As I sit here in the early days with my third baby girl, just 11 days old, breastfeeding is second nature by now. The familiar sound of her cooing and sucking, the subtle sound of her drinking, reassuring me that she has latched on correctly. Gazing at her as she slowly dozes off into the milk drunk state that provides such comfort and nourishment for her.
I’m a passionate advocate for breastfeeding, and I love helping women get off to a good start with their bubs. I actively aim to educate about the benefit for both mum and baby. It’s undeniably the best way to nourish not only our children but also our bodies.
THE BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING
The benefits are seemingly endless. From better bone health, lower breast cancer risk, to easier weight loss and strong mother-baby bonding. And just quietly the ‘mechanics’ of milk production, it’s ingredients from immune modulation to nutrient supply to microbiome development – the intricate communication that the saliva and sucking of the baby sent to the milk production. Things that ‘just’ happen without our attention at all. Magic I say.
IN HONOUR OF WORLD BREASTFEEDING WEEK
I marvel on the magical mystery that breastfeeding is and the empowered feeling when solely one’s breast milk nurtures, strengthen and comforts a baby for six months until solids. I sit here with poor posture and a sore lower back in the dark hours of the night feeding hour after hour, drowsing in and out of sleep and scrunching up my face in discomfort as I get the let-down and my milk comes into my breasts like tiny little pinching needles. It’s not all a joy ride – but it truly is magical. And I got thinking.
This is an easy and helpful remedy to make at home when your kids are feeling unwell. This is using food as medicine and you are supporting your child’s natural immune defence by giving them this. I find it works so well when given at the early signs of an infection.
See the video below for my Manuka immune syrup with garlic and onion.
A lot of women go on the pill or other medical birth control at a young age due to irregular, heavy, or uncomfortable periods, and of course to avoid falling pregnant. It is considered normal and very convenient, and it very often ‘fixes’ (simply masking the symptoms and not addressing the real cause) all the symptoms just mentioned. Years go by and eventually women start to think about the idea of wanting babies, or ponder on the effects of being on the pill for so long, often 10+ years. But most medical advice will say it is perfectly safe, and recommend women come off it when they want to start a family.
The thing about this over simplification of taking the pill, ‘fixing’ menstrual problems, preventing pregnancies, and never thinking twice about it is that it’s not a great idea for women’s health! Many women accept the side effects of the pill (moodiness, weight gain, mild or no periods, depression, to just mention a few) because it’s considered normal, and it’s perhaps easier to deal with these side effects than dealing with the real problems they have during their periods. I understand the attraction of birth control, but I have seen too many problems with them, and I have to say that not addressing the underlying problem with a woman’s cycle in the first place is very often going to have a negative ripple effect in the long run, and in several areas of a woman’s health.
Most of us have a love/hate relationship with bread and other wheat products. On one hand, we enjoy these wheat foods (and other gluten containing grains) but on the other hand we often notice we feel sluggish, bloated and flatulent, or worse, after eating them. What I have noticed over the years is that most people will talk about bread and gluten products (pasta/couscous/biscuits etc) as a naughty addiction and something they love but often makes them feel uncomfortable and ‘fat’.
I am absolutely with you on these feelings and in fact, I was exactly the same for years. I would occasionally (sometimes often) indulge in pasta dishes and sandwiches but the bloated stomach and foggy mind the following day was always ‘a pain in my neck’ and I would then avoid all wheat and gluten products for days or weeks. Then the cycle would go on and I would ‘need’ to have a wheat-fix again, and on and on it went.
Coffee contains antioxidants and phytochemicals that help protect the body from cardiovascular disease and some types of cancers. Additionally, the chemical compound, caffeine, in coffee is what we really tend to enjoy.
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and metabolism, which can help improve concentration, reduce fatigue and depression and may speed up fat metabolism. Green coffee beans that are young and unroasted contain higher concentrations, compared to the regular roasted coffee containing chlorogenic acid, the chemical that stimulates metabolism and acts as a strong antioxidant as well.
So overall, when used in moderation, coffee can provide antioxidants, improve alertness and assist in weight loss.
Sugar: our body’s most vital food group needed for brain function. With modern life, it has become the source of our greatest misery. Sugar is our number one most socially accepted drug; we are addicted to it and are suffering silently.
Unless you are already on a mission to eat only whole foods, I can almost guarantee that you have a sugar addiction that is quietly thriving inside you on a cellular level, and you don’t even know it.
Motherhood and sugar is a friendship hard to break. I have personally fallen into sugar’s inviting, warming, no-questions-asked bosom (You can read more about my personal journey which very much consisted of quick fixes and sugary foods). It feels good and oh so right. Until it doesn’t, and my body is yelling at me to please snap out of this; time and time again, I pull myself out of the sticky addiction. And I always swear never to look back…
With these fairly simple tricks you can stay looking vibrant and have long lasting energy, something all us mums are pretty keen on right!? It does take daily commitment if you want it to be natural and fundamentally healthy, which I hope you do. I know you already have plenty to attend to, but I would love for you to prioritize your health – and with a little practice you can weave it into your daily routine so you don’t even think about doing it.
When we have babies of our own, our lives and needs get kicked to the curb from one moment to the next… Your needs, your personal time, your sleep, your diet – forget it, the kid(s) needs you, and one moment swallows the next. By the time your child has been tucked into bed (if they do end up sleeping, that is). You feel so starved for time and personal space, and the dinner you inhaled (if you at all got to eat dinner) probably didn’t really cover your ‘well-balanced nutrient-pyramid-daily-intake profile’, and in the end you are drained and ‘over it’. Unhealthy feel-good snacks are then hard to resist for a quick boost of energy. Recognise this scenario?
If you are a new mum holding your newborn bubba, you may already have noticed that meeting your own needs has suddenly become difficult, and perhaps it does not seem that important anymore. We get flooded with oxytocin; love and holding that little tiny human you somehow miraculously created and birthed seems like all we need. Ahh, as I type this, I quietly reminisce about those early days. I felt invincible and extraordinarily vulnerable at the same time. And in some ways, I think it is true that when we birth our babies, we also give birth to a new fierce mother-goddess side to ourselves.
I’ve sat with many women in those early days, with their little bundle of newborn wonder and creation. It’s unique. Every woman has a different experience, and all of them are equally special. I am grateful to be part of their journey into motherhood. In fact, I love providing help, support and most importantly holding space for a woman during this time. The need for someone to hold space for a new mum is perhaps the most important. To be there, really be there and listen, is often the most healing. I, of course, provide a lot of other things, being a naturopath it is my job to scan for deficiencies, depression, and malnutrition. It’s what I do. Holding space is also under my professional umbrella, and it comes naturally, because when you truly listen to a woman she will tell you what she really needs, without really knowing that she does, and I facilitate that to her by helping her with her diet, recovery, supplementation, breastfeeding support and baby care advice.
I’ve sat down and scribbled together my top tips for new mothers, for post pregnancy and birth recovery – and I am not just talking body weight stuff, that comes a little later, as a ripple effect from the tips you see here. Feel free to share this with your fellow mamma’s out there if you feel they could benefit from these tips!