Preggo Updates – 35 Weeks

Posted in Pregnancy and Baby.

Hi! Welcome to 35 weeks of pregnancy, featuring achey hips, extreme tiredness and one very wriggly baby.

35 weeks maternity outfit

Shirt, Cos | Cardigan, Cos | Jeans, New Look | Flats, Topshop | Bag, Michael Kors

This week I’ve definitely noticed a ‘stepping up’ of the pregnancy symptoms. My heartburn is chronic, my hips are practically caving in on themselves and walking is a very slow process. Adjusting to a heavily pregnant body is pretty tough, especially when you’re used to doing everything at double speed… walking in particular is frustrating and most of the time I feel like a tourist on Oxford St – bumbling along at a snail’s pace while everyone else whizzes by and tuts at my slowness.

But! Although the symptoms are annoying and tiring, I can’t feel anything other than excited right now. Baby A is super active these days – her movements have changed from hard kicks to nudges, rolls and wriggles and every one delights us. She sticks her bum out so we can feel it on my belly and knowing she’s right there under our hands is just a bit mind-boggling. It really drives home just how REAL it all is, and that she’ll be here with us in no time. Amazing.

This week Rob and I have also been cracking on with antenatal classes. We’ve signed up for pretty much everything going, including the private NCT course and the free NHS sessions. It’s really interesting to experience both types of classes and the differences between them – so far they’ve both been super useful and NCT is definitely better for meeting parent pals and bonding with a group of likeminded people. But the NHS active birthing class we had at St James’s earlier this week has been the highlight of our parenting education so far – the midwife who led it was absolutely brilliant and I loved the laidback, homespun nature of it… particularly the knitted uterus and placenta cushion used to demonstrate labour!

It might sound a bit ramshackle and I did expect something much more clinical considering we were in a hospital, but the informality was hugely reassuring and the ease with which the midwife spoke about labour made it all sound so doable. We also had a tour of the delivery suite at St James’s including the water birth room I’m hoping to use, which is genuinely a bit like a spa. It’s SO nice and so unlike a hospital, I’m actually quite looking forward to the whole thing.

So, that was 35 weeks. I’m 36 on Tuesday which means it’s only 4 weeks till Baby A’s due date and she’ll be only a week away from full term. Tbh, it can’t come soon enough – I’m desperate to meet her!

A Gender Neutral Pastel Nursery with Mountain Mural

Posted in Home, Pregnancy and Baby.

Baby A’s nursery was one of the first things I started planning when I found out I was pregnant. I’m shallow, I know. But I do love an interiors project and there’s endless nursery inspiration to be found when you’re battling morning sickness and browsing Pinterest.

pastel mountain mural nursery

I went back and forth with a few different ideas before settling on a style. I didn’t want to go super girly with lots of pink, but I do actually like pink and think it works really well to create a soft, calming space. I fell in love with Emily Henderson’s blush and green nursery theme and searched high and low for an affordable alternative to that beautiful forest wallpaper, to no avail. So I toyed with decals and feature colours and printed wallpaper before discovering the mountain mural.

mountain mural for girls nursery
gender neutral pastel nurseryOur first job was to clear the room and paint. Before its nursery transformation, this room was used as Rob’s office/a storage space/a general dumping ground, so we got rid of all the clutter and cleaned top to bottom. Three of the walls were light grey and one a slightly darker shade, so we used a primer on the darker wall then went straight in with the main colour, which is Farrow & Ball’s Cromarty. It took three coats to get an even finish, then we moved on to the woodwork (Dulux’s Eggshell White wood paint) and the ceiling.

For the mountain mural, we used this tutorial and it was all very easy, if quite time-consuming. I’ll do a full post on the creation of the mural complete with progress pics, but for reference we used Farrow & Ball’s Dove Grey for the foreground mountains, Pavilion Grey for the background mountains and Wimbourne White for the snowy peaks!

scandi style baby nursery
storage solutions babys nurseryWith the painting done, it was time to fill the space with beautiful, beautiful stuff! Being six months pregnant and all, I wasn’t much help with the painting stage, but I SMASHED the buying stuff stage. We started with the furniture – I knew I wanted a Scandi-style cot and a chest of drawers rather than a changing table, but it took a long time to find anything in the UK. US readers, you have it so great when it comes to nursery furniture! I loved the Babyletto range at Target but they don’t ship furniture over here, so it was back to the drawing board.

baby clothing organisation
nursery clothing storageI finally stumbled across the Finley cot and 3-drawer chest on the M&S website, of all places. I’d never think to look in M&S for furniture, but both pieces are really well-made and they were assembled by the delivery team – much easier than Ikea!

A little note on using a chest of drawers as a changing table – I didn’t want a wardrobe in the room, so the changing table needed to double up as somewhere to store Baby A’s clothing, too. I also wanted something sturdy and high enough that I wasn’t hunching over it every time I changed a nappy. I read loads of reviews on various ‘changing chests’ but in the end decided I didn’t really need something that was designed specifically for changing – a substantial changing mat (mine is this Cam Cam one from ScandiBorn) seems enough, especially as I’m not gonna be wandering off while my baby lies untethered, mid-change. But if, when we get going with this baby thing, I find I do need a bit more support for the mat, M&S do a changing topper. Clever!

I also wanted to add some hanging storage to the walls to create a bit of a feature – for above the changing table I used the Farg Form hooks and hanging baskets, and added these round buttons from John Lewis to display some of Baby A’s clothes.

ikea poang nursing chair
string shelving baby nursery
girls nursery mountain mural
string shelving scandi nurseryFinding a nursing chair was another point of contention – nursing chairs are extremely ugly and I hate them all. Other than this £795 version (lol, why) I couldn’t find a single chair I liked, so I did what anyone who’s hit a wall during an interiors project would do – I went to Ikea. I’d read great things about the POANG chair for nursing purposes and at £55 it’s far more affordable than most ‘proper’ nursing chairs, so I snapped up the non-rocking version in the grey/oak colourway. It does actually rock a bit, and it’s more upright than the rocking chair which felt more useful for nursing.

To display some of Baby A’s trinkets, I copied every New Mum Instagrammer and bought some String shelves. These are seriously popular in the nursery interiors community (yep, that’s a thing) and the oak/white version matches the rest of the furniture perfectly. I don’t want lots of clutter in the nursery but these shelves are great for holding the bits and bobs I want to display, like the vintage Beatrix Potter books that were mine as a kid, the Lala Loves Decor acrylic pieces and every baby’s favourite giraffe, Sophie.

mountain mural for babys nursery
girls nursery wall hangings
wall hangings pastel gender neutral nurseryFor my baby shower, my wonderful friends and family all bought Baby A their favourite book from childhood. So cute! I wanted them out for all to see, so picked up a cheap picture ledge from Ikea and sat them all on it along with the light box that seems essential for all nurseries.

Instagram has been an amazing source of cool interior brands for project nursery – I discovered Secret Holiday Co’s amazing felt banners and Holly and Teddy’s beautiful weaves during my extensive browsing.

gender neutral mountain mural nurseryI think the finishing touches really pull the nursery together – the felt ball rug adds a hint of pink without being super girly, and the conical lightshade from Made.com matches the wall colour perfectly. I also found these black out curtains to keep the room dark when Baby A is napping during the day (fingers firmly crossed on that one).

Finally, taking pride of place in the room, is Sven the rocking sheep. You might remember his Danish brother from our Copenhagen Airbnb – as soon as I spotted him, I knew he’d be the perfect addition to our Scandi-inspired nursery. Handmade by Danish designer Povl Kjer, these rocking sheep are really popular in Denmark and we saw them in plenty of shops but getting one back in our hand luggage would’ve been tricky. When we got back from Copenhagen I made it my mission to find a stockist in the UK and luckily discovered Gigi Brooks, who sell a range of Povl’s designs (including his amazing sheep stools!). The lovely people at Gigi Brooks sent Sven out super quickly and he was the first piece to go into the nursery. I can’t wait to see Baby A rocking away!

And so, that’s the nursery. All ready for her arrival in 5 (ish) weeks. Although she won’t go into her own room for around 6 months, I’m so glad we went through the ritual of preparing Baby A’s space, and I hope she loves it as much as we do.

Preggo Updates – 34 Weeks

Posted in Pregnancy and Baby.

Less than six weeks to go! Can you believe it? No, me neither.

third trimester pregnancy outfit

Jumper, M&S | Jeans, New Look | Jacket, ASOS (similar) | Bag, Jem + Bea | Trainers, Stan Smith

I’ll be 35 weeks pregnant on Tuesday, and I can’t quite believe I’ve only got five weeks to go (give or take a week or two). Where did the time go? I’ve still go so much to do!

Week 34 has been pretty exhausting, tbh. My preggo app tells me Baby A has had a growth spurt this week, and my belly is certainly looking bigger. Everything makes me tired – walking, carrying stuff, sitting up, talking. I’m hoping for a burst of last-minute energy next week!

On Saturday Rob and I went to our first NCT class. I was a bit nervous before we got there – people say NCT classes are great for meeting potential parenting pals and I do love making new pals. Luckily everyone was super nice and the first class was really useful and interesting, so a winner all-round. We’ve got two more NCT classes (which are private antenatal classes you pay for, FYI) as well as two NHS antenatal classes, an active birthing session and a tour of the delivery suite at St. James’s Hospital to cram in before Baby A arrives. I’m nothing if not prepared!

I’m winding down my workload in preparation for going on maternity leave from 28th Oct (argh!) so next week will be spent redecorating the living room, finishing off the kitchen and cleaning as well as writing lots of blog posts and probably sitting down a bit. If you have any post requests, let me know in the comments…

A Babymoon in Croatia

Posted in Pregnancy and Baby, Travel.

A few weeks ago, Rob and I flew off to Croatia for a ‘last hurrah’ holiday before the arrival of Baby A.

It. Was. Amazing.

babymoon in croatia pregnancy
relaxing babymoon holiday croatiaThe idea of a ‘babymoon’ is to get away with your significant other for one last trip, just the two of you, before your baby arrives. Rob and I love travelling together and we know we’ll get far fewer chances to do that once Baby A is here, so a babymoon sounded really appealing.

We’d already been on a few trips since finding out I was pregnant (we did a mini USA roadtrip at 10/11 weeks and Copenhagen at 20 weeks), but our babymoon was the ultimate in pre-newborn relaxation – a 5 star, all-inclusive break on the Croatian coast. Yes.

maternity bikini swimwear
luxury holiday croatian coast
relaxing holiday croatia 5 starCroatia has been on my must-visit list for years, so when I saw Sarah’s tweets from the most beautiful Croatian hotel, I asked where she was staying and discovered the Sensimar Adriatic Beach hotel. It’s one of Thomson’s couples only hotels and as it’s just been refurbished, we managed to get a great deal on an all-inclusive package.

I’ve never stayed at an all-inclusive hotel before – usually my favourite part of a holiday is discovering local cafes, bars and restaurants and I love exploring my surroundings. But this was a babymoon – the whole point is to relax and let someone else do the hard work. Plus I’d be 31/32 weeks pregnant when we travelled, and the thought of traipsing around an unfamiliar area looking for preggo-friendly food didn’t appeal to me.

I spent hours reading the TripAdvisor reviews on the hotel and it was almost unanimous that the food at the hotel was outstanding, which was another tick in the ‘book it now!!!!!!’ box. Combined with the beautiful location and great price, we were on to a winner.

holiday in croatia while pregnant
sensimar adriatic beach hotel review
croatia beach holidayWe arrived at the hotel around 12pm after a 6am flight from Manchester and a 2 hour transfer from Split airport. The hotel’s changeover day is always Friday, which means around 400 people descend on the hotel all at once, and I’d heard reports that check-in was a bit hectic – guests were sent off for lunch while bags were taken to rooms, which were eventually available at 3pm.

But! I didn’t experience any of that because as soon as they clocked the belly, Rob and I were whisked to the front of the queue, checked in straightaway and had our bags delivered to our room. We got the chance to unpack and freshen up before we went down for lunch and a wander round. Excellent service all round!

The hotel was just beautiful, and possibly the cleanest place I’ve ever stayed. It was spotless, the staff were a total delight and service was quick and efficient. I’d read that there were quite a few steps that made the resort unsuitable for those with mobility problems (i.e., a 7 months pregnant woman), but we found lifts almost everywhere and the steps from the hotel to the beach, although tiring, were manageable.

luxury croatian babymoon
sunset hotel croatiaOnce we were settled, our days were spent lounging at the beach or by the pool, eating heartily at every opportunity and enjoying stunning sunsets on the terrace. The atmosphere was so laidback – it didn’t matter that we spent a good chunk of our afternoons in our room, napping. No one pestered us to take part in activities or bothered us when we sheltered from the sun under big umbrellas. We drank fruity cocktails (mocktails for me) and ate 6 types of carbs for lunch and basically did nothing. It was blissful.

visiting dubrovnik pregnant
all inclusive 5 star hotel croatia
dubrovnik game of thrones tour
walking tour dubrovnik croatiaWe did have one active day – we booked an excursion from the hotel to Dubrovnik, which was about a 2-hour coach ride. The drive itself was stunning, with a short stop-off in Bosnia before we reached Dubrovnik’s old town.

We had a tour guide who took us through the city walls and showed us lots of points of interest – I’d never usually go for a guided tour but this was such a good way to discover Dubrovnik’s rich history as well as all the Game of Thrones settings! The guided walk took 1.5 hours and was completely flat, so perfect for me and my limited energy reserves. Afterwards we had a bit of time to explore on our own and I really wanted to go up on the walls but I just couldn’t manage the steps in 25 degree heat, so Rob and I meandered around and stopped for a drink before heading back to the coach.

Then it was time for a quick trip out of Dubrovnik to watch the sun set over the city – an absolutely beautiful sight that I’ll remember forever. And then we headed back in for another hour and a half within the city walls, soaking up the evening atmosphere.

Rob and I absolutely loved Dubrovnik and can’t wait to go back to explore some more… hopefully I’ll make it up those walls next time!

luxury holiday croatia all inclusiveAfter our Dubrovnik adventure, we had another few days chilling at the hotel before it was time to head back to the airport for our flight home. Everything ran so smoothly, even with so many people doing everything at the same time – the whole experience, from the airport transfer to the delicious food and the beautifully-maintained pool, was a dream.

We had such an amazing time in Croatia – it was the perfect luxury setting for our babymoon, with the scenery and culture we love alongside an all-inclusive service that made it extra special.

If you’re pregnant, a babymoon is a great way to celebrate those last few months as a twosome before you welcome a baby into the world. I know it’s not possible for everyone to get away, especially if you’re having a tough time during pregnancy. But even if it’s just a couple of nights in a nice hotel, a break away gives you the chance to relax, unwind and enjoy some time to yourself before life changes completely.

Here are my top tips for excellent babymooning:

– Go somewhere you won’t be able to go with a tiny baby. It’ll probably be your last chance for a while!

– Don’t push yourself to do too much – a babymoon should be about total relaxation, imo.

– Scope out the nearest hospital to your accommodation and take your maternity notes, just in case.

– If you’re flying somewhere, check your airline’s policy for pregnant women – many require a fit to fly note after 28/29 weeks, and most won’t carry you after 36 weeks (34 for twin pregnancies). You can get a fit to fly note from your GP or midwife, but make sure you ask in advance and be prepared to pay around £20 for the pleasure!

– Get comprehensive insurance that covers you, your partner and your baby. I used this MamAtoB Pregnancy Travel insurance – it was way more expensive than regular insurance but it covered me, Rob and Baby A for treatment, labour and a stay in hospital afterwards.

– Be aware of the health situation in the country you’re visiting – I was particularly worried about Zika and kept a close eye on where it was developing. Another reason to have robust travel insurance, too!

– If you’re heading somewhere hot, pack lots of high SPF sun cream and keep out of the midday sun – I used children’s products as I figured they were a bit less chemically, always wore a hat and spent most of my time in the shade.

Preggo Updates – 33 Weeks

Posted in Pregnancy and Baby.

Hello, 33 weeks!

33 weeks pregnant blog post

Dress, ASOS | Gilet, Zara (old) | Shoes, Vagabond (old) | Necklace, H&M 

Week 33 has been pretty uneventful, really – we’re back from Croatia and it’s lovely to be in the house, but everything is in disarray while the kitchen is being redone. Hopefully by the end of next week we should be on the way to having everything finished, so I’m just focusing on that for now and trying not to stress over the fact the dishwasher’s still not connected and there’s an entire kitchen strewn across the garden.

On Wednesday Rob and I went to St James’s Hospital in Leeds (where I’ll be having Baby A, all being well) for a talk on water birthing. I’ve fancied a water birth since the very beginning of pregnancy and was keen to learn more about it – the midwife who led the session was really good at explaining how water births work and what the benefits are. We left feeling totally pumped about the whole thing and excited to get the show on the road!

Quite a few people have asked me how I’m feeling about giving birth – in all honestly, I feel fine about it. I have a really clear idea of how I’d like the labour experience to go, but I’m also prepared for a different outcome if needs be. Over the next few weeks I’m taking full advantage of all the talks and classes available through my hospital so I’m equipped with as much info as possible and I think that will make all the difference. And my general pregnancy mantra – ‘my body was designed to do this’ – helps, too.

On Tuesday I’ll be 34 weeks, which means potentially there’s only 6 weeks left… that’s like the school holidays, which as my teacher friends tell me, is not very long! Exciting times my friends – exciting times.

N.B. I know I’m very fortunate to have had such a straightforward pregnancy so far, and I want to recognise that a lot of women’s bodies don’t play ball. Pregnancy is a deeply personal experience and it can be totally distressing to hear experiences that don’t align with your own – that’s why I think it’s so important to focus on your individual situation, do your own research and focus on goals that suit your body and your pregnancy. Whether you’re breezing through the weeks or suffering at each trimester, pregnancy is a tough gig and all we can do is our best. You got this, mama.