21 September 2017

Review & Giveaway: Hugzzies - A Warm Hug

It's starting to come into the darker days now with more rain, chilly winds and the flu bug flying around like no ones business. I do love the cosy nights that Autumn and Winter brings but I definitely do not like the trillions of bugs and colds that normally come with it. The first people usually affected by the bugs in our house are the kids and it's hard to sometimes help them feel comfortable when they're not feeling their best. Step in Hugzzies - a cute furry friend ready to give warm hugs at a moments notice.

Hugzzies are super soft teddy bears with a microwavable lavender infused wheat bag concealed inside that hugs around the waist giving the feeling of a warm hug, for use at home or on the go. There's currently five different Hugzzies in the range which include a; cat, dog, monkey, panda and rabbit. The kids were lucky enough too receive one each to try so Logan picked Mikey the Monkey and Harlow picked Betty the Bunny.

As well as being super soft each Hugzzies has a velcro waist band which fits comfortably and securely around your child's waist to provide maximum warm hugs. The removable lavender infused microwavable wheat bag is easy to use with instructions included on the bag. Heat is often used to treat pain and the Hugzzies are a great fun way of making your child's tummy or back feel better when it's sore. Of course it can be used on arms and legs as well if so required.

Logan and Harlow both love their Hugzzies with Harlow even stealing a shot of her big brother's Mikey the Monkey when he's not looking! Logan particularly likes his as he loves the feeling of heat and how warm it is against his skin. Being autistic the Hugzzies provide a perfect sensory calming feeling for him from the pressure around the waist to the warm wheat lavender bag inside. It really is fabulous.

Now I do like a product that has more than one purpose and Hugzzies fit right into that category. When you remove the wheat bag from it's pouch the Hugzzies can then be used as a children's bum bag for storing toys and those all important travel essentials like plasters and snacks. It's a great way of giving them something to occupy themselves with when out and about.

I also love that the Hugzzies can be used cold. Just pop the wheat bag into the freezer for a few minutes and you have your very own personal cooling aid. I really am totally impressed with the Hugzzies and what an excellent present they would make for a little boy or girl. Definitely something different to give for birthday's and Christmas.

Hugzzies are very reasonably priced at just £9.99 and can be purchased directly from the Hugzzies website. You can of course win your very own Hugzzies right here on the blog by entering the rafflecopter giveaway below. It's simple and easy and takes seconds.


9 September 2017

7 Top Tips for a Fabulous Disney Party

I'd just like to confess that I'm no expert at organising kids parties but I've held a few over the years. I've done the whole do it yourself and also the pay someone else to do it for you so I like to think I've learnt a thing or two from my experiences. Sometimes though I really like the do it yourself parties but wish I had a little helping hand along the way.

That's why I was delighted to hear that the Disney Store have now launched their very own Disney Party website to help with planning, ideas and of course the all important Disney accessories for an awesome birthday bash! So to celebrate we had our own little Disney party and I thought I'd share my top tips for having a fabulous kids party of your own.

Planning Ahead
Making sure you know what you're doing in this party business is key so planning ahead can make all the difference. On the Disney Store website there is now a Disney Party Planner just for you to help ease the stress of throwing an amazing party bash. Having this planner means everything is kept in one place and you can even order up some personalised invites as well for FREE!! The invites can then either be printed or emailed to the guests. It's honestly amazing and I actually love it. I'll definitely be using this when I come to organise the kids parties at the end of this year.

Have a budget and stick to it. Parties can get way out of hand when it comes to the pennies so honestly decide what you want and what you can afford then keep it at that. Kids are honestly happy with a few balloons, cake and games so there's something out there to suit every budget. You'll be pleased to hear that the Disney Store party accessories are quite reasonable in price and definitely competitive.

You'll need to think about the number of guests you'll want to invite to your kids party as this can of course affect everything from budget, food, size of venue to what particular games you're going to play. Definitely worth thinking about as soon as you start planning.

I love love love a themed party! For my son's 4th Birthday we had a brilliant pirate theme with the cake, balloons, food, decor, bouncy castle etc all coming under the pirate look and feel. It was fantastic and my son really enjoyed it. There's just something so lovely and cool about a themed party where everything matches. The Disney Party store of course have all your themed needs met with tons of Disney characters and all the accessories you'll need to host an amazing party.

You've got your number so now you just have to decide what sort of food to go for. I like to keep it easy with things like ham or cheese sandwiches, sausage rolls, cocktail sausages, crisp selection, strawberries and grapes or fruit skewers, selection of sweets, cupcakes etc. Or you could go fancy as I once had a super hero themed party for my son and did a fab Captain America Shield Platter, it went down a storm. So the world is your oyster when it comes to food ideas and the Disney party planner has plenty.

Sometimes you just need a little bit of inspiration for the games don't you. At what age do you have which games, how many should you have, how should I do pass the parcel! The choices are endless and you want to make your kids party amazing so why not check out the Disney Party Planning ideas section to figuring out what games you want at the party.

Party Bags
Last but not least the all important party bags. I've actually seen kids keep their eyes peeled for party bags and no one likes to leave without getting their hands on them. A good party bag usually has a few toys in them along with a slice of cake and some sweeties or chocolates. I like to keep it in theme normally if doing a themed party but last year wasn't a theme so I just had a random assortment of party bag fillers.

So there you go, my 7 top tips for having a fabulous Disney party. I'd love to hear if you've had any Disney parties recently and please do check out the Disney Party Planner as it's honestly amazing.

I was sent Disney party accessories from the Disney Store UK. All opinions are my own.


7 September 2017

This Month's My Pocket Money Toy Subscription Box

Another month has whizzed by and another My Pocket Money Toy subscription box has landed on our door step. Last month was a fabulous space themed box and this month was more of a mixture with fun educational toys. I tried my hardest to get an unboxing video but the kids were literally fighting over the box and it's contents so didn't look too good haha. I'm sure it's not just my kids that fight over everything! Thankfully they were both completely thrilled once again with their subscription box from My Pocket Money Toy.

So what did the kids get? First out of the box was a really cool educational jigsaw called My Body. This jigsaw is a fun shape full of interesting facts which captured Logan's attention immediately. It's recommended for ages 4-7 and suited my son well, he has a massive thirst for knowledge of any kind so putting the pieces together and reading about the body had him captivated.

Next up out of the box were two Unicorn Eggs. Yes you read that right and I know you secretly want one now. I was always fascinated with these types of toys as a child and remembered my Mum and Dad putting a pretend crocodile in the pool when we went to America, it was great. Anyway back to the unicorn eggs. The idea behind these toys is that you put them in water and they magically grow. It's also a good way to test your child patience and something you can come back to day after day for a good week or so.

The next surprise was a lovely Galt Wordsearch Pad which has 40 wordsearch puzzles to try and solve. This is perfect for doing on a rainy day or worth saving for when going on holiday. I can see Logan using this in the car on long drives down South or opened up on the tray table of an aeroplane. It's sturdy and good quality so won't fall to bits when using it.

For some time now Harlow's been asking to paint her nails like Mummy so when she saw a cute bottle of Snails child friendly nail polish she was over the moon. She received a gorgeous baby pink shade and couldn't get it open fast enough to paint on her nails. I really like the fact it's safe for little nails, is parabens free and can be washed off.

Last but not least there were of course some nice little colouring in sheets for the kids to complete. Again great for a rainy day and Harlow enjoyed colouring in hers last month so definitely handy to have.

If you haven't already subscribed to this fab subscription box for kids then you really must do it. It would make an excellent birthday or Christmas present and it's simple and easy to subscribe. You can either order a one of box or you can get a subscription for 3, 6 or 12 months. The boxes are split into age groups of 3-5, 6-7 and 8-10 years. You can also choose whether you want a boy or girl box or gender neutral which is a really nice touch.

We all can't wait to see what's in next month's box so keep you eyes peeled for our review.

I was sent a My Pocket Money Toy subscription box in return for an honest review.


5 September 2017

Our Caravan Holiday at Haggerston Castle

Last month during the school holidays I spotted an amazing deal for a weekend break to Haggerston Castle which was just too good to pass up. I literally saw the deal on Facebook Thursday afternoon, packed a suitcase and off we went Friday morning. Instead of £600 for the weekend I paid a third of this and it was well worth it. I hired the caravan through Lodge and Caravan Hire and choose The Winchester as our accommodation, and can I just say we weren't disappointed.

The Winchester is a platinum grade caravan that sleeps up to 6 (two bedrooms and a sofa bed) with lovely wrap around decking outside with table and chairs. You might think it's just like any other caravan then but it's not because this one is situated right in front of a small play park which is ideal for the kids. I'll go as far to say this totally made the holiday for the kids as Logan could make friends and Harlow could run around and play, all the while we could relax on the decking and keep an eye on them. It was perfect!

Haggerston Castle is quite a large site but it has plenty of activities and entertainment to keep you busy which means this holiday can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it. There's a bigger play park just round the corner from where we stayed in the Golf Village area which will keep the kids happy for hours. There is of course a swimming pool, entertainment bar, amusements, soft play and tons of outdoor activities. Some just to name a few are horse riding, pedal boats and pedal karts, trampolining, archery, shooting etc. So much to do and see. Our favourite part had to be the amusements though and Logan loved the special virtual reality area they had above it which he spent hours (and too much pennies) in.

The weather was very kind to us when we were away considering it was a downpour back home and we made the most of it by hiring a pedal boat and pedal kart. Note for the adults - pedaling is blooming hard work! There is also plenty of places to eat out such as a fish and chip shop, burger king and the bar or you can bring your own food to the caravan or purchase from the onsite supermarket and eat in.

All in all our weekend was a fast blur which everyone enjoyed and we couldn't quite believe it when it was time to come home. We'll definitely be back again next year.

This is not a sponsored post and I didn't receive anything for writing this. We genuinely had a fab holiday and I wanted to share.


3 September 2017

Review: PURE Pet Food

We're lucky enough to have two lovely dogs as part of our family, and I don't know about your dogs but mine often become less excited about their food the more they eat it. The only time I've ever really seen them get excited over their food was when I used to make them up a raw batch of chicken wings and other meats. I did this before the toddler arrived but I found myself with less and less time to make the actual food so I ended up switching to dry kibble. As you can imagine it's not all that exciting for my two pooches and they often got fed up with it. This is were PURE comes in.

PURE are a naturally dehydrated pet food brand whish is made with nothing but fresh and raw ingredients in a human grade food facility in the UK. It's prepared with a gentle method called dehydration and means the moisture is removed from the food, locking in the nutrients and goodness whilst preserving them. I'll let PURE explain further: "Our dehydrated meats are lightly heated at around 90c, just enough to remove any harmful pathogens whilst preserving the nutrients without the need for harsh cooking processes. They are then carefully dehydrated to remove the moisture, leaving the meat you find in Pure packed with almost 300% more protein than you would find in fresh meat."

My two dogs, Lexie and Tulli, were lucky enough to receive 2x tasty 4kg boxes of dog food. When you add water to each 4kg box it actually equates to 16kgs in fresh food which is amazing. I received the Turkey Terrific which has a super sensitive recipe, great for my Lexie who has major skin problems. I also received the Chicken Dinner which is perfect for picky and sensitive dogs. Excellent for Tulli then as she sometimes turns her nose up at food.

I started out with the Turkey Terrific and I can honestly say it went down a storm! It was like I was feeding the girls raw food again. I haven't seen them get that excited about food in a long time. Inside each box you get a food scoop and a bag clip to keep the dehydrated food fresh and moisture free when not using it. There's a big list of instructions on the back of each box which looks daunting at first but after making the food a handful of times it became second nature and I didn't even need to look at the instructions. You basically use the provided scoop to measure the amount of dog food you'll need (using the guide provided). Then you add warm water (as per the guide) and stir altogether before leaving 10-15 minutes to rehydrate. Waiting was the hardest part for my girls and if you've ever heard a Staffordshire Bull Terrier cry well that's all I got for 15 minutes solid. It's well worth the wait though.

After using the food for a month I felt that Lexie's skin looked a lot healthier and she had a bit of a glow about it. She definitely looked forward to every meal time and reminded me frequently when dinner time was drawing closer. Tulli never turned her nose up at her PURE dinner either and scoffed the lot. I've never seen a cleaner bowl, it was licked spotless every time.

The price for the Turkey Terrific flavour 4kg box of food is £59.99 and it's £49.99 for the 4kg box of Chicken Dinner. I think the pricing is very reasonable and totally competitive considering these boxes rehydrated to 16kgs worth of fresh food and a bag of 15kg dry food from some brands is between £40-£50 in the pet shops.

So would I recommend this dog food? I totally would, I didn't have any issues with the girls being on the food and they really enjoyed it. In fact they loved it!

I was sent 2x 4kg boxes of PURE dog food to try in return for an honest review.
Family Fever


23 August 2017

Review & Giveaway: Awesome Interactive Carlton Kids Books

Carlton kids books are very much turning into some of our favourites in this house. They just have so much choice and something to suit everyone. We're definitely a book loving family and the more unusual the better! You can imagine my son's complete joy then when he received three different augmented reality books to review.

The three books received were; iExplore Predators, iExplore The Brain and Jurassic World Special Edition: From DNA to Indominus Rex! All of these books include a special AR app which can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play. Before we go any further though I thought I best quickly explain what augmented  reality is. It's basically the integration of digital information into the user's environment in real time. Unlike virtual reality, which creates a totally artificial environment, augmented reality uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it. Hence why AR usually uses say an iPad camera to show what would look like an object in your room/world around you which wouldn't normally be there.

Each book has it's own intriguing topic so all very different and interesting. Logan wanted to start with the Jurassic World book and after downloading the app onto his iPad we got straight to it. As you can see from the photos there's plenty of reading on each page and some pages have a special AR Activation Page. This means you open the downloaded App, follow the instructions then scan the special Activation Page box and as if by magic a dinosaur will appear on screen and looks like it's in the room with you. My son was totally thrilled with this and spent a good hour flicking through the book and interacting with each AR opportunity. Once he had got to grips with that he then went back and started to read through the pages.

Logan did this with each book as the thought of being able to access AR was really entertaining for him and it put a different spin on what a normal book would usually be. Adding in AR definitely makes a book more exciting and brings it to life right in front of your very eyes. Both the Predators and The Brain books were equally as exciting and fascinating for Logan with the brain scanner allowing you to see what your brain would look like, and the Predators allowing a rattle snake to strike out at you.

If you think these books would be perfect for your little one then why not enter my fab giveaway to win all three! It's simple and easy to enter via the rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was sent these 3 books in return for an honest review.


9 August 2017

Edinburgh Foodies Festival 2017

Last weekend the other half and I were invited along to the Edinburgh Foodies Festival for the 4th year in a row and as always it was a delight. We left the kids with Granny and headed on into Edinburgh to Inverleith Park with our little Frenchie lady in tow. Kids and dogs are most welcome at the festival but our dog is better behaved than the kids hence why we took her along instead.

We got the VIP treatment when we arrived with access to the VIP tent, a glass of fizz, teas, coffees, biscuits and crisps on tap with some really good live music on the go. The weather wasn't fab on the day we went but that didn't stop us at all. We had our wellies at the ready and browsed all the tasty stalls to see what we could sample and buy for lunch. Last year I remembered there was a soft shell crab stall so I made sure to hunt him down again. Luckily the stall was there and I got a tasty soft shell crab for lunch, yum! I finished that off with a bubble waffle cone filled with nutella and ice cream from waffle island.

It really was a lovely day out and our dog loved it too! If you have a foodies festival near you then definitely take the time to go along. We didn't buy loads but stocked up on some tasty olives. The great thing is you get to try so many different foods and drinks that you might not otherwise go for. Anyway enough prattling on, here are some photos from our day.


8 August 2017

Breastfeeding Guest Post: Breastfeeding and Tongue Tie

Today's lovely breastfeeding guest post is from Debbie, the blogger behind My Chaotically Eclectic Life. She's a SAHM, blogger and general skivvy for her family. She loves crafting, planning, reading, food and the colour purple. In order to indulge in her love of food she's embarking on a weight loss and fitness journey. You can also find Debbie on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so why not pay her a little visit.


Tongue-ties affect between 4-11% of all newborn babies and it tends to run in families, with boys being more commonly affected.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a tongue-tie is where the strip of skin underneath the baby's tongue is shorter than usual. This can cause problems when feeding due to restricted movement of the tongue. It can also cause speech issues as they get older.

From the minute Corey arrived on the planet my OH suspected he had a tongue tie.  He was aware of the condition due to his godson having one.

However due to the arrival of his first born son and the lack of sleep he didn’t think to mention it to the midwives in the delivery suite and I was in a world of my own so didn’t really take much notice if I’m honest.
Once we moved to the maternity ward I was asked given the usual post natal checks and asked the standard questions regarding feeding. As this was my second baby, other than checking he was latched on, they pretty much left me to it. They popped back on their rounds and asked all the usual questions; when was he last fed? How long did he feed for? They seemed happy with the answers and Corey seemed contented enough so there was no cause for concern.

My first night in the hospital went pretty much as you would expect with a new baby He fed, slept and cried a little. Still nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I was kept in overnight on the day he was born and other than a couple of routine checks as the midwives did their rounds we were left to our own devises. I’m not a big one for being fussed over so this was fine by me.

The following day I requested to be discharged and waited to see the paediatrician. By this time my OH had informed me of his concern about Corey’s tongue tie and we mentioned it to her as she performed her checks. She had a quick look and said there was nothing to worry about. How wrong she was!

Looking back, I should have mentioned it sooner, maybe to one of the midwives but the euphoria/lack of sleep surrounding a new baby and the fact he seemed to be feeding fine meant that this was overlooked.
We were discharged and spent the next couple of days adjusting to our new addition. Feeding still seemed to be going well, he was feeding regularly and sleeping well. My milk came in after a couple of days and that’s when things seemed to take a turn for the worst.

By our third night at home my nipples were cracked and extremely sore; my happy, contented baby had become a demon at night and I seemed to be feeding constantly. I initially put it down to being tired and the strain of a new baby. My OH was getting distressed by it all and when, on the fourth or fifth night, he woke to find me sobbing on the bed with a screaming baby I said enough was enough. At 2am he was dispatched to Asda for some formula.

After than initial wobble, which I put down to hormones and a lack of sleep, I carried on breastfeeding. I managed to find myself in a comfortable feeding position and everything appeared to be back on track.
Fast forward to the weekend and Corey’s 7 day review with the midwife arrived. She did his heel prick and we got him ready to be weighed. We were prepared for a small loss from his original birth weight of 8lb 5oz, what we didn’t expect was that he would have lost 11% of his birth weight!

The midwife explained that although it was normal for babies to lose some weight in the first week, this was above what was expected. She asked how feeding had been going and we explained the struggle we’d had with the breastfeeding earlier in the week and subsequent crystals we had found in his nappy the day before. We also mentioned that we thought he may have had a tongue tie but that the paediatrician had confirmed everything was fine.

Luckily, she checked herself just to make sure and the minute she opened his mouth she confirmed our suspicions. He did have a tongue tie and it was quite a bad one. She advised that we could make an appointment to have it snipped but would have to see the doctor first to be referred. The alternative was to be re-admitted to hospital via A & E due to his weight loss.

We chose the second option and 7 days after giving birth I was back on the maternity ward. I was shown to a private room and awaited my consultation with one of the midwives that specialised in breastfeeding.
She came in and suggested that I express some milk to give him and hooked me up to ‘Daisy’ and industrial sized breast pump. The whole situation was quite surreal if I’m honest. Once I’d pumped enough milk the midwife showed me how to feed him with a cup. She made it look easy, I made it look really hard.

After visiting time was over I was informed that unfortunately I was no longer able to stay in my own little room and was to be moved back onto the main ward. It was the strangest feeling, especially when I was wheeled down the corridor to the exact same location as the one I had vacated a week earlier.

The following morning we were informed that an appointment had been made for Tuesday for Corey to have his tongue tie snipped. I was advised to stay in hospital until after the appointment so they could monitor his weight/feeding etc.

If I’m honest I don’t really remember much about the two days I was in hospital as it passed in a bit of blur. I struggled to get a handle on feeding Corey with a cup so the midwifes suggested I went back to breastfeeding on demand, which ended up being almost constantly.

On the morning of the appointment we made our way to the ENT department where the tongue-tie snip was to take place. Our time came and we made went into the consulting room where we were talked through the procedure. One of us was asked to sit in a large dentist style chair and hold Corey’s head still. This was where I relinquished responsibility to my OH; the combination of hormones, broken sleep and the fact that someone was about to take a pair of scissors to my 9 day old baby was too much for me to process.

I sat at the side of the room, averted my eyes and prepared myself for the cries. After a few seconds I heard the Consultant say it was all done. Corey hadn’t made anything more than a murmur. We were allowed to head on back to the ward to feed him again under the supervision of the midwife. We weren’t even half way there when he fell asleep.

Corey within 5 minutes of his tongue tie division

 The first feed after his snip went really well and the midwife was happy enough to let us go home later that day.

He was like a totally different baby after his division. His feeding was a breeze compared to the pain and discomfort we had suffered the for the first 10 days. He fed perfectly and we soon managed to finally settle ourselves into a routine. His weight steadily increased and he made it back to his birth weight within a couple of weeks.

I must point out that prior to Corey’s tongue-tie I was almost unaware of what to look for and if it hadn’t have been for my OH and the midwife I would have been none the wiser. In all the baby books I read/was given prior to the birth I don’t remember seeing anything about it.

7 August 2017

Breastfeeding Guest Post: My Story as a Breastmilk Donor

Today's breastfeeding guest post is from the lovely Arabella who writes at www.exeterbabyactivities.co.uk. Arabella is a 40 something mum of two strong girls aged 14 and 6, living a life of beaches, pets, cycling and green things in Exeter with Mr Husband. A lawyer by training, Arabella runs, Exeter Baby Activities, the ultimate guide for families in Exeter. She writes about life as a family, cooking, growing and eco-friendly things useful to families outside Exeter too - go check out her Mummy Musings. Arabella breastfed for a total of 5 ½ years. Here she talks about her personal struggle with oversupply issues and how this led her to become a breastmilk donor.

You can also find Arabella on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.


Mums who have struggled with breastfeeding due to worries about supply issues may not realise that the opposite, oversupply, can be just as difficult to deal with and can dramatically impact the nursing relationship.

My personal struggles with over supply included:

Painfully engorged breasts nearly all the time
  • Frequent bouts of mastitis and blocked ducts
  • Not being able to sleep on my front or even side for the first 2-3 months and having to sleep on a plastic sheet
  • Leaking through even doubled up washable and disposable breast pads in minutes
  • Feeling super nervous and anxious every time I left the house as I could soak through a tee shirt in 30 seconds flat
  • Having to wake up twice a night just to pump, even if baby had fed
  • Always washing and assembling the breastpump/bottles etc
  • Constantly having an internal dialogue around where the pump was; how long since I had used it; did I need to wash it; was there time to pump before baby woke; would she be able to latch if I didn’t pump, which was going to hurt more, pumping or trying to feed without pumping….
And then there was the frustration of knowing that I had literally gallons of pure, nutritious wonderful milk to give to my baby straight from the boob, but really really struggling to do so:
  • My super-fast and strong let down literally drowned baby every time she latched on
  • Rock hard and engorged boobs meant nipple feeding was a common occurrence which led to such painful and damaged nipples that it was 9 months before I stopped bleeding at every feed
  • Days and weeks of fighting at the breast - a baby that is desperate to feed but is scared of mum’s breast is a very distressing thing to witness
  • Having to adopt a very restricted range of positions - I could only really feed sitting bolt upright with several cushions under baby, making it difficult to leave the house
  • No laying down to feed, no biological nursing, no calm, gentle, bonding nurturing for us
  • Painful colic for my baby as she was gulping so much air in with each feed
  • Painful poos and horrid nappies plus the sick everywhere
To help cope with this forceful let down and oversupply, I began pumping off an ounce or two before every feed.  I know that pumping can actually make oversupply issues worse but without taking some of the pressure off, my baby physically wouldn’t be able to latch and the fussing at the breast was extremely painful for me.

The result was a freezer full of frozen breastmilk.  Dozens and dozens of packets of breastmilk, beautifully labelled and stored in date order in case it was ever needed.  Some days I’d open the freezer and just stare at the packets; at the pain and frustration and tears and sleepless nights they represented.

When the freezer drawer was full, I’d take the oldest packets, cut them open in the sink and watch them to drip down the plughole one painful drop at a time.

Becoming a Breastmilk Donor

With my second daughter, I was determined not to let this all go to waste. After we came out of hospital for the second time and it was clear I was going to face the same oversupply issues, I began to research human milk banks. Our Devon hospital didn’t run a breastmilk bank, despite having a very busy NICU, but they did have an arrangement with Southampton hospital to send collected milk to them for processing and storage before return as needed.

After making a few phone calls, I was directed to the clerk to the Neonatal Unit who thankfully knew EXACTLY what I needed to do. We had a chat on the phone to discuss my situation and I was able to explain that I had all the milk needed for my baby, with lots to spare and was generally fit and healthy. I had to visit the ward to pick up the relevant forms: a health/lifestyle questionnaire and blood work kit containing a letter to my GP and details of the tests needed. The health/lifestyle questionnaire wasn’t as invasive as I thought.  I can’t remember the exact questions, but they were all things I’d want to know if I was the parent of a premature baby receiving donated milk:
  • Was I generally fit and healthy
  • Any blood transfusions I’d had
  • Did I smoke/take drugs
  • How much coffee/alcohol did I drink
The blood work included tests for HIV, hepatitis, HTLV and syphilis so I made an appointment with my GP to have the screening bloods taken. I tried to do this via the surgery nurse but as she had never done a breastmilk donor screening before, she asked that I saw a GP.

Sadly, the GP was no more informed and tried to argue with me about
a.            the need for breastmilk donors when substitutes are so readily available and
b.            the blood tests requested, despite the letter and forms from the hospital.

After a slightly heated discussion (yes really) the GP was finally convinced by the letter from the hospital and the bloods were taken. When I got the blood results back, I posted them along with the completed questionnaire to the Neonatal ward clerk and a couple days later got the call to say I had been accepted as a breastmilk donor. I popped back up to the hospital to collect some breastmilk bottles (the bottles store the milk in a different way to bags, making it better for prem babies) and started pumping.

I was exceptionally careful to make sure I sterilized the pump correctly and labelled the bottles fully. I also checked the thermometer of my freezer daily to make sure it was keeping the milk at the correct temperature. After I had collected a freezer full, I packed it in a cool bag and my husband took it to the Neonatal Unit and dropped it off.  I’d have loved to have completed the cycle myself by dropping it off but as I don’t drive, I didn’t want the milk to be out of the freezer for the length of the bus journey.

My daughter and I continued to struggle with my oversupply for many months but this time round I was able to take comfort knowing that vulnerable babies would be benefitting.

Further information on breastmilk donation and oversupply issues

If you’d like to find out more about becoming a breastmilk donor or receiving donated milk if your baby needs it, the UKAMB website has lots of useful information.

If you don’t have a breastmilk bank near you, do still contact your local infant feeding coordinator, as they may have an arrangement with another hospital that you can benefit from.  Some milk banks also accept large donations from out of area donors and will arrange collection from you.

If you struggle with forceful let-down or oversupply issues, do seek help from a lactation consultant or infant feeding coordinator.  Online guidance can be found on LLLI, LLLGB and Kelly Mom.


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