Month: November 2011

First time mothers and home births

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At least once a week a report is published, and taken out of context by the media, on parenting, child birth or children that really annoys me.  Last week it was championing Ceasareans rejoicing in the fact that all women should be able to have one if they ‘want’ one – obviously they have not spoken to any women who have had one before phrasing this like it’s a luxury must-have accessory!!!  And this week it’s the ‘warning’ to first time mums against having home births!

The study claims that ‘First-time mothers who opt for a home-birth are almost three times more likely to suffer complications than if they go to hospital.’ It went on to state that ‘up to half of first time mothers were transferred to hospital while in labour from home and third from a midwifery unit’. Arrgh! This is yet again the ‘medical brigade’ forcing out women’s choices with that oh so powerful vehicle of fear!  I am aware not every woman will be with me on this one and perhaps it is reassuring for many to give birth in a hospital. I however, was adamant from the moment I was pregnant that I was not ‘ill’ and had never had a stay in hospital in my life so therefore why should I go now while I’m performing something that trillions of women have done through the ages and continue to do so every second of the day around the world which I believe is called ‘natural’ childbirth??!!  BearCub was meant to be a home-birth and I had my entire labour at home when the mid wife ‘thought’ his heart slowed so they took me in (during the transistion phase) when I arrived I was 10 cm and ready to push so I could have stayed hoem after all!

But what I really hate about this research, as with most statistics shoved in our face by the media that we for some reason feel unable to question, is that they only tell half the picture.  In fact way down near the bottom of each article on this paper the researchers stressed that ‘giving birth is generally very safe as 250 babies suffered complications from the 64,538 births in the study’.

Hospitals want us to have medical intervention during child-birth as it is quicker, safer (for them), and quieter.  Yes really! Ask any NCT teacher and they’ll tell you that hospitals don’t like the grunting, groaning, screaming and general animalistic noises that help us pop out our offspring.  We are hassle wanting to be mobile, upright, on all fours or have scented candles and Bob Dylan playing in the background!!! In short it is much preferable to them if they are in control of your birth experience rather than you.

I think it’s worth noting that only 58 per cent of women in hospital had a natural birth without any intervention, compared to 88 per cent of women who opted for a birth at home and 76 per cent to 83 per cent of women who chose a midwife-led unit.

Professor Peter Brocklehurst, who led the study at Oxford, but has since moved to University College London (UCL), himself said adverse events are very uncommon.

“For every 1,000 women, 995 babies would have a completely normal outcome,” he said.

In contrast to the study, Maureen Treadwell, of the Birth Trauma Association, said: “These findings are useful but are based on a study of only 5,000 women in each type of midwifery unit and do not tell us how many babies died or were brain damaged in each group.”

Could it possibly be a strong argument that the number of first time births have more complications because they are first time births whether at home or in hospital?  The experience is entirely new to the mother, things generally move slower and first-time mums do not know what to expect.  That sounds logical doesn’t it? And we are allowed to use our brains and our mouths right?

I’d love to, along side this, see a study publish the results and recovery time of women who have had a natural birth and those who have suffered medical intervention.  What can seem like the best option because it is the fastest can sometimes have the longer and more adverse affect which leads me on to another rant….. ok well I’ll leave that one for another post!!! 😉


Snap Slappers #3

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This photo manipulating thing is so much fun!  If you haven’t had a go yet, may I recommend popping to fivegoblogging for an explanation and to see more of us Picnik-a-holics!

Five Go Blogging Snap Slappers

For this weeks entry I took a photo in the grounds of Clare College, Cambridge. Here it is pre-treatment:

Clare College grounds, Cambridge

…and here it is once I had given it the Picnik treatment:

Clare College grounds, Cambridge

Well, that was fun!  In case you’ve missed them here are our previous snap slappers #1 and #2  Now all you need to do is have a go yourself!


Country Kids

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Daddy took munchkin to Richmond park and these are his photos.


I know you all know this, but kids LOVE the outdoors and it is brilliant to get them running, jumping and exploring outside as often as possible. That is why I have joined us up to Country Kids again this week.  It is such a great reminder to us all that it is really important to get outside with the kids.

As it gets colder and darker it is easy to forget just how much our little ones get out of a good run around.  My plan is to try, even through winter, to get munchkin outdoors for at least an hour everyday.  I’ve bought her some waterproof dungarees and a jacket from the lovely @kidzoutdoors (unsponsored post, other retailers do exist!).  Now all I need to do it make sure I am wrapped up warm and dry enough to enjoy outdoor time too!


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Silent Sunday 8

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Toddlers playing with trains
Bearcub and Munchkin play nicely together

Facebook censorship of breastfeeding

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OK, so the last time I got properly ranty on More Than A Mum was about breastfeeding and people’s, frankly bloody silly attitude towards breastfeeding in public. Well, @plus2point4 just made me aware of Facebook’s removal of photos from Beautiful Breastfeeding’s page for being “sexually inappropriate” and I’ve just got to get ranty again. Sorry if I’m being repetitive.

Beautiful Breastfeeding has had a number of photos removed from its site (see which one’s here at the Beautiful Breastfeeding blog) for being sexually inappropriate.  I find that language inappropriate.  What is sexual about feeding your child?  Nothing. If Facebook censors/bosses find breastfeeding sexual then it is their own morality that should be questioned.

Yes you can see some breasts, but they are not being paraded for sexual reasons, they are being used to feed children.  Does Facebook remove pictures bottles, or of food for that matter?  With the prevalence of free porn on the internet now I don’t think that many teenage boys need turn to facebook pages of mothers feeding their children for their kicks. And let’s be honest, if you’ve gone to a page entitled Beautiful Breastfeeding, you’ve got to have an inkling of what the photographic content might be, so no need to be offended.

If photos of women breastfeeding offend you, don’t look at them.  If women breastfeeding in public offends you, don’t watch.  What offends me is that people’s personal, and frankly ridiculous, views about the natural human body can be enforced through illiberal censorship and worse than that these can be enforced on such a healthy, natural and important activity as breastfeeding.

The number of women in the UK who solely breastfeed their child at 6 months is below 1% despite The World Health Organisation recommendations, and with attitudes like those displayed by Facebook’s censors, this will not improve.

So, Beautiful Breastfeeding are asking you to help by telling Facebook how ridiculous and prejudiced they are being. Write your own blog post, share the blogs of others and contact Facebook. The links below will help you to do that.

Mark Zuckerberg’s official FB profile where you can send him a private message (he is the founder and chief executive at FB):

Chris Cox’s FB profile where you can send him a private message (he is the vice president of product at FB):

Facebook’s official FB HQ page where you can comment:


Friday Night Curry Recipes

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So, I’ve been wondering what to write all day. What do More Than a Mum readers want to read on a Friday? Then, as I was cooking dinner, it came to me… Friday Night Curry.

If you’re on a budget, the Friday night take away can be the first thing to go and if you want to eat a family meal without having to cook separate things for everyone then the vindaloo is probably out. But if you make your own you can save money and adjust the spicing to family tastes. So here for your delectation are not one, not two, but three of our family favourites all of which have past the husband and/or munchkin taste tests! (My apologies that I did not think of this earlier and make the dishes and take photos; perhaps that can be my snap slappers post next week – pimped curry photos!)

1) Child-Friendly Chickpea and butternut squash curry

This is one that I’ve been making for munchkin from a very early age. We all love it and it goes down very well with popadoms and chutney. It also freezes brilliantly so is a good stand-by. I discovered it by mistake when I over cooked butternut squash while trying to make a curry for us pre-child!

Half a butternut squash, peeled and cubed
Half an onion chopped
One tin of chickpeas
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 small (160ml) tin coconut cream
1 tablespoon oil

Fry onion in oil until clear. Add garam masala and fry for a minute. Add Butternut squash and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add enough water to cover the squash, cover and cook until squash is very soft (top up water if necessary, to stop it boiling dry). Once soft, mash with the back of a spoon (or whizz with a blender if you have more time and like a smoother sauce) and add the coconut cream and chickpeas. Cook for a further 10 minutes. Serve with rice, chutney and popadoms.

2) Saag Paneer with adjustable chilli

This is a reasonably new one to my cooking repertoire, but something I always order if we have take-out. The creamy nature of the sauce means that spinach is wolfed down by munchkin despite her usual squirming at the sight of green veg.

500g frozen spinach, thawed (or about 750g fresh spinach wilted and left to cool, if you have more time)
3 tablespoons oil
1 onion chopped
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 thumb sized piece of ginger peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
2 green chillies – whole (optional)
250g paneer chopped into cubes (By ready-made from the supermarket. You could also use chicken in this dish)
4 tablespoons double cream
Salt and lemon juice to taste

Blend spinach into a smooth paste. In large pan heat oil and fry onion until clear. Add spices and fry for a minute. Add ginger and garlic and fry for another minute. Add the paneer and fry for about two minutes, turning the paneer to ensure all sides are evenly cooked. Add the chillies (if you are using them) and cook for a further minute. Add the spinach and enough water to make a loose sauce. (Not too much or it will be watery) Simmer for a few minutes then add the cream. Add salt and lemon juice to taste. (If you want a spicier flavour, burst the chillies and leave the curry to sit for up to 24 hours – you could always scoop out the kids portions first) Serve with naan or chapattis.

3) Chicken or Veg biryani

This is a lovely all in one dish and by substituting veg for chicken, it can be a dish that is suitable for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. This was a recipe given to me by my friend’s mother, who grew up in the Punjab, so it’s even authentic!

2 tablespoons oil
Pinch cumin
4 onions finely chopped
2 green chillies (optional)
3 cloves garlic
1 tin tomatoes
1 thumb sized piece of ginger peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 garam masala
Salt to taste
1 large pot natural yoghurt
300 grams rice
4 chicken breasts cubed (Or about 400 grams veg)

Blend tomatoes, garlic, ginger and chillies (if using) in a food processor. Put oil in a pan, fry cumin for about a minute, until aroma is released. Add onions, fry until clear. Add blended ingredients. Add turmeric and salt. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add Garam Masala, simmer for a further 10 minutes. Add yoghurt. Add the chicken (or veg) and simmer until cooked through. Whilst simmering sauce, cook the rice. Into an oven proof dish, layer half the rice, cover with half the chicken/veg sauce and cover this with yoghurt. Cover this with a final layer of rice, then the final layer of chicken/veg sauce and finally cover with yoghurt. Cook in the oven (uncovered) for about 20 minutes.

So, there you are a choice of curries of varying complexity for your very own Friday Curry Night. I hope you enjoy!


‘That New John Lewis Ad’ Or ‘Better to give than receive? Try telling a Toddler that!’

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Is it too early to have a Christmas themed blog post? I hope not. I usually gage it by the Christmas lights being switched on in shopping centres so it seems to have officially started in some parts. I have an axe to grind, a bug to bear, a rant to rave…. Now when in my pre-parent days I heard people harp on about the over indulgence and materialism of Christmas I used to nod in agreement but secretly felt they were probably a bit of a scrooge or at least ‘tight’. Now, having become a mum and this year being the first that 2-year old BearCub seems to understand, I am outraged that the nets of marketing aimed at my seemingly innocent child have worked and fully ensnared him! Suddenly my son not only wants, but also expects, ‘everything’. Any shop we pass he is asking to buy a plane or car and any vague acquaintance that visits the house is questioned as to what they have bought him. I like to think I am not a materialistic person and we do try to avoid Milkshake in favour of Cbeebies in part due to the onslaught of child aimed mass marketing – in part due to the annoying presenters. Where has my ungrateful and greedy child come from? We have tried having the chat about not expecting presents every day and that gifts are deserving of special occasions only and I even put a ban on all gifts between a couple of weeks back and Christmas. However this all proved futile when BearCub’s Grandma returned from Australia and presented ‘just a few little gifts’ which turned out to be a massive remote controlled car and a mini motorbike – both gifts I’d deem as a main Christmas present – and with Christmas just 5 weeks away!!!! Grrr!

I really want my son to grow up with the literal awe my sister and I had when we would open our second-hand (and clearly used) presents with delight then go upstairs when it was over and find one last extra present – a Commodore 64 our mum had worked extra hours to get for us. We literally cried with joy and complete amazement! Instead my 2-year old already expects to receive whatever he wishes for!

I had a wealthy friend who would allow her children to select one toy to keep and then go with her children after Christmas to give their other gifts to less fortunate children. Maybe a step too far but I love the idea of teaching that giving is better than receiving from a young age.

You’ve probably seen the new John Lewis ad by now – you know the one everyone is raving about. Since being pregnant I have gone from a gal who had never cried at a film in her life to someone who gets choked at episodes of Holby City. The striking point of the J.L ad is the fact that we are so familiar with children impatiently counting down until Christmas in anticipation of the gifts they will receive that we are wholly touched when we realise this boy’s excitement is at that thought of giving a gift to his parents. This would obviously never happen in real life but, I do think it serves as a great reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. As to how we teach our little darlings that it’s better to give than receive when they are currently going through the stage of not at all understanding why they should share anything in the world…well if you have the answer please do let me know!!!


Snap Slapper #2

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It’s that time of the week again (at last…) SNAP SLAPPERS!  This time I’ve chosen a photo taken a few weeks ago at Kew Gardens.  A lovely autumnal shot from those lovely warm autumn days we had in early October.  Then I’ve messed with the colours.

Autumn Tree

…and just so you know, this is what I started with:

Autumn view Kew

Five Go Blogging Snap Slappers

Blogging Awards.

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Well, we are truly honoured to have been given 2 such a lovely awards and would like to thank our families, our agents… etc etc etc (cue Gwyneth style tears).

We are pleased to have been called Versatile – think it may mean that there are many uses for our blog: read it, fall asleep to it, print in and use it as toilet paper… and also to have been awarded the Tell Me About Yourself Award, which I assume means we are being far too secretive!  Anyway, these awards seem to come with rules, so we best get on and do as we are told!

Firstly, you have to thank the person who awarded you.  So for saying we are versatile, we’d like to thank @mumoldersingle and for awarding us with the prestigious Tell Me About Yourself award, we’d like to thank @KerryBotha1 and @The_Last_Slayer.

Secondly, you must reveal 7 secrets about yourself and finally you must bestow the award upon other bloggers worthy of the great and weighty glory that the awards carry with them. Read on and all will be revealed!

Now, the stumbling block for us is the fact that there are two of us writing here at More Than a Mum, so we have gone for 3 each plus one that is true of both of us!

So, let’s start with me, Ruth…

1)      I used to play golf for Wiltshire.  When I was a child I was introduced to golf as something a Daddy and daughter could enjoy together – I was swinging cut down golf clubs in the garden from a very early age.  As a teenager, I used to play for the county.  Sadly I have not had the time/money to keep it up in later years.  I keep promising myself I will play again one day…

2)      I am an only child.  Not what my parents planned, but I don’t feel I missed out.  In fact I have a hard time imagining what it would be like to have siblings. I don’t feel like I was adversely affected by being an only child, but I do think that my parents were, as they constantly taxied me about to friends to ensure I socialised.

3)      A few years ago OH and I took a year out from work and travelled India and worked in Tanzania. It was the most amazing year and I am now looking out the travel diaries to reminisce and trying to locate the emails we sent home.

OK now for Loretta…

4)      She is a twin.  When we first met, pregnant, at NCT classes, one of the other women at the group said “Loretta, I saw your twin sister the other day” Loretta said that was funny, but as they were identical, how did our friend realise it wasn’t Loretta.  The answer? Loretta, you are identical, but your sister isn’t 8 months pregnant!

5)      She has toured with TAKE THAT! Really! This is one of my favourite facts about Loretta.  She used to be in a band that supported Take That on tour.  I am a wee bit star-struck!

6)      She wants to get a novel published one day. Loretta did a creative writing degree and it is her dream to have a novel published one day. Watch this space!

And finally…

7)      As promised the 7th is a joint one… we were discussing things today and realised our final revealing secret goes for both of us.  Neither of us has bought new underwear for too many years!  More Than A Mum’s knicker drawers are in serious need of a re-vamp!

So now we must pass on these awards. This appears to be getting more difficult as many of those I was going to tag appear to have been awarded already, so here (I hope) are some new nominees! For The Versatile Blog Award to @stressymummy @leila_jo_mummy and @helloitsgemma and the Tell Me About Yourself Award to @ordinary_parent @motherscuffer and @claireejeffreys

I know it’s technically supposed to be 15 nominees for each, so sorry if we’ve let the side down!

Parents’ evenings: an insider’s guide!

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So far here at more than a mum, we have focused on toddlers and Mums.  That is where Loretta and I are at with our own parenting.  Today, I want to discuss something for parents of older children: school parents’ eveningsParents' evening

As you may know I (Ruth) am a secondary school teacher and recently when attending a Mums get together, I chatted to a number of women with older children.  Something that they all said was that one of the toughest  parenting challenges they faced was school. In part, this was due to finding they didn’t understand “the system”.

One area where many parents can feel lost is parents’ evening.  You may feel anxious and as if you are on trial, waiting for the verdict to be pronounced on you via your little darling’s achievements or misdemeanours. Teachers have to see tens of parents in very short order and (at secondary school, especially) you are often only allocated a 5-10minute slot with each teacher.  You want to spend as long as necessary, but are aware of the queue building behind you and the mounting chorus of sighs and tuts.

Firstly I thought it may be useful to tell you how the teacher may be feeling.  I cannot say that this goes for all teachers; I can only talk from my own experience. The thoughts below are amalgamation of my own thoughts, experiences and observations through ten years of teaching.

“As a teacher I am frustrated by the short time slots. They don’t allow me to talk properly with parents.  I am also very aware of the huge queue building up and wary of the parent who wants to talk for the entire evening.  I would like to build a good relationship with parents but often don’t feel that there is the time on these evenings.

“For parents of children who are doing well, I may not say much.  I want these students to do well, but as their families are obviously already doing all the right things, spending ages talking them is not my priority. I may tell you statistics and use acronyms without explaining them to you – this because I forget that you may not understand and I know it they mean that your child is doing well.

“For parents of children who need more support in learning or behaviour, I may appear to lecture you and not let you get a word in edgeways.  This is because there are a number of things that I need to say to you and I am aware that time is short. I am used to talking to students who are expected to listen and can sometimes forget that I’m not in the classroom.  I want you to be involved; in fact I need you to be involved if we are going to help your child.”

So, that was my view on the part of the teacher in parents’ evening, but as the name suggests, it should not be about the teacher. The second part of this blog is therefore, over to you.  Please add your questions and answers below.  As a parent, what do you want to know about parents’ evenings? What most frustrates you?  What is the thing you always want to find out, but never can? Which acronyms do you need explaining? Has your child’s school really got something right? Have you got a parents’ evening insight to share?

Also, are there any more teachers out there (I know there’s a few of us hiding, unnoticed in the mummy-blogging community!) who could share a hint or tip for parents about how to make parents’ evenings a successful interaction for all concerned?  Or can any of you answer the questions posted?  I hope that this blog will get a dialogue going and help to remove at least some of the barriers of “the system” that the women I spoke to seemed to have found.