sweet oxen

Just a Card Valentine’s Gift Guide

Totally delighted to have been included in the Valentine’s Gift Guide over at Just A Card! You may have heard of their amazing campaign – if not please head over there now! Their aim is to encourage people to buy from independent makers and designers, as well as galleries and shops.

Not only are there cute cards to choose from, but gifts under £15 and £50 too! With only a week to go until Valentine’s Day, check out the guide for some inspiration.

Be Mine Valentine

 

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life, motherhood, sweet oxen

My Breastfeeding Journey…so far

We are now into our seventh week of breastfeeding, which also coincides with World Breastfeeding Week, so I thought I’d share some of my experience and thoughts on it so far.

Breastfeeding is often a challenge. I’ve found it to be hard work that has quickly paid off. It’s convenient, free, has health benefits for mum and baby and it is also enjoyable! Those first few weeks are tough though. These are the things that got me through:

hpa lanolin

Lansinoh HPA Lanolin – £9.99

This stuff has, as one of my NCT pals put it, skin regenerating properties. Slather this on after every feed and in between if you like. It is an absolute lifesaver and does wonders to prevent and heal dry/cracked nipples (which you really want to avoid). Also a great cure for chapped lips!

 

mmam

Multi-Mam Nursing Balm £8.95

While HPA Lanolin is amazing, it is also derived from animal products so this plant based balm from Multi Mam is vegan friendly. It is a little runnier than Lansinoh’s balm which I found more soothing.

 

 

medela hpads

Medela Hydrogel Pads

I was lucky enough to have been given these as a sample, but I can honestly say that these saved me in the first two weeks. They are a slightly sticky/gooey gel pad that you stick onto your nipples to soothe them and prevent dryness/cracking. I popped them in the fridge and it made it even more amazing! They remain sterile for 24h, and you can run them under cold water to refresh them in between removal for feeding.

boots

Washable Breast Pads – Boots, £5.20

While disposable breast pads are a useful thing to have in your handbag in case of emergency boob leakage, I found them immensely annoying (they ended up a scrunched up mess in my bra every time), these stay in place really well and are soft, soft, soft. And, points for reducing landfill waste. They also come with a little bag to wash them in, handy!

 

poangA Comfy Chair (POANG, IKEA £55+)

Of course this doesn’t have to be this exact chair, but do find yourself somewhere to feed comfortably. I found myself getting super uncomfortable feeding on the sofa or bed. Pregnancy and birth have left me with a bad back (not to mention stitches..!) so I found this chair on eBay and it has saved me! You can be sat feeding for up to an hour at a time so you really do need to make it as comfy as possible. Also don’t forget a glass of water, some snacks and a form of entertainment (Netflix got me through many a 3am feed).

While breastfeeding is something I’m passionate about, let me be clear: this is not a criticism of formula feeding, or those that do not breastfeed. Ultimately, you feed your baby according to your preference, your circumstances and it is an individual choice. One of the reasons I want to talk about breastfeeding though is that I still think that there is too much of a stigma attached to breastfeeding (particularly in public) that I find frustrating. It also saddens me that this may put new mums off breastfeeding in public, or even at all.

Just like anything else in life there are pro’s and cons to breastfeeding. However, it is not right that other people’s judgement of you feeding in public is a deciding factor in this day and age. In fact, what other people think of breastfeeding shouldn’t come into it at all. And from speaking with other new mums, it unfortunately can. Breastfeeding is often hard, and many new mums will be super self-conscious as it is, without feeling they may be judged by others. So top tip: if you see a mum breastfeeding her baby in public, she is no different to any other person in that room. You don’t need to stare, but you also don’t need to look away awkwardly either. You don’t need to do anything differently than normal (unless you want to be super helpful and get her a glass of water!).

What are your experiences of breastfeeding? Share in the comments below! x

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Welcome to the World, Emilia Iris!

We are delighted to introduce our beautiful baby girl Emilia, who finally arrived on Saturday 18th June, at a rather decent 8lb 6oz (not quite the dainty 7lb something I had imagined..!). 

It was such an intense experience, nothing could truly prepare me for it. Practising pregnancy yoga paid off though and helped me understand the choices in pain relief, potential complications and helped me keep a clear head (for the most part!).

I had a pretty flexible birth ‘plan’, but my ideal scenario involved a birthing pool and gas and air. However my body had different ideas, and when my waters started trickling at 01:30, there was quite a lot of blood. So after a surprisingly calm drive to the hospital, where I was closely monitored for an hour, the decision was to induce labour using the syntocinon hormone drip as they weren’t happy with this mysterious bleed! I was also on the Consultant Led Unit (rather than the midwife led unit), which I had always been scared of (God knows why, they were amazing and I was looked after by midwives anyway! During pregnancy you get get told so many differing opinions on the benefits of midwife vs consultant led care, it’s hard to ignore), where they only have one birthing pool available. This, combined with the potential use of the hormone drip, meant the pool was a no go. Sad face.

We were then taken from Triage to our own delivery suite (which was super nice…own ensuite bathroom, comfy bed and chair, birthing ball, mat and an incubator type of thing that I tried to ignore). It was around 4am when our midwife examined me and did a membrane sweep (I expected this to be horrible but she was quick and it wasn’t too bad!). She said I would probably go into labour on my own and not need the drip. Bonus! Sure enough, I started getting very mild contractions (they felt like waves of mild period pain). Because I was being monitored, we could see they were definitely contractions on the graph so decided to give the TENS machine a go (apparently it works best the earlier you start), which really helped with managing the pain.
Fast forward to about 9am and the decision was made to go onto the drip after all, on a low dose, to get my contractions a little closer together. They got more intense quite quickly and I started on the gas and air, which combined with the TENS machine really worked, and I felt pretty spaced after this. Sometime around 11am we started discussing possibility of diamorphine, I think because I felt if this was going to go on for a long time, I was worried I might not cope and I was already feeling quite tired. However I was too far along at 8cm, so it was a no to the diamorphine but I was progressing well!
Not long after this, I started to feel the urge to push, and we tried getting me into various positions that helped (I say we because I required a lot of assistance, with the IV drip, gas and air tube which I would not let go of, the monitors and the TENS machine). However I was getting tired. As well as the pain, I had barely eaten (as per their advice in case I had to go to theatre with this bleed), so I ended up on my back on the bed, which is not what I’d had in mind. I then pushed for around 3 hours – it took this long because her head kept slipping back! However the midwives were incredibly supportive and encouraging (as was Dave), and after a crazy effort I started to make some progress, and out she came at 4pm!

It has taken me some time to process the whole experience, and it was also interesting comparing notes with Dave who was obviously not high on gas and air! But all in all I know we are very lucky to have had such amazing staff at Lister Hospital and so much support and love from our family and friends in the weeks since. I am now feeling back to normal and can concentrate on our beautiful baby, and hope to continue my design work while staying at home!

The Sweet Oxen shop is now open again, and I am hoping to add my new prints and cards in the coming weeks. For now though, it’s time to adjust to being a family of three.

 

 

 

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Shop Closure: Sweet Oxen Maternity Leave!

So after much consideration of my options when baby arrives, I’ve decided to put my shop on hold until I’m ready to deal with orders and enquiries again. I did consider extending my turnaround times but quite simply, I don’t know how everything is gonna go and of course, I won’t get those first few weeks back and they are more important! My recovery (if for example I had to have a Caesarean) could be tough and I want to concentrate on baby!

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Therefore, unless baby decides to make an early appearance, I’ll be closing my shop on Sunday June 5th – just under a week from now! This applies to http://www.sweetoxen.co.uk, my notonthehighstreet.com and Etsy shops.

If you want to keep in touch, I’ll still be hanging out on social media – @SweetOxen – let’s get this show on the road!

 

x

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Personalised Father’s Day Prints!

Stuck for a Father’s Day Gift? Look no further – this personalised print is now available in the Sweet Oxen Shop! Choose from fifteen illustrations of your pop’s favourite hobbies and activities and give a truly unique and special custom gift this year.

 

Also available are these Super Dad Father’s Day cards! £2.95 or why not make the most of the mix and match multi buy offer of 4 for £8?

superdad_01

Father’s Day this year is on June 19th so you have just under 3 weeks! The shop will be closing on Sunday June 5th for maternity leave so please bear this in mind when placing your order!

x

 

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Sweet Oxen is back on Etsy!

After taking quite the hiatus, I have decided to re-open my Sweet Oxen Etsy store!

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I was recently reminded of how much I enjoyed selling on Etsy when I looked back on some customer photos of commissioned pieces that I did for several international customers, and realised that I really miss that sort of work! Etsy seems to be an ideal marketplace for getting to know your customers and working with them more closely, and personally, to create something just for them. It really opens up so many opportunities that aren’t as available to me on other platforms!

You can now visit the Sweet Oxen Etsy store here.

 

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