Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

Puuulleeeaseee! What are these people on? Women breastfeed their babies because it is what is considered nutritionally best, not because they want them to ‘brainy’. Whether you breastfed or not I’m not sure how this story is helpful or supportive.

Breastfeeding is a big parenting topic, (which we are yet to cover) and quite honestly I don’t see the point of these ridiculous stories. Sorry, rant over, read for yourself.


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Most of us don’t know where to begin when it comes to getting back into shape after giving birth – the  sleepless nights, endless feeds and non-stop nappy changing means the last thing you feel like doing is exercise.  Post-baby exercise can mean more than just getting back into your jeans – it’s also a great way to meet new mums . You don’t have to worry about finding a babysitter –  these exercises are designed to incorporate your baby too. Exercise classes such as Powerpramming are also perfect – while your baby sleeps (or laughs at mummy!) – you work up a sweat. The workout will tone your biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest and, crucially, your abs, bottom and thigh muscles. Good posture will help your stomach muscles fuse back together and will also strengthen your lower back. When lifting or doing anything strenuous it is also important to use the pelvic floor. All these exercises are completely safe, providing it’s six weeks after the birth of your baby (10 weeks for caesarean births). Best of all, you don’t need lots of expensive equipment – just a good sports bra and a decent pair of trainers.

This workout is simple, just 5 exercises each interspersed with 2-minute intervals of power walking or gentle jogging. You can increase the length of these intervals, as you get fitter. You could also do the exercises at home while baby naps if you prefer.

First do 1 set of 8 repetitions of each exercise. As you get stronger work up to 2 sets of 8 repetitions then 2 sets of 12.

Warm up walking briskly for 10 minutes.

Squats – great for the bum and legs

  • You can hold baby for extra resistance.
  • Start with feet about one and a half times hip width apart.
  • Bend your knees
  • Weight travels down through your heels
  • Back is flat and tummy tight
  • Don’t let bottom come down lower than knees
  • Return to start position

Shoulder Raises – strengthens shoulders and arms

  • Stand with feet hip width apart holding baby in front of you
  • Tighten tummy and pelvic floor muscles (if you’re not sure where these are, imagine you are holding in a wee, trying not to break wind and then contract your vaginal muscles all at the same time)
  • Lift baby by extending your arms up above your head
  • Don’t arch the back and keep tummy tight throughout
  • Return to start position

Lunges – strengthen and tone the thighs

  • From standing position take one step forwards
  • Bend the back knee first and the front will naturally bend too.
  • Make sure the body is lowering centrally and not lunging forwards.
  • You should be able to see your toe in front of your knee.
  • Return to start.
  • Complete one set and then repeat with other leg in front.

Press Ups – work chest, shoulders and arms

  • On really wet days you can do these leaning against a tree or a bench.
  • Baby will love these.
  • Start on all fours
  • Hands slightly wider than shoulder distance apart.
  • Point fingers forwards.
  • Tighten up your tummy and make sure back is flat.
  • Bend elbows and lower the body down towards floor/ baby.
  • Return to start position.

Head & Shoulders – strengthens stomach muscles.

  • On wet days do these on a bench.
  • Baby can rest on your lap.
  • Lie with feet flat and knees bent.
  • Place hands on thighs and breathe in.
  • Breathe out lifting head and shoulders off the floor.
  • Hands travel up towards knees.
  • Return to start position.
  • If you have a separation of more than 2 fingers between the stomach muscles, wrap a scarf round your torso, hold onto each end pulling firmly while you do this exercise.

Tricep Dips – strengthens the arms and gets rid of ‘bingo wings’

  • Sit on the edge of a bench with hands tucked below the sides of your bottom.
  • Keeping your tummy muscles tight, slide your bum forwards off the bench.
  • Bend the elbows to 90 degrees so your body lowers.
  • Elbows go straight back and not out to the sides.
  • Return to start position.
  • If you feel discomfort in your wrists stop.

When you have completed all the exercises cool down walking briskly for 10 minutes and then stretch the legs, chest and arms for about 6 seconds.

Things to remember about post-natal exercising

Walk with good posture especially when pushing the pram. It will help strengthen your tummy and back.

Tighten the pelvic floor when doing strengthening exercises like shoulder raises .

Lightly stretch after exercising – up to about 6 months you still have relaxin in your body making joints prone to injury.

Keep tummy tight when bending, lifting and pushing the pram – this will help avoid lower back injury.

Don’t do too much, too soon. Listen to your body and stop if you start getting dizzy.

Drink lots of water – before, during and after your workout. Especially if you breastfeed.

Avoid high impact activities such as star jumps and skipping. Due to the effect of relaxin and a weakened pelvic floor.

Avoid sit ups or torso twists – If your stomach muscles have not fused back together sit ups and torso twists will make the separation worse. Ask your doctor to perform a ‘rec check’. This is where the gap between your ‘six pack’ muscles is checked. The gap should be no more than two finger width’s apart.

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Independent midwife, Melody Weig from Birth Rites answers YOUR questions.

I am overdue but do not want to be induced, do you know of any alternative therapies used to get an overdue labour started? Harriet, London

“Only 4% of babies are born on their due date which shows our method of calculation is only a faulty approximation. My friend who is a sheep farmer has a better idea of when her sheep are due than I do of the women I see. Anything between 37 and 42 weeks is considered a normal length for pregnancy.

A procedure offered by midwives and doctors to increase the possibility of labour starting naturally is a cervical sweep. The cervix is the bottom of the uterus, the part that protrudes into the vagina. The midwife reaches it with her gloved finger and makes a circular movement inside the cervix, giving it a little stretch. This can be uncomfortable like a period pain. Following a sweep there may be a loss of mucus or blood, which is normal at this time. This can be repeated again after a couple of days and is thought to make the induction process easier even if you do not go into labour.

There are some natural methods and therapies that can work to start labour for some women. However, there is no one method that works no matter what claims are made. I have seen acupuncture and reflexology start labour for some women. Sometimes they have needed more than one treatment for it to work; occasionally their labour has started within a very short time after one treatment. These treatments don’t always work, but they also do no harm. My own labour was started using acupuncture after the bag of waters around the baby broke but my labour did not start. My labour started after one treatment.

Castor Oil Cocktail. Women who were planning a home birth and were being invited to hospital for an induction simply based on dates sometimes use the Castor Oil Cocktail.   I do not recommend it because it is likely to cause diarrhoea and discomfort, is unpredictable in its affect and is not guaranteed to work.  In my experience, the success rate was about 50% after one dose for second or third time mums trying it. The success rate for first time mums is fairly low so I really don’t recommend it for them at all.

For those wish to try it despite the risks, I suggest taking it first thing in the morning after a good night’s sleep. It may take a while to move from bowel contractions (diarrhoea and stool evacuation) to uterine contractions.

The cocktail is 1-2 large tablespoons of castor oil in a glass, a large teaspoon of orange concentrate, an alka selzer, then top up with water. The orange is to make the taste more palatable, the alka selzer is create effervescence to lift the oil to help disperse it, make it more drinkable and then to alleviate some of the digestive discomfort. Take it with a pinched nose as blocking the smell will make it easier to drink. Then drink it fast, followed by a strong tasting drink to get the taste out of your mouth.”

If you have a question for Melody email: margherita@mumzine.com

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We have just discovered this lovely brand of natural skincare for mum and baby – Bloom and Blossom, its prices are reasonable for the quality of the products.  Their USP is that they use minimum number of ingredients to achieve the maximum results.

All products are made in the United Kingdom and ingredients are of the highest quality.  On top of that, the packaging is fully recyclable and the cardboard is from FSC certified, carbon neutral and controlled sources.

The mumzine favourites are the Revitalising Leg and Foot Spray (£9.00)  and this gentle scalp oil (£10.00).  What is brilliant about the brand and the site is that each product is clearly marked with a big number indicating the number of ingredients – and they are refreshingly few.

Bloom and Blossom promise to use:


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Most mums-to-be feel confused at the number of books out there to help you get to grips with being pregnant so we asked the UK’s first independent midwife, Melody Weig, of Birthrites to give us her top reads.

NB: We know this is a long list so we would suggest just buying a few and hitting the library to avoid getting a fat bill.  There are also lots of these available second hand books through amazon to soften the blow.

Overall top books:

  1. Pregnancy and Birth by Sheila Kitzinger
  2. Baby and Child by Penelope Leach
  3. Baby Wisdom by Deborah Jackson
  4. Bestfeeding: Getting Breastfeeding Right for You by Renfrew, Fisher and Arms


  1. The Encyclopedia of Pregnancy and Birth by Janet Balaskas and Yehudi Gordon
  2. A Child is Born by Lennart Nilsson
  3. Natural Pregnancy by Zita West

Water Birth

  1. Water Birth Unplugged by Beverley Beech
  2. Choosing a Water Birth by AIMS
  3. Waterbirth – An Attitude to Care by Dianne Garland


  1. Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
  2. Every Birth is Different by Pat Thomas
  3. Birth Reborn by Michel Odent

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Rock that jean look throughout your pregnancy, dressed up for the evening or dressed down for day. You can get them over the bump or under the bump whichever suits you best, just make sure they keep your bum cleavage under wraps.

If you want to blow the budget justify it as a wardrobe staple for the next 9 months or because you’re planning on having more than 1 child. If money is an issue you can still find great maternity jeans at a reasonable price or try belly bands used with your existing jeans.

Here’s my 5 favourites

1. Topshop maternity front panel jeans. I lived in my topshop jeans through both my pregnancies. They were extremely comfortable even at the end when the bump was enormous. At £40 a pair they can’t be beaten for style and affordability.

2. JBrand skinny maternity–  Mama la mode’s best selling J-Brand skinny maternity jeans and a fave of Halle Berry’s  will keep you feeling fashionable all through your pregnancy. With added soft elastic panels on each side of the waistband for room to grow with each month. The front rise is cut below the belly and is higher in the back rise than a regular jean.

3. Rock and republic damzel straight leg £148 –
Understated and gently faded straight leg jean, with light grey trademark stitching on the back pockets. Rock & Republic feature hidden elastic in the back waist, making it impossible to tell that they are maternity jeans!

4. Topshop maternity Eva jean £40. Subtle bootcut with 2 side panels for great  comfort.

5. Paige – benedict canyon £128 dark denim, straight leg with belly band top.

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Independent midwife and Mumzine expert Melody Weig discusses the benefits of birthing in water.

meldyMost of the women I work with retreat to a birth pool at some point in labour. This cocooned environment allows her the support and space to find her right way to respond to labour and birth. Below are some of the benefits:

The Feel Good Factor: Water is a feminine element. It is buoyant and soft and carries your body”s weight. We all know how good it feels to have a long, hot bath, so imagine just how therapeutic warm water can be during labour.  The majority of women are surprised to note how wonderful and relieving it feels when they first enter the birthing pool.

Pain Relief: Birthing pools help many women to cope better with pain and enhance those hormones which are an integral part of a healthy birth. For many women, a birthing pool can be the key to a physiological birth, providing an alternative route to medical intervention. It is important to stress that water is not likely to take away the pain, but it can make a big difference to your ability to relax and make the pain more bearable. Some studies even show that endorphin levels reduce when labouring in a birthing pool – a sign that pain levels do decrease.

Mobility: Another benefit of labouring in water is the mobility and support that it offers. This gives a feeling of physical liberation. As a result, resting between contractions is much easier, and you are less likely to become fatigued.

Relaxation: Entering the birth pool during labour causes you to relax: it reduces stress hormones in your body. It lowers your heart rate and blood pressure; your respiratory rate lowers and you consume less oxygen. Water helps warm up your uterus as labour progresses, reducing cramps and tiredness. It helps relax the pelvic floor muscles which help the baby be born more easily. It also helps soften the perineum reducing the risk of tearing. All of the above helps you conserve energy needed for the second stage of labour.

Control: In the birth pool you are in your own womb-like space and you are unlikely to notice how quickly time passes. The strong sense of privacy women feel in a birth pool lends itself to helping women labour more efficiently.

Closeness: Finally, a birth pool offers you and your partner a closeness that often cannot be experienced in a normal birth environment. Not every free_birth_pools_south_londonwoman wants to be held during childbirth, but having the option to have your partner close to you is a great benefit. By entering into the birthing pool with you, your partner may feel significantly more included in your labour.

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