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.

Tips for postpartum healing

Being pregnant and giving birth is one of the biggest physical and emotional challenges you will ever face. Your body will go through so much to bring new life into the world, after which you will immediately be required to care for a brand new person 24/7. This is going to be hard work! There’s no disputing that this is the most rewarding challenge you will face, but there’s no harm in being prepared either. Here are some tips for postpartum healing that will help you recover following the birth of your baby.

Accept your limitations

Mother Nature rarely gives us more than we’re able to manage, but that doesn’t mean you need to prove your ability to cope with it all by going above and beyond what is sensible. Pregnancy and birth are huge challenges for the body to face, and you aren’t going to just walk away from it all without a scratch. Chances are you will be at the very least tired after your baby is born, so it’s a good idea to take this as a signal to slow down. Parenting a newborn is an intense period of time that involves round the clock care for a tiny person that is unable to fend for themselves. You’re going to be required to do this straight after giving birth! So you’re also going to need to accept that you can’t do it all. Take this time to focus on your baby and your baby alone. Leave the chores to your partner, friends or family and take everything one step at a time.

Give yourself time

All women are different, and some of us may not always present a true picture when we’re out and about. Just because your friend from baby group seems to have recovered a lot quicker than you, it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. Experts estimate that it can take up to 6 weeks to recover from giving birth, but it’s important to remember that this is just an estimate. If you need longer, be kind to yourself and take a little longer. Life is not a race, and if you slow the pace a little you and your baby will benefit.

Tips for healing your mind

Having a baby is such an emotional time! All of a sudden, you go from being pregnant to being in charge of a whole new person, and that can be overwhelming. You barely have time to process this either, because as soon as they’re born your baby needs you. And what of you and your needs? You’re so busy making sure your baby is warm, clean and fed- and the other children, if you have them- that often you can all too easily forget about yourself too. Make sure that you put your own requirements at the top of your list of priorities too. Try these tips:

● Put together an ‘essentials’ basket of all the things you need during the day, so that you’re not spending time running around when you could be relaxing. Nappies, cotton wool, snacks, bottles of water, a book- all great things to keep handy so that you can rest a little during feeds.
● Accept for help when it’s offered, or ask for it if it’s not. Sometimes we give the impression that we don’t need help, especially if this is not our first baby. But we all need to take time out now and then so if someone offers to give you a hand, say yes! Use the opportunity to catch up on sleep, or go for a walk- whatever it takes to clear your head and have five minutes to yourself.
● Talk, talk, talk. Emotions are rife after you’ve given birth and sometimes the smallest things can be the most upsetting. Talk to your partner, friends or family and let them know how you’re feeling. Also let them know what they can do to help you.
● Shop online for a few weeks or so, to make sure that you always have healthy foods available, and to save yourself from the chore of grocery shopping with a newborn baby. You’ll thank us for this!

Tips for healing your body

Being pregnant is a little like running a marathon, and giving birth is like the sprint at the end. Both events leave you exhausted and exhilarated- but unlike running, having a baby can cause a fair amount of minor aches, pains and injuries too. There are natural ways to soothe your body though, and here are some of our favourite:

● Take a herbal bath. This is best done as soon as possible after birth, to help ease discomfort and soothe swollen/ sore tissues. We recommend using sea salt, lavender, witch hazel, calendula and chamomile as these are wonderful ingredients widely used for soothing and healing.
● Use a comfrey ice pack- these are wonderful for easing soreness after birth and for reducing swelling too. Comfrey gel is also great for healing after birth.
● Take arnica tablets to help with healing. These can also help with reducing discomfort from after pains.
● Massage- some women swear by postpartum massage to help ease discomfort and soothe tired muscles. Try mustard oil for a warming effect, or coconut oil for a cooling, hydrating massage. Other oils to use include sweet almond (for relief from muscle pain, inflammation, and itching), olive oil (to relieve stiffness) or lavender to restore calmness if needed.
● Hydrate yourself. Giving birth is draining! Drink plenty of water, coconut water and herbal tea to restore the balance in your body.
● Chamomile for rest. It can be hard to sleep post birth- there are so many emotions whirling around your head, never mind the baby that wakes for feeds on a regular basis! Some women find it hard to switch off and rest, and this can have a negative effect on recovery. On top of this, some hormones post birth can actually cause insomnia so it’s a good idea to try drinking chamomile tea to counter-balance this.
● Take care of your breasts. If you’re breastfeeding, the early days can be painful and your nipples are going to take the brunt of it. Try making up a soothing cream to apply after feeds- use coconut oil, shea butter and coconut butter (in equal parts) to moisturise and soothe.
● Combat the baby blues with bergamot or geranium essential oils. Both are known to help prevent postpartum depression; simply add 2-3 drops to a small water spray bottle and spritz into the air.

Tips for tired toddlers

When your toddler is tired, there’s a very good chance you will know about it before she does! Sometimes fatigue and exhaustion are more evident to us than it is to them, or perhaps they just don’t want to admit it. Whatever the reason for conflict, many toddlers will want to assert a little control over their lives where they can, and resisting sleep can be one such way to do this. So if you have a tired toddler at home, and naps are being refused for whatever reason, here are some tips to help you out!

Understanding the tiredness

Half the battle can be understanding why your toddler is tired, and how you can help her to fall asleep. It might also help to understand what the body needs to be able to fall asleep too. The hormones melatonin and cortisol are key for getting good sleep, and the levels of these change throughout the day. So your toddler will find it easier to fall asleep at some times of the day rather than others.

Cortisol keeps us awake, and its levels are highest around 8 am. So plan your activities for this time of the day, when your toddler is likely to be most responsive and alert. Cortisol levels drop throughout the day, and are raised when you feel stressed or upset.

Melatonin helps us to sleep, and levels are increased when there is an absence of light. So if your room is dim and quiet, you are more likely to be able to fall asleep.

When your toddler is over tired

The over tired toddler is a difficult one. Perhaps you missed the nap window, or perhaps she didn’t sleep well last night? Or maybe it’s just been a long day, and bedtime didn’t come around soon enough for one reason or another. An over tired toddler will find it hard to switch off because her Cortisol levels have started to raise- so it’s going to be up to you to convince her that sleep is a really good idea!

You can spot an overtired toddler easily:

● She becomes argumentative, and fond of the word NO!
● She starts to yawn a lot
● She becomes fidgety and ‘twitchy’
● She displays ‘hyperactive’ behaviour
● She falls out with friends
● Clumsiness
● Fighting sleep

So once you know your toddler is overtired, what do you do? It can be a turbulent situation at this point, but resist the urge to argue with your toddler. Remember that you are the adult and your little one isn’t always 100% in control of her actions. Keep calm and try these tips:

● Remove your toddler from all stimulation. No TV, no computer games, and go inside if you’re out.
● Have some quiet activities ready and spend some time together doing them for a while. Read a book, for example, and give her body a chance to relax.
● Encourage sleep, by perhaps lying down with her for a moment. Remember that as she is over tired she may take longer to fall asleep than usual.
● Make sure the room is dim so that Melatonin levels can begin to rise, and Cortisol levels can drop.

An over tired toddler can be hard work, but there’s no reason why you can’t beat it! And after a nap your toddler will be ready for the day once more… hopefully!

General tips for better toddler sleep

Making sure that your toddler doesn’t become overtired is often the first step towards securing better sleep overall. But it can be easier said than done! Here are some general tips for better toddler sleep all round:

● Keep a good routine and make naps a priority
● Have plenty of quiet times in between busy activities
● Encourage your toddler to spend time relaxing if she is growing out of naps
● Eat and drink well- avoid sugary snacks
● Get plenty of fresh air and exercise
● Make bedtime a priority too- keep to a flexible but consistent routine and encourage all care-givers to do the same.
● Try toddler massage to help your little one to relax at sleep time

Over time, your toddler will learn how to manage her own behaviors around sleep and may go on to lie in a little at the weekends. Or is that wishful thinking?