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What is a Doula? A Doula provides emotional and physical support to mothers and families during their pregnancy and birth journey. A Dou...

Sunday, 31 July 2016

SUPERMUM SMOOTHIE

SUPERMUM SMOOTHIE

Because Mums deserve the best


For all of those Mummies out there who need a bit of love or a pick-me-up this one is for you!


This is a cruelty free smoothie I designed for mums who need a bit of love or a pick-me-up. It is great at breakfast or for an afternoon boost- or both!

*Hot tip- it tastes even better if someone makes it for you!




This Supermum smoothie is designed to help keep busy mums healthy and full. All of the ingredients pack a punch with plenty of B vitamins, dietary fibre, iron, calcium, antioxidants, magnesium, omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin C just to name a few!

Supermum Smoothie Recipe

Quantity:
2 Large Serves

Ingredients:
1/3 Cup LSA (Also used in Lactation Bliss Balls recipe) 
1/3 Cup Pitted Dates
1/2 Tbsp Coconut Oil 
2 Cups Berries (I used frozen raspberries)
1 Banana
1 Handful of Baby Spinach 
1/2 Avocado
2 Cups chilled Coconut Water

Method:
  1. Blend LSA and Pitted Dates on high for 20 seconds or until blended.
  2. Add all other ingredients and mix on high for 2 minutes until all ingredients are emulsified.
  3. Serve!

Tips:
  • 2 minutes seems like a long time to combine ingredients but the result is a much better consistency if you stick with it.
  • You can freeze some of the mixture into an icecube tray to add to other smoothies. 
  • For a cool, thick consistency use frozen fruit or add an extra half a cup of ice.
  • Store LSA in the fridge.
  • For even more mummy goodness try adding a probiotic caspule.
  • If you're looking to impress, I used a pastry brush to paint Golden Syrup around the lip of a Mason jar and sprinkled over Chia seeds. I then topped the smoothie with Coconut Flakes.

Enjoy!


Tuesday, 19 July 2016

10 THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR PLACENTA

POST-BIRTH OPTIONS: YOUR PLACENTA PLANNING GUIDE

The placenta is often viewed as an unpleasant albeit necessary part in the pregnancy and birth process. On first inspection it can even elicit feelings of shock or disgust. 

But things aren't always what they appear to be- and that bloody, vein covered placenta? It is amazing.

What if I told you that the placenta actually forms during the very beginning stages of cell division?  Some cells divide to become your baby, and the other cells go on to form the placenta.

Take a moment to consider all of what it has done for your baby. Delivering nutrients and filtering out unwanted wastes, delivering hormones. The placenta is attached to both mother and baby in the most basic, beautiful, reciprocal relationship. It is the baby's lifeline. 

The branch-like appearance of the veins has inspired images of the placenta being likened to the tree of life. 

Your placenta has been what your baby has first touched, a soft, warm, tactile comfort that it has known and grown with since your baby's very existence.

OK AWESOME: you know how incredible the placenta is... now what to do with it?

Options:

1. Eat it: There is speculation that immediate consumption of placenta, and/or chewing on the umbilical cord, results in less blood-loss immediately postpartum.  This option is sometimes recommended immediately after the placenta has been delivered.

Alternatively, you could cut a slice off and make it into a smoothie. Any way you like your smoothies- just pop a bit in for a nutritious boost (If giving birth in a hospital you may like to organise a (really good) friend, family member or doula to take some of the placenta home and prepare and bring the smoothie back to the hospital). 

2. Encapsulate it:
there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that consumption of the placenta leads to less postpartum anxiety/depression, increases milk supply, stabilises mood swings and is overall amazing. And it's almost impossible to distinguish from its original form in those lovely little capsules so.... bottoms up!?

3. Print it:
You can D.I.Y. this or leave it in the hands of the professionals. There are birth-centric Doulas and artists out there who will creatively print your placenta onto paper for you to frame. So why not decorate your baby's room with a likeness of it's previous womb-mate?!

4. Take it Home and Bury it:  If the thought of eating something that was once half of your baby's first cells puts you off, but you want to thank that beautiful placenta for sustaining your baby's pre-natal life, consider taking it home and burying it. This is actually also appropriate disposal of the placenta for a variety of cultural and religious groups. 

Keeping placenta buried close to baby is also meant to create a feeling of well-being and good attachment for the baby.

5. Make a Homeopathic Tincture: This is cool because it can literally last a life-time. Once you have the 'mother tincture' it can be used to create an ongoing supply. In a nutshell the placenta/cord is added to an alcoholic solution (e.g. Brandy). A drop is then taken from this mixture and added to a smaller bottle (1/100 drop ratio) and succussed (tapped/shaken). This is then repeated again and again- the shaking of the smaller bottle is repeated, the stronger the remedy is said to become (here is a more detailed explanation).

People use these tinctures in times of stress/anxiety/unrest to remind their child of the closeness and bond that was shared with their mother in the womb. A sort of bringing-back-to-family tonic. It can also be done with just the cord, which is great if you want to combine it with the other options.  

6. Make Jewellery: There are women who, if you send them a capsule or three of your placenta will create the most beautiful rings and charms for you to wear your baby's placenta with you. If you are worried that this is a little unusual never fear, no-one else has to know why your jewellery is so gorgeous if you don't want them to. 

7. Make a Dream Catcher: This combines the assumed protective power of that life-bringing placenta, with the Native American practice of creating dream-catchers to ward off bad dreams. Basically the cord is shaped and then wrapped in wool/silk to form the outer circle. These can be truly beautiful to look at too.

8. Make Umbilical Cord Art: While it is soft you can create a word/shape with the cord and then dry it out so that it retains this shape. This service can also be done by professionals.

9. Practise Lotus Birth: Another practice that has a lot of symbolic meaning is to leave the placenta and cord attached to the baby until it falls off naturally. Women chose to do this as a way of letting nature take its course. Should you wish to do this you would need to salt the placenta, sometimes with herbs. You would also need a bag to keep it in and make sure that it dries in an appropriate position for changing and bathing (Sarah Buckley gives an in-depth introduction to Lotus Birth here).

10. Do Nothing: You have to deliver it (here is an excellent article on the third-stage of labour) - but after that, if you don't want to ever see it you don't have to. The hospital will take it and most likely incinerate it.

Also known as standard procedure- it's the less romantic option- but I'm sure it's appealing to some.

Bonus option: 
Take some photos: then send it on its merry way to the incinerator.


There you have it! Now all you have to do is make the decision.



Sunday, 3 July 2016

POST-NATAL EXPRESSION- THE ART OF 'LEANING IN' TO EMOTIONS

What's a postpartum mum to do when emotions take charge?



Knowing what is happening physically during the immediate postpartum period provides an insight to what is happening emotionally.
 
Your body has physically been stretched to its limits over the past nine months, growing and sustaining precious life.  Just when pregnancy is getting physically overwhelming you give birth to your baby. Here is where your hormones peak- and as they fluctuate on their way back down, they take your emotions with them on a roller coaster ride.

You might be feeling exhausted, exhilarated, amazed, on a high, in love, robbed, stricken, in shock; everything and anything possibly all at once like you have never experienced before. To add to this, you will be experiencing lochia (postpartum bleeding), you might have major surgery to recover from, stitches that are healing, be experiencing after birth pains, your breasts may be tender and sore, your arms may be so heavy with weariness from what you have experienced.

Hormones are flooding your system. Three common hormonal influences include oxytocin (the love hormone), adrenalin (think fight or flight) and prolactin (the milk maker).  Many women report not being able to sleep for the first night after delivering their baby- even though it is typically the time when a baby sleeps for a longer stretch- you can likely thank your adrenalin for that. Adrenalin is not all bad though- it is wonderful for exhausted mums who need a surge of energy during the second (pushing) stage of labour.

Then your oxytocin will fill your heart and body with love like you never knew existed and you think you might just burst. As the oxytocin levels decrease you are effectively withdrawing from that intense state, leaving you feeling emotionally raw and in the depths of emptiness.

On the heels of oxytocin's decline, prolactin levels increase, which, as the name suggests helps with lactation. It also helps to gear a mother's actions towards protecting her baby. The increased instinct to protect a baby in breastfeeding mothers means that they are roughly twice as aggressive as bottle feeding mothers (think mumma bear effect).

Is it really any wonder then, with all the fear, love, joy hate, desperation, determination, and deprivation (sleep) that a new mother has the need to express these feelings? The expression of this depth of emotion is unpredictable, but the inevitability of strong emotions should be expected and prepared for.

'Lean in' to these huge emotions often expressed in the form of crying, yelling or strong feelings of helplessness and/or joy.  Open yourself to really feel the pain or happiness or fear- push the feeling further. Be in the moment, accept it for what it is and feel with intention and awareness what your body, mind and spirit are telling you that you need to express.

Here is a strategy that may help you 'lean in' to your post-partum emotions (you may find other strategies that work for you):

  1. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and imagine your breath moving to the part of your body where you physically feel that you are experiencing this emotion (e.g. heart, stomach, chest)
  2. Name the emotion (e.g. I am feeling sad) and then tell yourself that it is OK to be feeling this way (e.g. I am feeling sad and I'm going to let myself feel sad. I don't need a reason to be feeling this way at the moment. It's OK. I am just going to feel it)
  3. After the main emotion has subsided, count (mentally or out loud) to ten to re-centre yourself. If you can't make it to ten, maybe there is still some residual emotion to address

By doing this, rather than opening Pandora's box of emotions, you are using them, feeling them, relieving the need to express them in other ways. In other words, you are avoiding repressing them.

Repressing emotions is culturally typical and often deeply ingrained in both a mothers psyche and in those surrounding her. This can make experimenting with such a depth of emotion an awkward, uncomfortable or even scary experience. It is beneficial for the post-partum mother to be surrounded by people she can trust and express her emotions in the presence of. Planning prenatally to include only people you feel emotionally safe with during the first few days and weeks post-partum can assist in creating your safe space for post-natal expression.