Your health:

Happy New Years Eve

Stacey Collins 
Weeks of planning, buying and hard work for just 24 little hours and then just as quickly as it arrived, Christmas is yet again over for another year. Before any recovery from Christmas day could be made, the boxing day sales were thrown upon us and people found themselves relenting to the constant nagging of DFS and their ‘Hurry to our three day only sales’ - that actually occur every three days throughout the year.

Merry Christmas to Womens News UK readers

Stacey Collins 
Merry Christmas Eve; I trust that the biscuits and whisky are out, you’re several stone heavier from the lead-up festivities and that you’ve already unwrapped and then re-wrapped the presents under the tree as you surrendered to your curiosity. If not, then bah humbug.

Christmas is coming

The best Christmas ever!
By Baby Blogger Kate Richards
Well the run-up to Christmas has certainly been different this year with a toddler! I've met several Santas already (often female), sang a lot more carols, and re-decorated the tree on a nightly basis. The baubles are often to be found stashed away under the rocking horse (of course, where else?), but strangely, the presents haven't been interfered with at all.

Ben has been to three Christmas parties so far, wearing a gorgeous but highly flammable looking red robe with pointy elf-style hood. He's developed a quite grown-up taste for mince pies, and a suitably child-like love of flashing Christmas lights.

Cheers to the Winter Solstice

Stacey Collins
The day has finally arrived. No, I’m not dishing out the turkey or unwrapping the presents three days early but instead celebrating Winter Solstice. My celebrations may only stretch to treating myself to chocolate in bed as a replacement for my usual Special K Strawberry and Chocolate cereal (see previous articles about my chocoholic tendencies) but at least it is being acknowledged.

Have you done your Christmas shopping yet?

Forget dating websites or social meet-ups to find out about a person’s character; Christmas time allows for the perfect opportunity for personality analysis. There is just one question that need be asked to find out about someone’s personality… Have you done your Christmas shopping yet?

Have you bought the latest XRC6 Humongous Hairy Huminator yet?

As Christmas draws near, it’s hard to remember that not everyone feels the merriment of the day in their fingers and in their toes. Despite the repetitive ‘oh no, where have my parents gone?’ of Home Alone 15 (shouldn’t social services be involved by now?), the festive wrapping of presents (minus the chocolates you bought, Auntie Win wouldn’t like them anyway), and the leftover turkey menu- turkey dinner, turkey sandwiches, turkey casserole, turkey and rice, turkey chilli, turkey soup, Christmas for some is not a day of celebration.

Brits gets 'nul points' for their top ranking on Europe's obese list

Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about how Debenhams had analysed their underwear and nightwear sales and concluded that it was Birmingham that boasted the best bodies. However, a recent report has stated that the women of the United Kingdom are the ‘fattest’ in Europe.

My separation anxiety

Ben had a great time with his dad for
a couple of days. Photo: models
By Baby Blogger Kate Richards
Recently I spent two nights away from Ben, visiting old friends. It was a very strange feeling - we hadn't spent a night apart since he was born 14 months ago. He stayed at home with my husband, who predictably called on his mum to help. They had a great time, and he has a new-found respect for me, which is a wonderful side-effect.

On arriving home, I got a long cuddle then everything returned more-or-less to normal. Ben was more clingy for a day or so, and a bit more fussy about eating, bathing and nappy changes.

Good news about teen vaccine

Laura Johnson
Well it's been rumbling away in the background. If you were wondering whether to let your daughter have the new HPV vaccine you might not have known about it.

This was the question of whether the vaccine used in the UK was the best one.

The campaign to vaccinate against cervical cancer has been radical - and even a little controversial.

Birth choice questions

Laura Johnson
It was to have been a drive to reduce Britain's growing rate of caesarean operations - but it's now achieved the opposite.

Whatever the guidelines say, the headlines say that women can now "opt" for a caesarean. Already one in five births are by this route - and it has led to allegations that some celebs are "too posh to push".

Cats aren't 'feline' fancy dress

There are pictures of me as a child parading my pushchair around the garden. A quick glance inside of the pushchair reveals not my Baby Born, but my poor cat, dressed in one of my doll’s dresses. With the look of distaste on his face evident even underneath the bonnet, I now feel guilty at ever forcing my cat to be my baby.

Is love that hard to find?

Why is it that news programmes never report any positive news? Riots, deaths, recession and other such subjects leave news watchers everywhere feeling depressed and disheartened and wondering if the cliché ‘no news is good news’ should perhaps be changed to ‘no news on good news’.

Birmingham's beautiful bodies?

If I asked you to guess which city had been reported to contain the best female bodies I’d expect you to be imagining Paris, Milan, London. If I added that the city with the ‘best body’ figures in England has also been voted the city with the worst accent by a BBC survey, is home to Cadbury World and the infamous Spaghetti Junction and has produced the likes of Toyah Wilcox you would probably be a little shocked once you realised it was the Midlands city of Birmingham.

So what's wrong with home births?

Laura Johnson
Would giving birth at home be important to you? Several campaign groups say it should be - but if the statistics are to be believed not many women are bothered by the idea.

In England just one in 40 births take place in the home. It's been controversial. Many medics regard it as unsafe - in case something should go wrong. Yet there have been strong campaigns in support of women having this choice - and it's got to be more pleasant than the atmosphere in hospital.

Will Chinese lanterns go out with a bang?

Happy Bonfire Night! Remember to wear gloves when using sparklers, stand 25 metres away from lit fireworks and now wildlife experts and farmers are asking people to think twice before setting off Chinese lanterns.

The releasing of the paper lanterns into the air has become increasingly popular especially on celebrations and Bonfire night. However, as incidents arise regarding uncontrollable fires as a result of lanterns landing on roofs of houses and in fields, the lanterns have become less popular with wildlife experts and fire-fighters who have been called out over 100 times in the past two years to put out lantern-related fires.

Time to get a jab?

 Laura Johnson
British health services are still struggling to get pregnant women to have the flu jab, it seems.

Senior doctors lined up yesterday to plead with women to agree to the flu vaccine - but it looks as though we are keener to give it to children than ourselves.

Should we get choice of caesarean?

 Laura Johnson
Recently they were called "too posh to push" but now opinion seems to be swinging in favour of giving birth under the surgeon's knife.

About one in five babies are now born this way - and some people now say it should be part of the "choice" that you get when you are pregnant.

But experts are also saying that you should  not be given free choice of caesarean section without understanding the risks involved.

In a fizz about teen soda

‘Children who drink fizzy drinks regularly are more likely to carry a gun’ is a headline you’d expect to see in newspaper Make-Believe. However, a recent study has claimed that teenagers who consume large amounts of soft drink are more likely to display violent tendencies. My eyebrows aren’t raised in scepticism at all...

Women choose best birth-days?

It’s almost that time when rules are abandoned for just one night. The night when it’s perfectly acceptable to dress children up as human-eating zombies, send them off to talk to strangers and get them to collect and then eat as many sweets as possible. It’s also that one time of year when residents overlook the fact that their neighbour has come to their door disguised as a child in a bid to collect as many sweets as possible. It’s Halloween time!

Feeding the toddler

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards
I've often wondered whether Ben's getting the right amount of food at mealtimes. There's a lot of information on what to give him, but less on portion sizes and the overall amount he should be having each day. He generally eats however much I give him, but I think he's just easy-going that way.

Happy World Food Day

Stacey Collins
Happy Blog Action Day/World Food Day! Today is the day that bloggers unite across the globe to talk about food. It’s no secret that I am a big see-food fan (I see food and eat…all of it) and so this topic appealed to me, especially as it’s for a good cause. In fact, it's an issue that could not only affect countries away such as Africa or India, but an issue we could all face in the future.

An excuse to eat chocolate

I am proud to take part in Blog Action Day Oct 16, 2011
#BAD11  Stacey Collins
The internet is encumbered with negative articles about the way chocolate will ravage your body and when combined with Kate Moss’ ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ saying, many feel that chocolate should be a once a year Easter treat. So, when once in a blue moon an article arises that promotes the effects chocolate has on your mind, body and soul, it is the perfect excuse for a visit to the nearest corner shop for that Twirl you’ve had your eye on for the past week (or in my case, past few hours).

Shopping for nearly new

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards
One of the really useful resources for parents that I've come across is the National Childbirth Trust, now usually just known as the NCT. It's the UK's largest charity for parents. The first time I gave it a second thought was during pregnancy, when I considered doing their antenatal course. However, the local NHS sessions were so good I decided there was no need (plus you have to pay!)

Real good reality star

It’s official, reality television has taken over. As soon as the television is turned on, you may find yourself skipping from Made in Chelsea to Big Brother, from Educating Essex to The Only Way is Essex and now X-Factor is back, reality television's taunting will continue mercilessly whether you like it or not.

One year on - highs and lows

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards
Strange as it seems, Ben has been around for a whole year already! Time certainly flies, as they say, very often in relation to children.

When he was small I kept being told by people in shops to make the most of it as "it doesn't last long". Well it does feel a long time when you're up half the night (I thought but didn't say). But now I know exactly what these well-meaning strangers meant.

Women have the X-factor

Here’s a question that will cause some controversy in the household: who has the higher pain threshold? Men or women? Go…

The gender debate has been discussed, disputed and deliberated in its many form for centuries. In fact you could even link it back to Adam and Eve several thousand years ago.

Those Mulberry-clad pooches

Mulberry once again took over Claridges Hotel last week for the third day of London Fashion Week. The brand is renowned for its quirky themes, eclectic charm and A-list followers including Kate Moss and Kirsten Dunst and the Spring Summer 2012 collection showcase was no exception.

Crazy, Stupid, Love

We’ve all heard the saying ‘They’re driving me crazy’ and some of you may have even uttered the words yourself when talking about your other half but could your partner actually increase your chances of developing a mental illness?

Apparently so according to a study carried out in Canada, but only more so than normal if you marry as a child or teenager. Researchers at the Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health revealed that results from a 2001-2002 United States national survey on alcohol and drug abuse and their mental disorders helped them to look at the effect of child marriage on mental health in the USA.

Glowing cats could shed light on HIV

It’s not every day you find yourself thinking of as many famous sheep as possible. Wallace and Gromit’s Shaun the Sheep sprung to mind as did the ‘Baa Ram Ewe’ sheep from Babe but it is Dolly the sheep that holds particular resonance for this article on glowing cats.

Perhaps more odd than thinking about famous sheep is writing about these glowing cats that have been produced by US researcher Eric Poeschla. Three genetically modified cats have had a virus carry green fluorescent genes into the eggs from which they grew in a bid to help with the study of HIV. The gene has its origins in jellyfish and expressed proteins that fluoresce when illuminated with certain frequencies of light resulting in a glow in the dark animal.

Blame the parents?

I remember watching a weight programme which featured a woman who was convinced that she was born to be overweight and that despite any amount of dieting or training at the gym, she could not lose the extra pounds that surrounded her stomach and thighs. She told the cameras that she had a bowl of fruit for breakfast and a healthy lunch and meal for tea and yet was still classed as clinically obese.

Ben feeds himself

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards
So now, at 11 months, Ben's eating pretty much everything we eat. He still needs to avoid honey (tiny risk of botulism), added salt, and things he could choke on like nuts, but most other foods have gone down well.
He loves his baby biscuits, which have reduced salt levels, and is currently wolfing down Cheerios. They have added vitamins, but he's probably not at any risk of deficiency as he has formula milk too, and a wide range of fruit and vegetables.

Don't want Maggie's diet no more?

Amazon have sparked outrage before by selling the e-book entitled ‘The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover’s Code of Conduct’ in 2010 by Phillip R. Greaves and now they’re facing more trouble after unveiling the child’s book ‘Maggie goes on a diet’ which is up for pre-orders on their website.

Is your intuition saying no to the new tuition fees?

The settling of the darker nights, and the increase of eight-legged creatures taking up residence in our homes against the crisper nights are a reminder that the summer that never really was weather-wise, is drawing to a close. This of course also means we are fast approaching the beginning of a new term for teachers, lecturers and for students in particular, the last university entry year with the lower tuition fees.

The riots just last week in the UK partially reflect a time of political uncertainty and unrest, a time when people are failing to engage in our democratic structures because they refuse to buy into a society which hasn’t worked for them, and a supposed anti-Robin Hood government where people feel as though the cuts are mostly impacting the less wealthy.

Ben's baby words

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards
Ben is gradually developing into a real walking, talking human in front of our eyes. His attempts at forming words are still very basic: a "mama" happens every so often, but I'm not at all sure he's referring to me. He's forming new noises all the time, for example, everything's "gak" today. Because of his new teeth - five now - he's started doing "thhh", particularly when watching Baby Jake on CBeebies.

What killed Amy Winehouse?

The news of the riots over the past few days have been so engulfing that when I read an article on Amy Winehouse’s Goddaughter Dionne Broomfield, I realised that I had forgotten about the death of 27 year old Amy that occurred just last month. Remembering again her heartbreaking demise resurfaced the feelings that many felt of mourning and loss, both of her being and talent.

A laundry mountain

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards
Well it's a good thing we have so many towels. A few days ago Ben had what I assumed was a tummy bug. It started with a temperature and refusing food, developed into a few small vomits, and culminated in a really surprising volume of sick at bedtime.

Facebook, getting professionals in trouble since 2004.

The social network is forever evolving. Now more than ever we have greater and finer control over who we connect with, what we share and who we share with and the chance to eliminate friend content that we have no interest in.

The Apprentice final... minus the apprentice

I believe a congratulations is in order to Tom Pellereau for winning The Apprentice for geeks, mathematicians and inventors alike. Perhaps Helen was too obvious a winner throughout the whole process to actually win it and as Lord Sugar said, if it were the old system, Helen would have walked it.

And so thus endeth The Apprentice for another year and true to old style school lessons, it remains for us to see what we have learnt from the process:

'Don't tell me the Py is the limit'

Two Apprentice articles in one week must mean the end is nigh, and indeed it is. This Sunday will mark the end of The Apprentice 2011.

Wednesday’s episode was one of those episodes when you wonder how it is that the majority of the contestants left have got through to the final few and that surely even your ten year old niece could do better (especially if they are in the middle of a history project on Atlantic voyagers).

Ben learns baby sign language

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards
For the past few months, Ben and I have been going once a week to Sing and Sign classes, in an attempt to communicate before he starts talking.

It's good fun actually, which is fortunate as he's yet to copy any of the signs. This could be due to the fact I keep forgetting to use them at home!

And the 'BBIW' Award goes to....

The episode ‘Biscuit’ of the Apprentice, and can I just say how creative the titles for each episode are, showed some tough competition for the title ‘BBIW’, the Biggest Bu…erm ‘Buffoon’ In the World, which Lord Sugar created, kind of, and awarded to Jedi Jim for his £20 million advertising fantasies. Zoe and Melody were also strong competitors.

Pardon the English

I feel we should start a campaign to keep Susan Ma in The Apprentice until the final episode just for the entertainment factor she brings to the show. Her priceless comments ‘Do the French like to drive?’ or ‘Are the French fond of their children?’ are questions that I am sure will go down in Apprentice history. I mean, what was she expecting as a reply? ‘No, no, they tend to walk across a country that is 2.7 times the size of the United Kingdom’ or ‘Absolutely not! They despise children and have even been known to eat them’. As Karren Brady said, Susan’s comments really were ‘beyond stupid’ (but nevertheless highly amusing).

Another contestant that will go down in Apprentice history for all the right reasons is the impressive Helen

Thinking about round two

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards
Ben's now crawling very efficiently and really starting to look like a little boy rather than a baby. Surprisingly, I'm already thinking of baby number two! But a cursory glance at parenting websites shows me that this stage is notorious for triggering broodiness.

However, I'm trying to keep things in perspective and stay rational. For a start, it takes quite a lot of work (rocking) for Ben to sleep, both at night and daytime naps. This could be awkward and uncomfortable when pregnant, and almost impossible with a small baby.

The future of sleep

Stacey Collins
Ever get that feeling of dissatisfaction three seconds after you wake up from a dream and realise you haven’t just bought Jimmy Choos and are not actually fluent in Spanish and Latin but have been mumbling to your cat in fluent gaga? Well, in a recent Travelodge study, award-winning futurologist Ian Pearson has predicted that by the year of 2030, if we get past the apocalyptic end that is 2012 that is, hotel rooms will be able to offer all of this to us… in our sleep.

It only seems like yesterday that I was in awe of my Nokia 3310 which back then epitomised the latest technological advancement.

Breast is best this week!

Laura Johnson
It's Breast-Feeding Awareness Week and events are taking place around Britain to help mums to choose the natural way to feed their children.

One English city has won international recognition for being a baby friendly place. It's Bristol and this Sunday is definitely going to be interesting there.

Jim's leadership skills certainly not premium

Stacey Collins
Last week’s Apprentice premium magazine task frustrated me. I felt like I wanted to interrupt the programme, go up to Susan Ma, give her a microphone and tell her to make her opinion heard.

Whilst I understand that having Jim ‘blagger’ as your project manager must induce ‘mouse syndrome’ in which you feel you aren’t confident enough to voice your views assertively, surely if it is Lord Sugar one is trying to impress, Jim’s opinion shouldn’t matter.

Finding gold among the garbage

Stacey Collins
I think the thing I shall miss the most about Edna Agbarha are those gloves and the excuse they gave her to delve into her uncomfortable and un-sassy alter ego Edna Agbarha Darlinnnnng. All she needed to complete her outfit was a whip and a bit of leather.

It did come as some surprise that five time winner Edna was sent home over pessimist martyr Zoe. Her whiney voice and permanent ‘child who didn’t get the lollipop’ facial expressions are beginning to grate upon her fellow team mates including Susan who said she never wants to work with her again.

Why women skip smear tests

Laura Johnson
Young British women are skipping testing to prevent cervical cancer simply because they are too busy, according to a new study.

Older women, on the other hand, find the procedure embarrassing and fear it may be painful, acccording to Cancer Research UK analysts.

The findings come from detailed interviews conducted with some 46 women who did not attend cervical cancer screening.

The big baby review

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards
Wow, doesn't time fly! I've just had a letter from the health visitors inviting Ben to his eight to 12 month review. These "bigger baby" reviews seem to happen any time from six to 12 months, or even not at all, in different parts of the country depending on funding. Ben will be nine and a half months when it happens.

So I've done some research and discovered that he will be weighed and checked against a "normal" weight chart.

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