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How’s Your Gut?

Pregnancy is an incredible time of change. It also causes changes in the way your gut works and the make-up of bacteria in your gut, mouth and vagina. The microorganisms, including bacteria, living in your gut are called your gut microbiome. Sometimes the changes that occur to your gut microbiome during pregnancy last up to a year postpartum! Then, further changes often occur due to sleep deprivation, perineal injury, infections and neglected dietary needs. You will also experience a shift in gut microbiome if you’ve been on antibiotics at some stage during pregnancy or during delivery. We know that a disrupted gut microbiome may increase your risk of postnatal depression (your gut and brain are connected), how well you absorb your food and effect your immune system.

Looking after your gut postnatally is a crucial part in recovery, physically and mentally. The good news is your gut microbiome is extremely dynamic and can change relatively quickly. Here 5 simple tips to help you look after your gut:

  1. Variety: your gut microbiome contains trillions of different species each with different needs when it comes to the food (you are feeding your gut microbiome too!). The best thing you can do is get a variety of different plant-based foods in your diet, the more colourful the better. Aim for 30 different plant-based foods a week. Easy ways of doing this: batch cook soups and curries and include as many different veggies as you can, recipe boxes (pushes you out of your comfort zone) and make your freezer your friend, frozen berries are a great addition.
  2. Fibre: fibre is absolutely crucial to 1. bulk out your stool (postnatal constipation is really common and can disrupt your gut microbiome further); and 2. it feeds your good bacteria in your gut. You need 30g of fibre a day. Easy ways to get plenty of fibre in your diet: swap white bread, pasta, rice for brown, add seeds/nuts to salads/soups, have fruit as a snack or make a smoothie with a vegetable base.
  3. Ditch/reduce the processed food/drinks (e.g. fizzy energy drinks, sweets, artificial sweeteners, processed meats): as tempting as it is to reach for highly processed food when you’ve got a baby, the additives and preservatives used can be damaging to your delicate gut microbiome. Instead, make sure your cupboards are well stocked with the foods your need, and if you want a fizzy drink, opt for sparkling water with a generous squeeze of fruit or flavoured with herbs like mint and rosemary.
  4. Chew: What happens in your mouth is a fundamental part of digestion. Chewing mechanically breaks down your food into smaller pieces and the time you spend chewing allows the digestive enzymes in your mouth to further breakdown your food. You need to chew your food 20-30 times before you swallow to make sure it is properly broken down to make less work for your gut. Life with a baby often means eating food standing up or just when you can grab something but if you can, do make the time to sit down and eat and chew properly. It really can make all the difference to your gut.
  5. Stress: stress not only effects your immune system but also the make-up of your gut microbiome, this includes lack of sleep! lack of sleep is not something you can ‘fix’ in those early weeks but you can work on other sources of stress and look at ways you manage them. For example, it may be that you talk to your partner/family about things that are getting on top of you rather than taking all the burden on yourself. When you feel ready, exercise can be a great way to relieve stress too.

By Kristy Coleman

Registered nutritionist (mBANT, CNHC)

@kristycolemannutrition

Top Tips To Organising Your Home Around Your Little People!

After our eldest child was born, I was in a state of pure happiness, joy and love when BANG in walked routine, all sassy, bold and quite frankly exhausting. I knew that if I wanted to regain some kind of normality, clarity and calm as a parent, organising had to become my new best friend.

After much trial and error, these are my top five tips for getting organised at home when you have little people…

1) Get ahead of the game! Nowadays I plan my days/week in advance using a good old fashioned notepad and pen. I also tend to spend a quick 5/10 mins every evening making sure I am prepped for the next day – I clear the dishes in the sink, get all the school stuff out, clothes out of the washing machine etc etc. It’s just another way of saying don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today!

2) One thing I learnt very early on was to get myself ready in the morning before I deal with the kids. Give yourself that ME time because it’s so important to you and your mindset. Look in the mirror and congratulate yourself, you’re doing a bloody amazing job and trust me a little tinted moisturiser and lip balm will give you that extra boost even if you are staying inside all day.

3) Do things your own way. Once you have a baby you’re thrusted into this crazy world of “this is how it should be done”. Don’t listen, its all bonkers! Establish your own ways of keeping organised and have confidence you’re doing what’s right for you and your family – routine, classes, feeding, changing etc etc. It takes a month to establish a habit, so if you are not a naturally organised person then don’t worry. Research, get inspired, and learn what methods suit you. By the end of the month you’ll be doing lots of things you wouldn’t have dreamt of and best of all, you’ll be doing it your way!

4) Plan the bedtime routine. My Nan and Mum would say bath/bottle/bed and that really worked for me. I’d prepare the bedtime routine in the afternoon but you can do it whenever works for you. Organise the changing mat, clothes, toys, cleaning products and aromatherapy oils etc….so that bedtime is all about downtime for you and your baby. Play some calming music, use essential oils, dim the lights, massage and relax! A happy and contented baby is everything and with a little planning those last two hours of the day can be really enjoyable for mum too.

5) Be kind to yourself and don’t expect too much too soon. Beyonce wasn’t built in a day. Change one thing at a time and build from there. Remember you’re in charge and you’ve got this in the bag!

By Nicola Lewis

Professional Home Organiser

@_thisgirlcanorganise

Vitamin D – are you and your family getting enough?

With shorter, colder days and a few more sniffles, warm sunny times may seem like a distant memory – but have you thought about how a lack of sun might affect your vitamin D levels? Research shows that at least 20% of us are deficient in vitamin D. Unfortunately for those of us in the UK, we can’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight alone between October through to March.

Why is it important 

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for many different bodily processes, the key ones are:

1.     Immune system: vitamin D supports your immune system to fight infection. Low vitamin D levels can decrease the effectiveness of your immune system, which may be one of the reasons why we tend to pick up bugs in the winter when our vitamin D levels may be lower.

2.     Mineral absorption: vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium and phosphate in the gut, which is needed for healthy teeth, bone and muscle. This is especially important if you are pregnant, recently had a child or are breastfeeding.

3.     Mental health: vitamin D plays a role in activating the chemical messengers called neurotransmitter, which control how we feel. Ever wonder why you feel much better in the sun?

How much do you need?

·       Babies under 1 need 8.5-10 micrograms per day.

·       Babies over 1, children and adults (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) need 10,000 micrograms.

How do you make sure you and your family are getting enough? 

1.     Get out: during April – September aim to expose your skin to direct sunlight for 20-30 minutes (expose your arms too if you can).

2.     Food: eat foods containing vitamin D, such as: oily fish (think SMASH: salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring), eggs, meat, mushrooms exposed to sunlight, fortified milks (including formulas and non-dairy milk) and cereals. Although, it is tricky to get enough vitamin D through food alone.

3.     Supplements: as it is not possible to get enough vitamin D from food and sunlight (in certain months) the Department of Health recommends:

·       Breastfed babies from 0-1 year need 8.5-10 micrograms of vitamin D per day.

·       Children aged 1-4 need 10 micrograms per day (if using fortified formula milk, check how much your child is drinking, if less than 500ml, you will need to supplement).

·       Pregnant or breastfeeding women need 10 micrograms per day

·       During October – March or for people who are not exposed to sufficient daylight (e.g. elderly who are not able to get outside easily or if your skin is covered in sunlight): children and adults need 10 micrograms per day.

·       If you are of African, African Caribbean or south Asian descent, you may want to think about supplementing year-round as you may have difficulty producing enough vitamin D.

To help support your and your family’s immune system during the colder months and for bone, dental and muscle health, think about if you are getting enough vitamin D and if you need to supplement. If in doubt, talk to your GP to get your vitamin D levels checked or you can do this through a private test you do at home.

By Kristy Coleman

Registered nutritionist (mBANT, CNHC)

@kristycolemannutrition

Our Aptamil Profutura Growing Up Milk Review

India is now 18 months and is starting to reach many of her developmental milestones. She has a new surprise for me every day and although she has taken a while to get there, she’s recently gone from hopping around on her knees like a bunny to learning to walk and has even started running. She’s also started saying her first few words and I can’t wait until we can have proper chats. Continue reading

Parent Pressure at Christmas

The pressure on parents at Christmas is at an all time high. Since we were children expectations have shot through the roof and if you are not scouring Pinterest every night for Elf on the Shelf ideas, the feeling you are letting your children down is hard to manage alongside the traditional stresses of managing family and budgets. Continue reading