The in’s and out’s of Breast Feeding; Does breast feeding burn calories?

At 37 weeks pregnant, things are starting to feel very real now. I’m full term and starting to get very organised for the birth and beyond.

One thing that I feel I need to be really prepared for is breast feeding. I think you need to go into the hospital with a plan of action, as it’s more than likely that the midwifes will be very keen for you to breast feed or at least TRY and breast feed before you leave for home.

One thing that really appeals to me is that breast feeding can really help you to get your pre-pregnancy body back.
According to  WebMD, you can burn up to 500 calories a day through breast feeding. The exact number of calories depends upon how frequently you breast feed and how much milk your body produces, plus as you wean, the number of calories you burn through milk production will also decrease.

Medela.com also reports that breast feeding releases a hormone called Oxytocin, which is  responsible for the contraction of the uterus and therefore helps to decrease the size of the uterus after birth. Well needed after 9 months of being stretched I’m sure!

A few essential that I’ve come across when searching for the best breast feeding clothes and accessories is this awesome set of pyjamas by Anita. The last thing I want to be doing during night feeds is getting cold and having to strip off. This pyjama top is ideal for breast feeding and the bottoms are really comfortable with a supportive and flattering waist band too. Every little helps!

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I’m also a HUGE fan of the Anita nursing bras. This spotty number is really cute, soft and ideal for breast feeding, thanks to its adjustable straps and a double layered cup for extra support and comfort.
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Both of these items can be brought from www.anita.com – the website is well worth a visit!  

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To Breast Feed, or Not? That is the question….

For most women it would be a no brainer – but I’m going to be entirely honest with you I’m slightly nervous about it!

Yes,

  • Breastmilk contains all your baby needs: proteins, fats, lactose, vitamins, iron, minerals, water and enzymes in the exact amounts required for the optimal growth and development.
  • Breastfed babies are healthier. Breastmilk contains substances which prevent harmful bacteria from growing in intestines and causing gastrointestinal and diarrhoeal infections.
  • Breastfed babies have fewer middle ear infections, fewer respiratory infections and a decreased risk of developing allergies, cancer, childhood diabetes and obesity.
  • Breastfed babies have a decreased risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Breastfeeding a premature baby decreases his risk to develop necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).
  • Breastmilk is clean, free from bacteria and has anti-infective properties.
  • Breastmilk has the right temperature and needs no preparation. It is readily available whenever your baby needs it.
  • Breastfed babies are less prone to develop diabetes, heart diseases, eczema, asthma and other allergic disorders later in life.
  • Breastfeeding enhances brain development. Research shows there is better visual development and visual acuity in breastfed children.

But what about me? I will find it awkward if my baby needs feeding when out and about with friends and family and what if it hurts? According to breast-feeding experts, Medela breast-feeding is not meant to hurt, although some nipple tenderness in the early days of breast-feeding is rather common.

After spending hours reading up on the Medela website (there’s so much information on there, which is great!), I’m adamant I’m going to give it a go. So to set myself up, I have got some breast-feeding essentials. In my mind, breast-feeding needs to be as comfortable as possible for me as well as my baby, as it’s too easy to give up when formula is so available and easy to get hold of.

Here is what I have got so far!
Medela Swing Breast Pump
According to experts at Medela, 82% of mothers use a breast pump, whether it is because of going back to work or to help overcome a temporary separation or problem. I’ve decided to get one to help with those awkward moments when I know I’m going to be out for a few hours and won’t feel comfortable to feed in public. It also means my husband can get involved with the feeding too, as I think this is important for father and daughter bonding time.
This award-winning pump is meant to be very quiet and boosts 2-Phase Expression Technology the breast pump simulates the natural infant sucking behaviour at the mother’s breast.
£129; from Mothercare

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Bravado Essential Nursing Tank
This tank not only has a built-in bra but is also long in length and unclips at the shoulder to give your baby full access to your breast, without you having to expose your tummy or too much flesh. As it will be winter when I have my baby, I will wear this under a jumper or poncho which will allow me to feed her discretely and comfortably. The fabric is also really soft and stretchy and comes in a range of colours to match any outfit.
£36; Bravadodesigns.co.uk
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Aleva Naturals™ Nursing balm
According to Medela, 73% of mothers get outside help for breastfeeding problems, which includes sore nipples, which is why a good organic nursing balm is essential to help moisturise nipples  and soothe painfully cracked nipples.
What I like about Aleva Naturals is that their cream is specially formulated with Plant based Edible Oils, which is safe for both Mom and Baby – the balm absorbs in within a few minutes after application.  Aleva Naturals recommended that you apply the cream after breastfeeding and because there is usually a couple of hours between feeds there shouldn’t be anything left over to be wiped off. It’s also not necessary to wipe off any trace amounts as they are edible oils!
£9.99; www.vitalbaby.co.uk 

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This is my essentials to start with. I am on the hunt though to find more, so when I do, I will of course share these with you, as I think every women should be confident to try breast feeding as the benefits are huge. I think like everything new, it will feel weird to start with BUT practice makes perfect and I’m not one to give up, especially as I know the benefits for my baby and MYSELF are so good.

Good luck ladies – please feel free to share your stories !

Pregnancy Reflexology – the Wonderful Keah Lan

 

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I’d never really considered Reflexology until I met the wonderful Keah Lan, a highly qualified wellbeing therapist and reflexologist. She was at The Mermaid Maternity Retreat press opening day way back in June, when I was just 15 weeks pregnant. There she gave me a 20 minute taster reflexology session, which just simply wasn’t long enough! I wanted longer – she was fab! The things she could tell from my feet were amazing and the treatment itself was really relaxing.

Since meeting her, we have kept in touch on Twitter and she told me to come and see her when I was in the later stage of my pregnancy and ready to help prepare my body for labor. At 37 weeks, I’m more than ready, so I went and saw her, again at the Mermaid Maternity Retreat, which is based on the Kings Road. 

Before our hour-long session, Keah explained that she would massage certain areas on my feet to help stimulate pregnancy and labor organs and help boost my energy flow. Some of these points that she would be working on can help stimulate contractions, ease any aches and pains as well as release oxytocin, a natural hormone that is responsible for again stimulating contractions and labor. Keah specialises in reflexology for fertility, labor and the postnatal period, so I knew I was in good hands. 

The whole treatment was really relaxing. Yes, there was so sore points on my feet, especially the areas that related back to my lower back (I’ve been having lower back pain – the weight in my front feels like it’s pulling my back out of balance), my digestive system (I’ve been feeling quite sick recently – almost like I’m in the first trimester again!) and also the uterus zone, which is located near your ankle bone, and needs to be loosened slightly to help relax and of course stimulate labor. But although these were slightly tender I just practised my deep breathing (thank you Pregnancy yoga classes!) and went with the flow. 

After a good hour of TLC, Keah finished with a neck and shoulder massage and told me to get on with my day as normal but take it easy. She also mentioned that another session later on in the week would be beneficial. I did relax and met my mum for a herbal tea who was really worried and kept asking me if I was going into labor. Of course I  explained that if the baby is not ready to come, the it won’t – however, there ARE certain pressure points that can be worked on to encourage or ‘prime’ your body ready for labour. Reflexology is unlikely to start labour there and then, but Keah has found that a few of her clients have naturally gone into labour within a next few days after her treatment – pretty impressive eh!? 

I’m excited to see what happens over the next few days – will I get some Braxton Hicks? Will my back pain continue to behave itself? I hope so! 

Keah also gave me some exercises to do to help my back and open my hips like the;

* Cat Stretch – which helps stretch the lower back
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* Pigeon Pose – which helps stretch the hips and thighs
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and
* The Sitting Squat pose – which again helps open up the hips and relaxes the lower back.  
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I’m going to do these everyday as well as continue to do lots of walking and my daily gym workout. You may not feel like exercising when pregnant BUT it does help open up the hips and relax the pelvic muscles. It also gets those endorphins flowing, the calming and pain-relieving hormones that can be vital during labor. 

I’ll let you know how Thursday goes at my next session 🙂 

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Mummy Hair – How to get the Perfect Pregnancy Hair Cut

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When I heard that NW8 MUMS, the friendly forum for mums living in NW8 praised Joe from Neil Cornelius. I had to check the Mayfair salon out.
They described him as “the best hairdresser we ever had”, which gave me confidence that he could sort out my unruly pregnancy mane!

At 37 weeks pregnant, my hair is definitely thicker (and I’ve always had super thick hair!!) and curlier, but on the plus side is shiner. It also grows really fast too, which is down the the excess progesterone circulating your body. Not good when you have a fringe!

I didn’t get to see Joe when I walked in to the Neil Cornelius salon, instead I saw the very man himself Neil. The owner of the salon and a hairdresser since 12 years old.

I explained to Neil that my hair was feeling a bit flat and un-manageable and that I didn’t want to (or wouldn’t be able to) spend hours and hours blow-drying and straightening every time I wanted to wear it down. It had grown so long and thick that it was starting to become a chore to style, which resulted in me just scrapping it back instead of spending time to actual style it. I was also very aware that once the baby arrives, I would have better things to be doing than spending hours on my hair of a morning, so although I didn’t want much off the length, it would be good to sort out the unruly layers and simply tidy it up a bit. And that’s exactly what he did.

After a super relaxing wash, Neil squared off the bottom so it was all one length and hardly touched my layers, explaining that it was all the short layers in my hair that was making it look and feel thicker than it actually is. He said that if these was longer and blended into my hair more I wouldn’t feel that it’s so thick and keep trying to flatten it down with the straighteners.

He also tidied up my side fringe, which was getting longer and wonkier by the day, as, as it gets too long, I have no choice but to get the scissors out. I know! He chopped into it a little and generally restyled it, making it look like it was supposed to be there, rather than an after thought, which is certainly what it was starting to feel like.

It was then time for a sleek blow dry – which he made look so easy.

The result, was that my hair was a little shorter, but it looked healthier, sexier (my husband told me so!) and flattering – no longer just something that hung from my head looking a little lifeless.

I would definitely recommend any pregnant lady go treat themselves to a stunning haircut as they get closer their due date. I’m not sure when my next hair cut will be now, as I really don’t know what to expect with my first baby, so at least I have a manageable style that will see me through the next few months.  It was also nice to get pampered for an hour or so – and have everyone fuss over you. The staff are lovely here – and they loved my bump too! I can’t wait to go back bump free and get my a yummy mummy haircut!

1st Floor, 109 New Bond Street, 020 7493 5304. From £65 for a cut and blow dry with a senior stylist, or from £150 for a cut and blowdry with Neil. You can also follow the salon on Twitter on @NC1stFloor.

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Pregnancy Countdown – 32 days to go. What does a pregnant lady wear at Christmas?

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When Christmas arrives – I will be 37 and a half weeks pregnant. Christmas is a time for socialising, dressing up and eating lots BUT I doubt I will be doing any of that.
I’ve warned my husband that I may be a kill joy. I do love my bump but sometimes a night in watching a film on my gym ball sounds far more appealing than being in a crowded pub with people bouncing off your bump!

So here is a breakdown of my pregnant Christmas….

Socialising – Yes. I will also be driver and probably falling asleep by 10pm. I’ll try 🙂

Dressing up – I didn’t think I would be – and joked to my husband that i will either be wearing my sports gear all Christmas or a black bin liner – until I discovered Tiffany Rose – a gorgeous maternity collection, that I came across when looking at pictures of pregnant Michelle Heaton online. Michelle is also pregnant but always looks so glowing  and graceful, and the dress she was wearing was absolutely gorgeous. It fitted in all the right places and showed her bump off beautifully!
I then found the website Tiffany Rose and spent hours looking through their collection and deciding what to order for the big day.
The range, inspired by icons of the 50s and 60s, includes timeless classics, with a touch of vintage or a modern twist. Some of the pieces are very dressy and if you had a wedding to go to or something would be ABSOLUTELY perfect. The truth is I only have four weeks of pregnancy left, with no big events like weddings coming up etc so I went for this gorgeous Grecian Top, that would look nice with skinny jeans or smart trousers and can be dressed up or down. It’s really floaty and elegant and something I would wear pregnant or not! I’m looking forward to wearing on Christmas day with a nice chunky cardigan, skinny jeans and some wedge boots.

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A few other favourite pieces were the DAISY GOWN, which is uber elegant and sophisticated…

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and the EDEN GOWN SHORT, which has a floaty skirt to hide any lower body sins and detachable Midnight Blue satin sash that will fit neatly around your bump should you wish it too – a bit like a bow around an extra special Xmas present.

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At last – I feel so much more positive about my maternity wear wardrobe. I have really struggled with what to wear during my pregnancy and will be recommending Tiffany Rose to all my friends !

So that leads me on to my last Xmas bullet point of;

Eating lots. Will I be eating lots? No probably not.
When you are pregnant your baby takes up LOADS of room inside your body – room that used to belong to your lungs and stomach and digestive system.
Check out this picture below. The left-hand image shows a woman’s body before she gets pregnant, and the right-hand image shows her body carrying a full-term fetus. See how squashed her stomach is? If you eat too much when pregnant you end up feeling totally bloated and can’t move so the best thing to do is eat little and often. I’ll be saving some of my Christmas dinner (and pudding!) for a few hours later that is for sure – doggy bag springs to mind!

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