My little guide to baby freebies

Some things in life are worth paying for. But definitely not those things one can get for free! During pregnancy and motherhood numerous companies are fighting for you to become their customer. How? By literally forcefeeding you samples and coupons. All you have to do is employ a tiny bit of initiative because I’ve done the research for you. Here is the list of my favourite free stuff:

  • Emma’s Diary

Sign up here and you can claim four gift packs with various baby goodies, including a full pack of nappies. No purchase necessary.

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  • Bounty Packs

You should receive your first Bounty Pack – Pregnancy Information Folder at your first midwife appointment. If you didn’t, ask for it. Just like Emma’s Diary bags, Bounty Packs are filled with free samples and money off coupons, they also contain information booklets about what to buy and how to care for your new baby. Besides already mentioned Pregnancy Information Folder and a Newborn Pack that you’ll get in hospital after you’ve had your baby, there are two more sample bags that you can claim via the Bounty app. You can register and find more info here.

  • Pampers Club

Download the Pampers Club app and start uploading receipts from your Pampers purchases which will gain you points that you can redeem when buying more nappy supplies. Be smart! Whatever you do, do not ever pay a full price for a pack of nappies because that’s exactly what the retailer wants you to do. I personally wait for nappies to be on special and then I apply my coupons making my nappies super cheap, if not free. Tesco seems to have Pampers nappies at half price on a regular basis (so far every other month) so stock up then.

  • Boots Parenting Club

You can link your Boots loyalty card to their parenting club. You’ll benefit from 10 points for every pound spent on baby items. On top of that you’ll receive an extra stash of coupons and a freebie each quarter – currently you have a choice between a MAM bottle and a soother, or a pack of breast pads. I noticed that when you use the Boots app, it can be combined with equivalent paper coupons – this might be a glitch but I’m not going to complain about it. For example, I had a Pampers baby wipes 50p off coupon that came both in paper and electronic version. I waited for the wipes to be on special – for £1. I used my paper coupon, and the app automatically applied the e-coupon which gave me a free pack of wipes that normally sells for £1.50.

  • Amazon Prime

There are freebies and promotions running constantly for Amazon Prime members who create a baby wish list and purchase items from it. I find Amazon Prime excellent value for money. The membership costs £79 per year and the biggest perk is free delivery, including one day delivery. So if you’re planning to make two or more Amazon purchases every month, it’s a good deal. Otherwise, you can wait for a promotion that appeals to you and then get a trial of Amazon Prime that is free as long as you cancel within a month. The recent freebies included a MAM bottle, a Tommee Tippee nappy bin and my favourite one – Amazon baby box (see below). I’m sure there will be more coming in the future.

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  • Cow and Gate

Register here to receive a free cow toy, pregnancy diary and money off coupons.

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  • Ella’s Kitchen

Become Ella’s Kitchen friend to get a free weaning pack and coupons to try their products for free.

Those are the best clubs and offers I have found. There are more, including for example Tesco Baby Club, but they didn’t take my breath away. You can also join several freebie websites like https://www.mumandbabyonline.co.uk/ but when signing up for those you have to be prepared to receive a serious amount of junk mail in your mailbox. A solution is to create a separate email address for your freebies and loyalty clubs so they don’t mix with your important emails.

Also, whenever you are making a major purchase in a shop, ask for a discount. The store manager has the authority to award you a discount for pretty much no reason. When I was buying my pram in Mothercare I got £10 off and a booklet with vouchers. I mean £10 isn’t a lot, but it gets you a decent bottle of wine and a Starbucks frappucino so why not? My trick is to ask whether they do a single mum discount. Yes, I’m milking it. So send your partner away or make him look like your gay best friend and pretend to be a poor single mummy. Cheeky but effective…

Hopefully I just made your life little easier and cheaper. Now please tell me about your favourite freebies!

Food tricks you can get away with when pregnant

Let’s admit it ladies – in pregnancy your relationship with food changes. At least mine did. I loved to eat before, but then food transformed from something I enjoy to something I need. As in NEED. To keep my baby alive. No surprise they say you wouldn’t want to stand between a mum-to-be and her meal. If you did, you would be practically threatening her baby’s well-being and she would not be a happy bunny. So don’t you dare to eat that last yogurt in the fridge. No! Don’t touch it! It’s hers.

As my bump started growing I realised that my passionate relationship with food is nothing to be ashamed off. What is more, it seemed to be socially accepted, if not even encouraged. My baby’s Dad was always the “control-yourself-girl-or-you’ll-be-huge” kind of man. Then, when I noticed him trying to serve me the bigger portion of his beloved pasta, I started to realise that there is a whole lot of things a pregnant female can get away with. They are:

  • Eating loads.

Obviously. When you have a bump, suddenly, inhaling a whole pot of Ben and Jerry’s is something you can be proud of, rather than ashamed. Amazing! Although, don’t do it every day because let’s face it – calories are still calories and they add up no matter how pregnant you are.

  • Taking the last of anything.

You know when people share some food and at the very end there is this last piece left that just sits there looking sad because no one dares to be the one who takes it. Well it’s waiting for you. You’re entitled to it. Enjoy!

  • A midnight snack.

Traditionally, on the list of my priorities nothing would be above sleep. Then one night I found myself sitting in bed at 3 am and feasting on a bowl of Special K. I was certain if I didn’t have that bowl of cereal, I’d die of hunger before my morning alarm. Initially I found it embarrassing, but apparently it is just a common pregnancy “side effect”.

  • People will buy you food. 

Let them! People believe that they should feed pregnant women. It’s their way of “helping”. Whether it’s your bestie paying for your lunch or a colleague bringing you a homemade cookie – accept it, eat it, be grateful.

  • Pick & Mix quality control (aka stealing)

Okay, first let me explain to those non-Brits what Pick & Mix is: the best thing ever! You basically grab a bag or a paper cup and load it with your favourite sweets. Yum!

You pay for the content of your bag, but not for what ends up in your mouth before you weigh your bag. Munching on jelly sweets before making a purchase is practically stealing, but I can promise you that if you come to the checkout till, heavily pregnant, chewing on two fried eggs and a sour cherry, no one will say a word.

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  • “The baby asked me for it.”

This is the best excuse when you are caught scoffing something naughty like a muffin just after you ate a croissant. Blame your unborn child. They can’t defend themselves. Plus, no one will dare to question this statement because you  are the one carrying the little creature around.

  • Eating weird stuff.

The funny thing is that you probably had some weird food habits before you got pregnant. Like dipping a digestive biscuit in strawberry yogurt, or pouring sweet chili sauce on literally anything. People found it disgusting. Now they find it cute and quirky. So indulge.

  • Free food.

That’s right! It’ll be coming your way! I can’t pop to my local pub without being served a free toastie or a cheese plate by the owner. The other week we went for a ladies afternoon tea session with friends. While I got a free homemade macaroon from the waiter, my friends got nothing. #sorrynotsorry

  • Food hoarding.

This is an extreme case of stocking up that somehow sneaks upon you and before you realise, your cupboards are not big enough to hold all the “just in case” products and “can’t live without” items. I suddenly found myself owning eight different types of breakfast cereal, because I didn’t want to wake up and fancy a type of granola that I didn’t have access to.

I suppose there are ladies who are fortunate enough to have a dedicated man that rushes to buy the specific food item she fancies in that particular moment. Those lucky ones probably don’t experience food hoarding as intense as mine. But I live alone and am certainly not prepared to run to a shop twice a day, so I had to stock up.

Initially I was worried that I might be perceived as little crazy, but none of my visitors ever said “look at all the cereal boxes you have” so I guess it’s just another thing one can get away with when pregnant…

Pregnancy Cravings
This is not me by the way. I haven’t gone that far (yet)… Photo from https://www.popsugar.com/

 

My overall belief is the following: I am sacrificing everything to grown a human being (from ruining my body and my sex appeal, to messing up my sleep and increasing my stress level, to draining my life savings), so I sure as hell am entitled to get away with some things that non-pregnant people never could. So now if you excuse me I need to phone my local curry house to order a lamb korma for me and a chicken tikka masala for my baby.

Exercising in pregnancy

A couple years ago, I overheard one of our gym regulars excitingly announcing her new pregnancy. That was the last time I’ve seen her in the gym…

Far too often, a positive pregnancy test brings an end to one’s exercise routine. As if it’s not important any more. In my uneducated opinion, in pregnancy, exercise is more important that ever. Not only you are accountable for your own health and body, but you also have a full responsibility for well-being of your little one. I strongly believe that keeping fit is absolutely crucial. So here are my top points why I think you should carry on exercising:

(I am no healthcare professional so my opinions are based on research, personal experience and common sense.)

  1. First of all, exercising keeps you sane. It is widely known that physical activity reduces stress, and trust me, over the nine months you’ll experience a plenty of it.
  2. It raises your confidence. When I squat a weight equal to my peers while my belly is sticking out I sure as hell feel good about myself!
  3. Besides, exercise burns calories and speeds up your metabolism which will come in handy because, let’s admit it, you have one cookie too many on….uhmmmm….a daily basis.
  4. It’s fun! When you have fun, your baby has fun.
  5. It’s sociable. Pregnancy related tiredness often forces you to stay in, rest and socialise less. Popping to the gym with your friend or going for a jog with your running club is a great way of getting some human contact while doing something beneficial for your body.
  6. It energizes you. So many times I crawled home from work exhausted and had to use all my willpower to force myself to the gym. After finishing my spin class I was skipping home happy and full of energy like a spring baby lamb.
  7. Finally, my favourite reason to exercise is that it makes your baby smarter. No kidding! Numerous studies have been conducted and their conclusions suggest that exercising in pregnancy increases your baby’s brain activity. So get moving and grow yourself a little Einstein 🙂 (Check some articles here and here.)

20171231_105645.jpgNow what kind of exercise should you do you ask? My midwife’s advice is to carry on with what you’re used to. Unless of course you are a cage fighter or a ski jumper… Just use common sense. Anything that poses an increased risk of falling off something or getting punched in your belly is obviously a no no. On the other hand, don’t be overly precious. The chances of you sustaining an injury when pedaling on a spin bike are much lower than chances of being run over when walking to McDonalds. I remember how I laughed when a friend whispered to me during a yoga class: “Are you sure it’s safe for you to do this?” I was still in my first trimester so there was no belly preventing me from doing my favourite yoga poses. Please don’t be too worried about what you are allowed and not allowed to do when pregnant, otherwise you’ll make your life a living hell which will have a far worse effect on your baby’s well-being than holding a downward dog pose for a little too long…

FB_IMG_1513015133639.jpgBefore I was becoming a mummy I was a gym freak who always pushed herself hard. Since then I eased off on intensity but not on dedication. The rule of thumb is to listen to my body. If something doesn’t feel right I don’t do it. If I need a break I take it. I aim for 4 to 5 days of exercise a week. This usually consists of one or two spin classes, one weights session or a body pump class, a swim and my local Saturday parkrun (yeah, that’s me on the photos – doing some resistance training and finishing 5K). Overall, this blend keeps me in a good shape and a good spirit, and I sure as hell am not overdoing it. I eliminated heavy weight lifting (now I opt for more reps and lower weight) and long runs (over 10K) with my running club.

If you did zero exercise before, it may seem like a hardcore routine that would be the death of you. I understand. But it’s not all lost. You can take on walking, swimming or some other gentle activities. At the end of the day, using the stairs instead of the lift, or walking not driving to your local Starbucks is a great start. Baby steps 😉

Although I appreciate that a growing belly and brewing hormones are the perfect excuse to sit on the sofa, binge watch Love Island, binge eat Ben and Jerry’s and binge nap in between, please do get up and make an effort. If not for yourself, then for your baby. They rely on you!