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  • Following our blog focussing on the green aspects of breastfeeding, we thought we would continue the theme, such was the fabulous response from our readers!
    Being green is popular amongst our eco-conscious tea suppers!

    This month we will look more broadly at some of the ways in which parents can lead family life in a responsible and caring manner.

    Just as with all things that have a comparatively small footprint, the benefits are manifold, with populations, habitats and landscapes reaping the rewards.

    Beginning at the beginning, so to speak, with the advent of a new baby there are often a huge number of items suggested to be "essential" and "necessary", when in fact, as mothers with several children will have learned, many of these items go unused or don't "fit" with a particular parenting style or are disliked by baby.
    Some parents find that a sling in organic cotton is all they need to get around, while others find a pram indispensable - you know what you will need, but research first to avoid mistakes and useless purchases.
    Many families purchase cots, rockers, bouncers, and walkers, only to find that their baby is happiest in their arms or on a play mat.
    Before you go all out with equipment, you could borrow an item or two from a friend to see how they work for you.
    Modern accoutrements tend to engender separation, and sell themselves as items that will occupy your baby and enable you to "get on", when you actually might find household chores simpler while baby-wearing - besides which, you might just want to sleep alongside baby, and enjoy baby sleeping on you!

    The essentials for baby are now relatively simple to find in eco-cotton and sustainable fabrics like hemp and bamboo; even high street stores feature these items, nowadays.

    When it comes to personal care, the early days need the very gentlest of plain water, delicate oils, and the gentlest bath time routines.

    If you are clued-up and very well-supported, you might opt to skip the nappies, altogether and go for EC - or, "elimination communication"; there are several books that explain how to work the "diaper free" option. A small pot and a bit of application and ingenuity will save you and the earth a small fortune, but it takes time and perseverance, and isn't for everyone, dependent upon circumstances and personal capacities.

    The next option is 'washables', of course, which are a long-term saving, and a natural option. There are so many styles, fabrics, and systems out there that you might want to research online and get advice from friends.
    You can either buy and wash your own, or use a nappy service - they collect, wash, and deliver a new set however often you need.
    Baby's awareness is also much more improved with washable nappies, and the potty will come earlier and easier, generally, who have a better awareness of wet and dry.

    This in turn will be an ecological benefit, as you will find there is less laundry to do, saving water and energy!
    What we use at changing time also impacts the environment, of course, so be looking to use washable wipes where one can, and natural creams, from caring companies, that haven't cost the earth to manufacture.

    Washable nappies often come with launderable wet-bags, so you can do away with plastic (there are biodegradable bags on the market).
    When babe starts to signal readiness, you can try washable trainer pants, rather than the throwaway kinds, as this will save considerably on waste and cash!


    The last blog on breastfeeding covered most things related to nurturing the "littles", but maybe a comment on mama pads and cups deserves space.
    Breastfeeding, of course, bestows most mamas with a break, but when menstruation returns, you might want to check out a silicone cup, or the many designs of fabric washable options out there to choose from - or if you are handy with a sewing machine, you can even try making your own!

    Nowadays there are many options for choosing organic fabrics for the family, and sales ensure that being considerate with cloth won't break the bank.
    Choose gentle laundry options, eco cycles, eco balls or soap nuts for gentle washing and delicate young skin. These all minimise toxins and help our waterways stay fresh.
    Drying outdoors gives a freshness to laundry, and keeps your indoor environment more ambient.

    Mealtimes can be tough with children liking different things, and not taking well to set mealtimes.
    It is often less stressful to go with the flow, literally!

    Feed on demand, introduce foods when all the signs are there, when babe is ready and able to wean himself - the much celebrated style of "baby-led" weaning.
    Meals can be simple and adaptable to various tastes, and saved or transformed for further snacking.
    Healthy bits and pieces such as hummus or tahini dips with crudités can be saved for a day or so and kept on hand, and berries are simple and nutritious.
    Flapjacks are incredibly easy and nutrient-packed fillers.
    Many parents are surprised to find that their children actually favour strong tastes and exciting cuisine - toddler favourites can be things such as lemon slices, olives, anchovies, garlic bread and the like. Don't shy from offering big bursts of flavour - you are likely to be surprised! With a little ingenuity and a moment chopping and arranging simple foods, meals can gain instant appeal!

    Lastly, we thought a mention was due for toys.
    Engender a healthier environment by keeping plastics to a minimum; choose wooden toys, or look out the new slew of Eco, recycled, and safer plastics.

    You could even make your own by upcycling general household objects.....

    There are lovely toys made of tough card these days for construction and imaginary play.
    Throwaway ephemera is best avoided, although catches the eye of incredibly children easily - older children can be brought to understand the real cost of toys with a short life-span.

    And, for those toys that outlive their immediate use, they can be joyfully passed to others, or carefully packed away for the enjoyment of your children's children and future generations.

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    Spring is well and truly here, and we are all, doubtless, getting out and about in nature, basking in the sun, and smelling the roses, but you are probably doing more for the natural world than you know by simply breastfeeding your children?

    For all of us who decided to breastfeed and found that we could, we, in the west, are very lucky, considering the many obstacles that often present themselves inbetween us and a successful breastfeeding relationship.
    So, a huge round of applause to those who made it, and let's spare a thought for those who lacked support and help when needed.

    How about a few moments to think about how we are optimising our health and that of the next generation?
    When we feed our children, for every day that they receive breastmilk they receive priceless benefits - the nutritional, the immunological, the psychological, the physical, and many more...
    We give our children a perfectly tailored nutritional fix at any given feed, give them oxytocin, wonderful bonding compounds that ensure psychological health, along with long-lasting assurance, confidence, and security. We aid palatal and dental development, and guard against obesity and diabetes and other health issues of the modern age.
    Our children learn portion control, and a special humanity bestowed by the unique bond that is the nursing dyad.

    When we forego alternative feeding methods we ensure that our families do not contribute to environmental
    pollution  - manufacturing processes, packaging, generated waste, the impact and cost of resultant ill-health and resultant lifestyle, all are issues associated with artificial feeding methods.
    Breastfeeding generates zero waste, needs no energy for heating and sterilising, and neither does it buy into multinational corporations that seek to dominate markets and look to exploit mothers and children with aggressive marketing.
    When we breastfeed we turn our backs on all of the above, and in doing so are building a better future for the next generation.
    A long term strategy for ecology and health is a wonderfully empowering and positive thing to give to our children.
    By safeguarding our own health, too, as well as that of our children, we ensure that we can pose less of a burden on health systems, guard against pharmaceuticals, and have a maximum healthy input in our lifetime.

    Choosing human milk can also be kinder to the rest of the earth's inhabitants, because when children have access to breastfeeding for however long they need, they have no need of milk from other species or modified alternatives derived from other species.

    In addition, we are ticking the box of sisterhood, because empowering yourself through your ability to feed your children without recourse to external food sources, and being visible doing so, means that we empower ourselves and other women, as well as children around about, who see that this is possible and normal.

    Breastfeeding is most definitely the greener way to nurture your children; so, with zero waste, great resource savings, in both the short and long-term, and with a positive effect upon the animal kingdom, we can definitely applaud ourselves on a worthwhile job.

    There is much more to breastfeeding that meets the eye.

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    Spring has sprung, all is in bloom, and there's the wellspring of new life, all is abundance and bounty.
    For those of us welcoming new babies this year, there's no better time - because you can look forward to the benefits of our newest tea in the Neuners range.
     
    The most known uses of raspberry leaf are related to pregnancy, but the benefits are even more wide-ranging!
    Raspberry  Leaf, or "Rubus Idaeus", has been credited with many benefits, and it  boasts a mean nutritional punch that includes vitamin C and E, as well  as iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and much of the B  complex.
    Rich in chlorophyll, tannins, and flavonoids, raspberry leaf is caffeine-free.
    Historically,  raspberry leaf was considered a fertility aid, and today it is said to  strengthen the uterine wall, which will have the effect of increasing  the likelihood of implantation and ensuring against miscarriage.

    In early pregnancy, raspberry leaf has been reported to relieve morning sickness.
    In later pregnancy, leg cramps and swelling have been noted to have been assuaged with raspberry leaf tea.
     
    For  those of us hoping to meet our new additions very soon, it may be worth  stocking up on tea, because studies show that the later stages of  labour are shortened and optimised after raspberry leaf intake.
    Drinking raspberry leaf correlated with less painful, normal, and natural deliveries with fewer interventions.

    Looking  beyond birth, you might want to keep that tea handy, as postpartum  hormone regulation is yet another benefit that has been boasted for  raspberry leaf. And, for Breastfeeding, raspberry leaf is believed to  enrich milk and ensure a good supply.
    Our Pregnancy Blend can be drunk alongside others in the Neuners range.


    Beyond  mama and baby and the maternal, raspberry leaf is good for all times.  Every month, for the week or two prior to menstruation, try raspberry  leaf to relieve premenstrual symptoms and the onset of cramps and  associated symptoms.
     
    Lastly, lest they are forgotten, men may  also discover the benefits of raspberry leaf, as it has been associated  with reproductive wellbeing.
     
    Other medicinal uses have included the treatment of such glamorous ills as gum disease and cold sores.


    Neuners has blended raspberry leaf and developed a delicate, calming, and refreshing blend for everyday drinking.
    A balanced mix with chamomile and ginger makes up every tasty bag.
    You can brew up for a comforting and warming tea, or cool for a cold drink. Making tea ice cubes are innovative and handy, too.

    Please ensure to seek medical advice, where necessary.

     

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    We are a week or so into enjoying February, now, and the weather doesn't appear to be warming up any time soon. On these sometime snowy days, cold nights and frosty mornings, there's nothing nicer than snuggling beside your cosy nurselings, eh?

    This month, we thought it would be great just to chat about the highs and lows of breastfeeding children of all ages, night and day, the fabulous and the frenetic, the calm and the storm! We share tips, personal thoughts, and air some agonies - we are not alone! A sort of "breastfeeding cafe"-style blog.

    Breastfeeding, as always, has been in the media quite a bit recently - from questioning the needs of older children, to  breastfeeding and posh nosh in the big city; is it cool to breastfeed in Claridges? Do we feed our six year olds twelve hours a day? - yes, these last two have been actual media questions, which makes one truly wonder about the lack of breastfeeding knowledge that really exists!

    As nursing mothers all know, it's best to simply feed on demand wherever we are, and not have to think twice - whether that's about the people around you or the clothes you are wearing. Me personally, I have never bothered with specific nursing clothing because they tend to be very expensive or not very flattering, as well as not sitting well with me politically. What do I mean? I mean that I don't want people to make money out of my breastfeeding because I feel that I 'must' wear special clothing, and neither do I want to perpetuate the myths that one either needs special clothes in which to successfully breastfeed or items for covering. I simply feel that one ought to require "boob and baby", as has been said, and nothing further.


    But, having said that, there are some very nice nursing styles out there, and common-sense must prevail in that my largest blanket-style scarves have come in useful while feeding on icy park benches to keep warm while weathering chilly little fingers on my torso, and cotton sarongs help to hold off the sun and total upper-body nakedness now that my toddler likes to play twiddling and swapsies, much to my dismay, wherever we happen to be! "Uvva", he approximates with a grin, as he swaps to the other breast; it is very sweet, but a little exposing, even for me - an old hand, now, having nursed my two children for almost seven years so far. Nursing anywhere and everywhere is both a necessity for us, and a political statement in support of every nursing dyad. My feminist self seeks to disseminate positive nursing vibes for the good of everyone, so have boobies will travel!

    A few mamas shared their thoughts with me on nursing around and about; it's great to remember these things, sometimes, because each phase passes so very quickly and is gone.
    I had forgotten about when it came in really handy to be able to feed babe while in a sling, because sometimes they didn't really want to unlatch, or the 'trying to get in another feed before the shop or cafe closed their doors' earned a few hasty stares... Babies have sweet unawareness of closures and clocks - they are so in-the-moment and happy next to mama, easily drifting off into milky reveries with replete cheeks and contented demeanour, so it is very hard to try to curtail milk when you really have to go....
    Learning to feed in a sling is very handy for buses and trains, not to mention for keeping two children entertained. If babe needs to feed to sleep between A to B, then sling nursing is just perfect.
    Babies and children have little idea either about the public or private domain, or societies strange acquired quirks concerning breasts, but they can internalise negativity and pick up on tension and worry. I work hard to express positive feelings to my children about breastfeeding wherever we are and in whoever's company we find ourselves. I feel the pride, joy, and freedom of openly nursing my children as humans have always done.

    So soon, little toddlers get busy and ask much more infrequently, instead too engaged in play to think about milk, but they still do ask, and it is so cute when they ask to be sociable because they see their friends having a quick top-up! I mean -why miss out?
    It can be pretty funny the places that they ask, and the unscheduled stops one is called upon to make!

    And then there's "arriving home" milk. How relaxing it is to sit down, put your feet up, and have a milky snuggle. It's time for both of you. The only conundrum is whether little nurseling gives you time to unpack any shopping, or boil the kettle. Sometimes they are just too absolutely impatient.
    But of course they do need you. They need you lots! Especially when the teeth start coming thick and fast... One can usually tell by the flushed cheeks, the temperature, the clinginess, but most of all by the wont to feed.... And feed.
    And little mouths getting accustomed to teeth often rub and grate and necessitate nipple gel!
    But it passes, thankfully.

    So to dinner, and I have been reminded that there is a period for some children when mealtimes mean milk! This can be very frustrating for the starving mama who has run a dozen circuits around the park, the school run, rushed round the supermarket, and then cooked dinner. Only then to find that it starts to cool by itself at the table while the toddler's mind focuses firmly on milk - and a long session at that.
    Take heart, because it doesn't last, and don't expect it to happen either, because not every child is like that. My youngest chooses meals over milk  when dinner is served, which came as a pleasant surprise; watching your toddler eat is fascinating, too, with their likes, dislikes, quirks and smiles.

    If you've made it to tandem or triandem nursing, then you'll be juggling on a daily basis; comfort is all. Bolsters and cushions at the ready!
    It is hilarious sometimes and horrid at others; mostly your angelic babes will hold hands, touch and stroke softly, but don't be surprised if a youngest wants milk all to himself so pinches, pokes and squabbles. I have it on authority that this is run-of-the-mill usual - so be prepared to adjudicate. Sibling dynamics differ depending upon age gap. The bonding time is so utterly beneficial and calming, if one can get it to work.

    If you reach the giddy heights of feeding a child over five - congratulations!
    The time passes quickly, but it is a long and windy road with serious benefits to both mother and nurseling. Bonding is a great benefit with busy children who still wish to nurse, but you can be thankful too for the immuno-benefits afforded them, the optimal nutrients, and not to mention the mama protection - enjoy a measure of protection against some cancers, and a lesser likelihood of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and diabetes.

    Now to bedtime.....
    Bedtimes are so very different, I have learnt, for different ages and children.
    But one thing is definite - Breastfeeding is a fabulous bedtime parenting tool that I wouldn't be without.
    Some children feed to sleep in minutes, others take an hour, and some hold out try their best not to get to sleep at all!
    And, of course, there's the amazing acrobatics! Recognise that? My youngest likes to throw himself on top of me like a seal and swap from side to side until he's asleep.
    It can be a welcome relaxing pause to rest and enjoy a bedtime snuggle, of course.
    Not every little one settles down for milk before they've heard at least three bedtime stories, though.
    I have had so much enjoyment revisiting Curious George, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Clever Polly - sharing stories, Dr Seuss, songs and rhymes. We all have our own routines that have developed over time, whether it's tucking in two dozen dollies, or drifting off to Bohemian Rhapsody.
    Bedsharing with the little ones is the thing that makes sleep possible in our house; I barely wake when milk is needed in the night - they help themselves.

    Every Breastfeeding Journey is unique, amazing, challenging, ever-changing, and ultimately the  most rewarding and enjoyable thing that you might ever do.


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