Birth plans seem like such a good idea when you first hear the concept. As a mum-to-be we have a vague idea that birth might involve a lot of pain and screaming so surely it is best to have a plan.

Before I experienced the reality of childbirth, I thought the pain was a rite of passage and that mums were exaggerating the level of pain involved. I dutifully went to antenatal classes and read books galore on what to expect.

I then went into labour. Did my waters break of their own accord? Nope! Did my contractions get progressively nearer together? Nope! Was I sent home from hospital due to lack of progress? Yup!

My husband sat all night long recording every contraction but they did not fit any of the patterns the pregnancy books told me about

My baby was  lying with his back against mine. This is known as an ‘occiput posterior’ (OP) position. So much for birth planning as mine involved listening to tranquil music, seeing contractions come relatively quickly, a bit of screaming and maybe biting down on a spoon like in old films.

It didn’t get any better when I decided I really must go to hospital again. My husband put me in the car and after travelling for about half a mile, the car broke down. So as the contractions finally sped up I had to walk home in the dark and cursing my husband. Sepia image gone right there!

After hours waiting for a taxi, I screamed all the way to hospital with the encouragement of the driver who was superb and told me to scream away whilst he played the Beatles. Talk about “Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away ..”

It all worked out well in the end and that back to back baby is now a strapping 16 year old.

I am not saying making birth plans is silly because it does give you some level of control so long as you accept that life might take a different turn.

NHS Choices even gives you a draft birth plan so you can write it all down. They advise that you might want to discuss your birth plans with your midwife, the baby’s father and other key players in your life.

Think about pain relief options, birth partners and how  you feel about intervention such as forceps or ventouse delivery.

You should also choose “I will survive”as your musical choice because us mums have a knack of coping with what life throws at us.

This post is brought to you by the ex-pert mum by no means an expert but definitely ex-pert.

Cuddle Fairy



I  confess I had not heard of this ingredient until I saw it in Waitrose. I am delighted to share these tasty Cavolo Nero recipes with you and highly recommend the fish pie in particular as perfect comfort food.


caavolo nero

Serve with sherry

Try this recipe with an Oloroso or Palo Cortado sherry. Both kinds are dry but rich and well matched to creamy foods as well as more traditional tapas. They will also pick up the rounded nuttiness of the chestnuts.


Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 10 minutes

Serves 4



1 tbsp oil

1 large onion, sliced (180g)

2 x 200g packs cavolo nero, shredded

200g pack chestnuts, roughly chopped

1 tsp ground cinnamon

180g pack low fat cheese

4 tbsp crème fraiche (100g)


Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion for 2 minutes, add the cavolo nero, cover and cook for 5 minutes.


Add the chestnuts and cinnamon and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the soft cheese and crème fraiche and cook for 1 minute, season.

Cooks Tip

Great served with Christmas turkey as part of the trimmings or as a vegetarian option on its own.

Allergen information: contains milk (crème fraiche), cheese



cavolo nero recipes


Serve with Prosecco or red wine

I am heading for Prosecco with this delicious fish pie. It’s the cavolo nero that points me in that direction with the tomato rich sauce. Sparkling wines by the very nature of their matching with canapés and nibbles can blend with all sorts of flavours, and there are lots in this pie with smoked fish, the sauce, the cavolo nero and the cheese. However, if you are a red wine drinker, a New World Pinot Noir at about 13.5-14%abv will take the richness of the cheese, the smokiness of the fish and the tomato.


Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Serves 2



600g potatoes, diced

50ml milk

15g butter

150g cavolo nero, shredded

350g smoked haddock, skinned and diced

350g jar tomato & basil pasta sauce

25g Cheddar cheese, grated


Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 10-15 minutes until tender, drain and mash with milk, butter and seasoning.


Meanwhile, cook the cavolo nero in boiling water for 3 minutes, add the haddock and cook for a further 2 minutes, drain, return to the pan and stir in the tomato sauce.  Transfer to a heatproof serving dish and top with the mashed potato.


Sprinkle over the cheese and place under a preheated frill for 2-3 minutes until golden.



Cooks Tip

Try using any white fish or mix in some seafood.

With thanks to

Cavolo Nero Recipes

This Mama




Christmas time is a special time of year, for friends and families to meet and enjoy some precious time together. For those who require additional support throughout the year, a carer is a crucial part of everyday life, particularly during the festive season, but what does that mean for the carers themselves?

Here, our friends at Ability Superstore look at five things about carers over Christmas, that you might not necessarily be aware of.

  1. 30% of carers won’t have a break over the Christmas period

According to research by Carers Trust Wales, around 370,000 people throughout Wales provide care for a friend or family member, particularly over Christmas. Not only that, but these carers are often unpaid, giving their loved ones a helping hand simply out of the goodness of their hearts.

On top of this, around 30% of these carers often spend the Christmas period without a break and those that do receive a break will spend this well earned recuperation time, doing chores.

  1. Many won’t be able to make the most of the festive season

During what’s meant to be the most wonderful time of the year many carers find themselves feeling tired and struggling to switch off from taking care of those in need. This comes from research by Revitalise, whose quest is to support unpaid carers and work towards finding additional support for them.

  1. Their usual support is often lost over Christmas

Caring for others can be tiring and stressful, especially when there is little to no support. A lot of the time, friends and family set off on the road for their Christmas break to visit family further afield, which often means that carers are lacking the usual support they would have. Not only that, but with public services closing up shop for Christmas and sometimes even Boxing Day, it can become a little more difficult to take care of those who need them over Christmas.

  1. Their role is crucial over Christmas, particular for the routine

Routine is so important for those with mobility requirements, to be able to get up, showered and dressed, and on their way with their day. Without carers over Christmas, they would find it difficult to make the most of the festive season, especially when preparing for friends and family to visit. For some, it’s even more important that they see a familiar face coming to help them each and every day, making their carers particularly important over Christmas.

  1. It’s all worth it, to give someone a happy and normal life

Amongst all of the stresses and strains of caring for another, inevitably it is an extremely rewarding thing to do. Not only can you see the support you are giving and the benefits it has to their everyday life, but you can go home feeling you have given something to someone else.



There are many problems and issues that can be a problem during pregnancy. Some require medical help and treatment, but the more common issues are uncomfortable and frustrating. Here are five common pregnancy issues and what you can do about them.


#1 Bladder and bowel issues

As well as the weight of a growing baby, your body during pregnancy will be gripped by a surge of hormones. Both combine to cause problems relating to bladder-control and bowel issues.

For example, some women find they need to urinate more frequently, whilst other women find getting to the toilet on time is almost impossible. Constipation is also common amongst pregnant women.

There are solutions;

• Using high quality incontinence products for women can help manage accidental leaks of urine
• Pelvic floor exercises strengthen the muscles that control the bladder and the bowel, helping you to ‘hold on’ to urine as you make your way to the bathroom
• Constipation is helped by eating more soluble fibre and increasing water intake; sip water through the day rather than drink a glass all in one go

#2 Morning Sickness

Severe morning sickness can result in hospital treatment, something we are all more aware of since Kate, Duchess of Cambridge suffered crippling morning sickness during both her pregnancies.
Although called ‘morning sickness’, the feeling of needing to be sick or actually being sick can last all day or occur at any time of day. You can feel very uncomfortable but the good news is that morning sickness does not place you baby in danger.

Caused by the surge in hormones in early pregnancy, finding what works for you can make those early few weeks a little more bearable;

• Eat smaller meals and more often – not eating can make nausea worse
• The same goes for drinking – sip drinks, rather than have a large drink in one go
• Limit fatty and spicy foods
• Some women find cooking intensifies morning sickness – try and prepare food when you don’t feel nauseous
• Eating a dry biscuit before you get out of bed in a morning can help

#3 Backache

Being pregnant places a strain on muscles and ligaments, with some women finding that they back aches from early on in pregnancy right through to full term. This dull ache can make standing, walking, sitting and lying down uncomfortable and this lack of relief can quickly tire you.

• Avoiding lifting heavy thing but if it cannot be avoided, bend your knees and keep your back straight
• Move you whole body when you need to turn, rather than twisting at the back
• Wear flat shoes as this will help to distribute your weight evenly
• Sit with your back straight and well-supported
• Get plenty of rest, especially in late pregnancy

As women’s incontinence pads can help to manage bladder weakness, exercise can help to manage an aching back. Gentle exercise, such as swimming and gentle walks, can help to strengthen muscles and ligaments.

#4 Headaches

Some women find that they suffer from more frequent headaches during pregnancy. In most cases, it is caused by a surge in hormones which may explain why some women when not pregnant suffer headaches around their period.
Headaches can be worse in the first few weeks of pregnancy and steadily improve as the pregnancy progresses. Although uncomfortable for you, they are not affecting your baby.
If you develop headaches in the second half of your pregnancy which are at the front of your head, it could be a sign of pre-eclampsia, pregnancy induced high blood pressure. It is important you discuss headaches with your doctor or midwife.

#5 Vaginal Discharge

During pregnancy, your body undergoes a whole raft of changes. A common pregnancy issue is vaginal discharge and although unpleasant, it is normal.

It happens for a few reasons;
• The cervix, the neck of the womb and vaginal walls are softening ready for the birth and this causes discharge
• This discharge is also nature’s way of preventing infections from travelling up into the womb
• Towards the end of pregnancy, this discharge can increase and be confused with urine; if this is happening, women’s incontinence pads can be a useful means of managing it.

In late pregnancy, you may have a discharge known as a ‘show’. This is a thicker mucus and may contain blood. This is the plug of mucus that is in the cervix coming away, ready for labour and birth.

If you are concerned about any issues or problems, talk to your GP or midwife.

Five Common Pregnancy Issues That Women Can Experience

HARTMANN Direct have a range of women’s incontinence pads, ideal for use during pregnancy and after birth too.

Firework safety is an important issue all year round with the increasing use of fireworks to mark occasions like birthday and of course New Year’s Eve.

firework safety

As we are approaching 31 December fast, NCC Home Learning has put together a quiz on firework safety. This quiz is aimed to see if you are aware of the dangers associated with fireworks.

I tend to avoid using fireworks and have since becoming a parent. It some ways this seems a shame as I remember family events as a child with Dad taking charge of the firework display. All the local community got together and I was so proud that my Dad handled everything and insisted on health and safety.

I thought I had a relatively good knowledge on fireworks so was shocked to only get 5 out of 8 answers correct in the NCC Home Learning Firework Safety Quiz. This is stuff we need to know that can prevent injury and potentially save lives.

NCC Home Learning offers a course orientating around fire safety which can be found here:-

Firework Safety Quiz

Take the firework safety quiz and let me know how you get on.