St John Ambulance_The chokeables_chest thrust_online

Do you know what to do if a baby is choking: #TheChokeables

Have you ever had to deal with a choking baby? Just before Christmas, my sister and her husband and baby came to stay for a few days. One lunchtime, we were sat in the kitchen and I had my 8 month old niece sat on my lap. Taking my attention away from her for a split second, I suddenly realised that she had started nibbling on a tortilla chip and that she was starting to choke. She wasn’t making any sound, but she had started to turn bright red and her eyes were bulging a little. Despite me having done a First Aid at Work qualification with St John Ambulance a few years ago, my instant response was to feel full of panic. Luckily I then remembered to hit her on the back and this dislodged the chip and she started screaming. A crisis averted, and I remember how vigilantly you have to watch a weaning baby.

St John Ambulance has revealed today that four-fifths of parents (79%) wouldn’t know the correct technique for saving their baby from choking despite it being a major fear (58%) and 40% having witnessed it. Last week, they invited me to watch their new campaign, which includes a star-studded animated advert that teaches everyone what to do if a baby starts to choke. The film features the voices of David Walliams, David Mitchell, Johnny Vegas, and Sir John Hurt, who play several choking hazards who are fed up with babies choking on them.

St John Ambulance is asking people to share the film online widely with their friends and family so that as many people as possible can learn to save a life.

I also had the opportunity to attend a First Aid class and learn some First Aid skills. I also learnt that research St John Ambulance carried out suggested that of those who said they knew how to save a choking baby, only 29% actually knew the correct, recommended technique. Nearly three quarters of parents (71%) selected the wrong answer when given multiple choice options.

More than half the parents they spoke to thought attending a First Aid course or knowing First Aid skills would make them feel more confident and better prepared. As I was already a First Aider at Work when Pip was born, I never ended up attending another course, but I actually thought it would be more useful than attending an antenatal class, as knowing First Aid can literally be the difference between life and death.

For some reason, I thought that attending a First Aid course would be quite expensive, but actually St John Ambulance runs a 3 hour course for £30 (£25 plus VAT) which I think is excellent value. I am going to sign up M, stat. If you are interested, you can book your course here. You can also find out more information on the advert and other courses here.

I am giving away a copy of the updated First Aid Manual which includes advice on how to treat infant choking, and also a small travel First Aid Kit. The kit comes in a tough bag with a handle; we’ve hung ours from our buggy clip so that we know where it is and will automatically have it with us when we go anywhere. Enter by choosing one or more of the options below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions: 1. To enter First Aid Kit & Manual prize draw give-away you must either follow St John Ambulance on Twitter, follow The Little Pip on Twitter, or tweet about the giveaway. There are additional options for more entries. 2. The prize is 1 First Aid Manual and 1 travel sized First Aid Kit. No cash or alternative prizes will be given 3. The prize draw will start on 12.01.15 and end on 18.01.15 4. The winner will be picked from all valid entries 5. The winner will be notified directly via email. The winner must reply within seven days of receiving the email or a new winner will be picked at random. 6. I reserve the right to change the entry dates at any time, for any reason.

I wasn’t paid for this post but I did attend a First Aid class and receive a First Aid Manual and First Aid Kit from St John Ambulance.

15 for 2015


Continuing a sporadic series (looks like I can only manage the odd years… 13 for 2013 and 11 for 2011 is here) of New Year posting. New Year for me is not only a new calendar year, but a new birth year. January always has been and always will be a new start, a chance to look back and forward, to reflect and to plan.

We celebrated the end of 2014 at home surrounded by some of our dearest friends, preparing and consuming a Szechuan feast and drinking champagne, watching the fireworks on the TV at midnight. Whilst 2014 ended in beautiful sunshine, 2015 started with a dismal grey rainy day but even that couldn’t put us off walking on the Heath with friends and then hunkering down in their flat for a cosy evening of tea drinking.

Looking back over my lists of wishes for the past few years, it occurs to me that nothing much seems to have changed. I still strive and seek a calmer, peaceful, emptier life. I wonder whether I will ever achieve it. Some of the things on my list of 13 for 2013 remain but some, I am secretly pleased to note, could simply be deleted in their entirety. “What to do about career/income” – deleted. Most satisfying.

. more de-cluttering. successful de-cluttering. more must leave than arrives.

. a home for everything (and that doesn’t just mean better storage)

. buy less (but only beautiful things)

. go to bed earlier

. less procrastinating

. read more

. browse internet less (but blog more)

. decide what, if anything, to do about a sibling for Pip

. dancing lessons and actually ride bike to work

. more time for me (on my own)

. more time for me & M (on our own)

. breakfast together every morning

. cook more. bake more. more routines

. less time stressing, worrying and reduce feeling ill through being late (e.g be more organised)

. sign up and finish the 11 mile race I’ve been invited to run in May

To come, a look back over 2014. It’s that post that’s been in draft for weeks…




We are still here. A little older, a little changed. More soon, I promise.

I wonder whether anyone is still reading? A four month hiatus is forever in blogging terms. Hell, it feels like forever since I had any time or headspace to write anything here. I feel like I was a child with a child last I time I blogged.

I follow a lot of blogs on my blog reader. Every so often, one of my favourite bloggers posts something, and I eagerly skip over to devour their words. One of my dreams is that this space is that to someone, somewhere…

And no, I am not pregnant. I know that’s often why people disappear offline for a bit, but not here.

(I have been writing a bit here for Metro, though, if you’re interested)

(photo by Drynites, more on that soon, too)


8 pieces of advice about breastfeeding: Newborn diary {Suzie}

In a continuation from the pregnancy diaries, Suzie and A return, six months into the journey. 


For the most part, I have made my peace with the fact that I wasn’t able to breastfeed beyond five weeks. I have the odd pang when I see someone snuggling with their baby and feeding so cosily, but then I have to remember that, except for the first couple of weeks, it really wasn’t like that for us. I have to remember the excruciating pain, the dread I felt about feeding him, the crying – both him and me, the tension – both him and me, and the reflux that made him throw the whole feed up again anyway. I feel a lot of bitterness about the fact that I wasn’t able to continue. I was so sure I would exclusively breast feed until six months; I knew lots of people don’t manage to, but I genuinely assumed I would be one of the ones who could.

Once we’d got the hang of breastfeeding in hospital (he was in Special Care so we were in for five days – my milk came in by the end of the third day) it was great for a little while. We had to use nipple shields as I struggled to get him to latch in hospital and when I dissolved in tears one night, a nurse suggested I try a shield. It worked – he ate – so I saw it as the answer to all of our problems. For a little while it seemed so easy. He cried – I put him to the breast – all sorted (with the small palaver of getting a sterilised nipple shield in the right place while Millar screamed blue murder!) What I didn’t realise was that it had all started to go wrong way before this – before I even gave birth, in fact. My advice to myself should explain.

  • Get treated for thrush immediately. As I had gestational diabetes last time, I will almost certainly get it again. A passing comment from the midwife when she was examining me barely registered, but she noticed that I had a bit of thrush (sorry for TMI!) I thought no more of it. But what I didn’t know is that thrush thrives in sugar and therefore I was bound to get it while I had gestational diabetes. I hadn’t had any symptoms, so hadn’t realised. I also didn’t realise that through giving birth, I had almost certainly passed it to Millar. When he began to breastfeed, he passed it back to me. That first week or so of pain-free breastfeeding was just lulling me into a false sense of security. I started to get terrible stabbing pain, just behind my nipple when I fed, particularly on one side. It got worse and worse.

I assumed it would go – I had no idea it was thrush. It didn’t go. A friend noticed after a couple of weeks that Millar’s mouth was rather white. I did a bit of googling of thrush in breastfeeding and nearly cried with relief – it described my pain exactly. What I didn’t realise is that thrush is really really hard to get rid of. It doesn’t like being got rid of. So the pain stayed and got more and more excruciating – so much so that I would cry throughout a whole feed every single time I fed. I’d then cry between feeds because I was so dreading him waking up and wanting another one. So… my advice to myself next time, is get treated for thrush before giving birth. And get the baby checked as soon as possible for it. If in doubt, get the doctor to prescribe thrush treatment as a precaution because once it sets in, it’s here to stay.

  • Don’t be too quick to use nipple shields – get someone really knowledgeable to help with the latch as soon as possible. I discovered too late that there is so much help out there. I had two amazing breastfeeding support workers come out to my house and spend an hour and a half watching me feed, looking at my latch and positioning and just slightly correcting things. Things a book or website or youtube video could never tell you. But by then, I was in so much pain with the thrush that little they said could really help. Next time, I will get a support worker to come and see me within the first week. It will make a huge difference. Nipple shields were great while they worked, but they added to the stress of feeding and they are a breeding ground for thrush too – apparently even sterilising doesn’t always get rid of it. They can also rub, which they did on the side that became very painful, and then thrush can thrive in the wound.
  • Ignore the hospital when they try to instill a rigid ‘feed every three hours’ routine. We were in special care for nearly a week and they were very regimented. They were obsessed with how long I had fed for each time, as Millar was losing weight. I was later told that length of time has nothing to do with it. I was desperately trying to get him to feed for halfan hour on each side at every feed, in the hope that he would then last until the 3 hour mark when the hospital thought I should be feeding him again. It was so stressful. I had no idea about demand feeding – I didn’t realise that I could feed him whenever he asked and that he could stop when he wanted to. I used to strip him down to a nappy in every feed as he was falling asleep and this was ‘feed time’ so he had to feed. Why did I put myself through it?! We would both have been much happier if I’d just let him sleep, then fed him when he woke up again. This ‘every three hours’ idea led to me being advised to top him up with formula as he was still hungry. I didn’t realise that what I needed to do was breastfeed him more! My milk supply was still sorting itself out and formula top ups should not have been necessary.
  • Recognise the signs of mastitis early on. I woke up one morning with boobs like rocks – I thought I needed to express, so snuck off to do so, but expressing was painful and even after getting a large amount of milk, they were still really solid and sore. I assumed it was linked to the thrush so battled on, but when I went to a weigh in clinic with Millar later that day, I was in so much pain I could barely speak. I started shivering uncontrollably and sweating and the health visitor saw that I clearly had mastitis and it was bad. She had to ring my partner and get him to come and pick me up as I couldn’t drive – I couldn’t even lift my arms above my waist. At home, I just curled in a ball and cried. My partner had to look after Millar – I couldn’t even pick him up. The only way to relieve the pain was to lie totally submerged in a hot bath and hand express into the water. I did this for hours at a time! I should have realised there was a problem and next time, if I’m unlucky enough to get mastitis, I will go to the doctors and get antibiotics at the very first sniff of it. They were amazing and worked wonders within 24 hours.
  • Recognise reflux early on. Not all reflux is a baby being sick. I had never heard of silent reflux. He started being sick when we both got so tense through pain that we were rigid by the end – of course his poor little tummy couldn’t keep it down. But acid reflux is incredibly painful. A baby can scream in pain between feeds and I now know that this was the problem – he didn’t need a top up formula feed – he wasn’t hungry, he was in pain. Next time I will know these signs much more quickly.
  • This is personal to me and my gestational diabetes, but next time I will try to express some colostrum in the weeks before the birth. There are arguments for and against this, but as Millar’s blood sugar was under scrutiny due to my GD, the lack of eating anything for the first few hours (he latched on but I’m sure he didn’t get anything) led to his blood sugar dropping, his transferral to special care and then being tube fed formula which started us off all wrong. If I could have expressed just a little bit of colostrum and frozen it, he could have had that in those first few hours and we might have escaped the trip to special care before my milk came in.
  • And sort of hand in hand with the last one – I will not be having pethadine next time. I had two shots of pethadine during my labour, one quite close to the end, and it made Millar incredibly drowsy and lethargic. He didn’t have much hope of feeding effectively – he could barely open his eyes. Not to mention the horrible effects I experienced with it – falling asleep between contractions and being really confused about what was going on. Pethadine gave me very little pain relief and was just another hurdle in our breastfeeding journey that I could have done without.
  • And lastly – I will try really hard to not put too much pressure on myself next time. If, even following all of my advice here, I still can’t breastfeed next time, it will not be the end of the world. Millar is a happy, healthy, inquisitive baby, who is not putting on too much weight – he has followed the 75th centile since he was about two weeks old – and we have a wonderful, close bond. I regret a lot of things to do with our breastfeeding experience, but I did the best I could – and what more can a mother do?!

#30daywardrobechallenge September 2014

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Another year, another wardrobe challenge. I did this in Spring 2014 and started it again last September before failing miserably. So, I am challenging myself again for this September, and giving myself some lead in time too.

I think September is a good month for this challenge. Hopefully, it will still be reasonably warm so therefore you essentially have both your summer and winter wardrobe to choose from – I’m doing the challenge in a matter of sorts at the moment trying to find things to wear to work that deal with the hot but also quite wet weather we’ve been having at the moment. As ever, a cardigan is every woman’s best friend, especially in the office when the air-con just can’t decide whether to blast arctic freeze or saharan heat each afternoon (these short sleeved George cardigans might do just the trick?). Anyway, come September, hopefully the weather will have abandoned the usual summer chaos and settled down into something more helpful for this challenge.

The rules are thus:

  • wear a new outfit from your existing wardrobe every day for 30 days
  • record the results on either your blog, twitter or instagram and use the hashtag #30daywardrobechallenge (let me know if you’re joining in and I will do a link round up)
  • try and list what you are wearing and where it came from
  • you can re-wear individual pieces but not whole outfits
  • shoes don’t count (I don’t have 30 pairs of in commission weather appropriate shoes)
  • coats don’t count (and you don’t need to mention them in your round up unless they are part of the outfit. ditto jewellery)

I will be recording my outfits on instagram and posting a weekly round up here.

Roll on September!

(this post in conjunction with George)

“The lamps are going out…”

Tonight I will be turning out our lights from 10pm – 11pm. “The lamps are going out all over Europe… we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime” (Sir Edward Grey, August 1914)

I tried to find words. None came.

A century on and the irony of the headlines do not escape me. On the one hand, commemorations and remembrance of the 37 million dead in the war to end all wars. On the other, a mounting pressure for bloodshed to end in current conflicts.

I don’t know how to find words.

I don’t feel qualified to comment, and yet, I feel compelled to speak.

But still no words come.

In their absence, I searched for someone else’s. 

What in our lives is burnt
In the fire of this?
The heart’s dear granary?
The much we shall miss?

Three lives hath one life –
Iron, honey, gold.
The gold, the honey gone –
Left is the hard and cold.

Iron are our lives
Molten right through our youth.
A burnt space through ripe fields,
A fair mouth’s broken tooth.

~ Isaac Rosenberg

(from here)

The Golden Touch?

I went to see Caitlin Moran speak the other day. Glossier in real life than she sounds through her words, it was her words that I was reminded of mere days later when I lay back for a bikini wax.

I was invited to try an ‘intimate wax‘. Having no particular set feelings about bikini topiary and oscillating between options (time and money and inclination dependent), and not being one to turn down an experience, I said yes.

It was reassuring clinical and Hannah was deft and skilled at waxing, something you can’t always guarantee; the resulting pain level was so low I was surprised. It was one of the more unusual interviews that I have conducted. Apparently even in Soho Hannah sees more athletes than any one else. Within about 15 minutes Hannah’s work was finished and I was back out in Soho squeezing in a quick trip to Cos before heading home.

If you’d like to try it for yourself, The Golden Touch have kindly offered the following discount for The Little Pip readers.

goldenticket - little pip


Fairy #Kitchentales

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This is my kitchen. Not cleaned up especially. Not styled. (Although I will put away the dishwasher tablets now I’ve taken the photo, mainly because children, cats and dishwasher tablets are a bad combination.)

Fairy sent me some Fairy Platinum dishwasher tablets to try and I was supposed to write a post about my kitchen. I am grateful to Fairy for the tablets, truly I am, and they’ve done an excellent job, but this has been the busiest couple of weeks of what I thought was already as busy as we could be. Marto and I caught up for the first time in days, sat in a (borrowed) car driving back down the M6 on Sunday after a race up north to see my grandmother, ill in hospital. We’ve been doing alternate shifts, work, parenting and cramming in obligation after obligation. I love Fairy, but, you know what. I love sitting down with a cup of tea and sneaking the last set of the Djokovic/Tsonga match followed by some football just a little bit more.

So, I put the dishwasher on and watched Wimbledon for half an hour instead. Wimbledon fortnight is about my favourite of the whole year and today is the first time in a week I’ve found time to sit down and watch it.

Mostly, the kitchen is the heart of our home. Tonight, however, it wasn’t. But was left in capable, Fairy, hands. Isn’t that the beauty of dishwashers.

This post is an entry for the “My Kitchen Story” Linky Challenge, sponsored by Fairy Platinum.

Britmums & Yellow Lolly


It’s almost here: tomorrow I will be heading to Britmums Live as a Lolly Ambassador for my sponsor, Yellow Lolly.

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Yellow Lolly has been a long time favourite of mine and I’m thrilled to be their ambassador at Britmums. I’ve written a little before about why I am a fan of Yellow Lolly, but I wanted to share the good news that they have been awarded a Let Toys Be Toys Toymark, recognising shops doing a great job of offering toys to girls and boys alike.

Ellie, one half of Yellow Lolly has this to say:

“We love labels who favour bold colour, ethical production methods, and unisex pieces. We have always stocked a range of Scandinavian brands as, with many areas of life including education and gender equality, the Scandinavians seem to be ahead of the curve with clothing and toys, and less prone to the dreaded pink/blue divisions that have dominated a lot of childrenswear and toy retail in this country.”

I am a big supporter of decisions not being made by sex or gender. I bang on and on about allowing Pip to find her own interests and decisions and favourites without imposing the societal norms and preferences of ‘normal’ or even what I choose. One of the very first things I loved about Yellow Lolly was that the search option is either age or type – it’s easier to navigate, those are the only two things that I think are important.

Ellie says:

“By reducing the options available we reduce our children’s chance to express themselves, to explore their potential selves. What is childhood for, if not for exploring and discovering who we are, who we want to be? And if you’ve ever had a fight with a toddler about what they do or don’t want to wear, you’ve been a part of that journey, too.

The more divisions we add to the mix, the harder we make it for the child, and their parent, that does not fit into the narrow boxes of conventional gender definition.

When a customer asks us “Are these (neon orange, skinny fit) jeans suitable for a boy?” or “Are these (plain green) shorts OK for a girl to wear” we always respond with a cheery “I can’t see why not!”. If that child is comfortable in their choices, then why not? We like to describe our clothes as being ‘For Mini Individuals’ and we hope that their wearers will grow up to be BIG individuals too, able to have fun making their own choices.

Many of our customers tell us that they like our site specifically because it does not offer ‘Search By Gender’ options. Instead, searching by the age of your child, or the type of clothing you need is just as effective a way to reduce the number of items to chose from, and applies none of the rigid definitions we find so unhelpful.”

(you can read the rest of the post here on the excellent Let Toys be Toys blog, a quite frankly wonderful campaign of which I am also a great supporter).

For those that are going, see you there (please come and say hi!) and for those that aren’t, I’ll be back full of wonderful content from an inspiring weekend.

Top photo by Anna Gordon.



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