his ears on and off and has received treatment quite a few times now.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

Life with Charlie

As we live on the coast we were keen to get him used to the beach so had his first trip to the beach at four months old. It was on this car journey that we had our first episode of dog car sickness which we later realised was due to anxiety. He gets quite anxious in the car, panting a lot which was resulting in him being quite sick. It took a while for him to overcome this, but we persevered making sure that we kept car journey’s short and always took him to places that he would enjoy.

Our Charlie has a lovely personality. As Isabelle was only three when we got him we made sure that he never jumped up at her, and even now he won’t jump up at children. He’s a sociable boy with other dogs and people. I don’t quite think he understands when people aren’t that bothered with him as he’s used to getting a lot of attention. He would wait for Ryan to come home from school for a bit of rough play.

Charlie is ruled by his belly! He’s a very well behaved dog, BUT will be a bit naughty if he’s given the chance to scoff. He’s gate-crashed many a picnic and has run off a few times when the temptation has been too great. Since getting him we have had another baby who is currently weaning so Charlie is in heaven at the moment.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

He doesn’t like water! Bearing in mind the Poodle in him are known waterdogs, he hates it! He doesn’t swim in water and will only go up to his ankles generally at the beach where the water is gradual. When it rains you practically have to shove him out the door. He’s such a wimp.

Charlie loves to play, but he’s not as bouncy and energetic as he was as a puppy. He’s hopeless with balls. He runs after the ball but then never brings it back. His favourite walks are on the beach or in the forest where he can discover lots of different smells and loves to find sticks and bits of driftwood.

Charlie is our third baby, our fur baby. I’m his Mummy! Only other dog owners understand when I refer to him in this way. It took around the same to choose a dog sitter as it did finding a nursery for the kids.

We had another baby last year and it was quite a big adjustment for all of us. It was our first time with a newborn and a dog and the fur was a bit of a concern for us. A year on and Charlie’s loving this new source of food that a weaning baby provides. We now have daily dog/pram walks which seems to suit everybody.

Charlie celebrates Christmas with us. He has a dog chocolate Advent Calendar, a stocking and presents under the tree.

We also celebrate his birthday every January by making him a cake or treats and presents. His dog bed even matches our sofa!

Charlie is undoubtedly a member of our family and we’d be totally lost without him.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

*This post is in conjunction with Petplan but all thoughts are my own

Little Brian Face Paint Sticks Review

Little Brian Face Paint Sticks Review – All kids seem to love having their face painted and Isabelle is no different. We’ve stood in endless queues at fetes, fairs and school events so she can be transformed into a Butterfly or Unicorn.

When we were asked to review Little Brian Face Paint Sticks we were more than a little but excited. I was slightly worried that my actual face painting expertise might look more like a five year old armed with their Mums make-up bag but was willing to give it a go.

Little Brian Face Paint Sticks

We’re not new to the Little Brian range. We’ve reviewed both the Little Brian Paint Sticks and the Little Brian Fabric Paint Sticks which were both a big hit.

The Little Brian Face Paint Sticks come in a pack of twelve which retail at £9.99.

They look like marker pens and twist up like a glue stick, and it looks like we’re going to get quite a few faces out of them. The idea is that you can create the faces by using the face paint sticks like using a pen, so drawing on their faces.

We were given the challenge to create a Ladybird, a Dragon and we opted to have a go at the Unicorn. The set comes with a sheet which gives you step by step instructions on how to create twelve different faces from a Dog to a Tiger.

The Ladybird

I created the Ladybird using the face paint sticks as per the instructions. The paint glides on the face nicely, but it is quite tricky to do the smaller, detailed parts so I opted to use a paint brush with a little bit of water.

The Dragon

The paints are very quick drying which is perfect for kids with no patience like Isabelle. I love that the colours are as bright as they should be and were very easy to wash off.

The Unicorn

Isabelle is keen to give the Face Paint Sticks a go on her own, and I feel quite confident that she would be able to use these with minimal mess.

Our Thoughts

All in all these Face Paint Sticks would be a great buy to use at a birthday party or just to do on a lovely sunny day. The colours are lovely and bright, and apart from a little help for details with a brush they were extremely easy to use. The Face Paint Sticks get a big thumbs up from us.

*we were sent a set of Little Brian Face Paint Sticks for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own.

Cheesies Review and Giveaway

Cheesies Review and Giveaway

Cheesies Review and Giveaway. We were asked to give Cheesies a try and as a thank you to our readers we’d love to give you the chance to Win some Cheesies for yourselves. I loved the sound of these. We’re big cheese eaters in our house and one of my other favourite snack is crisps. Cheesies are crunchy balls of popped cheese which sounds rather intriguing.

During all three of my pregnancies I was quite sick and nauseous with cheese and crackers became my main staple. I don’t think I went a single day without eating cheese, in sandwiches, in chunks, on cocktail sticks with pineapple (one of my faves), with crackers, in fact any which way it came. Even when I had horrendous heartburn. I was pretty sure at one point that I was going to give birth to a baby shaped cheese sculpture.

Cheesies

Cheesies are pieces of popped cheese which are low in carbs, high in protein, gluten free and vegetarian. Each 60g bag contains three portions which vary in calories per cheese

  • Cheddar 122 calories per portion
  • Emmental 115 calories per portion
  • Gouda 119 calories per portion

Cheesies can be eaten on their own as a snack and can be added to salads and soups as croutons.

Our thoughts

My first and last thought are that these are my kind of snack. I love cheese and these little bite sized pieces are packed full of flavour. I might even hide them from Chris and Isabelle since I know they won’t last very long otherwise.

I don’t have a favourite taste wise, I really enjoyed all three flavours and am really looking forward to popping a few of these on top of some tomato soup which I think they would be perfect for. It’s nice to know that they aren’t particularly naughty as well so I would definately buy these again.

Cheesies can be bought directly from their website and are available on Amazon as well for £1.99 a bag.

Cheesies Review And Giveaway

Win some Cheesies

For your chance to WIN some Cheesies fill in the details below. Good luck x

Win A Selection Of Cheesies #10

*we were sent a selection of Cheesies for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

What would your 8 year old choose for Father’s Day?

What would your 8 year old choose for Father’s Day? How much do your kids play a part in picking a Father’s Day gift? I would say that I’m 50/50 when it comes to letting kids pick. I only say this as there was a bit of a showdown in a jewellery shop when our eldest was small. He wanted to buy the most awful gold football necklace that was horrendously tacky but also cost a fortune. I knew that Chris wouldn’t have chosen it in a million years so let’s say I used the power of gentle pursuasion to guide them to something a little bit more ‘Chris’.

We always make handmade cards which can be as elaborate and covered in a thousand stickers and glitter as they want.

Let them think it was their idea and jobs a good un!

However, we’ve teamed up with The Personalised Gift Shop and given Isabelle free reign to choose the perfect Father’s Day Gift for Daddy.

7 Best Sellers

Here are the seven most popular items bought for Father’s Day from the Personalised Gift Shop Range.

A Personalised Father’s Day Black Hip Flask – £11.99

A Personalised Happy Father’s Day Whiskey Tumbler – £9.99

Personalised Father’s Day Glass Keepsake – £19.99

Engraved Cut Crystal Whiskey Tumbler – £13.99

Personalised Father’s Day Photo Cushion – £16.99

Personalised Any Name Beer Glass Tankard – £9.99

Personalised Daddy & Me Photo Mug – £9.99

All of these are lovely gifts, and out of these I would say that Isabelle would choose the personalised photo cushion covered with pictures of herself.

What did Isabelle Choose?

I decided to give Isabelle total control when choosing her Father’s Day Gift this year with absolutely no subtle hints or gentle persuasion. I thought she would definitely choose something photo related. Any excuse to have things with her picture on it BUT I was wrong.

What she actually chose was this Personalised Retro Sweet Jar (£14.99) which to be fair is quite a good choice. Daddy likes sweets and tries (and fails) to have a hidden stash for late at night when he gets the munchies. He also likes to keep a stash in the car for when he’s driving and this jar is full of his favourites.

It took her quite a while to choose since the range is quite big but I think she chose well.

The Personalised Gift Shop has a wide range of gifts for all occasions including Wedding’s, Birthdays and the arrival of a New Baby with options to suit all budgets and tastes.

*This is a collaborative post with The Personalised Gift Shop.

Fun Kids Science Kits from Thames & Kosmos

Fun Kids Science Kits from Thames & Kosmos – Keep your child entertained this Easter and let their knowledge grow with MBE – a series of exciting science kits from Thames & Kosmos. Each kit retails at £8.99 and vary in activities from hidden gemstones to magic tricks!

Each kit contains a different activity which are perfect for a rainy day or used as a boredom buster for when they’re having a meh day.

Kits Available:

Amazing Minerals – excavate minerals like a real geologist! There are five different gemstones to hidden in the soft plaster material, with factual information on each in the colourful instructions.

Bouncing Planets – space fans will love making their own bouncy-ball planets in various colours. Create a coloured mixture, pour it into a spherical mould and dip it in water to solidify, and voila! A new awesome bouncing planet is formed.

Crystal Geode – this kit includes all the ingredients and instructions needed to grow your own crystals in a self-cast plaster mould, and transforms them into beautiful shiny crystal geode forms, creating a unique and mysterious spherical rock formation.

Crystal Growing – from white crystal salt and water, this pack shows children how easy it is to create their own fascinating crystals. Enclosed dye adds colour to each creation and there’s also a fun booklet to explain what crystals actually are and how their various forms develop.

Prehistoric Sea Dogs – an unusual ‘pet’ for Easter, this experiment kit lets kids breed their own prehistoric crustacean. Place prehistoric eggs into salty water and watch the larvae hatch.  Using the food included, keep them well fed, and watch the hatchlings grow into shrimps.

Molecule Beads – As if by magic, turn liquids into slimy giant molecules! Whether it’s balls, snakes or jellyfish, this kit lets children form and study all kinds of slimy giant molecules. A must for any budding slime scientist!

Monster Putty – make playful monsters or funky aliens with this amazing ‘Intelligent putty’.  The kit includes plastic parts to help with effects, but watch in amazement as the putty changes within a few minutes due to its special characteristics.

Magic Tricks – a slight side-step from science, this ‘bag’ of tricks will teach children how to perform magic in no time. Each pack includes a collection of magic ingredients and colourful step-by-step instructions, to enable children to put on their own performance.

Suitable for ages 8+ and available from thamesandkosmos.co.uk and Amazon.

Monster Putty

We were sent the Monster Putty Set as well as the Molecule Bead Set. The Monster Putty set was great for Isabelle to do whilst I was cooking dinner as she didn’t need any help with this kit.

The kit came with two eggs of putty, one green and one orange and a selection of googly eyes, arms, legs and tails as wekk as a plastic mould.

You can just make different little monsters, but there are a few experiments that you can do with the putty.

Watch your Monster Melt

Build your monster and then stand back and watch them start to melt. Isabelle had high expectations for this, and wasn’t very patient with waiting for it to change. It happens rather slowly and works best if you make a tall skinny monster.

Molecule Beads

This was the kit that Isabelle was most excited to use.

???????What you get in the kit:

  • A measuring cup
  • A spatula
  • A spoon
  • 2 Sachets of Calcium Chloride
  • 1 Red bottle of Sodium Alginate
  • 1 Yellow bottle of Sodium Alginate
  • 2 Collection pots

There were two experiments to perform in this kit, one was to make molecule beads and the other was to make worm like pieces. To make the beads you had to mix a sachet of Calcium Chloride into water and just had to drop little droplets of the red and yellow Sodium Alginate into the water.

Isabelle scooped the beads out of the water which felt like orbeez. She was quite impressed that they made a popping sound when you squeezed them.

Next we made the molecule worms which looked just like strawberry laces which she enjoyed snipping with scissors.

Our Thoughts

Baby Update – Happy First Birthday Freddie!

Baby Update – Happy First Birthday Freddie!

Aww Happy First Birthday Freddie! You’ve been here a whole 12 months, a year. It’s whizzed by but it feels like you’ve always been here.

You’re our last baby

Our heaviest baby

My biggest bump

The one that made us wait the longest

One year baby update. This first year has gone so quickly. We've had sleepless nights, teething, cracked nipples, tears from all of us but it's all been worth watching Freddie grow into the cheeky little chappy he is. Being at home with him watching him hit all the milestones has been priceless

Being baby number three we should know what we’re doing, but it seems that each and every baby throws our lives into turmoil until we find our ‘new normal’.

I had the perfect natural water birth that I wanted which was definitely ‘third time lucky’, and being a surprising 8lb 5oz so we just about squeezed him into the clothes we’d packed.

I’ve just gone back to work for a couple of days a week which I can’t lie, I struggle leaving him but the day goes quick and he’s pleased to see me when I’m back.

I think Freddie’s our most inquisitive. We had stair gates with the other two but never needed cupboard locks. Freddie loves nothing more than to be rummaging in a cupboard, switching the sky box or plugs on and off or yanking wires. You could give him all the toys in the world and he’d still make a beeline for things that he’s not allowed to touch.

New Stuff

  • Spitting – what’s that all about. He’ll be crawling around the room and then just stops to spit on the floor before crawling on. So gross!
  • Shhhh – he puts his finger up to his mouth to say ssshhhhh
  • Climbing on the sofa
  • Waving and saying bye or hiya
  • Kissing – so cute
  • Saying ‘what’s this’ or ‘what’s that’
  • Terrorising the dog. The poor dog who has so much patience as Freddie climbs on his bed, pulls his fur or not so gently pats him
  • Saying Belle in his own way – Bey
One year baby update. This first year has gone so quickly. We've had sleepless nights, teething, cracked nipples, tears from all of us but it's all been worth watching Freddie grow into the cheeky little chappy he is. Being at home with him watching him hit all the milestones has been priceless

Teething

We had a bad couple of nights and a day where he was such a grumpy boy which is so unusual for him and then when I was fishing a bit of paper out of his mouth I found two back teeth, one on each side at the top which I think were the culprit. He goes off his food when he’s teething so I’ve been making him some ice lollies made with yoghurt and fruit to ease his gums.

One year baby update. This first year has gone so quickly. We've had sleepless nights, teething, cracked nipples, tears from all of us but it's all been worth watching Freddie grow into the cheeky little chappy he is. Being at home with him watching him hit all the milestones has been priceless

Play

Freddie is such fun now. He loves to play and has cracked the stacking rings to a tee. He loves his shape sorter and gets frustrated when he can’t put the circle in the square hole. We have some toys upstairs and some downstairs which I rotate so that he’s excited to see some of the toys that he hasn’t played with for a while. We brought Isabelle’s wooden kitchen downstairs which was supposed to be temporary but Freddie really loves it so it’s stayed downstairs. It’s looking a bit worn so I’m going to jazz it up once the weather realises that it’s supposed to be summer.

One year baby update. This first year has gone so quickly. We've had sleepless nights, teething, cracked nipples, tears from all of us but it's all been worth watching Freddie grow into the cheeky little chappy he is. Being at home with him watching him hit all the milestones has been priceless

Growth

I haven’t had Freddie weighed since he had his review but he’s started to fit into some of his 12 – 18 month clothes. He still has gorgeous chubby baby legs which I love to squish.

Weaning

Freddie’s still loving his food. He’s such a messy eater but enjoys all the new flavours and textures. His favourite fruit at the moment is melon and he seems to like pasta in any form. He likes to feed himself and is learning to use a spoon. However, I gave him a baby fork that I found in the drawer and he uses this really well so he’s been having that each mealtime at the moment.

Now he’s one it’s easier to give him the same as us minus salt etc which means I’m not having to cook separate meals, but there are lots more recipes that I want to try him with so it will be a bit of both.

One year baby update. This first year has gone so quickly. We've had sleepless nights, teething, cracked nipples, tears from all of us but it's all been worth watching Freddie grow into the cheeky little chappy he is. Being at home with him watching him hit all the milestones has been priceless

Feeding

Yep we’re still breastfeeding and have no plans to stop at the moment. He’s happy, I’m happy so all is good.

Sleeping

His sleep had started to get better but recently it’s gone to pot again thanks to four back teeth on their way through. Fingers crossed this settles down again soon. I’m thinking of giving his cot a go. Chris has wanted this for a while but as we’re breastfeeding it’s been easier for me having him right there when he wakes up for a feed, plus he goes straight back to sleep.

I would like to get my evenings back though so it might be time to give it a go.

This year has gone so fast and we’ve loved it all. He’s brought so much mess, noise and hardwork but he’s the final piece in our jigsaw and worth all of it.

One year baby update. This first year has gone so quickly. We've had sleepless nights, teething, cracked nipples, tears from all of us but it's all been worth watching Freddie grow into the cheeky little chappy he is. Being at home with him watching him hit all the milestones has been priceless

Blogger Board Game Club – Ticket to Ride Europe

Blogger Board Game Club – Ticket to Ride Europe

Following on from our review of Get Packing we were sent a copy of Ticket to Ride Europe as part of the Blogger Board Game Club which looks rather interesting.

What’s in the Box?

  • A huge board with train tracks all over it
  • 225 Coloured Train pieces
  • 158 Game cards
  • 5 Wooden game counters
  • 15 Stations

Ticket to Ride Europe is suitable for 2 – 5 players aged 8+ and retails at £37.99 from game retailers.

The Game

Ticket to Ride Europe is one of many games in the Days of Wonder board games. Each player has a different colour counter and matching train pieces. Each player is dealt a long route card and three short route cards.

The aim of the game is to get as many points as you can by:

  • claiming routes between cities
  • completing a continuous path of routes between cities listed on you destination tickets
  • completing the longest continuous path of routes to win the European Express Bonus card
  • for each train station kept in reserve at the end of the game

The person who has visited the most European countries starts first and on their turn can either draw a train card, claim a route, draw destination tickets or build a train station.

Routes are claimed by putting down your coloured train pieces.

The game ends when a player has two or less train pieces and scores are then calculated.

Our thoughts

The game set up took a long time as I had to keep referring to the instructions and reading through. I was unsure that this game would manage to keep Isabelle interested long enough to finish playing.

Once we’d set up I had to keep re-reading the instructions and we got ourselves into a bit of a muddle but we persevered and managed to complete the game, I think.

Unfortunately I don’t think this game was a good fit for us, and would say that even though Isabelle is eight and a half i think she was too young for it. I think my two teenage nephews would most likely like this game.

*we were sent a copy of Ticket to Ride Europe as part of the Blogger Board Game Club, but all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Blogger Board Game Club – Get Packing

We were very pleased to be asked to be part if the Blogger Board Game Club by Asmodee since this is something we can do with just Isabelle. Having a younger brother means that she craves a bit of one on one time with us, so playing a game can be the perfect way.

Blogger Board Game Club - Today we're reviewing the game Get Packing where you have to get a set number of objects into your suitcase and be able to close it in the quickest time. Suitable from age 6

Get Packing

Get Packing is a fun game for 2 – 4 players aged 6 and above.

Each player has a little suitcase and a set of objects such as sun cream, a pair of pants, a hat and sunglasses.

There are a set of destination cards, and each country card tells you the items that you have to fit in your suitcase.

The aim of the game is to be the first person to fit all of the items in your suitcase first, and be able to shut it.

It sounds simple, but the items have to fit in a certain way to fit and be able to close it. The first person to complete three suitcases is the winner.

It sounds simple enough, but our first attempts were pretty bad.

There is a sheet that you can look at which shows how the items fit in which we’ve let Isabelle use the first few times. Now that we’ve done it a few times we don’t need to look at the help sheet so much.

Our Thoughts

Isabelle really liked the look of this game, especially the little suitcases. Initially she found it quite frustrating until we realised that there was a help sheet.

Blogger Board Game Club - Today we're reviewing the game Get Packing where you have to get a set number of objects into your suitcase and be able to close it in the quickest time. Suitable from age 6

We played it so that once you turned the country card, you had to find the right suitcase on the sheet and pack it as quickly as you can. Once we had done this a few times it was only Isabelle that looked at the help sheet.

Isabelle thinks she’s ready to take it to the next level and do it without the help sheet next time.

We thought it was a great game and have played it several times now. You can buy Get Packing from Amazon and other game retailers for around £22.99.

*We were sent this game for the purpose of taking part in the Blogger Board ‘Game Club review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

Knowing your Maternity Rights – My Journey

Knowing your Maternity Rights and making sure that you get a good deal during your pregnancy and your return to work should be high priority to put your mind at rest. Using this handy guide from Smart Cells ensured I knew when and what was expected of myself and my employer.

Knowing your Maternity Rights and making sure that you get a good deal during your pregnancy and your return to work should be high priority to put your mind at rest. Using this handy guide from Smart Cells ensured I knew when and what was expected of myself and my employer.

From the moment you get the positive test or whilst your trying for a baby you should have a read of your employer maternity policy since it comes into play right from the word go when needing time off for midwife appointments and ultrasound scans. It’s totally up to you when you choose to tell your employer that you’re pregnant, and legally you aren’t required to do so until 15 weeks before your due date, but I would say that it also depends on the kind of job that you do as you may need to have reduced duties or extra support in place.

We did the usual announcement once we’d had the all clear from our twelve week scan. We told family and friends and then let work know which was such a relief as I felt totally rotten, and how they didn’t guess I will never know.

Maternity Rights

Once you have informed your employer there are four main legal rights:

  • Paid time off for antenatal care
  • Maternity leave
  • Maternity pay or maternity allowance
  • Protection against unfair treatment, discrimination or dismissal

Once you’ve informed your employer they are legally obliged to perform a risk assessment which includes heavy lifting or carrying, sitting or standing for long periods of time, exposure to toxic substances and working long hours.

All I had to do in terms of getting time off for my midwife appointments and ultrasound scans was fill in a form with the dates and let my team know when I wasn’t going to be around so I never endeavoured any issues, even in the later stages where I was having physio and repeated blood tests.

Risk Assessment

I work in admin and although some days I can be sat at my desk for a long time, I have the option to be able to get up and walk around or change the task that I’m doing so I didn’t ever feel that this was a problem until the latter stages of my pregnancy when I had back ache. I had a risk assessment at the beginning when there weren’t any issues and then had this repeated around the 30 week mark when I was suffering with lower back pain. Whilst this was noted and I was given a back support which I didn’t find very comfortable, there wasn’t a lot that could be done other than getting up and down regularly. I was very sensible, making sure that I didn’t sit and suffer. I was also given pregnancy physio to help with this as well.

As with most things I get these confirmed by email so that I have a record to refer to if I ever need to should any queries arise. It may seem suspicious to do this, but it’s better in the long run if you have something to refer back to. Conversations taken place in a coffee room or corridor can sometimes be forgotten.

Protection against unfair treatment, discrimination or dismissal

Thankfully this isn’t something that I’ve had to deal with but not everybody is so lucky. Employers should ensure that the work you do is safe for you to carry out, and if it’s not they should be offering alternative work or changes to your hours. In some cases where this isn’t possible they should suspend you on full pay.

If you feel that you aren’t being treated fairly you should talk this through with your employer in the first instance (don’t forget to follow it up with an ‘as discussed’ email) and if a satisfactory solution isn’t found then you can take this further via an employment tribunal.

Maternity Leave

Statutory Maternity Leave is anything from 2 to 52 weeks. It’s a personal choice how long you take and for most of us it’s dictated by our financial situation.

I opted to take the full 52 weeks with the final 13 weeks being unpaid, but was able to use some annual leave so not all of the 13 weeks is unpaid thankfully.

Of course this isn’t your only option as shared Paternity leave is now available so you can share this time between you dependent on your personal circumstances. This wasn’t an option for us as Chris was self-employed but if I’m being honest I’m not sure I would have wanted to give up the time off I’ve had with Freddie.

Paperwork

Around the 20 week mark you will be given a MAT B1 form signed by your midwife which you will need to give to your employer to enable to claim Statutory Maternity Pay.

It wasn’t until this point that formal discussions began regarding what maternity leave I was intending to take. I knew that I wanted the full 52 weeks, and also wanted to leave as late in the pregnancy as possible so that I could have as much time with my baby as possible. This isn’t set in stone as things do change. I struggled with my back towards the end but managed to last until 38 weeks. Every day I thought I was going to go into labour and kept having a recurring dream of going into labour in one of the meeting rooms where a senior work colleague had to help me give birth. Thankfully that didn’t happen!

Employee Rights

During Maternity Leave your employment rights such as pay, holidays and returning to a job are protected, this includes being offered a suitable alternative vacancy if you are made redundant during maternity leave. You also have the right to ask for flexible work and not be forced to return to work early, with the right to take your full 52 weeks.

As I write this post I am due to return to work in a couple of weeks and currently haven’t finalised what job I’m returning to. I completed a Flexible working request to drop to two days a week which isn’t sustainable in my current role so negotiations are underway at the moment.

Returning to Work

You only need to inform your employer that you’re returning to work if it’s before 52 weeks. When returning to work after maternity leave of 26 weeks or less your employer must allow your return with the same pay and conditions as you were before. They can not stop you from returning to the same job because its considered dismissal and maternity discrimination. When returning after taking 26 weeks or more your employer must let you return to work and back into the same job role. They can only offer you a different job role with a strong reason. You cannot be dismissed after maternity leave if your job still exists, or it would still exist if you had not gone on leave, or if they offer you a new role if its something your not able to do or has worse pay and conditions.

Breastfeeding Mothers

A lot of mothers make the decision to wean babies from breastfeeding once they return to work, but your employer is required by law to provide you with a space to feed your baby or express milk. This should be discussed with your employer prior to returning to work. Provisions should be made for a comfortable place to feed/express and store the milk.

I will still be breastfeeding when I go back to work and have already discussed this with my Manager. I have a lockable room that I can use and the use of a fridge to store my milk. I’m anticipating needing to do express twice a day, once at 11am and again at 2pm. I’m not particularly looking forward to this but we’ll see how it goes.

So in a nutshell, I would keep the lines of communication open with your employer so that everybody knows where they stand. I recommend starting a folder either on your computer or a good old fashion paper folder for the following:

  • Print off a copy of your employer Maternity Policy which should outline all that is required and at what stage so that you can tick off things as and when you’ve done them
  • Make sure that you follow all conversations up with an email so that you have a record to refer to further down the line.
  • Keep a record of all appointments and time taken off for all pregnancy related appointments
  • Ask your HR department to confirm your maternity pay once submitted. They may be able to provide you with a breakdown of what pay to expect so that you can plan ahead
  • Know your rights so that you have a satisfactory and smooth return to work

*This is a collaborative post