Sunday, 27 May 2012 | By: The One Woman


Hunter is already a month old and I sit here watching this 11 pound little man smiling and kicking on his mat as I type. It seems like a time ago that I watched him come into the world, so tiny and me so clueless.

So many things have happened and I learn more every day. I have had to learn on my own, as I have found zero help in most areas. I wish that my anti natal classes had geared me up with information and warned me about certain things. I’m going to highlight some of the problems I have experienced this month and what I did to combat them. My recourses haven’t been from the Internet, midwives or books, I learned from my son and from other mothers.

I have fed Hunter exclusively on the breast for a month now with many ups and downs. I thought that as soon as Hunter was born he’d just latch on and we’d get on grand. Wrong. He wouldn’t come anywhere near to my breast and screamed when I tried to position him. The midwives were far too interventional and were trying to position us when we were both clearly not comfortable. When I say position they were grabbing the back of his head and shoving it onto my breast, which distressed us both. I desperately wanted him to have my colostrum so I had to spend hours hand expressing into a syringe and feeding him with that.
The penny dropped for us both when I laid down and put him by my side where I could talk to him and hug him onto my breast, so we fed lying down for a few days until I built up the confidence to sit up. By this point he was so used to being on the breast that he fed great. My point is to do what you feel is natural and how you feel comfortable and don’t let anyone intervene and touch you unless you feel that they need to. Most books, midwives and websites tell you about the standard positions and holds but that’s utter rubbish, I don’t hold my son in any of those positions! I hold him how it feels comfortable for me and for him.
After around 4 days of feeding him my colostrum I noticed that my breasts became rock hard, painful, leaked cups full of milk onto my bed and clothes and increased in size more than double. This is known as engorgement
I was very distressed and sat crying as I tried to feed him at 2am, as it was so painful and his head bounced off my breast when I tried to latch him on.
I didn’t know what the heck was going on and no one warned me about this.
To relive the swelling I used my Avent electric breast pump on both breasts until they emptied a little and then latched him on to feed. I also noticed lumps under the skin on my breasts (which I later discovered were blocked milk ducts) so I massaged them with a warm damp flannel over a sink of steamy water and also massaged them with my palm as I fed him. I found that taking paracetamol, inserting chilled cabbage leaves in my bra, long soaks in the bath and Laniosh nipple balm were all a great help as well. To soak up the leaks I used Laniosh breast pads and kept a terry towel in bed with me, it's not nice waking up soaking wet and they were the best absorbency that I could find. I also found that just wearing a nursing bra and robe were the best options because any nighties ended up sopping wet.
When my milk came in and I had just gotten over the engorgement issues I found that Hunter was screaming after feeds, became disinterested in feeding for up to 7 hours, didn’t soil or wet his nappies, pulled his legs up to his tummy and just screamed all night long. I lost it one night and rang the 24hour midwife helpline and she told me he probably had colic colic is basically when the babys stomach is learning to digest milk and baby becomes constipated, windy and has griping pains. Its very distressing if you don’t know what’s going on.
The midwife advised me to buy some infacol drops  I gave him 2 drops half an hour before or after I fed him and it took around 6 hours to work, I also fed him boiled then cooled water in an anti colic Avent bottle to keep him hydrated when he wouldn't feed.  A friend of mine suggested baby massage, so I went on YouTube and asked my health advisor to show me how to do it. I peddled his legs and massaged his tummy in a circular motion with the palm of my hand, this helped him poo and pass wind. He still occasionally suffers from colic but its far more under control now and I know what to do. 
Formula/combination feeding
The organic yummy mummies, midwives, books and tv will tell you that if you give your baby formula you are the devil incarnated. Don’t listen.
I have exclusively breast fed Hunter for 1 month now and I have started introduce formula into my feeding routine, as I Just can’t exclusively breast feed anymore. I have been talked down to about it and made to feel like ‘oh you tried your best but you gave up, there there’
My reasons are that my right nipple is so painful that I cry when he feeds even after taking classes and being told my health advisor that I am latching correctly, I feed every hour to 2 hours on both breasts even through the night, or every half an hour if he is being fussy. Try being a single mother with no help and having to feed that often. No one could seem to give me any solid advice on combination feeding, all I got was  'go onto formula, it's less hassle' or 'keep on breastfeeding its better for them' I was also told on many occasions that it would cause Hunter to develop nipple confusion because I would be using a bottle, breast and soothers. This has not happened, once your baby breast feeds for more than a month successfully and regularly then there is no confusion. Here is a great description of nipple confusion and here's an informative discussion on 

-When I introduced formula 
I made the decision to introduce formula to his night feeds so that I could get one decent nights sleep. I fed him at 10pm and 2am and that was it! I was absolutely amazed and relived that I slept for that long. I use stage one cow & gate infant milk
on the recommendation of a mother who uses formula exclusively, she’s tested them all so I went on her advice. There is a guide on the box of how to make up a bottle and how much to give a baby on the weight guide. There is also a 24/7 phone number on the box to call if you need any help. I called it a few times and was very pleased with the advice I received, as I had no clue about formula feeding. I also used the Avent anti colic bottles and steriliser (see post 9: The baby shopping list )
I have to admit that when I first put that bottle in his mouth I felt as though I was feeding him rat poison and that I was a terrible mother, I can’t describe it, after trying so hard to breast feed I felt like I was giving up after 1 month. This isn’t because it is true but because other people who do breast feed tend to guilt you.  
I am now combination feeding him and I'm so much happier. I can bottle feed 6 times if I want to (3 day, 3 night)  but if I want to replace a feed with breast milk and to bond with him then I do. I started out by just replacing 1 night feed and then introduced 2 in the daytime. It’s easier for me because I’m not feeding him all the time and he’s satisfied. He had trouble pooing due to the change in milk at first but I followed my colic routine and it sorted its self out within 1 night. 

Here's my general routine for a rough guide (remember no routine goes to plan every day!)
8am          breast feed
11am        bottle/sometimes breast depending if I get the bottle ready in time
2pm          bottle
5/6pm      breast feed then bathe 
10/11pm  bottle 
2am          bottle/breast if I'm too tired to make a bottle  
5am          breast

If you want to read a decent article on combination feeding click this link it's the best and least preachy advice I could find

I hope that it doesn’t sound all doom and gloom but I had to be honest, I wish someone had been as honest with me about these issues. Hunter brings me a lot of joy every day and I wouldn’t swap this responsibility for the world. 
Saturday, 12 May 2012 | By: The One Woman


The weeks have been a blur and the days have gone so fast, I think it’s like I’ve started a new job and I don’t have any concept of time right now.
My little boy is already 2 weeks 3 days old and I’ve only just found the time to write about the birth let alone the subsequent trials that I have encountered and learnt to master.
Lets start by going through what I remember about my labour. 
I woke up at 5am on the 25th of April (3 days overdue) and thought that I was having a bad stomach ache due to a labour special curry that I purchased and devoured from the spice grill a day prior. I took a cocktail of paracetamol and gavascon then went back to bed. I woke again at 7am with more intense pains and decided to call my doula, she advised me to sit in the bath and take more paracetamol. I sat meditating in the bath and watching films on my laptop until 12pm, I think that  I was still in denial and thought I was having a bad turn from the food. By this point the pains were 4 minutes apart so I called the maternity assessment unit and they advised me to come in and get checked out. When I got there I was already 3cm dilated and you have to be 10 so I was taken to the ward to wait for a delivery room. My back up doula arrived, as my original doula was unable to attend and she began to help me into some comfy clothes, gave me hand massages, fed me water and put lip balm on my dry mouth. Just an hour later I got out of the hospital bath and my waters broke but there was Meconium in my show Meconium is when the baby poos inside and can cause infections so they checked me out again and put me on the monitor, by this point I was 6 cm dilated and I was feeling very overwhelmed by the pain so my doula made sure I was given some gas and air and went through a breathing and meditation technique with me, which made me get the maximum benefit from the gas. By 6pm I was fully dilated and was wheeled into the delivery room. I remember that I didn’t get a break between contractions; the midwife said that she hadn’t seen anything like it and brought in an anesthetist and a doctor to debate whether I needed forceps. After 2 hours of pushing at 8pm I signed the consent form for the forceps delivery but as soon as I had dropped the pen his head started to show and with one last effort I delivered him naturally with no pain relief at 8:11 pm.
I don’t remember much but I remember hearing him cry and him being placed on my chest. I didn’t feel this inexplicable love that people describe but just a relief that he was ok and a fear that I had taken on too much. I felt bad that I didn’t feel it but after talking to a lot of other mums it’s completely normal and something that comes with time.

After the birth I asked for a private room, which you can pay extra for rather than go on a mixed ward. That night was such a blur, I slept 2 hours and I couldn’t get him to latch onto my breast so I was expressing my colostrum by hand into a syringe and feeding it to him, which took hours. I kept looking over at him in the bassinette and wondered how I was going to do this and how I would keep him alive and well. The moment I discharged myself from the hospital was the day it all fell into place. The midwives did not fill me with confidence, in fact I was told I couldn’t breastfeed properly and I should stay in for 10 days. I discharged myself after 2 and was feeding him at home that day with the help of my doulas and my mother. Things just worked for me the moment I was back in my comfort zone. Just 2 short weeks later I am feeding him with confidence and figuring out how to sleep and get the house and myself in order. It’s all a huge learning experience and a huge responsibility but it’s a responsibility that I am enjoying and growing from and my love for him is growing more each day.

This post is getting a little long now so I’ll leave it there for now and continue with my next post discussing problems I experienced in the first week home, such as breastfeeding complications, baby colic and wound aftercare. 
Saturday, 28 April 2012 | By: The One Woman


HUNTER HEATH CLARKE (9 pounds 6 ounces) 

                            20:11 25th April 2012 the best documented moment of my life 

 I couldn't thank HAAMLA (arabic for pregnant woman) enough for giving Linda and Angela to me, they were better than any medical staff in regards to my labour

I'll be updating (when I'm not so busy with the new arrival) on my birth process and also my battle with breast feeding. 

Monday, 9 April 2012 | By: The One Woman


38 weeks
I thought I better get this post done as my bags are packed and my due date approaches next week! 

Anti natal classes
So, I am sorry to say that my experiences thus far with anti natal classes have not been great. They were all geared at couples, even the paid classes through the NCT (national childcare trust). I attended 3 NHS funded classes on the recommendation of my midwife and took a close friend with me. They were couples only and pretty much covered what I had read in my guidebook ‘what to expect when you’re expecting’ and ‘what to expect the first year’ by Heidi Murkoff and the NHS website

I found that the men were bewildered and the women very quiet. Subjects such as breast-feeding and pain relief during labour were covered but again I found myself saying in my head ‘I know’ repeatedly. I don’t know everything of course, but I felt the classes were just too basic and not at all interactive; I didn’t get to make friends with any of the other mothers either because it just wasn’t that kind of environment. I felt deflated and let down that the classes weren't up to scratch and that I wasn’t given any advice on where I could find support as a single mother from my midwife or at the classes. 

Doula Support
By chance I stumbled upon a leaflet in the hospital geared at ethnic minority women called HAAMLA
This voluntary service was created specifically for pregnant women and new mothers in difficult situations, such as refugees for example. I knew I did not fit the criteria exactly but I took a shot in the dark and contacted them to see if I could qualify for any support. I was then assessed informally at my home and HAAMLA concluded that I did in fact qualify for some help. I was partnered with what is called a Doula. A doula is a birth partner, here is an in depth description of a doula’s role
My doula came to visit me at my home and we discussed
-Preparing the house to bring baby home
-My health/mental health
-Packing hospital bags
-Going into labour together
-A birthing plan
-After birth plan
-Classes and mother groups after the birth
-Registering the birth with me
-Home support such as breast feeding, bathing, what to do if baby becomes ill and so on
She will support me before, during and after the birth and have her mobile phone on for me 24/7. It is such a wonderful support for me and I am so grateful to HAAMLA for this service. I have my parents of course but I am essentially going into this blind, with no experience and no partner, so this is just an amazing relief for me.
I would recommend that if you find yourself in a situation like mine that you enquire about a voluntary doula and also find a good reference book. The classes just don’t cut it in my opinion. It may be that the Leeds area just didn’t have what I was looking for, so research your area and classes available to you before making a decision like this. If you are looking for a voluntary doula in your area, I suggest that you contact this website: they have listed organisations for most areas of the North of England and could direct you do an organisation near you. 

Monday, 19 March 2012 | By: The One Woman


(34 Weeks)
The list ….so far
I’ve learnt that when it comes to a gals baby-shopping list, that they are as different as each baby; so don’t take my list as gold, maybe just use it as a jumping off point for ideas. We will all have different budgets and parenting plans so no 2 lists will be the same. 
I’ll categorise items, include links where appropriate and price undercuts that I found. I’m not going to delve into too much detail as to why I chose certain items, as this post would become ridiculously long, but I will elaborate a little for some products. 
One thing is for sure, buying online has saved me lots of legwork and hundreds of pounds, the shops simply charged too much for most of what I needed and didn’t have the range that I found online, saying that some shops and bargain warehouses have been very useful for smaller items such as toiletries, clothing etc but not for the majority of what I needed. I also found that being able to read reviews online showed me some products that I didn’t even know existed, also 1 to 5 star ratings showed me what to avoid, but you have to be mindful and not read into anything where reviewers are being clearly picky and awkward.
So lets start off, It's a whole new level of consumerism so I hope that I can save someone a few quid.  

Website recommendations
I found the best websites for special offers have been: -Stocks almost everything you need with a competitive, rated seller market - Really low cost branded equipment such as Avent compared to Amazon. Clothing, toiletries and other products, however aren’t cheaper. -Second hand clothing and accessories, saved me a fortune. -Join the baby club and get a club card to reap special offers and free products. Tesco brand have low cost toiletries with the least chemical additives. - Exclusive, low cost products in bulk. Great for nappies -Cheap baby clothing

Stores used:
BB Bargains

Most expensive sites: - Beautiful, unique changing bags and accessories - The best for travel systems


-Small suitcase on wheels
-1 cotton night dress with buttons down the front.
-1 breast feeding/nursing bra 
-3 pairs of cotton pants
-Towel nightgown
-Towel Slippers
-Track or lounge suit to leave in.
All from Primark and wasn’t over £40
-Maternity sanitary pads. Tesco offer an own brand for cheap.
-Wash bag- I bought little pots from the BB bargains shop and filled them with the following: toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, body wash, body mop, shampoo, baby oil or un-perfumed moisturiser, face moisturiser. 
-Changing bag for baby- contains: 8 Nappies, breast pads, muslin squares, cotton wool, Sudocrem, 3 sleep suits, 3 vests, 3 hats, 1 cellular blanket. (products listed below)

I got everything I needed, minus the Gro bags from a site called for £25! It was a mix of unused and used clothing all in great condition. It saved me a fortune

-10 sleep suits
-10 rompers
-10 baby grows
-7 pairs baby socks
-5 soft baby blankets
-4 hats
-4 anti scratch mitts
-3 Cellular blankets from
-3 Gro sleeping bags 1.0 tog and 1 at 2.5 tog in case it gets cold one night. Gro bags mean that you don’t have to use bedding at all. I used the 2 for 1 offers in the mothercare store
-2 warm fleece body/pram suits

If you like, then buy some little outfits such as jeans and t-shirts for going out but don’t go mad because people will buy these as presents, as well as essentials, plus the baby will grow very fast.
I bought a few nice t-shirts and jeans for under £4 on
They have constant sales and clearances, sometimes £1 sales

I will be breast-feeding so my list is a little different. I bought some emergency bottles if I can’t breast-feed, but I doubt I’ll be using them. I invested in an electric breast pump in case I become engorged, can’t get baby to latch or if I need to leave my baby with someone during a feeding time. I will be posting a breast-feeding focused blog later on.

-Avent starter bottle kit
-Avent steriliser
-Avent bottle warmer
-Avent electric breast pump
-Avent breast pads (washable)
-Lansinoh nipple cream- Pure lanolin cream
-Lansinoh breast pads (disposable)
-Muslin squares- For burping and spit up £4 for 12 from Tesco stores.
-3 nursing t-shirts. I got some amazing nursing t-shirts from Most nursing shirts I found on the net and in shops looked like they were designed for a 50-year-old woman and they were over £40! This site has sales, 2 for 1 offers and a lot of the shirts are reasonably priced and in fashionable prints. 
-3 nursing bras
-2 bellybands
I got my bellybands and nursing bras from the mothercare store, as it’s best to get fitted by an assistant.

-1 crate of just4bums nappies: size 1, £19.99 for 240 nappies. These nappies have been given rave reviews on & not to mention various other review sites on Google, which is very rare!
They are cheap and I can’t find one bad review for them so I decided to go ahead and order a crate. They are only available from
-Angel care nappy disposal bin/ Angel care bin liner cartridges
-Padded changing mat.
-Cotton wool
-Muslin squares
Mat and bin both from and the rest is from BB Bargain stores

*Baby should be washed and changed with water only but after that baby products may be used.

-Tesco sensitive baby wipes

-Baby bath
-Bath thermometer
-Baby grooming kit. I chose the emmay set, which contains: 1 x Brush, 1 x Comb,1 x Scissors, Nail Clippers, Nail File
Silicone Finger Toothbrush
-Nasal aspirator
-Digital ear thermometer
-3 hooded towels. From BB bargains (bargain store)
-1 Natural sea sponge from Tesco store

*Baby should be washed and changed with water only but after that baby products may be used.

-Tesco head to toe baby wash 
-Tesco baby oil

-Angel Care Sound and movement baby monitor
-Gro Egg room thermometer
-Black out blind/Black curtains
*All from
-Bassinette (given to me by a friend)
-Bassinette mattress and sheets
-Bassinette blankets 
-3 Gro sleeping bags
-2 Cellular blankets
* Baby should sleep next to your bed for the first 3 months in a bassinette and after that a cot, so don’t worry about buying one yet. A second hand bassinette is fine but do not accept second hand mattresses or bedding.

-Travel system buggy: Base, Car seat, sit up seat, Foot muff. I opted for the mamas and papas ‘URBO’ travel system from
Any travel system costs a fortune and should not be bought second hand, so this is a good time to use your sure start maternity grant of £500 (see post 8)
-Sling or baby carrier. I got the ‘Baba sling’ from
-Changing bag: I got mine from they have some amazing bags that you can use as a handbag as well. I chose the Blue mama et bebe bag.
*Contents should be: Padded changing mat, Wipes, Nappies, Sudocrem, Muslin squares/burping cloths, Spare clothing, Breast pads, Nipple cream. 
Monday, 13 February 2012 | By: The One Woman


(29 1/2 WEEKS)
Following on from post 3: HOUSING I’d like to update you on the current situation regarding benefits and housing allowances. Please note that benefits and rates I am discussing in this blog post apply to a single pregnant female. If you have a partner or are earlier/later on in your pregnancy then some parts my be useful but rates and conditions will differ. 

I am 10 weeks (nearly 9) counting down to my labour date and I have found that the area I am living in has become unsafe for me, so I decided to move now rather than after my son is born. I was under the assumption that because I now have my *MATB1 certificate proving that I am past the 11 week date, that I am eligible for the 2 person bedroom rate that is now **£121 per week. (See footnotes) This is not so! A 2-bedroom housing benefit rate for a private property is not activated until the birth of my son.

I am, however eligible for a 2-bedroom house through the council and I am on high priority for a council or housing association property (See or call into your local authority office for information). I have been bidding desperately on the website since August 2011 with no reply or sign that my bidding is even being taken into consideration so my only option is to go through a private landlord and apply for the 2 bedroom rate.

So you see that there is a grey area where you are stuck with no housing benefit and no sign of a council house. I had luckily been sensible and gotten a rather hefty overdraft and a bit of money saved for an emergency, so I’m going to put a deposit and a months rent on a 2 bedroom property which should cover the period until my son is born and apply for the 2 bedroom rate after he is born. If I hadn’t raised the capital to do this then I’d be stuck in a 1-bedroom property in a dangerous area until my son was at least 1 or 2 months old. Even if I had waited until then I would not be guaranteed a council property or the cash to fund a deposit for a private house.

(please see link below for further information)

Now I had a think about women who do not have my arc angel overdraft facility and there is an option for a crisis-housing loan (this is nothing at all to do with your bank and there is no APR). If you book an appointment with your local housing office and apply for the increased 2-bedroom rate, explaining your circumstances then a council rep can help you apply for a crisis loan. In some cases these are refused but if you find that you are in a bind like mine then an application would be fast tracked and taken into high consideration.
A Crisis Loan is intended to cover immediate short-term needs that arise because of a disaster. An award may be for a specific item or service or to meet immediate living expenses for a short period, usually up to 14 days. A crisis loan can also help with certain expenses in other emergency or disaster situations. These are:
·       Living expenses
·       Rent in advance where the landlord is not a local authority
·       Charges for board and lodging accommodation and hostels
·       Travel expenses when stranded away from home
·       Repaying emergency credit on a pre-payment fuel meter

If I am declined for a 2-bedroom housing benefit rate 2 weeks prior to my sons birth then I will also have to apply for a crisis loan to cover a months rent.
If the crisis loan is not suitable for your circumstances then you can apply for the budgeting loan, which is very similar but issued through the Job Centre Plus and can be applied for online

(please see below link for information)

(again, this is nothing at all to do with your bank and there is no APR) You may be able to get a Budgeting Loan if you or your partner have been claiming or getting payment of one of the following benefits for at least 26 weeks:

-        Income Support
-        income-related Employment and Support Allowance
-        income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
-        Pension Credit
and you need help to pay for any of the following:

-        furniture or household equipment
-        clothing or footwear
-        advance rent or removal expenses for a new home
-        travelling expenses
-        things to help you look for or start work
-        improving, maintaining or securing your home
-        repaying hire purchase or other debts you took out to pay for any of the above

You will have seen that I mentioned income support. I am out of work and I now have my MATB1 certificate so I am eligible to apply for income support rather than Job Seekers allowance 
(please see link below)
You must first let the Job Centre know that you are 11 weeks due to give birth and they will transfer you from Job Seekers Allowance onto income support over the phone (the Leeds number to do this is 0800 055 66 88) and then book and interview for you to go into the local Job Centre Plus and transfer all of your information over and decide the rate that you will be issued. Larger weekly payments will then be issued and there will be no requirements to go into the office to sign on.
Upon receipt of my MATB1 certificate I applied for my sure start maternity grant, which can be anything up to £500 and is non repayable! The form can be printed off online or obtained from your local Job Centre Plus, it is then sent free post and processed before the birth of your child. Make sure that you take this form to your hospital or midwife and get them to sign the back of it to declare that you are pregnant and also to stamp the form with the practice stamp or you will not get your loan
(please see link below)

I receive a book of 4 at £3.10 every few weeks. 
With Healthy Start, you get free vouchers every week to spend on milk, plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, and infant formula milk. You can also get free vitamins.
Apply via this link:

This also has to be signed and stamped by your doctor or midwife so make sure to take it along to your check up. 


The welfare rights unit (part of the Leeds city council customer service section)
This is a free service that will help you with filling in forms, offer guidance & support when making appeals and also offer advice and information on a variety of welfare benefits schemes that are applicable to your circumstances. I have used this service several times and it is amazing, I wouldn’t have been able to understand a lot of these processes without it. A great tip when attending any application appointment is to keep an ordered folder with everything in it, for example tenancy agreements, bills and bank statements. I found that at most appointments I was asked for all kinds of paperwork that I wouldn't have thought to bring normally.  

You make an appointment to go into what they call a surgery by calling
-        0113 3760452
Or email
Or post
-        Freepost NAT 19786, Leeds, LS9 7YY
Open Monday to Friday 9:00am until 4:30pm except Thursdays 3:30pm and Fridays 4:00pm

  -A MATB1 for should be issued to you on your 28/29th week of gestation upon your visit to the midwife.
**-The new rates for Leeds ( West Yorkshire) are now:
£61.50 for shared accommodation
£100 for 1 bedroom
£121.15 for 2 bedrooms
£138.46 for 3 bedrooms
£196.15 for 4 bedrooms
Please note that this is just for the Leeds area and these rates are subject to change each February.