REVIEW – Philips Avent Comfort Breast Shells

In all my shopping for baby and motherhood, I’d never heard of these bad boys… a friend told me about them when I told her I had an abundant milk supply. She suggested these as an easy way to ‘catch’ excess milk, so I thought I’d give them a shot.

Review: Avent Breast Shell set
Review: Avent Breast Shell set

What they are: basically a plastic ‘shell’ (with silicone backing) with a hole in them for where your nipple goes…. you pop them into your bra and et voila, you can catch milk as it leaks!

I see faces...
I see faces…

How did they work for me?

I decided the best way to use these is to pop one in your bra while you’re feeding off the other breast (when I get the most leakage).

The first time I tried this, most of it leaked and I was ready to write a scathing review!

The second time I tried it, I managed to catch a load of milk without leakage! (I’d say 10-20ml)

The third time, I caught a load of milk but I spilt some as I was moving around too much!

Milk caught in the Avent breast shell
Milk caught in the Avent breast shell

I’ve used them plenty of times since, and honestly the leakage only happens if you manage to fill the shell; if you move around too much and/or if you’ve positioned it slightly wrong.

I should add that you need to wash and sterilise them before and after using. I should also add that I don’t think you would catch much by wearing them day in, day out. You need to be ready to pop one in when your ‘let down’ is about to start so maybe as your breasts start feeling hard and full!

My verdict?

I think these are fab! I haven’t precisely measured how much they can catch, but based on the milk storage bags I use, I’d estimate around 20ml each time.

So this is a really easy way of getting milk for your fridge/freezer supplies and topping up expressed milk – it’s practically effortless!

Because of the silicone backing, they’re comfy and you can easily forget you’re wearing them (although I feel a nice, funny sensation when the milk starts pouring in – not sure if that’s normal :)) The silicone helps them to almost stick to you – they don’t move around (or shouldn’t!)

Obviously these only work if you have a good, active milk supply. If you do, like me, these could also save you a bit of money on breast pads and cut down on how often you need to wash (or buy new!) bras!

Downsides

I don’t use them as often as I could as I’m quite often bra-less around the house so the only downside I can think of is that you need to wear a bra to use them! 🙂

At first I thought they were a bit pricey at £12 for essentially bits of plastic – but I don’t think anybody else makes them, and I do think they’re worth the money as it’s such an easy, lazy way of catching milk. Although I just said they are just ‘bits of plastic’ they are high quality and strong – I think they’ll last a long time if not forever!

Other info

They also come with 2 shells with ventilation holes in them to soothe cracked nipples by avoiding chaffing, but I didn’t use these as I didn’t need to. Once you add those in, they become even better value for money!

Was this useful? Let me know in the comments below and if you found it useful, why not share it with a breastfeeding mummy? thank you!

Disclaimer: I wasn’t asked to review these by anyone, I bought them myself and wanted to share my thoughts!

 

 

Family Fever

Bepanthen offer at Boots

Little W got nappy rash quite early on at a few weeks old, we tried a couple of creams including Sudocrem but family members recommended Bepanthen and since we’ve tried that we’ve not looked back!

It cleared up a sore rash within 1-2 days (using it every time we changed his nappy, making sure his skin is clean and dry first) and now we use it to prevent future rashes coming back (it looked so sore bless him!) by using it nearly every time we change his nappy.

I’d recommend it to anyone so imagine my delight when I saw this offer in Boots (Cardiff) today… Buy any 2 Bepanthen products and choose a free cuddly toy! (Apologies for the rubbish photo, I was in a rush as W needed feeding!)

Bepanthen cuddly you offer in Boots
Bepanthen cuddly toy offer in Boots

I had a really tough time choosing between the tortoise and the dragon (the bunny is a bit too girly for W!) but plumped for the tortoise as mummy and daddy love tortoises! It’s good quality, soft, mostly blue with some pink….

Wilf the Bepanthen tortoise
Wilf the Bepanthen tortoise

I have no idea how long the offer is on for (update: scroll to bottom!) and I can’t see it online but if it’s still on next time I pop in I will probably buy 2 more tubes to get the dragon as it was the softest, cuddliest thing ever (but not enough to justify buying 4 tubes at the same time….)

The 2 tubes cost £15.42 (£7.71 each) but you get 150 boots points on it if you’re in the parenting club) which is £1.50 I’m sure you can buy the ointment cheaper online but if you’re like me and do most of your shopping on the high street and love Boots then I think it’s a good deal – hope you manage to find it in your local store before they run out! (Update: scroll to bottom!)

Wilf the Bepanthen tortoise
Wilf the Bepanthen tortoise

UPDATE (25/09/14) A lot of people seem to be finding this blog post when they’re searching for ‘Bepanthen toys’ – the Boots offer is now finished so I got in touch with Bepanthen to see if you can buy the toys anywhere. You can’t buy them but they do have some competitions where you can try to win one – good luck!

https://www.facebook.com/BepanthenUK/

http://www.netmums.com/baby/bepanthen-baby

http://www.netmums.com/pregnancy/bepanthen-pregnancy

UPDATE (27/11/14) – the offer is back on in Boots! You can buy it online…

http://www.boots.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SolrSearchLister?storeId=10052&langId=-1&catalogId=11051&stReq=1&searchTerm=bepanthen#container

Pregnancy books – the best 5!

5 favourite books about pregnancy that helped to relax me!

The pregnancy books I read
The pregnancy books I read

Early on in my pregnancy one of my best friends lent me a stack of pregnancy books and magazines, they were all really useful and I’m not sure if I would have thought of buying any prior to that if I’m honest. I was given another as a gift from my CEO in work (!) and bought 2 based on recommendations… here are my favourite 5 books out of that stack (in no order of preference!)

#1 – ‘The pregnancy countdown book’ by Susan Magee with Kara Nakisbendi, M.D.

(c) 2006 by Susan Magee – ISBN 978-1-59474-573-7

I love all the weekly update books and email lists (I signed up for loads including NHS, Netmums, Mothercare etc) – it was always good fun to see how big baby was compared to various fruits and veg, and what was coming up in terms of baby’s development and my body!

Out of all of the weekly update books though, my favourite was this one because it was:

  • short/easy-to-read/concise/ great layout
  • generally relaxed approach and tongue-in-cheek at times e.g. when describing how to open baby shower gifts ‘you have to hold everything up so everyone can go ‘Aww’ and ‘Ooh’ and ‘Cut the cake first. That way you’ll have the strength to go on’
  • full of anecdotes from real mums for each section e.g. in a section about exercise one mum (Rena) says ‘you don’t know what kind of exerciser you’re going to be…. for me, walking was a great exercise. And in my third trimester, going to the mall counted as a workout’ (!) many of which I could relate to, and even if I couldn’t it was nice to have the ‘human touch’

Only downside is that’s it an American book, but most of it still makes sense to us Brits 🙂

#2 – ‘Mums on pregnancy’ by Carrie Longton, Justine Roberts and Rachel Foster

(c) Rachel Foster, Carrie Longton and Justine Roberts  ISBN 1 84403 0717

Staying with the ‘real tips’ theme that I like from book #1, this book is entirely made up of snippets of quotes from real mums, compiled by the founders of Mumsnet. Again, this is great as you get a ‘real’ take on everything and always a wide range of opinions which made me feel better about everything from drinking caffeine to whether to go to NCT classes or not e.g. in the ‘diet – what did you stop eating’ section:

  • ‘Well I was unknowingly evil and ate about a million raw oysters when about five months pregnant….. I’d… somehow missed the shellfish embargo. Good grief but they were tasty though!‘ (Scrummymummy)
  • ‘….I drank at least six mugs of strong… coffee during pregnancy and breastfeeding – I now have a very lively and active toddler’ (Lindy)
  • ‘I eat sushi. There, I’ve said it.‘ (Pie)

#3 – ‘What NOT to expect when you’re expecting’ by Zoe Williams

(c) Zoe Williams, 2010 ISBN 9780852652664

This is a funny, great read – an antidote to all the books about what you should and shouldn’t be doing and feeling. At times I found pregnancy to be one long worry e.g. from one scan to the next. Reads like this helped to relax me – Zoe takes a lot of pressure off mums-to-be and new mums on topics from alcohol (devoting a chapter to proving that there’s no proof that a couple of drinks does any harm) to the pressures to breastfeed.
All of this done is through great writing and humour – an easy, essential read. I remember taking my other half to A&E after he took a knock at football, and I was just sat there reading this paragraph laughing out loud! This was argument #33 she remembers having with her boyfriend – if you had any funny, irrational, hormonal arguments hopefully you’ll find this funny:

‘We had argument after argument about room temperature in our bedroom… You’re meant to have it really low otherwise babies catch cot death, and yet you can never let it get low enough without freezing your over-exposed tits off and C says ‘what this room needs is a throughput of air’ and I thought he said ‘Rupert the Bear’, and normally I would think ‘Well, I just misheard my beloved’ but on this occasion, I thought, ‘This idiot, how would Rupert the Bear help? How would we even get hold of Rupert the Bear?”

#4 – ‘Spiritual midwifery’ by Ina May Gaskin

(c) 1975, 1977, 1980, 1990, 2002 Book Publishing Company ISBN 13 978-1-57067-104-3

Everytime I get nervous thinking about labour I come back to this book and read a couple of the birth stories. Long story short, Ina May is a guru who pioneered natural home births in the States and this book is full of positive birth stories based on that, with some of the main learnings for labour from a wide range of birth stories being:

  • relax!!!!
  • look lovingly into your partners eyes
  • cuddle and smooch your way through labour – loose lips above creates loose lips below ;p
  • ‘don’t complain, it makes things worse’

If you do this, you can expect to feel ‘rushes’ not ‘contractions’ and hallucinations… and a natural, drug-free birth 🙂 ‘Over and over again, I’ve seen that the best way to get a baby out is by cuddling and smooching with your husband. That loving, sexy vibe is what puts the baby in there, and that’s what gets it out too’ (Cara)

I particularly like the story about a baby who was talking a while to get out, so, in established labour, the couple got married and the baby popped out as he/she obviously wanted to enter into the world of a married family! (My other half wasn’t having ANY of this!)

So an essential read if you’re interested in natural birth – reading it relaxes me and inspires me.

To be honest if you’re not interested in natural birth you’ll probably find it a good laugh including all the photos from the 60’s and 70’s and the language used 🙂

#5 – ”Hypnobirthing’ by Marie Mongan

(c) 1992, 1998, 2005 by Marie F. Mongan

I’m not aiming for a hypnobirth – I haven’t been on a course/ bought the CD/practised anything from this book but again it was really useful reading when it came to thinking about a pain-free, natural birth.

I found the intro an interesting read in terms of how as recently as the 70’s women were tied to the bed and babies delivered under general anaethsthetic compared with the way some African women still give birth – taking a break from work and just leaning against a wall! Main learnings and techniques for a natural, pain-free labour are:

  • Breathing
  • Relaxation
  • Visualisation e.g. putting yourself somewhere where you are relaxed like on a beach
  • Affirmations e.g. telling yourself over and over again ‘I feel confident, I feel safe, I feel secure’

with lots of examples for each. Similar to book #4, they suggest a calm atmosphere and using love-making to bring on labour: ‘hugs before drugs’

Critics of this book argue that there’s no such thing a pain-free labour, I have no idea as I haven’t been through it but, similarly to book #4 this book has lots of practical exercises on how to relax in the early stages – which has to be worth a shot!

So I hope you found this round-up useful – essentially all of these 5 books have helped to relax me throughout my pregnancy whether it was worrying about having a glass of wine or wondering how I will get through labour! (I’ve included links so that you can buy them but of course check out your local bookshops too!)

If you found it useful please share it via social media or leave a comment, thanks 🙂

 

Best pregnancy beauty products for mums-to-be

My favourite maternity beauty products

I’ve been spoilt rotten with beauty products during my pregnancy – I was given a LOAD for Christmas (when I was 4 months pregnant), some more by friends during an impromptu mini-baby-shower…. and I’ve treated myself to a few pieces 🙂

I’ve always enjoyed baths, but since being pregnant I’ve enjoyed them a million times more, especially as my legs have become achier and achier! With all the baths, and all the products I was given, I’ve really enjoyed pampering my body far more than I ever have before – using scrub and lotion/cream every time I wash!

So what do I think is worth investing in as a treat (or a present for a mum-to-be)? In reverse order…

#4 – Body butters in general

My body butters
My selection of body butters – all gifts from family and friends – thank you!

I was given a lot of these, and I’m still alternating between them… Body Shop Cocoa Butter, Mama Bee, Sanctuary collagen-boosting cream and they’re all delicious – rich but soak in easily, smell lovely and most importantly the combination seems to have kept stretchmarks away (I know, I know, they’re genetic!) *keeps everything crossed*

#3 – Clarins Tonic bath and shower gel

Clarins bliss in a bottle
Clarins tonic Bath& Shower Concentrate: Bliss!

This was a splurge at £19 last week – an impulse buy when I stocking up on skincare and saw that they had a ‘gift with purchase’ on. I nearly bought a facewash but once I got to chatting to the girl about pregnancy products, I ended up buying this bath/shower gel.

This is THE most expensive bubble bath I have EVER bought but boy is it worth every penny?! It should last a while as you only need to use a little bit… it’s very bubbly and the best thing is it smells DELICIOUS as it’s a mix of essential oils like Rosewood, geranium etc

It’s part of the ‘toning’ range so it’s supposed to be good against stretchmarks too = bonus!

And here’s the free gift I got – there were 3 to choose from and I chose this one as the body lotion was ‘extra-firming’ – yet more to add to the pile of body creams I’m using 🙂

Lovely sample sized Clarins products
Clarins freebies (gift with purchase)

#2 – Soap and Glory Beauty Sleep Accelerator

Miracle Product!
Soap and Glory Beauty Sleep Accelerator

Another impulse purchase when I was in Boots stocking up on baby essentials. I had read about this in one of the mother/baby magazines so when I saw it on offer with 1/3 off I couldn’t resist!

I’ve only used it twice but both times I’ve used it, I’ve had compliments on my skin the next day – 3 times in total! This isn’t a typical occurrence so for that reason it makes it to my #2 as it must be working even if I don’t particularly notice the difference!

It does make my skin feel soft and moisturised in the morning, and it has a lovely smell of peaches (which is saying something as I don’t normally like peach-smelling stuff!)

Let’s see if this miracle product still works miracles once baby bean is here and the sleepless nights begin!

#1 – Sanctuary mum-to-be Cooling foot and leg gel

My lifesaver!
Fave product – instant refreshment – Sanctuary Cooling Leg and Foot Gel

Why is this my number 1 product for mums-to-be? Instant relief!

My legs have gotten so achy lately and this really is cooling and refreshing and that feeling lasts for a good thirty minutes or so, by which time I’ve long-forgotten about the pains! You know that feeling when you put after sun on sunburnt skin? It’s kinda like that…

I’m a lucky girl – I was given 2 of these and still have plenty left. It’s something I wouldn’t have thought of buying, never would have thought it would be so refreshing and doesn’t seem as exotic as some of the other products I mentioned!

Hope this is useful – I’d love to hear which products you enjoyed using, plus any tips for beauty products for new mums (I’d like a tinted BB cream to slap on quickly and easily but no idea which are any good…)