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Editors Welcome

Welcome to your Summer 2020 Newsletter!

What a strange time we are living in. We hope you are all doing well and staying safe. This is not how anyone expected this year to pan out, but hopefully you have been able to make the best of the situation. 

We have updated our coronavirus information to reflect the recent changes in services and support. These are ever-changing, so please do keep an eye on any relevant services using the links provided. 

In this newsletter we bring you the latest branch news, an instructor’s perspective on the new NCT virtual classes, lockdown activity ideas from our Facebook community, an insight into what it is like giving birth during lockdown and a few tips on keeping cool during the summer (hopefully we haven’t jinxed it!). We also have an article about food during lockdown, including a lovely recipe. 

We hope you enjoy reading, and if you have any comments, ideas on future articles or would like to join our team please do get in touch: newsletter.reading@nct.org.uk.


Jump to Articles

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Branch News

All About Virtual Courses

Lockdown Activities

Birth Story

Keeping Cool

Food During Lockdown

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support

Last Updated 20 June 2020

Understandably, this is an uncertain time for everyone. Please try to keep up to date with the latest information.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have produced information on coronavirus for pregnant women and their families

The NHS website has more information about how to reduce the possible spread of infection.

Maternal Mental Health Alliance members have offered reassuring tips and practical advice to help us all manage our mental wellbeing during the outbreak.

NCT have a series of articles regarding coronavirus and your baby.

Online Support

Parent to Parent Support
NCT Reading & Wokingham Breastfeeding Peer Support 
Breastfeeding Counsellors 
Slings and Carriers
Cloth Nappies
Lockdown Bumps, Births and Babies in Reading
Reading Maternity Clothes Library

Groups

NCT Reading’s primary focus is the safety of parents and our volunteers, practitioners and staff, as such all in-person groups, events and courses are closed until further notice.

We have started to run virtual meetups via Zoom – West Reading Meet Up and Evening Bumps. If you are interested in hosting a meet up, please get in touch with coordinator.reading@nct.org.uk.

Keep an eye on our Facebook group for any updates on events and daily threads to help with any feelings of loneliness through isolation.

Sling Library

The library will be closed until further notice. Our volunteers are still manning our Facebook group if you have any questions, and YouTube is a great resource for help with fitting.

One of our volunteers, who also runs her own sling consultancy, will be offering free online mini consultations during this time.

Breastfeeding Support

Our NCT Breastfeeding Counsellors have set up an online support group for anyone to access support at home while our groups are not running.

We also have our local peer supporter page that you can message to arrange an online chat with one of our peer supporters.

You can also chat to NCT Breastfeeding Counsellors on 0300 330 0700.

Royal Berkshire Maternity

Midwives at Royal Berkshire are doing weekly Q&A sessions on their Facebook page, normally around lunchtime. 

A frequently asked questions document has also been put together about care during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic  

Rushey Ward, the Midwife-Led Unit, is currently closed.

All women who are going to stay in hospital for any reason during pregnancy, or labour, or if they need to return to hospital after giving birth, are currently being tested for Coronavirus. If you choose to, you can refuse the test. 

Antenatal and Scans

Unfortunately, currently all antenatal and scan appointments must be attended solo. 

You can now have your partner on speakerphone during your scan, and the sonographer will do a 10-second cine film for you of your baby. Standard prints are still available. 

If you are hoping to find out the gender of your baby you can bring along a piece of paper and envelope for the sonographer to write it down for you to open with your partner later. 

Labour, Birth and Postnatal 

Your birth partner is currently only allowed in Delivery Suite. When arriving for assessment/induction you will have to be alone until you move to Delivery Suite. After labour, your birth partner will have to leave if you are transferred to the postnatal ward. This is normally a few hours after birth. If you do not need to be transferred, you will be discharged directly from Delivery Suite. 

No visitors are allowed on the postnatal ward. 

It is recommended that you pack your hospital bag with a few days’ stay in mind. However, if you have a prolonged stay, your birth partner will be able to drop off things at the ward entrance. 

NCT Courses

All in-person NCT courses, workshops and groups are still cancelled until further notice. All courses through to August are now online. 

As society adjusts to life with Covid-19, our friendly, highly-trained course leaders are using Zoom to grow your knowledge in fun, interactive group sessions. Even though we’re socially distancing, you’ll still make new friends and build a supportive network of local-parents-to be.

If you have any questions about NCT services or courses for parents, please call the Enquiries Team on 0300 330 0700.

NCT Course Discount

Reading Council

Following the latest government advice – which includes social distancing measures – the council has taken the decision to close the following buildings to the public with effect from Tuesday 17 March 2020:

  • Libraries
  • Town Hall
  • Leisure centres
  • Museum
  • Arts and theatres
  • Community buildings
  • Civic offices

Birth Registrations

Reading Council are now taking Birth registrations appointments by date of birth order. If your baby was born up to and including the 10th of April 2020 please contact them on 0118 9373533 . Please note The Register Office is located within the Civic Offices on Bridge Street, Reading RG1 2LU
Where families need to access benefits, the advice is that customers can now make a claim for child benefit or universal credit prior to the birth being registered, where they have not been able to do so because of the Covid19 Pandemic.

Reading Children's Centres

Following the closure of all of Reading Borough buildings all Reading Well Baby clinics will be closed until further notice.

If you have any Health Visiting related queries, please contact the Health Visiting Duty line (Monday – Friday, 09.00am-4.30pm) on: 0118 9312111 (option 1).

Although children’s centres, which are in Reading Borough Council buildings are now closed to the public, the exception is pre-arranged (not drop-in) health appointments for expectant mothers.

All updates for the children’s centres will be posted on their Facebook page.

Explaining to Children

Some of you may find this useful for explaining to your children - little ears often hear and understand more than we give them credit for!

https://www.facebook.com/debbiefranciseip/posts/1173696132962098 

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NCT Reading News

Annual Meeting

We held our annual meeting on 3rd July via Zoom - it was better attended than some of our previous ones! We talked through the highlights from the past year and our plans for the next.

Highlights included:

  • Training our third cohort of Breastfeeding Peer Supporters and providing this support as volunteers at Royal Berkshire Hospital
  • Continuing to provide our nappy and sling library services, until lockdown paused all activities
  • Increasing our reach through social media to nearly 4000 members of our parent support Facebook group

Our biggest challenges for the next year unsurprisingly relate to the difficulties the Covid-19 pandemic brings. Face to face meet ups are still a fair way off but will continue to run online Evening Bumps and Bumps & Babies groups.

We hope to be able to provide some kind of nappy and sling library service before too long but await guidance from our colleagues in head office.

Groups

All of NCT Reading’s in-person groups are still closed until further notice. 

However, we are running two groups online via Zoom. Details are posted under Announcements in our Facebook group on how to join closer to the date. 

If you are interested in hosting a meet up, please get in touch with coordinator.reading@nct.org.uk.

Bumps & Babies – Weekly

Have you recently had a baby, or have one on the way, and want to chat to other local parents? Please join us for our weekly Bumps and Babies online group hosted by our local NCT volunteers! Open to everyone in Reading and the surrounding areas. 

Upcoming Dates:

  • Tuesday 16 June from 13:30-15:00
  • Tuesday 23 June from 13:30-15:00
  • Tuesday 30 June from 13:30-15:00
  • Tuesday 7 July from 13:30-15:00
  • Tuesday 14 July from 13:30-15:00
  • Tuesday 21 July from 13:30-15:00
  • Tuesday 28 July from 13:30-15:00
  • Tuesday 4 August from 13:30-15:00
  • Tuesday 11 August from 13:30-15:00
  • Tuesday 18 August from 13:30-15:00
  • Tuesday 25 August from 13:30-15:00
  • Tuesday 1 September from 13:30-15:00
  • Tuesday 8 September from 13:30-15:00
  • Tuesday 15 September from 13:30-15:00

West Reading Meet-up – Once a Month

Are you a new or expectant parent living in West Reading? Don't worry if you're not West - everyone is welcome!

Upcoming Dates: 

  • Wednesday 17 June from 10:00-12:00
  • Wednesday 15 July from 10:00-12:00
  • Wednesday 19 August from 10:00-12:00

Evening Bumps – Twice a Month

A chance to meet other expectant parents online.

Upcoming Dates: 

  • Wednesday 24 June from 20:00-21:00
  • Wednesday 8 July from 20:00-21:00
  • Wednesday 22 July from 20:00-21:00
  • Wednesday 12 August from 20:00-21:00
  • Wednesday 26 August from 20:00-21:00

Support

Keep an eye on Facebook group for any updates on events and daily threads to help with any feelings of loneliness through isolation.  

For further local support:

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Virtual NCT Courses 

Shelley Smith

NCT Zoom

I am a local Antenatal Practitioner and Breastfeeding Counsellor.  In normal times, I facilitate Antenatal courses (usually a course runs over a period of a few weeks and around 6 sessions of varying lengths during evenings and weekends, at a local church hall) and I run breastfeeding sessions within those courses too.  I also offer additional support for those I have met through those sessions once they have had their babies, should they need help or information.  As an NCT Breastfeeding Counsellor I also work on the infant feeding line to support any parent that calls us with questions about feeding their baby.

Lockdown changed all of this.  The face-to-face sessions, helping relationships to grow via small group work and chatting during the session break, were gone literally overnight.  Luckily for us, the passion for supporting parents as they embark on their journeys into parenthood didn't change, and all the NCT staff and practitioners found themselves on a journey.  A journey of building content that could be shared on an online platform, setting up many hundreds of Zoom accounts and training sessions for the practitioners who had perhaps never even heard of Zoom before.  

Within less than 2 weeks, a course I had started the week before lockdown, so just 1 session in, had been moved to an online format and I was going for it.  I spent hours trying to work out how I would use the content so that it worked for me but also venturing into Zoom and breakout rooms.  In some ways I feel lucky that I work in IT as my day job, but I'd had little exposure to Zoom in that time, so it was still a learning experience for me.

The good news for the course clients is that we would be covering the same material, same subjects, but these would just be covered in a slightly different way.  The concern I heard from the clients due to start a course that would now be on Zoom was that one of the key reasons they wanted to attend an NCT course was to meet others and build a support group, they suddenly felt this would not happen.  Of course, I was apprehensive too, but also determined that I would make sure this happens in all my groups as I really see, day to day, the importance of this.  It has happened!  The groups are all given a link to a WhatsApp group before the course starts and we ask everyone to say hi on there before the first session.  During the sessions we use breakout rooms, just like we would use small groups in the 'normal' courses.  I also leave the group chatting (so a bit like a coffee break) at the end of the session for however long they want.  In addition to the formal zoom sessions, I also run WhatsApp sessions where we may discuss some information sent out on email, or I suggest a subject and the group ask questions and share ideas.  Only yesterday, there were 143 WhatsApp messages in less than an hour on one of my Zoom groups, who have just started having their babies.  They have bonded and are totally supporting each other. 

I think whilst its nice for me not to have to leave the house to work, sit in traffic and spend 45 minutes setting up a room and moving chairs and tables around with my bad back, there is a natural way we communicate in a room, a lot of it using body language and speaking without having to take ourselves off mute, which means there is a lot more two-way conversation and I am really missing that.  We are however, still supporting parents, still providing information that will hopefully enable them to have a more positive experience as they go through labour, birth and into the amazing journey of parenthood and still nurturing the support networks for which NCT courses have become well known.

Virtual NCT Course Testimonials

To be honest, I was sceptical about the online course and whether it would provide the same quality of course that a ‘normal’ course would. However, I found the course to be really informative, still interactive, with the added bonus of not having to drive home afterwards!

We felt we got just as much, if not more, from the online sessions. Would highly recommend to other parents to be.

I didn’t think the support would be the same online, thankfully it was.

The course has improved my confidence as a dad and I now feel ready for our baby to join us. I particularly liked the practical side of things i.e. swaddling as I felt less confident in these areas. It worked extremely well with remote video sessions, as if it was the way it was designed to work.

virtual courses discount

NCT Early Days Online Postnatal Courses

Helen Ashenden

Getting to grips with the early months of motherhood can be quite a challenge, both practically and emotionally. It is common to question how you are doing and what you are feeling, even more so at a time when it’s so difficult to meet up with other new mums. But don't worry, an online NCT Early Days postnatal course via Zoom will give you the knowledge and confidence to tackle the doubt all new mums struggle with. It's great for second- and third-time mums too because every birth and every baby is different. It will give you a chance to talk through your thoughts and feelings about being a new parent within a friendly, relaxed, safe and supportive discussion group. And after five weekly get-togethers with the same group of new mums and their babies, you'll also come through with a new group of friends. Each course is unique because you get to help choose the topics that typically include: 

  • Learning about your babies needs around sleeping, crying and feeding
  • Meeting your, and your partner’s, needs
  • Understanding your baby’s personality
  • Reflecting on relationship changes
  • Thinking about the sort of parent you want to be
  • Dealing with advice and decision making 
  • Identifying your new motherhood mindset
  • Considering returning to work, or not.

Early Days Topics

The courses last for 10 or 12 hours spread over 5 weeks. Concessionary rates are available, and you don't need to be a member of the NCT to join. Places are limited, so if you would like to attend, booking is essential. Check out the NCT website for more details. The next scheduled course is due to start at the beginning of September. We are monitoring the Covid-19 situation and will decide nearer the time whether this course will run online or in person https://www.nct.org.uk/course/40613035.

Here is some feedback, from mums who participated in the most recent NCT Early Days Online course, about what they enjoyed: 

The support from Helen and the mothers in the group

Meeting other mums

Hearing different / similar experiences in our chats

The weekly check in on how everyone’s week had been was a great opportunity for everyone to offer one other support and reassurance where needed and celebrate any “mum wins”!

Facilitating conversations and friendships with other local mums

Knowing you are not alone

The support and reassurance given by the other mums

I’m pleased I still attended the group and appreciate the efforts made by the presenter to adapt to the technology! Breakout rooms were a really good way to have the chance to speak to individuals in the group, and it was good to rotate these to speak to different people 1-2-1.

Good that you can put yourself on mute when baby is crying

"I would highly recommend it. Being a first-time mum can be very isolating and listening to other opinions and other mums’ experiences really helped me." 

If you would like to find out more about your local course, please contact Helen Churchill at bookings5s@nct.org.uk or on 020 8752 9131.

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Lockdown Activities 

We asked our Facebook group what sort of activities they have been doing to keep their children entertained during this unprecedented time at home. Hopefully these will help you now, or on future rainy days. 

Outdoor Activities

gardening

  • “Paint” the garden fences and patio with water
  • Water sprayer in the garden
  • Assault Course 
  • Chalks on the patio
  • Mix colours with water, food colouring and recycled pots
  • Make a tin can alley using tins and bean bags 
  • Hoopla (quoits) game out of toilet rolls glued to some cardboard, painting is an additional activity. Cut hoops out of cardboard. 
  • Gardening
  • Homemade chalk paint - mixing cornflour with water and colouring it makes paint. 
  • Paddling pool
  • Treasure hunt. Organise one with friends/neighbours to take part in, leaving clues in the local park!

Indoor Activities

Duplo

  • Build a papier-mâché pirate ship 
  • Duplo and train set
  • Disney+, CBeebies, Netflix and YouTube Kids
  • Treasure hunts around the house. 
  • "Disco" - music and party lights on, or if no party lights, give the kids a torch each and let them be the party lights!
  • Homemade playdough (get kids to help make it too)
  • Paint and decorate animals out of loo / kitchen roll ends
  • Bubble wrap – if you have enough, it’s great to let them run up and down on it!
  • Baking and icing/decorating biscuits/cupcakes

pirate cupcakes

  • Busy Activity Book
  • Drawing pictures or cards to post to friends and family. 
  • Making marmalade (Paddington inspired). 
  • Make a giant den. 
  • Twinkl Go! Play. Interactive educational games - https://www.twinkl.co.uk/resources/twinkl-go/games-twinkl-go
  • Any kind of hiding game: hide and seek, hide the toy eggs, hiding words that start with different sounds and searching for all the words beginning with a particular sound.
  • Doing "picnic" lunches with Zoom open and an open invite to family and friends
  • Decoupage…anything! Milk bottles, boxes, jars etc
  • Tuff trays for messy play – especially good for those without a garden
  • Freeze small toys e.g. dinosaurs in ice and let them hammer away
  • 50 Fun Activities for your Kids for LEGO DUPLO

children's den

Online Classes

Baby Massage

Baby massage is a calm, relaxing and a wonderful bonding opportunity for you and your baby.  Over the four weeks we will focus on a different area of the body as you learn different massage strokes that you can incorporate during a daily routine or just when your baby needs it. 

Suitable for babies from 6 weeks to crawling.

https://bookwhen.com/chris-courses

Pregnancy Yoga

Whatever your fitness level, Yoga for Pregnancy is a great way to relax and spend time with your unborn baby. Learn breathing techniques, practise birthing poses and connect with your changing body. You’ll meet other mums and get plenty of practical tips – and you’ll feel more positive and relaxed about birth, too.

https://bookwhen.com/chris-courses

Rhyme Time

Join us for some a virtual rhyme time every Friday at 10.30 for 30 minutes until the lockdown is over.

https://us04web.zoom.us/j/962643628

PE with Joe Wicks

Join Joe Wicks Monday–Friday at 9am for a free 30-minute workout aimed at kids LIVE on his YouTube channel.

http://www.youtube.com/thebodycoachtv 

Baby College at Home

Let Baby College help you support your 0-4 year old's development. A choice of over 50 live Zoom classes each week and new mini class and activity videos each week based on Baby College's award-winning 48 week 4-year EYFS programme. 

Baby College at Home is accessed via a Facebook Group, if you are not on Facebook please ask your local teacher about access to their sessions directly.

https://www.babycollege.co.uk/Find-a-class 

Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube

Yoga, mindfulness and relaxation for kids. 

Interactive adventures which build strength, balance and confidence – and get kids into yoga and mindfulness early!

https://www.youtube.com/user/CosmicKidsYoga  

Itsy Bitsy Bakers

Fun, educational cooking classes in the Reading area for Parents and Toddlers (2-5 years old) to come along and cook, create, learn and most of all have fun!

https://www.facebook.com/Itsybitsybakers 

Tumble Tots at Home

Tumble Tots is the UK's Leading National Active Physical Play Programme for Children Aged 6 Months - 7 Years. 

Live classes on Facebook, watch previous classes on Facebook or YouTube.

https://www.facebook.com/TumbleTotsHQ/
https://www.youtube.com/user/TumbleTotsUK 

Wiggle Waggle with Miss Joanna

During the Lockdown why not entertain your little people (under 4’s) with Miss Joanna’s WiggleWaggle Online Course. Please contact Miss Joanna on missjoannawsd@gmail.com.

https://wrightschoolofdance.com/

Hartbeeps@Home

Hartbeeps offer highly interactive and stimulating music and multi-sensory classes for babies and pre-school children.

You will need a Facebook account in order to be a Hartbeeps@Home member

https://www-24w.bookeo.com/bookeo/b_hartbeeps_start.html?ctlsrc2=xsvYqDr3NGuEI1dec0oLByAUqyY8g%2B%2BQy5%2BXKfCABcg%3D&src=01d

Kindermusik with Sarah 

Kindermusik is the world’s leading provider of music-based education for children from birth through age seven. Online classes are via Zoom.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/kindermusikwithsarah 
https://www.kindermusik.com/studio/57754 

Busylizzy Reading 

Busylizzy Reading run lots of classes suitable for babies & toddlers!

Busylizzy have created a timetable of virtual pregnancy, mummy fitness, baby and toddler classes (including Baby Music, Baby Signing (sign language), Mini Dancers, Mini Musicians, Twinkle Ballet and Little Yogis!) and member talks / workshops for you to enjoy from home. 

https://busylizzyreading.co.uk 

BilinguaSing

Online virtual course via a closed Facebook group. Jam-packed full of daily activities in both French and Spanish. With a combination of live classes, fun games, daily bedtime stories, worksheets & and other bonus activities, there’s something for everyone! 

You can watch a free taster class on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/1494394404161484/posts/2482860308648217/ 

https://www.bilinguasing.com

Berkshire Maestros

Join Danielle for a Mini Maestros sing along

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLbLgprABKn85fA9fBR3mPXslyx5TjUPax

Fit Mums Berkshire

Fit Mums Berkshire are running virtual Pilates classes for pre- & postnatal women including specific Mummy & Baby classes.

https://www.facebook.com/fitmumsberkshire/
https://fitmums.wixsite.com/berkshire

TinyTalk

TinyTalk are running Baby Signing & Toddler Talking classes via Facebook

https://www.tinytalk.co.uk/fionah

Phonics with Robot Reg

Aiming to equip pre-schoolers with the phonics skills to open up a world of literacy to them and to ensure that they are ready as they begin their reading and writing journey at school.

https://robotreg.co.uk/pages/caversham-and-henley

Mummy Sophie Yoga 

Pregnancy and Mum & Baby yoga classes

http://www.mummysophieyoga.com 

Yoga with Tessa 

Pregnancy, Mother & Baby, Older Baby and Hypopressive yoga classes

https://www.tessayoga.co.uk/home 

Diddi Dance

Designed to help your toddler enhance their coordination and rhythm. We are here to nurture their natural love of movement in a structured yet relaxed class. 

http://www.diddidance.com/diddi-dance-reading/ 

Baby Sensory @Home Sessions

Baby Sensory provides ideas for creative play, massage, tummy time, movement, visual development, textures, scents and music in simple practical ways that can be easily repeated at home. A combination of original and traditional songs and rhymes to develop early speech and language skills, and sensory signing activities to help you and your baby communicate from birth.

https://www.babysensory.com/reading/ 
https://www.babysensory.com/south-reading/ 

Story Craft

Free story times with craft ideas via a Facebook live at 10am on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Story Craft have created story and craft packs to encourage a love of reading and bring stories to life through art and crafts. There are varying options from hardback books and craft, Zoom sessions with crafts or pre-recorded stories and crafts.

https://www.story-craft.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/storycraftreading/

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Birth Story

Having a second baby during lockdown has been an emotional rollercoaster, with lots of fears and challenges. Working from home and being heavily pregnant has been wonderful. Working from home heavily pregnant with a two-year-old has been slightly more of a challenge!

working from home

My story begins at the end of my first day of Week 36 (four days before mat leave). I was sending the last email of the day at 4pm. My partner walked in the door and made me laugh about something and I thought, oh I’ve pee’d myself. I popped upstairs to wee and change and then had the sinking feeling that this wasn’t just wee.  My first pregnancy ended at 37+2 with PROM (Premature Rupture of Membrane) so I knew instantly that we were going to hospital. Calling down to my partner I just said, “It’s not pee, and I don’t think we’re putting the birthing pool up.” I called my sister to come to look after my little boy, called Triage to say we were on our way in, packed a rough hospital bag and bundled toddler into the car. Knowing that my partner would have to leave me at the hospital door we took the trip to hospital as a family of three!  

Day Assessment Unit - I was not feeling movements or contractions so I was put onto monitoring for over an hour. The machine did its job and confirmed that all was well with the baby and that I was having mild contractions!

Day Assessment Unit

 I was admitted to Marsh Ward to labour. Being admitted to the ward was not what I had expected but I had a birthing ball to bounce on, a book to read and my phone to track contractions. I warned the midwife on the ward that I laboured quickly with my first and I was monitored again on the bed, at this point they swabbed me for COVID-19 which is not a nice experience. My one positive at this point was my partner had annoyed me in this stage of labour with my first and him not being here for this one was a good thing! 

Marsh Ward

Labour progressed quickly. I remember calling my partner saying I thought he should come to the hospital around 20:55 – I also remember saying to the midwife that I felt we should be moving down to the labour ward.  Shortly after that I was on the move and pushing in the lift down to Delivery Suite.

On the labour ward I carried on pushing and during one long contraction my partner walked in the door, just as our baby arrived at 21:41. The ward midwife told my partner that I’d done a brilliant job before leaving, while the second midwife gave me two stitches and completed observations.  We were given tea and toast (which is the best!) and then we were left to enjoy our new arrival until about 2am when I was admitted to Iffley Ward, fully expecting to go home by lunchtime the next day!

8am ward rounds – the midwife on duty had the unenviable task of informing me that I would not be going home: babies born at 36 weeks are admitted for a minimum of 48 hours. Due to being a preterm baby (and very sleepy) we had initial feeding issues. I had to express colostrum and ended up having to top baby up with formula, something I was very upset about, and the team took the decision to move me to my own room.  I then had to give the bad news to my partner and sister that they would have to put up with each other for a bit longer! 

Life on Iffley Ward was tough as we weren’t allowed visitors, and when my partner brought me more PJs and nappies for the baby, I couldn’t even meet him at the door to the ward.  Minor things made me really upset, like when I asked for new-born vests and he brought me 0-3month sleepsuits. But there were some positives; I got lots of emotional support, there was lots of time for me to bond with my baby and plenty of support to help me get my breastfeeding journey going. 

Baby developed jaundice on day two and we ended up having two sessions under the UV lights. Although treatment helped, baby still wasn’t maintaining a level low enough to be discharged. After 7 nights, it was finally our turn to go home! 

New Arrival

It wasn’t the birth I had planned, or the end of pregnancy that I had expected or even the hospital birth that I thought I might have, but the staff at RBH were amazing. Midwives and care assistants all had to wear masks, gloves and aprons but were so kind all the time. I can say that there were positives to time on the ward in lockdown; having no visitors to the ward, just being mothers and babies made the atmosphere on the ward lovely with everyone in the same boat. There were no disturbances with people coming and going, even when women left with their babies. It was all well organised – partners brought car seats to the ward door, the Care Assistant handed over packed bags from the mothers and swapped them for the car seat and then helped the mothers to the door with the babies in car seats ready to be collected. I did get to introduce my baby to family and friends via Zoom and Skype which was a lovely way to surprise people! 

Feeding

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Keeping Cool 

We’ve already had some amazing hot days, and hopefully we will be able to enjoy more this summer. 

Out and About

Although we won’t be out and about as much as we would like this summer, we still need to be mindful of keeping our little ones cool. Monitor their temperature by feeling their tummy or the back of their neck

When trying to keep your baby out of direct sunlight the important thing to remember is to keep the air circulating. Prams and buggies should not be covered with blankets, cloths or any cover that prevents the air from circulating. Covering a pram or buggy with a blanket could lead to overheating, which increases the chance of SIDS.

Children should wear sun hats with a wide brim and/or neck coverage. Some children don’t get the hat memo and it is impossible to get them to keep a hat on. Whilst not a substitute for a hat, hair and scalp SPF protection at least provides some protection. 

beach baby

Use SPF 30 as a minimum. Make sure that the sun cream protects against both UVA and UVB rays and reapply as necessary throughout the day. Don’t forget to apply your own sunscreen too!

Unfortunately Christchurch Meadows Lido won’t be an option this summer, but you can always have a paddling pool in the garden/balcony/bath. This is a great option for the whole family to try and keep cool (if it’s big enough!).

Hydration 

If you’re breastfeeding your baby, they won’t need to be given water. They’ll probably just want to feed more often. Breast milk ice lollies also go down very well!

If you’re formula feeding, offer some cooled boiled water when it’s hot in between feeds. This should ward off dehydration.

If over six months old, you could try giving them very diluted fruit juice, or homemade fruit juice lollies when it’s very hot. 

At Night    

To keep a baby and room cool: 

  • Keep blinds/curtains closed during the day.
  • Reduce layers; just a nappy with no bedding is fine or a single well-secured sheet that won't come loose during the night.
  • Monitor the temperature with a room thermometer. Your baby will sleep most comfortably when their room is between 16°C and 20°C.
  • Fans can help to circulate the air but make sure it is out of reach and not pointed directly at the baby.

During Pregnancy

sitting pregnant lady

Being pregnant can be tiring even without having to deal with the heat. As you retain more water during pregnancy, swelling is much more likely unless you take it easy. You don’t have to carry on as normal, you are pregnant and sometimes that means you need to have a rest. 

  • Stay hydrated.
  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Don’t overdo it! Take a break from exercising, don’t go for long walks especially in the middle of the day, and don’t stand for long periods of time. 
  • Rest often. Sit back and chill out with your feet up.

If you experience a sudden swelling of your face, hands or feet, or a severe headache, contact your midwife, GP or NHS 111 straight away, as these could be signs of pre-eclampsia.

Read more about hot weather and high body temperature during pregnancy

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Food During Lockdown

Natalie Gangeswaran, owner of baby and toddler food brand, Little Puku, shares her thoughts on how lockdown has affected all things food-related.

Lockdown has changed our everyday lives, including our food shopping and eating behaviours. To begin with, we bought extras – things like tinned fruit and UHT milk – just in case we were unable to get out again. Now we know that we don’t have to stock up like it’s wartime, we are all being a bit more sensible.

Gone is the day however when we can pop to the shops multiple times a week, at least not without feeling vulnerable or at risk. Now, for all of us, completing the weekly shop is a mammoth task. A simple trip to the supermarket has turned into more of a stealth mission with face masks to don, queues to join, and one-way systems and other shoppers to navigate. Even deliveries are less simple; completed maintaining a strict two-metre distance and for the more cautious of us, products disinfected on arrival to avoid the spread of infection.

All of this said, I have had the most fun time cooking and baking these past few months. I’ve challenged myself to make a family meal with the most basic of ingredients, using up the dusty tins and packets at the back of the kitchen shelves. I’ve planned the daily meals with military precision for weeks in advance to ensure nothing is wasted and we remember to order everything we need in our shop. And with the shortage of yeast and flour, I’ve become more creative than ever at trying alternative recipes with unusual base flours. Amazingly, I’ve been successfully baking cakes using a blend of white bread flour, rice and maize flour.

chocolate cornflake cake

With more time at home with my toddler, I’ve found us turning to the kitchen as a form of entertainment. Prior to lockdown I would never have considered a two-year-old to be capable of helping me bake and cook, and we would’ve been too busy to try in any case – out every day attending groups, meeting friends, or popping for coffee.

I’m not saying cooking with a toddler is simple – as parents we take our knowledge for granted a lot of the time and forget that our children don’t always understand our seemingly simple instructions. I remember one of the first recipes we tried, asking my son to ‘sprinkle’ an ingredient, only to watch him dump it all in a heap, with most of it landing on the table. We often assume that our children understand what we want them to do, and this goes much further than cooking.

lemon poppy seed cake

Since then my toddler has successfully helped make chocolate cornflake cakes, lemon and poppy seed muffins, savoury cheese biscuits, and a number of homemade pizzas. It’s been messy, yet fun, and also incredible to watch his progress and confidence developing. He now understands what I mean by ‘sprinkle’ and manages to execute the instruction with more precision; he’s learning to use the scales, and is very proud of the things he’s created. I’d like to think he appreciates the output more now he understands what goes into it.

If there was ever a time to get cooking with your kids it’s now. Put behind you your beliefs that a young child can’t cook and start teaching them the basics of life. You’ll be glad you did!

Here’s a simple pizza recipe to get you started. It doesn’t use yeast (you’d be lucky to get some anyway!), but still looks and tastes like a pizza base should. 

For more family and kids’ recipe ideas follow our page on Instagram or Facebook 

Little Puku

Kids’ Pizza

Serves 1 hungry toddler or younger child

Pizza

Ingredients

For the base

  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 20g butter, chopped
  • 90ml milk

For the topping

  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 25g grated cheddar cheese (or more if you’re feeling particularly cheesy!)
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced 

Additional toppings could include pineapple and ham, tuna and sweetcorn, or pepper and mushroom

Method

Preheat oven to 220˚C. Wash and disinfect a work surface.

Sift flour into a bowl and add chopped butter. Rub flour and butter together with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add milk and mix to form a soft dough.

Lightly flour your disinfected work surface and shape dough into a ball before rolling out to around ½ cm thick.

Transfer base to pizza or oven tray and brush with olive oil. Mix tomato sauce and paste in a bowl and brush onto the pizza. 

Sprinkle over the cheese and arrange tomato slices on top before adding any additional toppings.

Bake for 12-15 mins until cooked through. Allow it to cool for a few minutes before slicing and serve immediately.

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