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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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    Happy New Year to all of our Customers!


    What a year it has been for women, for breastfeeding, and for tea.

    We are hardly in the same league as Malala Yousafzai, but we did reach new heights, and win an award or two of our own.
    Our nursing tea is a delicious and refreshing blend of fennel, verbena, and caraway, and helps to support and optimise the breastfeeding journey, and this year it took home some trophies!
    We know that you also continue to love our Red Clover Tea and Baby Stomach Tea; both caffeine free, natural and sugar-free, what's not to love?

    Our online blog and daily updates featured fabulous ways to enjoy our teas, whether you like them chilled, fruity, or steaming!
    Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, our teas are refreshing and revitalising, warming and reviving!
    The beneficial herbs we pick carefully for your enjoyment, and they don't just have to stay in our tea!
    We've shown you ways with cakes, savouries, and cooling dips - just check out our blogs of 2014.

    In June 2014, Janey Lee Grace endorsed our tea, proclaiming it a "winner product". We gained a Platinum Award, as "Best New Mum Product 2014"

    "Allergy and Free From" have our tea, and we made the bestselling herbal tea list on Amazon!

    You may have seen us at The Baby Show, in October? We wowed the beverage scene!

    As well as hitting retail and reputational highs, we got out and about supporting UK breastfeeding mums.
    In March, we joined forces with Peak Health Food store in Rugeley to support breastfeeding mums, offering free tea and a Neuners thumbs-up for feeding on-the-go. Emily Slough, the mum at the heart of the Rugeley campaign has now set up the support group "Free To Feed".


    In November, we shivered outside a London hotel with mothers and babies in support of Louise Burns; the hotel displayed a shocking lack of hospitality and an outdated and unlawful attitude. Claridges were, however, unrepentant.

     


    We handed out smiles, free tea, and our support and best wishes.

     

    We had a fabulous 2014, and look forward to the forthcoming year with anticipation.
    Follow us on Facebook for updates, offers, competitions, recipes and daily fun and light.
    In 2015, we hope to bring you all daily joy, inspiration, love, oh..... And tea!


    Here's to 2015!

    Cheers!

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    This month, after journeying through galactogogues, herbs, high days and holidays, we return to talking about me and you - about nursing mothers, babies, and children.

    Embarking on a new breastfeeding relationship as a new mother is exciting, enormous, individual and unique; every baby, too, is different, of course.
    For those of us who have been breastfeeding for ever, those first few fledgling weeks are dim distant past, but for many of us we  nevertheless think of the early weeks as the crucial time when we struggled to get things established, and worked to get things right; we were unsure, and needed help, reassurance, and support.
    In retrospect, things come down to a few general rules and tips for stress-free breastfeeding success.

    Firstly, plan ahead and make sure that you are supported. Know where to find help and reassurance, if you feel you need it.
    Have family and friends ensure that you have a full freezer of healthy meals that mean no-one has to spend time slaving in the kitchen - with a new baby in the house, there will be more pressing concerns, and hot meals ensure that morale is high. In addition, post-birth, every mother needs nutritious food to recover, recuperate, and provide essential calories.
    If you feel so moved, spend a few hours here and there in your final weeks of pregnancy preparing favourite meals for your freezer. Stock up on healthy snacks and old favourites so that you don't have to run out to the shops at a moments notice.
    Keep healthier take-away details by the phone.
    Explain to family and friends that you will need willing helpers on the housework front - enlist reinforcements keen to lend a hand with the vacuuming, dusting, laundry and dishes.
    Close friends with free time might wish to hang out, make tea, and watch the baby, so that you can catch forty winks.
    Make sure that family members are aware of how a breastfeeding relationship works - you feed the baby, and their job is to care for you. Partners can be hands on in every other way, and bond with baby by providing cuddles, baths, and changes of clothes.
    For second babies and beyond, a mother comes to realise that each child is different - while one has learned a lot already, don't be afraid to find yourself in new territory.

    More scientific evidence is turning up on the benefits of your placenta for after the birth. The ultimate in ecological mothering is provided by this amazing organ that has nurtured your baby or babies for up to nine months, so why not use it rather than waste it? - find a local  qualified IPEN practitioner to collect and encapsulate your placenta after the birth, and they will deliver it back in handy capsules a day or so later - you can even opt for a smoothie on the day! Some mothers have been said to find the restorative effect of placenta pills astounding.
    That extra fortitude, in wobbly moments, goes a long way. Placenta benefits are not fully understood, to date, but the many testaments stand to suggest mothers find a balance, find further emotional strength, and physical stamina, while ingesting placenta capsules in the first year after giving birth.

    Get to know the rhythm of your baby; eat, sleep, and dream your baby in the early days, and invest in a wrap-sling for skin-to-skin to help your breastfeeding relationship along.
    Not every baby takes to a sling in the same easy way, but most do.
    The first three months have been called the "fourth trimester". At this time, baby needs your closeness, to be responded to, and the magic of milk and touch; the happy hormone called oxytocin courses between mother and baby, keeping mama happy and ensures optimal neural development for babe.

    The early days can be stressful, but take time to enjoy your beautiful baby, and the experience of being a new mother.
    Have your partner wear your baby while you luxuriate in the tub, or get out for refreshing country walks. Don't forget to shop for treats, such as essential oils for new mothers, a facial refresher for those more sleepy days, or a cosy wrap just for the sofa or to encircle you both while out and about.

    Relax in the knowledge that there are breastfeeding professionals out there ready to help if you have concerns or worries.
    Find your local drop in, and get to know other new mothers who are experiencing similar practical and emotional changes in their lives - it is sometimes very helpful to hear how others are doing.
    La Leche League are amazing for knowledge and support, and meet in a location near you - get down to a meeting and relax with others while enjoying well-earned biscuits and tea.
    Don't forget the army of helpers called peer support, who work with The Breastfeeding Network - they have funding, now, to come out to visit you, and offer online and telephone support.
    Lactation Consultants work with the NHS and independently; qualified IBCLCs can identify and sort out most problems promptly, and put you on the path to success.
    LLL leaders will know the people who can help, and will be able to provide you with often crucial local information.

    The best phrase I ever heard in relation to breastfeeding was, "it takes a whole community to breastfeed a child", and this is absolutely true.
    Don't feel that you are alone, or that the weight of caring for your baby sits heavily upon your shoulders alone!
    Seek Support, Enlist Help, and know that you are doing fabulously.
    Breastfeeding gets much easier, and for most mothers becomes like falling off a log. On-demand feeding provides nurture and security, and develops into the most amazing parenting and bonding asset. As your confidence grows, you will find they breastfeeding is liberating and nature's simple solution to getting about without hassle. Your milk is ready and available wherever you are.


    The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding to the age of two years, and beyond. Many mother now practise what is known as natural-term breastfeeding, or child-led weaning, which means that the child shows the way, and the parent follows the needs of the child, allowing them to pace breastfeeding for as long as they feel that they need it. Again, every child is different, with some eschewing the breast before two years, while others need the breast beyond five years.
    Some children are happy to feed through subsequent pregnancies, and then alongside their siblings, while others choose this time to wean.

    Breastfeeding journeys are amazing. Enjoy every Day!

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    FENUGREEK: PART 2 08 September 2014 | Comments (0)

     Blossom has bloomed and fallen, Summer reached dizzy hazy heights, but the unpredictable and inclement conditions of late may have brought about a certain over-familiarity with galoshes, wellingtons, and mackintoshes.
    Curling up with a steaming cup of herbal health certainly promotes an inner glow, and in addition, some tasty warming comfort from the kitchen never goes amiss!
    So, this instalment sees the continuing exploration of all things fenugreek taking a home-spun turn. How to get a flavoursome and fulfilling forkful of fenugreek fandango?
    Look no further, as we bring you a delicious dhal, and a delectable dessert.
    The helter-skelter hubbub of holidays and excursions often call for a combination of quick and easy, and pre-prepared suppers. A dhal seemed just the thing.



    Dhal
    200g Yellow Split Peas
    100g Red Lentils
    Medium onion
    Garlic 6-8 cloves
    4 further cloves sliced.
    1 teaspoon each of fenugreek seeds, cumin - some seeds, some ground, ditto for coriander, madras curry powder, ground turmeric.
    1 unwaxed lemon, cut into wedges
    Around 12 frozen spinach bricks, or one bag of fresh spinach leaves.
    Bunch of Fresh Coriander.
    Begin by simmering both varieties of lentils in water until soft. Set aside.
    Then, sautée onions, lots of crushed garlic, and add fenugreek, cumin, coriander seeds.
    Add the lentils, a little water, some chopped lemon pieces, washed spinach leaves or frozen
    bricks and simmer until the lemon and spinach have cooked and all of the flavours have combined.
    In another pan put the ground spices - coriander, cumin, curry powder, turmeric, and warm under a small flame until toasted very gently,
    and stir the now enticingly aromatic spices into the dhal.
    Then, heat a small amount of oil in a pan, carefully add the garlic slices, and fry until it starting to brown.
    At this point, one can stir in a splash of vinegar, and a teaspoon of spiced mango chutney into the cooked pulse mix, if a hint of sweetness is desired.
    The dhal can be served scattered with the fried garlic pieces, drizzled with the garlic-infused oil, and then topped with roughly chopped coriander leaf.
    This dish is so terribly versatile; it can either be a hearty main weekday meal accompanied by a flatbread to tear, or fluffy aromatic rice, complemented
    by a small refreshing cucumber salad, or it can be set amongst an assortment of dishes for a more celebratory affair.
    The last scrapings of dhal also make a handy and nutritious sandwich filling or toast spread.
    Fenugreek isn't only for use in savoury cuisine, of course, for it finds a place in sweet baking, too. A cake flavoured with fenugreek,
    along with other toasted seeds is a traditional postpartum gift to the mother in some Middle Eastern countries. Of course, given the health benefits of fenugreek,
    along with its galactogogue status, this makes perfect sense!
    There are variations for this cake, as with every traditional culinary creation, some complex and contrived, while others are earthy and unctuous.
    As I have explored the culinary meanderings and ornamental elaborations about this fenugreek cake, I have imagined cooks, neighbours, mothers and daughters,
    and those in haute cuisine disagreeing vehemently upon whether the seeds should be soaked, boiled, or toasted, and whether they should be ground or whole....
    Or, whether one should stick to semolina, or waver with wheat flour. Or indeed, whether yeast will suffice, or if flower water is a kerfuffle too far?
    There appears to be many a filigree and fancy flung at fenugreek cake, and I arrived upon a seedy little number, and threw myself headlong into the flirtatious fenugreek fandango that yielded cake in the afternoon.



    Fenugreek Cake
    Dough -
    1 cup of semolina
    2 cups of plain flour
    3 tablespoons fenugreek seeds
    2 tablespoons anise seeds
    2 tablespoons sesame seeds
    1 tablespoon fennel seed
    1 tablespoon nigella seed
    1 tablespoon caraway seed
    3 tablespoons light brown sugar
    1.5 teaspoons dried instant yeast
    Pinch of salt
    3/4 cup olive oil
    1 cup milk - dairy, soya, or as you like.
    For the syrup -
    1.5 cups of white or light brown sugar
    1/2 cup dark brown or molasses sugar
    2 cups water
    Juice of half a lemon.
    Firstly, take all of the seeds and gently toast them on a low heat, moving and turning them to prevent them from burning.
    Set aside.
    Warm the milk gently and pour the toasted seeds into the milk.
    Blitz milk and seeds with a hand blender or mixer.
    Put the yeast, salt, flour, sugar, and semolina all together in a bowl.
    Add the olive oil and combine well.
    Add the warm seeded milk, and stir until a sticky dough is formed.
    In a shallow dish or tray, spread out the dough and cover for one hour.
    While the dough rests, the sugar syrup can be made.
    Put the sugar and water together in a pan, bring to the boil, and then simmer gently for around 15 minutes.
    Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice.
    Leave to cool.
    Preheat the oven to 180 Degrees.
    Bake the dough for 20-25 minutes until golden.
    Straight away drizzle the cooled sugar syrup over the cake until it is covered.
    Leave to cool.
    Traditionally, the cake must be left overnight, and eaten the next day, once all of the flavours have developed and the syrup has
    seeped down and soaked into the cake below. While baking, the aromas that waft and encircle are mouthwatering, indeed!
    The cake is incredibly enticing, and ought to be whisked away for its overnight sojourn, once cooled.
    However, impatience gained the upper hand here, and slices were devoured gleefully and greedily, which leads me to report that the
    cake is delicious eaten hot or cold. On cutting, this cake was like a moist seeded focaccia, with piqued pillows of airy
    semolina punctuated by the aromatic crunch of seeds, and the sweet soaked delectation of sticky syrup.
    There are quite a few traditional variations to consider when making this cake, and more complex and refined versions call for rose water,
    pine nuts, almonds, or orange blossom water.
    I think I had better bake them all, in the guise of research.

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