drinking alcohol during pregnancy - life by lotte+PIN

Pimm’s – even better in a boot

Would you drink alcohol during pregnancy or not?

Another week, and there’s another story in the press about the effects of alcohol on your unborn child. This latest report advises abstaining from alcohol completely throughout pregnancy, but most importantly in the first few months both before and after conceiving. If you don’t, you apparently risk your child being brain damaged.

I’m lucky in that I don’t actually like alcohol very much. I never have and I don’t really know why. Wine makes me feel quite sick, and although I’m partial to the odd gin and tonic every now and then, if I’m honest I’d usually prefer a soft drink. Something poncey and full of sugar, like Amé or Bottle Green cordials…

So when I found out I was pregnant (which incidentally, was four days before Christmas, so possibly the WORST time of year to find out), I immediately assumed I wouldn’t drink at all. I probably had one or two alcohol drinks per week at most before I got pregnant, so it wasn’t like there was much to give up. And to begin with, I found it quite easy to avoid alcohol – even with various unwitting family members desperately trying to force glasses of Christmas champers on me. Being the designated driver always works as a good excuse.

However, deciding not to drink wasn’t really something I felt strongly about for the health of the baby. Actually, that sounds terrible – what I mean is that deciding not to drink wasn’t something I had to worry about much because I’m naturally not a big drinker, so it seemed easy to abstain. I was vaguely aware that in the UK they suggest you only have one or two units per week if you do choose to drink but I didn’t really think much more than that.

Then I watched an Exposure programme on it, ‘When Pregnant Women Drink  (you can watch it below) when I was about two months’ gone. And it certainly put the frighteners on me. One memorable quote was an expert saying that taking heroin or cannabis is less dangerous for your unborn baby than drinking alcohol.

I did some more digging and found out that more shockingly, in most developed countries – places like the US and Australia, women are told not to drink ANY alcohol at all while pregnant. I felt quite smug that I’d been so ‘good’ over Christmas, New Year and my birthday and decided to continue avoiding it.

But then I started to talk to friends, and family, who said they had a few drinks every now and then while pregnant and had perfectly lovely healthy children. And one day I was celebrating something and thought, god, I’m such a bore, it won’t hurt to have ONE gin and tonic. It’s SO true that forbidden fruit tastes sweeter! I shared a G&T with Oli, and did really enjoy it. And then on his birthday earlier this month, while we were at The Pig hotel, I ordered a Pimm’s. It was a beautiful sunny day and I was in a good mood and suddenly I really really fancied a Pimm’s. I drank the whole thing (one and a half units I believe) and promptly fell asleep. I woke up later feeling really groggy and horrid.

Since then I’ve had about four thimblefuls of Prosecco at people’s houses, but that’s about it. And I steer from feeling guilty about it afterwards and thinking how pathetic I am for not being able to give up booze completely for nine short months, to thinking how ridiculous everything has become these days – with every week another story about how your health is somehow adversely affected by you having a cat, wearing a bra, writing with a biro, sitting on the loo too long etc etc. (Blame squarely placed with The Daily Fail for this.)

Interestingly in my many midwife and doctor’s appointments, not once has alcohol been mentioned. I’ve been asked several times if I know I’m meant to take folic acid but that’s about it for dietary advice. (That being said, I’ve probably been given a leaflet. I have a lot of leaflets).

So really, this post is more of a question, because I’m genuinely interested in other people’s takes. Would you and/or did you drink during pregnancy? What are your thoughts on it?



I’m seriously not going to miss taking photos of myself every week

I’m 31 weeks today! There’s definitely something about passing the 30-week mark that makes you think that from now on, EVERYTHING has to be about the baby. I’m sure this is also because I’m now on maternity leave, so I’ve got very little in the way of day-job-work to distract me. Anyway, being 31 weeks has suddenly got me all in a flap about the fact that the baby will be full-term and therefore may be born at any time in only SIX WEEKS. Squeak!

Everyone I’ve spoken to has said that first-time babies are always born late, so I had almost resigned myself to not having Chip until September. But then I googled it and discovered that statistically first-time babies are as likely to be early as they are late, so that’s a load of nonsense. Also, with my placenta issue, if I haven’t had him/her by 41 weeks they will induce me, which means that he/she will definitely be born by 2 September! A very strange thought.

I’ve had mixed reactions about my August due date, with some people saying they hope I’ll hang on so the baby is born in the next school year so that he/she isn’t the least developed (read: most stupid) in their class, and others pointing out that an August baby means one year less of childcare for me (as the baby will be going to school almost a year earlier than babies born a week later). Truth is I actually don’t care at all when Chip is born. I just want him/her to be healthy and for me not to rip in half during labour. Oh and for my feet to go back to normal after (more on that later).

Anyway, my first week of maternity leave has been lovely, and basically felt like a mini holiday. I’ve been out seeing friends a lot for lunches, brunches and dinners, and generally just pottering about. I even went back to John Lewis’s baby department again, but this time with my Mum. Sadly it was no more successful than my previous trip. In fact the only difference was this time it was my Mum saying ‘Oh it’s all a bit overwhelming’ as we wandered around marvelling at all the baby nail scissors and bibs and stuff. Again we left empty-handed, save for a helpful ‘John Lewis Baby’ brochure of ALL THE THINGS I WILL NEED. It’s on the coffee table. Progress.


We did also go to JoJo Maman Bebe however, where I found it impossible to resist this little rattle. Despite my Mum saying ‘Charlotte, people will BUY you things like that, you shouldn’t buy them yourself!’ But… where’s the fun in that?

I’ll probably do a separate post on the bits we have bought so far, but suffice to say that I feel we’re getting there on the clothing front – the only part of baby shopping that doesn’t freak me out. Although who knows if August babies need long or short sleeved baby grows? I’ve got a mixture of both just in case… (I’m also still slightly confused as to the difference between a sleep suit and a baby grow but hopefully all will become clear at some point).


Proper bump pic + podgy pregnancy face

But enough about the baby, back to ME. I’ve had some new symptoms again this week, which I shall now moan about for your reading pleasure and my future self’s nostalgia:

1) Crazy dreams. This may be due to us finally beginning to watch Game of Thrones (yes yes, I know, eighty years late to the party) but my dreams are so far off the sane-scale these days that I’m starting to become concerned. They don’t make any sense at all. Last night I was in a 4×4 being washed through a tsunami in the Devonshire countryside on my way to an interiors photoshoot. I think this may be a weird hybrid of issues in my life at the moment: the possible need for a new safer car (although I hate 4x4s with a passion), the possibility of moving out of London (although Devon is certainly not on the list of potentials, much as I’d love it to be), the fact the house we had an offer accepted on last week has flooding issues (we’ve pulled out), and well, me missing a big photoshoot for one of our clients due to being on mat leave. Just weird. Every morning I’ve woken up and gabbled, all excited like a five-year-old, ‘I had the weirdest dream!’ to Oli, who this morning made me laugh by replying ‘Yes, well tell me after I’ve been to the gym’. Message received loud and clear: other people’s dreams are BORING. Ahem. Moving on then…

2) For the last three days, my hands and feet have been really stiff and puffy when I wake up in the morning. I googled this and apparently I have rheumatoid arthritis. Of course, I don’t have rheumatoid arthritis because I’m pregnant, and so instead I have carpal tunnel syndrome. Not nice. I have to flex my hands and wrists for a good few minutes to try to get them to loosen up after I wake up – I literally have no grip otherwise. Annoying. And much sympathy now for those who do have rheumatoid arthritis.

3) My feet continue to upset me. My poor feet! My feet will never be the same again!! They are elephant feet. I hate them and they hate me. I miss my old, slightly bony, vein-riddled feet SO much. I miss my shoes! I’m actually praying to the god of feet that these fluid-filled bags of skin return to their normal size and shape after Chip is born because I can’t bear to spend the rest of my life looking down at such squidgy monstrosities.

4) And finally, I am definitely feeling BIGGER. I feel like a proper pregnant person now, and have started to wear my bump and my awkward waddle-walk with pride. I am using this as an excuse to eat more too (resistance to massive weight gain is now futile). My appetite is huge and seems to require at least two ice creams a day. A few weeks ago I discovered a wondrous thing known as ‘maternal fat stores’ which are apparently key to you having enough energy to breastfeed when your baby is first born. Basically I’m allowed around an extra 3kg of fat on my body by the time I’m full term. So now, whenever I sneak to the freezer for another Cornetto and Oli gives me a look, all I have to say to him is ‘maternal fat stores!’ and he rolls his eyes and leaves me alone. This bit of pregnancy I am getting on with quite well…



Apologies for the pyjama bottoms, but I AM ON MATERNITY LEAVE! I SHALL NEVER GET DRESSED AGAIN!

As you may (or may not) have noticed, I didn’t manage to do a 29 week post last week. It was my last week at work, and everything was just rather crazy. So this post is going to be a bit of a double whammy, with random musings from the past fortnight.

So! I’m 30 weeks pregnant and Baby Chip is now the size of a cabbage. Don’t I know it. I think I look like I’ve swallowed a basketball today. It’s quite impressive. And more excitingly, yesterday a complete stranger asked me when I was due. I haven’t actually had anyone try and rub my stomach yet though, which is probably a good thing and means my resting bitch face continues to do its job.

Anyway it’s day three of maternity leave and I’m already twitchy – I don’t really like not having anywhere specific to ‘go’ in the mornings, and I’m thinking I need to get into some kind of routine. Exercise could be good, given that my love affair with prenatal yoga was rather short-lived (I kept missing classes because of various work/social life things – whoops). I thought swimming might be a good idea but first of all I need to get over my phobia of public swimming pools. I’m considering investing in a yoga DVD to do at home but my motivation to exercise at home has never been great so I can imagine this may be doomed to failure too.

Symptoms-wise, it’s been a mixed bag lately. The most annoying and most horrible thing are my swollen feet. At the end of the day they are just SO big now, and I can no longer fit into ANY of my shoes. Flip-flops are my only option. But of course flip-flops aren’t great for your back, so after a long time walking around in them I’m in quite a lot of pain. The swelling doesn’t really seem to improve much no matter what I do either. I had hoped that it was the sort of thing that would disappear the second I give birth, but one of my friends told me she still has one swollen foot eight months after her daughter was born! Eeek.

Other than that, I’ve been feeling really tired and not sleeping well at all – instead I’ve been having a weird half-sleep where I am sort of conscious but not fully. The weird dreams continue, but luckily I forget most of them by the time I wake up…


Some nicer things: Chip is moving about all the time these days and I can tell he/she is getting much stronger, which is lovely. I can also tell when he/she has changed positions. One of his/her favourite positions, it would seem, is sitting directly on my bladder, giving it random little kicks every so often and making me absolutely convinced that I’m about to wet myself. It’s a very weird feeling: being completely desperate for the loo all of a sudden, but only for a few seconds before he/she shifts out of the way and the sensation disappears.

Talking of going to the loo (sorry), I now do approximately six drops of wee every time I go. It’s like my bladder has shrunk to the size of a thimble. Weird.


But back to the good things: we have ordered the car seat, car seat fixer thing, bedside cot and buggy! I also bought my hospital bag this week – I was in town and saw this (not so) little beauty in Oliver Bonas and decided to treat myself, even though I thought it was probably a bit early. Ironically my 30-week pregnancy email from Bounty then informed me that now was a good time to start packing my hospital bag! So maybe not too early after all. I’m now watching endless hours of YouTube videos on ‘what’s in my hospital bag’ from other pregnant ladies – the list of things needed is pretty extensive. So far I have:

a battery-operated fan (randomly picked up for £1 in PC World, so no doubt will not work by August)
two baby grows
a dressing gown

So yes, still some progress to be made on that front methinks.

I had my 28 week midwife check up last week, which was much better than expected actually. My blood pressure is back down to my normal levels (phew) and although I’m still measuring 2cm behind, the midwife said that this wasn’t anything to worry about. She did, however, worry me by introducing me to the world of the perineum massage, and suggesting that I might like to start doing this to myself. If you don’t know what it is, I suggest you google it. Or don’t google it, depending on your squeamishness levels.

An alternative to the perineum massage is even more alarming: the Epi-No. Here’s a picture:


I’ll leave your imagination to fill in the blanks about how this little device works. Not cheap at £90 (and clearly not something you can resale afterwards) the Epi-No sounds like a REALLY fun way to spend an hour or so every day, don’t you think? I guess once the baby’s born it might be useful for inflating their first birthday party balloons. Sarcasm aside, I am actually considering it, although can’t help fearing that I’ll blow myself up or something.

On a more vain front, I’ve finally had my roots done, and am feeling much more like my old self. I am not sure I’ve talked about this before, but since getting pregnant my skin is so much more sensitive. I’ve had to completely change my normal skincare routine, and then when I last had my hair done, I had an allergic reaction to the organic Aveda colour I’ve used for about eight months now, and developed some really attractive scabs on one side of my scalp.

So I put off getting my roots done for as long as I could bear it, and then decided to go back to my original chemical-laden L’Oreal dye when it all got too much. I had it done on Monday and so far, no reaction at all. I do genuinely believe that organic products are pretty bloody awful for your skin – I had a huge allergic reaction to Neal’s Yard skincare many years ago and clearly my body now also doesn’t like Aveda. Shame, because organic stuff smells much nicer, but I’ll be sticking to peroxide from now on.

On another note, did anyone notice their hair getting darker while they were pregnant? My roots this time seemed almost black, which was a little distressing. Am hoping it’s just a temporary change.

And finally: I have STILL not had any Braxton Hicks. I am feeling left out. If any other mothers hadn’t had any by the time they were 30 weeks, please do come forth and share. Apparently it doesn’t matter that I haven’t had any but it does make me wonder if I will be chronically underrehearsed for the big event at this rate…

  • CharlotteJune 17, 2015 - 3:00 pm

    I’m rubbing your belly when I see you. All through dinner… Muahaha.


  • CallyJune 17, 2015 - 4:44 pm

    I didn’t have any Braxton Hicks AT ALL in my pregnancy. In fact, my contractions didn’t start until I had a sweep. My waters broke first.

    Try Sketchers for shoes. I bought some recently and they’re really wide and swamp my feet but they might be perfect for swollen preggy feet. xReplyCancel

  • KatJune 17, 2015 - 7:09 pm

    I didn’t get any Braxton Hicks at all.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah StovellJune 17, 2015 - 7:52 pm

    Pack knickers in your bag. Do it now. They were the thing I left out when I packed mine, and then I went into labour a week before my due date and forgot to add them. I regretted it.

    Also, and no one ever talks about this, but it’s compulsory: forget that dildo thing. You need to get some little rocket-shaped suppositories for your arse.ReplyCancel

  • Stacey SzyperekJune 17, 2015 - 9:31 pm

    What a lovely bump you have!!! I didn’t get any Braxton Hicks at all either. I wouldn’t worry about it. And don’t worry about being under rehearsed either, your body knows what to do and will do it regardless. Make sure you pack plenty of snacks in your hospital bag to give you energy. My midwife suggested Jelly Babies. And don’t do what I did and keep eating them beforehand. I didn’t take enough snacks and the midwife ended up having to spoon feed me jam…yuck! Also make sure your other half has snacks too. The last thing you want is a hungry, grumpy birth partner.ReplyCancel

    • Charlotte Duckworth
      Charlotte DuckworthJune 18, 2015 - 10:43 am

      I LOVE Jelly Babies. HA! I would have to make sure I didn’t eat them beforehand, I can imagine that definitely happening! Oli has already sussed there’s an M&S on site at my hospital so I reckon there will be a lot of Percy Pig consumption happening! 😉 xxReplyCancel

Having heard so much about it, visiting The Pig has been on my pregnancy bucket list for AGES. But it’s quite pricey and so I decided we needed an excuse to justify a visit. So thank you, Oli, for being born in June. And thank you, weather gods, for deciding to make Oli’s birthday the warmest day of the summer so far.

The Pig Brockenhurst, Life by Lotte+PIN

I booked our room way back in February but even then, weekends were fully booked. This is a popular place, and you have to get in early. Without the option of a weekend away, we decided to go down on Oli’s birthday (Thursday) instead and just stay one night. There was also only one type of room available when I booked: a ‘Snug’ room, the cheapest, which was actually fine by us as it was still £149, breakfast not included.

Chickens at The Pig Brockenhurst, Life by Lotte+PINThe Pig Brockenhurst, Life by Lotte+PIN

Billed as a ‘restaurant with rooms’, The Pig is SUCH a clever idea for fans of decent food and mini-breaks. Set in the most idyllic New Forest setting, this converted manor house is home to pigs (obviously), chickens, quails, bees and the most amazing kitchen garden. All the food cooked in the restaurant is sourced from within a 25-mile radius (much of it grown on site), meaning seasonal produce is the order of the day. It’s a popular restaurant for those living locally, so booking a table even if you’re staying the night is essential.

The Pig Brockenhurst, Life by Lotte+PINThe Pig Brockenhurst, Life by Lotte+PINThe Pig Brockenhurst, Life by Lotte+PINThe Pig Brockenhurst, Life by Lotte+PINThe Pig Brockenhurst, Life by Lotte+PINThe Pig Brockenhurst, Life by Lotte+PIN

As with all holidays/restaurants, I like to do my research, so when I had a look on Tripadvisor last week before we left, I was quite upset to see a few negative reviews, saying the service was rubbish and the food was nothing special. We turned up on Thursday fearing the worst, but I’m SO pleased to say these fears were unfounded. Quite simply, it was paradise.

The Snug room was, indeed, snug, but it didn’t matter; we were only there one night after all. The bed was big and comfy, the shower was powerful and the views from the room were stunning. But we didn’t stay in the room for long, preferring to make the most of the glorious weather and explore the grounds… there’s even a giant swing – perfect for sharing…

The Pig Brockenhurst, Life by Lotte+PIN

Swing selfies are tricky

The Pig Brockenhurst, Life by Lotte+PINThe Pig Brockenhurst, Life by Lotte+PINThe Pig Brockenhurst, Life by Lotte+PIN

We’d booked a table for dinner at 7.30pm, but couldn’t resist also enjoying a drink and some snacks on the terrace in the late afternoon. I broke all my pregnancy rules and had a Pimm’s, but I paid the price when it made me fall asleep just before dinner, and I woke up feeling super groggy and a bit sick. Sorry Baby. It was, however, worth ordering just for the fact it CAME IN A BOOT!

The Pig Brockenhurst review, Life by Lotte+PIN

Dinner is held in the most glorious conservatory – I clocked immediately that it was by Marston & Langinger. I loved everything about the decor here – it was just wonderful.

The Pig Brockenhurst review, Life by Lotte+PIN

The menu changes daily, and we had an interesting mix of dishes for supper, from smoked salmon and chipolatas to tomato salad and cod with sea beets. There’s (unsurprisingly) a LOT of pig on the menu, so if you’re a vegetarian you might feel a little frustrated. They also had an amazing non-alcoholic cocktail menu, and my ‘Piggletini’ felt suitably special for the occasion.

The Pig Brockenhurst review, Life by Lotte+PIN

The Pig Brockenhurst review, Life by Lotte+PINThe Pig Brockenhurst review, Life by Lotte+PINThe Pig Brockenhurst review, Life by Lotte+PINThe Pig Brockenhurst review, Life by Lotte+PIN

The Pig Brockenhurst review, Life by Lotte+PINThe Pig Brockenhurst review, Life by Lotte+PIN

I have to say, the best bit about the whole meal was the bread, served with home-infused olive oil and salt. I didn’t get a photo, because basically we scoffed it too quickly.

Breakfast is served in the same room, and is a wonderful buffet affair, with home-made granola and super fresh fruits among the highlights. I also ordered a Full English, as, ahem, you know, I’m eating for two. The eggs (fresh from the chickens outside) were superb, and don’t get me started on the sausage… Love a good sausage.

The Pig Brockenhurst review, Life by Lotte+PINThe Pig Brockenhurst review, Life by Lotte+PIN

The Pig is my idea of paradise. The interiors are perfect, the atmosphere and service relaxed but with all the little luxury touches you’d expect from the price, the food is interesting and inventive and the setting is second to none. I hear they are also child-friendly, so once Baby Chip makes an appearance, I’m sure we’ll be back.

Find out more about The Pig >>



Spot the cat keeping guard

I’m 28 weeks today and edging ever closer to 30 weeks, which to me sounds VERY far along. Squeak! Best of all, I am firmly in my third trimester now, and the baby picture on my baby app looks like a proper baby with podgy little legs and arms. I celebrated my 28 week milestone with a growth scan, which I had this morning.

However, I stupidly spent last night reading Amanda Holden’s autobiography (bear with me on this, but it was all related to the fact that I’m a die-hard Corrie fan, and couldn’t believe that Les Dennis was once married to her, so I bought it on my Kindle for 99p to find out more). Anyway, what I hadn’t realised was that poor Amanda had lost her baby at 28 weeks completely unexpectedly, so of course I spent the entire night fretting about what was in store for me.

Be warned: do not read Amanda Holden’s autobiography when you’re pregnant. The poor woman has been through hell and back and my heart goes out to her.

Maybe that’s why I was extra emotional today, or maybe it was just tiredness, but anyway I got quite teary eyed watching Chip kicking about and curled up and generally looking perfectly happy. More mindblowing stuff this week – his/her eyes were actually open on the ultrasound! I knew they open for the first time around 27 weeks but it was actually so amazing to see them there so clearly, staring at us from the screen. He/she even blinked at one point and was swallowing more amniotic fluid (seems to enjoy doing this, weird).

We didn’t have our nice sonographer this time but another chap (who didn’t give us a free picture, meanie), but he was perfectly kind, if a little matter-of-fact, and patiently explained all the various bits and pieces we were looking at. As usual, our baby had his/her legs curled up around its head – certainly way more flexible than me at the moment.

Growth wise, everything looked absolutely fine, but the issue with my ‘increased placental blood flow resistance’ and left uterine artery were still there, which was a bit disappointing as Dr Google had told me it could right itself by this point. It’s obviously not affecting the baby’s growth at the moment but it does mean they still want to see me for another scan at 36 weeks and again I have to keep an eye on my blood pressure and stress levels.

Otherwise this week’s been a mixed old bag week of symptoms. Here are a few – look away all ye who are squeamish:

1)  My feet. The sun came out and my feet BALLOONED. It was actually ridiculous. I showed them to a few friends who said theirs did the same but not until they were much further along. Here they are at the end of a long day sitting at my desk at work:


Note the Gaviscon, never far from reach…

I warned you. Yuck! They also really hurt when I walk because the fluid on the top of them seems to wobble as I put each foot down. The only solution is keeping them raised as much as possible – I have a box under my desk at work now and I have been using my poor feet as an excuse to do bugger all in the house once I get home. Oli has been (not so) graciously massaging them with my Lucky Legs gel which is awesome – definitely my favourite pregnancy buy so far, after the dream bed companion that is the Theraline.

2) I have been constipated beyond belief. Sorry, TMI but there you go. No amount of beans has been shifting things, but when I do finally need to go, I have to go. I don’t know if this is because the baby somehow kicks things along my intestines but it’s a proper rush-to-the-loo type situation. Nice.

3) We went to start our baby shopping in John Lewis at the weekend and all that happened is that I walked around in a daze, feeling totally overwhelmed and on the verge of tears. There. Is. So. Much. Stuff. I don’t know what half of it does. I don’t know where to start. I can just about cope with baby grows, but scratch mitts, room thermometers, breast pumps, sterilisers, breast pads, maternity pads, nipple cream… like I said, overwhelming. The only thing I KNOW I have to get is a Sophie giraffe thing, because all my mother-friends have told me about them. And I keep spotting them in photoshoots of nurseries.

Added to this the bedside cot we had decided on after much deliberation is no longer endorsed by the NCT owing to a baby suffocating to death while sleeping in it. So yeah, we’re back to square one on even that decision! If anyone has any recommendations of cots that you can have next to you (Moses baskets freak me out) please shout!

4) Cravings-wise, Curly Wurlys and ice cubes (not together) have been the order of the day. And cold, cold drinks.

5) I started to get weird period-like pain yesterday morning. It was really strong and painful and made me scared. I limped to work and it went away. I don’t know what it was but I’m going to ask my midwife at my appointment next week. I’m anxious to start feeling Braxton Hicks contractions now so wonder if it was that? Who knows?! As ever, the pregnancy learning curve is steep… third trimester, (I think) I’m ready for you!

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