My prized possession

Brora ScarfI was very lucky to know Courtney when my first daughter was born, as her son was 6 months older than my baby girl. This meant that whatever I needed to know, I could run straight to an expert, as she had learned everything about babies a few months earlier than I, and I could just profit from her newly acquired knowledge!

One of her tricks was something simple and yet I would never have thought of it on my own. She always carried a wide, long pashmina on her! Now I know they are not the most fashionable thing anymore but they are the most multi-functional item imaginable. You need to breastfeed in public? Throw the scarf over your shoulder and no one will notice. It suddenly gets cold? You have a blanket to put over the baby. Need to keep the sun out of your buggy? Throw the scarf over it. It can work as an emergency changing blanket on a park bench, and once we even used it as a swing to rock a little baby to sleep! A big long scarf has become my number one present for new moms. I quite like giving the mom herself a present, and if the baby can profit from it too I will have gotten 2 birds with one stone… (I think that is how the saying goes)!
– Emilie

End of ‘having babies’ theme week

Thanks to everyone who left comments and shared their personal stories. We loved hearing all the different birthing experiences from all over the world. We’re also thankful for all the tips we received. I took good notes and will (hopefully soon) be able to put all this good advice to use!

If you’re also expecting (so exciting!) we hope our tips were helpful, and we wish you all the best! Let us know how it goes…


Wrap dress, again…

wrap dressSorry that we keep repeating ourselves (Michela wrote about this a while ago), but a wrap dress is an absolute must-have if you’re going to have a baby soon. Not only is it the most comfortable thing to wear in those last few weeks of pregnancy, it is also indispensable for the first few months after you’ve had the baby! It is easy for breastfeeding, comfortable, and elegant (and conceals that belly really well)!
Michela got hers at Isabella Oliver, I got mine at Topshop, and I like the look of this one from Mothercare too.

xxx Esther

Tricotti, again…

I know I’ve raved about the Tricotti before, but now that we are having this theme week I felt I had to just remind you of it. I used this sling so much in the first months…
In the house: at some point my baby would only sleep in my arms – but they would be equally happy in the Tricotti and this left my hands free! Out of the house: I always kept the Tricotti in my push-chair – there were moments that my babies absolutely refused to be in the push-chair for a second longer!

tricotti 3The Tricotti consists of 2 tubular jersey bands that you wear crosswise over the shoulders. It’s very easy to use (although it’s handy to have some clear instructions). It can be worn in 4 different positions: comma (from birth), face in to wearer (6 weeks) or out towards the world (3 months), or a bit later in hip position (up to 2 years). It can also be used for discreet breastfeeding. (more…)

Got milk?

AlmondsThe wonderful midwife who saw me through both my pregnancies is also a homoeopath, so she had all sorts of tricks up her sleeve and advice for all my pregnancy ailments. After the birth of my first baby, when I thought my milk supply wasn’t meeting my baby’s demands, she suggested eating almonds and drinking fennel tea! Apparently almonds work wonders for increasing breast milk supply!

She also advised drinking loads of water (every time you sit down to nurse you should drink a glass), and getting plenty of sleep… Oh you know — that thing you get if you lie in your bed, close your eyes and dream away for a solid, uninterrupted period of time! Hmm… so maybe sleep is out of the question, but at least the almonds will work!


The jealous bunch (or older siblings)

siblingsWhen you’re going to be giving birth to baby number 2 (3,4,5,6,7…) instead of baby number 1, there are a couple of big differences.
First of all, you will be a bit more relaxed about the whole prospect of having a baby – when I was pregnant the first time I religiously read (well, to be honest I studied) ‘What to expect when you’re expecting’ every evening before bedtime. The second time around, I hardly even looked at that book. Been there, seen that.

But second of all, this time around there is another human being in your life to deal with (or 2,3,4,5,6…). I remember feeling so attached to my first child in that second pregnancy. I felt like cuddling her the entire day long! I guess it has to do with hormones and guilt. I was betraying that little person by giving birth to another, equally important child! (Although, at that time, I honestly couldn’t imagine ever having the same feelings for the second child)!

Well, this is how it went: the moment my son was born, I had 2 children, and loved them equally. It’s as simple as that.

Here are some tips that, we’ve experienced, might help with dealing with the older children. Of course, regardless of what you do, there will always be periods of awful jealousy. And beware – there will be moments (more than one) where you will want to strangle your older kid(s). Or sell them on ebay. (more…)

TENS machine

TENS machineThe TENS machine is another thing I had never heard of before I moved to London. (Maybe because I was more concerned with the pain of a hangover than I was with the pain-relief of labour)??? I’m not sure if TENS machines are common in the rest of the world, but they are quite common here in the UK!

TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator. TENS machines deliver small electrical pulses to the body via electrodes placed on the skin. It is used as a drug-free form of pain relief during labour. You’re supposed to strap it on and begin using it when contractions begin. As contractions become stronger, you can increase the strength of the electrical pulses. I kept mine on throughout labour. It’s hard to say if it really worked for me, but I liked the feeling of control — like I was able to do something to ease the pain! (more…)

c-sections, not bad after all


At the beginning of my first pregnancy I felt so overwhelmed by the novelty and changes to come that I needed to feel medical presence and guidance around me; I was so not into the natural birth movement. At around 10 weeks pregnant (with no bump in sight) I went to take a tour of the maternity ward at University College London Hospital, and I did not even want to look at the natural birthing center! At that stage, all I wanted to see were traditional birth beds, stirrups, cables and monitors. (more…)

Tummy-tuck in a tube

600tummy.jpgA while ago I announced to the world that after the birth of my second child I was not going to resort to plastic surgery to get back in shape more quickly. I was going to do it the natural way!

Two months after delivery, however, my tummy was not in the best state. The extra kilos, the overstretched skin, and the lack of exercise all contributed to a stomach that still looked quite pregnant.

I decided to indulge in a tube of Mamma Mio Tummy Toner. All the reviews were enthusiastic, so I was determined to try it too! (more…)

Giving birth the not so French way

For our “having babies” theme week, we decided to each write a post about what it is like to give birth in our own countries.

I have never had a baby in France (my daughter was born in London), but I am shortly about to. However, I have actually decided to bow out of the normal French system and give birth in what is considered a very unusual way in this country.

Very essential oils

Lavender Tea treeGet some lavender and tea tree essential oil.
After delivery, pour warm water into a wash basin and add a couple of drops of both the oils. Gently wash yourself down there (in the war zone). Calming and anti-sceptic. Heavenly.

xxx Esther

It is not always a smooth ride

I was very fortunate to have had a pretty easy recovery from my first delivery (fingers crossed for the second one), as were the other Babyccino girls. But while we are doing a “having babies” themed week I thought it might be good to mention that a lot of mothers, through no fault of their own, find themselves in a dark hole not ready to celebrate the huge change in their life, otherwise known as a baby. I read this article in the Guardian the other day that I thought was really poignant. It might not be the easiest read, especially if you are about to have a baby, but if you are interested I thought it was a really well-written and thought-provoking article (and it has a happy end…)!


Say no to drugs?

EpiduralI have had two uncomplicated pregnancies and delivered two healthy baby boys. The first was born after 40 odd hours of labour and one epidural, and the second was born after nearly 100 hours of labour and NO epidural (no gas & air, no drugs, nothing)!

Two births, and two completely different experiences; the labour was different (obviously) but so was the recovery. I can tell you from experience, that there are pros and cons to both. But what I can’t tell you, is which way I prefer. (more…)

How much is a push worth?

“Pushing” is a concept known to all of us! A “push present” is a phenomenon I only recently came across. I didn’t know it was so well-known (apparently more so in America than here in Europe), but ‘push present’ is now a term you can find on Wikipedia.
And as we all know, if it’s on Wikipedia, it must be true… See also the following article in the New York Times.

This has got me thinking…. how exactly does one calculate the value of the pushes? The higher the number of pushes, the higher the value of the present? Take the case of Esther and Courtney: Esther was in labour for 9 hours — does she only get a silver chain? While Courtney with her 149 hours of contractions gets a big fat diamond necklace with a bracelet and some earrings thrown in??? Is this a case of more pain more gain?

I think it is a bit hard to give birth a material value. It is quite likely that I will get a bunch of flowers for all my pushing efforts. But as long as my husband stays up all night with a screaming baby and still gets up in the morning to make me a cup of coffee, then that is a good compromise for me…


Having babies: the UK way

When I first moved to London nearly 5 years ago, I had no idea what a midwife was. I had heard the term before, but had some old-fashioned vision of hippies and candles. The thought of having a baby without ever seeing a doctor was completely foreign (and freaky) to me. I thought that surely a midwife could not be as knowledgeable as a doctor.

Here in the UK, if you are sick, you see a doctor, if you’re pregnant, you see a midwife. Midwives have been delivering babies for ages and ages, and doctors are only involved if there is a complication or a medical reason for them. Because of this, it happens that midwives in the UK tend to be more experienced than doctors in the field of childbirth.

I was assured of all of this when I got pregnant for the first time, but being an American I was still not entirely convinced. However, five years (and two babies) later, I am a huge advocate of midwife-led pregnancies/deliveries! (more…)

Rock-a-bye baby…

Eames rockersI’ve known about this chair, the Eames RAR, since LONG before I even considered children. In fact, when my boyfriend and I bought this chair in NY, we weren’t even married yet!

Charles and Ray Eames (1907-1978 and 1912-1988) were married when they designed the ‘mix and match’ chairs for furniture manufacturer Henry Miller in 1948.
The famous designer/architect/filmmaker couple adapted moulding techniques, which were invented during the 2nd World War, to create seat shells from fiberglass that were mass producible (and thus affordable). Chrysler (the car maker) developed a system to attach the fiberglass shell to different bases, including Eiffel Tower-shaped legs and rockers. These rocking chairs (‘RAR’ chairs) were given to all Herman Miller employees when they had children, because – here it comes – they proved to be absolutely fantastic for (breast)feeding babies! (more…)

A little baby: public property?

Your newborn baby is not only yours and your husband’s child: she is public property. Most strangers, particularly middle aged woman, firmly believe that they have the right to give you their personal opinion on how you should dress up, dress down, feed and treat you child. They mostly think that you are doing a terrible job and that their way is the only way possible.  Does this sound familiar? (more…)

The magic of Witch Hazel

Witch HazelWitch Hazel is a medicinal astringent produced from the leaves and bark of the North American Witch Hazel shrub, Hamamelis virginiana.

This ‘magical’ astringent is mainly used externally on sores, bruises, swelling and bleeding. It is a strong anti-oxidant used in skincare to treat everything from acne to eczema, insect bites or poison ivy, and also as a treatment for varicose veins and hemorrhoids. (Witch hazel is the main ingredient in Tucks Wipes— an American novelty meant to relieve the itch and burn of hemorrhoids).

Frankly speaking, after having a baby, I’m quite certain you can’t go wrong with Witch Hazel… Soreness? Yes. Burning? Yes. Swelling? Yes. Hemorrhoids? Yes. Bleeding? Ummm…. Yes! Ohhh the joys of motherhood! (more…)

Homeopathic help for speedy recovery

I had both my children “airlifted” but I still managed to use some of my natural birth education both times: I took a homoeopathic remedy religiously after both surgeries.
Yehudi Gordon’s advice for post-operation is to take four remedies (each in 200c potency) 4 times a day for 3 days, then 3 times a day for 4 days. Arnica is the main remedy for trauma. Hypericum is good for nerve trauma after an epidural. Bellis Perennis is to assist healing of deep tissues. Calendula to speed up the healing of the scar. The first time I had one bottle with the four combined remedies prepared by the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital. The second time, I mixed them up myself — I bought the liquid and the four remedies in granules.
Does it really work? Who knows… but I can tell you I always had quick recoveries. Plus there’s no harm in trying!


The Dutch way: homebirth and at-home maternity care!

Both my children were born in London. And since we didn’t have a very chic insurance at the time, nor a very chic income, they were both brought into this world in the University College Hospital, an old Victorian NHS hospital (which means National Health Care — this is far from a chic private hospital)! I must say I didn’t really mind, because my pregnancies were very uncomplicated and so were the births. Thankfully I didn’t have to stay in the hospital for very long!

Now that I’m living in the Netherlands, chances are high that the next baby will be born at home. Currently, one in three babies are born at home here!  To compare: in the UK, only about 2% of the babies are born at home, in the US, it is about 0.5%.  I couldn’t find any percentages for France or Italy; I’m not sure it’s even legal there! (more…)

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