Your health:

Celebrity overload?

Tara Wilkins
You may think it an odd subject for a University to have an entire module on, but the study of ‘Celebrity’ in film and media courses is becoming very popular.

 Just last week the Inaugural Celebrity Studies Journal Conference was held in Australia where over 120 delegates met from around the World and subjects such as celebrity philanthropy, ‘queer’ celebrity, the production of celebrity and digital celebrity, feminism, political celebrity and the list goes on.

Facebook us mums - government

Women are increasingly chatting and sharing information with friends and strangers about their pregnancies on social media, surveys suggest.

Now the British  government says it backs women using sites such as Facebook to share their questions and experience - but wants them to link to its advice site.

Call to shake up early pregnancy care

The British National Health Service needs dedicated services for pregnant women who suffer serious complications in their first three months, according to guidelines published today.

The services would aim to identify and help women who may have an ectopic pregnancy - in which the baby is growing outside the womb.

The guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence also sets out new advice for GPs to help them recognise these problems.

Hospital for pregnant duchess

A senior obstetrician has explained why the Duchess of Cambridge has needed hospital treatment for morning sickness.

Breast-feeding booms

New mothers in the UK are adopting breast-feeding at a rapid rate, according to figures published yesterday.

In just six years the rate of women attempting breast-feeding at birth has increased by six percentage points, reaching 81%, according to the report.

And a third of women now continue breast-feeding until the baby is six months old. In 2005 it was just one quarter.

Major change of plan

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards 
This pregnancy has just taken a turn for the unexpected! At a routine appointment, the midwife wasn't able to tell what position the baby was lying in, so referred me to hospital for a scan. And thank goodness she did, because it revealed that he is in fact breech (head up), and therefore a normal birth would carry much higher risks.

What a surprise! He'd been in the right position a fortnight earlier, and by that point - around 36 weeks - they generally stay put. I spent hours reading up about breech babies, and saw a consultant the following day. She suggested a technique called "external cephalic version" to try to turn the baby head-down. I was given an injection to relax the womb, lay on a bed which was tilted so gravity could help (!) and the doctor tried her best to push him round. But apparently he's firmly wedged in, so no luck.

After that I was talked through the process of having a caesarean, which the hospital recommends for breech babies, agreed, and signed the consent form. It's booked for just four days before my due date, so there's a chance of labour starting before then! In that case, the doctors would decide whether to go straight to a caesarean, or if I've already progressed quite far, whether it's safer to have a vaginal breech birth.

I'm trying to look on the bright side - although the recovery from a caesarean is longer, it's more predictable in timing and risks than a normal birth would be. It'll be annoying not being able to do much for a while, but I'm determined to be lazy because I don't want to risk overdoing it and delaying the time when I'm back on my feet. Above all, I'm really looking forward to meeting our newest family member!

Packing my second hospital bag

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards 
I think that, at 35 weeks pregnant, the time has probably come to pack my hospital bag. However it's much easier to sit down on the sofa and just make a list, so that's what I'm going to do.

One slight problem is that I have no idea how long I'll be in for. A very straightforward second labour (yes please) and I could be out a few hours later. On the other hand, anything could happen and I may be there for several days. Better be on the safe side I think, especially as I won't be the one carrying the bag!

Number one child reaches two

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards 
Ben has just turned two, and my little baby is quite definitely no longer a baby, in fact he's very nearly a big brother.

I actually think that once things have settled down and he's used to not getting all my attention, he'll love being the eldest. He'll enjoy being slightly better at everything and teaching little (name yet to be revealed) all about the world.

How do you choose someone's name - for life?!

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards  
We've now only got eight weeks, roughly, until the baby's due and have finally reached a decision about his name.

What a huge decision it seems! Having had Ben around for nearly two years, I realise I'll be saying whichever word we choose approximately 500 times a day for the next several years. Added to which, anyone who crosses our path - that's dozens of people every day at the park, toddler groups, etc. - could form an opinion on its ordinariness/weirdness.

Potty training - already?

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards  
In an unconventional and unexpected move, Ben appears to have started potty training himself.

I bought Ben a potty a couple of months ago, mainly under pressure from my mother-in-law, and it has since resided unnoticed in the bathroom. Then a few days ago, Ben decided to sit on it (the wrong way, round, but still) and was, um, successful! Since then, he's made a habit of using it after his evening bath.

While I'm very glad and impressed, I'm not planning to launch into official potty training just yet. Firstly, at 23 months, he' still a bit young, not to mention unable to pull down his trousers by himself, and secondly, I'm not keen to still be on the throes of it when the new baby arrives (the poor carpet!).

Olympic fashion

 Is this the shape of Olympic fashion? Swimsuit makers Speedo have produced this gown made from off-cuts from swimming costumes produced for competitors from Team GB, from the USA, Australia, Germany, Spain, Japan, Canada, Netherlands and Israel.

A spokesman explained: "The dress is influenced by sunsets, sea and waves for a look that reflects the oceans which connect the competing nations at this summer's global event."

Thinking about my next labour

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards 
I've got this far without thinking much about it, but the reality is starting to sink in - I'm going to have to go through labour again! In fact, it's all I dreamed about last night.

Great news at my 20 week scan

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards
Time is flying past and I've just had my 20 week anomaly scan for this pregnancy. I'm over half-way already!
This time, knowing the challenges that even a healthy baby brings, I was more concerned about the possible problems the scan could reveal. Very fortunately, all is well. We were able to see the two halves of the brain, all of the heart chambers and valves, and the heartbeat, the major leg bones, the entire length of the spine, the blood vessels in the cord, and several organs. Turns out they've all developed perfectly without any conscious effort by me. It really feels like a miracle sometimes.

A time for togetherness

Stacey Collins 
It is with great surprise, and sarcasm, that I do not have to write an over-joyous piece about how well our country scored in the Eurovision contest last weekend amongst the many other 'non-political' performances and votes by 'European' countries such as Israel. However, I bet George Osborne is breathing a great sigh of relief at the prospect of not having to forage around for a spare few hundred million to finance the event.

Pregnant again!

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards
If there's been a deafening silence from me lately, the reason is I've been trying to believe and accept the idea of bringing another new addition into the family.

Yes I'm pregnant again, for better or worse!

It was always my aim to have two children, but that was planned years before I had any idea of the day-to-day reality. So I'm happy but at the same time pretty scared of juggling the needs of a toddler and a newborn.

Pregnant and smoking? See a psychiatrist

Laura Johnson
Just how? How on earth can a mother do it? How can a woman continue to be a smoker when she is pregnant?

Is it because some people are just stupid? You are bearing the most precious gift of all, a new baby. More than that - it's going to be your responsibility. You will raise that child and love it.

We may choose to harm ourselves but how can a mother choose to harm the child she bears?

Elixir of mental stability

Stacey Collins    
There always seem to be new studies telling us women what we should and shouldn’t eat in order gain blemish free skin or to avoid gaining cellulite - but the most recent study offers an ingredient that could provide us with an elixir of life/ mental stability.

Is Beyonce the world's most beautiful woman?

Stacey Collins   
When awards such as Most Beautiful Woman are awarded to a select few of the rich and famous, you have to question who it is that ultimately chooses who the prestigious award should go to and for what reason. Is it just  a Glen Quagmire type sitting in his 4x11 feet IKEA-type office sweating gleefully at the premise of choosing between several of his childhood celebrity crushes for the title of the World’s Most Beautiful Woman?

Are you a hoarder?

Stacey Collins    
You know you’re getting old when the new generation thinks that you’re talking about some far away planet when you mention the words pogs, Friends or Sony Walkman.

Are you feeling sleepy?

Stacey Collins   
I expect that even the deepest of sleepers have been affected by sleep problems at some point in their life and it usually happens the night before that really important work meeting, driving test or college exam. In fact, one third of the British population and 40 million men and women in America have some sort of sleep disorder.

Battle of the sexes

Stacey Collins  
Four weeks in - and already the eighth series of The Apprentice doesn’t seem to be in the girls' favour as Wednesday’s firing saw Lord Sugar show Jane from Ireland the door.

Parenting manuals for the anxious

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards
Having recently bought a new parenting book, Taming Toddlers, I noticed some recent research by a British historian on parent's manuals over the last 70 years. Dr Angela Davis of Warwick University asked 160 women their opinion on six popular childcare books, from the 1940s to 2000.

"I was struck by the cyclical nature of these childcare bibles," she said. "We start out with quite strict rules laid down by Frederick Truby King.

Living with your parents?

Stacey Collins 
By the tender age of 8, had you planned out your whole life including the features of your husband-to-be, the age you got married and the sexes of your 2.4 children? Here’s another question, how many of you achieved your scheduled life plan within the age limits you set yourself? I know I haven’t.

Dirty little secret

Stacey Collins 
As journalists, activists and celebrity Twitterers spread the message that it was World Water Day on Thursday 22nd March, it was easy to dismiss the message as irrelevant. Surely, the day would have only been significant for the 1 billion people worldwide that live in chronic hunger partly because of the lack of clean water for themselves, their crops, livestock and livelihood.

The Apprentice - what hope for women?

Laura Johnson
Never has the female contribution to The Apprentice looked so weak.

"Pack of baying hyenas" was one of the kindest phrases applied by Sir Alan to the women's team. What a contrast with last time round when the girls stormed into an early lead led by the redoubtable Melody Hossaini.

Clock change could result in a change in health

Stacey Collins  
It is when you begin to see the ice cream vans trundling along with their enticing ‘you know you want a Mr Whippy with raspberry sauce and Cadbury’s flake’ music tinkling away that the weather must be warm enough to warrant the ice cream sellers the excuse to go out selling. The sunny days, lighter nights and longer days are already beginning to grace us with their presence and after the clock change on Sunday, we can certainly hope that it continues up until the end of the summer. I can’t promise anything though.

Happy St Patrick's Day

Stacey Collins  
It seems bizarre that the English tend to celebrate St Patrick’s Day more so than St George’s Day but boy, do businesses know how to capitalise on our love for the day. You may have noticed the influx of people wearing green leprechaun hats around the city centre, pubs flogging pints of Guiness as though it was about to go out of fashion and Google luring people to their search engine by adopting an Irish theme for their homepage doodle. Commercialism aside, Happy St Patrick’s Day.

From Louis Vuitton to Marc Jacobs

Stacey Collins  
If you’re a fan of either Louis Vuitton or Marc Jacobs, or simply need an excuse to plan a trip to Paris, France from now until 16th September 2012, you may be interested to hear of an exhibition at the prestigious Musée des Arts décoratifs which has been held to showcase the talent of both designers and how the fashion industry has changed over the years.

Good food advice for toddlers

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards
Having been poorly and off his food recently, Ben has now started eating for England. He's obsessed with baked beans (low salt of course) and banana. Makes me wonder if his fondness for banana is sentimental, as it was his first ever food... no that's just silly, isn't it?

Toddler Taming

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards  
Well we have certainly entered toddlerhood, if not the (premature) "terrible twos" with Ben this week. Granted, he has been poorly with a cold, but his grumpiness has reached terrifying new heights.

Every mealtime, bath time, going in the buggy time it's "doh doh doh" accompanied by a shaking of the head and a tragic whimpering. The only thing he agreed to eat this teatime was some of Daddy's cheap sausage roll, even refusing his usual favourite, Greek yoghurt.

Dinner party dread

Stacey Collins  
Who doesn’t enjoy a good dinner party? Come Dine with Me fever seems to have spread like wildfire across the entirety of the UK with socialites stirring up a banquet of canapés and crème brûlée, friends and families fluffing up eggs for their four tiered, pink meringue towers and students saving up to buy a multipack of pot noodles to put on a ‘pucka’ pasta feast.

However, research from Weight Watchers UK has revealed that an invitation to tea is more likely to be received with dread rather than delight as 81 percent of people admitted that they worry about being asked and 85 percent of people fear hosting a dinner party.

Weight Watchers UK found that there were a multitude of factors which resulted in guests fearing a dinner invitation being dropped through their letterbox.

And the award goes to...

Stacey Collins 
Award ceremonies always generate interest amongst the public for its glamorous presenters, stunning performances and best dressed on the red carpet. However, the Brits this year caused quite a media stir for one particular stunning performance in particular. Despite the spectacular routines from Florence Welch, Coldplay and Rihanna, Adele’s middle finger got more media attention after she was cut off by James Corden halfway through one of her acceptance speeches.

Feeding the future generation culture

Stacey Collins
British children are being starved of culture- that's what an organisation called Visit Birmingham are now saying. You may have found this reflected in your child's list for Santa this year - or in their demand to go shopping instead of that visit to the theatre you had planned for the family.  

The research has revealed that four in 10 children have never been to an art gallery or museum, and a quarter of kids had never been taken to the theatre because parents thought that their child wouldn't be interested.

Happy Shrove Tuesday

Stacey Collins 
It’s that time of year when everyone begins to book their summer holidays to exotic destinations and consequently, begin to think of booking themselves into gym programmes in order to unearth their bikini bodies that need arising (or de-rising) from their winter hibernation.

Is spoon-feeding really so unhealthy?

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards  
I recently read about a new study comparing the two main methods of weaning: "baby led weaning" (i.e. finger foods) and traditional spoon feeding. Ok, I have to admit a vested interest here, as I spoon fed Ben when he started on solids. Although I'd heard about the baby led approach, his weight gain was slowing and I was keen to fill him up as much as possible.

Anyway, the study compared 92 babies who were weaned with the baby led approach and 63 who were spoon fed. When tested once at the age of 20 to 78 months, those who were baby led had a tendency to prefer carbohydrates and those given purees tended to prefer sweet foods.

Zeitgeist revealed - by search engines

Stacey Collins
Suppose you applied for Million Pound Drop and the final question asked of you was ‘What’s one of the most commonly searched terms on the internet?’ and your choices were ‘Premiership League’ ‘Pictures of Brad Pitt’ ‘How to sleep’ or ‘What is the point of life?’. Take a guess which would you put your million pounds on?

What makes you smile?

Stacey Collins
I think most people would agree that January isn’t the cheeriest month of the year. The month hosts the most depressing day of the entire year, people are still trying to recover from the excess of food eaten and money spent at Christmas and news reports seem to fill us with nothing but doom and gloom about the tough economic problems that we can expect to face in the oncoming year.

Who remembers 'Stranger-Danger'?

Stacey Collins
Well, there I was discussing  the benefits of social media in opening up venues for writers to express themselves and practise their writing when along came a bunch of experts finding a new reason to express concern about the social media - the impact it has on love lives.

Naughty or adventurous?

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards 
I'm starting to wonder whether some of Ben's more "challenging" behaviour could now be described as naughty, or whether it's still just adventurous curiosity.

He went through a stage of biting at about 14 months, and now, at 16 months he's just doing it occasionally. Except I do think he is developing a sense of mischievousness, because he definitely understands the word no, and I occasionally catch a cheeky grin on his face.

To write or not to write

Stacey Collins 
As you get older do you ever find that the phrase 'Well, back in my day' has somehow managed to find its way into your vernacular? Back in my day when the buses were 60p, back in my day when people used to put up with My Little Pony, even the boys, and back in my day when we had none of this internet malarkey and used to entertain ourselves with a hula hoop.

Shock, horror! - 'la difference' survives?

Stacey Collins 
A new report suggesting that men and women have major personality differences may not come as a big surprise to those of you who live with spouses. This is probably something that the majority of us realised after life experiences such as.... primary and secondary school, TV series including Friends and popular titles such as Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.

Ben's first words

By Baby Blogger Kate Richards
Deciding when Ben spoke his first word is not as simple as I'd anticipated. Since he turned one year, three months ago, he's been saying "uh-oh" at appropriate moments. But whether this counts as a word is debatable.

Time to deal with New Year irresolution

Stacey Collins 
I’m going to play a guessing game with you. I bet that I can guess your New Year’s resolutions for the year 2012, and also for the last twenty years of your life. Resolution number one was to start eating healthier, resolution number two was to start doing more exercise, resolution three was to do all you can to try and find your true love and resolution four was to move out of your parent’s house. Do I win a prize?

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