Mumsnet Bumpfest 2014 – Pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond from an experienced mum’s point-of-view

Mumsnet Bumpfest 2014
Mumsnet Bumpfest 2014 – Pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond from an experienced mum’s point-of-view
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*I apologise in advance for the length and detail of this post on Bumpfest 2014. I have literally written about every view I’ve ever had on labour, birth and parenting that I feel are relevant to the different sessions I encountered at the one-day event. I would be glad to hear your comments and views at the end of this post – perhaps we can spark a healthy debate! ;-)*

Date:    Saturday, 27th September 2014

Time:    09.00 – 17.00

Venue:    30 Euston Square, London NW1 2FB

Saturday 27th September was unlike any other normal Saturday for me. Rather than a slow, lazy morning of breakfast with hubby and the kids and watching Saturday morning children’s TV, I was invited to attend Mumsnet’s first ever event, Bumpfest 2014, by Aldi, one of Mumsnet Bumpfest’s sponsors of the event and who I had previously worked with before. So, I was quite eager to accept and curious as to what Mumsnet had in store in a packed-to-the-brim all-day event for expecting parents.

About Mumsnet

Mumsnet started 15 years ago when JustineMumsnet, the founder embarked on a disastrous family holiday. Her idea was to create a website where parents could swap advice about not just holidays, but all the other stuff parents talk about.

Fourteen years later and Mumsnet is now the UK’s biggest network for parents, generating over 65 million page views and over 14 million visits per month (something Motherhood Diaries is aspiring to be like!)

About Bumpfest 2014

Bumpfest was a one-day event, dedicated to all things birth and baby-related. The first ever Bumpfest included a range of speakers and sessions, presenting a range of parenting styles and philosophies in order for the expectant parent to explore the options available and work out which feels right to them. For £45 (using the code ‘MUMSNETTER’) you would have access to information from birth plans to breastfeeding, from colic to co-sleeping, plus a great breakfast, hearty lunch and a goody bag, packed with lots of goodies for the parent and newborn. Not all sessions programmed were available to be viewed, but Bumpfest offered Breakout sessions where the parent could choose which would be of the most interest to them. The full programme looked like this:

09.00 – 09.30 Registration and Morning Coffee
09.35 – 10.30 Keynote – Birth: Myth vs. Reality
The opening panel explored the five ‘truths’ about childbirth, which the Mumsnet community reckon might not really be truths at all. In the myth-busting session, the panel of hand-picked experts – which include an obstetrician, a doula, a midwife and a scientific journalist – sort the facts from the fluff: forget what you’ve read – here’s the truth about birth from those in the know.Speakers:Dr. Penelope Law, Mars Lord, Linda Geddes, Jenny Fraser, Sally Peck and Olivia Robinson

10.30 – 11.00 Morning Break
11.00 – 11.45 1st Morning Breakout – Choice of 1 session to attend from 4

  1. Breastfeeding: What you Need to Know
  2. Baby First Aid: be prepared – Provided by British Red Cross
  3. New Dads: A Survival Guide
  4. Bonding: Back to Basics

[Motherhood Diaries attended Baby First Aid: Be Prepared – Provided by British Red Cross. More information on the session below]

Tracey Taylor, First Aid, British Red Cross

11.50-12.30 2nd Morning Breakout – Choice of 1 session to attend from 4

  1. You Help to Build your Baby’s Brain with Penelope Leach
  2. The Business of Parenting
  3. Baby First Aid: Be Prepared – Provided by British Red Cross
  4. Breastfeeding: What you Need to Know

[Motherhood Diaries attended The Business of Parenting. More information on the session below]

Zena Everett, Careers Expert

12.30-14.00 Lunch
14.00-14.45 Keynote – Sleep: A Masterclass
Sleep – a vanishing resource, at least in the first few months after birth. Andrea Grace – health visitor, nurse and mother of four – knows a fair bit about babies and sleep, and in this keynote session she explored parents’ expectations, and guided them through the realities, leaving them much more prepared for when their baby is born. How does baby sleep differ from adult sleep? What’s a ‘normal’ amount of sleep for a newborn? When will they sleep through the night? And, what can you do if your baby won’t sleep?Andrea Grace, Health Visitor, nurse and mother of 4
14.50-15.35 Afternoon Breakout – Choice of 1 session to attend from 4

  1. Attachment Parenting – What is it, and is it for me?
  2. A Flexible Routine– Sounds Contradictory, But it Works
  3. Breastfeeding: What you Need to Know
  4. Baby First Aid: Be Prepared – Provided by British Red Cross

[Motherhood Diaries attended A Flexible Routine – Sounds Contradictory, But it Works. More information on the session below.]

Rachel Waddilove – Maternity Nurse

16.00-16.45 Keynote – After the Apocalypse: What to Expect in the Weeks Following BirthYou’ve given birth – now what? There’s an amazing journey ahead, but many new parents report feeling completely unprepared for what happens when they return home with a new baby; having focused so hard on birth, they’re not prepped for the reality of the first weeks with a brand new (and pretty demanding) human being. The panel – ranging from scientists, to parenting experts, to been-there mothers – shared their wisdom on how to cope with the few weeks of parenthood: sleep (or lack of it), feeding, when to have visitors, family relationship expectations, PND, your body after birth, and more.Panel includes Dr. Pixie McKenna, Jane Gentle, Rebecca Schiller, Alison Wall, and will be chaired by broadcaster Kate Silverton.

16.45-17.00 Keynote – Bump then Grind
Acclaimed comedian Lucy Porter entertained us with her wry perspectives on birth, babies, parenthood and everything in between.
Other Goodies and Extras that were available at the Bumpfest Event
  • Pregnancy-friendly refreshments including continental breakfast, a choice of delicious cooked lunches – plus, an alcohol-free cocktail bar!
  • Dedicated chill-out area where you can catch up with other delegates and relax in designated pampering zones.
  • Bulging goody bag (guaranteed to be worth at least the price of the Bumpfest ticket!), packed with healthy treats and beauty products, plus some items for your newborn.
  • Prizes to be won, including 10 MamaTENS machines, baby hampers, snazzy goodies and £500 to spend on maternity clothes from Tiffany Rose.

09:00 – 09:30 – Registration and Morning Coffee

I had made it in good time. It was early enough that I was one of the first few people to enter the door and enjoy the transformed building in Euston, smartly decorated with various promotional stalls and the inviting aroma of fresh coffee coming from the food portion of the room. I made my way over to the Aldi stand first, who had scored an impressively large amount of space in the room to showcase all the products in their Mamia baby range. I was very impressed by their display, which even boasted their own Belmont Jaffa Cakes (my favourite cake) against the well-known McVities Jaffa Cakes (my favourite brand of Jaffa Cakes), and I could honestly say that the difference in taste was minimal, yet the price of Aldi’s version was massively cheaper than McVities’ (costing £0.99 for 24 against McVities’ £2.29 per 24 biscuits.) I had a few minutes left to scout around all of the other stalls in the room before our first Keynote session was scheduled to start at 09:35 and made my way over to St. John’s Ambulance’s stall first, which was all about the importance of teaching first aid to parents. I made a point of attending that session at 11:00 instead of the other 4 offered at the 1st Morning Breakout as it was the most invaluable session for me and I haven’t taken first aid before. Other stalls in the room was Dr. Care Anywhere, an innovative new GP practice offering a new kind of online, on-call GP support via Skype. Perfect for those parents who need help at 3 in the morning – something which I definitely would have benefited from during my nightly wake-up calls from my two babies.

09:35 – 10:30 – Keynote – Birth: Myth vs. Reality

As we entered the big conference room, Carrie Longton, co-founder of Mumsnet, briefed us on the days’ events and introduced the key panellists (see above program). Birth: Myth vs. Reality is all about busting the 5 well-known myths that most pregnant women will be faced with at least once during their pregnancy and the first few months of birth.

Myth #1 – Writing a birth plan will enable me to have the birth I want.

Linda talked about involving partners in the birth plan to learn about what their pregnant partner wants before birth and just to make informed choices about the kind of birth that they want. The panellists stressed about learning the risks and benefits of all kinds of scenarios expecting parents could be faced with, including drugs during labour and, in some cases, emergency caesareans.

I wanted a very easy birth (we all do), surrounded by candlelight and music at my local birth centre and the option to enter a birthing pool if the pain became too much to bear. I knew that I didn’t want any drugs (I’m terrified of needles), yet, as a first-time pregnant mum, I had absolutely no idea what birth would be like, let alone how to deal with labour pains. So, I wanted to minimise the pain as much as possible (yes, we all do) and learned about tried and tested breathing techniques, which I read were failsafe techniques to ease labour pain. I read tons upon tons of resources, all with conflicting information, and watched lots of videos about giving birth. I was stumped and overwhelmed with too much information in my brain. So, in my birth plan, I wrote that I wanted minimal pain relief, but asked the medical staff to do what they needed to do to safely deliver my child. Period!

The reality – my baby’s heart rate had dropped to 54 beats per minute at one point after 3 days of back labour (baby’s back was facing my back) and I was rushed into the theatre room to have an emergency caesarean after having been administered an epidural just 5 minutes before the decision was made (upon medical advice, by the way, as I was labouring too slowly and I needed my body to relax a bit). The reality of my birth couldn’t have been further apart from my intended birth plan. But, through research and learning about all the possible scenarios that could have happened, I was just blessed my baby was safe in my arms. You never know what is going to happen, you just need to be prepared for the likely outcomes, so you’re not completely shocked at the result of your actual birth.

So, in conclusion, birth plans are an important tool to write down how you would like to have the birth, but should not be relied upon as gospel, as you are most likely going to end up with something different, sometimes even better results than you intended!

Myth #2 – You shouldn’t have a home birth with your 1st child

Yes, I was told this too. It’s dangerous and risky, especially as your body hasn’t gone through the unique journey of birth before. So I stayed away from home birth and opted, through advice from my parents, to have professional staff around me in case anything went wrong. In hindsight, they couldn’t have been more right due to the nature of my actual birth.

BUT, the risk of something bad actually happening to first time mums during a home birth is actually minimal. A birth place study noted that a risk of something bad happening was actually 4 to 5 out of every 1,000 women. And, for first time mothers, the statistic is only marginally higher, 9 out of every 1,000. It is, in fact, the mum’s option of pain relief that brings 45% of first time mothers to hospital. Do bear in mind, though, that if you do have an epidural, then you are no longer considered as a low risk patient because of the drops in blood pressure and blood to the baby, which effects the baby’s heart rate.

Going forward, if you want to have a home birth, you need to ask your doctor or midwife how many home births they have done that year, and if the situation arises about C-sections (it’s better to be prepared) then ask your consultant how many C-sections they have performed that year too. If the answer is less than 10 that year, you’re better off finding someone more experienced.

Myth #3 – Eating hot curry will induce labour

I cannot tell you the amount of times I tried all the legendary techniques to bring about the onset of labour, as my first baby was 7 days overdue and my second baby was a whopping 10 days overdue. Having said all of that, you are only overdue from the medic’s point of view. There is nothing set in stone that shows scientifically that your baby is overdue at 42 weeks. NICE Guidelines state that you are statistically overdue when you are 10 to 14 days past 40 weeks. After 42 weeks, even though there are ultrasounds and CTGs to monitor the baby’s heart rate, medical staff don’t know how to predict the way the baby is moving after that date. So, it may not necessarily be a bad thing if you go over 43 weeks, say, but medical staff are unable to predict what will happen to the baby, so they use the mark of 42 weeks to minimise any risk.

Another point to note, if you don’t normally eat curry, then curry during pregnancy may stimulate the bowels, in turn, stimulating the uterus. So, this technique may work, but I, personally, believe it is more beneficial to start walking from 38 weeks to encourage the baby to drop down and get ready for birth.

Myth #4 – Breastfeeding is natural, therefore it will be simple and straightforward

I have met hundreds of women who gave up breastfeeding right from the offset, simply because they couldn’t get the baby to latch on properly, resulting in little to no milk flow, a hungry baby and a stressed out mum. Yet, if they had access to help early on, they may have improved the latch and found it easier to breastfeed overall. And, don’t forget, with an improper latch comes all sorts of side effects, like cracked nipples, milk blisters, blocked ducts and, even an infected breast (Mastitis). I breastfed my first for 15 months and my second for 2 ½ years, yet with both of them I experienced really painful nipples in the first few weeks. That’s because, I had my first when it was a really snowy day and most of the staff weren’t able to attend the hospital to monitor me properly. So, staff shortages were clearly apparent and I wasn’t shown how to breastfeed my baby. I didn’t stress out though because I was very lucky that my mum had breastfed all four of us siblings for 2 years plus and she knew exactly what to do. But, for those women who don’t have that kind of support, what do they do? It’s frustrating, I know! Breastfeeding is supposed to be the most natural thing that you can offer your baby, so why doesn’t it come so naturally all the time? Well, it’s because both you and the baby are learning how to breastfeed, not just yourself. Your baby has never done this before either, so if you can’t teach him/her how to feed, she won’t know how to. That’s why local breastfeeding classes are available to help you get the support you need. I look back and I think to myself, “Wow, I did struggle with breastfeeding at the beginning.” But, trust me, once you get to a few months plus, it gets a LOT easier and I loved the unique mother and baby bond I had when breastfeeding, as well as knowing that I was giving my babies liquid gold to help them grow.

Just as a side note – If you do end up giving up breastfeeding, don’t beat yourself up about it. Any form of breast milk you offered your baby is still a huge benefit, but it’s far more important for both mother and baby to stay relaxed and be happy. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work – breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, especially for those who have really suffered trying.

Myth #5 – I will fall in love with my baby the moment I set eyes on them

This is a difficult topic to talk about because the common misconception of loving your baby from the moment you set eyes on them is quite misinterpreted. Yes, I did love my babies the second they were in my arms, but I know some of my good friends really struggled to love their baby right at the beginning. Often classed as Postnatal Depression, which sometimes can go untreated, external factors like a complicated birth and/or the way the baby looks etc. can be a reason to feel that this baby is alien to you. The point is that myth #5 is, indeed, a myth. It doesn’t mean that you’re any less of a parent or that you want your baby to fail in any way. It is because you haven’t gotten to the core of the issue of why you are feeling like the way you do, and most times it’s this overbearing, unrealistic view of birth before it happens that causes something inside you to not connect with your baby.

I will go back to a good friend of mine who has 4 very beautiful children. She is like mother earth: she cooks for her children 3 – 4 times a day because she doesn’t believe in processed food, she reads to her children every single night and tells them that she loves them before she kisses them on the forehead and tucks them up at night. And, they are all under 7 years old! (How she does it is beyond me!) Yet, she felt that disconnect with all of her children when she gave birth to them. She’s very honest about how she felt when she gave birth. She didn’t feel love instantly and she believes the main reason she felt that way was because of how complicated her births were. She had an ectopic pregnancy with her first, a caesarean for 2 of them and a forceps delivery with her 4th. All of them were complicated and arduously long labours, and she was absolutely exhausted when she had finally gotten round to giving birth. She didn’t have her family around her as they all live abroad, so she and her husband (who works long hours) were left to manage these 4 babies by themselves. Looking at her now, she is the epitome of the almost perfect mother (no mum is perfect, trust me!), yet she didn’t feel love for her babies when she gave birth to them? How can that be? She was later diagnosed with mild PND and sought therapy (and a brief stint on anti-depressants, which she believed didn’t work as it only masked the problem). Therapy made her realise that she was just getting overwhelmed with 4 kids and not getting enough help. Every time one of her babies were born, she would have thoughts about starvation, or unintentionally hurting or damaging her babies because she felt she couldn’t cope, not to forget the nightmare births she had encountered, which would be enough to scare anybody! She combatted these issues by phoning in all the friends and neighbours she had around her, started playdates when her babies were merely a few months old, and scheduled in lots of holiday trips to visit her mum and dad, so she didn’t feel that crippling loneliness. And, soon enough, the love started to surface. She told me once that, she remembered distinctively the first time she realised how much she loved her second baby so much. Her 2 month old had accidentally bumped her head on the side of the cot and started screaming in pain. There was a golf ball sized lump on her forehead. As she rushed in to tend to her baby, she realised that she could have lost her if, heaven forbid, something worse would have happened, and all those feelings of love simply rushed in and enveloped her. It had taken 2 months of forcing a bond to realise that love was inside of her the whole time, but masked by so many relevant environmental factors that were clouding her head day in, day out.

So, love doesn’t always spring on you straight away, especially if you’re a first time mum, because you can prepare as much as you want about birth and how to look after your baby in the subsequent years, but sometimes reality hits you with a curveball and it overwhelms you. This is not a bad thing! It has happened to so many of us and it will continue to happen. If you feel like an alien or an evil person because you don’t feel any love for your baby when you first catch eyes on them, then have faith in yourself and keep looking after your baby as much as you possibly can, whilst seeking immediate help and support because there are tons of PND support groups around. Or, maybe even having a quiet word with someone you trust, can lift that dark wave of worry. Love will come and not always instantly.

All-in-all, the keynote was really interesting, especially from an experienced mum’s point of view because it made me think about all the times that I believed these myths during my first pregnancy, especially about my birth plan and breastfeeding. I did feel scared and lost and if I was a mum-to-be or a first time mum, then I would arm myself with the knowledge that I learned fromthis session and hold my head up high!

11.00 – 11.45 – 1st Morning Breakout – British Red Cross – Baby 1st Aid

I chose to attend Baby 1st Aid because I knew that this session would be by far the most informative for me as I haven’t taken first aid and I certainly feel guilty about that, having two babies under 4 years old.

The session kicked off with a talk about choking and burns in babies under 12 months old, as well as a brief introduction on British Red Cross’ amazing new Free App (which can be downloaded here) and holds a much more thorough version on what we briefly learned in our session. So, parents, definitely download it when you get the chance. Link here:

Back to the session and we learned about the basics on what to do when your baby is choking:


  1. Choking means something is stuck inside the baby’s mouth and they can’t breathe.
  2. Sit down and have a quick look in the mouth. If you can see the object then you can try to remove it with your fingers, but be careful not to push the object further down the throat.
  3. If you can’t see the obstructing object, turn the baby over and rest them on your knee.
  4. Keep the baby’s head lower than their bottom.
  5. With the heel of your palm, hit between the baby’s shoulder blade. Keep going and turning over to check if the object has come loose. With older babies, you may need to lift the head and make a lower blow on their back with the heel of your hand.
  6. Back blows really do work, but support your baby’s jaw and hit with the heel of your hand.
  7. If the object cannot be removed and you’ve made about 5 blows, roll them over onto their back and with two fingers, press them in the chest to make them cough (between the nipples and on the breastbone).
  8. Push towards the head with the head lower than the bottom. You’re effectively trying to make them cough.
  9. If you’ve done 5 presses and it hasn’t come out yet, turn them back over and blow on the back x 6

Unconscious Baby

  1. Unconscious baby means they are not responding in a normal way.
  2. Tap their feet to try and wake them up.
  3. If they’re drowsy and floppy, take them out of the cot and put them on the floor.
  4. See if they can breathe by placing your hand over their mouth and feeling for any breaths.
  5. Slightly lift the chin and look, listen and feel.
  6. Look at their tummy for movement
  7. If they’re breathing, hold the baby supported and with their head lower than the bottom, let whatever is in the throat drain out – call 999 immediately.
  8. If they’re not breathing, lift baby’s chin up slightly
  9. Give 5 quick little breaths by putting your mouth around the baby’s mouth.
  10. Place 2 fingers in the middle of the chest and do 30 quick compressions, up and down.
  11. Press and squeeze on the heart to get it pumping oxygen.
  12. Call the ambulance ASAP
  13. When you’ve done around 30, give 2 breaths.
  14. Make sure to place the baby on a hard surface, like the floor or the table, but not on the knee as it’s too soft.
  15. Call 999 who will talk you through everything that you need to know until they get to you.
  16. For boys, you may need to use the heel of your palm on their chest instead of 2 fingers
  17. If your baby is drowning, you need to get air in and move that air around.
  18. Still do quick breaths and with the heel of your hand, push the air around and turn the baby around to let the water out.


  1. When your child has burned their skin, use cold running water to cool the burn immediately. If you don’t have any water to hand, any cool harmless liquid can be used as an alternative, i.e. milk or orange juice (anything you can drink is harmless).
  2. You need to cool the burn down for at least 10 minutes to stop the skin from burning underneath the surface.
  3. Loosely cover the burn with cling film to make it air tight. This also helps to stop the burning.
  4. If clothes are stuck to the skin, then do not take them off. Treat the burn as normal.
  5. Ice can be harmful as it is too cold
  6. The trick here is to remove any air from the burn to stop the skin burning underneath.

Don’t forget you can download the Free App for all of the above information.

We had a practice dummy to play with, which made me realise how much easier it is said than done in real life if, heaven forbid, you need to put any of these points into practice. I’m so glad I went because now I hold very basic knowledge on how to keep my babies safe and alive, whilst calling for emergency help. And, I will be certainly signing up for that First Aid Course sooner rather than later!

11.50 – 12.30 – 2nd Morning Breakout – The business of Parenting – Mamia Range

The 2nd Morning Breakout session was broken down into 2 mini sessions, the first was a talk by Buying Director of Aldi, Katy Patterson, a working mother of 2, who spoke about juggling work and being a mum. Her top tips were:

  1. Have childcare that you can trust.
  2. Get organised
  3. Set your own boundaries
  4. Get past the mum guilt.

A lot of us mums feel guilty, no matter what our roles are – whether we are full time stay-at-home mums, full-time working mums or work-from-home mums (that’s me!) So, it’s really refreshing to hear a working mum’s point of view on how she deals with the two monumental jobs in her life, so that she doesn’t neglect her maternal duties, but she provides security and stability for her children. I find Katy to be a very commendable person. She’s calm, laid back and very intelligent. Yet, it is clear to see how much she loves her children and she would do anything to make sure that her children feel loved.

“I work as hard as I can during the week, but I leave my work at work. When I get home, I’m 100% with my children.” Katy Patterson, Buying Director responsible for developing and growing the Aldi Mamia range.

And I think her above quote sums it up beautifully. When you’re at work, be 100% at work. When you’re with your children, be 100% with your children. So the most important aspect of being a working mum is to get all the necessary preparations in place to make that happen. I work when my children are asleep. That way, I am there for my children during their waking hours. Then when they’re in bed, I put my working cap on and I work. Maybe we’re all a little more sleep deprived in the process, but it seems to be the only way we fend off that dreaded nagging guilt that we’re not doing enough as mothers for our children.

Katy summed up her talk by going through the Mamia baby range, which includes all of the products you need to look after your baby and child, including their fantastic range of nappies, which are such high quality (I use them at home) for literally half the price as regular branded nappies. Mamia also have a deliciously tasty baby food range, including the gorgeous fruit pouches and juice, which are cheap, but healthy too. I attended an Aldi event at London Zoo earlier this year, which introduced some of the new baby products in the Mamia range. You can find the post on our visit to London Zoo here:

The second mini session was hosted by Zena Everett, a resident careers expert, to talk to us about managing our careers during maternity leave. I’m not pregnant, but it’s good for women to find out how to maintain a career even when they’re on maternity leave.

We even received homework!

12:30 – 14:00 – Lunch

Lunch was served and it was absolutely delicious. There was such a wide variety of food, from risotto to creamy pasta, to even an elaborate selection of salads. I even managed to sit next to another mummy blogger, which was a stroke of luck as all the seats were taken, so I had found a little cosy spot in the bar area on the ground floor (the main room was on the first floor). We chatted about what we had learned during our sessions, as well as our own key experiences of motherhood. I also managed to have a chat with Mamas and Papas, one of the sponsors of the day, to try out the new Armadillo Flip, which is definitely the first buggy I will be buying if and when I have another baby. It is simply amazing and looks so cool! There was a competition going on winning one of the Armadillo Flips, by tweeting a picture of the buggy that was on display. A secondary competition was rolling a large dice with ‘win’ and ‘lose’ on it and if you rolled the dice onto ‘win’, which I did, you received a nice fluffy toy for your baby’s buggy, which I did. I am putting it in my box of goodies for my friend who is due to have her baby very soon, as my boys are a little too old to enjoy it, which is a shame L

YouTube video of the Armadillo Flip in action can be found here:

14:00 – 14:45 – Keynote – Sleep: A Masterclass, Andrea Grace, Health Visitor, Nurse and Mother of 4

I was quite interested to learn about what a mother of 4 deemed to be the best sleep routine for babies, as I would say that one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with as a mum was getting a great sleep routine down, which I have now managed to do after almost 4 years of trying.

Andrea spoke mainly about a baby’s sleep routine versus an adult’s sleep routine, i.e. babies have a shorter sleep cycle, but a more active sleep than adults, which only have about 20 – 25% of REM (Rapid Eye Movement), and approximately 1 ½ hours’ sleep cycle (against a baby’s 40 minutes). REM accounts for half of a baby’s sleep, whereas premature babies are in active (REM) sleep 80% of the time.

It was obvious to me now from someone else telling me that we tend to overlook that a baby’s sleep cycle is different to that of an adult’s and that when we are faced with a newborn sleeping all the time, but also waking up all the time, we’re stumped as to how to get that baby to stay sleeping. It’s because nature doesn’t intend for the new baby to sleep in long stretches. Nature wants the mother to feed and comfort the baby during the night until the baby’s stomach grows and s/he can feel full for longer and more secure enough to not need mummy’s and daddy’s cuddles in the middle of the night.

Through experience, I have met mothers from all different views in the spectrum – from strict routines to free routines and I’m somewhere in the middle, starting from a pretty free routine to now a guided and relaxed routine that won’t break my boys’ hearts if an obstacle steps in the way to change the course of events.

Here is the very experienced Andrea Grace’s idea of the “best ever bedtime routine” and “best ways” to get baby to sleep:

  1. Follow bed time script by using familiar bedtime phrases, songs and actions at key points in the night.
  2. Bath baby every night
  3. Go directly to bed after bath
  4. Clean nappy/cream/massage and sleep suit on
  5. Milk feed – with light on to prevent baby from falling asleep over feed (make sure baby is well fed before putting down and breastfeed on demand during the night if they wake up). Wind well after feeds and introduce a song/phrase that they will come to associate with falling asleep.
  6. Goodnight song/story – same one each night
  7. Having baby upright during this process will help
  8. In the cot awake, but sleepy, to settle for the night (Make sure it is a cosy and safe place to sleep and keep lights low at night). A baby should be in the parent’s room until at least 6 months old.
  9. Do not change baby’s nappy during the night unless very wet or soiled
  10. Allow baby to experience fresh air and light during daytime and darkness at night.

I have to say that I think Andrea’s bedtime routine is spot on, from bathing every night (it does become a chore, but it really does send babies to sleep!) to putting baby down in the cot awake, but sleepy. This was the only part of my bedtime routine that failed every time. My boys would cry for mummy when they were put down in their cot, or I would fall asleep with them whilst breastfeeding to sleep, which fast became a tricky habit to break. I now go to sleep with my boys every night, even though they are in bed by 7 every night and they follow a routine of bath, book and bed. To be honest, I actually don’t see anything wrong with co-sleeping and neither does Andrea Grace. I also agree that babies should be in their parent’s room at least until 6 months old because they’ve only just come out of their mother’s womb. I, personally, don’t believe it is fair to cast them into another room by themselves from day dot. Again, this is just my opinion – both boys’ slept in our room until they were 1 year old and transitioned quite easily into their own room afterwards.

14:50 – 15:35 – Afternoon Breakout – A Flexible Routine – Sounds Contradictory, But it Works, Rachel Waddilove

Upon listening to Andrea Grace’s very relaxed routine of gentle guidance and then Rachel Waddilove’s stricter version of how to look after your baby, I felt quite sorry for those first time pregnant mums and dads, because the two women’s opinions completely contradicted each other. This is what I was worried was going to happen at one of these events because, like I’ve said many times before, there are no manuals on parenting, nor right or wrong ways of doing things. There have only been tried and tested techniques, and because every baby is so different, some of these techniques may not work on some babies, i.e. controlled crying versus co-sleeping; it may work for some, it may not work for others. So, as genuinely lovely and sweet as Rachel Waddilove was (she was very welcoming and just talked to us, being guided by our questions, rather than talking from a script), I found myself squirming uncomfortably in my seat as she was handing out advice on co-sleeping and strict routines. It just wasn’t for me. For example, a baby should be in another room from day one if that is what the parents choose and that parents should not co-sleep with their babies. She may be right, but those poor first time mums and dads, who had just come out of Andrea Grace’s session, must have felt back at square one after listening to Rachel Waddilove’s conflicting advice!

16:00 – 16:45 – Keynote – After the Apocalypse: What to Expect in the Weeks Following Birth

After a small break for more coffee and little patisserie delights, we had another keynote session, this time about what to expect after birth. I was really glad to see this on the agenda because a lot of information was handed out about what to do during pregnancy and birth, but what happens when you have a baby to look after? The panel spoke quite openly about the problems they faced during parenthood and their experiences of having a baby.

16:45 – 17:00 – Keynote – Bump then Grind

Acclaimed comedian Lucy Porter was brought on in the last 15 minutes of the day, to conclude the event on a funny note. Although, she wasn’t my cup of tea, the 15-minute comedy sketch brought laughter around the room and everyone left the large conference room with a big smile on their face.

The last word was given by Carrie Longton, Co-Founder of Mumsnet, who thanked us for attending the first ever Bumpfest event and urged us to keep using Mumsnet for hunting down more information on babies and parenting, if we needed it.

Upon leaving, I was handed a very weighty goodie bag, which promised to be at least the value of the ticket (which I had got for free, so this was a 100% bonus). I was very impressed with the contents, which mainly included lots of Aldi’s baby products from the Mamia range.

The most important lesson that everyone should have taken with them after this event, including first time parents, is that no technique, tip or trick is 100% right. The information all these experts have handed down to us is based on subjective experiences and, although, I do believe that you should pass down knowledge and expertise to those who need it because you can’t take it with you when you go, I do think you have to be very cautious by saying what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong.’

So, my advice to you mummies and daddies out there, from one experienced mum to a first time mum is:

Learn from your baby as early as possible. Take into account tried and tested techniques from experienced mums and dads (experts may be very knowledgeable, but unless they have been parents to their own babies, they have no real clue). Try out routines through trial and error and if no one cries (or dies) afterwards, then it’s a routine that’s worked! Be very wary of consulting a multitude of sources on one topic, you will find that there are so many conflicting opinions where one discredits the other, you will just end up being confused again. It is best to stick to one or two sources that you relate to and that you feel a certain affiliation to. For example, if your baby has colic and you’re reading a blog about a parent whose baby had colic and they came out of the whole ordeal as a happy and content baby, then by all means, follow how the parents did that. But, the bottom line is to take everything with a pinch of salt and learn from your own children and experiences. Soon you will be an experienced mum, looking back on the whole saga and wondering why you stressed so much in the first place. Trust me, I do this every day! 😉


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Leyla Preston (595 Posts)

Leyla Preston is the owner and Editor of Motherhood Diaries global magazine for parents. Leyla is a busy mother of two even busier boys; Aron, 8, and Aidan, 7. When Leyla isn’t feeding, managing a gazillion tasks or cleaning the infinite mess at home, she is busy working on this magazine and a new cooking channel coming very soon – no rest for the wicked! You can follow Leyla on Twitter (@M_Diaries) or join the busy Motherhood Diaries Facebook group where all mums get together and share stories and solutions with one another: