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Anxiety, Mental Health & Depression in early Motherhood

Monthly Focus : Anxiety, Mental Health & Depression in early Motherhood

This month at The Nursery Collective, our blog will be focused around a very important topic for new Mums – Anxiety, Mental Health and Depression. From the very common baby-blues to more serious forms of post (or pre) natal depression, our mental health as new mums is one of the most vital areas we need to pay attention to. After all, if we can’t look after ourselves, how can we look after our little ones?

I thought I’d start by sharing some of my own experiences with anxiety when I was a brand-new Mum. I know now that the main trigger for my anxiety was lack of sleep. There’s a reason sleep deprivation is often called a form of torture! Without sleep, I just couldn’t function and my anxiety would go through the roof. Read our Baby Sleep Tips in the First Year blog post here if you are going through any sleep deprivation and need some help! I would burst into tears over the tiniest thing and I felt like the lack of sleep would never end, and I’d never get through it – dramatic I know, but that’s how I felt at the time. Luckily for me I had an incredible support network throughout this period, firstly my Mum and then my mother-in-law flew from overseas to stay and help me through the first few months. Looking back now I’m sure my wonderful mother-in-law thought I was a complete loony as she was with me during my highest levels of anxiety – but having her around to talk to and be of support made the world of difference. We used to take the night in shifts so I could get some quality sleep when my little one decided he was going to wake every 45min to an hour all night long. I was also lucky to have my closest girlfriends around, most of which were also new mamas, so there were plenty of shoulders to cry on.

I don't have many photos of me from this particular time, but here's one I found. I distinctly remember meeting one of my best mates at a mall after having zero sleep...behind that smile was one very tired and anxious new mama, note the dark circles!!

My anxiety also manifested in needing to control my environment as much as possible. Which is completely bonkers when you have a new baby - I can see that now! But at the time I definitely started becoming more OCD – keeping things clean and tidy, and sticking to a schedule as much as possible. So, when my baby didn’t sleep as much as the books said he should, I would lose the plot. Literally. The amount of pressure I was putting on myself was ridiculous. One of the midwives at the hospital had suggested I take notes on when baby was feeding, pooping, passing urine – just to keep an eye on things in the first few days. This became my obsession. I actually kept a record of all this.... for one year. Yes, you heard that right - ONE YEAR.  Wow, that feels so embarrassing to admit! I physically wrote down the time of every feed (and which side I fed on, later how many mls he would take in a bottle), when he pooped and how long he would sleep for at each nap and through the night. When we started weaning onto solids, I also included what he ate for every meal, to ensure he was getting the right nutrients and a wide variety of foods! TOTALLY insane right?! I actually ran out of pages after he turned one and finally stopped. It was incredibly liberating to throw it away, and although I can laugh about it now, in some ways writing it all down helped me feel some control during this period of complete overwhelm.

When my second was born, I did take notes, but only for the first fortnight or so – as a second-time mum my perspective was totally different. I had help with the cleaning, my eldest to also look after and frankly I didn’t have as much time to be as anxious. The triggers were still there, but this time I knew what I had to do to get through the difficult phases. I certainly had my moments, for example during the dreaded 4 month sleep regression, but “this too shall pass” had become my mantra and helped pull me through.

Talking about these issues openly is so important, these feelings are nothing to be ashamed of, or embarrassed by. But it’s hard I know! As much as my feelings of anxiety were minute compared to those suffering from full blown post-natal depression, it was still difficult to share at the time. So, during March we will be focusing our blog on these very topics, to hopefully shed some more light on ways to cope with anxiety and depression as a new mum. Fi Morrison, our regular blog contributor from Mumma Morrison will be up first with her take on tackling anxiety as a new mum. Amanda Cavallaro, from The Anxiety Wellness Queen will also be writing for us this month on how we can use mindfulness to deal with anxiety during pregnancy/as a new mum, as well as about PND in early motherhood, the signs and symptoms, and what to do next. We will also be featuring a few interviews - Kirsty and Lana, the founders of The Parents Village, who built their business based on the support they felt was lacking when they themselves were new mums, and Sarah Clark, who also built her business after finding ways to cope with PND.

A huge part of getting through the early stages of pregnancy and motherhood is by having a great support network. Not only does it take a village to raise a child, but more importantly to raise a mother. Read our blog post on the importance of finding your village as a new mum here. And please feel free to join our Facebook group over at Find Your Village here – a truly supportive community of new and experienced mamas where you can vent frustrations or share your excitement in a space that is free from judgment.

We look forward to sharing all this with you over the next few weeks. If you haven’t already joined our mailing list, please do so you can be notified of our blogs as soon as they go live! Added bonus when you sign up - you will also receive your FREE download of "Your New Mum Checklist" - all the checklists you'll ever need when planning for baby, all in the one place.

Feel free to comment below on your own experiences with anxiety or depression, or if you have any specific topics you’d like us to cover.

Love,
Cathy

 

The Benefits of Using a Doula

Guest Post - Sam Ross (Birth Doula)

If you are anything like I was during my first pregnancy, I had no idea what a doula was or why on earth I would need one. Thankfully, with the support of an amazing midwife, I had a great birth without a doula. With my second pregnancy, circumstances meant I didn’t have the luxury of a continuity of care midwife during the pregnancy or birth. Thinking everything would be fine, I decided not to go ahead and hire a doula. Worst. Decision. Ever. Not even exaggerating, my birth was horrendous and I wish I had known exactly what a doula was and why every woman needs one!

WHAT IS A DOULA?

A birth doula, pronounced ‘doo-la’, is a pregnancy and birth support person. Doulas have been supporting women for centuries, in many different cultures.
There are many different types of doula, including antepartum, postpartum and bereavement doulas. I will be speaking specifically about birth doulas. Typically, a doula is a woman who has given birth (although not always) and is a trained professional in supporting women during labour. She knows all about natural birth processes and the interventions that go along with hospital births.

During pregnancy, a doula will help to alleviate any fears you may have about the birth and post-partum period. A doula is someone you can call on any time of day for reassurance and support.
Most doulas will also offer a birth planning session, where you will sit together and go through your ideas and preferences for the birth. She is available to educate you about labour, breastfeeding, postpartum, and provide any advice you may need from a non-judgmental, unbiased perspective.

A doula will attend your labour and birth, whether that be at home, hospital or both. Her role is strictly non-medical, purely physical, emotional support and advocacy. Doulas are very skilled in alternative pain relief techniques, giving you an endless supply of ideas to try before you ask for the epidural.

WHAT DOES A DOULA DO?

• Provides emotional support during pregnancy, birth and beyond
• Uses comfort measures including (but not limited to) massage, relaxation techniques, position change, heat packs, showering, hip squeezes, etc.
• Create a home-like environment in the hospital, by using aromatherapy, music, flameless candles, ensuring privacy etc.
• Gives clear, unbiased information to assist you in making decisions both before and during labour.
• Continuously reassures and comforts, a doula never leaves your side once labour is established.
• Advocates for the mother and helps facilitate communication between the mother and care provider
• Ensures you are drinking and eating, she may even brew herbal tea for you and make coffee for your partner.
• Provide emotional support to your partner, as well as ensuring they are hydrated, rested and fed.
• Works together with your partner in supporting you.
• Help you to get cleaned up and comfortable after birth
• Offer assistance with establishing breastfeeding
• Provide in home support after the birth.

Ultimately, the doula you hire will perform the tasks you wish of her, whether that is to remain by your side the whole time, or primarily to give support to your partner.

BENEFITS OF HAVING A DOULA ATTEND YOUR BIRTH

The benefits are plentiful. Studies have shown that women that use a doula are much more likely to have a positive birth outcome and birth satisfaction. Women are less likely to ask for pain relief medication (60% less likely to ask for an epidural).
Also, by having a doula attend your birth you will reduce the length of labour by 25% (average of 40 minutes), decrease your chance of a caesarean by 50% and lower the need for augmentation with syntocinin (synthetic oxytocin) by 40% (1).

 

WILL A DOULA MAKE YOUR PARTNERS ROLE REDUNDANT?

This is such an important point to mention, partners are often concerned a doula will replace them and push them out of the way. Simply not true, doulas are there to ensure your partner is comfortable, informed and participating (if they want to).

Some partners may feel completely overwhelmed and intimidated by seeing you in pain. They may feel completely helpless and have no idea how best to support you. This is where a doula can step in, give him some encouraging words and suggest some massage techniques or positions he can support you in. Perhaps your partner needs some space, and would rather sit back away from the action. That’s ok, especially because your doula can step in and play an active role in supporting you.

By taking the extra pressure off your partner, they will be able to eat, rest, and move the car etc, whilst feeling reassured that you’re being looked after your doula. Your partner will be more emotionally present and may actually even enjoy the incredible birth journey.

ARE DOULAS ONLY FOR WOMEN PLANNING A HOMEBIRTH/NATURAL DRUG-FREE BIRTH?

Absolutely not. In my opinion, women birthing in a hospital need a doula more than those choosing a home birth. Hospital births are difficult to navigate through without someone there to support and advocate your decisions. Doulas are familiar with local hospital policies, and can keep you informed about them. A doula will also facilitate communication between you and your health care provider, this is important especially when you haven’t met the midwife/doctor before. Ensuring effective communication can make the birth much less stressful for everyone involved.

As for women choosing to use pain medications, a doula will support you in whatever decisions you make. She is not there to sway you decision or judge your choices, she is there for YOU. If you choose an epidural, you will still need emotional support during the application of the epidural and help with it comes to pushing. It is reassuring to know your doula is there to help you ask the right questions regarding hospital procedures to ensure you have all the relevant information to make decisions should they arise.


Photo Credit: Jen from Heart of Motherhood

WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK A POTENTIAL DOULA?

• What services do you provide?
• What is your philosophy regarding birth?
• Do you have experience with VBAC/twin birth/planned C-section?
• Do you have a backup plan in case you can’t attend my birth?
• How many clients do you take per month?

I hope this article has made you consider having a doula attend your birth, it is certainly a worthwhile investment into having a positive birth experience.

- Sam Ross (Birth Doula)

1. Hodnett ED. Gates S Hofmeyr GJ. Sakala C. Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. CD003766, (2003).

To connect with Sam and her services at Sage, Birth & Beyond click here

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Love,
Cathy

 

Postnatal Health & Nutrition

Nutrition Series Part 3 - Postnatal

The day has finally arrived and you’ve welcomed your bundle of joy into the world. You’ve taken all the necessary steps for pre-conception care and looked after yourself throughout pregnancy - now what? This period is referred to as “post- natal” and supporting your health now, is just as important as the previous stages. It is not uncommon for new mums to experience exhaustion, cracked nipples, infection, mastitis, post-partum hypertension, post-partum thyroiditis or post-partum depression; with approximately 19% of women experiencing post-partum depression in the first 3 months after childbirth.

Although there are numerous health concerns that may affect a mum post-natal, the following are perhaps the most recognized.

POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION

This accompanies symptoms of feeling disconnected from their baby, feeling down, anxiety, irritability, exhaustion, sleep disturbances or thoughts of harm to their child.
Diagnoses can be done through your doctor, who will ask a series of questions to assess mental health. It is important to remember you are not alone and there are specific support networks to help.
Supporting a mother’s nervous system through diet, should be done regardless of a PPD diagnoses. Studies have shown intakes of EPA/DHA’s (Omega 3’s), reduce depressive symptoms in pregnant and postpartum women.
Sources include salmon, sardines, flaxseed and walnuts.
B Vitamins are also required for brain and neurotransmitter function. Sources include egg yolk, anchovies, broccoli, liver, eggplant, sunflower seeds and spinach.

MASTITIS

Affecting approximately one third of lactating women, Mastitis refers to inflammation of the breast tissue. Mastitis may occur at any point whilst breast feeding but often presents during the first 12 weeks. Common causes include blocked milk ducts, breast engorgement and infection. Breast tenderness, nipple pain, cracked nipples, fever and fatigue are all associated symptoms.
Diagnoses is made with your doctor, who will examine the area, looking for signs of redness, inflammation, cracked nipples and breast tenderness.

Include rich sources of zinc, to support wound healing (Red meats, eggs, sunflower seeds, mushrooms) and if prescribed antibiotics, a probiotic is recommended to restore healthy gut flora and prevent yeast overgrowth. Also avoid high doses of Vitamin C, as may cause diarrhoea in the breastfeeding baby.

NUTRITIONAL MANAGEMENT

Whilst many mums find they will eat on the go or end up skipping meals altogether, ensuring you eat to sustain energy, to allow for milk production and to support any post-partum health issues, is incredibly important. I recommend for all new mums, to invest in a slow cooker. Unless you have a personal chef or a family member/ friend providing you with meals, finding the time and energy to prepare and cook, is often the last thing you feel like doing. Finding simple ways to still eat well, will reduce extra pressure you may put on yourself and provide nutrients to support your own health.

Good sources of protein at least three times a week should be included in the diet. Consuming 1 gram per kilo of body weight is ideal. Sources include eggs, chicken, lamb, beef, legumes and cheese.
Breast feeding will require a higher intake of carbohydrates and including oats, wholegrains, quinoa, sweet potato and chickpeas, are all ideal. Also Including fats from nuts (if you choose to eat nuts whilst breast feeding), avocado, dairy and oily fish such as salmon.

SAMPLE MENU PLAN

Breakfast – 2 scrambled eggs, 1 cup spinach, ½ tomato, 1 cup mushrooms
Morning Tea – Smoothie. Banana, coconut milk, honey, raw cacao
Lunch – Toasted sourdough topped with 1 can of tuna, ½ avocado, cucumber
Afternoon Tea – 1 cup of Greek yoghurt, ½ cup mixed berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
Dinner – In slow cooker – 1 lamb shoulder, served with sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower
Water – 2 litres filtered

RECIPE
Slow cooked lamb, served with veggies and a rosemary sauce

Serves 4
Ingredients: 1 lamb shoulder, 2 large sweet potatoes, 2 carrots, 1/2 pumpkin.
Method
Cut sweet potato, pumpkin and carrots into smaller sized pieces (approx. 3-4 cm in length)
In a slow cooker, add sweet potato, carrot and pumpkin. Place lamb shoulder on top. Turn setting to low heat and allow to cook for 8 hours.

Rosemary Sauce
Ingredients: 2 garlic cloves, 2 tbs lemon juice, 1 tbs butter, 2 tbs fresh rosemary, 2 tbs olive oil, ½ cup veggie stock
Remove lamb and vegetables from slow cooker. Do not wash slow cooker. Turn to high heat.
Add garlic, olive oil, rosemary, lemon juice and veggie stock and whisk with pan juices.
Add butter and stir. Serve.

If you are experiencing any health concerns post pregnancy, please see your doctor.

- Janine Watkins, The Holistic Nutritionist

To connect with Janine, click here to find out more about The Holistic Nutritionist

SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER TO BE THE FIRST TO READ OUR BLOG POSTS, AND TO DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY OF "YOUR NEW MUM CHECKLIST" - All the checklists you'll ever need when planning for baby all in the one place!

Love,
Cathy

 

PREGNANCY YOGA – ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW!

Guest Post - Bettina Rae

Has pregnancy been a bit of a struggle? Sickness? Aches and pains? Uncomfortable? Are you feeling afraid around what is to come?

What if there was a something you could do, today, that would ease all of these things?

Pregnancy yoga is more than just a trend. It’s a practice that can help you to connect with your baby, overcome fears around birth and motherhood, ease the typical aches and pains AND give you the tools to actually enjoy labour and birth.

Sign me up you say?

Awesome. A few things you should know first.

What you need to know about practicing yoga whilst pregnant.

Pregnancy and birth are sacred processes in becoming a mother. Life changing rites of passage. Typically in the West we don’t honour these times of transformation as well as other cultures. We often gift the mother-to-be with everything she will physically need for the baby, when what she really needs is our love , support and wisdom. There is however a growing consciousness around women and the need to return to the ‘village’ approach when birthing and raising children.

The path to motherhood involves every aspect of us as women – it transforms our physical body, our thoughts and our emotions. The way we approach these changes can heavily influence how we feel about ourselves in our new role as a Mother and how we feel about life in general. If we resist or ignore the transformation and continue on as we always have, life becomes a struggle. But if we honour and celebrate these changes it is easier to surrender and embrace our new lives as mothers. By valuing the changes we go through to become a mother we can empower ourselves in this new role.

Pregnancy yoga helps you soften and surrender to the process of becoming a mother and trust that everything will unfold exactly as it should, without needing to control or try to change the process. It is also a beautiful way to grow your own network of women going through the same experience and I thoroughly recommend joining a class if that option is available to you. The connections you make during these classes will be so valuable to you when you are in the depths of your mothering experience. You will NEED the support of other women going through the same experience to cheer you on, and to listen when you need to vent.

You may find the recommendations don’t apply to you every day and some days you feel strong and can do more than others. This is why now more than ever we need to connect mind and body and be aware of the choices we are making, for our safety as well as our babies.

  • adjust poses to accommodate growing belly and changed centre of gravity by widening stance to hip width or wider and not practicing closed twists which constrict the belly.
  • be careful not to overstretch. Hormones are already allowing your ligaments and tendons to relax more than usual.
  • avoid abdominal work that causes strain as you risk causing the abdominal muscle separation to worsen
  • move slowly especially when moving the head from high to low as changing blood pressures may make you feel faint.
  • earn and practice correct alignment of the pelvis to help with back pain, sciatica and instability of the pelvis
  • avoid deep back bends are weakening core muscles mean you do that have the muscle support to practice these poses safely.
  • after the fourth month it is recommended that you do not lie flat on your back as this places pressure on a major artery and can affect blood flow to the baby.
  • avoid overheating by wearing cool clothing and coming to child’s pose to rest when you need
  • when moving in and out of poses, use the arms to support you to avoid straining the core. Eg. rising from lying to sitting

If you’d like to dive straight into a yoga class, try this pregnancy yoga flow for beginners.

Or DOWNLOAD THE FREE ULTIMATE YOGA GUIDE TO PREGNANCY AND BIRTH.

ABOUT BETTINA
Bettina Rae is a yoga teacher, counsellor and Mama to two young boys. She runs an online yoga studio for mothers to help them through pregnancy and birth, to practice yoga at home and to reconnect with themselves after having children. Her active community of women also gather monthly for women's circles (both online and in-person) for yoga, group meditation, healing and sharing their stories. She facilitates the online program; VIVE - 21 lessons to ditch overwhelm, reconnect and truly enjoy motherhood.

Connect with her on her Facebook, Instagram or her website

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Nutrition in Pregnancy

Nutrition Series Part 2

You're pregnant and advice gets thrown at you from every angle.
Whether it be from well meaning friends, family members, or even the person standing behind you in the supermarket queue - everyone has an opinion on what is best for you; which foods to eat, which foods to avoid and which supplements to take.

So with a growing baby and being inundated with advice, where do you even start?

Firstly, lets get back to basics – Your priority is to take care of your own health and that of your baby.

Every woman experiences pregnancy differently. Even if you sail through yours never experiencing morning sickness, constipation, reflux or severe fatigue, that doesn't necessarily mean you are therefore healthier than the pregnant woman who does. You both require a well balanced diet and key nutrients to ensure the increasing demands of your own body and that of your developing baby are met. The nutritional environment in utero is now also thought to play a significant role in the health and disease risk of a child when they reach adulthood.

FIRST TRIMESTER

As mentioned, every woman experiences pregnancy differently, regardless if this is baby number 1 or baby number 5. However, there are common symptoms generally experienced in the first trimester, with varying degrees of mild to moderate severity:
Fatigue (90% experience), nausea (80% experience) and vomiting (50% experience) are the most common symptoms experienced in the first trimester.

DIETARY RECOMMENDATIONS & KEY NUTRIENTS
Ginger has a long history of use in the treatment of nausea during pregnancy. Drinking ginger tea by adding ½ tsp grated ginger steeped in hot water for 5-10 mins, may help to reduce nausea. Ginger is also available in supplementation form. Studies on the safety of ginger in pregnancy, has shown doses of 1000mg/day, to be regarded as safe.
Eating small, frequent meals, to maintain blood glucose levels and also reduce nausea, is often tolerated much easier than 3 large meals a day. Particularly, if experiencing nausea or vomiting.
Folic Acid plays a key role in reducing the risk of neural tube defects, including spina bifida. A folic acid supplement should be taken prior to conception and for the first 3 months of pregnancy. Include dark green, leafy vegetables for sources rich in folate also.

Protein is required not only for the growth of a foetus but also the placenta, uterus and increasing breast and blood cell mass. Sources include chicken, lamb, pork, nuts, eggs.
Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia may occur during pregnancy, due to the body’s increasing demands and inadequate intake of iron rich foods or a woman’s iron status before conception. Anaemia during pregnancy has been associated with low birth weight, premature delivery and may impact brain development and neuro-cognition. Before reaching for an iron supplement, please see your GP. Iron rich foods include red meat, spinach and silverbeet.

FOODS TO AVOID
Strong odours: Avoid any food or drinks with strong odours. These can often trigger nausea.
Raw meats and raw seafood: Oysters, shellfish, sushi, under cooked meats.
Soft Cheese: Camembert, Brie, Ricotta.
Deli Meats: Salami, turkey, ham, pancetta
Eggs: Avoid raw eggs, soft boiled and poached. Ensure eggs are cooked thoroughly.
Processed foods/ High Sugar: Whilst fatigue may leave you craving chocolate or a sugary treat for a pick me up, as your blood sugar crashes, you will be left feeling even more fatigued.
Alcohol: Whilst there is much dispute on this topic, you have a developing foetus, receiving every item of food and drink you consume. You wouldn’t give your 5 year old child a glass of wine so why would you give this to your baby?

SECOND TRIMESTER

By the second trimester, symptoms of fatigue and nausea have generally subsided, due to a decrease in hCG levels and changes in oestrogen and progesterone. An increase in weight gain will also be noticeable and back pain may develop. (For those mothers who are concerned about gaining weight – you will gain weight! This is healthy. What isn’t healthy, is attempting to prevent weight gain in order to have a smaller baby or easier labour. Both untrue!!)

During this trimester, the gums also become spongier and may bleed after brushing. Pregnancy hormones also act to relax the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract; thereby slowing the transit time of food and increasing the chance of constipation. Nasal congestion may also occur due to the effects of increased oestrogen and blood volume. Vaginal secretions will also increase, changing pH levels, leaving you much more susceptible to thrush.

DIETARY RECOMMENDATIONS & KEY NUTRIENTS
Protein: Required for the growth of the baby and the woman’s own requirements.
Vitamin D: Required for normal brain development and structure and for bone growth and mineralization, of the foetus. Our best source of Vitamin D comes from the sun. Aim for 10 mins of exposure a day.
Iron: Demand for iron increases due to increased tissue growth, red blood cell mass and haemoglobin production. Iron stores can be monitored through blood tests and supplementation given where required. Iron rich foods include spinach, silverbeet, red meat.
Vitamin C: Combining Iron and vitamin C rich foods, aids iron absorption. Include berries, lemon, oranges, capsicum and kiwifruit.
Water: Staying hydrated is important for many bodily functions and may help to relieve constipation.
Fibre: Including both soluble and insoluble fibre, may also be beneficial in regulating bowel movements and preventing constipation. Dietary sources include fruit, vegetables, seeds and legumes.

FOODS TO AVOID
Coffee and Tea contain Polyphenols, which inhibit iron absorption. Avoid consuming with iron rich meals.
Raw and undercooked meats, raw seafood, raw and undercooked eggs, deli meats, alcohol.
Sugar/soft drinks/processed foods contribute to thrush, by increasing urinary sugar, which in turn encourages the growth of yeast in the vagina. Please see your Doctor if you are experiencing this.

THIRD TRIMESTER

As you now begin the final trimester of your pregnancy, you not only feel incredibly uncomfortable, you may be experiencing reflux (80% of women experience during pregnancy), hot flushes due to your baby radiating heat, swelling of the ankles, hands and face (resulting from an increase in body fluids and sodium retention) and leg cramps.

DIETARY RECOMMENDATIONS & KEY NUTRIENTS
Magnesium: Studies have shown women who experience pregnancy associated cramps, have lower levels of serum magnesium. Whilst supplementation may be required, dietary sources include green leafy vegetables, avocado, brown rice and bananas.
Essential Fatty Acids: are required for the growth of the brain and eye tissues. Studies have also shown a high intake of EFA’s whilst pregnant, improves motor and cognitive development. Choose salmon, snapper and sardines, which are low in mercury.

FOODS TO AVOID

Avoid chocolate and coffee, which may reduce lower oesophageal sphincter tone, resulting in symptoms of heartburn, acid regurgitation and nausea. Avoid large meal sizes.
Raising the head of the bed, may reduce the risk of stomach acid entering the oesophagus, thereby reducing the risk of reflux and acid regurgitation.
Raw and undercooked meats, raw seafood, raw and undercooked eggs, deli meats, alcohol.

 

If you are experiencing any symptoms during pregnancy that you have concerns about, please see your doctor. If you have been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes or Pre-Eclampsia, a tailored dietary program for additional support may be required.

- Janine Watkins, The Holistic Nutritionist

To connect with Janine, click here to find out more about The Holistic Nutritionist

SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER TO BE THE FIRST TO READ PART 3 OF OUR NUTRITION SERIES: POST NATAL NUTRITION

Love,
Cathy

 

BABY SHOWER TRENDS FOR 2017

Guest Blog Post: Sherise Adkins from Occasionally

Header image via Miss kyree loves

The anticipated arrival of a brand new baby is such a magical time for expectant parents and everyone around them. A baby shower is the perfect chance for everyone to join in the excitement and celebrate this special time for the expectant parents.

Do baby showers still have a place in 2017? I say yes, absolutely!

Do you have to play games and open gifts? Not if you don’t want to!

Baby showers have come a long way over the last few years and are moving towards a more relaxed and refined sophistication. Rules are being broken (in a good way), and new themes and trends are emerging.

If you want to plan a modern, knock your socks off baby shower that the mum-to-be and all of her guests will love, the very first step is to select a theme. Having a theme in mind from the very beginning affords you a cohesive event - from the invitations, which are the guest’s very first impression, down to the favours, which will be the last thing they will remember.

Not to be underestimated, a well picked and executed theme will also give all of the guests and the mum-to-be a sense of excitement and festivity while they are there, leaving a real impact.

If this all sounds hard, rest assured that having a theme in mind will simplify your planning process. It will help you hone in on exactly what you need, and give you a way to filter out everything that it unnecessary. This will save you time and your sanity!

Now for some inspiration! Take a look at these gorgeous themes that you will see trending in 2017.

BOHO FLORAL


- Image via Style Me Pretty -

This is a whimsical baby shower theme that makes for a laid back feel. Team any combination of colourful floral arrangements, lace, floral crown, feathers, succulents, and foliage together. Add an outdoors setting and you’ll have one magical setup!


- Left image via Style Me Pretty | Right image via Pretty My Party -

TROPICAL

The tropical theme is a fresh new trend that your guests will love. With this theme you can create beautiful colour schemes and throw a shower fit for this lovely warm weather we’re having.


- Left image via 100 Layer Cake | Right image via Studio DIY -

BRUNCH WITH GRAZING TABLES


We are going to see baby shower brunches becoming even more popular. Add a delicious grazing table to the mix and you will be very on-trend. Think savoury, fresh or sweet – anything goes!


- Images via Miss kyree loves -

MONOCHROME

The monochrome theme will feature more throughout the year for those who don’t want to go down the traditional route for their baby shower. Monochrome can be sophisticated, playful or non-traditional to easily suit the mum-to-be’s personality.


- Images via Rebecca Judd Loves -

GENDER REVEAL

Gender reveal baby showers are becoming more and more popular. Apart from the excitement of finding out the baby’s gender, what makes them really great is that you can include the Dads and their mates and turn it into a couples baby shower.


- Images via Grey Likes Baby -

By running with one of these themes you really can’t go wrong. Make Mum (and / or Dad) the star and the shower will be perfect!

About the Author
Sherise Adkins is the owner of Occasionally, the Australian curated online marketplace (LAUNCHING SOON) where you can find everything you need to create the perfect occasion - from invitations, partyware and decorations to favours, gifts and more. Occasionally have done the searching for you, handpicked small makers, designers and retailers and brought them together at occasionally.com.au so that all of your occasions will be truly inspired, cohesive, and less stressful. And for a personal shopping experience, once you buy from them, the seller will send your items directly to you.

Head to Occasionally and leave your email addressed to be notified as soon as they launch!

For gorgeous party, event or unique gift giving inspiration make sure you follow them on Instagram and Facebook!

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Love,
Cathy

FERTILITY & THE ROLE OF NUTRITION

Nutrition Series Part 1

My first pregnancy occurred shortly after my husband and I got married, and it was a beautiful and very quick surprise. We were absolutely thrilled and immediately started planning for our new family of three. Sadly for us however, we lost our baby in the early stages of pregnancy. I'll always remember that never-ending moment when my obstetrician was trying to find the heartbeat and couldn't. Our joy turned to grief in that one instant and life as we knew it changed forever.

The shock of our loss led to a very long road of three years of “unexplained infertility”, during which we tried just about everything possible to help us conceive. You name it, we did it. Charting my cycles and taking my temperature every morning, acupuncture and Chinese medicine, reflexology, medication when I was misdiagnosed as having PCOS, fertility massage, vitamin supplements….the list goes on and on.

But it was at the point of finally giving up and booking an appointment with a fertility clinic when we actually conceived. It was just like all the stories you hear about people finally letting go, or deciding to adopt…like all the comments from well-meaning family and friends to “just relax” (which by the way, do NOT help when you’re struggling to conceive, if only it was that easy!!).

But throughout the journey of trying to conceive, the one thing I did focus on which has only had beneficial effects overall, was cleaning up my nutrition, and that of my hubby. It was one thing I could control and helped me stay focused on my dream to have a baby. Funnily enough when I conceived my second child we weren’t even trying to fall pregnant! I certainly wasn’t doing any of the things I’d done the first time around – but I WAS focused on eating as healthily as possible and exercising, mainly because I was just trying to get my pre-baby body back.

So today’s blog is actually Part 1 of a 3 Part Series on Nutrition which has been written for us by our wonderful guest poster Janine Watkins, The Holistic Nutritionist. Janine consults with clients on Pre-conception, Pregnancy and Post Pregnancy Care, as well as Children’s Health, Fatigue, Anxiety and Depression. Part 1 of this series will cover the role of Nutrition for Fertility, and Parts 2 and 3 will focus on Nutrition during Pregnancy and Post Pregnancy. Thank you Janine for being our guest poster!

FERTILITY & THE ROLE OF NUTRITION
Making the decision to start a family, can be one of the most exciting milestones in a couple’s life and whilst falling pregnant can seem easy for some, others will have difficulty, some will experience pregnancy loss and others, multiple miscarriages.

The role nutrition plays in fertility and a healthy pregnancy, should not be underestimated. Whilst women are often perceived as being responsible for the health and growth of a developing fetus, the nutrition status of the male, plays just as an important role.

MEN'S HEALTH
Many factors can be responsible for poor sperm health and their ability to fertilize an egg. This includes hormone imbalance, illness, genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors. Sperm are highly susceptible to oxidative damage, due to their polyunsaturated fatty acid component (40%). This oxidative damage affects sperm motility, membrane fluidity, number and DNA damage; increasing risk of infertility, miscarriage and impaired embryo development.

This is where the role of nutrition has a direct role on the male reproductive system. Men can include foods rich in Selenium, Zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Folic Acid, Omega 3’s and antioxidants for sperm production, protection and quality. These include walnuts, almonds, egg yolk, sunflower seeds, spinach, cabbage, fresh fruit and vegetables, red meats, chicken, oysters, mushrooms.

Also important is maintaining a healthy weight and reducing intake of trans fats, due to their association with decreased sperm quality and cardiovascular health. Trans fats are found in processed foods and many bakery items; pastries, croissants, pies, sausage rolls. Research has shown obesity in men increases risk of infertility due to lower testosterone, sex hormone binding globulin and lowered sperm count.

WOMEN'S HEALTH
Whilst numerous factors also play a role in women’s fertility; age, hormonal imbalances, genetics, thyroid status, Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome and Endometriosis; weight is also a factor. Both those considered underweight and obese, significantly decrease their chances of falling pregnant and carrying full term (Underweight 32% increased risk). Obesity also carries increased risk of miscarriage, birth defects and doubles the risk of gestational diabetes, hypertension and pre-eclampsia. Obesity in women also increases the risk of delivery of infants with a large birthweight, due to reduced insulin sensitivity in the pregnant mother, increasing the availability of glucose to the fetus, which may increase fetal growth.

If you have been diagnosed with a pre-existing medical condition, including PCOS, Endometriosis or obesity, additional nutritional support is required.

So what nutrients are required for fertility and is there such a thing as a fertility diet?
In fact there is. A detailed study conducted over 8 years (The Nurses Study II) examined the diet and lifestyle of 116 000 female nurses and their ability to conceive and produce a healthy baby. Those with a “high fertility score”, ate a diet high in vegetables and fiber and low in trans fats and animal protein.

Other dietary recommendations include:
Eliminate:
Caffeine - linked with endometriosis, alterations in hormone levels and increased conception time. Caffeine also hinders the body’s ability to absorb calcium and iron. Alcohol - increased risk of miscarriage, adverse effects with IVF egg retrieval, impaired sperm motility and lowered sperm counts.
Sugar – Increases risk of gestational diabetes.

Increase intake of foods high in:
Zinc – required for reproduction and ovulation. Deficiency may result in miscarriage, stretch marks, prolonged labour, cracked nipples, congenital malformation and postnatal depression. Foods include brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chicken, turkey, tahini.
Vitamin E – hormone balance, health of ovaries and an antioxidant. Foods include tahini, egg yolks, almonds, sunflower seeds, olives.
Folate – may protect against neural tube defects, spina bifida, required for cell growth and the formation of DNA. Foods include chicken and lamb liver, spinach, cabbage, chives, watercress, hazelnuts, limes.

Whilst there is no magic food in particular that will guarantee falling pregnant, a well balanced diet with key nutrients, will support the reproductive system in both partners and during pregnancy.

MANAGING STRESS
Difficulty conceiving often increases levels of stress but stress has been shown to decrease sperm quality and chances of conceiving, increases blood pressure and in severe cases, the risk of miscarriage.
When planning for pregnancy, ensuring adequate time to implement dietary changes and lifestyle advice should be followed; a minimum of 3 months. Eating a balanced diet provides nutrients for both reproductive and overall health. Numerous factors play a role in fertility for both men and women and seeking the advice of your GP is always recommended

- Janine Watkins, The Holistic Nutritionist

To connect with Janine, click here to find out more about The Holistic Nutritionist

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Love,
Cathy

 

BREASTFEEDING TIPS & FREE NEW BABY CHECKLIST

“Happy mummy, happy baby” - I’m a passionate believer in this mantra. I for one am totally pro-breastfeeding but I also believe that Fed is Best and that every mama needs to do what’s right for her and her bub, whether that be breastfeeding or formula feeding. But working that out as a new mum is easier said than done, especially when you have the crazy hormones and mama guilt to add to the mix!

How I would feed wasn’t really even on the radar during my first pregnancy. Most of my focus went into the kind of birth I wanted (which I didn’t get... but that’s another blog post!), decorating his nursery, choosing countless adorable outfits and making sure I had all the essentials. I did endless research on finding the perfect pram and car seat and had everything set to go for his arrival. I’d read the most popular parenting books, seen most of my friends have babies and thought I was as prepared as I could be. (I was also adamant he wouldn’t watch a screen for the first 3 years of his life – ha, I really had no idea!)

I planned to breastfeed and that was that. It looked easy enough and seemed to be the most natural thing on earth. I had my breastpump and a few bottles ready (so hubby could do some feeds), breastpads, feeding bras and lanolin cream. Ready to go.

But oh the PAIN!!! The toe curling, every-single-muscle-in-my-sore-body-clenched-in-agony pain!! What the hell was that about? It made the recovery of my last minute c-section feel like an absolute walk in the park! Before I’d even been discharged I ended up hooked to a hospital grade pump to give my boobs a rest because they were actually bleeding. I still remember being horrified to see blood in my son’s mouth. And wow, the engorgement. At one point I think each boob was actually bigger than my head. Yup, here’s the photographic evidence:

I don’t think I’d be exaggerating in saying that for me, it was probably the single most difficult thing I had to cope with in the early days of being a new mum. But I persevered, despite having to deal with a poor latch, flat nipples, thrush, blisters and blebs, and a baby that was a complete and utter milk-sucking barracuda. I used to dread each painful feed. I remember sitting on the couch one night in guilty tears after sending my hubby to the shops to buy formula, but then being unable to give it to my son due to the guilt. My hubby thought I was crazy. I was crazy. Crazy on pain, lack of sleep and guilt for not being able to do this most natural of things and feed my baby! And yet despite all this he was happily gaining weight and that kept me going. But it took almost 8 weeks before we finally managed to feed pain free.

I think it’s super important to talk about the fact that breastfeeding can be unbelievably hard and that it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. I wished the midwives had talked about this in our antenatal classes. I wish I’d been a little more prepared. In the end my breastfeeding journey with my son ended around 6 months due to some other medical issues and by then we were already combination feeding. But with my daughter I knew what was coming. I asked for help early and we managed to successfully breastfeed for almost a year before she decided she’d had enough one morning and that was that. But that’s just my daughter, headstrong and already knowing what she wanted at that age!

So at this juncture I’d like to introduce our guest poster, the lovely Jessica McCarroll. Jess is the owner of First in Breast Dressed, one of the boutiques here at The Nursery Collective and her passion is “supporting Mumkind, one feed at a time”. She’s also a second-time Mum and we’ve asked her to share what she would have told her first-time Mum self about breastfeeding. We hope you enjoy her tips!

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BREASTFEEDING: Tips from a second time Mum

"Firstly I would tell myself to stop and smell the roses and chill the fridge out! Hindsight is a wonderful thing and here are some of my hints and tips for breastfeeding success now that I’m a second-time Mum.

Milk doesn’t make milk. Water makes milk
There are many old wives’ tales out there about increasing your milk supply and believe me I’ve tried them all! I absolutely believe that Placenta pills (yes I had my placenta encapsulated), Lactation Cookies and Nursing Tea have helped my milk supply this time around. There is one thing that the experts all agree on, however, drink as much water as you can! Trick yourself into doing so by any means needed. For me, that meant ditching the bottled supermarket water and treating myself to an awesome re-usable drink bottle. The breastfeeding Mum needs more hydration than the average woman. The exact amount is up for debate, but as a general guide 3L per day is going to get you there. If you are dehydrated, it is much harder for your body to function including producing milk. So get drinking!

Relax
How easy does that sound? But really no matter how many times you have contorted yourself into every uncomfortable position known to man, the best way to get that milk flowing is to relax. Sitting up not your thing? Feed your bub in side lying. Feeding not going amazingly? Try reclining in your feeding chair or lounge and let bubba do the work. I have seen some amazing videos about the ‘breast crawl’. These little creatures that you now call your own will not willingly starve themselves and it is inherent in their nature to find the breast. Ever wondered why your areolas and nipples become darker? It is literally to help babies find their ‘target’. Laid back nursing or biological nurturing was always the most successful way for me to feed my first born. Remember this is a skill you are both learning together, it takes time, practice and above all patience.

Seek Professional Advice: STAT
Did you know there is a difference between a Lactation Consultant and an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)? I do, because I want to become one and my goodness there is a lot of work that goes into becoming an IBCLC. Entrust your breasts to the best! Explore your options, even if you are feeling house bound and unable to get to an appointment, some IBCLCs offer Skype consults. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In the same token damage to your nipples should be looked at ASAP. Use nipple cream and fresh air to help heal and pre – cooled hydrogel discs to ease the pain. Then book yourself into your local Women’s Health physiotherapist for laser treatment. Laser works by stimulating healing to the area, and can improve pain even after just one treatment. Most public hospitals have a Women’s Health physiotherapist, otherwise there are more and more private practices with Women’s Health as their specific focus.

From me to you, these are my top three pieces of breastfeeding wisdom."

As another second-time Mum I totally agree with the tips Jess has shared. The game changer for me was seeking professional help. I waited almost 6 weeks with my first, however with my second I saw an IBCLC at the hospital and organised a few follow ups in the first 2 weeks. Experimenting with positioning was also key – the rugby hold was my saviour in the early days and as my daughter got older she liked to sit on my lap legs astride and have both boobs on offer, having little sips between both until she got her full feed, the little monkey! I also had less mum-guilt the second time around and told myself that I wouldn’t beat myself up about it if we ended up bottle feeding and that in itself made things easier.

Jessica is offering all our readers a 10% discount on her fabulous products! Just enter TNC10 at check out. You can shop First in Breast Dressed HERE on the directory.

SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER TO RECEIVE JESSICA'S TOP 5 NEW BABY CHECKLIST: (available to all subscribers for one month from posting date)

I hope this blog post has given you some insight and I sincerely hope that you may be one of those lucky mums who has no problems at all and doesn’t feel one iota of pain! It is possible! But if you’re not, being prepared for what lies ahead is half the battle won, and both Jess and I wish you every success in your feeding journey.

Remember – Fed is Best, and a happy mummy equals a happy baby.

Love,
Cathy x

You can shop our Feeding Essentials section HERE

 

 

 

 

 

DRESSING YOUR BUMP

Spotlight Blog Post - Lisa from Bump Style

Most maternity dresses are marketed as clothing that can be worn through all stages of pregnancy and post pregnancy. In some cases that may be true, but for many of us, our body shape changes so much during this time that it won't be as simple as one dress does all. Something that is flattering when your bump is small may not be so flattering (or comfortable) when you are at full term. There is also the need for easy access during the nursing period and the desire to hide the belly that hasn't yet disappeared.

Here is a quick guide on how to dress your bump during the various stages of growing and nurturing your little one while keeping in mind comfort and style:

FIRST TRIMESTER
This is the stage where you are most likely hiding your bump until you get the all clear at the 13 week scan. For most women, you can get away with wearing regular clothing so long as it’s not body con. For me the only additions to my wardrobe at this time were maternity jeans that sat lower than my regular jeans. Loose tops and flowy dresses are the best option to cater for your tiny bump.

SECOND TRIMESTER
You've got the all clear from the obstetrician and this is where you start to show and you are comfortable announcing your pregnancy. For me, my bump was most often mistaken for overindulgence at lunchtime rather than a little bubba during the second trimester. So wearing anything tight fitting was not an option.
At this stage, stick to maternity clothing that will fall over your bump and help define the gap between your breasts and your belly. Wrap dresses and empire waists are very flattering during this trimester.
I love the Mynt 1792 Wrap Dress because you can adjust the wrap and change where you place the tie to sit above your belly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another great choice is the Camilla and Marc Cocktail dress with an empire waist and pleats that will fall over your growing bump. If you are a petite girl, you can move straight to the body con stage as it will be obvious early that your bump is not from too many cheeseburgers.

 

 

 

 

 

 
THIRD TRIMESTER
You are into the final stretch and you are starting to glow. Your hair is thick and shiny, your skin is clear and people are always asking when are you due, This is also the stage where clothing starts to get uncomfortable if you are wearing buttons or zips and you don't want to look bigger than you already feel. This is the time to ditch the flowy fabrics and embrace form fitting stretchy materials.

My go to during the 3rd trimester was the maxi dress as it was the height of summer and my little incubator had me sweating. The Isabella Oliver Maxi Dress was stylish, comfortable (no zips or buttons) and kept me as cool as possible. I could also hide my hobbit feet!

 

 

 

 

 

POST PREGNANCY
If you are like me, I was lucky to get out of my PJ's most days after my son was born... But I did have my niece's wedding to go to, so finding something that didn't bother my c-section scar, hid my swollen belly and allowed easy access for nursing was not the easiest of tasks. If I had my time again, I would recommend to myself a wrap dress or a specially designed nursing dress that gives you easy access.

My top choice in nursing dresses are the Naomi or April Nursing Dress by Tiffany Rose. Both have a tie waist that can be adjusted to suit your changing waist and have an easy lift panel to allow you to discreetly nurse your bubba.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Lisa! To connect with and find out more about Bump Style and their amazing collection of Maternity and Post Pregnancy dresses for hire CLICK HERE

And don't forget to check out Bump Style on social media: Facebook and Instagram

Based in Melbourne, Lisa is a single Mum to her 11 month old son Finn

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And if you're a new or pregnant mama, please join our FB support group Find Your Village

With love
Cathy x

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HYPNOBIRTHING

Guest Post - Kerry Sutcliffe, The Hypnobirthing Mum

As a pregnant woman hopefully you are feeling excited about the upcoming birth of your baby but you may also feel nervous, worried or even fearful of childbirth. We often hear how painful or scary birth is from TV, movies or from family and friends, but what if you were told it doesn’t have to be this way? What if you could give birth in a calm, positive and empowering manner! Well hypnobirthing can help you achieve this!

WHAT IS HYPNOBIRTHING?
Hypnobirthing is an approach to birth that prepares the mother, baby and birth partner towards a positive birthing experience.

The hypnotherapy aspect of hypnobirthing concentrates on eliminating any fears we associate with birth in order to break the fear-tension-pain cycle. Alongside the self-hypnosis skills that hypnotherapy teaches, techniques including relaxation, breathing and visualisation are also incorporated so that both the psychological and physical elements of birth are covered. These techniques are designed to reduce the level of stress hormones and act as natural pain-relieving methods in order to achieve a calmer, gentler birth. In fact, did you know that endorphins which are a hormone naturally released by a woman during birth is up to 40 times more powerful than morphine – and hypnobirthing can show you how to condition yourself to release these!

WHAT ARE THE OTHER BENEFITS OF A HYPNOBIRTHING APPROACH TO BIRTH? 
Hypnobirthing is viewed by some as an unscientific or hippie-like thing to do. However, a recent study evidenced a range of benefits from this type of approach to birth, which showed advantages to both mother and baby including:

• Significantly reduced rates of epidurals and caesarean births
• Less perineal trauma
• Shorter second stage of labour
• Shorter hospital stay following birth
• Reduced need for pharmacological interventions
• Decreasing the fear associated with childbirth
• Less likelihood of newborn requiring resuscitation

So hands up who would like a birth like this!!!

WHEN SHOULD YOU DO HYPNOBIRTHING? 
Pregnant women can attend hypnobirthing classes, such as those run by The Hypnobirthing Mum, at any point during your pregnancy. The ideal time is between 20-30 weeks so that you have time to practice the techniques and alter your mindset towards one that views birth in a more confident manner, however with the right level of determination and enthusiasm a mother can attend anytime up to 37 weeks.

WHAT IF THINGS DON'T GO ACCORDING TO PLAN?
Sometimes there are special circumstances that mean you may not have the birth you wished for - but hypnobirthing mums are great at managing this! Mums who undertake hypnobirthing classes are provided with information regarding the choices they have during birth, giving them the comprehensive knowledge needed to make informed decisions about their birthing experience. When you are informed and educated you are more able to make good, considered decisions about changes to your birth preferences (should the need arise) during your birth.

Hypnobirthing mums and birth partners are prepared to calmly manage whatever path their birth takes and can positively approach any given situation ensuring they know that they gave their baby the best possible birth from the circumstances they were given. There is even a course from Hypnobirthing Australia™ specifically designed for caesarean births!

When a mother and her birth partner can approach childbirth feeling prepared with the right knowledge, information and tools this results in a positive and confident mindset that can lead to the beautiful births that so many women hope for – and which CAN be achieved!

About the author
Kerry Sutcliffe is a Certified Hypnobirthing Practitioner and Childbirth Educator (HPCE) based in Sydney. She is a hypnobirthing mum to 3 gorgeous children – Hollie, Bethany and Jack – and doing a hypnobirthing course was “without doubt the best thing I did to prepare for birth and welcome them into the world!” Three calm and positive birth experiences led her to being a passionate advocate for this approach to birth and she now runs ‘The Hypnobirthing Mum’ where she delivers the Hypnobirthing Australia™ programmes to pregnant women and their birth partners. Kerry loves teaching this approach to other women and would love to hear from you if you are interested in hypnobirthing so that you too can start your journey towards a wonderful and beautiful way to meet your baby!

Connect with Kerry here:
Website
Facebook
Instagram

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BABY TRAVEL TIPS!

Guest Blog Post - Eva from Tree Hut Village

I used to fly a lot as part of my corporate life and I was never afraid of flying. Especially not of short trips to Sydney or Adelaide (by the way Adelaide is seriously underrated – it’s the city I secretly have a crush on).  Since quitting my job and having a baby I’ve stayed home a lot more and for some weird reason I’ve started to become scared of flying. When I’m scared I need to be prepared (ask me about what I’ve done for labour prep...).

I read about this lady who travelled the globe with her baby and I have never been more in awe of someone’s achievements  than when I heard about her. The sleep deprivation, the lack of routine, the sourcing of food – I thought it would be all too overwhelming. Danielle from “Bubs on the Move” recently wrote a blog post about flying with kids and she mentioned that it is exhausting but you’ll be exhausted anyway so why not on holiday. Fair point.

So we travelled and I like to be prepared. I read a lot of blogs and seriously overpacked my hand luggage. I HATE flying with lots of luggage so travelling with a bub wasn’t on the top of my favourite things to do. We flew from Melbourne to Sydney (baby was 4 months), Melbourne to Auckland (5 months), Melbourne to Hamilton Island (5 months), Melbourne to Munich (10 months), Munich to La Palma (10 months) and back of course.  From all of this flying I have the following tips for fellow parents who are travelling with one baby (if you travel with more than one let me know how you handle it – you have hero status in my books).

1. Try not to pack too much into your hand luggage
I packed for every single possibility and ended up forgetting a sleeping bag, a book and almost my mobile phone and glasses on a few planes. Plus, lugging it all around is a nightmare.  I don’t even want to mention screening points – I might have had a meltdown on my trip to Europe (travelling solo..). It took forever to unpack it, push it through x-ray and I didn’t know that you had to take off the carrier too. Where’s my additional set of hands?? It pushed me over the edge – if I was failing at the first hurdle how was I going to cope with the whole flight??

2. Let your baby suck on something during take-off and more importantly during landing
It will help to prevent ear pain. Use a dummy, boob, bottle or even your finger – anything works as long as they are sucking on it for the entire time of the descent. I’ve always made the mistake of starting too early and by the time we were into the landing he was over it..  Not helpful!

3. Take a stroller that you can put into the overhead compartment or take a carrier
I love baby carriers and I’ve taken it everywhere. My little one couldn’t really sleep in it during the flight but at least I had my hands free when walking through the airport. A stroller would have been a godsend when I was travelling by myself. It’s either that or taking less carry on.

4. If your baby is less than a year old take a feeding pillow
Yes, very bulky but worth it. My baby slept the whole time on that feeding pillow (V-Shaped pillows worked best, as they prevented him from being too uncomfortable when lying on the arm rests).

5. Take your own food
They say they carry baby food but it’s really only those purees in jars. Your baby might want more. I recommend the pouches you can get and perhaps some rice crackers. Also, best thing I’ve done was bake savoury muffins to take with me (check below to get the recipe).

6. Don’t worry about liquids so much
If you have a baby you are allowed to take liquids with you within reason and if it's clearly baby related.

7. Take some toys
This is obvious but take a few toys and preferably ones that don’t make any noise. That’s a tough one I know but a mirror works wonders. Also an all-time favourite: water bottles. Babies love them.

8. Beware of baby’s leaky water bottle
We all love our babies’ water bottles. Whatever your favourite one is – take it with you. One thing you should be aware of is that water bottles often leak when you’re on a plane because of the change in pressure – even the most awesome ones have leaked. Put them in a plastic bag so that you don’t ruin your bag’s contents like I did.

9. Be friendly
Strangers love babies. I made lots of new “friends” and your little one will love the interaction with other passengers. It passes time and you get to talk about a few interesting things with interesting people. Embrace it.

10. Book a night flight
If you can – book a night flight. Especially for long haul flights. The more active your little baby is the more grateful you will be for longer stretches of baby sleep. You might not sleep but as mums and dads we are used to that anyway right

11. Take additional documents for identification
If you are travelling solo and your partner / your baby doesn’t have the same citizenship/passport as you take the birth certificate and also a letter, signed by your partner, that it is ok to take the kid overseas without him / her. You might be able to leave Australia but you might have some issues getting into another country which is a hassle you don’t want after flying for 20 hours

12. Flight attendants are awesome
Really there is not much more to be added here. They are so lovely and helpful and you will get an extra blanket and some extra care because of your little one. If not from them then definitely from other passengers.

13. Other passengers
Don’t worry. Babies cry and everyone knows that. I know it’s stressful when your baby cries. I get so frazzled! You are well prepared. As you know your baby is either hungry, tired or bored.. You’ve got this – your baby will stop. A few cuddles, distractions and it will be ok. If nothing works walk up and down the aisle. One word is to be said here for all mums who are still breastfeeding – it’s pretty much the silver bullet. It worked every single time.

14. Be prepared for things to happen
My little one knocked his lip on a table one hour before departing to Europe. He bled like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I honestly can say this was the worst part of our whole trip. I looked away for one second and then I heard him cry. I applied some pressure and made sure he was ok. The bleeding stopped and we went on the plane. At least it took my attention away from being nervous about the flight and he was giggling minutes afterwards (phew).

15. Take it slowly
I’m a 24/7 sort of person. I don’t sit down – much to the dismay of my husband. Relaxing is hard for me and I usually want to go and see 10 places in 7 days. Allow yourself to relax for a few days before getting stuck into your travel plans. Your baby will be grateful for it and so will you. Sleep deprivation is always hard but with a baby and jetlag on top it’s a nightmare. Get adjusted and then go for it and keep exploring these new countries!

I have written a list of things to pack in your carry-on luggage along with  my savoury muffin recipe for long haul flights. Head on over to TREE HUT VILLAGE, register and I’ll email you the file.

Enjoy travelling with your little one. It’s a lot of fun. Please share your story with us.,I would love to hear how it all went for you. Short trip or long trip? Near or far? Let me know!

Merry Christmas and I hope your travels bring you closer to your loved ones.
Eva x

To connect with and find out more about Tree Hut Village and their amazing parent-to-parent community that provides a secure and reliable way to lend and borrow baby equipment, CLICK HERE

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Find Your Village - a community for new Mamas x

Hey Mamas,

When I wrote my original blog post "Finding Your Village as a New Mum" the spark of an idea was lit. As a new mum I had spent a lot of time late at night browsing the net, trying to research the various problems I was facing with a newborn. Luckily for me, the nature of the expat community I live in meant a lot of other new mamas were doing the same, and we were able to support each other virtually through various Facebook groups and forums. I was also amazingly lucky to have a solid support network of friends in "real life" but I also became incredibly close to some virtual friends I made on these groups.

In this spirit, I've started a new Facebook group called Find Your Village - a community for new and pregnant mamas to find support, give each other advice, ask questions, vent away and most importantly, feel safe doing so. Sometimes we also want to remain anonymous but still reach out, so we have "Village Posts" where we can post on behalf of those wanting to post anonymously.

So if you are a new or pregnant mama, please join our tribe over on Facebook and "find your village". We hope you can make some real and lasting connections during this incredible stage in your life.

HERE'S THE LINK - JOIN US!

If you haven't already done so, don't forget to sign up to our Nursery Collective mailing list so you can be the first to hear about our blog posts, as well as receive any special offers.

Please feel free to share this post and the group with any other mamas or mamas-to-be in your life.

With love
Cathy x