Sunday, 20 October 2013

Book Review - "Mama Midwife" by Christy Tyner

We have been fortunate enough to review a book called Mama Midwife by Christy Tyner.
This is a children's book about a mouse called Miso whose mummy is a midwife. It is based on Christy's partner's experiences of life as a midwife.

Miso has a slumber party one night, during which her mummy rushes off to a birth. Miso's friends are very intrigued so she explains how her mummy helps babies be born. Then she asks her mummy if she can go along to a birth with her. There she discovers what labour is and the power of positive thought in bringing a new baby into the world at Mummy Grizzly Bear's homebirth.

The book we reviewed is the original edition but it has now been updated to also include a paragraph about placing baby on mummy's chest and having his first breastfeed.

This book is perfect for Lucinda. She loves midwives, loves the Call the Midwife series on TV, and she is especially excited now we have our own midwife for our new baby due around Christmas. So it is lovely to sit down and read this book together in preparation for Lucinda's first experience of birth.

I would recommend it to everyone with a young child (I'd say 3-10 years old is an appropriate age range for this book) and an upcoming birth in the family, especially if planning a homebirth as so many other children's books have the mummy going into hospital and bringing the new baby home. This book is all about the baby being born at home and birth being a family experience.

I must admit to finding this book very moving. Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones but I do get a lump in my throat. It's a lovely birth story though and I do wonder whether I will find myself chanting the mantra at the end of the book while I am in labour!

Beautifully illustrated by Christy herself, the vibrant pictures really bring the story to life. Lucinda loves looking at the pictures in detail and sees something new every time.

The book is written in American English and I do tend to read "Mommy" as "Mummy" and "Birth Tub" as "Birth Pool" but it's not a problem! I just think it's worth mentioning within the review. Also, on checking the website details ready for publishing this review, I have just noticed the book is also available in Spanish and Finnish.

It is available from Amazon in several countries.
On it is currently US$17.99 for the hardback version and $10.07 for the paperback.
On it is £10.79 for the hardback version and £6.21 for the paperback.

The official website of Mama Midwife is…

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Review - Purple Pixie Poncho

Lucinda broke her elbow last month and couldn't get her arm into any of her cardigan sleeves so I asked my very talented friend, Claire of Purple Pixie Crochet, to make her a poncho to keep her arms warm.

I took Lucinda out to choose her own yarn and she chose three lovely shades of blue which complemented each other very well. Definitely has an eye for design! She also chose a style of poncho she liked from some pictures I showed her.

We left the yarn with Claire one Tuesday evening and were very surprised and impressed when she told us the poncho was ready only four days later.

Here is Lucinda wearing the finished product. It is fantastic and everywhere she goes everyone says what a gorgeous poncho it is. 

We highly recommend Purple Pixie for your crocheted creations. Thank you Claire :-)

Here is a link to her Facebook page...


Monday, 27 May 2013

Parenting Influences through Social Networking

How much influence do you have on your Facebook friends? How much do you think they can learn from what you post or comment on?

A few weeks ago a friend posted this on my timeline…

"You know when you comment on something and it comes up on the ticker and your friends can read it? Well, I read some of the things you comment on and I think I now know more about parenting than some parents do."

This is coming from a 22 year old childless student. So I thought I'd test her on what she'd learnt from me. I compiled a questionnaire reflecting a variety of natural and attachment parenting topics, which she answered without the aid of any internet searches! Here are the questions and her answers...

1. Fill in the blanks:
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for __6 months__
and continuing to breastfeed alongside food until at least __12 months +__.

2. What percentage of babies are breastfed at birth in the UK (according to latest figures)?
About 80%

3. What percentage of babies are breastfed at six months old in the UK (according to latest figures)?
Errrm, don't remember! 20% ish?

4. Why can't formula milk for babies under six months old be advertised or included in promotions?
I'm not totally sure, but I think it's because formula milk doesn't contain the antibodies that breast milk does, so advertising or promoting formula would give the impression that it's okay, when really they should inform you of the benefits of breast milk and risks of formula, especially for babies under 6 months.

5. Why shouldn't a bottle be given to a breastfed baby?
It could confuse them so they don't take to the nipple as well?

6. Which method of weaning enables a baby to feed themselves from the start and have full control over their food and nutritional intake?
Baby-led weaning.

7. Why shouldn't babies under a year old eat honey?
There's a risk of botulism. I think they're more at risk the younger they are.

8. Why should you not bathe a newborn baby for at least the first day and preferably longer?
They're born with natural skin protection that shouldn't be washed off… and I think it's best to keep the cord dry till it falls off. Also, they're not really dirty!

9. Why is it important to respond to your baby's cries?
They don't cry for no reason! It might be hard to tell why they're crying if you don't think anything is wrong, i.e. they're still dry and fed, but they need comforting. Maybe they need reassurance that you're still there and still care about them. When you think about it, it must be scary being a baby and not understanding the world properly yet, so it's understandable that they cry so much. Ignoring your baby when they're crying could lead to some attachment issues.

10. Explain the differences between these two baby carriers (showed her photo of BabyBjorn on left and Mei Tai on right)…
The one on the right is a lot more comfortable for the baby because they're in a proper seating position with their whole bum taking the weight. It looks better for the parent too because it isn't hanging as low as the other one, so looks like a more natural way of carrying. The one on the left looks like the child is finding it difficult to get comfortable and looks a bit unstable - clinging on! And the legs are dangling in an awkward way and it looks like the sling is giving him a bit of a wedgie! Can't be good for the child if it's "sat" like that for long walks.

11. What is Elimination Communication?
The practice of letting / encouraging the infant to use the potty whenever they need to go, instead of or alongside wearing nappies (just in case). You will know when they need to go similarly to how you know they want a feed - they will show you in some way so you will pick up on behaviours which mean it's potty time. It can be done soon after birth.

12. What happens during the "four month growth spurt"?
The baby grows a lot quicker than usual so will want to feed a lot more often to get the nutrition to grow and for energy.

The answers can be found below but I think she did rather well and her answers that aren't quite right are still very good educated guesses! I take this as being positive, especially for the next generation of parents who we can influence. There are always going to be people who have different opinions and will choose to take a different direction with their parenting, but even if just a small proportion of our friends read and take notice of what we discuss and comment on then we have made a small difference.


1. Six months.
Two years.

2. 81%
See no.3 for link.

3. 34% (any breastfeeding at all, not necessarily exclusively breastfed).
1% exclusively breastfeeding.

4. It is against WHO Code of Marketing of breastmilk substitutes.

5. It can lead to "nipple confusion" and baby often starts to refuse the breast, detrimental to breastfeeding relationship.

6. Babyled Weaning

7. Due to risk of botulism.

8. Effects baby's body temperature and instinctive behaviours such as breast crawl. It washes off the vernix which is protecting the baby's delicate skin, strips the skin of its natural oils and dries out the skin. 

9. "Prompt responsiveness leads to a solid foundation of trust and a secure attachment.
Babies who are left to cry it out alone may fail to develop a basic sense of trust or an understanding of themselves as a causal agent, possibly leading to feelings of powerlessness, low self-esteem, and chronic anxiety later in life. 
Cortisol levels are a reliable measure of stress, and can easily be measured from a sample of saliva. Researchers have found that even brief separations of human infants from their mothers can affect the infants' cortisol levels. In one study, nine-month-old infants who were briefly separated from their mothers and left alone in an experimental situation experienced an increase in cortisol levels, indicating a physiological stress response. However, when the babies were left with a substitute caregiver who was warm and attentive, their cortisol levels did not increase as much. The researchers concluded that it is quite stressful for infants to be left alone.
When the caregiver is consistently responsive and sensitive, the child gradually learns and believes that she is worthy of love, and that other people can be trusted to provide it. She learns that the caregiver is a secure base from which she can explore the world, and if she encounters adversity she can return to her base for support and comfort. This trust in the caregiver results in what is known as a secure individual.
An abundance of research shows that regular physical contact, reassurance, and prompt responses to distress in infancy and childhood results in secure and confident adults who are better able to form functional relationships." Text taken from...

10. Pic on left - Unnatural position. Thigh not supported to knee joint. The resulting forces on the hip joint may contribute to hip dysplasia.
Pic on right - Seated position. Thigh is supported to the knee joint. The forces on the hip joint are minimal because the legs are spread, supported, and the hip is in a more stable position. 

11. Using a potty/toilet from birth. Watching and learning baby's elimination cues so you know when they need to go. Respectful to baby's needs, avoids uncomfortable dirty nappies.

12. Increased feeding. Sleep regression.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Eating in Season

Lately, I find myself looking at the shelves of fruit and veg in the supermarket and struggling to find much that I actually want to eat. Not because I don't like it but because it has been imported from Chile, Mexico or Morocco. I have decided that, where possible (due to climatic reasons), I am only going to buy seasonal produce from the UK - or elsewhere in Europe if it doesn't grow here. I have been heading this way for a few years but now I'm getting serious about it.

Fruit and veg that is in season locally tastes much better than food that has been shipped over and lost it's freshness. I remember some strawberries I bought a couple of years ago. I'm not usually that partial to strawberries but these were heaven! I went back to the farm shop for some more and they'd all sold out. I was told that they'd never known anything be so popular before. They were grown about three miles from my home.
I also love cherries when they are in season. Crave them daily. They are so juicy and delicious. Whenever I've bought cherries in the winter they have inevitably been imported from South America or somewhere and are sour in comparison.

Apples that I picked myself from a local orchard

I would also rather give my money to local producers and cut out the middle-man where possible. At Christmas I only bought local beer and wine - the wine directly from the vineyard and the beer from a farm shop. This is a recent extension of my quest to only buy European wine, which started when I insisted the wine at our wedding, five years ago, was French red and Italian white.

Buying locally and eating in season doesn't stop with fruit and vegetables either. Meat and fish are also very regional and in season at different times in different countries. Although I don't eat lamb, it is normal for it to be imported from New Zealand at this time of year. New Zealand is 11,500 miles away - Crazy!

I also don't trust that foreign produce isn't genetically modified. I've been reading a lot lately about all the GMO crops in various countries around the world. For the time being atleast, there are only two licences for commercial GM crops in Europe and one of those is moving it's development to the US due to lack of support in Europe. This makes me more confident about the food that I'll be buying.
Then of course there's the unecessary environmental impact of shipping and flying all this produce around the world.

I've always looked forward to the Jersey Royal season and the asparagus season - and the strawberry season since I discovered those delicious local strawberries. I also look forward to blackberry picking in the autumn. So between buying local produce and growing my own in my gradually expanding vegetable patch (well, assortment of planters at the back of my house!) I hope to become more aware of seasonal varieties and incorporate them more into our meals. It would be logical to assume that eating seasonal produce is what nature intended and therefore healthier for our bodies, giving us the right vitamins and nutrients at the corresponding time of year.

My home-grown radishes and spring onions
(the onions are a bit short because Lucinda picked them!)

Examples of in season foods for February are: Carrots, leeks, cabbage, sprouts, cauliflower, purple sprouting broccoli and kale -  and unique to my local area, forced rhubarb.

Local forced rhubarb

Other foods that are available all year round are potatoes, onions and mushrooms, amongst others.
Adding those to a slightly wider range available if including produce from southern Europe, there's a lot to get stuck into. Yum!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Memory Jar

This year we will be doing a memory jar.
Here it is...

Every time we do something fun or something good happens we are going to put a little note about it in the jar. We'll open it and look through the memories next new year and remember all the lovely things we did this year.
Already have three memories in there.

Looking forward to reminiscing.