Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Reduced Chemical Body Moisturisers

When I decided to try and reduce the amount of chemicals I put onto and into my body I knew that it would not be possible to change everything or completely avoid chemicals altogether. I thought a good start was to look at the products I put onto large areas of my body and didn't wash off. I previously wrote about my new found love of Origins facial skincare products. My next challenge was to find an all over body moisturiser with less nasties in it. Sadly my usual choices of Champney's, Sanctuary Spa and Soap and Glory contain many of the ingredients in my 'avoid list'. 

Already being a fan of Palmer's stretch mark creams, and knowing that they were formulated without parabens or phthalates I decided to give their cocoa butter mosturiser a go. I also decided to try Burt's Bees Milk and Honey body lotion as I had received this as part of a gift set for my birthday. If you do not know about Burt's Bees it is a natural skincare brand that was founded in America in 1984. Their products are all made using 99% natural ingredients and a focus on sustainability. Anyway, onto my reviews:

Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula 24 Hour Moisture - This retails for around £4 for 250ml. I begrudgingly have to say that I really do not like this product. It is the same cocoa butter formula as the stretch mark treatments but the smell it has on application is no where near as nice. The consistency is very thick and the colour is yellow. Due to its thickness it is very hard to get out (imagine lots of upside down shaking and banging) and I could imagine you will end up wasting quite a lot when it becomes even more difficult to squeeze out as it become emptier. Due to its thickness it also takes quite a while to run into your skin. It does have some good points, it moisturises well, which is after all its intended purpose and the smell is much better once it has soaked in. 
My Rating: 2.5 out of 5. It scores those points for its price and the fact it does its job. 

Burt's Bees Milk & Honey Body Lotion - This retails for £9.99 for 170g. I love this product but I do not love the price. The scent of this is really fresh lemon and honey. I think it will be even nicer in the summer months. The consistency is nice and light which means it rubs in really easily and the colour of the lotion is a pale cream - far more appealing than the Palmer's lotion. I have been using this on my legs as they tend to get quite dry and this product has definitely made a difference. I am really torn when rating this. I received this tube as a gift and I am not sure (as much as I love it) if I would be willing to pay the £9.99 price tag.
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5. I can not score it any higher because as good as the product is I honestly do not think I would buy this at full price. Instead I shall be keeping an eye open for offers at boots on the Burt's Bees range and if not I may have to treat myself using my boots advantage card points instead! 

My hunt for a more natural body moisturiser is definitely not over based on these two products. 

Monday, 30 March 2015

ASDA Good & Counted Low Fat Frozen Yogurt

This evening I had a real craving for some ice cream. I think it was because I had a slightly sore tummy and also because I was quite tired and craving the sugar. We went for a wander around ASDA but I really didn't want to buy ice cream knowing how unhealthy it is. I am trying to be good at the moment as although my weight gain so far is within the normal limits for 16 weeks - it is at the top end of normal. My meals on the whole are relatively healthy but I just need to be more careful with snacks. 

Instead of ice cream I decided to get some low fat frozen yogurt. ASDA has a new revamped low fat range called 'Good and Counted', and within this they have a range of low fat frozen greek yogurt. I went for the chocolate one which is 84 calories a portion (about 1/5 of the pot which I personally found was plenty). It was just what I needed the flavour was not too rich or too sweet and it definitely satisfied my craving. I am sure I will be trying the other flavours soon - I just hope they do not discontinue it as that usually happens with anything I really like! 

Cow and Gate Baby Club

Last week I signed up for different baby clubs as I figured any information and vouchers could be useful. Today I got a nice surprise in the post as my Cow and Gate Baby Club pack arrived. 

I have not read through the booklets yet - I shall add them to my ever increasing pile. The little cow toy is very cute and I shall be adding that to Baby's box. 
You can sign up for the Cow and Baby Club here. The packs are available if you sign up before 30 weeks of pregnancy. 

I actually signed up for quite a few online clubs and I can't remember most of them. I am sure I will be getting a few more surprises through the door over the next few weeks. 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Babybond quickASSURE Scan

Today we went for a private scan and got to see our baby again. I know that people have different views about private scans and many midwifes do not recommend them but I am so glad we had one. We decided to book the scan for a few reasons. Firstly, having suffered a missed miscarriage we are naturally very anxious this time round and when you are this anxious the wait between the 12 week and 20 week scan seems like an eternity. The second reason was for extra reassurance after I had to have a filling this week. Despite the midwife and the dentist telling me it was fine I still worried a little bit that the local anaesthetic and my sky high blood pressure (dentist phobia) would harm the baby.  

We both had a very sleepless night last night worrying about the scan. I don't think we will ever get over being told at our scan the first time round that they could not find a heartbeat. It makes us think that every scan will be bad news - despite having a positive 12 week scan this time round. Our appointment was the first one of the day at 10.30am so we went straight in and thankfully the minute she started scanning she said the magic words 'baby is fine'. She showed us all the different bits and told us the measurements were all looking good. We couldn't believe how much baby has grown. We got about 8 photos in total and even got to see them in 4D and get a couple of 4D photos. 

We had the scan at a Babybond clinic which is part of Ultrasound Direct. They offer scans all over the country. As we only wanted to be reassured we went for the cheapest option and booked the quickASSURE scan which is a 15 minute appointment. I would definitely recommend using Babybond as the booking process was easy and the experience was far less clinical than in the hospital. There are more expensive 4D scans available for later on but I don't think we will be having any - as nice as they would be I would rather spend the money on the baby when it is here and we are also very much hoping our anxiety will be greatly reduced after our 20 week scan - fingers crossed. 

Friday, 27 March 2015

Batch Cooking

One of the ways I have been trying to save a few pennies is by reducing our weekly shopping bill. This could easily be achieved by eating beans on toast and £1 frozen pizzas BUT we are also trying to eat healthier too. One of the other issues we have is finding the time (and motivation) to cook meals from scratch. There is nothing worse than coming home from work tired and having to spend time cooking a meal. 

Our solution to solve all of the above issues was batch cooking. This is something we have been threatening to do for a long time but never got round to. With me not working I really have no excuse. The plan is to cook up batches of cheap, healthy meals that do not take long to reheat and serve. If it saves money and we can keep it up I also think it will be a huge help when baby comes along. 

The first thing we needed (other than recipes) was containers. We had a look at ASDA but found that even their cheapest containers worked out at about 25p each. We have a membership at Costco and it occurred to us that they sell supplies for caterers. We were very pleased to find a box of 100 for just over £10. They are microwave safe, freezer safe and just the right size for a portion. They are easily washed and re-used too so will last us a long time (we have been cooking batch meals for about a month now and still have over 3/4 of the box sat unused). 

Costco Plastic Take Away Tubs. Price correct as of 27.03.2015. 

So far the batch cooking is going well. I will admit it is hard work the days I spend cooking but it is nice knowing I have made enough meals to last several weeks. When each meal is cooked I use a sticker on each tub to say what it is, when it was cooked and how many servings the tub contains. I will go by the suggested use by three months too. As far as cost goes what we have found is that we probably need to do it over a good few months to work out how much we save. So far we have a very expensive month when we stock up on all the ingredients to cook, followed by 2 very cheap weeks when we do not have to buy food for dinner. I shall update on our progress. 

Meals tried and liked so far:

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

16 Weeks

Two amazing things happened today. 1) we got to hear our baby's heartbeat for the first time and 2) I discovered the wonder that is maternity skinny jeans with big stretchy waist bands. 

This morning I had my 16 week midwife appointment (actual date 15+3). I was a little apprehensive as I didn't know what to expect. My midwife is lovely, she told me not to worry about my weight and to eat cake all I wanted if it stopped me feeling sick, that had me sold on her straight away! She did all the usual checks and measurements and then asked if we wanted her to try and find the heartbeat. Both my partner and I were a bit apprehensive as we were aware she may not be able to locate it at this stage and didn't want to convince ourselves something was wrong if she couldn't. Luckily she found it within a minute and it was so amazing to hear. We even got to hear the baby kicking, apparently he/she doesn't like being poked - I am with them on that one! 

With my partner having the day off work we decided to make the most of it and go into town and do some shopping. Despite my attempts to loose a bit of weight and delay the inevitable need for maternity clothes, my jeans have been feeling a bit on the comfy side recently. So I decided that it would be sensible to buy a pair or two. I had been warned by others that it was hard to buy maternity clothing from the shops as most of their collections were online. Thankfully I chose to go into New Look first (not normally the shop of my choice) and they had a decent selection of trousers. I was pleasantly surprised at just how comfortable they were. I went for a pair of jeggings and a pair of skinny jeans - both with nice thick stretchy waist bands. I thought that they were well priced too. I have not worn them yet and hope that once I do they stand up to my positive first impressions. The other shops were a complete waste of time as they had little or no maternity ranges at all - I will definitely be looking online next time I think. 

New Look Maternity Underbump Jeggings £17.99

New Look Maternity Underbump Supersoft Skinny Jeans £22.99

Monday, 23 March 2015

Happy Cleaning - Method Non-toxic Cleaners

After visiting friends on Thursday and over the weekend I have gotten behind with my blog. Whilst spending time with my friends definitely helps to improve my happiness it does have a negative impact on my diet, wallet and the house work. For that reason I shall dedicate the last week of the month to trying to ensure these other 3 aspects of my life receive an equal amount of attention. 

Whilst I am currently unemployed I am taking on all responsibility for running the house, basically trying to be a proper old fashioned house wife. Cleaning is not one of my favourite things to do, but on the whole I do not mind doing it. When agreeing to take on this job I did however have one major concern - the chemicals. After spending an hour or two immersed in a selection of bleaches, sprays and creams I have always ended up with a slight lightheaded feeling, along with the feeling I have may have taken several layers of skin off my hands. Now that I am pregnant I guess the obvious choice would be to use gloves and a mask, however I decided to follow on from my quest to find natural toiletries by looking into natural cleaners too. 

I must have some kind of psychic connection to Sainsbury's as it just happened that the week I went to look all of their natural ranges were on offer. I purchased a few products from the Ecover and Method ranges. For now I shall just talk about the kitchen ones.


The products above are from the 'Method' range. Method is an American brand that was taken over by Ecover in 2012. There products are environmentally friendly, non-toxic and designed to be safe for both the family and all furry friends. 

Click to enlarge - method FAQs taken from http://methodproducts.co.uk/

I have been using the Daily Kitchen Cleaner and Multi-surface cleaners for about 4 weeks now. I am really impressed. The scents are lovely and the products do not have the usual 'fake' chemical fresh smell you get with cleaning products. As far as cleaning performance I have had no issues at all. I have been using the daily cleaner for my quick daily surface wipes and the multi-surface cleaner for deeper cleans every few days. They cut through all dirt and have even got rid of some seriously welded on dirt on my stove top (when sprayed and left to soak for a minute). I do have concerns that the products do not have any antibacterial properties. Method do make products that kill 99.9% of bacteria but these seem to be only available in the USA. Until they become available here I willl just rope my partner in to do a deep clean once every few weeks. 

Rating: 4/5 - This would have been higher if the range included antibacterial products. When I purchased the products they cost £2 each for an 828ml bottle. The current price is £3 per bottle. Although this is higher than the products we would usually I do think the extra £1 is worth the peace of mind. I am sure my partner would agree as it means he gets out of all the cleaning too! 

Friday, 20 March 2015

Points Mean Prizes

Whilst my hunt for work is proving unsuccessful I decided to look for other ways to earn money. Google's first return for 'earn money from home' is an article from Money Saving Expert.com. Their first suggestion is online surveys. Now this is something is not new to me, having completed many a survey in my student years. The article states that if you are dedicated you can earn around £200 to £800 in cash and vouchers in a year. 

I signed up for the top three sites: Ipsos, Swagbucks and Global Test Market. Having found the Swagbucks site the most easy to use I have focused on this one for the past 2 weeks and am pleased to say I have racked up almost enough 'swag points' to claim a £10 amazon voucher. Not quite the £800 a year mark but I have only been spending 30 minutes or so each evening on the site. So far I have only focused on answering surveys but you can also earn points by answering polls, watching videos and searching via their page instead of Google. There have been some occasions where I have half completed a survey and then been disqualified which is frustrating, but on the whole most surveys are quick, easy and sometimes even interesting too - I completed one about the new Ghostbusters Movie last week. 

I am going to start using the other two sites and try and be a bit more dedicated to spending time on them each day - even if I can earn £10 from each site a month that is £30 I would not have had.  

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Origins Natural Skincare

Now we all have our weaknesses, mine is for expensive toiletries. I have tried using cheaper brands many times, but apart from a very small number of products I am always left feeling disappointed - by both the results and how long the products last. 

My favourite products are from Clinique, Clarins and Decleor. When I made the decision to think more carefully about the chemicals I was putting on my body I knew that these were all likely to be out the window! Annoyingly I had been purchased an Origins skincare set for Christmas from my in-laws to be. Although their tagline is 'powered by nature' I knew that with Origins being a sub-brand of Estee Lauder they would probably not be as good as they made out. I went on the Origins website too research how bad they were in terms of chemicals and was over the moon when I found this:

I have been using Origins as my sole facial skincare brand for approximately 2 and a 1/2 months now. The set I was purchased for Christmas was the 'Make a Difference' range. This range is designed to rehydrate and repair and reduce signs of aging caused by dehydration. I do not actually have dry skin, more like normal to combination but I am in love with these products. Now they do seem expensive when you look at them BUT I have only just finished the 50ml sized cleanser and toner that I got at Christmas and I still have about 3/4 of the mosturisers left. I recently purchased the full sized cleanser and toner. These full sized products are £20 for 150ml and based on my current usage they will last me 7 and a 1/2 months. Considering how much I would of spent on cheaper products over this time, I do not consider the £2.60 a month cost to be too outrageous. My skin will thank for me it too!

Make a Difference Rejuvenating Cleansing Milk £20  
Make a Difference Plus Rejuvenating Treatment Lotion £20

Make a Difference Plus Rejuvenating Treatment £34.50
Make a Difference Plus Rejuvenating Mosturiser £34.50

I have been using the cleanser and toner each morning followed by the treatment cream (this one is for combination skin so is nice and light) and then in the evening I use the thicker Mosturiser instead. My skin has improved so much. Even through early pregnancy I have had no blemishes (last time round my skin was awful). The scent of these products is lovely. Officially it is Rose of Jericho with Lychee and Watermelon (with Sea Haricots in the cleanser). I would describe the scent as very fresh, slightly floral with a subtle mint background. Whatever it is it is lovely! 

MY Rating 4.5/5 (would of been a 5 if they were slightly cheaper!). I would definitely recommend having a look at the ranges that Origins do. Also check out the sets and offers they have in Boots and Debenhams - they work out good value and a good way to try the products first. 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Today's Little Happy

So let's forget the diet for one minute - today my little happy was provided by these cupcakes. Since about 6 weeks pregnant I have really gone off sweets and chocolate - so much so that I still have a whole pile of Christmas chocolate left. The odd thing is I have not gone off biscuits or cake, I think that is due to their lovely stodgy carbiness which seems to ease my sickness. I decided to make some cupcakes and used this recipe: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/cupcakes_93722

I promise that although they look like they have scrambled egg on top they do not. The reason it looks that way is a) my piping bag broke so I had to spoon it on and b) I decided to make use of some of my Christmas chocolate and mixed in chunks of white Toblerone into the icing - hence the lumps! Very yummy indeed :D 

T Minus 25 Weeks

It is just over 25 weeks until my due date. In some ways this seems like forever but when I look at the list of things we need to get done in that time it suddenly feels like 5 minutes. Now we have lots of things that we want to do to the house, but we have to focus on the bits we absolutely need to get done before baby comes along. The list so far:
  1. Decorate my office
  2. New curtains for my office
  3. Move boxes and furniture out of room intended for nursery and back into my office
  4. Decorate the nursery
  5. New carpet for nursery
  6. New curtains for nursery
  7. Furniture for nursery
  8. Wardrobes for master bedroom (so we can move our clothes out of the nursery one)
  9. Put up 2 x sheds in the garden
  10. Move all the junk out of the garage into said sheds
  11. Set up the garage as a gym (as originally intended 10 months ago). 
While I am still out of work/looking for work I can at least be making a start on these jobs (as well as all the regular house keeping jobs). The first task is to get my office sorted out - see pictures below. It currently has a dark brown carpet and dark brown curtains and no wallpaper (we removed the dark brown wallpaper!). 

Annoyingly after a trip to Dunelm Mill we soon found out our curtains are of 'non-standard' size which means we need to have them custom made instead of buying off the shelf, i.e. add £200 on to the price (joy). Anyway we decided to have Hilary's out to measure and quote us and after recovering from the shock we have decided we are going to swallow the cost and go ahead (at least they will fit them and they are guaranteed). 

I have also been out this week and collected some test pots and I will hopefully have chosen a paint colour by the end of the week. 

My plan was to start painting straight away but I have read conflicting advice on the safety of painting when pregnant. The vast majority say that as long as the paint is not oil based and you make sure you keep the room well ventilated then it is OK after the 1st trimester. Other sources (still credible ones) suggest it is best to avoid it as with most things they do not yet know the risks (grrrr). I have my midwife appointment next week so I decided it will not harm to wait a week and see what she says. I shall also invest in a decent, and probably very stylish face mask, just to be on the safe side. 

The new curtains and colour scheme. I am actually really hoping I prefer the Crown one over the B&Q own brand as it is currently on offer at 3 for £32. The B&Q one works out at 3 for £35 - and every little helps! 

Monday, 16 March 2015

More Freebies - Emma's Diary

I posted a while back about how excited I was when I collected my Emma's Diary and Bounty mum to be packs. I got to experience that again today as I logged into Emma's Diary online and was able to download vouchers for the next two packs - 'Bump to Baby' and 'New Family'.


Bump to Baby Contents: 
Pampers Sensitive Wipes (12 pack)
Pampers New Born Nappy Sample
Always Towel Sample
Lansinoh Nursing Pads Sample
Fairy Non-bio Sample
Bio Oil Sachet 

New Family Contents:
Pampers Sensitive Wipes (12 pack)
Pampers Size 3 Nappy Sample
Fairy Non-bio Sample
Palmer's Tummy Butter (15g)
Tena Lights Sample
Lansinoh Nursing Pads Sample

I do not think that the contents of these are as good as those in the original Emma's Diary pack - either the novelty of freebies has worn off or the Tena Lights are too much of a reminder of what is too come! I have boxed everything up that I have received so far and I am sure it will all be useful. I do admit I will probably not be using brands such as Fairy or Pampers once the baby is born as we plan to stick to our new money saving ways for some time to come. We are certainly not adverse to shopping around and trying supermarket own brands such as Aldi and ASDA, particularly until I go back to work full time. We are also considering buying second hand where ever we can. We are not planning on buying anything until after our 20 week scan, after that I shall be post about any bargains we find and how we get on with keeping costs to a minimum.  

Since collecting these packs I have read some worrying posts on 'Mumsnet' about Emma's Diary contacting you once the baby is born and trying to send you items to buy. Some posters said they were sent items regardless of whether they wanted them and then got sent the bill. I shall keep my fingers crossed this does not happen. I do have the king of all complainers on my side if I do have any issues with them (my partner). He once got sent a £15 Mars voucher and an apology letter after he wrote to complain that the ratio of snickers to the other bars in tubs of celebrations was always too low. He is an oddball but I do love him to bits!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Money Money Money

One of the things I have mentioned a few times is the fact my partner and I are on a budget. The main reason for this is that as of 2 weeks ago I am currently unemployed. I decided to hand my notice in when I found out I was pregnant. This may seem very drastic but I do have very valid reasons and it was a decision my partner and I spent a lot of time making. Unfortunately in the end I just felt that the job I had been in had too many risks to my pregnancy, largely due to working with livestock. It also required a commute of over 2 hours each day and came with a large deal of stress due to multiple issues with staffing. After looking at our finances we decided that it would be better for us to have to cut back than us worry constantly. I finished at 12 weeks pregnant and just before lambing season began (high risk for pregnant women). 

My plan was to find some temporary work for 4 or 5 months - however this is proving easier said than done. I cannot realistically apply for a permanent role as I would only be there for a few months before I went on maternity leave and I do not feel I would be comfortable doing this to an employer. Luckily having worked full time for the last 3 years I will quality for maternity allowance which will help out us out. Until then I will be keeping up the job hunt and be looking for creative ways in which we can save as much money as possible - I foresee a lot of beans on toast in my future! 

Friday, 13 March 2015

Battling The Belly - Palmer's Stretch Mark Treatments

I fully accept that my body will go through a lot of changes over the next few months, but I am concerned about stretch marks. My reason for concern is that I already have quite a few and I am not looking to add to that collection! When I went away to university I gained quite a bit of weight and it was only when I met my partner a year later that I embarked on an exercise and diet plan and managed to loose it. Although 8 years later my stretch marks are now very pale, I do worry that I will be predisposed to getting them again. 

I wanted to start using a treatment from 12 weeks. Having received a sample of Palmer's Tummy Butter in my Emma's Diary pack and seeing that it had some good reviews and was relatively cheap I thought it was a good place to start. The best bit is that Palmer's products are hypoallergenic, Paraben and Phthalate free!  

       Tummy Butter approx £5.00 and Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks approx £3.00                             
The tummy butter is quite thick in consistency (pretty much like butter) and is described as being an 'intensive treatment'. It is recommended that this product is used at night. I decided to follow the recommendations and also purchased the stretch mark lotion to use each morning. The lotion smells lovely and although it takes a while to absorb (due to the lack of phthalates I am guessing) it does leave my skin feeling very soft. It is actually quite therapeutic spending the time massaging it in and gives your arms a bit of a work out too! To use the tummy butter I find it is easiest to take a chunk out and then warm it up in my hands so that it melts a bit before applying it. The smell is lovely (this time with a added hint of lavender) and once you have put in the effort to rub it in it does again leave the skin very soft. I will be trying my hardest to stick to this daily routine and fingers crossed it will pay off! 

Back To My Childhood

I have not written a post in a few days as I have been staying away with my parents. The main reason for the visit was to go and see 'Adrian Mole the Musical' with my mum at the Curve Theatre in Leicester (part of my 30th birthday present). 

The Adrian Mole books are my all time favourites and I must have read them all at least 5 times in my life, so I was very excited to go and see the musical. It was also nice to spend some time with my mum- something I rarely do. The show was great - I would definitely recommend to any fans of the books. It also made me once again realise that we really do need to go out and do more 'fun' things, by we I mean myself and my partner. We are always thinking about money and never really treat ourselves. I know we need to be sensible these days but there must be so many things to do that don't break the bank - I shall make it my mission to hunt them out! 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Sanex Zero% Deodorant

When I started to think about using more natural products one of the first items I considered was my deodorant. Like most people I use this every day (once or twice depending on when I have a shower). I also have the bad habit of using far more than I should – I certainly don’t resemble the women on the adverts who delicately apply one swipe and are somehow able to immediately put on their beautiful dresses without any blowing or flapping about at all.  

I used to use either Dove or Sure roll-on and when I looked at the back of these one of the first ingredients listed was ‘Aluminium Chlorohydrate’. This was one of the controversial chemicals I had identified and definitely one I wanted to avoid if possible. When I first looked for a more natural deodorant I was quite disappointed as the ones I found were very expensive and as we are currently on a money saving mission I didn't feel I could justify them. The natural cosmetics company Lush sold several, priced around £5 and an online organic beauty company called ‘The Green People’ did too, but again their deodorant was priced at around £8.00.

It was when I was browsing in ASDA that I came across Sanex Zero%. I was aware of the Sanex but not their new Zero% range. Their website states these products have been developed to contain less artificial chemical ingredients and to be more environmentally friendly. I was pleasantly surprised to find they had a deodorant in this range and that it contained natural minerals and no aluminium chlorohydrate, no alcohol and no parabens. The best bit, it was only £1.50! 

I have been using this now for several months and I am definitely hooked. I was concerned at first that it would not stand up to my usual brands and I did spend a few days subtly sniffing myself just to make sure it did! I can honestly say the product works really well. It smells lovely, is easy to use and It seems to go quite far (I have used one a month so far). I will definitely be sticking to this product for the long term and I am keen to try out other products in the range.

My Rating: 5/5.

Monday, 9 March 2015

So What Should I Avoid?

After a bit more research I have put together a list of the main chemicals that it is suggested you should try and limit your exposure to. It was surprising to find that a lot of these were quite controversial with several reports stating that one of them should not even be used in toiletries and cosmetics at all. 

Aluminium Chloride Hexahydrate
This is found in deodorants and can also be listed on the ingredients as Aluminium Chlorohydrate. It is apparently used because it affects our sweat producing cells. Several websites state that it is ‘not known whether aluminium chloride hexahydrate will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this’. Considering it is suggested you avoid eating certain types of fish due to their high levels of metal I can see that this one makes sense to avoid. 

Diethanolamine (DEA)
This is found in hair and body products that foam, such as bubble bath, shower gel, shampoo and facial cleansers. They are apparently known to be hormone disrupting and some studies have suggested links to cancer, because of this their use is restricted in the UK. Look for diethanolamine, oleamide DEA, lauramide DEA and cocamide DEA on the ingredients list.    

This is a product that makes me think of morgues but apparently it is also a compound that is formed naturally in the environment and in our bodies. We are apparently exposed to formaldehyde everyday through the air we breathe and the products we use. Products it is found in include deodorants, shampoos and nail varnish where it is used for its preservative properties. The issue appears to be that it is also a suspected human carcinogen. It has also been found to be a respiratory irritant and can damage DNA with repeated exposure. It some countries its use is banned in cosmetics. It can also be listed on the ingredients list as formalin and methyl aldehyde.

Parabens are used as a preservative in products such as moisturisers, shower gels, conditioners and facial cleansers. From what I was able to read it seems there is a large amount of controversy around parabens and whether they are harmful to us or not. Some studies have shown potential links with breast cancer due to their ability to penetrate the skin and act as oestrogen mimics. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also states that there have been no successful studies that show repeated and prolonged use of parabens is safe (despite many cosmetics brands funding studies to try and do so). Apparently parabens are used because they are cheap! On the ingredients list look out for propyl, butyl, isopropyl, isobutyl and methyl parabens.

Phthalates are described by some as a ‘truly toxic skincare ingredient’. The EPA and the US Department of Health have classified them as a ‘probable human carcinogen’. These chemicals are often found in hairspray and moisturisers and are used because they speed up the time it takes for products to penetrate the skin. Studies suggest phthalates are hormone disrupters and there have also been linked to interference with male foetus development and fertility issues.  

Sodium Laureth and Lauryl Sulphate (SLES and SLS)
These are found in most shampoos, toothpastes and products that foam. They are apparently the second or third most concentrated ingredient in shampoos and facial cleansers (listed second or third on the ingredients list). They are also found in pretty much every detergent on the market – including engine de-greasers and floor cleaners. Studies have found to them to be an irritant, causing inflammation and dryness to skin cells, and in sufficient amounts to cause mutations to genetic material.

Now before you go running to bin all of your toiletries (which I must admit was one of my first thoughts until sanity resumed) I need to again repeat what I said before: “all cosmetic products are covered by strict laws which require full safety assessments. If any risks were identified then the law requires this must be indicated on the product”. I want to clarify that I am not a hysterical person who having done this research now believes all my cosmetics are out to kill me. Instead I have made the personal decision to try to avoid these chemicals because a large part of me is generally interested if a: it is even possible to do so and b: if I will notice a difference. If in doing so I improve my own health and that of my baby then that that is a great bonus!  

For your reading pleasure should you desire:

Sunday, 8 March 2015

To Be Natural Or Not To Be Natural.... That Is The Question

On finding out I was pregnant one of the first things I researched was what you can and can’t eat. We all know the obvious ones like certain cheeses and raw eggs but I made sure I was aware of all the current recommendations. The NHS website was certainly the most helpful for this.

Having had a missed miscarriage at 10 weeks last year I was definitely more cautious this time around and from quite early on I started to think about other things that could affect me and the baby. I started to have a look at my toiletries a bit closer and then did a bit of research into the safety of the chemicals in these products. We come into contact with so many chemicals every day and these chemicals enter our bodies through our skin, when we breathe, eat or drink. These chemical then pass into our blood stream and through the placenta. When you consider this it seems quite reasonable to think more carefully about what you rub all over your skin each day!

From the research I did there currently appears to be no real consensus about which common household chemicals are harmful and which (if any) need to be avoided. To be honest the advice is very conflicting. The NHS sums it up very well in their 2013 article entitled ‘Controversial advice on chemicals in pregnancy’. This article was in response to a report written by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG). In their report they discussed the potential risks from a whole range of chemicals including those in household products, food packaging, skincare and medicines. If you took all their advice you would probably have no choice but to wrap yourself in bubble wrap and lock yourself in a padded room (except bubble wrap is plastic so you probably should not use that and you should only use a room that is padded with natural materials of cause!).

Now one thing to bear in mind is that all cosmetic products are covered by strict laws which require full safety assessments which must take into account that the product may be used by pregnant women. If any risks were identified then the law requires this must be indicated on the product. This is reassuring but one of the clear conclusions that I drew from the multiple articles I read was that although there was no evidence to prove that risks existed there was also a lot of uncertainty as assessing the risks is very difficult. 

It is for this reason I decided it would certainly not harm if I looked for more natural products to use in my daily skincare and household regimes. After all, considering my plan is to become more balanced and well-rounded and I think anything that could benefit my health can only be a good thing. I shall be posting more posts about my search for these products and reviews of ones I have been using in the relevant sections above.

Selection of Articles read:

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Happiness Explained

The category of 'Happiness' will be used to cover any aspects of my life that contribute towards making me happy. This will include family, friends, days out and hobbies. This aspect was quite hard to rate but I gave myself a current happiness rating of 5 out of 10. 

Overall I am very lucky in my life, I have a home, friends, family and a wonderful partner. However we have both said that we need to make more effort to enjoy life and not worry about things as much as we currently do. We would also like to spend more time doing things together as a couple. As with most things in life a lot of this category will be dictated by another category - 'Money'. With that in mind my plan for the next 6 months is happiness on a budget! 

Money Explained

The category of 'Money' will be used to cover anything relating to work, spending and saving. I gave this aspect of my life a rating of 3 out of 10. Having just left my job (for many, many reasons that would require the penning of a novel to cover) and having only a small amount of savings, this page will mostly be used to cover my search for work and my search and trial of ways to save money in all aspects of our life.

Home Explained

The category of 'Home' will be used to cover all aspects of our home life including housework, decorating, gardening and preparing for the arrival of baby. I have given 'Home' a current rating of 5 out of 10. In many ways I am very lucky as we moved in June of last year and have a lovely home that is perfect for a family. There are many areas I need to work on though and lots of tasks to complete in the next 6 months. I also want to become more organised with the housework as I am definitely no model housewife at the moment!

Health Explained

The category of 'Health' will be used to cover anything to do with diet, exercise and my body. With my current level of exercise close to non-existent and my diet having been dictated by morning sickness for the past 2 months I have given myself a starting health score of 3 out of 10. 

I definitely feel that this aspect of my life is the one with the most room for improvement and also the one that is most easily improvable (with a bit of self-control and hard work!).

The Plan

To become more 'well rounded' as a person I have decided the aspects of my life I would like to improve fall under 4 main categories: Health, Home, Money and Happiness. At just under 13 weeks pregnant I have rated how I feel about these aspects of my life currently using a scale of 1-10. Adding the scores together then gives me an overall (or well-rounded) score of 16 out of 40, leaving me a lot of room for improvement over the next 6 months. 

                                                                                                         March 2015 

I have created a page for each of the four aspects and I will use these pages to document my progress. 

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Freebies - Bounty and Emma's Diary

This evening's fun was provided by the collection of my mum to be packs. I received the vouchers for these at my 8 week midwife appointment but we decided to put them away in a drawer until after our 12 week scan. 

After a failed attempt to collect the packs from our local boots who had "not had them in for some time" we drove to a bigger retail park and collected them from there. I have photographed and listed the contents below, I will also hopefully review the products as I use them. 

Emma's Diary - Mum to Be Selections

Palmer's Tummy Butter - 15g
Bio Oil - Sachet
Johnson's Extra Senstive Baby Wipes - full size
Johnson's Baby Oil - 100ml
Johnson's Baby Bath - 50ml
Johnson's Nappy Cream - 16.5g

Bounty - Mum to Be Pack

Dettol Antibacterial Surface Wipes - 20 pack
Sudocrem Baby Care Cream - 10g
Boots New Born Supersoft Nappy - 1 sample
Persil Non-Bio - 40ml
Comfort Pure - 40ml
Pregnacare Pen
Money Off Vouchers 

The Emma's Diary pack has much better contents than the Bounty one in my opinion. Overall I am pleased with both packs as it is not often these days that you get something for nothing, although I do fear I will probably end up paying for both with junk emails and post for many years to come. Now that I am signed up to both schemes I should also get a New Born pack closer to the time, so I shall look forward to those. 

A New Start

I am 30 years old, I live with my fiance, I am recently unemployed, several pounds over weight and I have a current fitness level that would only be deemed acceptable of a tortoise. I am also 12 weeks and 3 days pregnant. 

We were so excited to find out we were expecting. Having previously had a miscarriage at 10 weeks, week 5 to 12 of this pregnancy were a mix of fear, hope and helplessness. The only word I can use to describe seeing our tiny wiggly baby at our 12 week scan is relief. In the past few days the excitement has arrived along with the realisation that our lives are going to drastically change. I have also realised that there is no better time than now to sort my own life out. This blog is intended to be used as a record of my progress in improving my life in these main areas: Health, Home, Money and Happiness. My hope is that as the weeks go by and my bump grows larger and rounder I too will grow and become a 'well rounded' person. Here's to the next 6 months. 

12 week scan: 27th February 2015