Have you ever seen the movie Due Date with Robert Downey Jr and Zack Galifianakis? I did once. And to be honest I didn’t really like it and I even had to look up the name before writing about it here. It’s about an uptight businessman who needs to get across the country to be with his wife as she gives birth. He meets a no-hoper actor, who gets them kicked off the plane home, and they have to take a road trip across the country to get home as quickly as possible.

The scene that sticks in my mind is where their car overturns and crashes. The Robert Downey Jr character ends up breaking his bones but the Zach Galifianakis character is fine; he was relaxed and his body just went through the motions and didn’t get hurt.

I’m not sure of the science of that movie, but I think it teaches us all a lesson about how to survive on no sleep.

I’ve just had a second child. It’s great, wonderful, fantastic, all the superlatives you can think of. But of course, I haven’t slept properly since he was born. For one thing he wakes to feed every couple of hours and, even though my wife is breastfeeding him, I still keep involved as much as possible.

Too many of us suffer through those early months and years, struggling to maintain our day-to-day lives all the while getting no sleep. The best time for me was paternity leave when I could sleep during the day when the baby did. And then I had to go back to work.

I think the key to surviving on zero sleep is flexibility.

We try to get back to our normal lives but our sleep won’t return to normal, so we suffer. Just like the Robert Downey Jr character in that movie, we end up hurting ourselves through our tension and inflexibility. What we need to do is go with the flow, be more flexible, sleep when we need to sleep, rest when we can. It’s not forever, and eventually the baby will settle into a proper pattern.

It’s probably hard for most of us to be so flexible, given that we have jobs with shifts or standard working hours.

We can start by looking at our free time – do we need to make rigid commitments to friends, exercise, and fun stuff? What if we just exercised in the moments of free time that emerge rather than schedule things in? I’m a big advocate of productivity and scheduling but I’ve realised it’s not so easy with a child. Most of my scheduled activities end up being moved anyway.

Once we’ve gained some flexibility in our personal lives we can tackle our work lives.

Every employer in the UK is obligated to consider flexible working requests and I’m sure similar rights exist in other countries. If more of us start to request flexible working then we begin to break the mould of the 9-5 working day, which is based in the early industrial past and has no real relevance in today’s society.

If we accept that our sleep may be good one night, terrible the next, then we should also accept that we’re going to have good days and bad days, days when we can function and days when we barely get by. It’s ok and we shouldn’t give ourselves a hard time. And then all of a sudden it will become easier to get things done.

The secret to surviving on zero sleep is to relax, be flexible and go with it. It won’t be forever!

Preparing for the birth of a baby requires advanced strategic planning and meticulous preparation. It’s made harder because, for many of us, our experience of the Labour Ward and delivery rooms is entirely alien. Sensible parents-to-be are able to book a tour of the Labour Ward before the big day. Note, I was not one of the sensible ones!

There’s a long list of items you and your partner will need for your stay in hospital. My wife packed everything for the birth of our son and I honestly couldn’t tell you what was in the bags, except it felt like we were going on a week’s holiday.

I believe there were a few essential tech items that made our birth experience go more smoothly.

Here’s a quick run-down:

Smart phone.

Let’s start with the obvious one. Everyone has a smart phone these days. This essential bit of kit can transform the birth experience. But first thing’s first, you don’t want to be using it to call anyone. In fact, turn the phone function off. The birth process is something that both of you need to focus on completely. Shut out the outside world and don’t think of anyone outside the walls of the delivery room. So what do you use it for? Photos mostly. And entertainment.


It’s good to have a tablet to hand. I didn’t use ours much, but when labour slowed down or got painful it was useful to put on BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon, etc. We also compiled a playlist of songs for the birth using Spotify. Streaming music is a great invention and you can download playlists to your device. Not got an account with Spotify, Amazon, or Deezer? You can sign up for a month free trial and, if you time it around the due date, you can easily get your month’s worth of music and then cancel your plan.

Bluetooth speaker.

These are fantastic inventions that have become much more affordable. For the birth of our first baby in 2012 all I brought along with me was an old digital radio tuned to Smooth Radio. And then the batteries ran out half way through the birth! A Bluetooth speaker, like a UE Boom or the JBL Flip 3 (which I bought) can play up to 15 hours of music. I had mine linked up to Spotify on the iPad. The sound is pretty impressive with good bass. There were moments during our son’s birth that we brought out the hard house music to get us through. Invest in one of these speakers if you can!

Noise-cancelling headphones.

Alternatively, your partner might like to shut everything out. The delivery room can be a pretty overwhelming space, with midwives coming in and out, and monitors beeping. You can shut all this out with a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Basic models give you a good seal around your ears. More expensive options actively block out outside stimuli using some sort of advanced technology or magic spell. Find out more on Trusted Reviews.

LED candles and diffuser.

The delivery room can be a cold and unfamiliar place. A dad-to-be’s job is to make it as relaxing as possible. You can cover up the medical equipment, cover up the clock (because who wants to count the minutes?) and light some candles, right? No hospital would be happy with a room full of real candles and naked flames, but there are better alternatives. Why not take along some LED candles. Some even have an accompanying scent. Or take along a portable electronic diffuser for those soothing scents of lavender.

VR goggles.

Ok, so we didn’t use these and I’m not sure if anyone ever has! But VR goggles fit over your eyes and hold a phone that displays virtual environments on apps such as Google Cardboard. Let’s say your partner doubled these up with the noise cancelling headphones, she could be transported to a faraway island or the top of a mountain. Whatever helps to calm her. Because ultimately a calm state of mind releases the hormone oxytocin which helps with the birth process. Stress creates adrenaline which slows things down. So, as silly as this idea might be, perhaps someone should try it sometime!


If you’re taking tech along to the delivery room you better be sure it works. You’ve only got one shot at this and you won’t be able to pop home to get something you’ve forgotten. Two final considerations:


Most hospitals are officially against charging your own equipment in their power sockets. There may not even be any suitable sockets around. So it’s important to charge all your devices fully. Take along a portable charger if you can. You never know how long you’re going to be there.

Internet access.

Most hospitals will have a good wifi network. Look into this before you go, especially if you’re planning on streaming music. If the wifi access is poor make sure you’ve downloaded any music onto your devices. Or if you have 4G you’re winning.

Let me know your thoughts, what are you planning on taking? What did you take? What worked and what didn’t?


My wife and I had a boy on 31 March. I’ve been living with a newborn baby for two weeks now and thought it’s time I should post a quick review in the style of some of those tech websites.

So, here’s my honest review posted for your information. I can confirm the baby has been grown and delivered by us; no one is paying me to provide this review.

Top line verdict.

While the second baby doesn’t represent a significant upgrade on the first, there are noticeable differences. Its feature of omnidirectional urination is a key departure from the first model and seems to come with unique challenges. At present the software remains limited, with only modes for sleeping, feeding, and defecation, none of which can be programmed. The manufacturer has promised further patches will be released in the coming months.


The birth was as smooth a process as can be expected. Labour lasted for longer than the previous baby and consequently both mother and father were very tired throughout. All of the credit must go to the mother for pushing out the baby, which required some encouragement from me with soothing words and music. At certain points we did break out the hard house music which must have been an experience for the other patients on the ward.

All credit must go to the hospital and especially the midwives for getting the baby out safely and as calmly as possible. They do a tremendous job and I can’t even imagine the kind of things they see on a daily basis. Midwives witness women and men at their most most primal and vulnerable, and they still manage to handle everything with professionalism and humanity.



This baby arrived slightly larger than the first model, at 7 lbs 11 oz. All of its fingers and toes were there and, on initial inspection, everything appeared very healthy. After a short time we observed that the baby had a tongue tie, which impeded feeding. This required a slight modification/snip after visiting a breastfeeding counsellor trained in tongue tie division. Two weeks on and there have been no further issues.

I’m very grateful that the baby arrived safely and had no health problems. Many people are in worse situations. It’s important to be grateful for our health.

I’ll elaborate on the tongue tie issue in future posts. It’s an essential part of ensuring proper breastfeeding between mother and baby and yet it seems to be something that is widely unrecognised and misdiagnosed. A number of hospitals and health trusts are beginning to acknowledge this, but more must be done.


Power consumption.

The baby has its own sleep patterns and needs, and consequently we’ve had to adjust our own idea of rest. Charging/feeding is required every 2 to 3 hours, in between which the baby usually sleeps for any period between half an hour and up to 4 hours. There’s no predicting when it will wake up. There’s no effective method to induce sleep mode at this stage. It can safely be assumed that if the baby is crying it needs something. Consequently our lives have come to revolve around it.

Thankfully the baby has established an effective breastfeeding relationship with mother. This is good news as it’s a very healthy and natural option, it is also very inexpensive, and it allows more rest time for me, the father, who cannot feed without a bottle.


Day-to-day usage.

At present there is very limited functionality. The baby cannot move and can barely twist its head. Within the first two weeks it is now beginning to open his eyes and look at the world, but I am certain from research online that a baby can only see blurred shapes in black and white at this stage. It cannot recognise its hands or feet and frequently startles itself when it moves its arms.

Interaction is minimal although I am assured that any comfort and connection we try to make at this stage will have a subconscious effect on its development. Therefore I do find myself cooing regardless of its effectiveness.

While relatives have been interested to meet the new baby, we’ve limited visitors to ensure the baby is not overwhelmed and we can settle into a pattern. Its lack of functionality and interest is often forgotten by other members of the family, and consequently they feel a little useless (dare I say bored as well) after meeting it for the first time.


Compatibility with other models.

The baby does not understand the difference between its mother, father, or sister. At this stage it means very little to it is to have a sister. On the other hand, our daughter is extremely excited to be involved and is trying to act like a responsible big sister. With a four and a half year age gap she is able to help with small tasks, such as fetching a nappy. Anything further makes me nervous. She’s enthusiastic to help and is obviously trying to act mature about caring for the baby but it’s not wise to leave them both together at present.

Having a boy means we may have to rethink clothing arrangements for the next few years. Of course, there’s no reason why a boy can’t wear a dress these days but we are naturally gravitating to the boys section of the clothes shops. There are numerous accessories stored in bedroom cupboards and our and attic that won’t be compatible with this model.

Additionally, this one has arrived in the springtime whereas the first one arrived in the autumn, meaning the types of clothes required at different stages of growth are different. On the plus side this means we may be able to get rid of a lot of “junk” and clear some space.



Having had some experience with a baby in the past, I was under the misinformation that I might find it easier with a second baby. It is clear that, while the overall design is similar, no two specifications are the same. Even at this early stage I’ve recognised differences in personalities between the two children. I also recognise differences between our first-time parent selves from nearly 5 years ago to our settled and more self assured second time parents. The initial two week period is still a novelty and be it would be interesting to revisit this review in several months.

Overall, I very much enjoying this new product/baby and am looking forward to getting to know it over the coming months and years.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

In the final few weeks of pregnancy women can either bask in the continuing glow and enjoyment of nourishing a new life or wish for any possible remedy to get their alien invader out of their bodies. Usually their feelings fluctuate between the two.

Dads have limited options but to sit and wait, being as supportive as possible, and listening for reports of any twinge, Braxton Hicks, or other signs that something is going to happen. It’s a long waiting game and doesn’t seem to be any clearer between the first, second or further pregnancies.

Discussions inevitably turn to how we can encourage the little one to make an appearance.

The internet and grannies seem to have all manner of suggestions about how to bring on labour when the time is right. I have no idea if any of them work. I’ve certainly tried some of these but I can’t point to any one thing that brought on the birth of our first daughter. And I don’t know if anything is working for the current baby we’re waiting for.


While it might seem counter to all feelings of pain and aching in the body, walking around may actually help to prepare the body for labour. If the baby if sitting in an awkward position, then walking may help to turn it the right way and get its head down in preparation for short journey down the birth canal.

Dad tip: Go for long walks with your partner but plan a route that has the possibility of frequent toilet stops. It’s not good to let your pregnant partner squat at the side of the road!


A hot and spicy food, typically a Vindaloo or Madras curry if feeling brave, may help to bring on labour. I’ve heard many different reasons why. Basically it seems that by throwing your intestines a curve ball with the extra spice, it may irritate them enough to spasm and cause the uterus to cramp. I used to wonder how cultures with lots of spicy food didn’t have babies early. I suppose if women’s bodies are used to hot food, it’s less likely to have an effect.

Dad tip: Don’t give spicy food to your partner if she never usually has it. And don’t give too much. The body usually evacuates its bowels as it prepares for labour, but this process is made less pleasant (especially in the birth room) if a lady has a upset tummy, i.e. the s**ts.


If you look at the medical induction of labour, most of the techniques mimic the act of sex. A pessary is given to mimic the effect of sperm, which contains prostaglandins which prepares and softens the cervix. Medical staff may also do a “sweep” of the cervix to try to loosen the “plug”. Again, this mimics the act of sex. And finally women may be given an oxytocin drip encourages hormones usually associated with making love.

Dad tip: This isn’t a sex blog and I’m not going to offer any tips here. If your partner’s pregnant I’m sure you know what to do. You can either do it yourself or let the hospital do it. It’s probably worth a try.

Other suggestions include acupuncture, acupressure, raspberry leaf tea, and hypnobirthing.

Ultimately it’s all about focusing on being calm.

All mammals instinctively want to give birth in a quiet and calm place. So the ultimate dad tip is to try and make the final few days as soothing and simple as possible as your partners prepares to do this amazing thing.

“I’ve never found anyone who didn’t want to help me if I asked them” – Steve Jobs.

As children we are taught to be polite, to always say please and thank you, and to wait patiently for our turn. It’s the oil that lubricates the wheels of our society. We simply cannot function as a group if everyone acts only for themselves. As parents, we try to instil those same fundamental values of decency in our children.

The best way we can teach our children common manners is to embody them ourselves.

Kids watch everything we do and soak it up like a sponge. The other day I found myself in the unusual situation of being in my daughter’s nursery without her. It was parents evening. An opportunity to catch up for ten minutes with the teachers on her progress. I’d missed the first one last term and was looking forward to learning about another side to my daughter when I wasn’t around. This time we organised a friend to sit with our daughter in the car outside while we went in.

On arrival we waited patiently in the main area. Unfortunately, due to an error another couple were sent in ahead of us. And then the couple due after us turned up, but they were late for another meeting and somehow managed to get in ahead of us, leaving us to speak to the teaching assistant instead. We came away late feeling like we’d wasted our time.

I was cross with everyone that evening. Most of all I was cross with myself for not being assertive enough in getting what I wanted. Especially as it affected my daughter who had to wait outside in the car for nearly an hour.

The thing I realised is that I can’t control everyone else’s behaviour but I can control mine.

The big thing that I should have done differently is be more assertive. I needed to make sure the staff knew we’d arrived and highlighted that it was our turn for our appointment. Instead, I acted too politely putting other people’s needs above mine.

Parents are responsible for educating children in their image. They will learn the example that we set them. I wonder if some of us are too deferential to others that we don’t get what we want, and that we might pass that on to our children.

The most important thing we can do to be happy and get the best for our children is to be assertive, to ask for what we want with purpose and clarity.

Too many of us, especially in reserved English society, are concerned with making others happy and taking a step back. We are often taught this from an early age and are passing this attitude on to our children. The problem is we will always be at the back of the queue. Some of us are the opposite and go after what they want even if it means stepping over others. This is just as bad. It’s a fine line between assertiveness and arrogance.

All parents should learn about and practise the art of assertiveness. We should teach ourselves to have self-value and clarity of what we want. And then we should ask for those things. If people ask for what they want they are much more likely to be fulfilled. Take a look at this short video interview of Steve Jobs who talks about how he asked the Chairman of Hewlett Packard for help when he was a kid, which then got him into computers.

Sadly, there are too few of us who act with true assertiveness. This results in frustration, lack of fulfilment, and confusion from other people who can’t read our minds and don’t understand what we want. Thankfully there are a number of resources we can go to as well as courses online.

As a father of a daughter I feel this even more keenly. I know that women are traditionally more self-deprecating that men. Women don’t always speak up. They either won’t, or they can’t, or they just don’t, but we’re living in a world that raises women to feel like they don’t deserve everything they want. That has to change.

So every day I try to be more assertive, for my daughter’s sake, to get what I want. I will make sure that I am at the front of the queue when I know I deserve to be. I will ask for what I want confidently and treat others with respect.  

Assertiveness is not about trying to overcome shyness, rather it’s about learning how to be ourselves around others. And I can’t think of a better gift we can give to our children.