Monday, 24 July 2017

why i love sweden - the perfect holiday destination for families

have you ever found it really hard to leave a place? well, this week i did.

it was a weird feeling really, sort of like I was leaving home... so i think it's safe to say that Sweden has taken a little piece of me and i shall have to go back soon.

so here's a little list of reasons why i love Sweden (for those of you who've never been), in no particular order:

*cinnamon rolls are everywhere. as are cardamom knots, which are gorgeous too
*everyone speaks English, but not in an annoyed way, they are always extremely friendly
*the countryside is exceptional, all lakes and forests and farms

*the air is seriously clean
*even in little cafes you can get a prawn salad
*its THE most child friendly place I've ever been - toy boxes, changing stations and high chairs in almost all places we went, even ones we didn't expect. also in restaurants they were so happy to do half portions of regular dishes
*perfect weather (for me) - 24c in the summer and a few clouds, you'll tan because you'll be outside so much

*sightseeing is pretty easy because lots of things to see are free, Slottskogen, Varberg castle, all the lakes
*the Swedes attitude for life is one of a kind - they like things simple and beautiful in all aspects of living, not just their home furnishings - when we arrived at our @airbnb I asked the guy if there were any rules for swimming in the lake and he looked at me like i was crazy and said "of course not, and if it's there evening you could go in naked". they love to party and have friends round and they love a good barbecue

*Lilla Laxen - the BEST drive thru on the planet? it's salmon and potatoes in a drive through, seriously, yes, so good.
*swimming in lakes is so much better than swimming in any other kind of water, and Sweden has a LOT of lakes ;)
*seafood is abundant, fresh and delicious

so if you haven't yet been, or even considered Sweden as a holiday destination, then you probably should. especially if you have babies and/or children, or are the adventurous type. it's probably not for you if you just want a reliably hot beach holiday... although Halmstad is a great beach resort if you're interested in being beach-side.

and one word of caution... because of the abundance of trees and water, Sweden is usually known for their mosquitoes and other tiny biting critters, so make sure to pack a bug spray. although, this year we didn't seem to be bothered by them at all, so clearly it wasn't the year for them. or my new bug spray is hugely effective!

thanks for reading, and please let me know your favourite undiscovered holiday destinations...

currently listening to: (the tune of the holiday) despacito by luis fonsi

Friday, 5 May 2017

13 tips for increasing your breast milk supply

hi all, i'm back today with my top tips for increasing milk supply. i read a ton of these posts in those first few months, because i felt, and i honestly think EVERYONE feels, like i wasn't making enough milk. even my grandmother admitted when she had just had my dad that she fed him only for 3 months because she felt like she wasn't making enough and had to supplement with formula, and that was 60-70 years ago (there was me thinking it was a recent phenomenon)!

this is really a bit of a round-up from other posts i've read, and these are things i genuinely did each day, and i ended up with a whole freezer drawer full of frozen 'spare' milk...

1. drink fennel tea!
this was something they were always asking me in the hospital - 'have you drunk your fennel tea?' - and so it was always ringing in my head when we got home from the hospital too. fennel is an amazing galactagogue and does wonders for increasing your supply. it doesn't matter which brand you choose, but get the best you can afford (you can even just buy the seeds from the spices section rather than ready in a teabag) and drink it every day, multiple times a day. it tastes nice so don't worry!

2. pump
we bought a Medela breast pump in advance because we knew we would use it. and by heck did we! if you're going to breast feed and you're serious about it, then getting an electric pump is the way forward. any time you want to stimulate your supply, you can simply just express the first little bit from your boobs and then baby gets the creamy top portion which helps them sleep better and grow better (you can then offer them this milk later in the day when your supply is lower).

3. eat well - eat nutrient-rich foods.
this is a tough one to accomplish because of number 4 in this list, and so it requires a bit of pre-thought when you're pregnant and some planning. but making sure that you don't try to survive on toast and takeaway foods is essential. i stocked my freezer, and we even turned on our spare freezer and filled that up too, and i created a new pantry area with wholefood essentials like tins of chickpeas and cartons of tomatoes. my mission was to have it ready by week 35, and i did (thank goodness, because he was early!).

if you're pregnant reading this, now is the time to start practicing cooking easy meals, and slow-cooker meals, and getting in tins of beans and packets of dried mango. think about what you like and if you're not sure, i hugely recommend reading the first forty days - it's an incredible guide on keeping yourself nourished.

4. set up camp on your sofa and nurse lots!
put on your favourite series on netflix, buy a cute comfortable cushion for breastfeeding - we just had this simple nursing pillow via amazon - and get a huge bottle of water by your side and some healthy snacks, and enjoy time with your little one on the sofa. the more you relax and rest the more energy your body can put into making milk. seriously the amount of selfies i sent of me to my husband in the same position on this sofa is a LOT...

5. put baby to both breasts at each session.
there was some age old wisdom that said to do one boob at a time, but ours has always done both, so always 'put them' to both breasts even if they seem done with the first one. it'll stimulate the breast anyhow and that's always a good thing.

6. get good rest and sleep when you can.
i could always tell a difference in production after a good nap. my mum was always saying, 'have you had your nap today?' for the first two months. as i'm not usually a good napper i was worried i wasn't going to be able to, but i did always sleep once a day for even just half an hour and felt so much better afterwards. so close the curtains and try to get some shut eye.

7. drink lots of water
i'll keep this one simple - milk is wet right? it's made of water? i reckon it's probably a good idea to try and drink even more than you normally would... i always kept a huge bottle of water by me and took it everywhere i went, and drank every time we breastfed, to 'replace' the milk.

8. eat galactagogues, and make lactation cookies.
galatagogues are foods that help you to produce milk, some of them are - oats, kale, spinach, broccoli, fennel, garlic, chickpeas, almonds, sesame seeds, ginger, papaya - these all are full of nutrients and can help stimulate production of milk (this is kind of half old wife's tale and half science). i loved lactation cookies, half because they taste so dang delicious, and half because i swear the day i didn't have one was a bad baby day.

a recipe for lactation cookies:

pre-heat oven to 180c/350f, put 2 cups of rolled oats into a blender/processor/grinder, and blend until the oats are a flour-like consistency. add in 1 tbsp of fennel seeds to the grinder and grind to a fine powder. add these to a bowl and mix in 1/4 cup spelt flour/ground almonds, 1/4 cup brewer’s yeast flakes, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda and 1/2 tsp sea salt.

in another bowl, put 1/2 cup maple syrup, 1/2 cup tahini (or other nut/seed butter), 1/4 cup, plus 2 tbsp melted coconut oil, 2 eggs (can replace with flax egg), 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. mix very well. add in 1/2 cup sultanas or 1/2 cup of choc chips at this point if you like.

mix wet with dry, and form into balls and place on a parchment lined baking tray. bake for 15-20 minutes, or until browned. pop in the freezer for future use and take it out 30 mins before you want to eat one.

9. make sure you're getting enough calories.
if you're breastfeeding you need extra calories, because breastfeeding is exercise. that's right. so now is not the time to diet, it's the time to eat the extra slice of cake, because you can! that's probably the secret reason we're still breastfeeding at 14 months, because i just don't want to give up the extra slice of cake ;)

10. avoid paci's and bottles in those first few months.
sucking is the way your baby communicates to your breast how much milk to make, so if they're sucking elsewhere it could mean they're too tired to suck at your boob, and then they don't suck enough. so try to limit or eliminate the use of other things to suck on - if they want comfort, put them to your breast, even if it's exhausting, it's just the short term.

11. make sure you've got a good latch
is the baby actually sucking correctly? this is probably the first thing to correct, and the best thing to do is to have someone that's breastfed come and take a look, because they'll know what to look out for. there are heaps of guides on this, but you just want to make sure that baby is swallowing and not just sucking that's the key part.

12. keep your baby close to you.
i always found that when i was further away from my bean i made less milk, and sometimes to help a let down i needed to stop being distracted and just look at him and relax as i think about how cute and awesome he is. so if you're having issues with the let down of your milk, just stop thinking of other things and focus on your baby. also when you've got lots of guests in a day, make sure you still spend time bonding with him/her because that's really important for your hormones and therefore your milk supply.

13. wear the right type of bra.
i've been living in these stretchy nursing bras for over a year now, and although they're not sexy, i've not once had a problem with my boobs, no infections or anything. i have a multipack i bought on amazon, and then i bought them again, so i would always have a spare of each colour and avoid washing all the time (because you leak lots when your supply is up). but don't try to wedge your boobs into bras, and sometimes just don't wear a bra at all (especially when all that milk comes in). i bought a nighttime nursing bra and it was a waste of money, it made much more sense for the health of my boobs to just put a towel down over my side of the bed.

and just in case the post wasn't enough info for you, there's a video of me explaining this all as well:

also, check out my 'living life with a newborn' post, which has had a lot of positive feedback, so i would recommend giving that one a whirl.

all the best with your breast feeding journey xx

Friday, 28 October 2016

our little boy is becoming a gourmet

so, we've started solids. that's what this post is about, as well as a general 'hi there, how are you? haven't spoken in a while...'

our little bean began solids just two days before he turned 6 months old. and he was ready for it, he'd been staring at my food for a couple of weeks and watching me eat, figuring it all out. and so when the moment came, he knew exactly where the spoon should go (both hands took it and shoveled the food straight in) and he also knew how to drink from a cup (granted his diddy little hands can't hold the cup properly yet).

he's been breastfed from the start, even with his first 3 weeks in neonatal. and praise God we've actually never really had much of a problem since then - i actually think having to express milk for him at that time gave me a pretty good supply, that have seen us easily through growth spurts and has led him to be a pretty contented little baby.

when we did start, because there's no allergies at all on either side of the family, we just went full in for eating new things every meal. little tasters whilst we were all sat at the family table. a little chew on some strawberries, some mashed banana, a nibble of potato, etc. this was all pretty easy because we were all on holiday and it was a nice easy way for him to start experiencing food.

from these early explorations, he started wanting a bit more and so i started to make some homemade purees. all made with organic food from the local market (i realise i am very blessed to live where i have access to such beautiful produce) and adding spices and herbs where it would make it taste better.

we've steered clear of salt, sugar and dairy so far, and don't plan on introducing those until he's weaned (and we're letting him guide us on when that will be).

you could say that the purees we've had have been "unusual". some of his favourites have been: roasted yellow tomatoes and mixed herbs, baked squash with nutmeg, oat porridge with apples and cinnamon, roasted figs, roasted fennel with rice, blackberry with apple and buckwheat  (it's messy, see below), coconut milk custard, baked aubergine with roast garlic and pearl barley, red lentil ratatouille, pumpkin hummus.

i find he enjoys them hot or cold, and he loves when there is a lot of flavour (his mama eats garlic and cinnamon on a daily basis, so it's no wonder these flavours are his favourites).

in terms of stuff for eating we've got:
- the Ikea highchair, the cheap one that everyone has, and it's brilliant
- a 6 pack of little glass storage pots (we got the Wean Green starter kit)
- a handful of reusable food pouches
- some silicone freezer trays (we got the mushy-mushy one)
- 5 different coverall bibs (these are my favourite), as well as a few little bibs
- 2 bamboo spoons, and one with a silicone end
- a hand stick blender, i find this does a better job than a food processor for getting something really smooth
- an 8oz KeepCup to learn how to sip a bit with larger denser meals

after the first 4-6 weeks of trying new purees and adjusting to most types of foods, we've started introducing finger foods. also that's partly to do with him teething at the moment and not really wanting to eat much extra food, and it having been a challenge to get him to eat anything from a spoon.

so, his favourite finger foods so far are as follows:
- sucking the inside of a fig whilst mummy holds it, the same with persimmon
- carrot sticks
- cucumber sticks
- bread and rice cakes in any shape
- fried apple pieces
- strips of chicken

so, yes, this is sort of more towards the baby-led weaning style. which he's sort of done even with a spoon because he's always controlled how much he's eaten, and will make it very clear when he's finished. i'm hoping that once we're past the first 4 teeth he'll find it easier to eat again and he'll settle back into more of a routine, but for now, he eats a little bit at about 11-11:30am, and then a little bit more at about 4:30-5pm (usually 30mins-1hr after breastfeeding). he might eat something again at 7pm, depending on what his sleep has been like and how much he's eaten the rest of the day. he seems to have days when he eats heaps and then days when he doesn't eat more than a spoonful of porridge (those are the days where i make him his favourite custard, because then if he won't eat that then he's just not hungry - plus i can eat it which is an added bonus).

any questions, please don't hesitate to ask - it's a tricky business and can be really confusing, becaause everyone has a different 'way' of doing it and so different expectations and perceptions of what you should do. i've found that because each baby is different, and because they're always growing that it's important to not worry about how much they're eating of solid foods or how often. they'll tell you if they're hungry.

all the best,
alissa x