Wednesday, 18 October 2017

15 Halloween Films to Watch if you are a Wimp!

I have always been quite into the gothic side of things. I used to have jet black hair and I also collect spooky Living Dead Dolls that lived in coffins. If its freaky then I love it, just like Halloween. I Love getting dressed up, doing scary activities, having parties and decorating the house all spooky. So you would imagine that I probably LOVE watching horror films right? 

Wrong!!!! I hate horror films!! Im a total wuss, wimp, scaredy cat, coward! Im that person that you would find hiding behind the pillow while watching a horror. Then I would be the one not going to sleep at night as my imagination ran wild and I thought each shadow I saw was going to kill me. Nope, I avoid horror films as much as I can. 

But that doesn't mean that I can't enjoy movies at Halloween. There is so much choice of non scary films out there that are perfect for Halloween and I have thought of 15 films that I would quite happily watch. They range from kids films to teen films to some that are a little more for the adults. 

Here are my 15 Halloween films to watch if you are a wimp! (Like me)

1. Hocus Pocus
I have always loved this film and it is an ultimate must watch at Halloween. You really can't get more Halloween related than a film about Halloween itself. With witches, trick or treating, halloween parties, a talking black cat and spell books, What more could you want? This film is very child friendly and I don't remember ever having any fears after watching it but it may have some scary moments for really young children. It has comedy, adventure, music and fun and is one of my favourite Halloween films. 

2. Scary Movie 
I love Scary Movie because I get to watch all the scary movies with out having to be frightened. It shows all the horror stories, the build ups, and the freaky costumes. But then it is a total comedy sketch making fun of the most well loved horror films and their clich├ęs. The first film has to be my favourite involving the well known horror character Scream. But there are now 5 films of scary movie and so this could keep you going all Halloween night. This film is definitely not one to watch with the kids though, they probably will be scared and maybe slightly scarred for life with some of the ruder scenes. 

3. Beetlejuice 
Tim burton to me is the legend when it comes to Halloween. There will be a few more of his films listed here but Beetlejuice is one of my favourites. If you have never seen it, it is definetly one to watch at halloween with a ghostly family, and a freaky man trying to help them haunt a house. It has comedy and fun and lots of ghoulish characters that definitely come from a crazy imagination. This film again isn't for small kids but is definetly one that your teen would enjoy. 

4. Casper 
Yes the friendly ghost, one of my childhood favourites. The film came out in 1995 after the cartoons and I must admit I still love this film as an adult. Ghosts are scary right? Well not this one, as he is a friendly ghost. Casper the ghost is so cute and most children love him. This film is so lovely. Its funny, has lots of action and also some heart touching moments. This one will definetly be watched by me this Halloween. 

5. The Addams Family (Click Click)
After even saying the name of this film I am singing the theme tune and clicking my fingers. This is another loved halloween film by many and another great one if you love anything of the freaky nature, but with out it being scary. You just have to love all the costumes and characters in this film and the way that being freaky is just perfectly normal for the Addams family. Again another one I shall be watching this Halloween. 

6. Misery
This one is definitely more for the adults. Misery is another film I love. It has all the scary parts and may have you hiding behind a pillow at times but at the same time its not that scary and thank fully there is no blood and guts. This film is based on a very insane freaky lady who saves/kidnaps an author of her favourite book. She saves him from a car accident he had in the snow but then doesn't want him to leave. This film is quite the thriller but I assure you that it won't leave you having nightmares. It may stop you heading out alone in a car in the snow though. 

7. Hotel Transylvania 1&2
One that is a little more light hearted and for the kids now but yet still enjoyed by adults. Or at least I enjoyed it. I recently watched this with Lily and happily sat and watched the entire film without thinking "this film is for kids only". It has great animation and great characters. Fun for all the family to watch. If you liked the first one, the second one is just as good. I would say this is the perfect starter film for introducing your child to Halloween. It has mummies, vampires, Frankenstien, wolfs, ghosts and many more freaky characters. 

8. Corpse Bride 
This is another Tim Burton film that is the perfect example of all things freaky. It has a great story line about a human accidently marrying a corpse and the film is filled with lots of songs and a great storyline. Not to mention it is put together with stop motion brilliantly. This would be perfect to watch with an older child and is more fun than scary. 

9. Shaun of the Dead
This film is such a great comedy film. I have watched it so many times and still laugh at a lot of the scenes in it. You can't beat a zombie film and I do love comedy so put them both together and you have one brilliant film. The good thing about this film is that they have still left in some of the gore which you need to have in a zombie film (though I think they used ketchup a lot of the time.) 

10. The Craft 
I have been watching this film since I was a teen and it was one of my favourite freaky films. I must admit I haven't seen it for a few years and after making this list, it may be one I will watch this halloween. This film is all about some girls dabbling with witchcraft and magic. But there is white magic and black magic and so you see some scenes that are showing good spells but also some which show bad and thats where the slight horror in this film begins. But unless you have a huge fear of creepy crawlies and snakes then you should not find this film to scary. 

11. A Haunted House 
Following on from Scary Movie we have A Haunted House which is by one of the Waylan brothers Marlon. He acts in the film as Malcolm who moves into a new house with his wife. This is where freaky things start to happen. Its a spoof film which shows scenes simular to paranormal activity (which I have never seen). Some say you need to have seen the original horror films to get the jokes, but I haven't and I still enjoyed this film. There is also A Haunted House 2 available to watch if you enjoyed the first one. 

12. Scooby Doo 
A GGGGhost! Scooby Doo the movie is a brilliant film for all the family to watch at Halloween. Full of freakishly ghoulish characters and lots of action and adventure it makes the perfect film to sit with your youngest and introduce them to some thing a little bit spooky. If your children enjoy the cartoon then they will definetly enjoy the film. I think I will introduce this one to Lily this year.

13. Sweeny Todd the Tim Burton Version
If you enjoy a little bit of blood and guts then this is the film for you. Sweeny todd isn't scary but does show some pretty gruesome scenes as he slices the throats of his victims. Then to top if off, you get to see scenes of people indulging on what are meant to be the best pies in town but we know that really they are eating human meat. Yuck! I have seen the original with Ray Winston in and that one is just as good, so you could choose between that one or the musical version from Tim Burton.  

14. Zombieland 
Okay it's another Zombie comedy, but I simply can't get enough of them. This film is all about trying to survive a zombie apocalypse and it features 4 characters who all team up to try and stay alive. But the film is very light hearted and not scary at all. So if you are a big fan of zombies but don't like horror then this is one to watch. 

15. Split
I would say that this is the scariest film in my list. Slightly jumpy, slightly gory at times, but a fantastic film. Split is about a man who kidnaps some girls, only it's not just one man they are dealing with, it's many. This kidnapper has multiple personalities and they all have something in store for the girls. This is another thriller and I wasn't feeling scared while watching it but it definitely had it's freaky moments. It is quite a new film so if you haven't seen it then I would really recommend that you get your hands on it for Halloween. 

So thats the end of my list. I hope you are inspired and looking forward to a fun movie night for Halloween. I'm not sure I can watch 15 in one night so i'm going to go and have a long think about which I want to watch. 

Which of these films do you think you will watch for halloween? 

Do you have any good ideas for Halloween films for wimps? (like me) 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Orchard Toys Games Compendium Review

We are a big fan of games and a big fan of Orchard Toys. So when we got offered this Games Compendium which contains 4 games in one box, we could hardly say no to reviewing it. 

The box was a little bit bigger than normal Orchard Toys games, but still had its trusted handle on the top making it so your child can take it anywhere with them. As always the front of the box was colourful, and inviting. We couldn't wait to get it open and play some games. 
The fact it has 4 games in one box is great. Perfect to take to a grandparents house or to get out on a day of bad weather.

The 4 games that are included are - 

- Red Dog Colour Game 
- Monster Dominoes
- Jungle Snakes and Ladders
- Old Macdonald Game

There is also a instruction leaflet in the box. 

The first game we decided to play was the red dog colour game. This one looked the most simple game for Lily to play. 

The game comes with 4 playing boards with colourful animals on them. On the animals there are little coloured circles. You also get 24 coloured disks and 1 spot coloured dice. 

To play the game you spread out all the disks, roll the dice and take it in turns to place a disk on your board. If you roll a colour you already have, you miss a turn. The first person to get all the colours on their board wins. 
This game is perfect for Lily's age and she understood how to play. She really enjoyed this and is already great with her colours and so did really well. 
I would say that this game could even be played with a child younger than 3 years old. This would of been perfect to help Lily learn colours when she was doing that at 2 years old. 

The next game we played was Old Macdonald. For this game you need the 1 playing board that comes in 2 pieces which you fit together. The 24 coloured disks (the same disks you used for the first game) 4 playing pieces and the coloured spot dice. 

To play, you place out the coloured disks onto the table and place the playing pieces on the starting place. You then take it in turns to roll the dice. You then move to the coloured circle that is the same as on the dice. If you land on red, you then pick up a red disk and place it in front of you colour side up. If you land on a spot with a picture of a gate on it then you need to return one of your disks back to the other disks on the table. 
On the other side of the disks are animals. At the end of the game when the first player reaches the end of the board, you can then turn over your cards and count up how many animals you have. The winner is the one with the most animals. 

Lily enjoyed this game and we managed to play to the end. It wasn't to difficult for Lily to understand and with my guidance she did really well with it. 

The next game we played was Monster Dominoes. Lily already knows how to play this game as we have an Orchard Toy Travel Dominoes set already. The game is really easy to play. Place the coloured dominoes into a pile facing down and the deal 7 to each player. You then take it in turns to place them down one after the other, matching the monsters as you go. Lily was more interested in the other games, but I think that is because we have played dominoes many times before. The game is super colourful though and the monsters are so child friendly. 

The last game to play was Jungle Snakes and Ladders. To play this, you set up the 2 piece board, and then you need the playing pieces and the number dice. The playing pieces get placed onto the start square and then you roll the dice to see how many places you move. This game is like any other game of snakes and ladders. If you land on the head of a snake, you slide down, and if you land on the ladder then you go up. The one to reach the end, wins. The board design is really cute, and super child friendly with all the smiling animals. 

Lily did play this game with me, but mostly got carried away with climbing the ladders and sliding the snakes. She didn't understand that if she rolled 4 then she could only move 4 spaces. In the end she sat there for ages just moving her play piece up and down the snakes and ladders.
So I think this game maybe for when she is a little older than 3 years old. I think when she is older she will really enjoy playing this classic game. 

Overall these games are such good quality and they are made from a really nice hard board. You can tell that these games are made to last. 
I think Lily enjoyed the Red Dog Colour game the most and that will be one the one from the box that we will get out often. 

The Compendium Box is RRP £15.95 and is aimed at children ages 4-6. It can be bought from the Orchard Toys website

Which of the 4 games you would like to play? 

Monday, 16 October 2017

Book Inspired Activity - Make Your Own Monster

We love reading and we are always looking for new activities to do. One day it struck me, why not use themes of books and things that happen in the stories we read to inspire the activities we do. 
So a few months ago we started a new activity each month that related to a book from our bookshelf. If you head to my activity section in the top book marks, you will be able to see more. 

This month we have decided to base our activity on a book called Worst In show. The book is about a little boy and his pet monster. The little boy enters him into a best in show monster competition. There are all types of monsters in this competition but the boys monster isn't very scary and looses. The boy doesn't mind not having a scary monster though as he loves him the way he is. 

So I thought for our activity this month, we would design our own monsters. 

Now, I have made this activity a little more simple for Lily and her age range, but you could go all out with this activity using all sorts of materials. What ever you can think of to make your monster you could use. 

But if you are looking for a basic activity then you could simply buy a pack of coloured foam, and then all you need is paper and glue. 

If your child is a little older than Lily (who is nearly 3) then they may want to cut out their own shapes. If not then you could cut them out for them, like I did for Lily. 
I asked Lily what colours she wanted to use. I also asked her if she wanted a spiked monster or a circle monster so then she was helping towards the design of it. Her first monster she made was a spiky one. She chose green foam for the head. 
She then helped me choose colours for the eyes, and nose and mouth. She knew exactly where on the face she had to stick down the face features. Lily also wanted to give this monster hair. 

Our second monster Lily chose red and wanted it to be round. I cut her out a shape and she stuck it onto the paper. We then added eyes, nose, mouth and Lily wanted to give it some sharp teeth. I think this monster was a little scarier than the first monster we made. 

The great thing about using foam to make these is that it makes them stand out from the paper as you can layer up the pieces of foam. Its a really nice mess free activity. 
If your child is a little older and has read this book, they may want to add on things that were in the competition, like warts, hair and have them breathe fire. 

This activity is also perfect for halloween. So if anyone makes any of these over the next few weeks, please tweet them to me at @lilyslearners as we would love to see and will always retweet. 

Do you think you will give this activity a go?
What would your monster look like? 

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Questions and Answers with Milli Hill

Around a month ago you may have read my post all About The Positive Birth book. If you did it you can get a good look at it here.

The Positive Birth Book, is written by a wonderful lady called Milli Hill who is the founder of The Positive Birth Movement. The book holds all sorts of amazing advice on how women can go about giving birth with a more positive attitude by getting rid of all aspects of fear. In this book she writes all about why you don't need to be scared to give birth because you can take control of your birth. You would not believe the amount of choices and options you have to make your birth the best it can be. 

After being really inspired by her book and finding it so helpful to read I asked Milli if she would like to answer some of my readers questions. So here they are, they are really worth a read as you never know if you may have a simular thought, question or problem yourself. 

Your Questions Answered - By Milli Hill

From Myself
"My last birth I really wanted a water birth or to birth in a birthing centre rather than hospital room. I unfortunately didn’t get either and ended up on a hospital bed where I didn’t want to be which ended up causing me all sorts of problems. I would love to try and get a birthing centre next time I have a baby but worried that the same would happen. What ways can I plan as a backup incase I don’t get the birthing centre again? EG, Can I ask to stay at home and have a home birth? Can I set up the hospital room to make it seem more like a birthing suite?"

Hello Cassie! Yes, yes and yes! (said in the style of Meg Ryan!). SHOCK NEWS! You can do what you like when you have a baby! You are FREE! Yipppeeeee! Etc…
In seriousness, first of all, I’m sorry that happened the first time round. There is a real problem with birth centre availability and it has such a negative impact on women when they plan to give birth in one and then they can’t. 
So yes, one thing you could do next time, is plan a home birth. The amazing thing is, that (assuming you are ‘low risk’), as a second time mother, home (or birth centre) are both safer  than labour ward in terms of where you plan to have your baby. For more info please read the section of my book, “Is Home Birth Safe?” (it’s in the Positive Home Birth section!), which explains about a very large study called the Birthplace Study, which shows that for 2nd time low risk mums, planning to give birth at home OR in the Midwife Led Unit is safer in terms of avoiding interventions. Caesareans, instrumental births, episiotomies, third or fourth degree tears and the need for blood transfusions and also, the very rare need for admission to intensive care, happen less frequently to women who plan a birth at home or in a MLU.
The other thing to remember about home birth is that it is very easy to change your mind ‘at the last minute’, whereas it’s not so easy to do this the other way round, ie, start laboring in hospital and then say, ‘Hang on a minute folks, I’ve decided to head home for the final fireworks.” (although you CAN do this if you want to – see SHOCK NEWS in paragraph one!)
So if you plan to be at home, you can still have a bag packed for hospital and keep an open mind, and transfer if you feel you would be happier there. 
You’re right, too, to think about ‘home birth in the hospital’ as I call it. If the stars line up to say that you are having a hospital birth, then yes, think about how you can make this a more oxytocin rich environment. Oxytocin, the ‘love hormone’, is essential to normal birth, but we tend to produce much more of it when we feel safe, warm, undisturbed, cosy, and loved. Basically, if you think of the perfect atmosphere for romantic sex, then you are not far off the best birth environment! So – take in your battery operated tealights, your fairy lights, your familiar cushion, an eye mask, photos of people you love, etc! And your partner, get loving with him in the hospital room! Get him to be in charge of keeping the space dimly lit and sexy. Ban interruptions. Move the bed to one side if you don’t want it. Make a floor nest. Get your fairy lights up. Snog! Etc!
All of these ideas and more will help you to have your ‘home birth in the hospital’. 
I hope that all helps, and I hope you get the birth you want. I know you have a copy of the Positive Birth Book, and there are so many more ideas in there! Good luck, and thanks for having me on your lovely blog! Milli x

From Abi 
I am just planning my second birth after a traumatic first labour. 
My question would be: "How do you stay positive when you have negative influences around you, for example family or friends who think it's easier to just opt for an elective c-section rather than concentrate on having a positive vaginal birth?"

Hi Abi, first of all I’m really sorry your first birth was traumatic and I hope you have had some support – it can help so much for someone to listen to your story and validate your feelings about it. Too often women feel they have to keep birth trauma to themselves and ‘enjoy their healthy baby’. Going forwards to your next birth, I think it can be really helpful to process feelings about your previous birth, and also find out why your first birth went the way it did? This can ‘put to bed’ some of your own possible worries or concerns about this next labour. 
As for family and friends, it depends who they are and why they feel this way? If it’s just busybody neighbours etc, I would just ignore them. However, if it is your partner, then perhaps they were with you for your first birth and are also traumatised? People who love you are not going to want to see you go through such a difficult experience twice, so their concerns are understandable. Perhaps they might also benefit from some time to talk through the first birth with a professional, either a midwife who can go through the notes with you, or a counselor with skills in this area?
It’s also worth explaining to family / friends (and possibly also reminding yourself), that there are not just 2 options here: scary traumatic vaginal birth or elective caesarean. There is a 3rd option, a really positive vaginal birth, which is exactly what you want! Get some really good support in place, for example a doula, and find out about all the different choices you can make to maximise your chances of this happening. For example, in my book you can read about the wonders of the birth hormone oxytocin, and how to create an environment where you are most likely to produce this. Consider, too (also in the book) declining routine vaginal exams and asking your carers to give you as much of a ‘hands off’ experience as possible (if this is what you feel you want – and many women who have had traumatic births prefer this – but not all – obviously it’s up to you.) 
Ironically, although you are being pressured to opt for a caesarean, the place you are most likely to get the kind of birth you want, is at home, which would probably fill your concerned friends and family with horror! But it’s actually true – unless you have complicating factors that make your birth ‘high risk’, then as a 2nd time mum, home birth has been shown by extensive research to be the safest choice for both you and your baby. (NB I’m assuming you are in the UK here, the research I am talking about is UK based evidence and home birth safety differs if you are in different parts of the world.)
Another option to consider is the birth centre if you have one in your area. This is also safer for you than Labour Ward in the obstetric unit. 
I hope this helps – please do get in touch with me if I can help you any more, Milli x

From Georgina 
"I am planning my second labour and concentrating on remaining positive attempting a VBAC but also plans of how to stay calm should I need to have another emergency c-section. It was very traumatic first time round".

Hi Georgina, some of what I have said in my answer to Abi might also be helpful for you. 
As well as this, I would suggest that first of all it’s good to focus on the maximizing your chances of this VBAC! I would highly recommend seeking out a doula and finding out about your local birth centre. A more woman centred, homely environment, hopefully with a pool, will be brilliant for you and help you to ‘get in the zone’. As I said to Abi, learn about oxytocin, and perhaps also experiment with some relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, visualization, or hypnobirthing. Make sure you have really good support for this birth, and read lots of positive stories. There is a facebook group VBAC Support Group UK where you might be able to find stories, and information specific to VBAC. 
I would also recommend making what I call a BPC Plan. This stands for Best Possible Caesarean. I’m pretty certain you will have a beautiful vaginal birth, but even if the chance is only really slim that you will end up in theatre again, it is worth making a really clear plan for exactly how you want things to be done, this time round. 
There is lots of information in my book about ‘woman centred caesarean’, and also there are special icons that accompany the birth plan section of the book that you can download for free here:, and use to make plans for every kind of birth, including your BPC! 
One of the first things to talk to your care providers about is the stage at which you want to go to theatre. Many women who had traumatic first births find it comforting to make it known that they wish to go to theatre at the very first sign of any issues. Without talking to you I don’t know if this idea may be helpful, but it’s good to know that you can voice your wishes about exactly how you want things to be. Should you transfer for a caesarean, you may still find meditation, visualization or hypnobirthing techniques helpful to you in theatre. And with your BPC plan, you can make your wishes known about other details of the birth, such as music being played, or having immediate skin to skin with your baby. No matter how you give birth, there are always options and you are the key decision maker. 
I hope you have a brilliant birth, no matter how it unfolds, with love, Milli x

From Lianne 
"I would love to know if there is an option to be induced at all? I had a really traumatic labour that ended up with my back locking with every contraction which may have been related to my prolapsed disc and was induced after 55 hours and once that happened it was easier to handle. If I could be induced it would put mine and Hubby's mind at ease for next time."

Hi Lianne, I’d love to know more info here, for example, have you looked into the issues with your back and is there anything you can do in this pregnancy to help with them? Did you have an epidural last time, and at what point? What kind of induction were you given? When you say, 55 hours – were you in active labour with regular contractions all that time? But above everything else, the most important point to make here is that being induced towards the end of a very long labour is absolutely not comparable in any way to being induced before your labour starts
In fact, what you are talking about in your first labour is not ‘induction’ at all – but ‘augmentation’. Induction is when your labour has not started at all and various methods are used to encourage it to start. Augmentation, which happens to a lot of women, is when similar methods are used during labour to speed you up and get things going. 
The difference, if you like, is that with augmentation, your body has already signed on the dotted line and agreed to be in labour! We don’t fully understand the process that a woman’s body goes through when it does this. We don’t know what exactly makes a body decide to begin the birth process. So when we offer induction to women, the body still has to sign on that dotted line and agree! Sometimes, if you were already close to starting labour naturally, the body is very compliant and allows the induction to work and it can be very straightforward and not too different from starting labour naturally. Other times, if your body is less in the mood to get going and have a baby, then the induction may take several days and can be difficult, or lead to other interventions that you were not hoping for. 
So I think my advice would be that it would be wrong to assume that it was the augmentation that helped last time, and that therefore being induced would make things better / easier this time. A better approach would be to think about what was working against you last time (ie why did it take 55 hours and augmentation?), and think about ways to make labour easier this time without those factors that worked against you.
I would also highly recommend water birth, it’s brilliant for everyone but in particular for women with mobility or back issues. 
Let me know if you want to unpick your first birth a bit more and work this all out, happy to chat, love for now, Milli x

From Jade 
"Hi, I'm due my third baby in November and since last year I have suffered with tachycardia. All ECHO's and ECG's have been normal and heart looks to be on perfect condition. This will be my first birth on the consultant led ward as my tachycardia started about 6 months after the birth of my second. Consultants have been less than accommodating and didn't act on advice from cardiologists. My normal heart rate is between 100 and 160bpm and they have given me a limit of 120bpm to let me on the midwifery led ward when cardiologist said he would be happy with up to 150bpm. I've had second opinions etc and consultants are not reassuring at all. I suffer with really bad SPD and currently on crutches so I guess I just want reassurance that i can still have a normal birth (like my previous 2) without them interfering too soon and proposing a c-section. Baby is also breech at the moment and I'm adamant that i want to try a normal birth if he doesn't turn back before labour."

This sounds complicated Jade and I’m not able to give medical advice. Just your baby being breech alone would make it tough for you to have a straightforward birth (but not impossible!). Personally, if the breech issue resolves, I would push to be on the MLU unless there are health concerns in which case it’s important to listen to the doctors who are experts in pathology ie things not being right, as opposed to midwives who are experts in normality. Good luck and let me know if I can support you further, Milli x

From Georgina G
"My last pregnancy was high risk because my baby was IUGR, my first baby was SGA. We are planning on another baby within the next year or two and the likelihood of this happening again is high. Both labours I was induced and strapped to monitors most of the time. I felt unable to relax at all and spent the entire time panicking about every little thing that could go wrong and didn't get a chance to enjoy labour at all and felt coping pain wise so much harder strapped to CTG machines. How would you suggest I could feel more positive and in control of my birth with a high risk pregnancy?"

Hi Georgina, I’m sorry your previous labours have been so tough. There are lots of choices available to you with this third baby. First of all, I guess we all need to be open minded to the thought that you might not be ‘high risk’ this time?! Also high risk is a very wide ‘label’, so, even if you do fall into this category, we need to start thinking of you as an individual, not just as this ‘label’. Once you are pregnant, if you are told that you are high risk again, ask lots of questions and find out what this specifically means as it applies to you, your health history, and the fact that this is your third baby. Ask what the risks actually are! Once you’ve got this information, find out what options are considered safe for a woman in your exact position. Perhaps things might be different and you might be able to go into labour spontaneously, or labour without continuous monitoring? If you absolutely need to be monitored, could you have a wireless monitor, known as telemetry? Or could your care providers help you find ways to move and stay more mobile even with the ‘belt’ style monitor? Alternatively, would an elective, gentle, woman centred caesarean feel like a better option for you this time? Whatever happens, you remain the key decision maker, and asking questions and encouraging your care providers to treat you as a very specific individual case, will help you to feel more in control. Please do ping me a message when you are pregnant if you need any more support, Milli x

From Victoria
"After my first birth, the gynaecologist said I should have cs for the next one (had a bad tear that healed leaving a 17mm gap still). I'm now expecting but I would really like to try a vaginal birth. Is it something that is enforced or do I still have choice?"

Hi Victoria. Nothing can ever be enforced, only recommended. For example, if your long lost brother needed a kidney, and you were the only match, you could not be forced to undergo surgery and give him your kidney, even if this were the only hope to save his life. Pregnancy is no different. You have absolute autonomy over your body and nobody can make you do anything without your express consent. 
Regarding the tear, I would suggest researching this in more detail and talking to people who have ‘been there, done that’. There is a facebook group for women who have experienced severe tears here: I would start there and see what other women say about the types of tears they had and the choices they made. 
If you decide to have a vaginal birth, there is lots of information in my book about preventing tears. Water birth is helpful, as is being active, and ‘non-directed pushing’ ie listening to your body and pushing when you feel compelled to, rather than when a midwife instructs you to. Very best with it! Milli x

From Elizabeth
"We hope to have another sometime in the future if my body allows (suffer from PCOS so have some fertility issues). With both of my previous births the midwives wanted me to be monitored from when I first arrived at the labour ward which I found restricting. First pregnancy I had gestational diabetes but second I did not (had to GTT and did not have it much to consultants surprise) but both high BMI. As such it was highly suggested to have a hospital birth and I found along with the monitoring the hospital environment was daunting and contractions slowed once I arrived at hospital as I was tense and felt uneasy. If I was to have another which would likely be a hospital birth how can I have a relaxing and enjoyable birth especially if I had to be monitored again? Also due to childcare issues there is a chance I'd have to birth without my partner, what tips can you suggest for having a relaxing, positive birth alone?"

Hi Elizabeth, I’m sorry you were made to feel that your options were restricted so much by your high BMI. There is a good website here for women with high BMI with lots of evidence based information and research. 
Might you be able to use a birth centre? There are restrictions on this for BMI but it depends how high your BMI is really, and what your overall health is like. If you are well otherwise, and only on the borderline of their ‘cut off point’, then it is very much worth pushing / begging for them to let you birth in the birth centre!
I can’t tell from your message why you had to be monitored? It’s worth exploring this a bit more and, as with any recommendation from a health care provider, finding out the reasons, any specific risks involved and on what evidence your care providers are making their decision. 
So – look at the options. If ‘worst case scenario’ is continuous monitoring in hospital, then see above to Georgina’s answer for ideas like wireless telemetry or a more active birth with the monitors on. 
If you think you might be alone, I would get a doula. This can be incredibly cheap (considering they are on call for 4-5 weeks around your due date and will stay with you for your entire labour and birth, no matter what!). A trainee doula will usually charge around £500, but if this is out of reach, you can apply for support through the Doula UK Access Fund. More info here: I hope you have a great pregnancy and birth and do get in touch with me if I can help any more, Milli x

From Margaret about a family member
"After a traumatic birth what is the best way to put someone's mind at rest, It's got to the point where she's paranoid about another baby but always wanted a big family?"

Hi Margaret. This is so complicated. I think the first thing that’s really important is that you and the other people around her really listen and honour her feelings about her previous birth. I think we have some big cultural problems with any kind of ‘big feelings’ sometimes! And birth trauma is no different. Often women are told, ‘Oh, you’ll soon forget, enjoy your healthy baby!”, and this can make them feel guilty for raising the subject, as if by complaining about their birth they are somehow implying they are ungrateful for their baby or do not fully love them, which is of course not the case. 
If you family member is willing, she may want to go over her birth, including the notes, with a midwife. She can ask for this service at the hospital where she had her baby, it’s sometimes called, ‘Birth reflections’ or ‘Birth afterthoughts’. Alternatively she can hire an Independent Midwife (via to go over her notes with her, if she would prefer someone separate from the hospital. 
It’s possible she is suffering from PTSD, and if so, she could be referred by her GP for counseling, or she can seek a specialist in birth trauma if she wishes to go privately. Sometimes PTSD is misdiagnosed as Post Natal Depression, so this is something to be aware of. If she is not clinically depressed, then she does not need anti-depressant medication. 
There is online birth trauma support including a great Facebook group here:
The key thing here is to help your family member find the right path to process and come to terms with what happened to her. Only then will she able to move on and think about whether she can give birth again, and if so, what her options for a better second birth might be. I hope that helps, Milli x

I really want to say a great big thank you to Milli Hill for answering these questions. I hope that they provided great help to all involved. Please do head to the Positive Birth Movement Website and also follow The Positive Birth Movement on facebook to see more positive advice. 

Friday, 13 October 2017

Songmics Fabric Ottoman Review

Im sure you can all relate who how important and needed storage is around the house. We seem to be always running out of it and so when Songmics offered a Ottoman for us to review, I straight away knew where it was going to go and what it was going to store. 

I love ottomans, I think one of the best things about them is they don't shout out as obvious storage in a room. As you look around a room, you would think they looked more like furniture than storage and so your room looks neater and less cluttered. This piece of storage is totally hidden because of its stylish appearance. 

The ottoman we were sent from Songmics is really nice. The box itself comes flat packed and you just pull it out into its shape and then place a material covered board in the bottom that holds it strong. You then place the lid on top and you have your ottoman. I loved that it was so easy to build and when it is up, it really does look strong, neat and good quality. You would think it was made from a thick strong wood it stands that strong. 

I found the perfect spot for my ottoman straight away. In my bedroom in front of the window. My bedroom has a gold and silver colour scheme to it so the grey ottoman fitted in nicely. It fit perfectly in front of my window and although its a nice sized piece of storage, it didn't feel like it took up much room. Here it is sat proudly by my window where you can get an idea of the size of it but please refer to the second photograph to see a better picture of what the colour is. 

The next thing I liked about this ottoman was the lid. It makes the ottoman turn into a seat with the soft cushion that is on top. Lily sat on it first and she said "its comfy". She is right and it is really nice and soft on top. Im not sure the amount of weight it can take but Lily loves to sit on it and look out the window. She is so happy that she can do it by herself now and doesn't have to be lifted up. I have sat on it a few times also and it seems to take my weight too. Though I also don't weigh much so that isn't much to go on. 
The material that the ottoman is lined with is really nice and I was pleased with how good a quality material it was. 

Last but not least is how much I could store inside. The answer is a lot. So far I have stored 5 towels in there and a bedding set. I am planning on putting a second bedding set in there and it would still have room left over. Measuring at a size of 76x x38 x38 it has a decent amount of room inside allowing for plenty of storage. Its not just perfect for the bedroom, it would be perfect for any child's playroom, this would be great for storing toys, books, blankets, you name it and i'm sure it can go inside. 

For the amazing price of £23.99 you will not be disappointed with this ottoman. If I would have payed for this item myself I would have been really happy with the size and quality for the price. There are different choices of colours and you can head here to buy yourself your own ottoman now. 

There is also the chance to win one! Songmics are letting me give one away to one of my lucky readers. Enter on the Gleam app below for your chance to win and good luck!

Win a Songmics Ottoman

Thursday, 12 October 2017

My Photography Post - October 2017

As well as working hard being a mummy to Lily, one of the other things I do is photography. I shoot lots of different things, fashion, weddings, photo journalism, though at the moment not getting much time to shoot. 

To keep my head in photography I have decided to do a blog post a month all about my photography, you can see Septembers post here. 

This month I would like to show you some work that I have done for a really good friend of mine who was needing some photographs of his amazing talent he has. 

He has his own business called Mortuus Bestia and makes custom embossed leather mason jars and hip flasks and they are all hand crafted by himself and can be personalised. 

It was a really enjoyable shoot. Product photography I really enjoy doing and especially when it is such a nice subject such as these with character to them.
I used natural window light and shot with my Olympus OMD and after doing minimal retouches to them these were the finished results. 

Which of the above photographs do you like the best?