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Should new mums be bribed to breastfeed?

12 Nov


It was announced today that new mums are going to be paid £200 in shopping vouchers if they breastfeed until their baby is 6 months old. This is going to be trialled in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire and possibly rolled out nationwide next year.

Why should mothers be financially rewarded for breastfeeding? Surely the only incentive should be the benefits that breastfeeding brings for mums and for babies? Wouldn’t it be better to spend this money educating women on these benefits and to provide better support for mothers who need help with breastfeeding? This money could be much better spent by training more breastfeeding support advisors and providing more local latch-on groups.

Surely what the NHS should be doing is making breastfeeding ‘the norm’ by working on awareness campaigns and providing more support on maternity wards where it is really needed? I had a very difficult start on my breastfeeding journey. I stayed in hospital for 2 days in order to perfect the ‘latch on’ and there was only one nurse on the ward who could really offer good advice and support. The rest of the staff were just too busy or did not seem to be interested. Money should be spent improving this support as the first few days are the most crucial on any breastfeeding journey.

Of course there are plenty of women out there who would like nothing better than to breastfeed but for one reason or another are just not able to. This can be extremely upsetting and something that they may always feel sad about. Seeing other women being thrown cash for doing something they are just not able to do will only add insult to injury and could lead to feelings of inferiority and guilt. Why should they be made to feel like this?

My main concern is the monitoring of this scheme. It seems that all mums will have to do is to tell their Health Visitor or Midwife that they are breastfeeding and they will be given these vouchers. Sorry if I sound sceptical here but REALLY??? Undoubtedly, some mums will just see this as a money-making scheme, tell a few white lies and head to the supermarket and buy formula with it. When it comes to assessing the success of this trial, of course it will show that breast feeding rates have gone up how realistic will this actually be?

Breastfeeding rates are low in this country and that definitely needs to be improved but surely the following benefits are enough to persuade mums to breastfeed? (taken from the NCT website)

Benefits for babies
Breast milk is a living fluid and every mum’s milk is tailor-made for her own baby. It contains many ingredients which help a baby stay healthy, such as antibodies to fight germs and hormones that help your baby’s development.
Babies who are breastfed are less likely to have ear or urine infections or get stomach bugs or chest infections.
Babies who are breastfed are less likely to become overweight children.
If your family has allergies, your baby is less likely to get eczema or a wheezy chest if they are breastfed.
Fewer babies who are breastfed get diabetes in childhood.
Premature babies who receive breast milk have a lower risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (a potentially dangerous bowel disorder).

Benefits for mums

Breastfeeding helps reduce the risk of developing certain types of ovarian and breast cancer.

Mums who have breastfed have a lower risk of hip fractures and diabetes when they get older.

Breastfeeding helps your uterus return to its normal size after birth.

Surely this should be incentive enough without resorting to bribery? What do you think?

Sunshine, acorns and the enormous onion.

8 Oct

I can’t think of a better way to spend a lovely sunny day than walking through the countryside. So this weekend, after a hearty sunday roast we pulled on our wellies and grabbed some buckets for the journey. Experience has taught me that you either take a bucket or come home with a pocket full of pine cones, leaves and feathers! As we were at Grandad’s house this meant we could take our pick of country walks as there are so many that lead straight from his farm. It’s so nice to completely get away from any cars. The added bonus of being at Grandad’s house is being able to take his dog with us on our walk. Lily would desperately love a dog but for the time being she will just have to put up with borrowing one.


I love how the simple things in life still make my children happy. Seeing a cow or a sheep will have them running to get a closer look and a chat with some random animal and they get so much enjoyment looking for acorns and chestnuts or collecting interesting leaves.  I’ve always hated days out at expensive theme parks for just this reason, children are capable of making their own fun by just using their imaginations and I do believe this should be encouraged more in our busy lives.


free-range children

walking-collage-2We enjoyed climbing over gates, sploshing through mud and collecting lots of autumn goodies. We came across spiders nests, trees that were oozing some kind of resin (Thomas wanted to stick his fingers in this), toadstools and mushrooms and prize-winning Pedigree South Devon cattle. As cow’s go I think they are pretty gorgeous don’t you?


We collected lots of treasure on the way. Now, I wonder what we can make from this?


Now on a random note, just look at the size of this onion that Grandad grew!!



Our potted allotment

1 Oct

You may have seen our earlier post on growing vegetables in containers. This was our second year attempting to grow some of our five-a-day in pots or raised beds. We had the best weather for growing this summer but it was difficult to keep up with the constant watering. That is the difficulty with container grown veg. It all dries out very quickly and to make matters worse our three water butts ran empty three times over the summer.

On the plus side, the garden was teeming with wildlife. Some good, some not so good like these pesky caterpillars!


Solomon Seal Sawfly - How disgusting?!

Solomon Seal Sawfly – How disgusting?!

And here are some photos of the good guys which are always welcome in our garden.

Our garden has been full of Hoverflies this year

Our garden has been full of Hoverflies this year

Damselflies feed on flies and other small insects

Damselflies feed on flies and other small insects


Mr Toad lives in one of the grow bags containing our tomatoes

So, now to the fruits of our labour. We have had a fantastic crop of runner beans this year. They have been producing for months and are still showing no signs of stopping. Our freezer is full of them! They freeze really well, just prepare them and drop them into boiling water for one minute. Then transfer them to some icy cold water and cool before bagging them up into freezer bags. We grew these in some raised beds, about 4′ x 4′, I initially raised the seeds in pots and then transplanted them out in spring.

Our runner beans at the start of the summer

Our runner beans at the start of the summer

We grew Broad Beans for the first time this year, again in our raised bed and I was really happy with these. We planted them in the winter and they were ready to harvest in June. This was great as they were ready before the rest of the vegetables which all seem to be ready at once.

broad beans

We grew our Courgettes in pots and also planted a couple in a spare piece of flower bed. All of the plants were successful. the pot-grown ones did have the advantage of being better protected from the slugs.


We had a bumper crop of garlic and will certainly be planting some more this autumn. This lot should see us through until then.


Our potatoes were a bit disappointing this year. We grow these in old water butts. We had one that was leaking so we cut it in half and now have two giant planters. They usually work well but this year they got blight and a lot of them were wasted. Next year we will try a different variety. The ones that were successful were still very tasty and the children love digging them up!


Other crops that worked well this year were salad leaves (the cut and come again variety), beetroot and carrots. We also had a really good crop of blackcurrants from just one plant that is grown in a pot. The children were picking these straight off the plant and eating them… yummy.

We will never be completely self-sufficient from our container-grown crops but we have certainly cut down on our food bill this year. For us though it’s about the satisfaction of growing your own food, knowing where it has come from and involving the whole family in growing it.

Frugal Family Holiday – camping in Cornwall

11 Aug


With the cost of holidays soaring through the roof, we decided to keep things cheap this year and go camping in Cornwall. Petrol costs were minimal for us as it was only an hour away. We already had our fantastic tent which was a gift from a special lady  (thank you Auntie Tina!)

The joy of Cornwall is that there is just SO much to do there, come rain or shine. As it happened, we had a mixed bag of weather. Most of the rain was over-night and the heavens really opened so we were more grateful than ever for our great tent which was fully water-tight, even in the heaviest of downpours.

One of the main things we did to try to be thrifty was to cook all our own meals rather than eat out. We did have the odd meal out of course, it is impossible to resist all the lovely cafes and the local cornish pasties and cream teas!

If you are holidaying on a budget then you can’t go wrong with a day at the beach.  Pack a picnic and you’ve got a whole day of  fun ahead of you for free.  You could try surfing, climb some sand dunes, build sand castles, explore some caves, collect some pebbles and shells, explore the rock pools. All will provide hours of fun and if you park a little further back from the beach you can also save money on car parking.

There are lots of other ways to have fun on a budget:

  • Walk the coast path. Take some snacks and drinks to keep you going and some binoculars for bird watching. Have a look at the South West Coast Path website for some inspiration.
  • Make the most of any free activities. Check out museums and libraries before you go to see what they have on offer
  • Design your own nature trail and set off to try to spot everything on your list.
  • Discover local heritage. In Cornwall this should definitely include mining. There are lots of old mine relics that you can visit for free. Wheal Coates Mine near St Agnes is in a breathtaking location and well worth a visit.
  • Explore the Camel Trail on your bike. This is a fantastic day out and you can hire trailers if your little ones are not up to the 18 mile ride. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do the whole trail, it is broken down into sections.
  • Explore endless fishing villages and seaside towns. Even if you are just window shopping you can always make a note of something you would really like and put it on your Christmas list!
  • If you can stretch to National Trust Membership this is so worthwhile for a holiday in Cornwall. There are numerous NT properties in Cornwall and Devon. With their membership you get free entry to all of these properties (both gardens and houses) and also get to park in any National Trust Car Park for free.  Their properties are family friendly and during the holidays there are nearly always special events like trails or crafting activities.

The Trevella Holiday Park website has a great section on their website called  ’50 Great Adventures’ which will give you LOADS of ideas for things to do in Cornwall, most of which are free.

Finally, here are some pictures of our camping holiday this year. We stayed at Higher Trevaskis Camping Park. We loved this site because it is very quiet and child friendly. The owners will go out of their way to make sure you have a great holiday. Whether that’s ordering you a paper for Sunday morning or supplying you with the latest surf forecast! The washing up and bathroom facilities are the cleanest I have seen and it has a lovely, relaxed atmosphere. There are no bars or clubhouses, just good old-fashioned family time. As you can see, we had loads of fun.


As paternity leave comes to an end..

6 Aug

Cry Baby
So, I hear his Royal Highness is coming to the end of his paternity leave. Will Catherine find this a shock to the system?

Following the birth of my first child my husband had two weeks of paternity leave. I look back on those days as heavenly. Obviously there were the usual hiccups which follow giving birth. Sore nipples, piles and stitches to name but a few. Despite that though I remember this time as being really special. My husband would be at my beck and call, bringing me food, doing his fair share of nappy changes and generally being my rock. I think during this time I was lulled into a false sense of security. I didn’t do any cooking or housework, had the occasional nap in between feeds and when I was feeling more ‘recovered’ from the birth we would go for lovely strolls with the pram in the gorgeous spring sunshine. Cards and gifts would arrive every day from friends and family, people would pop in to meet the baby and the house was full of the scent of spectacular bouquets I’d been so lucky to receive,

It was a really ‘bonding’ time for our relationship as a family of three and I remember feeling really exhausted happy. As the end of my husband’s paternity leave came to an end, I remember feeling ever so slightly nervous about what was in store but nothing really prepared me for the shock of being home alone with a baby. She was not an easy baby. She had a tongue tie which made breastfeeding a constant, painful struggle for about the first 6 weeks. She would cry constantly and totally refused to sleep during the day. Reflux kicked in at about 3 weeks old (right on cue for when hubby returned to work) and all-in-all it was exhausting and emotionally draining. I remember my husband getting home from work on the first day and I just broke down in tears. She had cried all day and not slept at all – surely this wasn’t what newborns were supposed to be like?

At our antenatal classes I remember sitting in the hospital with lots of other pregnant couples, all looking equally petrified and the hot topic of conversation would always be ‘the birth’. Why does no one mention the end of paternity leave?! This can be equally traumatic in many ways (OK, maybe I am being a bit melodramatic here). I would look at the clock most days, it would be almost lunchtime, I’d still be in my P.J’s and I hadn’t eaten breakfast. The house often had that just-burgled look about it and the chance of getting time to prepare a healthy lunch for myself was non-existent. My days were taken up with breastfeeding, winding baby and changing nappies and I totally lost track of who I actually was anymore. I couldn’t hold a proper conversation with anyone, was totally exhausted all the time and was more than a little anxious about leaving the house with a baby that was likely to scream the place down at any given moment.

So, if I had to give some advice to Catherine on how to prepare for this I would suggest:

  • Ask H.R.H to stock the freezer up with some home-cooked meals
  • Accept EVERY offer of help that you can get, whether it’s from parents, ladies in waiting or the butler..
  • Get yourself dressed the minute you get up, otherwise you may never get dressed all day
  • Have a constant supply of chocolate at the ready
  • Get yourself a baby sling. These are great for enabling you to get things done whilst you carry a future-king around hands-free
  • Only allow visitors if they agree to make their own cup of tea and bring you cake
  • Accept that housework is not important. OK, this one probably doesn’t apply in the case of a princess…

How did you find your first weeks as a new mum?


We’re going on a bug hunt…

25 Jun

Today was a gorgeous sunny day so we decided to get out there and enjoy the garden.  My plan was to do some planting and weeding but of course No. 2 child had other ideas! We ended up going on a bug hunt which was pretty good fun. I did get quite distracted trying to get ‘the perfect shot’ of a Bumble Bee but also managed to spot quite a lot of other wildlife.  The garden was only planted about 5 or 6 years ago but we specifically chose plants that attract wildlife and it does seem to be paying off.

The garden is teeming with hover-flies at the moment

The garden is teeming with hover-flies at the moment

Hover-flies are great as their larvae feed on aphids.  They should have a real feast in our garden at the moment because we have quite a few green-fly, particularly on my roses. I don’t tend to treat them with anything biological, I just give them a blast with some water or sometimes just rub them off with my fingers.

We are yet to identify this one!

Cardinal Beetle

The Cinnabar Moth

The Cinnabar Moth (minus part of a wing)


If my identification is correct then this is a ‘flower bee’.

Our Astrantia (Great Masterwort) are covered with bees and hover flies at the moment and the flowers are so pretty.


Damsel Fly

Lots of Damsel Flies are enjoying the garden at the moment. They are really lovely but I would LOVE to see some really big Dragon Flies. I have only ever seen one of these in our garden and they are quite spectacular.


Love this shot showing his googly eyes!


Bees loving the foxgloves!

It took me ages to get this shot!

There were lots of different bees buzzing around in our garden this morning.  I found a useful bee identification tool on the Natural History Museum website. I haven’t identified this particular bee yet but I’m guessing it’s long ‘pollen grabber’ could be a key to working out which one this is? If anyone knows do get in touch, and I’d also love to know the correct term for ‘pollen grabber’…



Pyrochroa Serraticornis

A small sample of our Froglets. There are loads of them!

A small sample of our Froglets. There are loads of them!

When we’d finished our little bug hunt we came inside (mummy was gasping for a cup of coffee) and looked through our wildlife book to identify the creatures that we had found. Thomas loved doing this and tomorrow I think we will try to draw some of them and write their names.

The Very Hungry Cress Eating Caterpillar

7 Oct

Don’t these look great? These are very easy to make and you can find all the instructions in the wonderful book Garden Crafts for Children. We have made many things from this book but I think this is my favourite, it is so simple yet very effective. The children had so much fun making them and we are going to make some Three Cheese and Cress Muffins with our crop!

All you need to do is paint some egg cartons, fill them with half an egg-shell and then fill the egg shells with cotton wool. We dyed the egg shells pink which makes the caterpillars look even more colourful. Lily loved watching them turn pink as they sat in our bowl of water and food colouring. Just sprinkle the cress seeds onto the top of the cotton wool and keep them watered until they grow. We used pipe cleaners for the legs and stuck on a little smiley face.


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