Three top tips for making the most of baby led weaning

As your baby grows older, more and more exciting experiences await you both! One such experience is weaning. The end of your breastfeeding journey may seem like such a long way away, and it probably is. But from the age of around six months or so, your baby will start to explore new tastes and textures that are so vastly different from milk. This is where the fun starts! These days, baby led weaning is often recommended for babies over the age of six months, because it is a valuable way to teach your baby about those new tastes and textures without limiting her need for exploration and sense of adventure. Here are our three top tips for making the most of baby led weaning. Enjoy!

What is baby led weaning?

Put simply, baby led weaning is allowing your baby to lead the way when it comes to weaning from milk onto food. Babies who are allowed to lead the way will do so by feeding themselves, and choosing the foods that they want to eat at mealtimes. Recent studies have shown that by allowing your baby to explore and taste new foods in her own time and at her own pace has huge benefits, such as:

● a reduction in obesity
● a reduction in fussiness around food
● a reduced risk of choking (baby learns very quickly that food needs to be broken down, in contrast to babies who are weaned onto pureed foods)
● improved speech development
● improved motor skills

So when you present your baby with a selection of foods and allow her to pick them up, taste them, play with them and finally eat them, you are assisting her in more ways than one!

Baby led weaning can be messy. It can also be lots of fun. But for some parents, the idea of allowing baby to choose at mealtimes can seem a little strange. The best advice for this is to just go with the flow, as much as you can. You may want to compromise a little and offer some pureed foods too. That’s up to you. However you decide to manage it, hopefully these tips will help:

Don’t be afraid of gagging

Chances are, as baby learns how to chew and to break down food in her mouth, she is going to gag now and then. This is when food hits the back of the throat, and is not the same as choking. Gagging is a normal reflex that we all have, and for babies it’s important because it helps to teach them how to eat. Your baby will make a noise when she gags, but it will not bother her. She will move the food and she will continue to eat.

Choking is different, because if your baby is choking she will not make a noise because her airway is blocked. Your baby will become frightened and you will know the difference when this happens. There is no real way to prevent choking during baby led weaning, but there are precautions you can take. Make sure that food is cut into bite size pieces, and make sure that you fully supervise feeding times. Baby should be sitting up during mealtimes and not leaning back in anyway. It’s also a great idea to enrol on a baby first aid course so that if choking occurs you will know what to do.

Don’t be afraid of the mess

Babies use their senses to explore and to learn about the world around them, and playing with food is a totally natural progression of this. Let her investigate her food by poking it, prodding it and smashing it in her fist. It will not hurt! Take the following precautions if the mess really bothers you:

● Pop a waterproof mat (or an old shower curtain) down on the floor to catch fallen food.
● Invest in some sensible bibs- long sleeve ones are fantastic
● Invest in a high chair that is easily cleaned

Make sure the time is right

The World Health Organisation recommends that weaning takes place at around 6 months of age as it is deemed by this age milk alone is not enough to sustain your baby. But all babies are different, and some may not be ready at this time. It’s important to remember that when you first introduce solid food to babies, it is really just for taste and texture, rather than nutrition. So until 12 months of age, milk is still really important, and where baby will get most of her nourishment from. It’s important to time it right, so look for these signs that baby is ready:

● baby can sit up in a chair, unaided
● baby can hold her head up
● baby can chew
● baby is not tired, or too hungry- offer milk first, and view solid foods as an exploration rather than a meal, at first.
● baby is interested in food

Are you ready? It’s an exciting time, but it’s not without it’s stress too. Take each day as it comes, and don’t expect too much from your baby. If you are relaxed and happy at mealtimes, she will pick up on this and is more likely to grow into a happy eater. Good luck… and have fun!

The Benefits of Baby Massage

Human beings have five incredible senses; sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. We use these fantastically important senses every single day of our lives, and that includes the day we are born. Although newborns can’t see too well until their eyes become fully focused (at around 6 to 8 months), their hearing isn’t fully developed (until around one month old), and their taste buds only encounter milk until weaning begins, their other senses are already helping them to understand the world around them, which is essential for healthy growth and development.

Their other senses being smell and touch. And smell, although useful, will only account for a small percentage of a child’s ability to learn.

It is, perhaps, touch then that has the most profound impact on a child from the very start. When adults interact with a small child, they often automatically reach out to touch or stroke the baby, and certainly when holding the child they are stimulating the situation with the sense of touch. As soon as a baby is born, they are handed to their mother for skin to skin bonding. This isn’t just about holding a gorgeous newborn; this is about comfort and love and for your child to learn who is there to protect them from the start.

So baby massage, with its emphasis on gentle touching and soothing, is the next logical step for any parent who wishes to add another element to their child’s daily routine. An element that has many benefits other than simply being a pleasant thing to do (although that is certainly the case!).

Is Baby Massage Right for You and Your Baby?

There is nothing quite like the touch of another human being. A hug, a caress, a massage. Just being held is a wonderful experience that lowers blood pressure and makes both parties feel happy and secure. Babies may not understand everything that is going on around them, but they do understand the people who love them when they make literal contact with them. Sometimes that is all they need to know.

Amazingly, a newborn can soon distinguish between which parent is actually cuddling them, and their response is different depending on whether it is Mummy or Daddy.

And of course, baby massage allows for uninterrupted quiet time with your baby, which, in these busy days can sometimes be overlooked.

Although baby massage has been proven to strengthen the bond between the parent and child, will give your child confidence, calmness, and peace, and will even help your baby sleep well (and for longer), there are other fantastic reasons for getting involved in baby massage. These include easing the pain of wind, colic, or reflux, soothing eczema, and other skin complaints, and, for you, helping with symptoms of postnatal depression.

How To Start

You do not need any professional qualifications in order to begin soothing and relaxing your child, although it can be a slightly daunting idea at first. There are specific baby massage classes that are often run by local parent and child groups, and these can be very useful in giving you the confidence to get started. But don’t worry, there is no ‘one way’ to massage your baby. Do what seems right for you.

To start, you need to be in the right frame of mind. You need to be relaxed. You need to be calm. You need to be in a quiet, darkened space with no distractions and no chance of being disturbed (otherwise all your good work will be undone in seconds!). Make sure the television is off, your phone is elsewhere, and you are not playing any loud music. The idea is to keep the massage room in dim light. Speak in whispers if possible. Before you bring your baby into the room, make sure everything is ready, including a blanket or towel for them to lie on (a towel is good if you are using oils, as it can be washed easily), a fresh nappy, and warm clothes or another blanket for cuddling up in after the massage.

The Etiquette

Although it may feel strange at first, it is good to talk to your baby about what you are planning to do – as time goes by, they will associate the sound of your words (and eventually the words themselves) as the start of their massage time, and they will automatically become more relaxed and receptive. Before you touch each part of their body, say that you are going to do so (“I’m now going to touch your arm”, for example), and ask whether it is all right. You are building trust by doing this, even though your baby won’t be able to speak back to you to begin with. Since that is the case, it is essential that you watch your baby as you begin to massage them; if their reaction is not good, stop immediately. And never massage a poorly baby.

The Benefits

Massage is not simply a purely physical thing; it is emotional too, and it causes an attachment through touch. Massaging your child benefits you as it brings you closer to your baby, and it benefits the baby since it makes them more relaxed and content. Just enjoy the moment, and don’t worry about what is next on the agenda, or the washing up, or where you have to be at a certain time, or any of the other dozen things on today’s to do list. They are for later. Keep massage time purely as a moment of serenity for you and your baby, and enjoy it.

Massage increases blood flow, which in turn increases the number of endorphins that are present within the body. Endorphins are mood enhancing hormones that make us feel happy and puts us in a good mood. Not only that, but massage soothes pain and can ease constipation, wind, colic, and reflux. It improves oxygen flow which eases muscles and joints. And as a bonus, massage boosts the immune system too! With all these health benefits, baby massage is a wonderful way to keep your child fit and well in a way that will also strengthen the bond between you.

So why wait? Even if your child is older than newborn, introducing massage is still a great idea, and one that will become a fun, enjoyable part of your daily routine. If you need any advice or support, please do get in touch www.mummaloveorganics.com – we’re always happy to help.

The importance of skin to skin

Skin to skin contact for newborn babies is one of life’s little acts of magic; an act that can provide a wealth of health and emotional benefits, and an act that can literally induce happiness. Research has shown that skin to skin contact immediately after birth and in the days, weeks and months afterwards can have a huge impact on baby’s heart rate and well-being, and in strengthening the bond between baby and parent. Read on for more about the importance of skin to skin.

What is skin to skin and how is it done?

Skin to skin is just that- your baby’s skin next to yours, with no blankets and no clothes in between you. This takes place straight after birth (or as soon as is possible, depending on the circumstances) and studies have found that it helps to:

● stabilise baby’s temperature
● stabilise baby’s heart rate and breathing
● allow baby to colonise mother’s bacteria (immediately after birth) which is essential for the prevention of allergies
● form a bond between baby and parent
● reduce stress levels of baby and parent
● aid and facilitate breastfeeding

For premature babies, the effects of skin to skin contact with a parent can be astounding. It’s sometimes referred to as Kangaroo Care and is often carried out for prolonged periods of time in the special care units at hospital. These premature babies are able to regulate their temperatures just as well as they would inside an incubator. Other benefits include:

● better sleep, which aids growth and preserves energy
● less stress for babies when undergoing special care treatments
● better weight gain
● fewer illnesses and infections
● earlier discharge from special care
● more chance of long term breastfeeding success

For parents of premature babies, being able to hold them and to contribute towards their recuperation is wonderful; often special care units can be daunting for many and this is one way in which parents can take back a little of the parenting that may be denied to them whilst their baby is too small to come home.

Speak to your medical team about skin to skin, and if you write a birth plan make sure you state that you would like skin to skin contact as soon as possible after birth. The following is recommended:

● Ask for baby to be placed directly onto your chest (or your partner’s, if you are unable) immediately after birth.
● Ensure that baby’s head is turned to the side and airways are open.
● Hold baby close for as long as possible, up to an hour or more.

Some studies have found that skin to skin contact for up to two hours after birth, is the optimum length of time, so if you can request that checks are carried out after this it could be worth doing. In the days following birth, and indeed the weeks and months following birth too, skin to skin remains an important and essential tool for you and your baby. Experts agree that if you’re able to spend at least an hour with your baby against your skin (and baby stripped down to her nappy) it can continue to work it’s magic. At least an hour is recommended so that baby can go through a natural sleep cycle whilst you are holding her. This helps her biological system to stabilise.

If your baby is delivered via a c-section, you can still request skin to skin contact. Some hospitals will ask you to wait until you are in recovery but do ask, as some surgeons are happy to deliver baby straight to your chest if all is well. If you’re unable to hold baby straight away, your partner can have skin to skin instead. Studies have shown that paternal heart rhythms are just as effective in stabilising baby’s own heart rate, and what better way for daddy to get know his new baby?

As your baby gets older, the way that you carry out skin to skin sessions can change and you will notice that she won’t always sleep on you as she once did. Some mothers (and indeed fathers) take the opportunity to have a bath with their baby, and enjoy skin to skin in this way too. You’ll find lots of ways to get the most of this precious time with your baby!

Boost your chances to conceive naturally

When you’re trying to conceive, there is no better time to shine the spotlight on your body and mind, and changing the things that are currently not working for you. We can all benefit from taking stock of our overall health from time to time, and especially when you intend to nurture new life! Here are some tips on how to boost your chances of conceiving naturally.

Facing infertility

Infertility can be hugely distressing, and often a subject that few women like to discuss openly. It’s intensely private, and there are many reasons why couples might prefer to keep this to themselves. The heartache of trying to conceive naturally can be hard to deal with, so if you do find yourself in this position, take care to nurture and protect your relationship with your partner as much as you can. Talk to each other, and support each other through your journey. Despite the frustration, there are alternative methods of conception that you can explore with your medical team, so do read up as much as you can on all of your options.

If you are only just starting out on your journey to conception, there is no reason why you can’t maximise your chances now.

Eat well

Your body needs nutrition to be able to function well. And you need the energy to maintain tip top physical and emotional health too! Many women may believe that a certain diet might be the key to conception, but actually a normal balanced diet is the best course of action to take. Make sure your daily diet includes:

● Fats. Yes, really! The body needs fats (or essential fatty acids) to maintain a healthy diet. The fats found in eggs and butter are particularly good for fertility as they contain arachidonic. If you’d rather not eat eggs and butter, you can up your intake of avocados instead. Also supplement your diet with oils such as coconut or evening primrose.
● Carbs. Another dieters no-no, but carbohydrates are vital for the body’s ability to maintain thyroid health. Go for whole grains, nuts, starchy vegetables, and 1-2 servings of fruit per day.
● Cut down/ eliminate alcohol and caffeine. Recent studies report that drinking alcohol and caffeine can impact your chances of conceiving, so work to avoid these at all costs!
● Plenty of greens… and reds and yellows too! Eating a wide range of fruit and vegetables will boost your fertility and help you to maintain overall health too.
● Eat fish- particularly types that are high in omega 3s (mackerel, trout and salmon) but go easy on fish such as tuna, which has high levels of mercury.
● Go organic- if in doubt, choose organic produce, and aim for as many natural, unprocessed ingredients as you can.

Use herbs

Herbs can be used to help stabilise and regulate hormones in the body, and this can have a great impact on fertility. For example, Macca can be used to raise the body temperature, leading to more chances of conceiving naturally. Red clover is also fantastic, as it’s high in vitamins and minerals, and helps to process metabolic waste in the body. This means that the body is more alkaline, which is better for conception. Red clover also relaxes the reproductive system and strengthens the blood and bones too.

Cleanse your mind

If you are stressed and anxious, your body is working overtime in all the wrong ways. Lots of women find that once they clear their minds and focus on positivity, their fertility issues become a thing of the past. If you are feeling stressed about conceiving, try to take steps to relax a little more. Try:

● Meditation- this can feel more energising than a full night’s sleep!
● Gentle exercise- yoga, for example is wonderful for focusing on your breathing, and clearing your mind effectively. Walking and swimming are great too, and all have the added bonus of ensuring your physical health is being looked after too.
● Keep an open mind. This is easier said than done, but it really can help to remain open to your journey. Allow your body to explore it’s fertility and set yourself apart from stresses and strains.

Caring for a baby’s skin in winter

Your baby’s skin is very delicate and a lot more sensitive than an adults, which means that it requires lots of special attention from you. The skin is the body’s largest organ, and whatever we put onto it is absorbed by the body- and for babies this happens a lot quicker too. Your baby’s skin is also a lot thinner than yours, which is why it needs to be treated with care, and why what you put onto it needs to be closely scrutinised. Throughout the cold winter months, the skin can take a battering in terms of temperature changes and adverse weather- and this goes for babies too! Here is a quick guide to caring for baby’s skin in the winter.

Before you go out

Before you leave the house, make sure that you prepare your baby’s skin for the weather outside. Cold winds, rain and icy weather can not only make us feel cold, but can have an affect on the skin too. Babies are extra sensitive to changing temperatures, so you also need to take care not to let baby get too cold or too hot. Wrap up warm to leave the house, but make sure you remove the extra layers as soon as you come inside.

Another good tip before you go out is to make sure your baby is dressed in breathable layers, which will defend against heat rash. In the winter months it is still possible for babies to suffer from this when they are bundled up warmly to protect against the cold! It might also be a good idea to apply some balm to baby’s lips to protect them from chapping. With the cold weather and a baby’s tendency to drool and dribble, chapped lips are often the number one cause of upset for babies in winter- and it’s something that’s easily resolved.

It’s also a good idea to use a rain cover on your pram (if you aren’t carrying baby in a sling/ carrier) and don’t forget the hats and gloves too. Babies lose lots of heat from their hands and skin on the hands can become very sore in cold weather.

Lastly, make sure you apply a good but delicate moisturiser to baby’s face before you leave the house. This will help to protect against biting winds and cooler temperatures, because it helps the skin to stay hydrated, making it less susceptible to chapping. Use only natural ingredients on your baby’s skin and lips as chemicals can not only cause adverse reactions, but are less likely to protect against the elements.

At bath time

Bath time is an excellent opportunity to reinforce your baby’s skin care routine, and this is ever more important in the winter months. Don’t skip bath time; allow your baby to splash in the warm water, and follow it with a soothing baby massage to help relax and soothe sore skin. Use a warmed (in your hands) massage oil to moisturise baby’s skin and as you relax and bond, you are providing your baby’s skin with extra protection against the cold weather outside. Remember that cold air carries less moisture than warm air, so you may need to moisturise your baby’s skin a little more often.

Conditions to protect against

There are a number of skin conditions that may affect your baby during the winter months; alternatively existing complaints may worse during cold weather. These include:
● eczema: if your baby suffers, pay close attention during cold weather as this can often exacerbate symptoms. Make sure you keep up your skincare routine and regularly check your baby’s skin for soreness
● frost bite: make sure baby wears gloves or mittens and it goes without saying that feet need to be covered too! In extremely cold weather babies can be more susceptible to frost bite so keep outings short if you can, and take extra care to shelter from icy winds.
● snow burn: did you know that snow can reflect the sunlight and cause sunburn? Take care to protect baby’s skin as you would in summer.
● chapped skin/ lips

Natural ways to protect the skin

Of course, whatever you put onto your baby’s skin will be absorbed by the body so it’s important to pay attention to what you use. Look for natural and organic ingredients when you buy baby’s toiletries, and pay special attention to the labels in case there are hidden chemicals in there. If you are at all concerned, do speak to your doctor for further advice.

A few of our favourite natural ingredients to use on baby’s skin include:

● shea butter
● organic calendula oil
● sweet almond oil
● coconut oil

Don’t forget that your baby does not need to bath every single day, especially if she suffers from skin conditions that worsen in the winter. Always pat skin dry and apply moisturiser is gentle downwards strokes. It’s a good idea to make sure that clothing is soft too, and only use non-biological washing detergents.

Tips for being a mindful parent

In this busy world where we work and play hard, it can be all too easy to fall into bad habits in life. But when it comes to parenting there are no second chances. What we do now can affect our children for the rest of their lives, so its important to make the most of this time.

This week we’re looking at ways to be more present for our children, and sharing some tips on being a mindful parent. What does it mean to be a mindful parent? Being a mindful parent means being present in today. Being there for your child and being able to respond to your child without distractions. Being a mindful person requires a level of self understanding; to be a mindful parent we are required to understand our children.

This can be done! Conscious parenting is so much more in reality, and it’s not always easy to get it right – but that’s ok. Being a mindful parent means growing and developing as your child grows and develops. Parenthood is a steep learning curve, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible!

Here are some tips that might work for you.

Be intentional, not accidental

By this we mean, approach each situation with your child with intention. Re-create your world when your baby is born, and make sure your re-creation is a child friendly version. Now that you’ve decided to be a parent, you may have to make sacrifices and self improvements too. Often parenthood is a huge job with no salary- you have to really want to do it! Approach it with positivity and good intentions… and prepare to learn as you go along. And if part of being a mindful parent is also being a mindful person, be aware of your own strengths and celebrate them in your parenting journey.

Listen to your child

Being a mindful parent means keeping your child in mind at all times. Listen to her and respond accordingly to her needs. You are your child’s biggest advocate and it’s up to you make her feel safe, secure and loved. This will come naturally, so don’t panic! This is not a difficult task- this is your calling! When you listen to your child and understand what she is communicating, you are able to better respond and strengthen your bond.

Be open to ideas

Part of being a mindful parent is making informed choices, and this doesn’t mean avoiding all advice or throwing all the parenting manuals in the bin. Instead, take time to read up on any issues you’re experiencing, and be open to advice and guidance.

Use bits of the books that are relevant to you and how YOU want to bring up your child

Bear in mind that your child is an individual and that you are responsible for her guidance in the world, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone! Think carefully about the big decisions that matter a lot to you and your family, and keep your child’s best interests in mind at all times. We all need a little support now and then, so don’t feel you need to close yourself down.

Go with your instincts

Being a mindful parent means being an instinctive parent, and our instincts can be the most powerful tool we have. With the knowledge you gain from understanding your child and reading around, your instincts will quickly be your go to when you need to make a decision quickly. Follow your heart. Remember parenting is a journey Just as life is not a goal but a journey, parenting is the same. Don’t set expectations on your child and hope for certain results within a certain time frame.

Accept that this is a journey, and it will last for the rest of your life!

Go with the flow where you can, and appreciate the small bumps and twists when they arrive. And most of all, enjoy the ride. Your role in this wonderful journey is to nurture, nourish and protect. Accept your child for who she is. Make room for your child in your life, and be grateful for the changes that come your way. Parenting is one of the most rewarding jobs you can have in your lifetime and it’s up to you to make the most of it.

So switch off your computer, put your phone away and be there in your child’s life for an extra hour a day. You are guaranteed to enjoy it, and one day you’ll look back on all the memories you made with a smile on your face.

Natural remedies for morning sickness

Pregnancy is such a wonderful time-a chance for your body to prove just how marvellous it can be, by growing a whole new person! And the books promise it all, from glowing skin to thicker hair and healthy nails, to a boundless energy that sees you swim, walk for miles and smile at all who you meet… But not always, and certainly not in the early days for lots of women. Morning sickness affects around half of all pregnant women, to varying degrees and for varying lengths of time, and it can be a really miserable time for some.

Most women find that the symptoms ease at around 12 weeks as the placenta takes over some of the leg work, but how to cope until then? It can feel like the longest time ever, especially if you are keeping it quiet until after the first scan, as many families choose to do. Luckily there are some natural remedies that you can try to ease your symptoms, so that you don’t have to suffer in silence.

Vitamin B6

Your midwife may have already recommended a good multi vitamin tablet, with folic acid to help the developing baby, but it is also said that taking Vitamin B6 could help to ease the symptoms of morning sickness too. Doctors believe that a mix of hormones and a lack of this vitamin is the cause of nausea and sickness in pregnancy, and studies have shown that women who take a supplement experience a reduction in symptoms.

Most women are able to get enough vitamin B6 just by making a few dietary adjustments. Foods rich in the vitamin include bananas, nuts, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, lean meats, and fish. If you think that you need a supplement, speak to your GP who can prescribe the correct dosage for you.

Acupuncture*

Pregnancy is certainly no time to be squeamish when it comes to needles (they’ll be taking lots of blood from you over the coming weeks!) so for those with nerves of steel, acupuncture might be worth a try. It can help to regulate the enormous changes that occur in the body during the early stages of pregnancy and many women swear by this alternative therapy.
Acupuncture works by restoring balance in the body and dealing with blockages to what the Chinese call qi. It’s an ancient practise that many swear has helped them with the symptoms of morning sickness, even in it’s severest form (Hypermesis Gravidarum). Added to this, many say that acupuncture can be used to treat heartburn, hemorrhoids and sciatica pain.

Acupressure*

Like acupuncture, acupressure has been shown to relieve symptoms of morning sickness, even when it is very severe. It works by applying pressure on certain points in the body, and can also help to relieve back pain and other ailments too. Many women swear by the acupressure bands that are easily found in most chemists (used mainly to treat travel sickness).

*It is essential that your practitioner during your acupressure and acupuncture sessions is fully trained and qualified to work with pregnant women. Your treatment should not take more than one hour, and make sure you speak to your midwife immediately if you experience pain or contractions following your treatment.

Reflexology

Reflexology is another ancient practise, use to treat illness and based on the theory that certain areas on the hands and feet are linked to other parts of the body. By applying pressure to certain points, reflexology can relieve pain and symptoms of sickness in other areas. Lots of women swear by the power of reflexology to ease symptoms of morning sickness, so it could be worth a visit if you’re suffering. Experts believe that symptoms of depression and anxiety can also be treated successfully. However, it is also worth noting that some women have reported symptoms temporarily worsening after a session of reflexology, before improvement has been noted. It’s vital that you inform your practitioner that you are pregnant so that appropriate treatment can be administered.

Reduce stress

An easy enough tip to give, but not always so easy to administer. Studies have found that women who experience stress during their pregnancy are more likely to suffer from morning sickness and nausea, and those who do find that their symptoms worsen when they are feeling under pressure. If this sounds like you, it’s important to take some time for relaxation when you can. Try the following:

● Prenatal yoga/ pilates
● Gentle exercise such as swimming or walking
● Meditation
● Take regular naps
● Avoid stressful situations where you can, and cut down on work hours if you’re able to
By reducing stress, you may be able to reduce symptoms of morning sickness too, so make sure that those around you are away of your need to rest as much as you can.

Water

Nature’s life force. A dehydrated body does not function well, and if you are vomiting during pregnancy it is even more important to replace lost fluids. Water is essential for well-being whether you are pregnant or not,so it’s a great idea to always keep a bottle with you wherever you go.

Eat well and often

Your diet during pregnancy is very important, and more so if you’re suffering from morning sickness. No doubt there are times where eating is the last thing on your mind, but it’s important to keep your strength up. While we agree that eating whatever you can stomach is probably the most tempting solution, do try to look at other alternatives if all you are craving is junk food or worse. Greasy, fatty food is known to worsen symptoms of morning sickness, so avoid these foods if you can.

Try, if you can, to eat a balanced diet of:

● fruit
● vegetables
● protein
● dairy

It’s also a good idea to eat little and often, as many women report that nausea increases with hunger. Foods with a low GI are a good idea as they keep you fuller for longer, so make sure you always have a packet of oatcakes or similar in your bag for when nausea strikes.

Ginger

Ginger is most likely to be the first thing that people think of when you tell them that you are suffering with morning sickness- but there’s av very good reason for that! The benefits of ginger have long been documented and there are studies that have shown its effectiveness in easing symptoms of morning sickness. Used in many Chinese remedies, ginger is especially useful for women who are feeling cold too, due to it’s warming properties. You can eat it in biscuit form (although not too many!), drink it in tea, or add it to your hot water and lemon for an extra boost of anti-nausea goodness.

Peppermint

Peppermint has been known to help women suffering bouts of morning sickness and the good news is that is it readily available. Drink it as tea, suck on mints, or even inhale peppermint oil. All have been known to settle the stomach and all are completely safe.

Lemon

Lemon has many healing and soothing properties and easing the symptoms of morning sickness is just one of its super powers. Lots of women say that just smelling a lemon helps to alleviate nausea and others claim to have symptoms eased by squeezing it into water to drink. Alternatively, you can add a slice to hot water in the mornings to help with digestive issues too. Lemons have a natural calming effect which can really help symptoms of morning sickness, and like peppermints, they are cheap and easy to get hold of too.

Rest, rest and more rest

Sometimes, morning sickness can be so awful that there is nothing else you can do besides sleep. The more you are able to rest, the stronger you will be, and therefore you will feel more able to cope with your symptoms. Lots of women report that sickness and nausea is worsened when they are tired or feeling run down, so it really is important to take time out when you need to. Talk to your partner, family and friends and make sure they are aware of how you’re feeling. When you need to rest, listen to your body, and accept help when it is offered.

When morning sickness is really bad

Severe pregnancy sickness is called Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) and affects around 2% of pregnant women. HG usually occurs fairly early on in pregnancy, and can cause near constant vomiting and nausea for a number of weeks, if not throughout the whole pregnancy. Of course, this is fairly extreme, but if you do experience severe vomiting and nausea it is important to see a doctor in case of dehydration. In some cases, other treatment may be necessary.

Quick Guide to Hypnobirthing

When you’re pregnant it’s inevitable that your thoughts will, sooner or later, turn to the impending birth of your baby. You’re given your estimated due date, and lots of information on how to spot the beginnings of labour, when to call the midwife, what pain relief is available and what to expect if you need a c-section. All of this information and advice is invaluable and we recommend that you read it all- educate yourself on what to expect when the big day arrives, and how best you can care for your body to ensure optimum health throughout your pregnancy. Alongside information on birthing and the different types of births that you can experience, you might also want to consider alternative pain relief methods for use in labour. We’ve put together a quick guide to hypnobirthing- we hope it helps you achieve the birth you really want!

What is hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing can be a wonderful way to embrace your baby’s arrival, and lots of women advocate the techniques they learn on the courses. Put simply, hypnobirthing is an education programme that focuses on self hypnosis with relaxation and breathing techniques that are designed to enhance the birthing experience, and to provide effective mindful pain relief without the need for medication.

Women who practise hypnobirthing during labour are able to breathe effectively through contractions, and lots manage to avoid interventions which can, ultimately, lead to more interventions. More than this, hypnobirthing allows women to fight the fear surrounding childbirth, and releases feelings of joy and elation rather than pain and anxiety. With this in mind, you can see why hypnobirthing techniques are rising in popularity!

In control

Lots of women often feel a lack of control during pregnancy and birth. For nine months, or thereabouts, your body is taken over by pregnancy. You’re no longer in control of the changes that are happening to you, and lots of women find themselves feeling a little detached from it all. It’s not surprising either, when most antenatal appointments focus on baby only, and most classes look at ways to manage pain in labour, rather than embracing the experience. Hypnobirthing, in contrast, teaches women how to take control of the whole process, and be in charge of events during birth.

Hypnobirthing can be very helpful for women who have previously experienced a difficult or traumatic birth too- being able to feel in control over doctors or midwives can often release negativity and anxiety in a way that traditional pain relief cannot.

How- and why- does hypnobirthing work?

A hypnobirthing course will cover aspects of labour and delivery that conventional programmes won’t cover. This includes
● breathing techniques
● learning how to reduce the need for medication for pain relief
● reducing the risk of interventions such as episiotomy
● learning how to feel empowered and in control
● learning how to have confidence and knowledge when dealing with medical staff in a hospital setting
● learning how to expel any mystery or fear surrounding childbirth
● learning how to stay positive

Hypnobirthing works by using specific self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques to reduce pain and aid in the natural delivery of baby. It helps by teaching women to have confidence in their body’s instinctive ability to give birth and relaxes the body and mind to a state where contractions are embraced and the process of giving birth is welcomed.

What are the benefits to mother and baby?

The benefits of learning and practising hypnobirthing are immense! For mother:
● a shorter labour period
● less risk of a surgical birth and fewer interventions in general
● more success of a natural turning of breech babies
● feelings of elation after birth
● retaining learned techniques for future births
● feeling empowered to choose type of birth and birth setting- hospital, home, water, land
● techniques can be used for calm and relaxation at any time and not just during labour and birth

Of course, when it comes to childbirth nothing is assumed and nobody can guarantee it will go one way rather than another. Hypnobirthing does, however, help to equip you with the skills necessary to have the calmest and most natural birth as possible, and the confidence to have a positive experience. There is no such thing as a perfect birth but there is such a thing as taking control over whatever situation arises.

For baby, the benefits are also apparent, as a calmer and more natural birthing experience helps to produce calmer and happier babies too. Absence of pain relief medication means that babies are more alert and able to feed efficiently more quickly, and studies have found that apgar scores can be higher too.

Hypnobirthing is a choice. Pain relief medication is also a choice, and however you decide to birth your baby make sure it is your choice if you can. Please do heed medical advice, but equip yourself with as much knowledge about your body and the process of birth as you can. Knowledge is power and knowing what to expect (as much as you can!) will help you to feel strong and empowered when you need it most.

Super Foods for Toddlers

Mealtimes can be a little challenging when your toddler starts to realise he can refuse to eat certain foods! And we’ve all been there- weaning starts well, baby eats a variety of foods, and then BAM! All of a sudden the lips clamp tight and the bowl ends up on the floor! But don’t panic because this is totally normal. Toddlers are supposed to try to exert their power now and then, and mealtimes are the ultimate time to do this. So how do you make sure that the foods your toddler does eat are healthy and nutritious? It’s worth knowing which foods to pursue too, so here is our top ten list of super foods for toddlers. You might want to get a little creative when it comes to serving these!

Eggs

There are so many ways to use eggs, and the great news is that they are a wonderful source of protein and vitamin D. A plate of scrambled eggs is not only delicious but will keep your toddler full for longer, so they’re definitely top of our super foods list! Eggs are so versatile too- you can make omelettes, muffins, boiled eggs and soldiers… be as creative as you can!

Oats

Another super food for toddlers. Oats are also versatile because they can be served as porridge for breakfast, or you can bake them into tasty fruity snack bars instead. What makes oats so super? They provide a slow stream of energy so that your toddler can keep going for longer. And they’re relatively cheap too, so they won’t break the bank.

Fruit

Luckily, most toddlers enjoy the sweet taste of most fruit so make the most of it! Summer months are great for letting them snack on handfuls of berries, and apple wedges make a great after dinner treat too. Remember if you serve grapes they must be cut into pieces to avoid the risk of choking.

Blueberries

Blueberries are most definitely superfoods and they taste delicious too! Stir them into porridge in the morning, pop them into a fruity omelette or simply present them as a snack. I’ve yet to meet a toddler who doesn’t love them!

Salmon

It might be a little more tricky getting your toddler to eat salmon, but its worth a try because its packed with heart healthy omega 3s and these are known to boost brain development. Serve it with foods that you know your toddler likes, or make your own fish fingers.

Greek yogurt

Another great source of protein, yet a food that toddlers don’t often get to try. Add some fresh fruit, or stir in some cocoa powder with maple syrup for something a little more special. Greek yogurt is lower in sugar than most yogurts too.

Avocado

A great source of fibre, avocado is filled with heart healthy monounsaturated fats- so a great addition to your toddler’s diet. Mash them and spread them on toast, use in place of mayonnaise or even puree down for an indulgent chocolate pudding.

Sweet Potatoes

So much more tasty than white potatoes, and filled with fibre, potassium and vitamin A! Chop into fries, drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven. Delicious!

Cinnamon

Who doesn’t love baked apples sprinkled with cinnamon! This is a superfood with a difference because it has strong antiviral properties that mean it can help to defend against coughs and colds. And it tastes delicious sprinkled over porridge or onto apple slices.

Grapes

Grapes are like sweeties for toddlers! Red grapes especially are great to serve because they’re filled with antioxidants and polyphonyois. Again, make sure they’re cut up into small pieces for toddlers and young children.

Have a naturally beautiful pregnancy

When you see those two blue lines on the pregnancy test, your life changes immediately. Your body is no longer just for you, it is about to embark upon an amazing adventure. And during that adventure you are the vessel, perfectly designed to sail the seas towards motherhood. It’s so important to look after yourself during this time, and there are many ways that you can do that- and you don’t need to compromise on life’s luxuries either. After all, we all need some pampering now and then. And when your body isn’t your own, the desire to make yourself feel better with a touch of makeup or a spritz of perfume is more than tempting. But how to avoid unnecessary chemicals or additives? Here are some tips for a naturally beautiful pregnancy.

Make sure your hair care treatments are kind

Lots of hair products on the market contain chemicals and additives that are no good for you, especially during pregnancy. Why not make your own hair mask with coconut oil and honey? Bicarbonate of soda is great for a deep cleanse and believe it or not apple cider vinegar is fantastic for conditioning dry hair too. There is no need to spend a fortune on natural hair care, and you might find that the surge in hormones during pregnancy will send your hair into a state of glorious shine anyway.

Try this homemade hair mask:

Take
● 1 avocado
● 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
● 5 drops geranium essential oil (to promote emotional balance, mood elevation, and skin health)

Simply place all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth. Apply to the hair and leave for 30 mins before rinsing with warm water. Your hair will thank you for it!

Make sure you use sunscreen… and make sure it is 100% natural

Don’t forget your sunscreen this summer! Hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy means that sunscreen is so so important, but you don’t want to smother your skin with chemicals. During pregnancy your skin is more sensitive and makes you more susceptible to hyperpigmentation so what you use to protect your skin couldn’t be more essential. Make sure your sunscreen is 100% natural and rated SPF 30 or higher.

Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!
Your pregnancy is going to stretch your skin, and skin that is not sufficiently hydrated is going to suffer. Keep stretch marks at bay by moisturising at least twice a day- but make sure the cream you use is kind to the skin. Coconut oil is perfect for hydrating dry skin, but you could go for any organic butter or plant based oil.

Drink lots of water

This is probably the most important tip of all! Your mind and body (and baby) will thank you for drinking lots of water and not only will this help keep your energy levels up, but it will keep your skin hydrated too.

Don’t dye your hair

If you do colour your hair, try to use natural dyes wherever you can, but during pregnancy you might want to skip it altogether. Conventional hair dyes tend to contain a lot of chemicals, so it’s probably best to embrace your natural colour for a while!

Take lots of time to relax

When you’re pregnant, your body is busy. Your mind is busy. YOU are busy. It’s important to take some time for yourself and make relaxation a priority every day. Whether it is by meditation, sleeping, yoga or swimming- what you do to relax is up to you. The most important thing to remember is that you have earned it! Take some time out of your day to focus on your breathing, to settle your spirit and to remind yourself of the huge journey you are taking on. The road to motherhood can be long and windy, but you can take steps to make it as smooth as possible.