The Tree of Life Breastfeeding Photos are like the Confederate Flag, says ‘Dr’ Amy

I’ve been loosely following the Facebook explosions over the tree of life breastfeeding photos created using the PicsArt Studio app’s ‘blend’ tool and ‘magic’ filters. I’ve read lots of both ignorant and educated, random and intelligent, helpful and hurtful comments from folks on different sides of the issues raised. However, none has been quite as hateful, thoughtless, ignorant, shocking, disgusting, polarizing, deathly … you name it … as the one I came across on Amy Tuteur’s Facebook page yesterday (21 Dec 16).

The tree of life breastfeeding photos are like the confederate flag? Seriously? Are you kidding me? Is this for real … like for real, for real? My word, how far some folks seem willing to go to get unnecessary attention.

So, this is my reply to Amy Tuteur … one that won’t be buried in comments on her page or deleted.



Dear Amy,

We don’t know each other and we live oceans apart. I vaguely heard about you about 1.5 years ago or so during the Keep Britain Breastfeeding collaboration I participated in, to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. What I heard, little as it was, was enough to help me decide that I couldn’t take your words seriously. Well, this morning, I came face to face with your words again, and I just can’t ignore it. How in the world can you compare the beautiful and magical tree of life breastfeeding photos to the ugly, hateful, and racist confederate flag?

Of all the symbols in the world to make your points, you chose a symbol like that? My word, what does that say about you. Is the your world that short of symbols that display pride, promote solidarity, and attempts to normalise certain acts / values / ideas / beliefs?

According to you website, you seem to be a very educated and worldly-wise person, with a degree from Havard and past employment in prestigious world-renowned institutions. You’re a writer, an author, a digital influencer … you’ve supposedly learned lots from folks “from every walk of life, every ethnic group, and every culture” during your medical experiences.

So, why was the confederate flag your chosen comparative image?

I’m not American, and even I know that this despicable symbol is one any sensible person will stay clear of.

I mean, what’s there to tolerate about this flag? Hmmmmm …. let’s see:

  • Denial of rights to some and horrific discrimination?
  • Hatred of the other: African-Americans particularly and all non-whites in general
  • Encouragement of the superiority of white people and champions of white privilege
  • Advocacy for a wicked and institutional system of oppression, dehumanization, unethical profiteering, forced labour, and so much more against black people in America

We are talking here about a symbol that was brought about to support, protect, and promote all the above and more. This includes the discriminatory application of the ‘one-drop rule’ – a nasty racist ideology that lives on today. You don’t have to look very far to see it action; check out what President Obama is called – the first black president of America despite being 50% white in his DNA, and even more in his upbringing. Let’s also not forget that the system on which this flag is founded is the remote cause of the need for the US Black Breastfeeding Week.

This is a symbol under which countless atrocities has been committed and continue to be; including rape and random / intentionally killing of those considered undeserving of equal life and rights based on their ethnicity.

We are talking about a symbol that represents the ‘rape’ of Africa by the West and the plundering of its culture, people, identity, land, and so much more. Let’s not forget the resulting troubled legacy of all these, which especially continues to impact the descendants of those affected by it, in different ways.

I mean, this is a symbol of death and destruction, one that considers one life as valuable over another, simply based on that which isn’t even chosen by the person… a very ugly symbol that now hides behind the preservation of heritage.

Amy, surely you know all these; right?

Now, let’s look at the tree of life breastfeeding photos:

They are expressions of individual women about a very important aspect of their motherhood journey. They spread like wildfire within a minority community that feels the disgraceful and unethical marketing and profiteering squeeze of humongous companies. And of course, the constantly scrutinizing gaze and the often unacceptable and ignorant expectations of the media and society.

To some, they are a beautiful (unattractive to a few) representation of triumph over pain, blood, lumps, leaks, soreness, engorgement, thrush, blocked ducts, mastitis, abscess, blebs / milk blisters, sleeplessness, bottle and formula pressure, the discomforts of pumping, nursing aversion, ignorant comments, inadequate support, ‘extended’ breastfeeding expectations… and so much more.

To others, they are empowering images to publicly and finally share a beautiful and selfless act they’ve been uncomfortable with sharing for so long, due to the fear of being misjudged and accused of judgement.

To lots, they are about normalising breastfeeding, the biological norm – sharing images to increase awareness and acceptance.

To most, they are about all the above, and more perhaps.

The tree of life represents the anatomy of the breast and some of its key functions. They are about the very special bond, confidence, and empowerment that these women have known through breastfeeding.

They represent life, joy, triumph, hope, and so much. Their heritage lies in human and animal survival over millennia. Oh yes, it hasn’t / doesn’t always work in particular cases, but generally, humanity won’t be here today without breastfeeding. Even our best modern alternative is sourced from animal milk.

Now, unlike the hateful flag you used, the tree of life breastfeeding photos did not arise from a place of hate, enslavement, oppression, discrimination, subjugation, superiority, and similar.

They showed women supporting, applauding, celebrating, and helping each other. Folks who could make the pictures helped those who couldn’t.

Indeed, I get how some women might have found the pictures painful to look at. We are humans, ‘hope deferred makes the heart sick. Not achieving a desired outcome doesn’t feel good, and when it comes to breastfeeding, for a range of reasons, the pain definitely runs deep for some. Also, if for whatever reason you feel judged, never mind if your perception coincides with the reality or not, encountering your judgement triggers will make you feel judged anyway, even if it’s not intended.

I have not come across any comment on a tree of life breastfeeding photo with a judgemental intention. This coming from someone who has seen lots of them on both Facebook and Instagram, including within my tree of life breastfeeding photos banter and gallery Facebook group.

Now, I’ve come across comments reacting to accusations of judgement and perceived misuse of the tree of life symbol. But to compare this with the confederate flag is unjustifiable, insensitive, and frankly speaking a case of white privilege.

I know you’ve deleted the image but it doesn’t make up for the harm you’ve done. Do you know how many African Americans see that image and shudder? What sorts of memories do you think they provoke and inspire, Amy?

And your apology … your edited apology … is supposed to make up for your lack of good judgement, insensitivity, and utter disregard?

You really “did not realise that it would be so distressing”? Really, Amy?

What was your comment on your 19.53 post on Tuesday, (no evidence given) that claimed that the tree of life breastfeeding pictures are “not normalizing breastfeeding”, but rather “normalizing bullying”?  Did you read the replies to it?

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It seems to me that you knew what you were doing … perhaps you were trying to gain more notoriety, as if you don’t have enough of it. Your thoughtless lack of consideration for those deeply affected by the hateful white supremacist image you chose is incomparable with any painful effect – individual and collective – the tree of life breastfeeding photo will ever have on anyone.

I need get some sleep for my VBAC, I hope you sleep well tonight. It’s so wonderful that the world now knows about your tolerance of white supremacism and your disregard for African-Americans, and indeed everyone who stands against all the confederate flag represents.

With pity, irritation, and annoyance,

An Afro-British breastfeeding and babywearing mother who highly hopes for a VBAC and plans to tandem nurse her toddler and baby, and wishes all mothers well in their mothering endeavours.


Is her apology enough?

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A letter to unDr Amy - the insensitive and thoughtless former OB telling her the difference between these images and making it clear that knowing how hurtful the later is clearly shows to any sensible and thinking person how incomparable it is with the former.

How to Make a Tree of Life Breastfeeding Magical Photo in 3 Key Steps

You’ve seen them on Facebook, haven’t you? Yes, I’m talking about the beautiful, colourful, and artistic tree of life breastfeeding photos that seems to have given more breastfeeding mamas the confidence to share their magical brelfies. It’s definitely not surprising that breastfeeding tree of life pictures have become a viral trend.

I find their colour combinations intriguing and fascinating, and I couldn’t resist creating my own breastfeeding tree pictures; thanks to what has now become the tree of life breastfeeding app – PicsArt.

They are so easy to make … but be warned: they make for easy time-consuming distraction.

So, here we go … my easy peasy step-by-step guide and most comprehensive tutorial for making your very own tree of life breastfeeding pictures in 3 key steps:

1. Choose the breastfeeding and tree pictures you want to combine

  • Search for and save your desired tree or other picture from Google or other search engines
    • Search for ‘tree of life’ for example
    • Tap the picture you want
    • Tap the ‘options’ to ‘view original image’
    • Tap the ‘option’ (↑ in a square on iOS) to save the image
  • Or draw your tree picture and upload it to your pictures folder

2. Remix your picture with the PicsArt Photo Studio editing app

  • Download the PicsArt photo editing app to your Android, IOS, or Windows device
  • Open PicsArt to access your breastfeeding photo
    • tap the pink + symbol,
    • tap ‘Edit‘,
  • Scroll through the edit options, and tap ‘Add Photo‘ (7th option) to add your tree picture

OR

  • Scroll through the edit options, and tap ‘Stickers‘ (6th option), then use the search icon to look for the ‘tree of life‘ stickers, to choose a tree from the app
  • Enlarge or reduce, rotate and position your tree picture where you want – usually overlapping your child’s latch
  • Tap the ‘Blend‘ edit option (this is rarely needed if your tree is from the ‘tree of life’ stickers in the app)
    • choose ‘Overlay‘ for transparent tree pictures or ‘Multiply‘, ‘Color Burn‘, ‘Darken‘ for those with a background, to merge it with your breastfeeding picture
  • Tap ‘Apply‘ from the top menu to confirm you’re happy with your edits so far
  • Then tap the ‘Magic‘ edit option for a range of filters to transform your picture
  • Lastly, tap the ‘Apply‘ option to confirm your final edit

tree-of-life-brelfie-s

3. Save your edited picture

  • Tap the forward arrow → to share or/and save your tree of life breastfeeding picture

It really is as simple as these, and you’ll be a pro at the steps by the time you work through it once or twice.

And guess what? You can now share and chat about it in my Breastfeeding Expressions Facebook Group.

Note:

  • You can undo changes throughout the editing process, even after you’ve saved or shared an edited picture
    • I’ve created different images of the tree of life breastfeeding pictures this way
  • Feel free to experiment with the edit options on the app, you might be pleasantly surprised
    • You can, for example, adjust the opacity of tree picture before or after editing in the ‘Blend’ mode
  • The most popular filters in the ‘Magic’ editing mode seems to be:
    • Flare
    • Rainbow
    • Midnight

What else can you do with your picture?

You can get it printed on cards / keyrings /canvas / cushions / textiles etc, and you can do these quite cheaply on sites like 1clickprint.com.


How did you get on? Let me know if you have any questions or need any help.
Feel free to tag me on Social Media to check out your creations.
Don’t forget to join the Breastfeeding Expressions Facebook Group to share your #TreeofLife breastfeeding pictures and other breastfeeding inspired pieces.

If you found this post helpful, please consider sharing it, and following my updates. Thanks.

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A very easy step-by-step guide on how to make your own tree of life breastfeeding magical breastfeeding photo in 3 key steps, with @picsart app - the tree of life breastfeeding app.

My 10 Breastfeeding Hopes and Dreams – 2nd time round

My first journey didn’t start well, despite our amazing first latch. Even then, the pains and tears of our challenging beginning aren’t wasted, and my dogged determination and perseverance paid off. So, as I start another journey whilst continuing my first of almost 3 years, my breastfeeding hopes and dreams is pregnant with expectations.

My Breastfeeding Hopes

1. Straightforward breastfeeding

No multitude of folks trying to squeeze liquid gold out of me … no resulting bruised and battered breasts … no stress, confusion, fear, desperation, loss of dignity … none of these or similar, thank you.

Instead, I pray and hope that my new babe and I find our breastfeeding way without the need for intrusive interventions … that my newborn feeds well and finds it easy to transfer the needed quantity of colostrum and milk.

2. Adequately informed breastfeeding

I have learned so much about breastfeeding … a case of education attained out of desperation. And my, do I hope my breastfeeding literacy works in my favour? You bet I do. Breastfeeding ignorance is definitely not bliss.

So yes, I hope my knowledge of positioning, attachment, feeding frequency, tongue tie, skin-to-skin, newborn stomach size, and so much more, comes in handy. I hope my awareness of off and online breastfeeding resources works in my favour.

3. Right support at the right time

No unhelpful or partly accurate information from professionals, please. These kept me in hospital longer than needed and landed me in the ‘formula top up trap’ that took months and ‘sweat’ to overcome.

So, if I need any help this time, I hope I get the right one on time; not well over a month later, costing me precious enjoyment of my child’s early months.

4. Milk on time

Given that I’ve been breastfeeding for almost 3 years non-stop, I really hope my milk comes in on time, and in the needed quantity and flow.

breastfeeding-s

5. ‘Easy’ tandem nursing journey

Lumpy breasts, blocked ducts, engorgement, mastitis, and friends – be warned, I’ve got a toddler on hand. I hope tandem nursing comes instinctively to us, like breastfeeding during pregnancy did.

6. No blebs, thrush, or other boob nasties

Milk blisters … blebs … ouch … please stay away.

7. Two working boobs

No more one-side-breastfeeding please;  almost 2 years of this is enough. I really hope the other side gets back in action and works better this time.

My Breastfeeding Dreams

8. Breast crawl

However I birth, I’d love to experience the wonder of my newborn crawling up my tummy to suckle – precious and priceless.

9. Easy, painless, and stress-free breastfeeding

I can’t remember when last a latch started without some degree and seconds of pain – this has been breastfeeding through pregnancy for us. And the breast pains of those early days … I’d rather not go back there.

I woke up this morning with streams of words Pulsating through my brain – a letter to my body . Dear body, my very womanly body Devoid of the typical sizes and stats For the group you are assigned to But how so complete and perfect you are . So adequate for the womanly task of motherhood So enough to conceive, nurture, bring forth, and mind So awesomely fabulous to gloriously accomplish so much So amazingly incredible beyond my measure . My word, you’re beautifully strong and powerful Deserving of awards that haven’t been invented More golden than any Oscar and greater than any Brit Your achievements surpases the greatest of inventions . Look at you, my body Born in turmoil and dysfunction Bullied and riled and even abused by some But look how tall you stand today . Yes, those slim legs holding an ever growing bump Those thighs supporting a developing and wiggly toddler Your mind keeping together against so much battering My, you’re making it through 9 months of SO MUCH GIVING . The nay sayers implied you shouldn’t dare The doomsayers said you mustn't consider But your bosom couldn’t deny your toddler Even as your bump supports your babe . And now you’re almost there The end in sight, another journey to embrace We’re not in a hurry, mind But we’re almost there now . Breastfeeding one from outside Nourishing another from inside Nurturing so many, mind, body, and soul Just like that, YOU ARE DOING IT . No recognition required No commending demanded It’s just what you do Every second of what you are . My, you make me feel strong You make me feel so powerful So much taller beyond my height With so much more to offer than I can contemplate . Gratitude to the Awesome Wonder who made you so Who knit you together whilst in my mother’s womb Who caused me to really see and appreciate you Who upholds and keeps me so . Thanks to all my good Samaritans Who walk with me and support my journey I wouldn’t have made it this far without your help . Oh my body, My fabulously beautiful powerful body How I love you so How grateful I am for you . The words were more articulate in my head But this will have to do for now 😁 . #breastfeedingmoment #rememberingthesedays

A photo posted by Adventures of a Novice Mum (@anovicemum) on

So yes, I’m dreaming of a calming, easy, and pain-free breastfeeding experience, from the start and throughout, this time around.

10. Breastfeeding during labour

This is my pipe-dream, one I really hope might just be realised. I really want my toddler with me at the hospital, and I’d love the opportunity to continue feeding him on request during labour – easy oxytocin release and extra womb contractions … good for labour and birth, I think.

But really, I just want him with us during this life changing moment, and I’m happy to meet his breastfeeding needs whilst journeying with our little addition into our world.


I had the opportunity to ask Medela UK’s in-house Lactation Consultant, Sioned Hilton, some breastfeeding questions.

  1. Would this pain subside post-birth, when I start my tandem nursing journey? #9

This is difficult to predict as it could be as a result of several things. What you will expect is a surge in discomfort for the first few minutes when you trigger your milk ejection reflex. This will result in you experiencing after-pains as the surge in oxytocin results in the myo-epithelial cells to contract around the milk cells – squeezing the milk from the alveolus down the ductal network. This will also trigger your uterus to contract. Some mums feedback that the after-pains really do take your breath away and you need to utilize those breathing techniques used during labour as the spasm can be that intense.

It may also be that you are currently experiencing vaso-spasm when you have milk ejection that causes breastpain but this eases as the feed progresses.

When pregnant the hormones can make nursing a little more uncomfortable but it is a case of reflecting after birth – is this tender or painful because it’s the same as before the new baby or is it as a result of not a great latch, mastitis, infection. Keeping an open mind and looking at things from a new mum perspective may be useful for the first few weeks as you initiate your supply and breastfeeding with your newborn.

  1. If my positioning and attachment are correct, can I expect pain-free breastfeeding from the side I haven’t breastfed from for a while? #7  

Again, every pregnancy and baby is different. Your pregnancy hormones may be suppressing the milk hormones a little and depending on the frequency you feed your toddler. As your pregnancy progresses your non-lactating breast will be making more glandular tissue and it may well be that you start to experience some milk leakage as you let down when you feed your toddler.

You are likely to experience nipple tenderness in the first few days, weeks but nursing should not be painful – you will need to go back to the basics and check that latch is good as your toddler will have found his own technique and some gymnastics on the way. Always having someone to check and assess that all is well is recommended with your midwife or breastfeeding specialist.

Again, breast pain can be because of the surge in oxytocin, ductal spasm or vasospasm – if you experience cold hands and feet it could be that this is a factor. A warm compress as you feed and massage may support less discomfort.

  1. What are your top tips for tandem nursing a baby and a very active toddler who is almost 3 years old?

Your priority will be nursing your newborn and as your milk production come to volume your newborn will have colostrum and milk. Expect your toddler to feel a little lost as this has been a time and place that he has loved and will continue to do so. You may find having a box of toys at hand that you can play with your toddler and nurse at the same time. Your toddler may even join you to feed their doll baby, books, jigsaws, or some quiet time with a smart device can make it easier for the first few weeks as you need to have the flexibility of trying different positions to see what suits you all. A baby sling may also be worth buying or borrowing so that you can nurse and plug in but also have a free hand to play with your toddler. Siblings are amazing and flexible. Initially expect a few toilet accidents, waking at night, mood changes but they soon accept that the new baby is here to stay and just get on with things.


What are your breastfeeding (or other) hopes and dreams?
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My breastfeeding hopes and dreams as I start my second journey, without stopping my first of almost 3 years; with answered questions from @Medela UK lactation consultant.

12 Days of Parenting | Linky 1 (2016 Collaboration)

Yah, it’s another 12 days of parenting collaboration! Last year was a writing, reading, and commenting frenzy for me … such fun working with other bloggers.

This year’s is a bit different – no brand involvement, no accompanying giveaway bundle; it’s collaboration for the love writing, and capturing your end of year thoughts and reflections. It’s about recording moments for memory lane, inspired by the festive season.

So, what’s the collaboration about? 

Overarching theme:

12 moments of parenting – considering snapshots of parenting related thoughts and acts at the end of the year.

Individual themes: 

The themes are anchored around the number 12, borrowed from the number of the traditional ‘days of Christmas’. They can be about Christmas, the festive season, winter, end of the year, or other cultural or religious festivities that you celebrate around this time.

You can personalise the themes to suit your writing, within the context stated above.

  1. 12 ways to stay organised / things to do to prepare for …
  2. 12 things I love about …
  3. 12 things to do on …. day or during …
  4. 12 gift ideas for …
  5. 12 … traditions
  6. 12 activities to do with children during …
  7. 12 things … means to me
  8. 12 ways to wrap up …
  9. 12 wishes / hopes / dreams / for the new year
  10. 12 acts of kindness
  11. 12 highlights of 2016
  12. 12 (your own theme)

12daysofparenting-1s

How would the collaboration work?

You blog or microblog in relation to the themes … chronologically or randomly … all or some … whatever works for you, really.

Then, link up your post to the 12 days of parenting linky hosted by aNoviceMum and Mummies Waiting.

And lastly, we invite you to spread the blog love by reading and commenting on other linked posts, and sharing them far and wide.

Simples … right?

Who is the collaboration for?

It’s opened to all family friendly bloggers – parent, grandparent, and lifestyle bloggers etc. The key thing is to work with the themes and enjoy the collaboration.

12 Days of Parenting collaboration

The 2016 12 Days of Parenting Collaboration Linky:

  • Link up a post – from your blog or even Facebook – per theme, with your post’s url, title, and twitter handle
  • Linky opens at 8pm on Thursday 15 December to 11.55pm on Thursday 29 December 2016
  • Tweet us for retweets with the hashtag #12DaysofParenting16 at @mummieswaiting and @aNoviceMum
  • Join the #12’s group pinterest board to further share your posts
    • follow aNoviceMum and Mummies Waiting if you will
    • comment below with your Pinterest username to be invited
    • create and share long pins for your post
    • repin 2 pins for every pin you share on the board
  • Join the #12DaysofParenting Facebook group to more shares, to stay up to date with the collaboration, and interact with other bloggers.

Linky Rules:

Share the blog love: comment on the hosts’ posts, the post before yours and another you fancy

Hashtag: Comment and share posts with #12DaysofParenting16 hashtag, to help spread the word

Share the linky love if you want: by adding our badge to help promote the linky

Adventures of a Novice Mum

Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML

What you can expect from your linky hosts:

We will read and comment on as many posts as possible.

We’ll retweet posts tweeted to us with the #12DaysofParenting16 hashtag.

We’ll promote the linky on social media, to increase our potential audience reach.

We’ll share posts shared on theme threads on the #12DaysofParenting Facebook group, on the collaboration’s Facebook page.

What are you waiting for? Write, link, love, and share away.


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You will be informed of next year’s 12 Days of Parenting linkup except you email adventuresofanovicemum@gmail.com to opt out.
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2016 12 Days of Parenting Collaboration for seasonal and themed family friendly reflections at the end of the year. Check out our adjustable themes, write your posts, link them to the 12 Days of Parenting Linky hosted by @aNoviceMum and @MummiesWaiting, then read and comment on other linked posts, and share away. You can also join the 12 days of parenting group board and Facebook group for more share.

Playbrush Review – Brushing without Tantrums

Playbrush Review | Introduction

Dental health is one of the things that easily gets my attention. I am determined to give my toddler the best I can in this area; unfortunately, mine leaves much to be desired. So, when I was at the Baby and Toddler Show last month, the Playbrush’s poster at the Little Saints UK stand made me pause.

playbrush-at-toddler-show

Playbrush? Brushing, and play? It seemed a bit like an oxymoron, but one I desperately wanted to consistently experience with my toddler. The demonstration was like magic, and it dared me to dream of lovely toddler brushing possibilities.

You see, I didn’t start brushing my toddler when his first tooth came out as recommended; even then, I thought we had it in the bag … that is until he became assertive about his wants and likes.

For reasons I can’t quite figure out, his dad has way more success in getting him brushing than I do. But I need to sort him out sometimes, and I’m fed up with our increasing brushing frustrations, disagreements, and tears.

So, when I stumbled on the opportunity to review the Playbrush, I was definitely game … anything to improve our brushing time is worth the try.

Playbrush review pack

Sent free of charge for my independent and honest review

Playbrush Review | Key features

The Playbrush basically turns brushing into a game, by transforming manual toothbrushes into game controllers via Bluetooth connection to designated smartphones or tablets.

How the Playbrush works

Its brushing games are free for download on iOS and Android devices:

  • Utoothia
  • Utoothia Sky
  • Utoothia Magic
  • Utoothia Paint

Playbrush iOS and Android brushing games

Users control game characters with their brushing movements, to earn rewards and get live brushing feedback and tips, over periods of 2 mins at a time. The device makes this possible by measuring brushing speed, duration, and position.

playbrush-games-reward

This is meant to encourage good oral hygiene to keep parents, children, teeth, and dentists happy; by promoting:

  • Longer (2 mins at a go) brushing
  • Regular (twice-a-day) brushing
  • Better and accurate brushing (all around the mouth)

It aims to transform brushing from being a battleground to an entertaining and effective activity.

It works with existing household items: 95% of manual toothbrushes, micro USB charger plug, Amazon Kindle Fire, iOS, and Android devices.

Also, it can be shared, as each game allows for multiple player profiles, and each device can accommodate up to 6.

playbrush-games-profiles

Lastly, the games comes with cheerful tunes that can be switched off in the settings if desired.

Playbrush Review | Our experience

Design:

The device is convenient and straightforward, and the accompanying games are fun, instructional, varied, and rich.

Its indicator lights turn green when it’s on and red when it needs charging.

The smartphone holder is sturdy and easy to attach.

phone-holder

Size:

It’s the right size for both home use and travel.

Durability:

It has a 30-days money back guarantee, a 2-years warranty, and it allows for multiple users – features of a robust product.

However, it is not waterproof; but I see it lasting for a long period of time, if used as intended.

Usage:

We are using it with our toddler who is just under 3 years of age; though it’s aimed at 3 to 12 year olds. It has however been tested on younger and older children, and I reckon adults will enjoy it too.

It has transformed daddy and son brushing routine, to a family fun time – daddy supporting son to brush, mesmerised son very happy to be helped as he watches his progress on the screen, and mummy eager to read out the positive feedback and tips to commend and improve toddler’s brushing.

paint-feedback

I tell you, I have never seen my toddler so excited about brushing, with or without toothpaste. If he had his way, we would play the games throughout the day.

So far, we’ve tried the Utoothia Sky and Paint games; the Paint one is more age appropriate for us, even though our little one is happy with either.

The Playbrush games are really interactive and engaging; some have a leaderboard for brushing performance comparison. They also give lots of choices, monitoring, and offers oodles of enjoyment, whilst promoting good dental health.

playbrush-games-choices

They really are a treasure trove of brushing fun … a true ‘learning through play’ device; my, I see years of brushing enjoyment ahead.

Playbrush Review | Top 5 likes

  1. Portable for home use and travel
  2. Adds fun and excitement to brushing
  3. Cost effective and good value for money
  4. Instructional and high quality games that embed good brushing habits
  5. Easy setup, use, and maintenance – really clear instruction manual, on-screen guidelines, and online information.

playbrush-games-instructions

Playbrush Review | Overall

The Playbrush is a smart toothbrush add-on to have … a fun way to hopefully prevent future dental problems and costs, whilst helping to develop, maintain, and improve oral hygiene.

It’s use of screen time bothered me a bit; less, not more is what I want for my toddler. But my, the outcomes it offers for 4 mins a day is definitely worth it. And my concern about how to keep my excited toddler calm for bedtime, with his unfulfilled requests for another go after night-time brushing, has not been realised.

The smartphone holder has so far held up my phone, and made it easier to keep it away from splashes and falls.

I also really appreciate the intended and incidental learning opportunities that this device gives.

They come in blue and pink colours (and a green limited Christmas edition with stickers – on sale at the moment). You can buy them from Playbrush, Amazon, and selected retailers. The Playbrush webstore seems to offer the cheapest prices; its currently on sale for £19.99 (usually £26.99). You can also buy their smartphone holder, as well as quarterly or yearly (currently on sale for £8) toothbrush subscriptions.


How do you motivate your children to develop and maintain good oral hygiene?

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Trying to Log off | My Mini Digital Detox Attempt

Trying to Log off | Why?

‘Busy’ is my norm, and staying logged on is what I do. So, trying to log off and go offline is a really tall order and a big ask. I have a to-do list, so long that writing it down seems futile. There is always … always … always … something I need to be doing, despite my waddling pregnancy swag.

I can’t remember how many times my husband has expressed his concern about my attachment to my mobile, and challenged me to take breaks from it. I’ve gone from being nonchalant about social media to fully embracing it during my last maternity leave, and my modern year old-ish smartphone has made this so much easier.

So, Time to Log Off’s Digital Detox Christmas Challenge – #PresenceNotPresents – with Punkt, caught my attention. What better time of the year to go the extra mile in giving your family ‘the gift of your attention’.

Time to Log Off's Digital Detox Christmas Challenge, with Punkt

As you can probably guess, my husband liked the sound of it, and felt trying to log off and staying offline was definitely worthwhile.

Trying to Log off | Challenge

Well, I love a good challenge … and I decided to go for it. I mean, how hard can trying to log for 2 days be? We’re talking about Christmas eve and Christmas day here – probably the best 2 days to especially prioritise real life over mindless tapping and screen scrolling, replying emails and catching up with online tasks.

My, I can’t remember the last time I had hours of unadulterated, internet-free, and uninterrupted family or even me-time. The thought of it seems impossible, but the challenge of it feels liberating … freedom from digital buttons and keyboard pads … freedom from squinting eyes tired from looking at so many screens.

So yes, I’m taking the challenge. And come to think of it, this is a time my life will be taking … probably another really drastic turn, as I go from bump care to baby care. Good challenge combination, I think; each will probably make the other easier.

Trying to Log off | Trial run prep

I had to do a trial run last week, with the help of the support package that was sent to me free of charge, for my honest and independent opinion.

  • A journal, pencil, sharpener, and a pack of colouring pencils, to express my thoughts and calm my super active brain … lovely therapy – fab for one’s mental well-being
  • The minimalist – distraction / internet-free – but stylish Punkt phone

Digital detox support pack to help with logging off

  • And an infographic with suggestions on how to make the digital detox trial work.

Time to Log Off's #PresenceNotPresents infographic

I grew up with minimal screen time, and the internet was barely part of my life until I got to university. And as someone who appreciates the extent to which reading, creativity, talking, and the outdoors contributes to childhood imagination, screen time is one I’m not a great fan of, for my toddler.

Yet, I give myself unlimited screen time.

Reading the stats on the infographic got me thinking, though. Did you know that:

  • Smartphone users check their mobiles about 150 times a day
  • On average, adults spend 8 hours and 41 mins every day on screens, with social media accounting for 1 hour 42 mins of that

Trying to Log off | Trial run experience

The trial was way more challenging that I thought it would be. My, it was hard … very difficult … out of my depths … you name it.

Yep, you guessed right, I didn’t do too well.

In theory, I thought I could do it. I really tried to catch up on my pending work to reduce my concerns about all the stuff I really need to get done sooner than later.

The statistics bothered me – how often do I check my phone? I’m not sure I want to know really, but the 150 times on average seemed possible … and not one that makes me feel good. I definitely didn’t spend that much time on my phone less than a year ago, when I had a pretty basic smartphone.

And the amount of time I potentially spend on screens, and even more on social media unsettled me; even if it’s more for work than leisure.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t unplug cold turkey. At work, I had to use the computer, though I kept it to the minimum I could get away with. And with my family, I made more effort to have blocks of time off the net when we were together. But trying to log off … cutting off my internet use … keeping away from the screens … for 2 whole days … just like that … didn’t work for me. I couldn’t get rid of the unconscious and sometimes mindless digital itch, though I managed to resist it for periods during the day.

Trying to log off with the #PresenceNotPresents pack

Trying to Log off | What next?

I’m thankful for the practice run; it showed me how attached I was to my phone, and how reliant I was on the internet. Even more, it’s inspired me to rethink my relationship with the digital and to gradually create intentional pockets of digital detox within my days, weeks, and months.

So, I will be found trying to log off again on the 24th and 25th of December. But I think it would be easier this time; with something much more pressing on my mind … someone who especially needs my attention in a way that can’t be delegated … my new baby.

Nonetheless, I really look forward to making changes in my approach to the encroachment of the digital in my daily life. My children will be young for only so long, and I want to set better digital interaction examples for them.

I’d love to go on one of Time to Log Off’s week-long digital detox, but even more, I plan to make small daily changes to minimise the impact of the digital on my real life.


Could you do with a digital detox? 

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Reasons Changes in Baby Movements Matter

Tommy launched its #MovementsMatter campaign recently, for purposes I especially relate to and because BABY MOVEMENTS MATTER:

  • to challenge dangerous myths about baby movement in pregnancy
  • to increase awareness of how vital it is to monitor baby movements
  • to encourage expectant mums to trust their instincts about their baby’s movements
  • to empower pregnant women and give them the confidence to get help when they’re concerned
  • to give pregnant women clear information about what to do if their baby’s movements feel unusual
  • to let pregnant women know what to expect when they reach out for help with their baby’s movements
  • to inform pregnant women that they are not wasting people’s time when they reach out for help about their baby’s movements

Tommy's baby movements matter campaign web page

Just under 2 weeks before this campaign started, I was worried about my baby’s movement. My baby didn’t seem to be moving as much as before, and around the time of the day that I was used to. Yet I did nothing but worry for about 2 to 3 days.

Why?

 bump-touch-movementsmatter

What held me back from acting promptly?

I questioned the validity of my instincts and didn’t want to waste anyone’s time.

I didn’t want to disturb my toddler’s routine again; he has been to the hospital with me so many times over these past months. I felt bad expecting him to ‘behave’ and not run around laughing loudly, on the long corridors that called out for his exploration. After all, hospitals are serious spaces for the most part; not a toddler’s playground.

I didn’t want my husband putting everything aside again just to take me to an appointment I wasn’t sure I needed; increasing our petrol cost (silly, I know).

I didn’t want to waste the midwives’ time and the NHS’ money to massage away my worries when all was probably well.

Lastly, I didn’t want to waste my time waddling around when I didn’t need to, dealing with the discomfort of getting in and out of the car, feeling like a burden to those caring for me, especially when I could be working through another chore on my unending to-do list.

bump-love-movementsmatter

Baby movements myths that hold us back

According to Tommy’s research, 52% of women worry about getting help with reduced fetal movements because they are afraid of “wasting midwife’s time” and “being a nuisance” – I’m one of these.

Why do we worry about wasting people’s time when our babies need our help to get help?

Tommy’s research found that some of us incorrectly think that:

  1. A certain amount of kicks is fine
  2. We can use a home doppler for reassurance
  3. We can’t be checked at the weekend or outside 9am – 5pm
  4. Baby movements slow down in the 3rd trimester due to lack of space
  5. We can bring up our concern at our next midwife or doctor’s appointment

Honesty time: have you delayed getting support for any of these reasons? #5 definitely resonates with me.

bum-and-dad-movementsmatter

Why do baby movements matter? 

Perhaps, we need more understanding of the importance of our decision to get help with this.

Seeking help with unusual changes in baby movements could potentially change the life chance for some babies.

Baby movements and stillbirth

I mean, consider the fact that …

about 55% of mums who’ve had a stillbirth noticed a reduction or pause in their baby’s movements beforehand, but unfortunately didn’t report it. That’s staggering and sobering.

55%!

bump-and-scan-movementsmatter

To think that some babies might be alive today if the negative change in their movement had been checked out is heartbreaking; I can’t even imagine how horrific it must be for mums that have gone through this.

1 in every 220 babies born in the UK is stillborn. In 2015, the UK ranked 24 out of 49 high-income countries for stillbirth rates.

It’s important to note that this isn’t scaremongering … absolutely not. It’s being aware of meaningful statistics, to help us understand how much baby movements matter.

I … all pregnant women … must remember that babes in bumps communicate their well-being to us through their movements. Their movements are not for show, or just to make us feel good. Hence, unusual increases or/and decreases in their movements matter … like, really … really matters!

[via GIPHY] Your baby’s movement is unique to you and your baby

Baby movements is an indicator of baby wellness.

So, reduced baby movements could potential be the first sign that a baby is unhappy and in distress. Think about it: when we’re not well, we tend to move less, don’t we? Similarly, babies are likely to save their energy and move less when they’re not doing as well as they should be doing; in and out of the womb.

So, to the 73% of us who are likely to delay getting help and instead try hearsay to make our babies move like we’re used to … STOP and GET HELP.

It is heartbreaking to think that babies’ lives may be lost because we don’t get how important paying attention to their movements is … or are scared of wasting the time of those who actually want to help us.

Get this: a similar campaign in Norway reduced stillbirth by a third; I really hope it does the same for us in England. This is one case where it’s better for us to be over than under cautious. I mean, we’re talking about the very survival … the precious lives … of our most fragile and vulnerable group … our babies … our long expected bundles of joy.

bump-feel-movementsmatter

So, let’s heed Tommy’s #MovementsMatter campaign with NHS England and Kicks Count:

  • Be informed – find out more
  • Be observant – pay attention to your baby’s movement
  • Be prepared – save relevant contact numbers on your mobile
  • ACT – yes, get your phone and make the call for help whenever needed

DON’T HESITATE TO GET HELP, TO HELP YOUR BABY. 


What do you think?

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What I did When my Baby’s Movement Slowed Down

Reduced fetal movement is worrying, and I was definitely a bunch of nerves when my baby’s movement slowed down. I was just under 30 weeks when I noticed my baby wasn’t moving as usual, but the last thing I wanted to do was to go to the hospital again.

It had been a few days and I tried hard not to be anxious about it. I pushed my concerns to the back of my mind … it was easier than voicing my concern. I’ve had so many medical appointments with this pregnancy; much more than I could have imagined I’ll need.

I was filled with doubt about how sure I was that my baby’s movement felt different. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel my baby at all, but something felt different; my baby’s movement wasn’t quite like before.

You see, I’m terrible with ‘knowing’ the pattern of my baby’s movement; it was the same the first time round.

“Could it be all the other things that are getting me down? Perhaps that’s why I hadn’t noticed the movement so much … maybe my baby isn’t really moving any less”, I wondered.

My head was all over the place.

My husband noticed my subdued mood and kept asking me how I was. I mentioned my concern a few times but made light of it … not wanting to worry him or scare myself. However, I said it enough for him to suggest going to the hospital to put my mind at rest.

But I didn’t want my toddler going to the hospital yet again … I didn’t want to waste the NHS’ time and money; they’ve been so generous to me as it is.

Even then, I couldn’t shake off the fact that the midwife told me about the importance of my baby’s movements at my booking appointment; she highlighted the number to call in the green folder she gave me if I was ever concerned.

I can’t quite capture the thought battles I went through in words.

After about 2 to 3 days, I couldn’t take it anymore – my doubts about my concerns and worries about wasting everyone’s time couldn’t contain my increasing distress. I was clearly more worried than I was letting on, and definitely more concerned than I realised – not the best ingredients for a good mental health.

Kicks Count and Mama Academy‘s campaigns about the importance of baby’s movement subconsciously nagged me; I’m so glad I came across them after I had my first child. I tell you, knowledge truly is power at times like this.

So finally, I told my husband I was going to call Triage, and I asked him to get ready to take me to the hospital. And yes, my toddler had to come, but I don’t think he minded.

The midwife that we saw was kind and gently … unassuming and reassuring. I laid on the bed in a small private room, and she checked my baby’s heartbeat. She then put the monitoring device around my bump and covered my legs to keep them warm and maintain my dignity.

reduced-movement-check

I listened to the machine, heard my baby’s heart, felt my baby move, and watched my husband read to my toddler. The baby seemed to move more, or perhaps I noticed it more because I was particularly focusing on it; I’m not sure.

It was all over in about 20 to 30 mins. The nurse was satisfied all was well, and she told me to call again if I was concerned … even if it was tomorrow.

I can’t explain the delight I felt hearing my baby’s heartbeat and feeling my baby’s kicks.

Yes, nothing was wrong, thank God. I perhaps could have gone on worrying about the reduction I felt in my baby’s movement, but we were all better off for going to the hospital to check it out.

As the midwife told me, I didn’t waste her time, distract her from her duties, or hinder her from attending to other cases. In fact, she had no patient when we got there, and none waiting when we left.

I left the hospital with a reassurance that money can’t buy … and one I’m so grateful to have had. I’m the better for it … my baby, husband, and toddler are better for it … and the NHS is definitely not worse off because of it.

So, what did I do when my baby didn’t move as usual?

I worried, doubted, questioned, internalized, and made my mental health worse … then I allowed common sense to prevail, listened to my mother’s instinct, heeded vital baby movement messages, involved my family, shared my burden, called Triage, went to the hospital, underwent reassuring monitoring, improved my mental health and my family’s well-being. 


Have you ever worried about your baby’s movement?

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My Toddler and My Little Piccolo Review (Stage 1 Pouches)

My Little Piccolo Review | Introduction

I rarely ever bought food pouches when my toddler started weaning over 2 years ago; they just didn’t really ‘do it for me’. They were hit and miss with my little one; some he liked, others he couldn’t stand. So you can imagine my surprise at his many requests for My Little Piccolo pouches since I introduced them to him.

pp

My Little Piccolo Review | First Impressions

It all started when I went to one of My Little Piccolo’s weaning events, with my growing bump in mind. The session was down-to-earth, and they freely shared recipe ideas. I left, very pleased with my renewed confidence about weaning my future newborn to solids; and of course delighted that the samples I took home went down very well with my toddler. I suppose I wasn’t expecting it to be his cup of tea because he’s well past the weaning stage.

So when I was asked to review some of their flavours, it was a definite yes from me.

My Little Piccolo review - stage 1 pouches

Sent free of charge for my independent and honest review

My Little Piccolo Review | Our Experience

Flavours:

We checked out samples of their stage 1 flavours; what a lovely combination of fruits and vegetables, with spices.

  1. Spring Greens with a hint of mint
  2. Peach and Apple with a hint of basil
  3. Raspberry and Apple with soaked oats
  4. Sweet Potato, Beetroot, Apple, and Pear
  5. Cherry and Yogurt with wholegrain oats
  6. Apple and Apricot with a pinch of cinnamon
  7. Mango, Pear and Kale with a dash of yogurt
  8. Banana, Strawberry & Peach with a hint of mint
  9. Banana, Blueberry, and Apple with a hint of vanilla
  10. Squash, Red Pepper & Chickpea with a hint of rosemary

my-little-piccolo-flavours

They have other flavours in their Stage 1 vegetable patch and Stage 2 ranges.

To my delight, the vegetable pouches went down very well with my toddler, including tastes that were new to him.

pp2

Pouch Design:

Of the food pouches’ brands I’ve used, My Little Piccolo’s wins the day: right size for little hands, and attractive illustrations and colours for curious eyes.  The ingredient illustrations served as an empowering learning opportunity for my toddler; making it easier for him to ask for the flavours that particularly caught his fancy at different points. We had such fun moments identifying the fruits and vegetables and helping him to squeeze out every last drop.

pp4

My funniest pouch moment is the day my toddler discovered he could exhale into the pouch to enlarge it. My, the sounds of laughter that rang through our house … he got so excited about it that he ran around the house, blowing into the pouch over and over again … such fun.

Labelling:

The back of the pouch has a lot of information on it, but it’s easy on the eyes and arranged clearly. I also like the fact  that allergens in the ingredients, if any, are written in bold.

Safety:

I don’t allow my toddler access to the caps, a potential choking hazard as stated at the back of the pouch. Even then, I have some toddler craft ideas lined up for them during the holiday … watch this space for picture updates.

My Little Piccolo Review | Top 5 Likes

  1. Filling toddler snack
  2. Organic and nutritious
  3. Yummy flavours and very clear labelling
  4. Supports the NCT and 10% of their profits goes into food education
  5. Promotes current NHS weaning guideline of starting ‘around 6 months’

My Little Piccolo Review | Features

  • 100g pouches
  • 100% Organic
  • No added sugars
  • Eat warm or cold
  • Mostly gluten-free
  • Vegetarian friendly
  • Mediterranean inspired

pp3

My Little Piccolo Review | Overall

My toddler enjoyed all our My Little Piccolo stage 1 pouches much more than we thought he would. They are fab for snack times at home, in the car, and whilst out and about. In fact, they replaced a few of his meals during some of his most grumpy moments.

These pouches are ready-made food / snack that I’m happy to buy for my toddler and use when my next weaning journey starts.

I would love to recycle the empty pouches but I’m not sure you can.

Their website has lots of useful information about their products, weaning, recipe ideas, and so much more … including retailers that stock their pouches.

They retail for as cheap as 6 for £5.


How did you / are you finding weaning to solids?

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Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra | Review

Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra | Introduction

I’ve got to tell you: breastfeeding with nursing bras is so much more comfortable than without; definitely less clumsy. I  should know, I spent the first few months of breastfeeding without using one. Now a ‘nursing bra pro’ with over 2.5 years of experience, I can tell you that the Bravado body silk seamless nursing bra is definitely tops.

How do I know? Well, I’ve heard and read about it, and I’ve now tried it.

As you can probably imagine, I was pretty chuffed when I was asked to check it out; even more when it arrived.

Bravado body silk seamless bra - garnet

Sent free of charge for my independent and honest review

Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra| First Impressions

I liked what I saw … really neat and inviting packaging. My word, what exquisite colours … so gorgeously rich in depth, and appealing to the eyes. You should have seen the big smile on my face when I looked in the mirror with it on.

Bravado Body Silk Seamless Bra Charcoal Heather

Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra | Key Features

  • Easy sizing for its dual maternity and nursing bra functions
  • 4 hook and eye extension for rib cage expansion during pregnancy
  • Firm and flat nursing clips that are easily opened and closed with one hand
  • Removable foam cups to give a smooth look with or without breast pads
  • A proprietary Bra Conversion Kit (BCK) to change it to a “regular bra” post-breastfeeding

  • Full skin-to-skin contact of baby to breasts when feeding – opened cups fully drop down
  • Seamless with stretchy material for comfy all-day wear, and adjustment to the changing pregnant / nursing breasts

Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra | My Experience

Sizing:

During my first pregnancy, I learnt that you need to be measured every few months for the right bra size to support your growing breasts. As an eco-friendly savvy saver, big on getting good value for money, I wasn’t really keen on buying bras I could only use for a few months.

So stumbling on seamless wireless bras was a dream come true; they seamlessly (no pun intended) adjust to your changing breasts from pregnancy to breastfeeding, and beyond.

Bravado has a clear sizing guide on their website, as well the phone number and working hours of their certified bra fitters. I however decided to get measured for my Bravado bra size on the high street when I was around 25/26 weeks pregnant … just because … well … it was a kinda treat, I suppose.

Fit:

I am impressed with how comfortable and supportive this bra is; so much better than the cheaper seamless one I’d been using (from a different brand). I must also say that it’s made of really good quality material.

Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra | Top 5 Likes

  1. Snazzy colours that feel good
  2. Good support without compromising comfort
  3. Excellent value for money for its superb quality
  4. Durable and super comfy to wear all day during pregnancy, whilst breastfeeding, and beyond
  5. Easy sizing which makes it a fab baby shower present if you know the size of the mum’s top

Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra | Product Information

  • Price: £30 on Bravado UK’s website (£26.99 – £36.87 from other retailers)
  • Usual Colours: Ivory, Butterscotch, Pink Ice,
  • Seasonal Colours: Cherry, Silver Bell
  • New Colours: Charcoal Heather, Garnet (not yet available on Bravado UK’s website)
  • Size: Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large

Bravado Body Silk Seamless Bra Pink

Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra | Care Information

  • Machine washable
  • Wash before wearing
  • Wash with similar colours
  • No tumble drying or ironing

Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra | Overall

I’m really thankful for this bra; they are now my seamless bra staple … so comfy for my expanding pregnancy rib cage whilst breastfeeding my toddler. It’s not surprising that celebrity mums like Angelina Jolie, Megan Fox, Jessica Alba, Miranda Kerr, Cate Blanchett, Pink Penelope Cruz, Jennifer Garner, Miranda Kerr, and others consider it a nursing bra to have.

You can buy the Body Silk Seamless from Bravado with free shipping; and Amazon has more colours and even XXL size.


What’s your favourite nursing bra and why?

Helpful review?

Please comment and share; and follow my updates on social media. 

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